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This is the biggest hit that Danny O'Keefe performed. It struck a cord with restless young people who were stuck living dreary lives in dead-end small towns while their friends were moving away to better things. (thanks, Mike - Santa Barbara, CA)
There are two versions of this song. The first was released on Signpost Records (distributed by Atlantic), and the second was released on Rhino's "Have A Nice Day" Series, CD #17. The second version is longer, with different wording at the beginning. (thanks, Frank Luna - Tucson, AZ)
This song that tells the tale of a man the good life left behind and who takes "pills to ease the pain." In an interview with Mojo magazine July 2010 O'Keefe recalled the writing of this song: "It was very simple and got to the heart of the matter," he said. "It was written in not much over an hour. I think I hoped that a country artist would cover the song, but it made reference to pills and those references were taboo for country singers then."
O'Keefe told Mojo about the song's lyrical content: "Maybe it was about hipsters drawn to the high life. I lived in interesting times and there was a lot of experimentation with every kind of drug. There were a lot of damages and strange intersections of lives that provided much grist for a young songwriter's mill."
O'Keefe on the song's legacy: "The success of one's dreams is always exhilarating. Elvis cut the song with the same group of musicians I had, so there was a pride in continuity, but I didn't think he brought anything new to it. Over the years I've come to appreciate it more as part of the song's great legacy."
This was to be O'Keefe's only hit but he is known for penning "The Road," a song recorded by Jackson Browne on his 1977 album, Running On Empty.