Rocky Mountain Way

Album: The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get (1973)
Charted: 39 23


  • After leaving his group the James Gang at the end of 1971, Joe Walsh moved from Cleveland to Boulder, Colorado, where he wrote this song, which celebrates the scenery and lifestyle of Colorado. In some ways, the song is a rocked-up version of John Denver's "Rocky Mountain High," which was released the previous year. Both songs use the famous Rocky Mountains as a focal point for the virtues of Colorado.
  • Joe Walsh left the James Gang just as they were building momentum, having scored minor hits with "Walk Away" and "Funk #49." Splintering the band as they were on the verge of stardom didn't go over well with Walsh's bandmates or their record company, but Joe felt creatively limited in the 3-piece band and wanted out. Colorado put him near James Gang producer Bill Szymczyk, who continued to work with Walsh and produced this album.

    "Rocky Mountain Way" reflects Walsh's range of emotions after making the big move. He explained in the book The Guitar Greats: "I got kind of fed up with feeling sorry for myself, and I wanted to justify and feel good about leaving the James Gang, relocating, going for it on a survival basis. I wanted to say 'Hey, whatever this is, I'm positive and I'm proud', and the words just kind of came out of feeling that way, rather than writing a song out of remorse. It was special then, and the words were special to me, because the words were like, 'I'm goin' for it, the heck with feeling sorry for this and that', and it did turn out to be a special song for a lot of people. I think the attitude and the statement of that have a lot to do with it – it's a positive song, and it's basic rock'n'roll, which is what I really do."
  • When Walsh moved to Colorado, he formed a band called Barnstorm, whose first, self-titled album came out in 1972. Their next album was The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get, which contained this track. The song was co-written by the group: Rocke Grace (keyboards), Kenny Passarelli (bass), Joe Vitale (drums), and Walsh. The music was written before Walsh added the lyrics.

    As for Barnstorm, they played up to their name and did over 300 gigs in 1973. The band broke up after the two albums, which have since been more commonly credited as Joe Walsh solo works.
  • This was one of the first songs to feature a talkbox, which allows a guitarist to make distorted vocalizations with his mouth. Peter Frampton is probably the most famous talkbox practitioner, and his use of the device is prominent on his famous 1976 album Frampton Comes Alive. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Aaron - Manistee, MI
  • Walsh is a big baseball fan, and this song has become associated with the game because of the lyrics "Casey's at bat," which is a reference to a famous baseball poem. When the Colorado Rockies baseball team formed in 1993, "Rocky Mountain Way" became a popular song at their stadium, Coors Field, where the song is played after a Rockies win.
  • Joe Walsh described writing the lyrics to this song during an interview with Howard Stern. Walsh explained he had the track recorded but had no ideas for lyrics. He had been living in Colorado after leaving the James Gang over creative differences with the direction of the music. He was mowing his lawn and looking at the Rocky Mountains and the lyrics came to him. He ran inside to write the lyrics but forgot to shut off the lawn mower. The mower ran into his neighbor's yard and ruined the neighbor's garden.

    "It was a very expensive song to write," Walsh said, implying he had to pay to repair the damage to the neighbor's yard. He said the lyrics describe his anxiety about leaving the James Gang and his excitement about a solo career. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Nick - Deltona, FL

Comments: 22

  • Glenn C. from Howell, Njthis song isn't about pot. "out to pasture, think it's safe to say, time to open fire" is about the record company and band displeasure at him for leaving. "bases are loaded and Kirschner's at bat" - can't argue with a sick mind.
  • Janet M from ConnecticutWatching Eagles on ESPN2 now. Great show!
  • Ken from Louisville, KyAt almost every Eagles concert, Joe performs this song along with Life's Been Good. He's also done Walk Away and Funk #49 at Eagles' shows.
  • Matt from Washington, Dc, Dc"Ozark Mountain Daredevils" ... hence the stunt plane.
  • Matt from Washington, Dc, DcI originally heard this song on an album that credited "Joe Walsh and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils." The latter portion flew under the banner bearing Walsh's name at a thickness identical to the banner that carries the album title "The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get." And this song's strongest hook is virually copied in The Steve Miller Band's "The Stake" which appeared in 1977.
  • Darrell from Dallas, TxThis song is about a bunch of hippies smoking dope in a field. "Out to pasture, think it's safe to say, time to open fire" means lighting up.
  • Scotty from Cheyenne, WyTo Don in Indy, good thing Reagan slammed the ball into RIGHT field for a home run, eh!?!
  • Steven from Storrs, CtMichael Bolton recorded Rocky Mountain Way in the 1970's when he used his real name Michael Bolotin. I remember the local FM station playing it because he was from New Haven. Joe and Barnstorm were the originals.
  • Josh from Westborough, Mai think he meant the guy from Office Space
  • Bazzaman from Johnson, VtAs far as I know, from anything I can find, I don't see how anyone can think Michael Bolton had a darned thing to do this song. It's Walsh and Barnstorm, and as Philip from Akron pointed out, written by Rocke Grace, Kenny Passarelli, Joe Vitale, and Joe Walsh...who of course were all in Barnstorm.
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlI forgot about a song w/ the same riff & 6/8 time as this one all throughout: "The Stake" by Steve Miller Band. Did they plan that? I like the mentions of baseball in this song. For that same reason I like "Centerfield" by John Fogerty.
  • Drew from B\'ham, AlThis riff sounds like the same one from "China Grove" by the Doobie Brothers. Only that's in 4/4 time & this is 6/8 time.
  • Dan from Calgary, AbSaw the "Reagan's at bat" version when Joe did a guest stint at KISW in Seatlle (1987?)
  • Chase from Miami, FlAmen Allie of a little ol town
  • John from Cuyahoga Falls, OhPhilip is right on the songwriters. Michael Bolton??? Pleeeeease.
  • John from Dundee, United KingdomJohn,Queens,NY
    I think that you did the wrong Google search on this one. Yes, it comes up as Michael Bolton lyrics, but I think Joe Walsh wrote this song.
    It's probably an James Gang song.
  • Eric from Bend, OrThis is one of my favorite rock songs. Walsh's 70s stuff was great. I also enjoyed watching the Eagles play this on their Farewell 1 Tour DVD.
  • Allie from A Little Ol' Town In, MiThis is an awesome song to play on guitar, Joe was the best thing that happened to the Eagles!!
  • Don from Indianapolis, InDoes anyone remember a "LIVE" version of this song that Joe performs while a member of the Eagles, in which he replaces the phrase "bases are loaded and Casey's at bat..." with "bases are loaded and REAGAN'S at bat", in reference to then President Ronald Reagan?
  • Don from Indianapolis, InI'm surprised that Michael Bolton hasn't try to RECORD it...or put it on a "love songs" album...
  • Philip from Akron, Oh"Rocky Mountain Way" was written by Rocke Grace, Kenny Passarelli, Joe Vitale, and Joe Walsh.
  • John from Queens, NyAs hard as it is to believe, this great rocker was penned by none other than Michael Bolton!
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