After fifty years, I’m still looking for the meaning of “The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys”

It is, or it could be, about their agents. Low Spark refers to the low creativity of their High Heeled Boys who Profit from the songwriter’s and musician’s Dreams, their muse, while the artists live way too high and Beyond All Their Means – on credit.

TRAFFIC – THE LOW SPARK OF HIGH-HEELED BOYS – The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys (1971) :: SOTW #22

the low spark of high heeled boy traffic meaning?

Since January, I’ve been writing about classic albums from 1971 to see if they hold on to their greatness after fifty years. Most have needed a new listen or two because I hadn’t heard them in their entirety in many years. That wasn’t the case with “Low Spark.” It’s been a regular on whatever music listening device I’ve used since its release. It’s also one of my go-to records when I’m looking to kill an hour on a long plane flight or car road trip.

Hmmmm again….both of them make sense and are possibilities, but we’ll never really know. Jim Capaldi died in 2005 and with that, he took the actual meaning of the words to his grave. Maybe we just have to accept and enjoy it for what it is….a great song and album in 1971 and still a great song and album in 2021.

The song is about drug culture and the relationships between users and suppliers. Low spark is injection, and high heeled boy is speedball, a mixture of cocaine and heroin. The first verse is about shooting up. The second verse is about a dealer that got overdosed. The man in the suit making profits on the dreams of his customers is the dealer. The third verse waxes philosophical and asks what you would do in a life and death situation, and if you haven’t been in a life and death situation, assures you that one day you will be, if not already. That what bothers you is that you know you are already in a life and death situation.

I’ve thought about this occasionally over the last half-century, but I never cared enough to actually check it out. A friend once mentioned it had something to do with drugs and drug dealers, but he didn’t explain what and how he knew this. Someone else said it had to do with folks who have nothing to do with the making of music stealing money and credit from the musicians who do the actual work. I don’t know…maybe…maybe not.

Pollard and I would sit around writing lyrics all day, talking about Bob Dylan and the Band, thinking up ridiculous plots for the movie. Before I left Morocco, Pollard wrote in my book ‘The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys’. For me, it summed him up. He had this tremendous rebel attitude. He walked around in his cowboy boots, his leather jacket. At the time he was a heavy little dude. It seemed to sum up all the people of that generation who were just rebels. The ‘Low Spark’, for me, was the spirit, high-spirited. You know, standing on a street corner. The low rider. The ‘Low Spark’ meaning that strong undercurrent at the street level.

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