The Daily

The Low Highway

In the Bible, the highway is used as a metaphor to describe how roads were prepared for an important traveler.

This refers to the common practice of monarchs, who, before traveling into a new place, would send a party ahead of them to make sure that the road—the way—was easily passable. This crew would open up difficult passages, level out the road, make sure that it was as straight as possible, and remove any impediments to smooth travel.

Being a trial lawyer means hard work preparing difficult roads to make them passable. Many days, I use the feeling of old folk and country music that pulls on these threads to make sense of things. In America, many highways’ designed paths challenge already disadvantaged communities. When I was young, I lived east of Interstate 95’s designated route that cut in half Miami’s Overtown neighborhood. I never knew the history behind decisions like that until later. But as a boy, I remember exploring the giant sand mountains used to erect the busy road down Florida’s Gold Coast. A decade later, 95 was my work commute – more of a twenty-four-hour death rally than a road. There are construction delays and distractions on the Low Highway. The route is often dark and dangerous.

On the low highway
Windows down
Wheels turning round
On the asphalt saying
Every sound
Is a prophecy
Heard an old man grumble and a young girl cry
Brick wall crumble and the white dove fly
And a cry for justice and a call for peace
Force of reason in the roar of the beast
And every mile is a prayer I prayed
As I roll down
The low highway

Steve Earle, The Low Highway