Lost Highway (Leon Payne song)

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"Lost Highway" is a country music song written and recorded by blind country singer-songwriter Leon Payne in 1948. It was released in October 1948 on Nashville-based Bullet label.

In the early days of Leon Payne's career, he used to travel from one place to another, trying to find jobs wherever he could. Once he was in California hitchhiking to Alba, Texas, to visit his sick mother, he was unable to get a ride and finally got help from The Salvation Army. He wrote "Lost Highway" on the edge of the road while waiting for a ride.[1]


  • In 1949, a famous version was recorded and released by Hank Williams.[2] The version is so well known that Williams is often mistakenly given credit for writing the song.[3]
  • Elton Britt performed the song on his 1960 album Beyond The Sunset.
  • Jimmy Martin and the Sunshine Boys did a version of the song on their 1966 release Good'N Country.
  • Jason & the Scorchers covered the song on their 1985 album Lost and Found.
  • Country music singer Johnny Horton recorded a version of the song alongside another Payne composition "They'll Never Take Her Love From Me."
  • Jeff Buckley played "Lost Highway" live in one of his concerts. It was released posthumously in 2004 on the re-release of his debut album Grace (Legacy edition)
  • The Mekons did a cover of "Lost Highway" on their album Fear and Whiskey.
  • Bill Frisell included a live instrumental version on his 2005 live album Furthur East/Furthur West.
  • A version filmed during a rehearsal appears in the Tom Petty documentary Runnin' Down a Dream.
  • In 2008, World Idol Kurt Nilsen released a cover version on his album Rise to the Occasion. This version features Willie Nelson. The single reached #1 on Norway's VG-lista, the official Norwegian singles chart.
  • In 2009, Willie Nelson recorded it yet again on his album Lost Highway with musician with Ray Price
  • David Allan Coe did a cover version of "Lost Highway" on his Ghost Of Hank Williams Album in 1997
  • In 2013, The Replacements released a cover version on their EP Songs for Slim, a fundraiser for Slim Dunlap.


I'm a rollin' stone all alone and lost
For a life of sin I have paid the cost
When I pass by all the people say
Just another guy on the lost highway

Just a deck of cards and a jug of wine
And a woman's lies makes a life like mine
Oh the day we met, I went astray
I started rolling down that lost highway

I was just a lad, nearly twenty two
Neither good nor bad, just a kid like you
And now I'm lost, too late to pray
Lord I take a cost, o the lost highway

Now boy's don't start to ramblin' round
On this road of sin are you sorrow bound
Take my advice or you'll curse the day
You started rollin' down that lost highway

In popular culture[edit]

  • In 1965, Bob Dylan sang it with Joan Baez off-stage in a hotel room during 1965 British tour.[4]

Chart procession and succession[edit]

Preceded by
"Mercy" by Duffy
Norwegian singles chart number-one single
Week 19 / 2008 (1 week)
Kurt Nilsen featuring Willie Nelson
Succeeded by
"Radio GaGa (Queen Song)


  1. ^ Telephone interview with Mrs. Myrtie Payne (Payne’s widow), 20 December 1972; reprinted in Dorothy Horstman, Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy, New York, 1976, p. 368.
  2. ^ CMT.com: Leon Payne biography
  3. ^ NME.com: "Lost Highway" by Hank Williams video
  4. ^ Bob Dylan Roots.com: "Lost Highway (Leon Payne song)"