"On the Road Again" is included on Canned Heat's second album, Boogie with Canned Heat, released January 21, 1968, by Liberty Records, when an edited version was released as a single in April 1968, "On the Road Again" became Canned Heat's first record chart hit and one of their best-known songs.
A driving blues-rock boogie, it was adapted from earlier blues songs and includes mid-1960s psychedelic rock elements. Unlike most of Canned Heat's songs from the period, second guitarist and harmonica player Alan Wilson provides the distinctive falsetto vocal.
Floyd Jones and Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson wrote this song. Wilson played on this a drone instrument, which gave the song a psychedelic feel. Wilson had gained a knowledge of Eastern music after studying the Veena (an Indian stringed instrument) while at UCLA.
Like many bands that capture the spirit of their times, Canned Heat wasn’t destined to remain in the spotlight for long. Wilson’s recording career lasted just three years, as he died of a drug overdose in September 1970. The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and all-around blues scholar was 27 years old—just like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, who followed him into rock ‘n’ roll heaven two and four weeks later, respectively. Canned Heat continued on, but according to Taylor, it was never the same without the Blind Owl.
Well, I'm so tired of crying But I'm out on the road again I'm on the road again Well, I'm so tired of crying But I'm out on the road again I'm on the road again I ain't got no woman Just to call my special friend
You know the first time I traveled Out in the rain and snow In the rain and snow You know the first time I traveled Out in the rain and snow In the rain and snow I didn't have no payroll Not even no place to go
And my dear mother left me When I was quite young When I was quite young And my dear mother left me When I was quite young When I was quite young She said "Lord, have mercy On my wicked son"
Take a hint from me, mama Please don't you cry no more Don't you cry no more Take a hint from me, mama Please don't you cry no more Don't you cry no more 'Cause it's soon one morning Down the road I'm going
But I ain't going down That long old lonesome road All by myself But I ain't going down That long old lonesome road All by myself I can't carry you, baby Gonna carry somebody else
On the Road Again lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC