40,000 Headmen

40,000 Headmen
1999 - Castle Music, Ltd.

Roamin' Thro' the Gloamin with 40,000 Headmen" (album title: "Forty Thousand Headmen"), written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, was first recorded by Traffic in 1967 or 1968. It was initially released as B-side to the "No Face, No Name, No Number" single in 1968 and also appears on their second album Traffic. Blood, Sweat & Tears also recorded it on their 1970 album, Blood, Sweat & Tears 3.

The song is sung from the perspective of the unnamed protagonist, who is only hurt, not killed, by the bullets of the eponymous headmen. The lyrics were inspired by what Capaldi refers to as "a hash fuelled dream." They have been described as being "an evocation of a dream state".

Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi's 1998-99 "40,000 Headmen" reunion tour took its name from this song.

Lyrics by Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi:

Forty thousand headmen couldn't make me change my mind
If I had to take the choice between the deafman and the blind
I know just where my feet should go and that's enough for me
I turned around and knocked them down and walked across the sea

Hadn't traveled very far when suddenly I saw
Three small ships a-sailing out towards a distant shore
So lighting up a cigarette I followed in pursuit
And found a secret cave where they obviously stashed their loot

Filling up my pockets, even stuffed it up my nose
I must have weighed a hundred tons between my head and toes
I ventured forth before the dawn had time to change its mind
And soaring high above the clouds I found a golden shrine

Laying down my treasure before the iron gate
Quickly rang the bell hoping I hadn't come too late
But someone came along and told me not to waste my time
And when I asked him who he was he said, 'Just look behind'

So I turned around and forty thousand headmen bit the dirt
Firing twenty shotguns each and man, it really hurt
But luckily for me they had to stop and then reload
And by the time they'd done that I was heading down the road 

Live: 40,000 Headmen Tour