Purgatory Road

Purgatory Road

When I first saw the sign for Purgatory Road, which runs over a rugged ridge outside Wimberley called the Devil’s Backbone, I knew I had to write a song about it. I’m not the only one: Ray Wiley Hubbard and John Arthur Martinez have sung about that same treacherous stretch of blacktop, and it’s been the subject of many a ghost story.

Twenty-one in a two-bit town
Is just this side of Hell.
He was working his days in a Circle K,
Spending his nights trying to stay out of jail.
He looked at the lives of his ma and his pa.
How they worked like the devil just to survive,
And he felt his life slipping away like the air
On his face on a late-night ride.

He could feel the midnight wind,
Feel those wheels roll,
Acting out his innocence,
Cleaning out his soul.
He could picture heaven’s gates
Open as he drove,
Just around the bend,
Just beyond the end
Of Purgatory Road.

He thought if he saved up his money,
He could fly off to school in the fall.
Earn a degree,
He could set himself free,
And get away once and for all.
But saving is easier said than done,
When there’s nothing to do but get drunk and raise hell.
He’d be selling his soul on a Saturday night,
And then drive off to look for an angel.


Now, every life has a mission,
A road we’re supposed to discover.
But the dust we kick up clouds our vision,
And most of us just pull on over.

So he pulled on into a parking lot,
Where he picked up a bag of pure white.
His errand was done.
He was on his way home,
When he saw a flashing blue light.
He poured on the speed down a straightaway strip.
He was making his final escape.
And the last thing he heard as he blew and he flipped
Was the wind come to take him away.


Just around the bend,
When he reached the end
Of Purgatory Road.

Bluebonnet Border SkinnyWords and music © 1995 by Steve Brooks and Frog Records
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