Workin’ Them Angels: Background
The piece is about living on the edge, pushing yourself to the limits of your ability. It’s a recurring theme in Neil’s travel memoirs, and in Traveling Music he credits the line “workin’ them angels overtime” to a woman he overhears at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Tennessee while he and his friend Brutus were riding their motorcycles across the United States during the Test for Echo tour in 1996.
“A black couple came in behind us, the woman large with a flowered dress and hat, the man small and skinny in a suit and tie. He was smiling kind of sheepishly as she harangued him with a pointing finger, presumably about his driving: ‘You workin’ them angels overtime—you workin’ them angels overtime.’
“From then on, Brutus and I often used that line on each other, to describe the way we lived, on and off the bikes, and it had continued to be a metaphor for my life. I didn’t think I was foolhardy or irresponsible, but a certain level of risk in life seemed worthwhile for the promised return—excitement and treasured experiences—and though I didn’t realy believe in ‘them angels,’ if I had them, I guessed I kept them pretty busy.”
~ by rvkeeper on January 12, 2011.