Workin’ Them Angels

Background and Commentary

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.”

Lyrics

Driving away to the east, and into the past
History recedes in my rear-view mirror
Carried away on a wave of music down a desert road
Memory humming at the heart of a factory town

All my life
I’ve been workin’ them angels overtime
Riding and driving and living
So close to the edge
Workin’ them angels—overtime

Riding through the Range of Light to the wounded city
Filling my spirit with the wildest wish to fly
Taking the high road to the wounded city
Memory strumming at the heart of a moving picture

All this time
I’ve been workin’ them angels overtime
Riding and diving and flying
Just over the edge
Workin’ them angels—overtime

Driving down the razor’s edge ‘tween the past and the future
Turn up the music and smile
Get carried away on the songs and stories of vanished times
Memory drumming at the heart of an English winter
Memories beating at the heart of an African village

Tablature (Chords)

From Your Chords.

Note: It’s kinda hard to put the chords on top of the lyrics for this song, since
different timings are involved.

Work this progression during the intro and first verses:

G G G A
G G G D
G G G A
G G G D
G G G A
G G G D
G G G A

Driving away to the east, and into the past
History receeds in my rear-view mirror
Carried away on a wave of music down a desert road

_________

(build-up)

G G G E C A
E C A

Memory humming at the heart of a factory town

_________

Chorus:
E C A
E C (then A B G E quickly)

All my life
I’ve been workin’ them angels overtime
Riding and driving and living
So close to the edge
Workin’ them angels – Overtime

_________

Chords during solo:
E C A

_________

For the other verses and choruses, the chords remain the same as the intro, verses, and choruses.

From Your Chords.

Tutorials

“Workin’ Them Angels” guitar cover

“Workin’ THem Angels” drum cover (starts at 01:00)

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~ by rvkeeper on February 20, 2011.

 
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