"Rocky Mountain Way"
Single by Joe Walsh
from the album The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get
B-side"(Day Dream) Prayer"
GenreBlues rock
Joe Walsh singles chronology
"Rocky Mountain Way"
Official audio
Rocky Mountain Way on YouTube

"Rocky Mountain Way" is a 1973 song by rock guitarist Joe Walsh and his band Barnstorm, with writing credits given to all four band members: Walsh, Rocke Grace, Kenny Passarelli, and Joe Vitale. The song was originally released on the album The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get.


Walsh appeared in studio on The Howard Stern Show on June 12, 2012, and talked about how the lyrics to the song came to him in 1972 shortly after releasing his first solo effort, Barnstorm.

"I'm living in Colorado and I'm mowing the lawn. I look up and there's the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and there's snow on them in the summer. And it knocked me back because it was just beautiful. And I thought, 'Well I have committed. I'm already in Colorado and it's too late to regret the James Gang. The Rocky Mountain way is better than the way I had, because the music was better.' I got the words. Bam!"[1]

Walsh has varied that story over the years, however, telling the Rocky Mountain News that he wrote the lyrics while recording the album at Caribou Ranch Recording Studio. The song features Walsh using a guitar talk box manufactured by sound engineer Bob Heil, inventor of the Heil high-powered talk box. The distinct tone "... gives Walsh's blues stomp a futuristic wave, as if a hulking mechanical beast was looming just over those rocky mountains."[2][3][4]

The song was used as the title to Walsh's 1985 compilation album, which featured previously released singles and tracks from his albums Barnstorm, The Smoker You Drink, the Player You Get and So What.


In Jake Brown's 2014 book Behind the Boards II, producer Bill Szymczyk writes about how Walsh first came up with an instrumental "blues-shuffle" recorded at the Criteria studio, then stripped down to drums alone at the Caribou studio and rebuilt from there, adding lyrics to make the final version. Walsh is described as having layered about "six or seven" guitars on the recording, playing through a small amp with one Shure SM57 microphone aimed at it. Szymczyk says the thick guitar sound is from Walsh himself, not from studio trickery.[5]

Chart history

Chart (1973) Peak
Australia (Kent Music Report)[6] 39
Canada RPM Top Singles[7] 31
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[8] 23
U.S. Cash Box Top 100[9] 13
Chart (1977) Peak
UK Singles Chart 39

Live versions

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In 1976, Walsh recorded the song on his You Can't Argue with a Sick Mind album.

Walsh played the song frequently while on tour with the Eagles, including the 1977 Hotel California Tour, again in 1979 and later into the first half of 1980's Long Run tour, also being added yet again to the set in the 1994 reunion tour with Eagles.

In 1985, Walsh joined Australian rock band, The Party Boys, and while touring they recorded a live album, You Need Professional Help, which featured an extended guitar duel between Walsh and Kevin Borich on "Rocky Mountain Way".[10]

In 1989, Walsh played an eight-minute version in the Ringo Starr's All Starr Band, starting with a slide arrangement of "Amazing Grace."

In October 19, 1991 Joe Walsh performed this song with Brian May, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Nuno Bettencourt at the Guitar Legends festival in Seville.

In 2004 it was sung by Walsh at Crossroads Guitar Festival and along with Eagles on their Farewell I Tour.

In 2010, "Rocky Mountain Way" was one of three songs played during the encore each night during the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden Tour. The other two songs performed in the encore were "Desperado" and "Take it Easy".

In 2012, "Rocky Mountain Way" was the first of six songs performed live by Walsh in the Joe Walsh episode (episode 60) of Live from Daryl's House, which also includes discussion of the song.

On May 24, 2016, Walsh performed "Rocky Mountain Way" on the season 10 finale of the NBC reality television singing competition The Voice, along with contestant Laith Al-Saadi.

Other uses

The Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball franchise has played the song after every home win at Coors Field since 1995.[11][12]

In 1998, the ABC television network wanted to use a classic rock song for Monday Night Football that year, so they asked Walsh to rewrite the lyrics to "Rocky Mountain Way" for Denver Broncos quarterback John Elway. "Rocky Mountain Elway" was the new title of the song and Walsh appeared in a video that ABC Sports showed on a telecast of Monday Night Football.

The Denver Broncos currently play the Godsmack cover version of the song during home games at Empower Field at Mile High.[13]

In 2001 the song was used in the Tony Scott film Spy Game twice - at 19'18" (for 1 minute) to describe actions in the closing days of the Vietnam War, and during final credits in full length. In the same year, it was also featured in the David Spade comedy, Joe Dirt.

The song was a concert staple cover for the Canadian rock band Triumph from 1978 to 1988.[14][circular reference]

The song appears in the 2008 video game Grand Theft Auto IV on the radio station Liberty Rock Radio.


  1. ^ Joe Walsh; Howard Stern (April 18, 2021). What’s the Greatest Song Joe Walsh Ever Wrote?. The Howard Stern Show. Retrieved December 17, 2023 – via YouTube.
  2. ^ "Top 10 Talk Box Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. 18 September 2014.
  3. ^ "How Talk Boxes Work". HowStuffWorks. June 27, 2011.
  4. ^ Bienstock, Richard (May 19, 2016). "Joe Walsh: My Life in 15 Songs". Rolling Stone.
  5. ^ Brown, Jake (May 1, 2014). Behind the Boards II: The Making of Rock 'n' Roll's Greatest Records Revealed. Hal Leonard Corporation. ISBN 9781480392588 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. Australian Chart Book, St Ives, N.S.W. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  7. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1973-12-01. Retrieved 2018-07-09.
  8. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  9. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 10/27/73". tropicalglen.com.
  10. ^ McFarlane, Ian (1999). "'The Party Boys' Entry". Encyclopedia of Australian Rock and Pop. St Leonards, NSW: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1865080721. Archived from the original on 19 April 2004. Retrieved 31 March 2012. Note: Archived [on-line] copy has limited functionality.
  11. ^ Clair, Michael (July 12, 2019). "Every team's victory song, ranked". MLB.com. MLB Advanced Media. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  12. ^ Duvall, Erin (June 30, 2016). "Keith Urban Rocks "Rocky Mountain Way" With Legendary Joe Walsh of The Eagles". OneCountry.com. Retrieved August 22, 2016. The pair played "Rock Mountain Way," a song from Walsh's former band Barnstorm. The tune has been adopted by the Colorado Rockies baseball team and was also reworked in the '90s when it appeared on "Monday Night Football."
  13. ^ "Broncos In-Arena Playlist". DenverBroncos.com. NFL Enterprises, LLC. Archived from the original on February 9, 2015. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  14. ^ Triumph (band)#History