UNAPPROVED ROAD

"And look at that face, do you recognize it?"


Part of the Annotated Horslips Lyrics Pages on comebackhorslips.com
Compiled by Lee Templeton, San Francisco

A late encounter with the enemy,
On one of those crazy August nights.
You hear the challenge then you're runnin' away,
But he's got you firmly in his sights.
Out on patrol or on your third parole,
You were running from light to light.
And as you turn around slowly
You realise you've only yourself to blame,
And softly curse your plight.

Pre-Chorus

And look at that face do you recognise it?
Is it something in the bone?
And if it's a mirror when the mirror shatters,
Will you be alone?

Chorus

And you remember someone sayin'
It's an unapproved road you're on
Unapproved road
It's an unapproved road you're on
And if you walk this way you may never come home

Close encounter with a memory,
Stumbling round in foreign parts.
And though you heard it often, it rings so sudden
That sharp command; it thrills you to the heart.

You look at that face and you recognize it
Ohhh something in the bone
And as you surrender there's the strangest feelin'
That the road leads home

And you remember how she told you
It's an unapproved road you're on
Unapproved road
It's an unapproved road you're on
And if you walk this way you may never come home

Chorus

And you remember how she told you
It's an unapproved road you're on
Unapproved road
It's an unapproved road you're on
It's an unapproved road
It's an unapproved road you're on
It's an unapproved road
It's an unapproved road you're on
Unapproved road

Recorded On:

  1. Short Stories Tall Tales

Performed Live:

  1. Bottom Line, New York, November 1979
  2. Parkwest, Chicago, April 1979 (date needs confirmation.)

Covered By:

  1. Horslypse

General Notes

It's about how sharp fear sometimes drives the impulse to love.

Barry Devlin, email to site, July 2007

...the energy is still there, and the playing is tighter than ever. "Law on the Run" and the aforementioned "Unapproved Road" are two tracks with a lot of drive.

Michael Neumann, ProgArchives review of Short Stories Tall Tales, 2007

SSTT always seemed to me to be holding a mirror up to Ireland at the end of the 70s and it is the only album I can see that even obliquely references the political situation. Unapproved road, of course, was a term for the backroads and byways across the border that were unpatrolled by the military, thus providing ample latitude for paramilitaries, smugglers and drunk drivers. Also the whole "you hear the challenge" bit reminds me of several times being stopped and searched in NI by men in uniform. Or have I got this COMPLETELY wrong...?

Donnacha Kavanagh, Comebackhorslips Guestbook, August 2, 2007

Annotated Lyrics:

"A late encounter with the enemy"

Title of a short story by American author Flannery O'Connor. From the Literature, Arts and Medicine database:
"The Civil War antique, 104 year old "General" Sash, is the central figure. For him, "living has got to be such a habit . . . that he couldn't conceive of any other condition." This tale opens with a carefully crafted description of the absolute mutual inability of the principles--Sash and his 62 year old granddaughter, Sally Poker--to operate on the same wave length. Sally dotes on the fabricated fame of her ancient grandfather, and Sash, whose memory is essentially gone except for his recall of "beautiful guls" and his love of being on stage, lives for the moment while scarcely grasping it.

Literature, Arts and Medicine database, http://litmed.med.nyu.edu, 1993-2007


As you're probably aware, SSTT's original premise (and the one I stuck to, mainly) was to use short story titles by writers with an Irish connection as the jumping off points for tall tales woven around them.

Barry Devlin, email to site, July 2007

The Annotated Horslips Lyric Project thanks Ryan O'Sullivan of Horslypse for his transcription of the lyrics.



First Posted: July 19, 2007
Last Revised: December 27, 2007