40,000 Headmen

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"Roamin' Thro' the Gloamin with 40,000 Headmen"
Song by Traffic
from the album Traffic
Released 1968
Recorded 1967/1968
Genre Folk rock
Length 3:14
Label Island Records
Songwriter(s) Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi
Producer(s) Jimmy Miller

"Roamin' Thro' the Gloamin with 40,000 Headmen" (album title: "Forty Thousand Headmen"), written by Steve Winwood and Jim Capaldi, was first recorded by Traffic in 1967 or 1968. It was initially released as B-side to the "No Face, No Name, No Number" single in 1968 and also appears on their second album Traffic. Blood, Sweat & Tears also recorded it on their 1970 album, Blood, Sweat & Tears 3.

The protagonist of the song follows the eponymous headmen across the sea to a hidden cave where they have stored up a large treasure. Taking as much as he can carry, he travels to a shrine only to find that the headmen have followed him; they open fire, wounding the protagonist but not killing him, and he decides to flee. The lyrics were inspired by what Capaldi refers to as "a hash fuelled dream."[1] He also described them as "a loon". They have been described as being "an evocation of a dream state".[2]

Dave Mason and Jim Capaldi's 1998-99 "40,000 Headmen" reunion tour took its name from this song, despite the fact that Mason had no involvement in the original recording of the song. An album of highlights from this tour has been released.

Caroline Aiken recorded an acoustic version of the song for her 2002 album Unshaken.

On Jim Capaldi's box set Dear Mr Fantasy from 2011 appears a reggae version of the song.


  1. ^ (2011) In Dear Mr Fantasy: The Jim Capaldi Story (pp.32-43) [CD booklet]. London: Freedom Songs Ltd.
  2. ^ Reviewed at allmusic.com https://www.allmusic.com/song/t2519891

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