The opening track, "Spider Fingers", became a favorite at live shows due to the sheer finger skill required. The song itself is about a skilled piano player.
"White Wheeled Limousine" is another fan favorite, but the lyrics here, as in some other songs, is much darker. This one is about infidelity on the day of a wedding. Hornsby's songs often revolve around imperfect relationships, often contrasting dark lyrics with brighter musical composition.
The song from which the album takes it's title, "Hot House Ball", is another example of this contrast. Musically, this is a song you might hear at a southern dance hall. It has upbeat tempo, and is highlighted by an energetic saxophone section. But a close look at the lyrics tells you that this one is about nuclear holocaust. This plays on a fear that is both real and larger than life at the same time.
Two singles were released from this album. The first was "Walk In The Sun", the story of the fictitious Vernon James, who works as a ticket taker for a peep show. He has a relationship, possibly real, possibly imagined, with one of the strippers, and he talks of how it's ok that men look at his girl, since they don't get to have her. Most of the time, they only see each other at night of course, but one day they will get away from it all, and be able to "walk in the sun". It's a sort of bittersweet song, with s very hopeful musical arrangement.
The other single was "Cruise Control". This was the last sing that Hornsby's good friend and Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia ever played on. This is a more pop friendly song than most of the album, and it did have some minor chart movement.
Hornsby had never been one to adapt his music to meet the popular musical fads. As such, he hasn't had a ton of hits, but this isn't how his music should be judged. He plays a variety of styles, whatever strikes him at the moment. He is ridiculously talented, and had always attracted other talented musicians to play with him. This album took two musical styles that I generally would not listen to in jazz and bluegrass, and made them accessible to me. That's a great talent, and worth giving a listen.