SONGBOOK – Albums Lyrics

1. BIRD LIVES

the Bird was deep in Friday night
about to take his weekend flight
Bossman Hunch paid the Killers Five
he said, « The Bird can’t stay alive. »

Red Fred went with a hired gun
unloaded it into the sun
he got the sky but he missed the Bird
Bossman Hunch was deeply disturbed

he said to Fats on Saturday,
« The air is hot, the Bird got away. »
Fat City left him cold and thin
his last words were, « The Bird can’t swim. »

with nets of steel just like his nerves
upon the bridge he met the Bird
above the river he made his try
but he forgot the Bird could fly

on Sunday Jack Knife named his price
but from a distance he backed down twice
with two rounds lost, he was down in the third
face to face against the bird

so Bossman sent Pigboy the Clown
with Chauffeur Mule to drive him down
at a hundred and twenty they followed the Bird
but they never made around Dead Man’s Curve.

Bossman Hunch said to the Bird
those killers got what they deserved
stringing up the other three
on Monday morning the Bird was free

have you heard the word:  Bird lives

[ Rome, May 1968 ]

2. OCTOBER MORNINGS

October mornings
no one is claiming to be insane
and tho it’s tilting
no one’s explaining
the labyrinth of colors
unwinding in amazement

and from the afternoons of still life
to the evening’s portrait
frames do not intend to be the end
and the paint is only rain

matador magicians
with the pendulums of their hands
are throwing questions
into vacant corridors of waiting
then stand back to laugh at
circles of confusion
lines of answers and the shapes
from sudden pressure of their face
against the glass
are the signs upon their capes

a metamorphosis
of rainbow spice into ice
the cardboard stop signs
announce the coming of the cellophane moon
crashing thru its phases

the open night is hanging mind-cloud posters
from the edge of the universe
the stars are moaning for a double
then explode from loneliness

guitars and flute trills
in cloaks of string quartets
untangle the morning
electric dancers are dangling the sky
with fireworks and candles

and from the afternoons of still life
to the evening’s portrait
frames do not intend to be the end
and the paint is only rain

[ Rome, October 1967 ]

3. A FACE THAT HASN'T SOLD OUT

I was about a thousand miles
from the nearest friendly smile
I had a pocketful of faces
expressions of the latest style
when a messenger from the crowd
asked, « How do you do? »
said I, « Very well
and how about you? »

I’m looking for a face that hasn’t sold out
looking for a soul that hasn’t sold out

explosions in my head
took me up thru the city
where the white plastic sky was doing tricks
and the whores felt no pity
you need a lot of magic
to hang around the heavy part of town
the people took what little I had
and left me in the underground

looking for a face that hasn’t sold out
looking for a soul that hasn’t sold out

at last there was light in the night
as came the flood
and everywhere I looked
the ground was covered with mud
I kept falling in
and I kept on crawling out
and that’s what our life
our love and this song is all about

looking for a face that hasn’t sold out
looking for a soul that hasn’t sold out

[ Liege. June 1968 ]

4. THE ROADRUNNER

the landscape is barren, the sky is solid white
the colors of my memory are dulled by leaden light

and the roadrunner runs across the barren ground
beneath the desert trees are jagged rocks
no sound of the water in the stillness does he touch
the stones yield no path for the root

migratory birds on flight to southern lands
escaping thru mirages are swallowed by the sand

to the north lies country unexplored and deep
there sleeps the Mountain King in the garden that he keeps

my mind it wanders north to the country unexplored
and I cannot remember if I’ve ever dreamed before

upon the river landing where once lived the Ferryman
deserted shade of mountain at the edge of wasted land

I cross the river wide, I leave my boat upon the shore
I wander in the garden for two lifetimes or more

and the roadrunner runs across the barren ground
beneath the desert trees are jagged rocks
no sound of the water in the stillness does he touch
the stones yield no path for the root

[ Rome, December 1967 ]

5. CHILDREN OF FEAR

let these words go forth
from this time and place
to friends across the world
to every stranger’s face

we’ve died in almost every way
we are the children of fear
we’ll live to the end of eternity
give or take a million years

and to the world I am asking
why do you have these boundaries?
and you people, why are you pretending
not to know one another? oh please

tell me where are we not all one?
we have we to protect?
some nation under god?
or some shadow’s self-respect?

we were the children of this god
we stood by heaven’s gates
our nation’s scattered to the wind
these Disunited States

we were living in your cities
it’s put us out of touch
oh America, you eat your children
that’s asking much too much too much

we’re filled with city death
and the cities are filled with holes
to cover our Negro skin
to hide our Indian souls

we’ve died in almost every way
we are the children of fear
we’ll live to the end of eternity
give or take a million years

and to the world I am asking
why do you have these boundaries?
are you people, why are you pretending
not to know one another? oh please

and America, why are you sending
your children from your gates
oh America, quit pretending
not to be the Disunited States

and America, why are you driving
your children from your shores
and your highways and your free streets
and from your beautiful door?

[ London, August 1968 ]

6. THE WIND RETURNS INTO THE NIGHT

the wind returns into the night
above the earth in a mist-hidden sleep
a shadow remains at the edge of the sudden glow
frightened by the flashing of the light down below

out of the chasm the dawn staggered stretching
and out of the stillness an echo was sounded
the fire it climbed to the roof of the sky where it burned

a shaft of light it shattered the clouds
and out of this numerous masked angels danced
in procession from intricate darkness
they beckoned to me and you
broken by the echo of the dawn

and the wind returns into the night
upon its wings rides the shadow breeze
it flies along the edge of broken dreams
haunted by the image of the flight and the glow

off and from mountainsides leaping
we danced thru the forest the leaves the trees
and imagined a voice that told us to follow the wind

shall I remember the children at play
or the birds’ skipping skitter in the morning’s first rain
or the wind’s intense whisper as screamed out a warning
to me and you
reflected by the shadow of the dawn

and the wind returns into the night
and from the path descends the ghosts
some pleading with the keeper of the gate
while others know and choose to wait in silence

remember the soft distant transparent morning
when the darkness was touched by the brown sparrow’s singing
round ringing of bells and the joy when the morning stood still

the wind returns into the night
a path is lit by the lanterns’ dim glow
at once they fade and merge with other flames
leaving only the vaguest pattern of thoughts and dreams

dreams of children singing their voices
floating twisting out of the garden
forming a bridge from the light to the darkness

and now I see the other side
where children lift their hands and try to hide

their faces worn by the memory of sorrow
some crying eyes covered but still undiscovered
some trying to be real but frequently failing like me and you
left with only the silence of the rain and the wind

[ San Francisco, December 1965 ]

7. RUNNING RUNNING FROM MOMENT TO MOMENT

running running from moment to moment
we follow each fleeting instant
out of the window before the chase is on I’m gone
farewell I must leave
I don’t know what I need to take
or if to be secure is an answer or a question

we seldom try to sometimes fly
and often begin and always end
with never a trace left in the sky no place
where we can measure the time we lost

running running from moment to moment
aimed at escaping invisible chains
sometimes laughing at the chase
instead of facing each now and why
goodbye, I didn’t want to quarrel
yesterday, today or tomorrow
but sometimes the laughing
is not enough to keep me around

we said goodbye once before
or was it twice? or three times more?
or maybe four I’ve lost count I can’t remember
the number of times

running running from moment to moment
no reflection, immediate direction
so fast right past each collection of yes and no
so long, I’ll move along
this time my dreams can’t go wrong
but I guess that’s just another running too

[ San Francisco, December 1965 ]

8. UPSIDEDOWN CIRCUS WORLD

step right up the circus man shouts
shoving a program into your mouth
last chance to see what few have witnessed before

freaks to keep the children frightened
people in back rows always fighting
perpetual war in an upsidedown circus world

tricks they play to get you involved
someone on a tightrope, the three rings revolve
take a deep breath and hope that he makes it across

in circles of flames a man eating knives
typical scenes from everyday lives
last chance to get lost in an upsidedown circus world

with the next act coming up
you buy a paper cup of beer but it’s stale
tho the popcorn’s never warm
in the swarm you lose an arm cause it’s on sale

behind the scenes the loneliness
boredom turned into weariness
seen in the seams of the face of the trapeze girl

who sits on a swing and dangles a leg
the crowd shouts for more, the hungry are begging
to take off her clothes in an upsidedown circus world

they need a new victim, you climb in the cage
knowing that fame only comes with old age
it’s time to get ready, the show will soon begin

pretend to smile tho the clowns are not funny
but it’s the life and you had the money
to buy your way in to an upsidedown circus world

but you thought you got a rotten deal
when the lions were for real and alive
so they gave you another chance
but you said you never leaned to dance or how to drive

a bicycle with only one big wheel
fame never comes to some, you’re beginning to feel
you’re a failure in an upsidedown circus world

you’ve earned a few coins so you buy your way out
into the streets among curses and shouts
your brain turning circles, your mind up in a whirl

but quickly to think that the old man was wrong
there is no last chance and no one belongs
and the tickets are free in an upsidedown circus world

[ Rome, June 6, 1967 ]

9. BLUE GOOSE

« Hello, Failure, why not continue?
how’s business? mind your own, » she will say
there’s a bit of last night in the room
as a feeble introduction to today
your friendship lies in bed with her
it’s your choice to pick it up or let it lay
which is likewise cool
Blue Blue Blue Goose

the world is wide and it whimpers against
the Boy of a Hundred Tears who expected fun
he listens for her name (could be beautiful)
says, « Make more mistakes I’ve just begun. »
« What ended? » she sighs and the Boy replies
so wisely, « God it’s only a setting sun
and it’s coming loose,
Blue Blue Blue Goose. »

speaking loudly into the sink
like a microphone her words go down the drain
she’s got a secret but the Laundryman knows
much much more than her name
sensations of frail are burning her feet
she can see the fire smell the smoke
but she can’t touch the flame
she was three years old once
Blue Blue Blue Goose

the Boy of a Hundred Tears steps down
the Brothers Ten take their place upon the shelf
unable to handle their perceptions round the table
she gathers the Eleventh Son of Wealth
she mixes the medicine photos their brains
opens discussion on the state of mental health
and lies of truth
Blue Blue Blue Goose

outside the House of Ill-Dispute
the neighbors park their pick-up trucks of right-hand drive
the children gather up and down around the block
every night from eight to five
to them she speaks from her ouiji board,
« These fingers on the string if they’re alive
then they’ve got a use. »
Blue Blue Blue Goose

she used to be direct what happened to her faith?
it circles reels feels it cannot stand
or maybe it can, the love-electric
sends its message, « Close circuit your hands. »
take the boys for a dollar unbutton their collars
but all that grabbing will never get your man
it’ll get you a fool
Blue Blue Blue Goose

so girl, take flight tho your wings are tipped
and the crypt that stores your extra pair
has been your nest of stone
migration will get you nowhere fast
you haven’t been before as an invited-welcome guest
the law of average says you’ll score
no more no less until you find another home of rest
I’m talking to you
Blue Blue Blue Goose

« Goodbye, Success, rhymes with drag
the Eleventh Son’s in the bag, » she will say
quite forgetting the Brothers Ten
and the Boy of a Hundred Tears from yesterday
and Tomorrow’s Child, the Dragon,
who will melt the ice and chilly frost away
from her crimson egg
Blue Blue Blue Goose

[ Rome, May 1968 ]

10. ALPHA CENTAURII

our earth is sometimes very small
sometimes no larger than a moth
and the blackbird is the night
and stars are the dust
that float in the sunshine
til man begins to measure his lifetime
in light years
rather than in words

no way out of the laughing mouth
no way in to the fingertips
and the landlord and his wife
before they go to sleep
every night they turn in their beds
and shake hands
like past lives
in the book they just read

I cannot move, my mouth is locked
I want to breath, please cut the lines
of the sky where I lost the keys
where the blueflies
tapdance against the soft breeze
and the sunrise
and the nonsense
of the nearest star

[ London, August, 1968 ]

11. RED WIND

released as a single b/w MOONDOG

between my smile and my complicated frown
where one is the other upside down
across my souvenir face of white
and thru the wild empty places of night
the red wind is blowing

there’s no place to go when the wind is red
I cannot move with this chaos in my head
I’m an advertisement for no and yes
and this cup of coffee is my future I guess

and I have no way of knowing
where it is I’m going
the red wind is blowing
the red wind is blowing

we’re all in the morphine bucket, my friend
like adjacent mirrors you cannot see the end
see me somewhere inside making up my time
it’s a slow crucifixion in a waiting line

and I have no way of knowing
where it is I’m going
the rivers has ceased its flowing
and all my nerves are showing
and the tension here is growing
and the tension here is growing
and the red wind is blowing

[ London, November, 1968 ]

12. MOON DOG

released as a single b/w THE RED WIND

upside down upon the sidewalk of the street
you do your trick forgetting who you are
or who it was you’re supposed to meet
when click-click the clocks in towers
start to tick the hours
back off quick, touch the moment with a stick
speak your pleading prayer of where
but you cannot find a place to hide or seek
just disgrace when you embrace a stranger’s face
who says, « Good morning, Faust, my name is Mephistopheles
I’m the one you’re supposed to meet so follow me, please. »

and then three-headed moon dog
crawls the walls of the morning fog
and the slow crow with the lead claw
calls sad, « caw-caw. »

an angel undercover creeps into the corner of your room
you’re another body for the moon
so he pins a red balloon upon the sheets of your belief
and you’re surprised to be captured by a laughing child
in disguised and sparkling eyes that penetrate
your lonely grief and teach you how to fly
and you sigh, « My- my people fall into the sky. »
then he takes off his mask and asks you if you’ve seen
a man called Charon who gives away left-over dreams

and then three-headed moon dog
crawls the walls of the afternoon fog
and the slow crow with the lead claw
calls sad, « caw-caw. »

your blindness believes the myth and never glances back
where the cloak-and-hooded man called Satan is on your track
then you’re run down by a someone clown in tears
who leaves you with his breathing and speaking to your fears
tho Satan has two feet, still he uses your crutch
as he stumbles thru the wasteland
where the tree and root refuse to touch
he puts his cards on the table and says none are his
but he’s never been able to tell it like it is

and then three-headed moon dog
crawls the walls of the evening fog
and the slow crow with the lead claw
calls sad, « caw-caw. »

[ London, November 1968 ]

1. ANOTHER NORMAL DAY

it’s just another normal day
the madman’s on the town
and it looks like rain
there’s a movie going down
and all but one of us is going insane
ah well, when Custer took his fall
he said to his wife
baby, that’s life
and you can’t win ’em all

here comes the cop with his badge
from standing in the rain
it’s getting rusted
you shake his hand, give him a smile
and he does his best to get you busted
ah well, when Custer took his fall
he said to his wife
baby, that’s life
and you can’t win ’em all

there goes the middle man
hey, hey take a look at his feet
one shoe on, one shoe off
he lost it crossing the street
ah well, when Custer took his fall
he said to his wife
baby, that’s life
and you can’t win ’em all

it’s just another normal day
no one loses and no one wins
the weatherman talks of rain
but only dirt is falling again
ah well, when Custer took his fall
the sky was blue
it was a beautiful day
the sun was shining
he was running away
with a mouthful of arrows
he was trying to say
that you can’t win ’em all
ah well – what the hell
when the devil took his fall
with a mouthful of smoke
he said it’s only a joke
and you can’t win ’em all
ah well, what the hell

[ Liege, Summer 1971 ]

2. FREEWAY

let’s go down to the river bridge
see the city upside down
that’s a good way to start the day
that’s a way to know the earth is round

then let’s go down to the freeway
and let a few cars and trucks run thru our minds
and feel the earth revolve
take time to put our hands and feet upon the ground

let’s go down to the railroad tracks
count the boxcars on the train
most of them will be empty
and maybe our heads will feel the same

then let’s go down to the freeway
and let a few cars and trucks run thru our minds
and feel the earth revolve
take time to put our hands and feet upon the ground

my feet have found freedom
your feet are cold
I’m so tired of driving
and you say you’re tired of growing old

so let’s go down to the freeway
and let a few cars and trucks run thru our minds
and feel the earth revolve
take time to put our hands and feet upon the ground

even peace has its problems
(don’t think too much, there’s much to think about)
like the unspoken words that turn your mind
(don’t think too much just touch your own way out)
words that turn to troubled silence
(don’t think too much, there’s much to think about)
like the thoughts that only take away your time
(don’t think too much just touch your own way out)

[ Dommartin (Belgium), Fall 1970 ]

3. A FRIEND LIKE YOU

I will hang a lamp
and ask you to wait
I believe a friend like you
is greater than the sun

time is but the clock
and you made it cease
let us celebrate this peace
with silence and a smile

thoughts of wintertime
in the spring bring the rain
now we’re sweeping up the rain
as silence rings our ears

I will hang a lamp
and ask you to wait
I believe a friend like you
is greater than the sun

[ Garsington (Oxforshire), August 1969 ]

4. LEFT HAND OF MOSES

everything I see turns to fantasy
everything I hear goes out the other ear
everything I taste goes to waste
everything I touch turns into dust
and I can’t tell you why

I’m my brother’s keeper, I’m the street sweeper
I’m Doctor Strange, I’m the Book of Change
your daily bread, I’m the Grateful Dead
I’m the everyman, I’m the left hand of Moses
and I cannot tell you why
that I can’t tell you why

I see no evil, hear no lies
speak only what I’ve memorized
touch only what’s been advertised
I have no secret, just a bad disguise
it’s just a face
if I turn it to two
you can easily take my place

sometimes I’m foolish, sometimes I’m wise
and you can easily see thru my eyes

[ Liege, Summer 1971 ]

5. NO LOVE LOST

I’ve never met a truly evil man
but I’ve met many men who were very confused
so I guess I’m saying that you were one of them, my friend
I’m not getting heavy cause no one here feels used

there was no love lost but you took a little light away
I made a mistake and that’s sometimes hard to say

you told me many stories from your past
and one or two made me feel sad
but now we’re back to where we both began, my friend
so thank you for the good times we had

and it’s a shame that I’ll be nothing more
than just some character in your future tales
and just the same I wish that you were more
than some lines in a song that I put up for sale

there was no love lost but you took a little light away
I made a mistake and that’s sometimes hard to say

[ Liege, Summer 1971 ]

6. SHE'S AN EASY RIDER

see her out there in the distance
moving slow
she’s an easy rider
and she don’t need no place to go
she’s an easy rider

she only needs a motorcycle
and an open road
she’s an easy rider
and in the wind she sings her song
and hears the wind singing along:
you’re an easy rider

father, don’t deny your daughter
her own highway
cause she’s an easy rider
and she don’t hear a word you say
she’s an easy rider

she’s another outsider

it’s good to see her move
she don’t need money
she don’t need clothes
or even a place to go
she’s an easy rider
it’s good to see her moving slow
she’s an easy rider

[ Liege, Summer 1971]

7. AMUSEMENT PARK

I’m not afraid of the dark
but I am afraid of what some people do with it
I live in their amusement park
and I know what they do with that
when they’re thru with it

I lay in these ruins with my lover
she knows my face, she is very kind
I show her what I see and what I see
is hid behind another cover
I am very blind
so I lay her down and ask
as I satisfy my sex:
what comes next?

shall I follow the ghost or the face?
they both try to help me make up my mind
and I know there’s a time and a place
into which we can all someday take our minds

it’s as different as our sleep is
from the way we are right now

[ Liege, April 1971 ]

8. BACK ON THE ROAD AGAIN

kicking out the backstreet Jesus
rolling the dice, picking up the pieces
putting down the broom and going on strike
I don’t know about love but I know what I like

I’d like to find a quiet place
with space to turn around in
and not the cities that I’ve been found inside of
I’d like to breathe some air
the road is open
and there’s music of the trucks
humming down the highway
followed by the wind going my way
trains moving cross country
motorcycles moving from town to downtown
jet planes flying upside down
many cars, many drivers
I feel like the only survivor
rush hour for everyone but me,
the traffic lights and the setting sun
back on the road again

I’ll go wherever the wind blows
back on the road again

[ Liege, Summer 1971 ]

9. CANARY ISLAND RAIN

she writes her lover, I write mine
our fingers whisper each other’s words
I dream of mountains I could climb
and she of Canary Island birds

she’ll plant sunflowers, reap the vines
in the rainy season do the same
I’ll the salt the earth and drink the wine
made from Canary Island rain

[ London, 1969 ]

10. KEEP THAT FIRE BURNING

walking, we’ve been walking
thru the sunshine and the rain
and tho our thoughts may be different
our feelings are the same

we laugh when there’s a good time
and we cry when times are bad
we dance together when we’re happy
walk the streets alone when we’re sad

and the man who lives in sorrow
is making his own choice
if he could only turn around
and listen to his voice

it laughs when there’s a good time
and it cries when times are bad
he’d see that we dance together when we’re happy
walk the streets alone when we’re sad

and thru the night time
like the sunshine turning
don’t sleep
just keep that fire burning
thru the night time[ Liege, Summer 1971 ]

1. GOOD OLD DAYS

take me back
I heard my papa say
take me back
back to the good old days
take me back (he said)
to when a man was a man
take me back (he said)
to when I knew where to stand

but those years in the army
he served were filled with complaints
about everything from the war
right down to the rain
and much more

but after thirty years of family life
he tell his kids, he tells his wife
those were the good old days
not one was bad
yes, the good old days
the best times we ever had

now the jukebox has run down
and all the good songs have been sung
and it seems that no one here
is having much fun anymore

but when we’re telling stories of today
thirty years from now we’ll probably say
those were the good old days
not one was bad
yes, the good old days
the best times we ever had

[ Argenteau, Summer 1973 ]

1. OREGON

they crossed the Atlantic ocean
their boats were made of wood
they landed on the eastern shore
and saw the land was good
most of them settled down

the others pushed on
across the Appalachians
into the wilderness
some in wagons, some on foot
with horses for the rest
and some got left behind

the others pushed on
across the Mississippi
about a mile wide
to face the Great Plains
thirst and hunger
many, many died
yes, some got left behind

the others pushed on
across the Rocky Mountains
the salt flats of Utah
the wastelands of Nevada
and the High Sierras saw
that some got left behind
the others pushed on

into California
these men who knew no rest
the Pacific Ocean
stopped their restless movement west
most of them settled down
the others turned around

some turned to the south
down to Mexico
but the people of whose blood I am
they said we’ll go
and settle Oregon
the people I come from
they settled Oregon
the people I come from

[ Argenteau, Summer 1974 ]

3. AMERICA THE CHILD

they moved across the land thru each United States
from the Statue of Liberty to the Golden Gate

but now we’ve seen the last
of the running of the trains
America the child is growing up
oh god help us thru these growing pains

the trains built the country from east to west
and when we couldn’t go no further we turned around

yes, we’ve taken to the air like eagles
in our jet planes
America the child is growing up
oh god help us thru these growing pains

now I stand on foreign land across the sea
and hear the sad news friends and family send to me

but in my memory I see mountain forests in the rain
and rivers running down to the sea
oh god help us in our growing pains

Argenteau, 1974 ]

4. OVER HERE IN EUROPE

I’m over here in Europe
trying to grow my own
trying to grow my own
over here in Europe

and she tells me not to worry
ah yes, I should’ve known
then she tells me there’s no hurry
no need to go back home

she’s been to London
and then she’s been to Rome
I’ve been to Rome
and then we’ve been to London

it’s good to know she’s near
I’ve got her on the telephone
she’s got me on the telephone
it’s good to know she’s near

I think about California
once or twice, three times a day maybe

I’m over here in Europe
trying to roll my own
trying to roll my own
over here in Europe

and she tells me not to worry
ah yes, I should’ve known
then she tells me there’s no hurry
no need to go back home

[ Argenteau, Summer 1973 ]

5. TALKING TO THE NIGHT

you’ve been talking to the night
to say you’re worried
how it lasts forever, never goes away
you’ve been walking thru the night
and it seems endless
yeah, but that’s the kind of tricks
the night likes to play

and now you see the moon
reflected on a lake
you cast a stone
and watch it break

oh, oh, you can take the moonlight
oh, oh, you can make it thru the night

now the darkness seems to be fading
you can almost feel the night turn into day
and the voices in the wind have started singing
they’ve got a few clouds in the sky
to chase the night away

yes, look up at the sky
here comes the sun
and after all
is said and done

oh, oh, you can take the sunshine
oh, oh, you can leave the night behind

oh, oh, just reach up and take the sunshine
oh, oh, you can leave the night behind

[Argenteau, 1973 ]

6. SOMEONE'S CRAZY PLAN

up in the forest stands a deer
out on the highway a truck is shifting gears
and down in the city
a beggar’s holding out his hand

now the hunter lifts the rifle makes the kill
and the trucker shifts down one more time
and slowly makes the hill
and the beggar turns to watch
children playing kick the can

and it all fits together
in someone’s crazy plan

somewhere in the world a man is dying
and somewhere in the world
a baby being born is crying
and somewhere in the world
a growing boy becomes a man

and it all fits together
in someone’s crazy plan

and it’s been too many years
since we’ve heard true silence
we’ve seen a lot of fighting
we’ve seen a lot of violence

but I’ve held some pieces
of the broken mirror in my hand
and I know they fit together
in someone’s crazy plan

and the rain may fall today
but the sun’s been shining
since the world began
and it all fits together
in someone’s crazy plan

and it’s been too many years
since we’ve seen true glory
we’ve heard a lot of bad jokes
too few good stories
but it’s all over now
or at least I understand
that it all fits together
in someone’s crazy plan

[ Argenteau, summer 1974 ]

7. GIRL WHO CRIED MY TEARS

she came from the north, I came from the west
and both of those roads led to Rome
those were the days of Italian cafes
and the dreams of the things we could do

so we packed up our car and pointed it north
leaving that language behind
but I’ll never forget the place where I met
the girl who made it come true
who cried my tears

the blackbirds were circling the rooftops of London
we stood in the cold underground
those were the times of long waiting lines
and good people who gave us a ride

from the long winter’s night to the long summer’s day
she was there to show me the way
and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the love
of the girl who stood by my side
who cried my tears

over the clouds and under the rainbows
and several times up past the stars
and no matter where the wind takes me to
it’s a blessing to know she is near

the airplane has landed, the train’s rolling on
taking me back to Liege
to home for the moment, my music and home
to the girl who quiets my fears
who cries my tears

[ Liege, winter 1971 ]

8. SOLDIER MOUNTAIN LOOKOUT

Soldier Mountain lookout sits on a rock
on the summit way above timberline
an old mule trail climbs the mountainside
up thru the redwood and the pine

and it’s a good three-hour drive
from Fall River Mills
Mt. Shasta is just over the hill
down in San Francisco I hear there’s a riot
but up here on Soldier Mountain
everything is quiet

from this small glass house on a clear day
you can see a hundred miles at least
the Oregon border’s just to the north
and that’s Nevada over there in the east

time to time I see smoke
on my short wave radio I call in the news
this is Soldier Mountain lookout, I have a fire
due south of here an hour or two

and it’s a good three-hour drive
from Fall River Mills
Mt. Shasta is just over the hill
down in San Francisco I hear there’s a riot
but up here on Soldier Mountain
everything is quiet

[ Argenteau, Summer 1973 )

9. CLAIRE AND I

Claire and I have a house
and this house has an open door
there’s many friends who’ve passed thru it
and there’s bound to be a few more

we sit around the table
and share what food we’ve got
then late into the night
we talk away our thoughts

and sometimes we play our music
and sing the songs
about the places where we’ve been
– so good to have friends

Bill and Kathy
dropped in for a day or two
they’d come from Arizona
and they were just passing thru

and Chuck stopped by
on his way back to the States
he was feeling a little homesick
I guess he couldn’t wait

in the morning they were gone
down that road that has no end
on the table was a note that said
– « So good to have friends »

Claire and I are glad
to have a place of our own
cause we remember how it felt
to be without a home
so we’re doing for these friends
what others did for us
when we were on the road back then
– so good to have friends

[ Argenteau, 1974 ]

10. AND THE WORLD KEEPS TURNING

we sit on a planet spinning thru empty space
and the world keeps turning –
each of us belonging to what we call the human race
– turn turning around

so ride the line or ride the wind
and the world keeps turning –
just be aware of where you are the places that you’ve been
– turn turning around

1. WORK ALL DAY

I love all night
and I work all day
yes I love all night
and I work all day

what a shame it seems to be
I can’t find no time to play
cause I love all night
and I work all day

fill my cup
up, up with sweeter wine
fill my cup
up, up with sweeter wine

so I can drink, drink to lose my head
think, think to keep my mind
everytime you fill my cup
up, up with sweeter wine

I’ve been around the world
in a rocking chair
I’ve been around the world
in a rocking chair

but I’ve never been to the moon
I’m getting too old to really care
and I don’t believe
I’ll ever go down there
what need have I to ever go down there?

[ Rome, May 1968 ]

2. RUNNING RACES WITH MY SHADOW

running races with my shadow
god knows it’s been a battle
but no one knows that the race has really just begun

too soon to count the cost
to say who’s won and say who’s lost
I keep ahead by running for the sun

and when someone says what’s been on your mind?
I simply say it’s an old friend of mine

slow in winter, fast in summer
my shadow is a pretty good runner
on a clear day if I don’t move my shadow will

that’s the time you should see him
he makes me look like a walking museum
he keeps me going even when I’m standing still

but still I think I’ve got a chance
I never taught my shadow how to dance

running races with my shadow
god knows it’s been a battle
I get behind everytime I turn around

too close to count the cost
to say who’s won and say who’s lost
but I’m bound to win as soon as that sun goes down

[ Argenteau, Spring 1975 ]

3. SLOWING DOWN LOVE

they say that love’s a foolish thing
it can only break your heart
but the kind of love
that you’ve been giving me
has given me a brand new start
it’s the kind of love
that makes me want to stop and look around
the kind of love
that makes me want to slow down

and the only thing that’s certain
is that nothing is for sure
so may you follow
where your heart may lead you
and may your heart be pure
and when your race is run
it’s won and lost
I pray that you have found
the kind of love
that makes you want to slow down

[ Argenteau, 1976 ]

4. STEPHEN FOSTER

Stephen Foster, the minstrel show
has been a long time gone
Stephen Foster, they’ve taken your banjo
but your memory lingers on
(yes, your memory lingers on)

we used to sit around the piano
singing them songs of yours
I was seven years old
I was singing them songs of yours
hot summer nights
singing them songs of yours

and I can still remember Jeanie
with the light brown hair
the Camptown ladies
still sing that song down there
yes, the Camptown ladies
still sing that song
the Camptown ladies
sing it all night long

Stephen Foster, god surely blessed you
with those fine, fine melodies
Stephen Foster, they’re counted among the best
of this songwriter’s childhood memories

and I can still feel the sunshine
on my old Kentucky home
you rolled it into my mind
like a stepping stone
Stephen Foster
you really got into my mind
with your minstrel tunes
and old romantic rhymes

Stephen, I love you
you’re one of the family
so get that banjo back on your knee
and oh Suzanna you take the soprano line
and I’ll just harmonize here from behind

and we’ll sing Beautiful Dreamer
one more time
and we’ll sing Old Black Joe
just one more time
and we’ll sing the Swanee River
one more time
it’s gonna run all night
it’s gonna run all day
Stephen, don’t look away
’cause oh Suzanna
she still cries for you
and the old folks at home they do too
can’t you hear their voices calling you?
« Stephen Foster . . .  »

[ Argenteau, 1977 ]

5. HITCH-HIKE HERO

standing by the freeway feeling free
(drive on, drive, on, drive on)
hitch hike hero that was me
walking on down the road

a big truck stopped with a heavy load
(drive on, drive on, drive on)
driver said: where do you want to go?
I said: drive it on down the road

well, he put it into gear and we started to roll
(drive on, drive on, drive on)
he shifted into 2nd and the tires grabbed a-hold
we were driving on down the road

he popped it into 3rd and we started to move
(drive on, drive on, drive on)
there was a 4th gear, 5th gear, 6th gear too
we were driving on down the road

about 10 gears later he started to smile
(drive on, drive on, drive on)
that’s when the needle fell off of the dial
we were driving on down the road

and we never left the fast lane, don’t you know
(drive on, drive on, drive on)
except to do a little flying low
we were flying on down the road

[ Argenteau, 1975 ]

6. HANDFUL OF RAIN

I see you’ve got a handful of rain
you’ve got something on your mind
that the doctor won’t explain
just today I heard him say:
one man’s woman is another man’s pain
but it’s alright with me

if you’re tired of walking
you can run for awhile
if your back itches
I’ll be glad to scratch it
but mama, mama, just don’t fight with me

now the rumor’s going round and round
behind closed doors
that you’re a fighter not a lover
and there’s one thing more
the words they’re using are awfully strong
everyone agrees that there’s something wrong
but it’s alright with me

we wake up in the rain
shake off the chains
in which we’ve been caught
take a broom
make some room
for thinking our thoughts

come on down now, take a look around
get the moon in your eyes
get your feet on the ground
we can make love, or we can make the news
we can do whatever we do
and it’s alright with me

and if you’re tired of walking
we can run for awhile
if your back itches
I’ll be glad to scratch it
but mama, mama, just don’t fight with me

[ Argenteau, 1975 ]

7. SAME OLD TALE

when I was small my daddy said to me:
when you grow up, what’re you gonna be?
I said: I’m gonna be a man
he just smiled, reached down and took my hand

he led me down the forest trails
he told me stories and he told me tales
then I went out and found them true
the days were long, there were many things to do

then I grew up, set off for town
knowing I ought to settle down
start a family set down roots
but I got restless in my boots
when I heard the singing and the humming
of the trucks on the highway in the night

now I’m tall and it’s still all the same
the show goes on but it’s got a different name
there’s still many things to do
but they don’t make the days as long as they used to

I’ve walked a few roads, talked with strangers
I’ve been in pleasures and I’ve been in dangers
but when I tell my kid a story
it’s the same old tale my daddy made up for me

yes, I’ve settled down and I’ve got my family
I’ve got a wife and she understands me
I stay at home and I read the news
but I still get restless in my shoes
when I hear the singing and the humming
of those trucks on the highway in the night

[ Argenteau, June 1977 ]

8. HOWLING AT THE MOON

I keep picking up my guitar
searching for a long lost tune
but I end up looking out my window
howling at the moon

sweet memory, she comes around midnight
but she goes away too soon
leaves me with my mouth hanging open
and she leaves me howling at the moon

sometimes I wish I was the wind
other times I wish I was a werewolf

but I’m just an ordinary dog
prowling ’round in the afternoon
waiting for the sun to go down
so I can begin howling at the moon

[ Argenteau, summer 1976 ]

9. SHOTGUN WEDDING

I’ve always dreamed of driving up to Reno
with her daddy in the backseat with a gun
that’s the kind of dream that some folks call a nightmare
that’s the kind of midnight ride that ain’t for fun

but somehow it turned out completely different
the surprise was a pleasure thru and thru
now Reno’s nowhere near driving distance
so this old French speaking town will have to do

for this old fashioned shotgun wedding
I’ve heard it’s a crying shame
– do you say I do
– well I suppose
it was an old fashioned shotgun wedding
give the child a name
he’ll be happy to having one of those

we lived 10 years without that piece of paper
in making legal moves we’re kind of slow
that’s 10 years of sharing the same bathroom
and if that ain’t being married I don’t know

but we went ahead and had the ceremony
now our lives are still the same except of course
there’s one new possibility that’s open
I’ve always dreamed of having a divorce

[ Neuchatel, Switzerland, April 1976 ]

10. HANGING LOOSE

I’m sitting here
in my rocking chair
you’re by the window
how’s the weather over there?
we take it easy
we take it slow
hanging loose
by our fingers and our toes

we’re sitting in
the circle of our friends
we don’t care where the circle starts
or where the circle ends
some come
others go
we’re hanging loose
by our fingers and our toes

[ Argenteau, 1975 ]

NOTE

his foot taps & my mind wanders back
to his story of the ape wearing a cowboy hat
i went wild inside wearing a smile
i don’t know where exactly
’cause my body doesn’t know
but it feels with a song singing like that
i open my ears and breathe it in
& I think about my past & wherever i’ve been
& figure that it’s good
to have this foot tappin’ friend

[ after a performance in Florence, Italy in 1976
a young woman handed me a piece of paper
& this is what was written on it ]

1. SPIT INTO THE WIND

out on the streets the hustling is mean
all of it’s dirty and none of it’s clean
it’s dog eat dog, it’s rat eat rat
it’s rough getting caught in a business like that

you can’t run a rabbit in a rat race
he’s liable to come in last place
spit into the wind
it’ll blow it back in your face

there’s too many people in too many lines
doing the same thing at the same time
they’re all running wild, better let them go past
’cause they’re going nowhere and they’re going there fast

you can stack the deck, you can load the dice
you can take the devil or the doctor’s advice
you can buy insurance or a lightning rod
you can wash out your mouth every time you say god

but you can’t run a rabbit in a rat race
he’s liable to come in last place
spit into the wind
it’ll blow it back in your face

[ Argenteau, Fall 1978 ]

2. HALF CRAZY

I got time on my hands
I got my hands in my pockets
my boat’s floating
I guess it’s time to rock it

everybody knows that I’m half crazy
but the other half is doing all right

sitting here, watching the moon rise
I got a different movie in each of my eyes

everybody knows that I’m half crazy
but the other half is doing all right

this old boy can still rock ‘n roll
he’s wearing a shirt full of bullet holes

everybody knows that he’s half crazy
but the other half is doing all right

don’t talk to me of revolution
I’m not part of the problem, I’m part of the confusion

everybody knows that I’m half crazy
but the other half is doing all right

don’t give me no grief, just go away
I got head full of instant replays anyway

everybody knows that I’m half crazy
but the other half is doing all right

conspiracies are multiplying in my brain
if I weren’t paranoid I’d be completely insane

everybody knows that I’m half crazy
but the other half is doing all right

[ Stockay/St Georges, October 1978 ]

3. LEVI STRAUSS WALTZ

it’s a no-way dog day
once in awhile someone screams
and the sidewalk double-talk
is the background music of my dreams

I moved to the city
where the newspapers advertise
the comforts and the pleasures
of living in those high-rise
apartments, but I’m finding out
I got a lot of doubts
about what’s civilized

but I can’t find fault
when everybody here halts
and rehearses the steps to the Levi Strauss Waltz

it’s a six-pack back track
there’s tears in my eyes and my ears
there’s a rear-view mirror too
I gotta find a way to get out of here

I’m standing in line
at a red and green stop and go sign
looking at my feet
looking at the street ahead, it seems clear
when out of an alleyway three ballet dancers appear

their faces aren’t real
and their gifts might be false
but they’re famous for doing the Levi Strauss Waltz

I’m falling in love with a girl from a TV show
she’s a-waltzing around as the band plays it slow
I get out of my chair and try to do the few steps I know

but she runs off with a man who can do somersaults
and leaves me behind with the Levi Strauss Waltz

[ San Francisco, summer 1966 ]

4. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE RADIO

whatever happened to old Red Ryder
with Little Beaver by his side
Tom Mix, the Cisco Kid
with Pancho close behind
the Lone Ranger, Tonto
are strangers now
like Riders from the B-Bar-B
Roy Rogers, Gabby Hayes,
the Straight Arrow’s gone
and they forgot to take me

they rode on
I want to ride on too
but baby of course
if you got a horse
I want to ride with you

whatever happened to Superman
Clark Kent and Lois Lane
Batman and Robin in their Batmobile
won’t be back again
and the screaming Green Hornet
without no warning
took off from his secret nest
hung around a while
said I’m going out of style
and headed for the sunset like the rest

they flew on
I want to fly on too
but baby if you thought to bring
your favorite pair of wings
I want to fly with you

whatever happened to the Grand Ol’ Opry
with Minnie Pearl from Tennessee
Lucky Larger Dance Time
the Burgie Music Box
and the Standard Oil Symphony
Jack Benny, Rochester, Amos and Andy
Sergeant Preston and Sky King
Fibber Magee and Molly
Gabriel Heater, Arthur Godfry
they’re gone and now it seems like a dream

they disappeared
I want to disappear too
if the shadow comes once more
we’ll sneak behind his door
I want to disappear with you

[ San Francisco, spring 1966 ]

5. BROTHER JOHN

old Brother John lives back in the woods
on a homestead farm of mostly tree stumps
a lot of spare parts for automobiles
washing machines and gas pumps

a stack of old newspapers and Life magazines
bedsprings and other things unknown
he’s been living so long in this pile of junk
he’s come to call it home sweet home
(oh oh oh home sweet home)

his tar paper shack leans against a tree
in the wind you can hear it complaining
it’s a modern design, it’s got wall-to-wall floors
and running water when it’s raining

there’s an old outhouse that seems to be standing
on a prayer and a whole lot of good luck
it’s got a view of nature that was made by god
and toilet paper made by Sears and Roebuck
(oh oh oh Sears and Roebuck)

his rooster crows about the break of noon
John rolls off his mattress
pulls on his socks from either end
gets up and drinks his breakfast

there’s nothing like moonshine to start the day
specially if it’s homemade
he feels so good he gives some to the dog
saying here’s your Kool-Aid
(oh oh oh that dog likes Kool-Aid)

he gets dressed up to drive into town
in a baseball cap that’s been fishing
bib overalls that can walk on their own
and boots that are air-conditioned

you can hear him coming down the dusty road
in a pick-up truck that’s temper’mental
all broken down from too many overloads
he calls it his Chicken Continental
(oh oh oh Continental)

they say he’s so lazy
that he’d probably fall asleep if you shook him
they say he’s so dirty you got to wash the mirror
after he gets done looking

they write, YOU SMELL LIKE HELL
in the dust of his truck
old John never reads it
’cause he always takes a bath once a year
whether or not he needs it
(oh oh oh he usually needs it)

Stockay / St. Georges, 1980

6. BOTTOM OF THE WISHING WELL

welcome back to the Bottom of the Wishing Well
it’s your home away from home
it’s your hell away from hell
it’s the end of the line
there’s no further to fall
it’s so downtown you gotta crawl
it’s one big head-aching, heart-breaking hotel

you travel first class, you arrive in style
and the taxi even takes you the last couple of miles
but once you get all of your stuff unpacked
that low rent feeling comes stealing back
you say: oh my god, I’m only staying awhile

sometimes it’s called the Royal
sometimes it’s called the Rising Sun
sometimes it’s got five stars
sometimes it’s got none
but room service always gets your orders wrong
the whores work the hallways all night long
if it weren’t for the sleeping pills
you’d never bother to come

and some of the customers call this home no doubt
but I call it nothing to write home about
what can you say about a window and a door
four walls, a ceiling and a floor?
and the only good times is when you’re checking out

and the only thing that changes is the number on your door
behind it is a room you’ve seen a thousand times before
with a bed that’s always a little too soft
a little too short, leaves your feet hanging off
so you drag down the mattress, go to sleep on the floor

you say: welcome back to the Bottom of the Wishing Well
it’s your home away from home, it’s your hell away from hell
it’s a god-forsaken, head-aching, heart-breaking hotel
yeah, you’re lost and forgotten
at the bottom of the wishing well

[ Geneva, Switzerland, 1980 ]

7. I'M A GOOD MAN

I was sitting in the back of an old cafe
old boy walked in and I heard him say:
I’m a good man
bad breaks along the line
all those lonely times
have kept me down

I’m a good man
and now I’m back in town
you know you can’t keep a good man down

he said: hey waiter, table for three
me and my bottle and a memory
I’m a good man
bad breaks along the line
all those lonely times
have kept me down

I’m a good man
and now I’m back in town
you know you can’t keep a good man down

he was a sailor whose ship had been sunk
he was talking to himself: I’m a little bit drunk
I’m a good man
bad breaks along the line
all those lonely times
have kept me down

I’m a good man
and now I’m back in town
you know you can’t keep a good man down

he walked out of that old cafe
you could hear his voice from miles away:
I’m a good man
bad breaks along the line
all those lonely times
have kept me down

I’m a good man
and now I’m back in town
you know you can’t keep a good man down

[ words by P.J. Petersen & T.Zimmerman ]

San Francisco, 1959 / Stockay St. Georges 1978

8. CLASSIFIED WANT-AD SECTION BLUES

I was thumbing thru the newspaper
looking for a place to rent
I had ninety-nine dollars and zero cents
there was a notice for a room at a hundred a month
without utilities
so I dropped into to see the landlord
I got down upon my knees
I said, « Hey I’m short of cash but please let me stay, »
he said , »Move on if you can’t pay, »

I got the classified want-ad section blues
(I aint got no news)
I got the classified want-ad section blues

I said, « Wait, wait don’t shut the door yet
I won’t have no visitors and I wont have no pets
I’m a lonely boy and I’m very much alone
and I got that extra dollar coming from the folks back home, »
and after of all that I heard him say,
« The room was taken yesterday, »

I got the classified want-ad section blues
(I aint got no news)
I got the classified want-ad section blues

I was thumbing thru the newspaper lookin’ for a decent job
it was either that or find another grocery store to rob
an advertisement caught my eye and the telephone was in reach
so I dialed up the number it was a tape recorded speech
it said, « If you want to work in our factory
you need ten years experience, a university degree, »

I got the classified want-ad section blues
(I aint got no news)
I got the classified want-ad section blues

I said , « Wait, wait, gimme one more chance
I spent my last dime making this call
and I badly need some finance
now you know where I stand
and you know I’m not standing too tall
I’ll take a white collar, blue collar
no collar – anything at all
please gimme one more chance, gimme one more choice, »
it said, « Don’t argue with a tape recorded voice, »

I got the classified want-ad section blues
(I aint got no news)
I got the classified want-ad section blues
(I wanna buy some shoes)
I got the classified
want-ad-section-inside-story-back-page news
I got the classified want-ad section blues

[ San Francisco, May 1966 ]

9. TALL TALED SHORT CHANGED

I’ve been tall taled / short changed
I never did find that home on the range
I’ve been low classed / high schooled
silver screened and golden ruled
I’ve been eyed for an eye
I’ve been toothed for a tooth
I’ve been lied for a lie
I’ve been truthed for a truth

I’ve been straight flushed, curved balled
participated in man’s downfall
I’ve been U-hauled / I Chinged
and I’d bring it all back home
if I knew what to bring
but I’ve been cheap thrilled
I’ve been expensively accounted for
I’ve been I.B.M’d, U.F.O’d
and a whole lot more

I’ve been fire alarmed / ice creamed
I read a room full of books and magazines
I’ve been past-tensed / future shocked
I got a pocketful of hands
and a handful of rocks
I’ve been wet-dreamed
I’ve been dry cleaned
I’ve got a head full of words
but they don’t mean much to me

I’ve been hard hatted / soft shoed
monthly subscribed and daily newsed
I’ve been red crossed / blue chipped
daylight savings timed and night tripped
I’ve been slow motioned
I’ve been quick sanded
I can tell you where I am
but I can’t begin to tell you where I’ve been

I’ve been in-crowded / out-lawed
ooo-wee’d and sha-na-na’d
I’ve been sunstroked / moonshined
go-to-hell and stop signed
I’ve been first loved
I’ve been second chanced
and I’m still saving the last dance for you

[ Argenteau, Winter 1973 ]

10. POINT OF VIEW

some people like to look at life as a game
you got your winners and losers of fortune and fame
if that’s your point of view then your head must be spinning
but I certainly hope you keep on winning

don’t look at me
I didn’t say a word
must’ve been the wind
or something else you heard

some people like to look at life as a dance
you pays your money and you takes your chance
if that’s your point of view when the music man’s gone
all I can say is keep on dancing

11. ONLY SHOW IN TOWN

everybody, gather round
it’s the only show in town
join hands, here’s your chance
I’ll call the steps, you do the dance

the steps are easy, can’t go wrong
we’ll make them up as we go along
never mind Virginia reels
just grab a girl, make her squeal

you can do a foxtrot, somersaults
you can do the famous Levi Strauss waltz

there ain’t nothing you can’t do
do the fancy kangaroo
do the raccoon, do the goose
ooo-eee shake it loose

then lead your horse to water
turn that water to wine
you can bury the hatchet
and still have an ax to grind
so bury that hatchet, grind that ax
be amazed, act relaxed

twist that arm, pull that tail
eat that chicken, lick your fingers

it’s two steps forward, no steps back

watch that coyote walk around
he’s walking lightly on the ground

that’s all there is, there ain’t no more
so lay down upon the floor
ooo-eee roll your own
pick up the pieces, head for home

[ Stockay/St. Georges, 1980 ]

1. TAOIST TALE

once upon a time
a farmer sent his son
with a horse to graze
upon the mountainside
he fell asleep
when he awoke the horse was gone
came back without it
the neighbors said: oh what bad luck
the farmer said: how do you know?
oh how do you know?

on the very next day
the farmer sent his son
back into the mountains
to seek the runaway
he found the horse
and seven other wild ones
he brought them home
the neighbors said: oh what good luck
the farmer said: how do you know?
oh how do you know

on the very next day
the farmer sent his son
to the wild horses
which needed to be tamed
first one he climbed on
it threw him down to the ground
broke his arm
the neighbors said: oh what bad luck
the farmer said : how do you know?
oh how do you know?

on the very next day
a war was declared
and the army men
came thru the countryside
looking for soldiers
but they couldn’t take anyone
with a broken arm
the neighbors said: oh what good luck
the farmer said: how do you know?
oh how do you know?

[ Argenteau, spring 1975 ]

2. TWO NICE GUYS

two nice guys down on main street
one was a beggar and the other was me
he said, « I’m a hungry man who needs a friend, »
but it looked more like he needed a drink
but it’s the same difference when you stop to think
that it all comes out even in the end

he said, « I need a nickel, »
so I gave him a dime
he said, « I had my eye on a bottle of wine, »
so I gave him a quarter
and he said, « It’ll be well spent
’cause I’m way behind on last night’s rent, »
so I gave him fifty cents
he said, « It’s not for me
– it’s for a friend’s insurance policy, »
so I gave him a dollar
and he didn’t give it back
he said, « I’m gonna buy myself a Cadillac. »

I emptied out my pockets down on main street
thinking that my poverty was now complete
he said, « You could give me your credit cards if you please
’cause I’m much obliged for your charity
but before you go there’s one more thing
the cold weather’s coming on and I might freeze. »

so I gave him my shoes, my only pair
he said, « Without socks they’re hard to wear, »
so I gave him my socks
saying, « They’re the best pair I’ve got, »
he said, « I’m getting warm but I wanna to be hot, »
so I gave him my shirt, I gave him my new Levis
he started to speak but when he realized
I had nothing more to give, he had nothing more to say
he jumped in a Cadillac and drove away

I got panhandled down on main street
now I’m standing naked on two bare feet
and I’ve got nothing much left to lose
it didn’t make me feel better
didn’t make me feel right
I was just blinking in the neon lights
and thinking of the night when I’ll be in his shoes

looking forward to the night when I’ll be in his shoes
and that’s night when I’ll be back in my own shoes

3. STANDING ON THE STONE

Billy tells his hard luck story
no one here can deny it
but Billy wants much more
and no one here can supply it
he’s standing on the stone
and everyone here passes by it

he’s being called a martyr
Billy says, « I always knew it,
but then again it’s not what you do
it’s the way you do it. »
He’s standing on the stone
all alone and going thru it

looking at the world thru one eye
and covering both his ears
he believes in half of what he sees
and none of what he hears
he’s standing on the stone
it seems that he’s been standing here for years

he never gives his heart away
he leaves to room to get in
he says. « Love is just alright
but I don’t really fit in, »
he’s standing on the stone
holding on and holding it in

it’s another loaded question
and there’s nothing more to say
so come on, Billy, lay your
burden down, let it lay
you’re standing on the stone
that someday soon is going to roll away

4. AS LONG AS THE RIVERS RUN

man could live forever
and that’s a long long time
as long as the rivers run
and the sun continues to shine

very few eyes have seen the eagle fly
it was said that he’d outlive mankind
as long as the rivers run
and the sun continues to shine

oh the earth is all we’ve got
yes it’s yours, and it’s mine
as long as the rivers run
and the sun continues to shine

[ Argenteau, summer 1975 ]

5. EVERYBODYS BUSINESS

someone’s tapped your phone
someone’s got your number
your mail’s been intercepted
it happens every day
your life story
is in some computer’s memory
it knows more about you
than even you can say

newspapers printing
anything to sell a copy
the television’s got
to have their evening news
don’t talk about privacy
don’t talk about respect
you’re just another piece
of information to be used

everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
we’d all be better off leaving each other alone

courtrooms are crowded
everybody’s up on trial
everybody’s pointing fingers
but no one will confess
it’s never easy finding
someone who will take the blame
but they’ve always got a judge
and they’ve always got a witness

and here she comes
look out for Sister Mercy
she’s the self-appointed
protector of your soul
she’s your brother’s keeper
she’s a midnight creeper
she’s down on her knees
peeking thru your keyhole

everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
we’d all be better off leaving each other alone

small town talking
dragging someone thru the mud
made by all the tears they cried
and all the dirt they’ve thrown
you’d think they’d quit trying
but the shit keeps flying
over backyard fences
and local telephones – they’re saying:

« Eddie married Betty
but he’s sleeping with Loretta
Jimmy’s backsliding
and you remember Sally
she had a nervous breakdown
Annie had another baby
its father was that stranger
down at the bowling alley. »

everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
everybody’s minding everybody else’s business
we’d all be better off leaving each other alone

[ Stockay / St. Georges, 1980 ]

6. GHOST TRAIN

the only train out running after midnight
is this ghost train on some cross-country line
its load is light tho it’s carrying a lot of lonely shadows
that its passengers in the past have left behind

and it keeps on rolling down thru the lowlands
as it brings to you tomorrow morning’s mail

and the ghost of the old west wind hangs over the engine
and the ghost of the lowland fog hangs over the rails
and the ghost of the cigarette smoke hangs over the snack bar car that’s closed
and the ghost of all those words hangs over the mail

it’s dark outside, visibility’s almost zero
as time and this train run their race
and all you see is your reflection in the window
as the lights of a distant town pass thru your face

and there’s lots of time to memorize the movies
and the ghosts of all the cities you’ve been thru

it was Christmas all year round down in Geneva
and I made friends with the ghost of Amsterdam
and the ghost of Munich reminded me of my grandpa
and in Paris I did a dance with the ghost of Uncle Sam

Engineer don’t show me no more mail stop stations
don’t you think we seen enough of those?
I’ll make you up a song if you’ll only make this train go faster
I’ll dedicate it to you, good god, and the holy ghost

I got my fingers tapping time to the clicking of the wheels on the track
as I harmonize with the wind blowing by outside

and the ghost of the Grateful Dead hangs over the music
and the ghost of Jimi Hendrix plays along
and the ghost of Otis Redding helps me sing it
and the ghost of Mr. Dylan hangs over the song

the conductor passes by with his timetable
he reads it like you’d read a shopping list
he says you’re almost home, then he punches your ticket
and if it isn’t on this train it doesn’t exist

then you pass that row of factories with their lights still burning bright
as the train slows down to cross over the bridge

where the ghost of James Dean hangs over the river
and the ghost of Marilyn Monroe hangs over the moon
and the ghost of you is running out to meet me
and ghost of me is coming home soon

yes, the ghost of you is hanging over my shoulder
I’ve been thinking of you a lot these last few miles
and the ghost of me is just hanging on these guitar strings
he’s been singing me a song, he’s been making me smile

[ Belgium, 1978 ]

7. DIFFERENT WAYS OF DRAWING LINES

from the circles of hell to the center of the cyclone
there’s many crossroads all leading home
from the edge of the cradle to the edge of the grave
there’s time to be wasted, there’s time to be saved
between the white, white lightning and the sweet, sweet thunder
there’s enough to make you cry and enough to make you wonder
and in between the back you’ve turned
the rainbow’s end and the bridges you’ve burned
there’s different ways of drawing lines
some are yours and some are mine
some are hers and some are his
and that’s the way it is
and it’s six of one half dozen of the other
there’s a ghost of a long, lost lover
there’s a mother and a child and they’re singing out of tune
there’s a mad man dancing on the dark side of the moon
there’s a doomsday messiah living down on skid row
there’s a outlaw sneaking back from Mexico
there’s a king of the mountain, there’s a leader of the pack
there’s a christian soldier and he’s never coming back
and there’s different ways of drawing lines
some are yours and some are mine
some are hers and some are his
and that’s the way it is
now I’m living out here on the edge of the wilderness
uncivilized but I couldn’t care less
I’m far away from the man with his common sense
his arbitrary rules and his barbed wire fence
I’ve got nothing personal against that man
I’m cutting corners myself as much as I can
but he says the show’s all over when the curtain’s been pulled
he says the bottle’s half empty when I know it’s half full
and there’s different ways of drawing lines
some are yours and some are mine
some are hers and some are his
and that’s the way it is

[ Stockay /St. Georges, 1980 ]

8. ROCK & ROLL WALTZ

cash in your pension check, I’ll be around
about half past seven and we’ll cruise downtown
light up a joint and try to get stoned
in the parking lot of the old folks’ home

we’ll sit in my ’56 Thunderbird
cool as a breeze not saying a word
then we’ll stroll thru the door as the band hits the stage
and we’ll rock & roll waltz right into old age

with my hands in my pockets of my faded Levis
and my greasy grey hair I’ll go hang out with the guys
play a little pinball, shoot a little pool
and pretend we’re still the punks we were back in school

and you go gossip with the girls for awhile
scandalize someone who’s growing senile
then we’ll get together later when the music is sweet
and I’ll rock & roll waltz you right off your feet

when the band takes a break we’ll drop a few dimes
in the jukebox and sing along with old times
turn up the volume on our hearing aids
and talk about the backseat love that we made

when I was a teenage werewolf and you
were the homecoming queen, ah Peggy Sue
about all we got now is the tap of our canes
as we rock & roll waltz right down memory lane

things’ll start jumping after midnight
when the Hell Angels drop in to start a few fights
they’ll drive thru the front door and we’ll all stop to stare
at their customized, motorized wheelchairs

they’ll all be talking like Wolfman Jack
they’ll pour lots of beer down each others’ backs
false teeth’ll be flying and survivors testifying
as we rock & roll waltz thru a few heart attacks

and when it’s all over we’ll all be half dead
we’ll drag ourselves home, spend the whole week in bed
but we’ll be back on our feet when they turn on the lights
for that rock & roll waltz next Saturday night

old rock & rollers don’t die, they just fade out

[ Stockay / St. Georges, 1980 ]

1. NO MORE RUNNING AROUND

there’ll be no more
no more running around
no more, no more running around
it’s time for you to settle down

I said running around, mama
that’s what I’m made of, you see
I’m a traveling man
I got places to be
she said not anymore
if you wanna dance with me

there’ll be no more
no more running around
no more, no more running around
it’s time for you to settle down

I’m not asking for much, she said
it ain’t no mystery
just a loving touch
with a lifetime guarantee
so unpack your suitcase
and let’s see some bended knee

there’ll be no more
no more running around
no more, no more running around
it’s time for you to settle down

2. WALKING ON THE EDGE OF THE BLUES

papa’s doing time in his mind
for a crime he’s self-accused
after one week of concrete-pounding
he wore out fourteen pairs of shoes
that’s what I call walking
walking on the edge of the blues

papa’s losing touch
he’s found a crutch in a bottle of booze
he can’t tell what from what, where from where
why from why, or who from whose
that’s what I call walking
walking on the edge of the blues

mama she’s a mess
everybody knows she’s been abused
it ain’t no illusion
everybody knows that she’s confused
that’s what I call walking
walking on the edge of the blues

with the language she’s been using
she’s cruising for a bruising that’s true
she says that’s my favorite color, boys
deep dark blue
mama’s out there walking
walking on the edge of the blues

brother’s got a habit
he’s also got himself a few tattoos
one says : love’s a dirty word
another says : born to lose
that’s what I call walking
walking on the edge of the blues

sister she’s got eyes for all the guys
who tell her lies, yes she do
those boys know what sister likes
they know all the right moves
sister’s out there walking
walking on the edge of the blues

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1995 ]

3. NIGHT SHIFT

warehouse packer with a fork lift load
big rig driver out on Thunder Road
check-out clerk in an all-night liquor store
butcher and a baker, night watchman and a whore

taxi driver on a dead-end street
rookie cop walking the beat
poet in an attic without no telephone
bum in the alley without no home
they’re all the same, they got one name
we call it the nightshift
yeah, the nightshift

so pump that gas and drive that rig
load those boxes and kill that pig
turn that trick and sweep that factory floor
flash that light and check those doors
you’ll be done when you see the sun
you’re working on the nightshift, yeah, the nightshift

time to time you got to take a break
this midnight oil ain’t no piece of cake
you wander on down to the corner coffee shop
you flirt with the waitress til she makes you stop
she’s a night owl too, she’s just like you
she’s working on the nightshift, on the nightshift

now we’re tuning up we’re gonna play for you
we got a stand up bass and a 12-string too
we got a slide guitar on center stage
he’s playing out his heart for the minimum wage
in the key of E . . . one – two – three
we’re working on the nightshift, on the nightshift

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1995 ]

4. LAW OF THE 12-BAR BLUES

going for a free ride
up against the high tide
looking at the backside of life
you know you’re gonna lose
you’re breaking the law of the 12-bar blues

acting like a wise guy
telling all your white lies
hoping you can minimize a way
to pay your dues
it’s against the law of the 12-bar blues

it’s women
it’s wheels
it’s whiskey
and sweet, sweet wine
and it’s work
and worry, worry, worry all the time

you’re busted on the mainline
pumped up on the prime time
knowing it’s the same kind of news
that’s sticking to your shoes
we’re talking the law of the 12-bar blues

we’re talking women
talking wheels
talking whiskey
and sweet, sweet wine
and it’s work
and worry, worry, worry all the time

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1995 ]

5. PAST CRYING

I never thought
I could feel so sad
I never thought
I could feel so sad
but it hurts
and it hurts and it hurts so bad

I’m way past crying
feeling mean and mad
Way past crying
feeling mean and mad
cause it hurts
and it hurts and it hurts so bad

It’s the loneliest feeling
I’ve ever had
It’s the loneliest feeling
I’ve ever had
and it hurts
and it hurts and it hurts so bad

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1995 ]

6. TALKING TO THE DEMON

talking to the demon
walking ’round inside your brain
talking to the demon
walking ’round inside your brain
saying please leave me alone
all ever you do is give me pain

the demon he just laughs and says
I’m gonna give you some more
the demon he just laughs and says
I’m gonna give you some more
I wanna see you down
down on the suicide floor

you can’t fight those demons
you gotta dance ’em away
You can’t fight those demons
you gotta dance ’em away
dance ’em all night long
dance ’em to the break of day

run shaker life, shake life eternally
run shaker life, run shake it out of me
run run shaker life
run shaker life, set me free

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1995 ]

7. HIGHWAY 101

Let’s go cruising down on Highway One-O-One
Let’s go cruising down on Highway One-O-One
we’ll drink a lotta beer, drink a lotta wine
knock over a few stop signs
Let’s go cruising down on Highway One-O-One

I’ll put the top down on my old Ford Fifty-Four
I’ll put the top down on my old Ford Fifty-Four
with the radio blasting some rock ‘n roll sounds
we’ll drag right thru the middle of town
I’ll put the top down on my old Ford Fifty-Four

Let’s go down to the Santa Rosa drive-in show
Let’s go down to the Santa Rosa drive-in show
try to pick up some chicks, some Hollywood dead ringers
brag about the ones who slipped thru our fingers
when we go down to the Santa Rosa drive-in show

Tonight we’re alive, tomorrow we may all be dead
Tonight we’re alive, tomorrow we may all be dead
so let’s steal some doormats, kick out some lights
go hog wild cause it’s Saturday night
Tonight we’re alive, tomorrow we may all be dead

Let’s go cruising down on Highway One-O-One
Let’s go cruising down on Highway One-O-One
we’ll drink a lotta beer, drink a lotta wine
knock over a few stop signs
Let’s go cruising down on Highway One-O-One

8. FOOL FOR LOCOMOTION

I like a Continental, I like a Pontiac
I like a Thunderbird, but I love a Cadillac
I’m a fool for locomotion
I’m on the move again
I can tell you where I am
I can’t begin to tell you where I’ve been

I’ll ride on a tractor, a pick-up truck
I’ll need a steamroller if I run out of luck
I’m a fool for locomotion
I’m on the move again
I can tell you where I am
I can’t begin to tell you where I’ve been

the train leaves the station at half-past eleven
if I miss that I’ll take a 747
I’m a fool for locomotion
I’m on the move again
I can tell you where I am
I can’t begin to tell you where I’ve been

if the plane breaks down I’ll take a parachute
if that wears out I got the straps of my boots
I’m a fool for locomotion
I’m on the move again
I can tell you where I am
I can’t begin to tell you where I’ve been

roller skates, hot air balloon
slow boat to China, rocket to the moon
I’m a fool for locomotion
I’m on the move again
I can tell you where I am
I can’t begin to tell you where I’ve been

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1995 ]

9. SHIPYARD

I come to California in 1943
I come to California nineteen and forty-three
nothing in my pockets, four hungry mouths to feed

I got work at the shipyard, down in the deep, dark hole
working at the shipyard, down in the deep, dark hole
welding the steel, just doing what I been told

I weld the steel, I don’t ask what for
when you’re down at the bottom, you don’t ask what for
I just build these boats, let some other man send them off to war

I’m standing on the deck of the USS USA
I’m standing under the flag of the USS USA
watching one of my ships slowly sail away

I’m sitting on the dock of the San Francisco Bay
I’m sitting on the dock of the San Francisco Bay
Chicago City seems like a long, long way
Chicago City seems like a long, long way

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1995 ]

10. BACK TO THE BLUES

the city streets are filled with rain
you’re being dissolved by loneliness
and the pain that you’re feeling
in the bottom of your heart
doesn’t have a name
and it’s tearing you apart
and you’re feeling too weak to fight
the gravity’s stronger than usual tonight
there’s only one place you can go

and you’ve been here before
never been refused
and it’s back to the blues again
back to the blues

the city streets are tunnels in the night
you feel surrounded by the darkness
and the lights in the windows
turned down low
have taken you with them
and the light that was in your eyes
doesn’t show, it’s now gone
you’ve just seen another dream die
you know you can’t go on

and you’re one step away
from tomorrow’s news
and it’s back to the blues again
back to the blues

back to the blues again
for every one you win
there’s got to be two you lose
and it’s back to the blues again

back to the blues again
it’s an empty place
that’s deep within your heart
and your soul
there’s no turning back
it’s the only place left for you to go

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1984 ]

1. BACKSEAT DRIVER

all the roads in front of me
are stretched out straight
all the lights are green
there’s no sign telling me to wait
I can drive those roads with my eyes closed
I don’t need to see
I’ll just get in touch
with that backseat driver inside of me

I got my hands in my pockets
wondering what comes next
I see the girls on my TV
selling imaginary sex
and pretending
that it’s all for free
they’re trying to neutralize
that backseat driver inside of me

I know that happiness
is not the end of the line
neither is sorrow
but it tastes as good sometimes
I know many people who disagree
but the only the one I’m listening to
is that backseat driver inside of me

[ Stockay / St. Georges 1984 ]

2. JOHN MUIR TRAIL

have you ever heard of the John Muir Trail
asked a friend of mine in San Francisco
and one week later we were high in the Sierras
with our backpacks ready to go
365 miles, Kings Canyon to Yosemite
when we hiked the John Muir Trail
just John and me

night was falling over Eagle’s Nest
at the end of our first day’s journey
I rolled my sleeping bag out on the ground
the rattlesnakes didn’t concern me
cause my back was aching and my feet were sore
but I felt like I’d been born again for free
when we hiked the John Muir Trail
just John and me

and my boots wore out before Bishop
we had to hike out and get another pair
mosquitoes got us Owen’s Creek
we were lucky to get out of there
I’d never been much of a mountain man
but I sure got my chance back in ’63
when we hiked the John Muir Trail
John and me

for a bird’s eye view of God’s creations
you got to get out of the woods
you got to give yourself a little elevation
before the looking gets good

and I’ll always remember crossing Forrester Pass
11,000 feet in the snow
and Evolution Lake with its rainbow trout
oh what a beautiful place to go
do you remember, John, up on Minaret Ridge
that solitary wind-blown tree
when we hiked the John Muir Trail
just you and me

and without a hesitation I’d do it again
cause it’s got to be one of my best memories
when we hiked the John Muir Trail
just you and me

[ Argenteau, Summer 1974 ]

3. CHATAUQUA

I looked up at the sky at night
I saw the full moon freeze
I saw the turning of the earth
as stars moved ‘long behind the trees
I blinked and it all disappeared
like dust upon a breeze
is this the wisdom I was promised
if I grew old and hard to please?

row, row, row, row your boat
down the stream, life is but a dream

As a child I heard it said
that wolves were not like me
I heard it said they cry at night
along behind the trees
I crept out, I heard them cry
I even saw their tears
is this what I’ve been running from
for forty/fifty years?

row, row, row, row your boat
down the stream, life is but a dream

Now I’m older, looking back
yeah, sure we played our games
we played them hard, we played them fast
so fast we couldn’t catch our names
we prayed a lot, believed in hope
and turned the other cheek
is this the wisdom I’ve been seeking
ever since I learned to speak ?

row, row, row, row your boat
down the stream, life is but a dream

Now it all seems like old familiar
writing on the wall
we’re living in a world of mirrors
built by all those
science fiction stories
that we read so long ago

is this the message? Is this the news?
Is this all I’ve got left to show?
is this the best I can do?
just three words : I don’t know?

row, row, row, row your boat
down the stream, life is but a dream

hush little darling, don’t you cry
mama’s gonna sing you a lullaby
hush little baby, don’t you cry
mama’s gonna sing you a lullaby

[ Stockay / St. Georges, 2003 ]

4. GIRLS IN THE BAND

Let’s have a hand for the girls in the band
let’s have a hand for the girls in the band
after 40 years of one night stands
let’s have a hand for the girls in the band

Annie had a baby and her name was Betty Lou
Annie had a baby and her name was Betty Lou
now she’s grown up she gonna have one too
Annie had a baby and she ain’t no lady

Lucille’s got some new high heels
Lucille’s got some new high heels
the way she walks they look like wheels
Lucille’s got some new high heels

Fannie Mae is lookin’ better every day
Fannie Mae is lookin’ better every day
she rides a motorcycle, don’t get in her way
Fannie Mae is lookin’ better every day

Tipatina took a trip to Catalina
Tipatina took a trip to Catalina
with a little old lady from Pasadena
and a tame coyote and a wild ballerina

Sugaree is singing sweet harmony
Sugaree is singing sweet harmony
she’s flyin’ sky high, she’s a little off key
(but what the hell) Sugaree Sugaree Sugaree

Let’s have a hand for the girls in the band
let’s have a hand for the girls in the band
after 40 years of one night stands
let’s have a hand for the girls in the band

[ Stockay / St. Georges, 1998 ]

5. ROCKING CHAIR

well I sat down here
and I thought I’d take a nap
then I started rocking
and I rocked myself right off the map

this rocking chair is gonna take me
all the way to the end
of the memory highway

rock, rock, rocking chair
rock me all night long

there’s a song on the radio
and it’s got a solid groove
it’s one of those oldies
and it makes me want to move

this rocking chair is gonna take me
all the way to the end
of the memory highway

rock, rock, rocking chair
rock me all night long

there’s a spat in the kitchen
someone’s getting out of line
it might be the cat
your guess is as good as mine

this rocking chair is gonna take me
all the way to the end
of the memory highway

rock, rock, rocking chair
rock me all night long

now the party’s over
everybody’s going home
it’s just me and the cat
and this radio’s good-time
super-fine rock ‘n roll songs

this rocking chair is gonna take me
all the way to the end
of the memory highway

rock, rock, rocking chair
rock me all night long

6.'51 FORD

talking about my ’51 Ford
talking about my 1951 Ford
it wasn’t much to look at
but it got me around
clutch popped out
it could cover ground
talking about my 51 Ford

I took 400 bucks right out of the pot
walked down the street to the used car lot
slapped the money on the table, said give me the keys
it’s a real hot day, I need to feel the breeze
I’m talking about that 51 Ford outside

well I drove the thing home, right down the white line
nearly cracked it up about 14 times
but we’re not talking about blind in one eye
driver’s license or a head full of high
we’re talking about my 51 Ford

it seemed to run best on wine and beer
it has a church key hanging from the rear-view mirror
the girls really liked it cause it had a back seat
they could all fit in, kick up their feet
and talk about, talk about my 51 Ford

one night I had it up to one twenty five
we went into the turn, it was dead or alive
I rolled it, flipped it, totaled it out
thru all the racket you could hear me shout
God, don’t touch my 51 Ford
Lord, don’t touch my 1951 Ford

7. SO IT GOES

heatwave in the city
and the temperature kept rising
everybody stepping on each other’s toes
I couldn’t find no shade
so I used the one my shadow made
sat down and said: so it goes

so it goes
like a big river running
like a big wheel turning
so it goes
you can take it hard
you can take it easy
oh and oh and so it goes

full moon madness
and the tides keep on rising
everybody’s got it
coming out their nose
the best go insane
the rest complain about the rain
my guitar is out of tune too
so it goes

so it goes
like a big river running
like a big wheel turning
so it goes
you can take it hard
you can take it easy
oh and oh and so it goes

[ Budapest, Hungary, Summer 1975 ]

8. ALABAMA LICENSE PLATES

gonna buy me one black Cadillac
one Alabama license plate
that’s one black Cadillac convertible
one Alabama license plate
gonna drive around in the rain
so honey, you’re just gonna have to wait

gonna burn the blankets
rip the sheets right off my bed
yeah, burn the blankets
rip the sheets right off my bed
I’m talking ’bout some hungry lovers
so honey, you’re just gonna have to wait like I said

gonna tear down the skyline
throw away the hammer when I’m thru
tear down the skyline
throw away the hammer when I’m thru
nailing down the streets of this here town
then I’ll find some time to be with you

then we’re going fishing
you know it’ll be worth the wait
yeah, we’re going fishing
you know it’ll be worth the wait
cause you’ll be right by my side
and we’ll be driving on Alabama license plates

Alabama license plates
guaranteed to take you far
Alabama license plates
hey take a look at where we are
you don’t need no driver’s license
honey, you don’t even need a car

[ Rome, Italy, 1968 ]

9. ONE FOOLISH THING

looking back to where I’ve been
there’s one foolish thing I did back then
if I knew then what I know now
I’d’ve gone and done it anyhow
as a matter of fact, I think I’ll do it again

no I ain’t gonna take the blame
for anything I do in your dreams
you can blame it on the moon
you can blame it on the stars
you can even point your finger at my guitar
but honey, don’t look at me

I met a man walking down the line
he said : tell me why do you make your words rhyme?
I said : to please myself
but that didn’t please him
I’m not guided by the force of reason
it’s poetry and a bottle of wine

I hear the crowd shouting out for more
seems we’ve been thru one of these before
it’s the survival of the loudest mouth in the room
when it comes to this I know we’re doomed
and we’re all sitting here with our backs to the door

singing: bah, bah, bah
bah, bah-bah, bah
bah, bah, bah, bah,
bah-bah bah

bah, bah-bah,
bah, bah, bah,
bah, bah, bah, bah,
bah, bah- bah,
as a matter of fact
I just did it again

[ Stockay / St. Georges, 1982 ]

10. CALIFORNIA

the leaves on the family tree start falling
California, I hear you calling
clear across the great, great water
but now your native sons and daughters
are strangers to me with their sun-tanned faces
and all my old friends have moved to different places
so I don’t know when I’m going that way again

I got a letter from my folks saying :
where have you been? and when you coming home?
well, what could I tell them?
the newspapers make me more than wonder
I’d just be a tongue-tied foreigner
besides I’ve lost my west coast accent
I’d just be another European emigrant
so I don’t know when I’m going that way again

sure, I’ll go back, but on a two-way ticket
there’s a whole lot of mountains that I’d like to visit
I’d like to see another St. Helena sunrise
cutting ‘cross the Sonoma county skies
but in spite of that, or maybe because of
this flat, flat land that I’m obeying the laws of
I don’t know when I’m going that way again

America I loved it and I left it
in the bottom of my heart
that’s where I’ve kept it
like an old photo of a buffalo
give my share back to Geronimo
and go ahead with your firework displays
the fourth of July never was my birthday
and I don’t know when I’m going that way again

California, I hear you calling
and I know you’ve got planes arriving every thirty minutes
and I know there could be one with me in it
but I don’t know when I’m going that way again

California, I hear you calling me
but I don’t know when I’m going that way again

[ Argenteau, 1974 ]

11. BACK IN THE BOTTLE

you can’t pour it back in the bottle
you can’t pour it back in the bottle
once it’s in the glass, you gotta drink it down
you can’t pour it back in the bottle

you can’t pick it up, stick it back in the gun
you can’t pick it up, stick it back in the gun
once you shoot your bullet, there’s no more fun
you can’t pick it up, lick it, stick it back in the gun

you can’t pack it up, back-track it to the tunnel
you can’t pack it up, back-track it to the tunnel
once you’ve been born you’re headed for the storm
you can’t pack it up, back-track it to the tunnel

[ Stockay / St. Georges, 2005 ]

12. THAT'S LIFE

Johnny Jones was feelin’ fine
his v-8 Ford hit one-o-nine
he tried to stop right on a dime
and rolled that Ford about seventeen times
that’s life
yeah that’s life
every time you take a fall
say you can’t win ’em all
and that’s life

Sammy Smith was a sneaky guy
seein’ his girlfriend’s sister on the sly
the girl came around and caught him there
oh . . . . . major repairs
that’s life
yeah that’s life
every time you take a fall
say you can’t win ’em all
and that’s life

Bobby Brown was a drinkin’ man
drink it from a bottle drink it from a can
he never staggered he never took a fall
until the day he sobered up on wood alcohol
that’s life
yeah that’s life
every time you take a fall
say you can’t win ’em all
and that’s life

words by PJ Petersen, music by Tucker Zimmerman
[ San Francisco, 1958 ]

13. LONG TIME

box of photographs
I’m shuffling thru them
and there you are
in all your youth and grace
how many years since we sat down together?
it’s been a long time since I’ve seen your face

pick up the phone
halfway around the world
I hear it ring, I hear your voice
coming from outer space
not much to say
but we say it anyway
it’s been a long time since I’ve seen your face

it’s been a long time
been a very long time
it’s been a long time since I’ve seen your face

don’t know about you
but ’round here we all look different
memories seem to fade
and tears take their place
I pass you on the street
I might not even know you
it’s been too many years since I’ve seen your face

and it’s been a long time
been a very long time
oh it’s been a long time since I’ve seen your face

and it’s been a long time
been a very long time
oh it’s been a long time since I’ve seen your face

long time
long long time
it’s been a long time since I’ve seen your face

[ Stockay / St. Georges, 2005 ]

NOTES

Chautauqua – in the Seneca language: “place where the fish was taken out.” 
 thanks to Jon Schmitz, Archivist, Chautauqua Institution Archives for this information.

Chautauqua – “informal teachings” – from Lake Chautauqua, an area in western New York State, ancestral home for centuries of the Chautauqua Indians, related in customs and language to the Seneca Indian Tribe (one of the Five Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy), settled by English and Scots in the 18th century where they established a frontier center of European culture and education.

By the mid-19th century they were nationally famous for their “chautauquas” – informal teachings designed to educate and entertain. These were lectures, symposia and concerts of music by famous people of the time from both Europe and America – scientists, philosophers, travelers, writers, poets, painters, composers. It is not unlikely that thinkers such as Thoreau and Emerson, and the poet Walt Whitman once came to the lake to entertain the sophisticated inhabitants.

Nor is it unlikely that Buffalo Bill or some notorious and scruffy bear trapper came to share their wild tales and home-grown philosophy with the folks. I first came across the term – “Chautauqua” – 30 years ago in a book by Robert M. Pirsig: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. There he describes the evolution of the Chautauqua from its summer school surroundings by the lake into “traveling tent-shows that used to move across America, old-time popular talks intended to edify and entertain.”

Since 1975 I have bumped into this Chautauqua idea several times in my reading and each time I became more confirmed in my resolution to contribute to this tradition. So this then – this sequence of songs – is my informal lecture, my condensed philosophy of life – my Chautauqua.

1. SUMMER SONGS - 1. MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S MYSTERY

gather around for the Midsummer Night’s Mystery
gather around for the Midsummer Night’s Mystery

there’s a thousand and one tales to tell
there’s a moon on the rise and it’s casting a spell
in our eyes like a dream like a sweet melody
like a dream like a sweet melody

gather around for the Midsummer Night’s Mystery
gather around for the Midsummer Night’s Mystery

1. SUMMER SONGS - 2. BIRD FLY AWAY

bird fly thru the sky
bird fall down
it’s a mystery
he don’t make a sound

the world go round
round and round
it’s a mystery
when the bird fall down

cat go up the tree
bird fly away
it’s a mystery
nobody know what to say

the world go round and round
night and day
it’s a mystery
when the bird fly away

1. SUMMER SONGS - 3. THE MOLE AND THE COO-COO

have you heard the tale about the mole?
he lives in the ground, down in a hole
he never sees the sun, they say he’s blind
he don’t even know it’s summertime

let me tell you about the coo-coo bird
she flies from nest to nest that’s what I’ve heard
they say she’s crazy, yes she’s lost her mind
she don’t even know it’s summertime

1. SUMMER SONGS - 4. THE FOURTH DAY OF JULY

come along and fly
come along and fly away
come along and fly
on the 4th day of July

come on down to the riverside
we’ll catch a boat, hitch a ride

and that’s the way we fly
that’s the way we fly away
and that’s the way we fly
on the 4th day of July

1. SUMMER SONGS - 5. DOGS AND DOGS

one two three
look and see
dogs and dogs
trotting free
there they go
see them hide?
here they come
out the other side

four five six
look up quick
see the dogs
playing tricks
is that a hat?
or a swarm of bees?
must be a cat
or a kite up in the tree

seven eight nine
look behind
see the dogs
running in a line
see them scatter
running wild
hurry scurry
mile upon mile

1. SUMMER SONGS - 6. SHORTEST NIGHT OF THE YEAR

the sun is going down
a dog’s distant bark
faces in the twilight
voices in the dark

people moving round
moving side to side
they’re stepping out tonight
they’re dancing in the light
of the shortest night of the year

Carmen and her dog
and her card catalogue
see it in her eyes
two fire flies

Mephistopheles
we’ve got him down on his knees
he says help me, help me please
I’m the one who brings the light
to the shortest night of the year

2. TURNING POINT

In the deepest dark
of a winter’s day
when light fills the valley’s snow and cold
comes a traveling man
with sunlight in his hand
behold, he turns it all to gold

And the nights grow light
and the days grow long
the traveling man comes closer with each mile
and the blackbirds take flight
and flock across the sun
they’re gone into their own exile

He reaches the turning point
he thinks of home
he walks in the footsteps of others
he returns alone

He’s a man of the earth
he has no name
people know him everywhere he goes
you will meet him under thunder
and then he’ll be gone (long gone)
somewhere down the road

He reaches the turning point
he thinks of home
he walks in the footsteps of others
he returns alone

He might be you
he might be me
he might be a friend we both know
and the stars at night
in the glow of pale moonlight
show him where to go

He reaches the turning point
he thinks of home
he walks in the footsteps of others
he returns alone

[Denmark-Belgium, Summer 2005 ]

3. SHADOW OF A COWBOY

take a glance from the corner of your eye
you might see a pick-up passing by
no one at the wheel
just the shadow of a cowboy

take a look into the center of the sky
you might see a thousand wild geese fly
into the belly of the moon
and the shadow of a cowboy

there’s a harmonica playing
down by the river you can barely hear
while back in the canyon
there’s a poker game of blood, sweat and tears

you think you’ll get away from gravity
but nobody’s done it yet you see them
standing in a line
waiting for the shadow of a cowboy

catch a glimpse from a swinging door
it’s an old saloon with oiled floor
the piano’s out of tune
played by the shadow of a cowboy

there’s a five-o’clock shadow on your TV
bringing you the evening news
and there’s a shadow of a cowboy
in the background pitching horse shoes

there’s a band playing
the William Tell Overture on the radio
and the shadow of a cowboy
singing, « Hi yo, Silver, Ohio. »

smoke rising from across the plains
hobos riding on a flat car train
they’re going home to die
in the shadow of a cowboy

when you’re a kid and your dreams are deep
the last thing you see before you go to sleep
is a buffalo girl falling in love (falling in love)
with the shadow of a cowboy

there’s a shadow of a doubt
behind every rainbow and drop of rain
better start believing in the shadow of a cowboy
when he calls your name

4. HE'S NOT HERE

they started a rumor about his appetite
they stuffed him on full moon
shoved him out into the night
where he got hit by lightning from an electrical stone
rolling and reaching out for a microphone
then they lost him on the levee where did he go?
they tracked him down to the local midnight movie show
to an empty balcony seat at the Avalon
he’s not here, he’s gone

don’t ask me how he pays his rent
but I imagine it’s in ordinary dollars and cents
I don’t know his secret name
he’s just a guy who passed me by in the rain
and that was back in 1965
they stalked him like a bandit
they wanted him dead or alive
I heard he escaped, drifted into Babylon
he’s not here, he’s gone

pitch him a penny he’ll stick out his tongue
flip him a nickel he’ll mumble thru a bubble of gum
slide him a dime he’ll cry up a hurricane
add a quarter and he’ll shout down a bucket of rain
it’s a dollar a holler, a yodel costs more
he’ll go for the high notes, he’ll open the jukebox door
there’ll be an ode for the devil and a shady record deal
then he’ll thread up, saddle his wheel
and ride into Orion on a finger of dawn
he’s not here, he’s gone

nobody at the cookhouse has seen him since dawn
he’s not here, he’s gone

he left with a lady, blonde on blonde
he’s not here, he’s gone

Johanna hasn’t seen him and neither has John
he’s not here, he’s gone

if he’s not in the closet and he’s not out on the lawn
he’s not here, he’s gone

5. PRAYER (TOUCH THE EARTH)

hey – what do you say?
hey – what do you say?

ho – what do you know?
hey – what do you say?

hey – ho
hey-ho-hey-ho

[ Stockay / St. Georges Fall 2005 ]

5. PRAYER (TOUCH THE EARTH)

dance dance dance
you got one last chance
there’s a ghost in the gutter
looking for romance

do the five-toe drag
do the funky monkeyshine
do the rotor-rooter rag
do the Frankenstein

DO THE BUFFALO SHUFFLE
DO THE RAZZA-MA-TAZZ
DO THE BUST-A-GUT RUMBLE
JUMP AND JIVE TO THE JUNKYARD JAZZ

there’s a bull in the barn
he’s shuffling his feet
he’s getting ready to move
to the boogie man beat

do the slingshot trot
do the black widow spin
do the rattlesnake shake
do the shop-lift shenanigan

DO THE BUFFALO SHUFFLE
DO THE RAZZA-MA-TAZZ
DO THE BUST-A-GUT RUMBLE
JUMP AND JIVE TO THE JUNKYARD JAZZ

there’s a wolf in the woods
he’s flexing his claws
he’s licking his chops
he’s patting his paws

he wants to walk the alligator
do the Fosbury Flop
peel your po-tater (don’t save it for later)
do the belly button pop

DO THE BUFFALO SHUFFLE
DO THE RAZZA-MA-TAZZ
DO THE BUST-A-GUT RUMBLE
JUMP AND JIVE TO THE JUNKYARD JAZZ

there’s a chicken in the coop
and the sun is going down
she’s stirring in her juices
she wants to tear up the town

do the skid row stomp
do the boulevard bounce
do the escalator mall crawl
do the high-rise pounce

DO THE BUFFALO SHUFFLE
DO THE RAZZA-MA-TAZZ
DO THE BUST-A-GUT RUMBLE
JUMP AND JIVE TO THE JUNKYARD JAZZ

do the dog paddle polka
do the loaded gun waltz
do the football fumble
do the rum and coke stumble

do the Wavy Gravy wiggle
do we really have a choice?
do the Jerry Garcia
do the James Joyce

DO THE BUFFALO SHUFFLE
DO THE RAZZA-MA-TAZZ
DO THE BUST-A-GUT RUMBLE
JUMP AND JIVE TO THE JUNKYARD JAZZ

7. THE MOVER

all you pretty women
your mama told you beware
don’t go walkin’ in lonely places
cause I might be there

gris-gris on your doorstep
draw across dust on your comb
step on my shadow
I’ll take you away from home

THEY CALL ME THE MOVER
THEY CALL ME JOHN THE CONQUEROO
YOU’VE SEEN MY LOCOMOTION
NOW MEET MY LOOGAROO

make you move your lips
make you move your jaw
make you move your fingertips
scratch-scratch with my monkey paw

make you walk in your sleep
make you talk the truth
make you crawl at my feet
bite your mouth with my alligator tooth

make you do the hand jive
make your long snake moan
make your tit’ange come alive
one touch of my black cat bone

make you fall in love with me
make you make me young
make you make me stagger lee
lick your back with my wild dog tongue

THEY CALL ME THE MOVER
THEY CALL ME JOHN THE CONQUEROO
YOU’VE SEEN MY LOCOMOTION
NOW MEET MY LOOGAROO

write your name on a piece of paper
put that paper in a horse’s mouth
tell that horse take her back to her maker
tell that horse take her back down south

send you back to your mama on the bayou
send you back to your mama roo
send you back with my horse mouth juju
send you back with my loogaroo voodoo

THEY CALL ME THE MOVER
THEY CALL ME JOHN THE CONQUEROO
YOU’VE SEEN MY LOCOMOTION
NOW MEET MY LOOGAROO

MET TON NOM DON BOUCHECHEVAL
LENVOYEZ CHEZ TOI

[ Stcokay / St Georges, Summer 2005 ]

8. CIVILIZATION

(as recorded by the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest
in the 19th and 20th Centuries)

they came with cameras and telescopes
they came with coins in their pockets
they swore they saw visions, floating in the sky
that settled to our earth like rockets

They set up shrines and tents for revival
they hired priests and oral individuals
they clothed them in rags and big paper bags
and put them to work on the rituals

They built up the gin house and bordello
they had a million soldiers to unrack
they stripped them outside, sprayed them with pesticide
then they chased them to the girls in the shacks

They brought in the apples and grapes
the women and kids had to eat
they gave them lipstick, swimsuits and flowers
and set them to work in the showers.

Meanwhile the shovels were busy
they had their snouts right down in the soil
they dug and they scraped, they dozed, they raped
and lo and behold! the Barbers hit oil

The Barbers went wild, they oiled their hair
they lined up to join in a feast
they had mule lip pie and turkey claw stew
and sidewinder salad with grease

They drained the land until it was empty
nothing left but hunger and worry
then they shaved off their hair, tanked up their trucks
and drove back home in a hurry.

9. MODEL-T

mama’s in the kitchen
papa’s in the outhouse again
she’s stirring up the chili
he’s strumming on a mandolin
I’m hanging out to dry
I’m twisting in the wind

mama rides a mustang
without a saddle or a mare
papa’s stuck in a rowboat
but mama don’t care
he’s up Shit Creek
without a paddle or a prayer

mama’s on the swing shift
papa’s in a no parking zone
we’re being towed away
far, far away from home
I’m looking out the window
and wondering if I can make it
back home alone

mama’s on the fast rail
papa’s on the back trail
I’m in the backseat
wondering what the hell we’re going to do
I got me a Butterfinger candy bar
I got me a model of a model-T car
woo-woo

mama’s setting up a trap
papa’s off the map
I’m just a kid
wondering what the hell is going on
I got me a Butterfinger candy bar
I got me a model of a model-T car
I’m gone

10. THESE ARE THE DAYS

mama’s in the kitchen
papa’s in the outhouse again
she’s stirring up the chili
he’s strumming on a mandolin
I’m hanging out to dry
I’m twisting in the wind

mama rides a mustang
without a saddle or a mare
papa’s stuck in a rowboat
but mama don’t care
he’s up Shit Creek
without a paddle or a prayer

mama’s on the swing shift
papa’s in a no parking zone
we’re being towed away
far, far away from home
I’m looking out the window
and wondering if I can make it
back home alone

mama’s on the fast rail
papa’s on the back trail
I’m in the backseat
wondering what the hell we’re going to do
I got me a Butterfinger candy bar
I got me a model of a model-T car
woo-woo

mama’s setting up a trap
papa’s off the map
I’m just a kid
wondering what the hell is going on
I got me a Butterfinger candy bar
I got me a model of a model-T car
I’m gone

11. FOG UPON THE LAND

there’s a fog upon the land
like a ghost around your hands
it buzzes and it bites and it creeps
it pulses you with charm
it wraps you in its arms
it makes you want to worry and to weep
there’s a fog upon the land
like a ghost around your hands
while you sleep

there’s a rope around your bones
it feels like liquid stone
it constricts and it chafes and it chokes
it ties your knees in knots
and your mouth feels like it’s caught
in the punch line of down and dirty joke
there’s a rope around your bones
it feels like liquid stone
and holy smoke

12. MOTH WRANGLER

he comes in with his jar
with the holes in the top
he comes in with his box
full of fluttering wings

he comes with the night
as the sun is sinking down
he comes with a candle
and he starts to sing

« I’m the moth wrangler »
« I’m the moth wrangler »

he takes out a spool
of black cotton thread
and whips it around
at the candle flame

then he opens the jar
he opens the box
and everything
goes insane

he’s the moth wrangler
he’s the moth wrangler

13. MIRACLES

I had a premonition
I saw the light of day
I went down to where the priests hang out
I found the room where they go to play

one came out of the woodwork
one came out of a bale of hay
one came thru the front door
and chased the other two away
he said:
I’m in charge of miracles
I’m the one you pay

I had a blessed vision
Mother Earth from Arkansas
I went down to the Priest Pavilion
told them what I saw

she was driving round in a pick-up truck
she was spraying and painting on the walls
she was scattering seeds of locoweed
and that’s not all
she said:
I’m in charge of miracles
I’m the one you call

she had a list of promises
and oh what a list
from aardvark to zymogenic
she said you better get used to this

she took out Blake’s America
a Nostradamus prophecy
said: « Now go out and walk around
and repeat after me:

I’m in charge of miracles
I’m the one you see. »

14. THE CIRCLE

I traveled in a country circled by the sea
it might have been an island
it might have been the trees
which blocked my view
of the cities as they grew for with out them
it would not have been a garden

Then the hanging gardens fell, several towers were revealed
as the nest of the seagulls
and against an open field
a book’s open page, I thought it was a cage
to be told it was Palace of the Poets

The poets there were many and the listeners they were few
and times they came together
were when the seagulls flew
their words danced a line
I said it’s only rhyme
they told me they were the guards of the palace

The visitors of the Palace were asking as they marched
have you seen the City of Marble Arch?
And is the season over?
How far is it to Dover?
They had come to make their home by the river

The Count of Charing Cross who slept beneath the broken trees
changed himself into a beggar
almost as easily
as a ocean changes sands
a magician changes hands
and the dancers, they crept into his pockets

the sorrow wheel spins
and the sorrow wheel wins
and I know
it’s the last time
I’ll be a dancer

The dancers that I saw were more large than any thought
they leapt from bridge to bridge
with the fish dreams they caught
on their canes and their chains
and the pin points of rain
then they slipped back unnoticed in the windfall

This make-believe island
was circled by the ten thousand trees
it could have been a dream
it could have been the end
of coming home again
if it all hadn’t been
a country of too-little sunshine

the sorrow wheel spins
and the sorrow wheel wins
and I know
I’ll never
be a dancer again

[ England – Belgium, December 1969 ]

15. MEXICO

when we first met
you were going down to Mexico
things got turned around
you never did go

we’ll rent a car up in Santa Fe
we’ll drive all the way to the Campechito Bay
I know it seems like a very long way
but hey, we got all day

I’ll take you down to Mexico

we’ll drink hot tequila
we’ll go dancing in the square
we’ll see iguanas in the moonlight
I’ll buy some roses for your hair

I’ll take you to the ruins
where the Aztecs reached for the heavens
I’ll take you where the pottery wheels spin
we’ll drink some more tequila
smoke a puff of margarita
and maybe we’ll never come back again

let’s go down to Mexico
I got a song on the radio
it goes: la bamba
it goes: bam- ba- bamba