New York

I remember where I was
The moment I fell in love
With New York
RCA, black and white
I found the way to endless night
New York

I held onto that scene and I never let go
Every night I’d dream of a girl who was so
New York  

I was raised obscure and shy
My mama’s cure faith, my daddy’s lie
Ohio
Smoke stack sky gray
I never lacked of  I can’t take
Ohio

At sixteen, the city dawned on a Greyhound bus
Worked a warehouse in the Bronx and at night I made love
To New York

turned my collar to the wind and
Footsteps followed a young Dylan
Brooklyn Bridge, three a.m.
A boy in bliss is who I am
In New York

Met a girl we got married
On the Staten Island Ferry
In New York
Honeymooned at a Brooklyn Bar
From there I never looked too far
to New York

I did my best to make life hard
She moved West, she took the heart
of New York     

“Don’t Look Back” is all I knew
But in Toledo, that’s all I do
To New York
And bathed in blue of TV light
I want you to hold me tight
New York  

turned my collar to the wind and
Footsteps followed a young Dylan
Brooklyn Bridge, three a.m.
I want that boy in bliss again
In New York

 

Jamie and the Rocket Ship

Jamie loved the rocket ship he got when he was five.
It was his father’s final gift before his father died.
Early he would say goodnight and go up to his room,
Earthly blue out of sight as he sailed beyond the moon.

Beyond the moons of Jupiter, beyond the cooling stars
Moving through the universe into his father’s arms.
Exploring skies of endless night of mystery and fear
He held onto his father tight and whispered in his ear,

“Don’t forget about me.”

Jamie watched the rocket ship when he was thirty-five
And saw the teacher’s famous trip explode across the sky.
Stumbling by his drinking friends, daylight hurt his eyes,
Suddenly a child again and he began to cry.

He cried as though his father were falling from the sky,
He cried for all who fall to earth and never learn to fly.
So many tears he couldn’t see, still he didn’t care,
So many years since he believed but still he said a prayer,

“Don’t forget about me.”

He met a girl, it changed his world,
He came in from the dark.
Streetlights bright will take the night
But they also take the stars.

Jamie bought a rocket ship when his son was five
But one among a hundred gifts and quickly put aside
Jamie kissed his son goodnight, drove back to his room,
But drifted into coming lights and sailed beyond the moon.

“Don’t forget about me.”

 

John, Paul, George, Ringo and Me

February, Saturday in ’64
My father had died the  year before
I was ridin’ with my brother in his beat up Dodge
I was thirteen and mad at my mother and God
“I’ll cry if I want”, sang Leslie Gore
I didn’t want to cry anymore

DJ said, “I got a record to play
You heard it here first: KIOA
gonna be hit by this British band
This is it: ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’”.
Catechism taught me that God exists,
But God I never thought you could be like this.
Like a first kiss

John Paul George Ringo and me
Singin’ so loud feelin’ so free
The world was new and it was mine
Love me do ’cause I feel fine
And free

I got me a six-string, a cardboard case
Went lookin’ for a little bit of  guitar grace.
I never got the world to hear my tunes
But I met a lotta girls and I married a few
They’d say, “When you gonna grow up?” I’d say “Never.
It’s Strawberry Fields forever.”

But of course I saw that it was not
Paul got cautious, John wast shot.
George found the Lord and we lost touch
And me and Ringo drank a little too much.
The road was long and winding, I hated that song
Everything was winding up way too wrong.
I needed to belong

John Paul George Ringo and me
Singin’ so loud feelin’ so free.
Still the boys made me feel alive
Yeah me and The Beats,   the Fab Five
and free

Lucky for me I came to understand
I didn’t need to be the Nowhere Man
But I don’t regret everything I did
I got good stories and a beautiful kid.
She sixteen she can drive my car
We turn it up and we tear it apart
right from the heart

It’s John Paul George Ringo and us
Singin’ so loud it’s all too much.
The world is new and it is mine
Love me do ’cause I feel fine
And free

 

The Kingdom of Summer

Late afternoon
Twenty-first of June
Light in the trees, reflected from the water
A lake, a breeze, father and daughter

They walk the shore
She’s maybe four
The light of his life reflected in the water
To this girl, the king is her father

They build a boat, stick and string and leaves
They watch it float to the wide open sea
To the border of the
Kingdom of Summer

They stop to eat
The queen has packed a treat
They find a frog hiding, holding him softly
They decide to knight him, “We dub thee, Sir Froggie”

He bows to them both
Vows with an oath
“Your Kingdom I’ll defend, fear not my liege”
Then their forever friend, hops into the weeds.

She climbs a tree, she can see the palace
Then she leaps onto her steed and they begin to gallop
To the border of the
Kingdom of Summer

Blue Cadillac

I grew up in the back of a blue Cadillac
My daddy had a job checkin’ railroad tracks
We all went along, Momma, baby brother Mack
Growin’ up together in a blue Cadillac

Daddy worked all day walkin’ the line
From Albuquerque Santa Fe Anaheim
Sometimes we’d sleep underneath the stars
Or in the back seat of the Cadillac car

Grew up in the back of a blue Cadillac

Mama took care to help us read and write
Said our prayers before we said goodnight
Mama would drive let daddy sleep through
Drivin’ the night in a Cadillac Blue

chorus

Never seemed to me unusual
Another way to be wouldn’t do at all
Never had a house, neighborhood
Never had a doubt, life was pretty good

Blues, Gospel, radio
signals lost on the way and so
Mack and me learned to play guitar
Back seat harmony Cadillac car

I gotta job, wife, house, a kid
I can’t have a life doin’ like I did
But sometimes we take a ride, baby in back
Growin’ up together in Blue Cadillac

Chicken Etouffée

My daddy had a sister down a Mississippi way
I’s a kid, I’d visit, wished I’d stayed
I miss her buttermilk biscuits, fishin’ in the bay
I miss her cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée

Never been so happy, never worked so hard
I want to go back to runnin’ in the yard
catch a couple chickens, not their day
end up in the skillet – étouffée

Cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée
Cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée
Wished I lived in yesterday
Cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée

Okra, onions, ready to fry
Rollin’ out the dough for sweet potato pie
She had that look: “Get outa my way
I’m cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée”

Every Saturday night, right on cue
everybody came by with their dancin’ shoes
Guitar and fiddle startin to play
As God is my witness, I learned to pray

Cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée
Cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée
Wished I lived in yesterday
Cookin’ in the kitchen chicken étouffée

I’d never seen stars above
till I’s fifteen and fell in love
Felt so right when we started kissin’
we spent the night cookin’ in the kitchen

I’m workin’ in the city now but I can’t stay
Cause I miss Mississippi, fishin the bay
I’m lookin’ to get livin’ back in yesterday
start cookin’ in the kitchen étouffée

Love Me Do

It was sixty-two
The Beatles were new
London studio “Love Me Do”

Not the Best for Pete
Ringo not upbeat
Andy White stepped in, took his seat

Playin’
Love Me Do

He was completely it
completely fit
we all got up to dance, couldn’t resist

That heat that heart
That beat that harp
over the seas, up the charts

Love Me Do

We are completely it
completely fit
get up and dance don’t resist

Empty<

I fell in love on a summer’s night
I knew at once it wasn’t right
I had a child, I had a wife
But with a smile, she made my life
empty

The streets were littered with falling stars
The night glittered with neon cars
And when I kissed her, the world was ours
We were delivered from who we are:
empty

In a few days we left that town
With a fuel gauge that would never run down
To empty

It was in summer time,
It wasn’t love but it felt so fine.
I was reckless, I was wild
He never mentioned a wife and child

The world was no concern to us
We kissed and kisses burned us up
And then
We spoke in verse, we walked in rhyme
We broke the curse that says that time
Will end

It will never end

In a few days we left that town
With a fuel gauge that would never run down
To empty

I awoke to a distant dawn
In a winter coat, shades drawn
Radio plays a Christian song
Car’s broke, stars are gone
empty

How long it’s been, I forget
When she went for cigarettes
Everything’s gone, nothin’s left
Even the gun next to the bed
Is empty

Empty.

What Might Have Been

Jesus Christ probably thought twice
about the plans for our salvation
On the Galilee Sea he saw the fallacy to be
the plan was a pretty half baked one

And though the purpose eluded him
he could not refuse
to return to Jerusalem
as King of the Jews

And as he suffered and died for sins
he must have wondered what might have been

What if he paused and never picked up the cross
Would that loss have been a bad one?
He resists and says “I can’t do this”
kisses Mary Magdalene

And when they were married
no water to wine
the dead stayed buried
he left that behind

And the world would abide with sin
Oh what might have been

He worked with his father and they built boats
ate figs with their wives in the shade
and with his sons and daughters, milked the goats
This is how lives are saved

What might have been

Jesus Christ probably thought twice
about the way his faith was shaken
and in a moment of doubt he cried out
“Why am I forsaken?”

And as he did with his crown of thorns
A thousand lives were never born
They would do wait for him to rise again
Oh what might have been

Three Chords and the Truth

Three chords and the truth
used to be the gospel
Even two would do
For a Hank’s apostle

Why would you need more?
It’s been working fine for forever.
but these days of course
A little more is always better

C – get divorced
G – walk the floor
C – drink some more
D – find the lord

Three chords and the truth
all you need to tell a story
Nothin more won’t do
for good ol’ Grand Ol Opry glory

C – mama’s love
G -daddy’s truck
C- got no luck
D – drink too much

Three chords and the truth
all you need to tell a story
Nothin more won’t do
for good ol’ Grand Ol Opry glory

Nothin more won’t do
Three chords and the truth

To Tune a Guitar

The way to tune a guitar: hold it loose and easily.
Every flat or sharp tells you where it needs to be.
Strings should sing like stars, serenade us like the moon
and that’s the way a guitar is tuned.

To listen to a song: come inside, be right here.
So soon we will be gone and all we see will disappear,
but waves of sound go on, eternity’s a singing bird
and that’s the way a song is heard.

Carnivals of constellations rise above the earth.
They have heard all that’s occurred from the universe’s birth.
From ancient adorations to Jerusalem’s despair,
From coffee conversation to Buddha’s final prayer.

The way to fall in love: let it go, fall apart.
You’ve sheltered long enough, your weary, wondrous broken heart.
Nothing need be done, just be beneath the morning sun
and that’s the way love will come.

A Lot Like Lincoln

I know you’ve recently awakened to mistakes you been makin’
so a break you are takin’ ‘cause you’ve taken just enough
I know you’re tired of the mire of desire uninspired
but don’t be a liar and say you’re not in love

We should stay united, I’m your man
A house divided cannot stand
Oh baby I got a plan

I’ve been doin’ a lot of drinkin’ and I been thinkin’
I’m a lot like Lincoln, I know it sounds bizarre
I’m thinkin’ Northern Mississippi, Lincoln and Ulysses
sippin’ on whiskey, smokin’ on cigars

They’re talkin’ ‘bout liberty, talkin’ ‘bout their Civil War
So many similarities it’s hard to ignore
Would you like to know more?

I’m a lot I’m a lot I’m a la la la la
I’m a lot I’m a lot I’m a la la la la
I’m a lot I’m a lot I’m a la la la la
I’m a lot I’m a lot I’m a la la la la
I’m wise and unique and a guy of distinction
I’m a lot I’m a lot I’m a lot like Lincoln

He was a pretty cool cat, could wear that fool hat
I could do that, remember that beret?
You didn’t like it a bit, said it didn’t fit
but you gotta admit, I stood out like Abe

And you’re right I’m not tall and I didn’t study law
You’re always findin’ flaws no matter how small
You don’t get it at all

No I ain’t forgot, that he got shot
Thanks a lot. You want to take that back
Oh my God, you’re like Mary Todd
you’re depressed, you’re odd, you’re always wearin’ black

Oh I know that you’re annoyed but don’t say see ya later
I’ll be that Illinois boy, I’ll be the great debater
I’ll help you make the choice, that you’ll want to stay here
I’m this union’s savior

Chorus

Four score and seven weeks ago
I saw you on the dance floor we did a little blow
Somethin’ about your kiss, about your eyes
No doubt about this, you made the South rise

There’ll be a proclamation for your emancipation
Your lawyer is impatient to see us divorced
But let’s be diplomatic and not so dramatic
I’m thinkin’ Appomattox and you lay down your sword

I am dedicated to a union that remains
We are consecrated, did not love in vain
Let’s begin reconstruction, clear up this mess
To the sweet seduction of the Gettysburg Address!
Baby take off your dress.

Chorus