5. Miracle in the Hills

 

Being from the outside they were met with some suspicion

This couple from the city where they call themselves physicians

When mountainfolk got hurt or sick they mostly went untreated

They’d come to see the Doctor and his wife were sorely needed

 

Word came in on horseback that somebody was sick

“Doctor, get your saddle bags & come a’ riding quick”

15 - 20 miles, he’d follow them back home

There was no electricity and no one had a phone

 

No bridges crossed the river except where they laid rails

There weren’t any roads back then & barely any trails

That didn’t stop the doctor from the little mountain town

In western North Carolina from going & making the rounds

 

Doctor went a’ riding through the wind and through the rain

If someone out there needed him, if someone was in pain

He saved a few from dying but a few, they got away

He delivered lots of children & he loved to watch them play

 

Dr. bought an old junk dynamo that weighed more than a ton

They hauled it home by wagon & the doc got it to run

They moved it to the creek & from the house he ran a wire

Flipped a switch & there was light & all the folks came to admire

 

Now everybody was pestering the Doc to hook ‘em up

But that old dynamo of his couldn’t put out juice enough

He did some reading up on it while riding on his horse

He figured maybe he could make it work by rewinding the core

 

But they said you just can’t do it - GE told him so

They wouldn’t sell him parts to rebuild his dynamo   

So he mail-ordered a forge and he made the parts himself

And the Doctor brought electricity to everybody else

 

Doctor’s wife assisted him - she was a doctor too

When he didn’t need her there was other work to do

She won people over - a little at a time

With the miracles that happened while the Doctor went a’ riding

 

Dr. Mary Martin Sloop taught the mountain folk to read

Got folks to send their kids to school, which was no easy deed

They soon outgrew the building - the little one room shack

So it was added on to and soon they outgrew that

 

Dr. Mary Martin Sloop started lobbying the state

To build a brand new school where the kids could graduate

She wrote a bunch of letters and she made a real good case

She even went to Raleigh where she pleaded face to face

 

The roads down from the mountains to the cities were so rough

Farm wagons couldn’t make it to the markets with their stuff

No way to make a living, no good route in or out

On the east side of the Blue Ridge heading north or south

 

Dr. Mary Martin Sloop again went to the state

Got people writing letters & she met with the legislature

She got a bill pushed through for 50 million dollars

It wasn’t long ‘til they were trucking beans and taters from the hollers

 

The little town of Crossnore saw the road & school get built

The women learned to weave and make the most exquisite quilts

Dr. Mary Martin Sloop had another thing to tell ‘em

She found a shop in Raleigh that was sure that it could sell ‘em

 

They sold all the quilts and rugs that these women could produce

Money started coming in - they put it to good use

Places where the wind got in they could afford to seal

A little extra cornbread at the evening meal

 

And so while Doctor went a’ riding - curing people’s ills

Doctor’s wife stayed busy performing other miracles

And to the town of Crossnore there came a better life

Love and admiration for the Doctor and his wife  

LYRICS

CLICK ON ANY SONG TITLE

Listen and download in the player below.

1. The 9:30 Pint

 

It’s not so big a town and I know all of the locals

Some come in to read newspapers some forget their bifocals

Strangers find a home here - trust me I have seen all kinds

9:30 in the morning is when I start pouring pints

 

The 9:30 pint it can set the morning right

For the one who just got off after working all night

It’s a stop along the way as he makes his journey home

Before he pulls the curtains closed and disconnects the phone

 

The 9:30 pint for whomever wanders in

It’s not for me to wonder or ask where they might’ve been

If they passed out in the bushes or if they caught a couple winks

I don’t make it my business to know why they need a drink

 

If you’ve been at it all night & you just have to have one more

Or if you need a cup of coffee I’ll be happy to pour

If you just need a place to sit to warm up or unwind

I’ll be right over here pouring these 9:30 pints

 

The 9:30 pint - perhaps to start a person’s day

Who am I to judge?  And who am I to say?

If they leave here happier than when they first come in

I’ll be here tomorrow morning should the punter call again

 

The 9:30 pint is one I’m glad to pour

I’m grateful for the business that comes in through the door

So what’re you having sir?  Now...what’s it gonna be?

I can tell you’re not a local - are you from across the sea?

 

So top of the morning to you - it’s another fine day

I turn away no one - I have bills to pay

See that pub across the street...the one up top the hill?

If I don’t pour the early one - you can bet they will

 

So before you rush to judgement & condemn a decent man

Allow me to introduce myself & offer you my hand

I’m just your friendly publican & you’re very welcome here

I open at 9:30 - you don’t have to drink a beer

 

2. The Ballad of Stan Rogers and Leo Kennedy 

 

Hardly anybody goes to visit Leo

All but forgotten except by a few

I heard somebody speak so fondly of him

Made me wish I knew him

I got directions to the church yard   

I took a walk on up the hill

That overlooks the Stan Rogers Folk Festival

The year that I was on the bill

 

It was in the local Lions Club

Which was the backstage dining hall

Saw a picture there of Leo

Framed & hanging on a wall

Such a good hearted fellow

So say all the people I know who knew him

It had to be someone who loved the man

Whoever the artist was that drew him

 

Leo in his uniform

Pins & medals decorate his vest           

Rolled up shirtsleeves & a funny hat  

Tilted slightly to the west

I figured maybe he was there

To keep a watch over the place

Smiling on everyone

He had a real familiar face

 

If you’re up in Canso, Nova Scotia

It’s just a flat stone on the ground

He lies just next to Lumsden

You might have to look around

It’s a simple little marker

Two hands clasped in prayer

I sat down beside it

And said a little one there

 

I’d only heard about Stan Rogers

Now it was time to listen to him

His songs brought back to life again

By people I know who knew him

And I thought about a campfire

And the Texas morning light

And that feeling that you leave with

After being there all night

 

So I’m saying farewell to Leo

It was nearly a quarter ‘til...

The Ballads of Stan Rogers

I’d been enjoying from the hill       

“Stay for another song, son“

I thought I heard somebody say

For one more song, and I had to smile...

Before I walked away

 

3. Seven Miles Upwind

 

The trees up here are all a sickly brown

It’s not for lack of rain

It’s in the mist that creeps around

Every night when most people are asleep

It slinks across the valley

And into everything it seeps

 

There’s a paper company

Seven miles upwind

I sit outside on a summer’s night

It irritates my skin

I get a little dizzy

Sometimes my lips go numb

I wake up in the morning

I can taste it on my tongue

 

The paper company employs this whole damn town

It’d wreck a lot of families if it ever were shut down

The last city council meeting went to hell

Neighbors turned on neighbors

People were starting to yell

 

The river’s fish you cannot eat

You don’t swim in the water

You don’t even dip your feet

Downstream the people made a stink

Fed up with being treated with a nod

Nod & a wink-wink

 

The local paper company burns my eyes

Coming from their smokestacks

You can see the vapors rise

Jobs...that’s all you need to say around here

Babies’ll let you kiss them and a marching band appears...jobs...

 

“No cause for concern,”

Say company personnel

“We operate within the law,”

They say about the sickly smell

“I can personally guarantee they’d pass inspection”

Says the paper candidate the company ran in the Most recent election

 

Paper company security

Thanks me for my call

They will file a report

As they’re required to by law

Then they ask me for my name

And my address

Why they’d want to know that

Is anybody’s guess

 

Paper company puts a burning in my nose

I have to come in off my porch

Pull all the windows closed

Maybe I’m just a little too sensitive

Maybe I ought to find myself another place to live

Said the note I found tacked outside my door

4. G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

For the kindness of strangers

I often give thanks

Some have fed me and clothed me

Some have filled up my tanks

Some have taken me inside

Of their humble abodes

Given me sanctuary

On this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

It all fit in a backpack

With a sturdy metal frame

My map had routes to everywhere

I highlighted some names

I could’ve walked to China

I had that light a load

Nearly weightless when I set out

On this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

I banded with some gypsies 

They had a little camp

A garbage fire to keep warm by

From the cold & from the damp

They taught me about honor

And they handed down the code

Which I have always tried to live by

On this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

Magic happens sometimes

And things will just appear

Some gone in an instant

But their memories are dear

My heart it gets heavy 

And my legs they get bowed

Hauling all my riches away

On this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

The picture was in black & white

Until color came one day

It was almost as if right before my eyes

The truth it became grey

Answers turned to questions

I put my faith in the unknown

And I trusted it to lead me

Along this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

Alot of good books have been written

You can read every one

You can take notes and recite quotes

As proof that you got your reading done

So many interpretations of the words of The Ultimate Poet

Who inspires me to write my own

On this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

The distance was far greater

Sitting face to face at home

Than it would have been from almost anywhere

If we’d been talking on the phone

I told her that I loved her

With a lump in my throat

Got in my car & drove away

Down this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

Now the world is at your fingertips

All you have to do is choose

Certain games you’ll still play anyway

Even though the odds are that you’ll lose

So call it an adventure then

Just the latest episode

Where you let yourself be tempted

On this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 

Billboards tell you where to go

Others tell you what to do

So you’re left with having to decide for yourself

What might be right or wrong for you

My one and only question

Is how to know how to know?

With all the answers people have for you

Out on this G-ddamned Blessed Road

 
 

6. Trees Falling

                                                                                               

See where they’re putting in a Wal-Mart

See how they level the field

The community banded against it

But there was a backroom deal

Trees one day begin falling

Bulldozers tear up the grass

Just down the road from the superstore

Shopkeepers are boarding up glass

 

See where they’re gonna put that highway

They’re talking about 8 lanes

Running it right through a neighborhood

Invoking eminent domain

Trees one day begin falling

Bulldozers clear away bricks

A neighborhood is divided

Alternative plans are nixed

 

See where they’re gonna build a ballpark

It’s a developer’s dream

We give him $ 500 million

Or else we might lose our team

The money’ll come from the city

We’ll vote on it until the day it passes

All of our local schools

Will have to do without music classes

 

See where they’re putting in those mansions

Clearing out a bunch of these woods

Putting in a gated community

Where security’ll be real good

Trees one day begin falling  

To open up mountain views

They put in a road to the waterfalls

And now they charge admission to it

 

Say you live out in the country

Up a steep mountain side

A holy little oasis

Nothing but peace & quiet

Trees one day begin falling

Somebody’s moving in

Building a house right on top of you

He says he wants to be your friend

 

Trees one day begin falling

Bulldozers clearing a path

For a really different future

No brakes - just stepping on the gas

 

7. Claire & Johnny

 

Claire, she loves Johnny

And Johnny, he loves Claire

Of all the places we could start

It’s as good as any right there

Johnny signed the order

They took his lovely Claire

They’re going to make her better

But it was more than he could bear

 

What other options were there?

What else could Johnny do?

She was the most beautiful woman

That Johnny ever knew

But Claire sometimes got ugly

She had Johnny in a vice

She could get so mean all of a sudden

After being so nice

 

Claire, she loves Johnny

And Johnny, he loves Claire

The way she was behaving

Johnny, he got scared

Sometimes it would be hours

That she would sit & stare

Some voice that wasn’t her’s would speak

But she just wasn’t there

 

Johnny felt so low down 

He needed cheering up  

He had to get out of the house

So he headed for the pub

That’s where we got to talking

We had a pint or two

He asked if I might write a song about it

I said I’d see what I could do

   

Claire, she loves Johnny 

And Johnny, he loves Claire

Even with her cussing at him

Lord, how she could swear

Even with her throwing things

Some that really hurt

Even when she’d speak

Those unspeakable words

 

Claire is being cared for

They keep her in a room

Under medication

Every day she’s groomed

Sometimes she notices the flowers

Among whatever else she sees

And then she’ll turn to Johnny

And ask, “Who brought me these?”

 

Claire, she loves Johnny

And Johnny, he loves Claire

Although she may deny it

Says what Johnny did wasn’t fair

She tells Johnny she hates him

He strokes her lovely hair

Of all the places we could stop for now...

8. The Room Over the Bar

 

The room over the bar has a funny kind of smell

Your feet stick to the carpet, what it is you can not tell

The curtains, you can’t close ‘em and the toilet won’t stop running

The lights they kind of flicker - there’s a banging in the plumbing

 

The room over the bar - number 213

Not particularly large, not particularly clean

It’s supposed to be a king bed but it’s not even a queen

On a nightstand are some dusty & outdated magazines

 

The room over the bar is the one without a view

You can’t open up the window & there’s no light coming through

There’s a great big concrete wall you can look at if you want

The rooms that have a view - they’re all around the front

 

The room over the bar is the one they give musicians

It’s the one they haven’t fixed up ‘cause it’s only for musicians

There’s at least a couple burn marks on almost everything

You lie down in the bed & you feel each one of the springs

 

The room over the bar you’ll find hairs on the sheet

A broken down remote, and you can’t turn off the heat

A towel small as a washcloth and a shower that just dribbles

The tv with 3 channels on the ceiling, on a swivel

 

The room over the bar - you hear everything below

All sorts of filthy language - must be where all the cussers go

Some words I never heard before - and some I haven’t heard since

I’ve used a few myself - but one or two of ‘em made me wince

 

The room over the bar has a guitar player below

He’s got people singing - all the songs that people know

The sound is all distorted & it’s turned up way too loud

There’s some really awful singing going on there in the crowd

 

The room over the bar - it’s never gonna close

You’ve got to get up early - but that’s just the way it goes

They quit serving at midnight but the last one leaves at four           

And then you toss & turn for a couple hours more

9. Forest Hills Sub

 

The sign says Forest Hills

It was recently defaced

I guess there was a forest here

Before they built this place

With these cookie-cutter homes

With the lawns all manicured

All the cars are waxed and polished

As are all the kitchen floors

 

It’s a wholesome kind of place

That’s what they’d have you believe

There’s a flag at every house

And a few overachieve

We have a child prodigy

And a couple of folks do art

And a little neighborhood baseball team 

That plays with lots of heart

 

The letter to the editor

I read in last week’s paper

Was written by that knucklehead

Who used to be my neighbor

Talk about intolerance

Those people he calls heathens

‘Cause they don’t believe the same things

That this knucklehead believes in

 

Now I know for a fact

A certain so & so reads porn

A package sent to him once

Was delivered to my door

I didn’t hand it over

No, I kept it to myself

If we should ever have a problem

Well, it’s up there on the shelf

 

There was a Pakistani family

That lived just down the block

As soon as they’d replace the glass 

Someone would throw a rock

I don’t think it was children

Though children can be cruel

Whoever it was that did it

They broke the Golden Rule

 

People read the Times

Aand they watch the tv news

They receive it like the Gospel

They’ve all fallen for the ruse   

They all have their opinions

But none of them have clues                           

There’s a patriotic silence

There are no dissenting views

 

The school we have here 

Couldn’t teach a monkey how to climb

And Evie’s neighbor maintains

That to homeschool is a crime

I think she’s a moron

I told Evie on the phone

Tell her it’s none of her goddamned business

In the gentlest of tones

 

They know him as the garbage man

But I know him as Anthony

Their trash he turns to beauty

Some could profit from it handsomely

These little works of art

That he would sprinkle on their lawns

Would end up in the trash again

As soon as people saw ‘em

 

Katy burned some leaves

And that’s against the law

The cop who showed up first 

Aaid they had gotten 20 calls

They wrote her a citation

But it just went up in smoke

They put her in a squad car

It made for 20 happy folks

 

And each 4th of July

It’s the same tin foil parade

Waving from a flatbed

While a band behind them plays      

All of our local sponsors

And all the block captains too

Party hats & streamers

All red, white, & blue

 

But just below the varnish

And under the veneer

Behind the smiling faces

And all of the good cheer

You’ve got your petty jealousies

And all your different feuds

Gossip and suspicions

And people who are rude

 

The sign says “Forest Hills -

A Wholesome Kind Of Place”

Now I’m not saying by whom

But it was recently defaced

So let the credits roll

And you can use my song

My guess is that for Hollywood

It’s a few seconds too long

10. The Goat Man

 

Traffic would get backed up

When the Goat Man came around

And the tv cameras picked him up

Some miles out of town

In his tattered, sooty overalls

And his greasy railroad cap

Going no place in particular

With a wagon full of scrap

 

Ches McCartney was a farmer

When the Depression hit

He had some land in Iowa

‘Till the bank foreclosed on it

So he took to cutting timber

For the WPA

‘Till a mighty tall tree fell on him

And crushed his arm one day

 

They found him underneath it

They thought he’d met his maker

‘Till he woke up in the funeral home

And that shocked the undertaker

The big tree left him crippled

But he swore one thing for certain

That he would never sign up for the dole

He would never be a burden

 

Some folks might’ve quit right then

After all that had occurred

But Ches still had his Bible

And he still had his herd

So he built a couple of wagons

And he hitched ‘em to his goats

And they all just set out walking

Down the old two lane roads

 

North they’d go in springtime

South when it got cold

The Goat Man kept on walking

‘Till he was 85 years old

All through the Carolinas

Virginia & DC

Georgia & Alabama

All across Tennessee

 

It was every year, or just about

That the Goat Man came around

Camped a couple of nights in somebody’s field

On the outskirts of a town

The people would flock to see him

Afraid there was a fire

‘Cause he made a lot of black smoke

Burning little scraps of tires

 

Yeah, the people would flock to see him

And then he’d have ‘em collared

Sell ‘em postcards for a quarter

3 of ‘em for a dollar

You’d laugh about it later

Down the road a couple miles

How he took you for a quarter

But he left you with a smile

 

The Goat Man preached the Gospel

But he changed a couple of words

He was the cussingest preacher

Anybody’d ever heard

And if you needed preaching

Come Sunday 4 o’clock

The Goat Man gave a sermon

Whether anybody was there or not

 

The things most people slave for

The Goat Man he rejected

It was for the good of others

All the money he collected

He didn’t have much use for it

Himself, he used to say

He walked a hundred thousand miles

Giving all of it away

 

The Goat Man had a bushy beard

With bits of food stuck to it

If you had some fat to chew

He’d sit with you and chew it

He didn’t bathe for all those years

You wouldn’t just not notice

You might even catch a whiff of it

Looking at some old Goat Man photos

 

Now the Goat Man had a favorite goat

It’s name it was Old Bill

For 30 years they walked together

Up & down the hills

Old Bill got to stop pulling

He earned his right to ride

His last days in the wagon

While the Goat Man walked beside him

 

The roads all got too crowded

And the cars all got too fast

The Goat Man parked his wagon

And he put his goats to pasture

It was somewhere down near Macon

In a nursing home

Where he found himself a sweetheart

They say he might’ve worn cologne

 
 

11. Dangerous Times

 

There’s terror in our midst         

They could be one of us         

Behind you in the line               

Beside you on the bus            

Wearing camouflage                 

They might be wearing suits     

The terrorists among us              

Might be wearing army boots    

 

These are dangerous times

People are afraid

No looking back at history

To see how enemies were made

Some dictators are bad

Some dictators are good

That’s a hard one to explain

But I wish somebody would

 

So let us all agree

Let us not dissent

Let us not ask questions such as

Where our freedoms went

We’ll just fly fly the flag                    

Sing G-d Bless America          

Question people’s patriotism                    

Who don’t join in the hysteria

 

These are dangerous times

And so we lose our rights

While these terrorists among us

Do their dirty work at night

There isn’t time to read

The contents of the bills

That Congress votes for anyway

Up there on The Hill

 

There’s terror in our midst

It wears the good disguise

Fools a lot of people

They seem like such regular guys

Rewriting all the rules

You don’t have any say 

In fact they even count on you

To look the other way

 

There’s terror in our midst

All over the tv

It’s what’s behind the words

That scares the daylights out of me

The twisting of the facts

The stretching of the truth

The terrorists among us

They manipulate the news

 

So let us all agree

Let us not dissent

Let us not ask questions such as

Where our freedoms went

We’re going to build them schools

We’re going to build them banks

We’re going to build them pipelines

From their fields to our tanks

 

My heart goes out to Johnny

Sent off into war

They convince him it’s for freedom

That he’d lay his life down for

My thoughts are often with him

I pray he comes home safe

And I pray for every innocent

Laid early in the grave

 

These are dangerous times

You might be overheard

Using one of whatever they’ve defined

As being a dangerous word

What if they don’t like your songs?

What if they don’t like your books?

What if you fit a profile

Based solely on your looks?

 

They listen to us talk

They read the things we write

They watch us all on cameras

They know where you were last night

They know where you stopped for gas

Which magazines you bought

Back in 1984

This was all just crazy talk

 

So let us all agree

Let us not dissent

Let us not ask questions such as

Where our freedoms went

Let’s have a look inside those pockets        

Let’s have a look inside that purse

Let’s have a look inside that glove box

Or someplace maybe worse

 

And who was in your house

While you weren’t home

And looked in your computer

And through everything you own?

What did they want to know?

Which websites do you visit?

What have you learned about them?

They want to know - what is it?

 

So let us all agree

Let us not dissent

Let us not ask questions such as

Where our freedoms went

We’ll just fly fly the flag                    

Sing G-d Bless America          

Question people’s patriotism                    

Who don’t join in the hysteria

12. Al’s Ashes & Me

 

(In memory of Al Grierson, 1948 - 2000)

 

Welcome Home, Al, said the sign at the gate

I got there early, Al got there late

Together we entered and greeted our mates

Al - he was back in Texas

 

Al’s ashes & me, we’ve been for a drive

To places he loved while he was alive

Back at the ranch, on the day we arrived

We saw almost all of his favorite people

 

Al’s ashes & me, been making the rounds

Out in the country & into the towns

Trying to find some higher ground...

 

Al’s ashes & me, we sleep in motels

Where we have to be out by 11 or 12

Al could do better describing the smells

‘Cause Al, you see, he was a poet

 

I get the bed & Al gets the floor                  

My jeans in a pile over by the door

There’s always a bible in one of the drawers...

And a remote control for the tv

 

Now I might appear to be eating alone

A table for two, I sit on my own                  

But looks are deceiving, the truth it be known   

Alone but for the roses

 

Al’s ashes & me had a brush with the law

At the airport the metal detector went off

I emptied my pockets, & the first thing they saw

Was Al, and I had to do some explaining

 

Al’s ashes & me on the Donegal shore 

We walked in the sand and the ocean roared

Him in my pocket, me trying to keep warm

In my coat, but Al had a red bandana

 

Al’s ashes & me, we sat in a pub

Cobblestone Bar, in Smithfield part of Dublin

Al on the wagon, me raising my cup

“To Al,” I says to the barman 

 

I introduce Al to some of my friends

Not all the time just every now & again

I guess you could say that it really depends

On how it feels at the moment

 

Al’s ashes & me, we wish you were here

We’d show you the sights & bring you good cheer   

We’re hoping to see you later this year

Lord willing…

©2018 Chuck Brodsky  |  BMI