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1. He Came To Our Town
 
He came to our town
For maybe an hour
The streets all got swept
And they planted some flowers
Babies he kissed
To the people he waved
And he stopped
At a Civil War General’s grave
 
He struck just the right pose
He hit just the right chord
When he spoke of the family
And then of the Lord
He addressed the concerns
Of the common man
And he spoke of the glory
Of this mighty land
 
He had just the right color
His smile was fixed
His wardrobe assembled
From a bagful of tricks
He had gobs of make-up
Caked on his face
Starch in his collar
Every hair was in place
 
His wife stood beside him
His daughter did too
And behind them, a flag
With the red, white, and blue
Balloons from the rafters
Fell to the floor
Oh, Happy Days
Were gonna be here once more
 
He could sell you a war
He could revoke your rights
And still come off as your friend
In the camera lights
He’ll run negative ads
If he has to to win
He’ll go back on his word
He’ll shed his old skin
 
He said all the right words
Quoted Bob Dylan songs
He sounded hip
Even though he quoted them wrong
His closets were cleaned
And his history revised
So his record would be spotless
To most people’s eyes
 
I wasn’t touched
By this guy in the least
He was no savior
Nor was he the beast
I have to admit
That they staged a good show
It was all reminiscent
Of four years ago
 
He came to our town
For maybe an hour
The streets all got swept
And they planted some flowers
Babies he kissed
To the people he waved
And he stopped
At a Civil War General’s grave
 
And after an hour
They whisked him away
Things went back to normal
Over two or three days
The homeless returned
To living outside
And the flowers that got planted
All wilted and died
 
He came to our town
For maybe an hour
The streets all got swept
And they planted some flowers
 
2. Bill & Annie
 
We stopped for peaches at a little roadside stand
Man said his name was Bill, I said “I’m Chuck and this is Annie”
He said Annie was the one & only true love of his life
They met at his wedding but by then he had a wife
 
It was during the reception in the Spring of ‘64
She, his newlywed’s best friend, followed him out the ballroom door
Maybe his ring got smaller, maybe his finger swelled
Maybe he’d made a big mistake, and maybe time would tell
 
Bill asked, “Do you feel what I feel?” and Annie said, “I do”
Bill was at a loss, wondering now what should he do
He did what he had to, he’d just taken a wife
She would take good care of him for the rest of her life
 
Bill & Annie fought the urge, they saw each other often
She was there in black the day Bill’s wife lay in her coffin
By then she’d gotten married, by then she’d moved away
She’d asked Bill for his blessings and he’d said it was ok
 
Bill said, “Taste the peaches,” and he cut us each a slice
They were a little on the small side, but they sure tasted nice
“Do you think I did the right thing?” Bill asked, though I knew he knew
So I answered with a question, I asked him, “Bill, do you?”
 
Bill said, “Annie, pleased to meet you, it was nice to meet you Chuck”
And Annie & I, we drove away in Annie’s pick-up truck
With a box of twenty peaches, a homegrown tomato too
And a couple of things to think about, and every now and then I do...
I do
3. Dock Ellis’s No-No
 
It was a lovely summer’s morning      
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say
His girlfriend read the paper
She said, “Dock, this can’t be right...
It says here that you’re pitching
In San Diego tonight”
 
“Got to get you to the airport”
And so off Dock Ellis flew
His legs were a little bit wobbly
And the rest of him was too
Took a taxi to the ballpark
An hour before the game
Gave some half-assed explanation
Found the locker with his name
 
The organ in the upper deck
Played all the schmaltzy hits
You could hear it in the club house
Where Dock was getting dressed
His sunglasses he reached for
From his locker, in a case
Dock Ellis pulled his jersey on
Then he put them on his face
 
Time came to go on out there
Down the corridor
The walls were a little bit wavy
There were ripples in the floor
He went out to the bullpen
To do a bunch of stretches
Loosen up a little
Throw his warm-up pitches
 
All rose for the national anthem
People took off their hats
Fireworks were exploding
The cokes were already going flat
Dock was back there in the dugout
So many things to watch
Some players spit tobacco juice
Others grabbed their crotch
 
The umpire hollered, “Play Ball!”
And so it came to be
Dock’s Pirates batted first
And when they went down 1-2-3
Dock’s catcher put his mask on
And he handed Dock the ball
It was 327 feet
To the right & left field walls
 
The Pirates took the field then         
And Dock stood on the rubber
He bounced a couple of pitches
And then he bounced a couple others
You might say about that day
He looked a little wild
The lead-off batter trembled
Nobody knew why Dock Ellis smiled
 
You walk 8 and you hit a guy
The things that people shout...
Especially your manager
But he didn’t take Dock out
Dock found himself a rhythm
And a crazy little spin
Amazing things would happen
When Dock Ellis zeroed in
 
Sometimes he saw the catcher
Sometimes he did not
Sometimes he held a beach ball
Other times it was a dot
Dock was tossing comets
That were leaving trails of glitter
At the 7th inning stretch
He still had a no-hitter
 
So he turned to Cash, his buddy
Said, “I got a no-no going”
Speaking the unspeakable
He went back out there throwing
Bottom of the ninth
& He stood high upon the mound
3 more outs to go
He’d have his name in Cooperstown
 
First up was Cannizzaro
Who flied out to Alou
Kelly grounded out for Dean
The shortstop yelled, “That’s two”
It must’ve been a mad house
The fans upon their feet
The littler ones among them
Standing on their seats
 
Next up would’ve been Herbel
But Spezio pinch-hit
He took a 3rd strike looking
And officially, that was it
It was a lovely summer’s morning      
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say
 
4. Radio
 
Anderson, South Carolina - TL Hanna High
The people there will tell you - ask any passerby
About the kid who speaks in gibberish - folks’ll tell you, “Shoot...
Wasn’t nothing but a little love and attention gave voice to a mute”
 
Who stood with his transistor - pressed against his ear
Picking up certain frequencies that only he could hear
There was this little man inside it - perhaps his only friend
The only one who’d talk to him - the only one back then
 
Coach Jones barked, “Come here, boy!” to this kid up in the stands
Who was mimicking him loudly - making gestures with his hands
The players on the football team exchanged uneasy glances
You jumped when Coach said to jump - but oh, how slow the boy was advancing
 
Coach Jones was pulling on the drawstrings on his hood
The kid, he spoke in gibberish -Coach, he understood
Lamb imitating lion - it sure looked like easy prey
But this is not what happened - no, it went the other way
 
This kid they nicknamed Radio was 18 going on 6
The team needed a water boy - and so the job was his
Coach convinced the principal to bend a couple rules
He’d pick up Radio every day - on his way to school
 
Everywhere that Coach Jones went his lamb was sure to go
They tried him out in Special Ed but his marks were too low
The kid’s now in his 50’s - his hair is sprinkled white
For 30 years he’s come to school - he cannot read or write
 
Come Football Fridays - they let Radio be the star
He falls in with the marching band and then with the color guard
He jumps when the cheerleaders jump - with pom poms on his hands
He cusses like the coaches do & he high fives with the fans
 
They give Radio report cards & they give him varsity letters
They let him wander freely in his TL Hanna sweater
He visits all the classrooms - and whenever there’s a test
He whips out his box of crayons - he tries his very best
 
Everyone knows Radio - the townspeople adore him
The students pat his head just like their parents did before them
Anderson, South Carolina...folks’ll tell you, “Shoot...
It wasn’t nothing but a little love and attention - gave voice to a mute
5. A Toast to the Woman in the Holler
 
Catherine’s boyfriend played saxophone
Catherine wanted a flute
There was one in the window of the music store That happened to be a real beaut
But Mummy couldn’t afford it
This much Catherine knew
Still, she stood there a few minutes dreaming Knowing it wouldn’t come true
 
Christmas time was coming
And Catherine had the blues
Her Mummy asked her what she wanted Catherine didn’t tell the truth    
She knew there wasn’t the money
Not even for one to rent
The only thing Catherine really wanted
Was to play an instrument 
 
Catherine cried for a month in her bedroom
When she had to quit the school band
The woman who lived in the holler
Heard about this secondhand
And the goodness gathered within her
And fluttered like butterflies
She in a vision released them
And she watched them take to the skies
 
And on a very cold night in December
Maybe the coldest night of the year
The woman who lives in the holler
Cried a few secret tears
For the last few moments of glory
And the glories that had been before
And the times it had been there to rescue her
She set her flute down by the door
 
People whisper about her
The locals say she’s a witch
Though she’d be the first to come help them
If they ever got stuck in a ditch 
The candles she lights at her altar
They burn as a gesture of love                               
The kind they talk about in the churches
Yet they know so little of
 
It was one day just after Christmas
And Catherine wore her new hat
Her mom brought her out to the holler
The woman was there with her cats
Catherine had no idea
But someday maybe she would
That what she would soon be receiving
Was being given for a greater good
 
So here’s to the future of music
And here’s to the power of song
And here’s a toast to the woman in the holler
For passing these things along
 
The case was covered with stickers
And words that this woman had scrawled  
From the magic places she’d been to
Trinkets from her own Mardi Gras
And it all meant nothing to Catherine
It wasn’t her story to tell
She’ll have her own words and stickers
Should she ever fall under the spell
 
So it’s Catherine’s turn now to hold her
Here’s hoping she’ll learn how to play
Maybe she’ll drop by the holler
To visit this woman some day
Maybe she’ll come with her boyfriend
The one who plays saxophone
Maybe they’ll play for the woman
A few things they made up on their own
 
So here’s to the sweet gift of music
Here’s to the power of song
And a toast to the woman in the holler
For passing these things along
 
6. 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
 
7. Lili’s Braids
 
The house he was born in was only next door
His country had vanished, his people no more
Out in the garden some little boys played
He'd only come back to retrieve Lili’s braids
 
The neighbors were home, to their word they were true
They’d kept them safe like they said they would do
Despite any orders they might’ve obeyed
It was righteous of them to have kept Lili’s braids
 
Word had come down that the Germans were near
They had taken a village a few miles from here
There was no place to run, there was no place to hide
It was no longer safe to be going outside
 
Whispers of horrors, what they did to the Jews
Sorting into piles their clothing and shoes
At the railway station, shaving their heads
Taking the hair to make pillows and beds
 
Lili’s hair had never been cut
The curtains were drawn and the doors were shut
It had hung to her knees just moments before
The braids would be safe with the people next door
 
Lili’s mother quietly prayed
She said, “Come here child, don’t be afraid
I promise you one day we’ll pin them back on
After the war, when the soldiers are gone”
 
The house he was born in was only next door
Lili’s brother returned sometime after the war
They were all he had left...how heavy they weighed
Maybe not as much now that he’d retrieved Lili’s Braids
8. Old Song Handed Down
 
An old photograph, it’s in your eyes
The treble clef, the key, the ties
Would there be any more of you?
In the family line who played music too?
Did you stray a little from the score?
Did you ever try to add anything more?
Did you ever try to make things up?
Just little riffs & stuff?
 
What kind of music did you play?                  
The kind that makes hard times go away?
Ancient tunes that were passed along?
Was anybody writing songs?
Did people think of you as odd?
Did they think it came from the devil or G-d?
Did they ever tell you to keep quiet?
Did you suffer when you had to deny it?
 
People probably didn’t play guitars
There wouldn’t have been any popular stars
Who’d come around, who you’d have heard
There was no way to spread the word
Nobody had a radio
Record player or a stereo
No Ipod and no tv
No cassettes and no cds
 
You had a violin and you had a bow
How far away did you have to go?
To get where no one else could hear
So you could play it loud and clear?
Did you have such a secret place
Where you could go and know the Grace?
A river bank or a favorite tree
Somewhere you could just be free?
 
As I go from town to town
Small glimpses are all that I’ve found
Would you recognize these sounds?
Are they like the old songs handed down?
 
When you used to sit & play
Would everyone and everything go away?
Was there anyone else who understood
Anywhere in the neighborhood?
Or anywhere else for miles around?
The next little village, even the next town?
Did you ever see the city 50 miles away?
Did you ever get to hear an orchestra play?
 
In the village market or the few little shops
Could you get a new string if one ever popped?
Your first violin, who gave it to you?
Was it handed down, was it made for you?
Or did you get to go and pick it out?
In the local shops were Jews allowed?
Did your parents have to sacrifice for years?
Was it music to their ears?
 
If we could just sit one night under the stars
The same constellations, the very same Mars
Not talk about neocons, or about czars
All I want to do is pick the guitar
You can tune up that fiddle & rosin the bow
If you want we could give it a go
I only really know 3 or 4 chords
I slide this capo thing up the fingerboard
 
I wonder who you’d be today
Or I’d be back then and what we’d play
A gypsy tune, a Russian waltz
One of mine or something classical
For now I’ll blow kisses, for now I send love
And if you can listen from somewhere above
I hope you can hear that it comes from a place
An old photograph, a familiar face
 
As I go from town to town
Small glimpses are all that I’ve found
Would you recognize these sounds?
Are they like the old songs handed down?
 
9. The Man Who Blew Kisses
 
The man who blew kisses stood out in the crowd
He wasn’t so tall & he wasn’t loud
I couldn’t tell you how he was dressed
But of everyone there I remember him best    
 
The man who blew kisses was simple & free
He never considered how people might see him
He walked on the water & swam through the air   
No trepidation & without a care  
 
The man who blew kisses lives in a home
He isn’t allowed to go out on his own
Wherever they take him he’s happy to go
He loves everybody & lets them all know
 
The man who blew kisses, blew them at me
It tickled my heart & it buckled my knee
It made my voice crack & it righted all wrongs
I blew kisses back at the end of the songs
 
The man who blew kisses in front of the stage
Knew nothing of jealousy, nothing of rage
Nothing of prejudice, nothing of shame
He’d never been broken, never been tamed                    
 
The man who blew kisses, he misses some things
But he was catching my drift, he had air in his wings
His head was a’ rocking, he was clapping his hands
He was stomping his feet, he was doing a dance
 
The man who blew kisses eats tulips for lunch     
And probably rainbows but that’s just a hunch
Sunshine & pixie dust mixed in his punch
Daisies for breakfast he eats by the bunch 
    
The man who blew kisses will blow them at you
He blows them at anyone, no matter who
And I thought to myself in the middle of all this
That the song I was singing was but a kiss
10. 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
11. Armitage Shanks
 
A couple of pints’ll gonna usually do you                           
Doesn’t take long to go right through you
Make room for more, empty the tanks
Off you’re gonna go to the Armitage Shanks
 
You hope & you pray there won’t be a queue            
An “out of order” sign or a surprise for you                       
That won’t go away when you turn the crank
When you finally arrive at the Armitage Shanks
 
Armitage Shanks, Armitage Shanks 
Let us be grateful, let us give thanks
May we never regret the drinks we drank              
Praise be the name of Armitage Shanks
 
One too many’ll give you the spins
Make you a little weak in the shins
Here’s to the one whose sorry head hangs
Over the side of the Armitage Shanks
 
Sometimes they’ll tell you it’s just for customers’ use
You ask real nice and they still refuse
You would give all the money you’ve got in the bank           
If they wouldn’t be so stingy with their Armitage Shanks  
Armitage Shanks, Armitage Shanks 
Let us be grateful, let us give thanks
May we never regret the drinks we drank              
Praise be the name of Armitage Shanks
 
It’s the last song before the break   
You can’t sit still and your kidney aches
Just a wee bit longer while I fill in some blanks
Then you’ll appreciate even more the Armitage Shanks
 
And now as you sit there - listening to me
You’ve been drinking pints - and you all have to pee
Wouldn’t it be a pretty good prank
To have 65 verses of Armitage Shanks?
 
65 verses to Armitage Shanks
65 different ways that we could give thanks
I know for you that there’s only one
I’m gonna end this song soon - and then you all can run
 
Meanwhile, don’t think of rivers, don’t think of creeks
Chase away thoughts about pipes that leak   
Or faucets dripping, or balloons going “bang”
Until after you’ve been to the Armitage Shanks  
 
Armitage Shanks, Armitage Shanks 
Let us be grateful, let us give thanks
May we never regret the drinks we drank                
Praise be the name of Armitage Shanks
 
Know how to spell Mississippi?  
M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I……..P-P……..I
That’s how you spell Mississippi
M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I……..P-P……..I
 
Armitage Shanks, Armitage Shanks 
Let us be grateful, let us give thanks
May we never regret the drinks we drank                
Praise be the name of Armitage Shanks
 
12. Take it Out Back
 
Ashes from the wood stove filling up the bucket
Spilling out the top, so where am I gonna chuck it?
Take it out the back door to where I never mow
Find a little spot that no one’ll ever go to
 
Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good
 
That old tv - it quit on me brother
Ten years ago - I got me another
First one’s sitting out by the porch swing
With the fridge and the stove and a bunch of other things
 
Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good
 
That rusty old car - it’s got no motor
If it had any gas I’d try to explode her
Hubcaps, hoods, and old transmissions
Take ‘em to the river - gonna make for good fishing
 
Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good
 
The food in the fridge - it’s all turned green
And the chicken bones that have been picked clean
Some on the counter - some on the floor
Let’s take ‘em out the back door
 
Take it out back and dump it in the river
Take it out back and throw it in the woods
Take it out back and chuck it down the hillside
Keep the front yard looking good
 
13. The Come Heres & The Been Heres
 
The come heres and the been heres
They don’t get along
I’d been there 15 minutes
And I knew something was wrong
The waitress wasn’t friendly
And neither was the cook
Until I asked how far it was
To the town of Stony Brook
 
The come heres live in cabins
The been heres live in shacks
They’ll say hello in passing
Talk behind each others’ backs
White collars versus rednecks
Horses versus mules
The city kids they come here
Make the teachers look like fools
 
The come heres come with laptops, Wifi, and DVR’s
Some of them have GPS’s inside their hybrid cars
They want to make no smoking zones
In all the public places
They want to pass an ordinance outlawing turkey races
 
The ancestors of been heres , they came here early on
When there were just the Indians
And once they were gone
They claimed themselves the new world
There was lots to go around
Carved up a bunch of properties
And they built this little town
 
Now the come heres nearly have the votes
To make one of ‘em mayor
In the last election they won half the council chairs
They took over the school board and
outlawed the morning prayers
They’re teaching evolution and sex education there
 
The come heres have their pussycats
And their little white french poodles
The been heres have their hound dogs
With names like Yankee Doodle
The come heres like to watch the ducks
And sometimes they will feed ‘em
The been heres like to shotgun ‘em &
And take ‘em home & eat ‘em
 
The been heres do their drinking
In a been here owned saloon
But in that brand new micro-brewery
There’s a separate dining room
Only at the K-mart or the Wal-mart do they mix
They think of one another as carrot nibblers & hicks
 
The come heres keep a coming
New ones every day
They come for second chances
The new world, as they say
They buy & sell these properties
For unheard of amounts
The come heres keep a’ coming
Building up this little town
 
The come heres and the been heres
Two towns that overlap
You wouldn’t even see it by just looking at a map
I was there at Christmas time when a tree was just a tree
And you couldn’t tell whose kids were who’s
Sitting there on Santa’s knee
 
The come heres & the been heres
There’s talk about a fence
The whole town is divided
Half for and half against

14. 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

15. La Migra Viene

 

The mornings were chilly

The air was crisp

As a Striped or a Red

Or a Golden Delicious

A couple of tortillas

Coffee with rum

By the time the sun came up

You’d have half a bin done

 

The trees were like temples

Was a holiness to ‘em

You’d pick out the bottoms

& Then all the way through ‘em

Up on a ladder

Out on a limb

The trees were like temples

I liked being in ‘em

 

Fernando amazed me

He was the quickest

18 bins

In a day he could do

I got 9 once

But that was with big fruit

I worked only as hard as

I needed to

 

Sometimes, though

On the nicest of days

Somebody would whistle

And my friends would run away

They were yelling...

 

La Migra, La Migra

La Migra viene

Andele! Andele!

Run! Run!

They leapt from their ladders

To the next nearest orchard

Spreading the word

That La Migra was coming

 

My Spanish was stiff

A little too formal

I cracked ‘em up

& They taught me to cuss

And you can bet I was cussing

When they all went a’ running

You can bet I was cussing

At the big yellow bus

 

The vans brought ‘em in ‘till the

Bus was all loaded

Sometimes whole families

At least you’d have thought...

They’d be back the next week

Up on their ladders

Giving new names

The next time they got caught

 

Sometimes, though

On the nicest of days

Somebody would whistle

And my friends would run away

They were yelling...

 

La Migra La Migra

La Migra viene

Andele! Andele!

Run! Run!

They leapt from their ladders

To the next nearest orchard

Spreading the word

That La Migra was coming

16. Letters In The Dirt

 

Me & you, we never booed Richie Allen 

I never understood why people did

He hit a homer every time he stepped up to the plate

That’s what I remember as a kid

Richie in the field out there by first base 

The target of some mighty foul words

With his shoes he’d scrawl between the pitched

“B-O-O” in great big letters in the dirt

 

Philly fans, they’ve been known to get nasty

When Joe must go, they’ll run him out of town

I saw Santa get hit by a snowball

And then get hit again when he was down

 

Me & you, we never booed Richie Allen

Even if he did sometimes strike out

I was too young to read the papers 

To know what all that booing was about

That big collapse of ‘64 was ugly

They blew a lead of 6 & 1/2 games with 12 to play

Some might say their fans were justifiably angry

World Series tickets printed up in vain

 

Philly fans, they’ve been known to get nasty

When Joe must go, they’ll run him out of town

I saw Santa get hit by a snowball

And then get hit again when he was down

 

This was before the days of the million dollar contracts

Before the days of the artificial grass

He stood a bit outside the lines 

Which made him fair game for those times

Richie Allen never kissed a white man’s ass

 

Me & you, we never booed Richie Allen

We’d pound our mitts & we’d yell, “We want a hit”

How could they call a guy a bum after he’d just hit a home run?  

That didn’t make any sense to a kid

Now I’ve since found out all these days later

Now I know alot more than I did

And if back then you knew, Daddy,

Why all those other people booed...

Thanks for letting me have my heroes as a kid

 
 

17. Talk To My Lawyer

 

I was walking outside of City Hall

I slipped & I had a terrible fall

It was negligence on the part of I don’t care who

I fell so hard I was seeing stars

Dollar signs and men from Mars

And the man who helped me up said I ought to sue

(He was a lawyer...he was all out of breath)

 

Once I had an accident

Not too bad, just a little dent

A new Mercedes hit me from the rear

Man got out in a 3 piece suit

And asked if a thousand dollars would do

I said, “Well, let me think for a minute here”

 

I’m gonna talk to my lawyer

I might have whiplash

I might have trauma

Let’s not talk petty cash

I’ve got a witness

To put a hand on the Bible

Jury jury, hallelujahYou might be liable

 

My Momma said to Uncle Jim,

“I just don’t know what’s wrong with him...

That son of mine is a no-good big wazoo”

Well, I have never overheard such a bunch

of slanderous words

I’ll tell you Momma, I’ve got a mind to sue

 

I’m gonna talk to my lawyer

Momma, that was vicious

Defamation of character

Wrongful and malicious

I’ve got a witness

To put a hand on the Bible

Jury jury, hallelujah

You might be liable

 

I was trying to open up my map

When I spilled some coffee on my lap

How was I supposed to know it was going to be hot?

I went back to that fast-food place

To the manager with the happy face

I said, “I want the name of whoever brewed that pot”

 

I’m gonna talk to my lawyer

I think I’ve got a pretty good case

All I need are some crutches

Maybe I’ll put on a neck brace   

I’ve got a witness

To put a hand on the Bible

Jury jury, hallelujah

Somebody’s liable

18. Two Left Feet

 

There was one certain girl I was hoping to meet

Would have asked her to dance but for my two left feet

She wasn’t sitting with anyone else

I was just sitting there all by myself

 

I said I didn’t dance, I have two left feet

To this other girl, standing over me in my seat

Besides it wasn’t really my kind of beat                         

And this wasn’t the girl I was hoping to meet    

 

I wasn’t attracted, not on first glance

She wouldn’t go away, I didn’t want to dance

She lifted me up to my two left feet                                            

My eyes went to the girl I was hoping to meet

 

I was thinking I could make a break for the door 

But she pulled me out there onto the dance floor

The band started in on an old fashioned waltz

She didn’t lead so I did by default

 

It was awkward enough, those very first steps

I stepped on her right toes and then on her left

Evading her eyes I tried to be discreet                         

Keeping tabs on the girl I was hoping to meet

 

Her hand on my waist made me relax

She moved it up to the small of my back

Touching a nerve, I shot her a glance

She said “I thought you told me you couldn’t dance

 

She pointed down at my right foot

Going to all the right places, wherever I’d put it

She followed me when I spun her around

And when I dipped her all the way down

 

The way her hair fell back, and hung to the floor

The way we locked eyes then, and forevermore

The thing about beauty, and I don’t know why

Sometimes you don’t see it ‘till it pokes you in the eye

 

The one song ended & another began

We exchanged names and applauded the band                                 

I guess I never did let go of her hand                      

For the next couple hours we danced & we danced                                   

                                         

Now we go out dancing every Saturday night

She dresses up and she’s quite a sight

This was the girl I didn’t want to meet

But that was the guy with two left feet

19. We Are Each Other’s Angels

 

I hope I see you later

‘cause it’s time for me to go

That’s my ride that just pulled over

and it sure was good to know you

So go answer your calling

go and fill somebody’s cup

And if you see an angel falling

won’t you stop and help them up?

 

We are each other’s angels

We meet when it is time

We keep each other going

And we show each other signs

 

Sometimes you’ll stumble

sometimes you’ll just lie down

Sometimes you’ll get lonely

with all these people around

You might shiver when the wind blows

and you might get blown away

You might lose a little color

you might lose a little faith

 

We are each other’s angels

We meet when it is time

We keep each other going

And we show each other signs

 

Thank you for the water

Thought I was gonna die out here in the desert 

but you quenched my thirst

Let’s break a little bread together

I’ve got a little Manna - it was a gift

From someone who was passing by 

And offered me a lift

 

We are each other’s angels

We meet when it is time

We keep each other going

And we show each other signs

 

20. Our Gods

 

We worship our gods - we buy souvenirs

Admire our trinkets - in front of our mirrors

A hat with a cross - a shirt with a star

The names of our teams - tattooed on our arms

 

We’re given our gods at the moment of birth

The gods of our fathers- all others be cursed

At the earliest age - we memorize verse

The gospel - as it is written

 

We swear at our gods - curse our rotten luck

From the side of the road - when we self-destruct

We ask them to save us - to get us unstuck

From the muck we get ourselves into

 

Temples of stained glass - hand cut stones

We build for our gods - such magnificent homes

We visit sometimes - but we don’t stay long

Not when the football games are on

 

We make deals with our gods - to win back what we’ve lost

In our pants pockets - our fingers are crossed

Lord, give us this day - make these prosperous times

Help us - to cover our crimes

 

We go to the seers - say, “Show us the script

That our gods have left for us - stashed in some crypt”

“Ah, secrets,” they say - “what has never been told...

Yours...for a pile of your gold”

 

We kill for our gods - we wage holy wars

Assassinate presidents - burn down bookstores

Massacre children to - settle old scores

Yelling, “Our gods are great!”

 

Our gods must be proud - of the blood on our hands

And the way we go conquering - far away lands

In the names of our gods - may the glory be theirs

Let the spoils & the plunders be ours

 

We serve our gods - in such humorless ways

Rituals we do - laws we obey

Sometimes in between we pray

But how often do we say “I love you?”

21. The Boys in the Back Room

 

The boys in the back room

Who use to run the city

Anyway they wanted to

They were stealing from the kitty

Stomping out their cigars

Any place they wanted to

What you could go to jail for

They could do in front of you

 

The boys in the back room

Sat on the commissions

That were supposed to regulate

Factory emissions

Toxins in the air

Toxins in the water

These were our protectors

They were sanctioning the slaughter

 

The boys in the back room

Didn’t like attention

Drawn to their activities

Which the paper never mentioned

Thanks to the editor

Who was a good ol’ friend of theirs’

So was the police chief

And also the developers

 

The boys in the back room

Went golfing every Sunday

They had a game of pinochle

That happened every Monday

Tuesdays were the meetings

Where the public was invited

Where they went through all the motions

But no wrongs were ever righted

 

The boys in the back room

On Wednesdays traded favors

They had a secret handshake

And other such behavior

They fixed traffic tickets

Granted exemptions and waivers

Awarded city contracts

To associates and neighbors

 

The boys in the back room

Were desperate to hold on

Assassinating characters

Of whoever might’ve told on them

But the day did finally come

When they stood before a jury

Some were sent to prison

It was a one paragraph story

 

The boys in the back room

Who just used to make the rules

Any way they wanted to

They thought they still had the people fooled

22. On Christmas I Got Nothing

 

My family never roasted chestnuts on an open fire

Never went around the neighborhood singing carols with a choir

Never went to Midnight Mass & sat on cold hard pews

My family, we had different views

 

I never had to be good just for goodness sake

On Christmas Eve I didn’t try to keep myself awake

Listening for sleigh bells or looking for a mouse

Santa always skipped over our house

 

Jimmy got a train set with a shiny new caboose

Billy, an erector set, with nuts & bolts & screws

Tammy got a kit for making cheese fondues

But on Christmas I got nothing, ‘cause we were Jews

 

We never put up trimmings ‘cause we never had a tree

I wouldn’t know a mistletoe from a torpedo’s knee

I never sat on Santa’s lap, but hey, if Jesus was a Jew...

Wouldn’t that make Santa be one too?

 

I used to hate when it was cold enough for

Christmas to be white

Never hung a wreath of holly 

Or strung the yard with lights

Those other houses looked so pretty

But the electricity they must’ve used!

We lit candles, ‘cause we were Jews

 

Annie got a bright red pair of kangaroo shoes

Kathy got some soaps & an assortment of shampoos

Even Buffy’s dingo got some brand new rawhide chews

But on Christmas I got nothing, ‘cause we were Jews

 

Sometimes we ate chicken and sometimes we ate lamb

Sometimes we ate turkey but we never had a ham

I never did like eggnog or those wine & cider brews

We drank Mogen David, ‘cause we were Jews

 

Jenny got a bike she had to wait ‘till Spring to use

Tommy from across the street, he got his front tooth

Joshua got a horn so he could learn to play the blues

But I already had some...

 

23. The Goodbye Kid

 

The Goodbye Kid checks his watch

The hour is late and the night is hot

He wipes the sweat from off his brow

“What time is it?” you ask, and he says, “Now”

 

The Goodbye Kid - on his arm is a coat

In case it gets cold, and he clears his throat

The speech he’d prepared - you were expecting to hear

But then he whispers, “I love you” in your ear

 

“I can’t leave without these” - he reaches under your chair

And picks up his keys - says, “I don’t know how they got there...

And how I wish I could stay - at least another day more”

Says the Goodbye Kid with one foot out the door

 

The Goodbye Kid - he’s been around the block

Looking for a parking place - couldn’t find a spot

That’s him out there - with the hazards on

The Goodbye Kid, and he can’t stay long

 

Did you get too close to the Goodbye Kid?

Did he leave too soon?  Or was it you who did?

Did you take your heart back behind closed doors

And listen ‘till you couldn’t hear the sound of his engine anymore

 

The Goodbye Kid checks his map

Inside his head that’s upon your lap

He holds your hand while he plans his route

Those places & those dates are so absolute

 

The Goodbye Kid - he’s a one man band

Towns a nobody goes - he does a one night stand

A hundred nights in a row - they always end like this

They even start sometimes with a goodbye kiss

 

The Goodbye Kid - he’s thinking of you

And you say, “Sure...and all those other girls too...

So where ya’ calling from?” - He says a Texaco

The Goodbye Kid calling to say hello

 

The Goodbye Kid - he leaves a rose

A little bud with its petals still closed

“Would you tend to it - and see that it lives?”

Reads the little card signed by the Goodbye Kid

 

Did you get too close to the Goodbye Kid?

Did he leave too soon?  Or was it you who did?

Did you take your heart back behind closed doors

And listen ‘till you couldn’t hear the sound of his engine anymore

 

The Goodbye Kid...checks his watch

24. Blow ‘em Away

 

Every morning I commute

Mild mannered man in a business suit

I want to get home at the end of my day

But there are all these other cars in my way

I pull up behind one...pull out my pistol...

And I blow ‘em away

 

I’m driving my car & I want to go fast

But there’s a slow car...won’t let me pass

I flash my lights & I honk my horn

I have to consider him warned

I pull up behind him...pull out my pistol...

And I blow ‘em away

 

Jesse James behind the wheel

It’s high noon in my automobile

You can call me crazy...you can call me sick

Just let me get where I’m going to quick

 

Son-of-a-bitch...he cut me off

Three whole lanes he cut across

Made me mad...made me swerve

Son-of-a-bitch, he got what he deserved

I pulled up behind him...pulled out my pistol...

I blew him away

 

Motorcycle driving between

The backed up traffic...right between the lanes

Y’know, to me...that’s an act of war

I saw him coming...I opened my door

Knocked him over...pulled out my pistol...

And I blew him away

 

Jesse James behind the wheel

It’s high noon in my automobile

You can call me crazy...you can call me sick

Just let me get where I’m going to quick

 

Little red sports car...flying past

Made me jealous...he went so fast

I gave him the finger...I thumbed my nose

Took me fifty miles for me to get close enough

To pull up behind him...pull out my pistol...

And blow ‘em away

 

Little old lady...bless her heart

Walking her poodle across the boulevard

It was wearing a red knitted sweater

And a red knitted hat

Its name was Fifi...or something stupid like that

I said, “Here Fifi”...pulled out my pistol...

 

©2018 Chuck Brodsky  |  BMI