COLD BLACK WATER
there’s an ancient tree by the riverbed
you can reach the arms out on fifteen men
to circle her where she meets the land
on a summer day I come and watch her stand
the wind there moves light across her leaves
you can close your eyes and let yourself believe
that you can hear the sound of a southern man
running for his life to the promised land

there’s a hole in the ground just beyond the hill
stones all around, you can get a chill
if you daydream back a hundred years or so
to the day those stones showed the way to go
I walk this way just to feel the wind
sun on my face as the day begins
I’m a native where this river bends
a foreigner to where it’s been

cold black water they say that it runs
to hell and back again yet it knows somebody loves
enough to hold you in the quiet till the final word
is freedom

there’s a ghost in the field just beyond the bend
snapping the grass with a whip of wind
I pull my hat below my ears
waiting for something to appear
I choose my footsteps with respect
for everybody who stuck out their neck
to do what’s right, to tow the line
back to where it serves mankind

chorus

there’s treasure in a story
that takes a fiery cross
and turns into hands reaching out
reaching out into that

chorus


FULL BLOOD AMERICAN

bailey says his money looks like
diamonds in the dirt
what looked like nothing turns out to be something
half way around the earth
I guess the sun out there it’s setting
on a barren world
I’m trying hard to picture it
while I comb the baby’s curls
and put the tv on the millionaire show
watch somebody’s luck go
and change for better again
lucky full blood american

bailey took his film cans
down along the border towns
where young boys old enough to fight
where hanging around
he took a rolling close up
of the last of one towns sons
towing up the line in worn out shoes
and rusty guns
we’ve got a picture of the mantel of when
babe ruth signed the handle
of bailey’s bat at ten
lucky full blood american

we’ve got a mighty world of trouble
in a steady distant storm
it used to seem so far off but as of
late it’s getting warm
everybody’s got a mind
to figure out the core
but when there’s nothing left
guess everything’s worth fighting for
I put the tv on the millionaire show
watch somebody’s luck go
and change for better again
lucky full blood american


ONE MORE THING

there’s something between us
we’re starring at venus
with a twenty by twenty lens
spend most the time
drawing circles and lines
and equations that never end
did I ever mention how all the attention
get’s lost in the figures and facts
and if we were to land
face to face hand in hand
we wouldn’t know how to act

there’s something about us
the way that we doubt must
start down in the chromosome tide
like we’re missing the strand
that connects all the sand
into shoreline allowing our stride
and if we take one more step
we’ll be over our necks
from the fear of one day being caught
with our little secrets
how far can we get
with our little secret thought

we’ll say what’s done is done
but I’m sure that there’ll be one
one more thing to do
look into me I’ll look into you

there’s something inside us
that wants to divide us
I’m sure that it’s made of the past
if we were to know
how far down we all go
tell me how long do you think we’d last
we’d all run for the ladder
cause nothing is sadder
than being stuck on the bottom rung
but one day we’ll fall
in the giant catchall
and the bottom will meet everyone

chorus


WEATHERWORN
we were standing in the water
trickling down from everywhere
as if decency was planted
like a glacier in the air
with the temperature rising
and the profile losing form
we tried to memorize the outline
turning weatherworn

then by chance we met a dry man
who could recall a time
when truth and habit stood
together in a line
we felt the past turn present
by the mention of it’s name
suddenly realizing we had
something to reclaim
and there was

no cry, no goodbye
no ending regret
just a fast eye asking real wide
has the bridge burned
has the bridge burned out yet

each day we’re compromising
for better or for worse
sometimes we can barely tell
the blessing from the curse
but when the big wheels of ambition
reach the bell and make it ring
I’ve seen some winners walk away
and give up everything

chorus


LULLABY
now that you’ve made it all the way down
to my deep unguarded dreams
nothing is sacred all the refuge of the night
has been stripped clean

in a swirl of light and air you where going
off somewhere so brilliantly
and from where I’ve always been aching
down so deep within I watched you leave

out in the open there is a lullaby
singing dark and sweet
I try not to close my eyes and go to sleep

now that you’ve made it all the way down
to my deep unguarded sleep
nothing is sacred every night I feel my
secret growing weak

out in the open there is a lullaby
singing dark and sweet
out on the air stream right
through the heart of me
out in the open there is a lullaby
singing dark and sweet
I try not to close my eyes and go to sleep


ONCE IN A WHILE
we’re going down, down to one solitary color
and every town is going to look like all the others
out in the east the great atlantic waves her hand
saying bye-bye to provincetown and dixieland
reach out for miles go coast to coast go make the call
find out all roads are being hosted by the mall

everybody needs a surprise
at least once in a while
everybody needs a new way
everybody needs their own style
everybody needs a surprise
at least once in a while

soon there will be no do drop in no mom and pop
no famous homemade recipes at the rest stop
no turquoise beads from arizona
no leather boots from south dakota
no snake skin bag out of nevada
so go get them now if you’ve gotta

chorus

it won’t be long before we all look like a few
but I’ll keep coming back around to look for you

chorus


COMING OUT CLEAN
on a southbound train
all the way to buffalo to be
in the delta’s mystery
on a cloudy night
crossing the rails
you know that they just might
cross the devil out of me

a voodoo man
a bag full of mojo in his hand
riding up ahead of me
he’s heading home
to the soil that’s in his bones
and the song that’s calling me

son house calling out to his lover
deep and dark as a distant mother
there was no way around
and no in between
I was pulled into pure soul water
just like mississippi’s daughter
jumping in with sin
and coming out clean

by the morning light
stretching out to the left and the right
all that land an endless sea
spirits rise where
the cotton fields grow wide
full of seed and history

chorus


LITTLE WHITE LIE

down in the belly of your deepest fear
your heart’s just pumping for a chance to get near
something bigger than life
better than you’ve ever known
and you thought if you owned a little piece of shade
you could sit back in it like you had it made
but isn’t it always something pulling you down the road

you buy genuine leather in a custom fit
and we say yeah, yeah you look good in it
and for a little while you feel just a little more bold
then you catch yourself in the rearview mirror
and realize where you’ve steered
and you wonder how long ago you lost control

everybody’s trying to sell you paradise
you work a couple jobs just trying to pay the price
well isn’t it ironic that the finish line
is the distance of that little white lie

one step to touch what’s gold
two steps to leave what’s old
three more to step into the muse
one hand to hold the light
two arms to hold on tight
to everything you’ve got to lose

chorus


MODERN TIME

I put the clamp on the battery
and jump this old ford galaxy
and take her down by the
old ax factory
the river there it can bend and sway
all the sticky heat from a summer day
back in fifty five
it washed most this town away

I heard it on the radio
that half of the time
we’re sending off the boys to war
the other half we’re doing fine
but of all the things I’ll never know
it’s how you rely on the world
repeating history and calling it
a modern time

now this factory it’s an antique store
and the suburbans leave
with their rope tied doors
ain’t it strange how we don’t
notice war anymore
it’s a better life and I’ve got my share
with a place to dream and an easy chair
but a hollow feeling can find you anywhere

chorus

there’s a dusty kid on the old steel rail
with a hummingbird in a rusted pail
and a knack for fixing
broken wings and tails
and that big bright sun
up above his head
it must have seen the smoke
from the mortar heads
on it’s way out west
to this sleepy river bed

chorus


GOODNESS EVERYWHERE
it wasn’t till the fire came
and took this whole place down
we found ourselves living
in the heart of this town
in a sudden twist of fate
everybody knew my name
and from every direction
everyone came

a song for everybody
who loved me like rain
who opened up wide
and poured down on my name
and gave me a shelter
and a place to begin
with one oar in the water
one wing to the wind

love overwhelms till we come undone
then wake up and find out we are the ones
worthy of every atom of care
there is goodness everywhere

when the cold settles in
and the spark will not light
out on the edge of a
thousand dark nights
someone will call
in the warmest of tones
like a choir that’s calling
a little lamb home

it’s a love that is painful
and powerfully bold
and for the unworthy
a demon to hold
for it lights every virtue
you’ve earned since your birth
and if I could start over
I’d be better rehearsed

chorus