1. All I Want (Is to Sing the Blues)

I don’t want to say I’m sorry

I don’t want to make it better

I don’t want to tell you I was wrong

I don’t want to be a grown-up

I don’t want to write no letter

I don’t want to show you I can be strong

            All I want is to be left alone

            For to lick my wounds and nurse my bruise

            To get old quickly and remain unknown

            But to sing—the blues

I don’t want to listen to ya

I don’t want to be there for ya

I don’t want to reach out no helpin hand

I don’t want to hear what you think

I don’t want to owe you nothing

I don’t want no one to understand

            All I want is to be sent on home

            For my behavior to remain unexcused

            To reap far less than what I have sewn

            But to sing—the blues

I don’t want to keep my voice down

I don’t want to hold my head up

I don’t want to play the game no more

I don’t want to hold my tears in

I don’t want to keep from hurting

I don’t want it to go on like before

            All I want is to roll my stone

            To know my fate ain’t mine to choose

            To lose my joy along with all I own

            But to sing—the blues

I don’t want to make you happy

I don’t want to hear your answer

I don’t want to hope it’ll turn out fine

I don’t want to plan the future

I don’t want to look behind me

I don’t want to keep on trine

            All I want is for the wind that’s blown

            To carry off any last good news

            To know that sorrow is all I’ve known

            And to sing—the blues 

2. Jericho

From inside the walls through the chambers and halls every call falls in deafening echo

Back onto the ears of the ones still in here whom the system condemned from the get-go

Hear tell of a place where no man has a face on account of his case was mishandled

Its called Jericho it’s the old status quo it was left long ago undismantled

            But the day soon shall come when each voice raised as one

            Will erupt from the crowd in a shattering sound

            And the trumpets will blow and the warden will know

            That the walls of Jericho must come down

The political line that claims to be tough on crime and aims to punish the worst and the baddest

Has foregone the facts and’s just trine to keep blacks in a permanent second-class status

The government funds for education and low-income housing’s out-moded

While the money’s increased for cops and police, and the population of prison’s exploded

            But the day soon shall come without lifting a gun

            Every voice will the edge of the city surround

            And the trumpets will blow and the governors will know

            That the walls of Jericho must come down

The one who presides claims that his eyes have been cleansed by their own colorblindness  

He and the rest all think they’re doin their best, and that the age of racism’s behind us

But the ones on lock-down are mostly black or they’re brown and they’re poor and they’re misrepresented

And as far as the count on who’s been in and out–the numbers are unprecedented

            But the day soon shall come where by ceasing to run

            We’ll not be turned back nor told to turn round

            And the trumpets will blow, and the judges will know

            That the walls of Jericho must come down

The prisons’re run by the corporations so your freedom’s the price of a profit

And no one’s to blame cause to them it’s a game, trying to fill in a bottomless pocket

The cycle won’t break it accounts for mistakes and it knows that you’ll make and repeat em

But the killers ain’t killed as long as they’re killed and the prisons’re as filled as they need em      

            But the day soon shall come when the songs that we’ve sung

            Will within every breast alight and resound                           

            And the trumpets will blow and the hangman will know

            That the walls of Jericho must come down

Jesus spake from the hill “go and do what you will, but treat thyself as thou wouldst others

Is it so hard to see that you do unto to me what you do to the least of my brothers?”

Hear tell of a spot where a man is forgot spite of whether or not they convict him

Its called Jericho it’s the place that you go from the criminal into the victim

            But the day soon shall come where by beating the drum

            Every voice from the silence shall again be unwound

            And the trumpets will blow and all you will know

            Is that the walls of Jericho have come down

 

3. Someone Else’s Blues

Last time we talked we didn’t say too much I don’t guess

Something about how maybe we were finally getting to be a little bit too old for this

There was a little bit of time yet then wrapped around your wrist

The end of the autumn in a November evening mist

            But you should’ve seen your face that day it was the color of the gentle rose you wore in your lapel

            While the captain raised a clamour and the widow clanged that old church-bell

            They say lightning never strikes the same place twice

            And I’m standing here thinking if it struck anywhere, just once would be more than nice

                        If I were not me, and you were not you

                        And we did not both know what we’ve both been through

                        I guess then I’d just be in someone else’s shoes

                        I guess I’d be singing someone else’s blues

Your eyes once in a fleeting car moved past, and I swear I only caught the briefest glimpse

You did not see my standing on that street-corner to which by the way I have not been back since

I used to go out wandering from drug- to department-store thinking maybe that I was the one who’s not who he sposed to be anymore

            But it’s not an easy thing I don’t guess, to know you were not born alone and when

            You can still go anywhere but you can’t go home again

            They say lightning never twice the same place strikes

            They say there’s no difference at all between some look alikes

                        If I were not me, and you were not you

                        What would there be left for us to misconstrue

                        Two vacant seats now in that old church pew

                        For someone else to sit with someone else’s blues

Tomorrow we’re gone, at least today we’re still here

And you can still see the sun in that mud-puddle of yours that you call a mirror

Remember the time we got so turned around and ended up in some old playhouse?

And before the last act we both left to let the midnight river serenade us?

            Come out, come out, wherever you are, the children scream

            The games they play reminding us that this is not just some crazy dream

            They say lightning never twice strikes the same place

            As though when you try to repeat, all you do is erase

                        If I were not me, and you were not you

                        And we had not drifted the older we grew

                        I guess then I wouldn’t be here trying to choose

                        Now between mine and someone else’s blues

Those were the days of the wind and the rain

The only difference is that now, well, they’re exactly the same

I sent you a letter a while back just to see how you are

And can you still play piano on that old worn out guitar

            But you should’ve seen your face that day it looked not a thing like mine

            Why’s it always the common sense that says it’s alright to just be yourself sometimes

            Lightning never strikes the same place twice, they say

            But even if it did they might not believe that anyway

                        If I were not me, and you were not you

                        Not I would not want not to not be not you

                        The hardest part about lovin you

                        Is that it has never been that hard to do

4. That Girl I Was Telling You Bout 

You will know her by her eyes, that will see right through your disguise

You will know by the way that the room falls away

After she walks through the door

That for all that you’ve said about love’s being dead

You’re not sure you believe anymore

            And should you decide that not to have tried

            Would afterwards only upset you inside

            Don’t come crying to me, wanting to see, as if there could be any doubt

            Whether that was the girl I was telling you bout

You will know her by her voice that will ask but will leave you no choice

You will know by the wish that she beckons you with

By the way she says please to your lighter

That even if she says no, that she don’t want to go

She don’t want you not to invite her

            And should you admit it’d’ve been much better to quit

            Before you went and got yourself all mixed up with it

            I won’t say I was right, and I won’t pick no fight, but you know that I might have to shout

            That that was the girl I was telling you bout

You will know her by her hands that not even she understands

You will know by the length of time that it takes

To collect yourself after she’s left you

That you gave up too much in exchange for a touch

That never consoled or caressed you

            And if now and then you think you might do it again

            If only this time to be prepared for the end

            Well I guess that’s too bad you can’t want what you have but you know that I’m glad you found out

            That that was the girl I was telling you bout

5.       Mr. Wait-&-See

Met a lady at a party she was hardly my type

But she invited me closer and I said, alright

Underscored me, ignored me, and she bored me to tears

But of all gazes hers was the gentlest

Had me over got me sober even gave me a key

As she pulled the rug out from under me

Tried to sit up tried to get up to pick up the debris

But the odds they were stacked up against us

            Well you know me, Mr. Wait-and-see,

            Mr. Cant-you-please-be-somewhat-kinder

            As I’ll know by the sun when the morning has come

            I will know my true love when I find her

I been put up, I been stood up, been let up and let down

I been told to pick up and get out of town

Rejected, disrespected, and neglected so oft

I can’t tell anymore if you know me

At the station congregations destinations unknown

Either tell me you love me or leave me alone

Among maestros in her plainclothes while the train pulls away

She says you don’t have to pay what you owe me

            Well you know me, Mr. wait-and-see

            Mr. there-is-no-joy-separate-from-sorrow

            And just like I would trade every heart for a spade

            For yesterday I’d give all my tomorrows

Well it’s lonely having only your memory to keep

As though I’d awakened to find that I was asleep

In the darkness cold and heartless will you part with your half

Whose hands were the words that you whispered with

Was I dreaming, am I reading too much meaning into it?

Did you intend what you offered before you withdrew it

Do you miss me? Dismiss me? Would you kiss that mouth now

Whose words were the hands that I begged you with?

            Well you know me, Mr. Wait-and-see

            Mr. upright-with-impeccable-posture

            As you’ll not know the word for the thing you’ve endured

            You’ll not know your true love til you’ve lost her

 

6.      Where Are You, Matthew Searfass?

Matthew he’s a friend of mine, used to put him up from time to time

Used to lend him nickles, quarters, dimes and dollars

Never had too much to say, went step by step and day by day

But soon every man must stray from what he fallers

He always did alright in school never made the team but he played it cool

Each exception only breaks the rule it learns on

One day he got the thought to leave, shoved all his tricks in up his sleeve

He told them all one day they’d see he’d be gone

            Matthew, where are you?

            Matthew, where are you?

            Matthew, where are you?

                        Where are you?

Can’t be sure but last I heard he was in a psychiatric ward

And he’d only sent home word so he could blame ya

Return address said San Marcos, letter said he was headed for the coast

Anywhere, he said, that’s nowhere close to Pennsylvania

I’d know him now no more than you, couldn’t find him if I wanted to

I tried it once, without a clue to guide me

Just followed in his footsteps some, tried to get behind the sun

But just got lost without someone beside me

            Chorus

You left your home and left no trace for supper they still set your place

Fold their hands and all say grace without you

Your father still sits up to dawn in his bathrobe with his porchlight on

And folks they say he carries on and on about you

And LeeAnn she still thinks of you, wonders what you’ve been up to

Says I only wish I knew that he was breathin

And your mother she’s still sleeping sound six feet underneath the ground

And once a year they all gather round a grievin

            Chorus

Matthew, do you still recall comin here with me when we were small

You wrote your name up on the wall in marker

Matthew won’t you please come home or try to find a telephone

Cause the days are getting shorter now, and darker

Matthew, are you cold tonight, can you find your way without the light

Do you see the star that’s shining right above you?

Matthew, can you keep em shut, your ears from hearing you know what

They know you’ll never need it but they love you,

I know you’ll never want it but I do, too

            Chorus

 

7.      Never Again Would Be Too Soon

My mother was a shadow, or so I’ve heard the story told

My father rode the saddle, he never came in from out the cold

And I was born one hazy midnight, into a blanket I was rolled

Left upon a stranger’s doorstep when I was fifteen minutes old      

            Folks think that if I could find em now, I’d want to see em, they presume

            Well as far as I’m concerned, I say,

                        Never again would be too soon

                        Never again would be too soon

                        Never again would be too soon

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to go and leave my home

Whether on account of cause I always was, or else cause I was never left alone

Seems like every town I come to now is like every other town I’ve known

I come just long enough to learn of one more thing I’ll never own

            And somewhere tween the sweepin floors and getting beaten with the broom

            I say if I come back here anymore,              

                        Chorus

Well I loved a girl in New Orleans, although her name I don’t recall

She was kind and good to me, I was no good to her at all

I remember one night we’d just come back in from a ball

She had taken my possessions and locked them in the hall

            I asked my girl how long it’d be for she’d let me back into her room

            Well as far as I’m concerned, she said

                        Chorus

Well I found me a friendly Christian, said I could stay with him for cheap

Said there was only one condition under which that contract he would keep

Said I had to start to livin clean, said he’d test me every week

Told him not to worry tho, I could do it in my sleep

            Things were fine til they got hard again, and he found my needle and my spoon

            I asked him when he’d let me back, he said

                        Chorus

I killed a man in Kansas, I killed one in Tennessee

Both times I was as sorry as a man could ever be

Somewhere on the highway the law apprehended me

For one I got life in prison, for the other the death penalty

            I asked the Lord if when I died he meant to raise me from my tomb

            And something in the silence said,

            Chorus

Well I don’t know who I’m talkin to, I guess it doesn’t matter now

Anyone with ears’ll do, if the timin will allow

I’m only trine to figure out if there’s some way out of this somehow

If I never asked for help before, well, I’m sorry, but I’m askin now

            The warden says my time’s been moved, so now I’m due to die at noon,

            So if you’re wondering when to pray for me

            Chorus

8.      In No Hurry Now 

Loved a girl once with all my heart

I told her so right from the start

Eager to unite, we fell right apart

I should’ve seen it coming

Tried again though, the second time was worse

The world’s a stage, but you can’t rehearse

Goin forward’s the same as in reverse

With maybe one exception— that

I am in no hurry now

            I am in no hurry now

            I am in no hurry now

            I am in no hurry now

Had a hometown where I grew up tall

It had commercial industry and basketball

Public school and a shopping mall

I ran away so often

Left home early so as to beat the rush

My bike broke down, I had to catch the bus

It went the wrong way, I should’ve known as much

But since then I’ve been riding—for

            Chorus

Had a car, I drove it fast

I had appointments to keep, I gave it gas

I had a best friend, he had a crash

Since then things have slowed some

Thought I knew what all my time was for

My life seemed finished, I was twenty-four

I went out looking for what was here before

Turns out the whole world’s fast and lonesome—but

chorus

 

9.      A Series of Failed Attempts At Getting Over Loving You

Lately I’ve been visiting a stranger, he says that he’s a doctor of a psychiatric nature

He asks me all about you, he says I need a hobby, says it will make me happy to keep busy for a while

            He only asks me things I know, he says that it’s important, though

            I wish instead of asking he would tell me what to do

            He’s quite encouraging, as if he thought I could make anything

            Besides another failed attempt at getting over loving you

Lately I’ve been looking at the stars, trying to learn the constellations, making observations

I know Orion by now, and Cassiopeia, and I’ve a pretty good idea where the big and little dippers are

            But astronomy is not for me, as anyone with eyes can see

            I could watch that sky until the midnight turned to blue

            And even if I knew the myths, what would they only leave me with

            But another failed attempt at getting over loving you?

Lately I’ve been smoking long cigars, I imported them from Cuba, from Barbados and Bermuda

I’m not sure I like the taste of them, the sticky burning flavor, tho I’m quite fond of the paper that they wrap them in

            But who am I trying to kid? I don’t like smoking and I never did

            And I don’t give one good Goddam about where my tobacco grew

            And even if I smoked incessantly, what would it only ever be

            But another failed attempt at getting over loving you?

Lately I’ve been reading Russian novels from the latter nineteenth century, mainly Tolstoy and Dostoevsky

Sometimes I think I feel the same way as the characters they mention, who love in violent passion and dismay

            Who always seem to know what’s best, who get what they want and then get depressed

            Who suffer, bleed, and fight and die in search of something true

            But every time I reach the end, I realize all my reading’s been

            Is another failed attempt at getting over loving you

Lately I’ve been seeking some vocation, I need a new bad habit, I’m afraid I still don’t have it yet

I’ve tried coin- and stamp collecting, chocolate and wine tasting, bicycle and horse-racing

            But I bet the coins on a losing horse, the stamps I sent to you, of course

            Along with all my letters and every chocolate that I knew

            And the wine that used to fill my shelf, I drank it quickly by myself

            In another failed attempt at getting over loving you

Lately I’ve been listening to music, I’m learning the piano, I’m really not that good, tho

I can play a couple major chords, a few scales in the minor, I find the latter kinder to me

            But what is all my practice for? I’m not improving, of that I’m sure

            And I don’t know the song to play that has my kind of blues

            And even if I found it out, what would I have to sing about

            But another failed attempt at getting over loving you?

 

10.  Talkin Technology

Other day I got a phone call from a friend of mine,

Friend I ain’t seen in the longest time

Said he’s passin through town, like to pay me a visit

He says, you’re not busy, Sam, it’s not inconvenient is it?

            I said, Busy? Boy it has been a while

            I ain’t been busy since the late 1990s 

I said when’ll you be here, he says, One day or the next

Says, how bout when I’m close I shoot you a text

I said, What? He says, I’ll send a text-message

I said, And what’s that, exactly?—Sounds impressive

            He says don’t tell me you don’t get text messages

            I said, of course I do—post man brings em all the time

He says, What’ve you been doing man, where’ve you been

Don’t you know what year it is? It’s 2014!

Now I don’t mean to startle you, but I’ll make no apology

But there’s a thing we’ve got now it’s called modern technology

            I tell him I’ve heard of that—science fiction and whatnot

            Gene splicing—animal cloning—drone strikes

He says Not all of it’s bad for your information

Some of it’s improved our communication

I say, And how’s that?—he says, Well, for instance

Like you and me here, we’re talkin long distance

            I asked him where he was calling me from

            He said he’s sittin on the toilet in an airplane

            Flying over the Atlantic ocean at a cruising altitude of 22,000 feet

He says cell phones make it easier to keep in touch

With friends you don’t see or hear from much

Then he accuses me of being a reclusive-type

Then he says, Hang on a minute, I’ve got to wipe

            I wonder at what point does information

            Become too much information

A minute later he comes back on

Picks right back up with the thread he’s been on

Says it’s also made working a breeze

I can talk to whomever wherever whenever I please

            I made the mistake of asking him what line of work he was in nowadays

            He says he’s a telemarkerter for Verizon Wireless

            Cell phone salesman—spokesperson

Well at no promptin of mine he starts to striking a deal

Lays it on me, goes into his spiel

He says, Do you ever find that your signal’s weak

And you’re getting cut off every time you try to speak?

            I said what signal? I’m talking to you on a landline

            Rotary telephone, circa 1948

He says, Now hold the phone—let me get this straight,

You don’t even have a cell phone, am I hearing you right?

I’m about to respond when he says, Hold the line

I’m getting a call on the other line

            Talk about getting cut off—

            seems sometimes good reception’s not about where you’re talkin

            but who you’re talkin to

I tell him to call me back, he asks for my number

I said You’re the one who called me, remember?

I asked him how he found me after all this time

He says he looked me up in the phone book—online

            I said man, I remember when the yellowpages were actually yellow

            And actually pages, too!

Well I hang up and wait for him to call me back

And I’m waiting a while, a whole month, in fact

One day the phone rings, it’s my old pal

He says, Sorry about that, I been tied up a while

            Talking to friends, relatives, callin up strangers

            Makin sales

First thing he asks me is did I get his parcel

I’m about to say no when I hear the doorbell

Sure enough it’s the postman right on time,

He’s got a package for me, shows me where to sign

            And it’s a cell phone, complete with phone, charger, instruction manual,

            Service guide, return policy, insurance policy, etcetera…

I said what’s all this, he says No need to thank me,

But welcome, at last, to the twentyfirst century

He says now I don’t have to sit at home

Whenever I want to use my telephone

            He says you’re a free man, liberated from the cord

            Welcome to the world of wireless

I ask him how much am I gonna have to pay

To live like him in the technology age?

He says it varies but it’s likely to cost

Anywhere between thirty and a hundred bucks

            That’s per month, though, he says—but just think of the benefits!

            Unlimited minutes, roaming, plus texting

I open the box, remove the packaging foam

There’s nothing inside even looks like a phone

Just a slab of metal the size of a bar of soap

I said, You are kidding me, right, I hope

            Where do you aim your mouth on this thing?

            Which end is the listening end? Durn thing doesn’t even have buttons on it!

Well he explains to me how to turn it off and on

Gets into an explanation that’s a little overdrawn

All about how its not just a telephone

Its also a camera, a computer, a thousand things in one

            You can record a video and send it in an email with a message attached

            And you don’t even have to get out of bed—talk about shared experience

Well I tell him I appreciate everything he’s sayin,

But I just can’t buy in to this game he’s playin

And I certainly don’t understand the attraction

To a device that can only cause you more distraction

            Make you a rude theater-goer, an even worse driver

            Pretty clumsy pedestrian, too

I tell him, don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful

I guess there’s a couple ways this could be useful

I tell him I got a door in here that’s always swingin open

I been meaning for a while to prop it open with something

            This looks like it’d be just about the right size

            Make a good paper-weight, too