Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 23, 2014, 12:47 p.m.
Many years ago, I started compiling song lyrics, sometimes all mine but, more often, those that occur to me during the holidays. I started out sending these as e-mails, and then I posted them on social media, and, I think it was last year, I started publishing them in the form of a blog.
Until, oh, a few minutes ago, I wasn’t sure I was going to do it this year. I concentrated on prose all year, writing the first draft of a crime novel, polishing up one I mostly wrote in 2013, and writing short stories. I only wrote two songs all year.
This year, I think, I’ll mix and match. My favorite Christmas song isn’t even considered a Christmas song by lots of people. To me, it’s perfect.
If we can make it through December / Everything’s gonna be all right, I know / It’s the coldest time of winter / And I shiver when I see the falling snow / If we can make it through December / Got plans to be in a warmer town come summertime / Maybe even California / If we make it through December, we’ll be fine. – Merle Haggard
While we try in vain to wind it down, our military forces continue to be active abroad. It seems to me that we pay mainly lip service to them and don’t really value their lives as much as we ought.
When I pulled out of Basra / They all wished me luck / Just like they always did before / With a bulletproof screen on the hood of my track / And a Bradley on my back door / Well, I wound her up / And shifted her down / And offered this prayer to my Lord / God, get me back home to Houston alive / And I won’t drive a truck anymore. – Steve Earle
We remain entangled in racial division. I get chills every time I hear this:
I was born by the river in a little tent / Oh, and just like the river, I’ve been running ever since / It’s been a long, long time coming / But I know a change gon’ come, yes, it will. – Sam Cooke
This leads me to the promise of America:
We come on the ship they call the Mayflower / We come on the ship that sailed the moon / We come in the age’s most uncertain hour / And sing an American tune / But it’s all right, it’s all right / You can’t be forever blessed / Still, tomorrow’s gonna be another working day / And I’m trying to get some rest / That’s all, I’m trying to get some rest. – Paul Simon
Okay, it’s time for one of mine:
When the sun comes up on that bright morn / In the quiet that follows every storm / When the demons have all died away / We’ll celebrate your independence day.
And, in a gospel turn:
I walked the streets / Of that big city / I saw folks wracked with pain / I saw folks in need of Jesus / They looked weary of raising Cain.
Gas prices are low. The stock market is up. Here in town, though, it still seems kind of bleak. I haven’t seen anything trickle down. The central mood in America right now is frustration. Everyone is dissatisfied. Everyone has something or someone to blame. People disagree with what’s wrong but agree that something is wrong. Too many people are just wandering around, pissed off.
Someday I’m gonna leave this dirty little town / Where the talk is cheap on the dirty little streets / And the trees are dying underneath a sky that’s purple and brown / You can’t drink the water, can’t breathe the air / If you go out at all, well, you better beware / People packin’ heat on the mean ol’ streets / Of this dirty little town. – Kieran Kane
And my “Furlough Blues”:
Rich folks are the ones who need a furlough / They’re the ones who ran this ship aground / Talking about the dangers of class warfare / While less and less money gets around.
Christmas looks like it’s going to be successful because I’m out of money, and regardless of how much I make, I think a fellow ought to be broke at Christmas. This year I only bought presents for kids, other than an adapter I bought for myself that will allow this laptop to do something it won’t and should. The commercial part of Christmas isn’t so bad if one limits it to kids, wide-eyed and joyous. There is a Santa Claus for them.
Now he’s all grown up with a floursack cape tied all around his dreams / And he’s full of piss and vinegar, and he’s bustin’ at the seams / So he licked his finger and checked the wind, it’s gonna be do or die / He wasn’t scared of nothin’, boys, he was pretty sure he could fly.
Well, he’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith / Spread your arms and hold your breath and always trust your cape. – Guy Clark
From my “The Paved Road”:
Life is hard / No matter where you go / It’s a tortured path / Tough row to hoe / When the wheels spin / Got a heavy load / Hoping I can get / To the paved road.
No collection of lyrics should be without this songwriter:
Sometimes old Luther showed up at the studio half tight / And smokin’ was a thing he liked to do / She never said a word to him but said a prayer for me / I told her, in a way, that I’d been praying for her, too. – Tom T. Hall.
And this one:
The silence of a falling star / Lights up a purple sky / And as I wonder where you are / I’m so lonesome I could cry. – Hank Williams
And this one:
Them that don’t know him won’t like him / And them that do sometimes won’t know how to take him / He ain’t wrong, he’s just different, and his pride won’t let him / Do things that make you think he’s right. – Willie Nelson
And this one:
Tell my baby I said so long / Tell my mother I did no wrong / Tell my brother to mind his own / Tell my friends to mourn me none. – Townes Van Zandt
And this one:
One dying and a burying / One dying and a burying / Some crying, six carrying me / I want to be free. – Roger Miller
And this one:
Sun full of yellow / Sky full of blue / Been on my vacation / ‘Bout a full year or two. – Jerry Jeff Walker
And, finally, this one:
The world is changing / Always rearranging / From birth till the end / With my Facebook friends.
Hahahahaha. The last was I.
Be thankful, friends, for the good as well as the bad. The good is fun. Winning is infectious. The bad, though, is what shapes character and what makes us the men and women we are. Adversity makes some and breaks others. When you maneuver your way through life’s minefield, don’t forget to learn how to be tough.
Happy Christmas. Merry holidays. Flippy-trippy Festivus. As an old friend used to say with nauseating regularity, whatever floats your boat …
Take a look at my short fiction from time to time at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. I’ve got books out there I’d love for you to read. You read right? You’re reading this. http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1