Songs To End Another Year By

Occasionally, I just want to scream. (John Clark photo)

Occasionally, I just want to scream. (John Clark photo)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, December 24, 2015, 12:44 p.m.

This year my Holiday Lyrics do not include any of my own. It hasn’t been a big songwriting year for me. I’ve written a handful, but I’ve spent most of my time on prose: fiction, short fiction, sports stories, blogs, columns, tweets, posts, spanning the globe of required skills.

No, it was not I. I've never even driven a Lexus.

Monte Dutton (John Clark photo).

They’re not Christmas lyrics. Or uplifting lyrics. They’re just lyrics that rose in my mind as I compiled this collection.

During 2015, I worked on three different novels. At the beginning of the year, I was editing and revising Crazy of Natural Causes, which wound up being published in late July. Then I completed the basic story and went into edits and revisions of Forgive Us Our Trespasses, which will be out sometime soon; and, finally, I resumed Cowboys Come Home, which is now about two thirds of the way to a first draft.

Why I quit golf. (Vince Pawless photo)

Why I quit golf. (Vince Pawless photo)

I still try to sit around and play my guitar at least a little every day. Here are a lot of my old standby lyrics, words that linger in my mind.

She was just fourteen / She grew up wild and free / And all the time she’s been waiting on him / She’s been waiting on you and me. — “Ravishing Ruby,” Tom T. Hall.

He looked to me to be the eyes of age / And he spoke right out. — “Mr. Bojangles,” Jerry Jeff Walker.

I raised a lot of Cain back in my younger days / While Mama used to pray my crops would fail. — “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” Merle Haggard.

If I’d had more education / I’d have made a better life for me and you / But just simple manual labor is the only kind of work I can do. — “Able Bodied Man,” Jerry Foster & Bill Rice.

Fortunately, I'm outside the bars.

Fortunately, I’m outside the bars.

I’d rather drink muddy water / And sleep in a hollow log / Than live here in Atlanta / And be treated like a dirty dog. — “Blue Yodel #1 (T for Texas),” Jimmie Rodgers.

I told you baby from time to time / But you just wouldn’t listen or pay me no mind / So I’m moving on.” — “I’m Moving On,” Hank Snow.

Picked last night in Tucson / Sang ’em a country song / Missed my plane this morning, Lord / ‘Cause I partied all night long / Here I stand using my thumb / Trying to make it to El Paso / Tonight I play at the Cabaret / They done told it on the radio. — “I Ain’t All Bad,” Johnny Duncan.

Are you there? / Say a prayer / For the pretender / He started out so young and strong / Only to surrender. — “The Pretender,” Jackson Browne.

Different gig. Same jersey.

Different gig. Same jersey.

Well, I was born a coal miner’s daughter / I remember well the well where I drew water. — “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” Loretta Lynn.

Ain’t it strange / How people change / And almost overnight? / Who once was a country girl / Is now a socialite. — “The Old Side of Town,” Tom T. Hall.

I don’t love you anymore / Not the way I did before / Trouble is / I don’t love you / Any less. — “I Don’t Love You Anymore,” Bill Anderson.

Sometimes I get unwound / When fancy cars drive past / Money don’t get me down / But I can’t make it last / I bite my nails / And if that fails / I go get myself stoned / But when I do / I think of you / And head myself back home. – “Blue Eyes,” Gram Parsons.

This ol’ mental fat I’m chewin’ / Didn’t take a lot of doin’ / But I take a lot of pride in what I am – “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am,” Merle Haggard.

Northern California.

Northern California.

It’s my belief pride / Is the chief cause in the decline / In the number / Of husbands and wives — “Husbands and Wives,” Roger Miller.

I couldn’t stay here if I wanted / I couldn’t stay here if I tried / You were always so disappointed in me / Guess I could never do nothing right – “Couldn’t Do Nothing Right,” Gary P. Nunn & Karen Brooks

She never said a word to him / But said a prayer for me / I told her in a way / That I’d been prayin’ for her too — “The Little Lady Preacher,”Tom T. Hall.

I'm liable to play a few songs just about anywhere.

I’m liable to play a few songs just about anywhere.

There’s only two things that money can’t buy / And that’s true love and homegrown tomatoes – “Homegrown Tomatoes,” Guy Clark.

Pick up all your dishes / Make note of all good wishes / Say goodbye to the landlord for me / Sons of bitches always bore me — “L.A. Freeway,” Guy Clark.

Almost busted in Laredo / But for reasons that I’d rather not disclose / But if you’re staying in a motel there and leave / Don’t leave nothin’ in your clothes – “Me and Paul,” Willie Nelson.

I look right pleased with myself, don't I? (John Clark photo)

I look right pleased with myself, don’t I? (John Clark photo)

If I could live my life all over / It wouldn’t matter anyway / ‘Cause I never could stay sober / On the Corpus Christi Bay – “Corpus Christi Bay,” Robert Earl Keen Jr.

There’s a road in Oklahoma / Straighter than a preacher / Longer than a memory / And it goes, forever onward / But it’s been a good teacher / For a lot of country boys like me — “Nowhere Road,” Steve Earle.

On a Sunday morning sidewalk / I’m wishing, Lord, that I was stoned / ‘Cause there’s something in a Sunday / That makes a body feel alone — “Sunday Morning Coming Down,” Kris Kristofferson.

Spent the groceries and half the rent / I lack 14 dollars havin’ 27 cents – “Dang Me,” Roger Miller.

Go Big Red. (Monte Dutton photo)

Go Big Red. (Monte Dutton photo)

I’m comin’ home / Made up my mind that’s what I’m gonna do / Can’t love nobody on the telephone / I’m comin’ home to you – “I’m Coming Home,” Robert Earl Keen Jr.

They have changed your attitude / Made you haughty and so rude / Your new friends can take the blame / Underneath you’re still the same / When you see these things are true / I’ll be waiting here for you / Where you tossed me on the ground / Pick me up on your way down – “Pick Me Up on Your Way Down,” Harlan Howard

You can see me tonight / With an illegal smile / It don’t cost very much / But it lasts a long while / Won’t you please tell the man / I didn’t kill anyone / I’m just trying to have me some fun – “Illegal Smile,” John Prine.

The first time I played music in front of a crowd was at a place in Clinton called The Study Club, which is now Tony's Pizza. That was in 2009.

The first time I played music in front of a crowd was at a place in Clinton called The Study Club, which is now Tony’s Pizza. That was in 2009.

Inside the walls of a prison / My body may be / But my Lord / Has set my soul free — “Greystone Chapel,” Glenn Shirley.

Never hit 17 / When you play against the dealer / You know that the odds / Won’t ride with you / Never leave your woman alone / With your friends around to steal here / They’ll be gambled and gone / Like summer wages — “Summer Wages,” Ian Tyson.

Past some hound dogs and some dominecker chickens / Temporary looking houses with their lean and bashful kids / Every mile or so a sign proclaimed that Christ was coming soon / And I thought, well, man, He’d sure be disappointed if He did — “Trip to Hyden,” Tom T. Hall.

Better job and higher wages / Expenses paid and a car / But I’m on TV here locally / I can’t quit / I’m a star — “Kansas City Star,” Roger Miller.

I've been know to play a few songs at book signings.

I’ve been know to play a few songs at book signings.

From now on / All my friends / Are gonna be strangers / I’m all through ever trusting anyone / The only thing I can count on is my fingers / I was a fool / Believing in you / And now you are gone – “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers,” Liz Anderson.

I know a guy / He’s got a lot to do / He’s a little hardheaded / Kinda confused / He’s got muscles in his head / Ain’t never been used / Thinks he owns half this town / Starts drinking heavy / Gets a big red nose / Beats his old lady with a / Rubber hose / Then he takes her out to dinner / Buys her new clothes / That’s the way that the world goes ‘round – “That’s the Way the World Goes ‘Round,” John Prine.

In a town this size / There’s no place to hide / Anywhere you go / You meet someone you know / You can’t steal a kiss / In a place like this / Oh the rumors do fly / In a town this size – “In a Town This Size,” Kieran Kane.

The King. Not Richard Petty, though. Different monarchy. (Monte Dutton sketch)

The King. Not Richard Petty, though. Different monarchy. (Monte Dutton sketch)

I guess that I’ve fought tougher men / But I really can’t remember when / He kicked like a mule and bit like a crocodile — “Boy Named Sue,” Shel Silverstein.

Now boys don’t start to ramblin’ ‘round / On this road of sin are you sorrow bound? / Take my advice or you’ll curse the day / You started rollin’ down that lost highway – “Lost Highway,” Leon Payne.

He could be the richest man in seven counties / And not be good enough to take her hand / But he says he really loves the farmer’s daughter / And I know the farmer’s daughter loves this man – “The Farmer’s Daughter,” Merle Haggard.

I tried to bring her back / To what she used to be / But I soon learned she love those bright lights / More than she loved me — “Streets of Baltimore,” Tompall Glaser and Harlan Howard.

Gotta have some "merch" on the table. (Monte Dutton photo)

Gotta have some “merch” on the table. (Monte Dutton photo)

Oh, but I remember something you once told me / And I’ll be damned if it did not come true / Twenty thousand roads I went down, down, down / And they all led me straight back home to you — “Return of the Grievous Angel,” Gram Parsons.

See him wasted on the sidewalk / In his jackets and his jeans / Wearing yesterday’s misfortune like a smile / Once he had a future full of money, love and dreams / Which he spent like they was going out of style / But he keeps right on a-changing / For the better or the worse / And all he ever gets is older and around / Never knowing if believing is a blessing or a curse / Or if the going up was worth the coming down — “The Pilgrim: Chapter 33, Hang On Hopper,” Kris Kristofferson.

I know there’s a lot of big preachers / Who know a lot more than I do / But it could be that the good Lord / Likes a little pickin’ too — “The Year Clayton Delaney Died,” Tom T. Hall.

Season’s greetings to your mama ‘n’ ‘em. Tell ‘em I said hey.

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)

(Graphic courtesy of Meredith Pritchard)

Tell ‘em I write books, too, and they can download an app and read them right where they stand, or sit, and when they ain’t got nuttin’ to do. Here’s my tale of a disgraced football coach who has to start all over.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I got two other novels – The Audacity of Dope, about the adventures of a pot-smoking songwriter trying to avoid being a national hero; and The Intangibles, about small-town troubles during the turbulent 1960s – and another, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, that will be out soon. Most of my books are available here:

(Joe Font cover design)

(Joe Font cover design)

If you’ve read my books, and you haven’t left customer reviews at Amazon and/or Goodreads, I would still appreciate it. Just write what you think. It doesn’t have to be much.

Read my short fiction, plus book reviews and occasional blogs about writing, at

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

About Monte

For 20 seasons, I mostly wrote about NASCAR. I'm still paying attention, but I'm spending more of my time these days writing novels and songs. I try to blog regularly on whatever happens to strike my fancy.
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2 Responses to Songs To End Another Year By

  1. Woody says:

    I don’t know that Merle Haggard song, and it’s impudent of me to criticize someone more successful. But that lyric could be better.

    I sowed a lot a wild oats back in my younger days / While Mama used to pray my crops would fail.

  2. Monte says:

    A songwriter has to match the quality of the words with the rhythm of the melody and the way the words fall. Your line wouldn’t fit the tune smoothly.

Comments are closed.