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Jack Williams
"THE HIGH ROAD HOME"

Between August and November, 2010, "The High Road Home" ranked #3, 5, 12 and 14 of the most frequently played CDs on Folk radio.
The song "The High Road Home was #7, 9 and 14, and "Atlantis Going Down" showed up at #11 and #15.
Among the most-played artists, Jack ranked #2, 3, 6, and 9.
(Data compiled monthly by Richard Gillman from Folk DJ radio playlists. Based on 13436 airplays by 148 different DJs.

Archives at http://nwfolk.com/topfolk/)

Listen and download

"...another stellar release..."
Review - Jim Blum, WKSU "Folk Alley", Kent OH

"...a top-of-the-heap keeper..."
Review - Vicki Ingle for Plank Road Folk Music Society, Downers Grove IL (starts on p. 3)

Order info
Notes from Jack
Song list & Lyrics

"The High Road Home" CD cover

15 Songs - 54:08 minutes - $15 plus $3.50 shipping (US); ($10 International shipping)

TO ORDER:
You can pay by check - make payable to Jack Williams
and send to P.O. Box 846, West Fork AR 72774

Or pay by credit card through PayPal's secure website using the buttons on the Discography page.

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Notes from Jack:
 'The High Road Home' is a collection of seven relatively new songs, seven older songs - recorded previously and unrecorded - and one song by our friend, Dayna Kurtz. For the first time on a recording, I gave other musicians the freedom to shape my songs. I asked several musician friends for help on various songs, suggesting they take the basic vocal and guitar tracks and add any number of accompaniment parts - vocal or instrumental - which they felt would enhance the songs. These musicians include my regular musical partners, Susan Taylor, Cary Taylor, and Danny Harlow from SC; Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen from VT; Lon and Lis Williamson and Jason Thomas from FL; Kelly Mulhollan and Donna Stjerna of 'Still On the Hill', our neighbors in AR; and Wayne Manning of Auburn CA, whose deep bass voice will be recognizable from the CDs 'Laughing In the Face of the Blues' and 'Don't Let Go'.

   The older songs include four which were written during my rock band days and which are the only songs I've found among hundreds I wrote from '70 to '88 which survived the transition from a band setting to solo acoustic performance. These include "Bad Feeling", "When You're Gone", "Cave-Woman Betty" (formerly "As the Rain Begins to Fall"), and "Road Dog Blues #1. I'm happy to have them back in the repertoire. One solo piece included among these older songs is "Hand Me Down", which was written for a play on homelessness and was previously recorded on an early album 'Highway From Back Home'.

    Of the newer songs, "Sailing Away" reflects the 2 years of trying to help my Dad and his wife through the ordeal of Alzheimer's. "O Chain Lightnin' - previously released as a single - is one of two songs, along with "Atlantis Goin' Down", which relate directly to the catastrophe of hurricane Katrina. Indirectly connected to this theme is a song written to celebrate what remains of the wilds of Florida: "Song of the 'Glades". "No Longer Headed Nowhere" was written in 1993 and is a song of forgiveness, self-discovery, and recovery. "Invocation", according to Dayna Kurtz, wasn't actually written for her mother, but is an invocation to her creative Muse - whom she feels she abandoned - to let her "come home" and try again.

    "Pumphouse Blues", "A Dangerous Thing", and "While the Sun Goes Down" are typical of my right-brain explorations of spontaneous and varied ideas encompassing love, life and religion, and are not easily pigeonholed. The title song, "The High Road Home", was written while contemplating the simplicity and clarity of the music of Tom Paxton, whom I occasionally accompany on guitar, but which, nevertheless, was also born in an attempt to keep my right-brain "rambling boy" on a short leash.

SONG LIST
[All songs written by JW, except for INVOCATION , by Dayna Kurtz; ATLANTIS GOIN' DOWN, by JW & Judy Smith;
and SONG OF THE GLADES, by JW, with prose by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas]

[Jack Williams - lead vocal and guitar, all tracks]

THE HIGH ROAD HOME
BAD FEELING
HAND ME DOWN
PUMPHOUSE BLUES
DANGEROUS THING
WHEN YOU'RE GONE
WHILE THE SUN GOES DOWN
SAILING AWAY
CAVEWOMAN BETTY
ROAD DOG BLUES #1
O, CHAIN LIGHTNIN'
SONG OF THE 'GLADES (by JW with prose by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas)
ATLANTIS GOIN' DOWN (by JW & Judy Smith)
NO LONGER HEADED NOWHERE
INVOCATION (by Dayna Kurtz)

LYRICS

THE HIGH ROAD HOME
Kelly Mulhollan - vocal, tenor ukuleles, harmonica, acoustic bass; Donna Stjerna - vocal, fiddle; Wayne Manning - bass vocal

Tell the truth every time
   Speak it softly, make it rhyme
       Take the high road, the high road home
Lies and secrets fly by night
   Let’s walk together in the light
       Take the high road, the high road home

Who's to say what's right or wrong
   It all depends who wrote the song
       Take the high road, the high road home
Say today. Say Manana
   Play with money. Play piano
         Take the high road, the high road home   
 
CHORUS 1
     It's a long way from here to there
     Spill your wine or fill your cup
    Thank your stars or count your bucks
     Take your time or use it up
     It's a long way…..
     Who's to say what's right or wrong
        It all depends who wrote the song
           Take the high road, the high road home

Light a fire, let it burn
    That's the way children learn
        Take the high road, the high road home
Your mother smiles, your sister frowns
     You send your love from distant towns
        Take the high road, the high road home

If your preacher tells a lie
   Keep your faith but say "goodbye"
       Take the high road, the high road home
It's your flag, right or wrong
   Keep it upright, play along
       Take the high road, the high road home

CHORUS 2
     It's a long way…….etc
        Pick your friends, pick your clothes,
        Pick your demons, heaven knows
        Take the high road, the high road home

When the reaper comes to call
    Hope I shed no tears at all
        Take the high road, the high road home
He'll say "Howdy", I'll say "Hey"
    Shake his hand, call it a day
        Take the high road, the high road home

CHORUS 3
     It's a long way…….etc
        Tell the truth every time
        Speak it softly, make it rhyme
        Take the high road, the high road home



BAD FEELING

Fifty black crows on a rich man's tomb,
  Howling like the devil by the light of the moon,
    I got a bad feeling...
       A bad feeling.
  I got a bad feeling this house of cards is falling down.

Children laughin' at a man on the street;
  Tears in his eyes, no shoes on his feet,
     Give me a bad feeling...
        A bad feeling.
  I got a bad feeling this house of cards is falling down.

Down along the levee there's a rumble goin' down;
    Them union (factory) boys are beatin' some poor devil to the ground
        I got a bad feeling...
               A bad feeling.
  I got a bad feeling this house of cards is falling down.

CHORUS  Mama told me,
               "Look on the bright side,
               Always take the bad with the good."
               If the world'd stop shakin'
               And hearts would stop breakin',
               Mama knows I would if I could...
               If I could....
 
There's a lot of angry people on the 6 o'clock news,
  The emperor took their money but he'll never stand accused.
     I got a bad feeling
        A bad feeling.
  I got a bad feeling this house of cards is falling down.

Dying man walking down a highway made of gold
   He bet his bottom dollar on a game that cost his soul
        I got a bad feeling...
               A bad feeling.
  I got a bad feeling this house of cards is falling down.

CHORUS

Somebody's leavin'- hear the taxi horn blow...
  I hope it ain't my baby, lord, I hate to see her go...
    I got a bad feeling...
      A bad feeling.
  I got a bad feeling this house of cards is falling down.
  I got a bad feeling this house of cards is falling down.



HAND ME DOWN
Cindy Mangsen - vocal, concertinas; Steve Gillette - vocal

There is no Big Rock Candy Mountain
  Or golden streets for such as we.
The cards were dealt, I came up empty...
  Hand me down easy, if you please.

Old soldiers fallen by the roadside,
  Fallen prey to gravity;
Heroes willingly forgotten...
  Hand me down easy if you please.

CHORUS   Let me lie where I fall,
           With my back to the wall.
         Close your eyes,
           Walk on by,
           Go in peace,
           And hand me down easy
         If you please.

Along the outskirts of the city
  Spirits walk down on their knees.
Is there a secret to belonging?
  Hand me down easy if you please.

Come here and tell me that you love me.
  Lift my head up off my knees.
I am no one if not your brother...
  Hand me down easy if you please.

CHORUS

There is a hotel in Miami...
  The rooms are cooled by ocean breeze.
It held a lover once who waited for me...
  Oh, hand me down easy if you please.

CHORUS



PUMPHOUSE BLUES
Cary Taylor - acoustic bass; Wayne Manning - bass vocal;  JW - back-up vocals

Pumphouse blues. No moon to blame
Thin-soled shoes In the drivin' rain
Time's a beggar on the evenin' train
Pumphouse blues. No moon to blame

9-pound hammer. 3-penny nail
Blind folksinger spent the night in jail
Federal man knows my game
Better shut my mouth. Gotta change my name

CHORUS 1
Over the land a buzzard flies
Soarin' higher and higher till somethin' dies
Old coyote, lame and confused
Called the buzzard down. He's got the pumphouse blues

Tent revival in the bitter cold
Spent my money to save my soul
Laid it down in Jesus' name
My money's all gone, and I'm lost in the flame

Shall I fade, and so, forget
Debts are paid, and no regret
Shall I dream while dreams remain
Pumphouse blues. No moon to blame

You'll be there in songs I've sung
You’ll be there when the bells are rung
You'll be there when the wreaths are hung
You'll be there till kingdom come

CHORUS



A DANGEROUS THING
Ben Markwell - viola; Laura M. Smith - 'cello; Eric Nordstrom - violin

The woodpile is stacked behind the old shed
Beneath the dried bark her lover is dead
A victim of gender and love for his mate
There’s no one to cry for a black widow’s fate
   That love is so natural, so pure and extreme
   A little love like that can be a dangerous thing
   A dangerous thing

The edge of the jungle is marked by the scent
Of a noble wild thing whose freedom was spent
Without cages or trainers or lights in its eyes
If you touch what is wild, be wary be wise
   That love’s an illusion, a claw or a sting
   A little love like that can be a dangerous thing
   A dangerous thing

You honor your family with loyalty and trust
If favors are given, well serve then you must
You serve without mercy, the deed must be done,
And you serve out your time when the law finds the gun
   That love is your secret, your bond and your ring
   A little love like that can be a dangerous thing
   A dangerous thing

Beloved commander gets sand in his boots
The infidel rises, charges and shoots
The children do battle, their mothers be damned
For the love of the gold in a far away land
   That love is betrayal, a lie and a scheme
   A little love like that can be a dangerous thing
   A dangerous thing

I’ll leap when I find it, and speak it out loud
I’ll climb to its center and fly through its cloud
I’ll beg its forgiveness and laugh in its face
I’ll chase it to heaven and dance in its place
   For love’s the beginning, the spring and the dawn
   A little love like that and the danger is gone
   For love’s the beginning, the dawn and the spring
   A little love like that can make the wide world sing
   Can make the wide world sing

WHEN YOU'RE GONE
Cary Taylor - vocal, acoustic bass; Susan Taylor - vocal; Wayne Manning - bass vocal; JW - back-up vocals; Danny Harlow - mandolin

Birds will sing, tears will fall,
The sun will shine and that ain’t all
Everything will go on when you’re gone

Flowers grow, tides will rise,
The Northern Lights dance up in the skies
Everything will go on when you’re gone

CHORUS
    Lightning strikes, thunder rolls,
    Rivers shatter, lava flows
    Everything will go on when you’re gone

Rocks are hard, so is love
And hard to make as the stars above
Everything will go on when you’re gone

Dandelions, dragonflies
Sweet rain from southern skies
Everything will go on when you’re gone

CHORUS
BRIDGE
         Take the pleasure and the pain
         When you’re gone the winds of change
         Will howl and never call your name
         When you’re gone

It’s 2005, you’re dead and cold
The world’s still turnin’ and your widow’s got your gold
Everything will go on when you’re gone

The speed of light won’t slow down
And if it does, you won’t be around
Everything will go on when you’re gone

CHORUS   &   BRIDGE



WHILE THE SUN GOES DOWN
Wayne Manning - bass vocal; JW - back-up vocals

I don’t know but I’ve been told
What Jesus said in days of old
What I’ve heard’s all right with me
Be he man or divinity

I’ve known Christians, I’ve known Jews
I’ve walked miles in many shoes
Muslim, Shinto, meek and bold
Tethered to the ways of old
Who would twist their words so wise
Turn love to hate and truth to lies?
I don’t know but I’ve been told
What Buddha said in days of old

Tell me who would make these halls
Where liars stand and gamblers fall
Tell me who would sow these fields
Where warriors ride on armored wheels
Tell me who would weep for all
Severed heads on hunters’ walls
I don’t know but I’ve been told
What Mohammed said in days of old

CHORUS
     Let’s sit and talk of many things
     Maybe we can laugh and sing
     While the sun goes down
     While the sun goes down

Why create a lovely land
For one to own and one be banned?
Why create a mockingbird
For one to kill and not be heard?
Why create your lovely eyes
To never see a moon arise?
Why create a golden moon
To only shine on palace rooms?

CHORUS

I don’t know but I’ve been told
What Jesus said in days of old
I don’t think he’ll come again
To share the blame for the shape we’re in.

CHORUS



SAILING AWAY
Kelly Mulhollan – tenor ukulele; Ben Markwell - viola; Laura M. Smith - 'cello; Eric Nordstrom - violin

You’ve got reason - to be cross
Ordinary – things get lost
Words of love – grocery list
Bedroom shoes – goodnight kiss
Favorite colors – Autumn skies ?
Afternoons – alibis
You’ve got reason – to be cross
Ordinary – things get lost

I can’t blame you – when you cry
Just because you - cannot fly
When you’re feeling - free again
And a memory – barges in
When a strange – and empty space
Fills an old – familiar face
I can’t blame you – when you cry
Just because you – cannot fly

At the end of the day…
You’re sailing away
  Sailing away

Looking through me – at the wall
You don’t know - your child at all
Elvis songs – dog your mind
Silly poems – childhood rhyme
Christmas carols – Baptist hymns
Shampoo jingles – growing dim
Looking through me – at the wall
You don’t know – your child at all

You don’t know me – I can tell
There’s no bottom - to your well



CAVE-WOMAN BETTY
Cary Taylor - electric bass; Wayne Manning - bass vocal; JW - back-up vocals

Cave woman Betty
  Hair down over her eyes,
Is starin' in your window,
  She's got a very big surprise...
She says she knew you when
  The years were not so well defined,
You oughta drop back to see her...
  If only you can find the time.
    She says you're not so smart
    For turnin' human after all,
    And she hopes you can recover
    As the rain begins to fall.

Cave woman Betty
  Can look down into your soul.
She sees there's nothing happening there
  Inside that gaping hole.
She talked at length with Stalin
  With Hitler, Bush, bin Laden, too
But they're all in the seventh circle
  And she’s got a lot to ask of you
    She says if you're so wonderful,
    Then why are you so small?
    And your world grows even smaller
    As the rain begins to fall.

As the rain begins to fall... As the rain begins to fall...
As the rain begins to fall…  As the rain begins to fall.

Cave woman Betty
  Is cursing as she cries
She’s starin' into your waters
  And the colors in your skies.
She tried her hand at Facebook
  Tried the roller derby, too.
She said, "Too bad your world is empty
  I gotta go now. There's nothin' I can do."
    And she left me here a-bleedin'
    With my back against the wall...
    Miscalculating everything
    As the rain begins to fall.



ROAD DOG BLUES #1
Kelly Mulhollan - vocal, mandolin, acoustic bass, percussion; Donna Stjerna - fiddle

Windshield wipers crappin’ out
Cryin’ in the rain
Halfway through Missouri
Think I’m nearly gone insane
Followin’ your footsteps,
  gotta get back home to you
There’s a full moon on the highway
And the pilot’s got the Road Dog Blues

I got Conway Twitty singin’
“It’s only Make Believe”
I see him on my radio
He’s got somethin’ up his sleeve
He writes those songs for money, baby
Somethin’ ‘bout it don’t ring true
My speakers sound like thunder
Howlin’ with the Road Dog Blues

CHORUS
Well, there’s just 900 miles
  to the Carolina line
If I had a jet plane, I’d make it home on time
But I’m an I-tinerant picker
  with a guitar in the sack
I left crazy ways behind me, baby,
  I’m never turnin’ back
Woo-hoo!

I got feathers on the wind-shield
And butterflies on my grill
Love-bugs on my headlights
Now, what else have I killed?
I’m dodgin’ mama possums
Raccoons, deer, kangaroo
There’s a full moon on the highway
I’m howlin’ with the Road Dog Blues

My eyes are getting’ heavy
My body feels like lead
I’m weavin’ down the freeway wishin’
I was in your bed
Need one more cup of coffee
And a piece of pie will do
Now, caffeine’s ridin’ shotgun
I’m howlin’ with the Road Dog Blues

Well, I used to look for trouble
But that was in my youth
I’d turn around and follow
‘Bout any Baby Ruth
I /pass up someone  thumbin’ cause she
Don’t look enough like you
Yeah, Lady Luck is smilin’
The pilot’s got the Road Dog Blues
There’s a full moon on the highway
I’m howlin’ with the Road Dog Blues



O, CHAIN LIGHTNIN'
JW - vocals, percussion

O chain lightnin'
Great storm arisin'
Shook my nation's foundation
And now I can't go home

Rain fallin' steady
Wind howlin' heavy
Crack in the levee, children
Hear the awful truth

God made an oak tree
God made my eyes to see
Mother and my family
Torn from my arms

I had a country
I had a family
I had a great city
Older than the sea

Flyin' over Poncha'train
Flyin' over hurricane
High above the simple man
Your flag's forgotten me

Who's that standin' in the wings
With bread, water, and my dreams
Them for whom freedom rings
Who slept right through the storm

They lied to their brethren
Lied up to heaven
Lied to their children, Lord
Cryin' from the roof



SONG OF THE 'GLADES
[by JW, with prose by Marjorie Stoneman Douglas]
Lis Williamson - vocals; Lon Williamson - electric bass; Jason Thomas - mandolin; Ben Markwell - viola; Laura M. Smith - 'cello; Eric Nordstrom - violin        

On a wide oak hammock with a low shell mound
There’s no human voice but life abounds
God’s Little Boy rests on the ground, sleeping
Out over the glades, a thunderstorm
Starts a fire and the birds all swarm
The boy awakens but he fears no harm
He’s been dreaming

Snail kite, egret’s flight
Alligator rests on the old shell mound
Cypress knees, a warm Chokoloskee breeze
The clouds above the glades don’t make a sound

Pink sky, spoonbills fly
Water catches fire through the red mangrove
Full moon, in the eyes of a big raccoon
The old cat moves through a twilight no man knows

     Lay me down where the sawgrass blows
     Let Okechobee’s waters roll my bones
     Lay me down with the apple snail
     Where the sunlight glints on the ripples
     And the limpkin wails

Cattails, clapper rails
Flamingos flock a thousand islands long
Manatee, floatin’ in the slough by me
Where the clear Caloosahachee rolls along (check sp)

The clear, burning light of the sun
Pours day-long into the sawgrass and is lost there
Soaked up, never given back
Only the water flashes and glints
The grass yields nothing
The truth of the river is grass

Gamble rambled
From the prairie to the isles of Florida Bay
Oh, man, clearing out the great oak stands
Don’t haul the rest of Florida away



ATLANTIS GOIN' DOWN
[by JW & Judy Smith]
Cary Taylor - acoustic bass; Bryan Cumming - cornet, c-melody sax; Steve Carruthers - trombone; Wayne Manning - bass vocal; JW - back-up vocals

Down where the Mississippi meets the Gulf of Mexico,
They raised a mighty city ‘neath the levee, don’t you know.
People came to Louisiana, bringing music to the night -
Africano, Espanol, Francais, rich and poor and black and white.

Then there came a great commotion from the Gulf of Mexico.
Water rose above the city – cracked the levee, don’t you know.
Everybody ran for cover, losing everything that day
If they couldn’t leave their homes,
  the water rose and swept them all away

CHORUS
A hard rain fallin’ - Pensacola to New Orleans
Hear the sound, hear the sound
Like the Incas [Easter Island] and Pompeii, they all blew away
Like Atlantis….
Like Atlantis goin’ down

Then the terrible wind subsided and the sun returned to shine
We saw a great destruction and we were praying for a sign
But there was no help provided from the mansion on the hill
So the poor and downtrodden went away,
  but return they never will

Then the secret doors were opened at the mansion on the hill
There were words of resurrection, and the levees they would build
There'd be music in the quarter, and dancing in the night
And you're welcome to return,
  if you're white and wealthy and you're one of them



NO LONGER HEADED NOWHERE

I confess my obsession,
  I relinquish all control,
I throw caution to the wind
  And lay bare my awkward soul.
I'll put down all the tools of my trade,
  And make good all the promises I've made.

I've gone face to face with demons,
  Rejected angry ghosts.
I've rattled the bones of devils past,
  The ones I feared the most.
I will lay all my secrets open wide,
  Till the past will have nothing left to hide.

CHORUS  
     I'm coming to a place I've only dreamed about.
          I've turned away from anger and despair.
      This could be the hardest road I've traveled, babe,
              But I'm no longer headed nowhere...
                 I would never have found you there.

All my labors now are pleasures.
  All my fears are tinkertoys.
You offered me the future
  With forgiveness in your voice.
I have come to believe in myself,
  And I know you believe in me as well.



INVOCATION
[by Dayna Kurtz]
Kelly Mulhollan - vocal, banjo, mandolins, harmonica, acoustic bass, pump organ, percussion;
Donna Stjerna - vocal, fiddles; Wayne Manning - bass vocal;
Cary Taylor, Susan Taylor, Danny Harlow, Judy Smith, JW - back-up vocals

Would you even know me since I’ve been away
I wake with my eyes closed and sleep through the day
But I’ll open my heart and I’ll learn how to pray….
If Mama, you let me come home

I’ve snuck into Eden in the hours before dawn
I’ve stolen the apples that dropped on your lawn
My spirit, my pride, and my innocence gone….
Please, Mama, let me come home

    Oh Mama, let me come home
    I’ve strayed far from you for too little, too long
    I know I been hard-headed, selfish and wrong…please
    Mama, let me come home

I’m shut out of heaven and decades from hell
Passed out in the shrines where the beautiful fell
I’ve burned down the silo and poisoned the well…
Please, Mama, let me come home

I made back-alley deals that were forged in your name
I was dazzled by gold and the shimmer of fame
And you knew all the time but you never complained…
Please, Mama, let me come home

I’ll do all the dishes and clean out your shed
I’ll bring you the paper and coffee in bed
I’ll tell you great stories right outta my head….
If Mama, you’ll let me come home

I’ll be a great sage or a fabulous liar
I’ll hammer a truce or wage war in your honor
Follow every spark rising up from your fire…
If Mama, you let me come home