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"WALKIN' DREAMS" CD cover
(2003)
Walkin' Dreams

Song List and Lyrics

1. A Natural Man  (a song for Josh White)
2. Shoeboy's Son (the ballad of George McJunkin)
3. An English Moment
4. Thirsty Town
5. Big Muddy
6. In The Texas Sky
(a song for Al Grierson)
7. Will Able’s Grave
8. Mr. Cherry
9.  Me And My Automobile
10. Micky’s Song
11. En La Noche
12. Walkin’ Dreams
13.
Fly Away Home
 

 NATURAL MAN (a song for Josh White)

Oh, Josh White was a natural man
Held a plug nickel in the palm of his hand
He raised it up like a glass to his eye
What he saw through the nickel made the natural man cry
Lord, lord, lord, this mornin',
Made a natural man cry

Then through the nickel a vision arose
He saw an actor in the jungle with a bone in his nose
Saw a maid in an apron with a Hollywood grin
Heard a singer at the back door - slammin' again
Lord, lord, lord,
Heard the back door slammin' again

High up on a mountain
Sat the Lord and the natural man
Oh, Josh White got the gift of song
But he never saw the promised land
He never saw the promised land
	
Oh, Josh White laid the nickel down
Put his hands in his pockets and strolled into town
He looked to the left and over to the right
But he couldn't find a place to spend his money that night
Lord, lord, lord,
Sure want to spend some money tonight

He ran to the hotel, dollar in hand
But they wouldn't take a dollar from no colored man
He said it's gettin' mighty late, mister, where can I go?
He said, play me a tune, I'll let you sleep on the floor
Lord, lord, lord,
Josh White lyin' asleep on the floor

'Way up yonder where the angels are found
Blood from his fingers stain the heavenly ground
There ain't nothin' to do but to do what you do
And do it till they roll a stone over you
Lord, lord, lord,
Don’t let ‘em roll a stone over you

SHOEBOY’S SON (the ballad of George McJunkin)

George McJunkin was Shoeboy’s son
Born to slavery in ‘51
Down the arroyo where the flash flood ran
He found some bones and the Folsom Man.

Apprentice to his blacksmith daddy
Saddled with a chocolate hide
George McJunkin was a rebel
Who taught himself to read and ride.
When the Yankee soldiers freed him
He left and never said a goodbye
Hoofin’ it hard across Texas
He caught a stray mule to ride.
As a cowboy George knew no equal
Ridin’ up the long cattle drive
Ropin’ his way into legend
And readin’ at night ‘neath the sky.
George settled down in a valley
When the echoes of slavery had gone.
Working as a white man’s foreman
On the high desert dry Cimarron.

George saved the life of a soldier
Who granted a gift in return.
The brass telescope hung proudly
With his rope and his books and his gun.
	He studied the stars in the heavens
And wondered where had the dinosaurs gone,
Learned about flowers and fossils
And the light in the mockingbird’s song.

George made a gift of his learning
And passed every bit of it down.
He played the guitar and the fiddle
And was loved as a friend in the town.
George never knew what he found there
On the Crowfoot arroyo that day
In the sand, the point of a hunter
Whom time had long hidden away.

Horse and telescope, books and gun,
George McJunkin was Shoeboy’s son.

Here is a song worth singin’
Here is a tale to be told
About a true American cowboy
A hero of pure black and gold.
In 1922 he lay dying
Among friends in the Folsom hotel
They read from his books ‘til their parting
He took to his freedom so well.

George McJunkin was Shoeboy’s son.

AN ENGLISH MOMENT

When I was a young man, a lad of nine or ten,
Late at night through the hedgerows I’d walk
 to the Ex River bend
The moon was new but the stars did shine from walls 
of Devon stone
When I was a young man I dreamed this was my home.

A thousand greens and yellows lay like quilts upon the land.
Held in place by rows of stone from ancient shepherds hands.
The jackdaws stole the rainbow as I ran the foxes down
We caught sticklebacks with jam-jar lures and cycled 
through the town.

Lapwings glide among the ghylls, heather lines the trail
Grouse are staring dumbly through the mist
 and falling hail
This was an English moment that is forever mine
I climbed the walls the Romans left behind and chased them back through time.
	When I was a young man adrift upon the Dales
I met a girl beside the bridge across the River Swale
Her forebears roamed the Cotswolds 
and held the Normans there
There was Saxon fire deep in her eyes, 
and Dog-Rose in her hair.

Sixteen generations since the brothers went to sea
Richard fought the Spanish fleet off Plymouth and Torquay
John set sail for America in a cold Southampton rain
And though it’s been four hundred years 
their blood runs in my veins.

When I was an old man I walked the long way home
With memories as yellow as a wall of Sherbourne stone.
The Old Bridge Inn at Topsham was my refuge from the air
Though the Queen once called within those walls 
I found a welcome there.
Though the Queen once called within those walls 
I found a welcome there.

THIRSTY TOWN

August ain’t no place for man nor beast along this river.
I could raise a sweat with just the thought of sittin’ down.
People get so testy in this heavy, humid weather
Where ivy leaves burn right into the ground.
Corn is at my knees and it crackles like brown paper
Gators eat each other when the water gets this low.
There ain’t no sign of rain, wells are dried up, tempers flaring
The bugs’ll have a feast tonight, I know.

Lyle sits alone down on the dock – drinkin’ whiskey
Starin’ in the mud at a rattler dying slow
Lyle never came back from the jungle South Pacific
This heat might not affect him, I don’t know.
Kenneth sprinkles water on his mother’s little garden
But oh those fillin’ station boys are restless on his mind
They’ll devise a torment and humiliation for him
While the young tomatoes wither on the vine.

How much hotter can the sun beat down
On tortured souls in this thirsty town?
Summer brings a fever there’s no sign of relief.
How much hotter can the sun beat down?
	Seven months along Miss Emily planned to go to Texas
Desperate for a man she found one more than her share.
All those magazines taught her love’s little secrets
Now the dusty morning Greyhound chokes the air.
Miss Maude is up at sunrise and she walks through the arbor
Lickin’ thin dry lips as she stares into the ground.
That crackin’ soil is home now to the only one who kissed her.
Sixty years of drought still gets her down.

The fan up in the window moves the curtains just a little.
Lying on my bed I know my sheets are soaking wet.
August ain’t no place for man nor beast along this river
The heat’ll make a beast out of me yet.

The mercury’s above a hundred-ten in the shade
I crave a sip of sweet lemonade.
Lyle wraps his head up in a wet bandana
And slithers down the back roads of South Carolina.

BIG MUDDY

Harvest time in a river town
Delta cotton hangin’ down
Buzzard soars without a sound

The house is old and the boards are rotten
All I’ve got came from cotton
Old times here are best forgotten
Along Big Muddy

Mississippi octoroon
Scans the levee afternoon
Bloodhounds bay ‘neath the harvest moon

Opelousas’ youngest daughter
Ran away but daddy caught her
She’ll inherit land and water
Along Big Muddy

Father of waters, Mother of God
Why’d you make my work so hard?
The river gives and takes away
From Louisiana every day
I’m delta-born, I’m here to stay…. Forever
Along Big Muddy
(I’m delta-born, I can’t run away from Big Muddy)

I work these fields of deadly boredom
I’d buy some shoes (teeth) but I can’t afford ‘em
I swiped two pints where the bossman stored ‘em

Lots of folks around here hurtin’
Got a cot, a kettle, and a sheet for a curtain
Things ain’t changed much, that’s for certain
Along Big Muddy
	I patch up the bossman’s leaky roof
They knock on wood in Waterproof
The levee’s only dirt, Lord, ain’t it the truth

She comes around me actin’ moody
I’ve got no cause to touch that beauty
I lower my eyes and I do my duty
Along Big Muddy

Catahoulas razorback
Shuffles ‘round my one-room shack
Ducks into the canebrake…. Rifle crack

She toys with the poor man, knows she’s got ‘im
My brother took a chance and the bossman shot him
Now I lay low along the willow bottom
Of Big Muddy

Bounty-hunters in a pickup truck
Missed an eagle…damn the luck
It’s man’s dominion – gotta make a buck

Country store across from Natchez
I buy a beer, a Hustler, and a box of matches
Behind the bait-box the sheriff scratches
Along Big Muddy

Chain gang workin’ on the right-of-way
Useless labor in the heat of day
Your children watchin’ all ‘long the way

Armadillo refugee
Snifflin’ ‘round my dungarees
Gonna taste mighty good with some black-eyed peas

In The Texas Sky (a song for Al Grierson)


Al Grierson rode to paradise on the flood near San Antone
When they found him they cremated
 that great storyteller’s bones.
His family divided bits of Al among his friends
To keep him in good company as they scattered him
to the winds.
While staring in my little vial and marveling at his dust
I neared the Canadian border, that line of mutual trust
Where travelers all despair before severe jack-booted thugs.
Too late I realized that Al resembled dangerous drugs.

Now I am quite respectable, though I hardly look the part.
Three border guards laid all my stuff out on a metal cart.
They opened up my knapsack and smiled coldly at my pain
And impounded that suspicious vial that held old Al’s remains.
“Hey, that’s my friend that’s not some drug like LSD or crack!”
They said “We’ll have to run some tests 
before we give him back.”
They took Al to the back room with a laboratory sign
And there the three decided they’d lay Al out in three lines.

Within an hour they’d set me free to get back on the train
They said the test took all the substance, all except one grain.
That bit of Al remains my dear companion more or less
For there’s more love in that one speck 
than mortal men possess.

In the Texas sky floats a little cloud
Where the spirits lie and they laugh out loud.
Al Grierson sings his story, though it takes a little time,
How he got snorted by the boys on the US-Canada line.
	
Frankie, Sam and Henry worked the border drug patrol
Protecting all of Canada from illegal goods, I’m told.
But lives change mysteriously and miracles come to pass
They broke the law too many times and lost their jobs at last.

Frankie moved to Luchenbach with wife and kids along
They thought he’d lost his bloomin’ mind 
when he took up writing songs
But they came to love the madness 
and the old bus they called home
For Frank became a gentler soul than they had ever known.

Sam once was a ladies’ man with a head of coal black hair
But one morning in the mirror he found very little there.
It was long and stringy stickin’ out beneath an old straw hat
But he found the woman of his dreams looking just like that.

Henry moved from Canada, sold everything he owned.
Mercedes, house, swimming pool, even gave away his phone.
In saffron robe and bowl you’ll find him begging on your street
With words of compassion for every stranger that he meets.

That happy grain is all I have of my departed pal
Each day I greet the artist formerly known as Al.
His love abides in this sad world in three men no one knows
Who stopped us at the borderline
Who treated us like royal swine
Until they snorted Alan David Grierson up their nose.
Until they snorted Alan David Grierson up their nose.

WILL ABLE'S GRAVE

Dawn on the streets is sullen and cold.
In one homeless night the body grows old
And hides from memories that torture the soul
In a ditch down beside the old mill..
You awake in a bed made up in a box
Of walls without doors or windows or locks
You stir among bottlecaps, garbage and rocks.
Nearby, a stranger lies still.
Nearby, a stranger lies still

Will Able knew love from a good mother's side,
But from his poor father all love was denied.
He'd beat him for nothing when Will couldn't hide
From the fear and the guilt and the shame.
To regain the love of a woman he’d planned
But the house that he built was founded on sand.
He never found faith in himself as a man
And he fell through the cracks like the rain.
He fell through the cracks like the rain.

	God laid a hand on Will Able's grave,
Lamenting a life that no mortal would save.
Deep in the night an eternal light
Illuminates Will Able's grave.

The hunger that kills gnawed at him all night.
Will Able had searched every dumpster in sight.
When sleep beat him down he crawled out of the light -
Of the sun rising gold in the east.
The spot where he lay he mistook for his own.
The proprietor's blade cut Will to the bone.
That sleep was the blessedest thing he had known.
Life never gave him such peace.
Life never gave him such peace.

We take pride in the plenty lining our shelves,
We cry at the stories the journalists tell,
And rejoice in the love that we keep to ourselves,
As we walk over Will Able's grave,
As we walk over Will Able's grave.

MR. CHERRY

Mr. Cherry - damn your soul
Did it take love to blast that hole?
Such a brave and Christian soul
To leave those children torn and cold.

In this world there walks a man
Who took four lives into his hand.
Who thought the power within him lay
To send those precious souls away.

Mr. Cherry – damn your eyes.
Did it take love to pulverize
That Sunday morning churchhouse wall?
Such evil courage in a mind so small.

Like his father he believed
That in that church the Devil breathed
In black disguise of innocent girls.
He’d cast those demons from his world.
	Mr. Cherry – damned to hell
Did it take love to live so well?
Conscious free you betrayed this town
And let poor Birmingham burn to the ground.

Brother torn from brother died
In that great war of fratricide.
Their children born to rage at night
And live as slaves, black and white.

Mr. Cherry – damn your soul
Did it take love to blast that hole?
Was it courage or Southern pride?
Was God nearby? Was he satisfied?

Mr. Cherry – damn your soul.

Me And My Automobile

I don’t know a thing about an automobile
I can crank up the motor; I can turn the wheel
So if you see a pile, and the pile won’t go
And somebody standing by the side of the road….
That’ll be me …. That’ll be me and my automobile

I called for a tow and they hauled me in
To an old grease monkey they did highly recommend
The monkey said “Man, there ain’t nothin’ to it.
A new RGB-409-62 with a rapid-trans-6 modified flatulator oughta do it.”
Well, the brand-new part made it run like new
For about 3 blocks,      till the engine blew
I called Triple-A – they towed me again
The monkey said “Man…I can’t believe it happened again!
You shoulda told me that car was a double-aught 9
And not a pre-’97 triple-aught-5
You must be outta your mind!
‘Cause every time I put an
RGB-409-62 with a rapid-trans-6 modified flatulator
in a car like yours -  It overheats the
tripe-throttle knucklehead bilge-cam
Cuttin’ off the spam-fluid coolant, of course
On top of that, your rear-view aberrator’s loose,
You’re looking stressed-out, so I suggest you get a horse!”

So I bought me a book – called “Fix It Yourself”
Rolled the car in the shade – got some tools off the shelf
	 “If your P-line’s clogged and all caked with goo
Find the Q-shaped hole – usually marked 0-892
Insert your smallest fingertip – and twist it till it hurts
And noxious fluid runs over your face in maddening little spurts
Place a left-hand Pinkle-tube – where your finger was
Until you hear a sound – might be like a whir or a buzz
I did everything it said – and crawled from under the car
There were wires and hoses and various parts 
scattered near and far
But she purred when she started – I didn’t dare thank my luck
There was smoke and flame, a grinding noise ---
And then never to feel the open road again…..
The engine blew up.

Well, I threw in the towel and said I’m just gonna walk
When a buddy said why - don’t you call up
Click and Clack on “Car Talk”?
With nothin’ left to lose – and grease in my eye
I crawled to the phone – for one last try…..
It may have been the full moon – or maybe it was fate
But they took my call – I didn’t even have to wait
I told them my problem – and all I’d been through
And they said, “You drive a what?” “You took it to who?”
“You did what?” “For three bucks you coulda had your
Little sister put the part in for you… Get a horse, man!”

CHORUS
…If you see a pile and it’s going real slow
And a horse and a wagon in the middle of  the road
That’ll be me….

MICKY’S SONG

I’ve got a cat named Micky,
Micky’s got a person named me.
Micky’s got teeth like a cougar
For chewin’ and scratchin’ on my knee.

Micky’s got a catnip buddy,
Buddy drives Micky plumb wild.
With psycho-sexual behavior
And a wide uninhibited smile.
Micky’s got a wide uninhibited smile.

Life is short when you’re a human
Cats live forever lazily.
Micky settles down upon the settee
Hey there Micky, wait for me
Hey, Micky wait for me.
	Micky takes his pleasure where he finds it
Every minute every single day.
Keepin’ down the squirrel population
And sleepin’ all the rest of it away.
Sleepin’ all the rest of it away.

Micky never tells me that he loves me
Even when I need to hear it said.
He just turns to lick and just ignores me
Or decides to sleep around my head.
He’ll decide to sleep around my head.

EN LA NOCHE

Hear the low soft whistle
From the slope of the draw.
Manuela leads the horses
Down from the mesquite stall.
Where the river is so shallow
Walls are steep and sandy
Tonight there is no border
En la noche El Rio Grande.

Manuela is watching
Cuatro niňos by the well.
It’s twenty days since Don Felipe
Gave their savings to Miguel.
They keep the goats and cows and horses
To feed a desert family.
Then Felipe crossed the border
En la noche El Rio Grande.

En la noche
Fires are burning
Children laughing
Hearts are yearning
In the village
Las Hermanas,
Light and Darkness,
Live as one.
	Javelinas are wary
When the lion sleeps the afternoon.
Little poor-wills on the roadbed
Flutter up to catch the moon.

Hear the children playing
Out beyond the cattle stall.
Manuela strings the peppers
Down the adobe wall.
In the distance rolls a wagon
Sent by El Coyote.
It disappears across the border
En la noche El Rio Grande.

Where the river is so shallow
Walls are steep and sandy.
Tonight there is no border
En la noche El Rio Grande.
Tonight there is no border
En la noche El Rio Grande.
En la noche.

WALKIN’  DREAMS

I’ve got walkin’ dreams
I’ve got walkin’ dreams
I dreamed I’m sleepin’ ‘neath a long-leaf pine
Drinkin’ from sandy springs
I’ve got walkin’ dreams

I’ve got big old hands
I’ve got big old hands
Hands for shakin’, buildin’ and lovin’
And cradlin’ ocean sands
I’ve got big old hands

All day, all night
I’m wide awake, but I’m sleepin; tight
I’m walkin’ down the Underground Railroad
Walkin’ down the Trail of Tears
Walkin’ through the Mekong Delta
Walkin’ across Normandy’s beaches
Walkin’ through electron beams
I’ve got walkin’ dreams

I’ve got a brand-new name
I’ve got a brand-new name
You can call me rich, you can call me poor
But I’ll answer just the same
I’ve got a brand-new name

I’ve got a song in mind 

I’ve got a song in mind
I know a song about a hammer and a bell
And I sing it all the time
I’ve got a song in mind
	All day, all night
I’m wide awake, but I’m sleepin; tight
I’m walkin’ through the Dust Bowl blues
Walkin’ in Mr. Gandhi’s shoes
Walkin’ over the Berlin Wall
Walkin’ over the Alamo’s walls
Walkin’ down Hadrian’s walls
Walkin’ through Jerusalem’s wall
Walkin’ through electron beams
I’ve got walkin’ dreams

I’ve got a home inside
I’ve got a home inside
To hang my hat or to rest my soul
When I wander far and wide
I’ve got a home inside

All day, all night
I’m wide awake, but I’m sleepin; tight
I’m walkin’ through the Birmingham jail
Walkin’ through Montgomery streets
Walkin’ through a Selma twilight
Walkin’ down the lost highway
Walkin’ through Cambodian fields
Walkin’ through lower Manhattan
Walkin’ through West Virginia coal mines
Walkin’ through Heartbreak Hotel
Walkin’ through electron beams
I’ve got walkin’ dreams

Free at last, free at last
Thank God almighty,
I’m free at last

FLY AWAY HOME

Quiet little schoolgirl, scuffin' her knees,
Dancin' with the doodlebugs under the trees.
Jay birds, dragonflies - buzzin' of bees...
Granny drinks her tea with the spoon still in it.
Kudzu vine grows a yard every minute.
Honeysuckle, foxgrape, one hundred degrees...
You're tearin' at my heartstrings.
I’ll fly away home.

Mama's in the garden, a ghost right beside her.
I'm goin' eye to eye with a black widow spider.
Mama's up in heaven now, I wish I could fly.
Washin' my soul in an old water basin.
Mosquito’s on my nose, a screen needs replacin'.
Daddy says he's comin' home, bye and bye.
You're tearin' at my heart strings.
I’m gonna fly away home.

Fly, oh fly away home
Fly, oh fly away home
While time remains I’ll shuck these chains
And get on down the road.
My house is on fire, I’ll fly away home.
Black water runs below the cemetery. Swampy things there are old, dark and scary. A little puff of cloud where the moon used to be. Chuck-will's-widow's callin' every night - A face like a dragon and a song like a light. A nail through the heart of a Chinaberry tree. You're tearin' at my heartstrings. I’m gonna fly away home. Down at the river splashin’ in the water Neath the watchful eye of the cotton farmer’s daughter. Daddy’s in the Philippines knockin’ on wood. Coal-loaded train I’d catch you if I could I'll ride on your belly like a mad peckerwood. Your whistle's out of tune but you...but you sound so good. You're tearin' at my heartstrings. I’ll fly away home.