Already Someplace Warm

 

 

I Want to See the Day
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I wrote this song on King's Birthday. I still believe.

You know I want to see
I want to see the day
I want to see the day when people
People are really free

You know I want to hear
I want to hear the sound
I want to hear the sound of people
Singing in harmony

I’m talking ‘bout peace like a river
Justice like a waterfall
Freedom like the sunrise
Shining down on us all

You know I’m gonna sing
You know I’m gonna sing out
You know I’m gonna sing out people
Long as I have got my song

You know that if we sing
If we sing together
If we sing together people
We’re gonna move this world along

This Train Don't Run
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

A song about time. I often recite Wendell Berry's "Mad Farmer's Liberation Manifesto" before I sing this.

Down around El Combate, on the rim of the Caribbean sea
There’s a fellow I met who lives down there
He’s someone I might want to be
A man of no single ambition, a man of no particular means
He lives on the snapper he pulls from the water
And plates of rice and beans
He says, “I rode the 5:07, I was New York to the core
Now I make a living collecting what washes up on shore
Some people tell me I’m shirking my responsibilities
But I’ve learned it’s none of my business
What somebody thinks of me

My train don’t go anywhere, it stays right here
I’ve just gone around in a circle and come back where I’ve begun
This train don’t run

He talks about shucking oysters in the same breath he talks about zen
He’s a little bit of Soren Kierkegaard
He’s a little bit of old Huck Finn
He’s a bundle of contradictions with a homespun philosophy
He says “Contradiction’s no problem, if you live it honestly
For years I rode those trains you know, I watched them come and go
I took them back and forth, they took me to and fro
But all that time, I never got closer to where I wanted to be
‘Til I was looking out the window of a train on day
And it suddenly occurred to me

My train don’t go anywhere, it still right here
It’s just gone around in a circle and come back where it’s begun
This train don’t run

Things seem to go much faster every single day
They pump all the oil out as quick as they can
So they can spill it on the bay
You split the second into a million parts
In the name of saving some time
But it seems that the faster I get things done
The more I leave behind
Stoke up the engines and open the throttles, it’s full speed ahead
But you never bother listening to the whistle that’s blowing
Somewhere inside your head
You pin your hopes on the next stop, you pin ‘em on a far off star
But all we’re ever gonna be is who we already are

This train don’t go anywhere, we’re just right here
We’ve just gone around in a circle to come back where we’ve begun
This train don’t go anywhere, this train don’t run
Our motions describe a circle to come back where we’ve begun
The train don’t run

Already Someplace Warm
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I haven't done this. Yet. A nod to Mon. Buffett, who has filled up more than one long drive in a car.

After three months of overcast skies
Listening to the weatherman telling him lies
He looked in the mirror and saw the glaze in his eyes
Knew that he was fading away
What’s the point of winter if there’s rain not snow?
He’s still got cold feet and a runny nose
There aren’t any colors when the wind blows
Everything is turning to grey

There’s a twenty-foot boat in a twelve-foot sea
That’s never been farther than Galilee
At only five knots, now you tell me
How long does it take to get warm?
There’s ice in the rigging and reefs in the sails
And channel three’s talking ‘bout a force ten gale
The winds might shift, but some things prevail
He’s already someplace warm

I guess he lost it when his car got towed
Stuck on 95 and it was pissing down snow
The tow truck had Buffet on the radio
He took that as a sign
Down at the marina they’re scratching their heads
It’s mid-February everything’s still in bed
He wants his boat launched somebody said
“Did you see the look in his eyes?”

There’s a twenty-foot boat in a twelve-foot sea
That’s never been farther than Galilee
At only five knots, now you tell me
How long does it take to get warm?
There’s ice in the rigging and reefs in the sails
And channel three’s talking ‘bout a force ten gale
The winds might shift, but some things prevail
He’s already someplace warm

Down in the islands it’s eighty degrees
The golfers wear madras down to their knees
It’s a clear blue sky and a steady breeze
But that’s half an ocean way

Some folks play in the sun and the sand
He’s wearing three sweatshirts, has socks on his hands
His feet are so numb he can barely stand
He doesn’t seem to mind
All you good people, please take note
Everybody needs some sort of boat
When your dreams set sail to keep your life afloat
Some people think you’re losing your mind

You’ve got a twenty-foot boat in a twelve-foot sea
That’s never been farther than Galilee
At only five knots, now don’t tell me
How long does it take to get warm?
There’s ice in the rigging and reefs in the sails
And channel three talking about a force ten gale
The winds might shift, but some things prevail
You’re already someplace warm
You’re already someplace warm

No Hobo's Lullaby
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

"Hobo's Lullaby" has always been one of my favorite songs. Here's the other side of the romance.

My memory takes me back again
I was just a boy of ten
I’d lie in bed and listen to the whistle moan
While out on the rails at night
Under the hard starlight
They rode on cars that rolled right on by my home
Was it a picture show, some scene from long ago
Thos hobos riding wild and free
Now it’s me that wears those clothes and I feel the same wind blow
But I just can’t find the melody

CHORUS:
This ain’t no kind of rhapsody
No words or tune can comfort me
Out on the street some young kid cries
That ain’t no hobo’s lullaby

Down in the bummer’s camp, where it was raw and damp
All of the fellas gathered round
And when an old boy died, they’d raise their cups on high
And toast a life that never got tied down
I guess things are different now, it’s not the same somehow
Pardon me if I don’t sing along
Cause the old ones die, that’s still true
But now there’s the young ones too
That never got the chance to learn the song

CHORUS

I must be getting old – these streets are wet and cold
I spend the day just looking for a bed
Now someone explain to me, just where’s the dignity
In not knowing where to lay your head
Those on the streets, they say, they like to live that way
You couldn’t change ‘em if you tried
It’s just one big romance, I’ve heard that song and dance
Buddy, it ain’t nothing but a lie

CHORUS

Not when you hear some young kid cry
Buddy, that ain’t no hobo’s lullaby

Light of the Moon
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

A song about deviance and how we pass it on to our children. Not good or bad - just different.

The story comes down through the reaches of time
Rocked by the rhythms of tides
Of all the souls who are led by fate
To sleep with the moon in their eyes
Some are found standing naked at dawn
Blinded by pale morning light
As the moon fades away, she bestows her gift
Leaving this new kind of sight
Druids and shamans, witches and fools
The misfit and malcontent
The howl of the madman, the cry of the saint
In tune with the earth’s lament

They are taken by the light of the moon, never to come back the same
Taken by the light of the moon
The kiss of God or the mark of Cain
Taken by the light of the moon

What is the cost of this heavenly gift?
What is the price one pays?
To see all the world with these new found eyes
What does the soul give away?
It’s a lonely profession, a strain on the heart
To be driven by what no one else sees
And no matter how close, you still stand apart
With a vision of what might be
It’s an awfully long road, a suffering time
A cup that you’d like to pass by
And just when you’re safe, and sleep finally comes
You’re awakened by you own cries

To be taken by the light of the moon, never to come back the same
Taken by the light of the moon
The kiss of God or the mark of Cain
Taken by the light of the moon

Wandering the hallways late one night
I came to my boy’s bed
The curtains pulled back for a whisper of breeze
Let the full moon shine down on his head
I looked down on that sleeping face
And wondered where my path lay
Do I draw the curtain? Do I stand back?
Do I let the moon have her way?
Do I lead him down an easier path?
Do I shield the light from his eyes?
Or do I give him up to the gift that she brings
As she sails through the midnight sky?

To be taken by the light of the moon, never to come back the same
Taken by the light of the moon
The kiss of God or the mark of Cain
Taken by the light of the moon

Daddy Played the Phonograph
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

A musical autobiography. For you, Dad

My mom got out piano from her parents
It took up half the living room floor
My piano teacher came on Tuesday
I hid when he rang the door
My brother had a trumpet that he gave me
When he switched over to the baritone
I played it in the high school band at half-time
In the last uniform I ever owned
And now I make a living from my music
When I see how it all happened, I just laughed
‘Cause my mom played the piano, my brother played the horn
And daddy played the phonograph

On Sundays after church he played Beethoven
Handel, Bach and Haydn and the rest
My dad said, “Son, there’s just two kinds of Mozart.
Better and best.”
On weeknights when he pulled into the driveway
Johnny Hodges and the Duke would play
Louis and Ella sang Porgy and Bess
And there was Basie and Lady Day.
I didn’t know the names of what I heard then,
But knowing names, it isn’t even half.
“Cause all that music’s in me, all the stuff I heard
When daddy played the phonograph.

If you want to know the secret of music
I think that I can give you a clue
It’s not enough to know how to play
You’ve got to know how to listen too

The other week I stopped to see my parents
I paused before I knocked upon the door
“Cause the string section was coming through the window
And the timpani rattled the floor
Now there’s compact discs and graphic equalizers
To make every note so crystal clear
I know there’s no denying the marvels of science
But it’s not art ‘til it gets inside the ear
And all those music living here inside me
The stuff that makes me cry and laugh
Is something I’d be missing, I had never listened
When daddy played the phonograph.

Dead End Job
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I was walking across a mall parking lot in Mobile, AL when I met a kid on the back stoop of a McDonalds. We talked for awhile. Here's to meaningful work and the service economy. Don't you get trapped.

Every night this week I’ve scrubbed these floors
Turned off these lights and locked these doors
There’s a lot of stuff that I ignore
Like what I do this for
I make sixty more bucks overtime
In dreams at night I stand in line
It all runs together, I can’t find
What’s theirs and what is mine
I look at what’s become of me
A pawn in some economy
Almost gone at twenty three
Working in a dead end job
Working in a dead end job

I have nothing planned and nothing saved
My future’s stopped by microwaves
Styrofoam containers make my grave
I know they’ll bury me
People look at me like I’m not there
They talk to me with vacant stares
Long as they get served, they don’t care
They just think I’m dumb
But I’m not stupid, I’m not dumb
I’ve just gone a little numb
So I don’t dream of what’s to come
Working at a dead end job

No need to wake me and tell me this real
I’m doing all right, as long as I don’t feel.

Every single day I’m hanging on
The thread is bare, my vision’s gone
Something in me wonders just how long
But it goes on and on
I will work this job until I die
My boss will come and say goodbye
I could not have been a nicer guy
But I didn’t do a thing
I’m still here, my heart still throbs
But I am just some poor dumb slob
Watching as my life gets robbed
Working at a dead end job
Working at a dead end job

Handful of Flowers
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
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Sometimes it works. Written at Sundance - for David Kranes.

I’ve got some money in my pocket
Here’s what I’m gonna do
I’m gonna buy me a handful of flowers
And I’m gonna give ‘em to you
I have no illusions, I know your heart is sore
But I’m just lookin’ for a little help
To get my foot inside your door

I think a handful of flowers might do
To get me next to you
I think a handful flowers might show us
Which way we should go
I think handful of flowers’ the key
To get you to open up your heart to me
There ain’t no tellin’ what a handful of flowers might do

I know a guy who sells them from the back of a pickup truck
He might have just what I need if I have any luck
I won’t let him sell me roses
They don’t mean what I want to say
It’s just a handful of daisies that’ll tell you
I love you every day.

They can’t say I’m sorry
They can’t make amends
But they might stop your heart for a minute
So we can start again…

Forty Years From Now
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
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One of the hardest things in the world, keeping it togegther.

In the evening after supper, you can find them there
Sitting on the porch swing, taking in the evening air
And the swing rocks back and fro, in a rhythm soft and slow
Like a dance they both learned forty years ago

See them rockin’ easy, just as easy as can be
Side by side together, such a simple mystery
Do you think that if we asked them, they could tell us how
So we could rock together forty years from now

How do you think they met? Where did they go?
When did they first kiss? Was the romance fast or slow?
And where do you think they were when they first made love?
And how can they sit together, fitting like a hand in glove?

I bet there’s times they argued, times they disagreed
Times that each has turned away from what the other needs
And though they’re sittin’ there like troubles just a million miles away
I bet that they have been through what we’re going through today

Now I know I have hurt you, ‘cause something’s hurt in me
And to get through what we’re into seems like too much misery
And I guess I’m just romantic, but I’ve got to find out how
That we can rock together, forty years from now

So Many Years
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

My grandmother, Cleo Harley, lived 102 years. I taped her talking one day when she was 94. I barely changed a thing.

The hand trembles slightly as it pulls upon the drawer
She reaches for the photographs it holds
She says, "You take them now. I've only saved a few
Your father won't keep them, they're just all brown and old"
The son of her son says, "No, you hold them for a while."
He laughs a little, smiles a nervous smile
She says, "Oh I don't know, I've already lived too long
Won't someone take them now, before I'm gone."

"So many years, so many things forgotten
I could write a book with all I have inside
But the pain from all these memories made me brush them all aside
But I've survived, I've survived"

"My grandfather built the house, just south of Spartansburg
It's made of red brick, it's standing there today
My grandmother used to tell me, when they moved to Preble County
How her father stripped the trees, so she could find her way
Howard used to visit me on Sundays in his buggy
My father hounded Howard. Howard was a Democrat
'Til mother cornered father and said, 'You leave that boy alone!'
And that was the end of that."

"Your grandfather was a doctor, you never got to meet him
He died so young and let me all alone
Everybody told me so after he was gone
They said he was the best man they had ever known
Your father's brother George was a venturesome boy
He was on the Hornet in the navy, in the war
He was in a car on his way back to the base…
I'm sorry… I can't tell you more."

The voice trails off, until it's just a whisper,
"It's not easy living all alone
But I've always mixed with people, I've always had my friends
Your mother's made me welcome in her home."
She bows her head, she holds it in her hands
Her grandson reaches towards her, but then the moment's gone
She says, "Look outside the window, the trees have lost their leaves
I can feel it, winter's coming on."

Dead Cat Blues
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

Based on a real incident. My dog did talk to me once.

I was feeling low down, like nobody cared at all
Nobody give me the time of day, nobody returned my calls
There's no point in going on, this living ain't no use
I am just a white boy, but I can sing the blues
So I took my dog outside for a walk around the block
I did not know when I turned the corner, I'd be in for such a shock
A cat lying there in the middle of the road
His eyes bulging out his head
My dog looked at him, and then he looked at me
He said, "That cat is dead.

It could be worse. You could be that cat
You think he had an easy life
Someone kept him sleek and fat
Now he's lying there in the middle of the road
Sprawled out on his back
You say 'Nine lives', I say 'Huh'
That cat's not comin' back."

Broken hearted, shattered dreams, fractured ego too
My best friend called me on the telephone,
Said, "What am I to do?
My darlin' baby left me on the morning train
I can't go on livin', my hears' so filled with pain."
I said, "I have just the thing to help you lose your blues
When you get off the telephone, put on your jogging shoes.
Trot right over to my house, give that door a knock
I got something to show you in a walk around the block."

Everybody's got their troubles, everybody's got the blues
Everybody's got a monkey on their back
They just can't seem to lose
I do not deal in morbidity, you know it's no my style
But I get the blues, I think of that cat
And it makes me want to smile…

Thank You Mr. Ryan
by David Roth, Maythelight Music, ASCAP

David Roth, songwriter extraordinaire, penned this beauty. I sing this for all the teachers I work with. I try to remember that in school or out of school, the important things often happen outside of the structure of the curriculum.

The first time that I heard that song is a time I well remember
It takes me back some twenty years to Mr. Ryan's classroom
The time he brought his old guitar in and sang his favorite songs to us
The single one that I remember most was "All My Trials"
Something in his simple singing touched my very sixth grade soul
The harmonies he taught us are the ones that I still know today
The verse about the tree of life was wondrous to a twelve year old
So many times these twenty years, I've wished that I could say

Thank you for the music Mr. Ryan
The simple gift you gave that day is one I've treasured dearly
I'll always see you sitting up there, singing "All My Trials"
You'll never know how much it meant to me
You'll never know how much it meant to me

I went home to see my folks last spring in the town that I grew up in
The three of us were sitting in the kitchen having coffee
When I mentioned Mr. Ryan, how I wondered what'd become of him
She said she heard that he was still working at the school
I grabbed my coat and stepped outside, retracing old familiar routes
The shortcut through the playground, the echo down the hallway
And there he was in room eleven, cleaning off the blackboard
I cleared my throat and took a breath and stepped back into time

We sat and talked for quite a while, I don't think that he remembered me
I told him of my work, and where I'd been, and what I'd done
And finally he leaned back and said, "It's amazing that you've come today
Just last night my mother and I were talking until one
She asked me was I happy. I said yes, I love my teaching
Though I'm sad I never married, I never fathered children
'Oh yes,' she said, 'Oh yes, my son, you've father several hundred.'
I look across the cluttered desk today and here you come."

Thank you for the visit my dear child
The simple gift you give today is one I'll treasure always
I'll always see you sitting here, just filling in these twenty years
You'll never know how much it's meant to me
You'll never know how much it's meant to me

Zucchinis!
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

A cautionary tale.

It was late the other night when you turned off all the lights
And you finally put your weary bones to bed
In your bed you lay and you look back on the day
When suddenly a thought pops in your head
Things are growing the garden and
They might be getting large and
You meant to check 'em but thin it slipped your mind
When you wake up in the morning
You know you had your warning
You look out the window to find

Zucchinis! Growing by the score, ever larger ever more
Every time you turn around you find 'em there
Zucchinis! Growing like the plague, some are bigger than your leg
Sneaking up the back porch stair
Zucchinis! You give 'em to your friends until the friendship ends
When your friends are gone you don't know what to do
When you look at all you've lost, you pray for early frost
Afraid that they will finally get you

Last winter so inspired, you sat beside your fire
And planned a garden that met all your needs
You read the catalog, threw on another log
And carelessly you ordered all those seeds
In the spring what do you do? You plant a hill or two
You're excited as they propagate and flower
But the summer rolls along, and you sing a different song
'Cause you're picking hose suckers by the hour

Zucchinis! Always more and never less, they are growing to excess
Their behavior is abnormal, gross and lewd
Zucchinis! Don't they know enough's enough?
I don't eve like the stuff
I can't imagine why some people call it food
Zucchinis! As I watch them spawn and grow
Their purpose finally shows
It's an awful deed which I must now relate
Their existence is the plan of an evil alien
With intentions to invade and dominate

I can see it in your eyes, some of you are quite surprised
Some of you think I’m off my gourd
But I'm telling you right now, this is serious and how
A situation that we really can't ignore
Just consider, when they've grown, we bring them in our homes
On the windowsills they sit and gather dust
Then we take them from the shelves and we swallow them ourselves
Bodysnatchers! They become a part of us!

Zucchinis! Sautéed, baked and fried, in casseroles and pies
Turning into pickles and to bread
Zucchinis! It seems there's no relief
Their victory means our grief
As they slyly work their way into our heads
Zucchinis! We've got to organize, we've got to sever ties
From these monsters that disguise themselves as squash
If you're selling, I ain't buying', if you're cooking, I ain't tryin'
I am sorry but the whole thing doesn't wash

How the Story Ends
©Bill Harley, All rights reserved
Reprints with permission only

I wrote this song after singing with Pete Seeger. The second verse is a story of his, and so, too, is the sentiment. Of course, I agree.

When you read a book you read it line by line
The story comes to life as the tale unwinds
And you make a guess how the ending goes
But you turn the page ‘cause you don’t know

You don’t know if it will come out right
You are afraid it won’t but still you think it might
So you turn the page and hope the good guys win
But you don’t know how the story ends

Water swirled over a young girl’s head
They watched in horror as if she were dead
She went under and left no doubt
‘Till two hands reached in and they pulled her out

You don’t know if it will come out right
You are afraid it won’t but still you think it might
So you turn the page and hope the good guys win
But you don’t know how the story ends

When I was young and people asked of me
I had no answer to what I’d be
Now I have watched all this time go by
And still I stumble when I reply

‘Cause I don’t know if it will come out right
I’m afraid it won’t but still I think it might
So I turn the page and do the best I can
But I don’t know how the story ends

The world turns ‘round day by day
Darkness leads our dreams astray
Some say they know and they place their bets
But the ending isn’t written yet

We don’t know if it will come out right
We’re afraid it won’t but we think it might
So we turn the page and do the best we can
But we don’t know how the story ends

So we turn the page and do the best we can
But we don’t know how the story ends