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

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