Old Road Blues

by Ray Woodruff

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credits

released May 1, 2009

Guitar and Vocal: Ray Woodruff

All Music and Lyrics by Ray Woodruff with the exception of "John Barleycorn" and "Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her," both of which are traditional.

Recorded at Honeysuckle Road on a Zoom H2.

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Track Name: One Dime
Bought myself a Stetson hat, a nice three quarter coat
I untie a horse to fly, a red scarf for my throat
Some spurs, some boots, some drinks, some hoots, a spread at supper time
When tomorrow comes, well, I won't have a dime.

Ride down the Rock Island line, the expressman pops the safe
Then I'm by the water side to see the light of fate
I'll be drenched down with salvation, hell, I'll lay it on the line
Till tomorrow comes and I don't have a dime

Knees tight to the saddle, I catch up to the train
I'll holding my nuts and keeping my guts and riding off in the rain
And back in town I'll show you to all of those lights you never knew
Till I rub one dime together like a fool.

Folding up the deck again and I'll cash in the chips
Just enough to buy a round, I'll only drink in sips
Till she's like some Mona Lisa with a face a bit equine
And tomorrow comes and I don't have a dime

Knees tight to the saddle, I catch up to the train
I'll holding my nuts and keeping my guts and riding off in the rain
And back in town I'll show you to all of those lights you never knew
Till I rub one dime together like a fool.

Much too much too much to gain and far too much to lose
Deep in the saddle again and nearing the caboose
I'll be rich tomorrow day but I'll be poor tomorrow night
And wondering why I never have a dime.

Knees tight to the saddle, I catch up to the train
I'll holding my nuts and keeping my guts and riding off in the rain
And back in town I'll show you to all of those lights you never knew
Till I rub one dime together like a fool.
Track Name: Brokenback Fool
Castle Garden from the green I signed on thin and lean
To head west for my stew
Lucky Omaha heard Sacramento call
And rode an iron horse through
Ladders through the plains hammers through the rains
Treated like a mindless old mule
reeling with the heat frostbit with the sleet
I’ll be your broken back fool.

Thomas Clark Durant still rolling in his junta
Can pave the plains with his stocks
I’ll gandy dance by day for a hell on wheels to lay
To pound the nail through the clock
Coughing in the smoke, an artist with three strokes
A 15 pound Nelson my tool.
John Henry on a pile of 4000 spikes a mile
I’ll be your broken back fool.
John Henry full of bile with 12000 strokes a mile
I’ll be your broken back fool.
Track Name: Lorraine's Blues
Oh Lorraine, on the hood of a Monty Carlo
Oh Lorraine, tight in skirt and sloe
Feel your fingers dampen flex down to your toes

Oh Lorraine drive out to the boardwalk
Oh Lorraine taut and cavalier
The ocean whispers but you don’t want to hear

All the days claw at you like kind words
All the days crawl to keep you kind
But they can’t hear that voice behind your eyes

Oh Lorraine let the engine grumble
Oh Lorraine let the engine cry
And watch this rear view town fade out of sight
Track Name: John Barleycorn
There was three men came out of the west,
Their fortunes for to try,
And these three men made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn should die.
They ploughed, they sowed, they harrowed him in,
Throwed clods upon his head,
And these three man made a solemn vow,
John Barleycorn was dead.

Then they let him lie for a very long time
Till the rain from heaven did fall,
Then little Sir John sprung up his head,
And soon amazed them all.
They let him stand till midsummer
Till he looked both pale and wan,
And little Sir John he growed a long beard
And so became a man.

They hired men with the scythes so sharp
To cut him off at the knee,
They rolled him and tied him by the waist,
And served him most barbarously.
They hired men with the sharp pitchforks
Who pricked him to the heart,
And the loader he served him worse than that,
For he bound him to the cart.

They wheeled him round and round the field
Till they came unto a barn,
And there they made a solemn mow
of poor John Barleycorn.
They hired men with the crab-tree sticks
To cut him skin from bone,
And the miller he served him worse than that,
For he ground him between two stones.

Here's little Sir John in a nut-brown bowl,
And brandy in a glass;
And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
Proved the stronger man at last.
And the huntsman he can't hunt the fox,
Nor so loudly blow his horn,
And the tinker he can't mend kettles or pots
Without a little of Barleycorn.
Track Name: Old River Blues
If that mean old river keeps flowing
Swollen bank by the rain and the snow
If I keep on rolling home
Winter's coming and it won't take long.
If that mean old river keeps flowing
Swollen bank by the rain and the snow
If I keep on rolling home
Well, there won't be no home to go.

Drinking flat foot in Tennessee
Saw her dancing by the willow tree
Just hoping she might see me
Counting time by the riverside
And I'd set my life to rights
Find a job and tuck in tight
Push the mornings back all night
In my house by the banks so wide

If that mean old river keeps flowing
Swollen bank by the rain and the snow
If I keep on rolling home
Winter's coming and it won't take long.
If that mean old river keeps flowing
Swollen bank by the rain and the snow
If I keep on rolling home
Well, there won't be no home to go.

In St. Louis barring chords
To make a dime cuz I can't find more.
In a cheap dive room and board
Dreaming of her half the night
I'll pack my bag up right tight
When I'm finished and I'll drive all night
It's a hard, cold rain outside
In the beam of the one headlight.

If that mean old river keeps flowing
Swollen bank by the rain and the snow
If I keep on rolling home
Winter's coming and it won't take long.
If that mean old river keeps flowing
Swollen bank by the rain and the snow
If I keep on rolling home
Well, there won't be no home to go.
Track Name: Holding Back The Dawn
Dime store tries and shallow sighs
Dusty road that ends in sun
Another town to feed the eyes
Another bar to feed the numb
Roads to you are long but true
And the waiting’s all but gone
Night will shade all roads that stray
I’ll be holding back the dawn.

Angels of the wood and rail
Cut the dusty swirls with speed
Blur the sound to sagebrush brown
As that whistle it pleads concrete
Roads to you are long but true
And the waiting’s all but gone
Night will shade all roads that stray
I’ll be holding back the dawn.

Midnight blues are nothing new
Just a life that’s held in pawn
Don’t count the ways, don’t count the days
I’ll be there before the dawn

Burning all to find your way
Across the iron bridge through town
With the wind and with the sway
To your gray stray Irish hound
Roads to you are long but true
And the waiting's all but gone
Night will shade all roads that stray
I’ll be holding back the dawn.
Track Name: Would The Ocean Have Changed Her Command
Just let the abandoned grass
Fade till tomorrows light
I’ve been gone too long it seems
And I see myself up here tight in the wind like a kite
I tried hard to waste this time
I drank in the Prodigal’s room
Just follow the embers
Out to the endless tide and gloom

So let me face up this time
And stand with your heart in my hand
If I had pled innocent
Played a fool in the dock would the ocean have changed her commands?

Well, I’d had my hands tied before
But never so goddamn tight
They said I was wanted for…
Said it could never be me, I was with you on that night.
Your father came to the bars
Whispered I’d be hanging soon
He gave them gold for my sacred word
To step on the planks and ride any wind far from you.

So let me face up this time
And stand with your heart in my hand
If I had pled innocent
Played a fool in the dock would the ocean have changed her commands?

Did I sometimes fade in
Like some morning machine
As you watched the skyline
Your face to the wind as it dried out your wet memories?
Did hills fade to shadows
As you closed our book?
I wished you more than this
Wished you garlands and bands and bells pealing loud donnybrook

All this and diamonds
All this ripped from that space in your heart
When I took the easy path
My face to the wind and my course pinned with maps, stars and charts

So let me face up this time
And stand with your heart in my hand
If I had pled innocent
Played a fool in the dock would the ocean have changed her commands?
Track Name: The Saint Street Five and Dime
Every time that you held that look
You were taken down easy in the second book
And my whole damn plot folds to silence in the night.

So I packed I stuff and I upped my sails
Bowling Brook was hazy so I hit that trail
The lamp posts sputtered as I took off for the light

I found a wall and I backed right up
What's the use in drinking but the harder stuff
You don't have to bother looking for the light stone blind

One takes it easy another's too quick
One clutches his diamond and another his dick
This time I won't slow till the holding out is good and fine

Don't need the money, don't need the show
When it comes too easy it's time to go
And I'll be waiting for tomorrow by the Saint Street five and dime.

Come the moon, I'll take your bricks
Carve you out a home from paper and sticks
Witch willow for the walls and myrtle for the roof and beams

Dress us up in reeds and twine
Weave a tight cover for this love of mine
And press my damn watch with your rose in the bible seams

Don't need the money, don't need the show
When it comes too easy it's time to go
And I'll be waiting for tomorrow by the Saint Street five and dime.

Every time that you held that look
I took you down easy in the second book
And my whole damn plot fell to silence in the night.
Track Name: Autumn Rain
Just a bagman with a heavy load
Just here waiting on a train
So what the hell if I don't fit the mold
A Stagger Lee in autumn rain

Just a ring of light and a ring of gold
With a pinch of loss and gain
Turn up the collar to break the cold
And keep to still in autumn rain

A buck ain't much when a hundred's owed
But that's the offer just the same
Fingers crossed and a good tight hold
Melt to the seat in autumn rain

I want to give us all that we deserve
But we're stuck here if I play the game
I'll ignore the call and throw the curve
And make a break through autumn rain

Watch the Green Line light slow and swerve
Light the tracks and platform stains
Clutch the bag and clutch the fraying nerve
Shoot the moon through autumn rain
Track Name: Leave Her Johnny, Leave Her
O the times are hard and the wages low, Leave her, Johnny, leave her!
I think it's time for us to go! An' it's time for us to leave her!

O I thought I heard the old man say, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
Tomorrow ye will get your pay! An' it's time for us to leave her!

Leave her, Johnny, leave her!
Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
For the voyage is done an' the winds don't blow,
An' it's time for us to leave her!

It's Liverpool Pat with his tarpaulin hat, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
It's Yankee John the packet rat. An' it's time for us to leave her!

It's rotten beef an' weev'ly bread, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
It's pump or drown the old man said. An' it's time for us to leave her!

CHORUS

The wind was foul an' the sea ran high, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
She shipped it green an' none went by. An' it's time for us to leave her!

We'd be better off in a nice clean jail, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
With all night in an' plenty o' ale! An' it's time for us to leave her!

CHORUS

The ship won't steer, or stay, or wear, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
An' so us shellbacks learnt to swear. An' it's time for us to leave her!

I hate to sail on this rotten tub, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
No grog allowed and rotten grub! An' it's time for us to leave her!

CHORUS

The old man shouts, the pumps stand by, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
Oh, we can never suck her dry. An' it's time for us to leave her!

We swear by rote for want o' more, Oh, leave her, Johnny, leave her!
But now we're through so we'll go on shore. An' it's time for us to leave her!

CHORUS

O the times are hard and the wages low, Leave her, Johnny, leave her!
I think it's time for us to go! An' it's time for us to leave her!
Track Name: The Stone
Well my father's a merchant with a house on the Brae
And he was off for his dealings on my sixteenth birthday
So I followed the road out through the gold fields
And I there met a man so tall and well-heeled.
John Smith was his name and he'd come from the sea
With his piercing blue eyes and dressed in his finery
But he'd tired of those winds and he'd tired of those sails
He'd come home to the islands to hide from the gales
So we talked through the night of the places he'd seen
And his voice conjured visions in this maid of sixteen
Of Santa Cruz ports and Iberian seas
He said all Italy's statues can't compare to me.

Well, my father James Gordon was a rich enough man
To rule like a lord over half this island
When my John did court me I and I took his hand
Through the hole in the stone that was our wedding band

When my father came home and he found me gone
Well, his rage it did smolder his pride it was stung
there was much to be gained through a marriage to me
To some son of a lawyer or some fleet in the sea
But he bide his time and he listened for word
Of who my dear John was no body had heard
Till a swag from the pier with a grudge to avenge
Recognized John Gow from the dread ship Revenge.
John took to the sea the very next day
His ship ran aground on the calf of Eday
They took him to London and found him guilty
Of a great many murders and dread piracy.

Well, my father James Gordon was a rich enough man
To rule like a lord over half this island
When my John did court me and I took his hand
Through the hole in the stone that was our band

I made my way south with a promise to break
I crossed over the Firth with my life in my wake.
The islands and highlands they faded from view
Those gray towns of England I made my way through
On the banks of the Themes, there he waited for me
In his tar and his feathers and hung from his tree
They say he had taken a great while to die
I looked at his gray face and I thought I knew why
I watched as his hand swung on over my head
All blackened and burnt and duller than lead
I reached out my hand he swung away like a bell
and touched his cold fingers and said my farewell:

“As I took your hand through the stone on that night
With you as my lover, with me as your wife
This touch of our flesh, may it grant us release
To find us both us lonely, to find us both peace.”

Well, my father James Gordon was a rich enough man
To rule like a lord over half this island
When my John did court me and I took his hand
Through the hole in the stone that was our wedding band
Track Name: Wait Out The Rains
Should I wait too long
Wake in the night just to leave at dawn
Bottle and save your face
Map every lane that your fingers trace

I can wait for the princess
Like I wait out the rains

Every candle Flame
Freezes a bedroom mise en scene
Just a glance for the memory
As I trip at the door on your Mary Janes

I can wait for the princess
Like I wait out the rains

If I wait too long
Wake in the night just to leave at dawn
Bottle and save your name
Pulling the door gently to its frame

I can wait for the princess
Like I wait out the rains

Through all the wishing the wailing the fighting the flailing
I can’t keep this up tonight.