Nobody knows

Nobody knows about what’s going on
With the wood and the steel, the flesh and the bone
The river keeps flowing and the grass still grows
And the spirit keeps going, but nobody knows

Poets they come and the poets they go
Politicians and preachers–they all claim to know
Words that are written and the melodies played
As the years turn their pages, they all start to fade

The ocean still moves with the moon in the sky
The grass still grows on the hillside
Got to believe in believin’
Got to believe in a dream
Freedom is ever deceiving
Never turning out to be what it seems

It’s amazing how fast our lives go by
Like a flash of lightning, like the blink of an eye
We all fall in love as we fall into life
We look for the truth on the edge of the night
Heavens turn ’round and the river still flows
How the spirit keeps going, nobody knows

Nobody Knows, Gregg Allman, Allman Brothers
(Chords here)

What’s his name again?

Yeah, it happens when the money comes:
The wild and poor get pushed aside
It happens when the money comes

Buyers come from out of state
They raise the rent and you can’t buy
Buyers come from out of state and raise the rent

“Buy low, sell high, you get rich!”
You still die
Money talks and people jump
Ask “How high?”
Low-life Donald…what’s-his-name?

And who cares?
I don’t want to know what his wife
Does or doesn’t wear
It’s a shame the people at work
Want to hear about this kind of jerk

I walk where the bottles break
And the blacktop comes on back for more
I walk where the bottles break
And the blacktop comes on back

I live where the neighbors yell
And their music comes up through the floor
I live where the neighbors yell
And their music wakes me up

Where the bottles break, John Gorka, 1991

The same thing that I want today…

Well I’m sailing away my own true love
I’m sailing away in the morning
Is there somethin’ I can send you from across the sea
From the place that I’ll be landin’

No there’s nothin’ you can send me, my own true love
There’s nothin’ I’m wishing to be ownin’
Just carry yourself back to me unspoiled
From across that lonesome ocean

Oh but I just thought you might like somethin’ fine
Made of silver, or of golden
From the mountains of Madrid
Or from the coast of Barcelona

Well if I had the stars of the darkest night
And the diamonds from the deepest ocean
I’d forsake them all for your sweet kiss
For it’s all I’m wishin’ to be ownin’

And I might be gone a long, long time
And it’s only that I’m askin’
Is there somethin’ I can send you to remember me by
To make your time more easy a-passin’

How can, how can you ask me again?
It only a-brings me sorrow
The same thing that I want today
I’ll want again tomorrow

Oh and I got a letter on a lonesome day
It was from her ship a-sailin’
Sayin’ I don’t know when I’ll be coming back again–
It depends on how I’m feelin’

Well if you my love must think that a-way
I’m sure your mind is a-roamin’
I’m sure your thoughts are not ’bout me
But with the country where you’re goin’

So take heed, take heed of the western wind
Take heed of stormy weather
And yes, there’s something you can send back to me:
Spanish boots of Spanish leather

Boots of Spanish Leather, Bob Dylan

Too many memories

I remember this town, with a girl by my side
And a love seldom found, in this day and time
And it gets melancholy, every now and again
When you let your mind go, and it drifts way back when
Now life plays its tricks, some cruel but fair
And even a fool can’t pretend they don’t care

When there’s too many memories for one heart to hold
Once a future so bright now seems so distant and cold
And the shadows grow long and your eyes look so old
When there’s too many memories for one heart to hold

There are those moments, and they just never fade
Like the look in her eyes and the way the light played
God moved in that moment, and the angels all cried
And they gave you a memory that you’ll have ’til you die
Now the lesson you learned, and you don’t dare forget
What makes you grow old is replacing hope with regret

And there’s too many memories for one heart to hold
Once a future so bright, now seems so distant and cold
And the shadows grow long, and your eyes look so old
When there’s too many memories for one heart to hold

The late Stephen Bruton, Too Many Memories
(Thanks to Mike Flynn for playing the Tom Rush cover of this last night on his great show, The Folk Sampler)

Bron Yr Aur

He says he had once wanted to be a biologist. Well, science’s loss was music’s gain.

C6 tuning: EADGBE–>CACGCE. What??!! Come on now man, give us half a chance here! There have been a few great acoustic guitarists in rock and roll, but none better IMO. Could listen to him endlessly, and indeed, have.

Bron Yr Aur, Jimmy Page.
Physical Graffiti

Rank Stranger

I wandered again to my home in the mountains
Where in youth’s early dawn I was happy and free
I looked for my friends but I never could find them
I found they were all rank strangers to me

Everybody I met seemed to be a rank stranger
No mother nor dad, not a friend could I see
They knew not my name, and I knew not their faces
I found they were all rank strangers to me

Ralph Stanley, Rank Stranger

My take:

The devil’s real

The devil ain’t a legend; the devil’s real
In the empty way he touched me, where I hardly feel
In the empty hole inside me, the nothin’ that will drive me
Down into my grave: it does not heal
Nothing is a something, and it will suck you dry
Like the whisper you can hardly hear that tells you why

They told me “you ain’t got no problems, you’re self deceived;
These seeming contradictions, well they’re make-believe”
It was then that I decided that my life was being guided
By a second rate dependence on some first class thieves
They told me I was breakin’ through, but I was breakin’ down
And by the time I learned the difference they had long left town

You know they ain’t so malicious, they ain’t mean
They’re just vaguely well intentioned with no love I’ve seen
And its the emptiness that kills you, cold comfort that will fill you
With a sense of dread that maybe things are worse than they seem
They don’t tell you nothin’ you don’t already know
They just keep holding out a promise…but they don’t let go
You know they don’t let go

Well it was hard luck and trouble–bad times two
I know I had it comin’, but I got through
It was advice that you gave me, in a dream, that saved me
You said “get a new life contract that spells out your dues”
It took good will to find it, and a clear conscience to sign it
But now I dream about the good times and it all comes true
Yeah I dream about the good times and it all comes true

The Devil’s Real, Chris Smither

I had something

I had something–it fell from me
Something strong, like a pounding drum
Like ringing bells, when I was young
I had something, then it was gone

I had something–it made me walk all night
Made me run from home, made me fight
I had something, made me feel alone
Like an orphan waiting for a home

Every footstep that I take
Completes the circle my life makes
Every living thing has ties that bind
What I lost, returns with love in time

I heard something–it called to me
And it told me I was saved
Not by God and not by works
Not by any living thing

It was a voice that I once knew
Of my daughter, or my son
Not yet born, not yet known
Another orphan waiting for a home

Every footstep that I take
Completes the circle my life makes
Every living thing has ties that bind
What I lost, returns with love in time

Lucy Kaplansky, I had something

The puppets heave rocks

A terrific cover, IMO, of this fairly unknown Bob Dylan gem, built around B and E flats, in an alternate tuning; an Alex de Grassi / Windham Hill kind of sound:

Farewell Angelina, the bells of the crown
Are being stolen by bandits, I must follow the sound
The triangle tingles, the trumpets play slow
Farewell Angelina, the sky is on fire, and I must go

There’s no need for anger, there’s no need for blame
There is nothing to prove, everything’s still the same
The table stands empty by the edge of the stream
Farewell Angelina, the sky’s changing colors, and I must leave

The jacks and the queens, they’ve forsaken the courtyard
Fifty-two gypsies now file past the guards
In the space where the deuce and the ace once ran wild
Farewell Angelina, the sky is folding, I’ll see you after a while

See the cross-eyed pirates sittin’, perched in the sun
Shooting tin cans with their sawed-off shotguns
And the corporals and neighbors, they cheer with each blast
Farewell Angelina, the sky is a tremblin’ and I must leave fast

King Kong, little elves, on the rooftops they dance
Valentino-type tangos while the makeup man’s hands
Shut the eyes of the dead, not to embarrass anyone
Farewell Angelina, the sky is embarrassed, and I must be gone

The camouflaged parrot he flutters from fear
When something he doesn’t know about suddenly appears
What cannot be imitated perfect must die
Farewell Angelina, the sky is flooding, I must go where it is dry

Machine guns are roaring, the puppets heave rocks
At misunderstood visions and the faces of clocks
Call me any name you like, I will never deny it
Farewell Angelina, the sky is erupting, I must go where it’s quiet

Bob Dylan, Farewell Angelina

Cover it

One of the really interesting things about music, IMO, is in how different musicians will cover an existing piece. This can take an infinite variety of forms, reflecting the intention and style of the covering artist(s). Some try hard to render a nearly exact reproduction, perhaps using it as a skill advancement technique, while at the other extreme only the broadest structure of a piece might be recognizable. And there is every conceivable outcome in between those endpoints.

It seems that almost any good or popular piece of music will be covered by many others, including by really famous artists. Indeed, the history of music is seemingly nothing if not an endless borrowing of styles and sounds from other artists and/or other genres/styles of music entirely. There are countless examples of this, sometimes reaching what might be called a craze. Back in the 1960s and 70s for example, a bunch of electrified British groups somehow got themselves infatuated with the acoustic music of the black Mississippi Delta bluesmen from several decades earlier. All manner of covers resulted from this, ranging from the great to the awful to the bizarre and misplaced, mostly the latter IMO.
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