It Ain’t Easy to Get to Heaven (a demo)

     In preparation for my someday trip to New Orleans, I’m reading “Empire of Sin: A story of sex, jazz, murder and the battle of Modern New Orleans.”

    It covers the years 1890 to 1920.
    The Rev. J. Chandler Gregg, one of the leading black ministers of the day, is quoted as saying: “It is no easy matter to go to heaven by way of New Orleans.”
    I wish more songs would fall in my lap like this one. This song was written about as fast as I could put down the book and grab my guitar.


The above is just me and my guitar.

It Ain’t Easy to Get to Heaven

It ain’t easy to get to heaven
if you got through New Orleans.
It ain’t easy to get to heaven
If you go through New Orleans
I may not get to heaven
Cause you know the flesh is weak

It ain’t easy to make a living
if you’re out on the street
It ain’t easy to make a living
if you’re out on the street
That’s why they built them fine houses
Down in New Orleans

They say those houses, in New Oreleans
are houses of ill repute
They say those houses, in New Oreleans
are houses of ill repute
I say that just depends
on your point of view

They say don’t drink, don’t do drugs
and whatever you do
stay way from them girls.
In other words don’t have no fun.
I say what they don’t know
won’t do ‘em no harm

Somebody’s Gotta Pay (a demo)

     The origin and title came directly from being knee deep in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew and wondering who was going pay for all this mess. Not just clearing and cleaning and repairing our place, but the whole island.

     Then as I was writing it, it became something more than just about the storm. For you people of the Book, you might sense the Creation story, Eden, Noah and Job.

     Not too worry, though, this isn’t some sappy sentimental song of faith and happiness (have you noticed it really doesn’t work that way?), but rather a foreboding warning of those dark nights when you feel a very real abandonment.

     The search for Why is ongoing. Probably the most asked question in Heaven!


The above is just me and my guitar.


Somebody’s Gotta Pay


Somebody’s gotta pay
Somebody’s gotta pay
Somebody’s gotta pay
for all this mess
that’s been made.


The lights are out
A dark mind roams
Then there comes a howl
that sears your soul
It’s not for nothing
we must atone.




Well there was a woman
And there was a man
And they took a notion
to see for themselves
Now we all must pay
but they were led astray.


Well it did rain
But it was the wind
That drove the waves
Where they’d never been
And what was left was made
to start again.


Now you can cry
About your fate
But it won’t change a thing
(cause someone must pay)
Cause it’s too late.


To believe in him
You need know
There’ll come a time
When he’ll just let go
Who would have prophesized
We’d be so easily sold.



It’s Always Monday (a demo)

This little ditty uses Monday as a metaphor for when life doesn’t seem to be working out just right. And in this case, all bad things seem to happen on Monday.

It also speaks to that particular day of the week that hardly anyone wants to see arrive. It’s just a bad day all around.

It’s the reason why “it’s never Sunday long enough,” is my favorite line, as it sums up so well almost everyone’s feelings.


It’s Always Monday

It’s always Monday when you’re coming down
It’s always Monday when the boss comes ‘round
It’s always Monday when you’re too tired to move
It’s always Monday when you’ve been acting a fool.
It’s always Monday when your car won’t start
It’s always Monday when things fall apart

It’s always Monday when you need to go fishing
And it’s always Monday when the clock stops ticking
It’s always Monday when you see the crack of dawn
It’s always Monday when you want to go home
It’s always Monday when she lays down the law
It’s always Monday when you need a back door

And Tuesday is Monday in disguise
And Wednesday is like thorn in your side
And Thursday like watching paint dry

It’s never Friday when you’re ready to run
Never Saturday when you need some sun
And it’s never Sunday long enough

Blood Red Moon (a demo)

This song came to me soon after my brother Frank died.

Though he hadn’t been in good health, his passing seemed as sudden as it was heartbreaking.

As the younger brother, so much of who I am came from him. Melissa commented that his eulogy, written and delivered by his friend Mark Blakey, could be read as mine when the time comes.

I have written before about how songs seem to be given to the songwriter. This was surely the case here.

It is a lamentation in the best tradition of the blues, evoking the red moon often associated with the end times in Christian literature.

Soon after writing this, we experienced a Red Moon or total lunar eclipse of a super moon (Sept. 28, 2015). It is also referred to in layman terms and religious circles as a Blood Moon. For my song, it became a Blood Red Moon.


The above is just me and my guitar.

 Blood Red Moon

Oh mama, I don’t know how to pray
Oh mama, I don’t know how to pray
But it sure feels like
I ought to be down on my knees

Oh mama, you can’t hide your tears
Oh mama, you can’t hide your tears
Cause everybody knows,
your son’s done gone ahead

Oh mama, why’d he have to go
Oh mama why did he have to go
Lord, seems like
the good never grow old


Oh mama, what’s around the bend
Oh mama, what’s up around the bend
where the river flows
when the moon turns blood red
where the river flows
when the moon turns blood red

When I Go to Alabama (a demo)
(formerly You’re in New Orleans)

    Where do songs come from?
The ideas and particularly the lines that jump out and grab at the listener often baffle the writer as to their origins. I’ve written before about “catching” songs as they float by.  This is a metaphor used by many songwriters.

    I find the mysterious part of creativity as fascinating as I do terrifying: What if I can’t do it again? This is why I like looking back at the birth of my songs. It helps me remember how to get ready to catch the next one.   

“You’re in New Orleans” was such a gift during unsettling times.

Here’s a list of things that probably played some part in this song’s birth.
In no particular order in the fall of 2016:
— Hurricane Matthew:
— Reading Moby Dick on my iPhone as I waited patiently in line at the makeshift post office.
— U. S. Highway 80 ends on Tybee. The other end is in San Diego. > Studying a map of U.S. Highway 80 fantasizing a road trip. >
    Noticing where New Orleans is in relationship to 80. >Wondering if I was ever going to go to New Orleans again. (I went for a brief stay when I was probably 25.)
    Plus, let’s face it, you can’t live through a hurricane and not think of New Orleans.
— Thanksgiving week we entertained out-of-town guests in a cottage not our own as we waited for Everything to get Fixed.
        For some reason, the phrase “when I go to Alabama I think about Mississippi cause you’re in New Orleans” popped into my mind.  I wrote that down.

    I ran that phrase by someone who sort of got it but didn’t see any potential.
    However, Melissa immediately recognized it as the beginning of a story.
    So then, it was  just a matter of finding ways to sneak off and compose.
    I wrote this song on my iPhone during that Thanksgiving week, six weeks after Matthew, while entertaining out-of-town-guests. Proving if you are prepared to catch it, a song will find you any where.

For example: Where does this come from?
                 and still stop in Slidell
                 and see your uncle Ahab
                 and get you some Spodiodi wine.

     By looking up the distance from Birmingham to New Orleans, I  got the line: “If I leave Birmingham sometime  in the a.m., I could be there by suppertime…” and still have time for what?
     Map shows Slidell on the way. Great name. Have to use it if for no other reasons than Lucinda Williams uses it a lot.…the whale hunter in Moby Dick is named Ahab. And what would “Uncle” Ahab have you might want, that rhymes with “supper time?” Wine. What kind of wine would Uncle Ahab from Slidell have?  

    My first thought was: muscadine wine.  But that was too “soft.”  I needed some cajun juice: Spodiodi wine.
    Spodiodi: I have never had any that I remember. That qualifier is probably said a lot about the port wine and bourbon drink. But I do remember the old ditty: “drinking wine spodiodi, drinking wine.”

If you didn’t follow all that, don’t worry.  It’s not easy trying to explain the inexplicable.


The above is my and my guitar

You’re in New Orleans

When I go to Alabama
Think about Mississippi
Cause you’re in New Orleans
Maybe I ought to come and see you
cause it don’t look like
you’re ever gonna come see me

You had to go to Louisiana
Cause you said your momma said
she was feeling poorly
But after two long years
it sure seems like to me
your mamma ought to be feeling better

If I leave Birmingham
sometime in the “a m”
I could make it there by supper time
and still stop in Slidell
and see your uncle Ahab
and get you some Spodiodi wine

The cresent city that was built
below sea level
is stronger than a hurricane.
but every one that blows up,
up from the south
they say it’s gonna be the last.

If I could just get myself
down to where you live
I sure wouldn’t worry about that.
Cause my biggest worry,
is that you’ll be in no hurry
To get back to where we was at.

When I go to Alabama
think about Mississippi
Cause you’re in New Orleans
and it really ain’t that far,
if you are driving in your car
and don’t have to take the train.

But given I’m in Carolina
and haven’t lost my mind yet
I think maybe it is too far
But next time in Atlanta
I’ll head to Alabama
cause Louisiana’s right around the corner.


Why Do The Dead Keep Dying (a demo)

It is rare that a person reaches my age and hasn’t experienced grief at some level and probably more than once. I have experienced it, and as writer I have observed it.

That has to be the genesis for “Why Do The Dead Keeping Dying,”  in wondering myself where this song came from.

That and the obsessive fascination we have for zombies. Half the TV shows are about zombies – or at least it seems that way — though I have never been a fan of any.

This is not a zombie song, but it could be, I guess.

Part of grief is realizing what a pull the dead have on us. Some more than others.

The afterlife is a great mystery. What form do we assume? What is heaven? Do we get to observe life as it continues on earth? (That to me would be a form of hell.) 

To discount the afterlife is to live cynically. You know: this is all an accident and when you die, your dead.

But then, why do the dead keep dying?


The above is just me and my guitar.


Why Do the Dead Keep Dying

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
Why can’t they just stay gone
Why would you want to crawl back
Into this world a woe

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
Why do they need to know
Who still grieves for them
And just won’t let go

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
How could they be so blind
As to think the resurrected
Get a free pass this time

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
What is it that has been lost
Is it so very precious
As was the blood it costs.

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
What is it they don’t know
That wasn’t explained last time
they knocked on heaven’s door.

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
Oh, they’ll never say why
It is as they enjoy the pain
That comes from playing with fire.

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
Why can’t they leave us alone
Don’t they know we’re all destined
to walk the same lonely road

I went to ask my mother
She just smiled and said
It ain’t some great mystery
Why no one wants to stay in hell.

Why Do the Dead Keep Dying
Why can’t they leave me alone
I want to sleep with an angle
Don’t want to sleep with no ghost(s),