Slaid Cleaves: a songwriter who just keeps getting better

Performing Songwriter is one of the best sites for discovering songwriters or reading about  new projects of well-known artists.

Lydia Hutchinson, the publisher and editor, does a fantastic job of highlighting the famous as well as the lesser known.  My only complaint is she doesn’t highlight enough! (I want more.)

Her site always includes great video clips, as well.  Check out her feature on Slaid Cleaves, a very gifted songwriter I first stumbled upon when someone suggested I cover his “Horseshoe Lounge.”


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Jason Isbell moves into rarified territory of great songwriters with “Southeastern”

If there is a songwriter out there creating as many great songs as Jason Isbell has written in the past couple of years, I don’t know him or her.

When a songwriter has two songs as strong as “Codeine” and “Alabama Pines” (the Americana Music Awards Song of the year 2012) on the same CD (2011’s Here We Rest), you stop and take notice. And recall that this young songwriter earlier penned “Dress Blues,” the powerful song that puts a lump in any red-blooded American’s throat.
Then you remember that this is the same cat who wrote “Decoration Day” (his initial Drive-by Truckers’ contribution) and it all starts to make sense.

Jason Isbell's Southeastern

Jason Isbell’s Southeastern

But nothing prepares you for Southeastern.
You would have to be a persnickety critic determined to find one song you could pan out of the 12 to even begin to look for a weakness. And not sure you could find one and be honest.
But then you would miss the incredible number of great songs, starting with the first: “Cover Me Up.” It alone is worth the CD. But you could also say that about “Elephant” — the best song about someone you know who is dying I can recall. Or “Live Oak” or “Songs She Sang in the Shower.”
Isbell has said that much of his songwriting comes from listening to people. It’s that tapping into others’ stories, rather than the navel gazing of so many other songwriters, that sets Isbell apart and gives such power to his songs. His songs are real stories from real people.

Isbell has taken a giant step with Southeastern, his first truly solo CD. Soon, the ever-present description, “formerly of the Drive-by Truckers,” will simply be a footnote.



If there’s one thing I can’t stand
it’s this bar and this cover band
trying to fake their way through ‘Castles Made of Sand.’
That’s one thing I can’t stand.

If there’s one thing I can’t take
it’s the sound that a woman makes
about five seconds after her heart begins to break.
That’s one thing I can’t take.

She should be home by now but she ain’t.
I should’ve gone by now but I can’t.
One of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine.
One of my friends has taken her in and given her Codeine.

Them eyes was big as stars
when I saw you behind the bar.
I guess that’s the way to keep on smilin’ where you are.
But girl them eyes was big as stars.

It sounds funny when you say my name.
It’s like you’re chewing on a foreign thing
and you won’t get to sleep ’till dawn if it don’t rain.
It sounds so funny when you say my name.

You oughta come home tonight but you won’t.
I wish we knew how to fight but we don’t.
(chorus2: …her friends…)

Darlin’ I’m not one to judge
but if I was then I’d say you don’t look so good.
Got no answers of my own
but with you gone, this place looks bigger than it should.

If there’s two things that I hate
it’s having to cook and trying to date.
Busting ass all day to play ‘hurry up and wait.’
That’s a few things that I hate.

If I call when I ain’t drunk
This old boat’ll still be sunk
(chorus 3…my friends…)


Cover Me Up

A heart on the run
Keeps a hand on a gun
It can’t trust 1anyone

I was so sure
What I needed was more
Tried to shoot out the sun

In days when we raged
We flew off the page
Such damage was done

But I made it through
‘Cause somebody knew
I was meant for 1someone

So girl leave your boots by the bed/we ain’t leavin’ this room
Til someone needs medical help or the magnolias bloom
It’s cold in this house and I ain’t goin’ out to chop wood
So cover me up and know you’re enough to use me for good

Put your faith to the test
When I tore off your dress
In Richmond all high

I sobered up
And I swore that stuff
Forever this time

In the old lover’s scene
I thought it’d be me
Who helped him get home

But home was dream
One that I’d never seen
Til you came along

So girl hang your dress up to dry/we ain’t leavin’ this room
Til Percy Priest breaks open wide and the river runs through
Carries this house on the stones like a piece of drift wood
Cover me up and know you’re enough to use me for good

(repeat chorus 1)



She said Andy you’re better than your past,
winked at me and drained her glass,
cross-legged on the barstool, like nobody sits anymore.

She said Andy you’re taking me home,
but I knew she planned to sleep alone.
I’d carry her to bed and sweep up the hair from the floor


If I had fucked her before she got sick
I’d never hear the end of it
she don’t have the spirit for that now
We drink these drinks and laugh out loud,
bitch about the weekend crowd,
and try to ignore the elephant somehow

She said Andy you crack me up,
Seagrams in a coffee cup,
sharecropper eyes and her hair almost all gone.
When she was drunk she made cancer jokes,
she made up her own doctor’s notes,
surrounded by her family, I saw that she was dying alone.


I’d sing her classic country songs
and she’d get high and sing along.
She don’t have much voice to sing with now
We’d burn these joints in effegy,
cry about what we used to be,
and try to ignore the elephant somehow.

I buried her a thousand times,
giving up my place in line,
but I don’t give a damn about that now
There’s one thing that’s real clear to me,
no one dies with dignity.
We just try to ignore the elephant somehow.
We just try to ignore the elephant somehow.
We just try to ignore the elephant somehow.


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The Edge of America

All songs © Thomas Oliver

The Edge of America

at the end of the road
at the edge of America
i’m watching the tide roll in
under a setting sun.
that ol’ seventy-eight
is a mighty long highway
running past cotton fields
old men will have to bale.

and when the morning comes
I might just be right here
watching the sun come up
o’er the edge of America.
run as far as I can run
to the edge of America.

the hi-top bar and grill
is right down the road
and there you just might meet
your next true love.
and while i’m waiting
i’ll drink a few more beers
try to wash away the taste
of a lover’s tears.

and when the morning comes
I might just be right here
wondering where my love is
at the edge of America.
run as far as I can run
to the edge of America.

she always loved the beach
and she would like it here
not much going on
just some fishing off the pier.
they got low country boil
Proud Mary blaring
they got places you can stay
til you get your bearing.

and when the morning comes
I might just be right here
waiting for the coast to clear.
at the edge of America
run as far as I can run
to the edge of America.

waiting for the coast to clear
at the edge of America,
wondering where my love is
at the edge of America,
watching the sun come up
o’er the edge of America.
America. America. America.


You Got Me

you got fleas in your bed, the roof’s got a leak
your car won’t start, and it sure does seem
like it’s all falling apart, but you got me

your momma called, aint’ feeling too well
sister’s done left her, she can go to hell
and it’s all your fault, but you got me

I can’t get rid of fleas fix your roof or car
never liked your sister bless her tiny black heart
but I love you
and I’ll love you til fleas don’t bite
roofs never leak familes don’t fight
yes I’ll love you

your ex dropped by said he can’t pay the note
we’re gonna lose the house and your fishing boat
cause he got wiped out, but you got me

the weatherman says the rain’s gonna fall
the wind’s gonna blow maybe all night long
and we all could drown, but you got me

I can’t build you a house afford a boat
never liked your husband makes my blood run cold
but I love you
and I’ll love you til there’s no more rain
winds don’t blow ever again
yes I’ll love you

the preacher man said we’re heading for hell
for living in sin and not giving
a damn about anything, but you got me

evening news said we’re all going broke
never should have bought those million dollar homes
it’s a day of reckoning, but you got me

I don’t go to church but i believe in hell
and I’ve been to heaven under your sweet spell
yes I love you
and I’ll love you til we all own homes
and nobody feels like they’re home alone
yes I’ll love you

(repeat 1st 1/2 of V1)


The Girl with the Accidental Memory

she can tell you all the presidents and the first hundred digits of pi
she can write haiku and even make it rhyme
she loves to dress in lace and drink two-buck Chuck wine
she has an accidental memory and a pyromaniac’s eye

she threw my dad a five-dollar funeral when he died
we used the money we collected to get wasted and high
she said he would have liked it so many came from every walk of life
but he would’ve been disappointed none of them were his ex-wives

she said dad wasn’t much of a lover but a really nice guy
though she never imagined ever being be any man’s bride
but every time she left him she couldn’t stand to see him cry
so they upped and eloped and took a shot at the divine

she can tell you all the presidents and the first hundred digits of pi
she said living is hard when you don’t have a place to hide
she said aerodynamics can’t explain the fear of flying
she had an accidental memory and a pyromaniac’s eye

she took me to the Ponce and she showed me around
she said Atlanta was burning and it wouldn’t be rebuilt this time
she said the girls work hard but man they’re sure sick and tired
then she lit a cigarette and set the whole damn town on fire

I followed the blinking light in a busted Chevrolet taillight
it took me all the way to Savannah and then I turned right
I ended up on Tybee on the beach with high tide at first light
with the girl with an accidental memory and fire in her eyes
with the girl with an accidental memory and fire in her eyes

she can tell you all the presidents and the first hundred digits of pi


Old Men

old men, they say, don’t sleep well in strange beds
when closing your eyes is an act of faith.
they say, old men, don’t sleep well in strange beds
and I’m getting older every day

I need you, to take away my fears
I need you, to help me forgive
I need the shelter of your warm embrace
yeah, I need to lie where you lay

they say, things are, getting better out there
but it seems, hard times, are here to stay.
cause heads, they win, tails we lose
yeah somehow the rules have changed.


they say, old men, don’t sleep well in strange beds
when closing your eyes is an act of faith.
it’s time, I came in, from out of the cold
I need to lie where you lay.

(tag): I need to lie where you lay


Hotter than the 4th of July

she came down from Tennessee
by way of new orleans
she loved her whiskey and she loved her men
and she loved me

she didn’t care where you came from
whoyour daddy was or your mom
she’d own a man with just one look
leave him smiling before sun up

hotter than the fourth of july
it’s gonna burn but can’t help but try
cause her kind come along only once in a while

hotter than the fourth of july
it’s gonna burn but don’t be shy
cause with love time ain’t always on our side

(repeat V1)

she took me on then she let me go
said love was hard on us all
and something about rodeo
and a lonestar cowboy

(repeat V1)


A Place to Call Home

she poured coffee in my cup
said how do you like it hon
I said a little bit of cream and something sweet
she said Georgia was her home
I said Atlanta, she said no
a little further up the road, where you can breathe

she said I don’t get back there much
it’s so hard to stay in touch
and I never was their favorite one
but I hear momma’s doing well
and my daddy, not too bad
aww, they never would believe the place I’ve seen

she said the road is for traveling on
but the soul needs a place to call 1 home
and when you’ve been gone as long as I’ve roamed
some things are easier said than 1done

she said i don’t have many regrets
and at least I can fend for myself
and I thank God I remember how to laugh
I know I’m living on borrowed time
always a bridesmaid never a bride
aww but honey I could’ve made you smile given half a chance

(chorus)(repeat 2nd ½ V1)


One Day at a Time

just like the whiskey, she tore me up
she did me in, with that thing called loved
now one’s too many, and 10 ain’t enough

got an empty bed, in a house grown large
she use to drop by but now she don’t
now I can stay up late as I want …


she told me I was the love of her life
even when she was saying goodbye
now i pretend she’s coming back
and the hair of the dog never bites back

the morning looks like what it did last night
just one more day to stay out of sight
feel like I’m wasting away one day at a time

my wants are always a matter of life and death
if the drinking don’t kill me, it’ll be the cigarettes
I’ll get over her someday but not just yet

(2nd chorus):

bloodshot eyes and wobbly knees
cotton mouth and tar-stained teeth
long hot showers with plenty of steam
might clean up the smell but don’t touch the pain

the morning looks like what it did last night
just another day to stay out of sight
feel like I’m wasting away one day at a time

(repeat 1st chorus)

the morning looks like what it did last night
just another day to stay out of sight
feel like I’m wasting away one day at a time
feel like I’m wasting away one day at a time.


Atlanta’s Burning

yeah I left that city
couldn’t run fast enough
my soul was twisted
and my brain had turned to mush.
so I came to the coast
knowing nothing about tides,
I was born to love you
You were born to say goodbye

run that race, say your prayers
no time for mercy
ain’t no train, no greyhounds running
Atlanta’s still burning.

I walked to the beach,
the tide was going out
there’re tall ships on the horizon,
and the sand was icy white.
how can this be wrong,
even if you can’t forgive?
there’s full moon over Tybee,
think i just might stay here


yeah I left that city
couldn’t run fast enough
skyscrapers were falling
walking dead wherever you looked
so I came to the coast
knowing nothing about tides,
I was born to love you
You were born to say goodbye

(Chorus: “no time for justice”)
Atlanta’s still burning
Atlanta’s burning.


The Message

I didn’t need to listen to the rest of the message
when you said you were sorry before you said why
it wasn’t that I didn’t see it coming
it’s just that I don’t know what to do now.
it wasn’t that I didn’t see it coming
it’s just that I don’t know what to do now

we all get a little crazy sometimes
lord knows I been there myself
but when you say it’s no one’s fault
sure seems like it’s something else
feels like it’s something else

well I’m right here where you found me
and you can drop by any time
you always said I look better in the dark
so when you come in, don’t turn on the light.
you said I look better in the dark
so if you come in, just pretend you’re blind

they say what doesn’t kill makes you stronger
but I’d rather jump in the middle of the ocean
than hear your voice again on that damn recording

I didn’t need to listen to the rest of the message
when you said you were sorry before you said why
before you said why (x3)


Last Child

no more secrets
no place to hide
doesn’t matter
you’re too old to cry

last child at home
last child to know
last child

read your bible
say your prayers
don’t get caught listening
at the top of the stairs

they’re not fighting, just disagree
the question is the bottle half full
or half empty

telephone rings
middle of the night
you cross your heart
and hope to die

brother goes to college
sisters went to work
just a few more years
and you’ll be sitting on top of the world

daddy died from thirst
momma survived
God only knows
how i got out of there alive

last child, last child
last child


Ballad of Tybee Island

welcome to tybee, we’re glad you’re here
we got plenty of wine and lots beer
we got a beach, that turns into an ocean.
we can ink you up or save your soul
marry you off, play you some rock and roll
just make sure you keep your options em open
and remember:
this ain’t Hilton Head or Myrtle beach
and Savannah’s back across Lazerreto Creek
this is tybee we’re a little strange
we don’t like a whole lot of change
so leave it like was when you came

we’re a tourist town with a shrimper’s soul
we’re glad you came but don’t stay long
think of us as family and you’re the in- laws
we got this love hate thing for visitors
we love their money but hate cleaning up after them
and sometimes it seems like a lost cause
no paula dean ain’t the only one who can cook
she’s just a big ol’ blonde who won’t ever hush up, y’all


those are marshes out there in case you didn’t know
it’s where the salt water ebbs and flows
and some say that’s where life em began.
we got fishing, kayaking and dolphin tours
you can sunbath or walk in the surf
or build your castles in the sand.
just be careful of the local police
cuz we got a jail and they’re the one with the keys


we’ll love parades and throwing festivals
we think paradise is one big carnival
and we love every jimmy buffet em song.
we got more bars than we got churches
we even got one that turns into the other
and we all pray to meet our Maker with our flip flops on
so if you want to be pirate or a wench
come to Tybee where everyone’s Johnny Depp


we haven’t seen a hurricane in years
and we ain’t seen Miley since she was here
but Disney left us a church we turned into a chapel.
so if you want to get married on an island
we got the steeple if you got the diamond
or you save your money and buy some fishing tackle
but if y’all say I do and then you don’t
don’t expect a refund, this ain’t walmart.

(Chorus x2)

The Life You Save Might Be Your Own

All Songs © Thomas Oliver 

Traveling Kind

she was a looker
a tall glass of spring water
the kind of lady a boy dreams about and men desire
but she had a weakness
for men already taken
so she was always saying goodbye

and she’d said: so long now
I’ve already left
You knew I was the traveling kind
first time we met.
you take care now and watch you step
cause you never know
who you might meet next.

I was a free man
not her normal one-night stand
so she didn’t know what to think when I didn’t leave.
I said I don’t care
who you’ve been with or where
she just smiled and said you’re cute but a little naive


there’ve been other women
but none could hold a candle
to that traveling lady and the thirst she left behind.
some time in the night
no matter who i’m holding tight
I know come morning i’ll be saying goodbye

and i’ll say:


Where You Are

cellphones, emails
we stay in touch
anyway we can.
when i’m gone
you’re in town
when I come back
you’re on your way out
i’m not so sure how it got this way
all I know is I miss you every day

where you are is where I ought to be
oh no this life we’re leading
ain’t all its cracked up to be.
where you are is right where I need to be
cause this missing you is killing me

we come together
every chance we get
living separate lives
with separate careers.
two garages
miles apart
two sets of kids
play in separate yards
this life ain’t exactly what we planned
our day will come but until then

(chorus 2) :

and where you are I always want to be
and the good lord willing one day I won’t have to leave
cause where you are is right where I need to be
this missing you is killing me
yeah, this missing you is killing me.


The Life You Save Might Be Your Own

it’s just too hard, or too late
she says I can’t, or won’t change
there’s nothing left, to debate
she’s on her way.
I loved the way, we were
when she was less sure
and I was more than she’d hoped for
as she used to say.

now she’s waving goodbye
like she might be back in a while
but we both know better than that
she’s way too strong.

someone’s left and someone’s gone
doesn’t matter who was right or wrong
when love ends and you’re all alone
the life you save (just) might be your own

I was never that tough
always needed someone’s touch
and I was always in a rush.
to jump back in.
Being alone ain’t that bad
being lonely (now) that’s something else
been there and I ain’t doing that
not ever again.

now i’m waving goodbye
knowing it’s for the last time
what she’s looking for hope she finds
and it won’t take long



Now Like Then 
(written with J. David Leonard)

I remember every word
You said to me back then
How your love for me had changed
And even though it was the end, you said
We could always be friends
Even now, it still sounds strange

Now like then
My tears begin to fall
Remembering when
We thought we had it all
You threw away
The life that we had planned
The only thing that I have now
Is then

I was getting in my car
In the Wal-mart parking lot
When I heard you call my name
I looked around and saw you there
And simply said hello
Then the feelings rose and I had to turn away

(1st chorus):
(2nd chorus):
Now like then
I want to be the one
I can’t understand
Just how it came undone
You threw away
The life that we had planned
The only thing that I have now
Is then


Ms. Heartache

here she’s comes you better head for cover
she ain’t nothing but a world of trouble
ms. heartache’s on the prowl again
you better watch your step son
she’s looking for another man
(chorus) (a):
she’ll love you like you never been loved before
you’ll just keep coming back for more
but one day she’ll say you through
you’ll find out what heartache can do
(chorus) (b)
it’ll hurt so bad you can’t get out of bed
it’ll hurt so much you’ll wish you were dead
and then one day when you can finally stand
you see her with another man

(Verse 1):

I know what i’m talking about
she chewed me up and then spit me out
Ms. Heartache left me with a smile and a kiss
i’ve been licking me wounds
and hiding out ever since

(chorus): (a):
(repeat Verse 1)


 Then I Remember

days are bad, nights are worse
I just can’t seem to work, late enough
when i’m home all by myself
something in every room reminds me you’ve left

like the photograph, of us at the beach
walking in the ocean, up to our knees
you hair is blowing, in that summer breeze
we were so in love, it’s hard to believe

then I remember I can’t forget
cause remembering is what I do best
then I remember what I know too well
no matter how long you’ve been gone I ain’t over you yet

there’s hardly anything I can do
that doesn’t remind me, of me and you
i’ll be driving and i’ll hear some song
it’ll take me back to a time when nothing was wrong



Low-down, Mean Dirty Blue

well i’m just a man who tries to do right
always get home before daylight
and I love my baby as often as I can
but sometimes things don’t work out like I planned.

my baby said why do you treat me so bad
I said I didn’t know I did that
I thought I was your loving gentleman
she said lord help me, what you don’t understand

it’s just the blues, honey, it’s just the blues honey
it’s just those low-down, mean, dirty blues


landlord said you’re late again
I said i’m doing the best I can
he said yeah but it ain’t good enough
I said yeah but grandmama said you can’t get blood for a turnip


I saw those lights flashing in my rear view mirror
I said to myself, thomas, you shouldn’t be here
and that cop he seemed to agree
and he gave a ride downtown in his backseat

my lady came to the city jail
said i’m here to go your bail
but you gotta promise to straighten out
I said, honey, you took the words right out of my mouth.



Can’t Break a Broken Heart

not long after they married
she knew something was wrong
he’d rather stay out drinking
than to be with her at home
get out while you can
her family and friends
told her, it wasn’t her fault
but she worried, it would break his heart

you can’t end what didn’t start
you can’t leave a home that never was
you can’t tear up what’s been torn apart
you can’t break a broken heart


so, she tried to love him
out of the bottle he’d crawled inside
it almost cost her her soul
still she paid one helluva price
not long after she left
she heard he ended it
and she blamed herself for his loss
but of course it wasn’t her fault



Audience of One

you said i could
even when they said don’t try.
you said just sing your songs
and let the world go on by.
you said they sound good to me,
i’ll be your audience of one
maybe some day they’ll hear
what i’ve heard all along.

so this song’s for you
even though the others are too.
when all is said and done
you’re my audience of one.

now it don’t look so hard
not where we’ve come from.
that’s the way it always is
when you’ve come this far.
I hope I never forget
being lonely and lost
and how much it meant
when I first heard your applause.


 Stolen Kisses

you’d think by now i’d know better
than to let my heart get in the way
you think a man my age would have learned
not to go around tempting fate

cause the heart’s a strange and funny thing
it seems to have a mind all its own
and just when you think it’s done with hurting
it’ll remind you that you’re never too old

and i’m working on another broken heart
and this time, it’ll be, just the same
stolen kisses in dimly-lit places
followed by an old familiar stream of tears

Now I should never, be left alone
cause my heart tells me things I don’t need to know
like this minute there’s someone waiting for you
but you’ll have to break some promises to go



Man Enough

don’t remember when I learned it
men ain’t supposed to cry
don’t remember where I heard it
men don’t run and hide
men are supposed to be strong
talk straight, walk tall
and they never ever give up
well I guess I ain’t man enough

someone forgot to tell me
love changes all the rules
and if you follow where your heart leads
well, it’s bound to get bruised
no they never said
you’ll wish you were dead
then we’ll see what you think you’re made of
well I guess I ain’t man enough

things aren’t always as they appear
I know that now, wish I’d known then

so many things I was told
turned out not to be the case
like when you said I was your world
and no man could take my place
now I can’t hold these tears
can’t tell my heart how to feel
never knew love would hurt so much
well I guess I ain’t man enough


Tell Me the Stories of Jesus

tell me the stories of Jesus
about how he saved all mankind
tell me the stories of Jesus
I need a little love in my life

1. tell me how he made the lame leap
how he raised the dead from their sleep
about how he stopped that woman’s bleeding
and about how he got lazarus breathing.


2. tell me how he made the blind see
about how he cured those with leprosy
tell me about the boy and those fish
and about how he freed the oppressed, oh yeah

tell me how he loved the children
washed the feet of those who loved him
tell me about the two at emmaus
and about how he walks with us.
3. tell me how he hung on that cross
about how he suffered the cost
on the third day he would live again
tell me that story again and again

we all need a little love in our lives
a-amen, a-amen.


Finally Over Losing My Mind

All songs © Thomas Oliver

Finally Over Losing My Mind

I didn’t need to read the note she left
I’d already seen the handwriting on the wall
i’d had a old-time feeling, she was leaving
but that didn’t cushion the blow or break the fall

but I don’t drink any more like the well was running dry
and I dont’ sleep for days at a time
and I don’t walk those floors, talking to myself
yeah, i’m finally over losing my mind

now I never imagined giving up so much
when she walked out and left me on my own
still had my friends, my job, my dog and my truck
but just like the wind, they done up and gone.


now when they stop and ask, how’s it going
I tell them, one day at a time goes by slow
it’s easier to breathe under water than to watch those bridges burn
but they say pretty soon i’ll be good to go.



Holding On 

sitting at home all by myself
staring at your photograph
my friends say it’s time I moved on.
but they didn’t love you like i did
can’t imagine what i’m doing here
in the dark, trying to hold on.

holding on to memories
even though they might kill me
i’m holding on, holding on
i’m holding on to you.

friends are right I need a new life
problem is, you’re still my wife
but where you’ve gone and for how long heaven only knows.
some folks I guess were meant to roam
others like me, we just stay at home
and do our best, to hold on.


sometimes I can’t help but fantasize
what it’d be like when you realize
just where it is you belong and with whom.
I pray every night and day
that you’ll come back and i’ll hear you say
thank God, one of us was holding on.



A Little More Reminding

I need a little more reminding
Of what we’re doing here, honey
So if you’ve got the time dear
Show me again.
I need a little more reminding
Of what brought me here, baby
So if you don’t mind dear
Don’t make me beg

Well the world’s gone crazy, again
But it always comes down to a woman and man
Well, I’m him and you’re her
Come on baby let’s shut out the world

I need a little more reminding
Of what really matters
So forgive my whining,
Just show me again.


I need a little more reminding
Of what binds us together
So don’t wait for a sign dear
Show me again.
I need a little more reminding
Of what song we’re singing
So if you’ve got the time, dear
Just hum it again

Well we’ve both loved and both lost
we know exactly what love cost
Well I’m ready to ante up again
Come on baby deal me in



You Can Tell Me Anything

you can’t tell me much, about drinking
cause i’ve closed down one too many bars
and i’ve seen those blue lights a flashing
in the rear view mirror in my car.

you can’t tell me much, about hurting
cause i’ve hurt more people than I can count
and i’ve got my own scars we ain’t talking about
cause you really don’t want to know where they’re from

but you can tell my everything about love
and you can tell me anything and I’ll listen
you can tell me everything about you
and when you’re finished
tell me again.

folks can’t tell me much, about anything
cause i’ve spent my whole life telling them
and I know it ain’t right, to be so hard-headed
but that’s just the way I am.

(chorus x 2):


What’ll It Take

you’re always looking over your shoulder
at a past you can’t hide.
whenever I say I love you
you get that look in your eyes.
it says you been hurt one time too many
you’re not falling again.
for any more fast talking man with a line
you’re not giving in

you’re not giving us
a chance at love
cause your heart might break
so please tell me, what’ll it take.

you say you need a little more time
before you trust again.
I know exactly what you mean
cause i’ve felt the same.
you see you aren’t the only one
whose been hurt by love.
the only difference it seems to me
is i’m not giving up

i’m not giving up
on a chance at love
even though my heart might break
so please tell me, what’ll it take
you’re going to have to get used to this
i’m not going away.
I’ll send you flowers write sweet love letters
I call you every day.
I swear by all that I hold holy
over time who’s to say
that broken hearts can’t be mended
and stay that way

(2nd chorus):


A Girl Like You

what’s  girl like you doing in a place like this, this  late
what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this, this  late
don’t  you know better than to come in here looking that 1way
it’s almost closing time and you know what they say

I been in this place since the sun went down yester1day
i’ve had one too many beers but I chased some blues away
I  know this place can be a fool’s paradise
and before I say what i’m 5thinking, I oughta think  twice

are you the kind my mamma told me to avoid
she said girls like you come on easy but leave real hard
and what’s left behind ain’t never the same again
if mamma saw me sitting here with you she’d say i’d lost my head

(instrumental. Step up a key)

sometimes we pick ‘em and sometimes they pick us
and most times it don’t matter except when it does
like when you’re lonely and anyone will do
but then again not just anyone is someone like you.

what’s girl like you doing in a place like this, this late
what’s a girl like you doing in a place like this, this late
it’s closing time and everyone’s heading home
I should know better but i’d really hate to leave alone.

(TAG)what’s girl like you doing in a place like this, this late

Living in Love

you weren’t the first but you’ll be the last
no more losing at love for this man
I found the one I was meant to find
and now i’m living in love all the time

I once bragged no woman could keep me long
I might love her for a while then i’d be gone
I thought love was a game everyone played
until you came along and set me straight


i’ll admit there were a few who left me first
but it didn’t hurt half as bad as i’d heard
I know I wouldn’t feel the same if you left
i’m pretty sure i’d die a thousand deaths



Hearts Along a One-Track Mind

I know this may sound strange
considering where we’ve been
but lately it feels like it did way back when.
now all i can think about
is when i’ll see you again
and if you feel the same as you once did.

like when our hearts raced along a one-track mind
then we just might stay up talking all night
go get some breakfast around noon
doing what only lovers do.

so please don’t laugh when I ask
but why don’t we go on a date
and have some dinner at your favorite place.
later we could talk
over a cup of coffee
i’d like to hear what you have to say.


it feels like we falling
feels like we falling
feels like we falling
in love all over again.



A Bigger Fool Than Me

if there’s a bigger fool than me
i’d be his biggest fan
and ask him for his autograph
i’d ask to shake his hand.
i’d ask him how he does it
when he breaks his lover’s heart
and then expects to walk right back
and make a brand new start.


a bigger fool than me might not be that easy to find
i’ve searched all over for someone as crazy, or twice as blind
or someone who never knew all the heartache he’s caused
someone just like me, he wouldn’t see
he’s the biggest fool of all.


a bigger fool than me might explain
how he gets through the night
when all i can think about is you
and wondering if you’ll all right,
and if you might’ve found someone new
who’ll love you better than me
and won’t make as many mistakes
as any fool could see.



Just Say I Love You

little girl of mine came for some advice
said that man of hers was making a mess of her life
seemed he couldn’t settle down and she was having her doubts
wanted me to tell her what to tell him so he’d straighten out.

you could say my heart breaks every time you leave
or you could say i wish sometimes you’d think of me
or you could i’ve leaving and it serves you right, you fool
or you can say: i love you

little man of mine said Dad we need to talk
women in my life sooner or later take off
finally found one i can’t live without
so tell me what to tell her, so she’ll stick around.

you could say i’ll work hard and buy you everything
or you could say i promise to treat you just like a queen
or you could say i swear i’ll always be true
or you can say: i love you

now it may sound like i think i know everything
but that’s not exactly the way my life’s been
i’ve lost more than one love in my day
so if i’ve learned anything it’s what not to say.

cuz you can say i’m sorry just so many times
or you can say nothing’s wrong and stand by those lies
or you can pretend you got nothing left to lose
or you can say, i love you
or you can say, i love you.
just say, i love you.


A New Star
(a carol)

there’s a star, in the sky, some say a new one
and people all over the earth are taking notice
and three men are going to walk across the desert
cause they say it’s time for rejoicing

the angels in heaven are signing
and the saints are all clapping their hands
cause that star is hanging over Jordan
above a little town called Bethlehem

the three men, found a child, some say a king
they knelt down and thanked God for his son
then they walked all the way back across that desert
guided by a light that shone clearly as the sun.


there’s a star, in the sky, some say a new one
and it’s still shining, for us, both day and night
and people all over the earth, well they can see it
and at this time of year it’s especially bright.


















Jonathan Byrd is the real deal

Jonathan Byrd flies under too many radars for reasons that are beyond me.  That the taste masters of folk and Americana revere him is testament to the fact that they let the music speak for itself, irrespective of pop charts and record labels.

He is the true traveling troubadour, eking out a living on the road that he seems to thrive off.

And the North Carolinian ventures far and wide, from the Yukon to Switzerland, traveling with fellow musicians in vehicles too small, delayed trains and planes that are eagerly met by music lovers, who ferry him wherever.  He carries a guitar, wears the same caved-in straw hat and worn out boots, while lugging a suitcase full of CDs.

Jonathan Byrd

Jonathan Byrd

If you friend him on Facebook, you will receive the double treat of reading his travelogues which are in the best tradition of the traveling artist, who writes on the many places and people he visits and comes to know as only a traveling minstrel can.

Like many singer songwriters before him, Jonathan grew up in a religious household, with his preacher father and piano playing mother.  His father lost his mind, according to his son, became a philandering drunk who eventually recovered.   Jonathan’s “Father’s Day” song on his “Cackalack” CD does what so many of his songs do: renders a real hurt into a  healing without a hint of maudlin sentimentality.  In other words, he ain’t sappy.

He spent a tour of duty with the Navy.  He played in rock bands. He discovered old-timey music at a fiddler’s convention and it changed his life.  Here was real music.  No gimmicks.  Down to the bone.  Not trying to impress anyone, except those who needed warning that this was a No Bullshit zone.

Check him out.  He’s the real deal.    As one reviewer wrote: “Some people write good songs, Byrd writes phenomenal ones.”


Here’s one of his early songs that garnered him some serious attention:

The Ballad of Larry by Jonathan Byrd

Larry is a veteran, I seen him at the store
A six pack of malt liquor- it’s the Prozac of the poor
A can o’ chili and a can o’ beans and a pack of cigarettes
Four cheap cigars- he writes a check
He climbs into his van, it’s a blue Econoline
They’re both on their last legs, if looks are any sign
There’s a flag on the bumper and, just to the right
A bald eagle with a nail file says, “it’s time to fight.”

(chorus):You think you’ve got nothing to give
Look around how people live
Loneliness is poverty
Say, “hey,” say, “hey,” to me.

I had an old piano, it just didn’t belong
A couple missin’ keys that seem to be in every song
Even when I had it tuned, it didn’t sound that good
I was tempted to scrap the guts and burn the wood
I put it in the paper, a piano for free
If you can haul it, you can have it, and people came to see
Some folks played “Chopsticks” or “Body and Soul”
Always, they’d hammer in the empty holes

“I heard you got a piano,” he said with suspicion
He was shakin’ from the cold and probably malnutrition
I said, “Hey, Larry, won’t you come on in
Can I make you some coffee?” but he wasn’t listenin’
He went to that piano like he’d seen an old friend
He drew his name in the dust, he told me where it was made and when
He said, “I haven’t seen one like this since I was a boy.”
His face was twisted into joy.

Well, we talked a few minutes, then the coffee was hot
I said, “Hey, Larry, won’t you show me what you’ve got.”
He showed me what he had alright, with conviction and soul
He banged the barrelhouse blues, baby, he rolled like Jellyroll
He played songs of love and country, “from sea to shining sea”
And not once, not once, did I hear a broken key
A broken old piano and a broken old man
Rolled away smokin’ in a broken old van