Worthless Son-in-Laws Song Lyrics

No. 8 Wire:

Sort of Back to Having a life

No. 8 Wire:

All Your Might
for Vivian
(J. Davidson)

Put on your red stocking cap
You don't want to get shot at
Walk the Horton-Shipley line
And stitch together that blue sky...

And sing with all your might

Conquer kings and queens and rooks
Dig down deep into your books
Know what's right, write what you know
And make them prove what they say is so...

And learn with all your might

Help your mama make the bread
And help her plant the flowerbeds
Gather the eggs and thank the hens
Speak your mind, but love your friends
Listen to and love your friends

And love them withal
Love them with all your might

Don't worry about heaven
Or the old prevailing tide
Don't worry yourself with worrying
Just live your life
With all your might.

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Not That Far

(J. Davidson)

Well, I’ve been to the top of the mountain
Where I was duped by the youth ministers
And I attended all of those meetings
But I was mostly there for the girls
And that turned out to be a pretty good reason.

I’ve been arrested for a misunderstanding
I’ve been busted for telling the truth
I’ve done worse that I never got caught for
I almost got away with wasting my youth
Trying to keep all my options open.

It’s not that far, it’s not that far
From the case to the crush.
Not that far, not that far,
From the look to the lust.

I’ve climbed the towers of the ancient cathedrals
I have walked along the Great Wall
And seen the ruins of the old Roman forum
I’ve marked how the mighty fall
And how they leave mostly rocks behind.

I’ve spent hours in the libraries
I’ve pored over the old documents
And translated the faded handwriting
And I haven’t been back there since
I started feeling like the end of the line.

It’s not that far, it’s not that far
From the forge to the rust
Not that far, not that far
From the core to the cusp
It's only one small surgery
Between the boom and the bust
It's barely one slight century
From the dust to the dust
From the dust to the dust.

It's just one singular sliver,
Just one tiny taste
Of this one sweet second.
Where there’s no second place.

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And Now for the Good News

(J. Davidson)

In the fading of the evening light
In the middle of an uncertain life
With the seven hours gone
Working the wheel, the wire, the hammer, the hill, and the stone,
With the coaching and the talismans,
And still
You are wet to the bone

The bodyguards of the breakneck pace
Kicked you out of their crew
Here's your chance
To stand up straight
And embrace
This good news

You're sleeping
to compress the time
You're leveled out
And glassy-eyed.

The bodyguards...

Here's to the misfits and the loners,
The comediennes and the stoners.
Love to the lost philosophers,
Love to the maidens of honor.
I honor you.

Oh, how I would lift you up
And carry you home.

C'mon, let's go home.

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Things You Say

(R. Brown)

I write myself a note to speak less and try to hear
When talking turns to feeling my words aren't very clear
I analyze the things I say, I turn myself to stone
The words I say are useless now like plastic beads they throw

Sometimes I drive real slow, I take the curves with care
forget about the mirror's light I contemplate what's fair
I ask you what I ought to know, I'm feeling guilty all the time
You're in this thing and close to me
I hope everything is fine

And it happens all the time
and it wont be pushed away
I feel it down within my chest
I don't mind the things you say

The idea dawned on me last week or was it twenty years ago
Careless laughs are tossed right off and weeds of anger grow
My friends are all around me now, no attacks from the rear
So take it easy take it slow
I think the coast is clear

And it happens all the time...

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The Luddite

(J. Davidson)

Dozers and loaders and shovels erase the terrain
They carve out the coal and remake of a mountain a waste

Where the machines have spoken
Digging the devil's token
What the machines have stolen
Won't be growing back

The water ran black from the tap into his great-grandmother's sink
No one came to explain
No one paid
No one fixed anything

The blasting and rude repacking
The walls in the basement cracking
Then when the flood came rolling
It all went down

When the last bale was piled on
He covered his head in nylon
Put all of his blackest clothes on
And packed his pack

As he shouldered his fireworks through rubble and mud
His red light split the night into shadow and blood

He set the tubes, lit the fuse, and flew staggering away
When they blew, how they blew
And the new dark became his new day.

The plans of the malefactors
Didn't count on the counteractor
Backlit by the burning tractors
Returning medicine

Leaving the land he grew in
At the end of his great undoing
Ruin begetting ruin,
One battle down.

So he made up his mind to kick out all the teeth
Of the beast and its priests
And their wretched


All the machines are broken...

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(J. Davidson)

The silent sun climbs up the morning
It warms the air and primes the sea
Its light is life that even fuels by night
The auroras' fine fireworkery

The color still within the thin magnolia leaves
The flightless flies inside the golden amber beads

Make clear the crystalline endeavor
Through fleeting windows in the earth
To stitch and staple all the world together
And to launch the living matter from the dirt

The holy rollers flinch and fight with their own shadows
Those frozen lives residing somewhere after now
But out in the wider world of sediment and sparrow
The bleaching bones promote the flowering of doubt

The feral fears
That paralyze and faze
Orchid and amaranth
Still easily amaze

All those threads parallel
Twisting and splitting
The mighty minuscule hands
Ever ticking…ticking…ticking….

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New York Times

(J. Davidson)

They work hard in Lyttelton Harbour
Where container ships roll in their berths
And the diesel smoke flows from the tunnel
He supposes it could have been worse

He thought he might see seven wonders
But mostly he saw seven seas
And the bottom of the bunk above him
And maps marked with depths and degrees

In the evening, he leaned on the railing
And watched the world move beneath him unchanged

He made friends with Russians in Sydney
He danced with Brazilians in Rome
He fell in love once in Dublin for most of a week
When anywhere was more or less home

He scrawled on the pages of sketchbooks
Where he graphed out his Grand Unified
But one warm night out on the Pacific expanse
He dumped them all over the side

He lived such that nobody noticed too much
Kept to his place in the line
But one day he sent off a letter
That got published in the New York Times

The New York Times...

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Francesca, the Field of Flowers in Our House

(J. Davidson)

The sun gets up, but we can wait
Morning glory wants to sleep a little late.
After an hour, it will be time
To wake my pretty, procrastinating columbine.

You're as full of life as they come
My joyful peppermint geranium;
Calm and kind, what a spirit you've got,
I'm in awe--you are a true forget-me-not.

It's Saturday, in field and arbor,
In the greening garden--all over.

You're pulling flats in an antique wagon
Painted poppies following my fine snapdragon;
And there's a smile--I hope you know
I want you to be my only heirloom rose.

In the yard, new leaves,
Slow honeybees, drunk with spring.

And I am buzzing with that sense of purpose,
I am dizzy, doing circles in the doorway;
I'm homing in on a favorite--
It's you, it's you, it's you--and I will have no other.

If we take a walk around Cedar Lake
I always want to travel in your jasmine wake;
If we're on the couch, I take a look:
I see a delicate delphinium, pressed into a book.

Folding up the evening hours
With my sweet south-of-the-border sunflower,
You're my comfort, you're my love,
You're my shooting star, my lily, my foxglove

In the air, vines climbing;
Roots intertwining underground.

And I just want to put you in my pocket,
Pick you up, and dance you down the hallway;
I'm holding on to a favorite--
It's you, it's you, it's you--and I will have no other.
Every moment, every hue, fully saturated;
You're the field of flowers growing in our house.

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Still Life With Cake

(J. Davidson)

The class clown is out of practice
All his lines come a minute too late
the journalist is out of questions
She is shocked to be in such a foreign state

The rate of change changes just enough
It's hard to say where it all sped up.

The photographers hide out in the corners
Finding and freezing their fractions profound
The storyteller sweats in the spotlight
Even though she is purely background.

Sidelined and superfluous--
The special guest is a total bust.

Down in flames.

There is no finer way to go.

The interpreter who once was golden
Quickly recognizes his mistake;
He sees the awkward interloper
Hunkerin' down on his piece of chocolate cake.

The cool command is “Kill, kill, kill!”
There’s no reward for standing still.

Beat the a pulp.

There is no mercy to mete out.

There is no favor; your luck’s run out.
There is no later; there's only now.

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Waffle Joint

With apologies to Ernest Hemingway and Robbie Robertson
(R. Brown)

He walked into the waffle joint
Cigarettes and coffee his only point
A pretty young waitress, she knew him quite well
A four-top table and some stories to tell

He's never hungry when he claims his space
He needs a clean well lighted place
They let him smoke every one in the pack
At that formica table over there in the back

When he was gone too few would pray
His funeral too far away
It would have been better if they'd laid him down,
at the waffle joint outside of town

He didn't live too long, born in '38
New York Town but the South would wait
Two years in Georgia and a girl from the city
She's never happy, but she's always pretty

He drew her in with some charm to spare
The whole thing built on truth and a dare
He drives too fast and she hides his keys
He's street legal now and his four barrel breathes

When he was gone...

She was gone like time down a stream
His new woman now is a drunkard's dream
The waffle joint was his play's last act
He nailed that role, kept the scene on track

Your coffee's cold, can I warm it for you
You're falling in love but your mind's askew
He's 59 and she's 22
She waits on him in a way that's blue

When he was gone...

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Last July

(J. Davidson)

I got your letter
It’s been a year
I know I shouldn’t have
But I read it fifteen times
I frown on superstition
But here I am, giving heavy weight
To your every little move

Valentine awakened
Puncturing my armor of regret

So count me in
For another late night
With lightning hours

Will you accept
My backwards invitation
To extend
Last July?

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My Pocketknife Says "Life is Strange..."

(J. Davidson)

All the basic needs are met.
If I could only stop window-shopping, I'd be set.
Chemical delivery, aching electricity on the wire;
Old magnetic resonance relegating common sense to the fire.

Somewhat civilized,
But animal inside.

Forgot my hat again, and it's cold on my poor bald head.
Up one little hill, and then two or three, up to the fence-line hickory on the ridge.

Privileged to stand
On the finest spot in the land.

Etched on my pocketknife
Opposite the name
Time-worn and elliptical
The words, "Life is Strange…"

Isn't it curious how it all tends to go astray?
But sometimes the design dissolves in such a lovely way
Destinies and best-laid plans handed off to the idle hands of the Fates
Histories of missing years, whispered into willing ears, "No, it's never too late."

And vital, in the void,
The unexpected joy.

Etched on my pocketknife...

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Sort of Back to Having a Life:

Linville Creek
(J. Davidson)

Down from the Tennessee Valley Divide,
West-northwest on the Tennessee side,
From Bingham Hill and down a piece,
Things are happening on Linville Creek;

White sky brightens over Grassy Knob,
Apple trees blooming in the morning fog,
Redwing blackbirds beginning to speak--
Things are happening on Linville Creek

It’s all downhill from here...

Two old paint horses walking through the mud,
Three cows drinking from an old bathtub,
Tomcat weaving through the summer weeds--
Things are happening on Linville Creek

Black fence rolling up the side of the road,
Airplane flying from a mailbox post,
Old Christmas trees hitting 25 feet—
Things are happening on Linville Creek.

It’s all downhill from here...

The wind dies down as evening comes,
The hillsides are blinking with lightning bugs
Yellow dog heaves a sigh of relief
Things are happening on Linville Creek

Dark sky holding up a crescent moon
That’s shining on the footsteps of Daniel Boone.
Stars coming out, people going to sleep--
Things are happening on Linville Creek

It’s all downhill from here...

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(J. Davidson)

Predisposed to be alone
And I fail my friends out of reckless hibernation
It might be selfish, it might be nothing
It might be my new bad habit.

My hands are still cold from yesterday
Walking in the cemetery’s gray
I don’t know anyone there.
Walking between the rows of headstones
Thinking about all the Sunday clothes
Underneath the plastic flowers.

Under the roof of the great white advantage
Expectation and possession lock me down
I know I’m lucky, I know I’m guilty
I’ve been let down a bit too easy.

My feet are still tired from every day
Walking in the same-old-shit parade
Where the money’s too much like medicine
Though the agenda’s fraught with ghosts
Still I hang around for another dose,
Waiting for louder warning.

Down is just a dagger to the visitor
Down doesn’t share its victims with company
Or leave on a desperate request.

I wish I could wish these ills away—
An impossible task in this sunken state
Where all advice just hammers the nails right in.
I wish there was more than science,
But the way of the world’s in the way of believing
There’s any option other than waiting it out.


I’m waiting on a letter.
I’m down;
I’m waiting on a letter.

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Road to Ruleville

(R. Brown)

I bought me a bottle of Spanish wine
I’m gonna be in Ruleville right on time
With a pocket of memories
I’m driving away from the setting sun
I’m bottled up tight like a fifth of rum
You know I hold my pain quite jealously

This blacktop two lane is long and straight
The Mississippi Delta seems to shake
Like my shoulders when I cry
Like my shoulders when I cry

I must have been a boy about nine or ten
When I learned the smell of my daddy’s gin
Upon his breath so sweet
A blazing sky and no shade in sight
A duplex small and a swollen eye
We had the A/C to fight the heat

This blacktop...

Feeling fine now some time has flown
My landscape’s flat and my money’s blown
I got a plan made for two
Some shining strings a buzzin sound
A reverb tank and a note that’s round
Now all I need is you

This blacktop...

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(J. Davidson)

We penetrate the city’s ring of slight decay,
Past the record store and the museum for model trains;
I am hoping for a brief audience
With the lesser-famous of the famous residents.

Vicious crush on a voice—
The siren and her beautiful noise.

The wicked spikes on the black iron fence
Make the posted keep-out signs redundant.

All means of escape
Foiled by the ornamental gate.

And in the swimming pool,
Chlorine burns the eyes;
A body is made buoyant,
In the morning light

It wakes me up, gradually,
But it doesn’t help me know, where to put my feet;
All the lessons I skipped
Haunt the late hollowness.

Bones are fragile and the evening is hard;
My friend lies between two stationary cars;
The night is full of moments beautiful and strange;
But I am saddled with the things I cannot change.

Rotten fruit in my gut—
I try to purge, but I can’t force it up.

And in the hospital
Waiting room,
Reading last year’s housekeeping literature,
The diagnosis looms.

It wakes me up, deliberately,
But it doesn’t help me know when to plant my feet;
And all the lessons I skipped
Haunt the late hollowness

I promise—let’s promise—
To climb out of it;
Here’s the hand, here’s the driver, and the sack;
And all the elements converging;
All the arrows pointing home
Still point to home.

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On the Day of Recovery
(J. Davidson)

I’m taking pleasure in the small things
I put a new wheel on my bicycle, and I like the way it sings
I’m a bullet through the lifting fog and the leaf-cut lines of the sun
It’s the second time I’ve been late this week
It’s the first time I’ve felt lucid in a month.

And the bridge over the railroad
Is the top of the world.

JJ’s on the press, and the big man burns the screens
I go out to the trailer and I wake up all of my machines.

And the cardinal on the railing
Is a good sign dressed in red.

If you throw me down, I bounce;
Put me to sleep, I come awake;
Fold me over, crumple me up;
Eventually I remember my shape.

I switch off the four amber lights
Close the door to the darkroom and lock it up for the night
There was a time when I was winded, laid out flat and dry
But now the world’s back to normal;
I’m sort of back to having a life.

And the litter I’ve been trailing
Is picked up and put away.

If you throw me down...

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Baton Rouge
(R. Crepeau/J. Davidson)

Six dark hours, twisted in my sheets
Wrestling over whether I should drop the dime
And speak about your crime
It guts me, and it robs me of my sleep.

I saw you out in the woods near my home
With a man transfixed by your smile and honey hair
Completely unaware
Of how you would be leaving him alone.

You beat him with that baton rouge
Until the life had left his frightened eyes
That big red stick had done its work,
And you sank to the leaves and you cried, cried, cried, cried.

I’ve had my eye on you since we were young
And even though I should expose your fatal flaw
Love beats out the law
No betrayal can trip across my tongue.

It’s a chump’s parade of men I’m jealous of,
But to you a man is just a man, alive or dead.
In your troubled head
Is there room for mercy or love?

You beat them with that baton rouge
Even though you know no reason why
That big red stick has never missed
And when I try to sleep I hear you cry, cry, cry, cry.

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Test Scoring and Reporting
(J. Davidson)

I took a job at the apartments,
And I sat down in the hall;
The 20-minute breaks were frequent
And the world was turning slowly, if at all.

I heard about the fortune-teller
Who foretold of a rare disease;
I cursed her powers of suggestion--
What a rotten thing to make someone believe.

I heard about the suicidal nephew
Whose increase in the dose
Of his popular antidepressant
Left him even more than a little more morose.

And there among the graders
Was a woman in high-top shoes;
She stood apart from all the others
Minding her own business and her own blues.

I looked around me at the gravel,
The dented cans, and broken glass,
And I knew that I would leave it;
I knew that I’d become a lucky man at last--

A lucky man at last.

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(R. Brown)

Utah Fitzsimmons was 15 years old,
when he first plowed a field
A double-buster in hand, a lot of work for a boy,
a sly grin was his shield.

With the levee behind him the only hill in sight,
a place for him to rest his eyes
With a graveyard below, packed with white people at rest,
cracker jacks without a prize.

Utah is old now, his TV sits outside,
And I the young smartass, that Philco I wanted to buy.

He worked for a lady, a woman of means,
and every night his wife would feed him cornbread and beans,
She gave him that TV for spare time he had,
but Desi & Lucy, they seemed kind of mean.

The land did not love him, nor the people
who paid for him to raise their crops
So he stayed while the others sold out for the train,
he’ll talk if a visitor stops.

Utah is old now...

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The Man W(ho)

(J. Davidson)

Ho, ho, ho, ho.

You’re the man, you’re the boss, you’re the pilot;
You’re an ace, and your jokes are a riot;
You’re the prince, you’re the dude, you’re the favorite--
They told you all that, and you fell for it.

But you’ll have to wait to get what you deserve
On account of pity has such a learning curve

Ho, ho.

You can climb right on up in those pockets
If it works well for you, well, why knock it?
If the five of the nine want to fake it,
If everything’s fixed, then why break it?

Familiar faces in the cabinet room
It looks like Daddy’s got a long silver spoon

Cigar ashes all over your bed
They don’t resemble anything you said
Now you’re the golden goose, the trusty mount
You must be getting a little raw where it counts.

Ho, ho, ho, ho.

Where there’s smoke, there is fire,
There are mirrors & wire,
Chains and trap-doors and fancy attire.
Where there’s a big show, it’s a pretty sure bet
There’s a name, and some lines, and a marionette.

The five-star pushers come with fire and lead;
They’re going to wash their hands, soon as they paint yours red.

Your opaque sky holds your false array--
They don’t resemble anything you tried to say.
You can rule the rest with your crocodile pout,
But I’m not gonna let you rule me…
Or rule me out.

Ho, ho, ho.

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