1. DEAR DONNA

Dear Donna, the world is wrong;
Don’t you wonder where your days have gone?
And why the children’s faces all look the same
Back when the world was right,
There was no need to explain;
No one ever had to say “remember.”

Oh Donna, this ain’t your home;
This man is not your husband
And these kids are not your own.
Why can’t you tell me where you’re from
Or your last name?
Back when the world was right,
There was no one to explain;
No one ever had to say “remember.”

And the moon’s still shining
In the sky through the day;
He says “Girl, you’re doing well, well, well.”
But that lady in the long black veil,
She tells the truth only the unloved can tell…
And leaves you scared to close your eyes.

Time is moving in the manner of a dream;
You say you’re sleepy,
And you find you’re fast asleep.
You’ve suspected that it all might disappear;
Back when the world was right,
You never used to have that fear,
Oh can you remember, Donna Dear?

With the moon still shining
In the sky through the day;
And it’s suddenly night.
These beds are empty,
And the children gone away;
You promised not to close your eyes.
All that love, wasted on lies…

Dear Donna, are you alright?
In the forest of the dark and unkind…
Is there anything that I could say or do?
Oh Donna dear, I’m all right too.
I’m all right… just like you.

2. JUST LIKE THE RAIN

She moves like the waves,
Like clouds in the blue on a sunny day;
She moves like the grass when it sways,
Shining in the sun.

She moves like the trees;
She’s stirred by a force the eye can’t see.
I can feel those same winds moving me;
She moves like the trees.

And when she’s still
And the light is right
I see those eyes, burning green;
She moves me, she moves me.

She moves like the sea,
Tides turn her closer to me
Caught up in the powers of the moon;
It’s a mystery.

She moves like a river through the hills;
It’s never rushes, it just spills
From one quiet to the next,
And the fields are blessed.

And when she’s still
And the light is right
I see those eyes, burning green;
She moves me.

And the engines and the wheels that wind her,
That scream behind her,
And blow smoke in her face…
And the words that bind her,
And all the wounds which find her,
She takes with grace.
She moves like grace.

She moves like the snow,
It drifts down softly on the leaves.
It gets more quiet when she speaks.

She moves like the rain;
Falls sweetly on a thirsty place.
My children grow in her embrace;
She’s just like the rain.

She’s just like the rain.
She’s just like the rain.
She’s just like the rain.

3. MISSISSIPPI

Bury me in a field by a stream
Anywhere to the east of the Great Divide.
And as my bones return to the waters,
I will join the ocean’s mother.
Oh, mighty Mississippi, carry me…

We get born and the clock starts ticking;
All the moments start slipping away.
Seconds arrive and wave goodbye
Just like yesterday.
We can’t hold on to our youth;
Can’t even hold on to our age.
The Mississippi comes and sweeps us off the page…

I was taught in Sunday school
That the spirit of a man can never die,
And there’s a sea of silent souls just blinking
On the other side.
What I’d give for just a hint
Of a whisper from that beautiful shore.
Mississippi, when you take me,
I’m afraid I’ll be no more…
I’m afraid I’ll be no more.

Bury me in a field by a stream
Anywhere to the east of the Great Divide.
And as my bones return to the waters,
I will join the ocean’s mother.
Oh, mighty Mississippi, carry me home…

You won’t lose a single lamb from your
Hand is what the scriptures say.
Could you help my unbelief?
Because I’m running low on faith.
I’ve never had a trusting heart,
Never made much time to pray,
And my mind is filled with echoes of oblivion…

Don’t you bury me in Egypt,
Don’t you leave me in these sands–
Because I know that you are bound for fairer lands.
I’ve got nowhere else to turn,
No other grace in which to stand,
Like my mothers and fathers,
The saints and sinners who’ve gone before
To that sweet by and by, on that beautiful shore…

Bury me in a field by a stream
Anywhere to the east of the great divide,
And as my bones return to the waters,
I will join the ocean’s mother.
Oh, mighty Mississippi, carry me home… to the sea.

4. LILLY AND DONNIE

Lilly hardly ever wanted anything more
Than what she wound up with:
The house by the park,
A late model car and a couple kids,
And Donnie sleeping by her side,
Every night for thirty-three years…

Donnie bought himself a bike,
Set him back a couple grand;
Takes a while to make that
Working down at the plant.
But whatcha gonna do with your money,
Now the kids are grown and married off?
You steer those wheels into the the wind…
Oh Lilly, hold on…

This road ahead I’m gonna run with you;
Might be the sweetest stretch
That we ever go through;
I don’t know what the next mile holds;
I just hold on to you.

Donnie takes an aspirin of a morning
Just like his daddy used to take
He hears Lilly’s mother’s voice
In her every word she says.
It’s something that she used to fight,
But now it fits like a glove;
It just feels right.

Lilly pulls the plug on the sink,
Picks up a kitchen towel.
Says “Donnie, ain’t it funny how
Sixty seems so much younger now?
There’s so much I want to see
Before my fire goes out.”
Donnie takes her hand;
Oh Lilly, hold on…
Hold on

This road ahead I’m gonna run with you;
Might be the sweetest stretch
That we ever go through;
I don’t know what then next mile holds;
I just hold on to you.

5. A WHITE STONE

(for my father, Ormal Joseph Smith)

I dreamed I was a riverboat gambler;
I wore vests of satin and velvet.
Rattlesnake band on my Stetson hat;
Pistol in my boot
–I never had to shoot, mmmm…

I dreamed I was an Indian brave;
Feather in my hair.
Eagle landing on my outstretched arm;
They taught me how to pray
With a mirror on a stick.
–I never quite got used to it.

On I go, feeling my way…
Looking for a place,
Looking for a name I’ve yet to find.

I dreamed I was a fireman
In a heavy fireproof coat.
I’d pull the children from the burning home,
Away from the flames, away from the smoke.
I’d hold those babies close…

I dreamed I was a preacher man;
With a distant gaze and a bible in my hand.
I’d unravel the mysteries
And spin hope from the tragedies, mmmm….

On I go, feeling my way…
Looking for a place,
Looking for a name I’ve yet to find.

I dreamed I was a grandfather,
White in my beard.
My children live in Omaha,
But I’m way up here in these frozen wilds,
Still feeling my way…

I dreamed I was a wayward son,
Tramping home in rags.
My brother met me on my father’s porch,
White stone in his hand,
White stone in his hand…

6. COMPLETELY WRONG

(for Scott and Karen Fancher and the whole First Friday Crew)

When I heard your voice,
Heard the grass a-growing;
Hay baling and cattle lowing.
Heard the draw on a cigarette,
Felt the wonder and regret
Like a scratchy whiskered hug
From a grandpa that you love
Who smells like whisky…

And everything that took too long to learn to love
About where I come from.
I’m ashamed to say, that when I went away
I was not proud to be from Arkansas.
I see more clearly now;
I was completely wrong.

And when I heard your voice,
Like a gospel meeting;
Like granny in her rocking chair,
Like a mother mourning.
Like a tired hope, that you keep repeating;
Like sitting by the fire when the baby’s sleeping…

And everything took too long to learn to love
About where I come from.
I’m ashamed to say, that when I went away
I was not proud to be from Arkansas.
I see more clearly now;
I was completely wrong.

I got a bottle of beer;
I got an itch to hear
“Hello in There” again
It’s like a sacrament
And Mikey’s holding down the lows,
Just like he did when
He was just a kid.
It’s like a sacrament.
It’s like a sacrament,
‘Cause it’s a sacrament,
Just like…

Everything that took too long to learn to love
About where I come from.
The place I call my home, on the banks of the Buffalo
Back in those hills, Ozarks of Arkansas.
I see more clearly now;
I was completely wrong.

7. KINDNESS

Oh the workmen
Had been sweating all day;
Some boys came in
And worked an hour
And got the same pay.
Man… they were shaking their heads
As they walked away, saying,
Kindness is wasted…
Kindness is wasted on them…
On them.

The prodigal son was staggering home;
His daddy ran to meet him,
And a party was thrown.
His bitter brother sat outside
In the cold alone, singing,
Kindness is wasted…
Kindess is wasted, wasted on him…

It’s in the rain that falls
On the wicked and the just;
And the sun that shines on us too.
It’s in the air that we’re
Breathing in our lungs;
It’s in our water, and in our food.
It’s in the hills around us
And the rivers running through;
It’s in our children’s smiles,
In puppy kisses, Sunday afternoons.
It’s more than we
Could ever want or need;
More beautiful than we can conceive.
Oh it’s wasted, it’s intentionally wasted.
Oh it’s wasted, it’s lavishly wasted
On us… on us.

Now if kindness
Were in short supply,
You could keep it for yourself;
I would understand why.
But there are stories of kindness
Stacked up to the skies,
Free for the taking;
So go on and waste it.
Kindness is meant to be wasted,
So go on and waste it.
Kindness is made to be wasted,
Wasted, wasted…

8. ON THE FIFTH DAY

On the fifth day the devil went to see the Lord.
(They were on better terms back then.)
He said, “I’ve been watching, admiring your work,
But it seems like it’s time to make an end.
But I can tell by the gleam in your eyes
That you’ve got something more in mind,
So I wanna go on record with my objection to this plan…
To this Man.

“You know these rivers that you made
Could run a hundred million years,
Clear and clean and free;
Unstained by war, commerce or tears;
If I were you, that would be enough for me.
And your forests could raise their branches to the sky,
As the mountains soar into the clouds…
With your creatures fed and happy,
As your oceans teem with life,
How could you not be satisfied?
And I don’t expect that I
Could ever hope to change your mind;
But I should let you know that I don’t suppose
I’ll be joining for the ride.”

And The Lord said to the devil,
“You know I don’t care to explain
The wild winds of my ways;
But I know just what you’re thinking,
And your point is taken well;
Still, Man will have his day.

“And I don’t think I will try,
Though I could, to change your mind;
Because I see the story from the start to the end,
And its a story that I like.
Truth be told, I’m satisfied.”

And the devil took his coat, and as he stood to leave
He turned for one last time
And looked at the throne and at the majesty
And said, “We’ve always seen eye to eye.”

“And I hate to walk away
With heaven to lose and hell to pay…
So I’ll be waiting in the garden in case you change your mind;
And if you don’t, I guess I’ve got a part to play.
In this story, is there a part for me to play?”

9. THE WAY THE WORLD TURNS

It’s the hunter and the hunted,
Predator and prey.
You can tell them by the way
The teeth are set into the face.
There’s no right and there’s no wrong,
No sinners and no saints;
Just the way the world turns…

It’s the bear against the salmon,
The mouse against the cat.
One was made for eating,
And one for getting fat.
There’s no rhyme and there’s no reason,
Do you still believe in that?
Just the way the world turns…

A man can rage against the way things are,
But rage don’t get you very far;
You can spend your life just wishing
On imaginary stars
Or learn the way the world turns…

Mama’s in her rocking chair,
Baby on her knee,
Singing London bridge is falling down,
Ring around the rosy
And the dead slide into ditches
As she kisses baby’s cheek,
And the world turns…
The world turns…

It’s just the way the cookie crumbles;
It’s just the way the wolves get fed.
It’s just the way the bankers sleep
Instead of tossing on their beds.
It’s just the way that Nero fiddles
While the rest of Rome just burns;
It’s the way of the world.
It’s the way of the world.
It’s the way of the world.
It’s the way the world turns.

10. BIRDMAN

Behold my servant,
The one I send to you;
He don’t have much to say.
You wouldn’t listen anyway
So I’ve got him
Flipping off the cars on main,
Dancing in the street
In short pants in the rain.

When you look into his wild eyes;
And wonder what he’s seen,
Don’t you ask him;
I’ve confused his speech.
Some things are unlawful
For a man to say,
So he spits out curses
And flaps his arms and flies away

Away away…

When I look down
On the sons of men,
I see lots of crazy things happening;
Some folks spend all their lives
Watching T.V.,
Eating frozen food,
Making payments
On the cars they drive.

Behold my servant,
The one I send to you;
He don’t have much to say.
You wouldn’t listen anyway
So I’ve got him
Flipping off the cars on main,
Dancing in the street
In short pants in the rain.

11. JUST A KISS

Give me a kiss,
One kiss from your sweet lips, I pray;
I’ve been surrounded,
I’ve been hounded
By these murderous jacks all day.
Telling lies, telling lies, just to save their skins;
Selling scraps of their souls, just to pay the rent.

And I could almost lose my way
But you, you could set me straight
With just a kiss.

Give me a kiss,
I need something warm against my skin;
All the angels on the evening shifts
Have turned their halos in.
Breaking down, breaking down
When they hear the morning news;
They say if God won’t send the horsemen in,
There’s nothing we can do.

And I could almost feel that way,
But you make me glad for one more day
With just a kiss.

Give me a kiss,
Let’s leave the world
To worry for itself tonight;
With all that’s wrong out there, girl.
Our love is something right.
Coming home, coming home to you,
Brings me back to me;
Singing blessed be the ties that bind,
The ties that set me free…

The ties that drive me,
And keep me sane;
Our home, our love,
Our vow contained
In just a kiss…
Just a kiss
Just a kiss
Just a kiss

12. A WARTIME DREAM

They built this highway back in Eisenhower’s term
And it cuts across these plains
Like a scar that was healed
In the longsuffered silence of the sons of the war.
These clapboard mansions with their storied barns
Watch over these fields
Where the soil is tilled and turned
By the grandsons of the sons of the war.

I’m driving past, thinking about Bastogne,
Because I saw it once on a tv show.
Those boys in the trenches in the freezing cold,
Where the shells scream down
And the trees explode.

The cornfield dances under the breeze
All the way to the river where the sycamore trees
Sink their roots deep in the soil and drink.
And if I only had prayers and cigarettes,
I’d make a promise to God and I would never forget
If I lived I’d be a man of peace.

And I’m driving past thinking of all they did
In these fields of green, raising little kids;
With the memories of all they’d seen
Stealing their nights away
While they lived their dream.

The flags are still waving in the old town square,
And the names of the fallen are written there;
And the crowd still comes for a speech and a song.
And those boys from the trenches are mostly gone,
But we’ve still got Korea, and Vietnam,
Iraq, Afghanistan, maybe soon Iran.

I’m dreaming of peace at the end of wars;
By the riverside, we’ll lay down our swords.
By the waterfall, by the apple tree,
Where the tongues of flame fold in;
At the end, at the end, at the end
Of a war-time dream.