Mermaid Avenue Volume II

There’s an airline plane
Flies to Heaven every day
Past them pearly gates
If you want to ride this train
Have your ticket in your hand
Before it is too late
If the world looks wrong
And your money’s spent and gone
And your friend has turned away
You can get away to Heaven
On this aeroplane
Just bow your head and pray.

Them’s got ears let them hear
Them’s got eyes let them see
Turn your eyes to the Lord of the skies
Take that airline plane
It will take you home again.
Yes, take you home again.
Yes, to your home beyond the skies.

Well, a lot of people guess
Some say no and some say yes
Will it take some and leave some behind?
But you will surely know
When to the airport go
To leave this world behind

Oh, a lot of speakers speak
And a lot of preachers preach
When you lay their salary on the line
But to bow your head and pray
Is the only earthly way
That you can fly to Heaven on time.
That you can reach Heaven on time.

Your ticket you obtain
On this heavenly airline plane
You leave your sins behind
You have got to take this flight
Might be daytime, might be night,
But you can’t see your way if you’re blind

My flying saucer where can you be
Since that sad night that you sailed away from me?
My flying saucer I pray this night
You will sail back before the day gets bright

My flying saucer fly back for home!
You will get lost in the universe alone!
My flying saucer end all my fears
Sail back tonight, love and kiss away my tear

If you
Beat up, butcher, and
You bleed a man:
If you bang up and badger and
Bloodlet a man;
And then I come along
On the feet of man
And half way laff and cry ’bout
The meat of man,
And I do what I can to
Bale string and tie some ballad truths
Up cured out
For the feed of man
And
Folks try to tell me
That it’s on God’s orders
That you bleed your man;
It’s on God’s good word that you
Bleed your man;
On God’s plan print
That you dead a man;
Or you spit and curse and whip
Your man;
I say I’ll help you fix and
Squeeze yourself up a new kind of a God
Of some kind;
One that tells you
Fertilyze and multyplye;
One that
Tells You:
Outsow and outblow,
Outplant and outgrow;
Outdo, and outrun, and outclimb, and out spread
Every other tree and bush
And brushy fruits and flower petalls;
Out fruit them all
For the feed of man;
Out stalk and out hunt and out think
For God’s own sweet sake, out think! Out think!
Outthink the fruits
Outgrow these animal kind and shapes of man!
It you miss and go down
Your dust will turn up on that long hot job
Once more again
To help in the feeding and the seed of man
And not in the bleeding and the end of man.

I’m a porter and a night clerk at the old Hot Rod Hotel
I clean and scrub the lobby down and thirty one rooms as well
I wax and shine their boots and shoes, I brush down their crinkeldy clothes
I meet the buses and the trains and show you to your door

Bell bottom pants brought two boys in at six fourteen last night
Two girls checked in at ten otwo and I flipped on their light
The lamrods wife looks in their doors and finds one terrible sight
Those boys and girls got bawled up in their doors and rooms last night

A bloody flood could never messed these rooms up any worse
It looked like Moe had used this room to grease and breed a horse
Old gum and hairs and sticky rags, old bottles on the floors
Gobs of spit and condom rubbers on the windows, walls and doors

The lammy tried to make me clean up the crappy mess
Or else he’d fire me off my job and let me starve to death
I laid aside my polish rag and downed my dusting pan
And I’ve not seen the old Hot Rod nor that old town since then

I was born at Half Past 12, almost One in the morning;
I was born at Half Past One, almost Two in the morning.
Now my birthday comes again and I don’t know how old I am;
Half past One or Two or Three, almost 4 in the morning.

I was born at Half Past Four, almost 5 in the morning;
I was born at Half Past Six, almost 7 in the morning;
How old am I, you ask of me? One year younger than I used to be;
Half Past 7, Half Past 8, Half Past Nine in the morning.

I was born at Half Past Nine, almost Ten in the morning;
I was born at 1/2 past Ten, almost ‘Leven in the morning;
Today my age is Tweedle and ‘twee I’m prettier than I used to be;
Half Past ‘Leven, Half Past ‘Leven, almost 12 in the morning.

Who can guess the secret of the sea?
Who can guess the secret of the sea?
If you can guess the secret of my love for you
We can both know the secret of the sea

Tell me could you ever tell the secret of the sea?
Of these high rolling waves along the shore?
The footprints of the lovers that come here to love
By the tides washed away forever more

Who can guess the secret of the sea?
Who can guess the secret of the sea?
If you can guess the secret of my love for you
We can both know the secret of the sea

You claim to know the secret of a kiss and a hug
And the secret of grass and of the trees
And if you can tell the secret of a warm friends hand
Then we all would feel the secrets of the sea

Who can guess the secret of the sea?
Who can guess the secret of the sea?
If you can guess the secret of my love for you
We can both know the secret of the sea

I done spent my last three cents
Mailing my letter to the president
I didn’t make a show, I didn’t make a dent
So I’m swinging over to this independent gent
Stetson Kennedy
Writing his name in

I cain’t win out to save my soul
Long as Smathers-Dupont’s got me in the hole
Them war profit boys are squawking and balking
That’s what’s got me out here walking and talking
Knocking on doors and windows
Wake up and run down election morning
And scribble in Stetson Kennedy

I ain’t the world’s best writer nor the world’s best speller
But when I believe in something I’m the loudest yeller
If we fix it so’s you can’t make money on war
We’ll all forget what we’re killing folks for
We’ll find us a peace job equal and free
Dump Smathers-Dupont in a salty sea
Well, this makes Stetson Kennedy the man for me

Do you still sing of the mountain bed we made of limbs and leaves:
Do you still sigh there near the sky where the holly berry bleeds:
You laughed as I covered you over with leaves, face, breast, hips and thighs,
You smiled when I said the leaves were just the color of your eyes.

Rosin smells and turpentine smells from eucalyptus and pine
Bitter tastes of twigs we chewed where tangled woodvines twine
Trees held us in on all four sides so thick we could not see
I could not see any wrong in you, and you saw none in me.

Your arm was brown against the ground, your cheeks part of the sky,
As your fingers played with grassy moss, and limber did you lie:
Your stomach moved beneath your shirt and your knees were in the air
Your feet played games with mountain roots as you lay thinking there.

Below us the trees grew clumps of trees, raised families of trees, and they
As proud as we tossed their heads in the wind and flung good seeds away:
The sun was hot and the sun was bright down in the valley below
Where people starved and hungry for life so empty come and go.

There in the shade and hid from the sun we freed our minds and learned
Our greatest reason for being here, our bodies moved and burned
There on our mountain bed of leaves we learned life’s reason why
The People laugh and love and dream, they fight, they hate to die.

The smell of your hair I know is still there, if most of our leaves are blown,
Our words still ring in the brush and the trees where singing seeds are sown
Your shape and form is dim, but plain, there on our mountain bed
I see my life was brightest where you laughed and laid your head…

I learned the reason why man must work and how to dream big dreams,
To conquer time and space and fight the rivers and the seas
I stand here filled with my emptiness now and look at city and land
And I know why farms and cities are built by hot, warm, nervous hands.

I crossed many states just to stand here now, my face all hot with tears,
I crossed city, and valley, desert, and stream, to bring my body here:
My history and future blaze bright in me and all my joy and pain
Go through my head on our mountain bed where I smell your hair again.

All this day long I linger here and on in through the night
My greeds, desires, my cravings, hopes, my dreams inside me fight:
My loneliness healed, my emptiness filled, I walk above all pain
Back to the breasts of my woman and child to scatter my seeds again.

Are your garments all spotless?
Are they white as the snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
Is your soul all spotless?
Is it clean as the snow?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?

I am washed, yes I’m washed
I am washed in the blood
I’m all washed in the blood of the lamb
I’m all clean I’m all spotless
I’m pure like the snows
I’m all washed in the blood of the lamb

Have you laid down your burdens?
Have you found peace and rest?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
I’ve laid down all my troubles
I’ve found peace and rest
I’m all washed in the blood of the lamb

Have you learnt to love your neighbors?
Of all colors, creeds and kinds?
Are you washed in the blood of the lamb?
I’ve learnt to love my peoples
Of all colors, creeds and kinds
I’m all washed in that blood of that lamb

It’s aginst th’ law to walk, it’s aginst th’ law to talk
It’s aginst th’ law to loaf, it’s aginst th’ law to work
It’s aginst th’ law to read, it’s aginst th’ law to write
It’s aginst th’ law to be a black, brown or white

Ever’thing’s aginst th’ law
I’m a low pay daddy singing th’ high price blues

It’s aginst th’ law to eat, it’s aginst th’ law to drink
It’s aginst th’ law to worry, it’s aginst th’ law to think
It’s aginst th’ law to marry or try to settle down
It’s aginst th’ law to ramble like a bum from town to town

Ever’thing’s aginst th’ law
I’m a low pay daddy singing th’ high price blues

It’s aginst th’ law to come, it’s aginst th’ law to go
It’s aginst th’ law to ride, it’s aginst th’ law to roll
It’s aginst th’ law to hug, it’s aginst th’ law to kiss
It’s aginst th’ law to shoot, it’s aginst th’ law to miss

Ever’thing’s aginst th’ law
I’m a low pay daddy singing th’ high price blues

It’s aginst th’ law to gamble, it’s aginst th’ law to roam
It’s aaginst th’ law to organize or try to build a home
It’s aginst th’ law to sing, it’s aginst th’ law to dance
It’s aginst th’ law to tell you all th’ trouble on my hands

Ever’thing in Winston-Salem is aginst th’ law
I’m a low pay daddy singin’ th’ high price blues

I’m gonna tell all you fascists you may be surprised
The people in this world are getting organized
You’re bound to lose, you fascists are bound to lose

Race hatred cannot stop us this one thing I know
Your poll tax and Jim Crow and greed have got to go
You’re bound to lose, you fascists bound to lose

All of you fascists bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose
All of you fascists bound to lose
You fascists bound to lose
You’re bound to lose! You fascists!
Bound to lose

People of every colour marching side by side
Marching ‘cross these fields where a million fascists died
You’re bound to lose, you fascists bound to lose

I’m going into this battle, and take my union gun
We’ll end this world of slavery before this battle’s won
You’re bound to lose, you fascists bound to lose

Joe Deemaggyoe done it again!
Joe Deemaggyoe done it again!
Clackin’ that bat, Gone with the wind!
Joe Deemaggyoe done it again!

Some folks thot Big Joe was done
Some jus figgered Joe was gone
Steps to the platter with a great big grin;
Joe Deemaggyoe’s done it again!

I’ma gonna tele ya jist th’ way I feel;
Man cain’t run without his heel;
Watch that raggypill split the wind!
Joe Deemaggyoe’s done it again!

All three fielders jumped their best;
Tryin’ ta climb that highboard fence;
They all growed whiskers on their chins!
Joe Deemaggyoe’s done it again!

Up along them clouds where the eagle roams;
Joe cracked that ball to whine and moan;
His buddies laugh as they trot on in;
Joe Deemaggyoe’s done it again!

Grandmaw’s home by the radio
On the telleyevizzion awatchin’ Joe;
She jerks the beard offa grandpaw’s chin;
Joe Deemaggyoe’s done it again!

The puppy dog barked at the posseye kat;
How does it look from where you set?
Looks like a cyclone slidin’ in
Joe Deemaggyoe’s done it again!

If the folks next door to me wasn’t so good
I’d do all the mean things anybody could
I’d drink and I’d gamble and I’d louse around
I’d be the meanest man in this whole town

If I hadn’t seen the light in that old lady’s eyes
I’d try to be a man that you would hate and despise
I’d rave and I’d rant and I’d scream and yell
And I’d chase all my neighbours from here to hell

If I hadn’t heard those kids laugh playing games
I’d have nervous fits and I’d go insane
I’d turpentine cats and tin can dogs
And I’d smother people to death inside of holler logs

If the people around me wasn’t so nice
I’d freeze my heart into a cake of ice
I’d steal money from soldiers and working folks too
I’d lend you a dollar and take back two

If my wife didn’t kiss me the way she does
I’d carry four or five daggers and three or four guns
I’d shoot craps and ramble and hang out late
And I’d steal baby buggies and Cadillac Eights

If my friends didn’t write me those letters I get
I’d get to be a dictator and be the worse one yet
I’d be the only smart bird and you’d all be fools
All I’d send you all away to war and I’d set home and rule

If it wasn’t for them songs I hear all of you sing
I’d put a crown on my dome and I’d say I’m your king
I’d kidnap some and blackmail others
I’d peddle black market stuff and rob sisters and brothers

If it wasn’t for your talking I hear along the street
I’d be the oneriest man that you ever did meet
I’d preach the gospel of hate and I’d drink your blood
But I can’t be this bad because my folks are too good

There’s a black wind blowing in the cotton field, honey
There’s a black wind blowing in the cotton field, baby
There’s a black wind blowing in the cotton field
And O’ how funny it makes me feel
Baby, sweet thing, darling

There’s a long black cloud hanging in the sky, honey
There’s a long black cloud hanging in the sky, baby
There’s a long black cloud hanging in the sky
Weather’s gonna break and hells gonna fly
Baby, sweet thing, darling

Cotton’s pretty thin yonder on the hill, honey
Cotton’s pretty thin yonder on the hill, baby
Cotton’s pretty thin yonder on the hill
Won’t clear a greenback dollar bill
Baby, sweet thing, darling

Work shade and back to the buzzard wing, honey
Work shade and back to the buzzard wing, baby
Work shade and back to the buzzard wing
Clouds are gonna bust and cry down rain
Baby, sweet thing darling

Someday, some morning sometime, sometime
I’d like to hold your hand in mine,
Someday, some morning, sometime

I’d like to tell you you’re pretty and fine,
Your face will smile and your eyes will shine
Someday, some morning, sometime

I’ll build you a house all covered in vines,
I’ll bring you a nickel, I’ll bring you a dime,
Someday, some morning, sometime

Five six seven and eight oh nine
I’ll take you down where the birds fly by
Someday, some morning, sometime

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© Billy Bragg 2019