Tooth & Nail

I’m so tightly wound in tension
Feel just like a guitar string
Waiting to reveal emotions
Touch me and you’ll hear me sing

I’m so tired of being wired
But there’s so much I have to do
Tidy up the place for Monday
When she’s buried in her dancing shoes

My journey has been so hard lately
Been having to get out and push
Left me standing on the sidewalk
Talking to a burning bush

Politician selling freedom
Bumper sticker 50 cents
Ask him what he wants to be free from
Answer don’t make any sense

Somewhere on the far horizon
Going to wash away my sins
Turn around and taste tomorrow
This is how the end begins

Deep down in the underground
Atoms spinning round and round
Scientists monitor readings
Searching for the Holy Grail:
The particle – or at least a trail –
Of the one that gives the Universe it’s meaning

But what if there’s nothing?
No big answers to find?
What if we’re just passing through time?

No-one knows nothing any more
Nobody really knows the score
Since nobody knows anything
Lets break it down and start again

What happens when the markets drop?
If the numbers really don’t add up?
Everyone seeks a safe haven
As they contemplate their ruin
The self-proclaimed smartest people in the room
Are trying very hard not to sound craven

But what if there’s nothing?
No pot of gold to find?
Only the blind leading the blind?

Lets stop pretending
We can manage our way out of here
Lets stop defending the indefensible
Let stop relying on the hectoring of the experts
Whose spin just makes our plight incomprehensible

High up on a mountain top
Somebody with a skinhead crop
Is thinking deep thoughts for us all
Serenity is all around
But if you listen you can hear the sound
Of one head being banged against a wall

What if our ancestors had stayed up in the trees?
Would we still be weighed down by these worries?

I’m never going to be the handyman
Around the house my father was
So don’t be asking me to hang
A curtain rail for you because
That screwdriver business just gets me confused
It takes me half an hour to change a fuse
And when I flicked the switch the lights all blew
I’m not your handyman

Don’t be expecting me to put up shelves
Or build a garden shed
But I can write a song that tells the world
How much I love you instead
I’m not any good at pottery
So lets lose a ‘t’ and just shift back the ‘e’
And I’ll find a way to make my poetry
Build a roof over our heads

I know it looks like I’m just reading the paper
But these ideas I’ll turn to gold-dust later
Cos I’m writer not a decorator
I’m not your handyman

I ain’t got no home, I’m just a-roaming ’round
Just a wandering worker, I go from town to town
And the police make it hard for me no matter where I go
And I ain’t got no home in this world any more
No, I ain’t got no home in this world any more

My brothers and my sisters are stranded on this road
A hot and dusty road that a million feet have trod
Rich man took my home and drove me from my door
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore
No, I ain’t got no home in this world any more

Was farming on the shares, and always I was poor
My crops I laid into the banker’s store
My wife took down and died upon the cabin floor
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore
No, I ain’t got no home in this world any more

I mined in your mines and I gathered in your corn
I been working, mister, since the day that I was born
Now I worry all the time like I never did before
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore
No, I ain’t got no home in this world any more

Now as I look around, it’s mighty plain to see
This world is such a great and a funny place to be
Where the gambling man is rich while the working man is poor
And I ain’t got no home in this world anymore
No, I ain’t got no home in this world any more

Words and music: Woody Guthrie

Here are the photos that I keep
Here’s the empty bed where I lay my head to sleep
I dream about you
But my dreams will not come true
Till I swallow my pride and get back home to you

I tell myself I’m in the right
But that don’t keep me warm through another lonely night
Can’t live without you
Even though you make me blue
Got to swallow my pride and get back home to you

I know your love for me runs deep
But I’m the man who makes you cry yourself to sleep

How can a man be strong
If he can’t even lift a telephone and say he’s wrong?
If I want you back again
Then I know what I must do
Got to swallow my pride and get back home to you
Swallow my pride and get back home to you

In the Bible we are told
God gave Moses in the days of old
Ten great commandments
For his people to hold true
But the greatest commandment of all
Is in the Book of Luke as I recall:
Do unto others as you would have them do to you

It may be you don’t believe
In the story of Adam and Eve
And call upon science
To prove it’s all untrue
But in the cold light of the day
These simple words still point the way
Do unto others as you would have them do to you

So just lift up your eyes
Don’t pass by on the other side
Don’t be bound by what you think others may do
A little bit of faith
That’s all it really takes
Do unto others as you would have them do to you

Now the way the world is run
Too many people looking after number one
Don’t seem to notice the damage that they do
Though its not widely understood
There is a greater good
Do unto others as you would have them do to you

Goodbye to all my friends the time has come for me to go.
Goodbye to all the souls who sailed with me so long.

The day has come at last
The sail strength at the mast
The years have quickly passed away.

Goodbye to all my friends the time has come for me to say
Goodbye to all my friends who’ve sailed with me along the way.

The bells have all been rung
The songs have all been sung
This long river has run its course.

Goodbye to all my friends the time has come for me to go.
Goodbye to all the souls who sailed with me so long.

The coffee pot is cold
The jokes have all been told
The last stone has been rolled away.

Goodbye to all my friends the time has come for me to say
Goodbye to all the souls who’ve sailed with me along the way.

Goodbye, goodbye.
Goodbye, goodbye.
Goodbye, goodbye.
Goodbye, goodbye.

Somewhere between the midnight and a cold and empty dawn
I found myself out walking on the streets where I was born
And I came upon a stranger who looked me in the face
And asked me what I was doing in this God-forsaken place?

I don’t need to be forgiven for some thing I haven’t done
Nor for wanting my family to find their place in the sun
If you keep this pressure on just don’t be surprised
If I can’t summon up my dignity while you’re roughing up my pride

There will be a reckoning for the peddlers of hate
Who spread their poison all across this estate
And a reckoning too for the politicians who
Left us to this fate – there will be a reckoning

Then just a few days later a man came to my door
To ask me if I thought that this place was worth fighting for
And though I recognised his reasons, I just could not agree
When he told me that my neighbour would be my enemy

The wheels have come off again
And the fault is all mine
And there was I thinking
We were doing just fine
It hurts me so to hear you say
We’d be better off apart
Please don’t let my complacent mind
Belie my loving heart

You’ve shot me down again
From out of the blue
Guess there was something
That I was supposed to do
Well there’s just no way that every day
I’ll reach your high bench mark
But don’t let my complacent mind
Belie my loving heart

I know you think if I just tried
We would never fight at all
But I know there will still be days
Into which some rain must fall
So I’ll do my best to meet the test
But darling don’t forget
If you go chasing rainbows
You’re bound to end up getting wet

I heard a bell ringing
In the tower of lost desire
Grown from small beginnings, the living world undone
Now it hums and is singing
Like words out on the wire
Hanging like surrender, your name on my tongue

Grief was my companion
It pushed me like a sea
The compass blade at my throat, pointing up to the sun
But fear begs a strange courage
It’s a holy conspiracy
That trips me down the path, your name on my tongue

But I’m still in love
With you

I’ve set out a table
I’ve made up my bed
The ceiling above my head the floor where you run
I’ve barely been able
To hold my own or my peace
But I’ll never let go, your name on my tongue

Words: Joe Henry/Music: Billy Bragg

To the misanthropic, misbegotten merchants of gloom
Who look into their crystal balls and prophesise our doom,
Let the death knell chime, it’s the end of time
Let the cynics put their blinkers on and toast our decline

Don’t become demoralised by this chorus of complaint
It’s a sure sign that the old world is terminally quaint
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
No matter what the siren voices say
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
We’re going to make it that way

To the pessimistic populists who harbour no doubt
That every day we make our way to Hell in a handcart
And the snarky set who are sniping to get
Anyone who sticks their head above the parapet

Don’t be disheartened baby, don’t be fooled,
Take it from someone who knows: the glass is half full
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
No matter what the siren voices say
Tomorrow’s going to be a better day
We’re going to make it that way

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© Billy Bragg 2019