Mary McCaslin - Better Late Than Never

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LYRICS

ACRES OF HOUSES

I returned to my home in the valley
After way too many years
I stopped on the road, stepped out of the car
And I almost broke down there in tears

I stood and looked all around me
At the fields where the corn used to be
Two story houses, manicured yards
As far as my eye could see

Chorus:
Acres of houses on farmland
It's the saddest thing I've ever seen
We better start thinking about making a stand
Or we'll all end up on soylent green

While they don't come from south of the border
And they don't come from over the sea
They pack up their babies and move out from town
And they all look just like you and me

It's a grand old new world order
Religion and business take all
Families and brokers divide up the ground
And the meadow turns into a mall

Chorus:
Acres of houses on farmland
It's the saddest thing I've ever seen
We better start thinking about making a stand
Or we'll all end up on soylent green

 

THE LIGHTS OF SPARTANBURG

I've made a living with the band for 20 years or more
Days and nights from sun to sun out on the road we tour

After the Atlanta show, we drove all through the night
Crossing states to make it home sometime around daylight

You came to mind that night along the South Carolina road
Years of friendship, years of song - a treasury untold

Chorus: And I heard it on the radio
Outside of your hometown
I saw the lights of Spartanburg
the night your plane went down
I saw the lights of Spartanburg
The night your plane went down

Don't you know you made the news; your songs are on the air
I wonder why we wait to lose to show how much we care

Cars and buses, trains and planes, the highway and the sky
Seem to take a toll of names as every year goes by

Chorus: And I heard it on the radio
Outside of your hometown
I saw the lights of Spartanburg
The night your plane went down

I think about that night along the South Carolina road
Maybe from this life you've gone, but never from the fold

Chorus: And I hear the words forever more
Outside of your hometown
I saw the lights of Spartanburg
The night your plane went down
I saw the lights of Spartanburg
The night your plane went down
I saw the lights of Spartanburg
The night your plane went down

 

SABERS AND GUNS

Turn in your saddle and look back at home one more time
Quiet her fears with a few words that come to your mind
'Keep supper warm', you lied your brave lie when she asked
'We'll end it this evening if the Yankees don't run too damn fast'

Stop by the well, smell the sweet scent of magnolia trees
Take a cool drink of water and last look at all that you leave
Your graceful white mansions, acres of fields and green lawns
Will be ashes and ragweed, gone to seed by the time you return

Chorus: Off to war - oh just look at your hardware
With the brass shining gold in the sun
Ah, but don't you feel strong in your gray uniforms
With your shiny new sabers and guns

Wait on the hill where the road forks to go into town
To be joined by another and another, till a hundred ride down
Ride on together, form a column of soldiers so bold
Ah, the pride of the south is a grand thing indeed to behold

Charge into battle with the flame of youth hot in your breast
An army of children trying hard to be men in the test
And which of your friends stand brave and strong in the fight
And which of your friends will be left in the cold ground tonight

Chorus: Off to war - oh just look at your hardware
With the brass shining gold in the sun
Ah, but don't you feel strong in your gray uniforms
With your shiny new sabers and guns

It's all over now, there's no place to go but back home
To face all your loved ones and the people that once you did own
Plantation kingdoms passed down from fathers to sons

Could not be defended with your shiny new sabers and guns
Could not be defended with your shiny new sabers and guns

 

STANDING IN THE DOORWAY

Standing in the doorway of the Salvation Army
In a place where you and i could wind up any day
A scarf and sweater in a paper bag she holds so dearly
Treasures for a buck or two that someone threw away

She turns her head to look each way and steps out 0n the sidewalk
Hums a tune from some old song she learned when it was new
Starts her daily round to make a little change and small talk
Rain or shine, out on the street - it's what she has to do

Chorus: On and on the memories keep running through her mind
All the dreams of younger days left so far behind

All it takes to stay alive is give up every pleasure
A monthly check just pays the rent and leaves so little more
Every day she faces those who know they are much better
Sees 'em turns their eyes away when she comes through the door

Once a young girl held the stage with every eye upon her
Someone spent a fortune after almost every show
Now a woman stands alone, a hand out to a stranger
A far cry from the life she led so many years ago

Chorus: On and on the memories keep running through her mind
All the dreams of younger days left so far behind

Passing by the doorway of the Salvation Army
It's easier to move along and look the other way
Never stop and take the time to listen to a story
Or think about where you and I could wind up any day

MISSING

A little girl is missing - the wind begins to blow
Neighbors are out searching, but who will ever know
Why he had to pick her up, along the road that day
And take her to a lonely stop, half a mile away

Lawmen spread out all around, knock on every door
Trackers cover miles of ground, like soldiers off to war
Parents pleading on TV, for anyone to tell
Where their little girl may be, and end this living hell

Updates on the Internet, posters everywhere
Sightings in another state, leads from here and there
Faith becomes insanity - hope becomes despair
A night becomes eternity - a curse becomes a prayer

Seven long months after, she disappeared that day
She turned up where he left her, a half a mile away
The wind becomes a mother's cry, a high and mournful howl
Echoing across the sky, the night begins to fall


CALIFORNIA JOE (Jack Crawford)

Well Folks, I Don't Like Stories; Nor Am I Going To Act
Nor Part Around The Campfire What Ain't A Truthful Fact.
Fill Up Your Pipes And Listen; I'll Tell You -- Let Me See
I Think It Was In '50; From Then Till '63.

You've All Heard Tell Of Bridger? I Used To Ride With Him.
And Many A Hard Day's Scoutin' I Did 'Longside Of Jim;
And Back Near Old Fort Reno, A Trapper Used To Dwell
We Called Him Mad Jack Reynolds; The Scouts All Knew Him Well.

In The Spring Of '50, We Camped On Powder River.
We Killed A Calf Of Buffalo And Cooked A Slice Of Liver.
While Eating, Quite Contented, We Heard Three Shots Or Four
Put Out The Fires And Listened; And We Heard A Dozen More.

We All Knew Old Jack Reynolds Had Moved The Traps Up There.
So Picking Up Our Rifles And Hitching Up Our Gear,
We Moved As Quick As Lightning; To Save Was Our Desire.
Too Late, The Painted Heathens Had Set The Camp On Fire.

We Turned Our Horses Quickly And Waded Down The Stream,
And Close Beside The Water I Heard A Muffled Scream,
And There Among The Bushes A Little Girl Did Lie
I Picked Her Up And Whispered, "I'll Save You Or I'll Die."

God, What A Ride -- Old Bridger Had Covered My Retreat.
Some Times The Child Would Whisper In A Voice So Low And Sweet,
"Dear Papa, God Will Take You To Mama Up Above.
There's No One Left To Love Me; There's No One Left To Love."


The Little Girl Was Thirteen; And I Was Twenty-Two.
Said I, "I'll Be Your Papa, And I'll Love You Just As True."
She Nestled To My Bosom, Her Hazel Eyes So Bright
Looked Up And Made Me Happy Through The Close Pursuit That Night.

One Year Had Passed When Maggie -- We Called Her Hazel Eyes
In Truth Was Going To Leave Me; Had Come To Say Goodbye.
Her Uncle, Mad Jack Reynolds, Long Since Reported Dead
Had Come To Claim My Angel, His Brother's Child, He Said.

What Could I Say? We Parted. Mad Jack Was Growing Old.
I Handed Him A Banknote And All I Had In Gold.
They Rode Away At Sunrise; I Went A Mile Or Two.
In Parting Said, "We'll Meet Again; May God Watch Over You."

While Resting By A Babbling Brook A Little Cabin Stood,
And Weary From The Long Day's Ride I Saw It In The Wood.
The Pleasant Valley Stretched Beyond The Mountains Towered Above
Like Some Painted Picture, Or A Well-Told Tale Of Love.

Drinking In The Sweetness And Resting In The Saddle,
I Heard A Gentle Rippling, Like The Dipping Of A Paddle,
And, Turning Toward The Water, A Strange Sight Met My View
A Pretty Girl Was Seated In A Little Birch Canoe.

She Stood Up In The Center, Her Rifle To Her Eye.
I Thought For Just A Moment My Time Had Come To Die,
So I Tipped My Hat And Told Her, If It Was All The Same,
To Drop Her Little Shooter, As I Was Not Her Game.


She Dropped Her Deadly Weapon And She Leaped From Her Canoe.
She Said, "I Beg Your Pardon; I Thought You Were A Sioux.
Your Long Hair And Your Buckskins Looked Warrior-Like And Rough.
My Bead Was Spoiled By Sunlight, Or I'd 'A Killed You Sure Enough."

"Well, Perhaps It Would Be Better Had You Killed Me Here" Said I.
"For Surely Such An Angel Could Bear Me To The Sky."
She Blushed And Dropped Her Eyelids; Her Face Was Crimson Red.
One Shy Glance She Gave Me And Then Hung Down Her Head.

Then Her Arm Flew 'Round Me. "I'll Save You Or I'll Die."
I Held Her To My Bosom, My Long-Lost Hazel Eyes.
The Rapture Of That Moment Was Heaven Unto Me.
I Kissed Her Then, Amid Her Tears, Her Merriment And Glee.

Her Heart 'Gainst Mine Was Beating When Sobbingly She Said,
"My Dear Long-Lost Preserver, They Told Me You Were Dead.
The Man Who Claimed Me From You, My Uncle, Good And True
Lies Ill In Yonder Cabin, And He Talks So Much Of You."

"'If Joe Were Living, Darling,' He Said To Me Last Night,
"'He'd Care For You, Dear Maggie, When God Puts Out My Light.'"
We Found The Old Man Sleeping; "Hush, Maggie -- Let Him Rest."
The Sun Was Slowly Sinking In The Far-Off Golden West.

Although We Spoke In Whispers, He Opened Up His Eyes.
"A Dream, A Dream," He Murmured, "Alas! A Dream Of Lies."
She Drifted Like A Shadow To Where The Old Man Lay
"You've Had A Dream, Dear Uncle, Another Dream Today."


"Oh Yes I Saw An Angel, As Pure As Drifted Snow,
And Standing Close Beside Her Was California Joe."
She Said, "I'm Not An Angel, Dear Uncle, This You Know;
"These Little Hands And This Face Were Never White As Snow."

"But Listen While I Tell You, For I Have News To Cheer
Your Hazel Eyes Is Happy, For Truly Joe Is Here."
Then, But A Few Days Later, The Old Man Said To Me,
"Joe, Boy, She Is An Angel, Or As Good As Angels Be."

"For Three Long Months She's Hunted, And, Joe, She's Nursed Me Too;
"And I Believe That She'll Be Safe Alone, My Boy, With You."
Then, But A Few Days Later, Maggie -- My Wife -- And I
Went Riding From That Valley With Teardrops In Our Eyes.

For There Beside The Cabin, Within A New-Made Grave,
We Laid Him 'Neath The Daisies, Her Uncle, Good And Brave.
Hereafter, Every Gentle Spring Will Surely Find Us There,
At His Graveside In The Valley. We'll Keep It Fresh And Fair.

Our Love Was Newly Kindled While Resting By The Stream,
And Two Hearts Were United In Love's Sweet Happy Dream,
And Now You've Heard My Story; And This You Ought To Know
That Hazel Eyes Is Happy With California Joe.