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Borrowed Time notes & lyrics

 

Bob Amos:  Borrowed Time: Notes & Lyrics

all songs @ Robert C. Amos, Stark Brook Music, BMI

except Last Fair Deal Gone Down, by Robert Johnson



Those who know me well know that I am obsessed with old classic bluegrass as well as the music which preceded and had an influence on it. This CD is a celebration  of my admiration for all that great old stuff, through my own interpretation. My son has called this project the "Bluegrass According To Bob" album. I guess in way that's pretty accurate! I have never had so much fun making an album as this one. It felt like coming home.  I knew this would be a pretty traditional bluegrass project from the get go, and that's what I intended to do. I didn't start out with the idea of doing a "concept album"  lyrically, but a lot of the songs on this album are about the contemplation of life in its various stages, so in a way it kind of turned out that way. Perhaps it was subconsciously intentional!! Anyway, here are the lyrics, and some notes about each song on "Borrowed Time." If you have any further questions, feel free to email me!




SEEN IT ALL

This is basically about looking back on surviving the indiscretions of youth. Each of the metaphors have a particular meaning for me, personally, but I left them somewhat undefined so that the listener can either guess, or better yet interpret them in regard to their own lives.


I have climbed up the high Rocky Mountains, and strolled through the valley below

I've crawled through the hot dusty desert, and trudged through the deep winter snow

I laughed in the face of the cold north wind

I fell in the fire and climbed out again

But I looked for the light and heard a call

I've learned a lot, I've seen it all


I have sung in the company of angels, and wandered alone down the track

I've flown down the road seeking shelter, with Satan's hot breath on my back

I laughed in the face of the cold north wind

I fell in the fire and climbed out again

But I looked for the light and heard a call

I've learned a lot, I've seen it all


I don't have any answers or reasons for the choices I've made on the way

But the path up ahead's getting clearer, like the promise of dawn to the day

I laughed in the face of the cold north wind

I fell in the fire and climbed out again

But I looked for the light and heard a call

I've learned a lot, I've seen it all




WHERE THE WILD RIVER ROLLS

This song has been with me a long time. I wrote it back in my tumultuous twenties. It's been recorded by a bunch of other artists (including Tim O'Brien with Hot Rize). I though it was time to release my own version. I love singing this one, and it was a lot of fun to sing it with my two kids, Sarah and Nate. The flat out emotional angst in this song really reflects how emotions and thoughts  can run wild at the end of a crazy relationship, especially when you're young. It's a song you can really sink your teeth into.


Where can I find some peace for my mind, I fear that my heart has grown cold

You left me alone, this wide world to roam, so I'm bound where the wild river rolls

I'm bound where the wild river rolls, I'm bound where the tall pine trees grow

The cost of your love has taken its toll, so I'm bound where the wild river rolls


Five lonely years I have waited in vain, hoping for you to come home

I told you that I couldn't live without your love, so I'm bound where the wild river rolls

I'm bound where the wild river rolls, I'm bound where the tall pine trees grow

The cost of your love has taken its toll, so I'm bound where the wild river rolls




CRAZY LEGS

Just a hard-driving banjo tune I've had kicking around for a while. the title comes from how little kids run around and basically go nuts when you play a fast banjo tune. A friend of mine once said "You play banjo like it's 1957."  I actually took that as a compliment since my favorite banjoists have always been, Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, J.D. Crowe, Bill Emerson, and Rudy Lyle etc..




ROOTS OF THE TREE

This is a song about my love of traditional American music, and especially the roots and influences of the "bluegrass tree." So...The Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, Charlie Poole, Dock Boggs, Southern Gospel Music, Old Time and Fiddle Tune Music in general, Delta Blues in general etc.. The allusions to other songs titles and lyrics, both mine and others, is intentional.


The roots of the tree are still nourishing me

I can feel the old in the new

We are all set free eventually

But deep inside I can't hide the truth

This leaf didn't fall too far from the roots


Way back in the mountains in a shady grove

Stands an ancient tree that few will ever know

But if you chance upon it, you will start to hear

A sweet and haunting melody whispered in your ear


The roots of the tree are still nourishing me

I can feel the old in the new

We are all set free eventually

But deep inside I can't hide the truth

This leaf didn't fall too far from the roots


Many paths will lead us far beyond the glade

Where the tree is patiently waiting in the shade

But as I travel onward shadows of the past

sing to me in memory of what will always last


The roots of the tree are still nourishing me

I can feel the old in the new

We are all set free eventually

But deep inside I can't hide the truth

This leaf didn't fall too far from the roots




THE ROAD HOME

This is another old song of mine that I rearranged for this project, with my daughter Sarah's voice in mind. It was actually her idea to sing this one, and I quickly agreed. To me this is now the definitive version of this song. As Dave Higgs of Nashville Public Radio has said, Sarah "knocks it our of the park, and into the next county!!"


When times are dark and trouble's near and hope is hard to find

I think of one who's always there, despite the place or time

He's like a star that shines above, a beacon in the night

He guides me through the darkness, and once again to light


While traveling on this journey we're never all alone

With heart and song we walk along the road that leads us home

That road can be a rocky place, sometimes we stumble and fall

But he is there to help us up, we only need to call

And while we may not know what lies ahead, just up around the bend

We still can take some comfort in what's waiting at the end


While traveling on this journey we're never all alone

With heart and song we walk along the road that leads us home




JENNY AND JIMMY

I'm a big fan of the old duet harmony sound of the Monroe Brothers, Blue Sky Boys, Jim & Jesse etc., so this one is a tribute to that sound, and to the old love story ballad song form.


Jenny and Jimmy were sweethearts, they spent sunny days hand in hand

But Jimmy was poor and could not afford to buy Jen a gold wedding band

So he didn't ask her the question that Jenny was longing to hear

And when the winter came he joined a logging team to work the North Woods half a year


I'm going away for the winter, but don't worry while I am gone

I will come back to you in the Springtime

Look for me in the light of the dawn


In April the train whislte sounded, bring the crew back to town

She ran ll the way, but to her dismay Jimmy was not to be found

She marched right up to the foreman to ask if there were anymore

He said we caught the train in Bangor yesterday, but Jimmy did not get on board


I'm going away for the winter, but don't worry while I am gone

I will come back to you in the Springtime

Look for me in the light of the dawn


She waited all night by her window, never abandoning hope

And when the morning came she heard another train and Jimmy came walking up the road

She ran to his arms in the sunrise, The birds were all starting to sing

He said I had to stay in town another day to buy you this gold wedding ring


I'm going away for the winter, but don't worry while I am gone

I will come back to you in the Springtime

Look for me in the light of the dawn




LAST MOUNTAIN

About a year ago I bought and learned to play a mandolin because I had this tune running around my head as I drove around the back mountain roads where I live.  I recorded it myself on mando because I wanted the challenge, plus I needed to justify the purchase!! The title is taken from something Ralph Stanley once said.  When some one years ago asked him how to find his Old Home Place, he said something like "keep going south in the Clinch Mountains, and when you get to the last mountain, the next one is ours."  The tune, however, is more Bill Monroe influenced than anything else.




BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS

The beginning of a relationship is always a bit of a dance, especially when you're uncertain of where the other one stands. So, in addition to the lyrics,  the waltz tempo itself is intentional, as a musical metaphor. This was inspired by all the great old fast waltz tempo songs of the bluegrass masters, in particular Bill Monroe, The Stanley Brothers and Jimmy Martin. all of whom seemed to love the fast waltz "feel."


Round and around in a circle we go

Where will we wind up nobody knows

One thinking lover, one thinking friend

It's backwards and forwards and backwards again


We'll never know what the future will hold if the story's never told

Everything ending before it begins, backwards and forwards and backwards again

Backwards and forwards and backwards again


You come to see me but I'm down in town

I try to reach you  but you're not around

One's going crazy while one's doing fine

Day will be coming when we're out of time


We'll never know what the future will hold if the story's never told

Everything ending before it begins, backwards and forwards and backwards again

Backwards and forwards and backwards again


We seem to find love just when it's gone

No one can hold on like this for too long

Writing a love song that nobody sings

Playing a game that nobody wins


We'll never know what the future will hold if the story's never told

Everything ending before it begins, backwards and forwards and backwards again

Backwards and forwards and backwards again




WALKING BACK TO BRISTOL

This song started with the banjo break, with that strange extra beat and all, which was inspired by the classic Flatt & Scruggs sound where Earl just nails that medium groove on the banjo. I just love that stuff! This is basically a bad decision/hard luck/bad luck story: young guy goes to the big town with big plans, screws up, and things go from bad to worse. As a friend of my said about this song "Oh, that poor b$#@*%rd!"


I left my little mountain farm and dear old Mom and Dad

HEaded up to Burlington to make some needed cash

Had a good job waiting there in a mill uptown

But all my good intentions came crashing to the ground


Saved every nickel, saved every dime

Guess I was only wasting my time

Now that I have lost almost everything I gained

I'm walking back to Bristol with a dollar to my name


Well I found a little sweetheart there, thought I had it made

Took her back to my place to show her what I'd saved

Woke up to the morning light with an aching in my head

Single greenback dollar beside me on the bed


Saved every nickel, saved every dime

Guess I was only wasting my time

Now that I have lost almost everything I gained

I'm walking back to Bristol with a dollar to my name


Now the boss's head was shaking hard when I ran in late

Lifted up his finger and pointed at the gate

Said son you can go right out just the way you came

Go on home to Bristol and don't come back again


Saved every nickel, saved every dime

Guess I was only wasting my time

Now that I have lost almost everything I gained

I'm walking back to Bristol with a dollar to my name


Now I'm walking down this gravel road with these lowdown blues

Single greenback dollar tucked down inside my shoe

Told my family that I would go and make'em proud

They won't be thinking that way when they see me now


Saved every nickel, saved every dime

Guess I was only wasting my time

Now that I have lost almost everything I gained

I'm walking back to Bristol with a dollar to my name




BORROWED TIME

It's interesting to me how some songs take a long, long time to come together.  The music of BORROWED TIME has been with me for over 20 years, including the weird intro guitar lick which I later adapted, changed slightly and added to an arrangement of a cover song I did with Front Range that had a similar groove to this older song. For years I just could never finish the lyrics to this one. I think perhaps it just took an older perspective, since really, that's what the song is about.


I feel so heavy hearted, as night is closing in

I wish that I could tell myself these troubles all will end

But the future always finds us sooner than we like

And when it comes a'knockin' there'll be nowhere left to hide


Got a long way to go and a short time to get there

But I'm not going down without a fight

Cause there's nothing to show on the backside of nowhere

Gotta give it all right down to the line, livin' on borrowed time


All those little voices keeping me awake,

telling me softly not to make a new mistake

Life is always easier head within the sand

But I won't find my way if I can't see where I am


Got a long way to go and a short time to get there

But I'm not going down without a fight

Cause there's nothing to show on the backside of nowhere

Gotta give it all right down to the line, livin' on borrowed time


Wandering and pondering and guessing

While the answer stares me in the face

Will I leave a curse, or a blessing in it's place


Got a long way to go and a short time to get there

But I'm not going down without a fight

Cause there's nothing to show on the backside of nowhere

Gotta give it all right down to the line, livin' on borrowed time




MOTHER OF MINE

This song came into being really fast. My mother is in a nursing home and has sunk deeply into dementia over the past few years. After a visit to see her one day I came home completely emotionally drained. I wrote the song in about an hour, went into the studio that evening and recorded the whole thing. So it was written and recorded within a few hours. It's almost as if I had to complete it all right away, to work out how I was feeling that day. It was a very intense experience. The only thing added later was my son Nate's bass vocal.


Mother of mine, what do you see, through hazel eyes that gaze at me

Through the clouds that haunt you now, can you feel my love somehow


All through the years you were the sun, shining your light on everyone

Clear of mind and heart so true, my world is dimmer without you


Voices are calling far, far away, and though it seems so late in the day

All the love that you have sown blossoms around you, you're not alone


Mother of mine, don't be afraid, loved ones surround you guiding your way

All will be revealed in time, so be at peace, dear mother of mine




LAST FAIR DEAL GONE DOWN (by Robert Johnson)

The only cover song on the album. I'm a big blues fan, and  folks who remember my former band Front Range will perhaps remember that I've done other Robert Johnson covers before. I've been doing this one live  for a few years. It just seems to work as a bluegrass song really well. I did select only certain verses from the original version and put them in a different order to give the song more of a story feel. If Robert is listening, I hope he's OK with that!


It's the last fair deal going down

It's the last fair deal going down

It's the last fair deal going down, good lord

On that Gulfport Island Road


Annabelle don't you cry this time

Annabelle don't you cry this time

If you cry 'bout a nickel, you'll die 'bout a dime

Would you cry, let your money roll by


Oh I love the way you do

Oh I love the way you do

Oh I love the way you do, good lord

On that Gulfport Island Road


But that bell keeps on ringing so soon

Yeah that bell keeps on ringing so soon

Oh that bell keeps on ringing so soon, good lord

On that Gulfport Island Road


Now my captain's so mean on me

Yeah my captain's so mean on me

Oh my captain's so mean on me, good lord

On that Gulfport Island Road


So I'm working my way back home

I'm a'working my way back home

I'm a'working my way back home, good lord

On that Gulfport Island Road


It's the last fair deal going down

It's the last fair deal going down

It's the last fair deal going down, good lord

On that Gulfport Island Road