I Just Want My Brother Back

We would go down to the creek and dip our feet in
Those were just little walks but are good memories
I remember he was the one who told me about
them busy hummingbirds and bumblebees

He’d let me go through all his records and tapes
I’d spend hours studying the liner notes and learn
from all the lyrics – those verses, bridges, and hooks
One favorite was by Kansas, “The Point of No Return”

Now I look at those Polaroid snapshots from our youth
like the one where I’m smiling but missing a front tooth
And I know I have to cope with a very brutal truth
I just want my brother back
When he got into that experimental biplane
I didn’t know that I’d never see him again
That energetic man he was before he went insane
I just want my brother back
I just want my brother back

He’s the one who kept it together and made it through school
Learned three languages and multiple intensive college degrees
Meanwhile, I’ve struggled with odd jobs earning minimum wage
Yet he’d probably say for me, life was a breeze

And I review his yearbooks, remember all his good friends
The ones who knew him more intimately and better than me
I talk with my kids who loved their old Uncle so much
I worry that he’s more accomplished then I’ll ever be

Now I look at those Polaroid snapshots from our youth
like the one where I’m smiling but missing a front tooth
And I know I have to cope with a very brutal truth
I just want my brother back
When he got into that experimental biplane
I didn’t know that I’d never see him again
That energetic man he was before he went insane
I just want my brother back
I just want my brother back

I’m not equipped to handle being the responsible one
I was never the son who knew just about everything
All I could ever do is write these crazy little songs
And muster up the courage to remember them and sing

If I could have traded places with him that night
I would have done it faster than a healthy heartbeat
Instead, I’m the one who takes him for ice cream
and that former genius thinks it’s a special treat

And I watch all those home movies with him in the dark
Sometimes I take him to go fishing at Pinto Lake Park
He thinks he might catch a huge Great White shark
I just want my brother back

I just want my brother back.

March 29, 2018

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It’s What You Did Right

For Barbara J. Gray (Mom)

You worked so darn hard
Raising us kids to be good
During those younger years
You both did the best you could
We were rambunctious as hell
Rebels of our neighborhood
But you accepted the call
and you understood
important things in life
like how we’d end up to be
This is how I deeply feel
about what you’ve taught me

It’s not what you did wrong
It’s what you did right
The house was clean
You protected us three
We were all warm at night
You’ve loved us with all your might
Forgiven us after every single fight
Mom, it’s not what you did wrong
It’s what you did right

Dad was off at the salt mines
So busy there to pay all our bills
And when Winter came to our city
You guys brought us to the hills
Where we could play in the snow
Where we could live a different life
You also knew being our Mother
Was just as vital and important
as being a loving housewife
This is what I sincerely see
You were not just our coach
You’ve been a great referee

We sure had our differences
You and I didn’t always get along
But you gave me a fresh start daily
You’re like an inspirational song

And it’s not what you did wrong
It’s what you did right
I always think of you now
When I don’t have a clue
How to remain calm and polite
Sure, sometimes you were uptight
But you’ll always be my leading light
To me, it’s not what you did wrong
It’s what you did right

Oh no, it’s not what you did wrong
It’s what you did right.

February 19, 2018

 

Sweet Tea Sunset

Sweet tea sunset
With her by my side
Out on the front porch
Our smiles are wide
The kids are playing
before it gets dark
Sweet tea sunset
and this trailer park

Most of our family
say we’re not rich
They look at our home
and start to twitch
But we love it here
It’s ours alone
It’s so calm here
in this time zone

Sweet tea sunset
and us holding hands
Spotify streaming
our favorite bands
What we worked for
was life undismayed
Sweet tea sunset
like art by Kincade

Happy to be here
Friends are closeby
in this great town
We look to the sky
that’s like a painting
every single night
Sweet tea sunset
An amazing sight

Sweet tea sunset
An amazing sight

February 18, 2018

Camping with Gramps

 

We were born in the city
Didn’t know a Rainbow Trout from a Bass
and we grew up going
to different schools and attending mass

But our parents agreed
to let us spend time in LaPorte
We weren’t at a sleepaway
or some high-class fancy resort

We were with my Dad’s Mom & Dad
They lived in an A-frame cabin alone
Far from the crowds and traffic
They had an old radio and rotary phone

But it wasn’t all that we looked forward to
It was all the adventures we loved to do

While camping with Gramps
We got to learn how to fish in the streams
He’d encourage us to dream big dreams
of catchin’ big ones to gut and cook
We were livin’ life not readin’ a book
While camping with Gramps
We got to know him and his worldview
He taught us everything he knew
He showed us nature and paintings
He told us to value people not just things
Gram taught us Cribbage
and I read her books & liked all her stamps
But what I loved most of all was camping with Gramps

And my older brothers
they outgrew going so I went with cousin Dave
Gramps would tell us
to go out by ourselves on walks and be brave

We’d drink straight from the cold creek
on those scorchin’ summer days
We’d chase butterflies
and appreciate the sneaky bears & bluejays

And we played tennis on a court we helped make
But we always ended up goin’ out towards the lake

While camping with Gramps
We got to learn how to fish in the streams
He’d encourage us to dream big dreams
of catchin’ big ones to gut and cook
We were livin’ life not readin’ a book
While camping with Gramps
We got to know him and his worldview
He taught us everything he knew
He showed us nature instead of paintings
He told us to value people not just things
Sure Gram made us dinner
and I read her books & liked all her stamps
But what I loved most of all was camping with Gramps

What I loved most of all was camping with Gramps.

January 2, 2018

If I Was Completely Up to You

Would my bank account be overflowing?
Would I have muscles rather than fat?
Would I be a gourmet chef or therapist?
Would I be juggling more than one hat?

Would I have a job I’ve had for years?
Would I shop at Saks Fifth Avenue?
What would I be like
If I was completely up to you?

Would my eyes and hair be dark brown?
Would I have a dimpled chin?
Would I be more inclined for business?
Would I have more polite kin?

Would my mind be more logical?
Would everything I wear be brand new?
What would quickly change
If I was completely up to you?

I don’t have lots of money
I don’t look like a million bucks
And I’m not much into hunting
Pheasant, doves or ducks
I’m not much, I admit it
But your daughter loves me nonetheless
Why she does, well I don’t know
That’s anybody’s guess

Would you lecture me every day?
Would you have me followed constantly?
Would you tell her it would be best
If she’d just set me free?

Would you pack my stuff and kick me out
Of the love I thought was true?
Tell me, what you would do
If I was completely up to you?

Would I still be her husband
If it was completely up to you?

2005

Being Married to Her

Being married to her is an adventure
She takes me to places I haven’t been
She’s kinda like my own Becky Thatcher
and I’m of course her Huckleberry Finn

It may not all be pink champagne and red roses
Our memories are of death and graves of friends
and we’ve driven through some difficult storms
Had some quarrels but we quickly made amends

Chorus
I’ve thought about them while being married to her
The roads we’ll roam until where we’ll end up to be
But the times I don’t question why we’re together
Are the moments when she smiles and looks at me

Being married to her is a long journey
She and I have lost the map along the way
So we’re winging it with our hearts and intuition
and we’re taking steps slowly day by day

We’re enjoying the view and each other’s company
Showing our kids places they’ve never seen
And encouraging them to try out different things
Hoping they will keep their noses clean

Chorus 2
I’ve sometimes wondered if they will remember
All the little things we’ve done to build their brains
The times I don’t question if we’ve taught them right
Are when they’re laughing during their growing pains

Break, then Back to Chorus 2 and then;

Last Chorus
And I’ve sometimes wondered while being married to her
If I’ll be missed by our children and my loving spouse
Then I remember they’ll always have their memories
we made together in our various cars and humble house

2017

It May Have Been a Shithole (But It Was Home)

We lived on the other side of the tracks
Where the hookers spent all night on their backs
Where the hobos fell down through the cracks
Where I figured out what I was gonna do

Daddy, he worked out at the lumberyard
and Momma had a job as a prison guard
My siblings were mean – they called me a retard
and my ass was often purple and blue

It may have been a shithole but it was home
My parents, they did the best they could
When I felt I needed an adventure
The nearby junkyard I would roam
Oh, it may have been a shithole but it was home

I’d hang out with kids who were older than me
We were all like one big messed up family
My parents were too poor to own a TV
I’d get used books from the library book sale

We’d go to the Salvation Army for our clothes
Why we went through that, God only knows
When Daddy wasn’t at work, he’d compose
about the different things he went through in jail

And it may have been a shithole but it was home
My parents, they did the best they could
When I felt like I needed an adventure
The nearby junkyard, I would roam
Oh, it may have been a shithole but it was home

One fateful day my Daddy’s fortune was reversed
No longer did we all feel that we were cursed
The song we all thought was his worst
was picked up and recorded by a famous man

The royalties alone paid for a brand new place
The money we made put a smile on Momma’s face
Daddy taught us it’s not how fast you run the race
You just gotta stick to your guns and your plan

Well it may have been a shithole but it was home
and I don’t go back there as often as I should
I’m now on my own crazy adventure
and my doctor said I have Stockholm Syndrome
It may have been a shithole but it was home

Oh, it may have been a shithole but it was home.

2017