It’s Harder Than It Looks

While growing up I felt my parents raised us effortlessly
Momma stayed home while Dad worked at the University
And it all seemed so easy, that it would be a breeze
I thought it would come naturally & we’d make great memories

But then I tried as a teenager, tried too hard, now I know
I was chasing girls all the time, man I was rarin’ to go
And it was many years later when she and I finally met
Someone finally took the gamble, I was thinking I was all set

But it’s harder than it looks
You’ve gotta put in a hundred and ten percent
You can’t be thinkin’ of the mistakes from your past
And about where all that precious time went
You’ve gotta be true to what you promised
You’ve gotta be a good man through and through
It’s harder than it looks
To pull that hero outta you

Our house tends to be messy, we’re a two-income family
Our kids keep us very busy, not much time we have is free
We don’t date on the weekends, we don’t have privacy
But we both got what we wanted, this ongoing mystery

It’s harder than it looks
We’ve gotta put in a hundred and ten percent
We can’t be dreamin’ about the old days now
Or about where all that money went
Our kids are counting on us to make good choices
To pay it forward to them while we’re still here
It may be harder than it looked back then
But it’s the time of our lives year after year

It may be harder than it looked back then
But it’s the time of our lives year after year.

2017

Farm Town Boy

He doesn’t work out in the cornfields
His Mama and Daddy outright own
He drives a sedan, not a pickup truck
Doesn’t have to worry about bein’ alone

All them pretty girls really like his smile
He’s full time at his Uncle’s Hardware store
Whenever he sings a new song he wrote
All his friends wanna hear some more

That farm town boy’s got quite a voice
And he sure can play that acoustic guitar
He’s a poet in a denim shirt and cutoffs
His teachers know he’ll be a Country star
For now, he just does his homework
And he writes about what brings him joy
He’ll travel the world with his talent
But inside he’ll always be a farm town boy

He was never very good at playin’ baseball
But he likes hangin’ round with those guys
And his favorite drink is a large Dr. Pepper
He eats a lot of chicken strips with salty fries

His favorite thing to do on a Friday Night
is going to the movies with his girlfriend
He gets all the popcorn and candy she wants
As he’s got a lot of extra money to spend

That farm town boy’s got quite a life
He’s happier than a pig in slop
He’s getting good grades, is a good kid
He sometimes sings in the coffee shop
He’s gonna make it one day in the industry
For now, he’s stuck in Podunk, Illinois
He’ll one day move on to Belmont in Nashville
But inside he’ll always be a farm town boy

Inside he’ll always be a farm town boy.

2017

Lyric Notes:  I hadn’t heard the word “podunk” until I moved out to the Midwest. Had to use it in something and why not put it right next to the state I learned it in!  I liked the idea of creating a character who was growing up in a small town but has aspirations of heading down to Nashville to make it big and will. Small note here, I did get interested in Belmont University in Nashville, TN but decided against it because it was too far from home back then.

These Bonus Years

As I walk along this trail of pebbles
I think of the many days I’ve seen
There have been good ones and bad ones
And the ones that fall somewhere in-between

And I look at these gravestones
I see the average age of the deceased
This reminds me I’m living longer than they did
Then all the grumpiness I have is released

These bonus years
That’s what I call them
They are the gift
That keeps giving to me
These bonus years
Make me feel so grateful
And I realize things now
Are easier than they used to be

I don’t know how long I have left
I know that time is determined by what I do
So instead of being so depressed about my life
I’m thinking the best decision is to come home to you

These bonus years
That’s what they are
They are my friends
Who never let me down
These bonus years
Are so uplifting
This life is better than
Being buried underground

This life is better than
Being buried underground

12/28/04

Lyric Note: Dedicated to my Grandfather, Frank W. Gray. Written at the Coffeehouse in Normal, IL.

Mansion on the Mountain

They built it with the finest materials
The water from the creek went in the fountain
There were all kinds of opulent and special things in
my Grandparents’ mansion on the mountain

They had cobalt blue bottles and plates from all over
The coffee they drank was of the finest blend
They had a clock that was crafted in Germany
They sure knew how to spend

The meals prepared were of the highest quality
The furniture was comfortable and a sight to see
They had pictures they took on the trips they went on
In the summer, they’d take us to the lake to water ski

They had the most amazing garden filled with flowers
They always had the best & unique stories from their past
Their friends were true and just as fortunate as them
Whenever we were with them, we had a blast

They were wealthy in a different way than you may think-
I’ve said the last few descriptions with a smile and a wink

It was a cabin built with scrap wood and plumbing
The septic tank was an old beat up station wagon
They lived month to month and hardly had any savings
Their dog reeked and had the breath of a dragon

Gram made afghans and gave them to us as gifts
Grandpa’s den was actually a storage and tool shed
They always made sure they had clothes on their backs,
the bills were paid and they were well fed

They may have not made a fortune with their quartz mine
but I thought they were millionaires back then.
They didn’t think they were living poorly at all-
To them, it was their mansion on the mountain

October, 2005

In The Shed

Fred found him face down on the floor
holding to a hammer stained with someone’s blood
There were no marks on this person
The bottoms of his boots were caked with mud

The last man who talked to this victim named Ned
said Ned was nervous but he didn’t say why
And they talked about unrelated topics
then Ned said he was afraid he was going to die

In the shed
he was dead
Poor old Ned
got over his head
Nobody saw it coming
Not even his twin brother Fred
who found Ned
in the shed

A few days later, Fred got a letter in the mail
from someone Ned knew pretty well
He admitted he was in the shed that day
and said he remembered it as clear as a bell

He said Ned told him in confidence
about a plan he hatched with a stranger
Ned said the stranger had been threatening him
He knew his life was in serious danger

In the shed
Ned had not bled
He was unwed
and well read
Someone whom with he was chumming
poisoned Ned with lead
not in bed, but
in the shed

The investigators were perplexed by this event
So much so, they brought in the FBI
The FBI probed all of Ned’s neighbors
They finally found the guy

The perp’s name was Ted
Ted’s motive didn’t exist
He wasn’t insane, they figured out
All he was, was pissed

In the shed
at poor old Ned
So he fed
Ned with some lead
While Ned was humming
A sharp tingle hit his head
right there with Ted
in the shed

Fred found Ned
killed by Ted
in the shed.

2003

All The World’s a Cliche’

Shakespeare said the world is a stage
Daniel Webster said there’s always room at the top
Rowe’s Rule says there’s a light at the end of the tunnel
My wife says she’s born to shop

The early bird catches the worm
He who laughs last laughs best
We are what we are, and that’s what we are
Even when we fall from the nest

All the world’s a cliché
Life, it is what we make
It can’t be all beer and skittles
It’s not meant to be a piece of cake
No man is an island
And remember to mean what you say
Some think this world is but a dream
I’ve concluded it’s a fun cliché

In unity there is strength
And it’s better to be happy than wise
Some say it’s all smoke and mirrors
And others feel it’s a big surprise

You never know where it will lead you
When you let nature take its’ course
So never say never and forget
About looking in the mouth of a gift horse

All the world’s a cliché
No one’s above the law
Nothing ventured, nothing gained
When you’re drowning, grab a straw
Finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers
We learn best as we play
The world may be earth and water
But in my mind, it’s a fun cliché

All the world’s one big fat cliché.

2003

Summer’s Such a Bummer Without You

We go to the beach and hang out there until two
Then have fruity drinks on the boat til we need food
My friends have noticed something different about me
They have said they haven’t enjoyed my bad mood

They ask me what’s wrong there, good buddy
And I tell ‘em about everything we’ve been through
I’ve been deeply thinkin’ and my brain’s muddy
Summer’s such a bummer without you

Summer’s such a bummer without you
I hate how I’m feelin’ and I don’t know what I’ll do
I tried soakin’ up my sorrows by being with someone new
But Summer’s such a bummer without you

You and Summer were besties many moons ago
The three of us would just hang out on the deck & drink
Until you caught us in bed & called her a skanky ho
And you threw everything at her but the kitchen sink

Now she’s not any fun at all without you around
In fact she’s been hittin’ on the whole Boat Crew
She’s sloppy sober or drunk, she almost drowned
Summer’s such a bummer without you

Summer’s such a bummer without you
I wish that I could just move there with you in Oahu
I tried living with this girl who’s gone crazy, it’s true
Summer’s such a bummer without you

Oh, Summer’s such a bummer without you.

2017

Lyric Notes: I’ve really loved this Jimmy Buffett phase I’m going through. It probably won’t go away, either. Living in the Santa Cruz area for the first chapter of my life, I was always fond of the ocean, the Santa Cruz Yacht Harbor, the Boardwalk and the steaming sand on a warm day. While I live in the Midwest now, I think all this nostalgia for that area took me to writing a very basic song about a very basic person who enjoyed having two best friends to hang out with and then one of them moved on… So that’s why one of the girls is such a bummer without the other one. Very fun exercise.