dead man's blues

Woke up this morning and had this sneak up on me just as I was heating up my morning cocoa. When, oh when, will I stop writing songs about death? Eh, probably never. One of those big themes that tends to characterize a person's work in general. Even though any particular example can be read through a number of different conceits as well.

This one, however, is unambiguously about death. It is also unambiguously the blues! Dave had been saying to me a time ago that it would be awesome if I wrote something else that did the thing that but the ghost does. While that song has things that I don't yet know how to do again (that being the nature of magic), I can write more blues. And I have never yet failed in a songwriting challenge / commission once I have decided to accept it. I am still a little growly and suspicious of this song because the tune is too similar to Pentecostal basement dream. However, if I have to play one and hoard the other up, this is the one I will play. It is the tighter and craftier example, equally Minerva methoded but better revised between breakfast table and desk.

[dead man's blues] 12/2/08

when you get busy dying
you let your buildings go
you open up your heart
and turn them out into the snow
won't fix their leaky rooftops
won't mend their broken glass
you root through your possessions
for a torch that you can pass

what you're afraid of losing
it isn't yours to lose
who's gonna keep on walking
in a dead man's shoes

your bank account is empty
your guns have turned to rust
you look round at your friends
and realize whom you can trust
not to give you affection
not not to lay the blame
but who'll use the right inflection
when it's time to speak your name

you'll break your heart in choosing
what isn't yours to choose
who's gonna keep on walking
in a dead man's shoes

the flowers by the sidewalk
smell much sweeter than before
you catch yourself a' weeping
when the wind comes in the door
you wrap yourself in music
to warm your shivering soul
you tried hard not to abuse it
but you never had control

thought you knew just how to use it
but that was all a ruse
who's gonna keep on walking
in a dead man's shoes

it's like you never paid attention
to what happens every day
now there's a whole new dimension
nothing getting in its way
not who will love you tender
or what they'll put you through
but how will you be remembered
and most of all, by who

shame you can't stick around
to hear the news
who's gonna keep on walking?
that's the dead man's blues.