Album: Firefly

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1. Better Days 6:10 (lyrics)
2. Underpass 5:31 (lyrics)
3. Red Wing 4:26 (lyrics)
4. The Girl from the Hiring Fair 6:04
5. Where’d You Get That Little Dress? 4:22 (lyrics)
6. Blue Smoke 8:09 (lyrics)
7. Lady of Spain 5:11
8. The Painted Pony 9:43 (lyrics)
9. Nightfall/Who Could Have Known 9:57 (lyrics)
10. Firefly 6:27 (lyrics)

©2001 Snowgoose

Firefly is Garnet Rogers’ ninth solo CD and features eight new original songs from a writer whose songs “give expression to the unspoken vocabulary of the heart” (Kitchener Waterloo Record). Like contemporaries Greg Brown and Dave Alvin – on a path originally cleared by Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly – Garnet Rogers writes about how people live and cope, and how they find their way through an often imperfect and wearying world. “vivid, passionate writing, laden with the fears and courage of hard- hit ordinary people” (Boston Phoenix). The two non-original songs on Firefly, one of which is Ralph McTell’s wonderful “Girl From the Hiring Fair,” ably demonstrate why Garnet Rogers is considered “the greatest male interpreter and vocalist performing in the contemporary folk scene.” (Sing Out) Recorded at the private studio of singer-songwriter Scott Merritt, Firefly accurately reflects what talented people sound like working in a relaxed, un-pressurized atmosphere. Stark, unaccompanied arrangements rub shoulders with lush strings, traditional folk instrumentation overlaps electric guitars and drums, and all of it hangs on Garnet Rogers’ “sense of song, of melody and of story (which) separates him from musicians who add more production simply because they can. (Dirty Linen) This is mature, well-crafted work from an established artist, and Firefly will as well be a wonderful revelation for anyone who is new to Garnet Rogers’ music.

Better Days

Clouds torn to rags in the western sky
Smell of rain upon the breeze
You guide your old car down the gravel road
River shines beyond the trees

Hills nestle close together
Like lovers in their sleep
Outline soft with willows
The valleys dark and deep

There’s a young kid with a fishing pole
He’s watching painted turtles on a log
There’s a smelly knot of restless boys
With a shaggy grinning dog

They call to him and they break his dreams
As he lies there in the shade
He leaps up and grabs his homemade spear
Runs off shouting through the glade

You were that kid long years ago
Before your world was stained
Some heartache and some lonesome years there
Something inside you changed

Too many years slip by too fast
While you’re fighting the good fight
Something lurks inside your chest
It’s like a clock spring, and it’s wound too tight

And there comes a time when maybe money
Is like another way of keeping score
Maybe all this stuff’s just so much junk
Who needs it any more?

So you’re looking for that quiet place
Where no one locks their doors
No asshole with a cell phone
Is ever going to find you anymore

Could be better days ahead

But these graceful and familiar hills
They’re like a lover’s face
They’re soft and gentled by the years
Far from the noise and race

Your eyes grow soft and faraway
Lines fade from around your mouth
You watch the light slant through the trees
The golden fading south

Could be better days ahead

There’s a half-crazed whitetail, he’s wild with rut
He’s giving hell to some poor tree
Wild turkeys running through the brush
There’s a red tail on the breeze

Smell of woodsmoke, pine and river mud
Drift sweetly past your nose
You leave the years behind you
Like a small kid sheds his clothes

So here’s a window you can dream beside, boy
Clear stars above your head
There’s silence, there’s darkness, there’s trees outside
Maybe a woodstove by your bed

In that silent darkness
Red firelight like wine
The wind blows through the branches
Lord God can you feel that spring unwind inside of you?

Better days ahead.

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Slow down mister, would you please?
Cold the wind and rain
Won’t you take me in now before I freeze?
I can’t go home again

I’ve had my fill of this winter town
Cold the wind and rain
It’s pushed me back and it’s slapped me down
I can’t go home again

So I’ve tried all day to outrun this storm
Cold the wind and rain
Feels like years since I was warm
I can’t go home again

Windows dark and the doors nailed tight
Cold the wind and rain
Neon flickers in the gusty night
I can’t go home again

Empty hands held to a trash can fire
Cold the wind and rain
The wind howls and it laughs in the singing wires
I can’t go home again

Hopeless faces pinched and gray
Cold the wind and rain
Saying “the meek shall inherit what we toss away”
I can’t go home again

Slow down mister, would you please?
Give a boy a ride
I’m burning up with shame and need
I’ve nowhere left to hide

So I stand beneath this underpass
Cold the wind and rain
In the dust and the cinders and the stink of gas
I can’t go home again

Still the big trucks roll on through the night
Cold the wind and rain
Like Chinese Dragons with a thousand lights
I can’t go home again

Cold this wind, cold this rain
Cold these outstretched hands
Cold the days left to me now
Running fast like sand

So I smile at strangers but they turn away
Cold the wind and rain
I’m dwindling with each passing day
I can’t go home again

So slow down mister, please, I cry
Cold the wind and rain
I’m as empty as this winter sky
I can’t go home again

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Lace curtains at my window
The south wind blows them in
I heard the Redwing sing today
I think he brought the spring

Winters so long leaving
So shyly comes the spring
Lie beside me darling
Listen to him sing

What a gift of sight you had
To see into my heart
You did not flinch or turn from me
Though you saw me from the start

Likewise love I saw you
Oh our love so rare a thing
That redwing is one happy boy
Would you listen to him sing

The ice broke on the river
I could hear groan and boom
It thundered in the darkness
As we lay there in our room

We held each other sweetly
And we clung all through the night
And the redwing brought the south wind
By the dawning of the light

Well the fox cries in the moonlight
The deer leaps in the wood
The hawk circles o’er the valley
I would touch him if I could

I was born to love you
As the redwing heralds spring
Just lie beside me darling
Listen to him sing

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Where’d You Get That Little Dress?

Where’d you get that little dress?
Where’d you get that hat?
I’ve seen other women trying to wear that stuff
But they don’t look like that

I love the way it frames your face
It sparkles up your eyes
And the dress just does one hell of a job
Of clinging to your thighs darlin’

I had to take a second look
And a third look after that
Where’d you get that little dress?
Where’d you get that hat?

I’m not one for fashion
I don’t care about gay Paris
Those sullen junkies on the runway
All look like hell to me

They pout they pose they curl their lips
They miss too many meals
With their implants and injections
Only God knows what is real

You come downstairs so sweet tonight
You nearly knocked me flat
Where’d you get that little dress?
Where’d you get that hat?
I don’t want Boss or Calvin Klein
No khakis from the Gap
High price junk from Polo
Or that yuppie sweatshop crap

That bondage look from NYC
The whole town’s dressed in black
I want your sweetness in a cotton dress
And a little summer hat

Where’d you get that little dress?
Where’d you get that hat?

Well I know you wanted dinner
Maybe coffee and a show
We could browse around the bookstore
Lots of places we could go

My vote is we hit the sheets
We could stay there for a week
We could huddle under cover baby
Play some hide and seek

I don’t know why your ensemble
Gets to me like that
Where’d you get that little dress?
Where’d you get that hat?

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Blue Smoke

Blue smoke across the stubble fields
River running slow
Charlie watched the moon rise
Fat and pale an hour or so ago

He heard the distant call of geese
In the faintly glowing west
Circling low and falling fast
In the distant fields to rest

He pitched his cigarette past the front porch rail
Watched it glowing in the dark
The night wind rose and stirred the grass
Fanned the glowing spark

It flared and caught the porch boards
Tinder dry from drought
He watched it grow and made no move
To try and put it out

Some shiny new guy down at the bank
With a loud and booming voice
He shuffled papers looked away
Said ‘sir we have no choice’

Charlie tried to reason with them
It’s like they never heard
He had no more to offer them
He only had his word

The wind increased, the flames blew up
The porch grew black and charred
He rose at length, picked up his gun
Walked out in the yard

Where his truck was parked
All piled with boxes, furniture and such
Twenty hears of pain and heartache
Don’t amount to much

No idea where to go
No way for him stay
He turned the key, let out the clutch
Slowly drove away

In the rearview mirror
He watched the flames roar up the wall
Sparks exploded skyward
As he watched the front porch fall

He pulled out on the highway
In the distance saw the lights
Hear the high and keening wail
Of sirens in the night

He pulled a cigarette from his pocket
Hit the lighter in the dash
Carefully thought of nothing
As the fire trucks went passed

He lies quiet in a motel room
His hands behind his head
He keeps his mind a perfect blank
While lying on the bed

The timbers and the chimney rise up
Blackened ruined and charred
To mark the spot where Charlie loved too long
And way too hard

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The Painted Pony

Draw close to me and hear my story
Oh draw close and I will tell
Of a young and faithful soldier
And the girl he loved so well

They met ’twas on a frosty morning
In the autumn of the year
They courted all that winter
Until the winds of spring blew clear

He brought her lily of the valley
Fine silks and precious things
Their love grew ever sweetly
As the flowers bloom in spring

They would roam the fields together
Laughing breathless as they’d ride
They pledged their love together
Forever side by side

One day there came to them a letter
Her soldier boy was called away
Her face grew as pale as the moonlight
She knew not what to say

She said ‘oh love I am so fearful
In some far off field you might die’
He held her tightly and he kissed her
He said ‘I’m not afraid’ but she knew he lied

Then he smiled and he swung to his saddle
He looked across the fields of green
He said ‘I will return love
Though all hell should lie between’

And I’ll bring to you a painted pony
And together love we will ride
Across the flowered plains together
Forever, side by side’

‘Oh I don’t need your painted pony
I lack for nothing love’ she cried
‘Just come back to me darling
Stay forever at my side’

She stood silently then and watched him
He touched his heels to his horse’s side
He cantered past the far horizon
She turned and went inside

One day while waiting at her window
She felt a cloud obscure the sun
Into her heart there came a stillness
She knew her love was gone

‘Hard fate hard fate’ she cried in anguish
Hard fate has come to me this day’
She withdrew into her chamber
Not another word would say

One night while dreaming on her pillow
She dreamt she heard her lover speak
His soft kiss upon her forehead
His warm hand upon her cheek

She heard a tapping at her window
At the tolling of the bell
She raised her head, she saw him standing
The dear one she loved so well

‘Love how came you to my window?
My heart told me you were dead’
He smiled and said ‘don’t you remember?
Don’t you remember what I said?’

He took her to the shadowed courtyard
In the darkness she could hear
The silver jingle of a bridle
He touched her arm and drew her near

‘I’ve brought to you a painted pony’
He said and then the reins he untied
‘Oh come leave these earthly sorrows
Love, together we will ride’

A saddle of the finest leather
And a bridle strung with pearls
They wheeled their horses close together
Close together left this world

They rode across the flowered prairie
And the sun rose red above the hills
They rested by a stand of willows
Let the horses drink their fill

Still they ride every night together
When the evening star is bright
The faithful soldier and his lover
Guide their ponies through the starry night

They ride together through the starfields
Laughing breathless as they ride
Chasing down the stars of heaven
The faithful soldier and his bride

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Who Could Have Known

Who could have known
The sky could turn so calm after a storm?
Who could have known
That the evening breeze might feel this sweet and warm?
And the sky above the trees where the moon has hung its horns
Has faded to the palest shades of grey
The starlings splash and chatter in the fragrant fields of corn
How green it’s grown
Who could have known?

Who could have known
That I might finally shed some pain and start to live
Who could have known
I might finally find it in me to forgive
All that lay between us through those bitter hurtful years
Has melted like dark ice beneath the sun
And the bitterness and the tears and the pain to which I clung
Have finally gone
Who could have known?

Who could have known
That I might look and finally tell gold from dross
Who could have known
I could accept now what was gained and what was lost
All that seemed to matter grows lesser by the day
And a shadow has been lifted from my heart

Like the clean rain falling on me this blessed peaceful day
Like diamonds shone
Who could have known?

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Two miles south of Mendocino
Harbour bell upon the breeze
Curled like dry beseeching hands
There comes a gust of leaves

Poplar gives a shiver
Casts its gold coins to wind
The setting moon is like a fingernail
Hanging pale and thin

The sun is red behind the eastern hills
He can see the morning glow
Red as winter cardinals
Writing haiku in the snow

He shrugs on his shirt, he lights a fire
He begins another day
His heart and love fly eastward
Three thousand miles away

He keeps a picture of a little girl
In a faded Huntsville shirt
Mid-stride in her baggy pants
Her knees stained with grass and dirt

She’s turning by a haystack
Hair bleached by wind and sun
Looking backwards at a scruffy dog
She’s laughing as she runs

He holds that faded photo
Of that happy skinny child
He smiles at it and thinks about her
Running free and wild

Through distant sunlit fields of wonder
Flitting fast and far
Bright and busy as a firefly
With a tadpole in a jar

So it was some twenty years ago
As winter turned to spring
That child grown to a woman now
Stood gazing at a ring

Her golden hair fell forward
As she held it to her breast
She changed his life forever
As she quietly said ‘yes’

Well the sea rolls in from China
Breaks against the distant head
That cracked and faded photo
Is still beside him on the bed

They will have no child to call their own
But to him it’s all the same
He will love the woman that she is
And the child that she remains

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