Way Back Home

When the snow melts high on the mountain top
It’s on its way back home
Run down to the river, meet another rain drop
It’s on its way back home

When the spring air warms and the birds wing by
They’re on their way back home
Rushing back to the nest, gonna bring a new life
They’re on their way back home

Everything that I can see
Doesn’t even bother to look at me
They’re just singing loud and cheerfully
“We’re on our way back home”

When I lay down my shovel and the work is done
I’m on my way back home
Give a shout to the mountains and the setting sun
I’m on my way back home

When my grandmother sits in her rocking chair
She’s on her way back home
She lived her life as one long prayer
And she’s on her way back home

Everything that I can see
Doesn’t even bother to look at me
They’re just singing loud and cheerfully
“We’re on our way back home”


© Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Hard Times

Drove my first spike on the Pennsylvania Railroad
Twenty miles from Pittsburgh, when Windber lived on coal
Cuts like a knife, the way the winter wind blows
And the dull thud of the summer sun done beat down on my sou

It’s a hard time livin’ in these hard, hard times
It’s a hard time livin’ in these hard, hard times
It’s a hard time livin’ in these hard, hard times

Steel in the mills and in the eyes of the preacher’s daughter
Allegheny Mountains don’t hold no hope no more
Steel in the hills, the steel is in the water
And the blood is on their hands as they go walking out the door

It’s a hard time livin’ in these hard, hard times
It’s a hard time livin’ in these hard, hard times
It’s a hard time livin’ in these hard, hard times

© Seth Thomas Crissman and Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

A Tree and a Train

She’s like a tree to me
A maple, stable and serene
Providing shade and leafy green
Protection from the worst of all the thistles

I’m like a train to him
A smoky rush, mighty gust of wind
Blowing where the forests already thinned
And slowing only when I whet my whistle

He’s like the sea to me
Steady, strong, upon the beach
The ocean’s motion leaves it clean
The sand made brand new every morning

I’m like the waves to her
Poseidon’s passion, crashin’ towards and
Dashin’ ‘gainst the rocks on her eastern shore
The lighthouse issuing its warning

Hold me now
As we go ‘round

She’s like a tree to me
A maple, stable and serene
I’m like a train to him
A smoky rush, mighty gust of wind
He’s like the sea to me
Steady, strong, upon the beach
I’m like the waves to her
Poseidon’s passion, crashin’ towards and
Dashin’ ‘gainst the rocks on her eastern shore

© Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Watch the Mountain Burn

A ruby hue up over the hill
Tells me the trees have turned to tinder, the fire is rolling still
And in the night the crimson glow
Sings of 10,000 acres laid to waste in Shenandoah


They say after fire new life will come
But you can’t tell that to the woman burned in the losing of her son
And from the ashes rises something new
Good luck believing in those words when the ashes come for you

This ain’t your fault, you don’t have to fix it
This broken heart is a paper-dry, brittle fern
There ain’t no hope that the smoke is gonna miss us
But won’t you sit with me while I watch the mountain burn

We need rain, to water this dry land
But your bucket’s not gonna touch this wildfire, nothing can
There are no words, nothing you can do
Except to hold my hand and feel the heat until it’s through

This ain’t your fault, you don’t have to fix it
This broken heart is a paper-dry, brittle fern
There ain’t no hope that the smoke is gonna miss us
But won’t you sit with me while I watch the mountain burn

© Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Ruffle No Feathers

I heard tell that a drink from the well
Is clear and sweet, like a ringing bell
When the bell tolls, it touches my soul
At least that’s what I’m told

I been told there are streets of gold
Ready and waiting for my soul

But my soul sings of a sparrow’s wings,
A packet of seeds, and a set of strings.

I’m gonna bide my time
Ain’t gonna ruffle no feathers
‘Til I’m ready to fly
Then give me wings

Many a man sets his hand
To the shaping of stone in his own homeland
The seed is good, steel strings and wood,
And then there’s a well where a wall once stood


The sparrow’s nest, by the sunset blessed
Is a harbor, refuge, place of rest
But watchful eyes know the western the skies
She waits for the sign, then away she flies

I’m gonna bide my time
Ain’t gonna ruffle no feathers
‘Til I’m ready to fly
Then give me wings


© Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Norfolk Southern

There’s a lonesome whistle rattling my door
But it’s been years, and the trains don’t come through anymore
Doesn’t seem to matter, that sound won’t leave me alone
And it’ll be many more years ‘til the Norfolk Southern can carry me home

There’s a creeping darkness under my skin
Though it’s been awhile since the wolf knocked, and I’ve never let him in
Still I cannot change it, cannot change that I am only flesh and bone
And I am bound to wait for the Norfolk Southern to carry me home

The day is long, and I know I’m not strong enough
These feet can’t get the job done
The night moves slow, hear the whistle blow
When’s that train gonna come?


There’s a hungry longing begging my bones
To take me back to a time when I knew my way home
Nothing looks familiar, can’t remember the places I’ve known
So I am left here just hoping the Norfolk Southern can carry me


© Gregory J. Yoder and Seth Thomas Crissman, 2016

 

Far From the Promised Land

Sitting on the bank, watch the waters go
Headed up north from the Shenando’
Try to hold on ‘fore these things all pass
The last are the first when the first go last
The last are the first when the first go last

Night draws near, rain falls hard
These two legs have journeyed far
I pray, “please Lord, take my hand”
I am far from the promised land

Wind on the water and wind in the trees
Wind gonna blow me down to my knees
Blowin’ all the way to kingdom come
Not my will but yours be done
Not my will but yours be done

Night draws near, rain falls hard
These two legs have journeyed far
I pray, “please Lord, take my hand”
I am far from the promised land

I told Peter and I told Paul
That I’ll join in the building with my hammer and saw
The water is rushing and the wind does blow
But it’s a long, long walk from the Shenando’
Oh it’s a long, long walk from the Shenando’

Night draws near, rain falls hard
These two legs have journeyed far
I pray, “please Lord, take my hand”
I am far from the promised land

© Seth Thomas Crissman and Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Desert's Dry

Are you lost? It begs the question
As you sit there all alone
When you arrive where you're headed
How is it that you'll know?

Desert's dry, there's no rain a comin'
Not a river bed in sight
So I pray to God in Heaven
'Cause my throat and my soul have run dry

I'd take a drink of somethin' stronger
to forget a God who isn't near

Said, “Good things will surely find me”
I’m not sure Hope can find me here.

When's that rain finally comin'?
Where are those waters still?
When're we headed towards green pastures
O'er the Jordan, I'll wait until


But for now the desert's dry, there's no rain a comin'
Not a river bed in sight
So I pray to God in Heaven
'Cause my throat and my soul have run dry


© Seth Thomas Crissman, 2016

Almost Out of Words

When the winter nights were long
I was working on a song
The melody danced sweetly round my head
Then spring came in a rush
And my singing voice was hushed
And now I’m almost out of words again

When the grass began to green
The world appeared serene
And life was bursting forth from things once dead
But me and my love knew
What a dreary day could do
And now we’re almost out of words again

Don't place no roses by my window
I can't see no flowers, and I've felt my share of thorns
I still walk that long dark night
I keep looking for the light
But now I'm almost out of words again

As the summer nights wear on

Long days of work may make me strong
And sweet dreams may come once more to my bed
But if you see my eyes
And they're searching empty skies
That's when I’m almost out of words again


Don’t place no roses by my window
I can’t see no flowers, and I’ve felt my share of thorns
I still walk that long dark night
I keep looking for the light
And now I’m almost out of words again

I'll always walk that long dark night,
Keep on looking for the light
Even when I'm almost out of words again


© Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

 

Trouble Was a Train

Marylou wore a dress of blue
Cool and crisp as the morning dew
Tried to hide from view all the pain she knew
Trouble was a train come a rolling through

Johnny Greer was the engineer
Saw the rickety rails, knew he better steer clear
But the mind can’t fear what the heart holds dear
Indigo pleats and a runaway tear

Marylou drew nigh with a whispered sigh,
Said, “leave your train, and away let's fly“
Then turned her eye to the raven black sky,
And vanished on the wind without saying goodbye

Trouble was a train come a rolling through

Johnny’s heart awoke with the words she spoke
On the way from Boone to Roanoke
Till then he’ll choke on the billowing smoke
Coming from the train and the fire she stoked

Trouble was a train come a rolling through
Trouble was a train
Trouble was a train come a rolling through
Trouble was a train come a rolling through



© Jackson T. Maust and Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Smoky Mountains

Let me take you on a journey back
Back to those hills of North Carolina
Let me take you on a journey back
Back through those years that we would rather forget
I’m not ashamed, even though the trees have placed their blame
Even though the clouds spit on my name
But I cannot cross the Smoky Mountains

We were young and we were so in love
Back in those hills of North Carolina
We were young and we were so in love
We had it all, and we would not let go
We wanted to believe that we could be true
No matter how the winds blew
All across the Smoky Mountains

I run off and left her all alone
Back in those hills of North Carolina
I run off and left her all alone
Without a word to say where I had gone
The smoke will rise from the ashes of a dream that’s died
Drifting up to where the angels fly
All across the Smoky Mountains

The smoke will rise from the ashes of a dream that’s died
Drifting up to where the angels fly
But I cannot cross the Smoky Mountains


© Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Cold and Harsh

Cold and harsh the north wind blows
Deep in the morning early
All the hills are covered with snow
Winter’s now come fairly

When the warm sun’s laid to rest
Underneath night’s cover
Warm we’ll keep ‘til the storm’s passed
Me and my fair lover

Summer, spring, and fall are fine
Green the grass, red the roses
But if I choose one for all time
It’s winter’s arms to hold us

© Seth Thomas Crissman, 2016
(v.1 from traditional English folk rhyme; author Anon.)

 

 

Summertime Livin' (Good for the Summertime Soul)

Sippin’ on summer, got a glass from the past,
Pass da tea to me, please; see? I got class
Iced-tea nicely sends me reminiscing
To those summer time nights spent summer-time kissing
Listen, I’m not missing the summer snakes hissing
But the bliss of the kiss, mmm, this kid’s wishing his
Summer never ended, summer is splendid
Lazing, watching cows grazing, I can recommend it
Spend my summer in the fields, see what they yield
Kneeling, dealing in seeds and stealing out weeds
And feeling the breeze and feeling at ease, come and go as I please
New life is coming, my wife is humming,
Guitar by the stars, I’m sprightly strumming
And nightly hoping, open skies forthcoming,
First star, wish summer-time beat’d keep drumming

Summertime livin' is good for the summertime soul

Come suppertime, I’m summertime grilling
Veggies heavy on my plate, limes summer-time chilling
In my drink, filling up the chinks in my armor left by the shawarma,
Sound the alarm, I’m loving this life, eating out most nights,

Not out in a diner, but the food’s out of sight
Got a table on the porch and it didn’t cost a fortune
Dining al fresca, and living like Gorschwin
Pardon my German, what I meant was Gershwin
George got me singing like a summertime person

"Summertime, and the living is easy,
and I’m primed to keep it light and breezy,"
And tonight, though it’s cheesy, let’s dance by the moon
This’ll get you whistling a summertime tune
Toes start tapping when I start rapping
It’s the summertime, honey, so just let it happen

Summertime livin' is good for the summertime soul


© Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

Blue Ridge Mountains

I heard Virginia calling me
When I was down in Tennessee
The Smoky Mountains were in between
Me and the Blue Ridge


Whether it’s Asheville, North Caroline
Or Nashville, it will suit me fine
But I won’t be home again ‘til I’m
Back in the Blue Ridge

Blue Ridge Mountains meet me at my door
When I’m tired and I can walk no more
Carry me up Afton, show me what I’m asking for
Blue Ridge Mountains, meet me at my door

Long before she knew my name
I heard her calling all the same
Virginia whispers, “there ain’t no shame in
Loving the Blue Ridge”

Whether from Johnstown or Ohio
Or Michigan’s thumb with its low sky overhead
Seems that every road I know
Leads to the Blue Ridge


Blue Ridge Mountains meet me at my door
When I’m tired and I can walk no more
Carry me up Afton, show me what I’m asking for
Blue Ridge Mountains, meet me at my door

When my walking days are done
Virginia’s gonna carry me into the setting sun
When I rest my weary my bones
Virginia's gonna cradle them as if they were here own

Blue Ridge Mountains meet me at my door
When I'm tired, and I can walk no more
Carry me up Afton, show me what I'm asking for
Blue Ridge Mountains, meet me at my door



©Gregory J. Yoder, 2016

C'est La Vie

Honey, life is funny, when it comes to having money
The more you have, the more you seem to need
Yes, the simple life is better, though at times a little wetter
An umbrella’s nice, but getting soaked is free


For the man who has the money, life is always sunny
He’s lounging on his island in the south
But for me, life is much finer in the north of Carolina
When the peaches are lounging in my mouth

Hey, this is life;
it’s midnight in the meadow,
dancing with the fireflies                                   
C’est, c’est la vie;
it’s the little things that mean the most,
And the little things are free


My friend, I see it in your face, I too am weary of the race
Annuities and stocks have me in bonds
Allow me to suggest that we invest in what is best
A lazy restful afternoon down by the pond

Some think a friendly disposition is a medical condition
And you’re crazy if you love somebody else
But I say tell the huddled masses they can bring their sorry glasses
And we’ll fill ‘em to the brim and toast their health

Hey, this is life;

it’s rising in the morning, when there are rubies in the sky
C’est, c’est la vie;
it’s an old friend on a porch swing, on a chilly summer’s eve
Hey, this is life;
it’s the sweet kiss that says it all, welcome home or goodbye
C’est, c’est la vie; 
it’s the little things that mean the most,
and the little things are free

©Gregory J. Yoder, 2016