HARD​-​SCRABBLE DREAMS​/​WPA 13

by Bill Mallonee

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*(The suggested price of Bill Mallonee's 10 song, "Hard~Scrabble Dreams," is $7.50.)
"THE POOR LIVE IN TWO PLACES"
by Bill Mallonee

This album was inspired by 3 sources.
One was John Steinbeck's eloquent work, "The Grapes of Wrath." The person and spirit of the fictional Tom Joad still serves as a spark to the conscience and a beacon of justice to us.

The second inspiration was a gift from Muriah, a photographic essay, called, "Bound For Glory" (America In Color 1938-1943) It is an arresting testimonial. Field photographers were sent out by The Farm Security Administration (later the Office of War Information) into parts of the country devastated by the Great Depression. Their job was to record and capture on Kodachrome film lives of Americans on Eastman-Kodaks new film. Their images of "just plain Americans," I believe, are some of the most heroic and inspiring you'll ever see.

The last inspiration was a gift as well.
It was a gift from the American people. It came from the folks I've played over these past 22 years. This land & it's great people have always been the frame of reference of my work, from the day I first crawled into an rattle-trap van to do my first US tour in 1991. They, and their stories and lives, have been inspiring me ever since.
As a rambling songwriter/troubadour, it has been my privilege to meet and converse with folks from all walks of life. I've been made privy to their stories, their dreams, their struggles and their grief. It comes, as they say, "with the territory." Often they wore the face of the poor, the disheartened and disenfranchised.
Sure, I played my shows.
But I also "took notes."

I learned much by observation & reflection. I learned that the economic systems that glorify the independent, aggressive and savvy "virtues" of the American businessman often fail to mention that every successful empire builds it's wealth and power and prestige on the backs of the poor, the meek, the less privileged.

And just like all the books I loved as a youth reported: Among the poor, there was a faith, a heroism and a day-to-day "true grit" that seemed like a grace from God. Rarely did they complain. Rarely did they "give up."
And always they seemed to love each other and find something good in everyone.

And so here's the kicker:
The "poor" live in two places: The first place isn't hard to miss: In every ghetto, on every "poor side of town," on every "wrong side of the track," you'll find them. The poor are all around us. Even Jesus said, "the poor you will always have with you..."

But the poor also live inside of us. We are them. They are a reminder that a man is not the measure of his possessions. They remind us that it is not by our own hands that we attain & succeed in this world as much as we'd like to believe otherwise. Indeed, they remind us that our souls are not so full and that our spirits are not so at peace.
Those things (our precious souls & our spirits) daily need nurture, a kind word, and grace. Even if it's the grace we must extend to ourselves.

The poor remind us that it is still a world of grave injustice and a world where there is so much yet to be done. So many wounds to bind up, so many broken thing to be set straight. Would that God would grant us all grace begin to hear their cries more clearly and respond with our hearts...and hands.

Because often the "poor"are already "on the way." Because for them, in spite of their best intentions, life is a crucible. Not one they chose, but (for whatever reasons) one handed to them. It is one in which they have frequently begun to manifest those curious attributes of "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control." Everything that makes us truly human. Everything that brings forth (to quote President Lincoln) "the better angels of our natures."

These are things they can't teach or compel in schools. Things learned in the hard scrabble of life. Things regal,
things hallowed,
things eternal.

Peace,
bill mallonee

credits

released March 9, 2012

Bill Mallonee: 6 string, 12 string & nylon string guitars, vocals, harmonicas, drums, songs
Muriah Rose: pianos, vocals

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about

Bill Mallonee

Bill Mallonee is an Americana artist w/ 75 plus albums over a 25 year career. Voted by Paste Music Magazine #65 in their "Top 100 Living Songwriters" poll. He was the
founding member of Vigilantes of Love. He has worked with Mark Heard, Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, & Peter Buck from REM.
His most recent work, "The Rags of Absence" released in Jan. 2017.
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Track Name: YEAH,YEAH,YEAH (I Got Faith Like A Butterfly's Wings)
YEAH, YEAH, YEAH (faith like a butterfly's wing) words/music: bill mallonee

I can tell you're not sure if you wanna go
and really that's most understandable
there's a lot involved in where to place your bet
and all the reports seem a lil' suspect

taking a stab at matters of the heart
shooting in the proverbial dark
you gotta a prayer like the breath of a little baby
i wish i knew how you felt about me

chorus:
yeah, yeah, yeah...not much i can bring
yeah, yeah, yeah...i got faith like a butterfly's wing
yeah, yeah, yeah...there's a world beneath your skin
For God's sake try to be your own best friend
yeah, yeah, yeah...

autumn branches been stripped bare
your breath it freezes & hangs in the air
the wind it howls over the bleak terrain
if you make it back here well, you're n'er the same

You're searching for a secret on this path
always a little elusive just outta grasp
but the stones on the way have been worn smooth
so maybe that'll be some comfort to you
Track Name: LONG SINCE GONE
LONG SINCE GONE words/music: bill mallonee
smoke driftin' from a wood fire
way back in the pines of Carolina...
closing down store...one year more
of coming up short

CHORUS:
hung heads and heavy sighs
winter comin' on
what lil' was left is
long....since....gone

now the field's are barren
factory up & moved it overseas
boarded up town
ghosts walkin' the streets

And they all say one thing
back on the hill
it ain't come back yet
maybe it never will...

old ways...old paths
all of 'em drowned...in a sea of progress
history doubles back...to shake hands with
when you got nothing left...and nothing left to lose
Track Name: BAKERSFIELD (The Power & The Glory Sessions)
BAKERSFIELD music/lyrics: bill mallonee

You crawled into that boxcar...thinkin' you were alone
let your eyes got adjusted to the light...and those 50 other souls
some runnin' from the law...some runnin' harder from the Lord
most just lookin' for an honest job...to feed the kids back home

Chorus:
from the drought in Oklahoma...to the stockyards of Bakersfield
it's mostly bread you begged for...and some sawdust in your meal
the only gold i ever found...the only treasure i did find
was looking in your eyes...your body next to mine

how much of this is punishment? how much are ya' choosin'?
how much got set in motion....when the garden fell to ruins?
would you be my brother and sister...we all could use a home
the pride of man may stand real tall...ah, but no one goes at this alone

There's so little we walk out with...and there's so much that gets lost
seems to me it's pretty easy to see...where all cut from the same cloth
so you crawl into that boxcar...thinkin' yer alone
let your eyes rest with a hallowed-ness...on all those other souls
Track Name: FAITH (It All Comes Soaked In Gasoline)
FAITH (IT ALL COMES SOAKED IN GASOLINE)
words/music: bill mallonee

Dunno what you heard 'fore you got here
Dunno what you thought you'd see
one thing about faith, you can be sure of
It all comes...soaked in gasoline
It all comes...soaked in gasoline

Foreman's car pulls into Hooverville
has 100 jobs for 1000 men
al the kids are starving
so it won't cost him a thing
and gun toting deputy wears a shiny badge
but it don't mean a GD thing
one thing about faith, you can be sure of
It all comes...soaked in gasoline
It all comes...soaked in gasoline

bridge:
they'll douse the camp at midnight
so you better be up and packed
one day soon more than fire will fall
when that fella strikes the match

They say the Savior had nowhere to lay his head
soon they'll burn this campground down

i dunno what you heard before to got here
dunno what you thought you'd see
one thing about faith, you can be sure of
It all comes...soaked in gasoline
It all comes...soaked in gasoline
Track Name: CALIFORNIA
CALIFORNIA words/music: bill mallonee
The family’s last things have been cleared out
‘cept your memories and your luck
& whatever’s in your coat pocket
or will fit into a pick-up truck
this land was our’s for 40 years
but it ain’t ours no more
banker with a gold watch said: “I tried to warn ya’!”
I'm off to look for God in California

Now, I’ve heard there was work to be had
picking fruit in the bright warm sun
I aim to see if it’s true or not
and if it is, well I’m gonna get me one.
I was taught hard work will take you far.
I was taught fairness is a guiding star
But that ever worked out in Oklahoma
maybe it will in California.

Bridge:
Red dust hangin’ in the air.
Red dust in yer eyes and ears.
Red dust filling up every seam
hope there’s no red dust in The San Joaquin

I gotta preacher friend who don’t preach no more
but he sees way more than he did before
had a vision and now he’s at a loss
saw the Spirit moving in every soul
says a man can die before he gets old
and Jesus, is still hangin’ on that cross for ya’
out there in golden California
Track Name: YOU'RE A TREASURE NO ONE OPENED (So I Asked You For The Key)
YOU WERE A TREASURE NO ONE OPENED (SO I ASKED YOU FOR THE KEY)
music/lyrics: bill mallonee

Now the stars, well they hung just like jewels in an old Kentucky sky
I was in need of some renewal, but I could not tell you why
your spirit was strong and serious and deeper than the sea
You were a treasure no one had opened, so I asked you for the key.

There are paths a woman has to take, when it’s time to flee
maybe ghost or two you gotta shake when yer getting yourself free
and all those road maps that they handed you proved faulty to a “T.”
You were a treasure no one had opened, so I asked you for the key.

There’s a light that lingers in a bar. There’s a certain way it falls
and the neon, she just whispers...softly after “last call.”
And just for a golden moment, your eye it did catch mine
and me I knew right there and then we could last a lifetime

Now all the best songs remain unsung if you catch my notion
and a maybe poem that’s a deep as the sea is better left unspoken
Still my lips will try to speak of everything you mean to me
You were a treasure no one had opened, so I asked you for the key
Track Name: WHAT YOU TAKE (and What You Leave Behind)
WHAT YOU TAKE (and What You Leave Behind)
words/music: bill mallonee

Between the clear as day and the wonderfully oblique
'tween the dross in your veins and the treasure you still seek
the span of years that reaches here to the skies
what you take and what you leave behind

between what you've seen and what your lips can tell
between the stuff if the holy and the hard sell
it occurs to you it was just gentle on your mind
what you take and what you leave behind

between the counterfeit and the mother of all pearls
just beneath the skin of this tired old weary world
life and death and shade o either side
what you take and what you leave behind

you try to make the puzzle pieces fit
is there a pattern here or it is all just randomness
and that kiss of yours that opened up me eyes
what you take and what you leave behind
Track Name: LONG SINCE GONE (alt mix)
LONG SINCE GONE words/music: bill mallonee
smoke driftin' from a wood fire
way back in the pines of Carolina...
closing down store...one year more
of coming up short

CHORUS:
hung heads and heavy sighs
winter comin' on
what lil' was left is
long....since....gone

now the field's are barren
factory up & moved it overseas
boarded up town
ghosts walkin' the streets

And they all say one thing
back on the hill
it ain't come back yet
maybe it never will...

old ways...old paths
all of 'em drowned...in a sea of progress
history doubles back...to shake hands with
you got nothing to trade on...and nothing left to lose