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Lyrics from the CD "The Lights of Brigantine"

Eisenhower Summer, 1952
Better Man
Diner
Hard Love
Snowing in Jerusalem
The Path of Least Resistance
Hard Times
Cross the Wide Missouri
Promises and Rain
Radio Road
Steel and Stone
Old Dancing Fool
The Lights of Brigantine


(All content 2005 George Wirth)
(Recording details are available HERE)



Eisenhower Summer, 1952   
Saturday morning, 10:00 AM, she’s walking out the door
Her old man is still in bed sleeping off the night before
She’s heading up to Main Street, on this warm July
Off to see another side of life go marching by

A thousand forty-eight star flags are waving up and down the street
Cops in full dress uniform out in the morning heat
There’s hot dog stands and marching bands and it’s all red white blue
It’s an Eisenhower summer, 1952

Old folks are lined along the curb parked in folding chairs
Kids are climbing lamp posts and running everywhere
It’s a symphony of sight and sound on a perfect summer day
The crowd down here lets out a cheer as the band begins to play

Xylophones and snare drums set the rhythm and the rhyme
Majorettes spin steel batons and step in perfect time
And the highschool band is wailing, man, they’re just about in tune
They’ll be playing in the park tonight beneath that summer moon

Here comes the new Miss Reingold in a brand new Cadillac
She’s waving at the people and they’re all waving back
And she looks just like her picture up on that billboard sign
Five foot two, eyes of blue, lips like cherry wine

There’s that brand new fire truck, an adolescents dream
The chrome is polished up so bright it makes it hard to see
And the driver makes that siren sing with a face that’s filled with pride
Kids are lining up around the block to take her for a ride

Now the boys from the VFW march by with new recruits
In uniforms that fit too tight and worn out combat boots
And some of them are looking back, and some look straight ahead
And some look like they’d rather be somewhere else instead

Jaycees and Young Republicans are marching to the beat
Democrats for Stevenson are staring at their feet
When even little kids sing “I like Ike ” there’s not much left to lose
In an Eisenhower summer, 1952

Everybody gathers in the square once they all get downtown
There’s nothing left but speeches then things start winding down
And she doesn’t speak much English but she stays until the end
Then she heads back down Grove Avenue on that long walk home again

On Monday she’ll be back at work at the factory down the street
Hands burning from the acid wash, standing all day on her feet
And she’ll close her eyes and visualize a sky of perfect blue
From an Eisenhower summer day, 1952

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Better Man
The house is dark and the hour’s late
I watch you sleep and each breath you take
Is stirrin’ up old memories
Someone like you, someone like me

A cold wind blows against our door
Honey let it blow, I don’t care no more
There ain’t no place I’d rather be
Than here with you, here with me

I played the fool so many times
I broke your heart and I made you cry
Tell me baby, can you see
A better man inside of me?

The night is cold, this bed is warm
And as I hold you in my arms
I fall into the mystery
Of someone like you, someone like me
Someone like you, someone like me

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Diner
I’m sittin’ right here in my usual seat
In this diner down on Water Street
Gus is in the back you can hear him shout, he says
“Pick em up, pass em out.”
The mornin’ crowd they come and go
The radio is playin’ low
The girls turn it up and Gus keeps turning  it
Down, down, down...
And I’m sittin’ here watchin’ the world go round

Baby got a brand new diamond ring
She’s walkin’ up and down showin’ off that thing
Buddy gave it to her when he got off work
He’s a two time loser, she loves the jerk
He’s pumpin’ gas down at Super Daves
Workin’ nights at the Shop n’ Save
He promised this time he won’t let her
Down, down, down...
And I’m sittin’ here watchin’ the world go round

You drive a Cadillac or a pickup truck
Everybody’s tryin’ to change their luck
You can search and search your whole life through
For what’s sittin’ right here in front of you
Might be sittin’ right here in front of you

Rita says “What can I get you Babe?”
She calls everybody “Babe”
She’s been working this joint since God knows when
Up every morning at five AM
She’s got a two pack habit, a graveyard cough
Four more hours till she gets off
She’ll get a little sleep then she’ll head out on the
Town, town, town...
I'll still be sittin’ here watchin’ the world go round

Well you can get knocked down, you can get back up
You can hide behind your coffee cup
You can lose your step, you can miss your stride
Or you can get on board and take that ride
Get on board and take that ride

Now Baby and Rita put on a good show
From the last goodbye to the first hello
I love a girl in a uniform
They’re not the ones I come here for
You’re the one I’m here to see
There’s an empty stool right next to me
Got nothing else to offer you
But a love that’s real and a heart that’s true
Honey sit awhile as the the day goes 
Down, down, down...
And we’ll both watch this world go round

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Hard Love 
She’s standin’ on the platform, Jersey Coast Line Station
Wonders what she ever did to end up like this
A suitcase with a broken latch, roll of singles in her pocket
And the bitter taste of blood and tears from last nights Judas Kiss

A tattoo underneath her eye to remind her of her virtue
And one that’s burned into her heart to remind her of her sin
And she tells herself that this time when that train pulls from the station
She’ll ride it like a memory and she won’t be back again

And it’s hard, hard love, hard love you know
It’s hard, hard, hard.....
And it’s hard, hard love, hard love you know
And it’s hard, hard love.....

Ocean County Boatyard, pallets and a fork lift
A hammer poundin’ in his head and a fire down below
And last night’s just an echo from another lifetime
Like some old broken melody on a dime store radio

Now it’s bloodstains on a dirty shirt and pockets full of nothin’
And a coat that’s made of guilt and shame, worn for all these years
And he tells himself that this time when he steps into the kitchen
He’ll find the man he used to be reflected in her tears

And it’s hard, hard love, hard love you know
It’s hard, hard, hard.....
And it’s hard, hard love, hard love you know
And it’s hard, hard love.....

Standin’ at the window, day old cup of coffee
Suitcase with a broken latch underneath the bed
Headlights in the driveway, footsteps in the alley
A train pulls in a station a hundred miles away

And it’s hard, hard love, hard love you know
It’s hard, hard, hard.....
And it’s hard, hard love, hard love you know
And it’s hard, hard love.....

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Snowing In Jerusalem
There's a ghost out in the kitchen
Footsteps in the hall
Take a breath and you can almost taste
The smoke and alcohol
These closets are all filled with bones
Locked behind those doors
Some things are better left alone
Sometimes less is more

You can hide out in the cornfield
You can hide out in those woods
You can run from then to now, boy
But it won’t do no good
There’s things you carry with you
Things you throw away
Things that you keep buried
And a price you have to pay

He’s been sitting at that table
Since long before sunset
One light in the darkness
A half smoked cigarette
His face is just a shadow now
And nothing’s really clear
Outside the night is hard and bright
But a storm is in the air

You can hide out in the cornfield
You can hide out in those woods
You can run from then to now, boy
But it won’t do no good
There’s things you carry with you
Things you throw away
Things that you keep buried
And a price you have to pay

It’s snowing in Jerusalem
It’s raining in Teheran
The lights are out in Baghdad
It’s quiet in Amman
In Riyadh they play solitaire
With a loaded deck of cards
And there’s a hole in New York City
To remind us who we are

To remind us who we are

You can hide out in the cornfield
You can hide out in those woods
You can run from then to now, boy
But it won’t do no good
There’s things you carry with you
Things you throw away
Things that you keep buried
And a price you have to pay

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Path Of Least Resistance
There’s an old faded picture somewhere down inside a shoebox
Of a ragged looking kid standing underneath a windmill
Cigarette hanging from his mouth, grinning at the camera
He's all of sixteen trying to look like thirty-two
All of sixteen trying to look like thirty-two

Back in 1937 my old man sailed across the ocean
With a friend of his named Ollie who had relatives in Holland
With a seven dollar suitcase and an eighth grade education
He shipped out of New York City to go and see the world

By the time he got back home again the world was full of thunder
And it wasn’t too long after that he shipped back out again
This time he had a rifle, dog tags and a number
And a knot of fear he did his best to bury deep within

Now some folks say that everything in life is what we make it
Some folks say that every step we take is preordained
I think mostly we all walk a path of least resistance
For the good we take the credit and for the bad we pass the blame

The old man died some time ago and I never thought I’d miss him
But sometimes late at night I feel him underneath my skin
He had an emptiness he tried to fill with medicine and whiskey
But they just fed the fire that finally did him in

Sometimes I wish that I could stand inside of that old picture
Maybe sit and talk awhile with that sixteen year old kid
And I wouldn’t ask no questions, I’d just listen to his story
And the sound of that old windmill in it’s never-ending spin

Back in 1937 my old man sailed across the ocean
With a friend of his named Ollie who had relatives in Holland
With a seven dollar suitcase and an eighth grade education
He shipped out of New York City to go and see the world
He shipped out of New York City to go and see the world

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Hard Times    (Stephen Foster)
Let us pause in life's pleasures
And count its many tears,
While we all sup sorrow with the poor;
There's a song that will linger
Forever in our ears;
Hard times come again no more.

While we seek mirth and beauty
And music light and gay,
There are frail forms fainting at the door;
Though their voices are silent,
Their pleading looks will say
Hard times come again no more

It’s the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times..........
Come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door;
Oh... hard times come again no more.

There's a pale sad-eyed maiden
Who toils her life away,
With a worn heart whose better days are over
Though her voice should be merry,
She’s  sighing all the day,
Hard times come again no more.

There’s a sigh that is carried
Across the troubled wave,
There’s a wail that is heard upon the shore
There’s a dirge that is murmured
Around the lowly grave
Hard times come again no more.

It’s the song, the sigh of the weary,
Hard times..........
Come again no more
Many days you have lingered
Around my cabin door;
Oh... hard times come again no more.

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Cross The Wide Missouri
My fathers father, he was a sailor
As my father was before me
And I was baptized in these waters
Away, far away
Cross the wide Missouri

Now as a young man I courted Annie
One early Spring we were married
And a love did grow, as the river flowed
Away, far away
Cross the wide Missouri

Side by side we sailed together
Through sunny days and stormy weather
We swore that one day we’d sail forever
Away, far away
Cross the wide Missouri

Last night I woke to distant thunder
Called Annie’s name but got no answer
Just the sound of one heart beating
Away, far away
Cross the wide Missouri

Now as I sit here in these shadows                     
And as I look down from my window                 
I can hear that thunder rolling             
Away, far away
Cross the wide Missouri

Tonight I’ll walk down to the water
And let that river take me under
And when I wake I’ll be delivered
Away, far away
Cross the wide Missouri

Shenandoah, I long to see you
Far beyond this lonely river
Where I know my heart lies waiting
Away, far away
Cross the wide Missouri
Away, I’m bound away
Cross the wide Missouri

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Promises and Rain    (Tuckerton NJ, 1965)
Summer town, shut down, January night
Last one out turns off the light
Red light, green light, man that’s a joke
You can go through red, you can go through green
You can go through anything in between
Cars blow through this town like it was made of smoke

Up above the storefront, third floor room
Sleepin’ in your clothes by the light of the moon
Heat coil, red glow, got the radio on
Christ this goddamn place is cold
Plastic on the windows snap when the wind blows
Atlantic City station is playin’ a country song

Promises and rain
Promises and rain
Fallin’ all around this town
Some things never change
All you get are promises...and rain

Wind kicks in from across the lake
Rain so sharp it’ll cut your face
One false move tonight and it’s goodbye John
Pizza joint, gin mill, Redman’s Lodge
Paper store, Texaco, Harold’s Pool Hall
Shut down tight but they all got the radio on

It goes on and on.....
 

Promises and rain                                                    
Promises and rain
Fallin’ in between the cracks
Nothin' seems to change
All you get are promises...and rain

Louie got arrested, who knows why?
Holly got killed on the fourth of July
Davy’s still tryin’ to pass the civil service exam
Sandy says he’s gonna move way down south
AC Electric job don’t pan out
And everybody’s talkin’ bout a place called Viet Nam

Trouble’s on the way, it’s just a matter of time                   
Talk that talk you better walk that line
Dance with the devil and there’s gonna be a price to pay
So take that punch, taste that blood
Do it for hate, do it for love
The fire’s lookin’ better than the slow burn anyway

Promises and rain
Promises and rain
Pick one or the other
It all comes out the same

All you get are promises...

Promises and rain
Promises and rain
Fallin’ all around this town
Some things never change

All you get are promises...and rain

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Radio Road
When I was a young man, I thought I was a rolling stone
No connection, no direction home
I spoke the words of other men
I thought that I was just like them
I looked for answers in the wind.....

I met her one night, out on Radio Road
A band was playin’ loud, people dancin’ slow
The singer called out “Just one more”
I never felt so alone before.....

She walked up to me and asked if I wanted to dance
I looked away, she said “Come on baby, take a chance”
Then she took me by the hand
We started swayin’ to the band
She moved in real close and then.....

She kissed me in a way I’d never been kissed before
I wanted that kiss to last forever...

I told her I was no James Dean
She just smiled and said “You coulda’ fooled me”
Then she whispered in my ear
Something only I could hear
And everything got real clear.....

It’s been a lotta years since she walked up to me that night
One look in her eyes and I know I did something right
Sometimes at night on the radio
They play that song that we both know
She smiles at me.... and away we go.....

She kissed me in a way I’d never been kissed before
I wanted that kiss to last forever...

Now when I was a  young  man I thought I was a rolling stone
And that I’d always walk this world alone
I tell you boys, it’s strange to see
Just how wrong a man can be.........
I got my baby right here with me.

(back to top)

Steel and Stone   (Norm's Blues)
They used to roll these streets up in the fall
You could drive from Maine to Chelsea and never stop at all
Street lamps burnin’ low this time of night
Signals down, flashing yellow light

Now they bus ‘em in from out of state
They come in early and they come in late
The neon burns and the clocks don’t run
You can spend your whole life here now and never see the sun

Steel and stone, steel and stone
It don’t fall apart like flesh and bone
Steel and stone, steel and stone
Still be standing when I’m gone

I worked this beach just like my father did
Before the war when he was just a kid
A union man down to the bone
He traded sand and sea for steel and stone

Now shadows fall along the promenade
Cast by buildings that my father made
Built to last, foundations strong
They’re still standing, he’s all gone

Steel and stone, steel and stone
It don’t fall apart like flesh and bone
Steel and stone, steel and stone
Still be standing when I’m gone

Tell my sister that I’m doing well
Tell my brother only time will tell
Tell my baby not to cry
Tell my friends I’ll see ‘em down the line

Steel and stone, steel and stone
It ain’t no substitute for flesh and bone
Steel and stone, steel and stone
Won’t make no difference when we’re gone

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Old Dancing Fool  
I ain’t no dancer, I never have been one
Some let it all out, I keep it all in on
The inside, down in the dark, right where it belongs

I know that a dance is the one thing you’ve wanted
To glide round the floor, unshackled, undaunted
Holdin’ each other, hummin’ along with the song

Now I might be mistaken, but ain’t that a waltz they’re playin’?
The dance floor is full, couples are spinin’ and swayin’
Swayin’...

If a dance was a diamond, I would have bought it
Anything honey, you want it you got it
Whatever it takes, I’ll do my best to come through

So hold on sugar, here it comes baby
I’d be delighted, if you would accompany me
Out on the floor for a turn with an old dancin’ fool

Now I might be mistaken, but ain’t that a waltz they’re playin’?
The dance floor is full, couples are spinnin’ and swayin’
Swayin’...

And if we close our eyes and hold on to each other
Who knows baby, we may discover
That the world slips away and we can dance without movin’ at all

So let the night go by, let the lights turn blue
You hold on to me, and I’ll hold on to you
We’ll let it all slip away and dance without movin’ at all

Let it all slip away and dance without movin’ at all

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The Lights of Brigantine
I see you sittin’ in the kitchen in your mothers house
It’s a hot summer night on Holly Lake
The cards are on the table, your little sister's on my knee
She holds her breath and waits to see
Who’s gonna make that first mistake

And everybody’s laughin’ when the cards come tumblin’ down
You little sisters rollin’ on the floor
Your mother leans against he counter with that secret smile
Your sister's pickin’ up the cards
Says can we play one more?

Just one more...

Your mother sits and taps her toe, we got Motown on the radio
Levi Stubbs got the Detroit Blues
He says he just can’t help himself
He says it’s you and nobody else
And I believe every word he says is true

He says...

Sugar pie honey bunch, you know that I love you
I can’t help myself, it’s you and nobody else
Nobody else...

And I know what he’s talkin’ about...

One more round it’s time to go, I’m out the door and down the road
Behind the wheel of that old Chevrolet
I got a brand new set of retreads
Half a tank of gas
Point that Chevy south and head out toward Great Bay

Down the boulevard
Great Bay Boulevard...

It’s a two lane stretch of blacktop, starts at Highway 9
And ends out where the asphalt turns to sand
Ten miles through open meadow
Reed grass growin high
You can see the lights of Brigantine if you walk out on the strand

Cross the seven bridges, past the old boat yard
There's a burned out Coast Guard station on the right
Everybody says it haunted
And I believe it’s true
But I don’t care about no ghosts tonight

I feel alright

And the Seven Island factory is lit up like a Christmas tree
Seagulls chase the fishin’ boats as they come round the bend
You can hear those diesels scream for oil
Get 'em in before they spoil
And the voices of the deck hands they carry on the wind

They say haul away
Haul away boys
Haul away...

In the sound the waves are crashin’, Holgate buoy lights are flashin’
You can smell the salt and seaweed on the breeze
Look out across Great Thorofare
Past Little Bay, way out there
And you’re lookin’ at the lights of Brigantine

The lights of Brigantine...

They shine like diamonds
Look like stars on the horizon...

Get that Chevy turned around, don’t get stuck head back to town
The tires on the asphalt are slappin’ out a tune
Radio waves are bouncin’ tonight
I got a Boston station clear and bright
And a Dylan song comes on, sounds like he’s howlin’ at the moon

He says I want you
Honey I want you
I want you
So bad...

I’m thinkin tonight about all those miles,
Your sister’s laugh and your mothers smile
Thinkin’ bout the music and the house of cards
Thinkin’ bout the things that make us what we are
Thinkin’ bout the future, thinkin’ bout the past
Thinkin’ bout the water and the tall reed grass
Thinkin’ bout the father, son and holy ghost
Thinkin’ bout the things that we fear the most
Thinkin’ bout the old, thinkin’ bout the new
And I'm thinkin’ about time...
Thinkin’ bout you...

And I just can’t help myself
I just can’t help myself

After all this time
It's still you and nobody else

Nobody else...nobody else...nobody else....


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