Where This River Runs

by Andrew McKnight

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about

“Pick your favorite poet or balladeer and McKnight will equal them with an Appalachian soul.” (Victory Review)

“Highly listenable and capable of evoking an array of moods ... McKnight’s guitar playing is fabulous as is his vocal delivery” (Crossroads)

“rarely are talent and passion combined the way that Andrew McKnight unites them ... a distinctive and powerful new voice to the mountains.” (Appalachian Voice)
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Andrew's 2nd CD continues his literate exploration of America’s back roads and small towns, richly colored with elegant harmonies and exquisite arrangements. Skillfully produced with original Nitty Gritty Dirt Band member Les Thompson, each of the 14 songs is set in a musical style and production that vividly evokes the scenery; the spooky swamp blues of “Chemical Voodoo” set along Cancer Alley on Louisiana’s Mississippi Delta, the open Dakota prairies in “A Prairie Wind/Big Sky Town”, or the evocative Saturday night dance at the Grange Hall in “Shenandoah Moon”. Andrew’s wry charm, signature acoustic guitar style, and rich warm vocals shine throughout.

credits

released August 1, 1998

Produced by Andrew McKnight with Les Thompson
Falling Mountain Music (FM-1025)

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about

Andrew McKnight Lincoln

Nationally-acclaimed singer/songwriter and guitarist celebrates rural America, weaves masterfully crafted songs, humorous stories and poetic drama into a musical soundscape sketched with shades of Appalachia, tasteful slide and jazzy blues, feisty anthems, and rustic folk. 5 solo CDs heard on many public & community radio, plus NPR "Art of the Song" & "River City Folk" and XM/Sirius. ... more

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Track Name: A Prairie Wind/Big Sky Town
Words & music to "Big Sky Town" by A. McKnight, 1996© Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
A prairie wind, rolling thunderheads,
80 miles of horizon straight from some damn book I read,
Dakota fields, blend to Montana skies,
and this ribbon of asphalt stretching endless before my eyes
Chorus
Making no exception to the rule that I have followed here
nothing but the sun to guide my way there
hope I find some gold behind, this rainbow that I’m chasing down,
it’s where I’m bound, it’s where I’m bound, it’s where I’m bound, to this big sky town

Verse 2
I’m hearing laughter, from ghosts of horse thieves and golddiggers
ringing in my ears, echoed 150 years
I’m moving forward, pushed or pulled well I don’t know
am I soaring like the hawk, or steady like the crow
Chorus
Break
Chorus
Track Name: Shenandoah Moon
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1996 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
It was the summer of 30’, in that broad river valley, where 2 kids fell right into love,
Sara Jean’s dad’s bank failed, and James’ farm went for sale,
but those kids found good in hard times

Chorus 1
the dance at the grange hall, when they heard the band call, a Virginia waltz lilting tune
slipped into the night air, two shadows without care, bathed in the light of, a Shenandoah moon

Verse 2
In 42’ the great war came, and James signed up his name, to stare in hell’s face on the line,
while the lovers were apart, he broke his purple heart,
and came home the shell of a man

Chorus 2
Parades and nightmares, a young warrior must bear, but Sara Jean had healing hands
and out in the porch swing, two lovers hands holding, and that river she sings under, a Shenandoah moon

Bridge
Three children later, and 8 grandkids greater, it’s funny how time flows on by,
survived the tornado, and all the hardship they’d known
and in 50 years, how strong love had grown

Verse 3
On Sara Jean’s deathbed, no tears, smiles instead, by morning she’d see James again,
like corn in July heat, each taste so sweet,
but all good things meet their earthly end

Chorus 3
and that band of angels, plays an old Virginia waltz, while 2 kids twirl through eternity
through heavenly meadows, that gentle river flows, and 2 smiling faces shine, from a Shenandoah moon
Track Name: Gypsies
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1998 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
This rutted road, sings an old song
of generations, that I’ve never met
leaves the gas pumps, and the street signs,
left me behind you, the last time that you went

Verse 2
you always were, a bit of a strange girl,
hearing voices, from worlds no one could see
no small town shackles, to hold your dreams down
no ties that bind you, keep you here like me

Chorus
My kin are burley, corn and coalfields
like them defined by what I know
in my heart, we’ll leave and live like gypsies,
in my life, I cannot walk where gypsies go

Verse 3
I walk the tracks, right past this station,
waiting on some ghost train, to some forgotten town
where no one knows, Father Tobacco
and my feet aren’t nailed to the ground
Chorus
Track Name: A Town Called Progress
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1997 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
Remember us punks racing, down where Rte. 5 curls,
days in our V8s, and nights with the carhop girls
I never noticed it going so fast, never saw it coming apart
now instead of working the family fields, the kids stock shelves at Wal-Mart
Chorus
The world passed right by like we disappeared, on their way to someplace far from here
left strip malls on the bypass, reminders we once had dreams
if it looks like Progress well, that’s just the way that it seems

Verse 2
Now those kids growing up, on their cul-de-sac
they’ll never walk, hand-in-hand down that old railroad track
they leave their innocence behind, big trucks parked where new condos are growing
they’ll make love when they’re lucky, and babies the rest of the time
Chorus

Verse 3
Downtown brick facades, they wear the old timers pain,
and the rain runs red, from the building boom along the 4-lane,
those concrete and neon monuments, replaced pride in this old town
with storefronts staring vacantly, just like they know
Chorus
if it smells like progress, well, that’s just the smoke of our dreams
Track Name: Fiddle Tunes from the Hills of Home
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1997 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
They came here from the islands, sailed a great big sea
to new life in America, the land where they’d be free
crossed the Shenandoah, the Clinch and the Tennessee
brought tunes from their homelands, to these mountains and valleys

Verse 2
Add a touch of southern gospel, as the years roll on
these hazy blue ridges, add touches of their own
back porch hoe-down, revival or a jubilee
when I hear the fiddle and the banjo, it means the same to me
Chorus
I’ve given up those highlands, for life along the road
playing my guitar, for folks from coast to coast
but there’s fire in those mountains when they rosin up their bows
how I miss those fiddle tunes, from the hills of home

Verse 3
Now I travel highways, bridges, boats and planes
I know I lead the good life, I’m surely not complaining
nothing makes my heart sing, like that sweet refrain
of an old-time jug band, calling out the fiddler’s name
Chorus
Track Name: I Can't Understand the Moon
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1996 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
I can’t understand the moon, she haunts me, from behind her pale mask,
fell too hard, too soon, too much the fool, to know it would not last
while Mars and Venus they’re making love, before my disbelieving eyes
she scorns me like some ne’er-do-well, but I have dreams inside
are you surprised, would you sympathize, with me

Verse 2
I won’t recognize the moon, dressed in her halo, seems sure to snow
through the voyeur’s lens I swoon, as she’s dancing naked, in the winter air
and all the icicles are laughing, I’m pretty sure at my expense
she makes fidelity obsolete, with the grand scope of her intent
I wish I’d had more sense, than to fall for the moon

Bridge
Somehow God got religion, somewhere near the Pleiades
she left my faith, adrift out there, would you share some with me please

Verse 3
I will never have the moon, there’s naught but cold dark space, between us
like a long forgotten tune, whose melody lingers
somewhere tonight in Miami, a woman in pleated skirt, pirouettes
and falls into the arms of a lover, he who could have had the moon,
he who would not have, the moon
Track Name: Chemical Voodoo
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1998 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
The moon sweats with fever, wet with clouds blood red
in a dark patch of bayou swamp, where angels fear to tread
pipes long forgotten, from beneath refineries
and chemical voodoo, hangs like heat from hell
the swamp keeps dark secrets, cause no one’s returned to tell, of chemical voodoo

Verse 2
the legends come in whispers, his name they will not speak,
one night his pirogue vanished, in a thick tangle of cypress trees
that he met his Maker, that much is certainty
cause’ chemical voodoo, hangs like heat from hell
the swamp keeps dark secrets, cause no one’s returned to tell, of chemical voodoo

Verse 3
the halo of the factory lights, cannot penetrate the trees,
the air dank with evil, the wind blows like disease
under eyes of industrial skies, so far from St. Evangeline
it’s chemical voodoo, hangs like heat from hell
the swamp keeps dark secrets, cause no one’s returned to tell,
it’s chemical voodoo
Track Name: Bargeman
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1996 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
I am a simple bargeman, I work this Ohio,
and I never really let these engines run
spend my life on the water, of this dammed muddy chocolate lake,
and I always run the locks so perfectly

No I’ve never seen the mountains, or Indian paintbrush fiery red
no I’ve not seen oceans indigo blue
I am much like this river, all pent up but mostly calm,
and flat like these waters that I’m floating on
Chorus
Though I am but a plain man, I dream of higher things
but my life is run to this engine’s rhythmic toil
and it’s coal from Kentucky, big steel from Ohio,
or the occasional tank of Texas oil
on this placid muddy water, from Queen City to Louisville
I know it better than anyone would want to
I know it better than you would want to

Verse 2
I take two weeks vacation, I spend them on my porch
in this house we built nigh on 40 years ago
there isn’t much adventure, but there isn’t any risk
cause the screens will keep the mosquitoes out
Chorus

Verse 3
when I was a child, I dreamed I’d stow away
and ride these barges to the Gulf of Mexico
now I toss my cigarette butts, with the trash that’s flowing by
floating like my dreams leaving my life behind
Chorus

Coda
I am a simple bargeman, I work this Ohio,
but I’ve never really let my engines run
Track Name: Where This River Runs
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1997 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
Mister can you tell me where this rushing river runs
I am a child of these mountains, and a coal miner’s son
they call us hillbillies, when we go to town
I know I’d be much more, if I trace this river down
Verse 2
They say the earth is flat, many miles east of here
and a bloody civil war was fought, past one hundred years
legend says this river’s mouth, is many miles wide
but I’m a poor miner’s son, and by this river I should die

Bridge
This great rushing temptress, this lady James she goes,
in search of flatter land, and of deep ocean flows
I trace this riverbank, to my old plantation home
where seven generations of family, blood and sweat have flowed
Verse 3
Mister can you tell me from where this great river comes
I am a child of tobacco, and a poor sharecrop’s son
legend says there’s mountains many miles west of here
but I’m a poor sharecrop’s son, legend’s all they are I fear,
and mister can you tell me, does my river ever leave, here
Track Name: The Other Way
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1997 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
That old photo shows my farm, along this river clear
so long ago before that paper mill appeared
my granddad is that man, fishin’ on the banks
in the gentle shadow of these smoky mountain flanks
Chorus
My faith will take me someday to the Promised Land
and I know it’ll look just like my home, before this curse began,
and if I could change the world, I wonder what they’d say,
if this dirty river, flowed the other way

Verse 2
8 decades passed since that day they flipped the switch
and unimagined nightmares poured downstream while they got rich
the government brought permits, hearings, bureaucrats and files
the river brought us cancer while their lawyers brought denials
Chorus

Verse 3
I take deep regret into my twilight years,
what unknown demons face the ones I hold so dear,
bury me along these banks in our Appalachian way
in the hope this stinking river will flow pure again someday
Chorus
Track Name: Hoop Dreams
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1996 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
Feel the ball in my hands, it’s solid, and real as a rock
a couple dribbles on the pavement, take the shot, beat the clock
I can’t miss here in my silence, in practice, all goes well,
but with the game on the line, it seems like it all, just goes straight to hell
Chorus
there’s few seconds of daylight left
shoot now while you’ve got the chance, it’s in your hands
and maybe if we’re lucky we’ll hear that net,
ripple in the dark, (swish)
score the winner in my hoop dreams of love, at the park

Verse 2
There’s a chain link fence up, around this playground, and I let nobody in
I was never good at rebounding after you, but I’d try it once again
some say the best defense, is to never, never let em’ get too close
once in awhile they might get lucky, and toss one in from downtown,
chances are they’ll miss most
Chorus
Bridge
step up to the line, and take your best aim
cause win or lose it’s getting late, and this one’s for game
Verse 3
Back in school on the playground, I missed a few, cause I’d always look out for you
to see if you were watching my best Havlicek moves
Chorus
Track Name: This Old Dominion
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1995 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
Spring comes here, with the blooming of the crocus,
brings sharply into focus, the beauty of this land
The Blue Ridge turns, from its winter purplish hue,
to a greener shade than you could describe with words

Verse 2
The daffodils spring, to greet newborn leaves with splendor,
my simple mind wonders, at the magic that they make
Bluebirds come, bringing warmer days behind them,
beauty almost blinding, where field and forest meet

Chorus
Now as I lay me down to sleep, I pray this way of life for my soul now to keep
the seasons are speaking, the time wheel is creaking,
and this Old Dominion calls me like a lover tried and true,
Shenandoah’s flowing and the valley is glowing,
under yellow sun and azure sky, calling me home

Verse 3
Late April brings, blooming flowers to all the treetops,
from redbuds bumblebees bop, drinking nectar sweet,
The highlands burst, with azaleas in the deep woods,
clear creeks running through pools, looking for the sea
Chorus

Bridge
I’ve become part of these valleys and peaks,
of thunderstorms and babbling creeks
Muggy summer days melt into autumn leaves,
that turn and drop and cover my eaves

Verse 4
Winter’s chill paints, hoary frost upon my window,
tin roof rattles as the wind blows, making lots of noise
By a crackling fire, as I curl up for the evening,
with a good book and some tea leaves, simple mind wandering to the coming, of the spring
Chorus
Track Name: Last Call Waltz
Words & music A. McKnight, ©1997 Catalooch Music, BMI

Verse 1
The clock on the bar, says luck, has run out, it’s the regular closing time tease
the band launches in, to the last slow tune, and we twirl, in silent reprise

Verse 2
We both know it’s late, the score lopsided, and we’re, dancing out the string
you’re being polite, I’m here for my pride, and the smiles we wear don’t mean a thing
Chorus
As Saturday night, slips into the dark, of Sundays I’ve well rehearsed
we turn one last time, in the dying strain, at the end of the last call waltz

Verse 3
I smell your perfume, it’s a cloud of delight, and I’ll drink in as deep as I can
to remember it later, sleeping alone, at my place, where we both know I’ll be
Chorus
Instrumental
Bridge
You say call me sometime, you mean please don’t, I thank you for good company
the band’s packed up, and the lights go down, as we head off in far different ways
Chorus
Chorus 2
As Saturday night, slips into the dark, of Sundays I’ve well rehearsed
we twirl one last time, in the dying refrain, at the end of the last call waltz