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Please scroll down on this page to access lyrics from Heavy Waters, and notes about them.

Andaman Tide
Bourbon Street Overpass
Charlie McGee
Hand of Man
Heavy Waters
Papa Lufa and His Havana Band
Puerto El Negrito (Live By Your Heart)
Thanks for Calling
The Old Shaker
To Look at Her
White White West

Andaman Tide
Andaman Tide
Theres a flood along the boulevard, flowing down the street 
Miles along the coastline, there’s wreckage 'neath our feet 
It came without warning, a sudden shake within
Now turning to the ocean, there’s flotsam at the shore 
A poster on the water, says Jesus is the lord,
Passing ships in the sea, and yet, there's you and me 

*Passed the shattered window is a mark upon the earth, 
All what was commonplace now a shadow in the dirt,
A little of us died, but we all survived, Andaman tide

They say there's no predicting, the future of us all
They say there's not a reason, to worry about it all
There's nothing you can do, when that great hammer falls*
You sing to me a lullaby, from many years ago,
Reflections of some great drama, your momma once told you
You keep it close to your heart, and never let it go 
And there at the corner, where we used to meet
Below the store window where I'd play at your feet
A little of us died, but we all survived, Andaman tide* 

Composition date: 30 December, 2004
Album: Heavy Waters

Bourbon Street Overpass

On Sunday the market opened, on Saturday the tower fell,
The misty-eyed residents woke to something like Dante’s Hell,
Heard around the world like the cracking of a whip,
Someone forgot the knot that secured their golden ship.

The sirens that ring at daybreak began at yesterday’s dawn,
Scattered all the pigeons that fed daily on the lawn,
A mother with her baby rock gently to a rhyme,
She's thinking of a future and what to leave behind.
That's My Window Inside
Down at the station at the center of the town,
Actors speaking openly with their orchestras all around,
The public discontented and the journalists ramble on,
Passed lines of foreign tourists clicking photos of everyone.
Hung on every word of the spin doctors hip-hop jive,
The public staring black-faced, completely dicked and    
Quiet please I’m listening to the silence that’s killing me,
No one hears the crying over the sounds of infantry.
The prostitutes on the platform wave to the workers on the
Beg mercy for their sins and clean water for their feet,
Will there be some resolution to this far-fetched half-baked scene,
Forget the white-washed politicians and their money-saving schemes.

At the candy-coloured carnival lit up on Bourbon Street,
The coppers and the reds are dancin’ while the hawks pass overhead,
A baby sleeping silent as the watchmaker winds a tune,
For the sick and elderly playing cards in the back room.
The devils and their carpenters drawing outlines in the grass,
A marking on the concrete smiles contently as they readapt,
Their walls built of steel begin to rock and roll,
The aftermath to follow will deconstruct and overflow.
The mother and her child swinging gently to that rhyme,
Secured within a cubicle to be released at dinner time, 
The doctors and the lawyers serve to protect the innocent,
The scars have healed over and the jazz regains the streets.

Notes: This ballad is a series of images that were influenced by Hurricane Katrina and is dedicated to the memory of Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown.
Composition date: 9 September 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

Charlie McGee

Did I ever tell the tale about Charlie McGee,
If not then you all come round, and listen if you please Sand In A Dune
Raised in the delta, born of dust and misery,
More like a little pundit, Charlie hid alone to dream.
Charlies hands a bleedin' from working on the farm,
That was that his compass set he left his father scorned,
Off with a one-eyed trader who kept tricks up his sleeve,
Taught the lad dirty deeds and life's mysteries.

*Do you know where you're goin, looked back to where you've been,
The law is looking for ya, you've got to catch that midnight train,
Those northern lights are shinin, the cold east winds they blow,
The darkness that follows you is the devil that you know.

Embarking on a journey is like a road without an end,
Charlie's path was windin' and it hardly began,
He met a crazy cowgirl on his way to San Antone,
They's married in a church out east where Charlie built a home.

†Do you know where you're goin’, Charlie McGee

The wife went mad after sons she had and a daughter she couldn't control,
Took the children on the road, away Charlie roamed,
They showed up on my doorstep in a trailer packed so tight,
Hung around somewhere’s downtown then slipped out'a sight.*

The years passed on his children grown one a business man,
Sellin' shoes and other goods sown by poor mans hands,
 I am told that Charlie stole money from a whore,
Sailed to sea the kids of three where left out in the cold.

But the truth be said, to me one day, by the son of Charles McGee,
"He tried his best at raisin' us, we went to school you see,
Read them books, and studied up and took life seriously,"
And in the end he said to them, "never be like me."* †

Notes: This is a semi-autobiographical tale of a single-parent drifter who raises a family. Composition date: 31 May 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

The Hand of Man

Born to dream beneath the sun, a rose from the desert a million to one. 
You once held oceans between your hands, thus began the hand of man.

They built their gods to take the blame, to seek revenge or stake their claim,
Some folks will fall others will stand, oh! have mercy for the hand of man.

*We turn to our brothers for comfort or fame, we seek forgiveness to ease the pain, Rememberin' loss and what you've gained, now take a look at the hand of man.

The weary souls that walk the road, releasing spirits from out of the cold,
They weep bitter tears and search the sky, asking how come, rethinking why?
Some fought wars the greedy lied, some found freedom while others died,
Great cities grew, rivers turned to sand, what mighty powers, the hand of man*

Doves and roses ashes and clay, cosmic cowboys seize the day,
Now is a message of what portends, the final beginning or may be the end.
Salute to all who seek the tune, sow the seeds inside burst into bloom,
Divine intention, invest we can, and hope and pray for the hand of man.
And in the west the prophets rest; And in the east the new city sleeps*

Notes: A rock-out jam-band tune, this song began as an assessment of the plight of the Australian aborigines. Much of it was written in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory. The songs' feel on Heavy Waters also hinges on a Bob Weir-type rhythm with an odd-count; and, I was honored by guitarist Nigel Gavin’s praise about a nice guitar riff included in the last jam of the song. 
Composition date: 9 August, 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

Heavy Waters

Well I was walking in the moonlight,
And the stars hung from the sky,
I heard a sweet voice a calling, 
Turned around and saw you there.

And you spoke of things of beauty, 
That the earth would soon stand still,
And heavy waters would rise above us, Termites and Cabbage Tree
Turn to mist and fade away.

I took a breath and closed my eyes,
With cloudy thoughts and a worried mind,
Were you an angel comin' for me?
Or just a faded memory.

When I awoke the ambers burnin',
And the smoke held beneath the trees, 
An empty bottle lay there before me,
And I shivered in the breeze.
Some men search for the answers,
Others slave for petty thieves,
Life is balanced upon your shoulders, 
A grateful soul is all you need. 
And that night I still remember,
Seein' you there amongst the trees, 
How you entered as a vision,
Rescued me from tormented dream.

Composition date: 12 June 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

Papa Lufa and His Havana Band

Papa Lufa would take me 'round
Pass the stadium and the hot dog stand, 
He'd buy me balloons from the rocket-man,
We'd eat ice cream then he'd wash my hands,
Take me to school and pick me up again,
Hand in hand we'd go cross-town,
To listen to the blues and the be-bop sound.

Lufa played in the Havana Band
Played saxophone and trombone too,
Ya know it make the gals hoobaloo,
Marimbas shake to the violin croon,
They'd loose their bones and kick off their shoes,
Lufa lived for that Havana Band,
Way passed midnight you could hear them jam.
We grew older and the city changed
Giuliani tore the arcade down,
NY City was a different town,
Papa moved in a different state,
He lost his vision but he kept his faith,
He held on strong to that African beat,
The sounds in his head would jiggle his feat.
Lufa died poor, but a happy man
He lived off the love of the common man,
He'd always dream about the Havana Band,
 I took him round to see the shows,
Take him home and change his clothes,
I'll think of Papa till the day I die,
Cause I hear the same music that he kept inside.
Papa Lufa, Papa Lufa, Papa Lufa, and his Havana Band

Notes: Completely contrived, but a happy story nonetheless, this song is about what it might be to be an aging musician and part of a music family in the Big Apple. The inclusion of the rocket-man in the lyrics hits a personal note and is reminiscent of the childhood days when I used to go to Coney Island with relatives to have Nathans Hot Dogs. It was one of the favourites of drummer Yair Katz who adds a bit of jembe magic to the Heavy Waters track.
Composition date: 12 October 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

Puerto El Negrito (Live by Your Heart)

Once I walked the narrow streets of Puerto El Negrito,
I come across a fair lady bloused with red hair in a tangle,
In silver heels she strutted the street much like a millionaire,
I remember her face, the very place where she danced in the midnight air.

*Find the rhythm and feel your part, to be a winner, live by your heart.Tawian, Chris Carlton
I fell asleep to the rhythm of the wind and the falling rain, 
Outside the cabin a restless captain fell victim to delirium,
The criminal caught hung by the throat reductio ad absurdum, 
A senseless act as a matter of fact many hold such perversion.

**Frogs and gremlins hide in the dark; Beware the devils, live by your heart.

Out from the market the thief and the bandit followed a weaker prey,
They cornered the captive, a low-life tactic, they have no sense of shame,
This way and that, fighting like rats, the officials stage their crime,
Their comrades first, the servants second, the thirds in quarter time.**

I'm goin' back to that Mexican flat in Puerto El Negrito,
To find the girl with flame-red hair, do you think she'd shake the tango?
The less we forget the less we regret about life and liberty,
Sail away like castaways caught adrift in the waves.*

Composition date: 10 October, 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

Thanks for Calling

Thanks for calling, its good to know your well,
How's it hanging? There's so, so much to tell,
Where's Grandma? Her new smile fits OK,
Eating well now? She lives day by day.

*We get lonely you know being away, Just ringing to tell ya, you're OK.

How's the weather? Clear today gone tomorrow, 
Cousin Libby? Cutting ice in the shadow, 
True its hot there? The dog sleeps in the shade,
The green green garden? Peaches ripe the cherries red.*
Thanks for Calling
Saw the paper? You know there's storms everywhere, 
The record player? We take what we can wear, 
Don't need money? No thanks we've got our share, 
Is that you callin? It's good to know you care.* 

Notes: I was experimenting with script-writing and had just written a Lynchian narrative about a cowboy who greets an Asian Indian in the American desert. A few days later, hurricane Katrina hit the mainland of the United States and I lost contact with a friend living just north of New Orleans. The Thursday morning that followed, I finally was able to make a call to my friend to find out that he was fine, though he was without electricity and had lost part of his roof (over the guest room!). Anyway, he fared better than many thousands of people. Then, just minutes after the conversation with my friend, my father called (fathers never call!) and after he hung up I wrote this song almost immediately and in conversational form. This Heavy Waters track is one of the most complete, having all of the studio musicians, and Tui Divers background bluesiness adds immense colour (Deadheads may also recognise the unintentional likeness of the guitar solo to something they have heard before).
Composition date: 1 September 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

The Old Shaker

The blossoms in the garden are a mix of white and pink,
The coffee stains the wool of my ragged dirty shirt,
I used to be a logger in the great nor’west,
Near the coast of Ahipara where the sun begins to set.
*Cousin Darrel's feedin roaches, Grandmas diggin in the ditch;
Daddy's off a fightin, Momma's working at the church;
Me I snuff tobacco and the doctor says I'm sick;
I hardly miss a motion while I shake where I sit.

The globe in the hallway is a spinnin round and round,
The cables in the courtyard send shockwaves to the ground,
I reckon I've travelled to an uncertain place,
The teacup in the cubbard said so to my face*

White boys goin barefoot blackboys laughin in the sun,
Sunday’s for receiving when the work is all done,
There's piles of pine and kauri to be processed at the mill,
When I commence a shakin grandma wakes me for my pill*
I wish I was a sailor or a prairie pioneer,
Riding ocean ripples or on some dusty trail,
A place of open spaces where I hear a coyote call,
To see without glasses or walk without a fall*

Notes: Many songs have been written during trips, whether working in the bush as a field biologist, or on holiday with family and friends. This tune about a dirt-poor logger who is suffering from an age-related illness was written mostly in Opononi, Northland, NZ on the beach watching the waves come in and the children go by. Violin work by Coralie Usmani on the Heavy Waters CD really adds the backwoods to this track.
Composition date: 24 August 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

To Look at Her

As soon as the daylight would hit my head,
I'd look o’er my shoulder at the side of the bed,
Empty and cool and still unmade,
Then I'd wonder where my true love went.

We'd follow the path that leads to the stream, Otago 1
Strip to our knees and pray to the breeze,
Consider the riddles of life and death,
Swallow the sun and spit out the worst.* 

*To look at her you'd think she's no queen, 
But really she's what every man dreams.

Oh I relish the moment to hold her close,
Smell the roses that cling to her clothes,
Un-wrap her soul like an art unveiled,
She’s the sun eclipsed with lines complete.*

If I could relive life without torture and pain,
I'd replay each moment again and again,
I'd like to think I've done something right,
When I see my love in the bright early light.* 

Composition date: 3 October 2005
Album: Heavy Waters

White, White, West

Out from the west on white horses they rode,
high in the saddle on an internet road;
Carrying a message from a higher command,
with orders to shoot anyone they can.

The message received with a tear in his eye,
the captain stood ready and he sang and he cried;
Out with the whips and the guns held high,
let’s capture the thief who knows he must die.

He looks in the mirror and there’s sparks in the room,
the walls are melting from impending doom;
He turns to his friend with eyes a glow, Chris, its time we must go.

The media blurts the words of the day,
those with bottle-rockets must do as we say;
Drink gin fizz and accept what it is,
take what we’ve got, don’t blow it away.

Outside the windows of the tenement square,
the children are playing and there’s guns everywhere;
And down at his desk his best plans they rest,
the stock is ticking you must do your best.

Relax my friend I smell death this time, you did your part I did mine;
Gallant against the darker state, maybe you’re born too late.

The cavalry came in a nick of time,
we must save the artist from drawing the lines;
The captain and the prince faced eye to eye,
It was obvious to all whose turn was to die.

The battle was bloody and oh the stench,
corporate corpses saluted the trench;
The body of the outlaw laid into the ground,
wrapped in plastic in a tie-dyed shroud.

Oh my friends its death this time, everybody goes despite their crime; 
The gallant against the darker state, maybe we’re born too late.
And back to the west the white army road,
with dirt on their faces and the money they stole;
And up on the plains the white crosses frame,
the graves of the cowboys who died in vain.

Notes: Bob Weir covered some great cowboy ballads popularized by Marty Robbins and others, and these, in turn, influenced this one which features techno-bad guys and spiritual good guys. .
Composition date: 7 July 2005
Album: Heavy Waters