The Law and the Lonesome

by Jonathan Byrd

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released January 1, 2009

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Jonathan Byrd Chapel Hill, North Carolina

“One of the top 50 songwriters of the last 50 years. ” — Chicago Tribune

“...a folk singer with the heart of a rock 'n' roll band.” — K. Oliver, Free Times.

Preacher's kid, Gulf war Navy veteran, seventh-generation North Carolinian, guitar flatpicker, award-winning iconoclastic and spiritual songwriter. An American treasure.
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Track Name: The Law & The Lonesome
The Law and the Lonesome Jonathan Byrd and Corin Raymond

With the wrath of the law and the lonesome above you and all those who love you behind,
a storm in your rearview and darkness before you, where will you fly to this time?
Only Jesus will go down the road that you’re burning and you should be turning to him.
How can you wade and be washed in the water when the river is dirty as sin?

How can she take you and make you so lonely? You said she was only a friend.
Any fool in his pride who has tried to refuse her can see you’re using again.
The snow’s like a ghost of cocaine on the highway; it shifts and plays tricks with your mind.
The wind is like razors; in only two days, you’ve done two hundred thousand white lines.

You took the wrong way home.

They blasted the bedrock and laid all the blacktop like a snake ‘round the shoulders of God.
Christ on his hilltop and the cop at the truck stop are both only doing their jobs.
You’ve got a double-cross to bear. Now you’ve lost the last friend that you had to lose.
He’s in the ambulance. You’re in the cruiser, with a fatal case of the sucker-punch blues.

You took the wrong way home.
Track Name: Clean
Clean

There’s a jackknife out on highway 10. It’s the biggest mess I’ve ever seen.
I’m late to meet the candy man. It’s been a long time since I been clean.

I don’t know how I got so low. I don’t know how I got so mean.
Diggin’ for change in the backseat clothes, it’s been a long time since I been clean.

I ain’t got the money, but I got the jones.
Get down to the corner and wait there by the phone.

If falling in love is like going insane, then this must be the Devil’s dream.
I’m waitin’ out here in the pourin’ rain. It’s been a long time since I been clean.
Track Name: Diana Jones
Diana Jones

Diana was a Cherokee, pretty as you'd ever see, blue eyes and long black hair and a wild streak from here to there. Reservation life was slow so she packed her bags to go, moved to Georgia, and took the name Diana Jones.
Diana ran the Dewdrop Inn, wily as a mountain cat. Kept a room behind the bar for any man who needed that. People talk about her still, how she'd take a twenty-dollar bill and write across Jackson's face, "Diana Jones."

She brought all the gold in Georgia back shinin' twenty bucks at a time.

Harlan wore the badge in town. He was always hangin' 'round. Ever since Diana died, you hardly see him on this side. His wife used to come for him and drag him out of the Dewdrop Inn. It wasn't fit for a family man to know Diana Jones.
Diana made the front page news the night she went out on the loose, heartbroken with a gun in her hand and in love with a married man. Neighbors called the station scared. Harlan had to go down there. Something went wrong somewhere for Diana Jones.

She brought all the gold in Georgia back shinin' twenty bucks at a time.

No one knows what happened then between Diana and five armed men. Shots were fired and words were said, two men and Diana dead. Things went on the way they do. The papers filled with other news. The wild died in Harlan too, with Diana Jones.
I've only seen him one time since. He come into the Dewdrop Inn, bought all the old boys a round and went to lay his money down. Gave a twenty-dollar bill a kiss and said, "I hate to part with this." Right across Jackson's face, it said, "Diana Jones."

She brought all the gold in Georgia back shinin' twenty bucks at a time.
Track Name: Houston Window Blues
Houston Window Blues

Lookin out my window in Houston, I can see the highway from my bed.
Them big trucks are shakin, like to wake the dead.

If you ever drive across Texas in the middle of the night,
you come across Houston please turn your lights down for me.

You better stop in Louisiana, get some bacon and some beans.
Play the blues for sisters down in New Orleans.

Don't you never drive cross Mississippi in the middle of the day.
You ain't never gonna get to Alabama that way.

If you get to Alabama, tell that woman I said hello.
You can tell her I'm in Houston, lookin out the window.
Track Name: The Fifth Wheel
The Fifth Wheel

The payphone is busted. I’m flat out disgusted.
I feel like the fifth wheel tonight.

I’m out on the weekend. You and me, we ain’t speakin’.
I feel like the fifth wheel tonight.

I don’t know where I’m goin’. I just keep on rollin’.

I love you. I miss you. I wish I was with you.
I feel like the fifth wheel tonight.
Track Name: Prairie Girl
Prairie Girl

When you leave me, could you leave me just the way that I found you,
in your green dress, the color of the summer all around you?
Prairie girl, years ago, I guess I could have told you.
Love is slow, ‘til the one that’s leaving comes around to hold you.

I know you know, or else you would not come to say goodbye to me.
So discreet, just a message in the way you give your eyes to me.
Prairie girl, your mother always thought you were above me.
Leaving home, is that the only way that you could love me?

It’s a simple bed; you could turn it to a temple just for one night.
Sing to me. Hold your holy lips up to the candlelight.
Prairie girl, are you cold enough to leave the fire burning?
Stay with me. The summer will still be there in the morning.

Prairie girl, the summer will still be there in the morning.
Track Name: May The River Run Dry
May the River Run Dry Corin Raymond and Jonathan Byrd

Black crow lighting on your old, crooked tree,
where have you flown and whose bones did you see?
May the river run dry if you lie.
Mister, I won’t lie to you, I’ve flown to Mexico.
I’ve flown to places only crows and outlaws know.
May the river run dry if I lie.
May the river run dry if I lie to you.

You better shoulder your gun and prepare.
Water and saddle your mare.
There’s two riders coming. I can just see their dust in the air.
Cross my heart and hope to die it’s true.
May the river run dry if I lie to you.

I looked out to the south and the crow said to me,
Devil’s Island Eddie and the Boone Kid are free.
May the river run dry if I lie.
Eddie’s blood is bad, so poisoned with pride,
a rattlesnake bit him, crawled off and died.
May the river run dry if I lie.
May the river run dry if I lie to you.

You better shoulder your gun and prepare.
Water and saddle your mare.
Look again now; even you’ll see their dust in the air.
Sure as I was born to die it’s true.
May the river run dry if I lie to you.

The wind died, a shot rang, and all there was to see
was a black crow falling from his old, crooked tree.
May the river run dry if I lie.
It’s good to see you, Eddie, I just got the word.
Nobody knows but this black and twisted bird.
May the river run dry if I lie.
May the river run dry if I lie to you.

Everything is prepared.
I’ve watered and saddled the mares.
We’ll wait here ‘til nightfall and tomorrow we’ll each have our share.
Every man will get what he’s due.
May the river run dry if I lie to you.

Sure as we were born to die it’s true.
May the river run dry if I lie to you.
Track Name: Coyote
Coyote

He hugged the brush and ran the ridge, dropped down and headed for the bridge, quiet as the rising moon. I saw coyote.

The devil broke the rolling veil. A shadow rode along the rail, black as a buzzard's wing. I saw coyote.

If you look down there you’ll find a trace, a barbed-wire scar across the face, fading like a midnight mile. I saw coyote.
Track Name: Soldier's Lullaby
Soldier's Lullaby

It was the night. I had the moon. I heard the soldiers down by the river, singing a lullaby.
It was something like, 'I gave her a star to wear and she gave me the Earth to wander, singing a lullaby.'
Track Name: Galveston
Galveston

You know everything God knows
Galveston
The pearl of the sky, the bare on your feet
the sand in your sheets and the sun on your skin

You know everything God knows
Galveston
the day goin down, the birds of the night
the turn of the tide and the tired in your bones

Goin, goin, gone
closing your eyes
Goin, goin, gone
on the Gulf Coast tonight

You know everything God knows
Galveston
the beat of your breath, the love in your dreams
the weave of your hair and the moon on the blinds

Goin, goin, gone
closing your eyes
Goin, goin, gone
on the Gulf Coast tonight