HAT CHECK GIRL
COLD SMOKE


all songs © Annie Gallup & Peter Gallway. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

1. Enola Gay
2. Hard To Know
3. Nor'easter
4. Cobalt Blue
5. Andersonville
6. Songbird Of Cincinnati
7. Cold Smoke Road
8. Liza Blue
9. Thirteen Cents An Hour
10. Highway Of Tears
11. I Broke The Law
12. Letters
13. Sycamore Lake

 Enola Gay

I was posted to an island in the South Pacific
After the fighting had finally ended
Brutal and personal to the last man standing
They were dug into caves, blood running together
In the rock and blue-black sand

Assigned to the Army Air Corps Quartermaster
A firefight the farthest thing from my mind
But sometimes at night I would hear the crash landings
Big bombers belly-flopping from the long mainland runs

Then one August evening when the wind had died down
Three B-29’s landed it was very hush-hush
We knew something was happening but no one was talking
Then I heard my buddy say one of the bombers was called the Enola Gay

Enola Gay they ringed you with sentries
Surrounded in secret that one August night
Then gone after midnight long before first light
In the morning by wireless we heard and we knew
It was you that dropped the ten thousand suns

And I missed my wife, I missed my two boys
All any of us wanted was a chance to go home
There were others than I who were much more courageous
But at the end of the day I was there the night of the Enola Gay

It all ended quickly after that night
They loaded us on ships once we’d organized things right
I think of those men who had just done their jobs
We all believed what they told us, we believed in ourselves
And nothing was the same for us ever again, for my sons or this world

Enola Gay they ringed you with sentries
Surrounded in secret that one August night
Then gone after midnight long before first light
In the morning by wireless we heard and we knew
It was you that let go the ten thousand suns

Yes I love my wife and I pray for my kids
And all of the children who duck under their desks
For years to come when the sirens sound
Fear surrounding us like the sky-high cloud
At the end of the day I was there the night of the Enola Gay

 

Hard To Know

I remember crying and crying in my crib, crying until I was too wise to cry anymore
so I watched the shadows of the sycamore writing stories across the floor
I remember growing without a sound, crowning bottle cap queens, folding magazine fans
But it was never my home. When I was old enough I ran

It was a rainy night, I liked his hat and the songs he played
On his steel drum, so I sat beneath the overhang as music filled the arcade
Hard times, hard times, I put a dollar in his cup
And we both knew what we knew we knew by the time he was packing up
He kicked his motorbike to life and I climbed on his back like a little monkey
We sped the shining city streets, skidding through the stops
Across the river and the railroad tracks to the part of town with the lights turned down
Where he kept a little room In the back of his shop

Hard to know, hard to know, hard to know what to say or do
because you never had anyone to trust or talk to and so it’s hard to know you

There were table legs and a rocking chair, a harp with a woman’s head, and I don’t know what
And the smell of turpentine and sawdust, stacks of hardwood ready to be cut
And a bottle of whisky we passed between us throwing it back with a grip on the neck
We were young enough or pretty enough we made drinking hard picturesque
He was stray dog skinny and tough as a boot but he listened to Stravinsky and Ry Cooder
I was strong as a wildcat, but my weakness was stronger
He said – the best part of loving is wanting it, yes
So we let ourselves want it a little longer   

Hard to know hard to know hard to know what somebody’s thinking
Because you’re drinking hard and he is too so it’s hard to know whose wish came true

He gave me a dollar for a taxicab and I rode until the meter ran out
There were rivers in the gutters, I was running like a pony, under roof to roof dodging waterspouts
It rained all night until the sun came up and I should know, I was there to greet
The first clear light, tapping through the puddles and shaking it off like a parakeet
Hard to know hard to know hard to know where to go
Because there’s nobody waiting or taking your side and you’re

Hard to know, hard to know, hard to know what to say or do
Because you never had anyone to trust or talk to and so it’s hard to know you


Nor’easter

In one hundred days my mama was dead and gone
My best friend down we were surrounded in Iraq
And I found myself a God I could do business with
All in those one hundred days

Here up the coast in Knox County, Maine
On my mother’s half-acre handed down from her sister
In winter it’s cold right down to the bone
But the house is warm and the woodstove is tight

Let the nor’easter blow the wind and the rain
Blow from the Maritimes across the Bay
When you can’t see your hand in front of your face
Lean in and show a little faith

I remember it all like yesterday
My second tour with the 7th Marines
Who knows what we were thinking or what anyone was
But I stood with my brothers in dust and the heat

But God doesn’t speak and God don’t seem to listen
And sometimes I wonder if he pays attention at all
Or if it’s a Him or a Her or the wind or the stars
Only thing I’m sure of is there’s something out there

My mama she passed on a quiet spring night
And my best friend was first down in that house-to-house firefight
It was crazy out there Lord they hate us it’s true
I say leave ‘em alone let their God give them their due

Here up the coast in Knox County, Maine
On my mother’s half-acre handed down from her sister
In winter at night it’s quiet as ice
Hell we all pay a price that’s just living to me

Let the nor’easter blow the wind and the rain
Blow from the Maritimes across the Bay
When you can’t see your hand in front of your face
Lean in and show a little faith
Lean in and have a little faith


Cobalt Blue  
                                                                                                                                                                  

He was a pilot in the war. And he came back without a scar
Up there, he said, the sky turns cobalt blue, and it’s just you and your beautiful machine,
and you’re in too deep to let anyone so much as scratch her paint. That’s why you fight.
that and for another flight into that endless blue

Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue

He came back from the war untouched, to his easel and his brush
He went through a case of cobalt blue chasing his memory of the view up there.
He painted the sky over and over, and then later, he painted you.
You posed, shivering while your babies cried a river at home and your husband indulged your lies
You pretended no one knew. You pretended it was true.
You pretended you were lost and he came to your rescue
Maybe all you really wanted was to see yourself in blue

Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue

Of course it didn’t last. You were not the love of his life. He was not ever going to leave his wife.
So you were vanquished and angry, took the fight home to your family, your babies cried
No open sky, that endless blue

But once again he was unscarred. It was you that bore the mark
His fingerprints covered everything, conquering. Your babies dried their tears                                              
and forgave you, at least I did, after many years
And I’m almost above, almost over what we never spoke of
And it’s almost enough
Except I can’t tell the difference between war and love.
Can you?

Cobalt blue
Cobalt blue


Andersonville

It was Sumter County, Georgia, the town of Andersonville
In ‘64 we numbered more than thirty-one thousand Union soldiers
In the end one-third of us dead and from dysentery and starvation
No mercy the water tainted by death

My name is Newell Burch of the New York Volunteers
I was caught the very first morning of the Battle of Gettysburg
They sent me down to Belle Isle and on to Andersonville
Six hundred sixty-one days in all and how I survived
I cannot begin to tell

Andersonville, Andersonville where the Dead Line you did not cross
And those who arrived eleven stone left as skin and bone if they left at all
We buried more than brothers lost our faith and will
God saw the worst in most of us in the place called Andersonville

Worst of all were the cowards who walked among our own
Raiders who preyed on the weak to steal whatever they owned
Until the Regulators with Judge Peter McCullough
Tried, jailed or hanged them nearly every Man Jack and son

Three-hundred and fifty made the fence or tunneled out
But most returned past broken or were cut down in the woods
And Henry Wirz the commandant seemed bent to break us down
And in ’65 he got his due when they tried and hanged him too

Andersonville, Andersonville where the Dead Line you did not cross
And those who arrived eleven stone left as skin and bone if they left at all
We buried more than brothers lost our faith and will
God saw the worst in most of us in the place called Andersonville

The nights became the longest when summer had been passed
There was no way to warm ourselves it was if the earth had turned its back
The light receded from our eyes though most we did our best
I guess we believed still in the cause that brought us straight into the hell
Of Andersonville

I kept a secret diary as best I could describe
What would befall an army made of men just like the other side
My friend young Dorence Atwater listed names and numbers of the dead
Which later would be published by Mr. Greeley in New York

My name is Newell Burch of the New York One-Five-Four
I was caught the very first morning of the Battle of Gettysburg
They sent me down to Belle Isle and on to Andersonville
And they say I was the longest held, six hundred sixty-one days in all

Andersonville, Andersonville where the Dead Line you did not cross
And those who arrived eleven stone left as skin and bone if they left at all
We buried more than brothers lost our faith and will
God saw the worst in most of us, God saw the worst in most of us
In Andersonville
   

Songbird of Cincinnati   
                                                                                                                              

I made my own hair treatment oil from pennyroyal and Barbasol
With a red hot comb it worked so well, I made a life in concert halls
The Songbird of Cincinnati they called me, though the name was catchy
I never felt at home there, or anywhere, I kept my history blurry
But I could sing, and I could pass, and this is my story

My mother was a country girl, father came from Selma selling bibles door to door
Mother didn’t buy a bible, but after he’d gone, she needed one for sure
when the baby came with curly hair the family hushed it out of there
so I was raised up without kin on the outskirts of Meridian
Folks there were not unkind to me but I never fit in

Let’s just say I found my own way north, I slipped between the cracks
It wasn’t hard to disappear back then, hide in plain sight, and just not go back
By the time I got to Bowling Green I’d changed my hair and changed my name
And I looked for all the world exactly who I claimed to be
Onstage I sang for all the world, and all the world applauded me

Songbird of Cincinnati was as good a name as any
Offers poured in, fame and fortune, it was a time of plenty
They all love you when you’re high, and I was flying so high
I flew straight into a sweet man’s heart, he was so steady and so thoughtful
I kissed him in a long white dress and no one guessed I broke the law

My beautiful dark skinned baby girl was the one betrayed my secret
The whole world raised its eyebrows, and spread rumors that I’d cheated
Well maybe I had but not like that, cheated truth, and cheated fate,
Cheated history, and my own self, cheated the godforsaken laws
But I’d loved the man, and I loved my child exactly as she was

I had money of my own by then, and I didn’t care about the fame.
I crossed the border to a prairie town and changed my name, changed my baby’s name too
the songbird flew, they said, I guess they gave me up for dead
And maybe in a way I was, then maybe reborn one more time
For a little girl with my own curls whose life was not a crime

I made my own hair treatment oil from pennyroyal and Barbasol
With a red hot comb it worked so well, I made a life in concert halls
The Songbird of Cincinnati they called me, though the name was catchy
I never felt at home there, or anywhere, I keep my history blurry
But I can sing, and I can raise my child, and that’s my story

Cold Smoke Road

There’s a mercy in certain silences
Like night on Main Street in a new home town
They say the teens and the old ones
Live out the boredom with beer
As if there is some kind of necessity in drawing blood

Tony says life teaches you how to live it
If only you live long enough
I’ve been around the block more times I can count
And you hitched your wagon without looking back

If love is what we can still betray
Reading John Le Carre thinking about Cold Smoke Road
Then I will never betray another again
Not you, not anyone ever again down on Cold Smoke Road

Mill towns are dying all over the state
And the wheat fields are bone dry since the rains went away
The fires are raging ‘bout ten-percent contained
And down on the Gulf Coast there’s a thousand-year flood

And if love is what we can still betray
I’m reading John Le Carre thinking about Cold Smoke Road
Then I will never betray another again
Not you, not anyone ever again down on Cold Smoke Road

Cold Smoke Road about a mile from town
Where the oak and the elm begin to thin out
The sky at night is a long-distance stare
And the light from your window is a far cry from here

There’s a mercy in certain silences
As I lay on this bunk and imagine I was there
I wish you only the best that you are
You were stronger than me, stronger than me

If love is what we can still betray
I’m reading John Le Carre thinking about Cold Smoke Road
Then I will never betray another again
Not you, not anyone ever again

If love is what we can still betray
Reading John Le Carre thinking about Cold Smoke Road
Then I will never betray another again
Not you, not anyone ever again down on Cold Smoke Road 

Thirteen Cents An Hour

It was the Asch Building, the month of March, Nineteen-Hundred Eleven
My mother and I were side by side, eighth floor among the cutters’ tables
I was all of fourteen, my mother thirty-two
And of the Irish toiling that day, we were but a few

We’d come to work on Saturday crossing Washington Square
The day it went like any other no breaks, all the doors were locked
There were those that took to smoking fags and hiding a puff or two
Who would have thought that one of those embers would send us all up the flu

I’ll hold my mother’s hand as we fall so far from grace
Floating through the air past the sign of the Triangle Shirtwaist
I’m far too young for a day like this but I’ll say a prayer, lift my eyes
As we fall to Greene Street my mother and I for thirteen cents an hour

Most of us were women and girls from the Italian shores
Some of us were of the Jewish faith from down the Lower East Side
We toiled for 52 hours a week our hands with scissors and steam
And I had been there for just one year when the fires came for me

I’ll hold my mother’s hand as we fall so far from grace
Floating through the air past the sign of the Triangle Shirtwaist
I’m far too young for a day like this but I’ll say a prayer, lift my eyes
As we fall to Greene Street my mother and I for thirteen cents an hour

We called the blouses shirtwaists, for lunch we brought our bread and tea
There were a few other Irish girls who joined my mother and me
I thank the Lord my sisters were home still too little to work
I pray my father dries his tears and does the best he can

It all happened so quickly there was simply no way out
We tried to warn the ninth and tenth but the flame and the smoke it licked its tongue
The hangings and the cuttings went up like the curse of hell
And for all too many of us the windows were the only way to go . . .

I’ll hold my mother’s hand as we fall so far from grace
Floating through the air past the sign of the Triangle Shirtwaist
I’m far too young for a day like this but I’ll say a prayer, lift my eyes
As we fall to Greene Street my mother and I
We fall to Greene Street my mother and I
For thirteen cents an hour, thirteen cents an hour
For thirteen cents an hour

Liza Blue

Liza Blue, the best dog I ever knew
Slept on the foot of my bed
When I was three she grew bigger than me
She’d bend down to press her brow to my forehead

Blue looked like a wolf, leggy and aloof
But Blue was a lamb in wolf’s clothing
I followed her everywhere that she didn’t follow me
My whole world was our thirty acres

I remember the 7th of December
As the day I learned there was a world beyond my world.
When that world went to war Blue was recruited for the Canine Corps
But there was no call for little girls

So my Liza Blue served in World War 2
At first a certificate, then no word for years
I didn’t know where she went or what it meant for her to go to war
I only know I couldn’t follow

Was that typewritten letter supposed to make me feel better
As if it was all about winning the war?
I wish I had a photograph of her, a lock of fur
She was a good dog, my dog, then she was gone

Highway of Tears

They call me grandather I am one of the elders
I sat on the Council for forty-two years
Here between mountains haunted by secrets
Along Highway 16 the Highway of Tears

Young girls just children born of the earth
Born of this land between Prince George and Rupert
And who are these men that would take a young life
Extinguish the light in the cold and the darkness

They call me grandfather one of the elders
My sleep has been taken for my missing granddaughter
Michelline we called her, at Tompkins Ranch they last saw her
There by the highway, the Highway of Tears

Oh Highway 16 where have our children gone
Gone into the night of the disappeared
Why were they taken to hitchhike alone
Innocent and cold on the Highway of Tears

They say there are nineteen but we know there are more
Lost and imagined along that dark stretch of highway
We of the Nations invisible and unimportant
In Ottawa they wish only to forget us as they always have done

Oh Highway 16 where have our children gone
Gone into the night of the disappeared
Why were they taken to hitchhike alone
Innocent and cold on the Highway of Tears

They call me grandfather one of the elders
I sat on the Council for forty-two years
Here between mountains haunted by dark secrets
Michelline and the others along Highway 16
Highway 16 the Highway of Tears

I Broke The Law

The first time I broke the law, I chained myself to a redwood tree
It was peaceful in the ancient forest and no one came to bother me

The second time I broke the law I snipped the fence at a nuclear site
and wandered the abandoned acres. The guard dogs barked but did not bite

The 3rd time I broke the law I went to sea in a rubber raft
I could not catch the whaling ship but I was there when the glacier calved

The 4th time I broke the law I unfurled a banner from century tower
It said human rights, and truth to power, it was torn down in half an hour

The 5th time I broke the law I opened the pens at a silver fox farm
Such a stirring sight as they fled in the moonlight running free from harm

The 6th time I broke the law I toppled the statue in Dixie Park
No one else was around so it made no sound and there was nothing to see in the dark

The last time I broke the law I chained myself to a redwood tree
The reporters turned out, and a thousand supporters, as they tossed me in jail and lost the key
For the last time

Letters

Dear Jill, I’m okay
Now that’s out of the way
I’ll tell you about the hell I lived through yesterday
They say war’s not like the movies, I say it’s exactly that way
Like it’s scripted, or happening to some other guy
So we were following orders, going slow, staying low,
When the attack came from behind we reacted with one mind
Like an orchestra, a savage beast
We were unstoppable, that’s how it felt
We held them off, we cut them down, we held our ground, we lost good men
Like an angel choir the choppers came and swooped them off to some idea of heaven
While the rest of us carried on. I hope for quiet
But I’ll fight and keep on fighting so I might see you again
Until then, think of me, write as much as you can
Love, Tom

Dear Tom, it’s been two
Weeks since your mail got through
And then all of a sudden there were a dozen letters from you
It’s not the first time I feared the worst but getting so much in one burst
Felt both like you were here, and a million miles away
Saturday I marched with the antiwar resisters
I saw your mother there, and your sister, War Is Not The Answer, Bring The Troops Home Now
We held up signs, we raised our fists, we shouted songs, we made the news
You should have been there, Tom and I know you would have been there but for a twist of fate
We’re in different worlds, Tom, you and I, but with the same wish
To be together, find it irresistible, and not resist
Until then, I send this letter and a kiss
Love, Jill

Dear Jill, when I signed on
I thought this war was my turn
I was walking in my father’s boots, and I’d have stories to tell
Like my father did in World War II. I know a lot of people died there but I didn’t know who
So I didn’t think to cry for them
But here I think of crying every day, the weight’s too much to carry
But I carry it anyway, and then I carry more and more and more. You get used to it
We’re soaking wet, we’re scared to death, the fighting starts, and we’re past all that
You lose yourself in the exhilaration and the rush of taking them down
And I don’t know if I can say that I would have marched with you Saturday
I’m marching with my brothers in arms, and as long as we keep moving we have a purpose
And maybe that’s enough right now. Motion and endurance
And the beauty of Vietnam
Love, Tom

Sycamore Lake

She built the house on Sycamore Lake
On the north shore where the river runs through
Then she wrote a song to make your heart ache
Sometimes you just start over from scratch

He’s so kind and he’s so steady
He’s so wise in the ways of the world
Takes you in feels like family
Friends and neighbors on the river road

She’s so strong she’s so patient
She shines bright with the light of this world                      
He sits back but he doesn’t miss anything
Count yourself blessed

She sings the evening to sleep
This old world keeps spinning around
He loves like the morning loves a sad song
Drifts to sleep, on and on

They’ve been together since forever
Door is open come on in
If ever you need a sister or brother
An inspiration, witness or friend

She’s so strong she’s so patient
She shines bright with the light of this world                      
He sits back but he doesn’t miss anything
Count yourself blessed, count yourself blessed