Old Songs and New

The Farmer
Old Songs and New
I Once Was a Farmer
Office Chantey
Equinoxial and Phoebe
Power and the Glory
Tomorrow is a Long Time
Bold Riley (Listen)
Wayfaring Stranger
Snow in Paradise
Drive Dull Care Away (Listen)
Grandma’s Suitcase (Listen)
Hineh Ma Tov

THE FARMER (Traditional)

Come each jovial fellow who loves to be mellow,
Attend unto me and sit easy.
One jorum and quiet we quickly will try it;
Dull thinking will make a man crazy.
For here I am king, I’ll drink, laugh and sing,
Let no one appear as a stranger.
But give me the ass that refuses his glass,
And I’ll offer him hay in a manger.

In plowing and sowing, by reaping and mowing,
Kind nature supplies me with plenty,
I’ve a cellar well stored and a plentiful board;
And my cupboard affords every dainty.
I have all things in season, both woodcut and pheasant;
I’m here as a justice of quorum.
At my cabin’s far end I’ve a bed for a friend,
A clean fireside and a jorum.

Were it not for my seeding, you’d have but poor feeding,
You’d surely be starving without me.
I’m always content when I’ve paid all my rent,
And I’m happy when friends are about me.
Draw close to my table, my friends while you’re able;
Let’s have not a word of complaining,
For the jingling of glasses all music surpasses.
I love to see bottles a draining.

Let the mighty and great rove in splendor and state,
I envy them not, I declare it!
I raise my own lamb, my own chicken and ham;
I shear my own fleece, and I wear it.
I’ve lands and I’ve bowers, I’ve fields, and I’ve flowers;
The lark is my daily alarmer.
So my jolly boys now, here’s God speed the plough;
Long life and success to the farmer!

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I once was a farmer, I worked in the sun,
Toiled in the rain till my day’s work was done.
Few people saw my trials and woe,
And little they knew of the joy to behold.

Oh, the light was a wonder at the start of each day,
And the light turned to purple as it faded away.
Though summer’s hot sun followed winter’s bitter cold,
Each night I retired with peace in my soul.

We milked forty head start and end of each day;
The cows ate and slept on the sweet smelling hay.
Tomatoes and cabbage we sold by the pound;
The town’s folk and tourists bought all that they found.


It was about the same time the kids went on their own;
The state said a highway would go through our farm.
We wrote, we petitioned, we spoke, how we tried
To keep the land open, to farm for our lives.

But the town’s people said that the road would save all
With new jobs, low taxes; they wanted a mall
To park all their cars and to buy all their clothes,
To walk under shelter from the rain and the snow.


Now hundreds of people all go through my farm,
Where cows once stood grazing, and the new calves were born.
The pastures are paved and the barns are torn down;
Where trees spread their branches, now lamp posts are found.

Now the light from the mall turns the evening sky grey,
And the concrete warms up at the start of each day.
From the hillside I watch all the neon display,
And remember the trees and the shadows they made.

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Well there’s many can’t take the office life
With me desk and me swivel chair;
It’s hard on the brain and it’s filled with strife
And with me fax machine-aye-o.

There’s deadlines, meetings, and memos-o
With me desk and me swivel chair;
And computers always crashing so
And with me fax machine-aye-o.

The copier groans a mournful song
With me desk and me swivel chair;
While me e-mail piles up all day long
And with me fax machine-aye-o.

I’d rather be taking a Nantucket sleigh ride,
Pulled over the waves, those watery graves
That rise and fall with the tide.
I’d rather be whaling far out on the sea,
Pulled by a mammal as big as a Camel cigarette factory.

There’s gossip up and down the halls
With me desk and me swivel chair;
And in cubicles with five foot walls
And with me fax machine-aye-o.

Me medical deductible it grows each year
With me desk and me swivel chair;
Still it don’’ cover chiropractic care
And with me fax machine-aye-o.

Me 401K grows so slow
With me desk and me swivel chair;
When I finally retire I’ll have naught to show
And with me fax machine-aye-o.


I hope some day before I die
With me desk and me swivel chair;
I’ll kiss this office job goodbye
And with me fax machine-aye-o.

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Equinoxial swore, by the green leaves on the trees,
That he could do more work in a day than Phoebe could do in three,
That he could do more work in a day than Phoebe could do in three.

If that be so, Phoebe said, then this you must allow
You will do my work for a day and I’ll go follow the plow

But you must milk the tiny cow that she does not go dry,
And you must feed the little pigs that live within the sty.

You must watch the speckled hen that she does not go astray,
And you must wind the hank of yarn that I spun yesterday.

So Phoebe took the staff in her hand and went to follow the plow,
The old man took the pail in his hand and went to milk the cow.

Tiny hinched and Tiny flinched and Tiny buckled her nose,
She gave the old man such a kick where it seldom shows.

When he had milked the tiny cow that she would not go dry,
He went to feed the little pigs that lived within the sty.

But while he fed the little pigs the hen did go astray,
He forgot about the hank of yarn that she spun yesterday.

He looked to the east, he looked to the west, he saw the setting sun
He swore in his heart, it had been a long day and Phoebe would never come.

He swore by all the stars in the sky and all the skies in heaven,
That Phoebe could do more work in a day than he could do in seven.

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C’mon and take a walk with me through this green and growing land;
Walk through the meadows and the mountains and the sand.
Walk through the valleys and the rivers and the plains,
Walk through the sun and walk through the rain

Here is a land full of power and glory
Beauty that words cannot recall
For her power shall rest on the strength of her freedom
Her glory shall rest on us all

From Colorado, Kansas, and the Carolinas too,
Virginia and Alaska from the old to the new;
Texas and Ohio and the California shore,
Tell me who could ask for more?


But she’s only as rich as the poorest of the poor,
Only as free as a padlocked prison door;
Only as strong as our love for this land,
Only as tall as we stand.


Now our country is still troubled by those who have to hate;
They steal away our future, they twist away our fate.
Fear is their weapon and treason is their cry,
But we will stop them if we try.


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If today was not an endless highway,
If tonight was not a crooked trail,
If tomorrow wasn’t such a long time,
Then lonesome would mean nothing to me at all.

Oh and only if my own true love were waiting,
And I could hear her heart softly pounding;
Only if she were lying by me,
Then I’d lie in my bed once again.

I can’t see my reflection in the water,
I can’t speak the sounds that show no pain;
I can’t hear the echo of my footsteps,
Can’t remember the sound of my own name.


There’s beauty in the silver singing river,
There’s beauty in the sunlight in the sky,
None of these and nothing else can touch the beauty
I remember in my true love’s eyes.


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SIX (Ed Kohn)

What do you get when you add three and three?
I believe the answer is six.
And how about the sum of three, two, and one?
I believe the answer is six.

Well how do you do that in your head?
I would need a pencil all filled with lead,
And a huge piece of paper ’bout as big as my bed;
You must be a mathematician.

What’s the product of three times two?
I believe the answer is six.
And forty-eight divided by twelve plus two?
I believe the answer is six.

And the square root of thirty six is what?
I believe the answer is six.
Take three from the cube root of seven twenty nine
I believe the answer is six.


A hundred and eight million divided by the square root of three twenty four times ten to the minus six?
I believe the answer is six.
The cube root of five twelve times nine divided by the square root of a hundred forty four?
I believe the answer is six.

You had a twenty inch wheel on a brand new bike
And you rode through the park from dawn till night,
Then divided the times that the wheel went round
By five short ton to the nearest pound?
I believe the answer is six.


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BOLD RILEY (Traditional)

Oh the rain it rains all day long
Bold Riley-o, bold Riley
And the northerly winds they blow so strong
Bold Riley-o is gone away.

Goodbye my darling, Goodbye my dear-o
Bold Riley-o, bold Riley
Goodbye my darling, goodbye my dear-o
Bold Riley-o is gone away.

Our anchor’s aweigh and our sails are set
Bold Riley-o, bold Riley
And the friends we’re leaving we’ll never forget
Bold Riley-o is gone away.


Oh come now Mary don’t look glum
Bold Riley-o, bold Riley
Come Whitestocking Day you’ll be drinking rum
Bold Riley-o is gone away.


We’re outward bound for the Bengal Bay
Bold Riley-o, bold Riley
Get bending me lads, it’s a hell of a way
Bold Riley-o is gone away.

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I am a poor wayfaring stranger
Traveling through this world of woe;
But there’s no sickness, no toil, no danger
In that bright world to which I go.
I’m going there to see my father,
I’m going there no more to roam.

I’m just going over Jordan,
I’m just going over home.

I know dark clouds will gather round me,
I know my way is rough and steep;
But beauteous fields lie just beyond me
Where souls redeemed their vigil keep.
I’m going there to meet my mother,
She said she’d meet me when I come.


I want to wear a crown of glory
When I get home to that bright land.
I want to shout salvation’s story
In concert with that heavenly band.
I’m going there to meet my savior,
I’m going there no more to roam.


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EARLY (Greg Brown)

Early one morning I walked out alone,
Looked down the street, no one was around;
The sun was just coming up over my home
On Hickory Street in a little farm town.

And ooo-weee, ain’t the morning light pretty
While the dew is still heavy, so bright and early
My home on the range, it’s a one horse town
And it’s alright with me.

The clouds rolled the prairies, the prairies brought life.
Little towns blossomed, soon there were many
Scattered like fireflies across the dark night,
One was called Early, and they sure named it right.


Many dry summers have burned out the fields,
Scorched the fine colors, cut back the yields.
Now the rain has returned to wash away our fears;
It’s the fullest green summer that we’ve seen in years


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There will be snow in paradise, shining on the ground,
Snow so sweet and warm and deep, I’ll lay my body down.

I came to Lowell three years ago, I left my mother’s farm.
“The work would be so clean”, they said, weavin’, spinnin’ yarn.
The wages would be good enough, I could buy some silk,
Save my money, I’d have time. I could read a book.


But I get up so early, dragged by a factory bell,
I work in a close and a noisy room; it’s a manufactory hell.
I don’t want to pull these threads through the bobbin’s eye;
I don’t want this cotton dust makin’ me cry.


Here comes my overseer, struttin’ by my loom;
I don’t want this dirty work in a dirty spinning room.
I am going home, I am going home;
a dollar twenty five for my room and board, I am going home.
I will not stay here, I will not stay here;
I won’t rise to the clang of the bell, I will not stay here.


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Oh why should we at our lot complain or grieve at our distress?
Some think if they could riches gain, t’would bring true happiness.
Alas, in vain is all their strife, life’s cares it will not allay;
So while we’re here with our friends so dear, we’ll drive dull care away.

Away, away, away, away-
We will drive dull care away;
So while we’re here with our friends so dear
We’ll drive dull care away.

Why do the rich despise the poor, why do he poor repine?
When in a few short years in equal friendship we will join.
We’re all the same, we’re all to blame; we’re all made of one clay,
So while we’re here with our friends so dear, we’ll drive dull care away.


The only circumstance in life that I could ever find
To conquer care and temper strife is a contented mind.
With this in store we have much more than all else can convey,
So while we’re here with our friends so dear, we’ll drive dull care away.


So try to make the most of life, not render it a curse.
But treat it as you would a wife – for better or for worse.
Life at it’s best is but a jest, like a weary winter’s day,
So while we’re here with our friends so dear, we’ll drive dull care away.


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When Grandpa died we’d all take turns
Having you stay at our place;
You’d carry your suitcase from one to another
With your clothes, your knitting and lace.

When you walked through the door it meant happy times again:
Good food and stories and songs,
Someone to play with and a good cup of tea,
Oh, yes this is where you belong.

Unpack your suitcase, Grandma,
We’re so happy that you’ve come to stay
We’re here in the kitchen, singing the old songs,
Washing the troubles away.

You taught me songs about robins and blackbirds,
Devils, gypsies and kings.
You on the melody, me on the harmony,
Then my mother would join in and sing.

There were stories of sad little princes and princesses
Always losing their way,
Who found magical creatures and fairy godmothers,
And happiness the rest of their days.


You never told your sad story, the youngest of nine-
Your father, once wealthy, turned poor;
So you had no schooling, but you married a good man
Who brought you to America’s shores.


Well it’s many a journey I’ve carried your suitcase
That once held your knitting and lace.
The satin inside is still soft and shiny,
And there is still a bit of your grace.

Now we’ve unpacked your suitcase, Grandma,
We’re so happy that we’ve come to stay.
We’ll play and sing some old songs and new,
And hope we wash troubles away.

HINEH MA TOV (Traditional)

Hineh ma tov uma nayim
shevet achim gam yachad.

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