The Night You Wrote That Song: The Songs Of Mickey Newbury

Artist
Gretchen Peters
Released
2020
Genre
Singer-Songwriter

LYRICS

The Sailor

Mickey Newbury

Well my Daddy was a sailor
A sailor just like me
His wife was like my mother
His love was the silver sea

He was just another sailor
Off to find the world
He was just another sailor
All his cloth unfurled

Singin’ la den da den day-o
The water is deep and its wide
The ship went down, and the Captain drowned
Do no good to cry

Turnin’ at the gang plank
He looked me in the eye
He said learn to read the truth son
That lies between the lines

But I never met a stranger
Til I’d known him for a time
And I’d rather have a penny
Than a nickel in the brine

Oh my Daddy was a sailor
The salt is in my blood
And here I am in Nashville
Bow deep in this mud

singin’ la den da den day-o
Am I too far out to sea
Will I sink with him
Or swim with them
Across this briney deep

© Mickey Newbury Music (BMI)

She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye

by Mickey Newbury & Doug Gilmore

Well morning’s come and oh my mind is achin’
Sunshine’s standing quietly at my door
Just like the dawn my heart is silently breaking
And with my tears goes tumbling to the floor

Once again the whole town will be talking
Lord I’ve seen the pity in their eyes
They could never understand – it’s her sorrow it’s not a man
But no matter what they say we know she tried

Baby’s packed her soft things and she’s left me
I know she didn’t mean to make me cry
It’s not her heart, Lord it’s her mind
She didn’t mean to be unkind
Why she even woke me up to say goodbye

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)

by Mickey Newbury

I woke up this mornin’ with the sundown shinin’ in
I found my mind in a brown paper bag within
I tripped on a cloud and fell eight miles high
I tore my mind on a jagged sky
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

I pushed my soul in a deep dark hole and then I followed it in
I met myself crawlin’ out as I was crawlin’ in
I got up so tight I couldn’t unwind
I saw so much I broke my mind
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

Someone painted April Fool in big black letters on a dead end sign
I had my foot on the gas as I left the road and blew out my mind
Eight miles out of Memphis and I got no spare
Eight miles straight up downtown somewhere
I just dropped in to see what condition my condition was in

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

The Night You Wrote That Song

by Mickey Newbury

Ah the rednecks are drawin’ their lines down in East Tennessee
Their cannons are primed and they’re fit to be tied I believe
And the man in the grey flannel suit does not walk on the street
Say does anyone know what became of the old Opry

Now the cowboys have taken an axe to the old hangin’ tree
They’ve traded their guns for a guitar and two bags of weed
And they’ll swear in a slow Texas drawl all the killin’ is done
I believe them by God but I’m keepin’ my back to the sun

Tomorrow is out of sight
Yesterdays dead and gone
You never knew how right
You were the night you wrote that song

Oh the truck drivin’ man makes his stops where the coffee is free
El Paso this morning, tonight it will be Tennessee
And he spends all his miles on the dials of a poppin’ CB
Say does anyone know what became of old Ralph Emery

chorus

Yesterday’s newspaper forecast no rain for today
Ah but yesterday’s news is old news – the skies are all gray
But the East Texas hills are alive with the children in spring
Say does anyone know what became of my sweet Angeline

© Sony/ATV Milene Music (ASCAP)

Wish I Was

by Mickey Newbury

Oh I wish I was a willow tree leanin’ on a lazy breeze
Movin’ like a midnight train through rainy Georgia
I wish I was a grain of sand playin’ in a baby’s hands
Fallin’ like a diamond chain into the ocean

Oh a willow tree is strong enough to bend
Never like the oak that lives in fear of the wind
A grain of sand is all I ever wanted to be
Lay me down and let the water wash right over me, wash over me

Oh I wish I was an old guitar sittin’ in a beat-up car
Hittin’ every two bit bar from here to Texas
Then I wouldn’t be ashamed to look up my old friends
And they would be so proud to see me strung up again

A grain of sand is all I ever wanted to be
Lay me down and let the water wash over me, wash over me

Nobody wants you when you’re down and out
Nobody wants to know your name
You’re just another face lost in the crowded street
In the crowded street

Oh I wish I was a willow tree leanin’ on a lazy breeze
Movin’ like a midnight train through rainy Georgia

Oh a willow tree is strong enough to bend
Never like the oak that lives in fear of the wind
A grain of sand is all I ever wanted to be
Lay me down and let the water wash right over me, wash over me
Wash over me

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

Why You Been Gone So Long

Written by Mickey Newbury

Every time it rains Lord I run to my window
All I do is just wring my hands and moan
Listen to that thunder roll can’t ya hear that lonesome wind moan
Tell me baby now why you been gone so long

Tell me baby now why you been gone so long
You been gone so long
Tell me baby now why you been gone so long
The wolf is scratchin’ at my door
And I can hear that lonesome wind moan
Tell me baby now why you been gone so long

Somebody said they thought they saw you roaring down in Reno
With a good ole girl from San Antone
They tell me I’m a fool to pine for you, well what do they know
Tell me baby now why you been gone so long

chorus

Ain’t nothin’ I wanna do Lord, Lord I guess I could get stoned
Let the past paint pictures in my head
Kill a fifth of Thunderbird and try to write a sad song
Tell me baby now why you been gone so long

chorus

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

Frisco Depot

by Mickey Newbury

Frisco’s a full day from home when you can afford to fly
But it might as well be the moon, when you’re as broke as I
Here I sit with my head in my hands and watch the trains roll by
Lord, the helpin’ hand mission man warned me the nights here got cold

When you’re cold there’s nothin’ as welcome as sunshine
When you’re dry there’s nothin’ as welcome as rain
When you’re alone there’s nothin’ no slower than passin’ time
When you’re afoot, Lord there’s nothin’ as fast as a train

Now Frisco’s a mighty rich town and that ain’t no lie
Hell they got some buildings that reach a mile in the sky
And no one can even afford the time just to tell me why
Here’s a world full of people and so many people alone

When you’re alone you ain’t got much reason for livin’
Ah but while you’re alive well you just gotta live with your pain
Unless you’ve been wrong for so long there’s no one left forgivin’
And you find yourself searchin’ your past for the links to the chain

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

Leavin’ Kentucky

by Mickey Newbury

Cold on the mountain when winter comes on
Dew in the morning is sprinkled alone
The road down to Nashville’s like crystal and stone
Leavin’ Kentucky and I’m goin’ back home

God knows I loved him too much I can see
Much more than he could have ever loved me
If I was the last girl in East Tennessee

Lord I’m just one girl, I wish I were three
Take a 44 pistol to me
Put one in my brain for his memory
One more for my heart, and then I‘d be free

It’s cold on the mountain when winter comes on
The dew in the morning is sprinkled alone
The road down to Nashville’s like crystal and stone
Leavin’ Kentucky and I’m goin’ back home

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

Heaven Help The Child

by Mickey Newbury

1912 in New York
I take a walk up to Park Avenue to sip some brew with my good friend
Maggie the Bohemian, Lord she’s quite a woman of the world
And I’m the envy of the men

Heaven help the child
Heaven help the child

Paris in the twenties, it can offer plenty
To a young man with a vision, so they say
With a friend named Fitzgerald, I’m off to see the old world
On a merchant steamer bound for Biscay Bay

Heaven help the child
Heaven help the child
Take him back to where he’s never been

Nothin’ like a freight train, get you to the city
Would you pick another sad song for me Jim
Hate to leave the old man all alone to work the cotton
But the country never seemed to bother him

Heaven help the child
Heaven help the child
Heaven help the children find their way

“War is hell to live with,” I said to the General
As we made the battle plans out for the day
This will be the last one, only God be willin’
We can go back home this time to stay

Heaven help the child
Heaven help the child
Heaven help the children find their way

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

San Francisco Mabel Joy

by Mickey Newbury

Well, his daddy was an honest man, just a red dirt Georgia farmer
His mama lived her short life having kids and baling hay
He had fifteen years and an ache inside to wander
So he jumped a freight in Waycross and wound up in LA

Well the cold nights had no pity on that Waycross Georgia farm boy
Most days he went hungry, then the summer came
He met a girl known on the strip as San Francisco’s Mabel Joy
Destitution’s child born on an L.A. street called Shame

Growing up came quietly in the arms of Mabel Joy
Laughter found their mornings, it brought a meaning to his life
On the night before she left sleep came and left that Waycross country boy
With dreams of Georgia cotton and a California wife

Sunday morning found him standin’ ‘neath the red light at her door
When a right cross sent him reeling, put him face down on the floor
In place of Mabel Joy he found a merchant mad marine
Who growled, “Your Georgia neck is red but Sonny, you’re still green”

So he turned twenty-one in a gray rock federal prison
The old judge had no mercy on that Waycross Georgia boy
Staring at those four gray walls in silence he would listen
To that midnight freight he knew could take him back to Mabel Joy

Sunday morning found him lyin’ ‘neath the red light at her door
With a bullet in his side, he cried “Have you seen Mabel Joy?”
Stunned and shaken someone said “Son, she don’t live here no more
She left this house four years today, they say she’s looking for
Some Georgia farm boy”

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

Saint Cecilia

by Mickey Newbury

Saint Cecelia’s in her garden picking paper violets
For all the wide-eyed children sadly clinging to her dress
Singing blessed be the heavenly, to hell with all the rest
Her salvation is her virtue, but her sin’s her emptiness

Crying I’m unfeeling, she crawled into her shell
How can I be like Jesus, when I’ve just begun, myself
To find my own way back – at times, I think I know me well
Then at other times a stranger’s standing where my body fell

Save the children, save the children
Cried the captain to the crew
For there can be salvation only for a precious few
Who would leave this sinking ship, and build a balsa wood canoe
And sail with me across this mighty water

Saint Cecelia’s in her garden singing Come Into the Fold
But all her little children now, would rather rock and roll
Singing blessed be what is to be, away with all that’s old
Oh, the silence it is golden but the loneliness so cold

© Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music (BMI)

Three Bells For Stephen

by Mickey Newbury

Do you remember me, dear hearts and gentle people
I pray I have not stayed away too long
Do you think of me, dear hearts and gentle people
You can buy my memories for a song

Can you see the blue hills of Kentucky
Can you see my old Kentucky home
Can you hear my sweetheart sadly singing
In a voice as pure and sweet as heather in the gloam

Will you pray for me, dear hearts and gentle people
For what I have seen has brought me to my knees
On those lonely nights I could find no sleep
I’d unlock my heart and soul on strings and ivory keys

Now I come to you, dear hearts and gentle people
A voice across an endless sea of time
Wherever there are songs I will be singing
Dear hearts and gentle people goodnight

© Mickey Newbury Music (BMI)

CREDITS

Gretchen Peters: vocals, acoustic guitar (“Why You Been Gone So Long”)
Barry Walsh: piano, organ, accordion, clavietta, vibes, vocals
Will Kimbrough: acoustic and electric guitars, resonator guitar, charango, mandolin
Dave Roe: upright & electric bass
Eamon McLoughlin: violin, viola, cello
Dan Dugmore: pedal steel guitar
Charlie McCoy: harmonica
Neilson Hubbard: drums (“Leaving Kentucky”)
Bryan Owings: drums (“Why You Been Gone So Long”)
Kim Richey, Barry Walsh: vocals (“Why You Been Gone So Long”)
Buddy Miller: harmony vocal (“Frisco Depot”)
Wayne Moss, Dee Moeller, Robert Lucas, Will Kimbrough: gang vocals (“Why You Been Gone So Long”)Produced by Gretchen Peters and Barry Walsh

Recorded at Cinderella Sound, Madison, TN by Robert Lucas
Mixed by Robert Lucas at Lucasound Studio
Mastered by John Baldwin
Photography/Art Direction/Design: Joshua Britt

Special thanks to Wayne Moss
For my mother, Ann Peters, who loved Mickey’s sad songs almost more than mine
℗© 2020 Scarlet Letter Records. WARNING. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

REVIEWS

“Peters has issued her mesmerizing take on ‘The Night You Wrote That Song,’ the closing cut from Newbury’s 1979 LP The Sailor.”
Rolling Stone

“Gretchen Peters charms on ‘The Night You Wrote That Song’. The song features her rich, crystalline voice and it has a stirring and retro vibe to it. Peters (who wrote Martina McBride’s signature song “Independence Day”) knocks “The Night You Wrote That Song” out of the ballpark.”
Digital Journal

(On “Why You Been Gone So Long”), “Peters all but re-creates a crowded, beer-slick dance floor. Get up and dance.”
Rolling Stone

“Gretchen Peters is the only one that could have pulled off this ‘tribute’ to Mickey Newbury so successfully.”
– Alan Cackett, alancackett.com