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Lyrics by Joel Mabus

Retold

(Fossil 1808)

All material © 2008 Joel Mabus
all rights reserved -- do not post this material to another website!

Scroll down or click on title to read the lyrics or monologues.

To learn more about this CD, click here
To order this or any album, click here

Swing That Thing
The Naked Truth
Hopelessly Midwestern
Holding To The Land
Five Kinds of Snow
What 'My Doin' Wrong
Duct Tape Blues
The Preacher & the Flood
Touch A Name On The Wall
Sea of Dreams
Lucky, Lucky You

 

Swing That Thing
words and music © 1992 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on The Naked Truth album]

Everybody gather 'round when they hear that swing's in town.
Everybody say - swing that thing.
When the band starts to play everybody say "Hey hey hey --
Hey, man, Swing That Thing!"
Swing it hot, swing it cool,
Make that rhythm pop.
Once you start to swing that thing
There's trouble if you stop!
Professors in music schools tell the kids, "Forget the rules -
Just hold on tight, now, and Swing That Thing!"

Now, those Bluegrass pickers forget their licks -
Peter, Paul & Mary drop their picks
When people ask them to Swing That Thing.
Musicians from the hearts of space raise their hands & slap their face
Say "I didn't know you could actually Swing That Thing!"
It drives the women crazy,
It makes the men insane.
Once you start to swing that thing
You'll never be the same!
Kids forget to rock and roll - Grandpa, he just lose control
When Grandma says, "Honey, Swing That Thing!"

Here’s a little history lesson for you –
Louis was the king of France, but Louis didn't stand a chance
When the people said "Swing That King!" (…yeah)
And Luther told the Pope of Rome - 
said, "Pops, leave your stuff at home, Man,
the people up here, we gonna do that Zwingli Thing!"
(yeah, look it up)
Oh, Swing it high, swing it low,
Swing it upside down,
Once you start to swing that thing
You'll never touch ground!
Mozart said to JS Bach, "Johan, put your horn in hock,
Man, 'cause you ain't never gonna swing your thing."
(Swing it, Johann; take it man! …nice try.)

Swing it hot, swing it cool,
Make that rhythm pop
Once you start to swing that thing
There’s trouble if you stop!
Everybody gather round when they hear that swing's in town.
Everybody say Swing That Thing!
Everybody say Swing That Thing!
Everybody say Swing That Thing!

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The Naked Truth
words and music ©1988 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on The Naked Truth album]

Now, Truth and Falsehood were the best of friends.
That's the way this little story begins.
Way back yonder when the world was young,
These two girls went out to have some fun,
And that's the naked truth - That's the naked truth -
That's the naked truth - You know I wouldn't lie to you.

Now, you could always tell Truth by the dress she wore -
It was a long, flowing gown, way down to the floor,
Silky, silky, pearly white,
A little lace collar that she buttoned up tight,
And that's the naked truth...

Falsehood, on the other hand, she wore a dress of red -
A tight, sassy little number, turn your head.
Fishnet stockings and the high heel pumps,
A slit up the side make a dead man jump,
And that's the naked truth...

Now these two good-lookin', fun-lovin' gals -
( Uh, did I tell ya they were the best of pals? Yeah.)
They decided to go skinny dippin' one day -
Stripped buff naked and they swam away.

Well,that's when Falsehood cooked up her wicked idea: 
She said, "Truth, honey, you just keep swimmin' , now, hear?
I'm gonna sit up on the beach and get me a little sun."
Mmm-huh, that's how the trouble begun.

You see, because Falsehood put on the dress of white.
She buttoned it up, buttoned it up, buttoned it up tight.
She laughed to herself, she said, "Wait 'til people see -
They'll think it's Truth comin', and it's gonna be me!"

Well then truth come out of the water drippin' wet.
Took one look at falsehood, -- she said "Is this the thanks I get?
I take off my dress for one tiny little minute,
I turn around and there's my best friend in it!"
mmmmhhh

Falsehood said, "You don't get the joke, here's the set-up
I wear your clothes, you get into my get-up."
Truth said, "Uh-Uh, girl, that won't do.
I'd rather go naked than be mistaken for you!"
And that's the naked truth,
That's the naked truth,
That's why we call her naked truth,
You know I wouldn't lie to you. (nudus veritas)

Well that's the way it is to this very day -
Something looks a little too good, you better just walk away,
'Cause a pretty little dress can cover up a lie,
But Truth goes naked - she's got nothin' to hide.

That's the naked truth - warts and all -
It’s the naked truth – yeah, she’s a little lumpy these days , but
She's the naked truth - tell her coming or going -
The naked truth -
You know I wouldn't lie - I wouldn't lie to you.

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Hopelessly Midwestern
words and music ©1990 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on the Firelake album]

If you live life in the middle and not on the edge
You’re hopelessly Midwestern
If a big Saturday means clipping the hedge
You’re hopelessly Midwestern
If you shop at Sears, drink a lot of iced tea
You like to dance the polka and watch TV
Well, then the jury is in, and the critics agree
You’re hopelessly Midwestern

Hopelessly Midwestern – corn fed boys and girls
Hopelessly Midwestern – square pegs in this big round world
Well, you can go from seas to shining sea
But right in the middle is the place to be
And if you like it like that, you’re a lot like me –
Hopelessly Midwestern

Now if you’re favorite stretch of highway is flat & straight
You’re hopelessly Midwestern
And if you still think sushi looks a lot like bait
You’re hopelessly Midwestern
You like your potatoes mashed and your chicken fried
Your green beans boiled and your apples pied
And home sweet home is a double-wide
You’re hopelessly Midwestern

Hopelessly Midwestern – corn fed boys and girls
Hopelessly Midwestern – square pegs in this big round world
Well you can go from seas to shining sea
But right in the middle is the place to be
And if you like it like that, you’re a lot like me –
Hopelessly Midwestern

You know, I travel all over the country in my line of work – singing songs and playing the guitar. Wherever I go I seem to find Midwesterners in the audience. I guess it’s the great Midwestern Diaspora.

Midwesterners all over the continent, taking with them their recipes for green bean casserole made with Campbell’s mushroom soup and Durkee fried onions – yeah, straight from the can. And for dessert – lime Jello mold – the kind with the little marshmallows and the pineapple chunks.

Now you can laugh at the Midwest all you want – we can take it. We’re a hardy breed. But there is a lot to be said for the flatlands in the middle of America – your so-called “fly over” country. Sure the weather’s tough and the winters are hard and the summers are harder. But, hey, we never have hurricanes. No tsunamis, volcanoes, or earthquakes to speak of. And with the thousands of miles of beachfront property in Michigan alone, not one shark attack. Nary a one.

So I sing this song wherever I go, for all the displaced misplaced Midwesterners and all those Midwestern wannabes out there. But you know sometimes I am taken aback.

I remember singing this song a few years ago in California. A festival in Mendocino County. Beautiful summer day out there among the giant redwoods and the lush vineyards, you know. I sang this song along with many others, and when my set was over, a young woman, I guess what you’d call a classic “California girl” came up to me. Beautiful young woman all decked out in tye dye – orange and purple swirls from head to foot. She had long blonde hair and those big blue kaleidoscope eyes.

And she looked up at me and said – “Well, I know Western. But what’s MID western?” Like it was the next big thing or somethin’ and she wanted to get in on it.

I said, “Well, that just means you are from – or of – one of the Midwestern states.”

And that didn’t mean anything to her at all.

So I said –“Well. You know, if like you were from Ohio. Or Indiana. Illinois. Michigan, Wisconsin. Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri – Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota. The Midwest.”

And she said, “Wow, man! Do you know all the capitals, too?”

You know, this is a true story. And it was right then and there that I realized just how Midwestern I really was. Because I DID know all the capitals. But I didn’t go all the way to Mendocino County California just to show off my education.

Now, if Carl Sandburg is your kind of poet
You’re hopelessly Midwestern
And if you have an accent but you don’t know it!
You’re hopelessly Midwestern
You got at least three Uncles named Jim or Bob
You love your home and you love your job
And “growin’ your own” means corn on the cob!
You’re hopelessly Midwestern

Hopelessly Midwestern – corn fed boys and girls
Hopelessly Midwestern – square pegs in this big round world
Well you can go from seas to shining sea
But right in the middle is the place to be
And if you like it like that, you’re a lot like me
Hopelessly Midwestern
Hopelessly, impossibly, irreparably Midwestern.

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Holding To The Land
words and music ©1994 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on the Promised Land album]

Well I swear to God this morning that old sun don’t want to rise
And the old pump don’t kick in till after six or seven tries
And everybody’s up and out the door by the time that lazy rooster crows
You can’t go burning daylight, that’s something any farmer knows

Holding to the land - Working for the harvest
Holding to the promise - Following the plan
Praying for the rain - Trusting in the sunshine
Living out a lifetime - Holding to the land

Well I had to decide to swallow my pride and take a job in town
Some days I don’t start farming till after the sun goes down
And tonight you might hear me cussin’ that old tractor sittin’ in the barn
But I ain’t gonna let no manicured banker subdivide my daddy’s farm

Well I got the old pump to working, and the water tastes so sweet
Aunt Bunny’s in the kitchen singing.
I bet she’s making something good to eat
The old man used to say, you gotta take her day by day
Cause life is short and full of blisters - that’s what the old men say.

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Five Kinds of Snow
words and music ©1994 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on the Promised Land album]

Deep down in Dixie where magnolias bloom
Old man winter don't get much room.
Down in Florida or in Georgia, every other year or so
They get a little white stuff - they got the nerve to call it snow!
Well, I live up in Michigan, so I ought to know, 
Believe me when I tell you friends, there's five kinds of snow.....

Yeah, there's five kinds of snow – I'm here to tell you
There's five kinds of snow – don't let 'em sell you
Folks in the north-land are folks in the know,
Believe me when I tell you, there's five kinds of snow
Five kinds..........

Snow number one is a lot of fun -
Flakes as big as nickels shining in the sun,
People throwing snowballs, sledding down the street
Singing "White Christmas" - it sure is sweet,
But that's only one kind of snow..........
There's five kinds, you know..........

Snow number two is a nasty little number.
Those icy little pellets can really be a bummer -
Sting you, slap you, knock you off your feet - 
You chip it off your windshield, you’re gonna swear it's concrete -
and that's two kinds of snow..........
There's five kinds of snow.........

Now, the third kind of snow is a serious blow,
It'll shut down your town, it'll lock your door,
Turn off your power, shut off your phone -
Nine months later, little junior is born -
And that's three kinds of snow........
Mmm mmmm.........

Snow number four is nothin' but a bore -
You wake up in the morning and there's four inches more.
You should be in dream-land, getting your rest,
But you're shoveling the driveway, clutching your chest -
And that's four kinds of snow..........
Yeah, There's one more kind of snow..........

The last kind of snow is the crusty little piles,
Crusty little piles for miles and miles,
They're black, they’re ugly - look like rocks from the moon -
Look under your bushes - you gonna find 'em next June,
And that's five kinds of snow, that’s all there is now
Five kinds of snow.........
So bundle up the baby when the cold winds blow,
Wake me when it's over, there's five....kinds....of snow.
Oh yeah, there’s that yellow snow too…

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What 'My Doin' Wrong
words and music © 1997 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on the Rhyme Schemes album]

What my doin' makes you so unhappy
Tell me Honey, What ‘My Doin' Wrong
You can Change me, Rearrange me, or adapt me
But Tell me Honey, What ‘My Doin' Wrong
I treat you like a princess when we go on the town
But before the night is up, Your Highness blows me down
What my doin' makes my face so slappy
Tell me Honey, What ‘My Doin' Wrong
tell me ‘bout it now…

I'm spending all my dough, where does it get me?
Tell me Honey, What ‘My Doin' Wrong
This dog house that I'm sleeping in don't fit me
Tell me Honey, What ‘My Doin' Wrong

I introduced you as my baby when we went out to dine
You dropped your plate into my lap, says you warn’t no child of mine
Now I’m over seventeen – so please don’t hit me
Tell me Honey, What ‘My Doin' Wrong

I treat you like a princess when we go on the town
But before the night is up, Your Highness blows me down
What my doin' makes my face so slappy
Tell me Honey, What ‘My Doin'
What ‘My, What ‘My, What ‘My Doin’
What ‘My, What ‘My, What ‘My, What ‘My,
What ‘My, What ‘My, What ‘My, What ‘My,
What ‘My, What ‘My, What ‘My Doin’ Wrong

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Duct Tape Blues
words and music ©1987 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on The Naked Truth album]

I guess every guitar player dabbles in the blues from time to time.

It’s only natural – it’s a powerful thing, the blues. Mighty deep river. And everybody has had the blues from time to time. I know I have.

I was teaching at a music camp one time and this little fella came up to me and he says, “Hey Joel, if you got a minute, can you show me the blues?”

And I said, “It might take more than a minute.”

He said “oh that’s ok – I got a half hour”

I said “Okay okay, what would you like to focus on – The use of the minor pentatonic scale? Maybe the insistent 12/8 triplet feel over the 4 beat rhythm? Maybe the role of the dominant seventh over the tonic or subdominant positions? ---- Or maybe we could talk about three hundred years of suffering?”

He said, “Oh no, I don’t care about that stuff, I just wanna know how you go Ba Doo Ba Doo”

“Ba doo ba doo?”

“Yeah, I heard you do it the other day. You went Ba Doo Ba Doo all of a sudden.”
I said “You mean this? (play lick)”

He said “Yeah – Ba Doo Ba Doo”

Well, I didn’t know it had a name.

Well that parts easy. You just go over and you play an A chord----- and then you don’t. 

That makes the Ba Doo Ba Doo.

But I tell you what – the most important thing about playing the blues is honesty.

Because blues is truth – and truth is blues. That’s the great equation right there. Blues is truth – and truth is blues. Show me a man who knows the truth; I’ll show you a fella that’s got the blues.

Or as William Burroughs once put it, “Paranoia is just having all the facts.”

You gotta sing what you know about. And I know all about this stuff.


You say your world has gone to pieces, things just fell apart
You want to put things back together, but you don’t know where to start
Well, I got your solution, the stuff you need to use
It’s a thing called Duct Tape – There ain’t nothing it can’t do.
I say this world has gone to pieces – what’s a poor boy s’posed to do
I’m just holdin’ things together, now, singing the duct tape blues

I tell you duct tape is the answer – in a little silver roll
It can mend the widest gap – it’ll patch the deepest hole
I put duct tape on my sneakers when they start to fall apart
Since my baby left me I’m wearing duct tape on my heart
I swear this world has gone to pieces – what’s a poor boy s’posed to do
I’m just holdin’ things together, now, singing the duct tape blues

Yeah, I wrote this song more than 20 years ago. Took me all of 15 minutes.

If I’d a known I’d be singing it twenty years later, I might have taken more time.

Yeah, these days everybody’s onboard with the duct tape. Yeah, they got duct tape books, duct tape calendars, duct tape websites, all them TV shows and radio programs – with the running joke about duct tape.

Way back when it was just me, just little ol’ me living the duct tape lifestyle. Yeah, maybe you too.

Yeah, here in America, we got it way too easy these days. Way too easy.

We want the latest this, the most recent version of that.
We need that cell phone that shows movies,
We need that camera that makes phone calls,
We need those tennis shoes that light up when you walk down the street,
We need that automobile with the GPS that tells you which way to turn at the stop light.

Yeah, we need all that stuff. The old stuff? Just throw it away. Throw it away. Toss it away.

Don’t confuse what you want with what you need. These days in America, most everybody has what they really need – a bed, a roof, a set of clothes, something to keep you busy during the day, a little bit of food every day, somebody to share it with – Yeah, that’s all you really need.

All the rest is so much stuff. You may want that stuff but you don’t need that stuff. You may want it but you don’t need it. All you need is what you already have. I said, all you need is what you already have -- plus a big roll of duct tape. 

Gotta keep that stuff together.

I say: All you need is what you already have, plus – a big roll of duct tape.

Maybe a can of WD40 to go with that – time comes to remove the duct tape.

Yeah, just another one of them Yin-Yang things.

I’m going down to the Pentagon, gonna help my country out
Tell them FIVE star generals just what it’s all about
I’ll demonstrate my Duct Tape – I say “Take it from old Joel
I can beat that Haliburton price – at just a thousand bucks a roll.”

I say the world has gone to pieces – what’s a poor boy s’posed to do
Just holdin’ things together, now, singing them duct tape blues
Just holdin’ things together, now, singing the duct tape blues
Just holdin’ things together, here,
Singing the duct tape
I’m singing the duct tape
I’m talkin’ ‘bout duct tape
I got them duct tape blues

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The Preacher & the Flood
words and music ©1992 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on the Short Stories album]

Well, It's the story of an old hard-shell preacher, sanctified in the blood,
And about the time he had the year of the dreadful flood.
It rained for forty days and nights, 'til at last the dam gave way
The preacher fell down on his knees and everybody heard him pray:

He said, Lord, deliver, deliver me from this flood -
Oh don’t you know I'm sanctified, sanctified in the blood.
I been to the river and I been baptized, 
I raise my hands to the heavenly skies 
And say Lord, deliver, deliver me from this flood.

Now the preacher's sittin' on his big front porch, rockin' in his rockin' chair -
The water's rising step by step, licking at the very top stair.
A neighbor come by in a row boat, he said "Preacher, you better come with me!"
The preacher says, "You can save yourself, boy, the Lord will deliver me!"

‘Cause the Lord will deliver, he’ll deliver me from this flood -
Oh don’t you see I'm sanctified, sanctified in the blood.
I been to the river – I been baptized, 
I raise my hands to the heavenly skies 
And say Lord, deliver, deliver me from this flood.

Well, bye and bye that old river water come rolling in the preacher's door,
So the preacher, he ran upstairs to his room on the second floor.
Coast guard cutter come a-sailing by, they said "Everybody get on board!"
The preacher stuck his head out the window, he says "I'm trusting in the Lord!"

‘Cause the Lord will deliver, deliver me from this flood -
Oh don’t you see I'm sanctified.
I been to the river – I been baptized, 
I raise my hands to the heavenly skies 
And say Lord, deliver, deliver me from this flood.

Now the preacher's sitting on his rooftop, hugging his old smoke stack.
The water's rising higher and higher, things are looking mighty black.
Police helicopter come flying by, and they lowered down a line.
The preacher, he just waved 'em away, he said "Boys, I'm doing fine!"

‘Cause the Lord will deliver, he’ll deliver me from this flood -
Oh don’t you see I'm sanctified in the blood.
I been to the river – I been baptized, 
I’m gonna raise my hands to the heavenly skies 
And say Lord, Lord, Lord, deliver me, deliver me from this flood.
… Glug glug glug glug

Now the Preacher's standing at the pearly gates, his robe is a dripping wet.
The preacher says to the heavenly king, he says, "There's something I don't get!
He said, “Lord, why didn't you save me - I put all my faith in you!"
God said, "I sent you two boats and a helicopter - what more could I do?"

‘Cause the lord will deliver you, he’ll deliver you from that flood,
But it'll be too late if you sit and wait for heavenly angels from above.
‘Cause I'm here to tell you, sister and brother,
The lord helps them that help one another,
And the lord will deliver you, he’ll deliver you from that flood again,
Deliver you from that flood, Amen,
Deliver you from that flood.

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Touch A Name On The Wall
words and music ©1988 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on The Naked Truth album]

Well, I guess you could call it our summer of freedom, 
the year that we both turned eighteen -
We hitch-hiked to Denver, fresh out of high school
man, we were sights to be seen.
And that was the year that you dated my cousin, 'til 
they took us away in the fall.
Now I dearly wish you were standing here with me as 
I touch your name on the wall.

Touch a name on the wall,
Touch a name on the wall.
God help us all
Touch a name on the wall.

Every time I come here I wear my fatigues,
to honor the men that I knew.
I touch every name that came from my outfit,
and I read them out loud when I do.
Now some people say that they all died for nothing, 
well, I don't completely agree - 
'Cause this brother here didn't die for no country -
He died for me.
[chorus]

Now, usually walls are made for division 
- to separate me from you.
But God bless the wall that brings us together, 
and reminds us of what we've been through.
And God damn the liars and the tin-plated heroes
who trade on the blood of such men.
God give us the strength to stand up and tell them - 
Never again!
[chorus]

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Sea of Dreams
words and music ©1994 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on the Promised Land album]

And in the morning comes the sun
And it shines on everyone
Whether great or small it warms us all
Until the day is done

And when that light has passed
The stars can shine at last
With their light so small they guide us all
Across the sea so vast

And on that sea of dreams tonight
We wander far from shore
And we, the dreamers of the dream
Will find our peace once more

And in the morning comes the sun
And it shines on everyone
Whether great or small it warms us all
Until the day is done.

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Lucky, Lucky You
words and music ©1987 Joel Mabus
[first appeared on the Fortunes album

Well, I got me a letter just the other day;
I nearly threw the damn thing away,
But the envelope said, "I got something important to say!"
So I opened up the letter and I read the page.
It said, "Are you tired of the same old wage?
Then you might be happy to hear what I've got to say -

You may already be a winner - 
you may have already won the prize!
You may already be the lucky one - 
you never know until you try!
You may already have what everybody 
wants to have come true -
You may already be a winner - Lucky, Lucky You!"

Well, I thought about that for a little while.
I thought a little longer and it made me smile.
You're telling me something, man, that I already knew.
'Cause you can try for fortune, you can try for fame,
But the winner is the one who enjoys the game -
It ain't the things that you got, it's the things that you go through.

You may already be a winner - 
you may have already won the prize!
You may already be the lucky one - 
you might never realize
You may already have what everybody 
wants to have come true -
You may already be a winner - Lucky, Lucky You!"

So many people wasting their time counting sheep,
Trying to sleep that American sleep,
Wishing they could dream a little piece of that American Dream.
If they could only open up their eyes and see
The best things in life are practically free,
And the Rich and the Famous ain't half as happy as they seem. 

And you may already be a winner - 
you may have already won the prize.
You may already be the lucky one - 
Why, I can see it in your eyes.
You may already have what everybody 
wants to have come true -
You may already be a winner - Lucky, Lucky You!
Lucky, Lucky You!
Lucky, Lucky You!
Lucky, Lucky You!
Lucky, Lucky You!

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© 2008 Joel Mabus