Ghost on the Car Radio - lyrics and credits

Slaid Cleaves - Ghost on the Car Radio

produced by Scrappy Jud Newcomb   
recorded by David Boyle at Churchhouse, East Austin, Texas
mixed and mastered by Fred Remmert, Austin, Texas  


Already Gone  
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI

Young love breaks like a wave on the shoreline
A rolling crash and it's gone
Swirling around and around in the chaos
Gathering strength just to move on

Time and again we're crushed and we're battered
Playing the fool's part again
Over and over we try and we fail
To figure out this game we're all in

Time's running out and you can't help believing but
Here you are now at the end of the song   
Down fall the tears when you hear the silence
When you finally know that you're already gone

One more town one more job another chance now
I'm down to muscle and nerve
May not have gotten all that I dreamed of
Pretty sure I got what I deserved

Through the years you grasp and you hold on
To a little dream that won't die
Only to watch it recede along with
All the garbage gone out with the tide

Time's running out . . .

Heard an old ghost on the car radio
Under a diamond sky
Sang along as the wheels beneath me rolled
Cast my troubles out into the night

Got no option to turn back now as I
Ponder forgiveness and sin
Feel the weight lift up off my shoulders
Feel some kind of mercy in the wind

Time's running out . . .


drums: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley
electric guitar: Scrappy Jud Newcomb

Drunken Barber's Hand  
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Rod Picott, Welding Rod Music BMI

Three scruples to a dram boys
Eight drams to an ounce
Two cups will get you a pint now
And the first one’s on the house

The drunkard craves just another
Blind man blames the eye
The poor man dreams of riches
And a martyr prays to die

I don't need to read the papers
Or the tea leaves to understand
That this world's been shaved
By a drunken barber's hand

I've drowned in the pull of young love
Known the high and the hurt
I've felt the heartbeat quicken
At the sight of a lifted skirt

I've thrilled to the big sound
Felt the rumble and the roar
Drove straight through the blackest night
In a chase forevermore

I don't need to read the papers . . .

I rode ten thousand miles
On a carousel horse of wood
We end up where we started
Get right back on if we could

So go ahead make your confession
To a washed up whiskey priest
I'll be puttin' money down
On the rough and slouching beast

'Cause I don't need to read the papers . . .

I don't need to read the papers
To know the heart of man . . .
This world's been shaved
By a drunken barber's hand


drums and percussion: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley  
electric and acoustic guitars, background vocals: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  

If I Had a Heart  
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI

The more I see, the less I understand
The harder I work, the poorer I feel
The deeper the faith, the more I'm broken
The more I hear, the less it all seems real

Then you come around
With your soft young skin
With no idea what you're about to step in

And in these times you remind me
Of the man I used to be
If I had a heart, you'd be breaking it now

I've seen hope rise, come crashing down again
Seen the bashing of brains, seen the city unwind
Seen the overthrow, of dictators and tyrants
Seen the gory mess, they always leave behind

Then you stop by
Talkin 'bout yer dreams
You see a world not yet ripped apart at the seams

And in these times you remind me
Of the man I used to be
If I had a heart, you'd be breaking it now

You'll see truth, turned into lies
Light turned to dark, hearts broke in two
Just one thing, before I die
I want to make one lie come true

The more I read, the dumber I think I am
The more money I make, the more they say I'll need
The farther I drive, the closer I am to where I started
The more I'm told, the less I tend to believe

Then you come around
With your soft young skin
With no idea what you're about to step in

And in these times you remind me
Of the man I used to be
If I had a heart, you'd be breaking it now
If I still had a heart, you'd be breaking it now


drums and percussion: John Chipman  
bass and background vocals: Harmoni Kelley  
acoustic and electric guitar: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  

Little Guys
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Karen Poston, Pistol Girl Music BMI

I was in the first grade, I was pumping gasoline
Dad did the wrenchin and Momma kept the books clean
I could rebuild a carburetor
By the time I was twelve years old
I'll have you back on the road, get you back in your machine

B is for Butch, Evelyn is Momma's name
B&E Auto Service, just a block off Main
Coming up on forty years
All in all, not a bad career
But after we lost Dad things began to change

Each day there's a little less I recognize in my hometown
It's hard, watching the little guys going down

Oil and grime in the pores of my skin
Think of all the brake dust I've been breathin' in
I got a stack of new regulations
And high tech specifications
I can't keep up, too old to go to school again

Stop lights we had one, now there's four
And you can't see the shop from Main street anymore
There's a new H.E.B. 'cross town
But over here things are slowing down
As I turn out the lights, lock up my front door

Mom and pops like us don' t have a place in the world today
The little guy shops don' t stand a chance when the big guys start to play

The old men in town meet for coffee every day
If things go smooth I'll take my place come May
Or I could set up the navigation
Head out and see the nation
Instead of watching my old friends fade away

Each day there's a little less I recognize in my hometown
And it's hard, watching the little guys going down.
It's progress so they say but that don't mean I'm hanging 'round
'Cause it's hard, watching the little guys doing down


drums and percussion: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley  
electric and resonator guitars: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  
Wurlitzer piano: David Boyle  

Primer Gray
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Rod Picott, Welding Rod Music BMI

I pulled the engine with a block and chain
Got the oil pump in just before the rain
In the gravel drive, it's a Pontiac
Come the weekend you'll find me at the track

It's a '74, Dad bought it new
Still mostly stock and it's rusted through
I only worry 'bout what's underneath
What she looks like don't mean a damn to me

'Cause you don't need that flash and shine
You just need to be hard off the line
So keep your lacquer chrome and flames
I'll paint mine primer gray

Some men are rich, and they'll let you know
Some guys act tough, it's all a show
I know the things men hold inside
We're all about the same when you turn out the lights

'Cause you don't need that flash and shine . . .

Dad was pretty fast back in the day
"Bring that trophy home now," Mama used to say
They sit there on the shelf gathering dust
Luck turns to loss, chrome to rust

I've got that car detailed and tuned
My boy's 16, he'll be drivin' soon
But he won't drive that old '74
Kids today, they all want something more

But you don't need that flash and shine
You just need to be hard off the line
So keep your lacquer chrome and flames
I'll paint mine primer gray
It's what you do, not what you say
I'll paint mine primer gray


drums: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley  
electric guitar and background vocals: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  
fiddle: Chojo Jacques  

Hickory  
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Nathan Hamilton, Irondust Music BMI

I was born in the shadow of a Tennessee mountain
In a slower and gentler time
In a cabin my grandfather built with his hands
Out of hickory walnut and pine

We hunted those hills, my father and I
So far from the bustle of town
But I'd soon see a whole way of life start to fade
As the mines all began to shut down

Heard saws on the mountain, saw the trucks rumble by
Filing past like a funeral line
Those big iron trailers were piled up high
With hickory, walnut and pine

Call it progress or a shame, well you can't stop a train
As it's barrelin' on down the line
They'll cut down the trees and name your new streets
Hickory, walnut and pine

Now the mountain top's flattened, the hickory's gone
And the streams run black as a curse
My father's been out in the barn more and more
Since the mining went bad and then worse

Well I heard his old saw, I heard his old plane
I heard his cough worsen with time
Now I stand where he lays in a box that he made
Out of hickory, walnut and pine

My children have left, for the big city jobs
I'll remain, my fate to unwind
And I'll dream of the days when the wind called my name
Through hickory, walnut and pine

Call it progress or a shame, well you can't stop a train
And you can't stop the marching of time
They'll cut down the trees and name your new streets
Hickory, walnut and pine


upright bass: Kevin Smith  
mandolin: Chojo Jacques  
resonator guitar: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  

Take Home Pay
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Rod Picott, Welding Rod Music BMI

Been hanging rock for twenty-odd years now
Six days a week and I can't keep up
My shoulder burns like a grinding gear box
These young crews are too fast and tough

I'm on my way down to the pawnshop
A couple hundred is all I need
If I have to I'll hit the blood bank
I'm bone dry but I can always bleed

Schemers scheme around the edges
Dreamers dream of better days
Everyone knows what the catch is
It's all about the take home pay

I got some Oxy to keep me moving
It slowly takes some things away
The only thing I was scared of losing
She packed up and left today

Well I guess she got tired of waiting
For the man she thought I'd be
In the end you can't really blame her
We're all scrappin' for the do re me

Schemers scheme around the edges . . .

Could take a job down at The Home Depot
It's half the pay but I'd still get by
There's a new gal working at the scanners
I think I caught her giving me the eye

Or there's a guy that I know from high school
Could set me up at the Super 8
Selling pills to the red-eyed truckers
Coming in off the interstate

Schemers scheme around the edges . . .


drums and percussion: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley  
electric guitars, background vocals: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  

The Old Guard
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Mike Morgan and Jeff Elliott, Sojourner Music BMI

Dickie's Place is a tavern where I often go
Like tonight when this heart of mine is achin' low
Through swinging doors I hear the voice of old George Jones
I find myself a bar stool and I'm right at home

The old guard down at Dickie's drinks up all night long
Every face, lined and weary, hides a country song
Ruined lives, broken dreams, countless cold regrets
On the jukebox, their stories told in silhouette

Cheatin' Hearts, Crazy Arms, now it's Crying Time
Heartbreak goes down easier with beer and rhyme
Every night we get together to be with our own
And the old guard feels a little less alone

Then some kids they start playin' their fast modern tunes
And the floor bounces when they dance around the room
We talk sports and weather and work and such
Until one of the old guard says he's had enough

He starts punching in the numbers of the ones we feel
Those old heart-breakin' melodies with cryin' steel
The young ones start leaving, it's too slow and hard
But they'll be back when it's their turn to join the guard

Cheatin' Hearts, Crazy Arms, now it's Crying Time
Heartbreak goes down easier with beer and rhyme
Every night we get together to be with our own
And the old guard feels a little less alone


drums: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley  
electric and acoustic guitars, background vocals: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  

So Good to Me
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI

After so much time together
All the storms that we have weathered
Can you still believe that we're still here?
Through the blessings and the curses
For the betters and the worses
Who'd a thunk we'd ride into the clear

With the world so cold outside
You'd be always on my side
If I stumbled blindly you could make me see

Through thick and thin you stayed
All through my darkest days
How could you possibly be so good to me

No one thought that we would last this long
No one thought our love would be so strong
The only ones that ever dared to believe
Were you and me

Times were tough but we were tougher
Slings and arrows we did suffer
Scars, we've got a few, but who has not

Words of love and words of anger
Times of peace and times of danger
Never take for granted what we've got

With the world so cold outside
You'd be always on my side
If I stumbled blindly you could make me see
Through thick and thin you stayed
All through my darkest days
How could you possibly be so good to me

With the world so cold outside . . .


drums and percussion: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley  
guitars: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  
featured harmony vocals: Miles Zuniga

To Be Held
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI

You're not asking for diamonds
You dont want furs
You don't dream of silver and gold
All you're asking is to be cherished
To be held and to hold

You don't need me to come round
Solving your problems
You need more than blankets in the cold
And all that you want is a chance to get closer
To be held and to hold

To be held and to hold
Is all that you ask
And still sometimes I fail at the task
When all that you want is a chance to get closer
To be held and to hold

I walk around blindly
I bumble along
In my heart I know that I'm wrong

It's a cold consolation:
I'm sorry again
One more time the same story told
And all that you want is a chance to get closer
To be held and to hold

To be held and to hold
Is all that you ask
And still sometimes I fail at the task
When all that you want is a chance to get closer
To be held and to hold


drums and percussion: John Chipman  
bass and background vocals: Harmoni Kelley  
electric guitar: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  

Still Be Mine  
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Graham Weber, Buy the Ticket Take the Ride Music BMI

Lately I've been chasin' down a reason
To prove that we're not foolish for believin'
A lightning strike could charge a weary heart back to life
But it's forty nights and there's still no sign of rain

Have all the silver linings flashed before you
To fade into the clouds and then ignore you?
I've seen 'em too, they always blocked the better part of my view
But the truth is I'd see you through a hurricane

Baby we were gonna set the world on fire
Weren't ya dancing in the white floodlights?
Did you miss a step and turn around and wind up wet
In the corners of your desperate eyes?
Don't cry, you can still be mine

I can't think what else we should be doing
We work so hard still on the edge of ruin
The month is spent, rolling pennies to pay the rent
How much longer can we keep on holding on

Baby we were gonna set the world on fire . . .

I won't ask more questions
I'm old enough to know there is no remedy
Could I ask one favor:
Would you try to hold on to what's left of me?
Forget the rest of me, and all you thought I'd be

Baby we were gonna set the world on fire
Hold me closer 'cause I'm starting to slide
Could you bite my bottom lip and whisper something sweet
Always loved the way you looked when you lied  
It's all right, don't you cry, you can still be mine


drums: John Chipman  
bass: Harmoni Kelley  
electric guitars: Scrappy Jud Newcomb  
piano: David Boyle  


Junkyard  
Slaid Cleaves, Magic Rat Music BMI / Rod Picott, Welding Rod Music BMI

Oh, I'm headed out to the junkyard
On the lonely side of town
This time it's a one way trip boys
I won't be coming back round

And it's one last time to the junkyard
I've swapped out my share of parts
From fenders and alternators
To shoulders, knees and hearts

The doctors and the mechanics
Have done all they can do
With hammer, wrench and scalpel
Ball joint, valve and screw

It's time to throw in the towel
Some breakdowns you cannot mend
Like all that have come before us
We all must face the end

So I'm limping back to the junkyard
In cloud of smoke and dust
I won't be driving out this time
Gonna lay me down to rust

Gonna leave this old shell behind now
Set our spirits free
Gonna walk on out to glory
Sun setting down on me

So it's one last time to the junkyard
On the loneliest side of town
This time it's a one way trip boys
I won't be coming back round