This being human is a guest house.
Every day a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and attend them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight.

from The Guest House -Jalal al-Din Rumi (1207-1273)
(translation by Coleman Barks)

HighTone Records

Welcome to the Guest House lyrics page.
Here's what we're singing:

Willie Poor Boy (L. Lewis/Spruce and Maple Music, ASCAP)


Come gather 'round me, people, a story I'll convey
Of Willie and his pistol and how he made his way
from a good man with a steady job and music on the side
to an 8x10 with no parole in the wink of an eye

Well, Willie drove a city bus in the seedy part of town
he feared for his passengers and he thought he'd let 'em down
when some young punk, he pulled a gun and robbed the whole damn bus
Willie tasted helpless fear and he swore he'd had enough

Willie, poor boy, layin' in jail
Willie, poor boy, sorrowful tale

So Willie bought a hand gun and he practiced takin' aim
With a strong arm and a steady hand he soon mastered the game
A tall man standing taller still, he finally gained control
He packed his pistol to his ribs as through the streets he'd roll

Willie, poor boy, layin' in jail
Willie, poor boy, sorrowful tale

One day he walked along the street on a sunny afternoon
His heart was light and happy and he whistled at a tune
When he stepped into the crosswalk and he heard a screech of tires
and as he leapt to safety he felt a sudden surge of ire
"You, sir, are endangering pedestrians" he yelled at the man behind the wheel
Who lowered his power window and in a voice hard as steel
he said, "You're the one to blame, you dirty low-life scum"
And he spat, and like a whiplash Willie spat back with his gun

Willie, poor boy, layin' in jail
Willie, poor boy, sorrowful tale

Now, a gun's not meant to dig a ditch, and a spade's not meant to shoot
Each tool has it's purpose and what's made will be used
Willie, he was lucky- he shot but he did not kill
but that bullet dug a hole the best of lawyers could not fill
And no amount of sad remorse can wipe away the crime
a gun will serve its master and now master's serving time


Since You Went Away (L. Lewis/Spruce and Maple Music, ASCAP)

I can't say it's over, I know it'll never be
For though you turn away, your heart still turns toward me
And I can't forget you, and I can't begin to say
How much I've lost since you went away

You were the one I gave my heart to
And now you're gone, I can't seem to let the light shine through
It's like a moonless night
There's not a star in sight
Since the day you went away

If I should stumble, your hand would steady me
And when I tumbled, you helped me to my feet
And now when I walk alone you whisper in my ear
And though you're gone, I still feel you near
You were the one I gave my heart to
And now you're gone, I can't seem to let the light shine through
It's like a moonless night
There's not a star in sight
Since the day you went away


Bad Seed (Liz Meyer/Lizzy Greenfield Music)

Some people think they can do as they please
They've read the book, but they've paid no heed
They lie straight-faced with an ace up their sleeve
That's what happens when you sow bad seed

If bad seed is all you've been sowin'
No darn good is all you'll be growin'
I'll tell you what my daddy told me:
You can't harvest any good when you sow bad seed

Some people think they can have their fun
They're always looking out for number one
And never pay for the wrongs they do
But bad seed always catches up with you

If bad seed is all you've been sowin'
No darn good is all you'll be growin'
I'll tell you what my daddy told me:
You can't harvest any good when you sow bad seed

Some people think they can turn you around
They'll pick you up just to cut you down
They'll clean you out when your back is turned
Bad seed never ever seems to learn

If bad seed is all you've been sowin'
No darn good is all you'll be growin'
I'll tell you what my daddy told me:
You can't harvest any good when you sow bad seed
You can't harvest any good when you sow bad seed


Tramps and Hawkers (Jim Ringer/Other Music, ASCAP)

I choose to see not the things that be or the miles and the years that have gone
I pay no heed to tomorrow's need, I'm blinded by the snow and the sun
Till all I can see is my darling and me, like young flowers blooming in spring
Like flowers we grew and no other I knew but the rose of the San Joaquin

The gypsies dance while stealing a glance at a seed that might blow in the wind
And the fields are worked in a sweat-stained shirt, then the workers move on again
And the tramps and hawkers with stories wild beguile a young boy's dreams
Enticing me to leave my home and the rose of the San Joaquin

I've watched the rise of light in the sky where the sun climbs out of the sea
Seen giants fall in mountains tall where the lumbermen cut down the trees
I've played in the sand with the Gulf Coast wind, fell asleep in the grass tall and green
But nowhere I've been would I go back again except to the San Joaquin

Well, the road back home is hard and it's long and the miles they turn into years
And the tramps and hawkers in every town, oh God, but it brings me to tears
When I got home I found just a flower on a mound where it shamed the green grasses of spring
It grew from the grave of my darling little girl, the rose of the San Joaquin

Oh see us today out on your highway or asleep in the doors of a train
See the gypsies dance with their damn knowing glances, hear the peddlers shout out their refrain
And who's gonna care, and who's gonna share all the joys and sorrows we've seen?
Like ghosts we roam without friends or home, these tramps and hawkers and me
Like ghosts we roam without friends or home, these tramps and hawkers and me


Alaska (Kate MacLeod/Courier Music, BMI)

I think I'll go up to Alaska, I think I'll be on that train tonight
Heard that there's work there, heard that there's six months of daylight
Heard that the train stops in Seattle, where you can get your feet back on the ground
I think I'll go up to Alaska where the heat of the summer's comin' down

Woke up this mornin' with some heavy troubles on my brain
Gotta hold your head up when every one in town knows your name
But I've got some money in my back pocket from some steady job that I been holdin' down
I think I'll go up to Alaska where the heat of the summer's comin' down

Can't take my brother, he don't like the north country at all
Can't take my sister, if there's no mirrors on the walls
Can't take a book to read "cause I'm only thinkin' of the land where I am bound
I think I'll go up to Alaska where the heat of the summer's comin' down

I've got a suitcase made of alligator skin
Hope that it makes it through whatever situation I get in
Boots made of leather, my coat's for the weather, and you won't find me hangin' 'round
I think I'll go up to Alaska where the heat of the summer's comin' down
I think I'll go up to Alaska where the heat of the summer's comin' down


O My Malissa (L. Lewis/Spruce and Maple Music, ASCAP)

Laurie read "Can't You Hear Me Callin'", Richard D. Smith's book on the life of Bill Monroe,
and loved the first chapter, which explored the courtship of Bill's parents, J. B. Monroe and Malissa Vandever. Imagine that maybe Malissa was the real outstanding fiddler in her musical family, but that the pressures of raising eight children seriously cut into her fiddling time. Maybe Uncle Pen was just the less-talented fiddler with the free time to devote to his craft. We'll never know. We learned "How Old Are You?" from a Smithsonian Folkways recording of Bill Monroe and his brothers Charlie and Birch at the 1969 Smithsonian Festival of American Folklife. As part of the taped interview, Alice Gerrard can be heard asking about their mother's fiddling, and Birch plays this tune, which he learned from her.

Inquiring minds want to know: "Malissa" is the spelling of her name on her tombstone in Rosine, Kentucky. We have no idea if it was a misprint or the real spelling, but decided since that was the only written record, we'd go with it.


J.B. Monroe is my name
And I'm here to make a stand
Before the summer starts to wane
I'll win your heart and hand

My daddy says you are too poor
Just a sharecropper's daughter
But just to hear you draw that bow
I'd brave the rushing waters

O my Malissa
Come fiddle me a tune
And I will swim to you
By the light of the moon

Your hair pulled back with apiece of twine
You couldn't be more entrancin'
Even if you were decked in ribbons fine
Ah, you set my soul a-dancin'

O my Malissa
Come fiddle me a tune
And I will swim to you
By the light of the moon

Your brother Pen can fiddle rings
'Round any here or after
But underneath your little fingers
Sounds love and laughter

O my Malissa
Come fiddle me a tune
And I will swim to you
By the light of the moon

Oh, won't you come and live with me
Be my one and only
We'll raise a big old family
You'll never be lonely

O my Malissa
Come fiddle me a tune
And I will swim to you
By the light of the moon

My Heart's Own Love (Hazel Dickens/Happy Valley Music, BMI)

I was walking along Life's highway
Lost and lonely as I could be
Looking for my own true lover
One I thought I would never see
Just when I thought I'd never know love
Just when my dreams all fell apart
I looked up from the deepening shadows
And you were standing next to my heart
Bless your heart, you are my darlin'
Bless your soul, you are the one
Bless the fate that brought you to me
At last I've found my heart's own love

Sometimes we wander like lonely pilgrims
Like old soldiers who long for home
Hoping when our journey's ended
We'll find the sweetest peace we've known
Just when I thought I'd never know love
Just when my dreams all fell apart
I looked up from the deepening shadows
And you were standing next to my heart
Bless your heart, you are my darlin'
Bless your soul, you are the one
Bless the fate that brought you to me
At last I've found my heart's own love

Old Dan Tucker (trad., additional lyrics: Tom Rozum/Spruce and Maple Music)
I came to town the other night
I heard the noise, I saw the fight
The watchman was a-runnin' 'round
Crying Old Dan Tucker's back in town

Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
You're too late to get your supper

Old Dan Tucker went to town
Ridin' a goat and leadin' a hound
The hound give a yell and the goat give a jump
Left old Dan straddled up a stump

Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
You're too late to get your supper

Dan built a rocket to the sun
Folks said "Now, Dan, that can't be done!"
Dan laughed and laughed with all his might
"What? Do you think I'm crazy? I'm goin' at night!"

Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
You're too late to get your supper

Dan went to the doc and the doc said "Son-
Take off your clothes, stick out your tongue.
Now stand by the window." When Dan asked why
Doc said "I'm mad at that neighbor guy."
Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
You're too late to get your supper

Dan wronged his wife and to make amends
He built a coop just to house her hens
It had two doors, 'cause according to Dan
If it had four, it'd be a chicken sedan

Get out of the way, Old Dan Tucker
You're too late to get your supper
Supper's over, dinner's cookin'
Old Dan Tucker's just a-standin' and a-lookin'


Scars From an Old Love
(Hazel Dickens/Happy Valley Music, BMI)
I've held you as close as I've dared to go
All of your sweet love is starting to show
I know that I need you, but trusting is rough
When the scars from an old love haven't quite healed enough

Yes the battle is over, but healing takes time
Leaving old lovers, old memories behind
I know that I love you, need you so much
But the scars from an old love haven't quite healed enough

The battle is over, and the victor has fled
Wounded and dying, one lonely heart bled
Then Love sounds her bugle, playing that old sweet song
But the scars from an old love haven't quite all gone

Yes the battle is over, but healing takes time
Leaving old lovers, old memories behind
I know that I love you, need you so much
But the scars from an old love haven't quite healed enough

Don't Let The Stars Get In Your Eyes (Slim Willet)
Don't let the stars get in your eyes, don't let the moon break your heart
Our love blooms at night, in daylight it dies
Don't let the stars get in your eyes
So keep your heart for me for someday I'll return and you know
you're the only one I'll ever love

Too many miles, too many days
Too many nights to be alone
So please keep your heart while we're apart
Don't stand in the moonlight while I'm gone

Too many nights, too many stars
Too many moons can change your mind
So if I'm gone too long, don't forget where you belong
When the stars come out remember you are mine

Don't let the stars get in your eyes, don't let the moon break your heart
Our love blooms at night, in daylight it dies
Don't let the stars get in your eyes
So keep your heart for me for someday I'll return and you know
you're the only one I'll ever love


Quiet Hills (Claudia Schmidt/Pragmavision Music)
There is a darkness in these hills- I am not afraid (2x)
there is a darkness in these hills
though some may tremble, I am still
But I say hope lives in these quiet hills

There is a darkness in the land- I seek the taste of hope(2X)
There is a darkness in the land
With more sorrow than we can stand
But I say, hope lives in these quiet hills

There is a darkness in my heart- the taste of hope is sweet (2X)
There is a darkness in my heart,
But I can feel the healing start
And I say, hope lives in these quiet hills
And I say, hope lives in these quiet hills


Just a Lie (Si Kahn/Joe Hill Music)

Those good old days were not so good to me
Back on the farm in 1933
Depression took most everything we had
Those good old days were mostly pretty bad
Those good old days were pretty low and mean
With corn meal mush and sometimes streak o' lean
Picking up coal along the railroad tracks
Why would you want to have those hard times back?

Tip your hat, wave goodbye
The good old days is just a lie

Those good old days, they broke my family down
Just like a plow in steep and rocky ground
Those hard times tore my family all apart
I still can feel that cold wind in my heart

Tip your hat, wave goodbye
The good old days is just a lie

No I don't say that everything was bad
There was some might good times that we had
But you can't spend the silver sun and moon
And you can't eat a lonesome fiddle tune

So tell me why you'd ever want to go
Back to a time you didn't really know
Those good old days were awfully hard on me
So for God's sake let 'em be

Tip your hat, wave goodbye
The good old days is just a lie