Go On, Ray

from by Scott Cook

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lyrics

Ray, I got the news in a motel room that rainy night
And I wondered just what I'd been waiting for
Wondered if I could write you a song you'd like
And why I never wrote you one before
You never were the kind to talk about your heart
But you never let us doubt how much you cared
Never liked to dress up, never tried to sound smart
Never had much patience for folks who put on airs
Never learned to swim, never learned to dance
Never left the continent, through you drove its whole expanse
While the country lost its way, somehow you stayed true
A boy from Levering, Michigan, 1922

Takes a certain kind of man to farm for fifty years
While the cost of living and corporate profits soar
He just pushed on, bull-headed, we never saw his tears
They don't make quite that kind of man no more
Opened two hardware stores, made furniture by hand
Carried mail while Grandma taught the kids in town
When the money got tighter he had to sell off some land
And when the big stores came, he had to close one of his down
He watched the land he loved turn suspicious and cold
Saw the countryside carved up by walls
But he never bought the lies, never prejudged a soul
Said don't the good book say “whosoever calls”?

So go on, Ray, we're coming after you
You passed through well, and that's all a man can do
My dad's following, in time I'm going too
Go on, Ray, we're coming after you

He was an artist with wood and jerry-rigging things
Hands gnarled from eighty years of hard use
I saw him hit himself with a hammer, and he didn't even wince
Somehow nine out of ten fingers made it through
Had the kind of smarts you might call old-fashioned
Built a hydro plant himself by trial and error
He loved tractor shows, music boxes, clockworks and gadgets
Built us a merry-go-round with a washing machine motor
When he couldn't walk too far, it really slowed him down
But he loved his work too much to stop
He'd still plant a little crop in that old Michigan ground
And ride his lawn tractor out to the wood shop

So go on, Ray, we're coming after you
You passed through well, and that's all a man can do
My dad's following, in time I'm going too
Go on, Ray, we're coming after you

Last time I saw him he was leaving for South Dakota
Taking a vanload of clothes on his own dime
To a poor kids' school on the land of the Lakota
I think he knew that trip would be his last time
No one knows what it's like to lay this body down
Though some folks say that they do
I just know he went a long way, and came back around
And there's a lot of people better off for him passing through
Ray, they bought you a new chair just before you died
We hoped you'd have a few more years at home
But then you had to take another ambulance ride
And I reckon you just didn't want to go

Go on, Ray, we're coming after you
You passed through well, and that's all a man can do
My dad's following, in time I'm going too
Go on, Ray, we're coming after you

credits

from Moonlit Rambles, released May 1, 2011

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Scott Cook Edmonton, Alberta

Canada's prairie balladeer Scott Cook has managed to distil the stories collected over years of near-incessant touring across Canada, the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia into straight-talking, keenly observant verse. All the hard miles notwithstanding, he still believes that songs can change your life, and your life can change the world. ... more

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