Joe Jencks

Changing Seasons 4:06

from The Phoenix

I’ve always loved the winter; it gives meaning to the spring.
In the sights and sounds of summer days the earth teaches me to sing.
As the gentle shades of autumn blend in with the first snowfall,
I feel the rhythm of all life shines through like I hear the lone wolf call.

Chorus

The colors of my life are like the changing of the seasons;
just when I grow tired it seems that new hope comes along.
When I get to feeling as if my life has no meaning,
you come to me always like the changing of the seasons.


The passing of an old friend makes way for someone new.
In this cycle I have learned the one thing I hold true:
I cannot live forever in the comfort of the past, f
or in the changing of life’s seasons is the only joy that lasts.

Chorus


I try to run, I tried to fly, and find a better place.
All the while the joy of sunrise shined upon your face.
When my life moves too fast and I need a place to hide,
I turnaround to run and find you right there by my side.

Chorus

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtle Bear Music

© 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Mary Don't You Weep And Moan

from Weights & Wings

She was born the daughter of a preacher
Ended up as a preacher’s wife
There was trouble in the middle, but it turned out right
Ain’t that the way, and they call it a life

CHORUS

Oh Mary don’t you weep and moan
Your cryin’ days are over, roll back the stone
No one understands all the troubles you’ve known
Mary don’t you weep and moan
Mary don’t you weep and moan

John went out into the desert
For forty days and nights he was under the sky
Devil tried to tempt him with every delight
John said, “Love and honey always get me by!”

CHORUS

God told Noah, “Build a mighty big boat,
Gather up the animals, make sure it floats
When the floodwater passes and the sun starts to shine
Look for the rainbow, that’s my sign.”

CHORUS

It’s hard to have hope when the thunder rolls
Shrouded up in all your fears
But there’s a Love that’s greater than the burdens we bear
So Mary wipe away your tears

CHORUS

Credits:

By Joe Jencks
© Turtle Bear Music/ASCAP

updated: 1 year ago

Why Are The Guns Still Firing

from The Forgotten

Along the battery in Charleston, South Carolina
The ancient silent cannons point to sea
In 1851 they fired on Fort Sumter
The dead and wounded still cry out to you and me

Why are the guns still firing
Why are the innocent laid low
Why is this war still raging
That should have ended long ago

That war was fought in part to put an end to slavery
The nation’s shame we never should forget
One hundred fifty years ago the gunners finally rested
But shameless violence enslaves us yet

Now nine new souls are added to the millions
Who’ve lost their lives in this uncivil war
And it remains unto us the living
To spike the guns of hate forever more

© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Trouble  4:16

from Brother Sun

Trouble, I see you coming,
I'd like to stay out of your way.
You don't care nothing
about such a beautiful day.
When the sky is so blue you get lost in the looking
and the leaves are a golden flame.
Trouble, I see you coming
and I'm right back at the bottom again.

Sometimes, it's where your shoes go,
Sometimes, it's in your head.
ometimes, it's in your wallet,
Sometimes, it's in your bed.
When the sky is so blue you get lost in the looking
and  you leave these earthly chains,
Trouble, I see you coming
and I'm right back at the bottom again.  That's right,
I'm right back at the bottom again.  

Way down to the bottom
Way down. Can't see the top  
Way down to the bottom
Rise up, rise up, rise up.

It's a long way to Richmond, Virginia.
It's been a long time since I've been.
Strange, something so far from the present
can rise right through your skin.
When  you hide from yourself you get lost in the looking
and your life is an endless maze.
Trouble, I see  you coming,
gonna rise up over you some day, that's right,
gonna rise up over you some day.
© Greg Greenway (Sheen of Heat Music, BMI)

updated: 4 years ago

Let Me Sing You A Song

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers

You’ve asked me here to tell you

About my neighbors and my friends

To talk about the who and what

The where and how and when

But I won’t give you anything

You don’t already know

But if you’d like I’ll sing that list of

Songs before I go

Chorus:

Let me sing you a song

About the people that I love

The poets and philosophers

The workers and the wanderers

The ones who walk the picket lines

Who dare to stand and fight

And the ones who hold their babies close

And rock them through the night

Now you say it’s un-American

To do the things I do

Well I sing for justice, liberty

And Civil Rights it’s true

But I say it’s un-American

To ask me how I vote

How I pray or what I believe

But here’s a song I wrote

If you want to send me to prison

I guess that’s the way it’ll be

‘Cause I won’t give you fodder

For your paranoid machine

If the price of my silence is shackles

Well then fellas, take me away

For I will live to sing again

And rise with a brand new day

© 2014, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

Lady of the Harbor (4:43)

from Some Part of The Truth

From far away, and distant lands
The tempest tossed with hopeful hearts and calloused hands
Reach for the light, the torch held high
And cast their gaze upon the Lady of the Harbor

And she welcomes them with open arms
she says let my children in
Shine on, Shine on
Oh you Lady of the Harbor

And so it was, with my own kin
They sailed from Sweden and from France, and Ireland
Their earthly cares, packed in their bags
They cast their gaze upon the Lady of the Harbor

And she welcomes them with open arms
she says let my children in
Shine on, Shine on
Oh you Lady of the Harbor

Now we're locking down the borders and we're filling up the jails
And we say they don't belong
How conveniently do we forget
That we've all come to sing the same sweet song

Will the dream, survive the strain
Will huddled masses have a chance to learn it's sweet refrain
Or will we fall, into our fears
And turn our backs against the Lady of the Harbor.

And she welcomes them with open arms
she says let my children in
Shine on, Shine on
Oh you Lady of the Harbor
By Joe Jencks
© Turtle Bear Music/ASCAP

updated: 8 years ago

Links In A Chain  4:09

from Links In A Chain

I remember many visits to my grandmother's house as a boy. She (Ellen Kilbride) lived next door. As the youngest of seven kids, I was often overwhelmed by the chaos in the house. Grandma's place was always a safe refuge. All of the images from this song are autobiographical to my family and perhaps to yours as well. My parents gave all they had and then some. I remember them fondly as I sing this song. Passing it on…

Late summer morning on a front porch swing
There's a tear in grandmother's eye
She's telling me tales of my mother's childhood
And how they got by
Years of war, years of depression
And the hard times they came through
She smiles at me and says, "That wisdom,
Carries on in you"

Links in a chain unbroken
Words of a prayer unspoken
Invisible hands reaching through time
We each have a piece of the story
Each have a share in the glory
And a chance to pass it along to those who remain
Links in a chain

Girl Scout cookies, PTA
Baseball games in the yard
Potlucks in the Parish Hall
My parents worked so hard
Now it's a marble stone on the edge of town
Where we bow our heads and sing
Forty years, seven children
And some well worn wedding rings

Cooking a meal
Setting a place
Washing our hands
Saying our grace
Remembering those who gathered before us
Teaching a song
Turning a page
Singing a song
Standing on stage
Adding our part to the chorus
© 2009 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 11 years ago

Flame In The Darkness 4:38

from The Candle And The Flame

I wrote this song while on retreat in northern California. Peter Alsop and Holly Near invited several artists to spend a week reflecting on the role of art and music as instruments of healing and transformation. I met many good people that week who helped open my heart. Thanks to Lexi for the time by the river. Thanks to Peter for the invite to Otter Space. Many happy returns!

There's a flame in the darkness
Burning deep within our hearts
In the love that grows between us
This is where the journey starts
There is hope in the stillness
There is solace in our friends
In the love that grows between us
This is where the isolation ends

Come full circle in a moment
Hold no shame in what you feel
This old world will keep on turning
And our broken hearts will heal

When the rain falls around you
Like your solitary tear
In the love that flows between us
Know that thunder holds no fear

In the struggle you hold sacred
When the arrows pierce you through
In the love that flows between us
May your courage be renewed

There is music in each silence
There is promise in each day
In the love that holds between us
May we always find our way

Come full circle in a moment
Hold no shame in what you feel
This old world will keep on turning
And our broken hearts will heal

There's a flame in the darkness
Burning deep within our hearts
In the love that grows between us
This is where the journey starts

There is hope in the stillness
There is solace in our friends
In the love that holds between us
The sacred journey never ends

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

The Wonder Deep Within

from The Wonder Deep Within

This song came directly out of a mediation session. I resisted at first.  It's pretty religious for a folkie like me… but sometimes when we create enough serenity in our lives…truth finds us instead of us finding it.  I cannot describe the serenity and joy I feel when singing this song.  Someday I would love to record it with a full orchestra and massive choir.  Till then…

My soul knows that I belong to you
Even though my mind cannot conceive
Of the promise in the love you give
If only I could let my heart believe

(chorus)
You are my rock, you are my strength
You are a friend to me
Through the hard and lonely places that I roam
You are the source of my compassion
You are a hope for peace
You are the wonder deep within
You are my home

You have never turned away from me
Though I have often closed my heart to you
But you wait with open arms for my return
Ready to embrace me with your truth

There is a longing from within my soul
For serenity that only you can give
It is up to me to make a sacred place
At the center of my life where you can live

Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison
(Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy)
Words and Music © 2004 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

Song of the Rails

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 07/1998 at Puget sound Guitar Workshop, in honor of my good friend Phil Amadon. Thank you for all of the living lessons, and for teaching me pride in a job well done.

Well if you have a minute John I sure feel like hell
The union vote is coming up and things aren't looking well
You know I'd like to stand up for the things that I believe
But it seems that my life's not as simple as it used to be

I was born in Tulsa back in 1951
They say that I could drive a spike before I learned to run
In a land of dust and corn the rails spoke a steel trugh
The men that kept them working were the heroes of my youth
For they sang

Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway
Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway



When I was a young man and I thought to run away
The freight train it came through out town and I got on one day
I rode it down to Gallup and then back to Santa Fe
Everywhere I listened I could hear the railway workers singin'

Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway
Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway



In 1969 I met a sould to match my life
But her father said that I must have a job to take a wife
And so I looked around at all the work that I might do
And found that it was time for me to sing the only song I knew

Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway
Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway



Now we have five children and they bring me joy each day
But the bills keep getting higher and I've nothing left to pay
The union says that we must strike and stand up don't you see
But I've just got too damn many people who depend on me

Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway
Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway



At the heart of every worker is the welfare of his kin
And to walk away from pay that's good it seems is such a sin
The bosses they don't understand how hard I work each night
But I've got mouths to feed and so I'll do my part 'til daylight
singin'

Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway
Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Workin' for the railway


© 1998 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Rise as One

from I Hear Your Voice

I dedicate this recording of 'Rise As One' to my new niece Annika Jencks. "We will build a brand new future for our daughters and our sons…" …and our nieces & nephews! Thanks to Mike Tadsen and John & Judy Gallo for inviting me to meet some of the workers and for sharing the story with me. The workers of OAPSIE Local 419 are heroes in my book.

It is we who serve the lunches, we who sweep the floors
We who drive the busses with your children off to school
We keep the buildings warm in winter, and cool when it's hot
And we will not let you play us for the fool
When we ask for better healthcare, or an increase in our wage
You tell us that the township can't afford to pay the bill
But you found half a million dollars from within those very coffers
To try and break the union's back and break our will

And we will never give up, we will never give in
And we'll never, ever go away
We will build a brand new future for our daughters and our sons
We will work 'til all workers rise as one

We believe in education and the future of our town
And the children that we serve from day to day
Whenever there's a need we always go the extra mile
God knows we do it for the love, not for the pay
But we have worked as hard as any for every inch of ground
That we've gained in the struggle for our rights
And we will not stand by idly as you try to tear us down
If we have to we will organize a strike

Well we didn't have a penny in our strike fund, sad but true
That made us all a little bit afraid
But the call went out to every other union in the state
And somehow all the workers' bills were paid
You see this isn't just the schools within our town
When we dare to raise our voice in solidarity we stand
With every other worker all the world around

We held a rally at the fairgrounds, to show them our resolve
And to drum up some support for our campaign
A thousand people hit the street, and that's more than half our town
And after that, you know things couldn't be the same
Now whoever would've guessed it, when this whole thing began
We'd have the strength to hold out for so long
But three months have now gone by and the school board just gave in
On their demands, now we can sing our victory song


© 2002 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

Step By Step

from Rise As One

From the constitution of the American Miners Union circa 1860. Traditional Irish melody.

Step by step the longest march, can be won, can be won
Many stone can form an arch, singly none, singly none
And by union what we will, can be accomplished still
Drops of water turn the mill, singly none, singly none

updated: 12 years ago

New Beginnings 3:06

from The Phoenix

Looking back on all the worn-out pages in my life, I find it’s time for a new beginning. As my vision starts to blur, from all the tears that I’ve held back, for so long, I wonder where my honesty abides.

Chorus
The more I’ve learned, the less I know why it is I have so little to show, for all these failed attempts at my own perfection. The harder I try, the less I understand why the things that I love are like grains of sand. When I hold on tight they slip away.

Sometimes it seems that I am just a hollow shell, of the being I once was. Somewhere on my journey to enlightenment I was robbed, of the very things that made me who I am. I’ve lost so much faith in the things I once believed, truthfulness, divinity, hope seem all that dead. Anger, hurt, and self-neglect are the only tools that I have left to battle with this emptiness inside.

Now it’s time that I go back to where it is I come from, and deal with these issues from their origin. I have to reestablish whether music is my goal, or just means of transport on the pathway to my soul.

Chorus

Looking back on all the worn-out pages in my life I find it’s time for a New Beginning.

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music
© ℗ 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Fox River Song

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 02/1996 for my mother, Kathleen Kilbride Jencks. In spike of your passing, I continue to learn from the courage, perseverance, and creativity of your life. Thank you for all of your gifts. I hope you and dad found just thr right spot outside the loop. I love you.

Up along the banks of the old Fox River
In a place that she called home
There was always someplace she could run and hide
When she had to be alone

She was just too young to really understand
Why the world went crazy when daddy had a bottle in his hand
When she was old enough she ran away to college
In that railway station she was learning to be free

Learning how to say hello sometimes involves goodbye
Learning how to laugh again means sometimes we must cry
Learning to move forward takes more than just your feet
In that railway station she was learning to be free

She didn't finish college then, she found a man she loved
He asked her for her hand and she knew the time had come
At the altar of the sacred she got down upon her knees
Said "I do, to thee, forever" she was learning to be free

Learning how to say hello sometimes involves goodbye
Learning how to laugh again means sometimes we must cry
Learning to move forward takes more than just your feet
At the altar of the sacred she was learning to be free

Several children later she seemed a little lost
She had so much to live for but she surely paid the cost
So she went back to school to finish her degree
Now standing in the classroom she is learning to be free

Now she's in her golden years but things aren't what they planned
Her husband passed away and their dreams flew up like drifting sand
She's learning how to reach out and live life as she pleases
Rising from the ashes she is learning to be free

Learning how to say hello sometimes involves goodbye
Learning how to laugh again means sometimes we must cry
Learning to move forward takes more than just your feet
Rising from the ashes she is learning to be free
© 1996 Joe Jencks

updated: 2 years ago

So Far To Come

from Weights & Wings

I’m sorry for the way it’s gone.
It might be too late,
It might be over and done.
My words have not moved you, maybe if they’re sung.
Maybe I’m late ‘cause I had so far to come.

I was swimming in a bright blue sea
that was your eyes when you looked at me.
Then I watched the clouds roll over, over the sun,
Maybe I’m late ‘cause I had so far to come.

There are invisible, invisible things
before your first thought.
They’re your weights and your wings.
At worst, I’m stumbling over, at best I rise above.
Maybe I’m late ‘cause I had so far to come.

I’m sorry for the way it’s gone
It might be too late
to say I’m sorry
It might be too late
Maybe I’m late ‘cause I had so far to come.

Credits:

By Greg Greenway
© Sheen of Heat Music/BMI

updated: 2 years ago

Shuttle & Loom

from The Forgotten

Down from the mountains I was sixteen
Milk cows, chickens, taters and beans
Sweet spring water from out of the hill
I gave it all up, and I went to the mill

Shuttle and loom, bobbin and frame
Sometimes I don’t even know my own name
What in the world is a woman to do
When all that she’s got are her shuttle and loom
Shuttle and loom

Hoot owl, graveyard, whistle and sing
Still tell a joke when you’re working on swing
But working the day shift, don’t make a sound
Running so scared ‘cause the boss is around

Where are the mountains, where are the streams
Where are the rivers I fish in my dreams
Where are the songs my family sung
Where are the days I was carefree and young

Counting the minutes, counting the days
Counting the years as my life slips away
Swiftly like water out of the hill
Lord help the woman who works in the mill

© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Let It Rain

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


One moment of mercy was all that it took

To drive me clean out of my head

A piece of my heart had been sleeping so long

I had given it for dead

Better than I have traveled this journey

And none have returned here unchanged

But the lilac’s in bloom and the thunderhead looms

And my lonely heart prays for the rain

Chorus

Let it rain, oh let it rain

Let the waters of love wash away all the pain

Let the hope of redemption be all that remains

Let it rain, let it rain, let it rain

When the ancients and mariners looked toward the heavens at night

Did they yearn for the day

Or were they transfixed by the wonders they saw

In the lights that guided their way

I need to believe that there is no sadness so great

That it cannot heal

But sometimes the longing inside, it consumes me so much

Well it’s all that I feel

I stand on the ledge

And I cling to the edge for dear life

Afraid to let go

What if love’s call pulls me into a free fall

What then

Oh tell me what then

Somewhere way out there, beyond right and wrong

There’s a place that I long to see

If I don’t return, I’ll be wishing you well

From wherever I happen to be

© 2013, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

In the Name of Love  (5:17)

from Some Part of The Truth

When I get tired, it's like I was dropped into the sea,
you could swim your whole life and be nowhere you want to be.
Everyone gets tired and the water is so wide.
Then somebody comes and shows you, they show you the other side.

There was a little man, barefoot and frail,
he took a walk down to the Ganges and took a lion by the tail.
He made a way out of no way.  One by one, they saw the truth.
He was ready when they told him, they said "history chooses you."

We see so far (in the name of love),
we are standing on (in the name of love),
the shoulders of giants (one more in the name of love).

And then there was another, another lion in a lamb,
he walked into the heart of darkness, into the streets of Birmingham.
He made a way out of no way.  One by one, they saw the truth.
He was already on the mountaintop when they said "Memphis chooses you."

We see so far (in the name of love),
we are standing on (in the name of love),
the shoulders of giants (one more in the name of love).

In the name of love.
In the name of love.
One more in the name of love.

Early morning, April 4th, shots rang out in the Memphis sky.
Free at last, they took your life, they could not take your pride.
In the name of love, one more in the name of love
In the name of love, one more in the name of love.

So make a way out of no way, make their stories live and breathe,
and we will never lack for heroes, in our darkest hour of need.

In the name of love.
In the name of love.
One more in the name of love.
by Greg Greenway/U2
© Sheen of Heat Music/BMI and Universal Polygram Int'l Pub. obo U2/ASCAP

updated: 8 years ago

Come With Me  3:49

from Brother Sun

I feel the current raging around me
Try to summon up my strength once more
I am weary on this journey
Afraid I will not reach that distant shore

I cry for help feel like I'm sinking
There is no one near me I can see
But there you are in the water with me
You take my hand and guide me graciously

Chorus
Will you come with me on this journey
With every breath we take keep reaching for the dawn
I know alone that I will falter
But with a good friend near me I will carry on

There is a kindness in your smile
And gentleness within your speech
You reassure me your love surrounds me
And I know safety is at last within my reach

It's an illusion we carry with us
As we wade on through the waters of our lives
That we must be strong and hold our own here
But a helping hand will save us by and by

I know alone that I will falter
But with a good friend near me I will carry on

With a good friend near me I will carry on
© Joe Jencks (Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP)

updated: 8 years ago

On Eireann's Shore  4:55

from Links In A Chain

I was blessed to tour Ireland in the fall of 2007, and visit my ancestral homelands. I saw the house where my Granddad Kilbride grew up and walked the streets of his hometown Athy, in County Kildare. I stayed with my cousin Donal Murphy, and learned a great deal about my family history. I wrote this for my wife, Lynn, while on that trip. Traditional Irish music has always been an undercurrent in my life, and it was a seamless transition to writing in a style endemic to the land and the people of Ireland. There was something magical about the scent of burning peat, thatch roofs, and the hint of melodies on the wind…

I have come here as a stranger
From across the sea I roam
I have come here as a prodigal child
Who is ready to come home
From the hills of Connemara
To the McGillicuddy Reeks
Oh this verdent land she calls to me
Ever softly does she speak

And I will give to her the song I sing
As so many times before
But the one who hold my truest heart
She lies far from Eireann's shore

Oh their dancing down in Doolin
As the band begin to play
But my thoughts they are a wandering
To a place so far away
To a woman who is waiting
And I own my soul is torn
Between this country I would call my own
And the one where I was born

As I turn toward the Atlantic  
At the setting of the sun
I would have her here beside me now
That our lives might be as one
All our days would know such beauty
And our sorrow be no more
And our love would find fulfillment here
As we stand on Eireann's shore

Then I will give to her the song I sing
As so many times before
But with hearts no longer torn apart
We would stand on Eireann's shore
Hand in hand on Eireann's shore
© 2007 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music ASCAP

updated: 11 years ago

The Sweetest of Rose 3:28

from The Candle And The Flame

I had an amazing time at the Kerrville Folk Festival and fell in love with music and life again in a new way.  The night before I left, I was looking at two red roses I gave to my friend Helena, and the first few lines of the song arrived. I had to work for the rest. But I had a 1500 mile drive ahead of me so there was plenty of time to debate lyrics with the muse. I definitely got some of that Texas hill country dust in my brain… because this is not a song I would have written before spending two weeks in Texas. I hope it brings you a measure of the relaxed joy that filled my heart while I was there.

I brought you two roses in the summer sunshine
Fresh as the morning and the color of wine
Seeking a song I did not understand
You just smiled at me gently and reached for my hand (and said)

Chorus
We've touched a beauty that only love knows
We want to hold on to a feeling so fine
But the sweetest of rose is the one that still grows
On the vine, on the vine, on the vine

Jealousy sounds in my heart even still
Like the thunder that rolls down this west Texas hill
But the rainbow appears and it's then I recall
Love is so big there's enough for us all (for)

We met here as strangers we leave now as friends
God grant the love that we share never ends
May it guard us and guide us and show us the way
May it be our companion and grace every day

But the sweetest of rose is the one that still grows
On the vine, on the vine, on the vine

Yes the sweetest of love is the one that takes time
And the sweetest of rose is the one on the vine

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

Deportee

from I Hear Your Voice

I have been playing this song since I was about 10 years old.  I dreamed of growing up to be a folk singer and recording it.  Some dreams are attainable.  The song moved me deeply at a young age, but I did not fully appreciate it until I moved to Washington State in 1994 where the Columbia River Valley orchards and packing houses thrive on migrant labor.

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting
The oranges are stacked in their creosote dumps
Their flying you back to the Mexico border
To pay all your money to wade back again

My fathers own father he waded that river
They took all the money that he made in his life
My brothers and sisters they worked in the fruit trees
They rode the big trucks till they took down and died

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
You won't have a name when you ride the big aero-plane
For all they will call you will be deportees

Now some of us are illegal and others not wanted
The work season ends and we have to move on
Six hundred miles to the Mexico boarder
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers and thieves

We've died in your hills and we've died in your deserts
We've died in your valleys, we've died in your plains
We've died in your trees and we've died in your bushes
Both sides of the river we've died just the same (chorus)

A sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos canyon
Like a fireball of lightning it shook all our hills
And who are these friends all scattered like dried leaves
The radio says they are just deportees

Is this the best way we can grow your good orchards
It this the best way we can grow your good fruit
To fall like dried leaves and rot on your topsoil
To be known by no name except deportees?
©1961 Woody Guthrie, Ludlow Music

updated: 12 years ago

How Can I Keep From Singing

from The Wonder Deep Within

Words and Music traditional except third verse lyrics, written by Doris Plenn

These lyrics have spoken truth to me for many years, but the traditional arrangement in 4/4 time has always felt pedantic and out of place.  I was experimenting one night and gave it a syncopated ¾ feel and the natural rhythms of the lyrics seemed to find new life.  I thoroughly enjoy singing it now!

My life flows on in endless song
Above earth's lamentation
I hear that real, through far-off hymn
That hails the new creation
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear that music ringing
It sounds an echo in my soul
How can I keep from singing?

What though the tempest round me roar
I hear the truth it liveth
What though the darkness round me close
Songs in the night it giveth
No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I'm clinging
Since love is lord of heaven and earth
How can I keep from singing?

When tyrants tremble sick with fear
And hear their death knells ringing
When friends rejoice both far and near
How can I keep from singing?
In prison cells and dungeon vile
Our thoughts to them are winging
When friends by shame are undefiled
How can I keep from singing?
Arrangement © 2004 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

John Henry

from Rise As One

This story traces its roots to an event that happened in West Virginia, in the 1870s. Traditional Melody. I just gave it a little more drive.

updated: 12 years ago

What Do You Want 3:47

from The Phoenix

It seems like we’ve been over the same thing now at least 100,000 times. You say that we walked under the same sky, but yours is a different color than mine. We tried to talk it out, but we end up in a silent fight. I say what’s on your mind you say I don’t know, then you reach over and turn out the light and say good night.

And I said…

Chorus

What do you want from me.
It seems what ever I do is not enough for you.
Baby, what do you want for me.
If you scream and shout just let it out baby,
what do you want for me.

I tried to talk to you, but I don’t think you hear what I say. I think you think I’m cutting you down, but baby, you should know that it’s not my way.

And I said…

Chorus

I remember when we were in love, you’re the only thing in my life. We spent hours and hours in each others arms, as if we had nothing better to do. I tried to reach across the gap, with all of my might but the distance between you and I, is like the distance between earth and heaven tonight. And I said…

Chorus

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtle Bear Music
© ℗ 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

The Source Of The Sun

from Weights & Wings

In my plan to be myself
I became someone else
Dreaming dreams I hardly know
Looking through the snow
For the path to the place that I'd come from

CHORUS
I am dreaming of the source of the sun
I am dreaming of the source of the sun
I am dreaming of the source of the sun
I am dreaming of the source of the sun

Now I'm a broken kite
Yearning for the sky
With just enough left in me to soar
But not much more
Won't be long before back to earth I come

CHORUS

Inside of you and me
Lives a small machine
And with each beat it makes a little hope
Ephermeral as smoke
But there's just enough of it to make us run

CHORUS

Credits:

By Pat Wictor
Inspired by the poetry of Lisa Jarnot
©Tell A Tale Music/BMI

updated: 2 years ago

Morning Star

from The Forgotten

Tell me where are you going
Tell me where have you been
I’ve been ‘round the mountain
And I’ve come back again
Morning Star oh, Morning Star

I ain’t going to Harlan
I ain’t going again
For there’s no more Black Diamond
And there’s no more L & N
Morning Star oh, Morning Star

If you see someone coming
Don’t you ask where they’ve been
For they’ve worn down the mountain
And they’ve torn down the wind
Morning Star oh, Morning Star

If you see someone going
Don’t you ask what they saw
For there’s no more deep mining
On the Cumberland Plateau
Morning Star oh, Morning Star

Tell me where are you going
Tell me where have you been
I’ve been ‘round the mountain
And I’ve come back again
Morning Star oh, Morning Star

Morning Star oh, Morning Star
Morning Star oh, Morning Star

© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

The Lady Juliana

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


Sit down beside me Elizabeth Rose

I’ve a story to tell

It’s worth the saying, Elizabeth Rose

Worth the hearing as well

This was not my first home, as well you may know

I was born far away

First set my foot here long ages ago

Seventy years to the day

What I recall of the London Streets

In the year Seventeen Eighty Nine

There was no shelter, little to eat

There was nothing that I could call mine

Apprehended for stealing another girl’s clothes

I was sentenced to sail away

Not twelve years old then, Elizabeth Rose

No older than you are today

Chorus:

I remember the day we sailed away

On the Lady Juliana

It was the whole world to the young Mary Wade

Before we made land in Australia

So we set sail for the end of the world

First ship of the second fleet

A cargo of convicts, all women and girls

Dredged from the city streets

Most had been prostitutes, pickpockets, thieves

Who lived by their wits alone

Though every one had reason to grieve

None of us wept for our home

Though my small crime had brought little more

Than the price of one loaf of bread

If not for the whim of the mad King George

I’d have gone to the gallows instead

And had we stayed, we all would have paid

That same terrible cost

But we landed alive, most did survive,

Only five souls had been lost

Well they may judge us in England today

As the rabble they swept from their land

But I’ll leave it to God on my reckoning day

To say where the fault truly stands

No matter how we try to pretend

We are savage just under our skin

As we see very well in the fine-mannered men

In the court of the English King

The rule of the sea and the law of the land

Are different, as everyone knows

And the oldest profession is much in demand

And so we fared far better than most

Though it is rare for fortune to smile

On those who reach Botany Bay

For Elizabeth Rose, my granddaughter's child

Life is better today

I remember the day we sailed away on the Lady Juliana

It was a new world for the young Mary Wade the day we made land in Australia

© 2014 - Kat Eggleston, Paperboat Music, BMI

updated: 4 years ago

Everybody's Cryin' Mercy (2:54)

from Some Part of The Truth

By Mose Allison
© Audre Mae Music / BMI

updated: 8 years ago

Love is the Water  3:49

from Brother Sun

You say your heart's been turned to stone
You say you want to be left alone
You say love only made you weep and moan
Well, let me tell you something that you know in your bones

Love is the water that wears down the rock
Love is the water that wears down the rock
Love is the power that won't be stopped
Love is the water that wears down the rock

You say your soul's like a dry river bed
Stopped waiting for the water long ago you said
You better pray all night for the rain instead
Love comes like a tidal wave, over your head

You say, waiting for love takes too long
It dulls a sharp mind, weakens the strong
Well, you may be right, but you may be wrong
Cause love can make a mountain come tumbling down

The river washes over every woman and man
Feet in the gravel, and mud in your hands
Nothing can stand against love's command
Every boulder turns into a grain of sand.
© Pat Wictor (Tell A Tale Music, BMI)

updated: 8 years ago

Love Is The Reason  3:45

from Links In A Chain

For Lynn… Love is all we ever wanted, and love IS the reason we are still here. Amen. Thanks for all that you do and for all that you are. The dream lives on and evolves, and the seasons come and go… but we remain. Thank you. I owe you more than I could ever repay. I Love You!

There was a time when all I ever needed
Was your smile to drive away my rain
But now it seems that hopeful light is hiding
Behind a cloud of anger and pain

I thought everything I was looking for
Was right here within my reach

I think it's time we finally take our chances
And let our hearts speak louder than our fears
Because love is all I ever wanted
Love is the reason I'm still here

Well the sage said to the fisherman on the boat
Cast your nets on the other side
And with nothing short of astonishment on their faces
They said, don't you think we've tried

And he said, what if everything you're looking for
Is right there within your reach

I think it's time we finally take our chances
And let our hearts speak louder than our fears
Because love is all I ever wanted
Love is the reason I'm still here

I don't know where our story goes from here
Too many pages left unread
Or how to carve a pathway through this labyrinth we've built
With all that's left unsaid
What if everything we're looking for
Is right there within our reach

I think it's time we finally take our chances
And let our hearts speak louder than our fears
Because love is all I ever wanted
Love is all you ever wanted
Love is all we ever wanted
Love is the reason
Love is the only reason
Love is the reason we're still here
© 2008  Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 11 years ago

Come With Me 4:03

from The Candle And The Flame

I nearly drowned in the Klamath River while on that retreat in California, I mentioned earlier. Luckily a benevolent woman named Jax answered my cry for help. But she did not rescue me per se. Rather, she treaded water and invited me to hold on to her while I caught my breath. Slowly the panic left my eyes and the color returned to my face. When I had recovered a bit, Jax said, "OK. Let's keep swimming." I was surprised. I thought she had come to save me. But what she did was even better. She supported me through a rough spot… gave me her strength, and allowed me to finish the crossing under my own power. She reminded me to take a deep breath, let go of the panic and keep on swimming. Thanks Jax! Here's to the many friends who journey beside us giving us courage, hope, and the chance to catch our breath.

I feel the current raging around me
Try to summon up my strength once more
I am weary on this journey
Afraid I will not reach that distant shore

I cry for help feel like I'm sinking
There is no one near me I can see
But there you are in the water with me
You take my hand and guide me graciously

Chorus
Will you come with me on this journey
With every breath we take keep reaching for the dawn
I know alone that I will falter
But with a good friend near me I will carry on

There is a kindness in your smile
And gentleness within your speech
You reassure me your love surrounds me
And I know safety is at last within my reach

It's an illusion we carry with us
As we wade on through the waters of our lives
That we must be strong and hold our own here
But a helping hand will save us by and by

I know alone that I will falter
But with a good friend near me I will carry on

With a good friend near me I will carry on

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

Highway Romance

from I Hear Your Voice

This is something that has happened to us all. Whether in the grocery store, at the mall, in school, on the highway…it just seemed to put a fine point on a quintessential form of human embarrassment.  I had no idea how universal this feeling was till this song fell out of me on I-5 north of San Francisco, CA.  It has become one of my most requested songs, attesting to the universality of feeling foolish. If anybody knows Lyle Lovett, send him this song.  He should sing it, too.

Well I was stranded at the junction of Interstate America
And U.S. Boulevard
Oh, the traffic was tight
All I could see was tail-lights
For miles and miles around
There you were in your car shinning bright as any star
In your "Beetle" with the dashboard flower vase
Oh, you turned my way and smiled
I was giddy as a child
I saw a-thousand wondrous lifetimes on your face

This is the start of a beautiful romance
It happened in a traffic jam today
Suddenly there were choirs of angels singing
It's like a modern fairytale come my way

Traffic had not moved an inch but I could not care less
I imagined our whole courtship down through every sweet caress
How we went to meet your parents your old man gave me the eye
But your mom thought I was sweet as cream on fresh baked apple pie

This is the start of a beautiful romance
It happened in a traffic jam today
Suddenly there were choirs of angels singing
It's like a modern fairytale come my way

We had the perfect wedding all our friends were there
It was catered by some famous chef, you wore flowers in your hair
We bought a nice suburban home for a growing family
And had a couple children they looked just like you and me

This is the start of a beautiful romance
It happened in a traffic jam today
Suddenly there were choirs of angels singing
It's like a modern fairytale come my way

But suddenly the traffic up ahead began to break
I felt our moment slipping by
I wondered should I let it go or jump out of my car
And pledge my love for you until I die
As I sat in contemplation I had a sudden revelation
And a feeling I could almost call regret
It was not me who caught your eye
But that tall and handsome guy
Beside me in a brand new red Corvette.

This could have been a beautiful romance
It happened in a traffic jam today
Suddenly there were choirs of angels singing
"You're a fool boy!  Step right on that gas and drive away."

This could have been a beautiful romance
It happened in a traffic jam today
Suddenly there were choirs of angels singing
"Better luck next time! Step right on that gas and drive away."

Suddenly there were choirs of angels singing
"It's the pedal on the right, boy! Step right on that gas and drive away."
© 2000, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Prayer of St. Francis

from The Wonder Deep Within

Based on the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

As a musician, this prayer has always been close to my heart.  A modern setting of it seemed timely.  It works too!  It's a great mantra.  This song was a spiritual gift to me in a time of need, and with it I wish you peace as well.

(Chorus)
Lord make me an instrument
An instrument of your peace
Lord make me an instrument
An instrument of your peace

Where there is hatred, let me bring your love
Where there's injury, let me bring your healing, Lord
Where there's a shadow of doubt within the soul
Let me bring true faith in you

Where there's despair in life, let me bring hope
Where there's darkness, let me always be your light
Where there is sadness and grief within this world
Let my life reflect your joy

Only as we forgive can we ever be forgiven
For all the harm we've caused
And the good we've failed to do
Only in giving can we ever hope to receive
Only in dying to ourselves are we born to you
Words and Music © 2004 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

St. Christopher

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 01/2000 at PSGW Y2K Camp.  Many thanks to Chris Pennebaker for all the nights around the fire, and stories of the sea.

It's the back end of the season and the wind is bitter cold
It's just the sort of morning to make young bones feel old
The tanks are all topped off, we've got the permits free and clear
One more good haul could see us through until we start next year
Well it's my call alone to make and one I'd hate to blow
Six families now including mine dependent on the things I think I know.

I know the wind and water and I am not afraid
But living off the ocean is a complicated trade
I never get my profit margins or my pride confused
With the safety of this vessel or its good and hearty crew
But the time is now or never and the weather looks to hold
So I gather up the crew on deck, we bow our heads and pray before we go

St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day

I've fished in weather worse thatn this at least a hundred times
But I still can't shake the shivers that we are crawling up my spine
Eleven hours out the swells are getting deep
We can't put the nets out and it's too damn rough to sleep
If we stick it out 'til morning things may calm down with the light
But if it turns against us we'll be lucky if we see another night

St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day

Well it was on a night like this my father went away
Even though my mother begged and pleaded him to stay
I was standing there and waving as his trawler left the docks
Saw the pictures of the wreckage that they found upon the rocks
Seven men were rescued of the nine that left that day
The last they saw their captain he was on the bridge they swear they heard him say

"St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day"

Now the difference between bravery and foolishness is small
And a healthy sense of fear can bring perspective to us all
I know you men are hungry for the cash this catch could bring
And if we go back empty we'll be real tight come spring
But I've learned history's lesson and it isn't worth the pain
The things we stand to lose are so much greater than the things we have to gain

St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day

St. Christopher we call on you
Christopher we call on you
St. Christopher we thank you for this day.
© 2000 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Phil (Spoken Word)

from Rise As One

updated: 13 years ago

Days Like These 4:36

from The Phoenix

Seems like I spend most of my time wishing.
For something that I had or never will.
I guess it’s mostly just my mind going fishing.
Searching for some relief from these painful spells.

Chorus

Days like these make me wonder why I try at all.
It seems every time I think that I’m on top I seem to take a fall.
I’m searching through the shattered remnants of my lonely dreams.
It’s hard to keep from losing my mind on days like these.

I tried to call an old friend up to remember the better times.
I knew her cheerful voice would soothe my aching heart and ease my mind.
But when I dial her number, a mechanical voice kicked in;
it said this number’s disconnected check your book and try again.

Chorus

I’d like to take a nice long trip to the Gulf of Mexico,
sail around the islands, and bask in the tropical glow.
But the only ship I can afford to take is illegal, what a shame.
I guess I’ll have to settle for a cake and bottle of gin.

Chorus

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music
© ℗ 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Shine  3:47

from Brother Sun

In loving memory of Jerry Jencks

When I left Chicago
There were storm clouds above
I headed for the City of Brotherly Love
Ain't no time for misery
And there ain' no time for pain
Just the humming of the engine
And the music running through my veins

You know we got to
Shine, shine, shine, shine that light
Can't keep it buried deep within
Gonna need it on the darkest night
Don't you know we've got to
Shine, shine, shine, shine that light

My brother heard the calling of the highway
Dancing in his head
You know he died way too young
But I remember what he said
Sometimes you throw the dice
And you just gotta take your lot
But you hold on to the things you love
And you give 'em everything you got

Everybody has a reason
That will make them fight the good fight
Something they were born to give
That will make everything alright
© Joe Jencks (Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP)

updated: 1 year ago

Where Are You Moses

from Weights & Wings

Your children all are hungry
No food for them to eat
Wanderin' through this desert, Lord
No shoes upon their feet

CHORUS
 Where are you Moses
 Where are you now
 Come down from that mountain, Moses
 Lead your children home

You said when we left Egypt
You and God had worked it out
To lead us to a promised land
You said there was no doubt
(So tell me now)

CHORUS

The people carve their idols
To worship and to keep
With greed and lust and hatred, Lord
They dig their graves so deep

CHORUS

Many tribes and nations
Searching for the light
Each one has an answer, Lord
And each one things they're right

CHORUS

Credits:

By Joe Jencks
© Turtle Bear Music /ASCAP

updated: 2 years ago

I'm A Stranger In This Land

from The Forgotten

Do you still remember, the year the famine fell
And everything you had was turned to one long living hell
So you gathered up the children, and the little that you had
And you came into this country as a stranger

I am bound away to leave you
With a suitcase in my hand
I am bound away for freedom
I’m a stranger in this land

And do you teach your children how they have come so far
From the slaughters of the Cossacks and the prisons of the Czar
Without a word of English, they bravely stepped ashore
Through the gates of Ellis Island as a stranger

Now those who flee from hunger and those who run from war
Are still struggling by the millions, to reach this country’s shore
So before you start to judge them, remember who your are
And remember that you came here as a stranger

© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Best of Friends

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


There have been times when I was lost

When I could not bear the cost

Of the choices I’d made

There were moments when I cried

When everything I tried

Seemed to fall down in flames

Then your smile came my way

And you brightened up my day

The way that you do

The way that only you can do

Chorus

And I thank you, my precious friend

For the good times that we’ve seen

And the spaces in between

And I thank you

For the way that you believe in my dreams

That is what the best of friends will do

When my fears begin to rise

Well you take me by surprise

With a good laugh or two (and don’t you know I need it)

When I get lost inside my head

Full of worries full of dread

That I’m sure will come true (and I just can’t let it go)

Then your voice comes on the line

You reassure me one more time

The way that you do

The way that only you can do

Though I know that it’s been said

I’ll say it once again

That the journey has been easier

Because you are my friend

That’s the kind of friend I try to be for you

That is what the best of friends will do
© 2012, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

St. Christopher (7:12)

from Some Part of The Truth

It's the back end of the season and the wind is bitter cold
It's just the sort of morning to make young bones feel old
The tanks are all topped off, we've got the permits free and clear
One more good haul could see us through until we start next year
Well it's my call alone to make and one I'd hate to blow
Six families now including mine dependent on the things I think I know.

I know the wind and water and I am not afraid
But living off the ocean is a complicated trade
I never get my profit margins or my pride confused
With the safety of this vessel or its good and hearty crew
But the time is now or never and the weather looks to hold
So I gather up the crew on deck, we bow our heads and pray before we go

St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day

I've fished in weather worse thatn this at least a hundred times
But I still can't shake the shivers that we are crawling up my spine
Eleven hours out the swells are getting deep
We can't put the nets out and it's too damn rough to sleep
If we stick it out 'til morning things may calm down with the light
But if it turns against us we'll be lucky if we see another night

St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day

Well it was on a night like this my father went away
Even though my mother begged and pleaded him to stay
I was standing there and waving as his trawler left the docks
Saw the pictures of the wreckage that they found upon the rocks
Seven men were rescued of the nine that left that day
The last they saw their captain he was on the bridge they swear they heard him say

"St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day"

Now the difference between bravery and foolishness is small
And a healthy sense of fear can bring perspective to us all
I know you men are hungry for the cash this catch could bring
And if we go back empty we'll be real tight come spring
But I've learned history's lesson and it isn't worth the pain
The things we stand to lose are so much greater than the things we have to gain

St. Christopher protect us from the cold and stormy sea
Watch over all these fishermen who've put their trust in me
Never mind the salty spray or crashing of the waves
Bring us safely to our families and keep us from the grave
St. Christopher we call on you this day

St. Christopher we call on you
Christopher we call on you
St. Christopher we thank you for this day.
By Joe Jencks
© Turtle Bear Music/ ASCAP

updated: 8 years ago

Turning Lead Into Gold  3:33

from Links In A Chain

Mark Spittal was a man who spoke with the voice of the prophets. His songwriting style had a huge influence on me, as did his generosity as a friend. He was seminal to the Seattle folk scene when I moved there in 1994. He was quick with a laugh and was always willing to bring some young songwriter into the spotlight. He was one of my truest friends in Seattle, and I was deeply affected by his untimely passing in 1999. I vowed to keep his music alive. Mark never had a chance to record this powerful piece, and it brings me great pleasure to transport one of his lost treasures back into the light.

Once again you come to me
Once again you cry
And talk to me of someone
Who could not look you in the eye
Well I must be honest
And tell you I am not surprised
This is what happens
When you see only with your eyes

Trying to turn lead into gold
You find yourself alone
With nothing left to hold
Standing there out in the cold
When you try to turn lead into gold

Illusions are attractive
And many are the times
When your mind will fool you
And you'll act as if your heart were blind
But there comes a moment
Where deep inside you know
There is truth to the statement
You will reap what you sow

Trying to turn lead into gold
It doesn't really matter if you're
Gentle or you're bold
One holds you down the other lifts up your soul
When you try to turn lead into gold

I've grown tired of listening
To those who cannot see
The difference between the darkness
And the light we all can be
When you embrace the madness
How can you be surprised
When again and again and again
You are seduced by it's lies
© 1996 Mark Spittal

updated: 11 years ago

The Ballad of JeShawn 4:33

from The Candle And The Flame

This is a song based on a real event that happened in Cincinnati. The young man in this song was the student of one of my sisters. He was a Golden Gloves boxing champion and an upstanding fellow. He was respected by his peers, and had a promising future. The local media did not cover his untimely passing in any significant way. I felt like JeShawn deserved a fitting tribute. I hope this song really honors the courage of his life. The beauty and tragedy rolled into one. Thanks to Jean and Julie and to all the educators who work so diligently to nurture and to inspire the next generations. JeShawn lives on in every student you welcome into your classrooms and into your hearts!

JeShawn Johnson grew up
In a world of stone and steel
Where the neighborhoods have edges that are rough
And the monsters of our childhood are real
He had his problems in the classroom
But he always gave his best
When he put on his gloves and stepped into the ring
It was clear he was a notch above the rest
In Cincinnati

JeShawn's father was his trainer
And they made quite a team
His parents' house was full of trophies and awards
Like a private hall of fame a tribute to a dream
He was invited to try out for the Olympic summer games
Everybody knew this was his ticket out
And his life would never be the same
In Cincinnati

JeShawn would never box outside the ring
For he knew it was not right
Even pushed into a corner
When some other young men wanted him to fight
He tried to turn away from their jealousy and rage but they attacked
They cursed him and beat him
One of them pulled out a gun and shot him in the back
In Cincinnati

The medics did their best to save JeShawn
But his spirit slipped away
And we wonder where God's mercy goes
When there's children killing children every day
But the papers did not print a word about
The promise of the young life that was lost
All they could say was JeShawn was the twenty-first murder of the year
In Cincinnati

The minister said it is not how long
We dance our feet upon this earth
But how pure is our soul when we leave
That's the measure of our worth
And JeShawn was pure if we honor him
Then we must not be afraid to feel the loss
Like the flower that blooms in the early spring
Takes a chance that there still might be a frost
In Cincinnati
In Cincinnati

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

Christmas in Mansfield

from I Hear Your Voice

My friend Bruce Bostic asked me to go with him to meet and interview some of the members of the United Steel Workers of America USWA Local 169 in Mansfield, OH.  They were locked out for more than 4 years. Their motto is "We'll be stronger, one day longer!" After getting to know them a bit I really wanted to honor their struggle, faith, perseverance, solidarity, and tremendous courage.  Labor issues don't just affect workers; they impact entire communities.  The "Women of Steel" have done some tremendous solidarity work in Mansfield and at large.

Dad used to spend time with his children
When they'd come home from school every day
Before he would go to work second shift
He'd help them with homework and sometimes they'd play
Baseball out in the yard
If it was raining they'd sit and play cards

But then there was trouble at the steel mill
One night there were sirens and light
People were screaming and shouting
And somebody started a fight
Now daddy's home more than before
But he doesn't play much anymore

It's Christmas in Mansfield, Ohio
The children are snuggled in bed
But there are no visions of sugar plumbs dancing
It's questions that fill up their heads

The company boarded up windows
Put a fence all the way around the mill
They told union workers they couldn't come back
That all of their jobs had been filled
By people from out of the state
Then the company locked up the gates

But it's seventeen years at the steel mill
To provide for his families needs
But the company it seems cares lees about people
And more about profits and greed
So it's up with the burn barrels and signs
Make a stand on the old picket line

The union is still in a lockout
And more than three years have gone by
The first Christmas was tough, but donations came in
And that seemed to keep everyone's spirits high
And daddy did odd jobs in town
He refused to let his family down

But it's Christmas once more down in Mansfield
And there isn't even much snow
And nobody's counting on charity
It seems that was used up a long time ago
But somewhere dad found a small tree
And he hung up the lights carefully

Then the women of steel from the steel workers union
Brought toys for the girls and the boys
The firemen's union from somewhere down state
Brought turkeys and hams and they filled up the plate
With cheers and good tidings for all
It's Christmas in steel union hall

Daddy looked down at his children
And he smiled with sorrow and pride
Then he sat down on the union hall floor
Put his face in his hands and he started to cry
He had been strong now for years
But he just couldn't hold back the tears

God bless these workers and families
For the road that they travel is long
And as they stand up for what they believe
God grant them courage and help them along
Let the spirit of hope still shine bright
As the stars down on Mansfield that night

It's Christmas in Mansfield, Ohio
And the children laugh and they play
Though nobody here can forget about troubles
Maybe they'll set them aside for one day
And remember the kindness they've found
This Christmas in a steel mill town
Give thanks for the kindness they've found
This Christmas in a steel mill town
© 2002, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

I Don't Want to Hear Your Voice Today

from The Wonder Deep Within

I heard God's voice call to me in the plight of a homeless man.  I was angry that God would ask more of me when I felt so burdened already.  This song is a bit of brutal honesty.  Sometimes the intersection between my own despair and my desire to be compassionate to others is a difficult one.

Going through the motions
Going through my day
Looking for a reason
Trying to find a way
To step out of this prison
I have built here for myself
All I really need to do
Is come to you for help

(Chorus)
I don't want to hear your voice today
I don't want to hear your voice today
I'm tired and I'm hungry
Feeling beat up and abused
I don't want to hear your voice today

Sometimes the walls I build are thick
Sometimes they are thin
Sometimes built of ignorance
Sometimes built of sin
Always built of shame and pain
I carry deep inside
Built of all the many ways, I use to try and hide

So I'm looking for an answer
Looking for a sign
There's a gentle voice within my heart
I know that it's not mine
Will I turn away again
Or will I heed the call
Can you help me find the faith enough
To love without these walls
Words and Music © 2004 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

Ripple In The Water

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 07/1998 at Puget Sound Guitar Workshop.  Many thanks to Bob Franke, mentor and friend, for your support and faith.  Dedicated to the living memory of Harvey Jackins.

Well hello, my old friend
Don't you know it sure is good to see you again
Well hello, is there room up there
Inside your mind for me anywhere

While there's a ripple in the water
From a stone that someone threw
So tell me why it's just so damn hard to see
That there's a sunrise hanging over me

Well hello, how you doing there
Saw you looking sad, did someone take your share?
Well hello, through you might like to know
We all feel this way when the wind inside us blows

While there's a ripple in the water
From a stone that someone threw
So tell me why it's just so damn hard to see
That there's a sunrise hanging over me

Watching and waiting, contemplating
And hoping faithfully
Bewilderment, enlightenment
Won't you hold me carefully

Well hello, yes I understand
That you feel something's at an end
Well hello, I'm right here by your side
And you can tell me all of the things you've lost inside

While there's a ripple in the water
From a stone that someone threw
So tell me why it's just so damn hard to see
That there's a sunrise hanging over me

Well hello, I think you're doing fine
And I sure am glad that I could sit with you this time

While there's a ripple in the water
From a stone that someone threw
So tell me why it's just so damn hard to see
That there's a sunrise hanging over me

Watching and waiting, contemplating
And hoping faithfully
Bewilderment, enlightenment
Won't you hold me carefully

Credits:

© 1998 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Song Of The Rails

from Rise As One

Inspired by my friend Phil Amadon who has worked for the railroads most of his adult life.

If you have a minute John, I sure feel like hell
The union vote is coming up and things aren't looking well
You know I'd like to stand up for the things that I believe
But it seems that my life's not as simple as it used to be

I was born in Tulsa back in 1951
They say that I could drive a spike before I learned to run
In a land of dust and corn the rails spoke a steel truth
The men that kept them working were the heroes of my your for they sang

Come-diddle-liddle-aye-do-aye-day
Working for the railway (x 2)

When I was a young man and I thought to run away
A freight train it came through our town and I got on one day
I rode it down to Gallup and than back to Santa Fe
And every where I listened I could hear the railway workers singing (chorus)

In 1969 I met a soul to match my life
But her father said that I must have a job to take a wife
And so I looked around at all the work that I might do
I found that it was time for me to sing the only song I knew (chorus)

Now we have five children and they bring me joy each day
But the bills keep getting higher and I've nothing left to pay
The union says that we must strike and stand up don't you see
But I've just got too damn many people who depend on me (chorus)

At the heart of every worker is the welfare of his kin
And to walk away from pay that's good, it seems is such a sin
But the bosses they don't understand how hard I work each night
But I've got mouths to feed and so I do my part till daylight singing (chorus x 2)

© 2000 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

I Have Seen Freedom Being Born

from The Forgotten

Would I have gone, had I not seen the newsreels
Black and white upon the screen
But I went South, to march beside those heroes
And tell the world what I had seen

For I have watched the bolls of cotton bursting
White against the early morn
The marchers stretched along the bitter highway
I have seen freedom being born

Would I have known had I not heard their stories
On shotgun porches bleached by sun
Would I believe had I not seen the troopers
Block the bridge with clubs and guns

But I have walked among the people marching
Singing, “We’ve been ‘buked and we’ve been scorned”
And I have seen the waters part before them
I have seen freedom being born

For there is patience watching from the cotton
Anger buried in the bone
Resistance waiting for the morning
Water hidden in the stone

Nothing I write can make you feel their dignity
These heroes that I knew by name
Nothing I do can match their quiet courage
I will never be the same

For I have heard their songs lift up to heaven
Rise from faces lined and worn
And I have seen the gates swing wide to greet them
I have seen freedom being born

I have seen freedom being born
I have seen freedom being born

© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 5 months ago

Homeward Bound 2:36

from The Phoenix

Running for myself into the night.
On a journey from the dark into the light.
The path was once clear, now I’ve lost what was dear
and I find myself thinking of you.

I wasn’t ready to say goodbye,
now you’re gone and all I can do is cry
for the things we once shared and the things we won’t do.
Now I find myself thinking of you.

Chorus

Homeward bound to glory in the sky.
Now you’re free know your spirit can fly.
How are wish I could go back to where we were then,
when I find myself thinking of you.


It’s been a while since you left,
but I still feel the pain.
Like a never-ending shower of strong acid rain,
when I find myself thinking on you.

It wasn’t your choice, now this much I know.
But I can’t understand, why it was your time to go.

Chorus

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music
© 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Cee Cee's Climb

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

Going Home

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


A song for the sailor lost out to sea

A song for the mother who always will grieve

A song for the soldier who lays down his life

A song for the woman who once was his wife

A song for the traveler down on his luck

A circus man plying his trade for a buck

A song for the child who’s lost in the night

Though she’s never seen stars she still clings to their light

Going Home

Going Home

A song for the mistress who dares to believe

Wiping the tears from her eyes with her sleeve

A song for the poet who runs out of time

Before she can finish her famous last…

A song for the miner who digs out the coal

And dreams of a life somewhere far from this hole

A song for the rebel who gave up the fight

Haunted by guilt cause he still knows he’s right

Going Home

Going Home

A song for the lovers who never will meet

Star-crossed and stumbling out on the street

A song for the preacher down on his knees

Praying for answers he never quite sees

A song for the ones who run into the fire

To put out the flames of this world on its pyre

A song for the driver who runs out of road

With nobody there to help shoulder the load

Going Home

Going Home

A song for the drinker who puts down the glass

A song for the jumper who takes a step back

A song for the wanderer home now at last

A song for redemption from sins of the past

A song for forgiveness that opens a door

A song for the good friends who gather once more

A song for the prisoner finally free

A song for the veil that is lifted, lifted, lifted…

Going Home

Going Home

Going Home

           A song for the singer, a song for the dance

A song for the mystic who yearns for the trance

Going Home

           A song for the beggar, a song for the thief

A song for the hunger that has no relief

Going Home

           A song for the baby who sleeps until dawn

A song for the birds that will sing on and on

Going Home

A song for the sunrise, a song for the day

A song for the veil that is lifted

© 2010, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

Well, Well, Well  3:30

from Brother Sun

© Danny O'Keefe/Bob Dylan (special Rider Music/SESAC and Wild Rider Music/BMI)

updated: 7 years ago

There's Enough Love (3:20)

from Some Part of The Truth

There's enough love in this world
to wash away all the pain,
sadness, sorrow, rain,
Nothing you see would be without it,
nothing ever done
would live to be passed on.

There's enough hate in this world
to scatter the clouds of doubt,
to let the darkness out.
But, there's enough love in my heart to give you a place to heal,
to hold you, so you feel
that there's enough love in this world.

    You may not be able to see it from where you are.
    But, let me remind you, you are so close, you've come so far.

But, there's enough love in my heart
to give you a place to heal,
to hold you, so you feel
that there's enough love in this world.
By Greg Greeway
© Sheen of Heat Music/ BMI

updated: 8 years ago

Bracero  5:23

from Links In A Chain

I met Sonny Ochs at a Folk Alliance conference several years ago. After hearing some of my music, she asked me if I knew who her brother was. I answered honestly, "No." She reached into her bag immediately, and handed me a double disc compilation of Phil's music. She said, "Next time I see you, I expect you to know at least three of these songs!" It was the sort of mandate one does not ignore. I did as was instructed, and was instantly drawn into the artful storytelling and deeply compelling melodies of Phil's music. Thank you for bringing these treasures into my life, Sonny!

Wade into the river, through the rippling shallow water
Steal across the thirsty border, bracero
Come bring your hungry body to the golden fields of plenty
From a peso to a penny, bracero

Welcome to California
Where the friendly farmer will take care of you

Come labor for your mother, for your father and your brother
For your sister and your lover, bracero
Come pick the fruit of yellow, break the flower from the berry
Purple grapes will fill your belly, bracero

And the sun will bite your body, as the dust will draw you thirsty
As your muscles beg for mercy, bracero
In the shade of your sombrero, drop your sweat upon the soil
Like the fruit your youth can spoil, bracero

When the weary night embraces, sleep in shacks that could be cages
They will take it from your wages, bracero
And sing about tomorrow with the jingle of the dollar
And forget your crooked collar, bracero

And the local men are lazy, and they make too much of trouble
Besides we'd have to pay the double, bracero
But if you feel you're falling, if you find the pace is killing
There are others who are willing, bracero
© 1968 Phil Ochs, Almo Music Corp

updated: 11 years ago

The Candle And The Flame 5:32

from The Candle And The Flame

One night I was sitting under the tarp at Camp Constance (my home at the Kerrville Folk Festival). In spite of the wind, the small candle nested in a back-packer's lamp was waving and dancing and holding on just fine. My heart was filled with love for the fellow musicians and artists with whom I was spending time. It is a good thing to recognize how much we love each other and how much we grow from being together… with our tribe. The walls come down and the beauty emerges. You can only welcome the heartbreak and the healing that come from it. You can only submit yourself to the experience and welcome the love. And it changes you. Our time together is fleeting. And yet… we can hold that fire in our hearts and let it warm us in our own literal or metaphorical nights. Thanks to Alicia for the inspiration. Thanks to Karen Mal for the Kerrville home.

She haunts your heart at midnight
When you know that you should rest
You see her beauty in the sunrise
Feel a burning in your breast
The fruit of all temptation
From some forbidden tree
But the feeling that you long for
Only lives when it is free

Chorus
And you may hold the candle
But you cannot hold the flame
If you ever touch that fire
You will never be the same
A spirit that's elusive
Something wild you cannot tame
You may hold the candle
But you cannot hold the flame

Unexpectedly you see her
In the middle of your day
She fills your heart with wonder
As you try to look away
A dangerous desire
But you cannot stem the tide
The ebb and flow of all your dreamings
You keep locked up deep inside

And the angels dance around her head
When the moon shines on her hair
There are galaxies with in her eyes
Untold stories linger there
Every moment has its purpose
Every moment has its end
The only tree that cannot weather
Is the one that will not bend

You may hold the candle
But you cannot hold the flame

You may hold the candle
But you'll never hold the flame

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

On Belay

from I Hear Your Voice

My sister Julie went to school to study outdoor education, and spent several years leading wilderness trips for "at risk" youth.  While she was studying adventure techniques in college, she and my sister Jean took several of us younger siblings climbing near Madison, WI.  Belay (bell-lay) refers to the safety rope and/or the person holding it.  To the many people who hold a safety line for me, especially my big sister Julie, THANKS!

I was only eight years old and feeling pretty small
Standing at the bottom of a cold red granite wall
You took me up to Devil's Lake, to teach me how to climb
You told me I could do it if I only gave it time

There was tension on the rope and concentration on my face
You tightened up my harness as I put my hands in place
Though I was scared and frightened, so I turned to see you smile
I knew the shelter of your confidence would hold me for a while

I'm on belay; there is safety in your call
I know that I can take a risk and you will stop my fall
And so I'll try, to give it all I have today,
'Cause if I slip I know that I'm still on belay

You know I did not make it up that cliff but I gave it all I had
I was crying as you brought me down, and feeling pretty bad
But you said, "My little brother do you know I'm proud of you?
For the courage that you should today will always see you through!"

I'm on belay; there is safety in your call
I know that I can take a risk and you will stop my fall
And so I'll try, to give it all I have today,
'Cause if I slip I know that I'm still on belay

There were several times throughout my youth when I began to go astray
You took me back out on the rocks to help me find my way
You said "Look at where you're going, find an anchor that is true
With inner strength and solid judgment, there is nothing you can't do"

I'm on belay; there is safety in your call
I know that I can take a risk and you will stop my fall
And so I'll try, to give it all I have today,
'Cause if I slip I know that I'm still on belay

When I was nearly done with school and ready to cut loose
You gave me a brand new backpack, and a book by Dr. Seuss
And you said, "Oh the place you will go! I hardly can believe
But you have all the tools you need whenever you decide to leave"

I give honor to the child that I was not so long ago
And when I climb I still get scared and so I take it slow
And remember if I lose my step that I can call your name
For the telephone's a safety line that holds me just the same

I'm on belay; there is safety in your call
I know that I can take a risk and you will stop my fall
And so I'll try, to give it all I have today,
'Cause if I slip I know that I'm still on belay

If I slip I know that I'm still on belay
© 2001, 2002 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Benediction

from The Wonder Deep Within

Lyrics based on Numbers 6:24-26

I grew up singing a choral setting of these Bible verses.  When the country went to war with Iraq, I started looking through scripture for references to peace.  I was delighted to reacquaint myself with these verses, and made my own interpretation.  The lullaby nature of the music seemed appropriately peaceful.

May the Lord bless you
May the Lord keep you
And make His face to shine upon you
Shine down on you
And be gracious to you

May god be gracious to you
And grant you peace in your day
God grant you peace in your day
And always shine on you in peace
Amen, Amen, Amen…
Words and Music © 2004 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

What Kind of Brother

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 01/1999 in Bob Franke's songwriting workshop.  He threw the gauntlet down and challenged me to write in a style I admired. This song is an apology to a number of women in my life, for the times that I have stilled my tongue when I should have spoken.  Thanks for the inspiration Ani.

As you and I were walking down the street I heard you talk your line
You said "look at the rich chick, look at the fat chick, hey don't that hippy chick look fine."
What is it in your background that makes you think that it's okay
To talk about a woman that you've seen in such a ruthless way

She's somebody's mother, she's somebody's daughter, she's somebody's lover
She's somebody's sister and I'm saying mister, what kind of brother are you?

I know I haven't mentioned this before, I guess I was afraid
To tell you how deeply offended I was at the comments that you made
I know that you think everything's a joke, even after all these years
But if you take the time to look behind that pretty smile
Then you would see the tears

She's somebody's mother, she's somebody's daughter, she's somebody's lover
She's somebody's sister and I'm saying mister, what kind of brother are you?

No I don't think I'm perfect, and I'm not throwing stones your way
But I can't ignore what you say anymore so my silence stops today
I know that you're a good man so think about what you say and do
'Cause that could be your mother, sister or lover being hurt by a good man like you

She's somebody's mother, she's somebody's daughter, she's somebody's lover
She's somebody's sister and I'm saying mister, what kind of brother are you?

She is your mother, she is your daughter, she is your lover
She is your sister so tell me hey mister what kind of brother are you?
© 1999 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Deportees

from Rise As One

This was one of the first songs I ever learned to play on guitar. It remains one of my all-time favorite songs. The more lilting waltz arrangement has evolved over the last 25 years.

The crops are all in and the peaches are rotting
The oranges are stacked in their creosote dumps
Their flying you back to the Mexico border
To pay all your money to wade back again

My fathers own father he waded that river
They took all the money that he made in his life
My brothers and sisters they worked in the fruit trees
They rode the big trucks till they took down and died

Goodbye to my Juan, goodbye Rosalita
Adios mis amigos, Jesus y Maria
You won't have a name when you ride the big aero-plane
For all they will call you will be deportees

Now some of us are illegal and others not wanted
The work season ends and we have to move on
Six hundred miles to the Mexico boarder
They chase us like outlaws, like rustlers and thieves

We've died in your hills and we've died in your deserts
We've died in your valleys, we've died in your plains
We've died in your trees and we've died in your bushes
Both sides of the river we've died just the same (chorus)

A sky plane caught fire over Los Gatos canyon
Like a fireball of lightning it shook all our hill
And who are these friends all scattered like dried leaves
The radio says they are just deportees

Is this the best way we can grow your good orchards
It this the best way we can grow your good fruit
To fall like dried leaves and rot on your topsoil
To be known by no name except deportees?

© 1961 Woody Guthrie, Ludlow Music

updated: 12 years ago

Wise Man 3:34

from The Phoenix

I tried to be a wise man at the age of 21.
Well, I’ve been playing by the rules.
I know it sounds cliché but I played the game of love,
I end up feeling like a fool.

Growing up a young man in the 90’s,
I tried to get in touch with my inner soul.
I tried to express all of my feelings,
I still feel empty when I once was whole.

Chorus

I still can’t tell you why I feel so alone,
sometimes when I’m lying by your side.
And even if I told you everything that I feel,
all you’d want to do is run and hide.


They say the mark of one who is truly wise,
is knowing you can never really know everything.
I submitted myself to the higher educational mind.
I feel I have nothing left to show.

Chorus

With all I’ve learned in school about how to communicate,
and express myself in a nonthreatening way.
I still can’t reconcile these feelings,
me wanting to go and you wanting me to stay.

Chorus

I tried to be a wise man at the age of 21.

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music
© ℗ 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Mighty Long Way

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

Third Shift

from The Forgotten

Six in the morning
Nobody’s working
Everyone’s watching
The clock on the wall
Everyone’s waiting
For something to happen
Nobody wants
To do nothing at all

I’m thinking of you in the darkness
Lying in bed all alone
Reaching your hand for my pillow
Lord, if I only was home

Six in the morning
Nobody’s working
Everyone’s watching
The clock on the wall
Everyone’s waiting
For something to happen
Nobody wants
To do nothing at all

I’m thinking of you as you’re rising
Stretching your arms in the air
Sniffing around for your coffee
Lord, if I only was there

Six in the morning
Nobody’s working
Everyone’s watching
The clock on the wall
Everyone’s waiting
For something to happen
Nobody wants
To do nothing at all

I’m thinking of you in the driveway
Cranking the car in the cold
Lord if I only was with you
We’d steal away down the road

Six in the morning
Nobody’s working
Everyone’s watching
The clock on the wall
Everyone’s waiting
For something to happen
Nobody wants
To do nothing at all

I’m thinking of you and I’m thinking
In ten minutes I can be home
The clock waves its hands as I’m leaving
Slip out the door and I’m gone

Six in the morning
Nobody’s working
Everyone’s watching
The clock on the wall
Everyone’s waiting
For something to happen
Nobody wants
To do nothing at all

Third shift
Third shift
Third shift

© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Wheelbarrow Johnny

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


From the hills of Pennsylvane

Across the Ohio

As far as the southern bend

Of the muddy old Saint Joe

To build a home

A blacksmith and his family of nine

In the days we’ve come to know as forty-nine

Shoeing horses building wagons for the road

He taught his sons to build a wheelbarrow

Oh that wheelbarrow you're gonna roll

There's one in every crowd

Sown with the wild oats

And Johnny was the one

Who said he had to go

I'm leaving home

Well his pappy pleaded stay with us and work

And his momma cried you don't know what is worth

Sewing sixteen silver dollars in his belt

One for every year his youth could tell

Oh that wheelbarrow you're gonna roll

Chorus

And it's roll Johnny roll

Roll across the plains

And it's ride Johnny ride

Don't hold back on the reins

There's gold Johnny gold

Off in the Hangtown hills

And you'll sail home around Cape Horn

With your pockets lined with gold

He landed in the Promised Land

In what's now called Placerville

Though then it was known as Hangtown

For the dreams that it had killed

I miss my home

These city slickers don't know 'bout the land

They don't know how to work with their hands

Sifting for the gold through the sand

Gambling and stealing all they can

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

His fingers to the bone

His belly filled with stone

He never found the gold

He sold off all he owned

I'm heading home

You only own what you carry in your soul

And I'm carrying the weight of "told you so"

When this man said by chance you wouldn't know

How to build me a strong wheelbarrow

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

Before the first was done

Word had gotten 'round

He had to build one now

For every man in town

This ain't my home

But a friend is made fast with good work

Giving more than you promise in worth

The one place he never looked for the gold

He sold fifty thousand dollars worth of wheelbarrows

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

Now gold is where you find it

Before you know it's spent

And a windfall's like a rainfall

You don't know where it went

I'm working home

But a gambler's got to learn how to work

And a worker's got to gamble all he's worth

Now Johnny rides around with presidents

While you're still worrying how to pay the rent

Oh that wheelbarrow you're going to roll

Oh that wheelbarrow you're made of gold
© 1982 - Jack Hardy, Jack Hardy Music, BMI

updated: 4 years ago

Sad (4:46)

from Some Part of The Truth

Chorus
    Well I'm Sad, so sad
    And I'm tired, so tired
    Well I'm hungry, so hungry
    There's a hole in my soul
    And it swallows me up
    And pulls me into the darkness
    There's a hole in the center of me
    There's a hole in the center of me

Well I've never been one to sing about my troubles
I figure most of the world Has enough of their own
But now and then I think That when we sing about our truth
Maybe we light up a pathway For somebody else

Chorus

Sometimes I wonder When the whole world is quiet
When there's nothing to hear But the sound of my breath
Why there's so many people With so many hurts
And none of us really knows Quite how to love

Chorus

Now I like to dream Of a time when I'm happy
When I don't feel the sting of each Pain in my bones
But then I reflect That the day I stop feeling
Is the day that they lay me Flat down in the earth

Chorus

There's a hole in the center of me
By Joe Jencks
© Turtle Bear Music / ASCAP

updated: 8 years ago

Highway 4AM (Driving)  4:23

from Brother Sun

As you lie sleeping, I will not stop,
headlights on the blacktop.
In the wee hours of my thing,
   driving, driving.
When we first met how I must have seemed,
a young man in a boy's dream.
No information, just desire, higher, higher
   It's a lonely romance
   It's a desperate urge
   to put something beautiful in this world.
There are moments in a night's success
when something rises from the emptiness
and stirs the brave hope of a young desire,
   higher, higher
(hey yey yey)
As you lie sleeping, I will not stop,
headlights on the blacktop.
In the wee hours of my thing,
   driving, driving.
You have shown me the equal and opposite force
of found girls who want to save lost boys.
They know that longest road is never done alone,
they give them a way, a way back home.
   It's a lonely romance
   It's a desperate urge
   to put something beautiful in this world.
As you lie sleeping, through the misting rain,
high beams in the fast lane,
in the wee hours of our thing driving driving.
© Greg Greenway (Sheen of Heat Music, BMI)

updated: 8 years ago

Get Together  3:43

from Links In A Chain

I grew up hearing my older sisters and brothers sing and play. This was always one of my favorite songs in their repertoire. It was also a favorite of my brother Jerry who passed away several years ago. I dedicate the recording of this song to him. He was less involved in performing than the rest of us siblings, but he had exquisite taste in music. Thanks to all my sisters and brothers for their musical gifts, lessons, support, and patience with me over the years. They were my first and most important music teachers. They lit this flame, and I am proud to keep it burning.

Love is but a song we sing,
And fear's the way we die
You can make the mountains ring
Or make the angels cry
Though the bird is on the wing
And you may not know why

Come on people now
Smile on each other
Everybody get together
Try to love one another right now

Some will come and some will go
And we shall surely pass
When the one who left us hear
Returns for us at last
We are but a moment's sunrise
Fading in the grass

So if you hear the song I sing
Then you will understand
You hold the key to love and fear
All in your trembling hand
Just one key unlocks them both
It's there at your command
©1964 Chet Powers, Irving Music Inc.

updated: 11 years ago

The Turtle 4:07

from The Candle And The Flame

After my eldest brother Jerry died, I quit writing for almost a year. It just hurt too much. I nearly quit playing except for professional engagements. Then this song showed up. The turtle has long been a personal symbol.  And like the story about the tortoise and the hare, I have always had faith that methodically putting one foot in front of the other would bring me to my destination. But if the destination is not the goal, rather the enjoyment of the journey, then the turtle does it best… taking its sweet time to notice the path on which the foot treads. And the roses… and the people…  and…

Well the turtle lays a hundred eggs so a dozen might survive
To wade across that sand and finally reach that sea alive
And haunted by the memory of those fallen by my side
I keep reaching for that water go headlong into the tide

Headlong into the tide
Headlong into the tide

As we wander toward our destiny with a shell of guilt and shame
As we contemplate our burdens and consider who's to blame
In the face of such absurdity we can only laugh and cry
And the cycle just continues as we breathe and grow and die

As we breathe and grow and die
Breathe and grow and die

And for what is it we sacrifice and for what is it we gain
If we mistake for knowledge what is only fear and pain
In the shades of disappointment shades of sorrow shades of grey
If we trade our love for anger then we trade our lives away

Yes we trade our lives away
Trade our lives away

Well then isn't it ironic I have nothing left to say
After all the distance I have come to be with you today
I knew there would be sacrifice I knew it from the start
But now there's no dream big enough to hold my broken heart

To hold my broken heart
Hold my broken heart

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

You Don't Have The Right

from I Hear Your Voice

I have some friends in Seattle who were illegally arrested and detained for nearly a week at the old Sand Point Naval Stateion on Lake Washington.  They had been peacefully protesting the World Trake Organization Conference in Seattle.  Eighteen months later, as the Free Trade of the Americas Agreement was being ratified in Quebec, Canada, I heard of similar incidents.  However, it was worse in Canada.  The authorities actually shot peaceful protesters.  I cannot stand by idly as some shortsighted politicians hand our bill or rights over to the highest corporate bidder.

Sitting in your office chairs inside your corporate towers
Making treaties with yourselves that take away our powers
Profit is your motive but you don't stop to realize
The cost of all your business on other peoples' lives
And we say:

Chorus:
"You don't have the right to make these choices for us
You don't have the right to take these choices, choices from us
You don't have the right to take our voices from us
You don't have the right to make these choices, choices for us"

You hide behind the smokescreen of the media machine
You make sure your voice is heard but your face is never seen
Free Trade and Globalization are the buzzwords that you use
To hide the horrors you create and the damage that you do
And we say:

"You don't have the right to make these choices for us
You don't have the right to take these choices, choices from us
You don't have the right to take our voices from us
You don't have the right to make these choices, choices for us"

If there's a law that's in your way, you just strike it down
You buy off heads of government and the leaders of our town
And if we break the silence you try hard to see us fail
You make our speech a crime so you can put us all in jail
And we say:

"You don't have the right to make these choices for us
You don't have the right to take these choices, choices from us
You don't have the right to take our voices from us
You don't have the right to make these choices, choices for us"

Miner in South Africa, weavers in Nepal
Farmers in El Salvador, corporations want them all
But economic slavery is a crime that we must fight
Working people 'round the world must join hands and unite us
As we say:

"You don't have the right to make these choices for us
You don't have the right to take these choices, choices from us
You don't have the right to take our voices from us
You don't have the right to make these choices, choices for us"
© 2001, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Kiss Me Twice

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 03/1997 I wrote this one while I was in Carey, Illinois, visiting my Uncle Clarence shortly before he died.  He was fond of old-timey music, which may well have influenced his character. Thanks to my friend Stesha Brandon, who always asks me to play this song.  Now you may listen to it any time you want.

A long time ago when the world was flat
Eve said to Adam "How about that?
You've got yours and I've got mine
There'll be trouble 'til the end of time."

A snake in the garden, sun in the sky
Apple in the hand and oh my my
You and I shared love so sweet
Then you hit the road with your own two feet

You are like a prodigal child
I love you just because you're wild
You keep coming' back but you don't stay
Kiss me twice then you go away

Columbus proved that the world was round
He sailed his ship until he found
A place where tomorrow meets today
Like you and love he just turned away

You are like a prodigal child
I love you just because you're wild
You keep coming' back but you don't stay
Kiss me twice then you go away

Men have now walked on the moon
Could have stayed, but they came back soon
You and I once touched the sky
We could've stayed, but we didn't try

You are like a prodigal child
I love you just because you're wild
You keep coming' back but you don't stay
Kiss me twice then you go away
© 1997 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

The Great Fast Food Strike

from Rise As One

A great story well told! Traditional melody borrowed from the Buffalo Skinners.

Come all you fast food workers, wherever you may dwell
If you'll consent to listen, a story I will tell
Of six young workers like yourselves, who were compelled to go
And labor for McDonald's in Macedon-i-o.

'Twas in northeast Ohio this burger franchise stood
As in many such establishments, conditions were not good
The wages they were meager, but by far the greatest woe
Was to work for Jerry Guffey in Macedon-i-o.

Now Jerry was the manager, a spiteful man was he
If ever you displeased him, his anger you would see
With foul names and shoves and shouting, his curses they would flow
He was the meanest fast food boss in Macedon-i-o

Margaret she was sixty-six, she worked from need, not choice
One day she left a bag of trash out of its proper place
When Jerry came upon it, his rage did overflow
The staff looked on as Margaret wept, in Macedon-i-o

'Twas on an Easter Sunday student workers made a vow
"Abuse of youth and elderly no longer we'll allow"
These brave young people left their jobs, their paychecks did forego
To walk upon a picket line in Macedon-i-o

Bryan Drapp walked out, and Jamal Nickens he did too
Josh Jones and Matt Casserlie, they joined the picket crew
Steve Stem and Heidi Shaffer solidarity did show
They led the fight for dignity in Macedon-i-o

From CNN to Leno, Howard Stern to NPR
The story of the fast food strike was carried near and far
McDonalds' high executives, to save the status quo
Sent in a crack consultant, to Macedon-i-o

Then Teamsters' Local Four Sixteen came to the strikers' aid
"These kids against your corporate might's an unfair fight," they said
"We're here to balance out the scales."  The company said, "No!
We will not talk with unions in Macedon-i-o"

At Route Eight and the Interstate the strikers held their ground
They thrust aloft their picket signs as the April rains beat down
'Til a Teamster bakery driver, he dealt the final blow
He would not cross a picket line in Macedon-i-o

The bosses watched in horror as the truck it rolled away
They knew it carried all the buns they needed for that day
While twenty cheering picketers, still marching to and fro
Saw victory within their grasp in Macedon-i-o

A fair wage and paid vacation, better safety at the grill
In every point of bargaining the workers had their will
And to a training program Jerry Guffey's forced to go
To brush up on his people skills, in Macedon-i-o.

You've heard of labor's struggles in Harlan's bloody hills
At Homestead, Flint and Ludlow, and in Massachusetts' mills
In April nineteen ninety-eight, the history books will show
How fast food workers held the line in Macedon-i-o

© 1998   Deborah Van Kleef

updated: 12 years ago

Respect Your Elders 5:26

from The Phoenix

I am the wolf, I’ve roamed the forest thirty-million years.
I am the whale, I’ve swam the oceans twenty-million more.
I am the loon my cry’s been heard on-hundred-sixty-million years.
I am the turtle; the weight of the world is on my back.

I am the spirit of all living things.
I am the creator of this paradise that you live in.
I am the crying voice of every species now extinct.
I beg you hear my call remember who your mother is.

The earth is yours to borrow not to own.
In the great sea of the cosmos it’s our only home.
If we borrow from tomorrow and make it that we cannot pay,
soon all life will vanish, it will all return to clay.

You tear apart my mountains in your foolish search for gold.
You cut down all my forests, and may craters and my soul.
You drop your toxins in my legs and desecrate my streams.
I am the voice of dying earth, can’t you hear me scream.

Can’t you hear me scream?

The earth is yours to borrow not to own.
In the great sea of the cosmos it’s our only home.
If you take the bounty of this land for greed instead of need,
you will hear the owl call your name, thus the elder say… thus the elder say.

Respect your elders.

I am the wolf, I’ve roamed the forest thirty-million years.
I am the whale, I’ve swam the oceans twenty-million more.
I am loon my cry’s been heard on-hundred-sixty-million years.
I am the turtle; the weight of the world is on my back.

I am the spirit of all living things.
I am the creator of this paradise that you living.
I am the crying voice of every species now extinct.
I beg you hear my call remember who your mother is.
© ℗ 1993 Joe Jencks

updated: 10 months ago

Dance with Me

from I Hear Your Voice



It's not the way you look or how you comb your hair
But how you look at me that makes me want to stare
And how you hold me with that question in your eyes that says
"Do you still love me, now please don't lie?"

I remember my first dance with you
The way that time just stopped as we waltzed around the room
A perfect moment captured inside our embrace
And all the joy I felt, reflected on your face (when I said)

Dance with me through all that life may bring
As a sign of friendship will you wear this ring?
It's a symbol of the love I feel for you
A small reminder that sometimes dreams come true

I remember conversations late into the night
Hopes that came alive by the dancing candle light
A sudden understanding, dreams are big enough for two
I asked you for your hand, and gave my heart to you (when I said)

Dance with me through all that life may bring
As a sign of promise will you wear this golden ring?
It's a symbol of the love I feel for you
A small reminder that sometimes dreams come true

Paper hearts and postage stamps, letters and replies
Flowers and a white dress, a brand new suit and tie
Friends and family gather as they offer up this prayer
For happiness and health, and a long life we can share

Now the work that I have chosen often takes me far away
There's not much time for dancing in our lives from day to day
It's natural for you to wonder if I still hold true
To the promises we made, when we said "I Do!"

Dance with me through all that life may bring
As a sign of faithfulness I wear this wedding ring
A sacred symbol of the love I feel for you
A small reminder that sometimes dreams come true

A reminder of a promise that in our love dreams come true
© 2000, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 2 years ago

I Won't Look Down

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

Running Down The Road

from The Forgotten

Running down the road, running down the road

So many years been running down the road

Running down the road, running down the road

Running down the road to freedom

Sister don’t pass me by

Take my hand and run down the road

Sister don’t pass me by

Running down the road to freedom

Mother don’t pass me by

Take my hand and run down the road

Mother don’t pass me by

Running down the road to freedom

Father don’t pass me by

Take my hand and run down the road

Father don’t pass me by

Running down the road to freedom

Brother don’t pass me by

Take my hand and run down the road

Brother don’t pass me by

Running down the road to freedom the road

Stranger don’t pass me by

Take my hand and run down the road

Stranger don’t pass me by

Running down the road to freedom
© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

One Piece At A Time

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


Words written for and with the Spokane Warriors Heart to Art participants - Music by Joe Jencks

Hoping for a new start

Trying to find my way

A little bit of rebellion mixed with

Adventure far away

A family tradition

To honor and to serve

The call of duty

Now I’m down to my last nerve

Chorus

Does anybody see me

Does anybody know what I’ve been through

Some folks gave their lives all at once

But I’ve given up my life

One piece at a time

I had a job, I did it well

Tried to trust the chain of command

What in the world was I thinking

Now I walk among the damned

Living on the edge of life and death

You know it takes its toll

The loss of innocence

No stability, no control

Well I second-guess my choices

I “woulda, coulda, shoulda” all the time

But on sleepless nights, that doesn’t help

To find a reason or a rhyme

Picking up the pieces

Honoring the dead

Not much here I understand

And there’s a war inside my head

But I am not expendable

I’m still living with the pain

Yes, there are ways that I survived

But I’m dying every day

Believing that the future

Holds more power than the past

I reach with forgiveness

For a new life I hope will last

So put a candle in the window

Help me see I’m not alone

Though I have changed, I need to know

I’m finally welcome home

Does anybody see me

Does anybody know what I’ve been through

Step by step and day by day I find

I’m taking back my life

Yes, I’m taking back my life

I’m taking back my life

One piece at a time

One piece at a time
© 2014, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

Jericho Road (3:18)

from Some Part of The Truth

At the edge of Jericho Road,
beneath the street light's yellow orange glow.
The feared and the fallen go.
In the way of predator and prey,
no one's spared,
because hate is too great a weight to bear.

In a cage of shadows we meet,
naked and bloodied in the street.
At the mercy, at the feet,
of the way of predator and prey.
No one's spared,
because hate is too great a weight to bear.

    In the darkness on shattered pavement
    the better angels fade.
    Blurred in slumber, murder by numbers.
    Do you know my name?

I believe in you,
because everyone holds some part of the truth.
And now, I'm in your way.
Do we stay on Jericho Road, forever going nowhere,
until hate is too great a weight to bear.
By Greg Greenway
© Sheen of Heat Music/ BMI

updated: 8 years ago

Go Tell Mary  4:03

from Brother Sun

Lazarus lay in his tomb asleep
Mary swoons at the Saviour's feet
And i'm in the kitchen, fixing something to eat again
And I've been picking up the slack since God knows when

   Go tell Mary
   Go tell Mary
   I don't want to be Martha no more

I went to the Lord out of love for you
To see if there's something that he could do
to bring back that brother of yours and mine
Because it hurts my heart to see you grieving all the time
 
   Go tell Mary
   Go tell Mary
   I don't want to be Martha no more

Am I the rock holding up our house?
Is it my job to keep us from falling down?
Lord, I'll domy duty with joy someday
I want to walk in the light and chase the darkness away

   Go tell Mary
   Go tell Mary
   I don't want to be Martha no more
© Tom Prasado-Rao/Pat Wictor (Mathi Music, BMI/ Tell A Tale Music, BMI)

updated: 8 years ago

White Buffalo  5:30

from Links In A Chain

When I was 14, I opened a concert for Rod MacDonald at a folk club in my hometown.  He was a magnanimous and generous host to a kid who had starry-eyed visions of the balladeer's life. My compensation was all the soda I could drink, and a copy of Rod's record, White Buffalo. I still have that LP with Rod's inscription, "To Joe, Good luck with your music. Keep at it!  -Rod." I maintain that Rod is one of the most under-appreciated masters of this art form, and certainly one of my greatest songwriting mentors. We have since shared the stage as co-bills on several occasions, and I am pleased to call him a genuine friend. But I will always maintain a tiny bit of the hero worship that filled my heart as I was transported to new places by Rod's socially conscious and deeply philosophical writing. Thanks Rod. Links In A Chain…

They say you've got to lose before you can win
They say you've got to choose before you can give in
And you've got to cut loose to come back in
And it's a long way back home

They say you've got to fall before you can land
They say you've got to crawl before you can stand
And you've got to lose it all to get what you planned
And it's a long way back home

And it's a long way, a long way back home
When you're standing on some place you've never known
I might see you where the rivers flow
Like me you're looking for white buffalo

They say you've got to die before you can live
They say you've got to cry before you can give
And you've got to say goodbye to come back again
And it's a long way back home

They say you've got to seed what you're going to grow
They say you've got to need what you're going to let go
And you've got to believe what you're going to know
And it's a long way back home

So I say to you farewell for we will meet again
In the hottest flames of hell I could only call you friend
And when you hear that final bell, do not ask whose round you're in
Until you've found your way back home
© 1978 Rod MacDonald, Blue Flute Music ASCAP

updated: 11 years ago

Gasoline 5:18

from The Candle And The Flame

This was the third song that stemmed from my retreat in California a few years back. I was driving down the mountain pondering the great conversations, and I remembered a blues riff I started about ten years earlier and abandoned. It just said the word "gasoline" over and over again. What a gritty word. Great to sing! So I took an old song idea and new inspiration and came up with this. Thanks to Megan for your insistence that hope and laughter will win the day!

You know the man has got a problem
It's not right and it's not fair
A petroleum addiction
Drinking up more than his share
Get that man up to a meeting
Help him find his higher power
You know sunshine wind and water
Will be the savior of the hour

Gasoline Gasoline
Gone and made the whole world mean
The way we use it is obscene (All this killing is obscene)
Gasoline Gasoline

Making wars out in the desert
Because there's oil in their sand
Instead of bombing them to pieces
You think we'd try to understand
That it's time to stop the killing
Does not matter what it's for
Lay our burdens by the river
Study fossil fuels no more

Gasoline Gasoline
Gone and made the whole world mean
All this killing is obscene
Gasoline Gasoline

This old world will keep on spinning
No matter what we choose to do
But if we want to keep on living
On this planet green and blue
There's an alternative solution
To this problem that we face
What is hanging in the balance
Is the future of the human race

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

We Cry Out

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 03/1998 I've always found it strange that my Granddad Kilbride came all the way from Ireland to the United States just in time to be drafted for World War I.  I consider myself fortunate never to have been called upon to be a soldier.  I have tremendous respect for the women and men that honor their native lands and kin through military service, and grieve that in our modern age, wars are still being fought.

Oh my granddad came from Ireland and in County Kildare
He was born in the town Athie in a little room upstairs
And he lived for eighteen years there 'til his family moved away
They bought passage on a sailing ship bound for Americay

Oh the year was 1914 and the war had just begun
When he stepped off Ellis Island for to sing sweet freedom's song
His new homeland gave him a uniform and handed him a gun
And sent him out to fight for the right of citizen

And I cry out no more, I will not fight this battle
I will not strike down my sisters and my brothers e'er again
And I cry out no more should our greed become the kindle
And our anger strike the match to light the flames of war again

Oh my father was a soldier too, he did what he though right
When his country called upon him and said that he must fight
Now they say that things are different and everything has changed
So why do I see children marching off to war again?

And I cry out no more, I will not fight this battle
I will not strike down my sisters and my brothers e'er again
And I cry out no more should our greed become the kindle
And our anger strike the match to light the flames of war again

Oh this battle has been raging nigh on ten thousand years
We've made rivers flow in deserts out of human blood and tears
Now I hear the swords a-rattling, feel a quiver in my heart
We must put them down and walk away before the raging starts

And I cry out no more, I will not fight this battle
I will not strike down my sisters and my brothers e'er again
And I cry out no more should our greed become the kindle
And our anger strike the match to light the flames of war again

From the fields of Northern Ireland to the deserts of Iraq
From the streets of Sarajevo to the hills of Pakistan
And from North and South Korea to Angola's war-torn shore
People 'round the world cry out for peace and say "We'll fight no more"

And I cry out no more, I will not fight this battle
I will not strike down my sisters and my brothers e'er again
And I cry out no more should our greed become the kindle
And our anger strike the match to light the flames of war again

We cry out no more
© 1998 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Which Side Are You On

from Rise As One

Florence was the wife of an organizer for the United Mine Workers union. She wrote this song on a scrap of paper after company thugs tore her house apart, terrorized her, and were seeking to kill her husband. Such courage in the face of such violence! Traditional Appalachian melody.

Come listen fellow workers, good news to you I'll tell
Of how the good old union has come in here to dwell

Which side are you one, which side are you on?
Which side are you on, which side are you on?

My daddy was a miner, now he's in air and sun
But I'll stick with the union till every battle's won

They say in Harlan County, there are no neutrals there
You're either with the union or a thug for J.H. Blair

Oh workers can you stand it, oh tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab or be a union man

Don't listen to the bosses, no don't believe their lies
Us workers haven't got a chance unless we organize

©  1946 Florence Reece, Stormking Music

updated: 12 years ago

Gas Station Roses

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 02/1998

I cannot be your everything, even if I tried
Though I can sit and hold your hand, and love you when you cry
I cannot do your walking for you, you cannot do mine
But if we go together there are secrets we may find

So please accept these gifts, oh they're simple but they're true
Nothing but a token of the way I feel for you
Some colored paper hearts and a little Elmer's glue
And a couple of Gas Station Roses

I cannot wave a magic wand and take away your pain
To do so would just steal away the power that you've gained
But, I can give you all the love that I find inside
For in the light of true hearts, there is no need to hide

So please accept these gifts, oh they're simple but they're true
Nothing but a token of the way I feel for you
Some colored paper hearts and a little Elmer's glue
And a couple of Gas Station Roses

I cannot know tomorrow, all I have is just today
But I would choose to spend this day with you
And listen to the bird song, floating though the trees
And open up my heart to love's gentle blowing breeze

So please accept these gifts, oh they're simple but they're true
Nothing but a token of the way I feel for you
Some colored paper hearts and a little Elmer's glue
And a couple of Gas Station Roses
© 1998 Joe Jencks

updated: 1 month ago

I Give It To You 4:30

from The Phoenix

If I had the answer to all of life’s questions,
I’d give it to you. Oh, I’d give it to you.
If I had the reason for all of my failings,
I’d give it to you. Oh, I’d give it to you.

If I had the knowledge of great kings and scholars,
a vision of love and the wisdom to choose between
what I want, and the things that I need,
Oh, I’d give it to you, Oh, I’d give it to you.

Chorus

Well, I’m just a soul on my journey to truth.
Well, I’m just a poor boy who’s losing my youth.
Trying to hold on to what I once knew
and I give it to you, Oh, I give it to you.


I know I’m not perfect,
I don’t claim to be the light in the world that can set your heart free.
And if I could love you like I know I should,
well I’d give it to you, Oh, I’d give it to you

Chorus

Now if I have hurt you, forgive me I pray.
You know I never meant things to happen this way.
Well, I’m only trying to get through today
and define my tomorrow from our yesterday.

Chorus

If I had the answer to all of life’s questions,
I’d give it to you. Oh, I’d give it to you.
If I had the reason for all of my failings,
I’d give it to you, Oh, I’d give it to you.

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks
© ℗ 1995 Joe Jencks/Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Keep On Going

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

The Old Labor Hall

from The Forgotten

They stand outside the doorway, as the long shadows fall

A line of ghostly figures, at the Old Labor Hall

Mother Jones has just arrived in a pillbox hat and shawl

From the Battle of Blair Mountain to the Old Labor Hall

Big Bill Haywood stoops to enter, he’s nearly six feet tall

Bringing children from Lawrence, to the Old Labor Hall

He nods to Emma Goldman, so fiery, yet so small

She’s arguing with Eugene Debs at the Old Labor Hall

We still tell their stories

We still share their pride

‘Cross a century of struggle

We’re still on their side

They view the ancient photographs that line the worn wood walls

They’re back in 1900, at the Old Labor Hall

An Italian woman cocks her head as if trying to recall

Some old song from Palermo, at the Old Labor Hall

A Scots stonecutter proudly holds his chisel and his maul

His Highland brogue still echoes, through the Old Labor Hall

He sculpts the Barre granite, the finest stone of all

For some rich man’s mausoleum, at the Old Labor Hall

With socialists and anarchists, sometimes it’s quite a brawl

It isn’t always peaceful at the Old Labor Hall

But on the roll of honor, the brightest names of all

Are the immigrants whose strong hands built the Old Labor Hall

And so today we gather, grateful to recall

This gentle man who fought to save the Old Labor Hall

Who with such grace and humor, such feeling for us all

Infused his steadfast passion through the Old Labor Hall

We will tell his story

We will share his pride

Today and in the future

Chet Briggs is on our side

We will tell their stories

We will share their pride

‘Cross a century of struggle

They’re still on our side

We’re still on their side
© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Children of Trochenbrod

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


Who can ever know or say

What makes a heart go blind

What paves the road to hatred

Or what shadows fill the mind

What voice cries out in memories

What sacred words unspoken

Demand each generation

Try to heal what has been broken?

From the heart of a wilderness

By the labor of their hands

The People built this town

Row by row they plowed the land

Friday night by candlelight

The ancient prayers were read

Celebrating Shabbos

Singing songs and breaking bread

Chorus

We remember

We remember

We are the children of Trochenbrod

There were whispers on the wind

In nineteen forty one

That the war would come to Trochenbrod

But there was nowhere left to run

Rumors of the camps came in

With refugees each day

They were trying to find safety

And stay out of history’s way

In August nineteen forty two

Trochenbrod stood brave

Hitler’s army gave them shovels

They were forced to dig their graves

Soldiers lined them up like bottles

And they did not waste a round

Not a single soul was spared

Five thousand lifeless on the ground

Then the Nazis stole the paving stones

And filled in every well

Then they took a torch to Eden

And they turned it into hell

There was nothing left but ash

They planted trees to hide their shame

Though wicked men tried to erase it

We know this place has a name!

All the children of Trochenbrod

Anachnu kol b’nei Trochenbrod (Hebrew)

Mir zeinen alle die kinder fon Trochenbrod (Yiddish)

Todas es criances de Trochenbrod (Brazilian Portuguese)

And we remember!
© 2009, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

Pushing Stones (4:22)

from Some Part of The Truth

Woke up this morning
    tell me what do I see?
Woke up this morning,
    tell me what do I see?
There in the  mirror,
    the blues staring back at me.

Ain't no use cryin',
    and sitting all by yourself.
Ain't no use cryin',
    and sitting all by yourself
Well, the blues found me,
    and my love found somebody else.

Chorus
    Well, it's hard pushing stones up that hill
    Start down low, cause they roll where they will
    You can make it to the top, but the blues will have its fill
    It's hard pushing stones up that hill.

Who's gonna stay and who's got to move along?
Who's gonna stay and who's got to move along?
Bluse, I'm gonna leave
    before all my lovin's gone

Chorus

Without my blues,
    I don't even know myself
Without my blues,
    I don't even know myself
Farewell, blues, you better find somebody else

Chorus
By Pat Wictor
© Tell A Tale Music / BMI

updated: 8 years ago

Sister Moon  3:36

from Brother Sun

I'm here outside a cabin in the woods
In the woods near the gentle rolling hills
And the evening hour is gone
Between the twilight and the dawn
I'm looking up at you

   Sister moon
   Watching over the breeze
   Sister moon
   Silence never was so sweet
   And tonight, let me stay a little longer with you
   Oh, my Sister moon

And my love she lives far away in the city
In the city, the only home she knows
And my heart is only whole
Cause her love drew me long ago to the city, too

Tomorrow all the noise will start again
Again the city lights will hide your face
And I'll be here with my love
But I'll search the skies above for my sister moon
© Pat Wictor (Tell A Tale Music, BMI)

updated: 8 years ago

Let The Band Play Dixie  4:32

from Links In A Chain

When I was a kid, my Uncle Bob and Aunt Beryl gave me a copy of Bob Gibson's album Uptown Saturday Night. Uncle Bob said if I was going to be a serious songwriter I should study the masters, and that Bob Gibson was definitely among them. I wore holes in that record playing it over and over again, while lying on the floor with one stereo speaker on either side of my head. Bob's songwriting had a huge influence on me, and none of his songs more so than this one. With masterful writing, storytelling, lessons in history and humanity, that record was "Life 101" on vinyl.

The news was brung from Richmond
In that fading April sun
Lee had handed Grant his sword
And the war was finally won
Into the streets he people spilled
Feeling the excitement build
And the crown around the White House milled
Asking is it true it's finally done

Inside the White House Lincoln heard them
Calling out his name
He sat there wondering what to say
To ease their years of pain
Someone yelled come out the door
And tell us what you've got in store
For the rebels who have lost the war
So out onto the porch, Abe Lincoln came

He said we are gathered not in anger
But in celebration
Let's be thankful we are
Once again a single nation
Let's stand together reassured
Now that peace has been secured
Our nation's illness can be cured
May I suggest the overture for this occasion

He said let the band play Dixie
Play that tune that holds it head up high and proud
And let our nation once divided, bloody but unbowed
Take the swords of war and beat them back into a plough
On the day that Lee surrendered Mr. Lincoln told the crowd
Let the band play Dixie

A tired Union soldier
Hobbled on his only limb
Filled with bitter memories
The war had left with him
He dragged his wooden leg and cane
His face was set and creased with pain
As he stumbled fell and rose again
And he wondered what the future held for him

He spied a black child kneeling near
In humble gratitude
He knelt down right beside her
To share her thankful mood
Grateful words were raised in prayer
God in your sweet loving care
Our broken lives no please repair
And let our wounded nation be renewed
© 1984 Bob Gibson, Hogeye Records

updated: 11 years ago

Adonde Pertenezco 3:47

from The Candle And The Flame

I was blessed to lead a day of songwriting workshops at East Wenatchee High School in Central Washington State in the heart of fruit growing country. I was working with a group of students who spoke little English and I speak almost no Spanish. But together we crafted this song. Their teacher helped them work the translation, and I provided the music. But, it is their ideas and their hearts present in this song. Don't we all ask some of these questions? Where do I belong? Where am I going? Who and what have I  left behind in the name of progress? Thank you Randy for the great experience and for your dedication to young people.

Where do I belong
Adonde pertenezco
Where do I come from
De donde vengo
Where will I go from here
Para donde iré de aquí, de aquí

I don't have anywhere to stay
No tengo donde quedarme
Going from town to town
yendo de pueblo a pueblo
To look for a better life
Para buscar un a vida mejor, vida mejor

We are looking for communities
Buscando comunidades
With better opportunities
Con mejores oportunidades
But who have we left behind
A quienes hemos dejado atrás, dejado atrás

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

Thank God For The Rain

from I Hear Your Voice

The Tates family farm is near Moline, IL.  I sang at the wedding of my college buddy Jay Tates, and got to talk with his father about the complexities of being a farmer in modern times.  These are his father's words, nearly verbatim.  I just made them rhyme.

It started in the old country my ancestors they came
To the land of liberty to free themselves from shame
160 acres, a booming farm back then
They ploughed the land with horse and hand
And made the country strong

Chorus
Thank God for the rain
It makes the dry land grow
Some folks call it a pain
But Lord, that just ain't so
Well I've seen wonders happen
From a thunderclap or two
How it works I'll never understand
But thank God for the rain

Now 1600 acres my brother and I sow
Corn and beans we rotate, try to make the soil grow
Now tractors, planters, combines
Do the work of sixty men
My folks would call me lazy,
But I work just as hard as they did then

Thank God for the rain
It makes the dry land grow
Some folks call it a pain
But Lord, that just ain't so
Well I've seen wonders happen
From a thunderclap or two
How it works I'll never understand
But thank God for the rain

Well I've worked so hard these last few years
But it's just been too dry
It's sad to see my father's dream just barely gets me by
But if I live a good life the Lord will bless this seed
Come through with the sun and rain
And give us what we need

Thank God for the rain
It makes the dry land grow
Some folks call it a pain
But Lord, that just ain't so
Well I've seen wonders happen
From a thunderclap or two
How it works I'll never understand
But thank God for the rain
© 1993, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Christmas In Mansfield

from Rise As One

My friend Bruce Bostic is responsible for this song in a direct way. He brought me down to Mansfield where I interviewed several members of USWA local 169, who were locked out of the mill for almost four years.

Dad used to spend time with his children
When they'd come home from school every day
Before he would go to work second shift
He'd help them with homework and sometimes they'd play
Baseball out in the yard
If it was raining they'd sit and play cards

But then there was trouble at the steel mill
One night there were sirens and light
People were screaming and shouting
And somebody started a fight
Now daddy's home more than before
But he doesn't play much anymore

It's Christmas in Mansfield, Ohio
The children are snuggled in bed
But there are no visions of sugar plumbs dancing
It's questions that fill up their heads

The company boarded up windows
Put a fence all the way around the mill
They told union workers they couldn't come back
That all of their jobs had been filled
By people from out of the state
Then the company locked up the gates

But it's seventeen years at the steel mill
To provide for his families needs
But the company it seems cares lees about people
And more about profits and greed
So it's up with the burn barrels and signs
Make a stand on the old picket line

The union is still in a lockout
And more than three years have gone by
The first Christmas was tough, but donations came in
And that seemed to keep everyone's spirits high
And daddy did odd jobs in town
He refused to let his family down

But it's Christmas once more down in Mansfield
And there isn't even much snow
And nobody's counting on charity
It seems that was used up a long time ago
But somewhere dad found a small tree
And he hung up the lights carefully

Then the women of steel from the steel workers union
Brought toys for the girls and the boys
The firemen's union from somewhere down state
Brought turkeys and hams and they filled up the plate
With cheers and good tidings for all
It's Christmas in steel union hall

Daddy looked down at his children
And he smiled with sorrow and pride
Then he sat down on the union hall floor
Put his face in his hands and he started to cry
He had been strong now for years
But he just couldn't hold back the tears

God bless these workers and families
For the road that they travel is long
And as they stand up for what they believe
God grant them courage and help them along
Let the spirit of hope still shine bright
As the stars down on Mansfield that night

It's Christmas in Mansfield, Ohio
And the children laugh and they play
Though nobody here can forget about troubles
Maybe they'll set them aside for one day
And remember the kindness they've found
This Christmas in a steel mill town
Give thanks for the kindness they've found
This Christmas in a steel mill town

©  2002 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

When I Was Young 3:46

from The Phoenix

Standing at the crossroads of the world I used to know,
and the road that lies before me, I do not know where to go.
The world was so much simpler when when I was only three or four,
and I had your arms to run to when the world closed every door.

Chorus
When I was young you came to me, you held my hand then set me free.
And then you pick me up wherever I’d fall down again.
You tell me how to love and fear, and to respect the gentle tear
that falls down my cheek as I recall your loving ways.
Let me remember them until my dying day.

Saturday afternoon, underneath a greasy car,
doing all you could in your own way so that we could all go far.
From the Lakes of Minnesota to the Mississippi shore,
two weeks each summer we go riding on forever more.

Chorus

They tell me that you’re gone, but I feel you here with me.
The sparkle in your eyes sometimes, I can almost see.

Chorus

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music
© ℗ 1995 Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Viva La Evolution

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

Houdaille

from The Forgotten

Come all you working people who make the world go ‘round

Have you heard about the Houdaille plant and how we stood our ground

We took their factory over ‘til at last we won our fight

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

It was early in the morning when we shut the presses down

The silence was so sudden you could hear it in the town

Our neighbors all came running and stood wondering at the sight

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

Of course when we took over there were things to re-arrange

We put a sign out front that said the management had changed

We’d done the work in here so long, we knew we’d run it right

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

There’s dart boards in the stamping room and children on the floor

In all your years at Houdaille have you felt so strong before

The presses all stand silent, not a single boss in sight

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

When I went to work at Houdaille it was just before the war

They put me on the “kids’ line” with a couple dozen more

One hundred thousand bumpers, God knows I’ve paid the price

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

With some good friends from the factory I went away to war

When I got back the bosses were no better than before

Well, if we didn’t change the world we sure learned how to fight

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

So we organized together and we passed the cards around

They said they’d never talk to us, so we shut the damn place down

We made them sign a contract and we held them to it tight

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

When they said the plant was closing, it took us by surprise

We were bitter, scared and angry, you could see it in our eyes

We talked for hours and hours ‘til we knew just what was right

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

You know it’s never easy to stand up by yourself

And courage comes much quicker when it’s shared with someone else

We’d shared so much together it was easier to fight

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

When they closed the plant they tried to make the workers take the loss

But we really stuck together and we stuck it to the boss

With severance pay and pensions, now it’s gonna’ turn out right

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

There’s those of us who do the work that makes the world go ‘round

There’s others who will buy a plant just to shut it down

But it’s only hands that feed you that get close enough to bite

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight

Come all you working people who make the world go ‘round

Your hands are on the switches that can shut the whole place down

Your hands are on the levers that can change these wrongs to rights

Don’t wait up for me my love, we’re sitting in tonight
© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Longest Night of The Year

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


Standing in the dark we light a candle

As we hold on to the hope that things will change

That love will lead the way

Back into the light

The heart of winter is upon us

A chill wind touches every bone

Frost grows on the glass

As daylight gives into the night

         

Chorus

But somewhere in the shadows we find faith

That is bold enough to chase away our fears

On the longest night of the year

There are days that we remember

When the sun shone brightly in the sky

When all the world was new

And storm clouds passed us by

But summer travels toward the winter

Through autumn’s colors as they fall

As we strain to remember the sound

Of the songbird’s call

The promise of spring

Still lives within us

Even when

It seems so far away

We hold hands and walk together

Not knowing where the path will lead

As we dare to hold out hope

In our time of need

And somewhere in the shadows we find faith

That is bold enough to chase away our fears

Yes somewhere in the shadows we find faith

That is bold enough to chase away our tears

On the longest night of the year
© 2013, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

Willow (3:32)

from Some Part of The Truth

Who wouldn't love Willow in the springtime,
weightless as a kitten in the sunshine.
So unaffected, lightly connected to this world

Who wouldn't love Willow in the summertime,
Toes in the warm mud of June.
Like buds of red rose she already knows when to bloom

Who wouldn't love Willow in the autumn sun,
tilts to her first long goodbye.
Things come, things go, that's all we know
Things come, things go, that's all we know
in this life.
By: Greg Greenway
© Sheen of Heat Music/BMI

updated: 7 years ago

Love is the Reason  4:07

from Brother Sun

There was a time when all I ever needed
Was your smile to drive away my rain
But now it seems that hopeful light is hiding
Behind a cloud of anger and pain

I thought everything I was looking for
Was right here within my reach

I think it's time we finally take our chances
And let our hearts speak louder than our fears
Because love is all I ever wanted
Love is the reason I'm still here

Well the sage said to the fisherman on the boat
Cast your nets on the other side
And with nothing short of astonishment on their faces
They said, don't you think we've tried

And he said, what if everything you're looking for
Is right there within your reach

I think it's time we finally take our chances
And let our hearts speak louder than our fears
Because love is all I ever wanted
Love is the reason I'm still here

I don't know where our story goes from here
Too many pages left unread
Or how to carve a pathway through this labyrinth we've built
With all that's left unsaid
What if everything we're looking for
Is right there within our reach

I think it's time we finally take our chances
And let our hearts speak louder than our fears
Because love is all I ever wanted
Love is all you ever wanted
Love is all we ever wanted
Love is the reason
Love is the only reason
Love is the reason we're still here
© Joe Jencks (Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP)

updated: 8 years ago

Late September Moon  5:20

from Links In A Chain

For 15 years, this song has been in the archives begging to get out. As long as I was reaching into the past for some of the covers on this disc, I thought I would bring forward some vintage Joe Jencks. As I listen to the song now, I marvel that it collected dust for so many years. Recording this song felt like sending a hopeful message back in time to a despondent young man and assuring him that it all works out in the end. To every thing a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven…

Between the early autumn moon
And the late September sunset
The wind comes calling like a loon
Over the north rim of the canyon
As we sing our lovers tune
In the days last dying embers
We know we must leave here soon
Only the Mesa Top remembers

You and I in the late September moon
The world stood still while we played
If I had to do it over, I would do it that same way
You and I in the late September moon

We were two days out of Denver
We were learning to be free
Westward journey toward the California coast
Just to see what we could see
Took some time along the shore
In the days last dying embers
Pledged our love forever more
Only the lonely beach remembers

As we head into the mountains
Like so many times before
Just bathe in purest sunlight
And to watch the Eagles soar
We hold hands and then embrace
In the days last dying embers
We will make love one last time
Only the mountainside remembers

© 1996, 2009 Joe Jencks Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 11 years ago

For What It's Worth* 3:27

from The Candle And The Flame

A great and timeless song! I have been singing the song for years and finally decided that the time was ripe for another recording of a classic. It brings me joy to sing it. It is feel-good consciousness. If the Buddha sang rock and roll, I think the message would be to remind us to stop, listen, observe, and learn. To take mindful action based on right intention and to reduce the amount of shouting and chaos. I feel like this song invites us to seek mindful transformation. And it totally rocks.

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I've got to beware
(And I think we better)

Stop children what's that sound everybody look what's going down

Battle lines are being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
(and I think we better)

What a field day for the heat
Ten thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say hooray for our side
(and I think we better)

Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
Step out of line and the man come and take you away
(and I think we better)

copyright Steven Stills

updated: 11 years ago

Saro Wiwa

from I Hear Your Voice

I followed the passion and death of Ken Saro Wiwa for months on NPR & the BBC.  He stood up to Shell Oil's horrible destruction of the Niger Delta and the Ogoni homeland with poetry, son, dance, and beauty.  For his efforts the military government of Nigeria framed him on a murder charge and executed Ken and several of his compatriots.  The day Ken was executed, I was driving in my car and I pulled over and sobbed.  Out of my grief for the loss of this beautiful, powerful man I cried out: "I hear your voice Ken Saro Wiwa, I hear your vice.  I will not let you die."  Last year I got to meet Dr. Owens Wiwa, Ken's brother, who is in exile in Toronto, Canada.  I played the song for Owens, who was very emotional and said simply, "My brother would like you!  He was a poet you know?"

I hear your voice Saro Wiwa I hear your voice
Though you faced the darkness still that didn't change your choice
To fight for human rights and justice where you live
I hear your voice Saro Wiwa I hear your voice

Though you're not the first somehow I pray you'll be the last
To lose your life by bloody tyrants' hands
And halfway 'round the world in a strange and distant land
I hear your voice urging me to take my stand

I hear your voice Saro Wiwa I hear your voice
Though you faced the darkness still that didn't change your choice
To fight for human rights and justice where you live
I hear your voice Saro Wiwa I hear your voice

There is no gun that can silence freedom's voice
Even when the wicked say that justice is their choice
And halfway 'round the world in a strange and distant land
I hear your voice urging me to take my stand

I hear your voice Saro Wiwa I hear your voice
Though you faced the darkness still that didn't change your choice
To fight for human rights and justice where you live
I hear your voice Saro Wiwa I hear your voice

I hear your voice
Ken Saro Wiwa I hear your voice
© 1996, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Douglas

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 01/1996 I am occasionally forgetful in honoring those people who are closest to the center of my life.  Doug Compton has been and continues to be one of my truest friends.  After 20  years, I simply felt like I owed him a song.  I also want to acknowledge my long-standing friendship with Brad Boute, Keith Lindell, and Matt Sieffert.  Thanks, brothers.  Here's to you.

Searching through memories and old photographs
From a time when the world seemed so small
Douglas and I were like brothers back then
We sure thought that we knew it all
They say once you leave you can never go back
Sometimes I've found this to be true
But tonight I will journey, at least in my mind
To my homeland, to renew

Hunting for crawfish out in Kent Creek
Hide and seek games in fields of corn
Landing in trouble for playing too rough
And getting our brand new clothes torn
Sitting in graveyards and watching the rain
Douglas would dare me to try
And tell all the tales that those grave markers told
As the lightning danced on in the sky

Home to the backyard adventures
Late nights with childhood friends
Facing the darkness with nothing but sticks
And each other to vanquish the wind
And when I reflect on that place in my heart
Where Douglas and I saved the world now and then
I know somehow it still remains in my soul
Though I shall not see it again

I talk on the phone to so many I've known
Loved ones, some near and some far
I carry a piece of them always with me
Shining as bright as the stars
When Douglas says he will be a father quite soon
It's then I think I realize
That the battles we fought and the lessons we were taught
Will live on through another child's eyes
That the battles we fought and the lessons we were taught
Will live on through another child's eyes
© 1996 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

The Everett Massacre (Spoken Word)

from Rise As One

updated: 12 years ago

The Phoenix 4:30

from The Phoenix

So come all you sinners and come all you saints, we’re all the same in the end.
Come to the table where we are all equal, and you’ll always find an old friend.
You know life is hard and it goes by so fast. It’s too short to waste it away.
One moment you’re talking with family and friends, then your ten thousand light years away.
You know life is hard and it takes fast away, the ones that we love and hold dear.
But either we come back to the land of the living of forever death’s shadow we fear.

Chorus

Like the Phoenix be reborn. Be true to the beauty inside.
If you’re tired and worn, then rise from the ashes again.

Now there’s so much good in the world that we know, there’s home in the darkest of nights.
But if you can’t see it then look in yourself, try to be your own guiding light.
Well, there’s only one-way to change the world: to give all the love you can give.
To do something less is to sell yourself short of the will that we all need to live.

Chorus

Some come all you sinners and come all you saints, we’re all the same in the end.
Come to the table where we are all equal, and you’ll always find an old friend.

Chorus

Credits:

Music & Lyrics: Joe Jencks
© 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Mighty Mighty River

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

Union Miner

from The Forgotten

If you want to make more money

Down in that dark coal mine

Get together, make things better

Come and join our line

Union miner

Down there with the dust and danger

Digging like a mole

Look out when you hear them shouting

“Fire in the hole”

Union miner

How’d you like to make your living

Where the sun don’t shine

Wouldn’t send my dog to work

Down in that doghole mine

Union miner

My brother worked for 40 years

But died when he was young

Twelve years old when he first started

Dancing with black lung

Union miner

If the sun should shine at midnight

I would never know

It’s as black as the company’s heart

Down in that 30-inch coal

Union miner

They have got the mines and money

But we’ve got the right

Bringing the union back to Harlan

Join our line tonight

Union miner
© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Solidarity Forever

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


When the Union's inspiration through the workers’ blood shall run

There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun

What force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength of one

But the Union makes us strong

Chorus:  

Solidarity forever

Solidarity forever

Solidarity forever

For the Union makes us strong

It is we who plowed the prairies, built the cities where they trade

Dug the mines, built the workshops, endless miles of railroad laid

Now we stand outcast and starving, 'midst the wonders we have made

But the Union makes us strong

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn

But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel would turn

Break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn

That the Union makes us strong

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold

Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold

Bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old

When the Union makes us strong

Music © 2011, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

Words © 1915 - Ralph Chaplin

updated: 4 years ago

The House that Jack Built (2:58)

from Some Part of The Truth

My name is Jack Miller, I'm an old union man
And your standing right now in the house that Jack built
My pride is the work that I've done with my hands
It's the laboring man that has made this land great

I am an old man of ninety two
When you are my age you'll realize it's true
You're young and you're limber, you're bone are like timber
But come the cold winter you'll change in your ways

I've seen you grow up in what seems a few days
And you know more than I knew when I was your age
I went to the saw mill when I was just twelve
And I learned how to run all the saws and the lathes

When the Wobblies came round I was first to sign on
We told the old boss that we wanted a raise
He hire his thugs and they rounded us up
We ran through their gauntlet and many were slain

I've worked all my live in the fields and the sawmills
Built bridges and houses and roads and canals
We stood our ground firmly and organized strikes
In fifty years of working built the working mans' rights

Let me tell you one thing, how I earned a good wage
There ain't no arms like folded arms for the working mans pay
There ain't no arms like folded arms for the working mans' pay
©  1979 Brad Warren, Word Works Music

updated: 7 years ago

What Must Be Done  2:49

from Brother Sun

I learned as a child there are two ways to see,
the world as it is and the way it should be.
Some people say that's just not my problem,
some people do what must be done.
They see the hole in the fabric that must be sewn.
They see the way blockaded and they roll back the stone.
They see the day beyond the horizon
and they do what must be done.

   Some people do, do, do, what must be done,
   They do what must be done
   they see the way beyond the horizon
   and they do what must be done.

I've seen the toll taken, the tears that were shed.
I've seen the journey started and the ripples spread.
Some people say that's just not my problem
some people do what must be done.
They see the hole in the fabric that must be sewn.
They see the way blockaded and they roll back the stone.
They see the day beyond the horizon
and they do what must be done.
© Greg Greenway (Sheen of Heat Music, BMI)

updated: 8 years ago

Joe Hill  3:54

from Links In A Chain

My friend Phil Amadon is a great link in the chain of working class solidarity. He is a union man all the way, and has taught so much about what solidarity really means. I dedicate this recording of Joe Hill to the countless un-sung working class heroes, and especially to Phil. We are in their debt. Heroes in the mines, mills, and factories, on the farms and the battlefields, their spirit lives on. And every day, new generations of laborers pick up the torch and carry forward the light of solidarity.

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you and me
Says I but Joe you're ten years dead
I never died says he

In Salt Lake Joe I says to him
Standing by my bed
They framed you on a murder charge
Says Joe but I ain't dead

The copper bosses killed you Joe
They shot you Joe says I
Takes more than guns to kill a man
Says Joe I did not die

And standing there as big as life
And smiling with his eyes
Says Joe what they could never kill
Went on to organize

Joe Hill ain't dead he says to me
Joe Hill ain't never died
Where workers stand up for their rights
Joe Hill is by their side

From San Diego up to Maine
In every mine and mill
Where workers strike and organize
It's there you'll find Joe Hill

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night
Alive as you and me
Says I but Joe you're ten years dead
I never died says he
© 1938 Earl Robinson & Alfred Hayes, Universal-MCA

updated: 11 years ago

All The Pieces 4:10

from The Candle And The Flame

My father never talked much about the Korean War. But it left scars on him that were not visible to the eye. He came home, married my mother, and they had seven children. We all grew up singing in church… and everywhere else for that matter. They raised us well and instilled in us a passion for music, a love for each other, and a deep and abiding faith.  Whatever imperfections they had as parents, they gave their best and I am grateful. There are so many questions I will never get to ask them now… but it is good to recognize that reconciliation can happen beyond the grave. Love really is forever. And death is not the end.

You were raised in the depression in the shadow of world war
When a patriotic man was not supposed to ask what for
Late in life you had a seventh child an unexpected son
And I grew up to question everything and everyone

Chorus
Now they're putting all the pieces back together
Though it isn't quite the way it used to be
The walls are coming down and every day it's getting better
And that means that there's still hope for you and me

You volunteered for service before the war began
A master sergeant training other soldiers in Japan
They sent your boys to battle you came home to take a wife
To do your best to live life worthy of their sacrifice

You were a loving and a dedicated husband
As a father you were patient and kind
But a piece of your humanity was shattered in Korea
Something sacred in your heart was left behind

Father I was by your side when you took your last breath
Though I was just nineteen and you were only sixty-two
The Korean War left scars upon your soul that touched us both
Though the means to heal the hurt was seen from different points of view

The walls are coming down and every day it's getting better
And that means that there's still hope for you and me

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

Leaving

from I Hear Your Voice

I was filed with grief over moving back east from Seattle, WA.  This song honors my sense of loss, but especially my tremendous sorrow at being so far away from my dear friend and brother of my heart, Brad Warren.

You have been a true friend I can say
You've given me the courage to get through so many days
Now the time has come for us to part
And I won't hide this aching in my heart

Chorus
Because I'm leaving, leaving
And I don't really want to go
Yes I'm leaving, leaving
But a part of you remains within my soul

You helped me find a quiet sacred place
To stand within my deepest fears and learn to live with grace
And you know I never would have come this far
Without our friendship guiding like a star

Chorus

I've never had to prove a thing to you
Well I could cry when I was hurt and laugh when I was through
And you never thought me any less a man
For needing now and then to hold your hand

Chorus

Thank you for your gentle, kind embrace
For living with an open heart and a smile upon your face
Though we'll be friends forever, you and I
I find that I am scared to say goodbye
© 2001, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Only Love Remains

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 02/1999 I wrote this song on the night my dear friend Mark Spittal died.  I couldn't sleep and I kept hearing his beautiful voice in my head every time I closed my eyes.  I remembered all of the things he shared with me in his last few months, and from those conversations this song was born.  Thank you, Mark, for your many years of faith and support.  Be well.

You ask me if I could live life over, are there things that I would change
And if I had the power to go through time, are there things I'd rearrange
I had to think about your queston before I gave you my reply
Because I want to be telling you the truth when I look into you eyes

I would start with love as the background for my scene
Add the voice of children like singing in my dreams
Weave a song of hope for those who've lost their way
Hang it in the sky just to push the clouds a way
Plant a seed of justice and nourish it with care
Then I'd watch it bloom, smell its sweetness in the air
Take away this suffering, these shackles and these chains
When we finally overcome our fear, only love remains

When I look back on the life I've tried to live, there are times I must concede
When the best I had to give was not enough to help a friend who was in need
So in this light I now forgive you for the times you've wounded me
And I hope that you'll forgive me too so that we may both be free

Let us start with love as the background for our scene
Add the voice of children like singing in my dreams
Weave a song of hope for those who've lost their way
Hang it in the sky just to push the clouds a way
Plant a seed of justice and nourish it with care
Then I'd watch it bloom, smell its sweetness in the air
Take away this suffering, these shackles and these chains
When we finally overcome our fear, only love remains

When we finally get over space and time all we have is here and now
In the middle of it all now don't you think we will meet again somehow
Do not be saddened by my parting, go and do what you must do
But know that when you sing a song of truth I will walk with you

Let us start with love as the background for our scene
Add the voice of children like singing in my dreams
Weave a song of hope for those who've lost their way
Hang it in the sky just to push the clouds a way
Plant a seed of justice and nourish it with care
Then I'd watch it bloom, smell its sweetness in the air
Take away this suffering, these shackles and these chains
When we finally overcome our fear, only love remains
© 1999 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

The House That Jack Built

from Rise As One

Thanks to Brad for introducing me to this amazing story, and for bringing it forth in song. Jack Miller was there that day, as a young man. This song came directly from Brad's interview with him in the late 1970s. The image of a worker with arms folded, refusing to work until conditions improved, was a common theme in IWW posters and organizing campaigns.

My name is Jack Miller, I'm an old union man
And your standing right now in the house that Jack built
My pride is the work that I've done with my hands
It's the laboring man that has made this land great

I am an old man of ninety two
When you are my age you'll realize it's true
You're young and you're limber, you're bone are like timber
But come the cold winter you'll change in your ways

I've seen you grow up in what seems a few days
And you know more than I knew when I was your age
I went to the saw mill when I was just twelve
And I learned how to run all the saws and the lathes

When the Wobblies came round I was first to sign on
We told the old boss that we wanted a raise
He hire his thugs and they rounded us up
We ran through their gauntlet and many were slain

I've worked all my live in the fields and the sawmills
Built bridges and houses and roads and canals
We stood our ground firmly and organized strikes
In fifty years of working built the working mans' rights

Let me tell you one thing, how I earned a good wage
There ain't no arms like folded arms for the working mans pay
There ain't no arms like folded arms for the working mans' pay

©  1979 Brad Warren, Word Works Music

updated: 12 years ago

The Poet 4:25

from The Phoenix

Every once in a while, when you turn and say I love you,
I have to stop and wonder how I’ve come by love so rare.
You’ve touched my life so freely, you given of your soul,
yet I still feel so empty when I know I once was whole.

I’m so much more a man, than I ever was before.
And so much more a child, who has opened up the door
to a world that lies around me, the wonder of today.
Yet, lost in the confusion of all things that passed away.

Chorus
I’m just another poet, still trapped within my rhyme.
A traveler on a journey out across all space and time.
Looking for the reasons why I do the things I do.
What it all comes round full circle, it brings me back to you.

I thank the Lord in heaven, each and every time I pray.
That I don’t have to win your love and I don’t have to pay.
And if the moon and stars above were mine to give away,
I give them all to you, to thank you for today.

Sometimes in the darkness when I hear you call my name,
when I’m frightened by my failures and there’s no one left to blame,
it’s then you pull me closer, you tell me you believe
in all the dreams I have inside, you say I’m everything you need.

Chorus

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music
© 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Singers Of Life

from I Hear Your Voice

Molly LaRue was a very dear friend of my big sister Julie. Molly and her fiancé Geoff Hood were murdered on the Appalachian Trail in September of 1990. My sister Julie had been on the trail with Molly and Jeff only days before the murder. When Lynn and I moved to Cleveland last year, we became fast friends with Molly's parents, Jim and Connie LaRue. Jim shared with me a story. At a memorial service for Molly and Jeff, a passage was read that spoke of the Raven coming to the hollow where the songbirds sing. As the Raven robbed the nests of the songbirds, they cried out in alarm and in anger. As the cry spread through the whole hollow, the songbirds chased the Raven away. They sang out of their grief and found healing. Then they noticed the power of all those voices working together, and sang out of sheer wonder. The last line of the passage said, "Oh ye birds of death! You have no place here for we are singers of life!"

We are mothers without sons,
Their lives were lost to angry guns
We are fathers in the street,
We raise our voice with marching feet

Sing with anger, Sing with fear,
Sing with laughter through our tears
Sing with power in our strife,
We are singers, Singers of life

We are children of every faith,
We are people of every race
Still we are branches of one great tree,
Whose roots are freedom and dignity

Sing for beauty and relief,
Sing for healing in our grief
Sing for triumph in our strife,
We are singers, Singers of life

And in union we are strong,
When we raise our voice in song
We will work for what is Just,
And persevere because we must

Sing with anger, Sing with fear,
Sing with laughter through our tears
Sing with power in our strife,
We are singers, Singers of life

We are people both far and near,
Who refuse to live in fear
And with compassion as our guide,
We will wage peace we will abide

Sing for beauty and relief,
Sing for healing in our grief
Sing for triumph in our strife,
We are singers, Singers of life

Sing with anger, Sing with fear,
Sing with laughter through our tears
Sing with power in our strife,
We are singers, Singers of life

Sing for beauty and relief,
Sing for healing in our grief
Sing for triumph in our strife,
We are singers, Singers of life

We are singers, Singers of life
© 2001, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 1 year ago

Eclipse

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

Who Will Speak For Me

from The Forgotten

Do you remember a time

When chimneys rose so tall

Over every crossroads town

There were jobs for one and all

The politicians couldn’t wait

To shake each calloused hand

By the midnight factory gate

Praising the working woman and man

Who will speak for, speak for me

Who will speak for, speak for you

Who will stand for, stand for me

Who will stand for, stand for you

Like a house long neglected

Our lives have fallen away

Those who lined their pockets with our votes

Have nothing helpful to do or to say

No, it’s take from this to give to that

And bleed the cupboard bare

They spit the future our your face

And leave us hanging by a prayer

Like a dream drowned in silence

We are prisoners of our fears

While those who left us dangling

Hold steady jobs all year

You can shake their hand or shake your fist

But time will not be stayed

Like factories gone to ruin

Like shadows on parade

Like a fighter hit too often

We are dazed down to the floor

But think before you count us out

We’ve come back from worse before

And those who bought and sold us

Down the river of our hope

Will live to see the day they beg

For jobs and not for votes

Who will speak for, speak for me

Who will speak for, speak for you

Who will stand for, stand for me

Who will stand for, stand for you

You will speak for, speak for me

I will speak for, speak for you

You will stand for, stand for me

I will stand for, stand for you
© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Hands

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


I've seen the hands of the laborer

Lifting up the loads

Granite stuck to their fingers

As they built the canals and the roads

Now they're gone and the bridges span

Rivers paused by a power dam

And now the hand of the laborer

Is reaching out to you

Chorus:

Oh the hands, hands, hands

That worked to build the land, land, your land

The labor of a woman and a man

Working with their hands

I've seen the hands of the miner

Digging out the coal

Black dust stuck to their fingers

As they live their lives in a hole

Now the rock it’s still under the ground

And the mine is closing down

And now the hand of the miner

Is reaching out to you

 

I've seen the hands of the lumberjack

Forests swaying in the breeze

Splinters stuck to their fingers

As the lumber was torn from the trees

Now the wood from your timbers tall

Has built your buildings wall to wall

And now the hand of the lumberjack

Is reaching out to you

I've seen the hands of the farmer

Plowing across the fields

Topsoil stuck to their fingers

As the earth was split by the steel

Growing all that they could grow

To fill your tables row after row

And now the hand of the farmer

Is reaching out to you
© 1964, 1972, Phil Ochs

updated: 4 years ago

These Hands (4:44)

from Some Part of The Truth

Some hands have held the world together
Some hands have fought in wars forever
Tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine

Some hands have blessed a million people
Some hands helped free the world from evil
Tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine

What shall I do with these hands of mine
What shall I do with these hands of mine
The world could use a hero of the human kind
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine

Some hands can stop a life from dying
Some hands comfort a baby crying
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine

What shall I do with these hands of mine
What shall I do with these hands of mine
The world could use a hero of the human kind
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine

I want to sing it from my heart I want to hear it in the wind
'Till it blows around the world and comes back again
All that we can ask is for ours to be free
To use them when we want for whatever the need

Some hands give voice to a nation
Some hands wrote "The Times They Are a-Changin'"
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine

What shall I do with these hands of mine
What shall I do with these hands of mine
The world could use a hero of the human kind
So tell me what shall I do with these hands of mine
By: Dave Cunning (SOCAN) and George Canyon (SOCAN)

updated: 7 years ago

All I Want is a Garden  4:41

from Brother Sun

My father was a soldier
He went off to the war
Whatever childhood dreams he had
They were gone forever more
The solace and the meaning
That he found within his life
Were his faith his home his family
And his one true loving wife

All I want is a garden
To make the flowers grow
All I want is you beside me
In the gentle evening glow
I all I want is a peaceful place
Where I can lay my head
And when the weary night embraces
To lay beside you in our bed

Now I'm a road musician
And I wouldn't trade a day
I've spent running down my dreams
And making friends along the way
Now and then I get to thinking
Daddy had it right
You just give every thing you have to love
And hold on to the light

So when my life is over
Don't carry me away
For I've spent my whole life traveling
And it's here I want to stay
Just open up the earth
And lay my body down below
And sing a song of heaven
A song to send me home
© Joe Jencks (Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP)

updated: 8 years ago

Crossing Over  3:26

from Links In A Chain

I was invited by my friends Janie and Martin to sing for a peace rally in Salina, Kansas. A number of the assembled engaged in peaceful civil disobedience and were arrested for doing so. I was moved by their determination, courage, and organizing as they practiced non-violent resistance to military spending. In advance of their action they called the sheriff and the judge in Salina and negotiated the entire affair. The event was crafted after the School of The Americas protest in Columbus, GA.  There, dozens of people annually engage in peaceful civil disobedience, crossing the line onto the property of Ft. Benning. The second verse is derived entirely from President Eisenhower's final oval office speech, in which he coined the now ubiquitous phrase, "the military industrial complex." Martin & Janie are beautiful links in yet another chain. With this song I honor them, Fr. Roy Bourgeois, and the countless numbers who have in Anne Feeney's words "…Been to jail for justice."

Crossing over crossing over
For our children and their children
May the wars forever cease
Crossing over crossing over
We will give ourselves to justice
We will cross this line for peace

We follow in the footsteps
Of Martin Luther King
Nelson Mandela and Gandhi
In the words of Eugene Debbs
Spoken from a prison cell
While there's a soul that's captive
We shall not be free

What defines a prison
Is it only walls and bars
Or is it hunger and poverty that bind us
When we waste our wealth
On the machinery of war
We are stealing from our future
And we say No Mas! No More!

Cruzando Cruzando
Pa'los ninos y sus hijos
Que las guerras cesen ya
Cruzando Cruzando
Nos entregamos pa' la justicia
Cruzaremos por la paz

Some endure the shackles of injustice every day
For their gender or their race
Or the way they choose to pray
For the millions who are crying
For the innocent and dying
For the hope of every nation
We must find a better way
© 2008, Joe Jencks Turtle Bear Music ASCAP

updated: 11 years ago

Tikun Olam 3:30

from The Candle And The Flame

My friends Charlie and Marilyn have welcomed me into their home and hearts time and again. Recently they invited me to give a concert at their synagogue. In honor of the event I was inspired to write a new song. Charlie put me onto an idea from Jewish mysticism that is summed up in the phrase Tikun (or Tikkun) Olam. Literally translated, it means Repair The World. The merging of transformative work with spiritual values is rooted deep in my heart. The idea that there is a Divine call to heal what is injured in the world rings true in my soul. Bakesh Shalom means Work For Peace. Thank you Charlie and Marilyn for the abiding support and for living what you believe. The word mensch is sometimes overused, but you two are vivid examples of what it really means. It is my honor to share the journey with you.

Tikun Olam
Tikun Olam
Tikun Olam  
Bakesh Shalom
(Repair the world and work for peace)

A tale is told of how the world was made in seven days
Six of them for work and one to rest and pray
Then God placed the holy light into a vessel made of clay
But it was shattered by our sin, and the pieces fell away

Why was God so careless as to lose the sacred light
Now we must gather up the shards to set creation right
It's a task we may not finish but we each must lend our hands
As we love through imperfections and we heal our broken lands

And so we tend the garden, picking stones and pulling weeds
We water with compassion the fragile sacred seed
We are partners in creation and we let God's true light shine
When by faith and solidarity we show our love divine

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

Goodnight Moonlight

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 01/1999 for my fantastic nieces: Nora, Ellen, Grace and Nelle.

I see your eyelids droop, you're trying to keep them open
So much going on, you don't want to miss a thing
But now is the hour when you must be going
Off to the land where angels sing, so I say

Goodnight dear one go to bed, the day is almost through
You may rest your weary head, I will watch over you
May the moonlight hold you tight dancing on your window sill
I'll be right here by your side longer than the dream times will

You ask me what are dreams, how can I answer
A place of joy and hope, but now and then of fear
And as I lay you down for a long night's slumber
Gliding down my cheek is a solitary tear, as I say

Goodnight dear one go to bed, the day is almost through
You may rest your weary head, I will watch over you
May the moonlight hold you tight dancing on your window sill
I'll be right here by your side longer than the dream times will

'Cause you don't like the dark a little light is glowing
Shining on the wall like a twinkle star
May the blankets that you ear keep you warm in knowing
If there is a need I will not be far, as I say

Goodnight dear one go to bed, the day is almost through
You may rest your weary head, I will watch over you
May the moonlight hold you tight dancing on your window sill
I'll be right here by your side longer than the dream times will

Goodnight moonlight
Goodnight sunshine too
Goodnight all the waking world
We'll be here when the dreaming time is through
© 1999  Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Real People (Spoken Word)

from Rise As One

updated: 13 years ago

Highway 4:48

from The Phoenix

There is a peacefulness I feel, in the heart of the night.
With the highway all my own, the city lights are gone out of sight.
Well I’m at one with all existence, the only time is here and now.
The past is dead and gone behind me, the futures out of reach somehow.

Chorus
Highway take me for a ride,
these walls are closing in on me.
And I’ve got nowhere left to hide,
and there’s a world I long to see.

Highway show me where to go,
because I’ve got all night and day.
My restless spirit needs to know,
that somewhere there’s a better way.

There is a happiness I feel, as I walk my trail alone.
And though I walk with many others, we go into a great unknown.
Well all the road that lies before me, and all the places that I’ve seen.
All the friendships that surrounds me, and all the places in between.

Chorus

Life’s not a destination; it’s a journey that we make.
From the moment we are born, through every breath we take.
Until that time we pass away and meet up in the sky,
we are bound to love each other here and help each other fly.

Chorus

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks
© ℗ 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

When I'm Gone

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

What Did You Learn

from The Forgotten

Did you go to school this morning

Did you sit there in the classroom

Were you sure to pay attention

Were your ears both open wide

Did you listen to your teachers

Did they make some good suggestions

Did you think about their questions

Could you see the other side

What did you learn

What did you learn

Did you learn about your neighbors

Could you understand them better

When you heard their different stories

The histories in their names

How the dreams that unite us

Cross lines of class and color

Give us strength to know each other

How we’re different and the same

What did you learn

What did you learn

Did you learn about the history

Of the working men and women

In the office and the factory

The classroom and the field

Did you learn how hard we’ve fought

To get the dignity that’s owed us

Do you understand our dreams

Will you help to make them real

What did you learn

What did you learn

I dreamed about a country

I heard of in my childhood

The streets are paved with justice

The schools are built with care

The leaders of the nation

Are the teachers and the learners

The questions and the answers

Are the road that takes us there

What did you learn

What did you learn

What did you learn

What did you learn
© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Alice-Anne

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


An untarnished beauty

In a world full of scorn

Through the briars and brambles

You’re a rose without thorns

With a smile full of sunrise

And eyes oh so fair

And a kindness of heart      

Both precious and rare

The lights are down low

As the band starts to play

You have been waiting

All week for today

It’s Saturday night

And you’re out on the town

You’ve come here to dance

In your favorite red gown

Chorus

Alice-Anne, Alice-Anne

The light from the moon shines wherever you stand

Hold my hand, hold my hand

May I have this dance, Alice-Anne

Like the sun that shines through

On a dark cloudy day

When you take the floor

Every head turns your way

You’re sweeter than all of

The finest of wines

You are the reason why

Poets write lines

Through the cold days of the winter

And on into the spring

Just thinking about you

Can make a heart sing

Past the long days of summer

As leaves start to fall

You live for the music

And the Barn-Dancers call

May I have this dance

Won’t you give me a chance

May I have this dance Alice-Anne
© 2011, 2017 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

True (3:36)

from Some Part of The Truth

In the last dim light of the western sky line
where a great beast lay down, the bones in his spine
are the mountains round where the grey waters move.
And that's as true as anything anyone could ever prove.

You could go to China, you could go to Rome,
search every building and never find a home
that's as strong as the one thing that first made you move.
And that's as true as anything anyone could ever prove.

How could one dance of sunlight in the toss of your hair
make every lost moment, every road to nowhere,
make my whole life a straight line leading to you.
But, that's as true as anything anyone could ever prove.
By: Greg Greenway
©Sheen of Heat Music / BMI

updated: 7 years ago

Fireflies  3:21

from Links In A Chain

It was in the front yard of the house at 721 Garfield Ave. that I first discovered the joy of fireflies. I remember so many summer nights where the end of the evening consisted of pursuing these enchanting creatures and placing them in a makeshift Mason jar terrarium. They kept me company as I sadly relinquished the pleasures of the day and drifted off to sleep. Then I would liberate them to their natural environment the next morning, and start over. So too… our time together with this record has been a process of reaching for the elusive, finding pleasure in the process, and celebrating the many sources of light in our lives. I hope you have enjoyed it!

The lightning strikes the thunder roars
There's a rumble in the distance
Love calls even when I am afraid
I feel it knock on my resistance

I still believe there are lights that shine
No matter what obscures my point of view
If I can't see the stars from where I stand
I guess the fireflies will have to do

How I wish my life were simple
Like when I was a child long ago
My sense of wonder could be held within a mason jar
And I was cradled in their glow

One by one I capture my dreams
And try to hold them in my hand
But it seems they always slip away
Through the hour glass falling sand

As I sit here on this warm Virginia night
Searching for a sign that's true
Tiny beacons flicker in the darkness
They tell me that this storm will pass on through
© 2008 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 11 years ago

Lonely Common Ground 4:31

from The Candle And The Flame

I wrote this song up in Ottawa. My buddy Iain Campbell Smith and I were on a short tour in Canada, and traveling with a friend and brother in song got me in the writing mood. It is a hard thing to be devoted to a marriage and a muse all at once. But it is the tension of the string that allows the kite to dance. Without it, the kite would fall to earth and crash in the trees. Thank you Lynn for your dedication to the journey. I am humbled by your perseverance and courage in all things. And I am nurtured by your love. Always.

Lying here beside you I don't know what to say
The distance between us grows with every passing day
We each must follow the song within our heart
But as we grow in destiny we also grow apart

Is there a way that we can be together
Is there still a common dream that can be found
Is there reason enough to keep on being faithful
When our loneliness becomes our common ground

Well I'm proud of your courage and all that you achieve
But every forward motion brings another chance to grieve
For the life I thought that we would live
For the passion we once knew
For the children we may never have
For one heart split into two

Well I know that it's me who does the leaving
Every time I head out on the road
And this is not a blaming song
And I'm not saying you are wrong
I'm only giving voice to what I feel
Beyond the need to judge or know just what is real

So I will reach out one more time
Again I give my hand
To build a bridge between the places where we stand
I cannot know the future but I can taste your tears
And the silence is more painful now than anything we fear

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

Men Are Good

from I Hear Your Voice

It's true! Believe it or not!  What would happen in our world if men grew up knowing that we are good?  That we didn't have to prove anything to anybody?  That no one was going to ask us to "kill, or be killed" on the battlefields, on the factory floor, or in the office?

Men are good, Men are good
Though it seems that we are very often quite misunderstood
Men are good, We are not bad
So please let go of any misconceptions that you've had
Men are good, Men are good, Men are good

Men are kind, Men are kind
We have gentle loving hearts and creative thinking minds
Men are kind, We are not mean
In spite of all the television images you've seen
Men are kind, Men are kind, Men are kind

Men need rest, Men need rest
We are brought up to believe we are disposable at best
Men need rest, We work to hard
And a day away from work does not mean working in the yard,
Men need rest, Men need rest, Men need rest

Men should play, Men should play
Men should have a right to have a little fun with every day
Men should play, Well it's okay
I hear God even took a break on the seventh day
Men should play, Men should play, Men should play,

Men are bright, Men are bright
Solving problems every day we bring hope and we bring light
Men are bright, We are not dumb
If you see a man with troubles that does not mean he's a bum
Men are bright, Men are bright, Men are bright

Men love peace, Men love peace
And we wish that all this crazy macho Rambo stuff would cease
Men love peace, Men hate war
And I'm here to tell you we will not be fighting anymore
Men love peace, Men love peace, Men love peace

Men are great, Men are great
Whether changing stinky diapers or employed as heads of state
Men are great, The world around
From Tokyo to Mozambique, in tiny Russian towns,
Men are great, Men are great, Men are great

Men are good, Men are good
Though it seems that we are very often quite misunderstood
Men are good, We are not bad
So please let go of any misconceptions that you've had
Men are good, Men are good, Men are good
© 2001, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Auto Mechanically Declined

from What Kind Of Brother

Written: 04/1998 for Kaleb (1988 Toyota 4-Runner) on the way home from PSGW.  Sadly he is no longer with us…but I hope he found a new owner with better mastery of basic wrench skills.  Also, for Tom & Ray at "Car Talk."  Thanks for your humor and wisdom.

I'm driving down the highway and my car begins to shake
I don't know whether I should push the clutch or push the break
A most peculiar odor comes a-wafting to my nose
Is it a leaky gasket or a radiator hose
The fluid level's perfect and the temperature seems fine
But suddenly a disconcerting thought runs through my mind
For I know if I should break down in the middle of nowhere
All that I can do is pop the hood and just sit there and stare, because I'm

Auto mechanically declined, auto mechanically declined
With an automatic or a stick, either way I'm up a creek
I'm auto mechanically declined

When I was just a boy my father sat me on his knee
Explained to me how engines work with "great simplicity"
A piston it moves up and down in side a metal tube
All it takes is coolant and a little bit of lube
A gasoline explosion gives us power, gives us sound
In turn, rotates the drive shaft and that makes the wheels go 'round
It's really rather simple it's not voodoo to the wise
But I still think mechanics are which-doctors in disguise, because I'm

Auto mechanically declined, auto mechanically declined
With an automatic or a stick, either way I'm up a creek
I'm auto mechanically declined

I know where to put the oil, I know where to put the gas
Where to put the wiper fluid, and just where to set my glass
But when it comes to trouble-shooting, then I call out "Work for hire!"
All that I can do is watch for smoke and see what's caught on fire, because I'm

Auto mechanically declined, auto mechanically declined
With an automatic or a stick, either way I'm up a creek
I'm auto mechanically declined
© 1998 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

Room Here For Another

from Rise As One

I have loved this song since I first learned it in 1991. A story told so well it cannot help but open our hearts to a greater sort of compassion. My gratitude to John for preserving and telling so many great stories with such genuine eloquence.

There's room here for another if you've got no place
Come here into the light so I can see your face
The cops leave us alone here in back of Murphy's body shop
When the weather gets this bad the old man leaves one car unlocked

Well they really gave you quite a cut here this should wipe it clean
Some days you know it seems as though the whole damn world's gone mean
I know this ain't the Hilton, but the back seat here is free
I can see just where you've been my friend and your safe in here with me

My name is William sanders but my friends all call me Bo
I was born right here in Gary 37 years ago
The sky was full of smoke and jobs as far as eye could see
And the future show as bright as new made steel for guys like me

But them things went bad so quick remember back in '81
Like fools we all believed when they said better times would come
Now like the guys who'd hit me up for quarters when we'd meet
I scrounge for scraps of human kindness out here on the street

Well there's Lila at the Bon-Ton, she's good for coffee anytime
And the Lighthouse Mission's warm and dry, but you gotta' talk their line
There's a faucet at the Chevron, they don't turn off at night
If the weather and the luck just hold we might turn out all right

Me I've got two girls, their with my wife somewhere out west
If I just knew they're ok it sure would put my mind at rest
And some days I go to the park just to watch the families come
And remind myself I'm someone's dad not just some Goddamn bum

Cause this sure ain't what I asked for, no this sure ain't what I planned
I'm not looking for a handout but I sure could use a hand
That those who have and those who don't might be as one at last
For the climb you know is long and slow but the fall comes hard and fast

©  1988 John McCutcheon, Appalseed Productions (ASCAP)

updated: 12 years ago

Different Kind of Heart

from The Phoenix

Freedom and togetherness
always seemed a world apart you know it’s true.
There has to be a choice, it’s one or the other.
That was before I met you.

You know there’s such a fine line between
true love and fear of being alone.
Fear says I won’t let you go I need you here with me,
true love says go on ahead, I’ll catch up or wait for you.

More and more lately, there’s a feeling deep inside:
I’m tired of running and I have no place to hide.
It wasn’t always a comfort, but I’ve known it from the start,
this time, I fell in love with a different kind of heart.

When my life gets crazy and wants to fall apart,
and I can’t make sense of anything,
I find myself thinking of the friendship that we share.
I can’t wait to see you again.

More and more lately there’s a feeling deep inside.
I’m tired of running and I can’t hold back the tide.
It wasn’t always comfort but I’ve known it from the start,
this time, I fell in love with a different kind of heart.

You help me see the world in ways I never have before,
you show honest respect for all my hopes and dreams and fears.
And when we disagree, I know that’s okay.
We can have our separate reviews and keep on loving anyway.

More and more lately, there’s a feeling deep inside:
we have found true love, we’re not just here for the ride.
It wasn’t always a comfort, but I’ve known it from the start,
this time, I fell in love with a different kind of heart.

Credits:

Lyrics & Music: Joe Jencks/Turtlebear Music
© 1995 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 10 months ago

Carried Away

from Weights & Wings

updated: 2 years ago

I Will Shout Youngstown

from The Forgotten

What can I tell you

Tell me what can I say

All the mills standing silent

All the jobs gone away

Now the storefronts are empty

As I walk up and down

But everywhere I go

I will shout Youngstown

The jobs that we fought for

The tears that we cried

Our town that was stolen

But never our pride

Wherever we may travel

Wherever we’re found

Everywhere I go

I will shout Youngstown                              

Wherever we may travel

Wherever we’re found

Everywhere I go

I will shout Youngstown

I will shout Youngstown

I will shout Youngstown

I will shout Youngstown
© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Given Myself To Love

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


I’ve given myself to flights of fancy

To see what’s around the next bend

I’ve given myself to things that are broken

To put them together again

I’ve given up hope and I’ve given my best

It all depends on the day

I’ve given up so many things that I wanted

And still the sun rises each day

Chorus

Some measure life by their losses and gains

For them, there is never enough

But I measure life by the hearts I have known

For I’ve given myself to love

I’ve given the money I had my pocket

To someone in obvious need

I’ve given myself to the kindness of strangers

And I’ve given thanks for good deeds

I’ve given solace and I’ve given comfort

I’ve given a hand to a friend

I’ve given myself to the things I believe

Though sometimes I don’t know to what end

Some people say that they have no regrets

Life’s just a roll of the dice

But I say if you live life paying attention

You see that each choice has a price

I’ve given some people more than they bargained

And others still cause for concern

I’ve given myself to the fire of passion

And I have been willingly burned

Just when it seems that the story is over

And all that remains is goodbye

There is one thing of which you can be certain

I’ll always give love one more try

Yes I measure life by the hearts I have known

For I’ve given myself to love

© 2015, 2017 – Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

I Ain't Got No Home (4:01)

from Some Part of The Truth

By: Woody Guthrie
© Copyright 1961 (renewed) and 1963 (renewed) by Woody Guthrie Publications, Inc. & TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (BMI)

updated: 7 years ago

All About Love 5:02

from The Candle And The Flame

I was in a hotel room in Austin, still grieving the loss of my brother Jerry and awash in a sea of music industry whoopla. My friend and road brother Pat Wictor sat me down and played his song ~ I Will Walk With You. "On your passage into shadow, you will not go alone, I will walk with you down your darkest road." My heart cracked wide open. It was what I needed, a friend. While I was recovering at home from the conference, I wrote this song. An affirmation of life! I am pleased that fate allowed all of my living siblings to sing on this song. I set up my portable recording rig in a hotel room in Windsor, CT while we were all gathered for my Aunt Ann's 80th Birthday celebration. Listen for the voices at the end of the song. As long as we breathe may we revel in our songs, those we share and those we hold in our hearts.  John, Julie Jean, Jamie and Jen… I Love You. Thank you for the music! Wherever the branches sway, the roots hold it up. Gratitude is not a big enough word for how I feel. It IS all about love.

I don't know how to keep on walking this line
Between my visions and the highway signs
I don't know how to keep on striking the spark
To ignite the flame that will pierce the dark

Chorus
But I'm already gone
If I can't live while I'm here
Yes I'm already gone
If I can't love through the fear

It's awful hard to keep from being a wreck
When I feel the breath of the reaper cool on my neck
It's hard to live inside the rhyme and the rhythm of the song
To respirate my gratitude and pretend that nothing is wrong

So I hang on tight and watch the slipping sand
Try to hold the contradictions in the palm of my hand
For every grain that tumbles there are more that remain
But the hand that closes to a fist loses all that it contains

So let it crack wide open
Let this broken heart bleed
Let it soak through the soil and nourish the seed
Let the water from my eyes be a gift to the parched land
Till all my sisters and brothers rejoice hand in hand

If I can't love through the fear
Sisters and brothers we must love through the fear

It's all about  
It's all about
All about love

copyright 2007 Joe Jencks

updated: 11 years ago

For The Singing

from I Hear Your Voice

This song was a gift from God.  I channeled it in about 20 minutes while I was half asleep.  I think it was God telling me some things I really needed to hear, and doing it in the only sure fire way to get me to listen to anything. Put it to music.  Years later, I feel like I am finally growing into the song.  For all my fellow songsters, do it for the singing!

As I was walking down the only road I knew
I came upon a place where one road turned to two
I took the one that seemed less worn I did the best I could
'Til I happened on a wise man all alone out in the wood

He looked at me a moment, He looked up at the sky
He turned as if about to speak but all he did was sigh
So I ventured forth the question I said "Surely you must know
Will the road that I now travel take me where I want to go?"
And he said:

Chorus:
"Do it for the power and you'll surely be a slave
Do it for the glory and you'll find an early grave
Do it for the laughter and you'll surely find your smile
Do it for the singing and you've gone the extra mile."

I still had some questions I thought would clear the air
I turned around to ask and found he was no longer there
I thought maybe this was God I saw as I got down on my knees
But soon enough I heard my answer in the wind blowing through the trees

Chorus

Many moons have come and gone, now and then I go astray
But I come back to the path 'cause for me it's the only way
Well I do not have much money but I find I have more time
To seek the answers that I need in the eyes of those I find
And they say:

Chorus
© 1995, 2003 Joe Jencks

updated: 12 years ago

We Won

from Rise As One

Thanks to John for a fabulous and well crafted celebration of some of labor's victories!

Deep in the heart of the Salinas Valley
We won we won we won
Stood in the picket and joined in the rally
We won we won we won
They had the power and the politicians
We won we won we won
But we had the people and we had the mission

Everybody come and join in the union
Begin begin begin
Stand together to overcome soon and
We win we win we win!

We won our contract at Farra Clothing
It was a battle of fear and loathing
Thay had the power and they had the riches
But we got the union label inside their britches

We won our union at Yale University
We stood in the face of fear and adversity
They had the power of an Ivy League college
They had the books but we had the knowledge

© 1994 John O'Connor

updated: 12 years ago

You Are The "U" in Union

from The Forgotten

Blessed are the weak
Blessed are the poor
Blessed those who love their neighbor
Blessed are the children
Blessed are the meek
Blessed are all those who labor

Lift up your eyes
Lift up your voice
Come to the great reunion
Give us your hand
Join in our band
You are the ‘U’ in union

Scattered and tossed
Battered and lost
All of these years divided
Each one is precious
Each plays a part
When we are all united

Poor from our birth
Promised this earth
Let us unite and share it
Seeking for justice
Here in this world
We shall one day inherit

© Si Kahn, Joe Hill Music ASCAP

updated: 3 years ago

Mercy

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


I used to admire most a melody

And all it could do with love and words

I used to admire most a poet who

With a pen untangled this world into verse

I used to admire all that I thought profound

I plagiarized the prophets and the saints

Oh but now, now that I’m older

Oh, it’s Mercy that I admire most

I waited out my low youth for a fallow spectacle

In lines snaking round coliseums

I moshed in the drench under fame’s soft fist clenched

And I paid hard earned money just to see ’em

Oh but now, now that I’m older

Oh it’s Mercy that I admire most

I admire the pure of heart that will one thing

I admire the steady in their routine

I admire decision and the mind that endures it

And those who speak, though they be shamed

I admire the reckless voices for the voiceless

And the man standing in the path of tanks

Oh but now, now that I’m older

Oh it’s Mercy that I admire most

Oh it’s Mercy…
© 2012 - Jon Brooks, SOCAN, MROC

updated: 4 years ago

War On The Workers

from Rise As One

During the time this song references, I was at music school in Decatur, IL (Millikin University) where the A.E. Staley corporate headquarters are located. Thanks to Anne for a compelling and authentic rendition of this story. Anne has a few different versions of this song. This was one of the earlier ones.

Deadly Corn, it's a war zone here today
Right in the heartland, but our union's here to stay
These multinational bastards don't use tanks and guns it's true
But they've declared a war on us, fight back it's up to you

Oh it's a war on the workers
A war on the workers
A war on the workers
And it's time we started calling the shots

Deadly Corn, Could be the death of you and me
But we're not unarmed, our weapon's solidarity
Each workday is a battle, toxic chemicals and smells
It was bad enough with Staley, but with Tate and Lyle it's hell

Deadly corn, workplace safety is just a joke
There's the dust, the BSS, Asbestos, fire and smoke
Jim Beals was murdered outright, poisoned by PO
But Tate & Lyle's philosophy's, "Die quickly or die slow"

They can lock us up, they can lock us out
We will not give in
No more lies, no compromise
We'll battle till we win

© 1993 Anne Feeney, Super 88 Records (BMI)

updated: 12 years ago

Everybody Sings The Blues

from Poets, Philosophers, Workers, & Wanderers


Well I may not be the smartest man

That ever walked on earth

And some of what’s gone well for me

Might be an accident of birth

Oh but deep inside the mystery

Surrounding me and you

Is something I have come to know

And hold as deeply true

Well you may be a woman

From the right side of town

Going out evenings in the finest of gowns

But one thing’s for certain

No matter the shoes

Sooner of later

Everybody sings the blues

Well you may be erudite

Or a real cool cat

A high priced jet-setter

Going this way and that

Ah but one thing’s for certain

You know it ain’t news

Sooner or later

Everybody sings the blues

Oh, lonely, we all get lonely some times

There’s nothing anyone can do

Hang on, for just another day

And hope that you’ll get through

Well you may be ironic

You may be a clown

You may swear that you’ll never wear

Your smile upside down

Oh but one thing’s for certain

Whether you win or lose

Sooner or later

Everybody sings the blues

© 2013, 2017 – Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

We Do The Work

from Rise As One

Jon used to run a PBS show in San Francisco that was all about workers and working class concerns. This was the theme song he wrote for the show.

We plant the food, we drive the cab
We load the ship, we run the lab
We build the bridges, we fly the plane
We do the work, this is our day

We do the work, we do the work
We do the work, this is our day

We type the page, we clean the streets
We sew the clothes, we change the sheets
We sell the goods, we lay the stone
We do the work, this is our home

We do the work, we do the work
We do the work, this is our home

We dig the ditch, we serve the meal
We give the care, we mold the steel
We teach the kids, we lend a hand
We do the work, this is our land

We do the work, we do the work
We do the work, this is our land

© 1989 Jon Fromer (BMI)

updated: 12 years ago

Bremerton (Spoken Word)

from Rise As One

updated: 13 years ago

Rosie The Riveter Revisited

from Rise As One

Linda wrote this song to honor the women who worked in the Bremerton shipyards during WWII. It is among the finest songs I have ever sung. A wonderful homage to a difficult time.

My strong right arm built the ship
Built the ship that sailed to war
My strong right arm built the ship
Built the ship, and what was that all for

In nineteen forty one the war had just begun
Jim was so young, but soon was off to hold a gun
I was nineteen, our child was only three
When the papers said the shipyards needed me

I moved to Bremerton in nineteen forty two
I learned to weld, I was the best one on our crew
The work was hard, the heat would burn my lungs all day
But when the paycheck came we girls would feel ok

In nineteen forty three, August, 8 AM
I'd not been sleeping well, my mind was full of Jim
There was a knock, a man in uniform stood there
He said my Jim was dead, I hadn't seen him in two years

In 1945 the war came to an end
And on that very day the big boss he came in
He said my girls, the boys are coming home
You've earned a rest, go home, your work here now is done

Picked up a scrap of metal and I carved my name full bore
So my child would know, I was a welder in the war
No place to go, I was a widow with a child
So I waitressed and I cooked, and I married in a while

Sometimes I see that metal with my name carved in so deep
And I recall the day the boss told me to leave
How I felt like some old rag they'd tossed aside
As useless as my patriotic pride

My strong right arm built the ship
Built the ship that sailed to war
My strong right arm built the ship
Built the ship, and what was that all for?

© 1984 Linda Allen, October Rose Productions

updated: 12 years ago

Sixteen Tons

from Rise As One

My mom used to listen to AM country radio when I was a kid.  Some of my very first awareness of working class issues came from songs like "Big John" and "Sixteen Tons".

© 1947 Merle Travis, American Music Inc.

updated: 12 years ago

Working Class Philanthropy (Spoken Word)

from Rise As One

updated: 13 years ago

Rise As One

from Rise As One

I dedicate this recording of 'Rise As One' to my new niece Annika Jencks. "We will build a brand new future for our daughters and our sons…" …and our nieces & nephews! Thanks to Mike Tadsen and John & Judy Gallo for inviting me to meet some of the workers and for sharing the story with me. The workers of OAPSIE Local 419 are heroes in my book.

It is we who serve the lunches, we who sweep the floors
We who drive the busses with your children off to school
We keep the buildings warm in winter, and cool when it's hot
And we will not let you play us for the fool
When we ask for better healthcare, or an increase in our wage
You tell us that the township can't afford to pay the bill
But you found half a million dollars from within those very coffers
To try and break the union's back and break our will

And we will never give up, we will never give in
And we'll never, ever go away
We will build a brand new future for our daughters and our sons
We will work 'til all workers rise as one

We believe in education and the future of our town
And the children that we serve from day to day
Whenever there's a need we always go the extra mile
God knows we do it for the love, not for the pay
But we have worked as hard as any for every inch of ground
That we've gained in the struggle for our rights
And we will not stand by idly as you try to tear us down
If we have to we will organize a strike

Well we didn't have a penny in our strike fund, sad but true
That made us all a little bit afraid
But the call went out to every other union in the state
And somehow all the workers' bills were paid
You see this isn't just the schools within our town
When we dare to raise our voice in solidarity we stand
With every other worker all the world around

We held a rally at the fairgrounds, to show them our resolve
And to drum up some support for our campaign
A thousand people hit the street, and that's more than half our town
And after that, you know things couldn't be the same
Now whoever would've guessed it, when this whole thing began
We'd have the strength to hold out for so long
But three months have now gone by and the school board just gave in
On their demands, now we can sing our victory song

© 2002 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music

updated: 12 years ago

Let Me Sing You A Song



On the morning that our beloved Pete Seeger passed away, I was inspired to write a song about his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, back in 1955. The gentle, yet somehow joyful tone of defiance Pete had in that moment was amazing. To read the full text of his testimony is I think, a great example of how to stand up to bullies with elegance and conviction.

(For Pete Seeger - Inspired by his HUAC Testimony in 1955)

You’ve asked me here to tell you
About my neighbors and my friends
To talk about the who and what
The where and how and when
Well I won’t give you anything
You don’t already know
But if you’d like
I’ll sing that list of songs before I go

Chorus:
Let me sing you a song
About the people that I love
The poets and philosophers
The workers and the wanderers
The ones who walk the picket lines
Who dare to stand and fight
And the ones who hold their babies close
And rock them through the night


V.2
Now you say it’s un-American
To do the things I do
Well I sing for justice, liberty
And Civil Rights it’s true
But I say it’s un-American
To ask me how I vote
How I pray or what I believe
But here’s a song I wrote

Chorus

V.3
If you want to send me to prison
I guess that’s the way it’ll be
‘Cause I won’t feed you fodder
For your paranoid machine
If the price of my silence is shackles
Well then fellas, take me away
For I will live to sing again
And rise with a brand new day

Chorus & Tag
© 1/28/14 - Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP

updated: 4 years ago

Winnipeg 1919



Winnipeg 1919
Copyright 2019 Joe Jencks, Turtle Bear Music, ASCAP


The year was 1919 and all around the world
People started marching with their victory flags unfurled
We’ve shed our blood on battle fields and slaved in deep dark mines
We rally to the banner, bread and roses it’s our time

    Chorus

    Come gather Fellow Workers and raise your voices strong
    We rise today in Winnipeg to sing our victory song

In Europe and in Canada, across the USA
We cry out for justice and for fair and equal pay
All sisters and brothers and all races here unite
We strive for One Big Union and defend our common rights

From Halifax and Thunder Bay, to the Fraser River’s shore
Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago hear us roar
From Boston on to Dublin town, are heard the people’s cries
No more to drudge and idler, when the workers organize

Though some of us were born of means and others not a dime
We spend our lives in service to a cause we hold sublime
All laborers in commonwealth, now let our voices say
That one way or another we will bring the greater day

So here’s to Big Bill Haywood, Mother Jones, and Eugene Debs
Along with Emma Goldman and Joe Hill and all the Reds
And all those Fellow Travelers who beckon to the call
An injury to one of us, is an injury to all

We may not win our struggle here, but sure as hell we’ll try
For the future of our children we are steadfast by and by
It’s only when our minds are joined with muscle we can stand
And bring to birth a new world, arm and arm and hand in hand


*Dedicated to the workers of Winnipeg, May Works, and Mitch Podolak


updated: 1 year ago