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Lyrics

  Cityscape story songs


CITYSCAPE - Story Songs by Bill Pere
(Part II of the Americana Trilogy)
 
Another Touch of Gray words and music by Bill Pere

The alarm clock says it's dawn
I creak up out of bed and put my work boots on
for another day of working in that same old place...
I slip out, but she doesn't hear; She's not heard for eighteen years
And the only thing that's different from yesterday
Is Another touch of Gray and a wrinkle on my face

At five o'clock I get in my car
And I wash away the day at the local bar
amidst the tumblin' down tiles and the timeworn smiles
'Bout halfway through my gin, I stopped and stared at what walked in
Sweet sixteen at most, just lookin' out for some fun
Begging for someone to make her feel like a woman for awhile

And just in that moment she made me feel like a kid again
Days of new blue jeans, summer scenes, ice cream every day...
Whatever anyone calls fun, you know I did it then
But jeans and dreams and the scenes, it seems, like the ice cream, melt away

She whispered in my ear,
And I tingled as her words rolled back the years
I remembered the encounters of my youth;
We went up to a little room, oppressive in its gloom
She saw a question in my eyes and she said as she smiled
"Am I a woman or a child? You're about to learn the truth..."

And just in that moment she made me feel like a kid again
Days of new blue jeans, summer scenes, ice cream every day...
Whatever anyone calls fun, you know I did it then
But jeans and dreams and the scenes, it seems, like the ice cream, melt away

She was good at the games she played
But in the corner of my mind, still a question stayed
And with a voice beyond her years she said "You got something to say?"
As she fed her golden thread through the comb
I asked her if she missed her home,
As she winced I knew my question landed like a knife
What kind of life could make young and pretty girl run away?

In the darkness her answer hung
She was tired of being poor and tired of being young
But instead of saving pennies she saved up her years...
Yeah, her folks loved her, but she thought it strange,
They didn't want for her ever to change
It seemed they'd never let her grow, and they'd just criticize
When the childness in her eyes gave way to adolescent tears...

And just in that moment she made me feel like a kid again
Days of new blue jeans, summer scenes, ice cream every day...
Whatever anyone calls fun, you know I did it then
But jeans and dreams and the scenes, it seems, like the ice cream, melt away

It was late so we said goodbye
But as she saw the ceiling light skip off the water in my eye
She looked and said "you know, being grow up is being free..."
Your wife will never know,
No you don't have to tell her where you go
No, you don't have it bad... " She put the bill in her purse.
"It could be worse...you could be just a kid like me..."

But she was so far from the truth
I'd have given anything for just a fraction of her youth
And on my way back home it seemed that time picked up its pace
I slip in, but she doesn't hear
She's not heard for a hundred years
And the only thing that's different from yesterday
Is another touch of gray and two wrinkles on my face....
 
  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
 
The Thief      words and music by Bill Pere
 
I slip out the back door in the dead heat of summer
The city streets swelter, the sweat turns to steam.
The back streets of the ghetto are a litter-strewn meadow
Of fruits never borne, and withered dreams.

In the night's neon starlight, I see the fat shadow
Of a man whose stuffed wallet could use some relief
I move like a flash and then I've got his cash
With the polish and class of a blue ribbon thief

I slither back home where the cold walls embrace me
With stale beer and rats, it seems God doesn't care
I got away clean, but as I count up the green,
From the window I see pathos laid bare

The little girl clings to her glassy-eyed father
Who's cried all his tears for his shivering wife
They sit in the street, their dog at their feet
Thrown from their home and evicted from life

Somewhere inside me I feel the last trace
Of the feelings my drunken old ma couldn't kill
With his hammering fists and his leather belt whips
Somehow they survived all the booze and the pills

As I stand there and stare at these people, I realize
They've hurt no one but they're worse off than I
Somehow God's been outwitted, it's me who's committed
The sin and the crime, but I'm livin' high

So I slip out once more and I blend with the night wind
As the little girl feels my cool breeze pass her by...
How do measure that ironic pleasure
You get from the tears you fight most not to cry

I look back one last time, I see the little girl laughing,
I see that her father has found one more tear,
His wife looks less pale and the dog wags his tail,
So into the night I disappear

Many years have gone by, you may wonder about me...
I'm still runnin', robbin', still just a cheap hood
Though I ease pain for the poor, only God knows for sure
In this upside-down world what's bad and what's good.

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
Teach Me How to Fly

words and music by Bill Pere

When I was just a child, I'd pretend that I had wings
But I played alone, you never had time for such things
You would fly round the world, you made a fortune grow
Each time I asked you Dad, you just said "no"

I'd say "Touch me, take me, teach me how to fly
Show me how to reach beyond the sky"

Not quite seventeen, the day I ran away
You just watched me go, never asked once if I'd stay
In the city at night I got off the train
A stranger met me, said he'd ease my pain

I said "Touch me, take me, teach me how to fly
Show me how to reach beyond the sky"

Now my broken wings can't lift these shattered dreams
When you just need love, there's no substitute it seems
In a bottle or bed, it's just empty air
God, if you're listening, won't you hear my prayer

"Touch me, take me, teach me how to fly
Show me how to reach beyond the sky"

Now I see you Dad, crying by the grave
I appreciate the flowers that you gave
As you're turning to leave, I see that backward glance
I wish you'd loved me Dad, when you had the chance

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved

My Name Is Mary               words and music by Bill Pere

  The moonlight tried to caress her
  But couldn't find a happy place to reflect
  Painted eyes and lips laced with lipstick
  Could not make up for a life of neglect
  Pale blue eyes, just like mine  told me somehow this one wasn't the same
  Though I'd had so many girls before
  This time I asked her name....

           She said   
           "My name is Mary, that's the name given me by my Dad
            I never knew him; That's not the only name that I've had.
            My mother called me worthless,
            Useless good for nothing;   Nothing but bad;  
            My name is Mary; My name is Mary
            But you can just call me sad..."

 I stood there and stared out the window
 As she waited alone by the bed
  The faint evening flickers of neon
  Flashed a memory flood through my head
  I looked back fifteen years when the one thing that I loved in this world 
  Was taken away when my wife left me
  And took my little girl...

  No, it wasn't a heaven made marriage 
  Too much booze, not enough love
   I've been praying for a chance to start over,
   But I though a guy like me had no friends above.
   Then those deep pale blue eyes cut right through my thoughts  like a   knife...
  "What'cha waitin' for? Am I not good enough?
   That's the story of my life..." 

           She said   
           "My name is Mary, that's the name given me by my Dad
            I never knew him; That's not the only name that I've had.
            My mother called me worthless,
            Useless good for nothing;   Nothing but bad;  
            My name is Mary; My name is Mary
            But you can just call me sad..."

   This was all I could ever have hoped for.
   The answer to this lonely man's prayer.
   Would it be cruelness, would it be kindness?
   Should I tell her? Would it even be fair?
   But I knew it couldn't hurt  any more than the empty life we both led  
   And when I told her she was my little girl,
   She hugged me when I said...

    "Her name is Mary, She never knew I was her Dad...
     I never knew her and that's not the only name that she's had...
    When I think of how I love her,
     That feeling has kept me from feeling alone.
     Her name is Mary; Her name is Mary, but I still call her my own..." 

1992 Bill Pere.  All Rights Reserved
 
Magdalene    words and music by Bill Pere
 
It's an autumn evening,
Magdalene's out walking
Barefoot, the city streets are cold.
And on the corner
In the shadows, someone is waiting.
He needs something to hold

He gives a smile and says "Stay awhile"
She says "I can't do that, don't you see?"
He winks an eye and says "Don't be shy"
And says "Come on home with me"
She wonders "Why do they offer money
When all I really want is love?"

Magdalene smells the flowers,
The stray cat purrs at her feet
She shares what little she has to eat
And on the corner
In the shadows, someone is waiting.
He needs something to meet.
 
He gives a smile and says "Stay awhile"
She says "I can't do that, don't you see?"
He winks an eye and says "Don't be shy"
And says "Come on home with me"
She wonders "Why do they offer money
When all I really want is love?"

One night while she's walking
she hears a voice with a desperate tone
Saying "Hey, pretty girl,
my bottle is empty and I'm sittin' here all alone.
I'm a lonely man, cold, forgotten,
My only friend is a fifth,
But the years haven't taken my need for someone
To share my loneliness with

So won't you give me a smile and talk awhile?
I need a friend, can't you see?
Please don't be shy, why's there a tear in your eye?
Won't you sit here awhile with me?
I can't give you any money,
But I can give you my love..."

It's an autumn evening,
Magdalene's out walking
Barefoot, the city streets are warm.
And on the corner, the shadows dissolve in the sun
For there he's waiting,
The rain has stopped, there's no more storm.

He gives a smile and says "Let's walk awhile"
She says "I'd like that, I hope you can see..."
He wonders why there's a light in her eye
As they walk along happily,
Knowing love....

Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
 
Orphan Girl
words and music by Bill Pere
 
Run orphan child, run far away
As she runs, she thinks back to that day...
When in the night, that man with a gun came into their home
He ripper off her mothers clothes while she was in the kitchen alone
Then he shot her...

Her father cam running down stairs to see what had happened
He saw the man pointing the gun at his little girl
He picked up a chair and smashed it
Across the gunman's right hand as the gun fell to the floor
One shot went off and the little girl's father breathed no more...

The man with his crushed hand went running out through the back door
The crying scared little girl he left behind was the only one who saw...

Now orphan girl, here's your new home
With other boys and girls like you who are alone
And maybe someday, you'll find a real home

But it wasn't long before a couple came to adopt her
A nice looking young man and his pretty wife
They've come to give you a home and a new life...
But oh, how she ran from the nice man
For as he signed her adoption papers, she saw his right hand..

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
Old Man
words and music by Bill Pere
 
Excuse me sir, have you seen a young woman
Fresh as the morning,
With the grace of a flute song come walking by here?
Excuse me, sir, it seems that I let her hand slip from mine
Now I've lost her somewhere in this crowd I fear...

Pardon me sir, she'd be quite hard to miss,
Her hair silken satin, smile soft as a kiss.
Her eyes like the calm of a clear mountain lake
So deep and so vast,
Please tell me sir have you seen her walk past

Step aside old man, you're in my way
You're just dreaming the things that we all dream each day
The only one around here is a withered old woman
If your dream girl were real then she'd surely be with me...

Excuse me sir, have you seen a young woman
Dressed like a princess,
Draped like a petal in the sweet morning dew?
Pardon me sir, she'd be quite hard to miss,
Cause just being near her makes you light enough to fly
Like the mist of the morning rising into the sky...
 
Step aside old man, you're in my way
You're just dreaming the things that we all dream each day
The only one around here is a withered old woman
If your dream girl were real then she'd surely be with me.

Excuse me sir, have you seen a young woman
With a voice soft as starlight,
A whisper of west wind come calling my name
Pardon me sir, but she'd be quite hard to miss,
Cause she's so full of life,
Please help me sir, please help me find my wife....

Step aside old man, you're in my way
You're just dreaming the things that we all dream each day
The only one around here is a withered old woman
If your dream girl were real then she'd surely be with me...

Excuse me sir... Excuse me, sir...
Excuse me, sir, have you been looking for me?
I'm sorry that I let my hand slip away.
I couldn't call out or run up to catch you,
My voice and my legs just aren't as strong as they used to be...

But here I am old man, are you going my way?
Tell me 'bout the things you've been dreaming today.
If you don't mind being seen with this withered old woman
I'll tell you a little secret...she likes being with you....
 

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 

 
The Violin Maker
words and music by Bill Pere
 

He'd work late each night
And the lamplight cast his shadow on the shade,
And the violins he made
Would be hidden in a dusty corner,
Shyly tucked away
When he felt like conversation,
He'd begin to play

They'd help him say the things
He could not say with a word;
They'd help him tell the tales he'd heard.
They were the women, the children, the sons, the daughters,
The friends he'd never found.
They'd answer all his questions,
With a sweet and velvet sound

He could make them laugh, he could make them sigh
As he'd play so low, as he'd play so high...

From his window, he'd see the city street
Where the people swarmed like flies
He saw the sadness in their eyes
And he wished there were something he could do
To send some happiness their way
But he was just a shy old man
Who couldn't think of what to say

Sometimes at night,
His conversations trickled to the ground below
He didn't know
That there beneath his window,
There would always be a crowd
And if he saw their smiling faces,
Then he'd have been so proud

That he could make them laugh, he could make them sigh
As he'd play so low, as he'd play so high...

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
 
Fortune Teller
words and music by Bill Pere

"See her! I hear she's very good!"
"Wait here for me", he said to his chauffeur.

He sneaked through the door, cause it would hurt his reputation
If a wealthy businessman like him were seen
Yes, he believed, he was sure she could help him
This two-bit fortune telling gypsy queen

He said "Can you tell me about my business deal next week?
What should I do? What words should I speak?"

She gazed into her crystal ball
And said "You won't be making any deals at all...
Tonight", she said as she reached to touch her shawl
"When the sun goes down, you'll be killed by a fall..."

See him...he's a very frightened man
The gypsy laughs at the way he up and ran...

He said to his chauffeur "The sun is going down!
Hurry, take me home! I must lay down on the ground so I can't fall!"

He rushed into his living room and he lay down on the floor
He said "I'll spend the night here while my servants guard the door."

As he lay on the floor asleep, his dreams were free from fear
Outside, a truck passed by his driveway
The vibration unloosed the chandelier....

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
Quiet Time
words and music by Bill Pere

In the quiet time when day surrenders to night,
And summer gives way to fall in September
The leaves, having turned too many times since you've gone
Say it's been too long since I remembered

The moon-cloaked pale of evening, the shadows of these bars
Say I won't be leaving; It's been fifteen years so far...

I remember how you said you loved me,
And how sorry you were that you ever married him
The curse that coursed through his soul
Was the only thing that carried him
Through his drunken nights and drugged-up daze
Where he tried to make up for the things in life that he missed
The gentle kindness you'd always give
Only met with a message from his fist...
 
In the funny way that life weaves its spells,
The paths of our pathos crossed each others and fell
Together, they intertwined,
And for one brief fleeting moment I saw the sunlight shine
The lamp-lit eyes of the night
Kept our secret as we'd meet while he was off in some bar
That night I held you close, you shook with fright;
I wondered what you meant when you said he'd finally gone too far...

In the quiet time when day surrenders to night,
And summer gives way to fall in September
The leaves, having turned too many times since you've gone
Say it's been too long since I remembered

The sky is strung with starlight like pearls about to fall
This cell can't hide me from those memories of that night I came to call...

The dewdrops on the lawn,
Like the scattered necklace lying there
The one I stumbled upon,
The one I gave you and you said you'd always wear
Then I saw him lying there on the floor
Cold and empty like the life he gave you
Your footprints leading out the back door
Said you couldn't take it any more

As I smoothed away the last telltale trace
Of what you had done, there was a smile on my face
As the red lights and sirens came my way
I knew there was only one thing I could say
The confession that I signed
Said I'd committed some awful crime
But deep in my heart I knew
It really only said that I love you...

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
Lamplighter
 words and music by Bill Pere

Lamplighter, your shadow shimmered in the soft gaslight glow
Lamplighter, each night I'd be watching from my bedroom window
Lamplighter, you've long since gone to your rest
And your gaslight glow's gone away...

What does a little girl say
To a man who's so many years older?
How do I tell you of the love that I'm feeling inside...
I remember the day I ran out to meet you,
You spoke to me in Italian
I didn't understand, but I knew what you said with your smile
Then somehow I knew I'd just have to wait until I grew older
Then we'd be together someday...
We'd be together someday.

Lamplighter, your shadow shimmered in the soft gaslight glow
Lamplighter, each night I'd be watching from my bedroom window
Lamplighter, you've long since gone to your rest
And your gaslight glow's gone away...

The shifting sands of the years
Have changed all your gaslight to neon
It shines bright, but a night full of neon is cold
The trees on the street that once played in your light
Are now buried in caskets of concrete
The smiles you once gave freely are now only sold
The lines on my face are all that's left of my smile
As the world we once loved has now faded
Into shadow, but you've shown me the way to go home...
I'm going home

Lamplighter, your shadow shimmered in the soft gaslight glow
Lamplighter, each night I'd be watching from my bedroom window
Lamplighter, you've long since gone to your rest
And your gaslight glow's gone away...
 
The neon night time that knocks at my door
Speaks of all the new things I've been missing
But my heart still belongs in the past
When your light lit the lives of young lovers at night
And the starlight was only for wishing
And for dreams, and the days didn't rush by so fast..
I'll be thinking of you as I turn on the gas in the kitchen,
Then we'll be together at last....
We'll be together at last....

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved
 
 
Born of A Smile

words and music by Bill Pere
 
Do you hear it there,
in the children's laughter?
Their kites dance in the air,
and avoid the wire rafter, so free

The old man hears the sound
and today he's kind of smilin'
The squirrels gather round,
and watch his shadow sway silently
Like the twisting of an old cypress tree

To a song
Born of a Smile
From my loved one's eyes and all the while
There's a glow
Of crimson dawn
As her music fills the air my sorrow's gone...

The church bells chime the hour,
but I'm not gettin' any older
The frost has touched the flower,
but it's not gettin' any colder at all

By the shore the seagulls sing
as they perch on Neptune's trident
I feel like a king,
striding to the strident calls
Of trumpet fanfares filling the halls

With a song
Born of a Smile
From my loved one's eyes and all the while
There's a glow
Of crimson dawn
As her music fills the air my sorrow's gone...

In the ghetto, women scream,
but today the tears are honey,
The stray dog's usually mean,
but today he's kind of funny and small

The old man tosses peanut shells,
the squirrels wave their furry tassels
He hears the children's yells,
as the tenements are their castles so tall
The plaster crumbles, but their dreams never fall

While there's a song
Born of a Smile
From my loved one's eyes and all the while
There's a glow
Of crimson dawn
As her music fills the air my sorrow's gone...

  Bill Pere. All Rights Reserved

 

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