A couple of years back I come across a great and wasted friend of mine in the hallway of a recording studio. And while he was reciting some poetry to me that he had written, I saw that he was about a step away from dying, and I couldn't help but wonder why. And the lines of this song occurred to me. I'm happy to say he's no longer wasted, and he's got him a good woman. And I'd like to dedicate this to John and June, who helped showed me how to beat the devil.
It was wintertime in Nashville Down on Music City Row And I was looking for a place And to get myself out of the cold To warm the frozen feeling that was eating at my soul Keep the chilly wind off my guitar My thirsty wanted whiskey But my hunger needed beans But it had been a month of paydays Since I'd heard that eagle scream So with a stomach full of empty And a pocket full of dreams I left my pride and stepped inside a bar Actually I'd guess you'd call it a tavern Cigarette smoke to the ceiling And sawdust on the floor Friendly shadows I saw that there was just one old man sitting at the bar And in the mirror I could see him checking me and my guitar And he turned and said, Come up here, boy, and show us what you are I said I'm dry, and he bought me a beer He nodded at my guitar and said, It's a tough life, ain't it? I just looked at him He said, you ain't making any money, are you? I said, you been reading my mail He just smiled and said, let me see that guitar I got something you ought to hear And then he laid it on me
If you waste your time a talking To the people who don't listen To the things that you are saying Who do you thinks gonna hear? And if you should die explaining how The things that they complain about Are things they could be changing Who do you thinks gonna care? There were other lonely singers In a world turned deaf and blind Who were crucified for what they tried to show And their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time ‘Cause the truth remains that no one wants to know
Well the old man was a stranger But I'd heard his song before Back when failure had me locked out On the wrong side of the door When no one stood behind me But my shadow on the floor And lonesome was more than a state of mind You see, the devil haunts a hungry man If you don't want to join him You gotta beat him I ain't saying I beat the devil But I drank his beer for nothing Then I stole his song
And you still can hear me singing To the people who don't listen To the things that I am saying Praying someone's gonna hear And I guess I'll die explaining how The things that they complain about Are things they could be changing Hoping someone's gonna care I was born a lonely singer And I'm bound to die the same But I've gotta feed the hunger in my soul And if I never have a nickel I won't ever die ashamed ‘Cause I don't believe that no one wants to know