Peter Case

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A homeless veteran’s story (Buffalo benefit announcement)

POOR OLD TOM

A Tennessee boy joined the US navy

In nineteen-fifty he was seventeen

A quiet kid who’d never seen the ocean

His mama died his first trip at sea

He learned to work and he learned to whistle

He learned to gamble and he learned to fight

He learned to suck a bottle and go out whorin’

Somehow he learned to stagger in at night

 

Poor old Tom he don’t know

Why his teeth’s gotta rattle shiver and shake

The night wind’s free to blow wherever it pleases

Tom’s free to walk to the cold day break

 

Poor old Tom he’s tellin’ it all

His thoughts are roarin’ like a waterfall

He never cared about money and there’s no doubt

He never had much money to care about

Typhoons and calms on the great Pacific

Proud to be serving the USA

He worked hard on board and he got promoted

He got VD but it went away

 

Poor old Tom he ain’t right

He went out in San Francisco on a Saturday night

Sunday morning his ship set sail

Tom was resting in the Oakland jail

 

Now it’s thirty-fiveyears since his incarceration

On a morals charge the words he said to me

From the brig on Treasure Island to the institution

They treated his depression with shock therapy

 

Poor old Tom he don’t know

He’s got trouble a callin’ he’s history

At the drop of a coin he’ll start to ramble

How the whole damn thing’s a mystery

 

His eyes bulge out as we talk on the corner

Eight turns on the gurney  they held him down

One morning they wheeled him to another building

A surgery room with doctors standing’ round

He cried Lord help me as they put him under &

He sailed away on an ether sea

Ever since that day all he does is wonder

Did the surgeons perform a lobotomy?

 

Poor old Tom this story’s true

He’s got nothin’ to show, no one to show it too

The word for him is nevertheless

He fought for freedom, never took a free breath

 

Now the radios blare nusak and  musak

Diseases are cured every day

The worst disease in the world is to be unwanted,

To be used up and cast away

So as we make our way towards our destinations
Fortunes are still made with flesh and blood
Progress and love got nothing in common
Jesus healed a blind man’s eyes with mud

Poor old Tom he don’t know
Why his teeth’s gotta rattle, shiver and shake
The night wind’s free to blow wherever it pleases
Tom’s free to walk ’til the cold day break

 

from the 1989 album The Man with the Blue, post-modern, fragmented, neo-traditionalist Guitar    on Geffen Records, with David Hidalgo on violin.

 

available at iTunes

 

Blues 4 Vets Benefit Show

Larkin Square

Buffalo, NY June 14!

with the band!

 

The Man With the Blue Post-Modern, Fragmented, Neo-Traditionalist Guitar (1989)

 

 

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