Don’t Be Afraid

“One of our oldest songs. Suzy Q is married, with a kid now. Anyone who can squeeze a song like this out of me is aces in my book. It was like a spiritual passing of a kidney stone at the time, but now it’s just a powerful thing to sing.”

-From the liner notes of Flyover Land

“Don’t be afraid of your life – it’s probably more frightened of you than you are of it.”

-Introduction from a live performance on 23 June 1988

Well the dungeon door was open—
The beast, he got away on me again last night.
And the whole town was hopin’
It was just their imagination out in the moonlight.

But the brute, he scared some little girls,
And stole their frightened tears.
He even cornered one and cut her curls,
With her own pinking shears.
Don’t be afraid.

Well I put the beast together,
With a little love and labor—
it was in seventy and three.
And his heart I made of leather—
Despite whatever you may have heard,
the soul I stole,
I stole from me.

So don’t you look at me in fright,
And don’t you try to act surprised,
To see my eyes all filled with night,
And hear the thunder in my skies.
Don’t be afraid.
It’s just the monster in me babe—
Don’t be afraid.

I done some time for graveyard thieving,
But that’s no big thing—
You robbed a couple of cradles
In your day.
And there ain’t no good sense in grieving,
All these small-time, nickel-dime crimes,
When there’s bigger stakes to pay.

Because there’s blood beneath your fingernails,
And your prints are on my heart.
You can kiss me where it ails,
Or else undo me part by part.
Don’t be afraid.

Well the villagers bore torches,
And they did their best to torture me,
But Mr. Monster closed his eyes.
And it said welcome on their porches,
But their faces told a story that
No doorstop can disguise.

And I was hopin’ they would kill him then—
Do what I couldn’t do.
I was thinkin’ about the children,
And then I swear I thought of you.
Don’t be afraid.
It’s just the monster in me babe,
Don’t be afraid.
It’s just the monster in me babe,
Don’t you run away.

Do you think of me as ghoulish?
Babaloo Suzy Q, I wonder, do you think of me
At all?
Am I sick or merely foolish?
Have I missed life to the fullest,
With all my moaning in the halls?

‘Cause it’s plain to see you saw through me,
Like the beakers on the shelf.
And how you strapped me to that stormy sea,
Until I finally faced myself.
Don’t be afraid.

You never even read the good book—
I just never understood it—
It was all dead letter noise to me.
But you were there the day the earth shook,
I mistook you for an angel,
And I worshipped foolishly.

‘Cause I was thinkin’ about some garden scene,
Like it could happen now.
Like the Truth had finally come clean,
But it came out lies somehow.
Don’t be afraid.
It’s just the monster in me babe,
Don’t be afraid.
It’s just the monster in me.


“Don’t Be Afraid” appears on Don’t Be Afraid, Flyover Land and Live at the Pres House.

© and ℗ 1989, 1995, 2001 Marques Bovre