Old Man Crying

“Often times when the writing really happens well, I’m just messing around the guitar, hear something, it will suggest an image to me. And I was playing this kind of plaintive little riff and it was just starting to snow and was pretty blustery out and I was just kinda looking out the window and it was getting on towards that spot between Halloween and Christmas where you start thinking about the Holidays, as the snow comes. And somehow this sort of incredible story unfolded to me about these kids, back in the tail end of the depression, who get lost out in a blizzard and are saved – by what we’re not sure, supernatural or not.”

– From an interview, circa late 1996

Blizzard come down in ’37,
It started like angels falling from heaven.
Falling. Falling.
Me, my brother, my sister and all of our friends,
We were leaving the schoolhouse,
‘Cause school had just ended
For Christmas. For peace on earth.
And Donny was headed for Whitacker Hill,
Just to stare down the test
Of a ten year old will.
And he headed the two-runner
Into the thrill of the twilight.

A mile from our home and the
Wind splits the air and snow
Starts to hurt and we start to get scared,
‘Cause the sun is down and the road
Is covered.
I was the oldest at twelve and a half,
So when I felt a tear I let out
With a laugh. So I’m laughing
And I’m cracking fun.
When we could not feel our feet anymore
We lay down at the foot of an old Sycamore.
And we all said our prayers
As we waited for Jesus to claim us.

Lord, Lord there’s a storm
On the ‘rizon.
North wind is singin’ a song
I can’t dance anymore.
Fifty-nine years and I don’t
Shed a tear
Not for nothin’.
Now I sit in my
Rockin’ chair
Watchin’ ’em bust down
The door.

Sarah still claims it was angels come down.
I don’t know – I just know that my feet
Left the ground and I woke up on a hay bale.
So we spent the night out in Jacobsen’s manger
And sang Christmas carols to
Keep us from danger.
They found us late that Christmas day.
Later they told us our daddy got lost,
While he’s lookin’ for us and he died
Of the frost. Momma said he come across
From the dead just to save us.

repeat chorus

We never did open our presents that year
And we never did find very much Christmas cheer
‘Til the grandkids. Then we felt it.
It’s the day after Halloween, Christmas begun
Yesterday and I talked on the phone with my son.
He said, “Hey Dad. See you in December.”
I wanted to tell him this story I told you
But he had some important business
To tend to. And it made me feel old,
And it made me feel blue.
But I’m grateful.

repeat chorus

Blizzard come down in ’37.
It started like angels falling from Heaven.
Falling. Falling.


“Old Man Crying” appears on C’est la Vie.

© and ℗ 1997 Marques Bovre