Sam’s Song

“I always figure if you’re gonna have little voices crawlin’ around in your head you should make ’em little voices of famous people. So, the last time I talked to Mark Twain I wrote this song.”

-Introduction from a live performance on 25 Jun 1987

“That dated back to the year 1987 … one of two songs on this album that we re-recorded that actually I wrote while I was in a Hawthorne, Melville and Twain course. The songs lasted much longer than my blue book exams.”

– From an interview, circa late 1996

“Linus is gonna put on his old double-decker guitar here and he’s gonna play a little song. This is a song about the Mississippi River – a river whose girth we greatly admire.”

-Typical introduction at live gigs

I drank the muddy Mississippi
All in with my eyes,
And then I said my good-byes.
Cause I’d marked the Twains down deep within me.
Found the sands there were shiftin’.
And I began then to driftin’.

Cause I’d run around with dirt on my feet
Scrambled egg on my face
Insurance men on my case
Until one day I  just said, “To hell with the hot seat.
Ah, your heat’s just too heavy.
Cool me down at the levy.”

There ain’t no free man on the shoreline.
Take your terra firma,
Lord I’ll take a river when it’s takin’ me.
Far past the movin’ mud in my mind,
Take your final glances
At the man who dances on the Mississippi.

I saw Jim sinking on three fingers.
So who was he then to save me,
With this advice he gave me?
Says he to me, “The shackles linger.
Ah, the steel just grows colder,
Bitin’ cold on your shoulder.”

“Boy don’t forsake the hot and the dusty,
For some long old forever,
Forever ridin’ the river.
My time is short and you know now to trust me.
If you get caught in the motion —
Be in some lonesome old ocean.”

repeat chorus

I saw Sam Clemens in some sad sloop.
Says I upon arrivin’,
“Sam we’re still survivin’.”
Sam lit his smoke and he hooked his belt loop.
He said, “Survivin’ ain’t livin’,
But all the same, all is forgiven.”

repeat chorus


“Sam’s Song” appears on Living and Dying in the Coffee Generation, Evil Double Single and C’est la Vie.

Note: the original title of this song was “Sam’s Mississippi Song.”

© and ℗ 1988, 1991 Marques Bovre; © and ℗ 1997 Marques Bovre/ Brian Bauhs