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Lyr Add: John (Larry Kaplan)

DigiTrad:
DEAR FRIENDS AND GENTLE HEARTS
GET HER INTO SHORE
OLD ZEB
SONG FOR GALE
THE LOSS OF THE BAY RUPERT


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Joe Offer 26 Jun 09 - 04:35 PM
Charley Noble 26 Jun 09 - 10:05 PM
GUEST 12 Jul 09 - 11:09 PM
Joe Offer 12 Jul 09 - 11:52 PM
GUEST 14 Jul 09 - 10:44 PM
Larry Kaplan 16 Jun 13 - 09:05 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: John (Larry Kaplan)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 04:35 PM

I've been looking for new songs to learn in the 1985 Bok-Muir-Trickett Fashioned in the Clay album. I don't think this one is my style, but I like it. It's a perfect song for Gordon Bok to sing, and he does a good job of it on the album.

JOHN
(Larry Kaplan, Winter Harbor Music, 1976)

Foggy harbor,
Cold and wet and not a soul,
The boats are lying crooked in the mud.
All about the sounds of life are chilled and distant;
The kerosene lamps flicker in the night.
    Rub your hands together, pull your collar up,
    We'll drink another round before the night is done.
    Then it's to your chances, boys,
    Soon we'll all be leaving,
    And not a word about the times to come.

John comes home to his old boat, all alone.
(He's got his stocking-cap pulled down around his ears.)
Ten years going and he's worked his hands to stone and leather,
Tonight he says he's got to get away.
Busted broke, no place to go, that's what he says you get
For putting all your time into the sea,
Then a man gets old, he says,
Too late to settle down, he says,
Too late to find a place for company.
Rub your hands together...

Hear the hulls a-creaking hard against the rocky bottom,
Hear the hungry, lonesome singing gulls.
Curse those winter winds,
The empty dreams that took you in:
When you're young enough, you never get your fill.
Turn your lanterns up, and throw the big hatch open wide:
No man is a stranger in the cold.
Throw another log into the stove; the night is young enough,
And good friends keep a man from getting old.
    Rub your hands together, pull your collar up,
    We'll drink another round before the night is done.
    Then it's to your chances, boys,
    Soon we'll all be leaving,
    And not a word about the times to come.

notes from Gordon Bok: Larry is now a children's doctor in Boston. He worked on some of the same vessels I did, and wrote many fine songs about them.
This is about a friend of ours who devoted his life to a schooner he loved (not his own). He stayed with her summer and winter over the years, while we part—time sailors went our various ways when the year got dark. (But having wintered in this harbor myself, I can vouch for every word of this song.)
The idea for the song came one late autumn, when Larry had made the agonizing decision to leave the boats forever and go on with medicine, and he saw John down on the docks in the fading light, staring around at the boats with their covers on, making the old decision all over again. (GB)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: John (Larry Kaplan)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Jun 09 - 10:05 PM

Joe-

That's a very powerful song which I've forgotten over the years, and the notes certainly add something to it.

I don't for a minute think that it's only about the "schooner people." It's about all of us, and we diminish year by year. As C. Fox Smith observed in one of her poems:

I think it's better that way for there's nothing left but change;
With the ships I knew laid up or lost, and the ports I knew grown strange...

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: John (Larry Kaplan)
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 11:09 PM

The song was never actually about schooner people per se---at least it was never intended to be; it was about the "thing" in all of us that sometime allows time to make our decisions before we do. By the way....I never left the schooners forever. I get back there as often as I can to see old friends. Thanks for your kind comments. More CDs planned soon.

Larry Kaplan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: John (Larry Kaplan)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 11:52 PM

Thanks a lot for stopping by, Larry. I've enjoyed a number of your songs, particularly "Old Zeb"; and I really like the Worth All the Telling CD.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: John (Larry Kaplan)
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jul 09 - 10:44 PM

What a wonderful passage from Smith' poem!

LK


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOHN (Larry Kaplan)
From: Larry Kaplan
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 09:05 AM

Here are the lyrics I wrote for "John." Written with no particular person in mind, but rather about the moment when a person discovers there can be no turning back.


JOHN
(By Larry Kaplan)

Foggy Harbor
Cold and wet and not a soul
The boats are sitting crooked in the mud
All about the sounds of life
Are chilled and distant
And the kerosene lamps
Flicker in the night

Rub your hands together
Pull your collar up
We'll drink another round
Before the night is gone
Take your chances boys
Soon we'll all be leaving
And not a word about the times to come

John comes home
To his old boat he's alone he wears
His stocking cap pulled down upon his ears
Ten years going
And he's worked his hands
To stone and leather
Says tonight he's got to get away

Busted broke no place to go
That's what he says you get
For putting all your time into the sea
Then a man gets old, he says
Too late to settle down, he says
Too late to find a place for company

Hear the hulls 'a creaking
Hard against the rocky bottom
Hear the hungry lonesome singing gulls
Curse the winter winds
Those empty dreams that took you in
When you're young enough
You never get your fill

Keep your lanterns on
And throw the big hatch open wide
No man is a stranger in the cold
Throw another log into the fire
The night is young enough
And good friends
Keep a man from getting old

Rub your hands together
Pull your collars up
We'll drink another round
Before the night is gone
Take your chances boys
Soon we'll all be leaving
And not a word
About the times to come

Take your chances boys
Soon we'll all be leaving
And not a word
about the times to come

Words and music by Larry Kaplan
c,1976, Hannah Lane Music,BMI


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