One Song

Everything is moving
Everything’s in flux
Every living thing is constantly having sex.
Is this punk
Is this rock ‘n’ roll
Well maybe I’m Louis Armstrong singing that ol’ jelly roll.
Maybe I’m Old Glory
Flying at half mast
Or maybe I’m a message from your forgotten past.
Maybe I’m the circus
Rolling into town
Grab your ticket, find your seat, the curtain’s comin’ down
Someone says ten seconds
I’m all alone
Down front the critics clean their teeth with sharpened chicken bones

And I get One Song
One Song, and then I die.
This is not a school exam,
But the last meal ‘fore the hangin–
One Song, and then I die.

I wish I’d have read more
And memorized the right things
I wish I had a teacher who knew exactly what to bring.
To bring to my attention
To impress upon my mind
So my ears would not get fuzzy, and my eyes would not go blind.
And I wish I knew my heroes
And that we could go for walks
And that we could sit for days on end, and I’d listen to them talk
And they’d say, get that guitar out–
And I’d fire it up each time
And they’d laugh and open up my case and throw in all their dimes–
And me who never joined anything
Who never joined a health club, never joined the army
Never joined with anybody at the hip, never joined a mutiny
Never killed the captain of a ship
And I–
Knowin’ full well what I’m not
Got 3 minutes to figure out what I am
Before the lights go up

And I get One Song
One Song, and then I die
I can hear the master of ceremonies
As his lips curl out my name–
One song, and then I die
One song, and then I die

Peel me like an onion ;
Never know what you might find
I could peel away, peel away
Peel away, peel away
For thirteen thousand years
And I—could—get to the bottom and find–

Down along the river
I pass away my days
Memorizing colors, and fashioning bouquets
Memorizing bird sounds, and fashioning a drum
That I’ll play for my lover when my true lover comes
And sometimes watching clouds roll by
To reveal a perfect rhyme
And sometimes doing nothing for hours at a time
And sometimes painting my face blue like in a dream
Burning all the dead things
Crying til I’m clean

For One Song
One song and then I die
Where are all those things I’ve written
I was saving for the future–
One Song and then I die
One song and then I die
One song and then I die….

(lyrics: Dan Bern)

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