Lyrics, guitar chords, and stories behind the songs from the album Sleepy Little Town. Plus lyrics and chords to a number of traditional Christmas Carols. Here’s a sample story:
LITTLE DID I KNOW
Before news was delivered through lighted screens and wireless headphones, we learned what was happening in the world by reading the newspaper. It came to us in black and white, printed on large sheets of thin newsprint folded in half and delivered each day to the boy over on Carol Drive, who rolled each one up like a tube and slipped a single rubber band over top. He loaded the bunch of papers into his press bag. You could almost set your clock by the neighborhood newsboy riding by on his bike, a canvas bag slung over his shoulder. You knew it was just about time for Mom to be starting supper when you heard the thunk of the Pittsburgh Press being tossed onto the front porch. On Thanksgiving, however, the paper arrived like a massive brick, hand carried to the door, a little envelope resting on top with a handwritten thank you note from the newsboy. That was the hint to leave him a tip. I always wanted to be a newsboy. But I was a girl, and that mattered in those days.
After Thanksgiving dinner was over, when the milk glass china had been carefully washed and dried and the leftover turkey bones were covered with water and set to simmer on the stove for tomorrow’s soup, we gathered in the living room. This was one of those magical days when we lit a fire in the fireplace. Then we would warm up the old console record player and lift the weighted tone-arm onto our favorite Perry Como or Nat King Cole, or Bing Crosby record. Mom took the front section of the Pittsburgh Press and unfolded it in front of herself as she sat in her upholstered rocker, her arms outstretched, her fingertips clutching the edges of the paper that seemed to separate her from the rest of the room like a curtain. We kids lay on the hardwood floor in our stocking feet with a tin can full of crayons between us. Folded into that huge pile of newsprint were advertisements for Children’s Palace, Woolworths, J.C. Penney, and the fine Pittsburgh department stores, like Gimbels, Kaufmanns, and Joseph Horne. We laid page upon page of magical possibilities out in front of us. When you’re a kid, still small enough to believe in magical things, everything is possible. We used different colored crayons to circle the items we would consider in order of importance: blue for things we wanted, black for things we thought looked cool but knew we could probably never get, and red for the singular items we wanted more than anything in the whole wide world.
I don’t recall how old I had to become to stop circling toys in newspaper ads. There came a point where I knew that neither my mother nor Santa could afford certain things.
I don’t know how my mother did it, probably on credit, but there were always wonderful surprises waiting under our tree on Christmas morning. My sisters and I spent hours upon hours with our Barbies. I wrote my first song on a Christmas ukulele when I was twelve. And my first guitar arrived on a Christmas morning. The magic and the mystery of the unknown coming to us through channels of love is a divine emotion. I have to go to deep spiritual places to feel what I once felt freely as a child.
Why is it that when we are small we just want to be grown up? What a waste of good wishing! Take me back to those long-ago days, when I fell asleep thinking about which Little Kiddle I wanted most, when dollar signs meant nothing to me, and I was too innocent to understand where Daddy was going at night. What I wouldn’t give now, to know that much.