Lyrics to ‘Halloween’ Album

Words and Music by Gus MacGregor

Printed by kind permission of Sputnik Publishing, Bern

 

1. The Only Game in Town

 

This is not the buckle of the Bible Belt

This is not the world I used to know so well

I can taste it on the wind
I can feel it on my skin
I thought I'd know by now how to take a punch
How to throw in the towel when it gets too much
But I work my bones on this barren land
Push a broken plough with my calloused hands

 

This is not the future I was mapping out

This is not the novel I was told about 

That was painted on the sky

With the brushes of my mind

I thought I'd know by now how to shake this off

How to throw up my hands when it all kicks off

But I turn and spit into the wind

I dig a little bit deeper in this hole I’m in

 

Sometimes the struggle sends shivers down my spine

Surging like an opiate around my ‘what if’ mind

And it will not be the first time I have stumbled in your spell

Or have broken my resolve that I would catch myself

Long before I fell - Long before I fell

 

This is not the fairytale of falling snow

This is not the stitching of the king’s new clothes

I can hear it in your sighs

And it burns me through the night

We sat for four straight hours

Played some Jackson Browne

Turned our phones right off

Turned our lives around

Love’s a hopeless place for a man to drown

But it’s still the only game in town

 

Sometimes the struggle sends shivers down my spine

Surging like an opiate around my ‘what if’ mind

And it will not be the first time I have stumbled in your spell

Or have broken my resolve that I would catch myself

Long before I fell - Long before I fell

 

2. Now’s a Good Time for a Change

 

This house is falling down

The kids have all grown and gone

We taught them that freedom was
Something worth hanging on
And now it’s just us two here
We get along some days
But mostly we fight
Now’s a good time for a change

 

The money we used to have

Helped us to get this far

But it’s stranded our creaking boat

And totalled our rusty car

Too old to learn new trades

This music has never paid

I have to face facts

Now’s a good time for a change

 

It’s a good time for a change

If I can get myself up

Get running on four

Find the gears to this worn out clutch

If I can just haul my sail

Way up above this rain

If I find it in me

Now’s a good time for a change

 

This song’s been sung before

Years ago way back when

In the corner of every bar

We sang to the same refrain

Now it’s just us two here

We get along some days

But mostly we fight

Now’s a good time for a change

 

It’s a good time for a change

If I can get myself up

Get running on four

Find the gears to this worn out clutch

If I can just haul my sail

Way up above this rain

If I find it in me

Now’s a good time for a change

 

3. The Things I Hate About You

 

I’m sitting still and you’re still moving

I’m trying to prove I’m still improving

After all this time I still don’t always know what I should do

Funny how I’ve even come to love the things I hate about you

 

You drive me mad - your backseat driving

I’m running late - it’s just bad timing

When we started dating I think I thought I’d change you somehow

Funny how I’ve even come to love the things I hate about you now

 

You can’t sleep - I can’t wake

Why can’t you be more like me for goodness sake

I always pictured us in portrait

No escaping from this landscape

You’d think we’d have more fights

When you consider just how stubborn we can be 

I guess you must have even come to love the things you hate about me

 

You can’t sleep I can’t wake

Why can’t you be more like me for goodness sake

Growing old is growing on me

Wheels are turning, turning fifty

Ambitions I’ve forgotten

Some that mattered, some that never could have been

Funny how I’ve even come to love the things I hate about me

Funny how I’ve even come to love the things I hate about me

 

4. Elsie-Jean

 

I'd been driving the I-75

Fifteen hours when I stopped to find

Italian coffee and French fries for a hungry English man

When up comes Elsie

Pad and pen in hand

 

I said - “Do me a favour,

Don't say something nice.

I’m in no mood to be looking at you twice.

And Don't be asking where I'm going or asking what's my name.

Or maybe Elsie, there'll be hell to pay.”

“I Don't wanna hear your robbing bank ideas.

I don't want gunshots ringing in my ears.

Keep your stockings on your  pretty-legs and off your face.

Go ahead make a coffee, not my day.”

 

“Keep your Guns & Roses tattoo chest

Off my radar - I need some rest.

And don't be humming in that southern tone like Emmylou.

Or maybe Elsie - I will fall for you.”

 

“Don't you flash those make-up eyes at me 

Just Refill my cup and let me be.

And don't pretend  you've not done this before

I saw a couple of dead cowboys on the porch.”

 

“Take your pink striped apron and Winston Lites

Off my road tired mind tonight.

And keep your number to yourself and off my bill

Or maybe Elsie you'll wake up in Jacksonville.”

 

That's when Elsie put her hands on hips

And she puckered up her sweet red lips

Dug her heel in my toe then she whispered this:

"Get your own goddam coffee, you son of a bitch."

Six kids later on the 75

A broken foot but a beautiful wife

I make her coffee, rub her shoulders, clean the carpet, change the bed and cook her food

That's what loving Elsie-Jean will do.

Yeah that’s what loving Elsie-Jean will do.

 

5. Check Shirt

 

Well this old check shirt that I’m wearing is past its best

Splitting at the shoulders and the chest

I see you putting it on on the edge of my bed

Your hair a mess

Your hair a mess

You said “I’ll never try to change you”

And I took that to mean that you’d noticed all the failings and the selfishness in me

It wasn’t funny but I’ve never laughed so hard

And here we are

Here we are

 

Well this old tightrope that I’m walking doesn’t break

But it doesn’t take a hurricane to shake

And though I try my best to keep from looking down

I fear the ground

I fear the ground

You said “Joe and Jane are breaking up”

And I took that to mean ‘no one ever goes the distance here except for you and me’

It wasn’t funny but I’ve never laughed so hard

And here we are

Here we are

 

Through this awkward life of mine

I’ve been right barely half of the time

I bet my whole damn life on you and I

And this wild, wild ride

It’s a wild, wild ride

 

When all our skin and breathing lie as one

And the stresses of surviving are mostly gone

It’s a place that we both need to get to more

To just let go

To just let go

You said “I’m in this for the long haul”

And I took that to mean that you’d noticed I was waiting for the day that you would leave

It wasn’t funny but I’ve never laughed so hard

And here we are

here we are

 

Through this awkward life of mine

I’ve been right barely half of the time

I bet my whole damn life on you and I

And this wild, wild ride

This wild, wild ride

 

And you threw your head right back

And you laughed your famous laugh

I’d started loving you a while before that

And there’s no going back

There’s no going back now.

 

6. Turn it Off

 

On my happiest of days I'm not thinking of your face but most the time

It's all that I can picture in my mind

I see the storm close in

Lashing rain against my skin

Rain against my skin and in my eyes

 

When I replay our scenes it is clear to me the whole thing was my fault

I was spoilt and I was mean

Any drunken fool could’ve seen what I had got

See me humbled now

Trying to live with my mistakes

I live with my mistakes and all the guilt

 

And I pray you don’t see me picking up cigarette ends

And while I’m on my knees I pray that you will take me in again

What goods a prayer when my faith isn’t there

And the bottle’s hanging off me like a cross

I’ve just learnt to turn it off

I’ve learnt to turn it off.

 

Walking every hour god sends

But I don't want this day to end because I won't sleep

There's weed and there's whisky but I won't sleep

I’ve split my life in two: 

Into everything before 

And everything that’s followed after you

 

And I pray you don’t see me picking up cigarette ends

And while I’m on my knees I pray that you will take me in again

What goods a prayer when my faith isn’t there

And the bottle’s hanging off me like a cross

I’ve just learnt to turn it off

I’ve learnt to turn it off.

 

So put some money in my hand 

But don't pretend you understand - it's just a twist

In all the normal madness, and the self indulgent sadness losing brings

See me shake my head

Looking 'round in disbelief

'round in disbelief at all of this

 

And I pray you don’t see me picking up cigarette ends

And while I’m on my knees I pray that you will take me in again

What goods a prayer when my faith isn’t there

And the bottle’s hanging off me like a cross

I’ve just learnt to turn it off

I’ve learnt to turn it off.

 

7. Strong as an Oak

 

Trying to work out which of these is the forest

And which the trees

Which the desert, which the sky

Which is just inside my mind

 

When I see your door is open wide

And it looks like nothing from the outside

There’s no song and there’s no dance

But it represents a second chance

And I’m filled with hope

As strong as an oak

 

The lines ‘round here have been getting blurred

With an overdose of well-meant words

I drop my paddle in the creek

It’s floating there just out of reach

 

When I see your door is open wide

And it looks like nothing from the outside

There’s no song and there’s no dance

But it represents a second chance

And I’m filled with hope

As strong as an oak

 

And when the craving hits there’s an intensity

I see the dogs as coming after me

And when I finally get what I most desire

There’s another craving hits on my mind… on my mind

 

There are some days despite it all

When I hit the floor and climb the walls

I couldn’t hit, as they say, a cow’s behind with my best spade

 

When I see your door is open wide

And it looks like nothing from the outside

There’s no song and there’s no dance

But it represents a second chance

And I see your door is open wide

And it looks like nothing from the outside

There’s no song and there’s no dance

But it represents a second chance

And I’m filled with hope

As strong as an oak

As strong as an oak

 

8. I Don’t Love You, Daddy

 

I don't love you, daddy, now I'm nearly four

You never give me the things that I ask for any more

Always working or making me follow some old fashioned rules

What in this world is a big boy like me expected to do

 

I don't love you daddy

I heard you say

You know raising a child isn't easy these 'I deserve everything' days

Part of me wants to give you all the things money can buy

But I swore not to spoil you, sweet angel of mine

 

Arthur my sweet, I don't need you to love me

I love you enough for the both of us, one day you'll see

I'm a far from perfect father

Oh I know too well that is true

But I'll always do my very best for your brother and you

 

I don't love you daddy

I heard you say

You know raising a child isn't easy these 'I deserve everything' days

Part of me wants to give you all the things money can buy

But I swore not to spoil you, sweet angel of mine

 

Let's make a promise: twenty five years from today

We'll sit on these very same steps and watch your children play

And you might thanks me for not spoiling you rotten

Like it's all so easy to do

And not bringing you up as a petulant brat or a self-centred fool

 

I don't love you daddy

I heard you say

You know raising a child isn't easy these 'I deserve everything' days

Part of me wants to give you all the things money can buy

But I swore not to spoil you, sweet angel of mine

I don’t love you, daddy.

 

9. Just Because That Never Happened (Doesn’t Mean it isn’t True)

 

We fell together in 1993

Me a soldier and you a refugee

I killed a hundred men all in the name of peace

We moved to Memphis the week I was released

 

You died in 2009

Broke my steely veteran heart, nearly lost my tiny mind

I cried a million tears at the tragedy of us

I fell on my knees in the Mississippi mud

 

Just because that never happened doesn’t mean it isn’t true

I’ve lived it in my mind listening to John Prine with you

All you’ll ever need to know about this world can be found inside his songs

Who will tell me that I’m wrong?

Who will tell me that I’m wrong?

 

You wouldn’t like it

I let the dog sit on your chair

The radio in the kitchen is never off

Even when I’m not in there

I like to hear the voices through the floor when I wake up in the night

I’ve started smoking again

I keep an ashtray by the nightlight

 

Just because that never happened doesn’t mean it isn’t true

I’ve lived it in my mind listening to John Prine with you

All you’ll ever need to know about this world can be found inside his songs

Who will tell me that I’m wrong?

Who will tell me that I’m wrong?

Who will tell me that I’m wrong?

Who will tell me that I’m wrong?

 

10. Our Time Will Come

 

The morning sun is beating heavy like a fire in this place

By ten the winds will build and lift the dust up to my face

The mountains in the distance  shimmer in the haze

They say it hasn’t rained here in a thousand days

 

The work is good while I can get it and god knows the money helps

Football boots and trampolines have never bought themselves

In my pocket there’s a picture of a younger you and me

Before we knew how hard things sometimes come to be

 

And our time will come

When all this madness is done

I can feel it now

Pretty soon our time will come

Pretty soon our time will come

 

I just old fashioned miss you like a good old fashioned cowboy would

Living on the range like an old fashioned cowboy does

I ride out on the prairie - I sleep beneath the moon

I can’t wait to just be good old fashioned home with you

 

And our time will come

When all this madness is done

I can feel it now

Pretty soon our time will come

Pretty soon our time will come

 

Across the plain a big red sun is sinking quickly on its way

They’re calling time to camp and rest the horses for the day

A giant moon is climbing - the lantern of the gods

And in the silence my old hopeful heart is beating-on

 

And our time will come

When all this madness is done

I can feel it now

Pretty soon our time will come

Pretty soon our time will come

 

11. Halloween

 

Oh the nights draw in and the skies are clear

I saw my breath this morning for the first time in a year

And the season change - it reminds me that

We don't get very long here that's a matter of a fact

 

And I wish like hell you'd come by

We could open up a bottle, put this sorry world to rights

Let the ghosts of where we've been fly on halloween

 

Oh my heart still hurts despite the years

I've quit the drink except for whisky, wine and beer

And I don't much go out like we used to do

Things sure have changed here since the days of you

 

And I wish like hell you'd come round

There's a monster disco going on down at the rose and crown

Let the ghosts of where we've been fly on halloween

 

I'll wear devil horns and you'll where ruby shoes

It's hard not to smile when you dance to eighties tunes

Could you forgive the things I am

And the times I didn't;t stand up and take it like a man

 

Oh the nights draw in and the skies are clear

I saw my breath this morning for the first time in a year

And the season change reminds me that

I need you more than ever, that's a matter of a fact

 

And I wish like hell you'd come here

With Christmas round the corner we could do it right this year

Let the ghosts of where we've been fly on halloween

Let the ghosts of where we've been fly on halloween

 

 

12. I’m Not Giving Up Yet

 

Stop Trying to join the dots upon the map

Looking for a shape it doesn’t have

Meaningless is not a thing I fear

I’m just living here

 

One random moment followed by the next

What’s to come is anybody’s guess

Let’s spin out every pleasure to the end

Because I’m not giving up yet 

 

What to do with what time we have left

Is the luxury of living in the west

Happy and alive and still In love

Should be enough

 

Some days I can tie myself in knots 

Only see the things I haven’t got

And all the in-jokes I could never get

But I’m not giving up yet 

 

I’ve never held you closer than tonight

The universe has never burned so bright

In the sober morning I can feel the glow

Of the letting go

 

Some days when the rhythms are just right

The doubts inside my soul give up the fight

I get close to being my very best

And I’m not giving up yet

No I’m not giving up yet

I’m not giving up yet

I’m not giving up yet

 

13. No Spring Chicken

 

I’m no spring chicken

I suppose you noticed

Is it the bags beneath my eyes?

I’m less ‘Newcomer’ and more the ‘Lifetime Achievement Prize’

Oh but I’m here and at least for now I’m still alive

I’m no spring chicken but will you still me mine?

 

Disappointments: I take them on the chin, that’s right 

I don’t sit around and wallow

Because I’m running out of time

I take the rough with the smooth

There’s probably lots I should

But I don’t want to prove

 

I’m no spring chicken

I suppose you noticed

Is it the bags beneath my eyes?

I’m less ‘Newcomer’ and more the ‘Lifetime Achievement Prize’

Oh but I’m here and at least for now I’m still alive

I’m no spring chicken but will you still me mine?

 

Aches and pains: I get them all the time, you bet

My knees crack like Roman candles

But there’s life in this dog yet

Only as old as I feel in my head 

If I don’t check the mirror when I first get out of bed

 

I’m no spring chicken

I suppose you noticed

Is it the greying of my hair?

I’m less the ‘Toy-Boy’ and more the ‘Old faithful Teddy bear’

But I’m here and at least for now I’m still alive

I’m no spring chicken but will you still me mine?

 

Well my eyesight’s getting hazier everyday 

I feel blessed

Because I see you in soft focus, always looking at your best

I pray that you are hyperopic too

Why do you think I like to sit so damn close to you

 

I’m no spring chicken

I suppose you noticed

Is it the bags beneath my eyes?

I’m less ‘Newcomer’ and more the ‘Lifetime Achievement Prize’

Oh but I’m here and at least for now I’m still alive

I’m no spring chicken but will you still me mine?

 

14. English Breakfast

 

I'm gonna have an English breakfast washed down with builders’ tea

It's full of all the wrong fats but it tastes pretty good to me

It's my dirty little secret when I'm traveling alone

If I run three 10Ks by Wednesday night no one will ever know

 

Well it feels a bit like cheating this culinary deceit 

I should be eating muesli and orange freshly squeezed

My mistress don't wear leather or heavy make-up eyes

She wears a round of deep fried bread and chips

With ketchup on the side

 

This morning there's a murmur down at the greasy spoon

From the doctors, lawyers, truckers, that the new man in the room

Is a cardio, thoracic, chest, and coronary nurse

And he’s not here for the scrambled eggs

He’s here to find some work

 

I promise from tomorrow it's kale and fruit for me

Mashed up with avocado in a green algae smoothie

I'll make it through the morning with a flat-white or latte (soya!)

But I need the full, full monty now

For one last time today’

Yeeehooo!

 

I'm gonna have an English breakfast washed down with builders’ tea

It's full of all the wrong fats but it tastes pretty good to me

It's my dirty little secret when I'm traveling alone

If I run three 10Ks by Wednesday night no one will ever know

If I run three 10Ks by Wednesday night no one will ever know

 

15. Greasy Pig

 

When I meet a Swiss I'm ready for a kiss

Three or is it four times on the cheek?

I try not to get it wrong - I’m not using any tongue

Except when I’m in Neuchatel maybe

Where I come from a simple nod of the head will suffice

Any girl knows a boy's coming on if he's looking at her twice

 

I used to hammer square pegs in triangle holes

Now I'm slipping through the world on easy toes

I'm running like a greasy pig down a mountain road

I leave shoulds and shouldn’ts in my wake

I'm going with the flow - make no mistake

I'm happy as a redneck clown at a rodeo

 

A thousand rounds release when my Catalana speaks

It takes her up to half a year to smile

Oh but I don’t get upset if she isn’t laughing yet

I'm happy just to watch her for a while

Where I come from you take the Mick or you're not worth getting to know

You're as good as undressing any Blackpool girl if she's laughing at your jokes

 

I used to hammer square pegs in triangle holes

Now I'm slipping through the world on easy toes

I'm running like a greasy pig down a mountain road

I leave shoulds and shouldn’ts in my wake

I'm going with the flow - make no mistake

I'm happy as a redneck clown at a rodeo

 

Choirboy looks will fade like a rusty pier arcade

They always promised more than they'd provide

My genius brain will turn to sludge, my Adonis frame will soften up

Glasses like Hotpoint© doors will hide my eyes

Where I come from you shovel shit with a spade you call a spade

Any girl knows her man’s half dead, and she’ll help him dig his grave

 

I used to hammer square pegs in triangle holes

Now I'm slipping through the world on easy toes

I'm running like a greasy pig down a mountain road

I leave shoulds and shouldn’ts in my wake

I'm going with the flow - make no mistake

I'm happy as a redneck clown at a rodeo

I'm happy as a redneck clown at a rodeo