Monday, November 17, 2008

Lady of Labrador I Hatful of Change

           C                       G                
After the Viking Ruins
     Am                       Dm
 I traveled for many hours
   C                      G                
And crossed the Strait of Belle Isle
 Am                      Dm                            C
 To a place where dandelions are called flowers
                     F       D            C  
Where the water is fresh with salmon
           F               Dm        C
Wild horses and cattle run free
     F                G7         Dm
A fisherman gave me a lift
         Am      G             Am
and took me home for tea
              C      G        C
And took me home for tea

C                     G
The wife cooked a dinner
        Am                                        Dm
with bake apples and cream from their cow
       C                        G      
She talked of all the olden days
                Am                  Dm                    C
When the fish were more plentiful than now
     F              D                 C
I stood for a while on the dock
         F                   Dm              C
and listened to the waves on the shore
                  F                G7         Dm
Where the wives had waited in   sorrow
      Am               G         Am       -
in the songs of old folklore
        C              G         C
In the songs of old folklore

    Am      Bm        
O Lady of Labrador
      D                       Em
 I adore your rustic charm
       Am                Bm   
I trust your charming outport
                D                     Em
Will always be safe and warm

 to long linger on
      C       G      C
 to long linger on

That evening we went the tavern
Where we downed so many beer
He said that half of Labrador
Had heard of me visiting here

I was standing the juke box
Trying to pick a song
When behind me from the shadows 
A fair young maid came along
A fair young maid came along 

We struck up a conversation
Much the same as you would a match
And in the time it takes for a smoke
We became closely attached
She was from the Glenfell Mission
To teach the children to swim
We talked so much and so warm
Our cups were filled to the brim
The cups were filled to the brim

O Lady of Labrador

I asked the fisherman the next morning
If he was going to fish on the bay
He said, "The weather looks good
But I'm too drunk to fish today."

I told him I would be leaving
With the first light of the dawn 
I said,"Perhaps I'll return here
When my traveling urge has gone."
When my traveling urge has gone

Then I went to the next outport
Where the young maid could be found
With the children behind the church
On a bluff that overlooked the town
I could not say what I wanted
I saw at a glance the feeling was gone
But I left them with a prayer
That would long linger on
That wold long linger on

Aug.  1972, Quebec City

In Saint Anthony Newfoundland, in the summer of '72, a man named Sherlock gave me a ride and took me to his home. He was about my age and talked in a flaky voice. I told him that my ambition was to become a famous songwriter; he listened to a cassette of my songs and said, "You're ambition is just a pipe dream."I tried to dissuade him with fanatical persistence and said, "Listen to this one song, It's called One Son.""I dare say I like it," Sherlock said at last.I hitch hiked back to the cove. Before I arrived there I visited at the remains of the Viking settlements. Standing on the shores in an area that had been unchanged for centuries. I looked out at the bay just as it would have been when the Vikings first landed. The experience was timeless.As I walked amid the houses at Flower's Cove I noticed they seemed to have sprung up at random, like wild flowers. But actually each house faced the center of the bay. Beneath the gray evening sky the cove in the distance turned a thin sliver of silver. Calm pockets of water were strewn about from a recent storm. My guitar in my green canvas trapper Nelson backpack was sticking above my head like the dragon on the prow of a Viking ship. My instrument was inside the impromptu case which I had constructed from an old raincoat. I had taken one sleeve off a raincoat and attached it where a neck would be and used the other arm for a handle.A group of about a half dozen kids gathered around and asked me where I was from. I said that I was from Toronto, and that I was traveling around the world. I told each, and every child their age, exactly, to the half year.I made my way to Harold's house. I had stayed there a few days before and he told me to stop in on the way back. Harold gave me a taste of hard tack, and warned me that I wouldn't like it. He was right. Then I helped Harold carry a large piece of plywood across a windy field to a shed. We passed a derelict car along the way, with parts strewn about. Often I passed abandoned automobiles and felt they were making a junkyard out of heaven. After twenty five years the cars and the rust seemed to blend with the soil. I was sitting talking to Harold when my friend John Franklin knocked on the door. He had found the message that I had left at the Viking ruins. The next morning we took the ferry to Labrador. That evening the rusty jalopy of the sun drove into the junkyard of the horizon, somewhere beyond the Straight of Belle Isle.When we walked around the out port, people would watch us from window to window, like fishes in a goldfish bowl. Many of the cottages were quaint and looked like something from an Arther Vilaneuve painting. One was Octagon shaped. A family took us home for dinner and kept telling me to play another ditty. We went to the tavern and drank some Brador. I talked to a Lady beside the juke box, she became the inspiration for the song Lady of Labrador.        There was a small white frame church, and John and I sat and I played some harmonica which made a little dog howl. John and I hitchhiked along the forty miles of road, the road that connected the few towns that weren't outports. Along the way we would run into strangers who knew who we were, for the word had spread quickly that two boys from Toronto were traveling around. "All Labrador knows you are here."One night we ended up in the middle of a forest, and made a shelter out of branches, pulled our sleeping bags over our heads, but still got eaten alive by the mosquitoes. Just down the road there was an empty loggers cabin that we could have slept in. We finally got a ride to the end of the road, and the people took us in for tea. Every house that we went to had pictures of John F Kennedy on the wall. When we got to the end of the road it disappeared into someone's back yard. There was a dock, and below the dock shining on the bottom were dozens of shiny fish heads. John walked about twenty yards into the fog and disappeared. He would walk forwards and backwards playing around with disappearance in the fog. And then we turned around and went back to where we had come from.


When you’ve sailed through far too many
Far beyond the known extremes
In and out of endless harbours
’Til you get the the one of your dreams
When you’ve gone through each illusion
The fog has mischief to make
You’re always with the music rambling
Keeping Creation awake

With a Hatful of Change and a heart full of song
Before you know it the Whole Wide World 
Will want to follow along

You may think the journey’s over
When you’ve finally sighted land
Don’t let your dreams become empty shells
All washed up on uncharted sand
For this old world may try to hold you
Just try leaving it behind
When sailing on a sea of song
God knows what you will find

With a Hatful of Change and a heart full of song

Gazing through a blinking spyglass
Beyond the clouds above the coast
As the evening’s ancient starlight
Had all but given up the ghost
I was blessed to catch the sail 
Of billowed moon drifting to view
As it became a phantom galleon
Manned by a skeleton crew

With a Hatful of Change and a heart full of song

This blasted ship is old and leaking
But not headed for the shore
It is bound to go on seeking
Till it can’t sail  anymore
I thank God for my first mate
She made sailing a breeze
We made it through some dire straights
Now we’re headed for the high seas

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