Thunder’s Mouth

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cd cover: thunders mouth by Scott AinslieScott Ainslie

When I lived down on Smokey Row,
I kept my dreams between the cotton rows.
Those fields my books, where I wrote with my hoe.
When I lived – when I lived – down on Smokey Row.

They sold my Mama; then my Pa.
Beat me reg’lar. I carry the scars.
You were the only pure thing in my heart.
That ground was dry; that ground was hard.

We made Nashville; walked all the way.
The sun beat us down, day after day.
The gun and the rope, they sure did have their say.
At every turn – every turn – I saw your face.

If my tongue were in Thunder’s Mouth,
I’d call a shout all across the South.
And the rain would wash our sins all out,
If my tongue – if my tongue – were in Thunder’s Mouth.

The world we dream is just as real,
as the scars we bear and the love we feel.
And someday, if we get to choose:
You take me – you take me–you take me
and I’ll take you

Reading slave narratives from immediately after the Civil War, I was moved to find that as soon as they were released from bondage, slaves all over the South headed to the closest large city in search of lost husbands, wives, parents, brothers, sisters, and children. Smokey Row was the name for the Black shanty town that grew up in Nashville in those years.

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