Still On The Hill

ozarkinfolk duo

Lyrics


Still a River

 Story Songs of the Buffalo River 

by Still on the Hill (2016)


 

PONCA TO PRUITT

a tribute to Ken Smith • words & music by Still on the Hill

 

With my old sturdy paddle I pushed off the bank

From Ponca to Pruitt we floated that day

A lacework of branches crisscrossed overhead

Dropping Dogwood blossoms on the riverbed

A twisted Juniper…high on a bluff

In a craggy old voice…whispered to us!

 

BUFFALO RIVER…Flow River

Across…this wild land

Unspoiled…by the hand of man

 

Those low hanging clouds…finally disappeared

Droplets of rain glistened everywhere

The river it danced on its journey downstream

Whistling at Azalea all dressed in green

A black & orange Red Start …Oh blessed be

Up in a Redbud… singing to me! (Singing-CHORUS)

 

We floated past a bluff with pillars of stone

We called it the castle but its real name’s unknown

Pinnacles of time all worn and weathered

Like a mighty fortress rising from the river

High on a dark cliff… gloomy and grey

I swore that I heard an old vulture pray (Praying-CHORUS)

 

We took one more rapid and then one more chute

Finally floated down to the last quiet pool

The bluff there at Pruitt up around the bend

Brought our good journey on the river to an end

The Honeysuckle waved as we said “good-bye”

A Wood Iris wept and a Waterthrush cried (Crying- CHORUS)


ODE TO GRANNY HENDERSON

 words & music by Still on the Hill

 

When the day is breaking thru…there is so much work to do

Haul the water from the well…careful that a drop don’t spill

Feed the chickens…milk the cow…too busy to be lonely now

My husband’s gone…but the river rolls on

 

My dog chases the snakes away…with him around I ain’t afraid

My Pappy’s gun…it still can shoot…squirrel, possum, deer and coon

This land provides me all my needs…till the soil and pull the weeds

Work’s never done…but the river rolls on

 

I gotta washboard made of glass…on it I scrub my finer threads

I gotta washboard made of tin…I scrub my dirty clothes on it

If I hang my stockins on the line…they’ll be dry by suppertime

 

I make a tonic every spring…from sassafras, roots & leaves

Ginseng growing here and there…has helped me live these 80 yrs.

Chopping wood with an axe…has made me strong as any man

When day is done…the river rolls on.

 

So don’t you try to take my land…bury me right where I stand!

Until…I am dead and gone…let these mountains sing my song

The river’s running thru my veins…this is where I MUST remain!

 

Folks call me Granny Henderson…every stranger is my friend

These hills and hollers gave me life…I’ve been a mother…been a wife

Sneed Creek has been my home…never have I cared to roam

Wait till I’m gone…then let the river roll on

When I’m gone……….LET THE RIVER ROLL ON

 

KELLY Talk:

They moved Granny Henderson up the hill…there she would spend her final hour

She didn’t last long…we should have known…you can’t transplant a

WILDWOOD FLOWER


SAM'S THRONE

 words & music by Still on the Hill

 

My sister came to live with me after Ma died

She had a pocket fulla gold and Mama’s blue eyes

She worked the dirt like the devil…took the plow in her hand

And she never complained about the hard rocky land

When the day was through…she’d get out the Bible and teach me a verse or two

 

Every morning when day would come

She’d climb the mountain to pray

Rumor had it she was stolen…gone without a trace

And I’ve never been the same

 

Sharpened my pocket knife the best that I could

And I cut me stick from that good hard wood

And I made me a cane and I carved out a hole

and I filled it on up with my ‘lil sister’s gold

And when the sun arose…I climbed up the mountain

and preached to the valley below

 

Folk they say I’s a little bit touched but that don’t bother me none

For years I shouted from the mountaintop

And greeted the morning sun…greeted the morning sun

 

But nobody ever really heard my words

Except the rocks & the rivers & the trees & the birds

Oh the mountain is high and the valley is wide

And my sister she’s waitin’ on the other side

So when the sun sets tonight…

I’ll climb up the mountain…to the sweet by & by

 

Night wind cuts like my pocket knife…so cold I can see my breath

On that hill I buried my cane

And walked through the Valley of Death

walked through the Valley of Death

 

No one ever found the cane or the gold

They named my old mountain…they call it Sam’s Throne

My Rock of the Ages…it is still standing strong

Yeah, I may be gone but my memory lives on!

I’m still here…flowing down the mountain through the valley to the river on a prayer.

And there I go…flowing down the mountain through the valley to the river below!


WOE, WHOA!

 words & music by Still on the Hill w/ advisor Joe Neal

 

Louisiana Waterthrush… bobbin’ his behind

Down around Eden Falls, searching for a Mayfly

If there ain’t no Mayflies there…what’s he gonna eat?

Waterthrush ain’t stickin’ round, ‘less the river’s clean

Woe oh oh oh Whoa (Audience Echo 3X’s)

 

Chuck-Will’s- Widow…you used to call your name

As the evening shadows fell…on rustling River Cane

Kinda like a Silent Spring, since Chuck Will’s been gone

The river loved the lulliby…he sang as night came on

Woe oh oh oh Whoa (Audience Echo 3X’s)

 

Cerulean Warbler, little one with feathers of sky blue

All along the Buffalo…your numbers now are few

Every year you winter where the shade tree coffee grows

If we cut the forest down…heaven only knows

The river’s flowing through our veins

 

The trees they are our lungs

Everything depends…on everything beneath the sun

Let us not unravel

the web of life that has been spun!

 

Wood Thrush woke the sleeping woods at the break of dawn

Never has there ever been a sweeter sounding song

But this spring he did not sing…he uttered not a word

Through the hills and hollers…all that could be heard…was

Woe oh oh oh Whoa (Audience Echo 3X’s)


BEE BLUFF

words & music by Still on the Hill

 

In the early 1900’s down near Ponca, AR…

Two young boys built a ladder over 80 ft tall

Placed it up again the bluff…climbed up to the crevice where

Bees buzzed

Bees have lived inside that cliff for many generations

Folks they came from miles around…in great anticipation

Of filling up their pantries…with mason jars full of

wild honey

Burning rags with sulfur drove the bees away

With buckets in hand…folks returned the next day

But the crevice was so small that lo & behold

There weren’t no gittin’ to that treasure trove

Those boys were downright clever and they devised a plan

They brought along an auger and drilled a hole by hand

Into the solid rock…filled it with a stick

‘O dynamite

Carefully they lit the wick and prayed they’d make it down

That rickety ole ladder brought ‘em safely to the ground

Rocks started flyin’ and a hunk o mountainside

broke open

Golden honey poured down like rain

400 lbs I’ve heard folks say

the bees are gone...they’ve flown away

but the name BEE BLUFF remains today

The name BEE BLUFF remains!


ELIZABETH & PIETY

words & music by Still on the Hill

 

They came to Boxley Valley…both 16 years of age

A wedding gift…for Elizabeth…Piety was her name

They grew up just like sisters…though Piety was a slave

Even…when her freedom came in the valley she remained

 

They both had several children…then the white plague came

Elizabeth lost her husband…he wasted away

Those women made a solemn vow

To never go astray…and to care for one another

Until their dyin’ day

 

Both women lived a hard life…and time took its toll

Elizabeth…she faded…just like a wild, wild rose

Aunty Piety stood beside her…kept the promises she made

And when Piety died a fine tombstone

was placed upon her grave

 

Talk: For the love that they both shared…it transcended even death

Before she died…Elizabeth…wrote Piety’s… epitaph

 

This is what it read:

NOT LOST- BLESSED THOUGHT

GONE BEFORE…WHERE WE SHALL MEET AGAIN

and PART-- -- -NO MORE


MORNING STAR MINE

words & music by Still on the Hill

 

On the banks of Rush Creek…

Zinc was discovered…Somewhere ‘round 1889…

towns started booming…prospering an blooming…

when they opened the Morning Star Mine

One day the miners- pried from the mountain

A nugget of pure Zinc carbonate

Over 12,000 lbs – they called it Jumbo

Its value was quickly recognized

 

They moved it by wagon…To a White River flatboat…

then by Rail Road took it to the World’s Fair

up in Chicago…where it won a Gold Medal

so speculators started moving here.

 

GRAPEVINE-BRAMBLES

TIME RE-ARRANGES…EMPIRES RISE

AND EVERYTHING CHANGES

 

They built a fancy hotel and a wild saloon

Where a Rinky-tink player piano played

The miners took to whiskey…

When the tunnels-proved as empty as the buckets

That they carried home each day.

 

When WW ended…the mines all folded

Like a Gambler givin’ up his hand

The hotel was boarded and everything deserted

It was over just as quick as it began.

 

GRAPEVINE-BRAMBLES

TIME RE-ARRANGES…EMPIRES FALL

AND EVERYTHING CHANGES

 

What’s left of that ghost town is withering away

Like time turning rocks into sand

The town folks moved on when the Zinc was all gone

While the real treasure slipped right through their hands

Yeah, man has his turn and he took what he wanted

And vanished out of sight and out of mind

And that beautiful valley…well, it’s taking it back

One board and one brick at a time! REPEAT REFRAIN


THE BUSHWACKERS & THE ROOSTER

words & music by Still on the Hill

 

In the War of the Rebellion…way way back when

Lawlessness swept across the land

The bushwhackers they took whatever they wanted

They were cruel and heartless men

 

Mr. Hanson hid his family… way back in the woods

Where he thought they’d never be found

But their ole banty rooster couldn’t help himself

And he crowed just a little to loud

 

A roving band of bandits…

heard that fateful sound

They made their way to the hidden homestead

Shot the rooster and the menfolk down

 

They made Mrs. Hanson pluck the feathers out

And cook up a chicken stew

The Bushwhackers ate till they had their fill

And I swear this tale is true!

 

In that lonely holler…down ‘round Upper Richland Creek

Hardly anyone passes that way

Not a soul has lived there…for a hundred years or more

It is HAUNTED all the old folks say

 

I’m told that weary travelers…

walkin’ down that lonesome road

swear by the light of the silvery moon

that they hear an old rooster crow!


EVELINE & PETER TYLER

words & music by Still on the Hill

 

KELLY:

Eveline-Minerva Price…may I take your for my wife?

I am not a man of war…I’ll not wear a uniform

We have NO need for a slave…I will work this land…plow in hand…Eveline

 

DONNA:

Peter Tyler…I’ll say YES…I am weary…I confess

My people walked from Caroline…on a trail of tears my mother died

I’ll unbraid my long black hair…I’ll stand by your side, be a faithful wife…Peter Tyler

 

BOTH:

For years by this river…peacefully flowing

Our farm and fields steadily growing

120 acres we call home…all we ever wanted…was to be left alone

 

KELLY:

Eveline…I am afraid…this war between the Blue & Grey

Is raging right outside our door…you know that I’m against this war

All the men round here agree and have joined in secrecy…The Peace Society…Eveline.

 

DONNA:

Peter…I just heard today…a local militias on its way

They’ll round up all of men, for treason-they may be condemned

They’ll march you to Little Rock in chains…

Ankle to ankle…they’ll take you away…Peter Tyler

 

BOTH:

My love…Oh my love…hold me tight..

This war is raging but it’s not our fight

Nothing good can come when blood is spilled

by brother against brother living in these hills

 

KELLY:

Eveline…Please be brave….somehow I will soon escape

I’ve been working on a plan…I’ll send you a letter when I can

Once I’m free I will return…to your sweet embrace

That bright and sunny day…Eveline!

 

DONNA:

One final letter I received…from a rebel camp near Boling Green

I read much more between the lines, my dear Peter’s, sick and dying

The last words that he wrote to me

 

KELLY:

When the war is through…I pray…I’ll come back to you…Eveline!

 

DONNA:

When the war is through...I’ll see…you coming back to me…Peter Tyler!


LOVELY BUFFALO

words & music by Still on the Hill

 

Chuck Will’s Widow and Whippoorwill

Singin’ to beat the band…competing for attention of the moon

A pack of coyotes pass our camp a little bit too close…howling out a tune

We woke up in the morning…down by the riverbed

To a symphony of Mourning Dove and Carolina Wren

Wood Thrush, Oven Bird…Red Eyed Vireo

I’m so glad they never dammed the Lovely Buffalo!

 

In 1937, there came a call from Washington

Build dams…to tame the rivers flow

Folks down in the valley were moved to higher land

All in the name of flood control

 

Rising in the morning…to hear the birds a’callin

We found a pathway through some river cane

Not paying much attention…to this or that direction

we almost lost our way

Caught up in the beauty of that magical place

Wind upon our back and the sun upon our face

We came upon a bluff with the river down below

I’m so glad they never dammed the Lovely Buffalo

 

In the 1970’s the Ozark Society

Worked hard and saved the Buffalo

Now it’s our Nations FIRST Historic River

Majestically it flows!

 

Now I’m sitting on that river bank, banjo in my hand

Hoping for the final verse to come

I’m grateful for the river…grateful for this day

And for the setting sun

 

And even those mighty Dams-When I really stop to think

They’re providing us with power

And clean water for us to drink

 

But sitting here this evening,

just watching the river flow

I’m so glad they never dammed the Lovely Buffalo!