brandon grafius

Highways and Backroads


Lyrics

"Roll Away"

if I were a better man
i’d let the river wash me away
wash me away, lift me up
and i’d roll away

if I had the fear of god
I wouldn’t need to keep so much
keep so much that holds me down
you know i’d roll away

roll away, roll away
if my soul gets right then I could leave today
blessed river, hear what I say
help me roll away

if I could touch your face once more
I could breathe the breath I need
the breath I need to move along
and I’d roll away

roll away, roll away
if my soul gets right then I could leave today
blessed river, hear what I say
help me roll away

"Midwestern Sky"

it goes on forever, so many shades of blue
it can hold you close, the way a lover might do
or give you space to run through the clouds of gray
then call you back home when you’ve been too long away

the midwestern sky, so deep and wide
you can lose yourself, you can forget your pride
she said it was time for her to say goodbye
but what does she know ‘bout the midwestern sky

that sky seems to know everywhere you’ve been
it keeps stretching out, doesn’t close you in
once I’ve picked myself up, once I’ve dried my eyes
I’ll find someone who knows the midwestern sky

the midwestern sky, so deep and wide
you can lose yourself, you can forget your pride
she said it was time for her to say goodbye
but what does she know ‘bout the midwestern sky

"Things Get Right"

we’re up in Traverse City, summer’s falling from the trees
the waves crawl ‘cross the harbor from a crisp southwestern breeze
walking by the boat docks I take your hand in mine
and start to realize some wounds only need some time

and you’re here

the worries that once killed me don’t matter much these days
I’ve let go of all the things I can’t hold onto anyway
I used to wake in cold sweats, now I’m sleeping through the night
when things get right, it’s all right

seems like such a short time for us to’ve come so far
a Belgian at the rare bird and some wine in Leelenau
as I get near the intersection traffic lights turn green
I’m in love with a black cat, bad luck can’t follow me

and you’re here

the worries that once killed me don’t matter much these days
I’ve let go of all the things I can’t hold onto anyway
I used to wake in cold sweats, now I’m sleeping through the night
when things get right, it’s all right

the weekend winding down I had to say goodbye to you
I’m headed back to Lansing driving south on 22
the road stretched out before me, the sun splits through the trees
I know it won’t be long before you’re once again with me

and I’ll be here

the worries that once killed me don’t matter much these days
I’ve let go of all the things I can’t hold onto anyway
I used to wake in cold sweats, now I’m sleeping through the night
when things get right, it’s all right

"My Father’s Boat"

My father and his father spent a summer
building a boat with their hands
moving along with the grain
yielding to the wood’s demands
they soaked the plywood to bend it
around the hull’s oaken ribs
guiding the form out of the pieces
with time and tools and all they had to give

it carried them over the waves
that roll on the face of lake Michigan
carried them through wind and rain
and brought them home again

the only work I can build
are these songs that my fingers shape
bending ‘round the neck of my guitar
moving along its face
my father’s father died thirty years ago
and that boat rode the waves for its last time
but I’m searching for a craft that’s as sturdy
with chords of oak and plywood rhymes

to carry you over the waves
that roll on the face of lake Michigan
carry you through wind and rain
and bring you home again

"Company Store"

pick up your hammer, swing it on down
you’re working for the company that owns this town
at the end of the week they tally what you’ve worked for
then pay you in scrip from the company store

shelves may be stocked but prices are high
you’ve barely got enough to get your family by
a bitter wind don’t stop at your front door
your life won’t get no better than the company store

our transactions are so one-sided
there’s no satisfaction in a house divided
however much I get I always pay more
loving you is like buying from the company store

coal in your lungs, a wrench in your back
cough into your handkerchief and watch it turn black
this whole town is rotten to the core
but you’ve given your life to the company store

our transactions are so one-sided
there’s no satisfaction in a house divided
however much I get I always pay more
loving you is like buying from the company store

"Good Stewards"

a talent that gets buried at the roots of a mighty tree
never sees the morning, we’ll never know what it might be
we keep our gifts inside us, afraid to let them show
buried in the soil, where no one else can go

help us live, help us grow
help us learn when to let go
help us look past the parts to see the whole
help us be good stewards of our souls

we are given so many blessings every day
sometimes it’s hope we squander, sometimes it’s love we throw away
so in this time we have together, guide us towards what we can become
help us pull our talents from the soil to see the sun

help us live, help us grow
help us learn when to let go
help us look past the parts to see the whole
help us be good stewards of our souls

"Sacramento"

I came to this town with my suitcase in hand
a pen and a notebook of songs
leaving behind the midwestern sky
I’d slept beneath for so long
I knew every star in that Michigan night
somehow it seems it’s all changed
walking around the streets of this town
without a soul breathing my name

so thank you for all that you’ve given me
the poems, the friends, and the wine
I’ve been thinking awhile about leaving
I’m thinking ‘bout now that it’s time
I’ve lived with my lover and I’ve lived alone
but I guess that I’ve always known
Sacramento, you’re still not my home

plains lay flat by the highway
grass is parched all summer long
I miss the September thunder
leaves curling golden and brown
I can’t find my way through the rhythms
the people all wandering by
I guess that i’m just a midwestern boy
I guess i’ll be ‘til I die

so thank you for all that you’ve given me
the poems, the friends, and the wine
I’ve been thinking awhile about leaving
I’m thinking ‘bout now that it’s time
I’ve lived with my lover and I’ve lived alone
but I guess that I’ve always known
Sacramento, you’re still not my home

"Two Hundred Miles"

I’ve got two hundred miles to drive tonight
ain’t nothing but dark and road in front of me
and these dog-eared memories of you are all I have
to keep me company
be with me through the night
be my companion be my light
and I’ll carry you with me all the while
through every one of these two hundred miles

I’ve got two hundred miles in front of me
seems like such a long, long way
but this highway I’m on is going to take me home
i can be there before the break of day
be with me where e’er I go
through this dark and through this cold
and these heavy thoughts might glimmer towards a smile
with every one of these two hundred miles

and my stereo is busted, it just spits my cd’s out
can’t find nothing but static on the radio
I put my ear to all your whispers ‘till each one seems like a shout
reminding me of just how far I have to go
so far to go

I’ve got two hundred miles ‘til I get home
and I pray that you’ll be waiting
so I’ll keep holding on to the memory of your smile
just to stop my world from breaking
be with me through the night
be my companion be my light
and I’ll carry you with me all the while
through every one of these two hundred miles

"Song for a Traveler"

may this song lead you safely home
may it remind you that you are not alone
may it comfort you when hope
seems distant and unknown
may this song lead you safely home

may the road always know your name
may you always hold your head up without shame
when someone shows you kindness
may you wish on them the same
may the road always know your name

may your burden never be too much to bear
may you always have a coin to pay your fare
when you meet someone who’s needy
may you have enough to share
may your burden never be too much to bear

may this song lead you safely home
may it remind you that you are not alone
may it comfort you when hope
seems distant and unknown
may this song lead you safely home

"Cardinal in Winter"

cars rolling in the ditch outside along i-96
the warmth from our fireplace keeps getting dimmer
but a flash of bright red streaks across the barren white
there’s a cardinal in winter

we’re wrapped up in our blankets, huddled on the couch
even in the cold your arms feel tender
and looking out the window, through drifting swirls of snow
there’s a cardinal in winter

seems like all the world is barren, white, and still
and the hope of sunshine’s warmth is just a glimmer
but landing on the frozen branches, beneath the windowsill
there’s a cardinal in winter
cold creeps in through the windowpanes, the fire’s down to embers
your soul feels like it’s frosting at the center
when it seems the sun will never come, try hard to remember
there’s a cardinal in winter

in these days of whipping winds, I try to do the best I can
I try to be more saint than rambling sinner
but I still need reminders that spring is coming on
you’re my cardinal in winter

seems like all the world is barren, white, and still
and the hope of sunshine’s warmth is just a glimmer
but landing on the frozen branches, beneath the windowsill
there’s a cardinal in winter
there’s always a cardinal in winter