The Charm of the Highway Strip

All songs written by Stephin Merritt.

Lonely Highway

I'm never going back to Jackson. I couldn't bear to show my face. I nearly killed you with my drinking. Wouldn't be caught dead in that place. Lonely highway--only friend. You've got me to keep you warm again. Lonely highway--don't you cry. Let me hold you in my arms tonight. And as I hurtle down the highway, past the factories and the graves, I think of all the years I wasted. I think of all the years I've saved.

Long Vermont Roads

Your eyes are long Vermont roads, with a tacky song on the radio. And your eyes are toothless young men in Tennessee in the rain again. And the fireflies never go to sleep. And the country songs never help you sleep. But after all those trains and all those breakdown lanes, the roads don't love you and they still won't pretend to. After all those days on godforsaken highways, the roads don't love you and they still won't pretend to. Your eyes are the Mesa Verde: big and brown and far away. And your eyes are Kansas City: in Kansas and in Missouri. But after all this time and after all your crying, the roads don't love you and they still won't pretend to. The roads are dark and long and all those country songs--well, they don't love you and they still won't pretend to.

Born on a Train

Some roads are only seen at night: ghost roads--nothing but neon signs. But some nights the neon gas gets free and turns into walking dead like me. And I've been making promises I know I'll never keep. One of these days I'm gonna leave you in your sleep. I'll have to go when the whistle blows; the whistle knows my name. Baby, I was born on a train. Well I know that you were never young, and I know you probably won't get old. But, honey, nobody's gonna hurt you anymore and nobody's going to make you want to die. I'll go some cold and grey morning and you won't remember anything. Well, some people don't believe in dying, but some of us don't believe in life.

I Have the Moon

Well, we have walked in ancient times and we've been burned for many crimes. We have ended many lives, but we never really died. You have the sun, I have the moon. You have to fly around the world all day to keep the sun upon your face. I'd like to come and comfort you, but I'd be blinded by the blue. You have the sun, I have the moon. You're bound to die under the sun and I'll be doomed to carry on. You have become like other men, but let me kiss you once again. You have the sun, I have the moon.

Two Characters in Search of a Country Song

You were just like me. You were one big bruise. In the game of life you were playing to lose. You were Jesse James. I was William Tell. You were Daniel Webster. I was the Devil himself. Two characters in search of a country song, just make-believe but so in love. Two characters been listening all night long for voices from Nashville above. Hell on eighteen wheels at a hundred per, we went crashing through the Jersey barrier, but the road went on over dale and hill. You were Calamity Jane and I was Wild Bill.

Crowd of Drifters

Sometimes the road is too long. You meet all kinds of people. Some of them cast no shadow. They have no reflections. Take a look in your photobook. I'm not there anymore. I was a traveling salesman. I got lost on the backroads, fell in with a crowd of drifters. Sometimes the sun is too bright and it burns you like acid. You get to love driving at night. The moon is so close you can kiss it. I used to remember you smiling and waving. I don't think I can anymore. We come, unnoticed, at sundown at the start of a blackout. We set bonfires all over town and it's over by morning. Sometimes we bring the rat and the wolf and sometimes the worm.

Fear of Trains

It was the army train that took her daddy from her. It was the Bible train that took her momma too. And that high loud whistle made her horse run away, but the straw the broke the camel's back was you. It was the government train that took away her childhood. It was the KKK that took away her past. It was the white man's will that hers be broken, but that barefoot girl could run too fast. Because the world's too cold for a girl like that, with a Blackfoot soul and a cowboy hat. Everything she loved went down the dragon track. She had a fear of trains. In the beet fields of Montana, she's always coming on dead rails to break the plow and whisper, "Honey, bound to live is bound to fail." And in a park in San Francisco, her momma shrieks about the Lord. And down the dead rails there's an echo. The wind is whistling all-aboard. It was the wagon train that took away her country. It was the oil train that took away her land. And she could have been the belle of the Ponderosa, but that was not the fat man's plan.

When the Open Road Is Closing In

Time--measured in dotted yellow lines--has passed you by, and I never said an honest thing to you in all my life. Hard times go slowly and the good times never come. The world is a Motor Inn in an Iowa highway slum. When the open road is closing in, and you can't say where it ends and you begin. When every truck stop dive's another five years off your life. When the open road is closing in, and the dotted yellow lines begin to spin, and the sky begins to fall on everything you like at all. You won't be coming home again. Ciao. You keep on drowning in the roads between the towns. And now, I have been closing all the shutters in the house Well, I know you'll be back when every tree is turning brown. You'll find the house is empty and the swing set's fallen down.

Sunset City

Well I don't care what people say. Life is too short to hang around. So I stay so long in a place, and then move on to the next town. Oh, Sunset City. I've gotta see the world. Don't hold me too tightly. Don't whisper my name. Sad-eyed baby. I'm not that kind of girl. When the dice stop rolling, there's no more to the game. When the time comes to say goodbye. And in the morning I'll be gone for other towns and other lives. I'll catch the first train bag in hand and I won't miss you and you won't cry.


Copyright (c) Sep 1999 - Jun 2005 by The Distant Plastic Treehouse