Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Cardboard Sign

I see a lot of cardboard signs these days - at parking lot exits, random street corners. I saw one today on Cypress, a gentleman heading south on I5, in the company of a gal. His sign said "Homeward Bound."

This song was inspired by a story that Elizabeth Gilbert related in her biography of Eustace Conway, "The Last American Man." (Good reading, I assure you.) An old hitchhiker explained that he can always get a ride when he writes this single word on his sign.

The word?


Craig sings, Annie's on fiddle. The song is fiction but the sentiments are true.

The Cardboard Sign
words and music © Erin Friedman

Saw him just ten miles south
Of the Shasta County line
An old hobo with his thumb out
Holding up a Cardboard Sign
His ragged jeans were washed in dirt
His flannel shirt was frayed
On his sign was a single word
Made me hit the brakes

The Cardboard Sign he held to his chest
Told the passers-by where he was headed next
The lines on his face said
“Weary to the bone”
His eyes said “Please”
His sign said “HOME”

Had a voice like an old dirt road
And a hundred dusty stories
Ladies, moonshine and rodeos
Freight trains bound for glory
He said, “There’s a price for runnin’ wild
And I paid my dues in Memphis
Did my time, made up my mind
Now it’s time for mending fences”

At the end of a gravel drive
Just outside McCloud
He said “I’m much obliged
Here’s where I get out”
A woman waving from the porch
Came running down to meet him
I turned around and headed for
The place that I’d been leavin’

The Cardboard Sign
He tossed on the seat
Was a one-word lifeline
That old man threw to me
The lines on his face said
“Weary to the bone”
His eyes said “Please”
His sign said “HOME”

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