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Chris Ramey Gave Me This Guitar

Chris Ramey gave me this guitar
we’d been friends for years and we can this far
living in a world of folk clubs and bars
songs for every season and we sang them on the steel string guitar

Chris Ramey was a big man and he sang a big song
and in my younger days I tagged along
he had a big life and he lived it right out loud
head and shoulders over everybody else in the crowd

he rode with the Pranksters, he knew Neal Cassidy too
Janis Joplin lit a candle for him in an almost rendezvous
Jesse Fuller, Margo St James
everybody knew Chris Ramey and he knew them all the same

he could drink you under the table, he could trip you over the moon
he could tell more tales than a carny barker on a Saturday afternoon
he had a heart of gold, it was golden to the core
he’d give you the shirt off his back and if you needed a bed he’d sleep on the floor

I lost track of Ramey and he lost track of me
then I heard he was selling cars down in the valley
his guitar was in the closet, strings were old and dead
but he still had all those songs in his head

I said  ‘Hey Chris, I don’t know about these cars
but guitar strings call for fingers and your fingers need guitars
and these kids out there nowadays, they seem to be so young
they need a master like you to show them how it’s done”

he was a little rusty at first, then the rust was dusted off
the magic came alive and the songs woke up
like a sleeper on the rebound from a long tangential dream
Chris Ramey was back on the scene

he got himself a good set of wheels from that used car lot
he put a PA in the trunk and he went out giggin’ while the giggin’ was hot
he got a brand new repertoire, it was a fine sight to see
with his harmonica buddy Jimmy Dewrance he made his first CD

and the music was alive, he was living in the zone
he loved those old Gibsons and Epiphones
he knew I did too, it was almost biology
so whenever he found a good one he’d show it to me

life catches up with you no matter how fast you drive
and they say that nobody gets out of here alive
there are songs come in singing with and songs to fly away
and he knew he’d have to sing one of those other ones some day

Chris Ramey gave me this guitar when he knew the time was near
he said “Go pick the one that speaks to you, Jim, and get it out of here”
so I took this old slope shoulder with the sun burst top
it made bells beneath my fingers and it would not let me stop

so, sing a song for laughter, sing a song for tears
sing a song for old friends who’ve known you all these years
sing a song for leaving and another one for when you’re gone
for life is just a melody waiting for a song