Hardened Ground Lyrics


Broke Down Town

 © 2008 Nancy Sferra

Dog is lickin’ food from a garbage can,

Willy hides his car from the repo man

With a blue tarp flappin’ in the evening breeze,

This town will bring a grown man to his knees


Chorus 1:       Willy wonders how he got so low

                        He’s starin’ at the river that flows below

                        Everything is so broke down

                        He’s got a beautiful view of a broke down town


His old man staring at a TV screen,

Huggin’ a pint of his best friend Old Jim Beam

Heckling contestants on the “Price is Right”

Found his courage in a bottle, a bottle of lies


Willy rounds the corner for some cigarettes,

Amanda’s outside on the store’s front steps

Willy flips a quarter in her paper cup

Mutters, man you gotta clean yourself up


Chorus 2:       Willy wonders how he got so hard

                        Lookin’ out the window past his small backyard

                        Says everything is so broke down

                        He’s got a beautiful view of this broke down town


A Dog and A Guitar

© 2010 Nancy Sferra


I’ve got some time off work and I’m trying to fill my days

Got some money in the bank and time to play

I’ve got a map folded open on the front seat of the car

Got the tires full of air, got a dog and a guitar


I figure it will take me two or three days

A dog and a guitar to keep me sane

I can’t decide if I should phone you on the way

 Or show up on your doorstep with a smile and a wave 


The landscape flattens out, I watch the trees melt away

As they give way to corn and wheat, the towns look the same

The mountains loom ahead and the sun is in my eyes

As it dips toward the summits and fires up the sky


I’ve got a map folded open on the front seat of the car

Got the tires full of air, got a dog and a guitar



© 2007 Nancy Sferra

It’s 2 am and she’s here all alone,

Been waiting for an hour for a ride to take her home

Waitress refills her coffee, remarks on the pouring rain

She can hear it all running down into the outside drain


Chorus             Sign outside says “dine” but the N’s burned out

                    Message written for the down and out

                    Cook’s in the kitchen singing “Pancho and Lefty” to the radio

                    Living the outlaw life and ending up in Ohio


Waitress stops by to ask is there anything I can do

Do you want to use the phone to see if he’s coming out for you

I’m sure he’s on his way, he’s just slow on account of the pouring rain

It’s hard to make your way when you can’t even see your lane

Chorus             Car pulls in the parking lot with its brights turned on

                    Night’s unfit for anyone but the underdog

                    Couple runs through the door, they’re clothes are soaking wet

                    His hand’s on the small of her back, stabs out his cigarette


It’s four am, she’s sitting here on her own

Been waiting three hours for her baby to come and take her home

A wash of light is showing out to the east

She picks up her pack and heads out to the street

Off The Deep End 

©2001 Nancy Sferra


The last time you said goodbye,

there was that freedom glimmer in your eye

I didn’t think you’d show your face again

But there you stood expecting me to let you in


You ate my food, you slept in my bed,

Played with the dog, and messed with my head

Made it look like you intended to stay

Lucky for you there were others who took in strays


Chorus:            You keep pausing and changing your mind

                        Swing like the weather or a gate on a fence

                        You’re going to chase me right off the deep end


Once was confusion, twice was a mistake,

The third time you left, I thought it would take

You acted like you went for a walk round the block

Returned to home like the hour hand on a clock


I moved across town, bolted the doors,

No longer willing to give you house tours

Either way, I end up alone

I know it was a mistake to answer the phone


The Last Day

© 2010 Nancy Sferra


Another day starts in the dark,

Out here on the corner of 6th Street and Park

Unlock the door, turn on the light,

I’ve been working hard for forty years from morning til night


I’ve watched this city come awake

From my tiny corner stake

I’ve watched my regulars age

   And the changing headlines bold on the front page


It’s time I said my goodbyes,

The newsstand business is starting to die

I should retire to the shore,

I mean, who reads papers and no one smokes anymore


Through Vietnam and Watergate,

Summer of Love and Purple Haze

A pack of smokes was thirty cents,

Now I can’t afford this rent

  The War on Terror and Medicaid,

The Internet, and Free Trade

I’ll go the way of the dinosaur,

It’s all just commentary anymore

Hardened Ground

© 2005 Nancy Sferra


What am I doing tomorrow, can’t be worse than today

Tired of hanging in this dusty town where this hard work just don’t pay

I’m free to go, just get in the car

Haul down the road, I’m just not sure how far


Oh, I’m free to go, to leave this town

Before this brown dirt brings me down

All we have in common is we lost our fight

And stuck on thinking can’t instead of might


I’ve lived here all my life, I never intended to stay

Every time I thought about leaving, minor complications just go tin the way

I’m free to go, to break this chain

I may never have this chance again


Sitting at the four way, idling by the general store

Realtor’s sign is swinging in the wind, you can’t buy your beer here anymore

I’m free to go, just hit the gas

I better get going before the feeling’s passed


Oh, I’m free to go, to leave this town

To pull up stakes from this hardened ground

What we have in common is spit and fight 

Just enough to make me hold on tight


We Want What We Want

© 2012 Nancy Sferra


Like clockwork, we’re an hour late, cars are stacked in the driveway

Dad’s in his chair by a roaring fire, he yells, “I sure hope you two are gonna stay.”


He’s got a half empty bottle of whiskey, and a bucket of half melted ice

I know not to mention his drinking, cause he’s say I don’t need your advice


He wants what he wants when he wants it

He needs what he needs when he needs it

He sees everything in black and white

There’s no such thing as in between


Mom’s in the kitchen and she’s going on about the neighbor’s free range daughter

Says she’s lazy and vulgar and must be a fool, that’s not what her mother taught her


I remind her of my own wicked ways, she says that it’s not the same

I suppose she only knows the half of it, and there’s no way that she’d take the blame


She wants what she wants when she wants it

She needs what she needs when she needs it

She hears what she likes when the time is right

Everything else, she won’t believe it


He likes to drink and tell me I’m wrong

She likes to sit in the kitchen and opine

I have what I have and I like it just fine


He wants what he wants……..


She wants what she wants…….


Fan The Flames

©2013 Nancy Sferra


Gotta be near 90, can't move from the couch

Flies beat their brains against the window pane

How can folks stand to live down south

I use all my energy to complain


You're no help cause you're fanning the flames again

                        Nothing left but the ashes

                        You fan the flames, my friend


Alberta clipper screaming out from the west

Brings cold that takes my breath away

Stays too long like an unwanted guest

The sea smoke rising out on the bay


You're no help cause you're blowing cold again

                        Wind cut me to the bone

                        You're blowing cold my friend


 Looks like I'm gonna get burned again

                        Maybe from the heat or your minus 10

                        Dance a little closer to the flame

                        Like a fire you create your own weather, my friend

Tell-tale Eyes

© 2007 Nancy Sferra


Wrinkled hands knotted in her lap, veins stand out like the roads on a map

Rocking gently to a phantom beat, old black dog curled at her feet


Looks at me and she taps her head, stops her rocking for a moment and says

Broken window pane, light comes through it just the same, just the same


She said she has tell-tale eyes

I would have called them worldly and wise

Her mind’s filled with memories

That spill out her eyes like the coming sea


She says she likes me coming around, to see an old woman and her poor old hound

The folks around here treat her okay, she has her share of good and bad days


Sometimes it’s too much for me, all the reminiscing about families

It changes with the track of time, she should just let those sleeping dogs lie, sleeping dogs lie


She said she has tell-tale eyes

I would have called them worldly and wise

Her wrinkles are because of age

But her life’s in black and white like a well read page


I looked at her face and I knew what she meant, the lines of joy and sorrow were easy to detect

And when I looked in her pale blue eyes, what I saw was a hint of a sigh


Her old black dog stared at me, when I stood up to take my leave

As I started to say my goodbyes she said

Don’t you think he has tell-tale eyes, tell-tale eyes, tell-tale eyes

You’re Working All The Time

© 2005 Nancy Sferra


Ain’t no picture of your family, ain’t no girlfriend on the wall

No photos from Hawaii

What a crime that you’re working all the time


You’re always talking on the telephone, closing all those big shot deals

You keep your nose to the grindstone, baby

What a crime that you’re working all the time


Quarter to five, near quitting time

     Another day, we’re leaving you behind


You drive a fast expensive car, wear you’re finely tailored clothes

All the trappings of a superstar

What a crime that you’re working all the time


I walk down the street at night

I look up and I see your light

     It must be close to a half past nine

      Come on out, you’re working all the time


Ain’t no picture of your family, ain’t no girlfriend on the wall

No photos from Hawaii

What a crime that you’re working all the time


Wild Bones

©2006 by Nancy Sferra


No smell of coffee, morning paper’s unread

Alarm clock is chirping and I reach across the bed

Dog’s whining at the door, my body aching for twenty minutes more

I’ll lie here like a stone till I stretch the wild out of my bones


Morning birds are singing, the sun’s streaming in

I tell myself mind over body, but there’s no way that my mind can win

Just fifteen minutes more, that crazy dog is barking at the door

I’ll lie here like a stone till I stretch the wild out of my bones


My clothes are lying all over the floor

                        I never learn, I’ve been here before

                        Run my fingers through my hair

I keep this up and I haven’t got a prayer


No smell of coffee, my body it feels dead

Alarm clock is chirping and I can’t get out of bed

Dog’s whining at the door, my body aching for ten minutes more

I’ll lie here like a stone till I stretch the wild out of my bones


Dog’s whining at the door, my body aching for five minutes more

I wanna lie here like a stone, but I stretch the wild out of my bones

Mercury On Glass

©2015 Nancy Sferra


It's hard to come back

Many years that I've lost track

I could have tried to find you


Our past is paper thin

Compared to where we've both been

All those doors we've walked through


We were mercury on glass

We chased what never came to pass

Between us, between you and me


Talked about our wanderlust

Wrote our names in the dust

Erased by the promise of tomorrow


You went left, I went right

A gentle kiss, we said goodbye

The bitter taste of sorrow


Standing here in this room

In the shadows of the evening gloom

Your life laid out before me


Pictures of your pretty wife

Your kids, your house, your too short life

I'm glad that you were happy


The Last Blue Door

© 2005 Nancy Sferra


Aging blue on a rusty hinge, peeling to white on a weathered fringe

Last blue door on a hang-dog block, scarred and worn with a brand new lock


When I knock you don’t answer the door

 That rust and wood can’t take much more

I’d explain but don’t know where to begin

That last blue door won’t let me in 


Cindy and John carved in the frame, and graffittied walls with lover’s names

Couples lost to the sun and rain, fading off the bricks in a wash of pain


One more key to throw in a drawer, I won’t remember what lock it’s for

I’ll find another blue door someday, where my love and I will stay


I no longer knock when I pass that door

  That rust and wood couldn’t take any more

I’ve learned to live with our past sins

That last blue door won’t let me in