Well Traveled Road

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Album Notes

The songs on Well Traveled Road are inspired by the history, landscape and people of northern St. Louis and the Missouri River Valley around St. Louis and St. Charles counties, Missouri. Without perhaps even realizing it, we were writing with this premise in our minds: If only these walls…these hills…these fields…these roads…could talk…what might they have to say to us? What stories do they hide or, better yet, reveal?

What we found were the ghosts of history and collective memory. While none of these characters or stories are “real,” they reveal to us the truth of basic human struggles for survival and love — for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. In these stories, we hope, lie the joys and pains that make life meaningful. We hope we have captured in words and music some of these wizened old spirits for you. They have much to teach us, for better or for worse. For in the end, they show us the power of our ordinary lives, if we will only pause to pay attention and be grateful.

Let’s Go For a Ride
Lyrics & music by John Caravelli and Steve Givens
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

I know you’ve had a long day,
I know we’ve had some hard times,
Lately, baby, we’re missing what we used to be.
Remember that first time,
We went for a long ride, Darlin’
You put your hand on my knee.
And the night opened up for our dreams…

Let’s go for a ride. 
Let’s leave this behind. 
Let’s go for a ride…baby tonight.

So far from that first time,
So far from that first ride, Darlin’
How did we ever wind up here?
I know we’re come a long way,
I know we had a wild ride, baby,
Since you put your hand on my knee,
And the night opened up for our dreams.  

Circle By Nine
Lyrics by Steve Givens & music by John Caravelli
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

Ante up boys, toss in your quarters and dimes.
We’re filling up the Chevy at the Texaco sign.
We’re ready for tonight, we are born to run,
And raised on the promise that the good die young.

Ah…It’s Friday night and school’s out
Wanna scream and gotta shout,
We’re living loud and wastin’ no time,
And racing to the Circle…
Racing to the Circle by nine 

I got the windows rolled down and the music cranked up,
I gotta cherry bomb muffler and baby moon hubs.
I got four on the floor and two girls in the back,
I get air when I shoot across the railroad tracks.

Well the back’s jacked high and the grill’s down low.
This baby turns heads everywhere that I go.
She’s a four-barrel big block V8 dream
And she flies down Hall Street like a laser beam.

Goodfellow, Riverview, Halls Ferry, gotta cruise,
Peeling out and hittin’ the brakes.
Warm night, hot date, cool ride, can’t wait,
Circlin’ round to Steak ‘n’ Shake…
Circlin’ round to Steak ‘n’ Shake…

Meet Me At the Rio
Lyrics by Steve Givens and & music by Phil Cooper and Steve Givens
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

I was just 17 when I showed up to work,
Tearing tickets and sweeping the floors.
It was a neighborhood treasure, a silver screen dream,
And there I was holding the doors.

It was fine for its time but had seen better days
A thousand-seat, sticky-floored hall.
The marquee and neon lit up Riverview Drive,
In the days before suburbs and malls.

Meet me at the Rio, meet me at the Rio
Kiss me in the back row. 
Let’s stay until we’re both old and gray.
At the Rio…at the Rio. 

She was a year or two older and wary of boys,
She sold popcorn and Red Hots and Cokes.
She hid from my glances but stole some of her own,
And eventually she laughed at my jokes.

During breaks we would steal away up to the cry room
We’d giggle and fumble and plan,
For a future beyond the confines of the moment,
And a walk through the world hand in hand.

Now neighborhood shows are a thing of the past.
And young love a shadow behind.
Marquee lights and popcorn girls dim and fade out, 
Lost in a river of time. 

It’s been too many years since I pushed through those doors
Since I searched for her hand in the dark.
Like popcorn and spearmint on a rubber-soled shoe
Some things stick and some just leave their mark.

Last of the Old Family Home
Lyrics by Steve Givens & music by John Caravelli and Steve Givens
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

The floorboards speak under his footsteps,
He’s a watchman, alone in his task,
Glancing in corners and listening for whispers,
He is searching these rooms for his past.

He has lived in this house ninety years now,
And his folks and their folks before that,
From just after the war between brothers
Through a bevy of times lean and fat.

And faces peer out from the mirror in the hallway
Speckled with shadows and loam,
And they grin as he passes, now slow as molasses,
He’s the last of the old family home.

The walls barely hold in the music
That has seeped through the plaster and glue
Pianos and fiddles, like long ago riddles
Echo and dance through the rooms.

He danced his first waltz in the parlor
With the pony-tailed girl from next door.
Placed the palm of his hand on the small of her back,
And the rest is all history’s store.

Time is a tale told from memory,
It’s a book, it’s a flash in the pan.
It’s a dash, it’s a glimmer, it’s gold and it’s silver,
It’s a song, and we’re all in the band.

Piece of Land to Call My Own
Lyrics & music by John Caravelli
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

In the springtime, the wildflowers rage.
The summer greens and time turns a page.
Autumn when the tall grass browns,
Winter when the snow comes down.

But the land, it will never change 
The land, it still remains
A piece of land to call my own
A piece of land where I belong.

When we first met it all seemed right,
Woke up each day with the morning light.
Had lunch at noon, dinner five hours next,
Always knew just what to expect.

She seemed to dull that first year come.
Sat on the porch her eyes gone numb.
When I look in the mirror I know what I’ll see.
When I looked at her she wouldn’t look at me.

Maybe I drank more than I should.
I wasn’t near perfect, hell, I wasn’t even good.
My glass was never empty, I was never full.
She ran away with some damn fool.

Not many dreams a man oughta dream.
Only believe in things he’s seen.
Work his best till the fading light.
Night after day and day after night.

I heard she’s walked out on some fool again.
Driving cross country in a Ford sedan.
Hoping for better than she’s had before.
I’m on this land ‘till I live no more.

Missouri River Kiss
Lyrics & music by John Caravelli and Steve Givens
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

I saw you first time in the Gasconade River,
The water up to your thighs,
I wished that I could hold you like the water in the river.
I wished I was the fire in your eyes.

Driving later that night on the road to Augusta,
Just my ’67 Chevy and you.
ZZ Top singing give me all your lovin’ baby
And you gave me all your kisses, too.

And the river rolls on 
And the river rolls on 
Like a perfect summer day 
And a Missouri river kiss.

Well that summer rolled by like a cool shallow river
Nothin’ deep, just a fling of a thing.
We held on to one another like we knew what we were doing
Like the words to ev’ry song that we’d sing.

Summer love is sweet but it can sting like a nettle
That’s the story of a girl and a boy
Leaves start falling and we roll up the windows
The pain is all a part of the joy.

Some mem’ries drop down deep in our souls
Hanging heavy, like a weight on a line.
And though we can’t step into the same river twice,
We can try, Lord, we can try.

Some mem’ries drop down deep in our souls
Hanging heavy, like a weight on a line.
And though we can’t step into the same river twice,
We can try, Lord, we can try.

Quiet Desperation
Lyrics by Steve Givens & music by John Caravelli
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

He held his breath and paused by the road,
That led away from his home and his field;
Dust to his knees and emptied of dreams
Robbed of crops and stripped of his yield.
The devil’s in the dust, the devil’s in the dust
The dust of desperation.

He held up his son, and showed him the road
As the wind and the grit blew him back.
He looked at the sky then shielded his eyes
As the world and his disposition turned black.
Most men lead lives, most men lead lives,
Of quiet desperation.

Most men lead lives of desperation
Most men are quiet in their pain
But someday soon, my son, if not for me then for you.
It’ll rain,  it’ll rain, it’ll rain.  

Life is a trial, he said to his boy.
This here life is a burden and shame.
I’ve done all that I can and all that I should
But the drought and the Lord are to blame.
The devil’s in the dust, the devil’s in the dust
The dust of desperation.

It’ll rain someday. It’ll rain someday.
It’ll wash this dust away.
It’ll rain someday. It’ll rain someday.
It’ll wash this dust away.

A New Morning Comes
Lyrics & music by John Caravelli
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

Her tires ride easy on well traveled roads
It’s cold comfort others have been here before
Empty and lost her path isn’t clear
Can’t recall all the turns that led her here

It’s a turn to the left when it should have been right
It’s the lonely that comes in the middle of the night
It’s the black barbed wire ‘gainst the pure white snow
She’s drifting and it’s still far to go.

A new morning comes
A new morning comes
Like the hope that rises in the dark of the night
Like a voice that says everything will be alright
Sometimes, a new morning comes  
Sometimes, a new morning comes

Her fingers have memories, she’s numb in her spine
All the things she’s done keep clouding her mind
Her life’s a shadow on new fallen snow
Falling so hard that it soon won’t show.

All she ever wanted was a better life
(All she ever wanted was love)
All she ever wanted was a happy life
(All she ever wanted was love)
Ghosts are riding in her mirror tonight
Her ghosts are riding in her mirror tonight

Road Will Flood
Lyrics by Steve Givens & music by John Caravelli
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

I was standin’ in the rain with water to my knees.
Mo Bottom river road was hidin’ underneath
The muddy of the river and the swellin’ of the tide,
I don’t know much ‘bout lots of things but I know it’s deep and wide.
I can’t tell you if the corn will grow and raise its golden ears
I can’t tell you if the price will rise with the circlin’ of the years.
I can’t tell you when the snow will melt away or when winter turns to spring
There’s just one thing I know for sure, there’s just one sure-fire thing:

This road will flood. It’ll flood.
(Everything changes and nothing stays the same.)
This road will flood. It’ll flood.
(History tells a tale that’s etched into my brain).
This road will flood. It’ll flood.
(I feel it in my bones and I feel it in my veins…)
There’s just one thing I know for sure. It’s deep down in my blood.
This road will flood. 

I don’t know the reason why she left me here alone,
I don’t know why thirty years was not enough to keep her home.
I don’t know why love is harder now then when it all began
I don’t know why I ended up an old, unwiser man.
I can’t comprehend the beauty of the fields after it rains,
I can’t understand the grace it takes to bring me home again.
I can’t fathom my redemption or my will to carry on
There’s just one thing I know that I can hang my hat upon

Leaving Defiance
Lyrics & music by John Caravelli
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

Always one rain short of a good corn crop
Or, not enough sun and the rain won’t stop
This legacy I been left
Been worrying me near to death
So, I’m leaving Defiance today

One last chance at my inheritance
The clapboard house and the white picket fence
It’s come and now it’s gone
So, I gotta be moving on
So, I’m leaving Defiance today

I’m leaving Defiance, I’m walking away
No retreat I surrender, I’m leaving today
I’ll sell all the land here and granddaddy’s house
There’s no other way, no other way out
So, I’m leaving Defiance today

Just one step shy of redemption now
Leavin’ soon and I might be saved somehow
There’s hope down Highway 94
I wanna try to find it once more
So, I’m leaving Defiance today

Extraordinary Lives
Lyrics by Steve Givens & music by Phil Cooper and Steve Givens
© 2016 Potter’s Mark Music

t’s an ordinary time on an ordinary day,
It’s the simple things we do that take our breath away.
And the more we pay attention to every day that fills our eyes
The more we live extraordinary lives.

One day I stood out by the road,
And beyond my fields the river flowed.
Gold stalks shimmered in the light
My soul on fire, my mind in flight.

It was just one moment in the sun,
A reckoning when day was done.
A time to stand and be amazed,
For we spend our lives as we spend our days.

When we look ahead, say, “someday soon.”
When we wring our hands and count the moons.
When we fret the sands in the hourglass
We can miss the days that become our past.

So with the sun each day I rise,
My only prayer, to be surprised.
By the beauty that the world displays
For we spend our lives as we spend our days.

Mo Bottom Project:

John Caravelli – acoustic and electric guitars, background vocals
Phil Cooper – keyboards, background vocals
Pat Dillender – drums and percussion, background vocals
Steve Givens – lead vocals, acoustic guitar
Gerry Kasper – bass, mandolin, background vocals

Special guests:

Jenny Givens sang on New Morning Comes
Connor Coffey composed and performed the violin part on Extraordinary Lives

Recorded at Potter’s Mark Studio, St. Louis
Engineered by Steve Givens
Produced, arranged and mixed by the Mo Bottom Project

Mastered by Adam Bitter – adambitter.com

Photography by Jason Seward – wildfireimagery.com

Production design by Grace Luttrell – graceluttrell.com