No Count Man

Song Notes

TK

–Up in Michigan there’s a great annual songwriting event called Lamb’s Retreat. Led by John D. Lamb, it’s the best ‘school’ of its kind I’ve seen. Participating as a teacher at the ’00 retreat, I found out that every participant – students and teachers alike – would receive a songwriting assignment, and that we’d actually perform our song for the entire group on the last day of the retreat. Scary! One day John gathered us all in a big circle and asked us three questions: a) What’s your favorite novel?; b) Name a character in the novel; and, c) What interests you about that character? My answers were a) Huckleberry Finn; b) Pap Finn (Huck’s dad); c) Pap tried to beat Huck for learning to read. John asked me what was so compelling about that, and I told him I found it interesting that Pap felt so threatened by Huck trying to better himself. I told him Pap was just a no ‘count man, which is to say he was no good – of no account, as we say in the South. So John said, "OK, here’s your assignment: Your song’s called ‘No Count Man,’ and it’s to be written from the perspective of the boy when he’s grown to manhood and begins to try to understand his father. I suppose at first it might have been an intellectual exercise, and back in my hotel room I made one false start. Then it poured out like a flood.

My daddy was a no ‘count man
He even broke his mama’s heart
She said he wasn’t always mean
But I could never see that far

My daddy was a no ‘count man
That’s what they said when he was gone
They said he had the kind of need
You could never put your finger on

And I’ve tried to turn black to white
I’ve tried to be a faithful son
But it’s hard to make it come out right
Once the bullet has left the gun

How does anybody get that way
Who can stop it when it’s out of hand
And it’s hard to find the boy inside
A no ‘count man
A no ‘count man

My daddy was a no ‘count man
My daddy was an only child
They gave him every little thing
And every little thing drove him wild

My daddy was a no ‘count man
Had trouble hidden up his sleeve
Back then they called it medicine
Now they call it speed

And I’ve tried to turn black to white
I’ve tried to be a faithful son
But it’s hard to make it come out right
Once the bullet has left the gun
How does anybody get that way
Who can stop it when it’s out of hand
And it’s hard to find the boy inside
A no ‘count man
A no ‘count man

My daddy was a no ‘count man
That’s what they said when he was gone
They said he had the kind of need
You could never put your finger on

And I’ve tried to turn black to white
I’ve tried to be a faithful son
But it’s hard to make it come out right
Once the bullet has left the gun

How does anybody get that way
Who can stop it when it’s out of hand
And it’s hard to find the boy inside
A no ‘count man
A no ‘count man
A no ‘count man

words & music: Tom Kimmel
©2000 Morrissette Music (ASCAP)

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