Track 8 Not Going Down There No More

Derailed trains

Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded March 31-April 4, 2015. Mixed February 23, 2016.


Genesis: I came up with the tune and title refrain on October 12, 2012. Some of the verses came to me later that month while walking. There are times when the rhythm of a song matches my stride and words come more easily. The first verse is based on the oil trains that ship North Dakota and Canadian crude oil to refineries in the east. Concerns had been raised about derailments of these trains and the carnage that would result. These concerns were confirmed on July 6, 2013 in the Canadian town of Lac Megantic. A 74-car oil train rolled down a hill and exploded, decimating the town and killing 47 people.

The other verses are more open-ended.

Production: Bass guitar, drums, Dobro, acoustic guitars, banjo guitar. Thanks to Don Arney for suggesting the Dobro.



Oil train tore through this town

Blew it up burned it down

We’re all back to common ground

Not going down there no more

Not going down there no more

I’ve persevered in all I tried

Fought my way to the sunny side

Got sent back when the engine died

Not going down there no more

Not going down there no more

Some grab their blues off the rack

Got mine custom all in black

Turned some heads at the sugar shack

Not going down there no more

Not going down there no more

The dice went cold

The deal went down

Fingers pointed all around

Pony up

Clean the slate

When knives are drawn

Time won’t wait.

Rough justice in the park

Bad assassins missed their mark

It’s all over when the screen goes dark

Not going down there no more

Not going down there no more

Whiskey-soaked, stale cigars

Star and stripes, stars and bars

Watching wounds turn into scars

Not going down there no more

Not going down there no more

Not going down there no more

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved

Track 8 Not Going Down There No More

Track 7 Cottonwood Dreams


Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded February 16 & 17. Mixed February 18, 2016.

Genesis: This recording is a birthday present for my wife, Theresa Lippert, who was born on February 19. Theresa has been the inspiration for many of my songs and is my biggest supporter. She loves this song, so I decided to give it a whirl this week.

Every few years the cottonwood trees in our neighborhood release their seeds in cottony strands. The wind blows them here and there, covering our yards like a dusting of snow. I jotted down the title “Cottonwood Dreams” in the early 2000s. On July 1, 2009 I found some facts about cottonwood trees on the Internet and wrote the lyrics in one sitting. I could not find music to fit the words, so six years ago yesterday I sent the lyrics to my friend Tom Ryan, asking if he could come up with a tune.

Tom stunned me when he emailed an mp3 the next day. He created an evocative melody but he also produced a beautiful arrangement that included acoustic guitar, electric guitar, banjo, and a harmony vocal. (A link to his recording can be found below.)   AND he tightened up the lyrics.

My arrangement is totally acoustic and it has a folky swing feel to it. The mandolin lick that serves as the instrumental glue to the song came to me out of the blue. I harmonized it with another mandolin part higher up the neck.

Production: Acoustic bass, acoustic guitars, ukulele, and mandolin.

Tom Ryan Version


Cottonwood Dreams

Cottonwood snow

On the grass in my yard

Can’t rake it up

It’s much too hard

Have to be calm

Wait for the day

When the rains come down

Melt it away.


Cottonwood Dreams

Blowing over the plains

Pushed by tornadoes

And midsummer rains.

Cottonwood blows

All over the land

From the great North Woods

To the Rio Grande

They live till a hundred

Go 60 feet high

Suck out the water

Till the wells run dry

Cottonwood lumber

It’s cheap and it’s coarse

Like a lover’s apology

No remorse


When the wind rustles

Those cottonwood leaves

The humming bird listens

The mockingbird grieves

I’ve made resolutions

Hatched crazy schemes

They’ve all blown away

With my cottonwood dreams

Cottonwood seeds

On the soles of my boots

Planting new trees

Yes, I’m in cahoots

Old Mother Nature

Sure has her ways

She’s like a good coach

Everyone plays


Copyright 2010 Fred Grittner and Tom Ryan All Rights Reserved


Track 7 Cottonwood Dreams

Track 6 Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring


Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded February 9, 2016. Mixed February 11, 2016.

 Genesis: Sometime in 2003 or 2004 the phrase “Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring” popped into my head. In retrospect, this should not be surprising, because hundreds, if not thousands, of songwriters have written songs about Memphis. One website states that over 800 songs with the word Memphis in them have been commercially recorded. W. C. Handy, Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Tom T. Hall, Jesse Winchester, and John Hiatt have written songs with the city in the title, while Johnny Cash and others have referred to Memphis in their songs.

In July 2009 I sat down and tried to write a song using my phrase as the title. I wanted to put together lyrics that were crafted along the lines of songs by Rodney Crowell and Guy Clark. Within a few days I figured out a story about a guy who is pitching a friend a tale about some new invention, musical or otherwise, that he was on the verge of releasing to the world. Who knows if the fellow is legit or simply a con man looking for a mark? I referenced Elvis Presley’s manager, Colonel Tom Parker, in the last verse. I had read Peter Guralnick’s two-volume biography of Elvis, which revealed that Parker gave himself the military title and was, all in all, a very seedy character. The listener will have to decide just why the singer wants his friend to assume a similar role.

I had a harder time finding the right music for the lyrics. I came up with a chord progression but changed it in November 2013 when I revised the lyrics. In my mind I could hear the voice of Jesse Winchester singing the tune. I tinkered with a few lines this week before and during the vocal recording session. I am very happy with how it turned out. I send this song out in memory of Jesse Winchester.

Production: bass guitar, drums, electric guitars. I had a blast playing my Fender Telecaster on this tune. It has been a long time since I knocked out an electric guitar solo that I liked.


Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring

I know you’ve heard the rumors

Dismissed them out of hand

You think you’ve got the answers

But I have got the plan

It’ll turn their heads on Beale Street

It’ll set the world on fire

You can come along my friend

If you so desire

You must clear your mind of all these petty things

Cause it’s Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring

I’ve worked on this all winter

It’s just about to gel

I can’t spell out all the details

For only time will tell

Don’t need a fortuneteller

Don’t need to count the stars

I can feel it’s going to happen

I’ve got lightning in a jar

You must let go of all your apron strings

Cause it’s Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring

It’s not Elvis it’s not Handy

I’m not looking to the past

I have got a great idea

That will take me there real fast

Sometimes you see a light bulb

Sometimes you hear a thud

But I finally made my breakthrough

In the Mississippi mud

You must loosen up your tightly wound purse strings

Cause it’s Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring

It’s coming out of Memphis

I’m not talking through my hat

When you see what I’ve come up with

You’ll ask, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Colonel Parker was a barker

For a string of carny shows

He sure could speak the language

From his head down to his toes

Sometimes he was just puffing

Sometimes he was for real

He might drive them to distraction

But he always closed the deal

You can do for me what he did for the King

Yes, it’s Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring

Coming Out of Memphis

Coming Out of Memphis

Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring

Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved


Track 6 Coming Out of Memphis in the Spring

Track 5 Red River Night


Recording and Mixing Dates: Recorded February 2, 2016. Mixed February 3, 2016.

Genesis: In February 2008, I joined an Internet songwriting community entitled February Album Writing Month (FAWM). The website is FAWM started in 2004, with the goal of having participants write 14 songs in 28 days. Several thousand songwriters now participate—they write songs, post them at the website, and share their triumphs and travails in a forum. I heard about FAWM in 2007 and collected song ideas—musical, lyrical, quotations (more on that later), etc.—for several months. Because 2008 was a leap year, the goal was 15 new songs.

Though I was juggling my court administrator job along with teaching a law school class one night a week and meeting a freelance legal writing deadline, I relished the challenge. This type of creative pressure does focus the mind. By the end of February I was closing in on meeting the goal. I originally thought of a song entitled Red Ribbon Night. The previous fall, Glen Heffner and his then-wife Kathy, joined Theresa and me for a getaway on the North Shore of Lake Superior. They were from North Carolina and were stunned by the beauty of the shoreline. Glen is a music industry marketing executive. At the time his company was releasing some great microphones. As a thank you gift, he brought an Avantone ribbon microphone that had a red housing. I call it my red ribbon. I thought “Red Ribbon Night” was a great title.

Until I started working on the song… It quickly turned into “Red River Night” for several reasons. There are two Red Rivers in the United States. The one in Texas is known for cowboys and cattle through Howard Hawks’ film Red River. The other Red River flows north through Minnesota and the Dakotas into Canada. It passes through Fargo, North Dakota (you betcha!) and the city on the Minnesota side, Moorhead. I was familiar with those cities and placed the person singing the lyric there, though someone in the Southwest could easily do the same for the Texas river.

I thought of a person who is rescued from deep personal torment by a kind stranger who appears out of nowhere and then quickly returns into the ether. The song is a “thank you” letter to an angel, someone who came upon a lost soul and put that person back on the right track.

The “parlor songs” written by Jimmy Rodgers in the 1930s inspired the music. Rodgers was the first great country recording artist. I didn’t know about him until I bought a Merle Haggard double-album of Rodgers songs in May 1969 called Same Train, Different Time. OMG. Merle’s voice, Merle’s band (supplemented with James Burton on Dobro), and Rodgers’ songs knocked me over. Most of the songs are bluesy country tunes but Rodgers co-wrote or covered some ballads, “parlor tunes,” that include “Miss the Mississippi and You” and “My Carolina Sunshine Girl.” They are sentimental and heart tugging. I can hear in this country waltz echoes of those tunes.

I finished the first draft of the song on February 26, 2008. I revised the lyrics on February 8, 2010. Yesterday, Theresa suggested one word change that was perfect, so I re-recorded that word into the track.

And I DID write 15 songs that February.  Some of you have have heard “Down Old Bailey Road” and “Everything’s a Drum” on my subsequent albums.

 Production: Bass guitar, drums, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, organ, and fiddle.



Lost and downhearted

I was making the rounds

Near the banks of the river

Where the Red comes aground

Turning a corner I saw you pass by

‘Neath a strawberry moon in an October sky

You smiled right out of the blue

On that Red River night with you


We talked over coffee

A strange thing occurred

You listened so purely

You took in each word

I swear that you knew me before I was born

You patched up a heart so cold and shopworn

You gave me a new point of view

On that Red River night with you



In the starlight

In the moonlight

Every thought that you shared has come true

Since that Red River night with you


We only had hours

We did not have days

We used every moment

Till the parting of ways

I wanted to hold you and not let you go

Would you have stayed? Well, I’ll never know

With a smile you whispered “adieu”

On that Red River night with you


Copyright 2016 Fred Grittner All Rights Reserved


Track 5 Red River Night