From John Ratliff:
Just before the dawn, I stepped outside. That’s when I heard the distant horn. Walking around the side of our new house to the recycle bin I felt the vibration of the freight cars rumbling through the ground. Cold air tingled my nose as I watched the crystal clear morningstar twinkling through the pines. Then the horn came again. “Must be crossing a roadway somewhere around Savannah…” I whispered, thinking about all the homeless people who live down around the tracks. “They must be freezing tonight!” I exclaimed to myself. I wished them all a warm campfire and a full belly. When I was a teenager I ran away from home a couple of times. Once I spent almost a month on the road. Alone and broke. Made it all the way from Massachusetts down to Florida. I know what it’s like to sleep outside under a highway, to go for days without a hot meal, to fear that the next person who gives you a ride might be a beautiful school teacher who cooks you dinner or a perverted psychopath looking for his next victim. But I also wouldn’t trade the experience of autonomous adolescent freedom for anything. The hobos I met on the road opened an entirely new world to me and put things in perspective. Which is why I always reach in my pocket whenever a homeless person is asking. I remember what it feels like. Which is why I love to sing and play “Sweet Melissa”…
“Crossroads, seem to come and go, yeah
The gypsy flies from coast to coast
Knowing many, loving none
Bearing sorrow, having fun
But, back home he’ll always run
To sweet Melissa
Freight train, each car looks the same, all the same
And no one knows the gypsy’s name
And no one hears his lonely sighs
There are no blankets where he lies
Lord, in his deepest dreams the gypsy flies
With sweet Melissa
Again, the mornin’s come
Again, he’s on the run
A sunbeam’s shinin’ through his hair
Fear not to have a care
Well, pick up your gear and gypsy roll on
Crossroads, will you ever let him go?
Or will you hide the dead man’s ghost?
Or will he lie, beneath the clay?
Or will his spirit float away?
But, I know that he won’t stay
Yes, I know that he won’t stay, yeah
Lord, Lord, it’s all the same”
Songwriters: Stephen Alaimo / Gregg Allman
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