Under the Gray

by Arthur Alligood

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released September 29, 2006

Produced by Andrew Osenga

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Arthur Alligood Nashville, Tennessee

A native of rural Tennessee, Arthur Alligood has spent the past decade driving dusty roads on tour. He has earned high praise from No Depression and BBC, and performed NPR’s Mountain Stage and New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. His blend of folk, gospel and raw Southern poetry is the perfect framework for Alligood’s honest story- telling and wry commentary on the human condition. ... more

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Track Name: Letter to Grace
I thought I had you down and there was nothing more to say
I could have written couple of essays explaining you all away
But then you came like that angel to Peter’s side and said
“Follow me boy we’re busting out tonight.”

In moonlight I saw clearly your face
Oh, the things I had mistaken you for

All that time I had spoke your name
It was easy to spout off in the company of the saints
But I knew you only as I had dressed you up
in garments of philanthropy and moralism

But in the moonlight I saw clearly your face
My tears were for the liar I had made you out to be

I thought I had you down and there was nothing more to say
I thought I was smart and could move on to other things
But then you came like Jesus to his boys in the upper room
and said “If you ever get over me it’ll be way too soon.”
Track Name: All the While
Boy, press on don’t look back
The past will only haunt you and make you stumble in your tracks
One day you will see it, but now is not the time

That day you’ll come to a spacious place
You’ll look over your shoulder and see miles and miles of grace
Of course you’ll see your blunders, your screw ups and the like
But like frost in the morning, grace will have covered over those times

You’ve never held yourself together
Grace has been there the whole time
You’ve never held yourself together
Grace has sustained you all the while

Girl, don’t you turn around
You know what happened to Lots wife
as they were heading out of town
The past is gone girl, the only stretch of road is ahead

But one day you’ll come to that place in life
You’ll turn to stand in awe at grace for miles and miles....Sure you’ll see your mishaps, those
boyfriends that you had
But over every mistake they’ll be a sign that clearly says–

Brothers and sisters we’re on this road
And you can be sure that we will fall and break some bones
But we got to keep on pressing on...there’s a land that awaits
And the grace that has sustained us this far
is the grace that keeps us now as we walk along
And the grace that is to come, what beauty we will see
in every direction as far as the eye can see
Track Name: Far from Today
Hey, I know that face.... I’m so sorry
those kids drove you up the wall?
What’s that one boys name...the one who always gives you a time?
And brings the whole class out of line
On the drive home were you wondering if

There’s a better life, waiting on us to come and snatch it up
Just run a bath and we’ll sink down deep far away from all hints of today

Baby, I feel so down I don’t know what’s the matter
I’m useless in so many ways
Is this what they call the Lord’s work?
Its become such a burden
I feel like giving it all up
My thoughts of late have been day dreams of

A better life, waiting on us to come and snatch it up
Lets hop in bed and we’ll dream and drift far away from all hints of today

Tomorrow makes so many promises
but are they empty just like a politicians?
Or will tomorrow keeps its word
and we’ll realize in the morning that....?

This is the better life, we’re living it, and nothing do we lack...no, nothing at all
A bigger house and more money in the bank couldn’t add a thing to all we’ve got
Track Name: Not Like Us
We have no fences
We use his name more frequently than common conjunctions
A friend he is, but a Father as well
We love his ear, but hate the back of his hand

We’re more scared of our plane being hijacked
Or getting in a wreck coming home from work
We got this “fear” thing down pat, but what we
fear ain’t worth too much

Oh, to tremble
Oh, to quake
before the one who covers our mistakes…
We’d do good to learn he is not like us
Oh, to shudder
Oh, to fear
the one above, but right here
We’d do good to learn he is not like us

Most of our songs have that one plea,
“We want to see your face.”
That was that last thing Israel wanted…
they knew one glance would bring them to the grave
Do we know what we’re asking for?

We have no fences, no guards
About the easiest thing to do nowadays is to trample his courts
He loves a happy heart and a joyful smile,
but I wonder when’s the last time you went to church thinking you might die?

In his image, from the dust, by his hands were fashioned
but still he is not like us
We’re prone to ramble and to wander
steal, horde, and squander…
You’d think by now we’d have learned he is not like us
He is not like us
We are not like him
and he is not like us
Track Name: Where to Begin
The red glare on the streets of downtown
The glow from a computer screen round 2 A.M.
The big, bright sign flashing “Babes, Babes, Babes.”
Crude drawings on bathroom walls
Boxes of back issues stacked in the hall
Late night commercial’s with a number begging you to call

Look around at this cell that were in
At the chains on our ankles and wrists
I think we’d like to get out, but don’t know where to begin?

Do you remember life without this darkness?
Didn’t we have eyes once like the sun?
Weren’t we free then of what we’ve now become?
Somehow this world became one big, long grocery line
Magazine racks stacked high on both sides
and we turned our eyes to the left and to the right and let it all in

Now look at this cell that we’re in
At the chains on our ankles and wrists
We’d like to get out, but don’t know where to begin?

Movie store, top shelf videos
Late night hotel, cable t.v. shows
The girl on the corner stretching out her pantyhose
asking, “Looking for a good time?”

I know you see this cell that we’re in
You see the chains on our ankles and wrists
Come quickly Lord we don’t know where to begin?
Like Israel in the palm of Pharaohs hand
We don’t know where to begin
Track Name: Broken
Broken..... I am going
Running....I wish I was
Crawling.... is an overstatement
Inching..... is a more accurate term.
A months time is one step for me
I’m like a movie in ultra, slow motion
Milemarkers come every decade or so
At this pace will I make I ever make it home

Fixing....my thoughts on you
Trying....to keep my eyes on home
Experience...you’ve had more than me
You know ever bend in the road
You wrote the book entitled “Faith”
and there are no Cliff notes.
You seen me search for an easier way
All the dead end streets I thought would take me home

A land called thirstlessness
where joy is constant and strife is absent
where angels sing holy anthems in unison
and saints they stand in linen, bright and clean

Broken..... I am going
Running....I wish I was
Crawling.... is an overstatement
Inching..... is a more accurate term.
I doubt it most days, but there’s still some hope inside
that one day I’ll close my eyes and wake to find myself home
Track Name: I Don't Believe
I don’t believe
My lips speak notions of a fadeless, unspoiled land
and I act like I want to go there, but I don’t believe such a place exists
And it hurts to know the devil has seen more than me
You think this would be heaven’s confirmation, but in him I doubt I believe
I don’t believe in heaven anymore

My mouth will tell you stories of shadows that make blind men see
and I act like it could happen, but inside I don’t believe
It hurts to know demons have had a front row seat
I don’t believe in them either, but the stories make you want to believe
I don’t believe in miracles anymore

If you asked me my name I’d tell you Israel
but the name tag on my heart reads “Jacob the Wrestler.”
And it hurts to know he got his hands on you
Have we ever touched? Have we ever hugged? Have we ever been in the same room?

I don’t believe/I don’t believe/, but I want to believe your right here
Track Name: Narrow Road
I ain’t looking for a back alley
though your path sometimes looks like one
I want the narrow road, straighter than an arrow
I want to follow it till I lay down this life I borrow

But now I need a lamp to show me where to put my feet
And a star in the offing calling me
And a peaceful heart that knows your leading me

Side streets will not suffice
though they maybe easier for traveling
I want the gravel and the towering mountains
I want incessant joy flowing like a fountain

I bet that light is up ahead
around the corner where its always been
I bet I’m just as near to the place where we’ll finally
stand face to face....face to face
Track Name: Under the Gray
I’m down past the point of flame
Scared to peruse the grate
Its just ashes.... just powder I know
Remnants of a fire that once burned out of control
And all I’ve got left is a bruised hope
that there’s more than I know

Under the gray(Under the gray)
Buried deep down(Buried deep down)
Under the gray, deep down

Prayerlessness was the thief
he came and stole all my joy
Slothfulness was his method
Before I knew it he had made me poor
And left me to rummage through with my bare hands
It’s a long shot, but something still may be there

Down below the soot and the black, burned out coals
There maybe some embers still left to blow
Here I go...time to dirty up my hands
I need some scars to remind me that the fires still there
Track Name: Degrees
Blistered knees on piercing gravel
Your heavy sprint is now a ghastly crawl
Every move piercing.........hurting
Thoughts racing faster than your body is moving

I know every degree seems like a flogging, but hold on don’t let go
You’re nothing, but he’s bringing you along
like a nervous bride holding on to her Daddy’s arm

All your life its been the same
You crossed the river just to find the same terrain
Rocks then to mountains and back to rocks again
But don’t let the hard break you unless its in his hands

I know every degree seems like a scourging, but hold on don’t let go
You’re nothing, but he’s bringing you along
like a nervous bride holding on to her Daddy’s arm

I am here don’t let go, don’t let go I am here
and I know...
Every degree seems like nails in your hands and feet and thorns upon your brow
You’re nothing, but he calls you son..so keep holding tight to your Daddy’s arm
Track Name: Linger Long
Mow the grass
Read a book
Underneath the trees
where the jungle once was
Finish a chapter and take a look through the leaves
The sun and clouds like kids begging “Look at me daddy..Look at me.”

Linger long
Let it all set in
Life is living once again

Take a seat
on the front porch
Watch the neighborhood kids
ride their bikes through a mud puddle
Listen close to the way they talk to each other
and realize how far you’ve come and the ways you’ve come too far

Take a walk
beneath the stars
Try your best to count each one
Say a prayer from your heart to the unseen
The one that makes the stars shine and fills you with awe at their shining