Very Small Guitar

It’s interesting the way you put your drink down in the same place every time, and the way you wear your hat
Your voice is like a symphony, I hear shades of East St. Louis
Man, I don’t know how I could keep from digging that

But after all is said and done (and I know it never is)
For the sake of those who’ve got you where you are
What we’d really like to know, my friend,
Is where’d you get that very small guitar?

I liked that song you sang about your cousin with the eyepatch and the jokes he played on the next-door neighbor’s kids
The stuff people get away with never ceases to amaze me
And oh, yeah, I liked the one about the katydid

I always thought they’d bite you, guess it’s just an old wives’ tale
There’s a limit to what you can learn hanging out in a bar
I’m sure there’s more where those came from
But what about that very small guitar?

It’s not a ukulele, I’ve seen ukuleles before
What you’re playing has six strings, ukuleles just have four
It would ease our minds considerably
If you’d explain about that very small guitar

Meanwhile, back in Kansas on the fourth of January
In the year of our Lord 1988
Not yet twenty-one years old and no reason to be anywhere
Abandoned on a night-time interstate

The cold came slicing through me like a simile from God
I stood pondering a night so full of stars
I came up short on that one, too,
Which brings me to your very small guitar


You probably don’t recall a night in Corpus Christi, Texas,
When fate and circumstance came to a head
Or maybe that’s just me, I must confess to certain tendencies
Of mixing myself up with books I’ve read

Calendars blew off the wall, newspaper headlines spun
Like when old movies try to show how you got this far
I’m frozen there in black and white
Eyes fixed upon your very small guitar

I know your life’s been hard, your story’s written in your face
You can’t pretend and you can’t get nothing back
The sum of all your secrets has less mystery and value
Than a pulp dime novel in a drugstore rack

So button up your courage, lay all falsity to rest
If it helps, here’s a five-spot for your jar
Play it for me one time straight
Tell the story of that very small guitar