We’ve updated our Terms of Use to reflect our new entity name and address. You can review the changes here.
We’ve updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Still Red

by Michael McNevin



This song represents my Dad and I for sure, in our ranch days way back when. We had some land, a few horses, enjoyed the hills above the Russian River in Sonoma County outside of Cloverdale, CA. We weren’t cowboys, or hardcore ranchers, far from it. The character in this song is a hybrid of my Dad, and who I imagine his alter ego is in a cowboy life. As I watched my dad work all his life at construction, installing storm drains and sewage stations, joined him on jobs all the way through my 20s, I got to see how much he enjoys the simple things, how he goes about enjoying doing new things outside of work. Always up to something. Finally watching him retire into the fall of years, I wondered what he’d do with himself. So, in this song Still Red, the character is a retired from the ranch work, and long done with being a rodeo rider. At 75, he’s done with cattle, horses, fixing fences, and he's turning the barn into a man-cave. In figuring out how to live ’the fall’ of his years, he sits in a comfy chair, enjoys the view of the back 40, has a coke machine in the shed next to unused tools, and listens to a clock radio that doesn’t keep time. All hat not cattle, but the barn’s still red. He may hit the track, play some poker, or play some pool, maybe ride the mechanical bull, or at least talk about doing it. Burning daylight is a common theme. My Dad sometimes says that, when I ask him what he’s up to. "Just looking for something to do, burning daylight". Sun’s long gone but the sky’s still red. I have a companion song for this character too. An old rodeo rider, now at 50 years old, decides to try the Livermore Rodeo one more time. It’s called "Buck 39". That’s another song, but it sort of belongs in the trilogy of this guy in his various seasons of life. I haven’t written one about him as a young man yet, I have ideas for it. There are a number of underlying meanings, personal ones overlapping with some true life experiences. Mainly, I’m hoping this guy is enjoying retirement as much as he enjoyed working, riding. Like my dad, now 86, he's kept himself healthy enough to enjoy the twilight years. Another of my Dad’s old sayings; "Shoot Luke, the air is full of birds”, meaning life is good at the moment, point it to the sky, can’t miss.

This Etch A Sketch drawing is one I did at the edge of the lower meadow at the Kerrville Folk Festival, looking out on the adjacent field. Circa, 1998. Staring a drive to Texas tomorrow for a fall 10-day version of that festival tomorrow morning. I’ll be sitting right about where that guy is, in camp Coho.


"Still Red" (by Michael McNevin)

Easy chair up in the hayloft
Coca-Cola fridge in the shed
Something ain't right, the radio's dead
Nothin grazin' in the field, I got a cage to rattle
All hat no cattle but the barn's still red
All hat no cattle but the barn's still red

Put a bet on the swayback mule
Spend a day at the track
It'll even out at the poker game
Or shootin' pool
Bad luck comes back like a boomerang
Hey, let's all ride a mechanical bull
Yah, let's all ride a mechanical bull

The big oak ain't what it used to be
One good storm and it's smithereens
Take an axe to it limb by limb
New pile of firewood, Winter’s comin' on
Tree's long gone but the stove's still red
The tree's long gone but the fire’s still red

Lookin' at the long haul
Lookin' at the long haul
Back forty in the corner, underneath a cross
Someday I'll be out there too... there lies a buckaroo

Barn door's open, horse got out long time ago
Geese flew south
Big dipper don't care what the compass don't know
Or what a broken clock says
Burnin' daylight
Sun's long gone but the sky's sill red
Tree's long gone but the stove's still red
All hat no cattle but the barn's still red
All hat no cattle but the barn's still red


released October 1, 2021
Guitar and Vocals by Michael McNevin. Recorded in Bill Edward's basement studio, in Detroit, MI. Thanks Bill! Simple vocal/guitar, which also went out to folk radio on the Hudson Harding Compilation CD "Folk Radio Singles October 2021".


all rights reserved



Michael McNevin San Francisco, California

Michael McNevin's songs read like short stories, a keen eye for detail for the characters and places in his travels. Shared stages with Johnny Cash & The Carter Family, Donovan, Shawn Colvin, Christine Lavin, Richie Havens. Main-stages at Strawberry, High Sierra, Kerrville, Philly Folk Fest. Kerrville New-Folk winner, “DYI Artist Of The Year” for Performing Songwriter, “Song Of The Year” for WCS. ... more

contact / help

Contact Michael McNevin

Streaming and
Download help

Report this track or account

If you like Michael McNevin, you may also like: