The Man On The Levee

by Michael McNevin

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about

4th of July in Sacramento, CA, many years ago, heard a black man playing trumpet on the Sacramento River. The Man On The Levee celebrating life, enjoying the river breeze with his jazz trumpet. The Sacramento breeze becomes the warm breeze of the Mississippi Delta. The trumpet takes on the tone of a civil war bugle, with the battlefield smoke - Blue and Grey - same as the uniforms of the North and South in the war against slavery. The bridge goes back further; centuries of fighting for freedom, against it, stepping on it, winning it back, repeating history. All the way back to Moses. Last verse is current day again, peace time, folks in their lawn chairs enjoying fireworks in the Sacramento sky without so much on their minds, as had been for the black trumpet players ancestors up to the 1960s, and up untill now, still. A patriotic song for soldiers of war (no matter which war), a song of being together as a country celebrating freedom. And from this particular black jazz musician, a perspective on what his family and ancestors have gone through to get it. Freedom means different things to different people, as it does to him.

Here also is a live solo video version, youtube, quick take during last year's lockdown, at The Mudpuddle Shop in Niles, CA. www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOqUQt29bZY

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lyrics

MAN ON THE LEVEE

There's a man on the levee blowin' trumpet all night
Bounces off the water like a moth off a light
The old Sacramento feels like the Mississippi might
A warm delta breeze, fly a soul like a kite

Full moon, silver dollar, throw a light on the drift
Play a tune for Big Muddy deep and wide as a wish
Play one for the homesick too long on a trip
One reason to leave, one reason to live

And who's barely beginning to make it all right
The man on the levee blowin' trumpet all night

Battlefield smoke on a hill, Blue and Gray
They all fall down when the bugler plays
Play one for the stretcher, one for the brave
One for the life of a cotton field slave

And who's barely beginning to make it all right
The man on the levee blowin' trumpet all night

They say every swan in England belongs to the Queen
No matter where they're swimming, every pond every stream
And if they want their freedom, they better hide in the reeds
Like Moses in the Bulrushes, Martin Luther in a dream

4th of July all the neighbors come out
With their lawn chairs and children, see the colors rain down
No rifles, no cannons, just old cornfields now
Where the old folks remember how freedom came south

And who's barely beginning to make it all right
The man on the levee blowin' trumpet all night
The man on the levee blowin' trumpet all night

© Michael McNevin. All Rights Reserved

You can support Michael with tips on Paypal or Venmo too:
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credits

released July 2, 2021
Michael McNevin - Vocals and Acoustic Guitar
Mary Kelly - Background Vocal
Larry Jonutz - Trumpet
Bruce Kaphan - Dobro
Paul Olguin - Upright Bass
Rich Kuhns - Accordion
Recorded and Produced by Bruce Kaphan in Niles CA, 2000.
© Michael McNevin. All Rights Reserved
Michael McNevin / Mudpuddle Music
Web: www.michaelmcnevin.com
Email: info@michaelmcnevin.com
P.O. Box 2235 Fremont CA 94536

You can support Michael with tips on Paypal or Venmo too:
PayPal.me/MudpuddleMusic 
Venmo.com/MichaelMcNevin
Thanks for tipping, its how i make a living!

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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

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