Music

Song Lyrics

Broken Yellow

Others

Oast Houses Breakfast
The Dance Broken-Hearted
Bird Song The Devil and the Quiet Lightning
Pomegranate Flesh and Blood
Merciful Heavens For the Love of You
The Archer Girl with a Hay Rake
See How the Bronze Horse Go The Mortuary Polka
Tampa Red A Plague on Both Your Horses
Happy Song for Baltimore The Tailor of Aquitaine
Cotton Dress Love Song Where Does the Brown Bear Go
Red's On the Bed
One by One, the Buffalo

Oast Houses

I could show you stuff ‘round here perchance might make you pause’
I could take you walking.
Show you certain things that move like wind upon the conifers,
Hear the seasons whispering.

I could show you oast houses, look like crooked witches’ hats,
And moss-broken barns frequented largely by stray cats,
A kiln no one thought was there, a willow like and woman’s tear;
There’s a hill outside of Gloucester like the small of your back
Swooping like the small of your back. 

I could show you boughs of trees like great, commodious bones,
Weathered hearts a-beating.
Fisher planks spread nimble o’er a river’s width of stepping stones,
Waves un-tethered moving. 

Do not be so timid, put the water to your toes,
Move out the rocks shining green their weedy throws
Like you’ve never done before, the glimmer of buried ore,
The waves across the pebbles like your body ‘neath your clothes,
Moving like your skin beneath your clothes.

I could show you stones that ache with years of being still,
In the fields just standing.
Spider webs are holding all the dew’s autumnal rill,
All the leaves are burning.

A trinity of hours, a through-England race
Make up the miles and darted things less commonplace
Like the burning of bonfires, the roses and tangled briars,
The sap from off the sapling like my blood toward my face,
Rising like my blood toward my face.

I could show you stuff ‘round here perchance might make you pause’
I could take you walking.

Words and music ©2006 Jack Harris
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The Dance

Grandmother, young Mother, Mother-to-be
Do you rise so cautiously?
See the lighthouse, take your stance
Take a partner,
Take a partner,
Take a partner, join the dance.

“I saw the fortune teller,” said she,
“He laid it all in front of me,
Mirrors smoking, eyes askance,
Take a partner,
Take a partner,
Take a partner, join the dance.”

But I woke up to a fever
It was redder than blossom
Woke to uncertainty snatching the bosom
Wake to the shackle or wake to the key,
Wake to the pangs of identity.

Far from the maddening moment stands She,
Choices lined so markedly,
Maybe moonlight, maybe chance,
Take a partner,
Take a partner,
Take a partner, join the dance

Words and music ©2006 Jack Harris
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Bird Song

Says the Robin as he flew,
“When I was  a young man I’d choose two,
And if one didn’t love me, the other one would,
Now, don’t you think my notion is good?”

Says the Blackbird to the Crow,
“What makes the white folks hate us so?
For ever since old Adam was born
It’s been our trade to hoe up corn.”

“Hoots!” say the Owl with his head so white,
“A lonesome day and a lonesome night,
I thought I heard some pretty girl say
She’d court all night and sleep all day.”

“Oh, no, no, no!” cried the Turtledove,
“That ain’t no way for you to gain his love.
If you want to make him your heart’s delight
You must keep him awake by day and by night.”

Says the Robin as he flew,
“When I was  a young man I’d choose two,
And if one didn’t love me, the other one would,
Now, don’t you think my notion is good?”

Traditional. Music by Jack Harris
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Pomegranate

When in windy she walks me out my door
Into springtime, ring-a-ling time, tumbling from her pinafore,
Her keepsakes frame the blossom,
Sunny shot through dusky drear,
And I want her more,
And I want her still,
And I want her forthright this time each year.

When she tells me of maybe-so's fallin' around
In the midnight, in the half-light, shakin' from her eiderdown,
Her breath arrives sirocco,
Maple to her skin adhere,
And I want her more,
And I want her still,
And I want her forthright this time each year.

Oh, the pomegranate, she's the bitterest of fruits,
Contrariwise to what you may believe,
Sunrise tequila'd wistful regret sown in its juice
That flows from chin to toe each time you leave.

Dappled amber, she paints me southern sky,
When tomorrows and the sorrows framed in her bye-byes,
November flows remorseless,
Red from mortal wounds of May,
And I want her more,
And I want her still,
And I want her more each waking day,

Just to hold her close,
And to pull her near,
And I want her forthright this time each year.

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Merciful Heavens

How’m I gonna make nice if the barber takes my tresses?
Lord, that’s a given and, Merciful Heavens, the moths have got my dresses;
They say we had a revolution, and I’m wondering where I been;
All I know is Martin’s coming home and I’ve got to catch the eye of him.

How’m I gonna make right all these wrongs that so confound me?
Lord, I have striven but, Merciful Heavens, still they will abound me;
My hands all gnarled from the coal shed, hair already worn thin,
And it scares me so, for Martin’s coming home, and I’ve got to catch the eye of him.

Call me homely, I know they do,
Saints bestow me eyes of powder blue
Fair complexion, sweet inflection,
And a dimple too;
I am want of these things;
I am want of these things.

How’m I gonna compete with the neighbor girls and their fashions?
Sister, help to pinch my cheek, put some rouge into this ashen;
They say the revolution seen enough blood swim;
Don’t care none, Martin’s coming home, my blood is flowing for him.

How’m I gonna make nice if the barber takes my tresses?
Lord, that’s a given and, Merciful Heavens, the moths have got my dresses;
They say we had a revolution, and I’m wondering where I been;
All I know is Martin’s coming home and I’ve got to catch the eye of him.

Words and music ©2006 Jack Harris

The Archer

Red Ribbons strung around a lighthouse
Ten thousand feathers at the helm of an arrow
Eyes to the stars that say The Archer
All upon the needing you

We tied our targets to a windmill’s arm
And couldn’t train our aims on you
I razed my mansion to the sandy ground
All upon the needing you

Four colours crimson at the hillside’s brow
Red wine or whiskey sipped from a chipped coffee cup
We took all the lampshades from the lightbulbs’ eyes
All upon the needing you

Five horses tethered to the muzzled roll,
Along came six with tricks all so sleeveless,
Breathless at the mounting of the mountaintop,
All upon the needing you.

Words and music ©2006 Jack Harris
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See How the Bronze Horse Go

Take out the stone from the valley’s mouth,
See how the broad brook flow,
Take out the bridle and wash out its mouth,
See how the bronze horse go, 

Take out the plough from the shoulder’s weight,
See how the oxen won’t tow,
Take off the reigns and open the gate,
See how the bronze horse go,
See how the bronze horse go. 

Chorus:
Cruel rider, cruel rider,
See the horizon and know,
Cruel rider, cruel rider,
See how the bronze horse go. 

Die for the woman, cry out for her love,
See how the passions they stow,
Retire all the whip crack and take off the glove,
See how the bronze horse go. 

See the swallow careen through the trees,
See from the winters in snow,
See from the mercy and down on your knees,
See how the bronze horse go,
See how the bronze horse go. 

Chorus

Just lie o’er the saddle and let yourself be,
Feel how the agonies slow,
See yourself humble and know you are free,
See how the bronze horse go. 

How low now the head, see the bend of the ears,
Feel the footsteps solemn flow,
Come down from his back; you have rode him for years,
See how the bronze horse go,
See how the bronze horse go.


Happy Song for Baltimore

And when I get to Baltimore gonna draw me out a heavy sigh,
And when she sees the mess I’m in, gonna hang me out to dry;
Tempers bay when soft she whispers, the sleeping dogs all lie,
So I’m going back to Baltimore, tear drops in my eye.

She cook fine beans and cornbread mash, and her kettle’s always on the boil,
Her garden soothes when first I run my fingers through her soil;
If I break down, as I am prone to, I know she’ll change my oil,
So I’m going back to Baltimore, never more will I toil.

Circle, circle, circle, dot; she dances lie the tall maypole;
She in the circle and I ain’t not; Lord, make to shine my soul;
Through her kindness he will always remind me of my role,
So I’m going back to Baltimore, she gonna make me whole.

Words and music ©2006 Jack Harris
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Cotton Dress Love Song

Come to me in the cool of a cotton dress,
Billowed sheer in the sun is the fit that’s best,
Do the crossword waiting on a train,
Raise the paper high to summer rain.

Come to me in the wind-swept hollow, Sunday morning start,
Climb into the taxi I’ll arrange,
Come with all the sweetness I have harbored in my heart,
Let me know that sometimes things can change.

Come to me when my spirit’s in a mess,
With your balmy humour’s heat and a cotton dress,
In eagerness I’m waiting at my gate
And even lateness I will tolerate.

Come to me when February’s faded springtime into March,
Let me know the wonderments you’ve had,
Come to me whose thirst so desperate lingers to be parched,
Show me that things cannot be so bad.

And if the train lets you down, as trains are prone to,
Have no fear, darling, think it through…

You could come to me in the rust of an old sedan,
Quite low key, honey, just as you had planned,
The house is big  and the rooms are seldom full,
You just wear that dress woven wild with slavery’s wool,

So come to me, darling, quickly as you can,
For man needs woman and I hope you need this man,
Come to me in the cool of a cotton dress,
Billowed sheer in the sun is the fit that’s best.

Words and music ©2006 Jack Harris

Red's On the Bed

Red’s on bed in the shape of ardor
Loomed from the cotton of exalted water
Looks like beulah but it smell like sin
Open up the door, honey, come on in
Red’s on the bed in the shape of ardor

Red’s on the room with the big box beating
Trenched in loam, your touch entreating
Tempered to the treaties of Romeo’s schemes
Mirrored in the blushing there at fevered dreams
Red’s on the room with the big box beating

Red’s on a roll like the aisles at prom time
Shinin’ from the silver sheen and shaken from the night time
She open all the curtain let the day break in
She took me down to the roses where the heart red swim
Red’s on a roll like the aisles at prom time

Red’s on the checking of the traveler’s bindle
Prickin’ of the finger on the sleeper’s spindle
Barrellin’ round the labyrinth of an old dirt road
Bearin’ up a burden lookin’ to unload
Red’s on the checking of the traveler’s bindle

Think of danger, think of fashion
Think of fondness, honey, not obsession
Think of colour, baby, think of passion
Think of colour, baby, think of passion

Divining red from your salted finger
Spring from a source deemed well at singing
Down in the darkness where the shadows roll
Shackled to the shifting of the undertow
Red’s on the bed with your salted finger

Red’s on bed in the shape of ardor
Loomed from the cotton of exultant water
It looks like beulah but it smell like sin
You just open up the door, honey, come on in
Red’s on the bed in the shape of ardor

Words and music ©2005 Jack Harris

One by One, the Buffalo

See the Buffalo fall together in a row,
One by one, falling down,
See the Skeletons strewn white below the Blackfoot runs
Where once had fell the Buffalo

See the hollowed caves, dark and open to the braves
When came snow, falling down
Overheard, the plunge, sweeping danger like an iron hinge
One by one, the Buffalo

And down, down, down, down and down we go
Down, down, down, down and down we go
One by one….

See Many Mules crying silent from the spools
Of ransacked plains and Diaspora
See the hills of red bearing witness to tomorrow’s dead
One by one, the Buffalo

Hear the hollow bone beating hungry on the stone.
The many, many feet all flocked and flying,
Hear the flinch of steel, arrowed darkly through the smoke and teal,
Skin and bone, the Buffalo

And down, down, down, down and down we go
Down, down, down, down and down we go
One by one….

See the ridge of cloud, broken yellow by the corn flour shroud
Forming shapes, the Buffalo
Feel the wisp of wind pull apart the forms and bear them to an ending,
One by one, the Buffalo,
One by one, the Buffalo

Words and music ©2006 Jack Harris
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Breakfast

Talk to me now of your homeland,
Talk to me now of the pain,
Talk of the dust that has carried you here,
You don't have to tell me your name.

The coffee will rise like the Phoenix,
From the embers of fires long gone out,
And your words envelop me now as the rain
On the fortieth day of a drought.

I've seen the mist burn from the mountain,
I've seen a cattle-drive run,
I've seen ears of corn turn toward the bird-song,
And hills turned chalk-red from the sun,

So talk of the rivers you swam in,
Talk of the trees you have climbed,
There ain't nothing like breakfast with others around you
To ease up a man's worried mind.

Say you've laid you daddy down,
Say you've buried your brother,
Say you've lived an honest life,
And I won't listen to no other,
No, I won't hear nobody else.

So talk to me now of your homeland,
Talk to me now of the pain,
Talk of the dust that has carried you here,
You don't have to tell me your name,
No, you don't have to tell me your name.

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Broken-Hearted

As I rise from the bower to the light refreshed with slumber,
I will gaze on the sunrise and know,
That the deepest of loves is one I crave but still encumber;
I'll be broken-hearted when you go.

Still I ache when you wane as the moon, and slowly fading,
You linger as a pulse that will not slow,
Yet I dread, as your one, I am only masquerading;
I'll be broken-hearted when you go.

Light a torch for the darkness,
Take a sweater for the cold,
Pay no mind to scrutiny's barkings,
Or the hands that seek to scold,
Know my love still flickers on in the early evening glow;
I'll be broken-hearted when you go.

There's no voice that sweetly circles quite as that whose swell surrounds me,
No cheek that breaks so tender on my hand,
There's no burning like the sorrow of the flood that's fit to drown me;
Broken-hearted when you leave I will stand.

On the sea there is a sounding of a love that knows no boundaries,
It will follow all your footprints in the snow,
On this chair there is a blanket I will pull so close around me;
I'll be broken-hearted when you go,
I'll be broken-hearted when you go.

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The Devil and the Quiet Lightning

I am the devil, I am the fire
At times the chaste of chastity, more so the flame desire
I am the quiet lightning smoldering ‘lectric and low
You can find me in the valleys far below 

And it’s how you choose to use it, how you walk the fiery path
Will you read her as resistance, or will you kiss her on the mouth
It’s the fervor or the frightfulness, it is north or south 

I stalk the chamber, I hold the bloody court
And I know the perimeter and the recess of the heart
I’m both the green and yellow light, more so the flush of red
You can find me curled fetal in your bed

And it’s how you work the angles, how you rub the wooded grain
Will you leave it lacking luster, or will you bring it full to shine
It’s the fervor or the frightfulness, it is yours or mine

I am the face-off, I am the blink
I am the furtive footsteps taken backwards of the brink
I am the winsome thunder pining soulful and sad
You can find me rib-caged and muscle-clad

And it’s where you choose to put me with that hand you move in haste
To the sturdy of her shoulders, or to the supple of her waist
It’s the fervor or the frightfulness, it is drawn or erased

I am the Devil, I am the fire
At times the chaste of chastity, more so the flame desire
I am the quiet lightning smoldering ‘lectric and low
You can find me in the valleys far below
You can find me in the valleys far below

Words and music ©2005 Jack Harris

Flesh and Blood

Red sun heavy kissed the deep sky, full like a fervent mouth,
As the crickets come a-creepin' 'cross the clothesline, birds all heading south,
Have you ever seen the poppies stay in flower so late,
Wildflowers shootin' through the mud,
Vapour trails from two jet planes intertwining, flesh and blood.

Shadows movin' in upon a snow-white, marred like a rusty hinge,
And fractious is the movement of the shift-winds, teasin' your dress's fringe,
And you'd be barrellin' 'round the mountain when you finally came,
Riding six white horses if you could,
Chasin' tails from those jet planes intertwining, flesh and blood.

Have you ever felt the sea-salt pang inland so far,
Did you quiver at the gypsy man and his finger-stroked guitar,
Did you find that magic toyshop, force its entrails through the mesh,
Blood and flesh,
Blood and flesh.

Now springtime's creepin' like a smooth hand, loose like a ripened lip,
Full-grown is the sapling in the back yard, house-big from tiny pip,
When the rooster comes a-crowin' for the smell of the coop,
You'll be puttin' all the ponies out to stud,
Vapor trails still looming high, intertwining, flesh and blood.

Oh, the red sun heavy kissed the deep sky, full like a fervent mouth,
As the crickets come a-creepin' 'cross the clothesline, birds all heading south,
Have you ever seen the poppies stay in flower so late, wildflowers shootin' through the mud,
Vapour trails from two jet planes intertwining, ....

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For the Love of You

No false moves I'll make for the love of you,
No mountains left in my stride,
No self-made hell for me to put me through,
Never promised, never lied,
Never promised, never lied,

No stars gathered from the sky for the love of you,
No realm of fantasy invaded,
No chance that I might die for the love of you,
No chance that I might be persuaded,
No chance that I might be persuaded.

Many promises are made, you see,
In spite of all impracticality,
But there will be no great itinerary
For the love of you,
Though the lines under my eyes may testify that that's not true.

No mountaintops I'll climb for the love of you,
For I have squandered my endurance,
Ah, but I'll put my soul on the line for the love of you,
Just to gain some assurance,
Just to gain some assurance.

I've always been a fine swimmer, you see,
But a whole ocean would take it out of me,
So pardon me if I refuse to swim the sea
All for the love of you,
Or to walk a thousand miles when just a score or so will do.

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Girl with a Hay Rake

inspired by the Winslow Homer painting Girl with a Hay Rake

And maybe it's autumn and she is stifled by a chill,
There's a girl with a hay rake walking up a hill,
And New England has borne its harvest unto she,
And you can't tell that she is walking wearily,

Her hand on her hip there, her face in shadow from her cowl,
Oh, but you can trace a fair hair or the snow-fall of her jowl,
A girl with a hay rake 'mid the crooked autumn lee
Of the wind in the sycamore, tired as can be,

Chorus:
And when the red wings fly through the evening by and by,
She will sit beside the cider mill and drink the apples dry.

There's certainly a hay field, her fatigue on which to blame,
Over yonder way there, through the trees from whence she came,
Maybe there's a father, from when first she had begun,
Kept his gaze upon her, making sure her work got done,

Chorus

And all around her kitchen, the siblings hurl themselves about,
There's a yearning inside her trying to get out,
But for the while there's gravy, mashed potatoes, boiling stew,
She will eat them in silence until eating time is through,

Chorus

And maybe it's autumn and she is stifled by a chill,
There's a girl with a hay rake walking up a hill,
There's a girl with a hay rake walking up a hill.

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The Mortuary Polka

The mortuary is alive tonight.
And the dead men's hands are dealt in the sterile light,
And the aces are always high,
And they might deal you in next time,
And the mortuary is alive tonight,

And the mood is tense as the last man in complains,
And the gallows homour's dry as the empty veins,
So fear for man and child
'Cause the Joker, he's still wild,
And the mortuary is alive tonight.

Thought you could run, I'll bet you did; no one ever escapes,
Around the corner now you can see that cape...

And the hearts don't pound and the finger's numb to touch,
And the gas escapes just like someone letting out the clutch,
But something's gotta break
Because you played your highest stake,
And the mortuary is alive tonight.

And the aces are always high,
And they might deal you in next time,
And the mortuary is alive....

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A Plague on Both Your Horses

Fate rides a stallion, cold as embers, black as coal,
And when love’s in town puts his gospel down, where they ride to I don’t know,
Intertwined proceeding for me like a raging river courses;
A plague on both your horses,

And they leave the gulch deserted, in their wake a haggard fool,
Who finds not there a snow-white mare, but a broken, busted mule,
Straight away he loads what’s salvaged from the wreck of bitter forces;
A plague on both your horses,

And they ride into the sunset, spurs a-jingling at their boots,
With a plan to make and a heart to break, two riders in cahoots,
The only law that love obeys are those that steely Fate enforces;
A plague on both your horses,

Fate rides a stallion, cold as embers, black as coal,
And when love’s in town puts his gospel down, where they ride to I don’t know,
Likewise I proceed, still that raging river courses;
A plague on both your horses,
A plague on both your horses.


The Tailor of Aquitaine

All the Noblemen's daughters are wearing me down,
Every day a new dress, every night a new gown,
And the touch of my tape always prompts them to flinch,
And their Fathers find out when they claim that I pinch,
And it won't be long 'til my spool be unwound
For the Noblemen's daughters are wearing me down,

But in town there's a Beauty of unspoken grace,
From the bend of her breast to her yellowing lace,
And I watch her tread softly though seeming in flight,
And I disquietedly yearn for her each lonely night,
But the words I require have yet to be found,
And the Noblemen's daughters are wearing me down,

And the heart without thimble, not made out of tin
Yields only frustration when the needle breaks the skin,

And the street's sound asleep before I am in bed,
Oh, the night like a garment of taffeta thread,
And the hills stretch across like a Tailor's chalk line,
Oh, where I long to cut for a stitch of her time,
And oh, how I wish for the fall of the Crown,
For the Noblemen's daughters are wearing me down.

All the Noblemen's daughters are wearing me down,
Every day a new dress, every night a new gown,
And the touch of my tape always prompts them to flinch.
And their Fathers find out when they claim that I pinch,
And it won't be long 'til my spool be unwound,
For the Noblemen's daughters are wearing me down.

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Tampa Red

Tampa Red put his National away,
Hung up his coat tails and his shirt by the door,
And he stared at her gold name, and he looked at her picture,
Said, "Frances, I can't do this no more,
I can't do this no more."

Tampa Red cried in church on a Sunday,
Was lost Monday morning with a bet twice as wide,
And he sat in his kitchen, couldn't stomach the coffee,
And he looked in the mailbox, only bad news inside,

Chorus:
Crying, "Take me back to Georgia where the cotton fields sing
The blues blow so carnal, oh, and I am the king,
Hokum so fine, sweet Georgia moonshine,
Whippoorwill blue on the wing."

Now Tampa Red sits up late on a Friday,
TV lights blaring, the nurses have gone home,
And nobody's calling, nobody left no message,
Just Tampa and his memory alone,
Tampa and his memory alone,

For it was you in each blue note, it was you in each song,
The soul of this National was the fire in your eyes,
It was you in each dance floor, and the suits I was wearing,
You were each woman that I'd rhapsodize,

Chorus

Tampa Red put his National away,
Hung up his coat tails and his shirt by the door,
And stared at her gold name, and he looked at her picture,
Said, "Frances, I can't do this no more,"

Chorus
Whippoorwill blue on the wing.

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Where Does the Brown Bear Go

inspired by Where Does the Brown Bear Go by Nick Weiss

Big green forest out in California,
Big purple mountain up in north Alaska,
Big stone gap, think it's in Virginia,
Never read the novel but it's on the shelf there,

Where does the brown bear go?

Red woodpecker got a redwood condo,
Proud gorilla got a home in the Congo,
Bears of the north got their eye on an igloo,
High-class poodle in a grand French chateau,

Where does that brown bear go?

Sun is sinkin' all dappled and dusky,
Wood smoke curls from a chimney musky,
Frost jumps up all skippin'-rope silver,
Fall falls down and the leaves turn rusty,

Where does that brown bear go?

Wise owl hides in a hole in the oak tree,
Silver fish go to school in the deep sea,
Apes they crash through the tie that binds us,
And ravens flock in a cruel unkindness,

Where does that brown bear go?

There's a big green forest out in California,
Big purple mountain up in north Alaska,
Big stone gap, I think it's in Virginia,
Never read the novel but it's on the shelf there,

Where does the brown, brown bear go?

Food and shelter,
It's strife for them to blanket up at night times
But you're a big, brown mother,
And you like to be alone sometimes,
You like to be alone, most times.

When the lights go out on the city street, where does the white cat go?
When the evening settles in the jungle heat, where does the monkey go?
When shadows fall across the dune, where does the camel go?
When the junkyard's lit by the light of the moon, where does the stray dog go?
Honey, when the sun sinks far behind the seas, where does the seagull go?
When the night in the forest disguises the trees, where does the brown bear go?

Where does the brown, brown bear go?
Where does the brown bear go?

He's on his way,
They're on their way
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