Devils & Dust

This acoustic, primarily solo outing, mixing themes familial and political, followed the extensive tour for The Rising. Many of the songs came from Bruce’s archives: “All The Way Home” was written for Southside Johnny in 1991; “Long Time Coming” and “The Hitter” date back to the Tom Joad era. The lyrically controversial “Reno” caused a minor furor.

Released: April 26, 2005
Label: Columbia Records
Produced By: Brendan O’Brien
1 Devils & Dust
2 All the Way Home
Lyrics
I know what it's like to have failed, baby
With the whole world lookin' on
I know what it's like to have soared
And come crashin' like a drunk on a bar room floor

Now you got no reason to trust me
My confidence is a little rusty
But if you don't feel like bein' alone
Baby, I could walk you all the way home

Well now our old fears and failures
Baby, they do linger
Like the shadow of that ring
That was on your finger
Those days they've come and gone
Baby, I could walk you all the way home

Love leaves nothin' but shadows and vapor
We go on, as is our sad nature
Now it's some old Stones'
Song the band is trashin'
But if you feel like dancin'
Baby, I'm askin'

It's comin' on closing time
Bartender, he's ringin' last call
These days I don't stand on pride
And I ain't afraid to take a fall

So if you're seein' what you like
Maybe your first choice he's gone
Well that's all right
Baby, I could walk you all the way home

Baby, I could walk you all the way home
3 Reno
Lyrics
She took off her stockings, I held them to my face.
She had your ankles, I felt filled with grace.
"Two hundred dollars straight in,
Two-fifty up the ass," she smiled and said.
She unbuckled my belt, pulled back her hair,
And sat in front of me on the bed.
She said, "Honey how's that feel, do you want me to go slow?"
My eyes drifted out the window, down to the road below.

I felt my stomach tighten. The sun bloodied the sky
And sliced through the hotel blinds. I closed my eyes.
Sunlight on the Amatitlan, sunlight streaming thru your hair.
In the Valle de dos Rios, smell of mock orange filled the air.
We rode with the vaqueros, down into cool rivers of green.
I was sure the work and that smile coming out 'neath your hat
Was all I'd ever need.
Somehow all you ever need's, never really quite enough you know.
You and I, Maria, we learned it's so.

She slipped me out of her mouth, "You're ready," she said.
She took off her bra and panties, wet her finger, slipped it inside her,
And crawled over me on the bed.
She poured me another whisky,
Said, "Here's to the best you ever had."
We laughed and made a toast.
It wasn't the best I ever had,
Not even close.

Amatitlan: Central Mexican River
Valle de dos Rios: Valley of Two Rivers
Vaqueros: Cowboys
4 Long Time Comin'
Lyrics
Out where the creek turns shallow and sandy
And the moon comes skimmin' away the stars
The wind in the mesquite comes rushin' over the hilltops
Straight into my arms
Straight into my arms

I'm riding hard carryin' a catch of roses
And a fresh map that I made
Tonight I'm gonna get birth naked and bury my old soul
And dance on its grave
And dance on its grave

It's been a long time comin', my dear
It's been a long time comin' but now it's here

Well my daddy he was just a stranger
Lived in a hotel downtown
When I was a kid he was just somebody
Somebody I'd see around
Somebody I'd see around

Now down below and pullin' on my shirt
I got some kids of my own
Well if I had one wish in this god forsaken world, kids
It'd be that your mistakes would be your own
Yea your sins would be your own

It's been a long time comin', my dear
It's been a long time comin' but now it's here

Out 'neath the arms of Cassiopeia
Where the sword of Orion sweeps
It's me and you, Rosie, cracklin' like crossed wires
And you breathin' in your sleep
You breathin' in your sleep

Well there's just a spark of campfire burning
Two kids in a sleeping bag beside
I Reach 'neath your shirt, lay my hands across your belly
And feel another one kickin' inside
I ain't gonna fuck it up this time

It's been a long time comin', my dear
It's been a long time comin' but now it's here
It's been a long time comin', my dear
It's been a long time comin' but now it's here
Also Appears On
Live in Dublin Live in Dublin Film Chapter and Verse
5 Black Cowboys
Lyrics
Rainey Williams' playground was the Mott Haven streets where he ran past melted candles and flower wreaths, names and photos of young black faces, whose death and blood consecrated these places. Rainey's mother said, "Rainey stay at my side, for you are my blessing you are my pride. It's your love here that keeps my soul alive. I want you to come home from school and stay inside."

Rainey'd do his work and put his books away. There was a channel showed a western movie everyday. Lynette brought him home books on the black cowboys of the Oklahoma range and the Seminole scouts who fought the tribes of the Great Plains. Summer come and the days grew long. Rainey always had his mother's smile to depend on. Along a street of stray bullets he made his way, to the warmth of her arms at the end of each day.

Come the fall the rain flooded these homes, here in Ezekiel's valley of dry bones, it fell hard and dark to the ground. It fell without a sound. Lynette took up with a man whose business was the boulevard, whose smile was fixed in a face that was never off guard. In the pipes 'neath the kitchen sink his secrets he kept. In the day, behind drawn curtains, in Lynette's bedroom he slept.

Then she got lost in the days. The smile Rainey depended on dusted away, the arms that held him were no more his home. He lay at night his head pressed to her chest listening to the ghost in her bones.

In the kitchen Rainey slipped his hand between the pipes. From a brown bag pulled five hundred dollar bills and stuck it in his coat side, stood in the dark at his mother's bed, brushed her hair and kissed her eyes.

In the twilight Rainey walked to the station along streets of stone. Through Pennsylvania and Ohio his train drifted on. Through the small towns of Indiana the big train crept, as he lay his head back on the seat and slept. He awoke and the towns gave way to muddy fields of green, corn and cotton and an endless nothin' in between. Over the rutted hills of Oklahoma the red sun slipped and was gone. The moon rose and stripped the earth to its bone.
6 Maria's Bed
Lyrics
Been on a barbed wire highway 40 days and nights
I ain't complain'n that's my job and it suits me right
I got a sweet soul fever rushin' around my head
I'm gonna sleep tonight in Maria's bed

Got on a dead man's suit and smilin' skull ring
Lucky graveyard boots and a song to sing
I keep my heart in my work, my troubles in my head
And I keep my soul in Maria's bed

I been up on sugar mountain, 'cross the sweet blue sea
I walked the valley of love and tears and mystery
I got run out'a luck and gave myself up for dead
Then I drank the cool clear waters from Maria's bed

She give me candy stick kisses 'neath a wolf dog moon
One sweet breath and she'll take you, mister, to the upper room

I was burned by the angels, sold wings of lead
Then I fell in the roses and sweet salvation of Maria's bed

I been out in the desert, doin' my time
Siftin' through the dust for fools gold, lookin' for a sign
Holy man said, "Hold on, brother, there's a light up ahead."
Ain't nothin' like the light that shines on me in Maria's bed

Well I take my blessings at the riverhead
I'm living in the light of Maria's bed
7 Silver Palomino
Lyrics
A mother dies, leaving her young son to come to terms with the loss. In remembrance of Fiona Chappel, for her sons Tyler and Oliver.

I was barely 13 years old
She came out of the Guadalupe's on a night so cold
Her coat was frosted diamonds in the sallow moon's glow
My silver palomino
Sixteen hands from her withers to the ground
I lie in bed and listen to the sound
Of the west Texas thunder roll
My silver palomino
I track her into the mountains she loved
Watch her from the rocks above
She'd dip her neck and drink from the winter flows
My silver palomino
Our mustaneros were the very best, sir
But they could never lay a rope on her
No corral will ever hold
The silver palomino
In my dreams bareback I ride
Over the pradera low and wide
As the wind sweeps out the draw
'Cross the scrub desert floor
I'd give my riata and spurs
If I could be forever yours
I'd ride into the serrania where no one goes
For my silver palomino
Summer drought come hard that year
Our herd grazed the land so bare
Me and my dad had to blowtorch the thorns off the prickly pear
And mother, your hand slipped from my hair
Tonight I wake early the sky is pearl, the stars aglow
I saddle up my red roan
I ride deep into the mountains along a ridge of pale stone
Where the air is still with the coming snow
As I rise higher I can smell your hair
The scent of your skin, mother, fills the air
'Midst the harsh scrub pine that grows
I watch the silver palomino

Mustaneros: Mustangers
Pradera: Prairie
Riata: Rope
Serrania: Sierra
Prickly Pear: Cactus
8 Jesus Was an Only Son
Lyrics
Jesus was an only son
As he walked up Calvary Hill
His mother Mary walking beside him
In the path where his blood spilled
Jesus was an only son
In the hills of Nazareth
As he lay reading the Psalms of David
At his mother's feet

A mother prays, "Sleep tight, my child, sleep well
For I'll be at your side
That no shadow, no darkness, no tolling bell,
Shall pierce your dreams this night."

In the garden at Gethsemane
He prayed for the life he'd never live,
He beseeched his Heavenly Father to remove
The cup of death from his lips

Now there's a loss that can never be replaced,
A destination that can never be reached,
A light you'll never find in another's face,
A sea whose distance cannot be breached

Well Jesus kissed his mother's hands
Whispered, "Mother, still your tears,
For remember the soul of the universe
Willed a world and it appeared."
Also Appears On
VH-1 Storytellers
9 Leah
Lyrics
I wanna build me a house, on higher ground
I wanna find me a world, where love's the only sound
High above this road, filled with shadow and doubt
I want to shoulder my load, and figure it all out
With Leah

I walk this road, with a hammer and a fiery lantern
With this hand I've built, and with this I've burned
I wanna live in the same house, beneath the same roof
Sleep in the same bed, search for the same proof
As Leah

I got somethin' in my heart, I been waitin' to give
I got a life I wanna start, one I been waitin' to live
No more waitin', tonight I feel the light I say the prayer
I open the door, I climb the stairs...
10 The Hitter
Lyrics
Come to the door, Ma, and unlock the chain
I was just passin' through and got caught in the rain
There's nothin' I want, nothin' that you need say
Just let me lie down for a while and I'll be on my way

I was no more than a kid when you put me on the Southern Queen
With the police on my back I fled to New Orleans
I fought in the dockyards and with the money I made
I knew the fight was my home and blood was my trade

Baton Rouge, Ponchatoula, and Lafayette town
Well they paid me their money, Ma, I knocked the men down
I did what I did well it come easily
Restraint and mercy, Ma, were always strangers to me

I fought champion Jack Thompson in a field full of mud
Rain poured through the tent to the canvas and mixed with our blood
In the twelfth I slipped my tongue over my broken jaw
I stood over him and pounded his bloody body into the floor
Well the bell rang and rang and still I kept on
'Till I felt my glove leather slip 'tween his skin and bone

Then the women and the money came fast and the days I lost track
The women red, the money green, but the numbers were black
I fought for the men in their silk suits to lay down their bets
I took my good share, Ma, I have no regrets

Then I took the fix at the state armory with big John McDowell
From high in the rafters I watched myself fall
As they raised his arm my stomach twisted and the sky it went black
I stuffed my bag with their good money and I never looked back

Understand, in the end, Ma, every man plays the game
If you know me one different then speak out his name
Ma, if my voice now you don't recognize
Then just open the door and look into your dark eyes
I ask of you nothin', not a kiss not a smile,
Just open the door and let me lie down for a while

Now the gray rain's fallin' and my ring fightin's done
So in the work fields and alleys I take all who'll come
If you're a better man than me then just step to the line
Show me your money and speak out your crime
Now there's nothin' I want, Ma, nothin' that you need say
Just let me lie down for a while and I'll be on my way

Tonight in the shipyard a man draws a circle in the dirt
I move to the center and I take off my shirt
I study him for the cuts, the scars, the pain,
Man, nor time can erase
I move hard to the left and I strike to the face
11 All I'm Thinkin' About
Lyrics
Blind man wavin' by the side of the road
I'm in a flat bed Ford carrying a heavy load
With a sweet thing sippin' on a blueberry wine
On a flat black highway down in Carolina
Black bird slippin' in a sky of blue

All I'm thinkin' about is you, baby
All I'm thinkin' about is you, honey
All I'm thinkin' about is you, baby
All I'm thinkin' about is you
Ain't nothin' in this world I can do about it
All I'm thinkin' about is you

Little boy carryin' a fishin' pole
Little girl pickin' berries straight off of the vine
Brown bag filled with a little green toad
We hook 'em through the lip and throw 'em off of the line
Your sweet brown legs got me feeling so blue

All I'm thinkin' about is you, baby
All I'm thinkin' about is you
All I'm thinkin' about is you, baby
All I'm thinkin' about is you
Ain't nothin' in this world I can do about it
All I'm thinkin' about is you

Black car shinin' on a Sunday morn
Mama go to church now, Mama go to church now
Friday night daddy's shirt is torn
Daddy's goin' downtown, daddy's goin' downtown
Ain't no one understand this sweet thing we do

All I'm thinkin' about is you, baby
All I'm thinkin' about is you
All I'm thinkin' about is you, baby
All I'm thinkin' about is you
Ain't nothin' in this world I can do about it
All I'm thinkin' about is you

Field turned up, the seed is sowed
Rain comin' in from over 'cross the road
Big black curtain coming 'cross the field
Blind 'll see, the lame will be healed
Brown eyed girl, I turned my back on you, now it's lonely

All I'm thinkin' about is you, babe
All I'm thinkin' about is you
All I'm thinkin' about is you, babe
All I'm thinkin' about is you,
Ain't nothin' in this world take away these blues

All I'm thinkin' about is you
All I'm thinkin' about is you, babe
All I'm thinkin' about is you
All I'm thinkin' about is you
All I'm thinkin' about is you
Ain't nothin' in this world I can do about it
All I'm thinkin' about is you
12 Matamoros Banks
Lyrics
Each year many die crossing the deserts, mountains, and rivers of our southern border in search of a better life. Here I follow the journey backwards, from the body at the river bottom, to the man walking across the desert towards the banks of the Rio Grande.

For two days the river keeps you down
Then you rise to the light without a sound
Past the playgrounds and empty switching yards
The turtles eat the skin from your eyes, so they lay open to the stars

Your clothes give way to the current and river stone
'Till every trace of who you ever were is gone
And the things of the earth they make their claim
That the things of heaven may do the same
Goodbye, my darling, for your love I give God thanks,
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Over rivers of stone and ancient ocean beds
I walk on sandals of twine and tire tread
My pockets full of dust, my mouth filled with cool stone
The pale moon opens the earth to its bones
I long, my darling, for your kiss, for your sweet love I give God thanks
The touch of your loving fingertips
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Your sweet memory comes on the evenin' wind
I sleep and dream of holding you in my arms again
The lights of Brownsville, across the river shine
A shout rings out and into the silty red river I dive
I long, my darling, for your kiss, for your sweet love I give God thanks
A touch of your loving fingertips
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks

Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros
Meet me on the Matamoros banks