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Sam's Song

This song started in a hotel room outside of Chicago. Actually, that's not quite right. It started when my friend Karen Shaffer was driving along the I-26 to Asheville, North Carolina from her home in Virginia. This is a big divided highway and as she was driving, Karen noticed a dog sitting at a rest stop by the side of the road, just watching the traffic. After passing by, she thought about how there were no cars in the pull-off. Living in the country, she and her husband Charles Vess have a menagerie of animals that people have dumped from the cars, so she's no stranger to the cruel practice of abandoned pets. Karen's a woman of action and two miles down the highway, she took an illegal U-turn at the first service road across the median to track back, then did that again to finally make her way to where the dog was.

She tried to coax the shy dog to her, but he kept moving away. Suddenly, a van pulled up and Karen thought with relief that the dog's owner had come to get him. He must have been forgotten at the rest stop. But the man behind the wheel told her that he was only coming to feed the dog. It wouldn't let him approach, either, so he just drove out every day and brought it a bowl of kibbles.

Karen related this story to me and asked me to write a song about it. I had to make up a few things, but this is a good example of how true things get mixed up with made-up ones to make a story.

Sam's Gap on the top of the mountain
There's a pull-off along the road
That dog he's there every single day
You know he's got no place to go
That dog he's scared of people
Won't take nothing from your hand
Once a day old Jimmy Wilkes
Brings him dog food in his van

That old dog he's living up in the hills
People say he's took to running wild
I see him waiting on the side of the road
He's just watching the cars go by

Joe and Mary died where they'd lived
In a holler off the county road
They had themselves a cabin there back in the hills
Was a place nobody would go
Guess they were dead a week or two
When the state troopers came
Didn't leave nothing but old black Ford
And a dog nobody could name

There's people living all over this land
Ain't got a friend to their name
Fell in the cracks that we build between us
Nobody's really to blame
Lost and waiting for something
That ain't broke' or torn
Like that dog we took to calling Sam
Waiting on an old black Ford

That old dog he's living up in the hills
People say he took to running wild
I see him waiting on the side of the road
He's just watching the cars go by

Second refrain:
That old dog he took to running wild
People say he's living up in the hills
I see him waiting on the side of the road
When I'm driving to Asheville


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Old Blue Truck
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