From the recording Waiting for Rain

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Words and music by Gene Mills
Gene Mills, guitar and vocals; Gayla Mills, bass; Steve Smith, mandolin and harmony vocals

Based on real experiences in a lower-middle class neighborhood in Richmond, where gentrification is taking place while homeless live in parks nearby.


Earl Thomas Johnson
was the fourth one in his line
to rent that five room house
down near Holly Street and Pine
And the rent had never risen more than what he earned an hour
till 11 years ago when everything
went sour

He loaded up his wife and kids
and swallowed down his pride
and moved in with her folks
who only spoke to criticize
He started staying out at night
and drinking more and more
till one morning he came home to find
new locks on all the doors

[Chorus] Now he picks up beer and soda cans, turns 'em in for cash
finds his daily bread
by digging through the trash.
He's off to buy his smokes and beer
early every day
and he grabs a morning paper from some porch along the way
And he's got himself a sleeping bag
to keep away the chill
Got himself some cigarettes
to keep from feeling ill
He's got the Lee Bridge overhead
to keep away the rain
and a 12-pack of Milwaukee's best
to keep away the pain

He missed the graduation
of his daughter and his son
They've tried their best to help him, but there's nothing to be done
They lost their father years ago
that's what they tell their friends
and he tells himself it won't be long
till he's with them again