Thirsty Boots

By Eric Andersen

You've long been on the open road,
You've been sleeping in the rain,
From dirty words and muddy cells
Your clothes are smeared and stained,
But the dirty words and muddy cells
Will soon be hid in shame
So only stop to rest yourself
Till you are off again


   So take off your thirsty boots
   and stay for a while,
   Your feet are hot and weary,
   from a dusty mile,
   And maybe I can make you laugh,
   maybe I can try,
   I'm just looking for the evening,
   the morning in your eye.

So tell me of the ones you saw
As far as you could see
Across the plain from field to town
A-marching to be free
And of the rusted prison gates
That tumbled by degree
Like laughing children, one by one,
They look like you and me


I know you are no stranger down
The crooked rainbow trails
From dancing cliff-edged shattered sills
Of slandered, shackled jails
For the voices drift up from below
As the walls they're being scaled
Yes, all of this, and more, my friend,
Your song shall not be failed.


Yes, you've long been on the open road
You've been sleeping in the rain
From dirty words and muddy cells
Your clothes are smeared and stained
But the dirty words, the muddy cells,
They'll soon be judged insane
So only stop to rest yourself
'til you are off again.



Here is Eric Andersen's recent comments about this song (via Bruce Houghton, his tour manager):

It was written for a civil rights worker friend, but the Phil Ochs connection is strong. Eric first sang a part of the song to Phil in the 14th Street Subway Station in NYC on their way to the Village. Phil loved it and encouraged him to finish it. Then Phil brought him up on stage at the Philadelphia Folk festival to perform the completed song live for the first time. It was also Phil who brought Eric around to other Village folk performers to have him play the song for their possible inclusion in their albums...and one of them as you all know certainly did!

And here is Eric Anderson's own liner notes from the album 'bout Changes & Things:

"THIRSTY BOOTS was written to a civil rights worker-friend. Having never gone down to Mississippi myself, I wrote the song about coming back."
Therefore, Eric must have written the song and liner notes at some earlier time, before he and Phil went to Mississippi together. Otherwise, why would he have written "Having never gone down. . ."?

However, after Phil's death, Eric dedicated the song to Phil on his "greatest hits" album and in concerts, including the Phil Ochs tribute concert at the Felt Forum in 1976:

"Eric Anderson will probably offer his own 'Thirsty Boots,' which he has been dedicating to Mr. Ochs at his club and concert performances." (New York Times, May 28, 1976.)
Last modified 17 May 99 by trent