Lyrics for No Second Chance © John Dorsey 2002

One late fall weekend I was feeling depressed and trapped on the treadmill of life. I escaped to my log cabin in the north woods and came back with this song.

It’s a misty rusty autumn day,
And like the sky my thoughts are grey
Thinkin’ ‘bout what I should do
Never quite enough time to
Leaves are falling, rain is too
What I didn’t get to do
Today should have been done yesterday
Think I’m gonna go away
For a while, to collect myself
Learn to smile, again

We all seem to work so hard
Just to have our own backyard
Fix the fence and mow the lawn
Just like that the weekend’s gone
Is it any wonder
The way we live that we don’t understand
Why things are over, not long after they began
And I’m worried, ‘bout the planet, always in a hurry
But not going anywhere

Seems to me I’ve been trying to sprint
In a long distance run
Got to try to pace myself, have a little fun
Try to save some energy, to join in the dance
For as far as I can tell from here
There is no second chance

They say save it for a rainy day
Well I guess one just came my way
And in my time I’ve saved a few
So maybe I’ll take one or two
There’s a book I’d like to read
And there’s a song I’d like to see
If I can write, it’s been a while
Hope I haven’t lost my style
To enjoy life, while I‘ve got it
We’ve got to take care of ourselves

John Dorsey: vocal, acoustic guitar, harmonica
John Roby: piano
Henry Heillig: bass
Warren Collict: electric guitar
Howard Gaul: drums
Nicky Davis: harmony vocal
Julie Dorsey: harmony vocal


My old Chestnut canoe probably saved our lives
when the car flipped over. The one pictured here,
I built with Clarence

I went down to the outfitters
I was lookin’ for a new canoe
Well they didn’t have one, said they wouldn’t have one
So I sat and talked with Peggy Sue
She said, “I know a man, just lives down the road
About a mile this side of Dwight
And he’s been building canoes about 50 years
And by God he builds them right”

Old Clarence Bogues is a mountain of a man
And it ain’t just his size that I mean
‘Cause he’s tougher than a mean old grizzly bear
But he’s softer than a mess of beans
He’s softer than a mess of beans

Now there wasn’t a sign just his name on the box
That stood at the end of his lane
But people who want a real good canoe
Seem to find him just the same
He does his work with a pride and a care that is rare
In a world that runs right on time
And he parts with his work for far less than it’s worth
You know a man like that is hard to find

So I bugged him to let me work with him
And he gave me a job to do
But I had to learn by watchin’ and tryin’
Cause that’s the way he had done too
Then he let me start up a canoe of my own
And though he grumbled when I worked too slow
Later at night if his mood was right
I’d strum and he’d fiddle that bow

Now Clarence is a man about twice my size
And he’s lived about twice as long
And he’s stories to tell ‘bout the hard times he’s had
Never knowin’ your folks makes you strong
But inside that hard shell, there’s a hell of a well
Of loneliness, and a lot of
Pain in acceptin’ the givin’ and gettin’
Of feelings that he never got

John Dorsey: vocal, guitar, dobro, harmonica, bass
Paul Burton: harmony vocals



Mountain air makes me feel so fine
I feel ageless like I’ll never die
And when the sun sparkles on the snow-crest peaks
I want to climb right up and touch the sky

B. C. your mountains feel like home to me
Your valleys hold me warm in their embrace
And the energy I feel in all the beauty that I see
Makes me sad that I can’t stay
But I’ll return another day
‘Cause home for me is in another place

A mountain lake is like a jewel to me
A turquoise sparkling in the breeze
And as I walk by cascading mountain streams
I feel my heart leaping to be free

I love to stand on a mountaintop
A caribou, surveying his domain
And when the mist closes in so close around
I wait to see that rainbow once again

John Dorsey: vocal, guitars
Alyssa Wright: cello
Nicky Davis: harmony vocal


At 21, I set out on my own, with $200 in my pocket,
to visit Japan and Australia, expecting to be back in
6 months or so. I returned 4 years later with about
$200 and a wealth of experience

I have seen the Rocky Mountains
I have slept in the valleys below
I have climbed to the top, they just couldn’t stop me
From doing what I wanted to
I’ve travelled this wide world over
I’ve seen all the things I wanted to see
I’ve been from Kalamazoo to old Timbuktu
But there’s something still bothering me

Sometimes I’m still blue, it don’t matter what I do
All the things that I’ve done, they can’t help me none
‘Cause sometimes I’m still blue

I sold for Fuller Brush in Vancouver
To earn fare on a freighter to Japan
Where I played my guitar in the corner bar
And got drunk with that sukiyaki band
Then I wandered down to South East Asia
Where I heard there was a war goin’ on
To the rhythm of the bombs, I kept singin’ my songs
But still I knew something was wrong

I lived with the Natives of Cambodia
I hitched on a plane in Nepal
I’ve even been down to the little Bala towns
Where the women don’t wear much at all
Now I’ve got a steady job in Toronto
I’ve got friends that I can talk to
I’ve got four guitars and yellow sports car
But sometimes I’m still blue

John Dorsey: vocal, guitar, dobro, harmony vocal
Paul Burton: bass, mandolin, harmony vocal
Bob Birnie: banjo
Dan Kushner: fiddle
Nicky Davis: harmony vocal


This song wrote itself after a strange dream I had many years ago

Went downtown, a man was lyin’ in the street
Didn’t know his name so I looked at his feet
He had the same name as the girl next door
And when I saw him there, upon the floor
I could see he was a lot like me, sometimes I’m down

So I asked him to come with me
We could go and have some tea
He declined my offer so fine
Said if I wanted to know him better
I could have written him a letter

But seems that that’s the way it’s always been
The boat’s leavin’ at a quarter past ten
So you come down to the docks at nine
But you can’t hear the whistle ‘cause you’re watchin’ the time
But the clock, at the dock, doesn’t talk

I want to understand what’s goin’ on
But how can it be when I can’t find my own words
They seem to be lost deep inside
And if they find me I try to hide

I met a politician in a corner saloon
Shooting marshmallow bullets at a weather balloon
But the weather didn’t change and neither did he
Though he’d promised to fight for more austerity
And more rules for the fools in the schools

John Dorsey: vocal, guitar,
John Roby: piano
Henry Heillig: standup bass
Howard Gaul: drums
John Minnis: trumpet


Most have lost at love, at least once, but we
have to go on

It’s been months now since we were together
And I thought I’d gotten over the pain
But then she walked by with a man that I knew
And those feelings came up all over again

And I thought that I could forget her
Just go on to somebody new
But it seems that things don’t work out quite like that
If you don’t learn from things that you do
You’ll find that your troubles aren’t through
They’ll come bouncin’ right back to you

With friends Friday night in the city
Good music and a drink or two
But I miss that someone special to hold
And dance with so closely like we used to do

I can tell we weren’t meant for each other
And I know that there’s no one to blame
And I’m trying to learn from the troubles we had
But there’s still that feeling when I hear her name

John Dorsey: vocal, guitar, bass, dobro, harmonica, mandolin
Nicky Davis: harmony vocal
Paul Burton: harmony vocal



I see the leaves falling, tumbling down
And the weatherman says snow is on the way
But you don’t have to put your cold front on
Or store your feelings in the cellar far away

You can live (you can live) your life in a cave
If you want to
You can live (you can live) or you can sit right there
And save it all
For someone else who might not come along
And I’ll be gone

The autumn rain’s soaking all the leaves
That crackled as we walked through them just yesterday
But that don’t mean that the sun won’t be a shinin’
Or your feelings need be frozen until May

The snows are piled high, ‘round that old maple tree
That stands as frozen and as lonely as I feel
But my words come back on the howlin’ of the wind
To remind me that my fate has not been sealed

John Dorsey: vocal, acoustic guitar
John Roby: piano
Henry Heillig: upright bass
Burke Carroll: pedal steel
Steve Slutsky: accordion
Nicky Davis: harmony vocal
Paul Burton: harmony vocal


It’s an old fashioned log cabin, with a high pitch to the roof,
a huge stone fireplace – and an outhouse

You can’t see any concrete from the window of my cabin
Can’t see any houses, or people or their cars
Can’t see any factories or smell their vile fumes
Can’t hear trucks or buses from afar
But I can see a pine tree and a tall spruce over there
And a blue jay sounds its call from time to time
And the river whispers gently on the rocks just down below
And the fragrance of the woods soothes my mind

At my home in the country, there’s no place I’d rather be
At my home in the country, I can sit right down and be at ease
Hear the wind soft in the trees, and live my life the way I please

You can’t walk to the corner store to buy a magazine
Can’t get drinking water from a tap
Don’t have a shower, can’t fill the bathroom tub
Don’t have a heating thermostat
But you know the news these days isn’t really news, it’s “olds”
And if I get thirsty, I walk to the stream
And I can fire up the sauna and then take the river plunge
And watch the air around me steam

We don’t have electricity, so we can’t watch the TV
But I don’t think I’m missing much at all
And the telephone don’t ring and the mailman don’t bring
Any letters from the folks who couldn’t call
But I’d rather read a book, than watch a TV show
Or sit and talk with somebody I know
And let the wine and conversation warm us through and through
As we sit together in the fire’s glow

John Dorsey: vocal, guitar
Paul Burton: bass
Bob Birnie: banjo
Dan Kushner: fiddle
Nicky Davis: harmony vocals


I’ve played in bars where we had to move our equipment
back each night after playing, because strippers used the
stage each afternoon

Feelin’ kinda sleazy gonna slide down to the local dive
Chug a lug a jug or two and check out the action on the side
When those young gals strut their stuff I just come alive

And it’s slip slide sleaze, life is just a breeze
Slip slide sleaze, life is just a breeze
Just slippin’ and a slidin’
Don’t need no sympathizin’ if you please

I love a loud band, love to feel those vibrations in my brain
The flashing lights synchronize my eyes
And help to drive away the rain
With the smoke and sweat surrounding me
Its like I’m back in the womb again

There’s a stripper at the Albion I kinda take a fancy to
She’s got a tattoo on her shoulder
And down below looks real good too
She said that she is married now
But maybe in a week or two

John Dorsey: vocal, rhythm guitar, harmony vocal
Warren Collict: rhythm, lead and bottleneck guitars
Paul Burton: bass, harmony vocals
Peter Stone: blues harp


I used to feel this way ….. sometimes

Sometimes I feel like a well that’s gone dry
Sometimes I feel like a bird that can’t fly
Sometimes there’s nothin’ but clouds in my sky
And I don’t even know why
I can’t tell why

I’ve done many things in my life and it seems
That it’s hard to count all the places I’ve been
But that hasn’t kept me from my lonely dreams
And I’m wonderin’ when things’ll change
I wonder when things will change

I do what I can to keep singing in time
And I don’t have trouble in finding a rhyme
But somehow I never quite get the last line

John Dorsey: vocal, guitars, harmonica
Ben Knight: bass


Exactly as it happened

I was sittin’ on my front porch feelin’ down and all alone
When this man walked up and said, “It’s hot “
I said, “Yeah, I guess so”
He said, “you’re lookin’ lonely, you got it kinda bad”
He sat right down and told me
All the troubles he had had

He said he drove for Sunflower, a mover with some class
He’d driven to Vancouver but they closed the Rogers pass
So he had to take the long way
Through Montana to Spokane
Where he got to drinkin’ in a bar ‘til he forgot his name

He stayed drunk about a week so they came for his truck
He didn’t know why he’d let the bottle spoil his luck
He said he’d lost a job like this again and then again
Sometimes a bottle seemed to be his only real friend
Sometimes a bottle seemed to be his only real friend

One day he said, as he walked by
A church on Sunday morn’
He heard the people singin’ and decided to go in
He heard the preacher talkin‘
‘bout the ways that we get lost
And he knew right then that he would quit
No matter what the cost

So ten months passed and not a drop
Of liquor passed his lips
‘Til one night at a party, he had just a little sip
He tasted from that bottle, then he drank it to the end
Sometimes a bottle seemed to be his only real friend
Sometimes a bottle seemed to be his only real friend

He told me ‘bout his children, as we sat there on my step
One just made him a grandpa, and him not forty yet
He showed me a few vegetables
He’d bought for his girlfriend
‘Cause she liked that kind of stuff
And then he said I was his friend

He pulled a bottle from his coat, and put it to his lips
He said he didn’t want to drink, but he just couldn’t quit
As he ambled off I looked down at
The wine glass in my hand
Sometimes a bottle seems to be my only real friend
Sometimes a bottle seems to be my only real friend

John Dorsey: vocal, acoustic guitar, bass
Burke Carroll: pedal steel
Warren Collict: electric guitar
Howard Gaul: drums
Paul Burton: harmony vocal



Sun on the river, sparkling ripples
Whispering down through the trees
High on a rocky ledge, breeze in my hair
Just letting my mind be at ease
Just letting my mind be at ease

Canoe on dark water, gliding so gently
Rocks passing silent below
Watery abstract, broken reflections
Spiders that dance to and fro
Just let those worries go

I need to have a peaceful place
To keep from getting caught up by the pace
Of the human race

Stars high above, you can join up the points
Create your own picture that way
Flames from the fire, warming our bodies
Taking our thoughts far away
Taking our thoughts far away

John Dorsey: vocal, guitar
Alyssa Wright: cello
Howard Gaul: percussion


All words and music by John Dorsey © John Dorsey 2002


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