Liz Zelvin
OUTRAGEOUS OLDER WOMAN

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Liz Zelvin  is above all a writer, and the lyrics of her songs reflect both the poet's and the storyteller's art. All songs are copyrighted. Others are welcome to sing and perform them with attribution (© Words & Music by Elizabeth Zelvin). For commercial use, contact Liz for permission.


Outrageous Older Woman
There are a thousand lessons that I've learned along the way
To give a helping hand and try to live just for today
To run into the ocean and ride the biggest wave
To stand upon a mountain and pretend that I am brave

To write a book and paint a dream and plant a tree or two
To learn the cost of cheating and to visit Timbuctoo
To fly a plane and manage to believe that I won't die
It's hard to keep it up but I can do it if I try.

Outrageous older woman, you're all I longed to be
When I look into the mirror I'm amazed that you are me
I am filled with all the power of the journeying I've done
And I'm halfway to the morning and I'm heading for the sun.

Secrets, songs, and stories, remembered truth and lies
All add up to wisdom, I can see it in your eyes

To listen to a silence and let go of a regret
Those took me half a century and I ain't quite got 'em yet
There always were so many things that I just had to do
I sometimes lost my way but I can still come shining through.

Outrageous older woman, you're all I longed to be
When I look into the mirror I'm amazed that you are me
I am filled with all the power of the journeying I've done
And I'm halfway to the morning and I'm heading for the sun.

©1996 Elizabeth Zelvin


Online Loving
Five years ago I went online, exploring cyberspace
Searching for that kindred spirit I was missing face to face
I surfed a thousand chat rooms, but I wasn't getting through
Until I found your website and my heart clicked on you.

But lying in my bed alone is getting kind of tough
Lately even all those frequent flyer miles are not enough
I'm virtually tired of loving electronically
Oh, when will you stop texting and be face to face with me.

I want you to stop booting up and show up at my door
I don't want this online loving any more.

We can wait until you finally pay off your credit cards
We can wait till alcoholics no longer drink in bars
We can wait until they turn around this bad economy
We can wait until the air is clean, the ghetto trouble free.

We can wait until there's harmony throughout the Middle East
We can wait until all terrorism turns into world peace
I've been patient for so long, but now you've got to do your part
Long distance love is not enough to fill this realtime heart.

Just shut the damn computer down and show up at my door
I don't want this online loving any more.

I don't want this Facebook loving any more
I don't want this iPhone loving any more
I don't want this online loving any more.

© 2002 Elizabeth Zelvin


All She Ever Wanted
She came to the city with a suitcase full of dreams
Her family called it craziness and going to extremes
She sang in the subway, she worked all the bars
She walked those city sidewalks with her eyes full of stars.

There was a country boy back home who waited every day
To kiss her letters open and see what they would say
He'd write, "Don't you remember all our fantasies and plans
Baby, please come home, forget this country music band."

He offered her his home and heart, he offered her his hand
But all she ever wanted was a country music band.

She met a man from Cleveland in a honky tonk one night
When he asked her back to his hotel, she said, "Why not? All right."
In the morning when they woke up, he already was in love
But she said, "Hey, I want my band, what was I thinking of?"

He offered her his home and heart, he offered her his hand
But all she ever wanted was a country music band.

She ain't on the wagon, she ain't on the run
She ain't in it for the money, she's in it for the fun.

Then she prayed to God for backup, someone who'd understand
And He sent a guitar picker who had lightning in his hands
With a fiddler who made every tune into a symphony
She said, "Boys, we're headed for the top, this is the life for me."

She ain't on the wagon, she ain't on the run
She ain't in it for the money, she's in it for the fun.

Yeah, the road to Nashville has her heart, her banjo has her hands
'Cause all she ever wanted was a country music band.

© 2000 Elizabeth Zelvin


The Rain Came Down
Up a crooked wooden staircase on the shabby side of town
She keeps the light on just in case he ever comes around
And the baby won't stop crying so all night she walks the floor
And thinks of all the questions that she has no answers for.

Lord, send down your rain on me, I am ready to be healed
Won't you water with your love all God's children
Every one who's gone astray, every one who's found the way
And all the flowers in the field--and the rain came down.

When he was twenty he believed that he was glory bound
Now he's on a road like all the others he's been walking down
And it's hot and dry and dusty and his feet are getting sore
And he's lost the dream that used to keep him coming back for more.

Lord, send down your rain on me, I am ready to be healed
Won't you water with your love all God's children
Every one who's gone astray, every one who's found the way
And all the flowers in the field--and the rain came down.

There's a distant thunder rumbling and they shiver at the sound
At that moment they'd give anything to turn it all around
She opens up the window, he looks up at the sky
And every listening angel can surely hear them cry.

Lord, send down your rain on me, I am ready to be healed
Won't you water with your love all God's children
Every one who's gone astray, every one who's found the way
And all the flowers in the field--and the rain came down.

And the rain came down
Rain came down
And the rain.
© 1999 Elizabeth Zelvin


Wedding Song
Two different lands, two different faiths
But we have found a world in which our differences embrace
This unexpected union reaches out across the sea
When we're apart I count the hours till you come back to me

I knew right away, you weren't sure
Step after step, moving toward a love that would endure
We've flown upon our promises like eagles on the air
From now on when I wake each day I want you to be there

We're the dance, we're the song
We spoke each other's language all along
From sea to sea, from sun to sun
We will find our dreams together, we are one.

We've been rehearsing, learning our parts
Trusting each other, opening our hearts

Now is the time, here is the place
Those that we love can see us standing face to face
We give each other to ourselves in body and in soul
We're more than half of anything, but love can make us whole

We're the dance, we're the song
We spoke each other's language all along
From sea to sea, from sun to sun
We will find our dreams together, we are one.

To arrive at this moment we've come ten thousand miles.

© 2000 Elizabeth Zelvin


The Still
My daddy was a quiet man, and some would call him cold
But I know he must have loved me when I was four years old
'Cause he'd take me by the hand sometimes and lead me up the hill
To where the white corn liquor was bubbling in the still.

I can close my eyes and be there any time I please
That old still on the mountain underneath the trees
I can sit beside my daddy with our hearts afire with corn
It was good, it was no good, and now it's gone.

And when I was a young man and foolish in my pride
I gave my heart to Jenny, and she became my bride
I promised her I'd settle down, and Lord, how I did try
But I settled for white lightning, and Jenny chose goodbye.

I can close my eyes and be there any time I please
That old still on the mountain underneath the trees
I can sit beside sweet Jenny with our hearts afire with corn
It was good, it was no good, and now she's gone.

So I came here to the Bowery where they pass the bottle round
'Cause Thunderbird's the best friend that I have ever found
With a curbstone for my pillow, the gutter for my bed
And my only dream a longing for feelings that are dead.

Can I find the answer, can I find the way
Can I ever find the love that I once threw away

And now this old church basement's dry and a shelter from the rain
As I listen, all the memories come rushing back again
And I swear I'll turn my life around, no matter what the cost
But letting go is so hard when there's so much I have lost.

I can close my eyes and be there any time I please
That old still on the mountain underneath the trees
I can sit beside my daddy with our hearts afire with corn
It was good, it was no good, and now it's gone.

It was good, it was no good, and now it's gone.

© 1998 Elizabeth Zelvin


God of Music
Listening to the radio late at night
If I could have a voice like that, maybe it would be all right
My throat choked up with all the songs that never could be sung
Broken trust and broken dreams, silence on my tongue.

Imagining the angels as I pray
If I could have a soul like that, maybe it would be okay
Crouching in the shadows, afraid to make a sound
For fear the rage inside will bring my whole world crashing down.

God of music, be with me tonight
When my spirit is in darkness, you turn me toward the light
Your song of love surrounds me and everything I feel
And I believe that I can heal
And I believe that I can heal.

God of music, open up my heart and set me free
Let me be a grace note in your soaring melody, oh

Standing up here about to sing
I ask you for the power to let my story ring
The courage to cry out my truth and drown out every lie
To use the voice you gave me and lift it to the sky, oh

God of music, be with me tonight
When my spirit is in darkness, you turn me toward the light
Your song of love surrounds me and everything I feel
And I believe that I can heal
And I believe that I can heal.

© 2000 Elizabeth Zelvin


The Mayor of Central Park
Alberto came to New York from a land that's warm and green
He took a vow of poverty for the misery he'd seen
He went into the park one day and by God's grace he found
The waters of the reservoir and people running round.

As he fell in step he marveled how it made him feel alive
He knew he'd still be doing this when he was eighty-five
He learned to race and set the pace, he made a lot of friends
He learned that life's a circle, it's the track that never ends.

He sheds a little light in the dark
He's the Mayor of Central Park.

He sheds a little light in the dark
He's the Mayor of Central Park.

You know he's there already when you're getting out of bed
If you're lucky you may see him standing on his head
Even for the slowest jogger he has a wave and smile
He puts courage in your heart and wings in every mile.

Though his step may falter, he never will bend
He's the city's inspiration, he's every runner's friend

He sheds a little light in the dark
He's the Mayor of Central Park.

He sheds a little light in the dark
He's the Mayor of Central Park.

Alberto lived to ninety-four, his final race is run
No longer will he walk the track underneath the sun
But a kindly spirit haunts the park, it's never very far
He says, "You're looking good!" each time I run the reservoir.

As long as we remember, his story won't end
He's the city's inspiration, he's every runner's friend

He sheds a little light in the dark
He's the Mayor of Central Park.

He sheds a little light in the dark
He's the Mayor of Central Park.

© 2000 Elizabeth Zelvin


Creeping Age
My vintage is in fashion, my decade's getting hype
Are we still in our prime or are we getting overripe
We're on that seventh grandkid and that seventeenth career
They say we're doing great but is it just a thin veneer

Creeping age, creeping age
The wrinkles on my face are just a stage
I never thought I'd be like the rings around a tree
A-showin' all the signs of creeping age.

My friends from back in high school, their backs ache just like mine
Our knees when we unbend them, they creak and crack just fine
Our brown hair's from the bottle like the perfume's from the rose
Just hand us our trifocals when we need to see our toes.

Creeping age, creeping age
The wrinkles on my face are just a stage
I never thought I'd be like the rings around a tree
A-showin' all the signs of creeping age.

On calcium and estrogen, still eyeing younger men
We're working out and hoping it will help that double chin
We're running out of time, the guys are running out of hair
We're not too pleased about it all but who said life was fair.

I wake up every morning and I don't know what to think
I can't recall my memory until I've had my zinc
I don't always exactly know where I'm supposed to be
Don't tell me that it's Alzheimer's, it's just maturity.

Creeping age, creeping age
The wrinkles on my face are just a stage
I never thought I'd be like the rings around a tree
A-showin' all the signs of creeping age.

I never will be elderly, I never will be old
Though my roots have turned to silver and my molars all to gold
The woman that I am, my friends, is what I'll always be
Getting old? So what! 'cause too damn old is ten years more than me.

Creeping age, creeping age
The wrinkles on my face are just a stage
I never thought I'd be like the rings around a tree
A-showin' all the signs of creeping age.
A-showin' all the signs of creeping age.

© 2011 Elizabeth Zelvin


Mary, Mary
Oh, Mary, Mary, how does your garden grow
If you're contrary, it's just the way you deal with what you know
Ah, the poppies they are flaming and swaying in the wind
And you wish that you could go back and do it all again.

Oh, Mary, Mary, you're crying in your sleep
And you are dreaming the memories you didn't want to keep
Ah, the little brook is laughing as it flows upon the stones
And you think it would be safer to spend your nights alone.

Oh, Mary, Mary, the time as come to change
If you are healing as time goes by, is that so very strange
For the softest breath of summer is whispering through the pines
And it's time to go on growing and gather peace of mind.

© 1996 Elizabeth Zelvin


The House That I Called Home
My mother came from Hungary, my dad from the Ukraine
My grandma kissed her mom goodbye and they never spoke again
My parents met in law school in nineteen twenty-one
He fell in love on sight and never looked around again.

She had a few adventures till she was thirty-three
But he hung on until she said, "I guess it's meant to be."
They lived in Greenwich Village till I was on the way
Then they moved into that little house and never moved away.

So roll back the rug of time and dance upon the floor Love shines through every window and opens every door
For memory is waiting and calling me to come
To hold me in its sweet embrace, the house that I called home.

It had a shady front porch and a lilac in the yard
Friends dreamed of other childhoods, but I never dreamed too hard
'Cause all I ever wanted was exactly what I had
A roof and a foundation, a loving mom and dad.

I married once, I married twice, I wanted it to work
The second one's a treasure, the first one...not so much
We got our own apartment and I'm living there today
But home is still that little house so many miles away.

So roll back the rug of time and dance upon the floor
Love shines through every window and opens every door
For memory is waiting and calling me to come
To hold me in its sweet embrace, the house that I called home.

I've seen unhappy families, had a few embittered friends
I've learned that working on it is a task that never ends.

My baby just turned forty and I have a new career
I shake my head and wonder how I got from there to here
In my journey to the future, I'll never walk alone
My past takes every step with me from the house that I called home.

So roll back the rug of time and dance upon the floor
Love shines through every window and opens every door
For memory is waiting and calling me to come
To hold me in its sweet embrace, the house that I called home.

© 2000 Elizabeth Zelvin


Hell No, We Won't Go
Last time the war was over, we laid our banners down
The soldiers came home again if they were still around
And some were missing arms and legs and some were hooked on dope
Too weary to pick up their lives, too cynical to hope.

Hell no, we won't go, we won't go again
No matter what they say it's for or who they say will win
We've learned to catch the echo of the most resounding lie
No matter what they tell us, we won't go to die.

The black folks and the women, the gay folks and the poor
Are real surprised to hear it's them that we were fighting for
Last time we saved democracy, they tell us in its name
But the powerless by millions still suffer just the same.

Hell no, we won't go, we won't go again
No matter what they say it's for or who they say will win
We've learned to catch the echo of the most resounding lie
No matter what they tell us, we won't go to die.

I've got a son, eleven, he's getting kinda tall
He'd like to work with animals, he likes them best of all
He knows some people feed on hate, he's learning to ask why
He doesn't want some general to send him out to die.

Hell no, we won't go, we won't go again
No matter what they say it's for or who they say will win
We've learned to catch the echo of the most resounding lie
No matter what they tell us, we won't go to die.

So here we are with banners high, we're marching once again
More than a hundred thousand strong, the women and the men
On TV they say we're just here to picnic in the sun
But we know what we've come to say, and we'll say it till we've won.

Hell no, we won't go, we won't go again
No matter what they say it's for or who they say will win
We've learned to catch the echo of the most resounding lie
No matter what they tell us, we won't go to die.

No matter what they tell us, we won't go to die.

© 1981 Elizabeth Zelvin


We've Come A Long Way
We've come a long way, a long way
I love you more than I can say
When all the laughter's silent and all the tears are dry
We still will love each other, you and I.

The circles where we met are broken, all the links are gone
Our other lovers turned to friends or scattered and moved on
The winds may cry their long goodbye
But we'll still be together holding on.

We've come a long way, a long way
I love you more than I can say
When all the laughter's silent and all the tears are dry
We still will love each other, you and I

The sky is growing darker, all the silver's turning gray
A hundred million others may have fallen by the way
The clock hands turn, the earth may burn
But we'll still be together holding on.

We've come a long way, a long way
I love you more than I can say
When all the laughter's silent and all the tears are dry
We still will love each other, you and I.

Don't be afraid I'll leave you, let you down, or cease to care
I've looked in all the faces that your love for me can wear
This time next year, I'll still be here
And we'll still be together holding on.

We've come a long way, a long way
I love you more than I can say
When all the laughter's silent and all the tears are dry
We still will love each other, you and I

Don't know what may be coming, and we can't change what's gone
All we can do is live today and keep on moving on
If we can learn to give today the best in us, you'll see
We don't have to give up loving to be free.

We've come a long way, a long way
I love you more than I can say
When all the laughter's silent and all the tears are dry
We still will love each other, you and I.

© 1981 Elizabeth Zelvin


Sheldon Please Come Home
When Sheldon went to college, he said, "Bye, Ma, see you soon"
But by Thanksgiving he was finding campus life such fun
That he went and broke his mother's heart by staying there all fall
Ignoring all her letters and not answering one call.

She tried pleading and cajolery, martyrdom and guilt
"If you don't come, the pies will burn, the vegetables will wilt
The turkey's on the table getting drier than a bone
Sheldon if you love me, please come home."

Sheldon if you love me, please come home
Sheldon if you love me, please come home.

She went up there to visit him around his junior year
And found that he was flunking out and drinking lots of beer
His hair was long and greasy, his laundry was undone
She cried when he said, "C'mon, Ma, it's cool, I'm having fun."

She said, "When are you going to bring home some nice young girl?"
He said, "Sorry, Ma, I'm dropping out to travel round the world"
And every card to Marrakesh or Katmandu or Rome
Said, "Sheldon if you love me, please come home."

Sheldon if you love me, please come home
Sheldon if you love me, please come home.

She went to see the rabbi, saying, "Not to make a drama
I've heard about a guru, his name is Baba Rama
People come and ask him questions and they say he's very wise
So maybe he can help me at his ashram in the skies."

The rabbi scratched his yarmulke and stroked his bushy beard
"Not to get your hopes up, he may not be all you've heard
They say it's quite a journey and expensive and I fear
That after all your tsuris you'll be saying oy veyzmir."

Oy, oy, oy

She said, "The tsuris I've got now could hardly be much worse
I've got my shots and traveler's checks and passport in my purse
I guess I'd rather take a chance than sit here and bemoan
My misery that my Sheldon won't come home."

She flew the skies, she sailed the seas, she climbed the highest peak
She climbed and climbed until her Sherpa guides were getting weak
They said, "Just one more mile," and she said, "I don't think I can,"
Then as she crawled around the bend she saw the holy man.

Om, om

The holy man was sitting with his toes upon his knees
And he wore so very little that you'd think that he would freeze
For a moment her heart leaped to see this genuine guru
Then she looked again and saw that this was someone that she knew.

Her face turned red, she shook her head, then she began to kvetch
"You may fool all the others, but I see through you, you wretch
Your head is in the clouds, young man, your heart is like a stone
Sheldon if you love me, please come home."

Sheldon if you love me, please come home
Sheldon if you love me, please come home.

Sheldon! Enough already! Please come home!

© 2000 Elizabeth Zelvin


Prayer (Next Year in Jerusalem)
Let there be light, golden on the old stones
Let there be children playing in the street
Let all the citizens of every nation
Smile at each other when they chance to meet
Next year in Jerusalem.

Let there be singing, let there be laughter
Let there be blessings in the praying at the wall
Let every stranger's heart be open to another's
Let there be peace on earth and mercy on us all
Next year in Jerusalem.
Next year in Jerusalem.

© 2003 Elizabeth Zelvin


Two Tall Towers
There are days in September when the summer sun's an ember
And the winter has not yet taken hold
When baby birds have learned to fly and nothing's bluer than the sky
Above New York before it all turns cold.
The park's still green and in the air the birds fly south from everywhere
And rest a while upon the reservoir
And we all feel alive and free and none of us would want to be
In any other place but where we are.

My son and his fiancée they didn't go to work today
She had a hearing, wants to be a citizen
They canceled all the interviews as everybody watched the news
It was a hell of a day to become an American.
I have a friend who would have died, she got there late and stayed outside
Watched her building crumble at World Trade
She says, "It was my home at work, don't know if I'll get paid this week"
And cries about the quilt her grandma made.

Two tall towers, they were the city's pride
And all the people that we knew who laughed and worked inside
Where they once stood there is a hole
In all our hearts, in the city's soul
We see them in the shadows, we hear them on the wind
And while we survive, we will remember them.

Samantha didn't hear till noon, just one year since their honeymoon
This morning they forgot to say goodbye
The friends who said "the perfect pair" are all here trying to be there
But all that she can do is sit and cry.
Old Ben will face the night alone, his daughter won't be coming home
To talk about her day and watch TV
And everyone who passes by, it's on their lips or in their eye
"But for the grace of God that could be me."

Harry's oldest brother's gone, his mom is barely hanging on
He cries as we stand patiently in line
The lady right in front of me, she pats his hand and says, "If we
could only love each other all the time."
They found a few surviving men but Kim's dad wasn't one of them
He'll have to grow up fast and hide his fears
Ah, whether we forgive or blame, for sure we'll never be the same
We won't be getting over this for years.

Two tall towers, they were the city's pride
And all the people that we loved whose lives touched ours inside
Where they once stood there is a hole
In all our hearts, in the city's soul
We see them in the shadows, we hear them on the wind
And while we survive, we will remember them.

© 2001 Elizabeth Zelvin