“McLemore’s”

McLemore’s
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Walked in there first time in aught-four
Took a stool by the pinball machine
Come to know the owner Jake McLemore
Dropping by each day became routine

He looked to be about my dad’s age
If my dad ain’t died in ninety-three
Jake was always adopting strays
Like a three-legged dog and me

Time seemed to pass a little slower
Behind soft country music and bumper pool
The world looked a whole lot better
From where I sat on that bar stool

Pickled eggs and pigs feet in a jar
Antique cash register, black dial phone
Scratches ‘n’ nicks in a hickory bar
Left by those who are never really gone

He pointed to a snapshot of some soldiers
Leaning on a tank in Iraq
“They call my son a hero,” Jake told me
“Would’ve preferred if he’d just made it back”

Time seemed to pass a little slower …

Jake sold out last year with a big payday
Bought 26 acres outside Shreveport
I don’t drink much anymore and anyway
Can’t find a bar like McLemore’s
No, there ain’t no place like McLemore’s

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

“When Molly Motts Married Vernon Raney”

When Molly Motts Married Vernon Raney
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

From her bedroom in Delta, Louisiana
Molly Motts could see the Vicksburg lights
She thought they looked like stars in the River
A just out of reach paradise

About two hundred people lived in Delta
Vicksburg had a hundred times more than that
Molly would close her eyes and dream her future
Leaving Delta and never lookin’ back

Home is a place that’s supposed to be safe
And not what you have to run from
But when home is the place that you must escape
Then it’s just where you come from

When Molly Motts married Vernon Raney
Vern was nearly fifty years old
He was Lonsom Raney‘s great-great-grandson
The first to age the Raney clear to gold

Molly was two months along with little Lonnie
Vern was glad to finally be a dad at last
Molly sure won’t miss that Delta bedroom
Or her step-dad and what her momma never asked

Home is a place that’s supposed to be safe …

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

“Pearl + Jake”

Pearl + Jake
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Snowed all day in Macon
When Pearl left for the last time
Alabama Mi’sippy Louisiana
Georgia felt far enough behind
Creosote cottonseed Shreveport
Hit her like a cinder block
Lights of an all-night diner
Pearl coasted to a stop

Jake behind the counter
White apron, little paper hat
Slid some coffee before her
Quiet as an alley cat
Pearl pulled a pint from somewhere
Tipped it over her cup
Jake lit a cigarette
The sun came up

Loving’ her is what he meant to do
Even if it broke his heart in two
He played life like a game of horseshoes
Loving’ her is what he meant to do

Jake bought this diner
After selling McLemore’s
Pearl was stranded in Macon
Managing a dollar store
They met on Jewella Avenue
Both lookin’ for a new start
Jake gave her some food
And his hidden heart

Loving’ her is what he meant to do …

Jake didn’t want to come home
Stinkin’ of cigarettes, beer and perfume
Five years flash by
As he walks from room to empty room
Pearl was running away
That first day he met her
She’d been leavin’ ever since
Jake fin’ly found a way to let her

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

“The River and Jake”

The River and Jake
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Long as I can remember
When Jake was sad he would go
On down to The River
With some bait and a pole

It’s the place he wants to be
When he needs to be alone
Jake’s gone down to The River
Every day since Pearl’s been gone

You can ask him where they’re biting
Or what he used for bait
Just don’t ask him anything about her
That’s between The River and Jake

Soon his mind will grow empty
With each cast he’ll forget
All the worries he brought with him
They’ll all fade with the sunset

You can ask him where they’re biting …

© 2018 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

“Sarge”

Sarge
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

He bought this here Texaco with a V.A. loan
Built this business all alone
And would hire any vet that come along
Who knew cars
He got his stripes in Vietnam
That’s where he learned to make a motor hum
You can ask most anyone
‘Bout Sarge

He hired me cause he knowed my dad
He was the closest to one I’ve had
He  kept me from goin’ bad
And outta the bars
He told me, “boy you better stay in school,
‘Cause I sure can’t use a fool
And every job’s got one right tool”
Well that was Sarge

I can still see him with his sleeves rolled up
Under the hood he’s got a crew cut
Chewing on the butt
Of a ten cent cigar
A person has gotta be made of wood
Not to feel a sense of botherhood
Once they’ve stood
Next to Sarge

When we’d see a car with special plates
The POWs and MIAs
I see a look come across his face
Something from the war
He’d say, “son, keep your seat
You best leave this one to me”
Then he’d fill the tank for free
Well that was Sarge

I can still see him with his sleeves rolled up …

I could talk all day and never get it right by Sarge

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr/Electric Mule Music/Warner Music (BMI)

“D.W.”

D.W.
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

D.W. Washington works for Mike Broussard
Mike was his sergeant from the war
More than forty years they been best friends
D.W.’s from Detroit, moved to Vivian

Vivian ain’ got four thousand people there
But it’s big compared to Ida or Belcher
Louisiana Redbud Vivian celebrates
Every March with a parade and pancakes

Big hearts in a small town
Big hearts beatin’ on and on
Town’s bigger while they are around
Smaller when they’re gone

Vivian’s called th’ “Heart of the ArkLaTex”
Just a little town without ’nuff paychecks
Named for a KCS executive’s daughter
Like Mena, Arkansas or DeRidder

Mike owns a filling station and auto shop
Mike works on th’ cars, D.W. works the pump
Friday D.W. goes to Bossier, gets drunk
Monday, Mike rolls by and gets him up

Big hearts in a small town …

D.W. Washington works for Mike Broussard
Mike was his sergeant in the war

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

“Hosston to Bastrop”

Hosston to Bastrop (Still Louisian’)
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

I used to make my livin’ drivin’ a log truck
Hauling timber for the pulp paper mill
Take Highway 2 Hosston to Bastrop
Double back and unload at Springhill

The paper mill shut down, jobs all dried up
That stink it made, naw we sure don’t miss
Hear they gonna bring in a cross tie plant
Now we can smell them creosote pits

A case of Jax on a Friday night
Fill a washtub with crawfish and ice
We sure like get drunk and try to dance
We may be way up north but it’s still Louisian’

Gets real hot ’round here in the summer
August heat will melt that asphalt
Didn’t even hurt Randy Boucher when he got run’d over
His head was hard, th’ road was soft

Like to take my truck out One-Fifty-Seven
Stop at the Shongaloo Dairy Cup
Three-Seventy-One to Coushatta, then One to Powhatan
Just drive around where my daddy grew up

A case of Jax on a Friday night
Fill a washtub with crawfish and ice
We sure like get drunk and try to dance
We may be way up north but it’s still Louisian’

Nancy Broussard got her fiddle and bow
Someone gave a washboard to Betsy Thibodaux
We sure like get drunk and try to dance
We may be way up north but it’s still Louisian’

Continue reading “Hosston to Bastrop”

“Fannin Street”

Fannin Street
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

On Fannin Street, Fannin Street
There’s a room upstairs for the men she meets
She’s not theirs and never was,
Just what she does
On Fannin Street

There was one boy, fine and sweet
Not like the rest of Fannin Street
He was all she ever loved
In the room above
Fannin Street

On Fannin Street, Fannin Street …

The boy he said he’d take her away
From the life she led one day
He left for Mansfield to the restless beat
Of Marching feet
In columns of grey

On Fannin Street, Fannin Street …

In her room alone Ruby Robison
Heard that the Rebels had won
She went to Mansfield but there she cried
For the baby inside
And the boy who was gone

On Fannin Street, Fannin Street …

© 2017 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP)

“Levi Motts Is My Name”

Levi Motts is My Name
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Levi Motts is my name
Come from Northwest Louisiana
I joined up with Colonel Gray
He said be ready to march today
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
If this war will ever end

Ruby Robison is my gal
Keeps a room down in the bottoms
We talked of gettin’ out of there
Make a new life anywhere
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
If this war will ever end

Ruby wrote me a letter
We were waitin’ outside Mansfield
Wrote there’s a baby on the way
We fought the Yankees April Eighth
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
If this war will ever end

Levi Motts is my name
Come from Northwest Louisiana
Lead ball went through my neck
That afternoon I bled to death
Don’t know when I’ll be back again
If this war will ever end

Continue reading “Levi Motts Is My Name”

Jake McLemore (1951- )

An American historian in the 19th century described the frontier vanguard in the following words:

“Thus the backwoodsmen lived on the clearings they had hewed out of the everlasting forest; a grim, stern people, strong and simple, powerful for good and evil, swayed by gusts of stormy passion, the love of freedom rooted in their hearts’ core. Their lives were harsh and narrow; they gained their bread by their blood and sweat, in the unending struggle with the wild ruggedness of nature. They suffered terrible injuries at the hands of the red men, and on their foes they waged a terrible warfare in return. They were relentless, revengeful, suspicious, knowing neither ruth nor pity; they were also upright, resolute, and fearless, loyal to their friends, and devoted to their country. In spite of their many failings, they were of all men the best fitted to conquer the wilderness and hold it against all comers.

The Anglo-American 18th-century frontier, like that of the Spanish, was one of war. The word “Texan” was not yet part of the English language. But in the bloody hills of Kentucky and on the middle border of Tennessee the type of man was already made. ”

These were the McLemores who left Tennessee for Texas.

Owen McLemore was born in 1791 in Tennessee and married Annabel March in 1816.  Together they worked a sustenance farm in Tennessee and began to build a family outside of Nashville, seeing their first son Jacob McLemore come into the world on  Christmas Day 1818.  Annabel gave birth to six other sons before dying in 1838 at which time, Owen took his seven sons to West Texas.

Jacob “Christmas” McLemore, as he was known his entire life, was Jake McLemore’s great-great-great-grandfather. There was one other Jacob McLemore, “Christmas” McLemore’s grandson, who got in on the first oil boom in 1911, made a killing, losing it, getting rich again before ultimately losing all his money and dying with empty pockets if you don’t count bitterness.

Jake McLemore’s father, Charlie McLemore, was farmer and small businessman of Nacogdoches, Texas where Jake was born in 1951 and where he spent his early life. Jake decided to make his way in the world by returning to the family’s old territory of Tennessee and moved to Nashville in 1978.

After investing in several businesses, he came to own a bar, which he had won in a poker game.   He promptly changed the name and settled down as proprietor of McLemore’s Bar in 1984.

By that time Jake had already married and had a son, Lee, in 1982 who would go on to join the army and fight and die in Iraq in 2007.  But not before having a son himself in 2004 (a child Jake knew nothing about) with his girlfriend whom he secretly married shortly before being shipped out.

Jake kept the bar going for several years after Lee died but ended up selling it and buying some land outside of Shreveport, Louisiana near Caddo Lake where he used to go fishing with his father as an adolescent.  Here Jake lived out the rest of his days fishing and shooting the breeze with Mike Broussard and other men from the area until the day Jake met his grandson, Charles, named after Jake’s father – in 2017.

Jake is raising Charles to be a sturdy young man in the long line of McLemore men.