“Demopolis, Alabama”

James Matt Broussard (1985) is the grandson of Michael James “Sarge” Broussard (1948-2014), whose daughter Rosalie Broussard (1969) gave birth to James when she was sixteen (see songs “Jenny or James,” “Sarge” and “James“).

Even though Rosalie Broussard was from Vivian, Louisiana, she had James in Shreveport, where she lived initially after giving birth. Eventually she left James with her parents and left for Alabama with a guy she ended up marrying, Tully Tate (see song “What Tully’s Done“).

Once James turned 18 he also moved to Shreveport.  This song describes a two-year period, from 2016 to 2018, when James lived in Demopolis, Alabama.  He was interested in Alabama since that was where he thought his mother was.  He had taken up with a woman in Shreveport who was from Demopolis and she convinced him to move to Alabama with her.

That relationship didn’t last, but James didn’t immediately leave Demopolis. Maybe, he had in the back of his mind that he might get back together with the woman. But once James realized that he didn’t even want to get back together, he finally decides to leave Alabama and return to Shreveport.

James liked guns, and enjoyed shooting guns; something about shooting lifted his spirits. So, on his way out of town he stops at a pawn shop to see what kind of guns they had, but unbeknownst to James there was a robbery in progress. James instinctively tries to stop the holdup but the robber panics, takes a shot at James, missing by a wide margin.

That was enough for James, who runs to his truck and tears off on 80-W to Shreveport. The robber also exits the pawn shop, ignorant of the fact that his getaway car has a bad fuel pump. He doesn’t get very far before it breaks down and he is apprehended without much trouble by a Marengo County Sheriff’s Deputy.

Demopolis, Alabama
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

I was born in Shreveport, Louisiana
But for about the last two years now
Been living in Demopolis, Alabama
It ain’t never felt like home somehow

I came here on account of a woman
But we didn’t last too long
Stuck around, I guess, looking for something
Months ago I should’ve been gone

Gonna get my gun, get my gun
Wanna shoot some, shoot some
Buy some more, at the range
A pump shotgun, a thirty eight

There’s a market with a wooden Indian out front
An old man we called Shakespeare was the owner
It’s been there since the fifties, untouched
I put some pork rinds and a beer on the counter

Handed Shakespeare the cash for my provisions
I remarked that the Indian was a little weird
He said, “ain’t you ever heard of Hank Williams,
‘ Kaw-Liga’ was a pretty big hit ‘round here”

Gonna get my gun, get my gun
Wanna shoot some, shoot some
Gonna get my gun, change my mood
Wanna shoot some, improve my attitude

I’m sitting in my truck outside her house
She’s got a new boyfriend, from Alabama
I watch him take all her garbage out
Guess I’ll head on back to Louisiana

But before I do I stop at a pawn shop
A guy had a gun, “gimme all the cash,” he said
Without thinking I yell, “hey fella, stop”
He whirled around, threw a shot at at my head

Gonna get my gun, get my gun
Wanna shoot some, shoot some
Gonna get my gun, that’s what I’ll do
Put Demopolis, Alabama in my rear view

© 2020 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“1951”

Luther Lee McLemore was Jake McLemore‘s older brother.  Born in 1951, Luther came of age during the turbulent period of the Sixties.  This song has him looking back on those times in 2019 as a retired mailman living in his hometown, Shreveport, Louisiana.

Luther’s most vivid memories are from his teenage years, living through the assassinations of JFK, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy, and the Vietnam War.  However, Lyndon Johnson had created draft deferments for anyone in college, as well as a variety of minor medical conditions which could qualify as an exemption.  This policy ultimately meant that while most Middle Class young men eligible for the draft had several avenues to avoid service, those from less affluent families were caught up in the war.

Luther was just young enough that his four years in college effectively placed him out of range of the draft, since by 1973 the US was deescalating the war effort, bringing soldiers home instead of sending more over.

After he graduated, Luther worked a number of dead-end jobs, but eventually took and passed the civil service exam.  In 1976 he began working as a postman, which he did for the next forty years, retiring in 2016.  But those forty years seem like a blur, overshadowed by his formative years during the Sixties.

1951
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

My name is Luther McLemore
1951 is the year I was born
It made me who I am
I was taught to say, “no, sir” and “yes, ma’am”

Was eleven in ’63
Saw my mother cryin’ at the TV
Mama said someone shot the president
I didn’t know then what it meant

Was in high school in ’68
The streets were filled with so much hate
They killed Martin Luther King
Then Bobby Kennedy, and a dream

Graduated in ’69
A man from the army tried to get me to sign
I was lucky and got in a university
Plenty of others weren’t lucky like me

’76 I took the civil service exam
A post office in Bossier hired me as a mailman
Loved one woman, we had a couple of kids
But by ’88, we’d hit the skids

I’m retired now, back in Shreveport
Sipping a beer, sitting on my porch
Last forty years seem like a blur
Mostly I think about how things were
Last forty years seem like a blur
Mostly I think about how things were

© 2020 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“Mike was a Soldier”

Michael James “Sarge” Broussard (1948-2014) was born and raised in Vivian, Louisiana.  He served in Vietnam (1966-1967) in a transport unit, keeping the vehicles running in the jungle, but on occasion, as necessary, he would go out on patrol.

D.W. Washington was from Detroit, African-American, and he and Mike became friends.  If not for D.W., Mike most likely would have died over there, as had his brother Luke (see songs, “Vivian, Louisiana” and “Shreveport, 1963“).

But they both made it back, and Mike returned to Vivian where he owned and operated a filling station and repair shop (see song, “Sarge“).  D.W. joined him and worked there with him (see song, “Mike and D.W.“).

Mike and his high school sweetheart, Marie, got married and had one child, a daughter Rosalie.

Mike was a Soldier
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Mike was a soldier
He’d just joined up
Off to Vietnam
To work on trucks
Nineteen sixty-six
Just turned eighteen,
Doing his duty
Like his brother done

Just a teenager
Nineteen sixty-five
Mike and Marie
Said their goodbyes
Made some promises
Like getting married
That is, if Mike made it
Back alive

Not like his brother
No, all too often
Families just have the flag
That draped the coffin
And some memories
Of him on a bus
Thumbs up, and laughin’
Just laughin’

Mike was a soldier
Barely breathin’
It was D.W. got him home
To Vivian
After forty years
They ‘re still friends
Down on Main
At the filling station

Mike was a soldier
And a husband
Was a good friend
To dozens
They called him Sarge
And said he was
A pretty good guy
Yeah, Mike, he sure was one

Mike was a soldier
He’d just joined up
Off to Vietnam
To work on trucks

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“Down 80 East”

Upon hearing of Lucy Cooper‘s death while in prison, Levi Hooper went on a bender.  Getting in his truck and driving through Mississippi: Greenwood, Greenville, Vicksburg and even into Louisiana.  He drank until drunk in small bars along the way (see songs, “When Louanne Met Lucy in Prison” and “Levi After Lucy“).

This behavior was certainly unusual for Levi, normally a down-to-earth, church-going man who spent much of his spare time helping his mother, Mildred Motts Hooper,  with her house and business.  She had turned her home into a thrift shop a year after her husband passed on (see song, “Mildred’s House of Values“).

This drinking road trip only lasted a little over a week, but it was enough for Levi’s mother, to become concerned.  So it was with relief that he finally came home, and things returned to normal without Levi offering up any explanation as to the reason for his absence.

Down 80 East
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Levi woke up on the wrong side of the road
Sitting on the side of 80 East
Last thing he remembered was stumbling out that old church
Pressing a wrinkled twenty on the priest

Time to go back, runnin’ wild has run its course
He can’t run away from the grief
He needs a shave, a strong cup of coffee
Time to go back, down 80 East

He don’t understand why Lucy did what she did
She was so close to getting her parole
But this drinking and running has gone on long enough
What he’s looking for ain’t down this road

Time to go back, runnin’ wild has run its course …

All along Levi thought it too good to be true
Doubted he and Lucy would last
But it looked like she was headed in the right direction
In the end she just ran out of gas

Time to go back, runnin’ wild has run its course …

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“Sadie Jo”

Jake McLemore’s father, Charlie McLemore, was mid-level executive at the J.M. Guffey Petroleum Company of Oil City, Louisiana where Jake was born in 1959 and where he spent his early life.  Charlie moved the family to Shreveport in 1968 after he got a job at United Gas Corporation.  Shreveport would be Jake’s home until he graduated high school, and went to Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Jake decided to stay in Nashville after graduating from Vandy with a degree in Business Administration.  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 1985 (see song, “McLemore’s“).

By that time Jake had already married and had a son, Lee, in 1983. But Jake’s happiness and home were shattered when his wife, Amelia, was killed in a car accident when a drunk driver ran a red light, leaving Jake to raise his son alone.  Soon after graduating from high school, Lee McLemore enlisted in the army and was deployed to Iraq.

But before he left for Iraq, in July 2003, Lee’s girlfriend Ellen Brewer gave birth to a son whom they named Charles after his grandfather Charlie McLemore.  Lee and Ellen secretly married shortly before Lee shipped out for Iraq that December.  Jake knew nothing of this son and lost touch with Ellen Brewer.  It was only much later that, largely out of curiosity, Charles looked Jake up and established contact.

On March 31, 2004, five U.S. soldiers were killed by a large IED on a road a few miles outside of Fallujah, one of the soldiers who died that day was Lee McLemore.

Jake kept the bar going for several years after Lee died but ended up selling it in 2007 and bought some land outside of Shreveport, Louisiana not far from Oil City.  He had fond memories of fishing on Caddo Lake with his father and settled into that kind of life again.

It didn’t take long for Jake to become bored with retirement, and he bought a diner in Shreveport where Pearl Robison happened to enter one day in January 2010 (see song, “Pearl + Jake“). For five years Jake and Pearl had a turbulent romantic relationship,  before Pearl took to the road again (see song “Hit the Road“), heading west on U.S. 80, leaving Jake heartbroken at 56  (see songs, “The River and Jake” and “The Red River Flows“).

Unbeknownst to him Pearl was pregnant when she left, and gave birth to a daughter, Sadie Jo Robison.  Pearl initially had no intention of letting Jake know about this child, but she eventually did tell Jake (see song “Terrell“), however, nearly two years after she had left Shreveport.  Jake immediately proposed to Pearl, and they got married and moved back to Shreveport to raise Sadie Jo together.

Sadie Jo
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Sadie Jo, I love you so
For the rest of my days, I’ll keep you safe,
Watching you grow
Your mama, Pearl, and my baby girl
Everything is brand new since you
Entered my world

Lost my first wife
To a damn drunk
He blew through a light
In a rusted out truck

I lost my son
In a pointless war
What your mama done, she gave me a someone
To love once more

Sadie Jo, I love you so …

I’m a tough old cob
To be a new daddy now
Wanna do a better job
This time around

A new baby and wife
Were not in my plans
I thank God every night for blessing my life
With this second chance

Sadie Jo, I love you so …

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“Terrell”

The stories of Jake McLemore and Pearl Robison are told in a group of songs that describe their lives before and after they meet and then their relationship together.

Jake is introduced with the song “McLemore’s“, which tells about his bar in Nashville and describes his character as seen through the eyes of young man.  At the end of the song, Jake has sold his bar and moved outside Shreveport, Louisiana.

The song “Between Here and Gone” is our first exposure to Pearl, when she is in Macon, Georgia, contemplating leaving a dead end job.  She travels west on Highway 80 to Shreveport where she stops at an all night diner and Jake McLemore enters her life (see song, “Pearl and Jake“) .

They live together for five years before Pearl chooses to leave when their relationship stagnates.  She heads further west on 80, this time heading for Fort Worth to camp out with with her sister while she attempts to get back on her feet (see song “Hit the Road“).

The songs “The River and Jake” and “The Red River Flows” address Jake’s confusion and sadness after Pearl’s seemingly unexplained disappearance.

When she leaves Shreveport, Pearl is not yet aware that she is carrying Jake’s baby, but while she is living with her sister it soon becomes obvious.  She ends up getting her own place and prepares for the baby’s arrival, but chooses not to inform Jake immediately.

Pearl gives birth in 2015 to a baby girl whom she names Sadie Jo, after her parents, Jason Jones Robison and Sadie Boone.  About two years after leaving Shreveport Pearl calls Jake and, in her first contact since she left, tells him he is a new father.

Pearl and Jake get married in 2018 and raise Sadie Jo McLemore together.

Terrell
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

All Pearl knew, she was heading to Texas
When she packed up and left Shreveport
She didn’t know then she was pregnant
When she landed on her sister’s porch

Six months later, Myrna asked if she’d thought about
How she planned on raising this baby alone
Her brother-in-law said it was time for her to move out
Pearl needed a place of her own

Terrell, Texas
Where Pearl calls home
Terrell, Texas
Where Pearl lives alone

Year later, Pearl was working at the Donut Hole
Which made her think of Jake
Sadie Jo’s his, he deserves to know
Not telling him was a mistake

That weekend Pearl prayed for the courage
And help to find the right words to say
Knowing Jake, he might speak of marriage
And Pearl just might say okay

Terrell, Texas …

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“Molly on the Mountain”

Molly Motts was born in Delta, Louisiana, a tiny hamlet at the Louisiana-Mississippi border,  just across the river from Vicksburg.  Because of a difficult home life, she often dreamed of getting out of Delta.  Vicksburg just across the river looked like a dream garden to her and she thought she’d do anything to get there.  She did: marrying Vernon Raney, bootlegger, more than twice her age; but a good husband to her (see song, “When Molly Motts Married Vernon Raney“) .

They had three children, Lonnie, Ronnie and Ginny.  Molly was an ambitious girl and decided early on to piggy-back a drug distribution business onto Vernon’s already prospering bootlegging enterprise (see song, “’57 Fleetwood to Memphis“).

Despite the repeal of Prohibition in 1933, many states continued to outlaw alcohol for several more decades.  But bootleg whiskey began going out of style in the mid-‘60s, by which time liquor by the drink had become legal in most states, and there was less and less demand for moonshine except out of nostalgia. Transitioning,  first, to marijuana and then harder drugs, seemed to make good business sense to Molly.

Molly got her oldest son, Lonnie elected sheriff as a way to offer protection to her and her second son, Ronnie, as they operating the drug business with little interference from law enforcement. This they did and quickly established a lucrative distribution network of dealers from Natchez to Memphis (see song, “Louanne in Vicksburg“).

Molly lived to see both of her sons die violent deaths: Ronnie was murdered by his wife, Louanne Bowden, and Lonnie was killed in a stand-off with U.S. Marshalls and DEA agents.  As the drug network wound down, Molly grew into her role as grandmother to Ginny’s children, living a quiet life in Vicksburg.

The second summer after they were married, Vernon built Molly a small cabin in the north Georgia mountains, on a section of the old Raney homestead (see song “Lonsom Raney 1828“).  Molly would often go there as a retreat.  This song describes her last visit there, when she looks back on her life and contemplates the impact on her family of the choices she has made.

Molly on the Mountain
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Molly was at her cabin on the mountain
Thinking ‘bout her life, and all she’d done
A jelly glass of Vernon’s tobacco whiskey
Sparkled in the late October sun
She thought back to the day she married Vernon Raney
Not yet 21, June of ‘58
Three months pregnant, walking down the aisle
To a man more than twice her age

Molly on the mountain, don’t wanna come down
Molly on the mountain, don’t wanna be found
Molly on the mountain, gonna leave it all behind
Molly on the mountain, knows it’s time

The cabin had a chill, she built a fire
With the last of the wood Lonnie’d split
Lonnie’s gone, his brother Ronnie too
Molly blamed herself for all of it
She’d grown harder through the years from that life
Harder, than she could describe
The pot and drugs, the men she fought, some she killed
All she’d ever done was survive

Molly on the mountain …

Ginny was the one who turned out okay
Molly sure loves those three grandkids
She made sure to keep Ginny away from it all
That’s one good thing that she did
Lonnie’s Donald and Vern, went to East Mississippi
Took off when things got hot in Vicksburg
They’re selling pills and meth to the kids at Starkville
That’s what they learned from her

Molly on the mountain …

Molly’s great grandma, Mamie, was a conjure woman
She knew plants for curing or killing dead
Mamie passed it down to Molly’s grandpa Motts
That’s where Molly got it, was what they said
Molly pressed the jelly glass against her cheek
It was time to drink that whiskey down
She looked into the woods, found that old maple tree
Watched a yellow leaf drift to the ground

Molly on the mountain …

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“Hit the Road”

In 1973 Pearl Robison was born in Conyers, Georgia but we first meet Pearl when she is managing a dollar store in Macon.  One January day in 2010, sitting in her car before opening up, she decides to leave town and head west on U.S. 80 (see song, “Between Here and Gone“).

She ends up in Shreveport, Louisiana, when she stops at an all night diner and Jake McLemore enters her life.  They live together for five years before Pearl’s wanderlust overtakes her again and she leaves, this time heading for Fort Worth (see song, “Pearl + Jake“).  She does not know at the time that she is pregnant, but when she discovers this fact, she choose to not tell Jake that he is going to be a father.

She gives birth in 2015 to a baby girl whom she names Sadie Jones Robison, after her parents, Jason Jones Robison and Sadie Boone.

Hit the Road
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

Last five years been a good run
She hates to see it end like this
She can tell it’s coming undone
Can’t say just why that is

It’s the longest she’s stayed in one place
This leaving feeling is one she knows
She don’t want to see the hurt on his face
Best thing for her to do is just go

Gonna hit the road
It’s what she knows
When her back’s against the wall she goes
Gonna pack it in
Once again
When that old feeling grows
It’s time to hit the road

Got a sister in Fort Worth
Been years since she’d seen her mama and them
‘Bout three hours from Shreveport
She sure hates to run from him

Gonna hit the road …

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“James”

Rosalie Broussard found her self pregnant a week after turning sixteen (see song “Jenny or James“).  Though her boyfriend wanted her to have an abortion, and even offered her the money, she refused, because Rosalie had a naive understanding about what having a baby really meant, and also because she just didn’t like the idea.  However, she eventually realized she couldn’t handle the responsibility and when James was three she handed him over to her father and his second wife, MaeAnn.

When Rosalie was twenty she left Vivian, Louisiana and married Tully Tate, a man she met while waitressing at a truck stop.  They had twin girls and lived in Mobile, Alabama.  But Rosalie never could make peace with domestic life and would run off from time to time, ech time Tully would find and bring her back home (see song “What Tully’s Done“).  But eventually he grew tired of chasing after his runaway wife and Rosalie finally left that family as well (see song “Rosalie“).

Mike and MaeAnn dearly loved James since they saw that his mother had not shown him the natural love of a mother.  But James still felt an emptiness which was only relieved when he played catch with his grandpa.

James
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

James was Wednesday’s child, full of woe
His mama left when he was just three years old
Rosalie was only sixteen when she had him
Left him with her parents; he was raised by them

James grew up wondering if he’d done something wrong
That made his mama leave him at his grandpa’s home
His father was a shadow, a name that wasn’t said
But Mike and MaeAnn did their best

When James played catch with Mike
For a little while everything seemed alright
A peaceful feeling settled in with the dimming light
On those summer days when James played catch with Mike

He overheard bits and pieces about his mama’s life
She was living in Mobile, a truck driver’s wife
At Christmas she might visit but wouldn’t stay too long
Gave James some toy he’d long ago outgrown

MaeAnn said he had twin sisters in Mobile
James really hoped that they had a better deal
But soon Rosalie would run off from them too
It seemed that’s all his mama was cut out to do

When James played catch with Mike
For a little while everything seemed alright
A peaceful feeling settled in with the dimming light
On those summer days when James played catch with Mike

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

“The Red River Flows”

Jake McLemore had owned a bar in Nashville, but sold it and bought a parcel of land between Shreveport and Vivian, Louisiana (see song “McLemore’s“). The Red River flowed through his land, and he built a small cabin there. In this song, Jake is contemplating life in the wake of the failure of his latest relationship.

The Red River Flows
WRITTEN BY: F.D. LEONE

I’m out on the porch
It’s around ten to four
The Red River flows
It just goes rolling on

Dickel is what I sip
A Lucky on my lip
The Red River flows
It just goes rolling on

There was a woman, but she left
Wasn’t the worst, wasn’t the best
No note, no goodbye
I don’t wonder why

A rain softly falls
Mourning dove softly calls
The Red River flows
It just goes rolling on

I guess I’ll go to work
Might as well change my shirt
Life goes on I suppose
While that Red River flows

© 2019 Frank David Leone, Jr./Highway 80 Music (ASCAP). The songs and stories on the Highway 80 Stories website are works of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.