Humming My Way Back Home

by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

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Featuring "Fly," grand prize winner in the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. "Folk music with a serrated edge."--Andy Ellis


released January 25, 2008

JPR: vocals, acoustic guitars, bass, cajón, Strumstick, tenor banjo, frame drum, snare, and the percussion bag o’ tricks
Dru Rodgers: tenor ukulele, eight-string baritone ukulele, backing vocals
Hanna Richardson: backing vocals
Jesse Collins: saxophone
Lisa Gentile: duet and backing vocals
Joe Cleveland: five-string banjo
Linda Stout: backing vocals
Lila Rodgers: violin
David Hamburger: slide guitar
Phil Robertson: drums

Mixed and mastered by Jocko at More Sound, Syracuse, NY



all rights reserved


Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers Syracuse, New York

John Lennon Songwriting Contest grand prize winner and founding editor of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

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Track Name: Humming My Way Back Home
Stand by the window and raise it wide
Open your ear for a song
I’m turning the corner and coming inside
Weary but never so strong

I’m humming my way back home
Humming my way back home to you
Humming my way back home
To rest with you, as night rolls through

Living is longings and lessons half-learned
Our words tangle up in a knot
Let’s forget what we’ve given, forget what we’ve earned
Give thanks for the love that we’ve got


Winter is coming, the leaves blow down
Daylight is slipping away
Stoke up the fire and gather around
There’s no place where I’d rather stay


To rest with you
Track Name: Only the Soul
Words and music by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Lean a little closer
Let the signals fade
Dig a little deeper
In this life we’ve made
All the shiny little figures
Are dancing on a screen
Every finger is twitching
On a shiny new machine


Only the soul knows
Way down, way down

Easy little answers
With the easy clicks
Easy little candy
For a midnight fix
All the shiny little wrappers
Are lying in a heap
Still the hunger is calling
And will not let me sleep


Tell me what you picture
When the screen goes gray
Tell me what you think of
When there’s nothing to say
Feel the swaying of the rhythm
When the noises start to fade
Steal the tiny little secret
Lying in the cooling shade

Track Name: My Life Doesn't Rhyme
Searching for chords that’ll turn like a wheel
As I try to interpret the way that I feel
Wishing for words that’ll glimmer like pearls
No, I never stop hoping to impress all the girls
Too ancient for Idol, too young to expire
Here’s why this songwriter does not retire

My life doesn’t rhyme so I pick and I choose
I leave out the black and I sing you the blues
For artistic license I’m paying my dues
With every step of the way

I’m mining for meaning, spelunking for sound
The headlamp is beaming, it’s dark all around
I’ll take something clever if nothing’s profound
And call it a fairly good day

You know heartache and quiet desperation
Are hanging around every bend
But a song with a rhyme can turn on a dime
And carry me home again

My life doesn’t rhyme and the world is off key
But here in my song all the voices agree
And sweet resolution is just up to me
I like it much better this way

’Cause heartache and quiet desperation
Are a songwriter’s very best friend
But a song with a rhyme and a good sense of time
Will carry you through to the end

So I’ll mix all these metaphors and hope for the best
Reach for the feeling down deep in my chest
Thank you for listening to what I’ve confessed
In my sinner songwriterly way
Track Name: American Dream
When you’re out on the road
Driving alone
With the rising moon
A sliver of bone
The desert hills fade to black
And you’re not sure
If you’ll go back at all
To what you knew

Whatever lies ahead
Whatever falls behind
Whatever matters here
Is on the line
In this American dream

When you’re out on the road
Leaving no trace
Just a motel key
A smile with no face
At every town you read the sign
But nothing pulls you
From that line
It’s all you know


Listen: the roar of the windows
And scanning for stations
The radio preaches approaching salvation
The all-night café with the coffee eternal
The trucks breathe like dragons
Their eyes fired with diesel

When you’re out on the road
Driving alone
With the rising moon
A sliver of bone
You never give, you only take
And I’m not sure
You’ll ever wake at all
From this American dream
Track Name: Leap of Faith
I won’t say any more
But hold out my hand
No promises or speeches
On the edge of the land
We make this leap of faith
And watch the headlands fade
Floating through the deepest bowl of night

We are sailing away
By the light of the moon
I don’t know where we are going
But we’ll be there soon

I won’t say any more
But hold out my hand
To feel a new life beating
Toward his first day on land
We ride the rising wind
And bundle from the cold
Opening our future to the sky


I won’t say any more
But watch for the sun
We’re thinking of beginnings
But the voyage has begun
Track Name: Fly
Fly away
Drop what you’re doing
Gray skies will soon be bluing
No doubt am I entertaining
No reason for explaining

Been too much anticipating
Fed up with contemplating
No more will I be waiting

‘Cause we’ve got
Stones on our shoulders and steps to climb
We’re losing our breath in the crush of time
Gather the weight and the questions on your mind
And leave it all behind

Fly away
Stop with the teasing
I got a bag of reasons
No way can I be going
No matter how it’s blowing

Been too long, too much dealing
Today I got a feeling
This moment is for stealing

‘Cause we’ve got
Stones on our shoulders and steps to climb
We’re losing our breath in the crush of time
Gather the weight and the worries on your mind
And leave it all behind

Repeat verse 1

No doubt and no reason
No waiting, no teasing
No talk and no secret
Just spread your wings and fly
Track Name: One More Waltz
He stands at the top of the stairs
With the bannister shadow across his shoes
The memories hang in the air
Of the eggshell brown on her shoulder
And the smell of her skin
All the heat rushes in
Through the wall once again

Her touch on the nape of his neck
And the skim of her thigh on a pillow
And her deepening sigh

Remembering this
Who can resist
One more waltz with the memory?
One more waltz

He watches the thickening dark
Through the flutter of moths on the old window pane
Deep in his chest there’s a spark
Then a blaze of regret
At a parting without a goodbye
All the years for a lie
Digging in, running dry

Her words like a blade on his neck
And the richochet cries in the doorway
And the tears in her eyes

Remembering this
Who can resist
One more waltz with the memory?
One more waltz
Track Name: Dog for a Day
I’m rushing off into the morning
Eyes hanging down
Waiting for the coffee to slap me around
I hear a thumping on the sidewalk
And look up to see a dog face smile
I’m off to work as he naps for a while

And then I’m planning a career or
I’m planning for play
Planning for a mortgage on some distant day
You know I’m planning for a kid and for dinner
Planning to plan no more
When I hear paws scratching at the door


If I could shed my skin
Alter the shape I’m in
Fill out with fur and grow a long tail
If I could be that way
I would be a happy man
A dog for a day

I’d scare a squirrel to a treetop
And mangle your shoes
Chase a stick into the water or simply refuse
I’d bark my head off if I wanted
Whenever I heard the siren call
Or I would sleep, contented, through it all


So I am stuck inside my body
And with my two feet
But there are human consolations here
In the front seat
No, I never have a collar or dog chow
And I’m allowed on the bed
But I wonder what my life would be instead

Track Name: Wasting Time No More
It’s a small town in her mind
With such a big road screaming by
She can taste the fumes, the destination
Watching the sun sink in the hill
Above the dust-clogged windowsill
The dark removes her hesitation

Soon it will be alright
She’s wasting time no more
All the hush and the heat
Of a dream going down

He’s such a big man in her mind
With such a small view of the sky
The horizon shrunk in black sunglasses
She’d been a young girl on his arm
As if the world could hold no harm
Where they lay alone in prairie grasses

Soon it will be alright
She’s wasting time no more
All the pain and the parch
Of a dream going down
Going down

He finds the screen door flapping wide
Without a light left on inside
Where the radio speaks, no one listens
While on the freeway she drives on
Her reservations all but gone
In the blasting wind, the firing pistons

Soon it will be alright
She’s wasting time no more
All the rage and the rush
Of a dream going down

She’s on her way, any way
So long, so long, so long
Track Name: Sister
I have a little sister
But we never got to play
She said hello and said goodbye
The very same day

Daddy was so quiet
Mommy cried and cried
Grandma took me to the park
My parents stayed inside

People see my family
My brother and me
They say that we have two kids
But I know we have three

I have a little sister
I saw her foot slide far
Across my mommy’s belly
Like a shooting star

I painted her some pictures
Of a rainbow on the bay
My sister took them with her
When she went away


I have a little sister
This year she will be two
I like to think of all the things
She and I could do

We’d strum the ukulele
And race the wooden cars
And when she grew up big enough
I’d teach her monkey bars


I have a little sister
She’s somewhere up above
I send her secret wishes
And messages of love

She plays with every sister
And brother who is there
On a rainbow-colored playground
Floating through the air

I have a little sister
And though it makes me sad
I like to do my puzzles
And wrestle with my dad

My brother does this wiggle
He dances like a clown
Sometimes I don’t mind it when
He follows me around

We are all a family
Branches on a tree
My sister is my sister
And she will always be
Track Name: Traveling Song
An afternoon with my legs stretched on the grass
My head leans back and lets the hours pass
Oh there’s a child in aimless wander
Lifting flowers from the grass

The child moves on, the sun sinks in my clothes
A song appears, I hum it as it grows
Oh if the wind swept up around me
I would tumble where it chose
And sing of

Travels where my past is tied and hugging on my back
Travels stepping on and off the track
Travels where the winter’s dust is shaken from my shoes
Travels always leading home to you

Today the beach, the ocean holds my eyes
The waves erase my footsteps as others rise
Oh, if a wave swept up around me
I would float without surprise
And sing of


The months pass by, your touch is far away
The song grows sad, I miss you every day
Oh, but another day approaches
Reunion rolls in like a wave
So I sing of

Track Name: Bones
Shin bone connected to the thigh bone
Thigh bone connected to the hip bone
Hip bone connected to the trombone

Round bone in your head
Thin bone in your feet
He bone jumping she bone in the sheet

Choose your way
You can chart your course in the day to day
Skip your future like a stone
You are free
Let it comfort you like it comforts me
But watch out for them bones

Time bone connected to the peace bone
Peace bone connected to the soul bone
Soul bone connected to the bone bone

Old bone in the ground
Young bone on the wing
Dream bone dreaming winter into spring


Work bone connected to the cash bone
Cash bone connected to the stuff bone
Stuff bone connected to the stuff bone

Need bone in your arm
Want bone in your sleeve
Wish bone telling which bone to believe

Track Name: Prayer
He leaves the TV on in another room
The blue light flickers
On the dusty picture of the bride and groom
She drops her suitcase down with a hazy smile
And he stands there weighing
What he’s not been saying for a long while
From the dawn to dusk is an uphill slog
When the sleep is falling
All the doubts come crawling through the heavy fog

If he could find the words
Lay ’em down right there
If he could clear his voice
He might have a prayer

He pours another glass; she reads a magazine
The remote is clicking
But there’s nothing sticking on the TV screen
They’re laying back to side in a chilly bed
All the anger welling
But there’s just no telling what is in his head
In a game of chance, he is down by law
He will soon be folding
And he’s always holding on the shortest straw

If he could find the words
Lay ’em down right there
If he could clear his voice
He might have a prayer

In the headlong rush of the day to day
It’s a way of being
Keeps our eyes from seeing any other way
All the shock and awe and the shameless lies
The big suits figure
With their hand on the trigger we won’t realize
They are making off with quite a haul
But there’s no point stopping
All our bargain shopping at the mega mall

If we can find the words
Lay ’em down right here
If we can raise our voice
We might have a prayer
Track Name: Here
A hand
Gentle touch of a hand
I am reaching
A face
Open eyes on a face
I am seeking
In a glimmer of light
In the eye of a storm
I am here
You are here

A hand
On a silvery string
I am playing
A voice
On a delicate wing
I am praying
In a glimmer of light
On the cusp of a dream
I am here
You are here

A way
We are dreaming a way
Through the tangle
There’s a chance
If we turn
To a different angle
At the end of the day
This is all I can say
I am here
You are here
We are here