Gotta Have Faith

from by Ian McFeron

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Gotta Have Faith - Story

One of my grandmothers has an unshakable positive disposition. So much so that this positivity seems to hover around her like a floating orb, deflecting any fragments of unpleasantness that might try to enter in. And if you carry any fragments of unpleasantness with you, well, you’ve got to be careful. You might get deflected too.

My other grandmother had more of a “come as you are” attitude. She had lived a harder and less sheltered life, and she had that tinge of melancholy in her eyes that people with long memories seem to carry. She used to make these beautiful porcelain dolls that she’d sell at craft fairs. She’d mold them by hand, fire them in a kiln in her basement, paint their rosy cheeks and lips and eyelashes with a tiny brush. Sew their little clothes. When I was 10 or 11 we were at her house and I asked her how she made the dolls. She took me into the basement where she had her studio and she showed me the kiln. I remember all those porcelain heads on rods with different stages of expressions painted on their faces. I remember they all had that little shadow of melancholy that my grandmother had. It occurred to me that a smiling porcelain doll looks much more dangerous than a sad-eyed one. That was one of my last memories of seeing her healthy before she had the stroke.

So I was getting our old 1970 Gillig bus ready to take out on a tour, and I was staring into this rusty bucket of bolts trying to find the right one to fit some odd job I was working on. It occurred to me that I didn’t have the right bolt. My mind wandered off, and I started thinking about my two grandmothers. This lyric and melody rolled across my lips, “I was born a poor-man’s son with a bucket full of blues”.

Those lines spilled into a song about hard traveling, sleeping at truck stops, rattling the tip can for gas money. Things that sound really romantic, but can also get hard to take when you’re living them, year in and year out. And I thought about all the unexpected blessings that found us on the road, all the people that wandered out of the crowd- crowds of perfect strangers. Their kindness kept carrying us along, like some unseen current that flowed beneath us. I thought about how all those blessings are so brightly illuminated when you’re living close to the bone; like you can see the divine light more clearly for all the hardship and poverty and struggle and darkness. Another voice blew into my head about keeping the faith and staying strong through trouble- about holding tightly to the hope that good things lie ahead and that hard times have a way of winnowing through us; of refining us. That life is about trusting, becoming, believing.

I thought again about my two grandmothers.



Gotta Have Faith - Lyrics

Well some people say you’ve got to smile through it all
Take your licks with a grin like some painted porcelain doll
But I was born a poor man’s son with a bucket full of blues
And it’s hard to pretend you’re winnin’
When all you do is lose

Lord knows I been wrung out and spent
I got no money to pay the rent
Strung out in the rainy weather
Without two dimes to rub together
So Lord can you give me some happy news
A man can lose heart livin’ with this kind of blues

He said you gotta have faith
You got to be strong
Let that spirit guide you, he’ll take you where you’re tryin’ to go
What you feel inside you, boy, well it’s possible to do
But you gotta have faith
You got to believe it’s true

I see the songbird sleepin’ in his mossy bed
But here I ain’t got no place to rest my head
Sweepin’ up the pennies from another dime show
I’m hopin’ the highway signs can tell me where to go
So sweet bird tell me now what’s your tune?
You sing a song for me I’ll sing one for you

I see a light shinin’ over the hill
I’m bound to make it now brother cause I got the will
So let your rain keep on pourin’ down
A change in the weather’s bound to turn my luck around


from Radio, released February 27, 2015



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Ian McFeron Seattle, Washington

Ian McFeron’s writing has been compared to Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Ryan Adams. Over the course of a decade-long independent music career, he has attracted media attention stretching across the Atlantic. He currently tours in support of his 7th album Time Will Take You, recorded in Nashville with members of Ryan Adams band The Cardinals as well as Patty Griffin and John Hiatt’s touring bands. ... more

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