TO BEAT THE DEVIL


it was winter time in Nashville down on music city row
and I was looking for a place to get myself out of the cold
to warm the frozen feeling that was eating at my soul
and keep the chilly wind off me and my guitar
my thirsty wanted whiskey and my hungry needed beans
but it'd been a month of pay days since I'd heard that eagle scream
so with a stomach full of empty and pocket full of dreams
I left my pride and stepped inside a bar
actually I guess you'd call it a tavern : cigarette smoke to the ceiling
sawdust on the floor • friendly shadows
I saw that there was just one old man sitting at the bar
and in the mirror I could see him checking me with my guitar
he turned and said "come up here boy and show us what you are"
I said "I'm dry" and he bought me a beer
he nodded at my guitar and said "it's a tough life ain't it?"
I just looked at him and he said "you ain't making any money, are you?"
I said "you've been reading my mail" • he just smiled and said "Let me see that guitar
I got something you ought to hear" : then he laid it on me

"if you waste your time a-talking to the people who don't listen
to the things that you are saying who do you think's going to hear?
and if you should die explaining how the things that they complain about
are things they could be changing who do you think's goin' to care?
there were other lonely singers in a world turned deaf and blind
who were crucified for what they tried to show
and their voices have been scattered by the swirling winds of time
'cause the truth remains that no one wants to know"

well the old man was a stranger but I'd heard his song before
back when failure had me locked out on the wrong side of the door
when no one stood behind me but my shadow on the floor
and lonesome was more than a state of mind
you see the devil haunts a hungry man
if you don't want to join him you've got to beat him
I ain't sayin' I beat the devil but I drank his beer for nothing
and then I stole his song

and you still can hear me singing to the people who don't listen
to the things that I am saying • praying someone's going to hear
and I guess I'll die explaining how the things that they complain about
are things they could be changing • hoping someone's goin' to care
I was born a lonely singer and I'm bound to die the same
but I've got to feed the hunger in my soul
and if I never have a nickel I won't ever die of shame
'cause I don't believe that no-one wants to know

                                                    kris kristofferson