All songs ©Mountain Redbird Music, BMI


From Barnstormin’ CD:

Kentucky River (J.Reams/T.Aridas, BMI)


Kentucky River keeps on flowing

Pours from the mountains into my heart

Though I’ve left my home far behind me

The river and I never can part


I was born in east Kentucky

A river flows near my hometown

Its waters wash clean the souls of sinners

Its grassy banks are holy ground


As just a child, I took my daydreams

To those clear waters and that green shore

I dreamt I was leaving my lonesome valley

Now I dream of going home once more


As the shroud of dark night approaches

I hear the wind call my name

And I dreamt I was there by that lonesome river

My life will never be the same.


Coal Dust In My Soul (J.Reams, BMI)

Many a miner in their cages descend

Down into pitch black, a new day begins

Headlamp, lunchbox, water for the day

Wives and children at home kneel and pray



Coal dust in my soul, aching in my back

Only life I know, old coal-town shacks

Cigarette in the morning, cold coffee at noon

Bourbon at quittin’ time, I’m digging my tomb


A number two shovel has seen its last day

A few pieces of scrip, another day’s pay

Down at the bottom the shadows of doom

The lamps blaze a trail through the darkness and gloom


Red clay coal camp, train whistle smoke

Diggin’ the black rock, coal for the coke

Pray to God that my son won’t come down

Takes the first dirt road out of this coal town


Buffalo Creek Flood (T.Aridas/J.Reams, BMI)

The Buffalo Creek flood disaster occurred on February 26, 1972, in Logan County, West Virginia. On that day, 125 people died — men, women and children — and 4,000 people were left homeless. No family in the town was left untouched by this terrible event — an event that was man-made and could have been prevented.


Up on a hillside where a small stream ran

The coalmine owners they built them a dam

To clean off the coal and filter the sludge,

As God is a witness, so God be the judge.



The coal black water roared down from the hills,

Made Buffalo Creek a dark river that kills.

No act of God, no ordinary flood,

The water that did this was the Devil’s own mud.


The coal and the slag and the sludge and debris

Took away sixteen towns when it broke through Dam Three.

The thick black water came rushing through town

With the bodies of children, bones broken and drowned.


Up in New York the lawyers did claim

That God or the government or us was to blame.

What’s left of our town is stained with black marks.

What’s left of our lives is broke bones and broke hearts.


The Cincinnati Southern (J.Reams/T.Aridas, BMI)

The Cincinnati Southern, Queen City’s finest line

Trains pull into Danville, delivering on time

Highball freight train rolling past old boom-town shacks

On its way to Tennessee, a full load on its back


The train roared south from Union brought tools to mining towns

Took the black coal back up north in shipments factory-bound

Through dark of night and blinding snow it toiled through many years

That sturdy iron workhorse was a rugged mountaineer



That last train out of town blew a long and lonesome cry

It carried away a memory, the steam train’s fading sigh

Those mighty locomotives that once roared down the tracks

Snorting clouds of bellowing steam, now have silent stacks


That big hard-working freight train went roaring towards the bridge

Its coal was loaded heavy as it rounded the last ridge

The hill was steep, the brakes were old, the track in disrepair

The runaway train was gaining speed, the brakeman said a prayer


The crash was heard five miles away by miners in the town

The thunder of destruction as the train came roaring down

The townsfolk heard a mournful cry, a whistle in farewell

It was the steaming freight train as it rang its own death-bell


At a depot in Kentucky, a farewell at the door

A porter put her bags inside, a conductor yelled “All aboard”

The train pulled out, the bell rang twice, the day had just begun

How many trains would leave before the setting of the sun


The water tanks are empty now, the fireboxes gone

The south-bound train has vanished and no longer sings its song

To stand beside the iron rails as the engine rumbles by

We watch it vanish down the tracks and sadly wave good-bye


Dogwood Tree (J.Reams/T.Aridas)

A dogwood tree grew on a hill

Its petals white and pure

From its thick trunk a cross was formed

The cross our Lord endured



He was nailed on that dogwood cross

As the sky turned black as coal

He gave his life for all our sins

He died to save our souls


The blossoms in the springtime

Reveal the crown of thorns

The berries are a crimson red

But bitter when they’re born


A mighty tree was cursed the day

The stone sealed up the tomb

But glorious jubilation

When the dogwood is in bloom


From James Reams, Walter Hensley & The Barons of Bluegrass CD:


Crossing Jordan (J.Reams/T.Aridas, BMI)

My family has gathered

Their eyes show their grief

The smiles on their faces

Deny what’s beneath

Their sorrow’s their burden

My troubles are done

Their struggle continues

My battle is won



Jordan I’m crossing

Jordan’s waves tossing

Jordan, Oh Jordan, I’m coming home tonight


I’m meeting my Savior

At Heaven’s bright shore

My life’s been a hard one

But I’ll toil no more

To God’s loving presence

I’ll journey tonight

The darkness will part to

Reveal holy light


Though death overtakes me

I’ve nothing to fear

The angels’ sweet singing

Are the voices I hear

I’ll soon leave this vessel

Of skin and old bones

The ship of Salvation

Will carry me home

Wild Card

From Wild Card CD:


Where No Heart Goes Hungry (T.Aridas/J.Reams, BMI)

As a young man I journeyed from my home in the mountains

To reap from the city what my dreams had there sown

Behind me I put the hard rock of tradition

Thinking the city sprang up from rich loam



Back home to the loving embrace of my family

I’ll flee from this turbulent world to find calm

Where no one’s a stranger and no heart goes hungry

Where wounds too deep to heal receive balm


Adventure I sought and adventure I found

In the arms of a woman and the grip of the gin

When my pockets soon emptied I robbed the next mail train

No gain from the deed beyond my mounting sins


In prison farm work I found some redemption

I done served twelve years, I’ve just eight years more

I’ll walk out of here twenty years older

Than the young fool who yearned for adventure before


Women and liquor and riches on mail trains

Are the fruit of the seeds of a restless young mind

No field or mine or mill can compare

With the hardships of life serving prison farm time

Troubled Times

From Troubled Times CD:


Troubled Times (J.Reams, BMI)

Dawn till dusk out with the plow

Always pulled us through somehow

Dad would sit at the table and say grace:

“Lord, let us hold on to the old homeplace”



Hand-hewn beams held up the barn

Mom and Dad’s dreams held on to the farm

Till it slipped like dust through their hard-working hands

Sometimes the devil has other plans

((subst. “banker” for “devil” last chorus))


Winter’s chill went to the bone

Mom had made our house a home

Caressed us all with heart and hand

But troubled times had filled the land


Early spring brought hope and despair

Flocks of blackbirds filled the air

A muddy road led to our home

The man from the bank foreclosed on the loan


Eye Of The Storm (J.Reams/T.Aridas, BMI)

In the final days of summer, at the last light of the day

As the withering heat was waning, and the sky was turning gray

Though I saw the dark clouds gathering, I hoped to wait it out

But a hard rain started falling and the wind drowned out my shouts



Now each way that I turn is blocked by misery

I’m in the eye of the storm and it’s knocked me to my knees

I didn’t heed the warnings, I was fool enough to stay

Now the road home is a dead end and the bridge is washed away


All my life I’ve been a gambler, even when the stakes were high

I was counting on good fortune, I was counting on blue skies

But luck collides with fate like storm clouds along the crest

Bad luck, like clouds, were gathering, and our home was repossessed


I lost my home and family. My story is not new

I’ll never see my love again, the sky will not be blue

The wind has blown me far away from all that I hold dear

And the storm clouds in my troubled soul I know will never clear


Hills Of My County (T.Aridas/J.Reams, BMI)

Coal mining has evolved from the earlier method of digging deep inside mountains to the modern-day process of blowing them apart and throwing the remains into the creeks and valleys. Doesn’t sound like progress to me.


They tunneled deep into the hills of my county

The mules and the ponies went blind underground

The men and the boys got sick from the coal dust

A deadly affliction for pennies a pound


If God had not put coal in these mountains

If there had been nothing but rock, dirt and trees

My Daddy’d be walking these hills in the springtime

Not living a hard death of black lung disease


Now dynamite blasts off the top of these mountains

And big machines carve out the coal from the seams

They flatten the hills and fill up the valleys

And turn into black pools God’s pure mountain streams


If God had not put coal in these mountains

If He had blessed them with nothing to mine

The hilltops would offer their green domes to Heaven

Crowned with pink rosebay and blackberry vines


The strip mines that take off the tops of these mountains

Leave scars that won’t heal and make God turn his eyes

They level the hilltops that once reached toward Heaven

A mighty green skyline now humble in size


As God looks down at coal mining counties

At what has been done to this blessed land

I wonder if He ever wishes He never

Put coal in these mountains and gave them to man