Playing With Fire

by the Redwood Highway Band

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What you're hearing on these tracks is the studio version of a band called Redwood Highway, an assemblage of local pro players from San Francisco's North Bay region. They are:

Cole Tate (The Cole Tate Band, )

Gailene Grillo Elliott (

Jerry Hannan (

Bill DeKuiper (

Rahman D'Amato (

Robert Powell (

Bruce Kurnow (

(Chip) Roland Condon (Zero, )

Gus Garelick (KRCB Radio,

Michael L. Bolivar (

Blair Hardman (The Rhythm Rangers, )

Josh Needleman (The Pine Needles, )

Marc Smith (

The album's sound might best be described as "progressive roots." You can find rock, blues, Irish, folk, alt country, and jazz.

Each song is a story told in music best suited to the tale.

Look to the individual tracks for lyrics and credits


released November 1, 2009

Shanty Music:
T.E. Higgins, songwriter & composer
D.H. Higgins, co-conspirator

Production Allies:
Gailene Elliott, producer
Rahman D'Amato, producer & engineer
Blair Hardman / Zone Recording, engineer

Licensing and inquiries: email dena(at)shantymusic(dotcom), or call 415-267-1813


all rights reserved



Redwood Highway Band Berkeley, California

This version of Redwood Highway is a studio band. Look to the lower left for the names of the players and links to their sites to learn more about them and the great music they make. The next incarnation of Redwood Highway is likely to be a smaller crew. The focus would be live music, both performing and studio work. Stay tuned, see what evolves. ... more

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Track Name: Just in Time
Stormy skies above
And inside me too
Stumbled and mumbled
Afraid we were through
When you climbed into the limo
That took you away
You laughed at my tears
There was no more to say
I turned my watery eyes
From your good-bye wave
Alone that rainy week
I carved a tombstone for my grave

Then the sun broke through
Just in time
You came back to me
Just in time
Made everything all right
Like you do
Even spent the night
When I asked you to
Now I don’t feel so mean
Don’t feel so blue

Chorus Repeat

You took off like
You would never return
Tough-money mama
With attitude to burn
Got so sick of lonesome
Almost gave up on life
Almost shaved my whiskers
With a butcher knife
Howled my pain
To the dark sky in rhyme
I’d be there in a heartbeat
If I knew how to climb

Track Name: Numerology
14 nights, I’ve tangled awake
For a two-faced lover
On a two-week break
I walked 27 miles since ya stole our car
For a road trip to Vegas
With a wannabe star

Took 47 moons for our love to fade
All in one night, behind the arcade
You said you need two weeks
Maybe three or four
Well, don’t come home
I don’t live there anymore

Numbers tumble outa my head
Countin’ every time I roll over in my bed
Numberin’ the minutes till dawn
Countin’ all the reasons you’re gone

43 months
To learn you weren’t what you seemed
After seven things happened
Just as I dreamed
It took three blue jays screechin’
At the morning light
To celebrate my survival of one more night


Soon my life will take a different turn of fate
Then you’ll realize what was at stake
Golden dawn pushes back the restless night
I’m beat up, I’m alive
I’m gonna make it all right

Track Name: All of the Headache (None of the High)
Headin’ west on I-80
I saw them standin’ there
On a road outside a truckstop
Summer wind in their hair
Her thumb stuck out like a rifle
Aimed to plug the heart of an ace
He held a battered guitar case
There was sadness in his face

As we rolled along in my rattlin’ van
He told me the cause of his blues
He’d bought a bag of Iowa road weed
Too desperate to choose
The kid was gone when they figured out
It wasn’t gonna do a thing
Then he took his guitar
He played it hard, and he began to sing:

It was the worst bag of weed
I ever did buy
All of the cough but none of the high
Just the worst bag of weed
I had the bad luck to try
All of the headache
None of the high
It was all of the headache
And none of the high

The woman spoke up
both quiet and pissed
And took off some of his power
Why dontcha tell him
It was my money ya lost
When your big-time deal went sour?
His nostrils flared and his lips turned red
As he tightened up a string
Then he strummed his guitar
Played it real hard, and he began to sing:

You’re like the worst bag of weed
I ever did buy
All the confusion and none of the high
Just like the worst bag of weed
I had the bad luck to try
All of the headache
And none of the high
You are all of the headache, baby
None of the high

When we stopped
She slung her bag and walked
And he froze up and slumped
Let’s get back on the road, he said
I know when I been dumped
It’s happened so many times to me
I do not feel the sting
Then he took his guitar
He played it hard, and he began to sing:

It was the worst bag of weed
I ever did buy
All the paranoia, and none of the high
Just the worst bag of weed
I had the bad luck to try
All of the headache, none of the high
One wicked headache, dude
None of the high
All of the headache
And none of the high
Track Name: Rolly Eyes
Rolly eyes, oh, those rolly eyes
What did I do to give you rolly eyes?
Tell me how I’m wrong, my lady
I’ll put it in a song, my lady
Surely that will fix your rolly eyes

Was it just the other night
I was feelin’ nearly right
Till your daddy said some things
That hurt me so
I did not mean to start a fight
Now I see the light
Oh, Rolly Eyes
Don’t treat me cold


It was not very bright
I did not try with all my might
To remember you were born
The first of May
No, I don’t think you’re uptight
Bring your eyes down from the heights
Rolly Eyes
Turn off your deadly ray

Track Name: Change Me
Let’s hook up later
If it feels all right
We’ll walk down to the river
In the blue moonlight
Let’s hook up later
When the day is done
Last night I was not ready
To be the one
But you can change me
With your love tonight

I woke up this mornin’
Sad and contrite
I could offer up excuses
But they’d all sound trite
Believe me when I tell you
That tonight I’ll change
Take me to the river
For a midnight exchange
And you can change me
With your love tonight

Yeah, change me, rearrange me
Unchain me, then derange me
Oh, baby, change me
With your love tonight

I won’t distract you with the reason
For my complicated teasin’
I did not sabotage on purpose
I just got a little nervous

Chorus and Repeat
Track Name: Little Sadie
Hold your head up, little Sadie
As you walk on down the line
You’ll heal your broken heart
When you put your hand in mine
Pick your feet up, little Sadie
As you march on down the line
You’re gonna miss that horror show
But you’re leavin’ right on time

Your brother, he got busted
For having sex with kids
Your mama slapped you ‘cross the face
When you told her what he did
Now they’re all drunk and angry
Hear them scream and cry
Your bags are packed
I’m down the road
Don’t even say goodbye


Your ex’s mom thinks it’s your job
To keep him out of jail
You’re sick of suckin’ up to fools
Determined to fail
They’ll try to hold you down
As you head out on your own
At 23, it’s plain to see
You’re ripe for leavin’ home

Track Name: No Mutha Love
I showed you I could be a man
Who was not like your dad
But you mistook me for a kid
Oh, you mistook me bad
You just want a little child
To comfort when he’s sad
Oh, I don’t want your mutha love
Just let me be
The man you’ll never know
‘Cause he’s a man you cannot see

Oh, I don’t want your sympathy
Don’t want you to comfort me
Don’t need no mutha love
I’m lookin’ for a friend
Help me find a friend
Oh, I need a friend

I get wracked with demon armies
Tearin’ at my mind
You come snakin’ ‘round my soul
Eyes all black and blind
I reach out, you laugh at me
Pretendin’ to be kind
Don’t waste your phony kindness
On someone like me
I got a life I’m gonna live
When the demons set me free


I could not go to town with you
I had those evil blues
Playin’ chess with suicide
Hopin’ I would lose
You just want to hug me
'Cause you love me when I’m blue
Please don’t waste a hug on me
Just let me be
If I become your little boy
It’ll be the end of me

Track Name: Whisper in the Wind
You sang me songs
About a love that never ends
You said you’d stick with me
Through thick and thin
It was nearly springtime
When you changed again
Into a whisper in the wind

I walk the beach
I’m alone and cold
I think I hear your voice
I fear I’m growin’ old
But it’s not you talkin’
It’s the breeze I feel within
You’re just a whisper in the wind

Just a whisper in the wind
Your voice, it spoke to me so strong
Now just a whisper in the wind
Tryin’ to tell me what went wrong

I wander like some lost dog
No one will befriend
I’d do anything
To help your heart to mend
Then perhaps you’ll tell me
What I did that turned you into
A whisper in the wind


Maybe there’s some lonesome beach
Where the bitter breezes blow
Maybe you go walkin’ there
When the clouds hang dark and low
Maybe if I shout loud enough, I can send
A message to you in the wind

Track Name: Dark Rosaleen
O my Dark Rosaleen
Do not sigh, do not weep
Your ships of bliss above the deep
They plow the ocean stream
With Sonoma wine
And Humboldt bud
Upon the ocean green
And North Coast ale
I’ll bring some hope
To Dark Rosaleen

Dark Rosaleen, O my own Rosaleen
Make glad your heart to give you hope
To give you health and help and hope
To Dark Rosaleen

Over hills and through dales
I have traveled for your sake
Just yesterday I sailed with sails
On rivers and on lakes
I crossed the bay at highest flood
A ghost on Halloween
O there was lightnin’ in my blood
For Dark Rosaleen

Dark Rosaleen, O my fine Rosaleen,
Yeah there was lightnin’ in my blood
Red lightnin’ lighting up my blood
For Dark Rosaleen

Over wetlands and grasslands,
I flew on fiery wheels
Your holy delicate hands
Make me strong as steel
In your emerald bower
We’ll lie awake unseen
Upon your bed of magic flowers
Dark Rosaleen

Dark Rosaleen, O my fond Rosaleen
We’ll lie awake through daylight hours
Be made whole by holy flowers
Dark Rosaleen

I would scale the blue air,
I would plow the highest hills
O I would kneel all night in prayer,
To heal your many ills
‘Cause one electric smile from you
Would spark a light between
My work and me, my own, my true
My Dark Rosaleen

Dark Rosaleen, O my sweet Rosaleen
Would spark a light of love anew
Would make my self and soul renewed
By Dark Rosaleen

Without your love, get so depressed
Abandoned from above
The very soul within my breast
Goes sick without your love
My achin’ heart faints
To think of you, my queen
Life of life, O saint of saints
My Dark Rosaleen

Dark Rosaleen, O my own Rosaleen
To hear again your sad complaints
My life, my love, my saint of saints
My Dark Rosaleen
Track Name: El Dorado
One mornin’ I rode west
Toward cool El Dorado
To the back country mountains
Their meadows of green
I was lookin’ for somethin’
The old ones had spoke of
The hard-scrabble farmers
Never wanted to see

At dusk near the foothills
And weary from ridin’
I lay down to sleep off
The hard travelin’ day
When a stranger rode up
On a horse he called Midnight
From the hood of his cloak
These words he did say:

Don’t stay out in the storm tonight
Don’t stay out in the storm
She sent me here for to warn
Don’t stay out in the storm

I rode in the night
With the moonlight to guide me
To the porch of a stone house
Where a young woman spun
In a moonlit shawl
With a yellow-eyed tomcat
Her honey-sweet voice
Said my ridin’ was done

I followed her in
As the storm clouds broke open
Rain poured down
And the moon disappeared
My horse stomped and whinnied
To give me a warnin’
But her soul-meltin’ voice
Was all that I heard:

Don’t ride out in the storm tonight
Don’t ride out in the storm
Chop my wood and keep me warm
Don’t ride out in the storm

Held in the spell
Of this comely young vision
Blue-eyed beauty
With the raven black hair
She led me downstairs
To a lantern lit room
Where six tired cowboys
Dozed in their chairs

Join them, won’t you
They’ll show you your room
Come back and sit down and dine to your fill
Then come to my bed
I’ll be waitin’ there for you
I need your warm body to take off my chill

Six sleepin’ cowboys
Had nothin’ to tell me
That her sweet voice was evil
I knew I could prove
I so hated that I loved it
I ran up the stairs
But she sang again
And I could not move

I ate and I drank
Till my head hit the table
Soft as upon a pillow we lie
When I awoke
We were nothin’ but skeletons
But I could still move
As if I were alive

I jumped up and jangled
And I liked the sound
Of the hollow tunes played
By my body in flight
I flew up and danced
And I clattered and clittered
Freed from the flesh
And my fear of the night

Soon the noise woke up
The other six cowboys
Turned into bones
By the beautiful bride
We’re dead, they all said
But I showed they were wrong
If you’re dead ya can’t say so -
Let’s saddle up and ride

They knew I was right and
We rose up as one
And galloped away
From our fresh-made graves
Seven ghost riders
Went up through the night sky
On seven bone steeds
O’er the ocean’s gray waves

We follow the west wind
That blows to the coast
Where we ride ev‘ry day
And we’ll ride ever more
In the wind and the rain
And the maddest of weather
El Dorado cowboys
In the mist on the shore

We’ll ride out in the storm tonight
We’ll ride out in the storm
Ridin’ hard will keep us warm
We’ll ride out in the storm
One mornin’ I rode west to cool El Dorado...