Ray Chesna: Every Day Above Ground is a Good One Lyrics

Lyrics Copyright (c) 1995 Fernau Publishing, Inc., BMI



(Jim Fastiggi and Ray Chesna)

Get your chin up off the ground,
Don't you let life get you down.
Get up, fight another round,
Every day above ground is a good one.

Don't be caught up in a rage,
Things will get much better with age.
Tomorrow turn a brand new page,
Every day above ground is a good one.

Don't be shook by idle threats,
Don't look back, have no regrets.
The only thing that regrets gets
Is six feet under, pushin' up daisies.

All you cats, and all you frails,
Don't be chewin' on your nails.
In the light your problem pales,
Every day above ground is a good one.


(Ray Chesna)

Well if you like to hear the guitar,
Lemme tell you a little story
'Bout the way it was not long ago.
Back before the CD, back before the TV,
Only rich folks had a radio.

  You had to make your own music,
  Put your fingers to the wood.
  Don't have to be Segovia,
  Do the best that you could.
  The only the thing that matters is
  It makes you feel good.
  That's how it was not long ago.

Well after church let dinner settle,
Maybe set and talk a little,
Dad would reach and tune the old guitar.
If the music wasn't fancy
Uncle John get kinda antsy,
And he'd get his fiddle from the car.

The neighbor gal she'd see 'em
And she'd run to get her mandolin.
A few hellos and then they'd start.
Well, first they'd pick out "Old Joe"
Then proceed through every tune they know,
Playin' music from the heart.

  They loved to make their own music,
  Put their fingers to the wood.
  Don't have to be Segovia,
  Do the best that you could.
  The only the thing that matters is
  It makes you feel good.
  That's how it was not long ago.
So if you don't play, it's about time,
Don't let the pleasure here be all mine.
Don't put it off another day.
First you learn your three chords,
Then four or five, you can't get bored.
Pretty soon you're on your way.

  And you can make your own music,
  Put your fingers to the wood.
  Don't have to be Segovia,
  Do the best that you could.
  The only thing that matters is
  It makes you feel good.
  That's how it was not long ago.

BAR SONG [listen]

(Rick Nestler, Ray Chesna)

Well there's a dirty little bar-room, on the other side of town,
And everything inside of it is stained tobacco brown.
At the bottom of a hill, easy to stumble down,
And it's the only place for miles and miles around.

  But the drinks are cheap and the music is loud,
  And the smoke hangs 'round the bar-room, in a blue hazy cloud.
  And at times I feel at home like a king upon his throne,
  Settin' on my bar-stool, all alone.

Well I can feel just like a king, almost every night.
The barmaid, she's a friendly gal, and she treats me alright.
I just set here with my drink in hand, surveyin' the land,
Waitin' for my honky-tonk queen to sit by my side.

  But the drinks are cheap...

Now the peasants in this kingdom, they live on barley, hops and malt,
And the ones that swill tequila, may forget about the salt.
But they're happy bein' free; bein' what they be.
I could only wish the same for you and me.

  But the drinks are cheap...

Lyrics Copyright (c) 1995 Fernau Publishing, Inc., BMI

Liner Notes

David Chamberlain is producer and host of Atlanta's "Sagebrush Boogie," a program of Western Swing on WRFG-FM 89.3, and is a rabid guitar fan, too!

Ray Chesna is a friend of mine, and I'll be the first to admit why. It was the guitar playing that did it, I guess. When someone comes along who splendidly picks just about every guitar style, what can you do, ignore him?

I didn't, and neither have a lot of others, folks who feel the blues, get high and lonesome to bluegrass, or tap their feet when the guitar player swings. Ray has played and taught many kinds of music in his career, as good musicians will. He's spent much time playing burn-down-the-barn, flat-topped bluegrass as fingerpicking his way through the maze of a country blues. Ray has also squawked his way through many a smoky rockabilly set armed only with his battered Fender Telecaster and years ago he even did time in a Ukrainian dance band!

The product of years of listening, and of calloused practice is here in your hands. In Everyday Above Ground, Ray Chesna draws from the vast American musical palette to offer a rich and personal body of music. Just don't expect any Ukrainian tunes this time out!

Everyday Above Ground is A Good One
Ray offers optimistic advice on facing life and its unfortunate alternative. Ray sings and swings the guitar in Charlie Christian-approved fashion while guitarist Bob Shaw arranged and overdubbed the Les Paul (the man, not the guitar) guitar choir. Neil Starky lopes comfortably beneath on acoustic bass, while Sherwood Mobley backbeats on the drums. Life affirming and swings, too! "Jim Fastiggi and I wrote this tune. It puts our beliefs in a nutshell and proves that old chestnuts grow on new trees."
Viola Lee Blues
Originally from Gus Cannon & the Jug Stompers. Ray revives this Memphis blues gem from the 1920's. Ray Chesna sings and picks his flattop as Paul Carpenter thumps the dog-house bass, Jim Tolles warbles on his violin, and Tom Wolf chews on his harmonica. Sensitive interplay from some very blue gentlemen. "This song really takes me back to the seventh grade and my first group, a jug band at Holy Rosary Catholic School, Yonkers, New York, 1965."
Evening Sun Blues
A traditional blues, associated with Blind Blake. The lazy sun sets as Ray sings and fingerpicks his acoustic. Very blue. "I've always felt that Blind Blake is theTriple-A fingerpicker of all time. Bar none."
Make Your Own Music
There was a day not long ago when jam sessions always included the next door neighbor, a cousin or two and maybe a dog keeping time with its tail. Mr. Chesna's lyrics recall those nostalgic times. Ray fingerpicks the Martin, Tom Wolf musically exhales into his harmonica, Tom Gray slides again, this time on Dobro. Sherwood Mobley shuffles past us on his drums, and Neil Starkey goes way down on the acoustic bass. "Music for me functions on many levels: sometimes its art, and sometimes its just the back porch at 3:00 AM."
Hi'a Cynth
An original ode to a beautiful woman, Ray packs his Martin for new-grass territory while Neil Starkey activates his acoustic bass, while jazz guitar hot-shot Bob Shaw plays bluegrass rhythm for the first time ever! "I'm deeply moved by bluegrass music and flat-picking fiddle tunes. Hi'a Cynth was written in that spirit."
Bar Song
Ray recalls his tenure in the "tobacco-brown" honky-tonk universe. Ray sings and strums country rhythm on Martin acoustic, Rise' Payne doubles herself on fiddles, Tom Gray slides us back into the 1950's on his electric Hawaiian steel. Paul Carpenter again thumps on acoustic bass and Sherwood Mobley simmers on the honky-tonk drums. Backing vocals by barhoppers Payne & Carpenter. Bottoms up! "On this song, co-writer Rick Nestler and I easily remembered our days dodging bottles and the whirlwinds of tobacco smoke in some very seedy and unpredictable honky tonks."
Banty Rooster
A Charlie Patton tune, sung with fervor and played with respect by Ray on acoustic National Steel. Paul Carpenter mans the acoustic bass. "For me, Charlie Patton is the genuine article; the father of the delta blues."
Early Morning Blues
Another Blind Blake opus, same Martin guitar, same singer. Ray snaps the strings and moans the loss of his good gal. "I learned this tune when my wife left town on business. She did come back, though."
One More Bar
An original, this riff-blues spills over from the confinement of the twelfth bar into new territory, sort of like Thelonius Monk visiting the Lone Star State. Ray unleashes his T-Bone Walker alter-ego through his Campeleone archtop. Sherwood Mobley snares us with fancy rhythm at the traps, Neil Starkey bobs by on acoustic bass, Pete Cameron blazes away at the fiddle, and Bob Shaw strokes in on rhythm guitar and he also contributes a hot chord solo. "This cut has a real Texas feeling to me, and is a great excuse to pick with these awesome swing veterans."

This, Ray Chesna's first album, is the inevitable meeting of veteran picker and the studio. As producer and guitar visionary, Ray is very pleased with this, the result of years of dues-paying and practice. I know that ya'll will find Every Day Above Ground a joyful discovery.

David Chamberlain, 1995

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Copyright (c) Echo Lake Records, 1995-2005
Echo Lake Records