Tuesday Night Songwriter: James Taylor, the Frozen Man

Don’t leave ‘em nothing to work on
Music • Views: 25,881

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This is from James Taylor’s “One Man Band” tour, even though there was a piano player so it wasn’t technically one man. But it’s a gorgeous version of one of his most moving songs, “The Frozen Man.” (I like this version much better than the original.)

Recorded at a three-night stint at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, MA, during July 2007

Last thing I remember is the freezing cold
Water reaching up just to swallow me whole
Ice in the rigging and howling wind
Shock to my body as we tumbled in
My brothers and the others were lost at sea
I alone am returned to tell thee
Hidden in ice for a century
I walk the world again
Lord have mercy on the frozen man

Next words that were spoken to me
Nurse asked me what my name might be
She was all in white at the foot of my bed
I said angel of mercy, I’m alive! or am I dead…
My name is William James McPhee
I was born in 1823
I was raised in Liverpool by the sea
But that ain’t who I am
Lord have mercy I’m the frozen man

It took a lot of money to start my heart
Just to peg my leg and to buy my eye
The newspapers call me state of the art
And the children, when they see me, cry

I thought it’d be nice just to visit my grave
See what kind of tombstone I might have
There lay the wife and daughter and it seemed so strange, so strange
Both of them dead and gone from extreme old age
I say, when I die make sure I’m gone
Don’t leave ‘em nothing to work on
You can raise your arm, you can wiggle your hand (unlike myself)
So you can wave goodbye to the frozen man, goodbye

I know what it means to freeze to death
To lose a little life with every breath
To say goodbye to life on earth
And come around again
Lord have mercy on the frozen man
God have mercy on the frozen man

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