Song Lyrics for "Touch the Sky"

Backwards States
On a long road trip we were writing down license plates from different states. After quite a while we were stalled at around thirty states and getting bored, so we decided to try to sing the names of the states alphabetically in reverse. What you hear is the end result of that effort. It took some time to get it down, but it was fun. It's amazing how quickly you can learn something when you add melody and rhythm. After all, didn't you first learn the alphabet by singing? Most of us do. Give the states a try.

Backwards States
Arrangement and Music copyright John Farrell, 1998
States were already named.

Wyoming, Wisconsin, West Virginia
Washington, Virginia, Vermont,

Utah, Texas, Tennessee, South Dakota,
South Carolina, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania,

Oklahoma, Ohio, North Dakota, North Carolina,

New York, New Mexico, New Jersey, and
New Hampshire

Nevada, Nebraska, Montana, Missouri,
Mississippi, Minnesota, Michigan,

Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine and

Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa, and Indiana,

Illinois, Idaho, Hawaii, and Georgia,

Florida, Delaware, Connecticut, Colorado,

California, Arkansas, Arizona, Alaska, and
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Feelings That I Have
I enjoy watching birds, especially eagles, hawks, and osprey. One afternoon on Prince Edward Island a bald eagle flew over the fields behind our house. It was exhilarating watching it soar, and it made me feel magnificent just seeing it. Later the same day I received a telephone call from a good friend telling me that her dad was very sick and in the hospital. This news made me feel sad and weak. Those contrasting emotions were the start of this song about feelings. My favorite verse is about the "worm on a hook." This song can be used as a starting point for having young students write their own poetry or songs about their feelings.

Feelings That I Have
Copyright John Farrell, 1995

Sometimes I feel like an eagle
I can see the whole world as I glide
Sometimes I feel like a rabbit on the run
Just looking for a place to hide

Sometimes I feel like a lion
Everybody listens when I speak
Sometimes I feel like the cat has got my tongue
My voice is small and weak

Sometimes I'm up
Sometimes I'm down
Sometimes I spin around and round
Sometimes I'm happy
Sometimes I'm sad
Feeling the feelings that I have

Sometimes I feel like an oak tree
My branches reach to the sky
Sometimes I feel like a jellyfish
Just riding the waves as they go by

Sometimes I feel like a beaver
I can change if I keep working on
But sometimes I feel like a snowman in the sun
I'm here now but soon I'll be gone

Sometimes I feel like a sunrise
Everything I touch is warm and bright
But sometimes I feel like a dark and cloudy day
I can't get anything right

Sometimes I feel like a song that fills the air
I'm a melody, a harmony, a verse
But sometimes I feel like a worm on a hook
This ain't much fun but it could be worse
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Happy Birthday
We learned this from Tom Chapin 's recording many years ago and it's has been a part of our family birthday celebrations ever since.

Happy Birthday
Traditional, Melody is "Mary Widow Waltz" by Franz Lehar

Happy birthday, happy birthday we love you
Happy birthday and may all your dreams come true
When you blow out the candles one light stays aglow
That's the love light in your eyes where e'er you go
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It's History!
Local and family histories are full of colorful characters and happenings. It's enlightening to interview elders and collect their stories. This song was written to be used as part of oral history projects at Edmeston Central School in Edmeston, New York and St. Lawrence O'Toole in Brewster, New York. When the students performed it they gave it the feeling of a show tune, complete with hand gestures and choreography.

It's History!
Words and Music copyright John Farrell, 1998

Who? What? Where? How? Why? and When?
Who? What? Where? How? Why? and When?
It's your story, it's my story, it's our story,
It's History!
Who? What? Where? How? Why? and When?

Who were the first to settle on this land?
Why did they choose to make their homes
right here?
When did they arrive? How did they survive?
What can we see today that tells us they were

Who were the ones that helped to build this
What were the hopes and dreams that
brought them here?
Where did they work and play? How did they
What can we see today that tells us they were

Who were the ones who found fortune or
Why is it that we still recall their names?
How did they serve and lead? What are their legacies?
What can we see today that tells us they were

What was it like to be alive back then?
What brought joy and sadness to their lives?
Let's see what we can find as we hold
the hands of time
And drift back through the years to yesterday
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It's Just A Game
As parents we sometimes forget why it is that kids should be playing sports. This song comes from years of playing, watching, and coaching. It is loosely based on our daughter Maggie's girls' travel team. The Brewster All- Stars. Fortunately, they have two benevolent coaches, Ray Pellecchia and Joe Cloherty. The text of the song has been illustrated by artist John Emil Cymerman and is being published as a picture book by Boyd's Mills Press, a division of Highlights Magazine for Children

It's Just A Game
Words and Music copyright, John Farrell 1998

The sun was shinning bright and the grass
Was oh so green
We were laughin', we were singin', it felt
good to be a team.
We had new shorts and socks - on our
shirts they wrote our names
Everything was goin' great until they said,
"Let's start the game!"

Then the other team appeared, they came
like soldiers to a war
They were big and they were fast and they
looked mean.
Their coach was yellin' at 'em, he even
called us names.
I couldn't help but wonder, "Does he know
it's just a game?"

It's just a game! It's just a game!
We're only kids. We're not the pros.
We joined the team to learn and play and have some fun.
We'll try our best to win
but if we don't there is no shame.
Please remember this:
"We're only kids - It's just a game!"

Then the game began. We were nervous, we
were scared
Cause they were big and they were fast but
they weren't mean.
They did play well together. They scored time and time again.
We made some good plays too and we tried
hard until the end

But then the game was over. We went and
said "nice game!"
Quickly thoughts of ice cream filled our
Till we heard a grown-up shouting, "It's your
fault, you're to blame!"
I wish someone would tell him, "It's okay, it's
just a game!"

As our season went along we lost every
game but one
But we got better and we learned stuff that
was new
Our coach says we're amazing.
And our teamwork and our friendships grew
and grew.

But when the last game ended another
team finished first
They played well. They played hard. They
were the best.
And though the medals went to them we
feel like winners just the same
We never quit and we know "It's just a
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Kilkelly, Ireland
I learned this amazing song many years ago on a recording by Micky Moloney and Robbie O'Connell.The Lyrics are based on a series of family letters sent to the U. S. from Killkelly in County Mayo. Two of my own great- grandparents and one grandmother emigrated to New York from Ireland in the late 1800's. They came from Limerick and Sligo. I have no doubt that the lyrics of this song reflect some of the emotions and circumstances that they experienced. Of course these feelings of separation, love, and longing were and are shared by immigrants from all places all around the world.
I have done many family history projects with students, helping them collect stories and conduct interviews. This song has consistently been a favorite with fourth and fifth graders. Initially I was surprised by their depth of understanding. I should know better by now that kids are full of wonderful insights and surprises.

Kilkelly, Ireland
Words and music copyright Peter Jones, 1983

Kilkelly Ireland1860
My dear and loving son John
Your good friend the schoolmaster Pat
Mac Namara's
So good as to write these words down
Your brothers have all gone to find work in
The house is so empty and sad
The crop of potatoes is sorely infected with
A third to a half of them bad
Your sister Brigid and Patrick O' Donnell are
going to be married in June
Your mother says not to work on the railroad
And be sure to come on home soon.

Kilkelly Ireland 1870
My dear and loving son John
Hello to your Mrs. and to your four children
May they grow healthy and strong
Michael has got in a wee bit of trouble
I suppose that he never will learn
Because of the dampness there's no turf to
speak of
And now there is nothing to burn
Brigid is happy you named a child for her
Although she's got six of her own
You say you found work but you don't say
what kind
Or when you'll be coming home

Killy Ireland 1880
Dear Michael and John my sons
I'm sorry to give you the sad news
But your dear old mother passed on
We buried her down at the church in
Your brothers and Brigid were there
You don't have to worry she died very
Remember her in your prayers
And it's so good to hear that Michael's
With money he's sure to buy land
For the crop has been poor and the people
are selling
At any price that they can

Kilkelly Ireland 1890
My dear and loving son John
I suppose that I must be close on 80
It's 30 years since you've gone
Because of all of the money you sent me
I'm still living out on my own
Michael has built himself a fine house
And Brigid's daughters have grown.
Thank you for sending your family's picture
They're lovely young women and men
You say that you might even come for a visit
What joy to see you again

Kilkelly Ireland 1892
My dear brother John
I'm sorry I didn't write sooner to tell you
But Father passed on. He was living with Brigid
she says he was cheerful
And healthy right down to the end
Ah you should've seen him playin' with the
Of Pat MacNamara your friend
We buried him alongside of Mother
Down at the Kilkelly church yard
He was a strong and a feisty old man
Considering his life was so hard
And it's funny the way he kept talkin'about
He called for you at the end
Why don't you think about coming to visit.
We'd all love to see you again
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Mistakes are Our Teachers
Most kids love wordplays and double entenders. So do I. It's encouraging to remember that no matter how successful someone is, he/she got that way by learning from mistakes - even teachers! Don't mistake my meaning. This song is a play on words. Teachers help us learn and grow. And understand our world

Mistakes are Our Teachers
Words and Music copyright, 1998

Mistakes are our teachers
Our teachers are mistakes
We have a chance to learn something
From each mistake we make

Thomas Alva Edison
Made the light bulb shine
But before he got it right
He was wrong 500 times

Wilber and Orville Wright
Believed that they could fly
It took years of falling down
Before they reached the sky

Rosa parks was right
When she said " I will not move"
The law was a mistake
As Rosa's courage proved

The great Henry Aaron
The all time home run king
For every homer Henry hit
He took a thousand swings
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Playing Right Field
The first time I heard this song it touched me deeply. It still does. I suspect each of us has certain aspects of our lives that makes us feel like the kid out in right field. It's great to know you're not the only one. Thanks to John German for introducing me to this song.

Playing Right Field
Words and Music copyright Willie Welch

Saturday summers when I was a kid
We'd run to the school yard and here's what
we did
We'd pick out the captains, we'd choose up
the teams
It was always a measure of my self-esteem
'Cause the strongest the fastest played
shortstop and first
The ones they picked last were the worst
I never needed to ask it was sealed
I just took up my place in right field

Playing right field is easy you know
You can be awkward, you can be slow
That's why I'm here in right field
Watching the dandelions grow

Playing right field is lonely and dull
Little leagues never have lefties that pull
I'd dream of the day they'd hit one my way
They never did but still I would pray
That I'd make a fantastic catch on the run
And not lose the ball in the sun
Then I'd awake from this long reverie
And pray that the ball never came out to
me here in…

Off in the distance the game's dragging on
There're strikes on the batter, some runners
are on
I don't know the inning, I've forgotten the
The whole team is yelling and I don't know
what for
Suddenly everyone's looking at me
My mind has been wandering. What could
it be?
They point to the sky and I look up above
And a baseball falls into my glove

Playing right field, it's important you know
You gotta know how to catch
You gotta know how to throw
That's why I'm here in right field
Watching the dandelions grow
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Bob Blue is one of my favorite songwriters. He's also a great friend of children and children's music. It's a pleasure and privilege to include one of his songs on this recording.

Words and Music copyright Bob Blue, 1990

I used to be best friends with Rachel
And Rachel was best friends with me
We always dressed just like each other
And watched the same shows on TV
On weekends sometimes she'd sleep over
We'd whisper till we fell asleep
She's a friend that made me feel important
She's a friend that I wanted to keep

Oh Rachel, where are you now?
Did I do something wrong?
Did I hurt you somehow?
Oh Rachel you once were my friend
Will you ever like me again?

A girl moved in next door to Rachel
Her name was Melinda MacNeil
The two of them struck up a friendship
With no thought to how I might feel
Melinda and Rachel went skating
I didn't know Rachel had skates
Now Melinda's the one that she plays with
And I am the one that she hates

Should I try and forget about Rachel?
Should I hope that she'll come back to me?
Should I try and make friends with Melinda?
Can a friendship include three?
Should I pack up and move to Alberta?
If I did would she miss me at all?
I hope she hears my song
We can fix what went wrong
Rachel, please hear my call
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Step by Step
At an S. D. E. (Society for Developmental Education) conference in Nashua NH, I saw a poster that read,
"Life Is A JOURNEY, Not A Race."
This is my take on that sentiment. Dana, Jeff and Jon do a fantastic job providing the musical energy.

Step by Step
Words and music copyright, John Farrell, 1998

Step by step (Echo)
One at a time "
You don't have to run "
There's plenty of time "
If you fall down "
Rise up and then "
Step by step "
Start movin'again "

Life is a circle, the earth is a ball
Seeds that are tiny grow so tall
Seeds need the rain, seeds need the sun
After the storm the rainbow will come

Day by day (Echo)
Follow the light "
Riding the waves "
Learning to fly "
Feel how it feels "
Reach for your dreams "
Day by day "
Let your heart sing "

Step by step……………Day by day
One at a time…………..Follow the light
You don't have to run…Riding the waves
There's plenty of time…Learning to fly
If you fall down………. Feel how it feels
Rise up and then……….Reach for your dreams
Step by step……………Day by day
Start movin' again……..Let you heart sing
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Summer's Here
While sitting in our van in a parking lot one summer day, I overheard the kids in the back discussing black flies. Our friend Ilsa said, " I've got twenty-four bug bites." It struck me as a wonderful line and something only a kid would come up with. On the spot we began to list the people, places, and things that define summer for each of us. Soon we had a chorus and the beginning of a song. While I was writing the song, John Fitzpatrick, a dear friend of ours and a cherished father and grandfather to his family, died suddenly. We miss his songs, his kindness and his friendship. The last verse of the song is for John, Marge and their family.

Summer's Here
Word and Music copyright John Farrell , 1998

Twenty- four bug bite, freckles by the score
Baseball, soccer, ice cream galore
Old friends, new friends, strawberry pie
Summer's here, another year, reach up and
touch the sky

Swimming in the ocean, fishing in the pond
Riding bikes, playing cards, making up a
Shooting stars, bumper cars, lemon butterflies
Summer's here, another year, reach up and touch the sky

Reach up and touch the sky, reach up
and touch the sky
Summer's here, another year, reach up
and touch the sky

Swinging in the hammock, climbing up a
Picking wildflowers, running on the beach
Marshmallow chin, raspberry grins, catching fireflies
Summer's here, another year reach up and
touch the sky

Reading to each other, reading all alone
Teasing, fighting, talking on the phone
Hummingbirds, jellyfish, asking how and
Summer's here another year reach up and
touch the sky

The barbecue is sizzling, the sun is sizzling too
Running barefoot through the grass, trying
to find my shoes
Chocolate chips, melon pits Cygnus shinning
Summer's here, another year, reach up and
touch the sky

Supper's on the table, there's always room
for more
Sleeping in the bunk room, playing sibling war
Writing letters, playing life,watching clouds
drift by
Summer's here another year reach up and
touch the sky

Jumping from the hayloft, bonfires neath
the moon
Company's a coming , let's sing a welcome
Acorn , sweet corn, birds begin to fly
Summer's here, another year, reach up and
touch the sky
Rain falls on the garden, green fields turn to
Rainbows decorate the sky, the young
renew the old
Everyone is crying, it's hard to say good-bye
Summer's here, another year, reach up and
touch the sky
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Tell Me Ma/ St. Ann's Reel
This song and reel are popular tunes in Ireland and on Prince Edward Island. It was a treat having Kim, Brad and Sigrid add their distinctive touches to this recording. Makes you feel like dancing.

Tell Me Ma/ St. Ann's Reel

I'll tell me ma when I go home
The boys won't leave the girls alone
They pull my hair and they stole my comb
But that's all right till I go home

She is handsome, she is pretty,
She is the belle of Belfast city
She is courting 1, 2, 3
Please won't you tell me who is she?

Albert Mooney says he loves her
All the boys are fighting for her
They knock on the door and they ring the bell
Saying oh my true love are you well?
Out she comes as white as snow
With rings on her finger and bells on her toes
Ol' Jenny Murray says she'll die
If she doesn't get the lad with the roving eye

Let the wind and the rain and the hail blow high
And the snow come tumblin' from the sky
She's as nice as apple pie,
She'll get her own lad by and by
When she gets a lad of her own
She won't tell her ma when she comes home
Let them all come as they will
For it's Albert Mooney she loves still
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Your Spirit Dances On
Words and Music copyright John Farrell 1998

Most of the music for this piece was composed during a visit I took to northern Ireland in September1996. I was touring the islands off the west coast with folklorist and musician Mick Moloney and archaeologist Michael Gibbons. There are three parts to the music, which is the background for the narration.

The first tune " The Long Walk," was inspired by a walk we took along a nineteenth - century famine road in County Mayo.
There is a memorial there commemorating one of the countless tragedies that occurred during those years of The Great Hunger. In the late 1840's hundreds of starving tenants walked several miles on this road to plead for food and help from the landlord. They were turned down and told to go away. As they walked home they were caught in a hard rainstorm. Due to their weakened condition many fell and slipped from the muddy road into the nearby river where they drowned.

The second tune, " Leaving Achill," came from a story Michael Gibbons told about an elderly woman he had met on one of his visits to spectacular Achill Island. She talked about growing up on Achill but having to leave when she was still a young girl. For many years she had dreamed of returning to her childhood home but was unable to do so until she was an old lady. This music is intended to evoke her melancholy feelings of longing as well as her memories of the joys of childhood and a special place. I wrote the music from the backseat of the tour bus as we were leaving Achill on an crystal clear autumn day. Of all the magnificent scenery in western Ireland, Achill Island is unsurpassed in my mind.

"Rambling With Michael Gibbons" is the lively hornpipe at the end of the recording. It's a tribute to the archaeologist and the tour guide extraordinaire from Clifden, Connemara, Ireland. If you're ever there, try to find the time to take a walking tour with Michael. It's something you'll never forget.

The narrative for this piece was written after the music was recorded. Originally the selection was going to be just instrumental. After listening to the music and contemplating what I had learned on my trip to Ireland, I decided I wanted to tell some of the story of my ancestors. I still know only a handful of facts about my great-grandparents, but I have learned a little about the places and times they lived.

As I began to write, it led me to tell about my parents and grand parents too. Thinking about ancestors, future generations, and the common threads that link us together is somewhat like looking in a mirror and seeing another mirror behind your back, in which you see yourself looking in a mirror looking at a mirror. It just goes on and on in both directions. I'm convinced we're all connected by the music and the stars and the dance. That's why I call this piece "Your Spirit Dances On."

The photograph on the left side of the cover art is Thomas and Kate Farrell. They came to America in the 1860's. The photo on the right side is my mom and dad soon after they were married in 1931, a midpoint of our family history in America so far.

The names of Thomas and Catherine Farrell and Mary Leonard Farrell have been engraved on the Immigrant Wall of honor at Ellis Island in New York City.

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