Tom Brown 

©2002 Andrew Calhoun, recorded on Tiger Tattoo

Tom Brown left his family. 
Took steps from his front door, 
And people said, "well, maybe he's dead, 
Or drinking, like before." 
It was a little bit less than a choice, 
A little bit more than a whim, 
When Tom Brown left his family. 

Tom sits in his kitchen, 
He'll look you in the eye; 
With a lone tooth on the bottom, 
He's sixteen long years dry. 
He strums a big old steel-string, 
His soul's in every word; 
He'll play your favorite country song 
And some you never heard.  

Judgment ran like water, 
Through a tired old mill town; 
"To leave a wife with the two young boys, 
That's a low-life, going down." 
But every night on Second Street, 
One candle flame would burn; 
For a family still in quiet time 
To pray for Tom's return. 

Way out in Kansas City, 
A hobo worked the street, 
In a cloud of kids, singin' old time songs, 
The glory to repeat; 
He played "The Old Lady That Swallowed a Spider," 
He sang 'em the songs of Hank Snow and Merle Haggard; 
Just stayin' alive for the year and the quarter 
That Tom Brown left his family. 

Is there a God to hear a prayer, 
Or need an old-time song? 
One light might cross a nation 
To find a soul gone wrong? 
When the call came from Missouri, 
Way long past overdue; 
Tom said, "I miss my family." 
Said his wife, "We miss you, too." 

Folks wonder what kind of a man 
Would leave his kids to roam; 
And question what kind of a woman 
Lets that kind of a man come home. 
It was a little bit less than a choice 
A little bit more than a whim 
When Tom Brown left his family

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