The Ballad Of The Harpweaver (Cash Johnny)

Once my mother told me when I was knee-high Son, you'll need clothes this winter and not a rag have I There's not a thing in this house to make a boy's breeches I don't even have scissors for the cloth or thread for the stitches There's nothing in this house but a half a loaf of rye And that old family harp of our's that no one will buy And she started to cry I guess it's lucky for me that your daddy's in the ground And can't see the way I let his baby go around Well that was in the late fall and when winter-time came I didn't have a pair of breeches or a shirt to my name But my mother said Son come climb on my lap And I'll warm those skinny little legs while you take a nap And we'd rock back and forth to a Mother Goose rhyme And boy we were happy for about an hour's time I've heard it said that that year the winter was very bad I know we sat on the floor because we burned what chairs we had Except for one chair that Mother couldn't break And that old family harp of our's that no one would take We couldn't give it away for pity's sake Well one night I was sick with a cold and my mother sang me to sleep And we she laid me on the floor I thought I heard her weep But then I saw her sitting in that one good chair And the light shinning on her from, I couldn't tell where But she looked eighteen years old and not a day older And there was that old harp leaning on her shoulder Well she began to play that harp and her hands moved rapidly Then threads ran thru the harp strings from somewhere I couldn't see Then all colored threads began to glide right thru my mother's hands I saw the thread turn into cloth and I watched the cloth expand And she wove a boy's jacket and when it was done She laid it on the floor and wove another one She wove a long red coat and what a sight to see That coat's for a king I said it couldn't be for me She wove a pair of breeches and quicker than that She wove a pair of boots and a little woolen hat She wove a pair of mittens she wove a little blouse She wove all night long in that cold baren house And she sang while she worked and the harp strings spoke But her voice never faltered and the thread never broke But when I awoke...there sat my mother with that harp against her shoulder Lookin' eighteen years old and not a day older A smile on her lips and a light around her head But her hands were on the harp stings...frozen dead But on the floor beside her, piled six feet high Were clothes good enough for a king, just my size