"For Better or Worse"

© 1986 Lee Ruth

MP3
Plumb Bobs
Bob Runyon - Vocal & Guitar
Greg Spillman - Cello
David Lackey - Upright Bass
Kitron Tate - Mandola
Annie O. Ruh - Violin
  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original

 

Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
A summer breeze is blowing across a winter sky
And though it's only three a.m. she opens up her eyes
Barefoot and without a stitch she glides around the house
To see her children sleeping warm more quiet than a mouse
She gets a drink of water and then it's back to bed
The man who's lying by her side barely turns his head
Though not a word is spoken each knows the other's there
As she drifts away again she breathes this silent prayer
Thank you Lord for taking such good care of my family
Thank you Lord for taking such good care of me
His head aches, his throat is raw, he hasn't slept a wink
As he lays there suffering he cannot help but think
He'd like to feel better but things could be much worse
So it's up to light a candle and to write this get-well verse
The woodpile looks much larger on a warm February day
Than it did in dark December with an ice storm on its way
Another month the bills are paid, the children will be fed
As the day is breaking this healing prayer is said
Thank you Lord for taking such good care of my family
Thank you Lord for taking such good care of me
A summer breeze is blowing across the winter sky
And though it's only three a.m. she opens up her eyes
Barefoot, and without a stitch, she glides around the house,
To see her children sleeping warm, more quiet than a mouse

She gets a drink of water, and then it's back to bed
The man who's laying by her side just barely turns his head
Though not a word is spoken, each knows the other's there
And as she drifts away again she breathes a silent prayer

(chorus)
Thank you Lord for taking such good care of my family
And thank you Lord for taking such good care of me

His head aches and his throat is raw, he hasn't slept a wink
As he lays in silent suffering, he cannot help but think
He'd like to feel better, but things could be much worse
So it's up to light a candle and write this get-well verse

The woodpile looks much larger on a warm February day
Than it did in dark December, with an ice storm on its way
Another month, the bills are paid, the children will be fed
And as the day is breaking, a healing prayer is said

(chorus)

Artist on the Song:
Lee on the Song:
I met Lee at the epicenter of a community ripple in the year he released his "Happy Hollow Songs" on LP and cassette. It was a crystal-clear chunk of frozen sonic output whose facets reflected Lee's mind. One of those facets was the song " For Better or Worse." This is one of two songs that has ever made me cry. In fact "For Better or Worse" has on multiple occasions brought me tears of shameful longing for the simple truth it reflects. When asked to participate in this project, I was happy to learn no-one had claimed " For Better or Worse." This gave me a small taste of the joy of a grateful heart.

September 1985 was not the best month of my life. In the first week of the month I got careless with a lawnmower and cut the tip of my ring finger off, leaving me with three fingers to try to do the work of four on the fingerboard of my guitar for a four-month period of time while the injured finger was healing. Looking on the bright side, my little finger acquired a measure of added agility and strength by covering for my ring finger, and I was able to modify some of my guitar arrangements for a while by simplifying any part that had previously required four fingers--and the injured finger did return to maybe 95 percent of pre-injury functionality. Several weeks after that injury, a bout with food poisoning laid me lower than at any time in my adult life. After decades of enjoying good health I spent the entire fall and most of the winter with my energy level and immune system depleted. Seemed like I caught every bug that came near me from September all the way into March.

It was the night of January 31 leading into the morning of February 1, and I was sick again. It was 55 degrees outside (normal temperature for that date is about 18 degrees) with a south wind blowing, and all we needed to keep the house warm overnight was a small fire in the wood stove. Since I was unable to fall asleep, I decided to write myself a healing song--looking toward spring from a midwinter low point.

Artist on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artists:

Lee and I have played many of the same venues and otherwise attempted to do many of the same things over the past seventeen years, always enjoying and supporting each other. You could say we share in each other's fortune as sure as Jimmy Motter can draw a red van dyke on a green-eyed George in full view of God and Mike Phillips. I am very glad to call Lee my friend.

Bob Runyon

Must have been 1988 when Bob and I met. He had released a self-produced record album the previous year and mine came out in mid-'88, so we had that bit of common experience in our immediate lives. We were living similar down-home country lives on opposite sides of the Missouri River--ten or so miles apart as the crow flies, but a fifty-mile drive as the wheels roll. For a decade and a half, our paths have crossed and recrossed, sometimes frequently and sometimes rarely. We'd play gigs at the same places but on different days, and on certain auspicious occasions we'd find ourselves at the same place at the same time. We've been passing the same defaced dollar bill (featuring a mustachioed George Washington) back and forth into each other's tip jar on something like an annual basis for ten years or so. (I think he's got it right now.) I look forward to getting it back because it means that once again our paths have crossed. One thing our respective recordings of "For Better or Worse" both have is Annie Ruh playing the violin. She found a totally different but always sweet part to play on each recording, and on Bob's recording her presence further enhanced the chamber ensemble quality that the Plum Bobs brought to this song.

Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:
We decided to record the Plumb Bobs live to two-track. We placed two KSM-44 microphones at a distance in figure eight patterns, with one having the violin and cello and the other the bass and mandola. We used Bob's vocal microphone to fill the middle and took a direct feed from his guitar. It was an experiment in Pete's new studio space. The concept was to let the string instruments play together to create a natural blend. We liked what we heard, sometimes it sounded as if a baroque string quartet was in the studio.

Recorded at Pete Szkolka's Studio

Record Date: 4/7/03

Recorded live to two-track

 

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