© 1983 Gordon Bok , BMI


This was a very vivid dream that hauled me out of the sack at about 4:00 am one morning.  I wrote it down on a huge piece of wrapping paper and it kept me going right through breakfast.

            Like most dreams, it exposes a fellow's neuroses – in this case, authority, crowded places, claustrophobia, and the thought that you might never get-back-home.

            Little Red was the name the cop used, and we both knew we were talking about Dave Mallet, though his real name never came up in the dream.  At one of our all-too-infrequent meetings, I asked Dave if the name "Little Red" meant anything to him.  He said "How could you know that?  That's the name my older brothers used to call me when we were kids."  I forgot to ask him if he ever knew a Pearly…

            I finally met Pearly, but not until years later, when he was Police Chief in Rockport.  A good man, wise and kind, as you'd expect from the song.

            I noticed that, as I was writing this, a certain Mallet-style was creeping into it, hence the use of the old traditional tune, "The Blue Skirt Waltz" that I used to play with Capt. Hawkins back on the schooners.



Down in the dark and the doom of the city,

There's a monstrous old gathering hall,

And a man there making a windy long speech,

To the lords and ladies all.


Fifteen thousand, twenty thousand people,

Milling and murmuring there,

"And this ain't the place," says I to myself,

"For a fellow that needs the fresh air."


So I asked for directions to get me outside,

And I followed them all for sure;

And I ended up down, ten floors underground,

And I never saw an exit door.


The first live soul I saw was a policeman,

He was long, he was leaning on a rail;

I says "I'll get to him before he sees me,

"And ferried me off to jail."


So I ease myself upon his starboard quarter,

I says "Excuse me, your honor, for sure,

But if you've got a minute, and nothing to do,

Could you head me out toward the air?"


Well, he pointed his finger back over my shoulder,

And I peered away through the gloom,

And there, sure enough, was an exit sign,

Bright as the crack of doom.


Well, I thanked him as nicely as ever I knew,

And I eased my way toward the door,

But he fell into step with me, right along side,

I could hear his heels on the floor.


Well he smiled like the sharks out off Little Green Island,

He had teeth all over his face;

He says, "You know there's folks'd give an arm and a leg

Just to get inside the place."


"Oh boy!" Thinks I, "I've got my foot in it now,

"I never should have come to this town,

And I don't know what I'm doin' here now,

But I'm sure I'm doin' it wrong."


He says, "There's people travel all over the country

"Just to come and see this thing

But if I know your type, you’d rather sit around home

And listen to Little Red sing."


"Little Red," I said, "I'll be damned," I said,

"I got a friend by that name back home."

And he smiles and says, "Look in this crazy world,

You got to call them like they come."


"And I can tell a Maine man any damn where,

I can tell him by his tongue,

And you ain't far from the exit door,

But you're a damn long way from home."


Well, he laughs till the echoes laugh again,

He says "Ok: hold out your paws."

So I closed my eyes, and I held out my hands,

Like my fingers were breaking the laws.


And there was blueberries, blackberries,

Tumbled into my hand,

Rosehips bright with the small of the night,

From off of the summer land.


He says, "little sister stayed home on the island,

She visits us now and again,

Brings us all she can pick from the hills

And it sure does taste like home."


Well, we stood in the darkness chomping them berries,

Eating them our of our hand,

And my heart went away to the rocks and the bays

And my friends in that lonesome land.


He says "Tell me, speaking of our mutual friend,

How that tough little fast picking fool

Can find his way through the brambles and rocks

Of a homesick Maine man's soul."


Ah, but I guess he knows when the days get too long,

And the morning comes too soon,

There's nothing will knock off the edge of your troubles

Like picking an old-time tune.


Well, he stowed the empty bag away in his pocket,

turned on his heel to go,

And he says, "Well good luck, and if you see Little Red,

Tell him Pearly says hello."



Pearly is recorded on the album Return to the Land, and is also in the songbook One to Sing, One to Haul.