Released on Places I’ve Been, 2008. This recording is from a 1969 demo on which I played both guitars and sang both parts. I made the song in my first year of serious songwriting, and it reflects some naiveté about what it’s like to be a traveling singer-songwriter. But on the basis of performances and recordings by others, it’s probably my biggest “hit.”

It had previously been released on albums by Rosalie Sorrels, Jim Ringer, and Danny Wheetman, and I had the great honor of having Steve Goodman (whom I had never met) recite the chorus to me when Mitch and I bumped into him between flights in a midwest airport.


I’m sitting at the end of the bar, boys
Just about to start the show
It’s been a long hard road I’ve traveled
And there’s many more miles to go
It’s hard to make a living
But it’s better than grubbing dirt
I’d rather starve on singing, boys
Than take some job of work

I’m gonna make it a good one, boys
Gonna make it mean and sad
I’ll sing about the chippies and the honky-tonk hippies
And the hard-luck times I’ve had
And when my song is over
That crowd will understand
They may not like my style, boys
But they’ll know who I am

I’ve traveled this country over
With my flattop-box guitar
Singing my joys and sorrows
And smoking cheap cigars
Now listen all you ladies
If you’re looking for a friend
You’d better take your chance tonight
‘Cause I might not be back again



By Mayne Smith, 1966 © Hillgreen Music <>