Don't Pay The Ferryman



It was late at night on the open road,
Speeding like a man on the run,
A lifetime spent preparing for the journey;

He is closer now and the search is on,
Reading from a map in the mind,
Yes there's the ragged hill,
And there's the boat on the river.

And when the rain came down,
He heard a wild dog howl,
There were voices in the night - "Don't do it!"
Voices out of sight - "Don't do it!
Too many men have failed before,
Whatever you do,

Don't pay the ferryman,
Don't even fix a price,
Don't pay the ferryman,
Until he gets you to the other side;"

In the rolling mist, then he gets on board,
Now there'll be no turning back,
Beware that hooded old man at the rudder,
And then the lightning flashed, and the thunder roared,
And people calling out his name,
And dancing bones that jabbered and a-moaned
On the water.

And then the ferryman said,
"There is trouble ahead,
So you must pay me now," - "Don't do it!"
"You must pay me now," - "Don't do it!"
And still that voice came from beyond,
"Whatever you do,

Don't pay the ferryman,
Don't even fix a price,
Don't pay the ferryman,
Until he gets you to the other side;

Don't pay - the ferryman!"
"I know that many listeners are baffled by the spoken words in this song. Well, they are an amended form from lines which are in the Shakespeare play, The Tempest. Early on in the play, the boatman is describing the storm and his speech starts 'We were dead of sleep and clapped under hatches'. I thought that was appropriate."
The Getaway Gazette, January '86
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