Withlacoochee Dreamer

04:24
Doug Spears
2010-01-01
Doug Spears

Story

My grandfather ran the Army / Navy Surplus Store on Main Street in Leesburg, Florida for better than 20 years. One of his frequent visitors was a small, skinny man that everyone called “Speck.” Hard and weathered looking Speck could best be likened to a railroad spike with legs. Speck had spent his entire life on and around the Withlacoochee River that originates in the Green Swamp in Polk County, Florida and flows north winding its way out to the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown. It seemed to me that the river was all Speck ever talked about and, in some part as a result of all the stories he told, I’ve ended up spending a fair amount of time on the Withlacoochee myself enjoying what remains of its wild nature. Incorporating portions of Speck’s tales of the river this is my tribute to one of Florida’s natural treasures.

Lyrics

 

Now the Withlacoochee River runs a twisting northern flow,

Up from a Green Swamp mother to the Gulf of Mexico,

Oak stained waters swirling 'round polished cypress knees,

Hungry Osprey searching, dancing on the breeze.

 

Well, the old man was a cracker from the tough palmetto scrub,

And he'd grubbed a life out of the sand near the river that he loved,

He was harder than a lighter'd knot, pitch heavy heart of pine,

With nothing but that river to mark the passing time.

 

Old Withlacoochee dreamer come and set your spirit free,

Slip off on a current, black water mystery,

Like a wild and careless lover who's ways you can't control,

This Withlacoochee River still flows on through your soul.

 

He recalled the Blind Horse ferry that he rode as just a boy,

When the whistle from a steamboat still filled his heart with joy,

When the cypress trees were bigger than six men could reach around,

Cut and floated up the river out past Yankeetown.

 

Old Withlacoochee dreamer come and set your spirit free,

Slip off a the current, black water mystery,

Like a wild and careless lover who's ways you can't control,

This Withlacoochee River still flows on through your soul.

 

And now I’ve spent my share of days among those river orchid blooms,

Drifting on the shadows of lazy afternoons.

 

But the bloom is off the flower as that time worn saying goes,

There’s few places on the river that hold the peace of long ago,

And that old cracker's long forgotten though sometimes I still hear,

His stories of the river that he loved for all those years.

 

Old Withlacoochee dreamer come and set your spirit free,

Slip off on a current, black water mystery,

Like a wild and careless lover who's ways you can't control,

This Withlacoochee River still flows on through your soul.

 

And like a wild and careless lover who's ways you can't control,

This Withlacoochee River still flows on through your soul.