Cold Missouri Waters Lyrics by James Keelaghan

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Extremely sad song that describes how the innovators among us are
not always appreciated. About the person who invented the backfire.

We like the performance by Dar Williams, Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell on

Cry Cry Cry

August ‘Forty-Nine, north Montana

The hottest day on record, the forest tinder dry

Lightning strikes in the mountains

I was crew chief at the jump base, I prepared the boys to fly

Pick the drop zone, C-47 comes in low

Feel the tap upon your leg that tells you go

See the circle of the fire down below

Fifteen of us dropped above the cold Missouri waters

Gauged the fire, I’d seen bigger

So I ordered them to sidehill and we’d fight it from below

We’d have our backs to the river

We’d have it licked by morning even if we took it slow

But the fire crowned, jumped the valley just ahead

There was no way down, headed for the ridge instead

Too big to fight it, we’d have to fight that slope instead

Flames one step behind above the cold Missouri waters

Sky had turned red, smoke was boiling

Two hundred yards to safety, death was fifty yards behind

I don’t know why I just thought it

I struck a match to waist high grass running out of time

Tried to tell them, Step into this fire I set

We can’t make it, this is the only chance you’ll get

But they cursed me, ran for the rocks above instead

I lay face down and prayed above the cold Missouri waters

And when I rose, like the phoenix

In that world reduced to ashes there were none but two survived

I stayed that night and one day after

Carried bodies to the river, wonder how I stayed alive …

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