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Lookout Mountain (the song)
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This song is somewhat of an ongoing project.  New verses are added from time to time, and I do appreciate the input I have gotten from so many of you. It is a bit of a journal, perhaps, and definitely the longest song I have ever written. Don't look for good writing here, just good memories. If you have ever been in any way associated with Lookout Mountain, there should be something in these verses you can identify with. I hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane.

Lookout Mountain

v.66 ©2005 Randy York


Growing up on Lookout Mountain

Never growing old

The sunshine there would sparkle on the snow

The summer breeze would kiss the trees

And the angels know

The mountain is a perfect place to go


Early in the morning

When the sun is in the east

The peaks are islands in a sea of clouds

The Master’s work is on display

Solid as a fleece

Covering the earth in brilliant shroud


The Castle in the Clouds

Was an edifice of learning

That in the fog completely disappeared

And every time I pass that way

I remember there’s no turning

From a symbol of the past, a fortress through the years


I played tennis there with Beaux

She was not like other girls

She had a pet raccoon and loved my music

I was so glad for her friendship

To me it meant the world

A treasure, and I hope I never lose it (to chorus)


The Cherokee lived there first

And thousands lost their lives

Along the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma

But none of that shows in the prints

By Currier & Ives

A landscape just as lovely as Multnomah


We were the Rebels and the Yankees

In the woods just down the street

A hundred years from when they fought the war for real

Hope would spring eternal

Of snatching victory from defeat

When will those old war wounds finally heal?


Starting out at Sunset Rock

You could hike up to the Point

And that way you could walk right in for free

‘Cause if a ranger saw you climb the wall

He thought he owned the joint

And would chase you till you vanished in the trees (to chorus)


Rock City’s very scary

Has been since I was eight

And tried to sneak in with a group of friends

We got caught at Fairyland Caverns

He tried to set us straight

By scaring us to stand our hair on end


The Incline was my favorite

I kept a ticket book

And relied on it to cure my vertigo

But at Beaver Creek I learned the truth

I took a second look

And faced it all again on Latigo


The weather in the caves

Is the same throughout the year

And so at Ruby Falls it never rains

But when they throw the lights

And that waterfall appears

You will not regret it that you came (to chorus)


Winter held a certain magic

Especially when it snowed

Getter’s Gulch was the greatest place to sled

But better build a snowfort fast

‘Cause the weather won’t stay cold

And you’ll end up having slushball fights instead


Summer meant vacation

The time of year to drink

Iced tea with mint you pick yourself

And watch the girls out tanning

With their baby oil and zinc

When the sun’s so hot the asphalt seems to melt


 The rich kids spent their summer days

At the Fairyland Pool

They were tanned and they were wet and they were loud

But Margaret Williams died

On the playground at the school

And never got to be part of that crowd

When the summer sun goes down

It'll make you stop and stare

Or run into the kitchen for a jar

Like fiery flashing jewels

Lightning bugs will fill the air

Floating like a thousand tiny stars (to chorus)

At Massey’s General Store

The candy filled the shelves

And I would fill my afternoons just looking

Then ride my bike back home

Welcomed by the smell

Of dinner and my mama’s southern cooking


In her dedication

Getting me to eat

My mother fed me underneath the table

When her children needed her

She jumped in with both feet

And did for us as much as she was able

Mimi was the secretary

At the Baptist Church

I was like a grandchild in her keeping

She had a stuffed dog I called Happy

And I always kept it perched

By my head whenever I was sleeping


Dr. Von made house calls

I don’t know when he slept

Whenever he was asked to help he would

He knew everything about me

No secrets could be kept

And I got a Safe-T-Pop when I was good (to chorus)


Abel was our favorite cop

Sometimes he’d give us rides

And even hit the siren and the lights

He knew just when to throw the book

And when to let it slide

And where to set up shop on Friday nights


Fred Bradford had a barber shop

Where he would cut your hair

And charge you just $1.25

But if you went out to Lula Lake

When the good old boys wuz there

You’d be lucky if you made it home alive


I was lucky like that once

Back in those woods with Dave

They outnumbered us and tailed us in their cars

We led them on a merry chase

But I didn’t feel too brave

Right then I would have rather been on Mars


And then once when I was younger

At the carnival in the rain

After Mr. Pockets left with all my dimes

The Hinkle boys left us alone

On the strength of my last name

And hoped that we had had the best of times (to chorus)


Walking through the door

Of the Redford Five & Dime

To buy the latest album by the Monkees

Step across the floor

Get in the checkout line

Add a Mars Bar for this junk food junkie


Sam would man the soda fountain

And pour us cherry Cokes

We’d sip and sit and spin there on our stools

I just loved it on the mountain

And I’m grateful for the folks

Who still loved me even when I was a fool (to chorus)


Zippy was our beagle

Trouble was our hound

Sparkle and then Pete round out the mix

In my opinion our dogs

Were the best canines around

Though none of them caught on to fetching sticks


Peter Pan and Cinderella,

Red Riding Hood and Gnome

All these streets are in our little town

If you drive down Princess Trail

You will find my childhood home

In Fairyland the fairy tales abound (to chorus)


 From Loveman’s to the Top Shop

From House of Treasures out to Sears

Shopping was a major undertaking

Then Eastgate Center opened

Confirming all our fears

The dawn of shopping malls was finally breaking


Driving through the Milk Jug

Better not to linger

Picking up some butter, milk, and eggs

Picking up a June bug

Clamp it on your finger

Feel the power in those tiny legs


Head on down to Pioneer

Put some money in the bank

Build yourself a nest egg – here’s to hoping

Go to Henry Tarver’s Esso

Put a tiger in your tank

And pray the kid who pumps the gas ain’t smoking (to chorus)


When I was very young

There were two water fountains

And on the shorter one there was a sign

I could not drink from that one

Not there on the mountain

The tall one was reserved for me and mine


Standing on the eastern cliffs

Seeing seven states

Basking as the mountain air surrounds you

To stand upon the precipice

Fearlessness is all it takes

And a really good belay rope tied around you


Out on Frontier Bluff

Lived the first girl of my dreams

Since that was in first grade, I never kissed her

But it was at the Brass

A lifetime later it would seem

I mistook Rowena Lee for her sister (to chorus)


 The first time that I went to Narnia

I was only eight

Mrs. Bower read to us each afternoon

I ran down to the library

And read the whole set straight

It made so much more sense than Brigadoon


Lookout Mountain Grammar School

Seemed to last forever

By the age of twelve I’d been there half my life

I had crushes on Elizabeth,

Rowena, Meg, and Chappel

Though none of them, of course, became my wife


Mary Lisa Chessnut,

Garnet Williams, Carter Wells,

Steppie Ortlip, Blackwell Smith, and Celia Ochs

Alan Murray, Catherine Chisholm,

John Gass, and Gaston Raoul,

Callie Taff, and Melanie Wilcox


All of these were schoolmates

I’ve lost track of every one

Some of them perhaps still live up there

But I never will forget them

Or the things that we have done

We’ve all been weathered by the mountain air (to chorus)


When Laura Lore’s house burned down

The flames lit up the night

And what was left next morning still was smoking

That’s when we all came back

And surveyed that awful sight

Silence ruled that day, there was no joking


Gary, Mark, and Gus

Were my best friends in those years

We did everything together in the summer

From model trains to go-carts

We were Four Musketeers

Or maybe Dummy, Dumbest, Dumb, and Dumber


 I had two loving sisters

Who saw me as their slave

I stayed busy fetching them Brown Cows and Cokes

But they repaid me well

Teaching me each latest craze

So that maybe I could dance like other folks (to chorus)


I’ve never been to High Point

But I’ve seen it from afar

It was part of the horizon in my youth

I’ve never played the Opry

But I love this old guitar

Without music the whole world would be mute


So music filled the air

On the radio and records

And of course you could always go to see ‘em

But of all the outdoor concerts

I especially loved to listen

To Fletcher Bright and his Dismembered Tennesseans


I got to play a lot

At the Way Inn Coffeehouse

Trying out new songs on eager ears

But James Ward was still the favorite

Always got a huge turnout

We loved his music in those early years


Rob McDonald, Kathy Peele,

And Paula Nuremberger,

David Mitchell and Maria Cocke,

Nancy Davis, Donald Gott,

And Robin Middleton

The Way Inn Coffeehouse was never locked (to chorus)


Eleanor was there for me

Elementary, high school, college

She had a watchful eye and patient heart

Though I could not protect her

From the grief her brothers gave her

I've felt part of their family from the start

Geniese and Tommy Gilman

Would become our lifelong friends

Both our families now are filled with kids

Forgiveness is a mighty road

They’ve been down it to the end

Since we kidnapped Cassie – yes we did!


 Joy and Roger Gulick

Lived on Whiteside Street

For us they were a gift that never ends

From Young Life camps to Youth Group

And every Thursday we would meet

For Breakfast Club before school with our friends


Christmas Eve was at the Ryans

A Spanish house of course

Where Judy’s bedroom perched atop a tower

Often I would wander

In the courtyard in the back

Looking at the fountains and the flowers (to chorus)


My flower’s name was Nancy

She bloomed where she was planted

And lived her life at sunset in the shadows of the trees

She early vowed her love for me

But later on recanted

And the crystal after that goes dark for me


I escorted Mary Alice

To the Cotton Ball

She had always been the girl next door

I was honored to be asked

To join her in that hall

Her society debut about to soar


Ray and I are still in touch

He was the leader of his pack

But this country boy at heart was all too urban

We set off in a hippie van

Saw the world and then came back

I’ve since traded in that van for a Suburban (to chorus)


Estes was the bestest

But then so was Bill Brock

Ed Chapin, Franklin Haney, and the rest

Seems like a politician lived

On every other block

But their campaigns did not always meet success


 Kay’s Castle in St. Elmo

Served my favorite ice cream cones

But that was all the way down at the foot

The road out to Tiftonia

Ran past the Panoram

A lovely place long since reduced to soot


The McCallie-Baylor football game

Was revived before I left

It pains me to remember it because

McCallie lost it on a flag

A mouth guard of all things

I have no desire to tell you who that was


Harry is a longtime friend

Yes, the pun’s intended

We traveled Scenic Highway for the snakes

A songwriter extraordinaire

His creations all are splendid

And his ready wit is really all it takes (to chorus)


Joe Sokohl is a history buff

And a truly loyal friend

Talking with him never was a bore

His love for the bizarre

Was sometimes hard to comprehend

But his insights simply could not be ignored


Susan Johnston worked at Ruby Falls

I don’t know if you’ve heard

Her experience down there was pretty rough

It was on the elevator

An accident occurred (pause for effect)

When some kid couldn’t get to the bathroom fast enough


Nothing has been quite the same

Since 1974

When Lookout got a visit from Bob Dixon

The impact that he made

Is best left unexplored

But was felt from East Ridge all the way to Hixon

Just to impress my sister

A fella went so far

As to get me work at a GM dealership

On my first morning on the job

Before lunch I’d wrecked five cars

But I survived, and I’m giving you this tip (to chorus)


Some have written novels

Some have written songs

Some have painted pictures of old Lookout

But if you want to get to know the place

Then really you belong

At the Commons with your best friends for a cookout


West Brow was the place to live

I never quite knew why

‘Cause East Brow had the best view of the city

My father chose the East

And a house right in the sky

But he didn’t stay there long, and more’s the pity


Climbing on the boulders

Running through the trees

Like generations past and yet to come

The earth itself remembers

As does the mountain breeze

It’ll flash before your eyes before you’re done (to chorus)


On Lookout Mountain you could be

A general or explorer

The sky was still the limit to your dreams

And maybe you could find a bride

For richer or for poorer

But life is always more than what it seems


And so it was that I brought Kay

A Midwest farmer’s daughter

Down to Tennessee to see my home

I could not make her drink

But I could lead this horse to water

And leave the choice to her and her alone (to chorus)


Just off route 136

You can hike through Cloudland Canyon

Everybody’s welcome from the richest to the poorest

And then there’s bed and breakfasts

For you and a companion

That cater both to locals and to tourists


The Tennessee Aquarium

Was not part of my life

But my kids love it, and I’m glad to say

That every single chance I get

I go there with my wife

And my children, and we love to stay – all day (to chorus)


Now I don’t wish my life were different

I don’t wish that I had stayed

But I am afraid it may not be too long

Before so much time goes by

That the memories start to fade

I need to get them down before they’re gone


So y’all can make of this

Whatever you so choose

I wouldn’t trade those years for anything

New Orleans may have jazz

And Memphis has the blues

But it’s Lookout Mountain makes me want to sing (to chorus)