Saturday, January 31, 2009

Friday Writing

I continue to see Friday as my day off, but sometimes, it's tough. Having lost a day to the snow this week, I found myself working quite a bit on my sermon, which was fine. But I also found a few minutes to write an essay for a clergy magazine. Wrote it, revised it, sent it to the editor. She wrote back an hour later saying, "Nice work. We'll take it."

I'm getting better at this hack writing. I know I'm a hack when I can turn out a thousand word essay in thirty minutes and find a home for it. That, or there are some very needy editors out there.

Either way, it's nice to know I can dredge up some words when I need to.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Final Proof

First thing this morning I read my emails and noted that my editor at Sourcebooks wrote to ask the question: "Do you have any other changes to make to the book? If not, this baby is going to press."

These kinds of messages always fill me with a little dread. Realizing that what I've written will now be printed in a final form is daunting. All of my deficiencies as a writer will be revealed. Hundreds (hopefully, thousands . . . heck, let's go for millions! of people) will read the book. It will be critiqued. Reviewed. Then probably dumped on the remainder table.


I had no changes to make. Let the presses roll and let the chips fall!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Mileage I Get From My Wife

I've got four cars. All duds. All hunks of junk. But my wife is gem. I get more mileage out of her than I do the automobiles.

Let me explain.

My wife continues to be a rich source, a veritable gyser, for my writing. Over the past few months I've written several essays, more than a few poems, and quite a number of blogs about her (or my warped fascination with her). But she still inspires. Some of these pieces are meant to be funny, some poignant, and others are just nuts.

But a few months back I wrote an essay about my wife that I entitled, "The Rookie". It's her story, and our family story, about my wife's "re-introduction" to college, her career change, and the path she took to become a rookie middle school teacher in her mid-40s. It was one of those essays that made my wife cry when she read it. (I like making girls cry . . . I've been doing it since the second grade when I pinched Martha Davis on the butt when she wouldn't let me climb onto the see-saw!)

But heck, I thought it was a great essay. Very personal. But I asked my wife's permission to send it to a publisher. (Man, I even ask her permission to lift the toilet seat.)

Short story. She granted permission. I sent it to a book publisher. And yesterday when the snow was piled high I opened up an email from an editor. "Wonderful work," she wrote. "We're going to publish this! And, oh well, while we're at it, we're going to pay you, too!"

Not a bad email to get on a snow day. When I get the check, I'm going to purchase a bumper sticker that reads: "I Get More Mileage From Wife Than I Do This Car!"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

My Hero John

Last night I was saddened to hear the news that John Updike had died. Updike has long been one of my 2-3 favorite writers, and probably was America's greatest living writer. Or, to put it another way, he could certainly write better than most others, even if his books didn't always enjoy popular acclaim.

I have at least twenty of Updike's titles at home on my shelves, and I've read all four of the "Rabbit Angstrom" novels that won Updike two National Book Awards. His short stories, essays, and book reviews were regularly published in The New Yorker.

Anyway, I'll miss his new work. But unlike writers like me, Updike's work will live on well after his death. His work is for the ages. I will still enjoy taking his books on vacation with me, or just pulling one of his books from the shelf and reading or studying his style and great command of the language.

Rest in Peace, John.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Spiritual Stuffing

I've now read the bulk of The Best American Spiritual Writing 2008. This is one of my reading staples, and I've read all of the titles in this series since its inception.

Philip Zaleski's latest editing job is fine, but I was frankly disappointed with the writing in this anthology this year. Some of the essays range from personal to reflections on science, and there are some fine poems by Wendell Berry and John Updike, but for the most part these essays left me feeling very, well . . . unspiritual. They just didn't move me in any way.

I'm putting this one on the top shelf along with my dozens of other titles in this series and I'm moving on to The Best American Mystery Stories 2008. I love a mystery, and I have to think I'm going to find some stories there that might actually knock the stuffing out of me.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Beginning of the End?

It happened last night. There I was, writing away on Old Sparky, my thirteen-year-old computer, when I hit the "save" button and Old Sparky emitted an odd groan. Sounded a bit like the cat tossing its cookies on the carpet (which happens almost daily at our house), only it wasn't the cat, it was something deep inside the hot, glowing synapses of Old Sparky.

Then it happened: when I reached down to remove my floppy disk (on which I had saved a copious amount of near-perfectly written material that will some day set me on easy street) the disk wouldn't budge. Didn't bother me at first. After all, I have hundreds of these disks, on which are saved dozens of books, essays, stories, memoirs, proposals, letters, poems and other writing, the likes of which I have no idea when or how it was all produced.

But the disk was stuck. So, I had to physically reach inside the guts of Old Sparky with a pair of children's scissors and remove the disk, much like a doctor might remove a dark-bloody tumor from the duodenum. My wife walks in while I am doing this and asks, "Are you trying to electrocute yourself?"

"No," I tell her, as the sparks leap from the scissors and blacken three of my fingernails. "I'm just writing."

"You need a new computer," she tells me. "You've earned it."

I remind her that I have yet to write anything that has made any money and that Old Sparky and I have been through fifteen books together and probably some six to seven million words. That's not bad for a hunk of junk that oozes ozone scent and often fades to black. I've tossed Old Sparky on the floor many times, performed mouth-to-mouth, and even repented of being a computer-beater, but the dear old machine always takes me back and keeps on giving.

"I'm not buying a new computer until this one dies, or until I write a book that actually earns money," I say. And I mean it. One way or another, even with scissors in hand, I'm going to keep this hunk of junk alive in 2009 as I write four more books.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


One of my goals in 2009 involves recycling . . . but not of the variety you are probably thinking about (though I do that, too). Rather, my goal this year is to reread a few dozen stories and articles that I have written in past years and try to rewrite, redo, and recycle them for publication. I have large stacks of writing in my closet, far too many manuscripts to sort through in a year, and I have hundreds of floppy disks filled with an assortment of essays and stories of every variety that I hope to crack open.

What I'm discovering is another writer--some guy who was writing some of this stuff when he was twenty-five, thirty, or thirty-five years old. Most of the time, I don't recall even writing the piece, but I must have. My name is on the manuscript after all, and, as far as I know, there are no manuscript leprechauns.

This could be a fun or tedious year. I will withhold judgment until I discover the one diamond in the rough that will make me ask, "Wow, did I write that?"

Friday, January 23, 2009

Reading List 2009

I've been creating my reading list for 2009 or, rather, a small pile of books that I hope to read this year. Some of the titles I'm looking forward to in the next few months:

The Parrots of Telegraph Hill
A true account of a homeless man who adopts the wild parrots that can still be found on this San Francisco hill. I didn't get to visit this particular place last year, but I have heard about it. Sounds fascinating to me.

The Omnivore's Dilemma
A science-diet-culinary book about the foods we need to eat to stay healthy. I have a feeling that donuts will not be on this list. I ate six of these round pastries last Wednesday, but I've lost two pounds since by hitting the gym.

The Collected Poems of Robert Service
Otherwise known as the poet of the Yukon, one of America's favorite sons, but rejected by the poetry elite as writing drivel. My kind of guy. Watch out after I read this one. I've got some humdinger verses still inside of me.

The Best American Short Stories
I have read this collection every year for the past 15 years. A staple with me.

The Best American Spiritual Writing
Another staple.

The Thirteen Clocks
A fable/children's story by James Thurber. Always heard about it, now I get to read it.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Saw the movie. Had to read the book, since I heard the movie didn't do justice to this F. Scott Fitzgerald short story.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Book Dedications

This past week I was asked to insert a book dedication into the galley proofs. But honestly, I've run out of the obvious choices. I've dedicated two books to Becky, two to my children, one to my parents, one to my mother-and-father in-law, one to my brother, one to a cousin, a couple to friends and colleagues, and a handful to various congregations and staff. These are the only people I know. I'm too boring to have many friends, and I'm certainly not going to create a dedication to impress someone, such as writing a dedication like "To Oprah, who should have me on her show so I can become a millionaire." See what I mean? Doesn't work for me.

So . . . I've got to get creative here. I've got to plumb the depths of my dementia and dredge up a a dedication that will be talked about centuries from now.

How about:

To General Cornwallis . . . who was my commander-in-chief in a former life

To Cary Grant . . . who taught me how to be a great lover

To Buster . . . just a pug, but in dog brains may be more intelligent than my son

To Ralph, my personal taylor . . . thanks for the needlework on the crotch of the new suit

To Bob the banker . . . thanks for the low interest rate

To Mrs. McGee . . . my seventh grade writing teacher whom I loved and adored

To Anyone Who Buys This Book . . . thanks for paying full price

To the All the Children My Parents Didn't Have . . . I would have loved to have met you

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reading History

This past week I helped my son study for his world history final exam. This was a comprehensive test, and included everything from the origins of human history to the fall of the Byzantine empire in the 15th century.

The scary thing was, I actually had recall of much of the material, especially the history related to Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Near East, the Assyrian, Greek, and Roman empires. I even found myself waxing nostalgic about Hammurabi, the ancient Babylonians, the origins of the alphabet with the Phoenicians, and world religions.

Of course, my son wanted to know, "Why do I need to know this stuff?"

My answer: "So that some day you can be a source of useless information, just like your father."


"And remember," I told him, "you never know when someone might walk up to you on the street and ask, 'What was the name of that Roman emperor who divided the Roman empire into two parts?'"

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What's in a Day?

On Monday (MLK Day) I found myself at home. Becky was making lesson plans for the week and grading papers. My son, Logan, was sleeping and later studying for his final exams. That left me with plenty of time to write. And that's what I did. All day.

I really got jiggy wid'it. Wrote two remarkable essays for a bridal magazine (yes, I write for brides, sorry), three cover letters, and completed a personal essay that I hope to find a home for in the coming weeks. All in all, about 6,000 finely-tuned words, after three rewrites and then a nap to clear my mind.

Becky and I did, however, go out to dinner alone. So she can't say I wasn't at least a little romantic.

Thanks, Martin! I really appreciate all you have done to make America better, and for giving us all a little break from which to refresh and create.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Are You Kidding Me?

Every now and then I do get my hackles up when I'm reading, and last night I found myself saying, "Are you kidding me?" over and over while I was reading the acknowledgment page in Robert Schuller's latest book (the younger Schuller who has inherited the Crystal Cathedral ministry from his father).

Now, I usually don't get upset when I read acknowledgement pages in books (really, I don't!), but Schuller kept after me with his inane blathering about how much time, energy, and sacrifice it took to write his book. And I quote:

[He, Schuller] "conceptualized and wrote the theses of the book while he was on retreat at a friend's lodge in the Grand Tetons in Jackson Hole, Wyoming." He also thanked "Dr. Phil McGraw and his wife Robin" because he is "blessed to have friends like them" [who will support and help market his book]. And he thanked the staff at the Crystal Cathedral for giving him "the time he needed" to write his book and for typing up his manuscripts!

Are you kidding me???

I certainly don't want to get defensive here, Mr. Schuller, but I've "conceptualized" books while driving my son to the orthodontist and while driving my wife home from breast cancer surgery. I have no one famous to thank, but I am grateful for all of my friends and family (especially my family) who have had to sit idly by during the long hours I sit up late at night writing (and I ain't living in no Jackson Hole, brother!). And no, Mr. Schuller, I can honestly say that I have not written a single book, article, essay or blog while divesting myself of pastoral responsibilities or asking others to take the helm or asking someone else to type my manuscript (can you even type at all, Mr. Schuller? I'll race you!).

So here's my question to Mr. Schuller: what the heck do you do when you are not in Jackson Hole or having tea with Mr. & Mrs. McGraw?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

For All the Saints

One of the books I received for Christmas is a coffee table book of Christian saints. It's not a book that I would otherwise read (it's too saintly for me, I prefer sinners), but I'm amazed at how many saints there are. There are patron saints for just about everything. Sure, I know some of the big ones (like St. Anthony, who is there to help us sell real estate, I think, and St. Francis, who preached to the squirrels), but other than that, I'm lost.

Still, I can think of other saints, if the church is so inclined to take my demented lead on this one:

St. Wiggie, patron saint of toupees and comb overs.
St. Bob, patron saint of all Roberts.
St. Chelsey, patron saint of college students who live off their parents' dime.
St. Logan, patron saint of messy fifteen year olds with skid marks.
St. Todd, patron saint of blogging and jelly-filled donuts.
St. Fay, patron saint of phone calls and answering services.
St. Michelle, patron saint of Duke basketball.
St. Yukon Cornillius, patron saint of claymation Christmas movies.
St. Comet, patron saint of all-purpose scouring powders.
St. Andrew . . . no, wait, there really is a saint Andrew and he was crucified sideways and I don't want that to happen to any Andrew I know, so let's move on . . . .
St. Becky, patron saint of all pastor's spouses and all who must listen to a sermon four times each weekend.

Friday, January 16, 2009

So Far . . . No Books

Having read 100 books in 2008, I have yet to complete a single book in 2009 (except for reading all of Genesis). Maybe I'm tired. Maybe my eyes are bloodshot. Maybe I need Geritol. But I seem to be suffering from a bit of book burnout.

Still, books are one of those commodities I can't live without.

I think it was Erasmus who said, "Whenever I get money I buy books. If there is any money left over, I buy food."

By February, I hope to have my new book list completed and I'll start reading again. But my eyes need a rest.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Cold Night

With the temp dropping to near record lows last night, there was nothing else to do but write. And so I did, well past midnight, listening to the furnace kick on every few minutes, feeling the love from Old Sparky, praying that he wouldn't short out on me or delete files from the hard drive.

And then a bonus this morning. Galley proofs for one of my books. Now I get to read the manuscript one more time, in near final, published form, and address a host of questions raised by the proof readers and galley editors who always have questions like:

What were you thinking here?
Why can't you write any better than this?
Why are we publishing this piece of crap?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


I confess. I cannot text message. Nor do I have any desire to do so. I watch my son walking around in a haze, fingering his cell phone, and I wonder, "What is the fascination?"

Texting also requires the learning of a new language. I like languages. I'm good at linguistics. I mean, there was a day when I worked in Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, Latin, Syriac and Arabic (no joke). But I'm not going to learn a new language that reads:

HRU? Hp u r hvg a gd day. Hp u lm blog.

Heck, if I'm going to spend that much time learning a new language, I'm going to learn French, so I can go into a fancy restaurant and say:

I love zeez menu, monsieur. Zeez food iz super-duper. Bring on zee wine, women, and ze zong! Holy mackerel, zeez is great pizza! Adios.

Really, how do you text message your waiter?

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Greeting Card Conspiracy

Last week, a woman handed me a flier that contained a long list of holidays that, supposedly, would provoke me to purchase a greeting card. It's no lie, there is now a special day on all 365 days of the year, according to Hallmark.

But listen, I'm a rebel, and I'm not standing for this any longer, my friends. I double -dog-dare Hallmark (yes, YOU, Mr. Hallmark CEO) to publish a card like this one below. It's public. But naturally, it would be better if my wife didn't know about this blog entry.

Happy "Nothing" Day

I don't need a special day
To send a card to you.
That's why I write this greeting
To say, "Thanks for all you do."

The way you scour the dishes,
The way you sweep the floor,
Are cause enough to send this card
When I can't send any more.

I'd love to send you flowers, perhaps,
Or chocolates by the box,
But instead I'll just say, "Don't forget,
You need to wash my socks."

I'd like to send this card with love
Or write with flowery air,
But there's nothing here but honesty,
And frankly, I don't care.

Some guys send cards on birthdays
And some for sentiment,
But I'm just passing this along
In hopes you'll take the hint.

The cards most men might offer
Are dishonest, rote, or droll,
But I wrote this upon the can
Because you didn't replace the roll.

So have a happy "nothing" day,
And keep on working hard.
I hope you'll fix my dinner, though,
Before you read this card.

Book Delivery

Last night I was able to take my parents out to a nice dinner for the 50th wedding anniversary. This, after they showed up at my door Sunday afternoon unloading mounds of Christmas goodies that our family was not able to transfer to Brownsburg (due to lack of space in our car).

Sorry . . . yes, my extended family goes nuts at Christmas. We will be sorting through these packages until well after Easter, and often, I'm still finding new items in the box after the 4th of July.

One of the sacks my parents delivered was a large box of books that, I assume, they expect me to read. Most of these books, however, go directly from the box to the shelf and then to Half Price Books for resale. Even after forty years, my family can't quite comprehend my reading habits. I'm truly not interested in reading any Kevin Trudeau books about Cures They Don't Want You To Know About, or titles like, Ten Ways to Lance a Boil, or A Hoosier Guide to Shopping at Wal-Mart or Uncle Billy's Garden Guide to Fertilizing with Dog Poop.

I know, some of you probably think these titles are right up my alley. But I wouldn't read them. Write them, maybe, but not read them. Until the next box . . . .

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Editor Calls At Last

It happened Friday afternoon . . . an editor called at last to check on my writing progress (for the third book I'll have published in 2009). Another youth ministry title.

Funny thing, this was the first time I'd talked to anyone in the publishing house. To date, I've been writing this sucker full blast every night for a month and have passed the 20,000 word mark . . . all without a voice-to-voice conversation, a deadline, a publishing date, or a contract. The latter is one of my taboos, generally. I'm firm about not writing anything for anyone unless they send me a document to sign (or a donut to eat).

But I started this baby based on a mysterious voice mail I received a few weeks ago.
(Heavy Breathing, kind of sexy) "I vont your vook . . . ven can you vrite it vor me?"

But on Friday I did get confirmation. Yes, this is no joke. Yes, I need to write this sucker fast and continue my pursuit of zero shut eye. Yes, there is a publication plan. Yes, they will be talking with me again very soon about a contract. I'll soon be getting another call from Transylvania.

Yipee! I Vont to do zeez, one! Ven can ve talk again?

Friday, January 9, 2009

A Book With Becky

A few months back I suggested to my wife that we write a book together.

(After all, Becky is a good writer . . . I mean, I've read her refrigerator notes and they are quite articulate. Example: "You forgot to buy milk, you idiot." Now that's great writing. Succinct, passionate, to the point. Oh, and she signed it, "Love".)

But I digress. Anyway, when I suggested the book, she asked, "What would we write about?"

"Lots of things,"I told her. "How about a book on parenting? We could tell other people how to avoid all of the mistakes we've made. Or we could write a book entitled, To Infinity and Beyond."

"What's that about?"

"We tell people how to milk 200,000 miles out of their cars, how to go 10,000 miles between oil changes, how to patch bald tires with super glue and duct tape, stuff like that."

"I don't want to write a book with you," she told me.

"Why not?"

"It's too much work," she said. "I see you in there nearly every night, hunkered down over your tiny little screen, spraying cooking oil on the keyboard so it won't short out."

She's right, of course. But I'm amazed that she recognized that writing is actually work. Perhaps I've taught her that much. She won't write with me, but she did tell me she was going to pick up a new spray can of cooking oil. I know there's one more book left in Old Sparky. All I have to do is keep synapses lubricated.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Mi Hermano

Yesterday was my younger brother's birthday (I only have the one). I did send him a card last week, which I hope he has received by now . . . one of those funny Hallmark cards that costs five bucks. I just signed it, "Dude, have a good one." Don't know what that means.

But I should have written this in the card:

On your birthday
I hope you remember:
That I was the one who . . .
Taught you how to play hooky,
How to cheat at cards,
How to steal a cookie.
And on those December
Days that blow
I taught you how
To write your name in the snow.

And I was there
When you were bad,
And Dad
Whipped the tar
Out of your matted
And tattered jeans.
Heck, I was the one who ratted.
You mad?

And brother, that ain't
The half of it.
I took your money
And kissed it,
Then spent it on my honey.
Heck, you were a kid
And you didn't miss it.

That's why you can't forget
That I'm bigger and bolder,
You're the younger,
And I'm the older.
Which is why Mom
Loves me best
And you get the rest
Of what's left over.

So cheer up, man,
To me there's no other
I'd rather torment.
Happy birthday, brother!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Year's Best Book

Last week I was asked: "After reading 100 books in 2008, was there one book that you would choose as your favorite?"

Wow, a great question . . . and I really had to think about my answer. Last night I went into my library and let my eyes roam down the long list of books I'd read, really thinking about them, but there was one title that caught my eye and my imagination. I think it was my favorite, in part, because it was so bizarre, so "out there", I remember that I couldn't put the book down.

So, my favorite book of 2008 was: Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, The Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam, by Pope Brock.

In case you missed my blog about this book, it is the true American story of Dr. John R. Brinkley, who for some twenty years, ran a clinic in Kansas devoted to implanting goat testicles into men who wanted to be more virile. The good doctor killed dozens (most due to complications of infection) but still managed to attract thousands, yeah, millions of Americans through his Christian fundamentalist radio broadcasts (mostly women who wanted their men to be more attentive and virile). The doctor made millions from his goat testicle cures and, when he was convicted of malpractice some years later, still commanded the allegiance of tens of thousands of Americans who believed he was something akin to Jesus incarnate.

Wow . . . how little things have changed! If you don't think that's true, just tune into some of the Christian "faith healers" who are soaking up the TV airwaves today. It's goat testicles, but of a more modern variety, all over again. People still want to believe, and they will believe most anything!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

50th Anniversary Card

This past week, my parents celebrated their 50th Wedding Anniversary. I may share part of this anniversary story in my sermon this week, but suffice it to say, my parents are odd people. And I hate to admit it, but I will probably end up like them (and I'm well on my way now).

I did, however, send my parents an anniversary card this week. I never know what to say in these cards, or what to write, so I had Becky pick up one of those sappy cards that cost upwards of seven dollars and I just signed it, "Love, Todd". What do I say to these people?

But now that I've had a chance to think about it, perhaps this poem would have been more appropriate.

Muddah & Faddah

Dear Mudda & Faddah
It's easy to see
That you're the ones
Who caused me to be.
I don't look like Earnie
The postman or butler
But that's just me . . .
Not speaking of brother.

I worry like Mudda
I'm cheap like Dad
I sing like Momma
And I don't get mad.
You deserve a medal
For stickin' together
Through thick and thin
And all kinds of weather.

And now on anniversary
Number fifty
It's no time for talk,
No time to be thrifty.
Clear the bankroll
Make the bedroom shady
You don't have to worry
About makin' a baby.

Just live a while longer
And keep the love strong
Do the best that you can
Since you don't have long.
I'm sending my love
Can't make it no stronga
Just thank you for bein'
My Mudda & Faddah.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Got Decade?

One of my "half books" that I counted toward my 100 total in 2008, was the book, Outliers . . . the Story of Success, by Malcolm Gladwell. I'd purchased this book for "what's her name" as one of her Christmas gifts, but ended up finishing it before her. I have read Gladwell's two other books and enjoyed them, but I thought Outliers was only "half" good. In particular, I thought the first half of the book was very strong, but the second half just lost me.
One fantastic insight that Gladwell has disovered is that highly-successful people achieve that success by devoting 10,000 hours to their pursuit of perfection. He sites Bill Gates, The Beatles, and others as evidence of this fact. What does 10,000 represent? 10 years!
And as Gladwell points out, few people devote 10,000 hours to anything, much less the singularly-devoted pursuit of perfection that 10,000 hours represents.
I guess that's why I'm just an average yokel. I've not had 10 years of singular-devotion to anything (except maybe washing underwear). I guess most of us enjoy life too much to lock ourselves into an office cubicle or a stage for the better part of a decade.

Friday, January 2, 2009

You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

Now that 2009 is officially "in", I have started setting my reading and writing goals for 2009. The reading goals are not nearly as lofty as last year's, but I'm planning on taking my writing up a notch (which means more late nights and coffee-induced comas). In fact, I'm going whole hog and setting my goal high: I'm going to try to write four new books in 2009.

As for reading, I am hoping to soon receive the collected poems of Robert Service, who is touted as the poet of the Klondike. I can't wait to read "The Cremation of Sam McGee" and other American classics. Old Bob Service is a lot like me . . . I'll just keep spinning yarns and churning out insanity until someone accepts my dementia in full. So, for 2009, here's one of old Toddy's originals for your inspiration. Wrote it in five minutes . . . hope you like it.

You Can't Keep a Good Man Down

There are some who will quit
At the first little bit
Of hardship or worry or frown,
But the guy who'll inspire
Is the one who won't tire,
No, you can't keep a good man down.

Yes, and others grow lax
Once they've hit, or relax
When they've already made their renown,
But the guy who succeeds
Will work while he pees,
No, you can't keep a good man down.

Sure, and others will find
They will tire of the grind
When the boss makes them look like a clown.
But when all's said and done,
The best have their fun.
No, you can't keep a good man down.

By the end of the day
Most guys slip away
And go home to their wearisome town.
But the one who will win
Will never give in.
No, you can't keep a good man down.