“On And On”

“On And On”

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Story Behind the Song

Stephen Bishop
“On And On”

Written and Recorded by Stephen Bishop

It was 1975. I was walking down the street, going to the neighborhood store, and came up with the title “On and On” and wrote it on a piece of paper in my wallet. When I got back to my building, I went upstairs to my small apartment in a duplex in Silver Lake that I was sharing with my 85-year-old landlady, Violet Marshall. I went into my bedroom, sat on the edge of the bed and looked out the window at Miss Marshall’s beautiful tropical garden that she was so proud of. It was made up of flowers of every conceivable color, from all over the world. They took me to thinking about being somewhere else, a getaway in the tropics. That’s how I came up with Jamaica.

The song also came about because I found this chord, a special kind. I went into my wallet, where I had several song titles I had come up with and stuffed in there, and took out “On and On.” I played that unusual chord over and over until the song came to me. I had this chair that I wrote all of my songs in — “Save A Rainy Day,” “Careless,” most of the songs from my first album. I sat there and began to work on the song. In the rough draft, you can see I went to all different places. Thank God I didn’t go with some of the early lines; a few were really terrible. I kept re-writing and re-writing until I got it to where it is. One of the hardest things to do with lyric writing is editing — self-editing. It’s a painful process. I wrote it in the same day and night, which was very unusual for me. It’s hard to do that.

I was into very creative lyrics and colorful verses then. I think you’ll find that every writer puts a piece of him or herself into each song, even if it’s in a small way, and I’ve pulled things from my personal favorites. For instance, I’m a big fan of Sinatra so he’s in there:

Poor ol’ Jimmy

Sits alone in the moonlight

Saw his woman kiss another man

So he takes a ladder,

Steals the stars from the sky

Puts on Sinatra and starts to cry.

People remember that verse. I’ve had people come up to me in the market, while I was buying cauliflower, to tell me what a great line they think that is.

I always wondered if Sinatra ever heard it. I thought maybe one day I’d find a brand new shiny bicycle in front of my door with a big ribbon saying: “Love ya — from Frank” or something.

“On And On”

Down in Jamaica

They got lots of pretty women

Steal your money

Then they break your heart.

Lonesome Sue, she’s in love with ol’ Sam

Take him from the fire into the frying pan.

On and on

She just keeps on trying

And she smiles when she feels like crying

On and on, on and on, on and on.

Poor ol’ Jimmy

Sits alone in the moonlight

Saw his woman kiss another man

So he takes a ladder,

Steals the stars from the sky

Puts on Sinatra and starts to cry.

On and on

He just keeps on trying

And he smiles when he feels like crying

On and on, on and on, on and on.

When the first time is the last time

It can make you feel so bad

But if you know it, show it

Hold on tight

Don’t let her say goodnight.

Got the sun on my shoulders

And my toes in the sand,

My woman’s left me for the some other man.

Aw, but I don’t care

I’ll just dream and stay tan,

Toss up my heart to see where it lands.

On and on

I just keep on trying

And I smile when I feel like dying.

On and on, on and on, on and on

On and on, on and on, on and on

On and on, on and on, on and on

Words and Music by Stephen Bishop. © 1975 STEPHEN BISHOP MUSIC PUBLISHING. Copyright Renewed. All Rights Controlled and Administered by SONGS OF UNIVERSAL, INC. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission.

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