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Hope

The Holly Tree

Janis Ian/Jess Leary

I heard my father’s voice call from the drive
on a cold December night
and we all ran outside
There stood the homeliest tree
that you’d ever want to see,
looking barely alive
He said “I’ll get the shovel, and you hold the light
“‘cause I’ve brought an orphan home with me tonight”

My father’s tree was five feet tall
and every leaf would struggle through the fall
but in the spring was born anew
The holly tree my father grew

I used to ask why mother didn’t stay
He’d take another drink and say,
“This drove her away”
Never could admit he drank too much
It was an old, familiar crutch
that he gave up too late
He’d point to that tree,
saying “Take it from me
“Learn to stand on your own or you will break”

My father’s tree was ten feet tall
and every leaf would struggle through the fall
but in the spring was born anew
The holly tree my father grew

And the green leaves, and the berries
shined like rubies in the snow
And the memories last in these old photographs
See how much we’ve grown

My father’s tree can touch the sky
and every leaf does honor to his life
Forever proud, forever true
The holly tree my father grew

Words & music by Janis Ian & Jess Leary; © Taosongs (BMI)/Leary’s Irish Stew Music (ASCAP) All rights reserved

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All tour dates updated on July 30, 2021

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