"GRANDPA, THE INDIAN & BUFFALO BILL"
Words & Music by James Nihan
LYNN, LYNN, CITY OF SIN
YOU NEVER COME OUT THE WAY YOU WENT IN
SO THE STORY GOES
IF IT'S TRUE WHO KNOWS
BUT THAT IS WHERE THIS TALE BEGINS…
GRANDPA, HE SETTLED DOWN
IN A HARD-WORKIN' IMMIGRANT TOWN
WHERE THE OLD SMOKESTACKS
TURNED THE RED BRICKS BLACK
AND THE SKY FROM BLUE TO BROWN
HE PATROLLED THOSE STREETS AT NIGHT
WITH A SUICIDE SHIFT AND THE ONE HEADLIGHT
HE WAS LEAN AND MEAN
BACK IN '17
GIVING CRIME A HELL OF A FIGHT
THAT MOTORCYCLE SURE COULD FLY
WHEN GRANDPA CHASED AN OUTLAW
THEY SAY HE ALWAYS GOT HIS GUY
GRANDPA, THE INDIAN AND BUFFALO BILL, MY FRIEND
I DON'T BELIEVE THIS WORLD'LL SEE THE LIKES OF THEM AGAIN
HEROES DIE AS TIME GOES BY BUT THE LEGENDS NEVER WILL
FOR GRANDPA, THE INDIAN AND BUFFALO BILL
HE DIDN'T KNOW HIS OWN GRANDSON
IN THAT NURSING HOME IN '81
MY HAIR WAS LONG
I HAD A STETSON ON
THEN HE SAID, "I THOUGHT YOU WERE SOMEONE
I MET SO LONG AGO
LET ME THINK - NOW I KNOW
IT WAS BUFFALO BILL
IT WAS QUITE A THRILL
WHEN HE SHOOK MY HAND AND SAID HELLO."
FOUR DAYS LATER GRANDPA DIED
AND I'LL BET HE FOUND BILL CODY
WAITING ON THE OTHER SIDE
SOMETIMES I HEAR HOOFBEATS AND AN ENGINE ROARING
WHEN CLOUDS ROLL IN ON THAT DISTANT HILL
DON'T TRY TO TELL ME THAT IT'S ONLY POURING
IT'S GRANDPA, THE INDIAN AND BUFFALO BILL
© Copyright 1996
(For label copy/publishing information contact: EMI Music Publishing
35 Music Square East, Nashville, TN 37203 Phone: 615-742-8081/FAX: 615-726-2394)
A Few Notes About The Song…
The Indian was a motorcycle made in Springfield, Massachusetts. It went out of production around 1947. It is still as much a legend as the Harley-Davidson. These early motorcycles had a stick shift attached to the side of the gas tank nicknamed a "suicide shift" because, to downshift while turning a corner, you had to take one hand off the handlebars, making for what must have been a harrowing situation at times!
My grandfather, George E. Nihan
, was a motorcycle cop in Lynn, Massachusetts from about 1916 till after Prohibition. Newspaper clippings from that era make note of his exploits chasing bootleggers and exchanging gunfire from the back of his motorcycle.
Shortly before he passed away in 1981 at the age of eighty-six, I traveled to Auburn, Maine from San Mateo, California to see him. I had cowboy boots and long hair under a big gray hat. When I walked into Gramp's room at the Clover Manor Nursing Home he didn't recognize me at first. He said he thought I was someone he had met a long time before. Finally he remembered - it was Buffalo Bill Cody! I had no idea they had ever met!
1996 marked the 150th anniversary of Buffalo Bill's birth and the 100th anniversary of George E. Nihan's birth on a farm in Lisbon, New Hampshire. And so that year I decided to finally write this song.
I would like to think Bill and George are out there together riding across the hills on an old paint pony and an Indian motorcycle.