The Sky Above the Mud Below
Tom Russell Lyrics

Two men rode in from the south, a rainy autumn night
The Sky above and the mud below
They walked into the Deacon's bar, they were Mexican by sight
The sky above and the mud below
They threw a horsehair bridle down, we trade this for whiskey rounds
The Deacon slams a bottle down, the two men start to drinkin'

Their hair was long and black, tied up behind their ears
Their faces were identical, like one man beside a mirror
Then someone whispered that beats all, their wanted posters on the wall
Twin brothers name of Sandoval, horse thieves from Boquillas

Now the bridle and the belts they wore were braided gray and black
The color of a roan horse once belonged to Deacon Black
The fastest horse for miles around, he'd been stolen from the old fairground
A month ago outside of town we tracked and never found him

Now the Deacon was a preacher who had fallen hard from grace
He owned the bar and a string of quarter horses that he'd race
Yea, Deacon he could drink and curse, though he still quoted sacred verse
He was sheriff, judge; he owned the hearse, a man you did not anger

The sky above, the mud below, the wind and rain, the sleet and snow
Two horse thieves from Mexico drinkin' hard and singin'

One brother he spoke English, Deac inquires as to their work
The man says mister we braid horsehair bridles, ropes and quirts
Yea, that fine bridle we did make, a roan horse killed by leg-bone break
He's horsehair rope now; horse-meat steak, we cleaned him to the bone

Well these gentlemen they were ignorant or didn't know just where they were
The Deacon's face grew darker as he measured every word
You horsehair braidin' sons o' witches stole my claim to earthly riches
Someone go and dig a ditch, there may well be a hangin'

One brother reached inside his shirt searching for his gun
Too late, for Deac had whipped around his sawed off Remington
The twins, they raised their hands and sneered, Deac was grinnin' ear to ear
He says court's in session, hear ye hear, yours truly is presidin'

Well the trial commenced and ended quick they didn't have a hope
Deac says we'll cut your hair now boys and you can braid yourselves a rope
The Old Testament, it says somewhere eye for eye and hair for hair
Covet not thy neighbors mare, I believe it's Revelations

Now the fancy horsehair bridle, it hangs on Deacon's wall
Next to that wanted poster of the brothers Sandoval
And he twisted rope so shiny black, the artifact that broke their necks
Their craftsmanship he did respect, they shoulda stuck to braidin'

The sky above the mud below, the wind and rain, the sleet and snow
The Deacon's hearse is rollin' slow in the first blue light of mornin'

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management
Written by: TOM RUSSELL

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind
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Comments from YouTube:

John Quimby

I've seen movies with less plot than this song. Great stuff. Made me want to hear more Tom Russell.

Bonnie Drouillard

You will not be disappointed! Great songs!

Scott Henrie

Possibly the best storysong ever.Puys you right there.Lady hollering in the background I've seen Tom bout 20 times never been disappointed don't Heckle him live


John Quimby Right? Its almost like its own movie

Leigh Scott

Best American singer songwriter today....I’ve done his songs on stage and they always capture attention...people want to know “who wrote that?” Love introducing folks to Tom Russell. I saw him in concert once and he sang a song to me. He is quite simply the best. And he does it his corporate suits pulling the strings. American treasure, he is.

Peter Jones

For me he's the best songwriter in America.And he keeps getting better!

Darran Edmundson

I'm reading Cormac McCarthy's "Blood Meridian" at the moment. Made me remember this song. I heard it and Tom for the first time live at the WISE in Vancouver in the mid 90s. I was totally blown away by this.

Kakha Khmelidze

Love this gem. Music, lyrics are unforgettable.

Larry Martin

I lived out west most of my life...grew up on a ranch in Texas...worked on one in Fairplay, Colorado...lived in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for years. I've loved cowboy songs and cowboy poetry as long as I can remember and Tom Russell is one of the best I've ever heard, bar none.


From Tennessee originally, lived in Wyo for many years now and i agrew wholeheartedly. This was pure brilliance, like all of his songs.

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