written and performed by John Hartford and later covered by Glen Campbell,(who made it famous), Kathy Mattea, Aretha Franklin, Engelbert Humperdinck, Ray Conniff, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, Roger Whittaker, Patti Page, Bobbie Gentry and others.
It's knowin' that your door is always open And your path is free to walk That makes me tend to leave my sleepin' bag Rolled up and stashed behind your couch And it's knowin' I'm not shackled By forgotten words and bonds And the ink stains that have dried upon some line That keeps you in the back roads By the rivers of my memory That keeps you ever gentle on my mind
It's not clingin' to the rocks and ivy Planted on their columns now that bind me Or something that somebody said because They thought we fit together walkin' It's just knowing that the world Will not be cursing or forgiving When I walk along some railroad track and find That you're movin' on the back roads By the rivers of my memory And for hours you're just gentle on my mind
Though the wheat fields and the clothes lines And the junkyards and the highways come between us And some other woman's cryin' to her mother 'cause she turned and I was gone I still might run in silence Tears of joy might stain my face And the summer sun might burn me till I'm blind But not to where I cannot see You walkin' on the back roads By the rivers flowin' gentle on my mind
I dip my cup of soup back from a gurglin' cracklin' cauldron In some train yard My beard a rustlin' coal pile And a dirty hat pulled low across my face Through cupped hands 'round a tin can I pretend to hold you to my breast and find That you're waitin' from the back roads By the rivers of my memory Ever smilin', ever gentle on my mind