…milk truck hauls the sun up

Due mainly to a lack of reliable refrigeration it wasn’t all that long ago that those who didn’t live on a farm had their milk delivered.  Many homes even had a “milk chute” with a small cabinet on the outside, where the milkman would place the bottles, and a door on the inside so that the resident could retrieve the milk without having to go outside.

Although I don’t recall those icebox days, I do remember having the milk delivered in recyclable glass bottles, along with other dairy products, right up into my high school years.  Mind you, we were clearly part of a shrinking market. Blame the ubiquity of refrigerators, improved disposable packaging, the additional cost of residential delivery and even the potential for theft from the milk chute or front door stoop, but delivered milk is now a thing of the past in many places, except apparently in the UK where after years of decline milk floats are on the rise again in light of environmental awareness and interest in fresh, organic nutrition.

As morning provides the biggest demand for milk, a milkman’s day was an early one, hence the term “in with the milk” for those who notoriously stayed out so late that they were able to carry in the dairy delivery upon their return. But for most, the idea was to have the milk there, along with the morning paper, when you woke up, which is why the first four (stream of conscious) lines of today’s selection still remain clever.

Unlike many of his early songs, which were first recorded by other artists, “Living Without You” was first heard on Randy Newman’s eponymous debut album in 1968.  Unfortunately “Randy Newman” was so poorly received upon its release that the label (Warner) offered buyers the opportunity to trade it for something else in the company’s catalog.  Needless to say, it went out of print and remained so until it was re-released on CD in the mid-‘90s. But it still had a following, including Mary McCaslin, who released her own version of “Living Without You” on her 1974 record, “Way Out West.”

Known for her distinctive vocal style, McCaslin is also regarded as a pioneer of open guitar tunings (where the strings are tuned so that a chord is achieved without the need to fret or press any of the strings) and as many will recall, back in the ‘70s we’d keep an eye out for the times that she and her husband, Jim Ringer (they were nicknamed “the Bramble and the Rose”) would come to Club Passim in Harvard Square.

Although Jim’s long gone (died in 1992 at the age of 56) Mary McCaslin still tours ‘round the coffee house circuit…and no one can get that milk truck to haul the sun up like she can.


Living Without You

 Milk truck hauls the sun up

The paper hits the door

The traffic shakes my floor

I think about you

Time to face the dawning gray

Of another lonely day

And it’s so hard

Living without you

And It’s so hard

So hard

And it’s so hard

Living without you

Everyone has got something

And they’re all trying to get some more

They got something to get up for

Well I ain’t about to

Nothin’s gonna happen

Nothin’s gonna change

And it’s so hard

Living without you

And it’s so hard

So hard

And it’s so hard

Living without you

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