Tour Dates
Latest News
Song Index
MP3 Page
Sheet Music
Press Kit Online
Folk Alliance
Join Email List
Joel Speaks
Tip Jar
or send    
to Joel


go back to the song's page

2010 Joel Mabus

Times are tough in Michigan but we've seen hard times before
Like nineteen eighty-two, thirty-six or seventy-four
When the auto plants are shutting down, everybody feels the squeeze
The last one out of Michigan, will you turn the lights off please? ---
That's what the bumper stickers say on the cars a-heading south
Well you gotta do what you gotta do to feed a hungry mouth
But some of us aren't running, we're here to make a stand
Tough old wolverines in this northern stretch of land

The lights are on in Charlevoix and lovely Grand Marais
The lights are on in the Keweenaw and they shine across the bay
The lights are on in Cadillac, Grand Rapids, and in Clare
In summertime the lights still shine on the Jackson County fair --
Hey, they're all lit up in green and white and shades of maize and blue
Nearly every weekend in A-square and MSU
From Pointe aux Barques to Saugatuck, and every other port of call
Menominee to Manistee the lights are standing tall

Now stick your right hand in the air, put your left hand up above
And there you have the outline of the state we dearly love
Now, It takes both hands to make that work and I'll give you all a clue
You put left and right together there ain't nothin' we can't do --
You talk about the rust belt - but I'll tell you how I feel
A little grit and elbow grease takes the rust down to the steel
And when that steel is polished and shining like it's new
Turn around and look - you'll find the lights are on for you.

The lights are on in Evart, where the water tastes like wine
And the lantern lights at deer camp still shine in Engadine
The harbor lights still sparkle on the port of Manistique
And the lights are on for breakfast down in Battle Creek --
The lights are on in Detroit in case you didn't know
And over on the west side - Benton Harbor and St. Joe
The lights are on in Pontiac and down in Highland Park
& when it comes to Flint - that tough old girl still sparks

The northern lights still dance from Ironwood to the Soo
And the teachers burn the midnight oil in Ypsilanti and Kalamazoo
And in many a mother's window you'll find a special light
Shining for her soldier sons and daughters in the fight --
Yeah, we keep the home fires burning every night and every day
From Flat Rock up to Calumet and every town along the way
Yeah, we're not about to give 'er up - we're here to see it through
Yes, the lights are on in Michigan - we'll keep 'em on for you

Shine your light and make it bright - It's up to me and you