1. The Dutchman

One of the greatest songs about love ever written, The Dutchman, by Michael Peter Smith has been a favorite of mine since the early 1970s. I originally learned it off of a Steve Goodman recording. I recorded that version on my 2001 album Rockwells and Picassos. I proudly presented a copy of that CD to my hero Michael Peter Smith when we met in 2002. Having never actually heard Michael's version of the song, imagine my chagrin when he told me that, although he'd be forever grateful that Goodman popularized the song, he had kind of slaughtered it both melodically and lyrically. Well, I couldn't really ask for the CD back, but I vowed then and there I'd make up for my mistake. After having the honor of recording Michael at least six times, and each time hearing his slightly different versions of the song, all good, I had a much better idea of how Michael thought the song ought to be done.


The Dutchman
by Michael Peter Smith
© Michael Peter Smith

The Dutchman's not the kind of man
To keep his thumb jammed in the dam
That holds his dreams in
But that's a secret only Margaret knows
When Amsterdam is golden in the morning
Margaret brings him breakfast
She believes him
He thinks the tulips bloom beneath the snow
He's mad as he can be but Margaret only sees that sometimes
Sometimes she sees her unborn children in his eyes

Let us go to the banks of the ocean
Where the walls rise above the Zuider Zee
Long ago I used to be a young man
And dear Margaret remembers that for me

The Dutchman still wears wooden shoes
His cap and coat are patched with love
That Margaret sewed in
Sometimes he thinks he's still in Rotterdam
He watches tugboats down canals
And calls out to them when he thinks he knows the captain
'Til Margaret comes to take him home again
Through unforgiving streets that trip him
Though she holds his arm
Sometimes he thinks that he's alone and calls her name


The windmills whirl the winter in
She winds his muffler tighter
They sit in the kitchen
Some tea with whiskey keeps away the dew
He sees her for a moment calls her name
She makes the bed up humming some old love song
She learned it when the tune was very new
He hums a line or two
They hum together in the night
The Dutchman falls asleep and Margaret blows the candle out