The Last leaf

(on the last branch
of the last tree)




The Last Leaf
(on the Last Branch of the Last Tree)


Betsy and I celebrated our 20th Anniversary this year. This song was her gift for Valentine’s Day.

I stumbled on the chord progression and picking pattern in a moment of boredom at a rehearsal one afternoon. The words for the first line of the first verse came as I lay in bed that night. I couldn’t fall asleep until I finished the rest of the verse. Doing so, of course, set the pattern for the remainder of the song–the triple use of a single word in the opening line, the rhyme pattern, the meter, etc. I sat down the next morning and hammered out most of the rest of it.

The song’s message is pretty straight-forward.

These first twenty years of marriage have flown by. Time is passing, like scenes in a car window, and scenes I barely even notice as I drive down a road I’ve driven down a thousand times before. Or, time is passing like rain falling; the years washing away, one after another. And I wanted Betsy to know that, unlike time, I am not going anywhere. I’m holding on to her like the leaf that is last to fall in autumn hangs on to its branch.

I am especially happy with the song’s third verse. In it, I recall a specific moment from early in our relationship. It was an amazing moment, like a scene out of a movie. The thought, though, had never occurred to me to put it in a song. In fact, I was caught by surprise when its memory came to mind as I wrote this song. But I’m so glad it did.

Betsy and I “became official” literally on a flight from Knoxville to Puerto Rico. We were on a mission trip with our college. Alone time in transit was an impossibility, as it continued to be from the moment we landed until the following evening after dinner. As everyone else was getting ready for bed, Betsy and I had our first real chance to get away and be alone for the first time as “boyfriend and girlfriend.” As we sat and talked on a stoop outside the elementary school where we were all staying, it began to sprinkle. And then rain. And then it turned to a full downpour. Instead of running inside, though, we walked over to the basketball court hand-in-hand and proceeded to slow-dance in the rain. It was as funny as it was romantic. We laughed and savored the moment: our first dance our first week of first romance.

Twenty years later, I am so thankful that that memory found its way into this song. So thankful that that girlfriend became my wife. And so thankful that through twenty years of sunshine and rain, our dance has yet to slow.



Watch the last leaf
on the last branch
of the last tree
as it dances in the breeze,
answer me please.
Where does time go?

I take one more drive
down this one road
one more time
These scenes I’ve seen half my life,
passing me by.
Where does time go?

It goes, it goes
But where, God only knows

I think of our first dance
our first week
of first romance.
The rain came as we laughed
and our dance never slowed.

Time goes, it goes
But where, God only knows

Love, here I stand,
here I sing,
here I proclaim
As the years fall like rain,
I’ll remain and never go.

To you, I’ll cling
like the last leaf
on the last branch
of the last tree.



Words & Music: Bill Wolf
Violin: Thomas Smith
Produced: Thomas Smith