Bruce McKinney

Bruce McKinney


Sift one cup folk, one cup R&B, one cup blues, one tablespoon jazz. Mix in spirit of Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen, and Greg Brown. Add to taste: dry humor, faith against odds, bloody heartbreak. Bake 52 years in hard knocks oven. Add spark of Goddess. Serve with acoustic guitar and baritone vocals.


Bruce was a logger, factory worker, newspaper reporter, freelance writer, computer programmer, investor, and author of books about computer programming in the false belief that those jobs had some value in themselves. In fact, they were just preparing him for his real job as a singer and songwriter.

At the tender age of 48, Bruce received a call from a higher power telling him to sing. This was a shock. Although he had played guitar in a casual way for 35 years, he had never sung where anyone could hear him and certainly never performed in public.

After a year of singing covers at open mikes, the second part of the call was revealed and Bruce started writing songs. He’s been turning them out ever since and has developed a small but loyal fan base in his home town, Silver City, New Mexico.

Now for the final part of the call--to share his songs with a wider audience.


Hang On, Let Go

Written By: Bruce McKinney

Baby hands reach out for it all,
Big eyes full of trust,
I want her open, I want her safe,
I want her spirit uncrushed
It’s all there on her face, she’s still creating her mask
I read in her eyes the things she can’t ask
How could you stop me from grabbing the rose?
Why didn’t you stop me from touching the stove?
It won’t last forever, that stunned look of wonder,
As she blissfully crawls from one miracle to another.

Let go, hang on,
You’re frail, I’m strong
Run wild, be calm
Become the swan
You’re here, I’m gone
It’s dark till dawn

She hides a rebel heart beneath her new bra,
She knows what buttons to press.
I raised her to question, I raised her to think,
But test others, I still know best.
I can’t read her face, she’s created a mask
But I try to be there when experiments crash
She says, don’t try to stop me, I need to break free
If I fall it’s my problem, don’t suffer for me
She’s secretive, curious, ruthless, and smart,
She brings out my rebel, we’re not that far apart.

Hang on, let go,
Say yes, say no,
Too fast, too slow,
You ask, don’t know
Turn loose, control
Reap what you sew
It hurts to grow

She says I do like I did
She knows how love was made
She knows death didn’t part us
She’s seen how love can fade
She’s not afraid of the past, it’s not my life she lives
I can’t give here away, she’s not mine to give.
She says, I know what I’m doing, no need for advice
Oh, yes, I remember, play with fire on thin ice
A marriage made in heaven might still pass through hell
But if I believe in my child, may be hope for myself.

Let go, hang on,
I’m frail, you’re strong
Run wild, be calm
Become the swan
I’m here, you’re gone
It’s dark till dawn
Hang on, let go,
Say yes, say no,
Too fast, too slow,
I ask, you know
Turn loose, control
It hurts to grow

Smitten (Crushed)

Written By: Bruce McKinney

Not so pretty, not so bright,
A little bit married, her sign’s not right
But none of that matters because the seeds have been sewn
Crushes are like that, they live on their own.
No hope for the wicked, no hope for the good
When you’re lost in a crush, you couldn’t fight if you would
I try to stand tall; I try to look cool,
But it’s hopeless, I’m busted, she knows I’m her fool

I’m smitten! Crushed! Smitten! Crushed!
Smitten! Crushed like a mosquito, my blood on her hand
I gave her my power, her wish my command
I’m Smitten!

What did I say? What did I do?
Why’d she pick me? What she feels isn’t true
She’s not my type at all, and I’m not hers either
I’m not who she thinks, don’t crush me beneath her
I don’t love her at all, I don’t even like her
Don’t flirt with the kitten, it turns into the tiger
I won’t take advantage; I put up walls to resist her
But she’s crushed on me like I was crushed on her sister

She’s smitten! Crushed! Smitten! Crushed!
Smitten! Crushed like a mosquito, her blood on my hand
I didn’t know it was her, it wasn’t my plan, but she’s

I’m tired of the struggle, I’ve lost one too many
Loaned out self respect, sold my heart for a penny
I made all the wrong choices, heartbroken heartbreaker
So I leave it to you, God, be my matchmaker
You know what I need, you know what I cry for
Pick the one right for me, and the one that I’m right for
Just one perfect match, just once before we die
Line us back to back, turn us round eye to eye

And smite us! Crush us! Smite us! Crush us!
Smite us! Crush us like bugs; mix our blood in your hand
Pour it back in our bodies, so that woman and man are
Smitten! Crushed!

Send Me A Sign

Written By: Bruce McKinney

Send me a sign, and I’ll take my chances
I’ll take a gesture more than half way for you
Send me a sign, if you want make it subtle
Whisper in my ear from across the room

Send me your message in a cryptic story
A smile or a frown, I’ll fill in blanks for you
Tell me the truth, even if it’s hazy
I prefer yes, but any sign will do

I don’t run from rejection, I don’t need protection
I’m afraid but fear doesn’t stop time
You can see what I want, don’t pretend, don’t deny it
Don’t wait for the words, just send me the sign
I’ll do my part if you’ll send me the sign

A shrug or a nod if your whole heart is in it
Write the word on your face, test what I can read
I can pay my own way with your invitation
Step up and follow, I’ll take the lead


I won’t go away till you bless or you curse me
Don’t think you can hide behind lightness or wine
Don’t wait for the sure thing, you’ll be waiting forever
This is the place, now is the time


Bruce has recorded all his own songs and a few covers in a home studio. He can burn a sample CD to your requirements. Many of his songs are available at:

He’s planning a commercial CD.

Set List

Bruce usually performs a mix of originals and covers. If he’s playing for an adventurous audience that likes new music, he can do a whole set of originals and obscure covers. But for audiences that want to hear something familiar, he can do common covers with a twist.

Some originals:

Another Damn New Mexico Sunset
Bargain With God
Come On Down To Earth
Crazy Enough
Don’t Write That Song About Me
Heaven For Whoever Wins
I Never Slept In Yours
Less Than Anyone I’ve Ever Known
Nothing But Everything
Older Women
Roberta Blue
Send Me A Sign
Smitten (Crushed)
Tell Her No
Thanks For Heartbreak
Tiger Woman
Turn Me Off
Women Be Gone
World On Fire
Worst Excuse I Ever Heard
Worth The Trouble

Some covers:

Get It While You Can – Janis Joplin
Goodnight Irene - Leadbelly
Hot Blood – Lucinda Williams
House Where Nobody Lives – Tom Waits
In A Town This Size – Kieran Kane, John Prine…
It Hurts Me Too – Elmore James,