LYRICS

Written with a quill dipped in venom…

COCKADOODLEDON'T       ||       BELIEVE       ||       PANDELIRIUM       ||       SWAMPBLOOD       ||       AGRIDUSTRIAL


 

BELIEVE

WHERE’S THE DEVIL (When You Need Him?)

Where’s the Devil?
Where’s the Devil when you need him?
I’m on the level, let me know if you happen across
The Mighty Beast of Eden.

Yeah, where’s the Devil?
Where the devil is the Devil, have you seen him?
The warlord of all bloodshed is under the floorboard of the woodshed
I ain’t dreamin’, have you seen him?

Where’s the Devil?
Is the jumpin’ Devil at the junction?
My baby’s gettin’ married while I lay dead and buried
Deep beneath the binds of Extreme Unction.

In the tiny little town of Nihilo,
In a graveyard moanin’ slow and low,
I’m spinnin’ in my grave, chapel bells toll away
My baby’s wed another man today.
Where’s the Devil when you need him right away?

You know it ain’t proper
Prancin’ down the bridal path past your papa.
Delilah and Bathsheba, Jezebel and even Eve had more to offer,
You double-crosser.

So let it happen.
Let the punkin roots sing praises in Pig Latin.
With the Pidgin English spoken, the wormwood will be broken
And the Devil will come and crack me outta my casket.

But I gotta be careful.
Careful of the Devil and be prayerful.
The phalanges of St. Vitus were stricken with arthritis.
He lopped them off and left them on the table.

THE PONY TO BET ON

Past her prime and put out to pasture,
The ‘pony to bet on’ grows old.
But in her heyday, there was no filly faster,
Until that one fateful winter so cold.

Yeah, all the bookies and betters, never banked on the weather
And that sick December bug in the air.
The points kept on spreadin’ til you called off the wedding
And left me with a tired old gray mare.

Now the ‘pony to bet’ on is the old nag I sit on
Getting drunk in the yard, brushing her hair.
The ‘pony to bet on’, yeah, she’s a sad one
But not as sad as the tears that I shed.
So I walk her to bed,
For that slow, losing final stretch home.

Well this tarnished old loving cup is empty.
The wreaths of roses have withered away.
But the whiskey and the bullets are plenty.
Oh how I wish you were here with us today.

We went from trophies and a Triple,
To pulling hayrides for people in small town parades down to the fair.
The ‘pony to bet on’, well, she’s a sad one, but not as sad as the tears that I shed.
So I walk her to bed… for two losers final stretch home.

This one is based in truth. The neighbor of a relative of mine really does sit out on his horse in the blazing heat of day, getting drunk and probably remembering the “one who got away.” Saddest thing I’ve ever seen… or written about.

PISS AND VINEGAR

I’m full of piss and vinegar
Oozing through my jugular vein.
I’m full of piss and vinegar
Bubblin’ to the brim of my brain.
Break out the brown paper and the sippin’ wine
Greasy ain’t easy but I’m doin’ fine,
‘Cause I’m a jumpin’ Jim Dandy doin’ a hillbilly boogaloo.

I’m full of vim, verve and vigor
Turpentene and nicotyne…
I’m full of vim, verve and vigor
Set me up and watch me unwind.
You can smell me comin’ by the Listerine,
Witch Hazel, Vitapoint and Vaseline.
‘Cause I’m a jumpin’ Jim Dandy doin’ a hillbilly boogaloo.

I’m full of Piss and Vinegar
Brylcream and Brilliantine.
I’m full of piss and vinegar
Wine me up and see if I’m lyin’.
Don’t knock my gold tooth out, I need it for more
Than smilin’ at my landlady at the door.
‘Cause I’m a jumpin’ Jim Dandy, doin’ a hillbilly boogaloo.

This is what’s running through the mind of every one of those greasy, jive-ass turkeys pimpin it out on the streets. Those sleazy, no-good clowns out hustlin and gettin’ it on.

ALL MY LIFE TO KILL

Out of Hell’s Half Acre from a downtown drunk tank,
It’s a white knuckle ride on the back of a junk train.
Got a jacked-up face, buncha blood in my spit can.
Moonshine whiskey flowing backwards through my jug’ vein.

Come on. Come on December
Because I got all my life to kill.

If it bleeds, it leads on the eleven o’clock
So I hopped me a ride with the Pennsyltucky Pollock.
My junco partner popped a bottle o’ pills.
You can’t get no action if your standin’ still.

Come on. Come on December
Because I got all my life to kill.

From the day I was born til the day I became a man
Lord lord lord, I’m a lucky Leo on the lam.
Hey hey hey, I’m a poor boy bound to die.
Ain’t no wonder why.

Concrete Christ in an alabaster bathtub!
They’re a draggin’ that crooked creek bed full of bad blood.
Climb to the top of a whole hill of headbones.
The Rust Belt buckles at the crack of my shotgun.

Come on. Come on December
Because I got all my life to kill.

Bloodhounds huffin’ Lucky Tiger in my flattop
I’m hanging upside down from a switchyard maildrop.
Dirt daubers buzzin’, bout to lose my mind.
Now my goatboots are wrapped around a telephone line.

Come on. Come on December
Because I got all my life to kill.

This is the story of the very real “killer hobo”, Angel Maturino Resendiz, who wreaked havoc across Illinois and Kentucky on a rail riding murder spree.
Funny thing about this song: I arbitrarily made Angel a Leo just so I could use the phrase “Lucky Leo on the Lam”. Turns out he really was a Leo; born in August!
That’s one-in-twelve odds we’re talkin’!
So was it a coincidence or was it a strange case of me channeling the mind of a madman?
You decide.

Pandelirium
$10.99
 

SWAMPBLOOD

THE DEADENIN’ (Burke Holder’s Deadenin’)

Breathes there a man with a soul so dead
His faith is not shaken nor stirred
By the black swamp-blood that beats within these words?
Deep within the mighty bog oaks
Burke Holder never spoke
A word in prayer ere he harvested his trees,
As the bleeding sap soaked the fallen leaves.

Doubling back before his deed was done
He left scars in the bark like rings.
He’d hacked their knotty hides to smithereens.
He turned to face the sun
But their shadows overcome
Like the broken fingers of an up-jumped, beaten slave
Growing tighter till his heartlight choked away.

Keeping God up all night, begging for mercy
No mercy was all he found.
Strange angels sang while curtains fell around.
“Simple Stewardship you’ve failed,
Blast the lumberhorns of Hell
While buzzards bray their rackety refrain.
This man has made no mark, he’s left a stain.”

O come all ye hunters who follow the gun,
Beware of your wasteful ways!
Or soon you’ll be lyin’ in the clay of the earth you hate.
For those who enter his haunted woods
Lose their way, it’s understood;
Emerging in the morning to a new dawn’s early light,
But a whole, damn live-long year has passed them by.

Timber! Dark Timber…in the wilds of the Deadening.

This story comes from my friend Layne Hendrickson, a Marshall County, Kentucky blacksmith and local historian, of sorts. He related to me a tale involving a local lumberjack who went to “ring” his trees so as to kill them, come back later and harvest them (it’s easier to chop them down once they’re already dead.)

Well, the trouble was, he himself died before coming back for his lumber, leaving the dead forest standing there, all spooky like. And it still stands there today, in all it’s creepy, enchanted glory… I’VE BEEN THERE!

And so, as the story goes, if you enter the forest, you’ll most assuredly get lost and be forced to spend the night. The next day, come morning light, you’ll finally find your way out. But once outside “The Deadening” you’ll find that it’s not just a day later, but an entire YEAR!

SWAMPBLOOD

Way down in Toxarcana, I was ten years old,
In a fever dream, dark night of the soul.
Well, ’twas brillig and the slithey toves
I bid the world good-bye by the dead bog oaks.

Drop down in the Swampblood
I’m washed in the Swampblood
I’m washed in the blood.

Dusty bibles lead to a dirty south.
He’s sittin’ with a toadstool rotting in his mouth.
In a clearing where the bras hang down from the trees,
He’s cappin’ a coffee can full of teeth.

Down Doom’s Chapel Road, past his great grandma,
She says “turn ‘im loose, or I’ll call the law.”
He says “There’s no testimony without the test,
What we do with our own is our own damn business.”

Drop down in the Swampblood
I’m washed in the Swampblood
I’m washed in the blood.


Apart from the nonsensical Lewis Carroll reference, here is a story loosely based on that time one autumn day as a kid when my pals and I packed around with some strange homeless guy on a bike. One by one, my friends abandoned me as I pedaled on alongside this idiot man-child, exploring parts of the woods I’d never been to. At sunset, we came to a clearing filled with garbage & wet clothes… encircled by the bare trees. Then he turns to me and asks ” You think I’m gonna kill you now, don’t you?” Suffice it to say, I took off on my bike never and never looked back.

“Swampblood” supposes what might have happened had I stayed.

EASTER FLESH

Thrust your hand in the hole in the side of the LORD
Feel his Easter Flesh and bone.
Be reborn in the blood, the burghundy flood,
The haemoglobin ebb and flow.

How his hallowed bones ache, they rattle and quake,
Beggin’ “Brother, reach out your hand!”
His broken heartpump it bleeds, it seethes and intercedes
On behalf of the otherwise damned.

So vomit your lies, like the thief at his side,
How His skin, it hangs not in shreds.
It’s just sad, you see, you and the Saduccees
Deny His Easter Fleshly bread.

“A hypocrite, an idiot, a Judas Iscariot!”
The victory song demons cheered.
But be now set free, sip his blood and eat
The Easter Flesh that’s fed the centuries.

The thorns in His brow made clear to you now
As the scales fall from your eyes.
So kick down the door, Doubting Thomas no more.
Join the saints to meet Him in the skies!

Vomit your lies, like the thief at His side,
How His skin, it hangs not in shreds.
It’s not fair, you see, how scribes and Pharisees
Deny His Easter Fleshly bread. 

OLD SPUR LINE

The Devil’s in the details,
And your reverend’s into retail.
Your soul’s alone in this world of stone, you’ll find.
So what can you do,
You weary Wandering Jew?
Well, every dirt road leads to the South for ya this time.
Yeah, they all lead home.
But not the ramshackle tracks down Sheehan Bridge Road.
Don’t go pokin’ down that crooked Old Spur Line.
Yeah, tread ye not down the dirty rotten Old Spur Line.

Two railroads diverged in a yellow wildwood.
It’s raining meat, poppin’ dents in your hood.
It’s a mortal coil of blackjack vines.
Blurred around the edges hangs a red-soaked sky.
Dry-rotted, woodenteeth-like ties
Suckin’ up the muck in the trenches down the side.
Tread ye not down the dirty rotten Old Spur Line.

Hear the greasy, greasy grandma
Bowin’ on a bonesaw.
She says “Do as thou wilt shall be the whole of my law.”
She crosses her “I”‘s…
And she dots her teas.
She’ll poke ya with a stick while yer swingin’ in the breeze.
Well, ya heard what she said.
Ya got rocks in your head?
And her banjo’s tuned to f#DEAD.
Don’t go pokin’ down the crooked Old Spur Line.

See po’ ‘Rithmetic, the crippled dog run.
He puts down three and he carries the one.
And Deacon Snitch paintin’ pants on the thighs
Of the little naked pigs on a barbeque sign.
People ain’t right in the head down there.
Do a quick about face for ye best beware.
Tread ye not down the crooked Old Spur Line.

Trek down the track and it’s at your own peril.
The fields are all fallow and the beasts are all feral.
Dead cows in the boughs of the Live Oak trees,
Left there to rot when the water recedes.
No progress is made and the buildings tumble down.
And the only thing that grows are the gullies all around.
Don’t go pokin’ down the crooked Old Spur Line

Here’s just your average, typically-Shack Shaker-y assemblage of low down blues lyrics, wallowing in the muck of western Kentucky’s toxic boglands. Regarding the line about Deacon Snitch: this one’s from “News of the Weird.” An actual charismatic preacher demanded that the nude cartoon pigs on a neighboring bar-b-q sign be given pants to hide their nakedness. True story.
Just one of the many features to avoid down the “Old Spur Line.”

PS: a “Wandering Jew” is another term for a traveler or gadabout. It’s also the name of a flower.  Your “race card” has been revoked.

HELLWATER

Hell or highwater, Baby Katy Gray.
Hell or highwater done washed her away.
Hell or highwater in the troublesome creek,
Like Baby Moses in the reeds, can’t ya see what I mean?
Ya gotta Row, ya gotta Wade, ya gotta give til it bleeds.
‘Cause higher Hellwater is the last thing ya need.

Hell or highwater, Speedy’s floatin’ away.
1937 must be Judgement Day.
Hell or highwater, Holstein on the porch,
And not enough sense to swim the hell on home.
Hell or highwater suckin’ down the sink.
Just jiggle on the handle til the guilt goes away.
Ya gotta dive like a duck, dogpaddle or plunge.
Higher Hellwater’s got ya on the run.

Hell or highwater or the welfare line.
If the good LORD’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise.
Hell or highwater, three hots and a cot,
Case quarter change and Katrina Cough.
Hell or highwater, it’s the sludge o’ sin.
A color TV and a bottle o’ gin.
He wants your nose in The Book, drop down on your knees.
It’s higher Hellwater, honey, if you please.

This one’s part murder ballad, part hymn… but all cautionary. Katy Gray was an infant who was drowned in the Massac Creek by her parents, in a fashion not unlike the way baby Moses was abandoned in his little wicker boat/crib thingy.

A cow was also famously stranded on the upper balcony of a Lowertown Paducah building during the 1937 flood. There exists a postcard that actually documents this.

The rest of the song tries to delve into the imagery surrounding the notion that “flooding” is a cleansing judgment against sin.

WHEN I DIE

When I die, when I die
Come to me and curl beside
The one who loved you all his life
And I’ll see you from on high.

Lay beside in the bed,
Pet my carefree, easin’ head
So I’ll know, high above,
Of your love. When I die.

A marble slab, a crown of gold
Can’t replace the love I’ve known.
So I’ll wait for the day
You come home, when I die.

This song came to me in a dream. But it was Dexter Romweber who was singing it, not me. We tried our best to get Dex to sing it on the record, but all we had was his home phone number in North Carolina, and he was on tour. We found out a week later that he was actually in NASHVILLE the day we were recording this, completely unbeknownst to us! Dabnabbit!

ANGEL LUST

Like a Mississippi Windchime in the breeze
Danglin’ down from the sycamore tree.
Like a vessel of wrath shattered on the ground,
Old Judge Lynch dropped the hammer down.

It’s dust to dust, to Angel Lust,
For St. Angeline. And you’re mine.

Two Easters left in my Christmas plow.
I wouldn’t take a dollar for my journey now.
They put the “laughter” in slaughter, the “lie” in believe
‘Cause my carbon footprint sinks six feet deep.

It’s dust to dust, to Angel Lust,
For St. Angeline. And you’re mine.

The LORD may condemn me but my baby forgives.
She’ll meet me inside the final tent I pitch.
White water lillies in my funeral spray,
Showered on my baby like a fine bouquet.

It’s dust to dust, to Angel Lust,
For St. Angeline. And you’re mine.

So cast your useless sabres aside.
Make the Devil eat his hat and set your head on fire.
It all shakes out the same way in the end.
The meat slides out in the shape of the can.

It’s dust to dust, to Angel Lust,
For St. Angeline. And you’re mine.

A postmortem erection is known as “Angel Lust”. It usually occurs in the body of those who have been hanged. The defeatist tone of the tune is summed up in the last line…”The meat slides out in the shape of the can.” Anyone who’s ever fed their dog Ol’ Roy or Alpo knows what I’m talking about.

This song concludes the “Tentshow Trilogy” with a euphemistic allusion to the ultimate tent show: the final, canvas-covered graveside service. Morbid but inevitable.

 

COCKADOODLEDON'T

SHAKERAG HOLLER

In a cockfight club behind the county dump
Chicken wire mesh and the egg carton struts
Dull the jive of the jerk and the jam of the jump
Cause the jook-a-billy shakin’s got em all shook up.

Pin stripe creases like the angled cut
Of JD’s jib ride the sharkskins up
To the shiny black specs which all but
Hide his eyes rollin’ sunny side up.

Rooster heads all across the back
Of that electric box of tweedy wrap
Are there to crank it or to cut it slack
That tone so driven home like that.

But that toggle button chorus line
Is thrown down flat at its halftime prime
‘Less the rooster heads melt into an alkaline wine
And blow its coop before it’s time.

Shakerag Holler! A big legged woman’s gonna steal
Your soul tonight.

BLOOD ON THE BLUEGRASS

Way down south in a Cain-Tuck town, where all of the stubblefields grow
One boy did rise with the devil in his eyes whose heart was dark as West Field coal,
heart was dark as West Field coal.

Roderick Ferrell and the Wendorf girl knelt down upon a darkened grave.
He drew his dagger down and the red ran to the ground
and they licked along the bloody blade, licked along the bloody blade

Blood-red blood on the blue, bluegrass
It cries from hallowed hunting ground.
‘Twas the midnight curse of that bloody black patch
that took another poor boy down, took another poor boy down.

Ridin’ in the night down to F.L.A. to bid her folks a foul farewell.
With his clawhammer high he drew their spirits night
and danced amidst the crimson spray, danced amidst the crimson spray.

Blood-red blood on the blue, bluegrass
It cries from hallowed hunting ground.
‘Twas the midnight curse of that bloody black patch
that took another poor boy down, took another poor boy down.

Take heed all ye motherless children so lost, dwell not in the caves of your mind.
Roderick Ferrell’s trails of sin did lead him his to his end
but bloody fields blossom blue in time, bloody fields blossom blue in time.

Blood-red blood on the blue, bluegrass
It cries from hallowed hunting ground.
‘Twas the midnight curse of that bloody black patch
that took another poor boy down, took another poor boy down
Yes, it took another poor boy down.

 

PANDELIRIUM

ICHABOD!

Ripped from my outstretched arms,
O her weakness for worldly charms.
Serpentina Root and ribs entwine
As I dream of her moonlit eyes.

So don’t cremate me when I’m gone…
I won’t be gone for long.
I’m a sinner in the hands of an angry God.
Stick me in the ground and let me rot.

Where the grass won’t grow
And the leaves don’t lie
And their worm dyeth not,
And call me Ichabod!

O hearken the boneyard bells.
The tintinnabulation of Hell.
I’ll come creepin’ out a dead chimney
With the turn of a skeleton key.

So take the long way around Mt. Zion.
Opt out of the ransom’d choir
No glory or divine amazing grace
Just to waft through her window lace.

The name “Ichabod” comes from the Hebrew for “No Glory” or “Glory has departed”, which was shouted out in my church by a disgruntled member. He wiped his feet and left the sanctuary, angry about a doctrinal dispute he had had with the church leadership. That event stayed with me over the years and has now been reenvisioned as “Ichabod!”… the anti-hymn of a non-believer.

SOUTH ELECTRIC EYES

Said the scalawag to the carpetbagger,
“Let’s hatch a plot so ‘cloak and dagger’
A few monkey trials in a kangaroo court
Kill the hoi polloi and the real McCoys.”

So the twang-fakers and the fat cats
Started hobnobbin’ and the Dixiecrats,
The Kentucky Colonels and the Ku Klux Klan
Got knocked a new tune outta La La Land.

As the swirling beam of the signal feed
Cuts the night into moonbow rings,
Sad individuals keep the blue light vigil
And believe the shows are between their commercials.

So the salt of the earth turns scum of the earth
With the altar-ego of the Christless church.
All left to waller in the squalor of the holler
With a redneck ring around a blue collar.

So I stayed up late at the fever pitch
To see the lamps dim when they threw the switch.
The rabble and cabal on both sides of town
Had a ball when they drove old Dixie down.

Don’t believe the lies,
Wake up and rise!
Came as no surprise
To these South Electric Eyes!

Fun fact:
The subliminal mumbling at the end is the preamble to the Confederate Constitution, in case you were wondering.

IRON LUNG OOMPAH

The old archduke with the Death Rattle Blues
Sat hacking up a lung.
And in his grief he grit his teeth
And bit off half his tongue.

He called for the coppersmith to come
And ten able-bodied men
To craft a contraption to patch him up
And this is what they sing:

“Hasten ye fellows! Fasten the bellows!
Pump him til he’s dead.
Oompah til his eyes pop out
And the gauge is in the red.

Sharpen, ye fellows, the dark mandocellos
Send soldiers into town.
Sound the sousaphone-fare
And let out with a shout,

Iron Lung Oompah! Glockenspiel und Tuba!
Join the funeral march and chorus,
A Grim Hymn from the deep Black Forest.
Take a long deep breath and sing your
Iron Lung Oompah!”

The old archduke in his tinman suit
turned fire engine red.
From a purple hue to a still-born blue
Indicating he was dead.

The rivets started poppin’ out
His monocle cracked in half.
His head spun and the clockwork drum
Blew off in a blast.

The regicidal maniacs
stood round in a ring of fire.
Left abaft by the copper shaft
Not knowing “what now” or “why?”

Iron Lung Oompah was inspired by the gypsy brass bands I encountered playing in the streets of European music festivals during our first tour overseas. The nonsensical lyrics were inspired the writings of T. Herman Zweibel, the editor of The Onion… and of course “Old King Cole.”

SOMETHIN’ IN THE WATER

Joe’s got the Union Carbide Blues.
Diggin’ ditches since ‘62.
West Paducah, City on the Glow.
Tiny fingers growing out of his elbows.

Down in Building C-4 double naught,
Sons of bitches thought they’d never get caught
Guzzlin’ Golden Pond whiskey at work,
Beatin’ them drums down into the dirt,

(And puttin’) Somethin’ in the Water,
Somethin’ weird in the water,
Even in your daughter,
Somethin’ in the cold well water.

(So while you’re) sneaking gold out of hydrogen bombs,
Platin’ pistolgrips and carrying on
Your boss is doing the exact same thing,
Sucking atoms out of your sewage drain.

And that dense fog of uranium dust
Can’t hide those leaky buckets of rust.
The ugly truth will put you into the ground
So rise up and burn the pumphouse down!

A rare dabbling into political musings, my musical rant “Somethin’ in the Water” describes the cover-up of environmental crimes at the Martin Marietta/Union Carbide plant in Paducah KY. (Aren’t I so very “green”?)

One long-time employee of this nuclear facility infamously started sprouting baby fingers from his elbows while lying on his deathbed. (His wife chronicled his slow mutation and demise with a series of increasingly shocking Polaroids. Think: the movie Se7en)

When this story broke in the late 90s it was all over the local news. Every night there was a new jaw-dropping revelation on WPSD’s Channel 6 newscast. Until one day when, all of a sudden, the story just went away.

So I thought I’d forever remind people of these sins by chronicling the events in song. Just know this, it really happened and if you doubt it, just look for the effects in the faces of Paducah’s WalMart clientele. Then you’ll believe me.

JIPSY VALENTINE

Take the finest wine in all the land,
Pour it out on desert sand
To raise up the rarest desert rose divine.
Teach the golden moon to glow
Brighter still on Earth below.
It will never match my Jipsy Valentine.

Let pagan gods be given charge
Over heaven’s shining stars
Have them twinkle till
They all fall dim and die.
The oasis of her eyes makes a mirage of the skies
They disappear near my Jipsy Valentine.

Make all the sirens on the shore
And any muse of ancient lore
Try their hand on the heartstrings of mankind.
Voices crack in the refrain,
Inspiration fades away.
They’re just jealous of my Jipsy Valentine.

Un-entwine the statue vine,
A Pygmalion design
Is revealed like the dearest of lovers’ lies.
So fall down on your knees
Prepare your mind to perceive
The perfect form of my Jipsy Valentine.

Beg the Tree of Knowledge dare to bloom
More of its fair, forbidden fruit.
Wring the nectar down in currents serpentine.
Though the roots grow up from Hell
Sip it from the Holy Grail.
No sin is sweeter than my Jipsy Valentine.

Another tune inspired by my love of the “Spanish Tinge”, “Jipsy Valentine” is my attempt at capturing the fiery strains and squiggly filigree of Arabesque music.
The bit about the Tree of Knowledge towards the end is from a dream… the story of which is featured in my “Grim Hymns” comic book.

Swampblood
$13.99
 

AgriDustrial

SIN EATER

Up from womb to tomb He rises grave to cradle.
He makes His own meats, puts food on the table.
It’s a full-time gig eatin’ sin-on-the-cob.
The hours suck, but it’s a job.

Feed that ego and you starve the soul…

Concrete hog with letters “BBQ”
“Eatin’ ain’t cheatin’” it’ll have to do.
He’s so slick that he can steal the shortnin’
Right out of the biscuit, not crackin’ the crust, ya’ll

Feed that ego and you starve the soul…

DIXIE IRON FIST

Kennedy/McCain, Eminent Domain. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
Where Mal*Warts abound, rain kerosene down. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
Then light up the crowd with a mushroom cloud. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
In the smouldering char, the Stars and Bars! (The Dixie Iron Fist)

Brought up on a charge of a 10-46. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
Now they’re scratching their tags on the jailhouse bricks. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
Zeke got away, Twitty threw the switch. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
Make no mistake, life is a bitch. (The Dixie Iron Fist)

A clean getaway, laying low in a ditch. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
On the railroad to Hell, to no avail. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
It’s Conrail Twitty and Northbank Fred. (The Dixie Iron Fist)
It’s Adam Ragtime and the Quarter Rican Kid! (The Dixie Iron Fist)

TWO TICKETS TO HELL

Well, we’re sick with sin, all our kith and kin
Are pale with woe from the shape we’re in.
Board the Devil’s train and all we got in the end
Are two tickets to Hell.

A traipsin’ woman and a ramblin’ man
Always lead to no good end,
So time to slip beneath the clay
‘Cause somebody’s got to fill those graves.
Here’s two tickets to Hell.

But the drought revealed all the stiffs in the creek.
At last we lay cursing ourselves to sleep.
On the Devil’s train, two coffins at his feet
And two tickets to Hell.

But there’s a fork in the road, a switch in sight.
Is it right or wrong, is it left or right?
On a Glory-bound train on into the light
Or two tickets to Hell?

NIGHTRIDE (The Ballad of the Black Patch Riders)

Red veins beatin’ across a charcoal moon,
Black as a habit, they plow where they want to.
Horseback riders like the headless hounds
In the dog days of summer on the midnight prowl.

The nagtrack is narrow. It’s long and straight.
It comes head-high, creepin’ through the canebrake.
Wooden sharkfins are cypress knees.
The sycamores groan a Melungeon melody.

They’re burnin’ down the barn, burley barn, baby burn!

Well, the Law is like sausage; they both are great,
But nobody wants to see how either get made.
Bullwhips crack and the state line bends.
Whiskey, arson and the lash make empires end.

GREASY CREEK

Where Jesus Christ is the Dixiejew
(He inched along like a creature too)
Cometrees grow out the stinkin’ ditch
And the bloody-shins soak off the rickety bridge,
Floor-joists creek like the hinges of Hell,
And the head-count’s high down the waterless well.
The foetal’s met the fatal just a time or two
And the writin’s wroten rotten on a plank of wood.

What was spoken light will be tested at night
Where the White Thang sings, the state bird bites.
While you’re diggin’ up tiny extra rows of teeth,
Behold this fascist Killmachine.

HOBOES ARE MY HEROES (Blue Yodel #530804)

You know hoboes are my heroes
They don’t ever pay no bills.
They like to ride around
Rolling down those rusty rails.

Take a gander, There’s the Rambler
With a stogie and a stingy brim,
And his spit-shined shoes
He’s looking sharp for the shape he’s in.

With a pick-lock in his coin sock
The hobo always finds a way
To take just what he needs
So’s to live another day.

Hop a ride, Hop a ride (x2)
You can always hop a ride
When the wolf is at your door.

You know hoboes are my heroes
With their bindlesticks in their hands.
They’re just old souls roamin’,
Dreamin’ of the Promised Land.

Watch your backs, boys, watch your backs
And buddy keep your head down low,
Cause there’s a bull in the switchyard
With a loaded .44.

Hear that high lonesome call
Of the wild howlin’ in the morn.
That’s just a freight train whistle
Hollerin’ “Hobo, can’t ya come?”

In the morning, in the evening
And even when the sun goes down,
There’s a man without a home
Ever-yearnin’ homeward bound.

DUMP ROAD YODEL

Haul your junk right up to the paper cabin shack.
If you ain’t got a dollar you can always pay him back.
In a clawfoot tub with his longjohns on
He goes fishin’ for the Devil in his hogwaller pond.
And sings the Dump Road Yodel til his voice is all but gone.

Sock toboggan on his head, tablescraps in his beard.
Throw a tire on th fire, turn and see his look of fear.
Testifyin’ to the shovel and prayin’ with the spade
He goes diggin’ for the Devil with the preacher’s pointy head.
And sings the Dump Road Yodel til he falls over dead.

Drive your truck back past all the happy local yokels.
They don’t ever see a thing and their seldom ever vocal.
Singing praises to the darkness and cursing out the light
He pulls out his Devil tail and cuts off his knife
And sings the Dump Road Yodel eternally in paradise.

THE HILLS OF HELL

It states in The Kentucky Book of the Dead that there have been two accounts of crucifixion in the Bluegrass. In 1894, a lady of “ill repute” from Goose Creek was nailed to a tree by her fellow whores. Then, a year later, another woman was physically assaulted by her tormentors in an abandoned home. As she extended her arms, pleading for help, they nailed her hands to the log cabin walls.

Mr. McQueen goes on to report the most curious case of John Keith of Green County, whose murdered corpse was found stashed inside the body cavity of a dead horse. Keith’s body had been wrapped in a blanket by his killer and then half-eaten by hounds. In fact, his severed hand was found dangling in the jaws of the beloved family dog.

THE LOST CAUSE

A company of skeletons in rags
March home under tattered white flags.
Dusty Bibles and deep empty pockets,
Dark dreams and deeper eye sockets.
We ain’t right in the head and our women lay dead.
We’re the losers who chose The Lost Cause

But Home wasn’t built in a day.
It’s the hard price of pride that we pay.
No more cornbread, culture or cotton.
And nothing here grows but fingernails in our coffins.
Old warriors tell ghost stories, old ghosts tell war stories.
Such is the case, The Lost Cause.

No government cheese and no cow.
Just acres of skulls and a plow.
But Bluegrass, we’ve grown used to you.
While the tree roots unearth the graves they grow through.
Now our bright, sunny South tastes copper in her mouth.
No we’ll never forget our Lost Cause.

And the vulturous picking at bones.
Lone chimneys like headstones for homes
Make those tattered white flags that hung at half mast
Beat red with the blood sucked up through the staff
From the dirt where they plant us.
“Sic Semper Tyrannis!”
May we one day avenge our Lost Cause.

 

 

The Southern Surreal 

MUD

 

Well, I pulled out my blade and I laid him in the shade,

I made me a grave of my own.

I said oh, me. Oh my my.

You could hear that whistle blow a hundred miles.

 

Well Spoons and Johnny Crick

Are ridin’ Whiskey Dick

From Maxon Mill to the county line,

Past the Dixie witch,

Mud yurt by a ditch,

You could hear that whistle blow a hundred miles.

 

Get on down the road, white boy

Get on down the road.

There ain’t no room for you 

Down the old Mud Line

 

Well, with burnt cork on his face

Mr. Spoons takes his place,

Sittin’ in the back of the 209.

Oh me, oh my my.

You could hear that whistle blow a hundred miles.

 

MISAMERICA

 

Hey batter batter,

Hey what’s the matter?

Her gown’s all tattered 

And she’s getting fatter.

Got a crooked crown,

Her torch is spent,

Got a dirty diamond in her diadem.

Slutty lipstick

All over her teeth.

She’s out of control

She’s on the dole.

Congeniality 

Ain’t Lady Liberty.

She’s the queen

Of Idiocracy.

They hooked the party line

To the TV screen,

Now everybody’s lost in their fantasies.

Knocked off her pedestal

Down into the mud.

You damn, dirty apes this is all your fault.

I said don’t ya

Miss America?

I said ain’t you

MisAmerica.

She’s got a sash and a scepter,

A smile, except her

Gains are ill-gotten

So caveat emptor.

Her concession speech,

She can’t even read.

Faith, Hope, Chump Change and Charity.

 

COLD

 

Cold, fall on me.

Spread your wings,

Set me free.

I am weak

Thou art strong.

Speak your piece 

Without sound.

Eyes are red, skin is blue

You’re ten feet tall

And bulletproof.

Bear my soul to a better place,

Hidden rooms in the barren waste.

Chiseled like the body

Off a crucifix

Light a moth in flight

To the candlelight

Down I lay my soul to sleep.

Rest in peace

In the icy deep.

Take my hand,

Don’t leave me, Cold.

Cold, fall on me

Take my hand.

Set me free.

Silver bridge

Falling Down

My fair lady,

Forty-six will drown.

Cold, as a stone.

Take my soul

Don’t leave me, Cold.

 

(Let the) DEAD BURY THE DEAD

 

Oh Lawdy Lawd

What hath God wrought?

It’s a terra dentata

Where “man bites dog”.

It’s a matter of mind

Over matter, my love.

You’d make a mighty fine skeleton,

But whodathunk

On a moonless night

On a dreamless sea

You kept your head

Under lock and key

And Let the dead bury the dead?

 

It’s one hundred and one

Damnations!

Ponder that 

As you palm your skull

‘Cause the bland leads the bland

And they like it like that.

And they’re all quite happy

Being sad and fat.

Yes, pound for pound

They have put you down

But now it’s time to turn the tables around

And Let the dead bury the dead.

 

Oh come with me 

And you will see

No bout adoubt it

Start a family

Along with me in the B.F.E.

Where life is worth the living

When you’re living it with me.

And they’ll never hear,

No they’ll never hear from us again.

But that’s just how we’ll win.

Take it from me,

You can take it from your best friend,

‘Cause that’s just how we’ll win.

We’ll Let the dead bury the dead.

 

La vida es un fandango

Unos van cantando

Y otros van llorando

You can mark it down

In the words of Christ

And letters of red,

Every jot and tittle

This is what He said.

But be careful how they twist

The words he speaks.

Try inheriting the earth 

When you spread the other cheek

And let the dead bury the dead.

 

Yes, with the lies they tell

The air befouls

Like “the devil put the dinosaur

Bones in the ground”.

Yeah, Let the dead bury the dead.

 

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY

 

Sorrow floats but upside down.

Through a fog of woe you wander into the wild.

A mortal coil of Kudzu curls

Around the house you had with her a while.

Fading like an echo are the voices in the hallway and the walls

And the roof is caving in

On your home that’s sat abandoned for so long.

But you were warned.

 

Now your reflection’s in the window

Crying on the outside looking in.

What in thunderation

Makes you think that you can get back life back then?

Because gone are all reminders

Of the times you had with her, long way back when.

All the little things like coffee stains

And bobbi pins in the bed where yall would lay.

 

Yeah, but now you’re left with nothing.

Hey, Mr. Big Shot, where’s

The One That Got Away? 

 

YOUNG HEART, OLD SOUL

 

Young Heart, Old Soul

Let’s go!

Well, I must’ve met you long ago

You’re so familiar to me.

By the Great Wall of China,

Or was it a dream?

You ran away from the circus

Got a 9-to-5,

It didn’t last long

But you gave it a try.

Did I see you by the bay

In your brogan shoes,

Smoking latakia by the light of the moon?

Young Heart, Old Soul, Let’s go!

 

So give me all the love

I got coming to me,

Ringin’ in the years

Through the centuries.

From Timbuktu

To the Seven Seas,

A lifetime just ain’t enough,

No way!

Young Heart, Old Soul, Let’s go!

 

DOWN TO THE BONE

 

Hush yo mouth and tan my hide when I’m dead.

Tack it down tight for a homemade banjo head.

Squeezebox lungs, a ribcage xylophone,

Headbone bongos, just a beat ‘em however you want.

Gut strings strung to an old-time, crooked tone.

I want to make music in the days long after I’m gone.

Clear on to the Judgment Day, I want to hear the music play.

It’s the one kind favor that I ask just before I go.

Come on and maybe, baby, play along

Come on a maybe, baby, play my bones!

Hey pretty baby, slay me down to the bone.

Hey pretty mama, thrill me down to the bone!

(Work them fingers on down to the bone

You won’t get a break till the cows come home.

You won’t even get you an ice cream cone,

So take what you will after Kingdom Come!)

Hey pretty baby, slay me down to the bone.

Hey pretty mama, thrill me down to the bone!

Down to the Bone

Down to the Bone

Just, down to the bone.

 

CHRIST ALRIGHTY

 

Christ Alrighty,

Let’s get it on!

What sticks to the flesh 

Is bred in the bone.

Christ Alrighty,

Let’s get it on!

What sticks to the flesh 

Is bred in the bone.

 

Don’t knock my gold tooth out

Because I need it for more

Than smilin’ at my landlady

Knockin’ at my door.

Don’t knock my tooth out

LORD, I need it for more

Than smilin’ at my landlady,

LORD, she’s knockin’ at my door.

 

It’s rainin’ raw meat,

People takin’ to the streets.

It’s the worst case of woodpeckers

I ever have seen.

It’s rainin’ raw meat,

It’s the worst case of woodpeckers

Man, I ever have seen.

 

Well, well, well, well…

 

DEMON RUM

 

Well, at the bottom of a liquor bottle

An evil, lurking devil dwells.

He plies his trade but it’s trouble

Sin and seduction he sells.

I sent a wire to my daddy.

And this is what I had to say:

“No mon’. No fun. Your son.”

 

Well, don’t trust anybody under eighty.

Demon Rum will waste your life away.

Yeah, stick that in your smipe and poke it.

Um, I forgot what I was gonna say…

Oh yeah!

I got a wire back from my daddy.

And this is what he had to say:

“Too bad. So Sad. Your dad.”

 

Leave me alone. Let me go home,

Demon Rum.

 

THE BUZZARD AND THE BELL

 

I heard a shadow

Many moons ago

Where the grim scythe mows

Along the O-hi-O.

The Buzzard and the Bell,

The copper-metal swell

Chiming in the air from Hell.

Hearken ye hunters

The clarion tone,

For whom the bell tolls,

The carrion’s bones.

Closer and closer

The Buzzard and the Bell

Chiming in the air from Hell.

If you split the tongue in two

You can teach the crow to talk;

Same with any raven, hawk or meadowlark.

But with the buzzard’s bray

The birdcloud curls away.

They’ll take their secrets to their graves.

Shackled forever,

The clacker to the throat.

The rusty garrote

The “Crow-a-Tone” of Roanoke.

Closer and closer 

The Buzzard and the Bell

Chiming in the air from Hell.

 

 

AFTER YOU'VE GONE 

WAR WHOOP (Chief Paduke's Revenge)

 

Ole Chief Paduke, he's a native son

He rides an old paint across the noon day sun.

Eagle eye down the barrel, the trigger clicks.

Bam Bam Bam goes the thunderstick!

It's payback time for the paleface too.

You can tell by the sound of his old war whoop.

 

This ain't the old West, it's the here and now.

He's a lone wolf, can't ya hear him howl?

He's a Flatfoot Sam, a Wampus Cat.

Wham Bam Bam goes the thunderclap!

No doubt about it, now he's got me too.

You can tell by the sound of his old war whoop.

 

AFTER YOU'VE GONE

 

Lonely days, sleepless nights,

And I haven't had a bite.

That's what it's like

After you've gone.

 

These bad habits that I can't kick,

Yeah I'm making myself sick, 

Smoking, drinking 

After you've gone.

 

And there's reminders everywhere,

Your empty rocking chair...

Coffee rings left

After you've gone.

 

This place just ain't the same,

And I'm calling out your name.

Just an empty echo

After you've gone.

 

And I haven't got no baby,

I'm going crazy

After you've gone.

 

SINGLE BOY



When I was single, I had women by the score.

Now that I'm married, well they don't come 'round no more.

Lord, I wish I was a single boy again.

 

When I was single, Lord I dressed so fine.

Now that I'm married, I go ragged all the time.

Lord, I wish I was a single boy again.

 

When I was single, I ate biscuits and pie
Now that I'm married, it's cornbread till I die.
Lord, I wish I was a single boy again.

 

He's got four little babies lying in the bed.
The mama's so weary, she can't raise up her head.
Lord, I wish I was a single boy again.

 

SING A WORRIED SONG

 

Sing a worried song 

For it won't be long 

That we'll be dead and gone 

And be passing on

To the by-and-by. 

 

Set me right beside

All my sad ancestors 

looking like a fright

In Daguerrotypes

Or in a rotogravure.

 

CHORUS

See how the trees they grow 

Pushing up the dead beneath your feet.

You may chew your kudzu down

But it's you more likely it will eat.

 

Oh, forever in a bind

In that time between the slice of the knife

And when the pain arrives

That's just life, it's fiiiine 

 

The worried brow of mother earth 

Is the endless furrows plowed in the dirt...

Every body in the loam 

Laid out head to toe 

In her garden.

Hum to ME with velvet thoughts

In the end you find it sadly all for nought

Gloom is all you've got...

OK, now I'll stop.

 

LONG LEGS

 

Gang: You know we told you so 

we saw it coming a mile away

 

But she's got those long legs 

Lord have mercy how those long legs messed me up

 

Gang: You wouldn't listen though

We tried to warn you years ago

 

Ohhhhhh baby

Fishnet hose and that big round thang, yeah!

 

Gang: Just learn your lesson now

And take it slow for goodness sake

 

Yeah but those long legs

I drop down, mama, and you make me beg!

 

Gang: You know we told you so 

Why can't you get it through your head?

 

Cause she's got them getaway sticks

And high heel shoes wrap around my head!

 

Gang: But now you're all alone

Now take it slow for goodness sake!

 

GARDEN OF DELIGHTS

 

Before you went away 

You left me a garden of delights. 

But the dew is off the lily 

And nothing grows just right. 

 

Well the weeds have overtaken 

And we are dying on the vine.

You know I'll always love you. 

But the blossoms close at night. 

 

You know your sins have salted the earth. And WORMS will have their claim. 

And nothing wants to grow

and the garden looks like graves.

 

BRANDING IRON

 

What can you do when your baby, 

your baby's love is like a branding iron? 

Well she puts that hurt on me 

burning down like a ring of fire.

 

It don't matter who it is now. 

It's whatever her heart desires. 

Like a tin of old time dog food,

Burns my brain like a branding iron.

 

Well it swings every which way now,

Might be on me, might be on you.

Enjoy it while you can boy

That branding iron burns so good.

 

GET OUTTA MY BRAIN (South Electric Eyes, slight reprieve)

 

Step into my eyes 

Follow me down the drain

You're welcome to my heart

But stay out of my brain.

Get out of my brain.

Get out of my brain.

Get out of my brain.

 

In the corners of my mind 

There's a place that you will find 

In a hidden space,

The unmistakable shape,

An hourglass 

Of the female kind.

 

It's the recess left behind

Of the girl that once was mine

Now it's all nailed shut

All boarded up

With a keep out sign.

 

Now leave me alone, I don't want to go home

Now leave me alone, now I'm free to roam

The seven seas. 

And I'll do what I please.

From now on.

 

SILENT KEY

 

88 keys on a piano frame

Slightly out of tune

And there always seems that same

Single, silent key.

On God's piano frame...

A single silent key.

 

Charlie was a chief and a patriot too,

A Navajo codetalker back in World War II

But now he's a silent key.

He's dead and gone.

He's a silent key.

 

A sad sanctuary in a country town

With all the oddfellows in the cold, cold ground

A deaf-mute choir lifts its voice to sing.

Yeah they're singing in a silent key.

 

Marvin was a Mason down in Tennessee,

A Woodman of the World with a base CB,

But now he's a silent key.

He's dead and gone. He's a silent key.

 

WHITE DEVIL (aka: The Curse that Worked!)

 

Mint, like seafoam green,

Negates the visual sting

Of the blood that imprints on your retina,

The bloom of fire & other things that threaten ya.

 

Now White is the color of hipster.

It is your calling card.

But black is the color of cancer

You put in your woman's heart

 

Now the blues is a hue you can use

To woo the crowds at night,

But the darkness will drape it's cancer.

The purest color never was your white.

 

Now they say that you're Gubba boogaloo.

But I've got some hoodoo too!

It'll drop when you least expect it.

Suck you down your Coriolis effect.

 

I put a spell on you, and it's real. 

Keep my woman at your heel.

Shove your didgeridon't and your hipster white

Down under where the sun don't shine.


INVISIBLE HAND

 

With pencils and lead,

Pushpins and thread,

I trace your invisible hand.

 

With a compass and twine

I can make out the line,

And the shape of your invisible hand.

 

But the stars on the chart are a lie,

Made of paper instead of the sky,

So I'll lay down my head here and die.

 

Because it's all over now, 

I lost you somehow.

I let go of your invisible hand.

 

Night turns to day,

You faded away.

I let go the invisible hand.