Coroner & Knives

by Al Duvall



Recorded at Electric Lagerland Studio, Brooklyn NY. Pressed and released in 2004.


released March 20, 2005

Andy Duvall, percussion. Andrew Bowser, bass. Heather McCabe, backup vocals. Amy Mascena, artwork.



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Al Duvall Brooklyn, New York

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Track Name: Saxonburg, Ohio
Have you heard about the sad affair of Lydia Dupree The postman showed her letters to the ladies after tea She was of a certain age when a woman sheds the guise Of venereal indifference to remarks and winking eyes Seems a cook came off a riverboat and met her for a date And he gave to her a child who would face a bastard’s fate When they offered their condolences she rudely slammed her gate And they cry-o What’s become of decency in Saxonburg Ohio, There were several other incidents unspeakable and foul Mr. Baxter took a megaphone and held it to his bowel Mrs. Cole put on her furs and resided in a tree And the baker filled his crullers with all manner of debris When they find the deacon naked in a stable with a horse They decide they’ve all been acted on by some malignant force So they call upon a psychic to reveal the evil source And they cry-o What’s possessed the gentlefolk of Saxonburg Ohio, In a broken Conestoga off the Cincinnati Road Squats a twisted old Melungeon with the features of a toad And he moves his little dolls through his miniature town But the sheriff swings his club and the spell is broken down Then they beat him and they slice him as he stuggles in his chains And the teacher lets the pupils stick their fingers in his brains And they tinsel the gazebo with his skeletal remains And they cry-o No one makes a mockery of Saxonburg Ohio
Track Name: The Trashman's Daughter
You must be dead and buried not to notice girls today Fur and feathers and perfume you smell a mile away Sugar spice and talcum powder Talking loud and dressing louder I like ‘em less intense and full of common scents I’m taking out the trashman’s daughter and I don’t care who knows She’s stingy with the soap and water but lovely as a rose You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar it’s true Just think of what some rotten eggs and orange peels can do Her kisses have a funny taste she never combs her hair But when she grabs me by the waist I can’t refuse to care Our love went up in burning heat and then I had to burn the sheet She probably should have wiped her feet the trashman’s daughter, I’m taking out the trashman’s daughter I met her in the spring But since the weather’s getting hotter my eyes began to sting I took her down to cool her off out in the ocean breeze She took a swim and left a ring around the seven seas But now my heart is breakin’ when we bicker and we fight And I bring home the bacon to a pig sty every night She dumped me for a garbage man she cleaned me out and up and ran Oh no one else is sharper than the trashman’s daughter
Track Name: Madame Bowery
You must remember Madame Bowery a sweet old gal but none too flowery She kept her boys out in the street with buttermilk and tripe to eat They filled the air with guttersong “Times are good when the butts are long” And cowered beneath when it was showery the iron skirts of Madame Bowery, Elizabeth Mott and Hester Broome would not allow them any room They’d wake them up with kicks and slaps and send them off with rags and scraps The boys would patch up one another and take their beggings home to mother And suckle at the warped and soury mahogany breast of Madame Bowery, The city changed and grew without her her neighbors soon forgot about her The lights went out along the row ‘til care and worry laid her low Old Father Gotham felt such pity he laid her gravestone in his city And shared with us her meager dowry the hopeless sons of Madame Bowery.
Track Name: Steeplechase Bound
In Greenpoint, that’s the end of the pickle, the summer’s pretty sour The river is a brown little trickle along a smokestack tower So if you’re green take a pointer from me and have a healthy dip in the sea And you might spot my face down at the Funny Place, I’m Steeplechase bound where the ponies and the people race ‘round I’m a heading out to see the elephant and pay a visit to the Incubators and Zip What-Is-It Steeplechase bound in the Chair-O-Plane up over the ground On the Whichaway Flip-Flap Shoot-the Chutes Tickler too Dew-Drop Razzle-Dazzle wait ‘til you are Steeplechase bound hear the ocean crash and the ballyhoo pound With a mug of Piel’s and a foot-long Coney I’ve dug my heels in the world’s most phony and cheap place found How I love it I’m Steeplechase Steeplechase bound
Track Name: Dreaming of a Good Night's Sleep
Four in the morning my street of barking dogs of factories and circus trains Up above me the dancers stamp their clogs the polka’s coming through the drains And down in the infirmary all the babies have the colic and cussing down the chimney is a raging alcoholic Stop your screaming and take a flying leap I’m dreaming of a good night’s sleep, Anesthesia stroke me with your lace close my aching eyes for me Mister Sandman kick it in my face and drag me out into the sea And conjure up a dust storm that will bury all my neighbors stifle their commotion and end their noisy labors Not a whisper a tiptoe or a peep I’m dreaming of a good night’s sleep
Track Name: William Knave
I don’t like you William Knave I don’t like you William Knave You could change your name to Jesus Christ and still I’d spit on your grave, You ruined my business with your vicious lie You took your greasy thumb and plum put out my eye You poisoned my dogs and threw them down my well You tend to make my life a miserable hell, I married your cousin in your shotgun’s sight Her teeth are like the stars they come out at night She stole my whisky and sold it in town It’s enough to make a Quaker slap his grandma down, I caught you at my windowsill stealing a cake I set you on fire and beat you out with a rake They sent me to the gallows my neck for to break But the hangman was so drunk he hanged himself by mistake
Track Name: Times Ain't Like They Used To Was
My name is Otmer Blonda I’m the oldest man alive The Lord plugged in the sun and moon when I was twenty-five And Joan of Arc was my old flame I fed the pilgrims when they came I wrote the writing on the wall So don’t tell me you know it all ‘cause I’m the man who does And times ain’t like they used to was, The good old days were better and the bad ones weren’t so worse The horses coughed up apples when you threw ‘em in reverse The pay was good the work was light it only rained on Sunday night The rabbits ran up to the hounds the peaches weighed a hundred pounds and you could wear the fuzz But times ain’t like they used to was, My name is Otmer Blonda how the ladies ran me down was bred in the country and the toast of the town It wasn’t hard to make them mine a jug of corn a loaf os swine They’d love me up and beg for more they’d swarm like flies around my door but they no longer buzz Oh times ain’t like they used to was, While shanking down the cattail road I’ve passed a lot of fools the game has always been the same they never learn the rules The groove is worn the record’s thin but still it has to play again My lonesome journey makes me cry so stake my heart and hope to die I can’t go on because times ain’t like they used to was
Track Name: Pick 'em Clean
I’m the finest looking hobo you’ll ever chance to meet All around the jungle fire they call me Handsome Pete We all look out for each other especially first-time boys I care for them just like a son ‘cause I see myself in every one And I pick ‘em clean I pick ‘em clean I’m the sweetest pal they’ve ever seen I beat ‘em down and I pick ‘em clean, There’s a salesman at the station come prowling for some sheep His satchel full of morphine his bankroll hidden deep As I tell him ‘bout the suckers he thinks I’m in the game He says ”where’s the action in this town?” I show him the ropes as I tie him down And I pick him clean I pick him clean I pick ‘em ripe and I pick ‘em green I beat ‘em down and I pick ‘em clean, Some hobos like their sterno some taste the sweet cocaine But they all become quite sober when I push them off the train After pulling off a caper I write my autograph It’s up in chalk for all to see 2/10 H.P. I pick ‘em clean I pick ‘em clean I dust my knucks on their dirty bean I beat ‘em down and I pick ‘em clean, There’s Dagger D and Rickets Big Bacon from Fort Smith Milwaukee Red and Glasseye and many more they’re with In a flophouse they call heaven with a hot stove at their feet They’ve passed on to a better life by my leather sap and bowie knife I picked ‘em clean I picked ‘em clean I ride off on the iron machine I beat ‘em down and I picked ‘em clean
Track Name: Hornin' Zeese
Ose draggy, ink standy, dogbait, chucky, jimheady, tongue-cuppy and I got to get to ottin’ up so early of a mornin’ hornin’ zeese, Dear charlie, slug neemer, that’s earth I’m dreeked from a burlin’ plenty... Seepy eebles, myrt’s sister, bahl skee tidrick in the hobneelch region.. itch neemer, fetched, flattened, lews and larmers in the chiggrel sale
Track Name: Sixes and Sevens
The house of Cecil Blevin’s at sixes and sevens it hardly seems like Whitsuntide the tetherball sits untied the ouija board hid and cried Oh what are we to do the peacock has the flu the mummy woke and wrecked the den What with Cecil in Rhodesia suffering amnesia never to come home again, This headless house is hollow our pampered pet Apollo whimpers by the gazing pool Janine went off to fainting school Jasper lost a one-man duel Our neighbor Miss Biscotti ravishing and naughty coaxes Mum to swear off men, I lean alone and solemn against a broken column succumbing to consumption’s fate a fleeting vision comes too late a bushman at the garden gate My soul has flown to Glory and so to end my story the Reaper’s fingers guide my pen
Track Name: Crouching in the Thicket
The Temperance Union is fighting dissipation with a lecture on the evils of excessive moderation The preacher earns his liquor with a counterfeit bible staring down the devil with an elongated eyeball The future of the nation is hanging by a kitestring spare the rod and you spoil the lightning Too poor to pay a visit too proud to beg to differ crouching in the thicket with a flapper and a sniffer, The abortionist’s mistress sits listless in the mattress tatting on a pattern for a little kitty-cat dress The virgins of the brothel are worth their weight in diamonds the surgeon’s at their service with formaldehyded hymens The syphilitic wet nurse gets a little luncheon sending eggy soldiers to a pestilential dungeon, My new position isn’t a stoke of luck exactly I operate the chopper at the rabbit’s foot factory Old mustardgas Cupid puts nurses by the sickbeds but the shell-shocked soldiers can’t get it through their thick heads And all around the fringes and the outskirts and the borders the rascals have the dollars and the servants have the quarters
Track Name: The Elf-shot Ploughman
I be a tidy ploughman and I heed the harvest horn My mother died a Monday and a Friday was I born They heard me crying in her grave they dug the earth for me to save now to the soil am I a slave Whit-de-dan-di-dee. The witches and the fairies make my labors all in vain At night they work their mischief on the oxen and the grain They ride my cow from out the shed and bring her back a nearly dead the milk she gives is thick and red Whit-de-dan-di-dee, I hold my heavy horses in a stable full of charms Their harnesses are bright with pennies found on lucky farms I shred the bible in their hay a trough of rain from Easter Day and yet they drop and waste away Whit-de-dan-di-dee, Last autumn did we harvest corn that reached a tidy size I wove a maiden from the stalks and in my bed she lies She whispers curses on the crow but April comes with sleet and snow and not one kernel left to grow Whit-de-dan-di-dee, Another jug of zider then I’m headed off to sea And I bequeath my cursed farm to any fool for free The heaving brine the tangled knot the cat o’nine the pirate’s shot I’ll take above a farmer’s lot Whit-de-dan-di-dee
Track Name: Coroner & Knives
In the town of Towanda where the leaves ever fall by the Lithia River in the freemasons’ hall there’s a lithograph picture that’s turned to the wall a memento of long-ago lives Ah the years have unraveled their cloaks and their veils now the beast can be seen ‘neath the top hat and tails for in death all that grow are the teeth and the nails Here’s a picture from Coroner & Knives, See the young couple strolling content as can be as he carves their initials in the old lynching tree then she limps off to work at the glue factory while he frequents bordellos and dives There’s the dashing lieutenant who conquered the waves he appoints his blind mother to mange his slaves and has unwanted children in untended graves Here’s a picture from Coroner & Knives, On her knees in a church in the front of the pews is a poor hungry urchin igniting a fuse for the steeple she claimed was obstructing her views of the hills where the sycamore thrives In the great granite mansions set firm in the mud are the men who chew souls as a cow chews her cud and their pinkies are raised as they sip steaming blood Here’s a picture from Coroner & Knives, Oh Sensitive Listener do not think me cruel for the saint of today may tomorrow look a ghoul and dank is the mineshaft that leads to the jewel and the honey is sweetest down deep in the hives Here’s a picture from Coroner & Knives