Insomnibus

by Al Duvall

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about

All songs Copyright 2013 Al Duvall BMI

credits

released August 21, 2013

Recorded by Meg Reichardt at Soapbox Studios.
Karen Waltuch- viola
Andy Cotton- bass
Franklin Bruno- piano
Bree Benton- backing vocals
Josh Whitehead- drums
Photo by Kristin Duvall
Collage by Freepy Schwirtel

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Al Duvall Brooklyn, New York

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Track Name: Tapeworm
The system is just a dirty trick
You work and you work until you’re sick
To hand over all you earn for room and board
You barely survive and what’s it for
To keep you alive to work some more
And struggle and strive for things you can’t afford
I find myself wishing in despair
To live in the kind of system where
The powers above are tending those beneath
No more starving or complaining
Manna from heaven ever raining
Down on my picnic while I pick my teeth
Oh, wouldn’t it take the cake to be a tapeworm
I never would let another meal escape
Taking a share of what comes through
Just like Internal Revenue
Just like the brokers with their ticker tape
And if I had a position on the inside
At the end of the tunnel I would see some light
Taking my cut from soup to nuts
You better believe it takes some guts
Being a tapeworm sure would be alright

Oh, wouldn’t it take the cake to be a tapeworm
Having somebody else prepare your food
Go to the market, pay the bill
Cook up the steak and clean the grill
They’ll even send it down already chewed
Taken out to the finest French restaurants
Dining like a Parisian parasite
I’d pick up my glass and raise a toast
Here’s to your health my gracious host
Being a tapeworm sure would be alright
Track Name: Blood Bank Blues
I never waltzed an angel ‘cross the floor
Never watched a dreamboat hug the shore
Until I went to Maine and I met my ball and chain
I’d never met a metaphor before

We have nothing on which to dine
And we’ve nearly run out of wine
So grab the shoe rags and the brush and we’ll work the morning rush
Baby now is our time to shine

Can’t you see the wolf is at the door
And he’s scratching to get out once more
He’s so cold and slim, I really feel bad for him
I’ll pick him something up from the store

I’m hanging up my hat while it’s still on my head
Another pint of blood and I’m still in the red
I got the blood bank blues, I’ve been put up for sale
I’m not claiming I’m an honest man
I’m just afraid to go to jail

Oh the lightning in the sky went wild
Hit the dairy as my boy retiled
He got badly burned but a lesson there was learned
Spare the rod and spoil the child

One night my daddy said to me
Son, I’m heading on out to sea
Then he trucked on down to the girlie show in town
And he saw my mama dance for free

Our preacher at the coal mine stressed
That the humble and the meek are blessed
We’ll inherit the earth- exactly six feet worth
But the company owns the rest
Track Name: Poor Lot's Wife
The four-eyed preacher took the podium
About how Lot’s wife hit bottom
How she turned to chloride and sodium
When she turned to look at Sodom
And he said Let’s not let Lot get forgot
Raise your Bibles if you brought ‘em

Poor Lot’s wife, poor Lot’s wife, remember this poor sinner
Get your fork and knife and pour Lot’s wife
On your breakfast, lunch and dinner

The angels changed her into salt to serve as a reminder
For Lot’s wife found it hard to leave the Sodomites behind her
Lot dragged her home upon a cart and tried hard not to spill her
He tucked her into bed and laid his head upon the pillar

She started cussing out her man, she’d verbally assault him
And so he tried to pass her off and nobody could fault him
He took her to the Navy Yard, he brought her by the baker
But no one even got a pinch- old Lot just couldn’t shake her

She really got his pressure up and things were looking dicey
He threw her out onto the street one winter- it was icy
And so beware my sisters if for sin you have an itchin’
The story’s moral is a woman’s place is in the kitchen
Track Name: Exterminator Man
Lady, have you been complaining that your man is just a mouse?
Or maybe the iceman or the milkman left some cooties round your house
Or you got a hornet in your hairnet cause a louse moved in to stay
If you wake up at night itchin’ I can come around and spray

Call the exterminator man
And I’ll take out your pest
Exterminator man
I’ll sniff out your nest
I’ll squirt all round your pipe work
I’ll squirt behind your drawers
I’ll squirt between the cushions on your divan
Just call the exterminator man
I’ll squirt down in your mattress
Where the mighty bedbug roars
I’ll squirt until there’s nothing left in the can
Just call the exterminator man

Now do the flies and cockroaches use your cupboard for a club?
Or you’ve got ants and their cousins who line up to grab your grub
Or you’re getting kisses from mosquitoes who aren’t put off by a slap
I’ll come by every Friday and see if something sprung your trap

Call the exterminator man
If papa’s bed’s no good
Exterminator man
Could be termites in his wood
I’ll lay down lines of powder and your itch will soon be gone
I got stuff that the government tries to ban
Just call the exterminator man
I’ll hit the nooks and crannies, inside and round your lawn
If it smells a little funny turn on a fan
Hooray for the exterminator man
Track Name: I Left My Kazoo In Kalamazoo
Oh I’m so glad to be back with you darling
I’ll never leave you lonely anymore
I’d love to take you on a trip around the world
From Akron to Lake Erie’s rocky shore
I want to build that outhouse we’ve been planning
And spend my life with you in happiness
But something has come up that takes me out of town
An urgent matter that I must address

I left my kazoo in Kalamazoo- the one with the silver holder
The only kazoo that I ever knew is sitting there getting colder
I usually keep it here in my shoe
Until I can blow it I will be blue
I know I should spend your birthday with you
But I left my kazoo in Kalamazoo

Now this time I am home for good my darling
I’ve come back motivated and inspired
And pretty soon I’ll go and try to find a job
But at the moment I’m so very tired
I can’t recall specifics from my journey
The who and how and where and why and when
But I’ve just remembered what it was that called me away
So sadly I must leave you once again

I left my kazoo in Kalamazoo- the one with the silver holder
The only kazoo that I ever knew is sitting there getting colder
I really must work on getting there soon
I’m worried that it will go out of tune
I know that today our baby is due
But I left my kazoo in Kalamazoo

I left my kazoo in Kalamazoo- the one with the silver holder
The only kazoo that I ever knew is sitting there getting colder
I usually keep it here in my shoe
Until I can blow it I will be blue
I know that you’re stuck in bed with the flu
But I left my kazoo in Kalamazoo
Track Name: Phillip Stein The Brewer
By showing you the gallows, my intention
Is the alcoholic habit to inhibit
So allow me to direct your condescension
To the rotting corpse that hangs up in the gibbet
You ask who was that fiendish evildoer?
Why, you haven’t heard of Philip Stein the brewer?

He brewed a most insipid ale
That no one sipped or put on sale
His profits barely tipped the scale
He faced financial ruin
So he added poems to the tank
And shredded money from the bank
And lobster tails- but no one drank
No matter what he threw in
And then one night old Charlie Pratt
A drunken worker, dropped his hat
And disappeared into the vat
And with him fortune flew in
Philip Stein the brewer, Philip Stein the brewer
Poor old Charlie fell in with the barley of Philip Stein the brewer

The new beer was a great success
Renowned for its full-bodiedness
I must make more, despite the mess
Said Stein without compunction
The orphanage has a huge supply
Of cast-out children I can buy
I’ll say I need a staff for my
New bottleworks to function
They’d soon lie dead upon his floor
Then right back to the orphanage door
"They’ve all run off- I’ll need some more"
And he’d meet them at the junction
Philip Stein the brewer, Philip Stein the brewer
Poor Hansel and Gretel went into the kettle of Philip Stein the brewer

His golden beer was tinged with rose
A lovely head, a spicy nose
And left a lace from off the clothes
Of some poor little victim
The Temperance Union made it clear
His tavern served all ages beer
“There’s children getting drunk in here!”
And they lobbied to restrict him
And then at last we learned the truth
When someone found a baby tooth
While drinking from the Fountain of Youth
And the coppers came and nicked him
Philip Stein the brewer, Philip Stein the brewer
They found the bones down in the sewer of Philip Stein the brewer
Track Name: Sweet Sweet Young 'un
If you go by any popular ballad
You’d think that dames came out of a salad
We’ve got peaches with cherry lips, and we moan
About cute tomatoes who say "Let us alone"
The fury of a woman’s scorn has likely scorched your ears
But there’s one little vegetable out in the garden
Who will have you all in tears- are there any volunteers?

She’s a sweet sweet young ’un from Vidalia Georgia
She may be right off the farm
But she has more rings than Lucrezia Borgia
And she’ll lay you out with her radiant charm
When she breathes a sigh you’ll wish she’d ignored ya
But then she starts to peel
All the boys in town must stay up crying
Look at all the hankies on the clotheslines drying
She’s a sweet sweet young ’un from Vidalia Georgia
And she knows her onions, boy

She’s a sweet sweet young ’un from Vidalia Georgia
Fresh from the sunny South
Ya better eat some mints when she minces toward ya
Or the South will rise again in your mouth
She’s an easy date that you can afford, ya
Just take her out to eat
But you won’t see moisture in my eye
‘Cause I’m the guy what makes the onions cry
That sweet sweet young ’un from Vidalia Georgia
She knows her onions boy!
Track Name: Taxidermy Hunter
When I was just a stripling I was always reading Kipling
By the fire in the parlour after tea
I could see the banners rippling and the sergeant-majors tippling
And I knew colonial service was for me
I was dutiful and patient and in India was stationed
I spent holidays out shooting- wouldn’t you?
It was tigers that I wanted so I hunted in the haunted
Himalayas- what would any cat man do?
When one day I spied the tiger I desire
I tracked him up a mountain ever higher
He bravely perished when I opened fire
And wearing only tropical attire
Quite frozen I decided to expire
So I wrote a note requesting, should a climber find us resting
Have us mounted in a case for everybody to admire

Now I’m a taxidermy hunter of the animals on display
A specimen of a breed of man that’s sadly died away
I’ll hold my ground forever like the Empire proud and true
And I’ll wager that I’ve got a stiffer upper lip than you
Dead aim,hard flesh,
And a little bit of formaldehyde to keep me looking fresh
I’m no statue that is waxy I am what you call a taxidermy hunter
Ta-ra-boom-de-boom-de-ay!

If you’re looking at us posing here and wonder how it feels
Just think of a Christmas turkey or a pot of jellied eels
With trophies all around me, oh wouldn’t it be fun!
But atrophy is all I have and cannot lift me gun
Sleeping sickness doesn’t frighten me, I tell you why
For nobody has ever tried to stuff a tsetse fly
The taxidermist fancies me- a fact she can’t disguise
I catch her making eyes at me when she is making eyes
Track Name: Canarsie
The twins are getting beaten in a mean joint
They’re doubled over screaming out for Marcy
But Marcy’s held at gunpoint up in Greenpoint
For larceny and arson in Canarsie

I followed the police investigation
On walkie-talkies picked up on my wireless
I got off at the final subway station
As an amateur detective I am tireless

The crime scene I encountered there was awesome
A chalk line on the sand round a cadaver
The note said "I am only playing possum
And if you like my widow you can have her"

She staggered in the grip of Dionysus
Boy, what did all the carnies at the bar see?
The coroner bought us all Italian ices
And we all enjoyed the morning in Canarsie

The atmosphere was viscous at the dockside
And fragrant with hibiscus and monoxide
My head was spinning off me like a discus
I dropped just like a rock inside a rockslide

I awoke upon a trawler bound for Norway
As helpless as an auctioneer with lockjaw
And the quartermaster looming in the doorway
With an opiate concocted by a Choctaw

Now I’m slaving through the summer salmon season
Hobbling on my shattered metatarsi
And since my story has more rhyme than reason
I’ll say I’d rather be back in Canarsie
Track Name: The Creeper
Every day I go into the park
And I stay until it closes
Though folks rush home when it gets dark
I stop and smell the bicycle seats
In a tree I sit up with the squirrels
Singing like a nightingale
Dirty love songs to the little girls
Oh, it’s worth the night in jail

I’m a creeper long and skinny
And I come from old Virginny
And I think that you will never see
The creeper hiding in the tree

Oh I stretch out in a bed of flowers
And absorb its lovely fragrance
For I often spend my leisure hours
Making whoopee with the vagrants
If you’re out to find some splendor in
The gazebo with your honey
I’ll be in the rhododendron
Looking through your coat for money

Once a horsy caught me drinking rye
In the saddle sat a cop
The horsy raised his tail high
And he let the matter drop
In the park you may take any path
But a sociopath don’t follow
For I’ll show you where I take my bath
And you’ll find it hard to swallow
Track Name: At The Seance
When Death lays down his grim sickle
His grin looks almost whimsical
When he sits at the switchboard, straps on his headset
And listens to the living try to telephone the dead set
We all appreciate a medium when she sends a message through the ether
She helps alleviate the tedium of waiting here in purgatory beneath her
So when the madam rang, I rose right up and sang

At the séance, what fun to be invited to the séance
My senses were ignited
I wrapped myself around the pretty parlor maid
Her skeleton shook like gelatin or marmalade
At the séance, I drew fantastic pictures with some crayons
And spun the lighting fixtures
I chatted with the family through the Ouija
They thought I was a brother named Luigi

Since I’m just a lonely orphan’s spirit
Doomed to roam the earth and never slumber
I’ll heed the summons when I hear it
Even if it’s just a wrong number

At the séance, I gave a little solace to the gray aunts
Who thought I was Uncle Wallace
I flirted with their little cousin Nancy
And showed her some romantic necromancy
A fact that her fiancé didn’t fancy
At the séance

It isn’t often someone tries to call us
The sessions are for those who can afford ‘em
We sit around ignored, by our families and the Lord
Oh, the afterlife is everlasting boredom
Track Name: When I Played The Dane In Des Moines
They say if you want to make Hamlet
You’ve got to break a few legs
Now recall how a bit of a jam let
Our troupe descend into the dregs
We were booked to play the Lusitania
It’s a shame how that deal went down
So alas, we left York Pennsylvania
On the freight trains out West, town to town
By the end I was bitter and jaded
Looking for a Chautauqua to join
After I was disgraced and degraded
When I played the Dane in Des Moines

We presented the Bard ‘cross the nation
To the stockyards we brought summer stock
We had heard of Des Moines’ cultivation
When we found that meant corn- what a shock!
In the round at a wrestling venue
Some egged us on, more egged us off
We were served every dish on the menu
From the buffet set up in a trough
I cried “I’ll surrender when pigs fly!”
Then somebody tossed a pork loin
Soon the castle resembled a pigsty
When I played the Dane in Des Moines

The sword fight took place in a hog pen
Some wag barred the gate with a board
We couldn’t reach the epilog when
The pen had more might than the sword
Then the crowd started dozing and nodding
And snoring rang out loud and clear
But they rose up and started applauding
When the man came with peanuts and beer
If you think we got paid, you’re mistaken
Though Ophelia was showered with coin
For she told them the play was by Bacon
When I played the Dane in Des Moines
Track Name: The Shady Side Of The Street
Sunshine- the cause of jubilation
Of corn in Oklahoma and other vegetation
Of stroke and melanoma, of thirst and perspiration
Some find the brightness is oppressing
Like couples getting snuggly, or penitents confessing
Or people who are ugly- the darkness is a blessing
I know when I’m out in the burning heat
I seek the shadows and admit defeat

On the shady side of the street
It’s the shoddy side of the street
With the shuttered stores and the shabby whores
And the suicide beneath a splattered sheet
But the shadows let me retreat
And I, not compelled to compete
So I nimbly fade into the dim parade
On the shady side of the street

On the avenue of dives and missions
I can feel like a millionaire with just a dollar-eighty
On the boulevard of broken English
I can loiter with the litter picker and the cleaning lady

And the isolation is sweet
In the squalor I’ll never meet
With the sweaty crowds, out where they’ve swept the clouds
On the shady side of the street
Track Name: Slippery Elm
On death row we are fond of the hangman of the town
He’s always been dependable, he’s never let us down
Today he’s getting married, he’s going to tie the knot
His swinging days are over now, there’s going to be a tot
To build his baby’s room he took apart his gallows pole
So now they’ll hang us in the trees, and since I’ve no parole

Hang me from the apple tree, the one right in the square
So I can kick some apples down to my girl standing there
Don’t hang me from a coffee tree, or I’ll stay up all night
But hang me from a bonsai tree ‘cause I’m afraid of heights
I could not plead insanity for spilling blood and guts
So hang me from a pecan tree to prove that I am nuts
And when you hang my Emmaline, it’s an evergreen for her
For I could never find the dough to put her in a fir
They caught me stealing jewelry but I swallowed all the things
So hang me from a redwood, cut me down and count the rings
I think I caught a cold in jail, and here’s my doctor’s note
So hang me from a slippery elm, to prevent a scratchy throat
I feel my life’s been all for knot as I take my final bough
Let’s drop the subject please, I’m feeling pretty…choked up… now
Track Name: One Fathom Down
The captain boards his ship and gazes once more at the shore
And waves to wife and children who he may see nevermore
For he has cast his fortune in the wandering water’s flow
He says "Farewell dear Albany, set Sal for Buffalo"
The voyage was calm til three days out there rose a northerly breeze
The rain poured down, the barge was tossed, the mule began to sneeze
The first mate jumped off at a farm and ran into the gale
He went to find a hayloft- Captain ordered him to bail

One fathom down and one foot more in sunken wrecks are found
The bones of brave and fearless men the Erie Canal has drowned

No use was sextant, charts or glass in such a heavy fog
But by the starboard bow we saw the mule chased by a dog
She crossed a bridge and jumped and swung out hanging by her neck
The towline snapped and poor old Sal crashed right down through the deck
The water quickly filled the barge and lifted up our kilts
And none of us knew how to swim and no one packed the stilts
The captain ordered us to sit and die a noble death
If we’d just stood up for ourselves we could have caught out breath