Taking Up Serpents Again

by Curtis Eller

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Philippe Tremblay
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Philippe Tremblay really digging the banjo throughout the entire album. Favorite track: Sugar In My Coffin.
Michael Beaver
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Michael Beaver As a time-traveling banjo player and student of collapsed history, @curtiseller is taking up serpents again Favorite track: Sugar In My Coffin.
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about

"There ain't no Elvis Presley from the waist down, or else I ain't learned nothing form T.V."

credits

released October 23, 2004

Curtis Eller: Banjo & Lead Vocal
Joseph "Joebass" DeJarnett: Upright Bass
Chris Moore: Drums
Marilee Eitner: Accordion & Harmony Vocal
Liisa Yonker: Harmony Vocal
Gary Langol: Lap Steel, Piano
Joe Exley: Tuba

Album Artwork by Jamie B. Wolcott

Recorded and Engineered by Brian Fulk
Mastered by Joseph "Joebass" DeJarnett

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about

Curtis Eller Durham, North Carolina

Curtis Eller's American Circus is a brutish, inelegant rock & roll outfit specializing in gospel music for atheists and dance fads for amputees. Mr. Eller's banjo driven compositions describe a dreamlike vision of American history where all points in time have collapsed into one. Abe Lincoln, Buster Keaton and Joe Louis rub shoulders against a backdrop of circus disasters and sweatshop fires. ... more

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Track Name: Taking Up Serpents Again
Taking Up Serpents Again
In the key of F#m


Just like Lon Chaney’s gonna climb down and haunt you in your sleep
Just like any decent funeral’s gonna poor out in the street
If it gets too cold this winter
It’s gonna flood the place next spring
Oo…you can bet it was a sure thing
Yodel-ay-hee Yodel-ay-hee-ooo

Just like that son of bitch gonna wind up in the Whitehouse everytime
And the silver’s there just to keep you mind off the copper in your dime
And the war between the states
Was just a bell they had to ring
Oo…you can bet it was a sure thing
Yodel-ay-hee Yodel-ay-hee-ooo

And I’m taking up serpents again
I’m speaking in tongues unknown to men
I thought the cracks through that heart was finally on the mend
But I’m taking up serpents again
Yes, I’m taking up serpents again

Just like the horses trapped in the saltmine when the companysealed the place
And after they serve the coffee there’s a stain running through the lace
After flying through that fire
There ain’t a feather left in that wing
Oo…you can bet it was a sure thing
Yodel-ay-hee Yodel-ay-hee-ooo

And I’m taking up serpents again
I’m speaking in tongues unknown to men
I thought that was a letter I would never have to send
But I’m taking up serpents again
Yes, I’m taking up serpents again
Track Name: Hide That Scar
Hide That Scar
In the key of D

Johnny’s down in the basement
Cuttin’ off that angel’s wings
Rusty scissors and wood-glue
And he’s tyin’ ‘em on with wire and string

But you know…you’re never gonna hide that scar
You know…you’re never gonna hide that scar
You know…you’re never gonna hide that scar

There’s dried blood on the concrete
Feathers down in the drain
By the time they figure out what happened
It’s gonna be too late

And you know…you’re never gonna hide that scar
You know…you’re never gonna hide that scar
You know…you’re never gonna hide that scar

Well, I can see their faces when I show up at the gate
They’re gonna shake my hand
Lookin’ at me sideways like there’s
Somethin’ they can’t put their fingers on What’s wrong?
Jesus turn these glass wings into sand

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

Step back from that turnstile…
Matthew, Mark and Paul
My heart is brittle as a spider
And these ain’t my wings at all

And you know…you’re never gonna hide that scar
You know…you’re never gonna hide that scar
You know…you’re never gonna hide that scar

There’s champaigne in the gas tank
And the driver turns around so he can shake your hand
Cocaine for the children so they can stay up every night
And watch the band…oh man
Jesus, take me up there if you can
Somebody turn these glass wings into sand
Track Name: Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton
In the key of F


Since they started in with the talkies you can’t get a moment’s peace
But they’re talkin’ just to hear there own voices, well at least…
…that’s what it seems like
‘Cause there’s nothing that I’ve heard that bares repeatin’
Won’t you come back to the movies Buster Keaton?

It barely took a decade for those negatives to decay
But what the Hell man, there was nitrate in the filmstock from those days
…and I guess that’s the problem
But I’m not tired enough to admit that I’ve been beaten
Won’t you come back to the movies Buster Keaton?

I wish that I was Buster Keaton when they took it all away
Getting drunk every night on Irish whiskey
Or maybe Fatty Arbuckle when the headlines finally declared
“Well, I guess that it’s just a mystery
But I’m not gonna be like Charlie Chaplin
Jumpin’ on the first boat…
To sail away before they have a chance to miss me
No I’m staying here…here in New York City
I don’t care how bad it gets

They keep on making pictures but they’re worthless and they’re sad
And they never will make up for the silence that we had…
…and now we’re stuck with it
And the kids are watchin’ T.V. while they’re eatin’
Won’t you come back to the movies Buster Keaton?
Won’t you come back to the movies Buster Keaton?
Won’t you come back to the movies…
Track Name: Sugar In My Coffin
Sugar in My Coffin
In the key of Gm

They’re puttin’ water in the whiskey to keep the boys in line
“You ain’t bustin’ up my place like you did last time”
The drinks’re getting’ weaker with every round they serve
The way they keep you sober is getting’ on my nerves

When I’m dead and gone go I want some sugar in my coffin
If I’ve gotta go I want some sugar in my coffin

There ain’t no Elvis Presley from the waist down
Or else I ain’t learned nothin’ from T.V.
“He’s shakin’ like an animal, point that camera where I said
We need this white boy goin’ crazy like a hole in the head”

When I’m dead and gone go I want some sugar in my coffin
If I’ve gotta go I want some sugar in my coffin

I want sugar in my coffin, I wanna cut the bitter taste
‘Cause the President’s a liar…the county’s fallen in disgrace
And if they’re ever comin clean they ain’t got no time to waste
And if I gotta go…I want some sugar in my coffin

Well I heard about the séance in the Whitehouse yesterday
Has President Lincoln lost his mind?
They caught him in the graveyard, rootin’ in the mud
That’s the father of a nation with the sickness in his blood

Won’t you listen to me Mister? I want some sugar in my coffin
If I really gotta go I want some sugar in my coffin

I want sugar in my coffin, I wanna cut the bitter taste
But they hide it in your money
And there’s cameras everyplace
I been living with it just about as long as I can face
And if I gotta go…I want some sugar in my coffin

I want some sugar Mister
I want some sugar Mister
I want some sugar in my coffin
Track Name: Coney Island Blue
Coney Island Blue
In the key of F

You can still hear Al Joson on the jukebox at Ruby’s
On the boardwalk between Stillwell and Eighth
But the music sounds small, and the pictures on the wall
Make you feel like you’ve missed the parade

The photos from the old days like a star that's grown cold
But the faces just don’t raise a spark
And the Cyclone still shake, but the sound that it makes
“Don’t no one remember Luna Park?”

CHORUS
How I wish that I’d been there
In 1903 after dark
When they would light the place up like the daytime
Don’t no one remember Luna Park?

And the ashes from Dreamland ad Steeplechase Park
Have long disappeared down the coast
And the memories are faint as that blue and red paint
And they break like the bones of a ghost
And they cover it over with that Coney Island blue
Don’t no one remember Luna Park?

CHORUS
How I wish that I’d been there
In 1903 after dark
When they would light the place up like the daytime
Don’t no one remember Luna Park?
Don’t no one remember Luna Park?
Track Name: Stephen Foster
Stephen Foster (Dear friends & Gentle Hearts)
In the key of E

This is the room where Stepohen Foster Died
And this is the song that finally broke his pride
It’s a 37 cent sentimental piece
His fingers shakin’ on the keys
The melody somehow escapes me
my memory has run dry

Elvis Presley gonna thank me for what I done
And nobody works up a crowd, not like Al Jolson
Won’t you bring a dead man one last drink
There’s a shot glass over on the bathroom sink
It’s dark on the Bowery and cold as the Alabama sun

CHORUS
This is the town where Stephen Foster died
This is the town where Stephen Foster died
The melodies fade and the years grow faint
And the kids ain’t wearin’ the black grease paint
Like they did back in 1845

I got a heart that never has been broke
And it’s black from the memory of the Pennsylvania smoke
When I’m gone you can forget this mess
Well, what’s one angel more or less…
Dear friends and gentle hearts?

CHORUS
This is the town where Stephen Foster died
This is the town where Stephen Foster died
The melodies fade and the years grow faint
And the kids ain’t wearin’ the black grease paint
Like they did back in 1845

This is the town where Stephen Foster died
Track Name: Two Of Us
Two Of Us
In the Key of Bbm

When the earth opens up
And swallows you down
All the light from the moon
And the stars will be drown
And when the light in your eyes flickers and fades away
You'll find that it's too late because
When the lights go out they stay

When you wake up down here
And a light fills the room
This light that you're seeing by
Is a thread from the devil's loom
Cause he sews his world up in fire
And I really don't care who you are
You'll stand before him blackened and burned
And you can't tell the skin from the scar

When your skin turns to ash
and falls away in the wind
And your heart clenches in regret
Of all the sin you've sinned
And the swarm of dust mites that fill the air
Will cloud the sun from your sight
And the dust and the ash will grow less everyday
And all your days will be night

But...the...
Moon and the stars will grown birghter
And the blindness in your eyes will fade away
And the fire will grow paler and the black will melt away
And the chains on your feet will decay
and that which is not will suddenly be
When there's two of us instead of only me
Track Name: Amelia Earhart
Amelia Earhart
In the key of F

The wind turned on Amelia just after sunup
And this radio’s been actin’ up all day
She disappeared in a cloudbank and the static never cleared
Well, at least you never have to die this way.

They say she turned up again in 1940
Goin’ by the name “Tokyo Rose”
Just a sweet voice on the airwaves floatin’ out of Japan
But that doesn’t seem to likely I suppose

I wish I was Amelia Earhardt
I wish I was Amelia Earhardt
I wish I was Amelia Earhardt
Like a tombstone worn smooth by the years
I wish that I was Amelia Earhardt
‘Cause Charles Lindbergh lived his life in fear

The ones that stay to long run up on trouble
Like the Lindbergh Baby somewhere down the line
They’ll bust into the house at night while everybody’s sleepin’
And make off with that babe everytime

I wish I was Amelia Earhardt
I wish I was Amelia Earhardt
I wish I was Amelia Earhardt
Like a tombstone worn smooth by the years
I wish that I was Amelia Earhardt
‘Cause Charles Lindbergh lived his life in fear
Track Name: Red Red Robin
When the red red robin comes bob bob bobbing along
Track Name: Stagecoach
Stagecoach
In the key of E

Hey…hey Mary
I never seen it snow
Like it did last night
I heard the runway’s icing over

And I hope
You will forgive me
But I lied about the stagecoach
And I never have been west of Chicago

And there’s a half dead full moon on the kitchen floor
I never felt so cold before
And even New York birds got the sense
To stay out of Michigan
This time of year

Don’t you know that I can’t sleep when you’re not here