Wirewalkers & Assassins

by Curtis Eller

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about

"Life is being on the wire, everything else is just waiting." - Karl Wallenda, Wirewalker

"I am abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me." - John Wilkes Booth, Assassin

credits

released April 7, 2008

Curtis Eller: Banjo & Lead Vocal
Chris Moore: Drums and Harmony Vocal
Gary Langol: Upright Bass, Organ, Mandolin, Lap Steel
Joseph "Joebass" DeJarnette: Upright Bass
Liisa Yonker: Harmony Vocal
Marilee Eitner: Accordion & Harmony Vocal
Amy Kohn: Accordion
Rima Fand: Violin & Harmony Vocal

Album Artwork by Jamie B. Wolcott

Recorded & Engineered by Brian Fulk
Mastered by Richard Morris
Photos by Tim McGuire

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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: After the Soil Fails
After the Soil Fails
In the key of Gm

This time the dream is a Russian oil tanker
Fidel Castro and the Cuban sugar cane
Richard Nixon is having the same old nightmare
Jack Ruby’s black secret crawlin’ up through the drain

So if William Tecumseh Sherman and the Union army
Come to finish off Savannah, just let it fall
’Cause even if they burn up all that Confederate money
You’re gonna find that Rebel engine right where it stalled

One of these days the soil’s gonna give out
And the Harvest moon will rise broken and pale
‘But like a million worthless acres of Oklahoma farmland
You’re gonna find me…right here…after the soil fails

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

When the hurricanes finally take out New Orleans
And the scarlet fever has left Philadelphia bare
And Malaria’s hanging on the New World like a shadow
There’s a ghost that we remember hangin’ in the air
(There’s a ghost that we remember still hangin’ there)

Hey little girl, there ain’t no use in crying
Keeping us up all night with that moaning wail
Like the dead horizon stretching out for a November mile
You’re gonna find me…right here…after the soil fails

One of these days the soil’s gonna give out
And the Harvest moon will rise broken and pale
‘But like a million worthless acres of Oklahoma farmland
You’re gonna find me…right here…after the soil fails
You’re gonna find me here afer he soil fails
Track Name: John Wilkes Booth (Don't Make Us Beg)
John Wilkes Booth (Don’t Make Us Beg)
In the key of D

John Wilkes Booth has let me down for the last time
God help us if we can’t pull this rotten tooth
I don’t care it the Civil War starts all over
I’m through waiting for John Wilkes Booth

We need a man like John Brown down in Harper’s Ferry
Dreams jumping out of his head, you can watch ‘em burn
Just a wild-eyed lunatic from Kansas
Somebody to teach ‘em a lesson that’s gonna stay learned

Where is John Wilkes Booth when we need him?
To drop a match in this powder keg?
That son of a bitch is up there in the balcony all alone
C’mon, John Wilkes Booth don’t make us beg

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

They’re dumping gasoline in the backyard, man I seen ‘em
Draggin’ Herbert Hoover out of that hole
They’re soaping over the windows in the Whitehouse
And they’re sinking all their money into coal

Where is Lee Harvey Oswald…
When we’re shaking and afraid?
We need is a shadow in every window along the parade route
To make ‘em wish that they’d never joined that motorcade

Where is John Wilkes Booth when we need him?
C’mon man and shake that broken leg
That son of a bitch is up there in the balcony, man I can see ‘em
John Wilkes Booth don’t make us beg
John Wilkes Booth don’t make us beg
John Wilkes Booth don’t make us beg
Track Name: Hartford Circus Fire, 1944
Hartford Circus Fire, 1944
In the key of G

The lead man stepped out on the wire
A spark drifted down through the stands
And the Flying Wallendas
And the crowd all drew a breath
The maestro kept a short leash on the band

The rigging went up like a match-head
And Karl said, “boys don’t look down”
It was right here in Hartford back in 1944
Barnum cast a shadow on this town

And the canvas was roaring like thunder
And the ashes still stick to our shoes
And except for the nightmares and the coughing
It’s like the circus never passed through
It’s like the circus never passed through

Now the angels voices don’t carry
The choirs disband and drift apart
And Jesus Christ himself was struck silent
By this smoking Connecticut heart

A panic swept through the bigtop
“Stars and Stripes Forever” and those screams
And no one in Hartford is sleeping easy
‘cause the circus lives here in our dreams
the circus lives here in our dreams
Track Name: Sugar for the Horses
Sugar For The Horses
In the key of Am

The last I heard of boss Tweed, they had him locked down in the tombs
Tammanny Hall has finally lost its bloom
He’s just another millionaire in chains breaking stone
You shoulda heard that knocked out jailbird moan
It’s been years since he’s heard the angels singing
How we long to hear those heavenly voices
But when the last chorus has grown silent
There’s always sugar for the horses
There’s always sugar, always sugar for the horses
When there’s no one left to sing
And if it ain’t the sweetest harmony you’ve ever heard
There’s always sugar for the horses

They’re dropping atom bombs outside of Vegas in the sand
You can watch ‘em while you listen to the band
And they’ve even got Elvis Presley chained up like a dog
Amphetamines to keep him in a fog
And you can plan on getting drunk every morning
If we don’t wanna sober up who’s gonna force us?
And even if the Vostead Act is back on the books
There’s always sugar for the horses
There’s always sugar, always sugar for the horses
When you’re as sober as a stone
But if the bourbon isn’t sweet enough to suit ya
There’s always sugar for the horses

When the service lets out and they pull back the pews
I can’t believe what’s buried underneath our shoes
They’re holding church service where the dogfights used to be
I don’t care if New York sinks into the sea
‘Cause no one’s hearing wedding bells ringing
Just another year of funerals and divorces
You can leave the whole town stranded at the alter
And there’s always sugar for the horses
There’s always sugar, always sugar for the horses
When you’re left standing all alone
And even if your sweetheart up and leaves you
There’s always sugar for the horses
There’s always sugar…
Track Name: The Curse of Cain
The Curse Of Cain
In the key of D

Another moon on the stinking Potomac
I’ll be ready when the dogs break their chains
They’ve chased me like a thief through the dark roads of Virginia
But if I had to I would do it all again

Jefferson Davis is just a shadow
No heart left in Robert E. Lee
Useless, useless, they’re all worse than cowards
Every Confederate heart has cut me free

Abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
I am abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
Abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
I am abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me

Abraham Lincoln had it coming
He had the blood of the Union to bear
He may rise like a ghost in every dream north of Richmond
But behind him I will always be there

Abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
I am abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
Abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
I am abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me

Abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
I am abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
Abandoned with the curse of Cain upon me
I am abandoned with the curse of Cain…
Track Name: Sweatshop Fire
Sweatshop Fire
In the key of Fm

I’m gonna burn….like a sweatshop fire
I’m climbing up into the rafters, I’m gonna clip that angels wire
I’m gonna lock the factory doors an let ‘em sweep the ashes away
If you was holding out for the union to save
I guess you just turned up on a bad day
‘Cause this time I ‘m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

I’m getting drunk…like Ulysses S. Grant
I’m going down to Antietam with a quart of bourbon in my hand
I’m gonn akick the shit out of Vicksburg, strip the silver from that dime
You better hope that the Confederacy comes to its senses
Before I start drinking ‘cause this time…
I’m gonna get fucked up like Ulysses S. Grant

I’m caving in…like a Pittsburgh mine
Just as black as a Tuesday in 1929
Don’t you know I’m gonna shake it like I’m from Memphis, TN
And when the timbres start to rattle and the walls come down
There ain’t no Tupelo midnight got nothing on me
‘Cause this time I ‘m caving in like a Pittsburgh mine

Just as sure as Jack Ruby’s gonna set things right
There’s always daybreak at the edge of night
And this time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

INSRUMENTAL BRIDGE

I’m blowing in…the last blizzard of the year
I’m giving up on the church, like I was never even here
This storm’s gonna hi in the springtime, burn out the roots like a frost
I’m gonna leave the county at the mercy of the salt trucks
This heart is as black as any union boss
I’m gonna sink down like a frost I’m gonna burn out the roots

Just as sure as Jack Ruby’s gonna set things right
There’s always daybreak at the edge of night
And this time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

This time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire
This time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire
Just as sure as Jack Ruby’s gonna set things right
There’s always daybreak at the edge of night
And this time I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire

(I’m gonna burn like a sweatshop fire, etc.)
Track Name: Plea of the Aerialist's Wife
(Bring My Man) Down From The Wire
In the key of F

My man is giving up on the wire
And he ain’t going up no more
But the platform’s at a foolish height
And he’s up there one more time tonight
And I’m standing helpless in another crowd
Down here on the floor

My man promised me that he would retire
Sometimes it’s easy to forget
But these nightmares never flake with rust
Like a cable caught in a sudden gust
And this old fool says there ain’t no honor
In working with a net

Bring my man down from the wire
I’ll do anything in return
Won’t you deliver this old heart from the circus fire
Don’t walk away and let it burn
Don’t walk away and let it burn

I don’t care if the canvas calls to you
You promised me you would not be there
Will it take another fall to make this point?
Or should I drag you back up to Detroit?
Where I watched you fall, and like a fool
All I could do was stare

Bring my man down from the wire
You’d think after all these years I would learn
Won’t you deliver this old heart from the circus fire
Don’t walk away and let it burn

Bring my man down from the wire
I’ll do anything in return
Won’t you deliver this old heart from the circus fire
Don’t walk away and let it burn
Don’t walk away and let it burn
Track Name: Daisy Josephine
Daisy Josephine
In the key of G

The Penn Station Angels rise up
From the New Jersey swamps where they been
They hang in the air and drift past Herald Square
And look down over New York again

And Dreamland rises up from the ashes
Those flickering lights by the sea
An echo from the moon, an old boardwalk tune
Coney Island just the way it should be

Daisy Josephine…Daisy Josephine…
The Penn Station Angels watch over your dreams

INSRUMENTAL BREAK

Even Old Robert Moses
Has returned to undo past mistakes
Turning that wine back to water
For Daisy if that’s what it takes

Daisy Josephine...Daisy Josephine…
The Penn Station angels watch over your dreams

The Penn Station angels watch over your dreams
For Daisy Josehine
Track Name: Firing Squad
Firing Squad
In the key of Gm

They say Tokyo’s the new Motor City
They’re digging up Henry Ford
And when the salt mines finally cave in
There ain’t gonna be no Detroit anymore

And the Mississippi don’t lead nowhere
You can forget about New Orleans
This water ain’t fit to put out a fire
I would rather drink a bottle of gasoline

Robert Moses is ripping up the Bronx again
I never seen a scar so deep
Just another blackout for New York City
It’s a town that can’t get to sleep

So I’m turning in my badge tomorrow
I’m gonna get out if I gotta crawl
I’m gonna leave the keys in the ignition
I’m gonna let the engine stall

I’m giving up on the firing squad, I’m giving up on the firing squad
I musta been crazy to take this job
I’m giving up on the fire in squad

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

You can’t shake the shiver out of your money
You can’t get sugar in a time of war
The Pennsylvania coal fire’s burning out
And the world’s turning cool at the core

When the wirewalkers and assassins
Are the only ones who risk a fall
You gotta take it to the wire man
I’m gonna let the engine stall

I’m giving up on the firing squad, I’m giving up on the firing squad
I’m getting out, I swear to god
But I musta been crazy to take this job

I’m giving up on the firing squad, I’m giving up on the firing squad
I musta been crazy to take this job
I’m giving up on the fire in squad
Track Name: Save Me Joe Louis
Save Me Joe Louis
In the key of A

Here’s hoping things get better
After I’m gone away
If I was there with you I would drink myself blind
But these hard times could be here all day

Mr. Roosevelt in the Whitehouse
Can deliver no comfort down here
And I know that it’s only a paper moon
But it’s the last hope to fight back this fear

Save me Joe Louis, save me…
The last words that I’ll ever say
Save me Joe Louis, save me…
Let the gas chamber take me away

INSTRUMENTAL BREAK

Like a pistol shot in the salt mine
Like the tone of a funeral bell
Like a blow that could take out Jack Dempsey
I’m gonna call out when they drag me from my cell

Save me Joe Louis, save me…
The last words that I’ll ever say
Save me Joe Louis, save me…
Let the gas chamber take me away

Save me Joe Louis, save me…
The last words that I’ll ever say
Save me Joe Louis, save me…
Let the gas chamber take me away

Joe Louis come and save me today