Wirewalkers & Assassins

by Curtis Eller

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1.
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
2.
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
3.
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
4.
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…
5.
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 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
6.
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.)
7.
(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
8.
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
9.
Firing Squad 02:21
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
10.
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

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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Curtis Eller Durham, North Carolina

Curtis Eller is a banjo player, songwriter and rock & roll singer who's songs describe a dreamlike vision of American history where all points in time have collapsed into one. A twenty-year show business veteran, Eller has developed a devoted international following with his band, The American Circus. ... more

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