critters

by peter j hochstedler

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recorded may - october 2010

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released October 17, 2010

cover art by kelsey garrity-riley

"all god's critters," "the philosopher," "open window," and "sweet mercy jesus" with angela singin' along

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peter j hochstedler Lansing, Michigan

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Track Name: all god's critters
don't all god's critters got a place in the choir
some sing low, some sing higher
some sing out loud on the telephone wire
some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they got

well i been ramblin a long way now
rambled, brambled, bloody o' brow
with a list of sin as long as the road is long,
carrying my heavy load song;

calves' been kneed up
hives been beat up
donkey bray, pick his feet up
porcupine's sharp soliloquy
knows even the crows know better than me

that all god's critters got a place in the choir
some sing low, don't some sing higher
some sing out loud on the radio wire
some just clap their hands
Track Name: radio
raw in the old
world of road
raw in the barn
brown in the cold

crowd in a line
crowd in a row
crowd in the raw
wake of the world

give us a sign!
give us a green light!
good lord make us a bright braid twined together!
road been beating me down, been
beating me down been beating
me down been
beating me!

radio
the bricksmack inside the radio
you were an earthquake rammed into the raw
there were unusual birds about
there was a jackdaw on.

radio
the tribal talk from out the radio
they were farming us! it's true
they had a fence around
they had a field where bodies grew

give us a song!
give us a homeland!
good lord twined together!
farm been beating me down bean beating
me down been
beating me!

raw in the old
world of road
raw in the barn
knife in the cold

tribe in a line
tribe in a row
tribe in the raw
wake of the world
Track Name: bottle message ii
they caught the critter clean
pinned him down on a carousel
caught the fucker clean
nailed him down on a merry-go
round the ragged dreams
screwed him tight in a bottle-o'
screwed in tight in a bottle-o'

and they sailed around the globe
in a ragged man-o-war
oh they cut right through the sea
cast their bets on a bottle-o'
sailed their ships in a bottle

and they wore their ragged songs
and they gloried in their robes
and the ocean was their bed
cast the critter to the bottom-o'
drowned the fucker in the bottom-o'

and they go on the merry-go
round they go on the merry-go
they go on the merry-go-round they
go on the merry-go

and we know the wicked deeds!
and we wake up in the night!
lay my head on a carousel
lay my head on a merry-go

and the critter is alive!
he's overcome the deep!
craned his neck from the bottom-o'
broke the neck of the bottle-o'
broke the neck of the bottle-o'

and o!
and o!

when the world has turned
and the sea give up its dead
when the order over-turned
cast your bets on a bottle-o'
bed you down on a miracle round

and i wear my ragged song
and i glory in my robe
and the ocean is my bed
churning down to the bottom-o'
yearning deep in the bottom-o'

and the critter is alive!

and they (we) go on the merry-go
round they (we) go on the merry-go
they (we) go on the merry-go round they (we) go on
the merry-go they (we) go on the merry-go round
they (we) go on the merry-
go round they (we) go on the merry-go round they (we)
go on the merry-go round
Track Name: the philosopher
i was unmanned when the hurricane
came off the sea and into my brain.
the philosopher, she was bloodless;
she had her fist in my crevice

close your eyes, it's a shitshow!
we got limbless cats prancing in calico,
half-naked men in the harbor
swilling cheap beer, grilling a crow.

the town was laid out on the bedsheets,
we were carefree in our shipfleet.
the philosopher, she came angry,
laid her ruined arms next to me.

and in the morning hour i was wrapped in sails.
she was writing proofs by the bedrails.
and the hospital was a carnival
and we made love with two-faced animals.

then a violent wind passed between us!
brought down the ferris wheel and the tilt-a-whirl.
it was capital! all the crumbles
of the strong-man with his limbs unfurled

then the water broke
and she was down
the philosopher started to scream,
said, "i set it up!
this whole kitschy show!
just close your eyes with me!"

it unmasted me, the hurricane
in a basinet with a bulbous brain,
and i wove some reeds smeared in bitumen,
pushed the infant out down the seine.

close your eyes! it's a shitshow!
we got lions out roaming the rodeo!
half naked men in the harbor
reading the collected works of cicero!

and her water broke
and we were drowned.
the philosopher started to scream,
said, "i set it up!
this whole garrish show!
just close your eyes and see!"

a child could have knocked me down
if a child would have wanted to,
but darling i was that child
and baby so were you.

with a bulbous brain
and a flimsy frame
and the feathered crest
of a cockatoo!
Track Name: litany
where all the fathers gone?
fat and nimble, weak and strong--
where all the fathers gone?

they out broken at the break of dawn,
they broken at the break of dawn.

where all the mothers go
when the sun comes up over ol' saint joe? say--
where all the mothers go?

they out peddling songs of woe,
they our peddling their woe.

where all the brothers be?
when the swing hang still from the old rugged tree--
where all the brothers be?

they out casting nets in the sea,
they cast their nets in the sea.

so come on sister, sing along,
a world of war is a world of wrong
and our empty house don't belong
here in a world of wrong

the old door creaks at the crack of dawn,
it moans in a world of wrong.

where all the lovers hide?
cooing lips and plumes of pride--
where all the lovers hide?

they all bleed in the good lord's side,
they bleed in the good lord's side.

they all clasp their hands and cry
and bleed in the good lord's side.
Track Name: dollar bill blues
down by the banks of the old saint joe
poor man richard been feeling low
got no plans, nowhere to be
said "the bugs in the dirt got it better than me
good lord
them critters got it better than me"

come old man franklin out for a walk
see poor man richard there sitting on the dock
say "howdy doody my main man mac
you ever get around the reading my almanac?
good lord!
them critters got it better than you

"see time is money and credit is money
and money is more and more money begat
and ain't it funny how family's money
and virtue, honesty, love and all that"

good lord!
them money too
you can sing it happy
but you can't kick the dollar bill blues

word of the lord come to me one day
say "my name mammon, i ain't going away
i created the cows, hens, and the bees
and i'll fuck you up if you don't pray to me,
good lord!
the wreckage i'll wreek if you don't serve me!"

come old man franklin, suit and tie
burger king (TM) crown and a twinklin' eye
growin a goatee, sprouting hooves
them cloven hands write cloven books

good lord!
books's money too!
you can sing it glad
but you can't kick the dollar bill blues

sitting in a gutter in chicago
poor man richard there feeling low
got no plans, nowhere to be
say "the rats in the alley got it better than me,
good lord!
why them critters got it better than me?"

and don't ask the rats about the good lord's way
don't ask the corn all chemical-sprayed
cow in a box, fish in the sea
why the king and his men got it better than me

and the stars--
them critters too!
and the scriptures--
them critters too!

you can sing it happy
but you can't kick the dollar bill blues
you can play it with joy
but you can't kick the dollar bill blues
and you can sing it all you want
but you can't kick the dollar bill blues
Track Name: tricky devil goat man ii
(mmm-aah-oo)

i met him downtown
he was furry and brown
goateed and groomed
with a burger king (TM) crown

and a suit a la mode
he'd been sleeping around
put his hoof in my hand
he was cloven and grand

he'd been working the crowd
growing grain from the ground
he said we're finding a cure
oh we're impossibly near

see these scars on my brow
thorns are old hat now
we've got pills, we got flour
i smell peace in the air!

(mmm-aah-oo)

i beat the tarnation out of him
chipped a chalice from his chin
scratched his lip on the rim
filled that cup to the brim

i made a cadaver out of him
tore out his intestine
gave it to my friend
so she could eat again

i made a pile out of him
socket and limb
built a ladder from his bones
it reached up into heaven

i climber a ladder out of him
saw angels descend
they were righteous and grim
they were kicking him in the shins

they soaked his meal with gin
struck up some flint
it was a beautiful glow
it was a devilish show

we made ash out of him
he got turned to carbon
it was the sexiest sin
i wore the grossest of grins

(mmm-ah-oo)
Track Name: open window
if i could, i would make you my own
string up a thousand rooms into a home
take our water, turn to wine
that would be enough to make you mine

i'd kiss the earth and water it with my tears
but their ain't no earth but twenty miles from here
the black ground of this damn town
grinding out our bedroom window, dear

if i could--
tell you on the radio,
sing you something soft and low,
lock the door
and open up my window to you.

here we are, the milk and honey tribe
the cows are caged, the bees are in the fire
count the angels on my pin
if i could i'd push them in my skin

now the water's cut most of the time
there just ain't enough to turn it into wine
i got critters hatching out my spine--
if i could, i would make you mine.

if i could--
come dancing on you pin
and the devil goat--
we'd dance along with him
in holy war
and i'd lock the door
and open up my window
if you dare--
tell me on the radio
or send a note--
carried by a crow;
just let me know and i'll lock the door and
open up my window to you

and open up my

window to you
Track Name: creature
creature of blood, creature of bone,
who be your god, where be your home?
where be your beak? where be your tail?
naked you come, naked go.

out with the sun, in with the cold,
out with the new, out with the old,
in with the quiet, out with a moan,
creature of blood, creature of bone.

quiet!
mercy jesus!
cold
is creeping up us!
world been running down!
been running down!
been running!
down

creature of ice, creature of snow,
where be your god? what be your home?
who be your friend? who be your foe?
drained of blood, broken of bone--

if you've formed a circle to go into,
go into it yourself, see how you do,
o my god.
Track Name: willow down
of we cut the willow down
wept the wicked willow down
it was a sight to see
with the ax at the root
the black and rotted root, it was
black and rotted out
with ropes we drug it down to the
black sea

hallow this with a stolen kiss
where the flame and flower grew

and the sword that hangs above you
and the sword that hangs above me

and we smoked the critters out!
smoked our brains and body out!
you shoulda watched the run--
eight-legged things wearing cracker jack (TM) rings
scuttling back in the brush
two-headed rats from the nuke-you-lar vats
it was a capital, smokey rush!

turned to you, said,
"what'll we do with the ashes of the tree

"and the sword that hangs above me
and the sword that hangs above you
and the sword that hangs above me?"

and we cut the willow down
and we smoked the critters out
and the flame and flower grew
and the ax is at the root

and the
and the

cover my eyes with a hand
disguised as a branch with a bracken hew

and the sword that hangs above you
and the sword that hangs above me
and the sword that hangs above you
and the sword that hovers above me,
god, the ax carving into
the sword that hangs above you

lai dai dai dada dai
Track Name: reservation
cast your kite out
new morning
sailing it in the wind

clouds pass
and time passes
and you reel it back again

i hope she unnerves you
i hope it's a stalemate
i hope there's a fissure
where you once wrapped around her

go west now
find your desertland
brother, live out your day

it's a big universe, we got
so many stories, we got
so many people to play

but i hope she defeats you
i hope you fall by siege
alone with the constellations
out on your reservation

where do you go for asylum?
what'll you do when you find it?
how will your fingers remember
when your feet just walk away?

cast your kite out
kiss the sky with it
reel it back in

move out west, now
fill your cup, now
with a scratch on the rim

i hope she jumps you
from behind in a dark room
i hope she has you at gunpoint, brother
hijacking your heart

where do you go for asylum?
who will you be when you find it?
how does your body remember
when your feet up and walk away?
your feet, they just walk away

i hope she unmakes you
with no maker to turn to
and no hammer, no nail near
i hope it's that clear
Track Name: sweet mercy jesus (ain't no reason)
i'm leaving, sister
ain't no reason to stay
said i'm leaving, sister
ain't no reason to stay

said i made my mind
carved my days in the wall
ain't no reason at all

see the birds all gone south
ain't got nothing here
swifts and swallows all sallied out of town
got nothing here

see the crows know their way down to the sea
i bet the crows, lord, they better than me
crows lord,
i bet they know they better than me

rail-ridden critters, i know you
you see the rail been riding me too
straight and narrow
belly of steel
i want to derail the rail, lord, ha, how that feel
to be rid, like they ride us now, lord, ha, how that feel

how that feel.

sweet mercy jesus
ain't no reason at all
sweet mercy jesus
ain't no reason at all

said they caught you like a moth, lord
pinned your hands up in the sky
ain't no reason why,

why, ain't no reason why