Roustabout

by Charlie Parr

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1.
I ain’t been but one little place and lived here all my life I ain’t known but one woman and now she is my wife Never been further than up the road to the town and back again Never known but a handful of folks and them I call my friends Now I’m going to leave here Now I’m going away Keep my fiddle tuned for me I’ll need it some sweet day Well the preacher said to my only son I’ll sign you up for war You’ll fight for your life far from your home and never come back no more Well my only son come home one day and we buried him up the hill Next to his auntie and old grandma and dear old uncle bill Now I’m going to leave here Now I’m going away Keep my fiddle tuned for me I’ll need it some sweet day Now I’m gonna go myself and see what’s it’s all about Why’d they take a poor man’s son he was all I got Who’s pockets are filled with gold and they don’t have to fight Or leave home and say goodbye to their kids and worry on them all night Now I’m going to leave here Now I’m going away Keep my fiddle tuned for me I’ll need it some sweet day I set up camp one day on the street where the rich man lived He won’t come out and talk to me he don’t have the time to give But’ll call the cops and say roustabout’s a-living on our place So take him away and all his kind I don’t wanna see his face Now I’m going to leave here Now I’m going away Keep my fiddle tuned for me I’ll need it some sweet day I wished I’d stayed to home and kept my son there too You can give to the rich man all day long but he’ll never give back to you So they can call me roustabout and do it all they please Never will I stop for them or get down on my knees Now I’m going to leave here Now I’m going away Keep my fiddle tuned for me I’ll need it some sweet day
2.
Eldon caught outta Portland with Fargo on his mind (x2) Found an empty icebox and stuffed himself inside They made good time to Billings but he hadn’t eaten in 3 days (x2) Daren’t poke his head out they shook for tramps all along the way His reefer was cut out in Dilworth but he still kept outta sight (x2) He just couldn’t stop shaking but he stayed in the hole all night When he finally climbed out of that icebox he was too weak too stand (x2) He collapsed down to the gravel and prayed lord give me your hand But the good lord didn’t hear him and the police found him first (x2) The chief stared hard to his face and Eldon heard him curse You’re the dirty rounder that shot his girl out west (x2) We’ll send you back to see the judge about what little life you might have left Eldon cried and confessed how he’d shot his girl was true (x2) But he said get it right, you know I shot her boyfriend too
3.
4.
Rocky, Joe, and Bundy were sittin' near the pier Drinkin' what they had and eatin' what was near Telling all their stories though they’d heard 'em all before Wonderin' what brought them here warmin' by the devil’s fire Rocky says now boy’s you all know my tale Thrown out by my wife and left to hit the rails She took up with a younger man who had himself a car Now here I sit with all of you warmin' by the devil’s fire That ain’t nothing says Joe tossing his gravel to the sea You can never beat the way that she did me That car broke down one evening on the way to see her ma She jumped in with a truck driver left me warmin' by the devil’s fire Bundy says now fellas there ain’t no need to fight You can’t blame the woman for doin' what she thinks is right She stole that truck when she left me but it’s all the same She’s down in the penitentiary, we’re warm by the devil’s fire Come Rocky, Joe, and Bundy and all you sinners on the road Pull up a piece of gravel let down your heavy load Take a swig outta that bottle when it’s comin' by And tell us all what has you warmin’ by the devil’s fire
5.
Old woman sell clothes on the side of the road somewhere in Tennessee I’m passing through on my way back east no one knows much about me But they stop and stare and say who’s that as I drive along the road And stop my truck along the way to rummage through that pile of clothes If they ask you who I am don’t you tell em nothing About my past out on the trail or anything that’s happened I’ve got my ghosts and they travel with me everywhere I go And remind me about things I’d rather forget but they just won’t let me go I see myself out in the woods with a pistol that I stole And shake my head and buzz my lips to shed the heavy load If they ask you who I am don’t you tell em nothing About my past out on the trail or anything that’s happened I’m going back to Virginia and live up on the trail Keep to myself but I’ve got no choice there’s never been another way I’ve lived alone all my life even in my own neighborhood I am a dark space that passes by you reach out but it does no good If they ask you who I am don’t you tell em nothing About my past out on the trail or anything that’s happened I’ll disappear into the trees no one will see my face As I peer out from the branches they’ll quicken up their pace Or I’ll stare out from a photograph on the post office wall They’ll stop and think and move along oblivious of me and all If they ask you who I am don’t you tell em nothing About my past out on the trail or anything that’s happened I had a girlfriend once she was pretty and fair I had a girlfriend once but she’s no longer there I had a girlfriend once I wonder if she loved me I had a girlfriend once in the shadows of the trees If they ask you who I am don’t you tell em nothing About my past out on the trail or anything that’s happened
6.
Come along and see (x3) my lord A long long time ago Look at what we’ve done (x3) my lord A long long time ago The blood’s all in our eyes (x3) my lord A long long time ago Can we ever live it down (x3) my lord A long long time ago Time’s sure haven’t changed (x3) my lord A long long time ago Come along and see (x3) my lord A long long time ago
7.
8.
Cropduster 01:52
If you were 5 years old again Would you turn your face to the air To see the cropduster flying up there Would you turn your face to the air Would you stand in the wash of the wind With your mouth open wide as your arms Would you fall the ground and roll in the grass Would you stand in the wash of the wind I’m 5 years old 5 years old again Would you wade in the water in the ditch Or jump in the puddle in the drive And to hell with your shoes and the cuffs of your pants Would you wade in the water in the ditch Would you hide underneath the sheets And tune out your fear of the dark And that tapping on the glass in the middle of the night Would you hide underneath the sheets I’m 5 years old 5 years old again Run to hear the roar of the plane See the leaves of the beans bending down Feel the spray hit you in the face And wait for it to come again Today I was 5 years old And I turned my face to the air But the airplane’s roar turned to ash in my ear And I’ll never grow young again
9.
10.
Gimme some whisky from the rail Save your ice for the can What time did I have to be home Time to fill this glass again The B&J’s nothing but a hole in the ground Ground all soaked in booze Our loser’s memory’s all bleary and wrong The real last call is here for you This place is just a gang of barstools Stink of stale beer everywhere Parking lot’s full of rusty pickup trucks And a crooked pool table piled with broken chairs The B&J’s nothing but a hole in the ground Ground all soaked in booze Our loser’s memory’s all bleary and wrong The real last call is here for you In the day we ate our lunch here Washed it down with cold beer from the keg Stopped back after our shift was done Didn’t get home til after dark The B&J’s nothing but a hole in the ground Ground all soaked in booze Our loser’s memory’s all bleary and wrong The real last call is here for you They used to say this was a bad old place Mom told us all to stay away When I grew up it wasn’t nothing at all Another dark place to spend the day
11.
Farmer 04:13
I had to leave the farm when I was 15 Too many mouths for what we had And I bummed my way to the coast But things out there were just as bad The wind blows the topsoil to the sea What’s left is barren and grey I came home to make my stand behind the plow And odd jobs when the times got tight But the work faces me every morning And the worry haunts me all the night The wind blows the topsoil to the sea What’s left is barren and grey I can’t bear to see kids starving on TV Poor folks can’t afford enough to eat Grain rots in storage for the price The market has no worries for what’s right The wind blows the topsoil to the sea What’s left is barren and grey When I’m dead the kids’ll dump my ashes Into the oil of our Allis ‘53 And I’ll live just as long as that tractor And die when the rust carries me to the sea The wind blows the topsoil to the sea What’s left is barren and grey These crops have gone from green to brown And my hair’s gone from brown to grey And the sun will surely shine upon these fields And I will kneel to pray for rain today The wind blows the topsoil to the sea What’s left is barren and grey
12.

about

Roustabout was recorded by Tom Herbers using a portable reel-to-reel normally used for movie soundtrack work. We recorded in Mikkel's front room, Dave's front room, the Clown Lounge (basement to the Turf Club in St. Paul), the lounge at Ed's (no name) Bar in Winona and generally had a great month bumming around Minnesota with this machine looking for quiet places to sit down and record. The fidelity is low, and the phonic is mono, getting us a lot of flack from radio stations but I like it alright anyway. The instrumental track, "adrift in lake Superior at sunrise" has also garnered a lot of reverse praise, and was achieved by scraping a violin bow over the strings of my National. I think it's still my favorite track from this record, even if I'm all alone in that.

Reviews
"Of the twelve tracks nine are Parr originals and three are traditionals. That you can’t tell which songs are originals and which are not says a lot for just how authentic Parr’s song writing is. Listen to ‘Farmer’ with Dave Hundreiser on harmonica and Parr growling away and tell me you are not listening to some genuine blues performer." - Penny Black Music

"You're not gonna find any FM radio-friendly tracks amongst the 45 minutes of Roustabout, but that's hardly the measure of an album, and this is one where its authenticity speaks for itself." - Soulshine

credits

released November 20, 2008

National Steel-bodied guitar, 12-string guitar, banjo, vocals – Charlie Parr
Washboard, Bass Drum, Percussion [Chopsticks, Boards, Shovel & Hammer] – Mikkel Beckmen
Harmonica – Dave Hundreiser
Vocals on "Walk Around My Bedside" by Emily Parr
Additional guitar and vocals on "God Moves On The Water" by Dave Simonett
Fiddle on "God Moves On The Water" by Ryan Young

Engineered and mastered by Tom Herbers
Artwork by Shaun Chosa
Design & All Things Web-related by Christian McShane

All songs by Charlie Parr except tracks 3, 9, & 12 trad. arr. Parr

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Charlie Parr Duluth, Minnesota

"Parr is scruffy and uncomfortable looking, with a longish beard and balding head. He dropped out of high school in the 1980s, but he looks older than that. He's pathologically deadpan in his delivery of in between song banter. The crowd really enjoyed his depressingly hilarious dead cat story. He never smiles." - Lucy Steigerwald

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