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Formal Verse - Blues Lyrics:

This section contains lyrics I wrote intended to be performed as Blues, some serious, some silly. I've listened to a lot of blues, and I think these are good, but I can hear someone insisting you don't learn the blues by listening, but by living them (and so on). Maybe, and maybe I've had a touch of the blues in some lifetime or other. In any case, it is probably exceedingly politically incorrect of me to borrow a phony Black voice for these, but I hope that a little insight creeps into them to offset the stereotypes. But there's one thing that makes these lyrics close to unperformable: they're too long. Blues singers linger over their lyrics, lavishing long riffs upon them between lines and stanzas, repeating lines, etc., so they seem long, but if you write down the lyrics, they are usually a lot shorter than these. So I'll try to pass them off as poetry here.

Don't miss the last one, a blues rendition of the story of the guy who, if ever a White Guy earned the right to sing the blues, he's it -- Kafka's character, Gregor Samsa (from "Metamorphosis"), who woke up one morning to discover that he was late to work and that, by the way, he'd been changed overnight into a giant dung beetle:

Hospital Goodbye Blues

My baby ain't livin'
An' she ain't dead.
My baby ain't livin',
But she ain't dead.
Machine do the breathin'
In the hospital bed.

She caught in them tubes
Like a web catch a fly,
Jus' hangin' in them tubes,
She caught like a fly.
Spider paralyze her,
But won't let her die.

They show her heartbeat
On a big TV screen.
Blip Blip go her heart
On a TV screen.
Where you be, Sweetheart?
That 'jus a machine.

Damn breathin' machine--
Soun' like sighin'.
It jus' a machine,
Soun' like she sighin'.
Eyes is wide open,
But won' answer mine.

I press her hand--
Is she pressin' back?
I press on her hand--
Nobody press me back.
Jus' the pulse done fool me,
But the arm hang slack.

Got plenty insurance--
What it insure?
Got medical insurance--
What it gwine insure?
Can't buy me endurance.
Jus' gotta endure.

She trap in there--
That my worse dream.
Trap there, can't reach me--
That my worse dream.
An' I can't reach her--
I trap too, it seem.

Like a moth in a bottle,
Is you flutterin' about?
You stuck in this bottle
Jus' flutterin' about?
An' we can't hear you
An' you can't shout?

You hear me, baby?
Is you still there?
Can you hear me baby?
You still in there?
She not there,
But she around somewhere.

Without a body,
Soul be all alone.
Without this body,
Soul be all alone?
This jus' a disconnect'
Telephone.

Soul be alone
If I can't find you.
Be alone, be nothin'
If I can't find you...
Goodbye, Baby--
I love you too.

She gone now, nurse.
I know what I know.
She gone now, nurse.
I know what I know.
When I say goodbye
She kiss me an' go.

Wish you unplug it--
It jus' a machine.
Can't you turn it off?
It jus' a machine.
Nobody care
If you sponge it clean.

Baby, you ain't livin',
But you ain't dead.
You can't be livin'
In that there head!
I jus' thank God
Ain't you in that bed.


Wakin' Up Blues

Now I woke up one morning,
Noticed you was gone.
O, I wake up one morning,
I notice you is gone!
Jus' close my eyes again
An' hope I notice wrong.

CHORUS:
How'd the morning get in?
Must of run out of booze.
Who let the sun get in?
Must of run out of booze,
Cause I got the all-alone,
Wrinkled-sheet, dry-eyed, wooden-head wakin'-up blues.

I push open my eyes,
Scared what won't be there.
I make me open my eyes,
Have to see what won't be there.
Baby, the bed be empty--
Jus' me, cold sweat an' air.

How'd the morning get in?
Must of run out of booze.
Who let the sun get in?
Must of run out of booze,
Cause I got the all-alone,
Wrinkled-sheet, dry-eyed, wooden-head wakin'-up blues.

Then the memories come back--
It been this way before!
O, then it all come back to me--
Been this way before.
Been more'n two years
Since she walk out that door.

How'd the morning get in?
Must of run out of booze.
Who let the sun get in?
Must of run out of booze,
Cause I got the all-alone,
Wrinkled-sheet, dry-eyed, wooden-head wakin'-up blues.

Trouble with forgettin'--
You jus' don't know when...
That's the trouble with forgettin'--
You jus' don't know when
You gwine wake up one morning
An' it all come back again.

How'd the morning get in?
Must of run out of booze.
Who let the sun get in?
Must of run out of booze,
Cause I got the all-alone,
Wrinkled-sheet, dry-eyed, wooden-head wakin'-up blues.

Dreams jus' ain't worth spit
When you know you gotta wake.
Dreams jus' ain't worth spit
Cause you know you gonna wake.
The walls won't stand still--
I jus' lie here and shake.

How'd the morning get in?
Must of run out of booze.
Who let the sun get in?
Must of run out of booze,
Cause I got the all-alone,
Wrinkled-sheet, dry-eyed, wooden-head wakin'-up blues.


Have me half a dollar,
I drink till I can't see.
If I have me half a dollar,
I drink till I can't see
Sun's half way up the wall--
Ain't no one here but me.

How'd the morning get in?
Must of run out of booze.
Who let the sun get in?
Must of run out of booze,
Cause I got the all-alone,
Wrinkled-sheet, dry-eyed, wooden-head wakin'-up blues.


Church-Goin' Woman

Church-goin' woman,
She holler "Lordy Lord!"
Church-goin woman,
Jus' a moanin' "Lordy Lord!"
O! She crossin' Jordan--
I jus' glad that I'se aboard!

If she a prayin',
She ain't down on her knees.
O she a prayin',
But she ain't down on her knees.
Her eyes shut so tight
I gotta wonder what she sees.

"I'se coming, Lord!"
Hope I git there too.
"I'se acoming, Lord!"
Think I comin' too!
She git there first
An' pull me right on through!

Church-goin' woman,
She holler "Lordy Lord!"
Church-goin woman,
Jus' a moanin' "Lordy Lord!"
O! She crossin' Jordan--
O Lord, I'se aboard!

Church woman keep goin'--
Thought I was all done.
She jus' keep on goin'--
Lord, I is all done!
But she raise up the dead
With that ol' gift of tongue.

"O Jesus, take me!"
Take her, Lord--ain't got the stuff.
"Sweet Jesus, take me!"
Amen! I out of stuff!
She such a sinner,
Second Comin' jus' ain't enough!

Church-goin' woman,
She holler "Lordy Lord!"
Church-goin woman,
Jus' a moanin' "Lordy Lord!"
O! She crossin' Jordan--
Lord, I is still aboard!

Swing low, sweet chariot--
This swinger be mighty low.
Swing low, sweet chariot--
I swinging mighty low.
Church-goin' woman,
She don't never let go.

Church-goin' woman,
She holler "Lordy Lord!"
Church-goin woman,
Jus' a moanin' "Lordy Lord!"
O! She crossin' Jordan -
Hang on! It too deep to ford.

Ol' Time Religion
Gonna be the death of me.
That Ol' Time Religion
Surely be the death of me.
The cock done crowed three times.
Lord, set this poor sinner free!

Church-goin' woman,
She holler "Lordy Lord!"
Church-goin woman,
Jus' a moanin' "Lordy Lord!"
O! She crossin' Jordan--
O Lord, MAN OVERBOARD!


Little Boy Blues

My Ol' woman
Won' let me see my kid.
You whore-woman!--
Where you got my kid!
Gonna break her head
less she say where he hid.

A man got a right
To see his little boy.
Ain't a man got the right
talk to his boy?
He jus' four year old,
Daddy's pride 'n joy.

Shut yo' bawlin, woman!
Where my little boy?
Stop your squawlin', woman!
What you done with mah boy?
You tell me, Mama,
Or I really git annoy!

Speak up, woman--
Don't you shut yo' eyes!
Wake up, woman--
Open up yo' eyes!
Bitch try to fool me
One thing I despise.

Hit yo' head on the table--
Teach you try an' fight!
Crack her head on the table--
Crazy bitch try to fight.
She ain't movin', damn her--
It serve her right.

He ain't in this house.
I look everywhere.
Nobody in this house.
I look everywhere.
Toys all gone, too.
Jus' her lyin' there.

Must be at her sister.
Can't fool me with her tricks.
He with her bitch sister.
I ain't fool by her tricks.
I go an' git him
Soon's I git another fix.


Best Friend Blues

I thought she was my woman,
Thought you my friend.
Called her my woman,
Call you my best friend.
Got a hole in my life
Too big to mend.

Stop yo' explainin'--
It jus' make it worse.
Don't you be explainin'--
You jus' make it worse.
Used to have a friend
With a voice like yours.

She smile that big slow smile--
Thought it jus' for me.
She smile that big slow smile--
I think it all for me.
She smile that way at you,
you think you somebody!

I nobody now--
Don't even look like me.
I nobody now.
Was they a man like me?
Can't think of nobody
For me to be.

Use to have a friend
Look jus' like you.
Had me a good friend
He look jus' like you.
I git another bottle
When this one through.

Saw a grinnin' man once--
Look jus' like me,
Saw a wide-smilin' man,
Look a lot like me.
Now I don't look in mirrors,
Can't believe what you see.

Don't you be 'fraid--
I ain't gwine hurt you.
Don't be scared of me.
Why should I hurt you?
When she suck you dry,
She leave you too.

An' I ain't after her.
You tell her so.
I won't cut her up.
You can tell her so.
She more alone than me,
An' she don't even know.

My friend an' my woman
Who gwine love me to the end...
Had a friend an' a woman,
Weren't never gonna end.
Ain't no such woman.
Never was no such friend.

I finish this bottle,
I git me another.
Finish this bottle,
I git another.
My man, this soldier dead.
Gimme his brother.

Once I had a bottle
Look jus' like this.
Had me a bottle
Look jus' like this.
When this gone, they's another--
All the same horse piss.


Sleepytime Blues

Come to bed, Honey.
I can't sleep.
C'mon to bed, Honey,
So I can get to sleep.
Put away the papers--
Them funnies'll keep.

Can't get to sleep
When you not here.
I jus' can't sleep
When you not here.
I keep wakin' up
Wanna feel you near.

Cuddle up, git me warm--
I need my man.
Cuddle up, make me warm.
I need my ol' man.
OOOOH! They like ice--
Don't touch with yo' han'!

That's better. Why you gotta
Stay up so late.
You really hadn't oughta
Stay up so late.
Keep me up worryin'--
I Jus' lay here an' wait.

Stop wigglin' around.
You jus' wake me up.
What you wigglin' round for?
Now you wake me up.
You squirmin' worser
Than a wet-nose pup.

It too late for that.
I gotta git up for work.
Way too late for that--
I gotta go to work.
You know, sometimes I think
You an A-One jerk.

You know I don't sleep,
Next day I be sick.
I don't get to sleep,
Tomorrow I sick.
Where you goin' now?
Allright, jus' be quick.

You readin' in there?
I know you is!
You readin' in there.
You know you is!
It don't take no ten minutes
Jus' to take a whiz.

Look here! Can you see
What time it be?
Don't tell me you don' know
What time it be!
Why you always gotta
Do this to me?

Huh? What you say?
You just wake me up again!
Why you talk to me?
You wake me up again!
Lord, make him suffer
For this! Amen!

What I doin'? I readin'.
Can't get back to sleep.
I try sheep-countin'
An' I still can't sleep.
Nex' time you want a woman,
You count yo' sheep!

[The above poem is proof that I, though white and middle-class, have suffered the blues, as, apart from the dialect, it's a slice of my everyday life. Hmmm....]


Saint Elizabeth Homeless Fixed-Up Blues

We sleep in the shelters
Or on a steam grate.
Like sardines in th' shelter,
So I sleep on the grate,
torn blankets, newspapers,
Shiverin' too much to hate.

They call us homeless--
Use to call us tramps.
They call us homeless.
We use' to be tramps.
They think of us
When they turn off they lamps.

Got to call us somethin'
So they don't feel ashame'.
If they can call us somethin',
They don' feel so ashame'.
They call us homeless.
No one know our name.

Once I lose a lady--
I want to be dyin'.
When I lose my lady,
I think I dyin'.
Take myself to the clinic
Down to Mt. Zion.

The shrink, he say
That I depressed.
He right, man, I done
Feel depressed.
He say St. Elizabeth
Give me a rest.

I say, "Wait a minute."
He say, "Too late."
Jus' a minute, I say,
But it too late--
He done sign the paper.
You can't fight the state.

An' my baby gone,
So what I care?
My woman done gone,
So what I care?
I good for nothin'--
Put me anywhere.

But when I see zombies,
I begin to fear,
Room full a' twitchin' zombies--
It jus' grab me--fear!
Man, I ain't no nut!
I don' belong in here!

Man say, "Shut yo' mouth."
I say, "This be wrong!"
He say, "Shut yo' mouth, boy."
"But it a mistake! It wrong!"
He say, "They send you here, boy,
This where you belong."

They git me almos' naked--
Call it a gown.
Git me bare-ass naked--
They call it a gown.
Then they put me on a table
An' strap me down.

I say, "Man, I OK now!"
You can let me go.
Hones'! I better now!
Can't you please let me go?
They gag me, an' WHAMMY!
That the last I know.

Wake up a little sore,
But OK, I guess.
Bad headache, stiff, sore,
But OK, I guess.
Can't remember
Why I feel depress.

Oh yeh--lady lef' me--
Don't know why.
My lady done lef' me--
Can't remember why.
Don't know why,
But I want to cry.

Every day, pills--
They won' tell me why.
Plenty of pills--
Won't tell me why.
Can't remember why
I want to die.

Too busy rememberin'
To make my mouth close.
It jus' twitch open
'Less I make it close.
Is that tears I tastin'?--
Forgot to wipe my nose.

The zombies ain't bad--
Jus' guys like me.
They ain't so bad--
Jus' guys like me.
Jus' not always lookin' at
What everybody see.

But the guards, they crazy
An' the doctors worse.
The guards mean an' crazy
An' the doctors is worse--
They see a man cryin',
It's "Hypo! Here! Nurse!"

I wonder why
This happen to me?
Don't know why
This happen to me.
Don' know what I do now
If they set me free.

Mus' a set me free,
'Cause I in the street.
Guess I free now,
'Cause I in the street.
It cold! Spare a quarter
Toward a bottle o' heat?

You can give me food,
Little money for booze,
A night in a shelter,
Spare change for booze,
But I still out here,
You still feel accuse'.

See me huddled here,
It make you think.
You got a job, a home--
It jus' make you think.
It git you down?
Go see a shrink.

The rich-man shrink,
He not put you away.
Dr. Big-Word Shrink,
He not put you away--
Jus' give you pretty pills,
Take twice a day.

The side effects--
He say they mild.
He know all about it,
He say they mild,
Jus' take these pills,
Nothin' git you riled.

You take his advice,
Maybe you feel fine.
Takin' his pills,
You say, "I feel fine."
Head twitch a little,
You forget about dyin'.

You kind of far away,
A little bit meaner.
You watch from far away
How you gettin' meaner--
Kickin' your wife
When she start the vacuum cleaner.

You still got a home,
But you ain't free,
Got a wife, kid, home,
But you ain't free.
Stop takin' yo' pills,
You a bit like me.

Listen, my man,
You want yo' home?
You want yo' wife
An' work an' home,
Don't let no shrink
Give you no SYNdrome!

Some o' the homeless,
They jus' got no money.
They ready to work--
Jus' ain't got no money.
Took more than that
To make my head go funny.

You can call us homeless--
That ain't our name.
Some is jus' homeless,
But that ain't our name.
Baby, we the CURED!
We animals that be tame.

Feel guilty 'bout us?
Ain't that a shame.
Feelin' bad about us?
Ain't that a dirty shame.
Git a shrink to fix you--
You never be the same.


Passin' Through Blues

You call dis a city--
Seen more life on a dog turd.
Call dis a city--
Mo' movin' on a dog turd.
Downtown like a closet.
HEY! IT SATURDAY NIGHT! AIN'T YOU HEARD!

Ain't no bright color
Down here to be seen,
Nothin' lit up, no color
Down here to be seen
'Cept the traffic lights flashin'
Red, yeller an' green.

Les' not stop here.
This place don' feel right.
Git some coffee, keep drivin'--
This town don' feel right.
Oh oh--behin' us--
Flashin' red an' blue light.

Hide dat shit, quick--
Put that gun away, fool!
C'mon, hide dat shit--
An' put dat gun away, fool!
We be awright, man,
You keep cool, jus' keep cool.

Hello, officer,
We doin' somethin' wrong?
Evenin', officer,
What we do wrong?
We jus' passin' through
When you come along.

Sure I over sixteen--
Lemme show you de proof.
Where I put dat damn licence?
Lemme show you de proof.
What? Out of de car?
Put our hans' on de roof?

Sure, we--Willie! What you doin'!
Oh MAN! What you do!
Christ! Willie, what you done?
Jesus! Look what you do!
He be dead, man--Oh man!
He dead an' we through!

Sirens! C'mon--
Gotta git outta here.
Hear dem sirens? C'mon--
Gotta git away from here.
Shirt's wet with his blood.
Them sirens sound near.

Oh man, I don' believe dis,
Don' know where to go.
I jus' don' believe dis.
Now where we go?
Don' talk to me no more--
You crazy, y'know?

Gotta ditch dis car
An' git off de street,
Gotta ditch dis car
An' git off de street,
Git a clean shirt--
Oh man, we dead meat!

This big empty street--
Feel like God lookin' down.
Big dark empty street--
Feel like God lookin' down.
He don' care--he just watch,
See what comin' 'round.

Like a guy on TV,
He put rats in a maze,
Guy in a white coat
Watchin' rats in a maze.
Like we drivin' down this street
For days an' days.

I sorry, Mama--
I know you be hurt.
Not yo' fault, Mama--
I know you be hurt,
They be bringin' me home,
All dis blood on my shirt.


No Mo' Mowin', Mo, You Moron! Blues

Maurine, I ain't yo' handyman,
'Sides, the grass be growin' slow.
You know, Mo, I'm no handyman.
Let the grass be growin' slow.
Takes time to be yo' candyman,
So no mo' mowin', Mo.

Maurine, I be a randy man.
It soon be blowin' snow.
Come snuggle with yo' randy man --
It soon be blowin' snow.
Now this HERE grass be dandy, man!
Oh, no mo' mowin' Mo.

Maurine, I be a handy man.
Mah hands be goin' low.
A smooth, soft-handed handy man
Be best for goin' low.
Don't callus up yo' candyman,
No, no mo' mowin' Mo.

You treat me like yo' handyman,
Why you old so-'n-so!
You ho', Mo! -- I'm no handyman!
YOU hoe 'n mow 'n sow!
Who need you! I got brandy, man,
So no mo' mowin', Mo.

I ain't no W. C. Handy, man!
No bluesman's crowin' so.
Me blue? I ain't ol' Handy, man!
Or I not be crowin' so
Here in the WC, RANDY, man!
O! No mo' mowin', Mo.


The Gregor Samsa Blues

[Wherein Franz Kafka's short story, "Metamorphosis", is reset to blues.]

I wake up one morning - I'm some sort of beetle.
Not John or Paul or Ringo- I mean a BEETLE beetle,
Stuck lying on my back - no way to curl up foetal.

All those little feet twiddling in the air,
Must be six little feet just atwiddling in the air -
They can't be mine - I've only got a pair!

CHORUS:
Hope I'm not late for work. How'll I tie my shoes?
I'm gonna be late for work. I need THREE pairs of shoes!
I'm sure there must be some mistake...I got the Gregor Samsa
waking-up Metamorphosis blues.

White thingie on my belly? Wonder if I can touch...
What's that white spot on my belly? I think I can just touch...
BRRRRRRR! Like scratching on a blackboard! Never again - it's too
much!

Now Mama's at the door - "Gregor, are you sick?
Why don't you answer? Darling, are you sick?"
Can't let her see me this way - got to think of something quick!

Now Papa's thumping, yelling: "Gregor, answer your mother!
We know you're in there! You're upsetting your mother!"
I've got just two options now: "Hope it's all a dream" and
"Other".

Hope I'm not late for work. How'll I tie my shoes?
I'm gonna be late for work. I need THREE pairs of shoes!
I'm sure there must be some mistake...I got the Gregor Samsa
waking-up Metamorphosis blues.

"Mama, Papa, I'm quite well. I'll be with you in a minute.
It's nothing, I'm quite well. I'll be with you in a minute."
MUST get out of bed, but my heart just isn't in it.

They can't understand my squeaking. Got to rock myself off my
back.
Now they're really in a panic - must rock right off my back...
If I'm late to work again, I'll surely get the sack!

Whew! At last I'm on the floor - but I think I've got a sprain.
I can lurch and scuttle now, but it hurts - I've got a sprain -
No - a rupture! Look! My trail! A sour-smelling brown stain!

Hope I'm not late for work. How'll I tie my shoes?
I'm gonna be late for work. I need THREE pairs of shoes!
I'm sure there must be some mistake...I got the Gregor Samsa
waking-up Metamorphosis blues.


Got to get the door open, tell them all I'm OK,
Turn the lock with both my jaws, show them all I'm OK.
I hear my sister's sobs...and my boss! This just hasn't been my
day.

My boss says, "Late again - this is the last straw!
I've given him three warnings and this is the last straw!"
If I can just turn this key - it's cutting into my jaw...

"Oh sir," my mother pleads, "It's not his fault - he's ill!
He's really a good boy. He can't help it if he's ill!
His father's meager pension cannot pay our every bill!"

Once I get this door open, I can explain everything.
If I can just open this door, I'll explain everything -
After all it's not my fault the alarm clock didn't ring.

Hope I'm not late for work. How'll I tie my shoes?
I'm gonna be late for work. I need THREE pairs of shoes!
I'm sure there must be some mistake...I got the Gregor Samsa
waking-up Metamorphosis blues.

CLICK! There goes the lock. Now I'll just push the door.
CLICK! The lock is open. Now I'll just nudge this door...
They're yelling at each other - they don't see me on the floor.

Now they see me - sudden silence. Here's my chance! I can
explain!
They're just staring, total silence, so I start out to explain:
"Parents, Sir, I've been slightly indisposed, but I'm sure that
soon I'll be fine again..."

They're just staring, bug-eyed staring...
I'm getting a bad feeling about this.
I don't think they're listening to me -
I get a VERY bad feeling about this.
A happy ending? If you want that,
Better give Kafka's works a miss.

Something tells me I'll nevermore put on a pair of shoes,
Never go to work again in my patent leather shoes,
But instead my Dad will get a job and with a rotting apple he threw at me embedded in my carapace, I'll die in my room to the great relief of everyone, including me; and my sister, finding me there, will sweep me up in a dustpan,
after which my parents will admire my pubescent sister's changing young body on the tram and it'll be as if I never
existed,
Cause I've got the Gregor-Samsa-Waking-Up-Metaphysical-Missed-
Alarm-Clock-Existential-Freudian-Dung-Beetle-Metamorphosis-
proto-neo-postmodern-Blues.