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Understudy

by The Great Park

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about

Recorded at home in Autumn 2017, 'Understudy' includes several songs with lyrics collected by John A and Alan Lomax as well as new originals.

Companion piece to 'Do Not Walk Under Wing' recorded earlier in 2017 in that both albums were recorded acoustically and without edits. Most of the songs were recorded on the same day they were written, with 'Understudy' and 'Bold Boy', for example, being first takes.

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released December 17, 2017

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The Great Park Germany

Stephen Burch. Problem folk, songs with words.

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Track Name: Soldier Johny
soldier johny

i’ll throw my self into the river
you better believe i would sell my liver
if i could just for one night lay with her
and come joyfully back home

she said some bright day who knows how long
all different people gonna get along
i need a little hope to carry on
until i make it home

well i pray you are right but my heart don’t know
how the blood that it pumps it jumps and it flows
it seems to have a mother fucking mind of it’s own
and cares not to clot back home

and they put men in the soil they put men in the ground
all the able bodied boys have been thrown out of town
you look for them there they can’t be found
they're never coming home

and oh me oh my i loved her so
it broke my heart just to see her go
and where she got to god only knows
but i pray she makes it a home

well my legs don’t leap and my voice is spent
i live hand to mouth step by step
my throat is dry and my eyes are wet
and i can’t see a way back home

so i make like a monkey i swallow a wrench
i chuck myself into the dirty old thames
i’ve had it up to here with this world of men
i can’t call this place my home

Includes lyrics from ‘Johny Has Gone For A Soldier’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John and Alan Lomax, 1947.
Track Name: Understudy
understudy

oh it is long after two and we’re left here to do
all of the things they couldn’t finish or lose
and there’s a fire and boys we just shovel
we just shovel it on

i used to worry about how my hair would fall out
how my bones would complain and rattle about 
we may be low but we will be lowered
into the dirt into the earth

and these are desperate days but here lies a way
i do declare my understudy
i will follow you

and if you see and i don’t well then please let me know
if you can help or in any way save the show
the disaster the mess of a plan
drawn up and rolled up with the heaviest of hands 

and outside the world it doesn't even stutter
the mark of a man not measured by another
nothing changes it all remains 
it all stays it all stays it all stays the same

these are desperate days but here lies a way
i do declare my understudy
i will follow you

those kids are wide awake but dreaming still
out on the town and in for the kill
but those nights they did take their toll
and i am paying still

these are desperate days but here lies a way
i do declare my understudy
i will follow you
Track Name: Black-eyed Susie
black-eyed susie

up red oak and down salt water
every man gonna lose his daughter
hey black-eyed susie
you been gone so long susie won’t you wait

black-eyed susie went huckleberry picking
the boys got drunk and susie took a licking
hey black-eyed susie
trouble gonna find you soon enough won’t you wait

some got rude and some got boozy
none went home with black-eyed susie
hey black-eyed susie
you’re a fine one black-eyed susie won’t you wait

black-eyed susie about half grown
jumps on the boys like a dog on a bone
hey black-eyed susie
you got to catch them all don’t you susie won’t you wait

but black-eyed susie is as cute as a daisy
if i don’t pluck her boys i’ll go crazy
hey black-eyed susie
i’m not like all the others won’t you wait

when i asked her to be my wife
she came at me with an oyster knife
hey black-eyed susie
we can talk about the details later won’t you wait

she plugged me through like we was making rain
now the dogs come a-licking round where i lay
hey black-eyed susie
you’re gonna leave me here all a-leaky won’t you wait

hey black-eyed susie
don’t leave me here all a-leaky won’t you wait

Includes lyrics from ‘Black-eyed Susie’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John and Alan Lomax, 1947.
Track Name: Bold Boy
bold boy

what you gonna do when your luck runs out bold boy
what you gonna do when your luck runs out bold boy
what you gonna do when your luck runs out
grab me a bottle and drink it on down be a bold boy

what you gonna do when the bottle runs out bold boy
what you gonna do when the bottle runs out bold boy
what you gonna do when the bottle runs out
chase these women all over town and be a bold boy

what you gonna do when your shoes give out bold boy
what you gonna do when your shoes give out bold boy
when my shoes give out i’m gonna get off the street
take an old chair and get off my feet be a bold boy

what you gonna do when the chair gives out bold boy
what you gonna do when the chair gives out bold boy
well i got no bottle no chair no shoes
i’ll lay on my bed with my head in the blues be a bold boy

all the pistol shots go bang bang bang in the morning
all the pistol shots go bang bang bang in the evening
all the pistol shots go bang bang bang
i’ll keep on sleeping give a good god damn i’m a bold boy

Includes lyrics from ‘Sweet Thing’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs,
collected and arranged by John and Alan Lomax, 1947.
Track Name: Hope Limps Away
hope limps away

when i met you on the platform you were out of your mind
we were weary and worse for wear
and the day had been hard and the march left us scarred
and our legs and our heads bruised and bare

but here i go trying again though i failed before
i tread towards a gentler day
but as the blood bleeds out from my foot in your door
hope limps away

well he fought for the dark and then he fought for the light
and he brought home a dozen dead men
he dumped all that was good into the deep north sea
and then carried the crap back to kent

but let’s sing it once more for the wives on the shore
sing it once more like they say
but as this blood floods out there can be no doubt
hope limps away

and the great clouds are a-calling and the rain starts a-falling
and we’re spineless and thoughtless tonight
and we turn the other cheek afraid of what we might see
there is nothing like kindness in sight

and so with one apple lost might as well throw the whole lot
might as well give up and roll it over today
i always walked when i could run but i’ve had me some fun
hope limps away

there is a red tailed kite there is a kestrel in flight
there are hawks hunting on high
and i see it with my own eyes this world can be so fine
if i keep my chin up to the sky

but if i laugh then it hurts and when we drink it’s worse
and when i play you only complain
if i was born to succeed i am failing indeed
hope limps away
Track Name: While I Was Sleeping
while i was sleeping

bad news has come to town
bad news is carried
some say my love is dead
and some say she’s married

as i was pondering this well i took to weeping
they stole my love away while i was sleeping

i could have stayed at home
i could have remained in england
but i got the urge to roam
i had the need to leave there

and i never said goodbye and i never said i’ll see you
and now my love is lost while i was sleeping

so little did i think
so little did i wonder
that the storm was so close
the clouds so full of thunder

i drank until i slept and i didn’t wake for dreaming
and the nightmare came to stay while i was sleeping

Includes lyrics from ‘Brave Wolfe’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs,
collected and arranged by John and Alan Lomax, 1947.
Track Name: Shorty George
shorty george

well shorty george he was no friend of mine
shorty george no friend of mine
taking all the women and leaving all the men behind

some are born to sin and some are born to pray
he said you can’t kill me i was born this way
to take all the women and leave all the men behind

and he was strung up by his neck but happy to tell
how he beat on their heads like a clapper on a bell
taking all the women leaving all the men behind

well the doctor told me it’s your wife come quick
and i've had shot horses half as sick
taking all the women and leaving all the men behind

and so i ran through the house like a hen without a head
i would have murdered george all over again
for taking all the women and for leaving all the men behind

how can you blame a poor man like me for crying
when his lady ain’t dead but surely dying
taking all the women and leaving all the men behind

i followed them all to the burying ground
i never knew how much i loved her til they laid her down
taking all the women leaving all the men behind

so people keep the ones you care about close
and don’t go dancing on the graves of ghosts
taking all the women and leaving all the men behind

and there are dark days a-coming i won’t see them again
the fields are on fire high winds on the way
taking all the women leaving all the men behind

Includes lyrics from ‘Shorty George’ from Best Loved American Folk Songs, collected and arranged by John and Alan Lomax, 1947.
Track Name: Virginia Lake
virginia lake

we were out on the lake we were sunburnt and dazed
it was not like we planned it
we were as thick as thieves we took more than we needed
and we were caught red handed

suddenly the heavens did roar and the rain it did fall
and we were washed well away
above then below and down we did go
into the great virginia lake

to the south we had fled where it’s safe they said
where it’s too hot for fighting
and with a dozen promises of the welcome we’d get
from the friends we would find there

and the horses we rode did us proud with the load
they never once complained
blacks and bays dapples and greys
into the great virginia lake

i tell you what went wrong it all went to the dogs
for no good reason
oh the greed of a man can get out of hand
there can be no pleasing

yes we took and we took a cretin and a crook
and we were never the same
we were stuffed and ashamed and we dumped all the waste
into the great virginia lake

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