Tag Archives: Song Lyrics

The Story Behind The Song: Obituary Writer Blues

Preacher Boy - The National Blues - Lyrics

I am very happy to announce that we’ve just published an enhanced lyric booklet for “The National Blues.” It features lyrics, stories behind the songs, insider guitar tips, and more.

You can download a free copy in either PDF (multi-use) or EPUB (iBooks) format here, or, if you’d like to enjoy the book on your Kindle/Kindle app, you can get it in the Kindle store on Amazon for just .99¢!

Here is an excerpt from the text; a short essay about the origins of the lead track on the album:

Obituary Writer Blues

Obituary Writer Blues began with two things: a visual idea, and a musical one.

Visually, it was the parallel imagery of a murdered black body lying on a white sheet, and black letters being laid onto white paper by a writer at a typewriter, charged with drafting an obituary for the murdered.

Musically, the song began with a slide riff, borrowed fairly wholesale from Son House, but by way of Will Scott. The thing was then reshaped into a 15-bar cycle—a kind of country blues counting. Two other sections came together later; the 2-chord minor-major interlude, and the chorus, which also quotes from the country blues, borrowing from Sleepy John Estes about knowing right from wrong.

The “rock, paper, scissors” image in the final verse came from our daughter, who at the age of 7 has determined that this game is the solution to the problems of violence in the world. I put it in the song because she’s right.


One year ago, I debuted at Aptos St. BBQ. I had no idea then that I’d still be there tonight. But I was there tonight.

That night one year ago, I debuted a song I’d never ever ever ever played live before. It was newly written, and I called it “Blister And A Bottlecap.” You can see a video of that performance at the end of this post. It’s me, and the very great Virgil Thrasher, doin’ it.

So tonight, it was my one-year birthday at the ‘Q. To celebrate, I debuted a new song. One that I’d never ever ever ever played live before. One that was newly written. I figure if I do this every year, then a decade from now, I can release an album entirely comprised of songs debuted at Aptos St. BBQ.

One must have goals.

So the song tonight? “Now Is The Only Moment That There Is (Zen Blues)”

If you wish, you can listen to tonight’s performance of the song by clicking below:

Now Is The Only Moment That There Is (Zen Blues)live at Aptos St. BBQ, 9.17.2015

And if you wish to follow the lyrics along, here they is:

The more you want, the more it hurts
and it only gets worse
Still, everybody want to go to heaven

Just ask St. Christopher
he know for sure
how it feel to fall from saint to legend

Oh, people be so unkind
but honey, it’s ain’t none o mine
she gon’ get hers just like he gon’ be gettin’ his
And the past gon’ have to ‘low
that we makin’ the future now
because now is the only moment that there is

When the war took that one more step
and bled upon her doorstep
she broke the arrow into point and feather

And when the river was agitated
she just sat on the bank and waited
for the wind to put the moon back together


Mona Lisa
Mother Theresa
Billie Holiday singin’ “Stormy Weather”

King Macbeth
Malcom X
Willie Johnson singin’ “God Moves On The Water”



And here’s that video of “Blister And A BottleCap”

Thanks so much to Aptos St. BBQ. And everyone that hangs out with me down there. By the train tracks.




Songs From The Vaults: Old Jim Granger

For this edition of Songs From The Vaults, we’re going to look at a tune called “Old Jim Granger.” This was recorded for, and released on, The Tenderloin EP, a joint release between US-based Blind Pig Records, and UK-based Wah Tup Records.

It was recorded at Coast in San Francisco (if memory serves?), and features Steve Escobar on drums, Danny Uzilevsky on bass, Big Bones on harmonica, and yours truly on National and vocals.

The sessions were engineered by Bryan Zee.

The tune is in Dm, and The National is tuned to Open Dm (D A D F A D).

You can listen to the cut here: Old Jim Granger

And here are the lyrics:

Old Jim Granger

Old Jim Granger was an angry man
He had a fence so high you couldn’t see his land
His house was hidden by trees as well
We only knew he was there when we heard him yell

Us little boys, we didn’t have much sense
We only wanted to see inside of his fence
So we dug a hole and crawled through to his place
Waited to see if he’d show his face

He come runnin’ right outta his house
Screamin and cursin, we could hear him shout
“Get off my land unless ya wanna get shot,
Say yer prayers, cuz my shotgun’s cocked”

Well, we broke and ran, to the left and right
Tryin’ to get out of Mr. Granger’s sight
We heard him shout, “Boys, you can’t hide from Jim!
I’m gon’ release my hound, he’ll tear ya limb from limb”

Tearin cross the yard that old hound came
And Mr. Granger’s gun was out and aimed
I jumped up to run, and I swear to Gog
He don’ missed me and he shot that dog

Old Jim Granger was a lonely man
He didn’t have no wife, he didn’t have no clan
That old hound dog was like his only kin
And when he died, that was it for Jim

Well, I’m a grown man now, but I remember still
What happened right after that dog got killed
When he saw what he’d done, into the house he walked
To say goodbye with his shotgun cocked

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