Barnswallow

by Charlie Parr

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John Cratchley
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John Cratchley A really fine set from Charlie Parr...doing what he does best: live performance, energised by the music.
I guess you could say he is keeping tradition alive...but it is more than that, he is making sure it thrives,hopefully to inspire another generation to keep this music relevant because it isn't a dead art form...Charlie doesn't sanitise it: he tells the gospel truth.
Keith Kasyan
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Keith Kasyan Charlie Parr is a fierce master of the resonator guitar and a mighty fine songwriter. Favorite track: Motorcycle Blues.
Roberto
Roberto thumbnail
Roberto Great Great acustic blues
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1.
Jimmy Bell 06:02
2.
I left my dear old parents and started out on the road Just like Ramblin’ Robin and the tramps who went before Anywhere but here Anywhere but here Baptized out on the road Anywhere but here I caught a freight for the west just outside of my hometown With a backpack and a bedroll and swore I’d never hop back down Anywhere but here Anywhere but here Baptized out on the road Anywhere but here When I made to jump off the train, my legs were numb and stiff They buckled when I hit the ground and I lit down in a ditch Anywhere but here Anywhere but here Baptized out on the road Anywhere but here I hung out with some rough folks, we went in on a scam But the blame was mine when the cops came and the jailhouse my new home Anywhere but here Anywhere but here Baptized out on the road Anywhere but here I got out in the winter, got told to leave Colorado Springs With a thin coat and broken boots, I headed north on up the range Anywhere but here Anywhere but here Baptized out on the road Anywhere but here Bummin’ around Montana, I thumbed all the way to Missou Got drunk down by the Top Hat, they said I’d better push on through Anywhere but here Anywhere but here Baptized out on the road Anywhere but here This ain’t the life I want, I’m telling you the truth Gonna get my things together and get on back to Duluth Anywhere but here Anywhere but here Baptized out on the road Anywhere but here
3.
My wife left me, threw my out of our home My soul is sick and dying Lord Outside the only home I’ve known Stumble through the yard to where the weeds are deep My soul is sick and dying Lord Now where am I gonna sleep Lay me down in the tallgrass the wet soil to my side My soul is sick and dying Lord I believe my time is nigh My wife left me but I’m the one who’s got to leave My soul is sick and dying Lord I ain’t got nowhere to live Take me back take me back you’re the only one I’ve ever loved My soul is sick and dying Lord And I believe I’ve been misled I woke up this morning with nothing on my mind Except please tell me Lord What is it I done wrong
4.
I wanna have me a motorcycle to take me on down the road A rat-bike made of Harley parts or a Norton Commando Then meet me on the highway we’ll take another run on down That final stretch of black-top before the gravel takes back the ground Once I saw the Bat-Mobile in a Las Vegas casino museum And I asked the man could I drive it and he said, well you see son This car ain’t got no works it was built just for show Ain’t that just like life that’s the way a lot of us go Then meet me on the highway we’ll take another run on down That final stretch of black-top before the gravel takes back the ground I wanna be like Big Daddy Garlitz in a blown GTO on I-90 In the early morning sunlight with no one on the road but me Then meet me on the highway we’ll take another run on down That final stretch of black-top before the gravel takes back the ground I wanna have me a motorcycle to take me on down the road A rat-bike made of Harley parts or a Norton Commando Then meet me on the highway we’ll take another run on down That final stretch of black-top before the gravel takes back the ground
5.
Badger 02:09
It was late in the summer when the corn was fully grown We’d gone for a swim in the pond on my uncle Henry’s farm And when we got home we saw a badger in the yard Running flat out for a hole beneath the shed It disappeared into its den underneath the floor And it was gone and Dad just said "Goddamn Badger can’t stay he’ll kill you just like that Mean as any grizzly, sneaky as any cat." And he went and got his gun from the closet in the hall and pulled a 6-pack from the fridge and walked on out the door While Mom made us brush our teeth and get ourselves to bed It’s late and he’ll be awhile was all that she would say and I saw him in the twilight, his .410 across his lap Sitting in a lawn chair, staring at the shed A fallen soldier from the 6-pack laying at his feet and sometime in the night a gunshot woke me from my sleep It was late in the summer when the corn was fully grown We’d gone for a swim in the pond on my uncle Henry’s farm
6.
That mailman ain’t no friend to me, comes to my house everyday at three That’s when he knows I’m not home, and my wife is there all alone No the mailman ain’t no friend to me at all Every single day it’s the same damn thing about 3:00 the bell begins to ring “Here’s a package, can you sign?” “Come on in so I can find a pen.” No the mailman ain’t no friend of mine at all Now it’s Thursday I’m off at noon, boss cut the shift says y’all go home Maybe I’ll just see who’s around, that mail truck’s out in front of my lawn No that mailman ain’t no friend to me at all Well Stillwater sure ain’t my style but I’m gonna have to stay here a little while I was just trying to blow up his truck but I blew up the house, just my luck That mailman weren’t no friend to me at all
7.
Henry got his check on Thursday and used his lunch hour to go uptown Henry got his check on Thursday and was never seen again His job called Friday morning but the machine said he was out His job called Friday morning his co-workers went “hmmm” Henry was a quiet guy the worker’s talked about his life Henry was a quiet guy by Tuesday they’d bet he killed his wife Nobody at work knew him well, what he was hiding all this time Nobody at work knew him well, that he was capable of such a crime And now he was on the loose, on some kind of killing spree And now he’s on the loose, why was someone like that allowed to go free They never liked him anyway he was creepy in those brown pants They never liked him anyway he never showed at the office dance He’s some kind of radical probably in the militia up north He’s some kind of radical his kind are all trying to start a war At the end of the month the boss packs up Henry’s desk At the end of the month he tossed his coffee cup in the trash
8.
True Friends 04:34
Here’s a little thing about Mag and Stan hauling down the road in the winter time Riding on their thumbs but walking most of the way Stan used to hop trains but Mag’s afraid so they get their traveling done another way Just wanna get down south to where it’s warm True friends, true friends are hard to find To get one you gotta be one And then they’ll always be around An old guy stops in a beat-up ford and asks how far did they wanna go And Stan says we’re going all the way to the end This old guy he’s lost his wife and lost his grip on the rest of his life Just drives around now listening to the radio True friends, true friends are hard to find To get one you gotta be one And then they’ll always be around Now it’s 4 days on the road in that rusty ride and 3 nights sleeping out on the side Eating roadstand fruit, coffee and refried beans When they reach the gulf they all lay on the beach and soak up the sun and get used to the heat Talkin about how cold it is up in I. Falls True friends, true friends are hard to find To get one you gotta be one And then they’ll always be around There ain’t no end to their family, their web covers the whole country Maybe it ain’t true that we have to be alone Maybe they’ll just drive around pickin’ folks up, being yr friend when yr down on yr luck Maybe there’s a car big enough for us all True friends, true friends are hard to find To get one you gotta be one And then they’ll always be around
9.
Jesus is a hobo on a fast freight outta Denver Huddled up under a twin stack his back against the rain He’s hoping to make the west coast his food is running low He’s been traveling on these roads for 2000 years or more. Yr gonna need me, yr gonna need me But can you find me, where you look Yr gonna need me, yr gonna need me You can’t always see the truth Jesus is a hobo in a jungle near LA, where nobody really knows him even if they know his face. They’ll stare into his eyes a disciple from the past but the moment’s gone and lost in the engine’s long low whine. Jesus is a hobo he never left us here, Caught a fast one from Calvary and he’s been riding ever since. Yr gonna need me, yr gonna need me But can you find me, where you look Yr gonna need me, yr gonna need me You can’t always see the truth Jesus is a hobo riding south outta St. Paul seeing a cathedral through the snowflakes and bracing against the cold. When he gets down to Rock Island maybe there he’ll let ‘em know that underneath his coveralls he wears a purple robe. Yr gonna need me, yr gonna need me But can you find me, where you look Yr gonna need me, yr gonna need me You can’t always see the truth
10.
Rattlesnake 03:01

about

Duluth, MN—Some of the best music is the kind that isn’t necessarily meant to be mass-produced and mass-consumed. Minnesota based folk artist Charlie Parr stays true to that philosophy, as he did again when he approached the recording of his eleventh studio album, Barnswallow, due out in February 2013. The album, named for a banjo instrumental Parr once recorded with the Black Twig Pickers, features ten songs—eight original and two traditional—and was recorded live to tape at the Winona Arts Center. Charlie's longtime collaborator, Tom Herbers of Third Ear Studios in Minneapolis, engineered and mastered the project; and the cover art was done by Winona, MN based artist Jamie Harper. As with all of Charlie’s projects, Barnswallow has that same distinctive timeless feel, steeped in traditional folk and blues.

The album, bookended by the foot-stomping opener "Jimmy Bell" and closer "Rattlesnake" as well as "Motorcycle Blues," offers picturesque counterpoint with the pretty folk numbers "Badger" and "Jesus is a Hobo" (the latter featuring Emily on backing vocals). The songs on Barnswallow also reflect a lot of the personal struggles Charlie has had since 2010. They are mostly in the same vein as his earlier material, but Parr claims that with the more personal songs, “it helps to sing them.” It’s that type of honesty that makes Parr a truly special artist—he’s just like you and me, yet he makes extraordinary music.

To help him make that music, Parr employed his trademark National NRP wood-body resonator guitar; he also used a Fraulini 12-string made by Todd Cambio of Madison, and a Kevin Enoch fretless banjo. Rounding out the players, Barnswallow also features Mikkel Beckmen on washboard, Dave Hundreiser on harmonica, and Charlie on vocals (with Emily Parr adding harmony on one track). “It’s a kind of return to the feel of older recordings I've done (King Earl and Jubilee, mostly) in that I had Mikkel and Dave and recorded the whole thing as a trio,” said Parr. “It was also live to tape, with no tracking and using all first and second takes.”

All in all, Barnswallow is vintage Parr, and will surely go down as one of his best works yet. But there are no illusions with Charlie Parr about making it in music, so to speak. To Parr, his view on it is much different. “I hope folks like the new album,” he said. “But honestly I've gotten what I wanted from it, which was a really good few days with some of the best friends I've ever had, in a beautiful town, making music that I'm happy with and would've been just as happy with if we'd just played it and took nothing with us.” He paused before adding, “But yeah, I do hope folks like it, and I'm happy to be playing those songs now.”

Indeed, and Parr fans will be happy he is, too.

credits

released April 22, 2013

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