The Big Shitty

by Paul Curreri

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1.
She went downtown to see what all the fuss about She wasn't messing around She'd looked it up and now she had it down She saved 25%, laid back snapping of her chewing gum "I'm the fucking man" The streetlights bent and gave her some I saw her next week in the same old chains I saw her on the dance floor and nothing had changed He figured why not? I used to know, now I forgot Come dusk, she cries And tells him that it's all she wants So a baby girl comes His drinking slows and his smoking stops He says "I can make her quit crying if I circle round the block a lot" I saw him next week in the same old chains I saw him on the dance floor and nothing had changed Last night, we felt so good that we kicked the door We let our feet drag To protract the night just a little bit more We pawed the grass, made love out back just before the sun And after all that She-bop, she-bop bop my favourite song But you see us this week in the same old chains See us on the dance floor and nothing has changed
2.
The last time I was in this ditch I must not've thought I was done with it Here beside the broken matress Two bottles of red, two books of matches The children tap upon the window Parents ask them not to do so The children ask "Mommy, is this it?" Their daddies call me a son of a bitch The wild thing's come home to roost To multiply, then to turn it loose This hole is bigger than you expect I got a little blue car I drive around it And still I ain't seen every bit Though it's pretty hard to keep track of it A shirtless boy, a heavy mallet The chicken head, mama, tell me about it What do you call a hippie's wife? Mississippi Where do hipster houseflies socialise? The Big Shitty It's plain as plain, I'm doing fine It's a genuine, certified barrel of monkeys down here Three times ago, I was in and out Two times ago, I sorta hung about The last time took a month and a half Now I try to keep my mind off that There's always something up in the attic Whether or not you go look at it Yes, the wild things've come home to roost To multiply, then to turn it loose
3.
Juju 03:15
Just now home from a fireworks show They shot it out the vineyard The finale was louder than it was big I dug that, alone, up-windward Now yeah, I'm home, along again Proud to have gone and done it If I can make myself dance just a little bit Today might well be worth it Juju, I can't touch you But Juju, I'm alright Juju, nothing hurting me tonight On my way back, just south of town Police car darked the shoulder "Do you know how fast you were going there son?" I guessed, but shot way over "Does this automobile belong to you?" Said "No, I belong to it" "Son, you think all this is pretty goddamn funny?" Said "Not all, just parts of it" Juju, know I miss you But Juju, found a light Juju, nothing hurting me tonight Ain't no ghosty nickel-and-diming me, yeah Chiggering my trigger switch, yeah I will bang you ghosty again (But tonight I'm resting) And again I'll smoke cigarettes Things'll be beautiful but sad Did your mama teach you to judge me like that? How many nights have come before Where I've written just the same But woke to find my eye swelled shut And a broken guitar string? That's true - and it might be true again But what do you want me to do? Alone, at home, I just got my dance on And I might tomorrow too Juju, long the distance But Juju, long the time Juju, nothing hurting me tonight
4.
Poor little motorbike You never get where you'd like The weather's never bullseye To really take off Gusts off the big trucks Merges through the loose stuff Right back to where you came from With a little less tread Tearing through the moonlight The night owl's drunk night Who forget you once you're out of sight Then the stars go down You're a bonafide blaster Spirited and registered A quarter-ton gumption tester Honest as Mary Just to be turning it out, out, out Just to be turning it round, round, round, round Shot out the bicentennial Manual, and bellyful Of moxie so perennial At least so far Woe, to hash the rare electric bug The mother's scowls, ears plugged The disappearance of the run-amoks While mechanics moves on Two crowing bari saxes Under waves of wild cymbal crashes Endless and fantastic Splitting the air in two Poor little motorcycle Four-cylinder roman candle Specialer than a rider can handle Old Jap Soul Just to be burning it out, out, out Just to be turning it round, round, round, round Poor little motorbike You never get where you'd like The weather's never bullseye To really take off Gusts off the big trucks Merges through the loose stuff Right back to where you came from With a little less tread
5.
Last night I went off to climb the water tower Saying "Something needs doing and I'm gonna" Wasn't carrying nothing but a bit of how-you-gonna-cook-it I didn't have any idea There's James in the heat lightning, shaking Gay James, I know his cousin James is drunk and he wants to go hear music and keep drinking I say no, I gotta kill my teacher Oh yes, I know that the world Or the world I have known Is in need of being blown right open That the crack with the light shining out of it Has got to be opened I'm not saying that the black came quick It rolled in like a lightboat wake At first it rolled like it was taking the mick But then the jabber grew Days are like a hot stop-action planet Nights do a slow-mo diet I go to see a move twice, and I can't understand it I gotta kill my teacher Oh yes, I know that the world Or the world I have known Is in need of being blown right open That the crack with the light shining out of it Has got to be opened James trailed me towards the water tower He was mumbling about a drink and this "I got to see" When the rain came, we didn't walk faster We moved considerably I can see the car with the dent and the emblem twisted At the path to the water tower's edge I'm really gonna do it, James the rubbernecker I'ma kill my teacher Oh yes, I know that the world Or the world I have known Is in need of being blown right open That the crack with the light shining out of it Has got to be opened I made out the water tower in the rain and I walked at it A starter pistol popped from a nearby high school My teacher sat atop the ladder in the rain And I started climbing I said "You said time would come, and it did come Everywhere I've been, I've never known 'til know" He said "Suffering is rarely done alone, Paul And do you think I'll be your last teacher?" Oh yes, I know that the world Or the world I have known Is in need of being blown right open That the crack with the light shining out of it Has got to be opened
6.
A group had gathered at the south tip because it was Friday Some carried fruit, and some carried knives The moon lit the south tip like a disco And the dance began Those who could not, complained of the music They cut fruit and over-drank They tried not to worry and drank A family had ashes in a coffee tin The wind took them off the tip and into the sea A teenaged boy said "Hello" She couldn't see who it was But it didn't matter, because they had not met "Hello you!" and they laughed They shared a cigarette with bug in it She said "I feel like a balloon" He said "I feel like a big tree And I hope you get tangled" An old person found them He sent them back to the group The past looked down at the south tip and smiled The past was the moon The moon had rarely missed a Friday The past stretched out like a tall smoker lying down It knew the end because it saw the beginning And found the in-betweens peaceful Down at the south tip, a baby was born Not at the disco, a nearby house But it could hear the drum Some nights are longer than others But the dawn comes And still no wisdom, at least not tonight But even those that wake up on the bank of the south tip Like the boy and the girl Saw, instead of were told She cried when he said he must travel He tried to wipe her tears She thanked him, but insisted on using her own hand
7.
Hacket 03:35
Hacket found it rather heavy what his mother had said Smack in the middle of dinnertime "Lousy daddies hardly never sit deliberating it So should there come a time" Still that night aimed to talk the back leg off a donkey And an underground lake gushing his pulmonary cavity He woke with the weather-swinging the back door wildly Bursting acetaldehyde I should tell you, Hacket - born John Justice, John just as his father was Justice from his mother's side John became Hacket after quitting every sports team It was a funny time Still, Hacket was happy 'til a bug hatched inside him Its chemical guano set to shorting his penchants Add to that the booze and life's general break dance Gets tough to harmonise Oh Hacket What the plan is On this itty-bitty slippery planet Could the only way out be the only way in? Just like them? Hacket had a sense of something sucking on his tethet Snacking on his anchor line The purpose of the mooring long-forgotten altogether But still operating fine One day it was winter and dusk came quickly The airport security frisked him foreignly Hacket aware that he had drifted considerably No choice but take it in stride Oh Hacket What the plan is On this itty-bitty slippery planet Could the only way out be the only way in? Just like them? Hacket hadn't been home more than a litre or so When all of his guests arrived The meeting came to order and the matter at hand All very civilised There on the platform with both trains approaching Thermometer bursting like a sausage of locusts Hacket at the window with his wallet wide open Fingering his final dime Oh Hacket What the plan is On this itty-bitty slippery planet Could the only way out be the only way in? Just like them?
8.
It was late and cool, and I was shirtless on the porch in the streetlamp Another day done, the sleepyheads eating my wake My smoke on the breeze was like a hobo hopping onto a new leaf And I, just as light reached down Put the tip of my yellow-stained finger on the ground And set to spinning the blue world round Like a globetrotting rascal May the moon the lit the life in others Have compassion on me I can hear you in everything if I can hear you in anything Am I one of the free? Are you there anymore? It's less often tha not a married man sits and fishes like this His wife asleep in her ball in the bed in a dream, unkissed I was lucky enough to marry a halfling - part ain't, part is A woman who will sing or she won't for no reason Talking about her now is making me question my decision To be out here alone with such an iffy ambition To balance an egg on a needle May the sun light us to love each other Ever passionately I can see love in everything if I can see it in anything And do it diligently Are you there anymore? The neighbour boy was crying, I opened my head by my ears I dug past the recent, and fumbled round 'til I found Pete Seeger I was never fond of his music, but the kids who were are better people No magic of the evening was lifted No explorer's lost diary was suddenly unwritten I simply walked through the dark house to my bed and set to drifting Toward the next new verse of the song May the wind that rolls through these opened windows Carry sounds of the seaside Barefooted everythings, air-cooled anythings Over my wife and I Are you there anymore?
9.
How many here would rather they weren't? "Yeah, my wife brought me, and in this sorry shirt" "I'm just steaming on the couch while my house gets work" "It's like a steam bath out there, I had to drown my thirst" "Well as long as we are, we best make the most" "That's easy for you, man, from what so-and-so told me" "Who? Her there said it? I oughta break her nose" "Excuse me, do y'all know what time Lucky Seven closes?" "Anyhow, have either of you fellas been to the Cayman Islands Because I had a dream about it and I woke up smiling" "No, but I once slept in a lighthouse in Kaanapali" "I had a dream one time about Kaanapali" "So like she said, my kidney is bound for Port-au-Prince Guess how much I'm gonna get for it?" "Man, I'd lower your voice before you get turned in" "Well, you can bet your life you'll never see me again" "You think that selling your guts is gonna make you feel free?" "Well, the future ain't what she used to be" "What if come one day you want that piece back in?" "Then I'll sell something else and be happy again" Just then, a comet came and the house burned down But right when it hit, our hero jumped off the ground The comet bounced and shot toward Kaanapali With him holding its tail and saying "Thanks for the party"
10.
Who Got Gang 04:47
Jack was slender as a perfect function With a gate so Spanish and over the weather Just a killer carving, baby Just a ruthless tempo, baby Every box ticked, he was a knack mosaic Quintessential, prime Ionic Just a constant vogue, baby Just all around, baby But Jack was actual, Jack was broken Bored, given to, undevoted Still a killer carving, baby Just a ruthless tempo, baby We two'd drink in the pinwheel sunset Getting flexible and broader-minded Just a constant vogue, baby Just all around, baby Who got gang? "We're all behind you" Anything? "We're all behind you" One night a scene that I won't forget He stroked my collar like a pussycat Just a killer carving, baby Just a ruthless tempo, baby Said "Jack, your eyeballs look like TV static" He said he always looked good in monochromatic Just a constant vogue, baby Just all around, baby Who got gang? "We're all behind you" Anything? "We're all behind you" Jack's passing made me leave the country It was my wife's idea, I was drunk and ugly Just a killer carving, baby Just a ruthless tempo, baby And in time, the blame I choked unfolded Jack, you were better than the folks could've known they wanted Just a constant vogue, baby Just all around, baby Who got gang? "We're all behind you" Anything? "We're all behind you"

about

This October, Tin Angel Records will proudly release The Big Shitty, the eighth album by Virginian songwriter / guitarist / producer, Paul Curreri. Primarily recorded over four day's time in a wintery Berlin, Curreri's much-celebrated guitar prowess is supported by the excellent English rhythm section he's toured with for the past few years -- Joe Carvell (bass) & Euan Rodger (drums). With the exception of one track on which his wife, the lovely Devon Sproule, pops up on a very distant clarinet (a new interest), like his last two albums, Curreri handles all additional instrumentation himself.

Leaning deeply forward into arrangements which are spacious, electrified, and sharp, the resulting performances by the core group seem graced by a sort've musical fearlessness. And Curreri, heady & hunting, at times sounds viciously close to unhinged. And perhaps he should.

The Big Shitty seems a place populated by a people nervously questioning their long-trusted paths, whose gangs are in various states of dissolution. Their comfy defaults, the bumper stickers, even the tattoos look different. The truth is not just out there, it's cracking its knuckles on your front porch... again.

"The last time I was in this ditch / I must not have thought I was done with it. / Here beside the broken mattress: / Two bottles of red, two books of matches."

Explosive and evocative (and often surprisingly humorous), Curreri's lyricism indicates his familiarity with the place. But on the surface, this batch of songs seems less immediately autobiographical, more character-driven, more fantastic. On "Hacket," swampy guitars high-five an ironically sunshiny piano, and a young man at a critical impasse is introduced:

"I should tell you: Hacket born John Justice. John, just as his father was; / Justice: from him mother's side. / John became Hacket after quitting every sports team. / It was a funny time. / Still, Hacket was happy till a bug hatched inside him, / Its chemical guano set to shorting his penchants. / Add that to the booze and life's general break dance -- / Gets tough to harmonize."

And there are the tribal people who inhabit "The South Tip," who meet weekly to dance and cut meat beneath the stars and the eyes of history ("The past stretched out like a tall smoker lying down."). Atop a single trancey guitar riff, babies are born, drums circle, and young lovers try to figure it out:

"A teenaged boy said, 'hello.' / She couldn't see who it was. / But it didn't matter, because they had not met. / 'Hello, you!' and they laughed. / They shared a cigarette with bug in it. / She said, 'I feel like a balloon.' / He said, 'I feel like a big tree, / and I hope you get tangled.' / An old person found them. He sent them back into the group."

Still, one can't help but be aware of the occasional parallels between these scenarios and Curreri's personal life. It seems he and Sproule are finally leaving "The Velvet Rut," the nickname for Charlottesville, VA, their hometown at the edge of the Blue Ridge mountains. (Curreri's fifth album, which received 5 stars in MOJO, wore the nickname as its title.) This fall, the couple is relocating to Berlin, Germany. The album's final track, "Who Got Gang?," seems to frame the decision around the slow decline of a very special friend:"Jack was slender as a perfect function, / With a gate so Spanish and over the weather." But the well eventually runs dry:

"Jack's passing made me leave the country. / It was my wife's idea. I was drunk and ugly. / Just a killer carving, baby, just a ruthless tempo, baby. / And in time the blame I choked unfolded. / Jack, you were better than the folks could've known they wanted. / Just a constant vogue, baby, just all around, baby."

While it wouldn't be a misinterpretation to call The Big Shitty dark, there is a well-lit elegance to Curreri's articulation of its subject matter -- lyrically, but also via his melodic and production sense. One of our staff noted that she thought she'd still understand the album "even if Paul weren't singing in English." High praise, and well-deserved.

Tin Angel Records is the UK Midlands-based happy home to an eccentric collection of songwriters and performers including Devon Sproule, Baby Dee, Charlie Parr, Black Carrot, Kelly Joe Phelps & Corinne West, Two Wings, Larsen and more. We are very proud to introduce you to Paul Curreri's exciting new album, The Big Shitty.

credits

released October 31, 2011

Produced by Paul Curreri

Joe Carvell played the bass
Euan Rodger played the drums
Paul Curreri played the guitars and the other stuff plus sang the singing
Devon Sproule played the clarinet on The South Tip

Recorded at TriCone Studios in Berlin, Germany
Engineered by Rowan Smy & Tom Marschal
Additional recording and mixed at Amanda's Old Room in Charlottesville, VA, by Paul Curreri
Mastered at Jimmy Dog Studios in Charlottesville, VA, by Jeff Romano
Front cover by Gibb Slife
Photography by Aaron Farrington
Layout by Oliver Betts

All songs by Paul Curreri © Merdaloy Music

I love Joe, Euan, Rich, Keith and especially Devon. I really can't imagine.

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