JSHOGREN SHANGHAI'D

“Brilliant storyteller from Wyoming. Hard Boiled, sometimes dark humorous stories delivered with a voice that clearly have lived through them." Lennart Persson (SWE) Rootsy

Swampland

[Up along the Bowstring River within the Great Corona Bog, Fred & Elizabeth married the day before he was shipped off to WWI. Not sure Fred ever saw combat. Not sure Fred ever left the US because since all this happened in August of 1918—WWI ended in November]

 

Elizabeth, today we wed and tomorrow we must part

Mr. Wilson’s vindicated war needs a swampland Bonaparte

Elizabeth, tonight we dance and tomorrow we must die

By and by, hand in hand, am I the only one who wonders…

What I find so remarkable 

To those we leave behind

Love can be 

So merciful to an unremarkable life 

Like mine

    Like mine 

 

Elizabeth, today we vow and tomorrow we must pray

By his grace, by your side as we wash the blood away

Elizabeth, tonight we kiss and tomorrow we must kill

By and by, hand to hand, am I the only one who wonders

    What I find so remarkable 

To those we leave behind

        Love can be 

So merciful to an unremarkable 

Man like me

        Love can be so kind to an unremarkable life like mine

I never wanted to be 

Anything like you see

    Love can be so kind 

     To an unremarkable life 

Like mine

        Like mine

 

 

Temperance

[Fred & Elizabeth had three boys—Gerald, Vernon, and Travis. They had one thing in common—they all smoked and drank like they were born in a Centennial bar. Elizabeth was a religious woman, and a member of the Temperance Movement. Needless to say I never saw any of the brothers smoke or drink when she was in the vicinity. ]

 

I raised three boys and I raised them right

Raised them up:

... Temperance each and every night 

… Gospel by the Kerosene light

 

I raised them up not to drink & smoke

So what you’re telling me now

…Must be some kinda hurtful joke

…Told by some kinda jealous folk 

You are free to tell me I did wrong

But I know who will judge me when I’m gone

…Gone

…True to the book

 

I was raised by a river rat and his wife

Raised me up: 

…to stand firm on the Rock of Ages 

…strengthen the Fallen & Contagious 

I raised my boys to walk the same line 

So what you’re telling me now

…comes from some kinda Drunkard’s wine 

…mockery from some kinda vine  

You are free to tell me I did wrong

But I know who will judge me when I’m gone

…Gone

…True to the book

 

Down along the Temperance River we kneeled and we prayed

Now you’re telling me it’s my boys who need to be saved

 

You are free to tell me I did wrong

But I know who will judge me when I’m gone

…Gone…True to the book

…Gone…True to the book

…Gone…True to the book

Seeds

[Elizabeth and Fred’s three sons were all raised in the same dark deep back woods of Northern Minnesota, and all three emerged from this identical environment with a cool collected demeanor, but wildly different temperaments toward life and distinct propensities to confront their core beliefs about life.]

 

What is it about three brothers

Drink from the same well

Till the same soil 

Heyahuh

They all have the same demons

With different names

    We all know why why why

    Starts with the seeds seeds seeds

    And if you please please please

    Excuse me I got work to do...

 

What is it about three lovers

Share the same bed

Share the same life

Heyahuh

They all have the same scars

From different knives 

We all know why why why

    Starts with the seeds seeds seeds

    And if you please please please

    Excuse me I got work to do (x2)

 

Falling leaves into the wind/Falling leaves into the wind

Falling leaves into the wind/Falling leaves into the wind

    [Wind weighs me down….]

 

We all know why why why

    Starts with the seeds seeds seeds

    And if you please please please

    Excuse me I got work to do… (x2)

 

 

 

Fence

[Sometimes a good idea just goes wrong, horribly so. Naïve trust can open many doors, but it can backfire. Folks in these songs have varying degrees of naïve trust, growing up as they did in isolated back woods areas and being forced into WWI, WWII, and Korea, and the songs all ending up in big cities] 

 

Under a northern sky a wooden fence

Broken into a cross not a crown of no defense 

Against the wind we all love

Every truth it draws me nearer

Every lie I drift further

Further from the lamb and the blood

Life is better now that Faith is in my world

Life is better now that Grace sleeps in my bed

I ain’t saying I’m just saying:

    What could go wrong….with that

 

She said she loved me

Well, what could go wrong with that 

She said she just trust me

Well, what could go wrong with that 

    What could go wrong with that my friend I ask you

    What could go wrong with that I dare you

I ain’t saying I’m just saying:

    What could go wrong….with that

 

She whispered in my ear

Well, what could go wrong with that 

She said just sign right here

Well, what could go wrong with that 

    What could go wrong with that my friend I ask you

    What could go wrong with that I dare you

I ain’t saying I’m just saying:

    What could go wrong….with that

 

You mean the world to me

But Jesus you did me wrong 

You mean the world to me

But Jesus you did me wrong 

You mean the world to me

But Jesus you did me wrong 

Apple seed (instrumental)

 

Works

[We all know people come and go too fast. Don't miss the opportunity to tell them you love them, now]

 

Strip me, I want to fall

Strip me, how far to fall

Help me crawl down 

Tell me how low is low down

It only works…It only works in this world

Love only works…It only works in this world

Break me down…Break me down

 

Trip me, I want to fly

Trip me, how far to fly

Help me stand down

Tell me how far is far around

It only works…It only works in this world

Love only works…It only works in this world

Break me down…Break me down

 

Help me stand down

Tell me how far is far around

Help me crawl down 

Tell me how low is low down

It only works…It only works in this world

Love only works…It only works in this world

It only works…It only works in this world

Break me down…Break me down

 

Even…Even from…Even from here above this world 

Even…Even from…Even from here above this world 

Even…Even from…Even from here above this world 

Even…Even from…Even from here above this world 

 

Break me down…Break me down

Absinthe

[Sadness is the helpless knowledge that love fades and time passes]

 

I look across this valley

I see no mercy on this land

No mercy, No mercy

I keep the absinthe close at hand

I keep the absinthe close at hand

 

I look across these mountains

I see no mercy for these men 

No mercy, No mercy

I keep the absinthe close at hand

I keep the absinthe close at hand

 

Roll it back flapjack down in the hole 

Roll it back flapjack down in the hole 

Roll it back flapjack down in the hole 

 

I look across the water

I see the rising of the sand

Mercy, show mercy

I keep the absinthe close at hand

I keep the absinthe close at hand

 

I look across the river

My mother carries my father in her hands

Mercy, show mercy

I keep the absinthe close at hand

I keep the absinthe close at hand

 

Roll it back flapjack down in the hole 

Roll it back flapjack down in the hole 

Roll it back flapjack down in the hole 

 

Blood pudding

[Fred was crippled early by rheumatoid arthritis—walking with two canes or crutches for most of his years after 50]. His ability to do what he knew—work the woods for pay—was eliminated. Elizabeth did most of everything, including the cooking in the woods, and they used everything that was available. No one in our house ever…ever complained about what was served up onto the table. Fred made sure of that.]

 

Ain’t made a living off the land

Since the summer of I don’t know when

Ain’t made a nickel with my hands

Since the winter when the crippling began

She’s serving up…Blood pudding

She’s serving up…blood pudding

 

I’ve had my share of head cheese

Pickled pigs feet up to my knees

Lutfisk, she swims up stream

There’s nothing we wouldn’t eat

She’s serving up…Blood pudding

She’s serving up…blood pudding

 

Beaver tail soup recipe

 

I pulled every stump by hand

Drained every swamp in this goddamn land

Pine tar star stains on my hands

Let me tell you something you’ll understand

She’s serving up…Blood pudding

She’s serving up…blood pudding

 

Gizzards served up with ham

Wilted lettuce straight from the pan

Tongue twistin’ chokecherry jam

Apple pie so big you needed two hands

She’s serving up…Blood pudding

She’s serving up…blood pudding

Wade

[My 20 year old mother left Minnesota to visit my great-grandmother in Northern California. After a month, she agreed to marry a sailor from Oakland. On her wedding day, she jumped on the train and went home. He came to MN 5 times to convince her to stick with the plan—but then my grandpa Shasta finally chased him away with a shotgun.] 

 

This is her tale…It’s sad but it’s sweet

How my mother she fell for a sailor with clever feet

 

Wade

Water in me

Up to your knees

No, no don’t be afraid

 

Wade

Still water deep

Up to my knees

No, no don’t be afraid

 

My child of god, my river of salt

Winter in the blood, ain’t nobody’s fault

Wait…what you doing to me

What you doing to…

 

Wade

Cold water sleep

This ain’t no dream

No, no don’t be afraid

No, no don’t be afraid

No, no don’t be afraid

 

My child of god, my river of salt

Winter in the blood, ain’t nobody’s fault

Wait…what you doing to me

What you doing to me

What you doing to me

 

No, no don’t be afraid

No, no don’t be afraid

No, no don’t be afraid

Snows of May

[I prefer optimism, even in a blizzard]  

 

Flowers of June

All seem to say

We all love the 

Snows of May

And I am 

Inclined to agree

Snows of May

Mean more to me    

I used to believe

Winter did not end

Snows of May 

Remind me again 

Summer is around 

The bend

 

 

Apple tree

[My great-grandmother Anna moved with Carl to Minnesota from Sweden and he disappeared each winter for 4-6 months working the timber camps. She was left at the homestead in the forest with between 1-8 children depending on the year. I am guess she was a patient woman who made few major demands—but maybe once she asked for something bigger than usual.]

 

I have but one request—build the house near the apple tree

Blackcaps whistle there for me as I wait for your return

As I wait for your return

Everybody knows we have time

Everybody knows in no time

First snow falls on our door

Build me a house near the apple tree

 

Winter dances in a summer dress

Winter skins a knee

Winter strips off her Sunday’s best

She pays for everything you see

Everybody knows we got time

Everybody knows in no time

First snow falls on our door

Hold me before we part our ways

 

…I’ve got one more request 

Put a window in the kitchen dear and please point it west

So I can hear…the Blackcap melody 

As I wait for your return

Everybody knows we got time

We know in no time

First snow falls on our door

Hold me before we part our ways

 

It’s always the simple things

Snow melts do the sea

Black coffee in early spring

You’ll come back to me 

Everybody knows we got time

Everybody knows in no time

First snow falls on our door

Build me if you agree

A house near our apple treeAudubon’s birds of America

[My Uncle Vernon grew up with a love of books out in the middle of the woods, preferring books about nature than being in nature. He was also gay, we think but he never came out of the closet. He fought in WWII, went to MIT, and remained a bachelor his entire life. I wondered what he though as a 16 year old in the north woods—feeling completely out of time and space—perhaps he knew why, perhaps not.]

 

In the Great Pine Forest of 1889

I found a single feather hanging on a twisted vine

From the Great Lake Fire past the last iron ore mine

I heard a single call high above the pines

    Saved my nickels, saved my dimes

    Saved all winter, until I could buy

Audubon’s birds of America

Audubon’s birds of America

This ain’t no way for a man to live 

 

From the last great cities we left them far behind

In the woods I buried my soul, in the books I buried my mind

From the last great love, I left him far behind

In the swamps I buried my heart, in my work I buried my time

    Saved my nickels, saved my dimes

    Saved all winter, until I could buy

Audubon’s birds of America

Audubon’s birds of America

This ain’t no way for a man to live 

This ain’t no way for a man to live 

This ain’t no way for a man to live 

 

In the Great Pine Forest of 1889

I heard a single call high above the pines

Saved my nickels, saved my dimes

    Saved all winter, until I could buy

Audubon’s birds of America

Audubon’s birds of America

This ain’t no way for a man to live 

This ain’t no way for a man to live 

This ain’t no way for a man to live 

This ain’t no way for a man to live…

Audubon’s birds of America…Audubon’s birds of America

Skavijaviska (instrumental)

 

Fish like rain

[Fathers give lots of advice. This insight helped my dad look for the good in any situation, even if you are out there by yourself, and how to catch more fish. He pass this down.]

 

When I was a young man 

My father said for all to hear

If Jesus walked on water

Weren’t anywhere ‘round here

Fish like rain…fish like rain

Rain across the valley

Rain across the mountain side

Rain fall on my family 

Only one man who’s got my ear

Only one man and he’s standing right here

 

Now I am an old man 

Deaf in both ears

But I don’t need to hear nothing

Just need to feel it right here

Fish like rain…fish like rain

Rain across the valley

Rain across the mountain side

Rain fall on my family 

Only one man who’s got my ear

Only one man and he’s standing right here

 

Go and get my bamboo pole

Go and tell your mother 

We’re going to the fishing hole

Fish like rain…fish like rain

Rain across the valley

Rain across the mountain side

Rain fall on my family 

Only one man who’s got my ear

Only one man and he’s standing right here

Fish like rain…fish like rain

Fish like rain…fish like rain

Sharpen your axe

[My great-grandfather Carl never swung at a tree with a dull axe…ever]

 

Sharpen your axe, my friend

Sharpen your axe

Sharpen your axe, my friend

We’ve got some cutting to do 

 

Snow Kill Lake

[A scene set in a cabin in winter with two men, one doing all the talking. This song is not about a specific family event – but a gut feeling. Given how isolated things were up there, and how bad things can happen, I imagined that if a revenge did play out—few if any one else would ever really knew what happened.]

 

I really don’t recall when I wrote her last

I really don’t recall how many days have past

I remember a smile through the window

I remember the smell of tobacco

I remember you had the gun last time

 

I just don’t recall when I kissed her last

I just don’t recall how many days have past

I remember she wore a winter rose 

I remember the trail through the snow

I remember you had the gun last time

 

Hell no, ain’t no reason for you to go

So soon…after all this is her room

White noise, if you recall this was your choice

We all have our time

 

I can’t quite recall when I held her last

I can’t quite recall how many years have past

I remember how she love me

I remember how you let her bleed

You best remember I have the gun this time

 

Hell no, ain’t no reason for you to go

So soon…after all this is her room

White noise, if you recall this was your choice

We all have our time (to go)

 

 

Birds Return (instrumental)

Sins first stone

[Freedom to be whatever you want to be and how the wide open spaces in the middle of winter facilitates this freedom…from the perspective of its purest advocate—Apollo, our wild wolf dog.]

 

Running on the Bowstring cold rain in your eyes

Down to the Cut Foot and you realize…She’s gone…

Don’t you want to know where she’s going when she goes

Don’t you just want to know

 

Standing on the ice raise the rifle to your face

Lost Forty bound without… a trace, she’s gone

Don’t you want to know where she’s going when she goes

Don’t you just want to…

 

No she never waits on, No she never waits on

She never waits on, No she never waits on

She never waits on, No she never waits on

Out here nothing is impossible

Out here anything goes

Out here anything is possible 

Go ahead throw your first stone 

 

No she never waits on, No she never waits on

She never waits on, No she never waits on

She never waits on, No she never waits on

Out here nothing is impossible

Out here anything goes

Out here anything is possible 

Go ahead throw your first stone 

 

Out here nothing is impossible

Out here nothing is impossible

Out here anything goes

Out here anything goes

Out here anything is possible 

Out here anything is possible 

Go ahead throw your first stone 

    Throw your first stone

Throw your first stone

Throw your first stone

She wore red

[I am not sure who she is or how she fits into the family story. I am guessing she is my uncle Gerry’s first wife Marie…a lively belle from Alabama, who never ever trusted my uncle as he flew bombers around US before the planes were activated for fighting in WWII]

 

She wore/She wore red/She wore red on her wedding day

She swore/She swore love/She swore love would never fade

She poured/She poured wine/She poured wine down into the grave

 

I knew/I knew/I knew I never loved her

She knew she knew I did

She knew/she knew/she knew she never loved me

I knew I knew she did

She wore red on her wedding day

She swore love would never fade

 

She tore/She tore down/She tore down everything I gave

She swore/She swore loud/She swore loud down into the grave

 

I knew/I knew/I knew I never loved her

She knew she knew I did

She knew/she knew/she knew she never loved me

I knew I knew she did

She tore down everything I gave 

She wore red on her wedding day 

 

I knew/I knew/I knew I never loved her

She knew she knew I did

She knew/she knew/she knew she never loved me 

I knew I knew she did

I knew/I knew/I knew I never loved her

She knew she knew I did

She knew/she knew/she knew she never loved me 

I knew I knew she did

 

She wore red on her wedding day

She swore love would never fade

Love would never fade

Love would never fade…

Fade…..Fade….

Thief River Falls River Thief

[Elizabeth’s sister Babe lived to be 103 years old, many yearsspent living in Thief River Falls. She was married to a wolf trapper, and she made her own money buying and selling wild rice. She went to the lakes and bought from the Ojibwa’s, who controlled the harvest, and went to town selling it to the settlers.]

 

Do you dream alone? Do you dream alone?

 

Thief River Falls River Thief

That’s what they used to call me

I don’t mind the climb to the top of the stairs

I’ve done it for one century

Thief River Falls River Thief

 

My man made his living killing wolves

One time he even tried to kill me

I don’t mind have a look take your time

You’ll never pin nothing on me

Keep one eye out for his teeth

Thief River Falls River Thief

 

Do you drink alone? Do you drink alone?

 

I made a killing flipping rice

The good berry to me was King

I don’t mind…have a look take your time

The People will find what they need

Thief River Falls River Thief

 

Thief River Falls River Thief

Sweet bitter leaves bitter sweat

I don’t mind the climb to the top of the world

I’ve lived there for one century

Thief River Falls River Thief

 

Do you dream alone? Do you dream alone?