CHARLIE PARR

 

Criminals and Sinners Lyrics

2002 website

2002 website photo.

Recording Criminals & Sinners with Mark Lindquist was a great education for me, I'd been intimidated by the recording process and all it's mysteries up til then, I'd been intimidated by the people who apparently ran the business of recording musicians, up until that point I'd felt very much like a bystander in the music world and I'd decided that I'd rather stay outside than have to conform. Aside from that, the music that I loved listening to was by and large field recordings made in the 40's and 50's of itinerant preachers and blues guitarists and chain gangs and cowboys and the music produced in studios never sounded like that, so I figured I'd just play and not record. But then I met Mark, a definite anarchist when it came to recording technique, and the founder of a legendary local record label called "Shaky Ray" and we set up a couple beat up microphones in the basement and played a show for his tape machine. There was about 30 minutes left on a reel borrowed from a local punk band for us to use for the entire record and we finished our last song just as the last bit of usable tape traveled past the head. And it dawned on me, this doesn't have to be for the ages just because it's recorded, it can be for right now, live, lo-fi, warts and all.

Asa Jones' Blues lyrics

Lowdown lyrics

Song for Loren B. lyrics

Henry Young's Body lyrics

I Wonder How Long till I Can Change My Clothes lyrics

Eli Green lyrics

Annie Melton lyrics

Song notes

Asa Jones’ Blues - About a guy who was set up and framed just because he was an easy target. He was wayward enough that no one would be bothered by an injustice happening to him because he made them uncomfortable anyway. There's a lot of Asa Jones' out there.

Song for Loren B. - It wouldn't matter to people what was going on in this man's life, the problem people had with him was the way he looked and dressed and lived. The "here's this goofy looking dude" attitude. That's what bothers me. I've been subject to some of those comments and judgments myself.

Henry Young’s Body - Comes from two things I've always been fascinated with - one is John Brown and other is the idea of doing something that you know you need to do even though it's going to be detrimental to your life. This is one of my earliest songs. I've worked on it more over the years, I didn't get it quite right at the time. Recently I've messed around with the lyrics a little more after reading a couple really good biographies on John Brown. It's a song that I'm going to come back to again and see if I can do a bit more with it.

Eli Green- Eli Green was a blues guitar player from Holly Springs, Mississippi. Chris Strachwitz and Fred McDowell went to Eli Green's house with a battery powered tape machine and recorded a couple songs before the batteries ran out. It's such an amazing recording, these guys are just on fire, they're telling it like it is, it's just brilliant. I don't know anything about Eli Green but hearing that record is enough, I'm an Eli Green fan for life. My song is a tribute to those two men and those two songs.

Annie Melton - There's a great story in a collection called "North Carolina Folklore" where Doc Watson talks about Annie Melton. Annie was an acquaintance of Tom Dula, so the story goes, and when she was a dying old woman Doc Waton's grandmother went to Annie's bedside to tend to her. When she walked in the room she heard a loud noise that sounded like hot rocks being dropped into cold water. Annie Melton was in the bed saying the fires of hell were burning all around her and she then confessed to Doc Waton's grandmother that she had been the one that killed Laura Foster and let Tom Dula hang for it. I'd read that story in the liner notes of Doc Waton's first album and later tracked down the passage in "North Carolina Folklore." This is one of the few Criminals and Sinners songs that I still play regularly at shows.

Links:
• Download Criminals and Sinners on Bandcamp
Traditional and Original American Folk Music [recorded July 30, 2001] (archive.org)
Untitled 1999 recording w/ Mikkel and T.J. Thissen (archive.org)
Barn Aid photo gallery