King Earl Lyrics

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2004 website banner.

I’d been playing the songs that made up King Earl for a while, they were culled from a failure of a short piece of fiction of the same name and the rest of the songs mined from that little book were used later for the Rooster album. So I’d been playing them for some time live and they were as familiar and realized as they could be at that point in time. The session was a show with no audience, we recorded live to the microphones and tape machine, barely letting the room go quiet before we started the next song. Every single step of the process (mixing, mastering, artwork, what have you) took longer than the actual recording session. I haven’t strayed too far from that model to this day, preferring to capture a moment rather than create one and let the listener use this captive, this shadow of an evening, to create their own moment.

Possessed by the Devil lyrics

Union Tramp lyrics

Reverend Eviction's Blues lyrics

V8 Ford Blues pt. 2 lyrics

King Earl lyrics

Ode to a New Dealer lyrics

1917 lyrics

Jefferson Street Express lyrics

West Bank 10 String Rag lyrics

Song notes

Possessed By The Devil - It feels like pictures of me at different points in my life, maybe up until the end. I don't really know where the song came from. I worked with a guy who never talked to me hardly at all, the only time he ever spoke to me was to say "if you've got blood on your hands, you don't belong in church."

Union Tramp - I still really enjoy playing this song. I don't think songs are ever truly finished and this song is a good example of that. Its fun to play and it's fun to play with, a work-in-progress, trying it in a different key or tuning after every couple shows. I also like the story of it, I met lots of guys who are out on the road, trying to get to a place that feels like home, a constant search for somewhere where they feel they can belong.

King Earl - "King Earl" isn't based on a single person or incident but it's true in the sense that this is the average life of homeless people I worked with. They're always waiting, nowhere to go, someone always shooing them on, always in danger of being knocked out just because they exist. Just being there, reminding people about hard times makes them eligible for a beating or whatever else.

1917 - Written while I was out in Butte, Montana for the film "Who Killed Cock Robin?" I was deeply affected by Frank Little's story. 1917 was the year of the Granite Mountain fire and also year Frank Little was murdered. We'd visited some of the old mining shacks and climbed headframes and I felt really tuned in at that point to Butte even though I hadn't lived there or anything like that. The song came from thinking about Frank and spending an evening in the engine room of one of the headframes, which is a creepy place, just right above the entrance to a copper mine and you feel every dead soul that is wandering around.

West Bank 10-String Rag - I lived in a cheap, leaky, drafty, stinky rooming house in Minneapolis on the West Bank and had the time of my life, it was the best place. Every Thursday I went down to the Times Bar on Nicollet Avenue to see Dave Ray and Tony Glover play, Friday I was stuffed in a corner at the old 400 Bar to hear Willie Murphy play the piano, on Saturday I was usually down at the New Riverside Cafe to see Peter Rykhus or someone like that play blues guitar, and on Sunday I was always at the Viking Bar to watch Spider John.

• Download King Earl on Bandcamp
An oral history of King Earl
• Stream a 2004 live in studio session
Charlie Parr profile (Duluth News Tribune)