harlem album cover


AVAILABLE 2.15.11


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INDEPENDENCE DAY

Independence Day, 1921
Miller's bending over cotton in the Carolina sun
His back is broken


The southern star has fallen by a firecracker fuse
Never did believe when they told us to our face
Those days are over


We're strangers in this land
...Still


Mattie here can pass she don't have to come in back
But fathers tell your children, none of you be fooled
One drop is all the same


And boys who once were soldiers are pulling up their homes
Learn to do with less, hope to live with more
Their war is over


We're strangers in this land
...Still


Yes, I'll say it plain
I'll quote the words of Mr. Hughes
America has never been America to me


Yet, I swear this oath
As long as I can breathe
America will be a seed that grows deep in the heart of me


We're going up
To the promised land


America...
Don't belong to me


America...
Just a dream to me


We're going up
...To Harlem



VICKSBURG

Land's gone dry
No hard rain
Mule's been dead
40 days

I would die
Pray I was cursed
See you burn
Old Vicksburg

I am not
Unafraid
I will not
Bow down in shame

Dig my heart
In this earth
Trade my life
For yours Vicksburg

Stole my name
My daddy's land
Tied my hands
Feel no pain

They don't know
A good man's worth
Go to hell
Old Vicksburg

Every night
Time I pray
Take my wife
And child away

From the man
Who speaks no good
From the men
Of Ol' Vicksburg


BLACKFACE

Got land for sale if you want it
Land for sale that I don't need

It's gone, gone, gone
The dream is gone

Brother, brother, you don't know me
Tho' I look a lot like you


Brother, brother, won't come toward me
Not in this neighborhood (talking peace won't do no good)


Brother, brother do you hate me more
Than the folks on up the road


Brother, brother, you don't own me
Tho' I wear my blackface too

It's gone, gone, gone
The dream is gone

The King is gone, the King is gone
The King is gone and all his words have been forgotten

It's gone, gone, gone
The dream is gone

Brother, brother where are you
Brother, brother just a word to you


Brother, brother, why don't you treat me like the white folks do
I seem more akin to them than you

Got land for sale if you want it
Land for sale that I don't need


It's like that song
My favorite band plays


Tears of Rage for this place
Tears of Rage for this place



MEAN AS YOU

Ol' Ruby just lyin' there
In her sleep she's unaware
Took a sharp hit to the chest
To bring that woman down

Now I guess I'm the lucky one
'Cause to see me this way you'd slap me and say,
"Boy stop all that whimpering
Didn't I teach you anything"

I never met anyone
I never met anyone
Who could mean so much to me
And be as mean as you

Took a sharp hit with a switch
To leave this helpless town
Took some years to finally know
I could never walk your ground

But I guess it was kind for you
To turn my gift around
Sayin', "save your concern for yourself
I don't need it anyhow"

I never met anyone
I never met anyone
Who could mean so much to me
And be as mean as you


INSIDE/OUT

Kelli left home by rail
'Bout an hour ago
I don't think he knows
She left him there all alone to do the job for free


Some time on the road
Could make her fold
Spring's the cruelest date
Her train is running late


Don't need a genius here to know
She's laughing like a rat
That's lying in a pan
Lying in a pan full of sugar and gold

If ever I wanted a love in vain
My god how you have changed
Should I've believed you when you said
You're inside and out if me

Just like a man
To believe he's the only one
Used to be me
Who believed you would always come


Couple shots of courage down to chase me out
Don't need a genius here to know
Change is gonna come where the cold wind blows
Change is gonna come where the cold wind blows

If ever I wanted a love in vain
My god how you have changed
Should I've believed you when you said
You're inside and out of me

Your kindness was more than extreme
Better to me than the days in between
That love brings the worst in me
Inside and out

Kelli wrote him a note
He just threw away
Ain't got the courage left to hear
What she needs to say


Just like a woman to deny
When she's been hit and run
Don't need a genius here to know
A change is gonna come where the cold wind blows


If ever I wanted a love in vain
My god how you have changed
Should I've believed you when you said
You're inside and out of me

 

VICIOUS CIRCLE

I'm caught
In a vicious circle
Between two worlds
In a hell unchained

My girl
Who stood by my word
She won't trust
A thing she's heard

And I'm caught
In a vicious circle
Caught in a lie of the very worst kind
And now the damage is done

Like my daddy
Before me
Speak with a forked tongue
And then run, boy, run

Like the child born unto me
Like the boys in his family
Fear what they never know
Then take the easy way down

And I'm caught
In a vicious circle
Caught in a lie of the very worst kind
And now the damage is done



FIRE DOWN BELOW

I hear the jayhawks in the morning
It's my early warning
Clock on the wall it reads 4:30
Said she'd be home early

But I won't be fooled by you
You won't take me
Out in that fire
Down below

This house gets cold when no one's home
And supper's almost over
The road from Raleigh up to Harlem
Is filled with KK sons and daughters

But I won't be fooled by you
You won't take me
Out in that fire
Down below

The flowers blooming in May this year
This heat'll fool you
That summer's coming soon
Back in town there's a talk of a fire

I've been having dreams of childhood
Now that mother shares the bed
She's hoping you'll be back for Christmas
Hearing voices in her crazy head

But I won't be fooled by you
You won't take me
Out in that fire
Down below



GOIN' EAST

Goin' back east again
To find the friend he'd never been
Goin' back east again
Where there's a gentler wind blowin' now

Time to make amends
Shake the past right through your hands
Time to make amends
There's a gentler wind blowin' now

I'm the girl
That you take for granted
The whore you adore
The field where you've landed

 

 

I'm the boy
In all the wrong places
Whose heart erases
What his memory replaces

Goin' back east again
To find the friend he's never been
Goin' back east again
Where there's a gentler wind blowin' now

The first steps are always the longest
My love will come...



ANGEL IN BLACK

Last night I had the strangest dream
That I had died alone
While someone watched over me

Last night I had the strangest dream
That I had died alone
And my soul had been set free

I saw an angel dressed in black
And he took my hand, spoke to me
"Now it's time to take to back, to take you back"

The good book says there will come a day
When all men will be taken
And judged in their own way

And the angel in black won't hear a word
There is no place to hide or run
For the man who's time has come

I saw an angel dressed in black
And he took my hand, spoke to me
"Now it's time to take to back, to take you back"



LONG TIME GONE

When you come down to earth
You're gonna look around
And you will find
People have changed their minds


About you

When you get back on the ground
You'll find that things have changed
Winds have shifted
Boats have drifted
Down the shore

A long time gone
A long time gone

When you come down to earth…
When you come down to earth…
When you come down to earth…
When you come down



All songs Shawn Amos except "Long Time Gone" Shawn Amos/Patrick Milligan
Put Together Music/BMI



PLAYERS

Shawn Amos sings, plays acoustic & electric guitars, harmonica, plus banjo on "Vicksburg"
Patrick Milligan plays banjo, electric & acoustic guitar, and sings
Ben Peeler plays lap steel, mandolin, and dobro
Roger Len Smith plays bass and sings
Robert Jolly plays drums
Chris Anderson plays piano, plus guitar on "Blackface"
John Thomas plays organ and piano
David Henry plays cello and organ
Gia Ciambotti sings
Derf Reklaw plays congas on "Blackface"
Mark Olson sings, plus plays harmonica on "Independence Day"
Frank "Poncho" Sampedro plays guitar on "Southern Man"
Jeremy Parzen plays electric guitar on "Angel in Black"
Charlie George plays snare on "Angel in Black"
The 3 J's sing on "Vicious Circle"
Ian Whitcomb arranges brass section on "Goin' East"


PRODUCTION

Produced by Shawn Amos and Patrick Milligan in various apartments, living rooms, bedrooms, and closets in and around Los Angeles
Additional Production by Chris Anderson
"Angel in Black" Produced by Shawn Amos and Ian Slater
"Long Time Gone" Produced by David Henry and Shawn Amos in Nashville
Pro Tools Engineering, Clean-Up, Additional Recording, and Mastering by Pat Kraus
Mixed by David Henry in Nashville
Executive Produced by David Nichols

ART

Cover Illustration by Kirsten Tichell
Design by Keith Bormuth @ Meat + Potatoes

For Marta, Piper, Ellis, and Harper