Chile de Árbol 1 2

Cover of Chile de Árbol Back of Chile de Árbol

Released: 1993
Label: Ajax

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Liner notes

For in oure wyl ther stiketh ever a nayl To have an hoor heed and a grene tayl, As hath a leek; for though oure myght be goon, Oure wyl desireth folie evere in oon.

— Geoffrey CHAUCER, Reeve's prologue II. 3877–3880 3


Leti, Mark Givens que pintó las escobas, Dennis, Tim, E.F. que nos enseñó la lengua Latina, Bob Durkee, Barry Sanders 5 maestro poderoso, y la Santa Vírgen de Guadalupe 6 por su intercesión eterno. 7

HEUS, PAMPHILA! 8 Special thanks to T. MACCUS PLAUTIUS, 9 that wonderful man.

Chile de Árbol was included in its entirety on the Protein Source of the Future... NOW! compilation.

Table of contents

  1. Night of the Mules
  2. Going to Malibu
  3. Billy the Kid's Dream of the Magic Shoes
  4. Fresh Berries for You
  5. Alphabetizing

Night of the Mules 10 11

"... once more. Suppose we can only find ten like this in there..." 12

Streetlights gave off a yellow glow
On the holly and the mistletoe
You could feel the rain coming down
The quiet starlight hardened the ground
'Til the street shone like a diamond, look sister
Here comes a new genuine disaster
Clip clop, up the street
See the rain, feel the sleet

The cold air, unpredictable weather
Ten or twenty of us huddled together
Hearing the praying growing louder
Snowflakes falling, fine white powder
Here come the new kings
The hooves clack, the metal sings
Clip clop, up the street
See the rain, feel the sleet

Going to Malibu 13 14

When we meet on neutral ground
I can't believe how good you look
And the thoughts that race around my mind
Could fill a long unreadable book
And I can hear the waves
I can sense the continent eroding
You say you know why I called you here
But you couldn't have any way of knowing
So that's not true
That's a mean thing to say
That's a damnable lie
That's a damnable lie

Looking at you and I don't know
What it is I see
But I know you're changing
Almost indetectably
And I see a ship off the shore
And I imagine it sinking
And you smile and you say that you know
What it is that I'm thinking
That's not true
That's a rotten thing to say
That's a damnable lie
That's a damnable lie

Billy the Kid's Dream of the Magic Shoes 15 16

Gonna hang me out to dry
They're gonna hang me out to dry
I don't really care
I don't really care
I got special shoes 16
I got special shoes

They're gonna fill me full of holes
They're gonna fill me full of holes
I don't give a rat's ass
I don't give a rat's ass, you rat bastards
I got special shoes on
I got special shoes on

Fresh Berries for You

World's overrun with new shades of green
And the dandelions come up like recurring dreams
And the swallows give up their fragile little songs
To the new world

And I know you're only watching out for yourself
And I know I'm not to take it real personal-like
And I know you only want what's best for everybody
I know you only want what's best for everybody
But you better be nice or the Easter Bunny's gonna strike your name out of the little red book with the silver hinges on it that he carries 17

They've implemented a new system on the exhaust lines of the buses
And now the air is fresh and sweet and clean when they pass by
And the bright sun shines down on our fair city
And young cats play on people's front lawns

And the time is coming
And the time is coming
And I can feel the time coming
And I know you can feel the time coming yourself
And the Easter Bunny's coming and God knows I'd hate for you to miss it

It's gonna be so nice
When the Easter Bunny comes
It's gonna be so nice
When the Easter Bunny comes
It's gonna be so nice
When the Easter Bunny comes
It's gonna be so nice
When the Easter Bunny comes

Alphabetizing 18 19

Summer crawled by indetectably
And then I saw you looking down to me
And your earrings sparkled in the noonday sun
And though it's very true that I love everyone
With every ounce of energy left in me
I love you especially, because
I saw you
Coming through
The screen door
On the second floor
Up on the balcony

It was hard to even see you at all
Because the air was thick with alcohol
So I kept on rubbing my eyes
For all the good it did me, for all the measurable good it did me
Let the years come and take away my memory
I will not forget the shock that ran through me when
I saw you
Coming through
The screen door
On the second floor
Up on the balcony


Caliclimber's superb Flickr page provided the album art. Thanks also to Harrison Lemke for pointing out the Biblical reference at the beginning of Night of the Mules, and to Betsy S. for correcting my reading of 'escobas' in the liner notes.

  1. Chile de Árbol, Nall, retrieved April 14, 2014.


  1. Chile de árbol, Spanish for tree chili, is an extremely spicy pepper native to Mexico. 

  2. On the Protein Source of the Future... NOW! compilation liner notes, John writes:

    These songs would all sound great in the hands of '80s new wave bands — not New Wave proper, you understand, but the commercial aftermath: Adam and the Ants, Duran Duran, Kajagoogoo, Thomas Dolby, and so forth. Is there any sacrifice I would not make to hear Spandau Ballet doing "Bill the Kid's Dream of the Magic Shoes"? No, No, there is not. 

  3. Geoffrey Chaucer was an extremely influential English poet from the 14th century. His most significant work, The Canterbury Tales, quoted here, is a frame tale in which a group of pilgrims to Canterbury Cathedral compete in a storytelling contest. Specifically, the Reeve's Tale ridicules a thieving miller who receives his comeuppance amid gratuitous sex.

    A modern English rendering of this stanza is as follows:

    It ever pricks our will just like a nail
    To have a hoary head and a green tail,
    As does a leek. Although our might is gone,
    Our will is that the folly carry on.

    Ecker RL, Crook EJ (1993). The Canterbury Tales: A Complete Translation into Modern English. Palatka: Hodge & Braddock. ISBN 0-9636512-3-4 

  4. In Spanish, "Hear us, many thanks." 

  5. Barry Sanders was a running back for the Detroit Lions, one of the best players to ever hold the position and holder of numerous awards. 

  6. Our Lady of Guadalupe is a term for Mary, the mother of Jesus, originating from a famous painting of Mary in a church in Mexico City, associated with multiple purported miracles. 

  7. Translated from Spanish, "Leti, Mark Givens who painted the escolas, Dennis, Tim, E.F. who taught us the Latin language, Bob Durkee, Barry Sanders powerful master, and the Holy Virgin of Guadalupe for her eternal intercession." My best guess is that escolas is a misspelling of escuelas, and thus means schools. 

  8. In Latin, "Hey, Pamphila!" While I could not find this exact line in his works, Pamphila appears as a minor character in Plautus' work Stichus. Pamphila could also refer to Pamphila of Epidaurus, an Egyptian historian of Greece living in the first century AD.

    Ullman BL (1916). Proper Names in Plautus, Terence, and Menander. Classical Philology, 11(1), 61 – 64. 

  9. Titus Maccius Plautius, more frequently, Plautus was a prolific Roman playwright, often writing comedies, from the second and third centuries BC. 

  10. Night of the Mules is part of the informal series of Biblical references

  11. Given the references to holly and mistletoe, prayer, kings, starlight, and mules or donkeys, it seems likely that this song describes the Nativity of Jesus

  12. While the source of this recording is unknown, the speaker is quoting Genesis 18, in which Abraham begs God to spare the city of Sodom, if a few good people can be found there. As God agrees to spare the city for even fewer and fewer people, Abraham is satisfied at ten people:

    And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten's sake.

    If you know where this recording is from, please let me know!

    Genesis 18:32, Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved October 28, 2014. 

  13. Going to Malibu is part of the Going to ... series

  14. Malibu is a city in Los Angeles County, California. 

  15. Billy the Kid, born William McCarty, was a notorious outlaw in the 19th century American West, killing 8 – 21 people. Another Mountain Goats song, Catherine Antrim's Kid, is also about Billy the Kid, and similarly uses the special shoes motif. 

  16. This is a perplexing line. Special shoes show up in multiple songs, including Catherine Antrim's Kid, the other song about Billy the Kid, but also in The Day the Aliens Came, implying that perhaps this has a deeper meaning. On the other hand, it could be interpreted at face value.

    To take a long chain of reasoning, Lon Chaney, Jr. (the subject of Rotten Stinking Mouthpiece) played a role in a 1941 film about Billy the Kid. Two years previously, he had worn height-increasing shoes on Of Mice and Men, and purportedly his tremendous increase in height was reported for many years. While this link strikes me as being tenuous, it also would not surprise me, even if at present I think there's no reason to believe this connection to be valid.

    Beck, Calvin Thomas (1975). Heroes of the Horrors. New York: Collier Books.  2

  17. The Easter Bunny is a popular symbol for Easter dating back to the 17th century, depicting a rabbit bringing eggs and candy to children on Easter. Originally the rabbit behaved like an Easter Santa Claus, judging children for being good or bad. However, I'm not aware of any stories in which the Easter Bunny carries a red book, that may be a Mountain Goats invention. 

  18. "I ripped off the chord progression of that from something that was on the Electric Company. You can barely hear it. Something to do with water." — Dennis Kucinich benefit, San Francisco, February 11, 2004

    John confirms that this is an Alpha song at Hopscotch, Durham, September 8, 2012. 

  19. Alphabetizing is part of the Alpha couple series