Unreleased songs: # – F

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Table of contents

02-75

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15–2

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25

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Abandoning My Father Talking Blues

It was 9 AM when the U-Haul came
And I heard my momma call my name
My dad taught English at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo
He was at work that day
It was time to go
We were moving

I was 5 years old and my sister was 3
I was wondering what'd likely become of me
My sister looked sad and I tried to be strong
It was hard just to get up and move along
We were moving

By 5 in the afternoon we were gone
And my stepfather welcomed me with open arms
We walked right through that apartment door
I had never lived in an apartment before
It was weird

I'll probably never know what it was like that night
For my dad, but I'd wager it was pretty bad
My sister and me, we stayed up late
Talking in the dark, not feeling so great
We were moving

Out of our house
Into a two-story apartment building across town
With a swingset and a sandbox out in the parking lot
And a laundry room with four glistening washing machines
And two dryers

Keep the home fires
Burning
Keep the home fires
Burning
Keep the home, home fires

Agemo's Hoops

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All Frosting

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Alpha Aquae

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Alpha Chum Gatherer

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Any Available Surface

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Birthday Song: This Time Has Gone

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Blues for Cicero

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Calcutta

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The Car Song

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Carmen Cicero

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Casetino's Nursery

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Catherine Antrim's Kid

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Chilean Fire Barrel

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Cutter

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The Doll Song

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Down to the Ark 1 2 3

"Right. Down to the Ark."

The candidates met up in North Dakota 4
And they donned their black robes there in the chapel hall
They said a brief invocation to their cloven-hoofed prince 5
And they signed their names in blood on the vestry wall

In Christ, you know there's neither high nor low 6
And the void will claim all creatures small or bright 7
Seal up the borders or let everybody in
In the order of the serpent, 8 there'll be neither left nor right 9

And we pull down our blindfolds
Reach out for the lever in the dark
Get a sticker for our shirts as we head into the sun 10
Proudly bearing the mark 11
Headed down to the ark

The applicants went down to Oklahoma 4
And they hired an accent coach to teach them the western twang
And several post-born babies 12 learned the hard way
Vampires only kiss you when they've sharpened up their fangs
Yeah

And as Minnesota fell, so went Missouri 4
We were meeting at VFWs 13 in the snow
And we voted down the tax codes, and we voted down the war 14
So many names to choose from, just one way to go

And we pull down our blindfolds
Reach out for the lever in the dark
Get a sticker for our shirts as we head into the sun
Proudly bearing the mark
Headed down to the ark

Edvard Munch

not yet transcribed

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Elsa from Rialto

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Ethiopians

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Etiquette Song

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Eugene Sue

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Flower Song

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Credits

Thanks as always to the superlative Caliclimber, whose Flickr pages provided essential information and release details. Thanks also to Steve Brinson, who transcribed Down to the Ark and started the annotations.

Footnotes

someday!

  1. Posting the song, John explained:

    Weekend America asked me to write a song for Super Tuesday. Who do you think about when you think about politicians? Right, me too. So I wrote this, and recorded it here, and I hope you enjoy it!

    The link in "me too" is to an image of the word "satan" stylized to look like a horned animal. Weekend America was a news and culture radio program syndicated by American Public Media, often distributed via NPR, the major public radio organization in the United States.

    Speaking more about the song in the recording available on the National Public Radio website, John states:

    My songs have never been me expressing my feelings, or very rarely; they're just, they're formal exercises, you know, and I thought that was an interesting way of putting it. Things tend to be more interesting if you take them to the extremes, I think.

    Either you're a really good political satirist and you can do something that is poking fun but at the same time not being partisan, you know, or you can't, and I wouldn't — that's just not sort of what I do. I write little emotional psychodramas. So, you know, then, once I got my hook, that I was gonna portray all the candidates as, you know, people who drink the blood of infants, that was exciting to me. Because that's sort of my political position. I mean, I will vote for the person who comes closest to what I think is right, but I don't trust, you know, or like any of them.

    ... I was trying not to say that we shouldn't bother voting. I mean, I felt that way for a long time, you know. I believe in voting for the person who's going to do the least harm, almost all of the time, you know. But I remain deeply suspicious of anybody who would seek public office.

    Mountain Goats news. Political Song for Alastair Crowley to Sing. February 3, 2008, retrieved August 1, 2016.

    Weekend America session, February 2, 2008. 

  2. Down to the Ark is part of the informal series of Biblical references

  3. Given that John was considering Revelation in writing the song (see below), this more likely refers to the Ark of the Covenant than Noah's Ark. The Ark of the Covenant is a chest believed to contain the stone tablets inscribed with the Ten Commandments, brought down by Moses from Mount Sinai. The location and definitive existence of the Ark is unknown.

    Revelation, the final book of the Bible, is the source of much Christian eschatology. It contains an intense, surreal, violent prophecy of the apocalypse. In the book, Jesus gives the narrator a vision of cosmic war between good and evil, and describes the coming of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalpyse, followed by mass slaughter, death, and suffering. Ultimately, Jesus promises to return with an army of angels and create a new world, known as the Second Coming.

    As Revelation progresses, the Throne of God appears with a scroll covered with seven seals. The opening of the seals release the Horsemen and other forces of catastrophic destruction. Following this, seven trumpets are sounded, generating further calamities. After the seventh trumpet is sounded, the Kingdom of God is declared and the Ark of the Covenant appears:

    God's sanctuary in heaven was opened, and the ark of His covenant appeared in His sanctuary. There were flashes of lightning, rumblings of thunder, an earthquake, and severe hail.

    Revelation 11:19, Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved February 24, 2022. 

  4. Super Tuesday is the colloquial term for the day in the United States presidential primary election process when the largest number of states vote, which normally has a dramatic effect on which candidates are able to continue running their campaigns and ultimately win their parties' nominations. In 2008, Super Tuesday, held on February 5, 2008, was larger than ever before, as 24 states held their primaries on that day. These states included North Dakota, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Missouri, the states mentioned in this song.

    The Democratic primary was inconclusive between Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, while the Republican primary helped bring former Governor Mitt Romney's campaign to an end, but allowed former Governor Mike Huckabee's campaign to continue until March, when he conceded the nomination to Senator John McCain. Ultimately, the election was won by Barack Obama.  2 3

  5. A cloven hoof is a hoof with two toes, as with cattle, deer, pigs, antelopes, gazelles, goats, mountain goats, and sheep. In Judaism, animals that both chew their cud and have cloven hooves are considered kosher, while others are considered unclean, or treif. Cloven hooves are often associated with Satan, due to Satan often having the body or limbs of a goat. 

  6. A reference to Romans 8:39:

    For I am persuaded that not even death or life,
    angels or rulers,
    things present or things to come, hostile powers,

    height or depth, or any other created thing
    will have the power to separate us
    from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

    Romans 8:38–39, Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved February 24, 2022. 

  7. Likely an allusion to All Things Bright and Beautiful, a famous hymn by Cecil Alexander, first published in 1848. The hymn opens with the lines:

    All things bright and beautiful,
    All creatures great and small,
    All things wise and wonderful,
    The Lord God made them all.

    This stanza repeats as the chorus. 

  8. Throughout the Bible, beginning in Genesis with Adam, Eve, the snake, and the apple, serpents are associated with Satan. In Revelation specifically, a dragon — equivalently called the ancient serpent — arises, identified with Satan, and wages war against Heaven. Michael, chief among the archangels, fights the dragon and defeats it.

    Revelation 12, Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved February 27, 2022. 

  9. In the United States, presidential elections follow a first-past-the-post voting system, meaning that the candidate with the most votes wins, even if this is a minority of the electorate, or even the voters. This has led to a two-party system, where it is nearly impossible for another party to gain political prominence. The Republican Party occupies the more right-wing and the Democratic Party occupies the more left-wing position, although true left-wing positions are essentially unrepresented.

    The left-right dichotomy dates from the French Revolution of 1789. In the National Assembly, supporters of the King sat on the right, and supporters of the Revolution sat on the left. 

  10. "The conceit of the chorus is going into the voting booth, and as you leave the voting place, they give you a little sticker that says, 'I voted', right. The booth is kind of dark, and you go out into the light, and I sort of liked that, sort of image from Revelations of people walking around with something on their foreheads, you know, that declares that they've declared allegiance to the Beast and so forth." — Weekend America session, February 2, 2008 

  11. The infamous Mark of the Beast, a symbol or number associated with Satan. In Revelation, there are two beasts. The first beast rises from the sea, and is given power by the serpent. The second beast is depicted as a false prophet, and places a mark on those that follow it:

    And he [the Beast] requires everyone — small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on his right hand or on his forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark: the beast’s name or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom: The one who has understanding must calculate the number of the beast, because it is the number of a man. His number is 666.

    Revelation 13:16–18, Holman Christian Standard Bible, retrieved February 27, 2022. 

  12. Likely contrasting to "unborn babies", a common way for anti-abortionists to describe a fetus. Opposition to abortion is a major mobilizing force among part of the right-wing in the United States. 

  13. The Veterans of Foreign Wars is an 1899 American organization formed of, as the title suggests, American military veterans who fought outside the United States. VFW halls are common in towns throughout the United States and are common sites for a variety of public events, including hosting polling stations. 

  14. I'm not aware of these referring to specific ballot items on Super Tuesday — if you are, please let me know, as usual! Likely these refer to opposing the Bush tax cuts, which benefited the wealthiest people in the United States, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both illegal and criminal wars by the Bush administration and continued by the Obama administration. The United States military was heavily engaged in other wars, including in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere, at the time of the election in 2008.