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release date:

May 27, 2011

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Hag's Head Records

All songs written by Barry McCormack

Barry McCormack - acoustic guitar & vocals
Stephen Shannon - bass guitar, percussion
John Hegarty - keyboards
Shane McGrath - electric guitar
Joss Moorkens - drums
Gary Fitzpatrick - backing vocals

Recorded & mixed by Stephen Shannon
Mastered by Stephen Quinn

Sleeve design by Niall McCormack
Photography by Adrian Crowley

Small Mercies

LYRICS

SMALL MERCIES

On Friday nights I can hear the dogs from here
The roar of the crowd in the wind
And the local's full of locals
They’ve no time for blow-ins
You'd be afraid of your life to go in

And if things are gonna stay the same around here
Some things are gonna have to change
The Jews had long gone
The pawnbrokers closed down
And I had returned again

Small mercies
Where have you been?
Hiding in the shadows again
The shadows again

My pockets were full of notes to myself
Reminders and pointers and lists
Things that had fallen
Out of library books
A litany of for and against

I'd promised myself I’d stop pondering
The ways I'd wound up in this bind
And the bloke round in the garage
Looked happy as Larry
But I was sure he was out of his mind

Small mercies
Where have you been?
Hiding in the shadows again
The shadows again

All things must pass and pass they will
I was praying that this'd pass soon
I was hiding out
And biding my time
Amongst the ghosts of a greasy spoon

It's hard to know when you're being a stoic
And when you've become resigned
But the bloke round in the garage
Didn't seem too concerned
He had loftier things on his mind

Small mercies
Where have you been?
Hiding in the shadows again
The shadows again

HARD IS THE ROAD

When she came back in for the last of her things
She brought in the cool night air
The smell of earth and life itself
And all who've passed through here

She must have been wondering how long it would take
To dawn on me
That time had conspired against us
That I couldn’t be who she needed me to be

And hard is the road
Hard is the road
She walks so assured

One evening outside Hazelhatch
Someone was hit by the train
Soon a crowd had gathered down at the back
They were trying to spot the remains

But I did not go, why would I go?
What was there left to see?
just a tangled mess of shattered limbs
A mist of blood in the breeze

And hard is the mad
Hard is the road
She walks so assured

In the smoking carriage the air was thick
As they supped upon their cans
The Guards arrived and crossed the field
In a troop of cars and vans

As I watched them clamber onto the tracks
I thought about my wife
And that soul who'd woken that morning
With a plan to take his own life

And hard is the road
Hard is the road
She walks so assured

HARD TIMES (DRUNK AT THE KITCHEN DOOR)

The barracks they seemed deserted
The sentry was nodding off
The whole city was down to a skeleton crew
The taps had been turned off

The good times had slipped through our fingers
The shadow self of the gloom and the rain
We were back on our knees
We were uptrodden now
Our Lady had returned again

Hard times, hard times
Drunk at the kitchen door
Come on in or stay out there
I'm not reared of you anymore
I'm not scared of you anymore

I was number fifty two with a bullet
I had the fresh claim blues again
My number came up, I went up to the hatch
They said ‘Welcome back, my friend’

The talk in bars was of meltdown
A future of ghost estates
Tumbleweed blowing through retail parks
The wind howling through broken slates

Hard times, hard times
Drunk at the kitchen door
Come on in or stay out there
I'm not scared of you anymore
I'm not scared of you anymore

The angels had gone into hiding
Someone had clipped their wings
And the buccaneers refused to be chased from the town
Or put away those childish things

A rising tide will lift all boats
And then sink them all out in the sound
Now it's ‘Find a ditch and cover your head
Cos the sky is falling down’

Hard times, hard times
Drunk at the kitchen door
Come on in or stay out there
I'm not scared of you anymore
I'm not scared of you anymore

I REMEMBER KENT STATION

I remember Kent Station in the teeming rain
A seemingly endless torrent came down
The previous evening I'd had whiskey on the brain
I had risen in the night and fallen down
My right eye was black and my spirit was bruised
As the last train to Dublin struggled out of the town

Amen the spirit
The burdened soul
That takes the beatings
But refuses to stay down

I slept and I dreamed Father Mathew appeared
There he was beckoning me into the light
But the crowd around him turned into a mob
And they chased me screaming into the night

Amen the spirit
The burdened soul
That takes the beatings
But refuses to stay down

Back in work on Monday I went round with the post
Some of them looked upon me with disdain
So I went and I hid by the franking machine
Outside the smokers were huddled in the rain

Amen the spirit
The burdened soul
That takes the beatings
But refuses to stay down

SOMETHING ABOUT A PLACE

I recall it was a Wednesday and the first day of the Leaving
A doomy mist had gathered early that afternoon
Well there's something about a place where the summer brings disappointment
In our hearts we held out hope that we might see some sun that June

And the only thing still moving in the corners of the town
Were the gulls who were screaming blue murder

As I made my way into town I met O’Neill and Claffey
But they seemed to me more like strangers than old friends of mine
I returned home soaked to the skin to find the flat had been turned over
They'd sprayed the place with shaving foam and stolen all my wine

And the only thing still moving in the corners of the town
Were the gulls who were streaming blue murder

Well there's something about a place
Where every clock tells a different time
And when the dials are set to dreaming
You will dream your weight in gold

When the landlord arrived I was sure he wasn't sober
His shiny suit light up the room he had an air of mystery
‘There's something about a place’, he said, ‘bloody minded in spirit’
Where the constant grey can't keep us down so give up your misery’

And the only thing still moving in the corners of the town
Were the gulls who were screaming blue murder

BAD ENOUGH

Between anger and acceptance
I wished that I was dead
But then I started bargaining
I said, ‘Take her instead’

The door slammed shut, the curtains closed
The bell could not be unrung
That summer the cloud came in so low
You could taste the gloom on your tongue
You could taste the gloom on you tongue

Bad enough was my own sorrow
Even worse was the sorrow I felt for her

Between bitterness and resentment
I wondered who was to blame
I wondered who she really was
Who she is, who she became

The horse had bolted, the towel had been thrown
The fat lady was belting it out
That summer the cloud came in so low
You could taste the dew in your mouth
You could taste the dew in your mouth

Bad enough was my own sorrow
Even worse was the sorrow I felt for her

It was a summer of abandoned umbrellas
A strange mist seemed to settle in my throat
I drowned myself in the tears I shed
And the rain I shook from my coat

She’d been a martyr to her own silence
In the end she gave in to the doom
I began to detest the smell of my sleep
As it hung in that cell of a room
As it hung in that cell of a room

Bad enough was my own sorrow
Even worse was the sorrow I felt for her

THE SECRETS OF THE BUCKFAST MONKS

How could I have gotten down on my knees
In front of those shysters and begged them please?
Ferriter pondered as he went home to his wife
But she'd heard it all before
So he went down to Flood's

Where the barman from Banagher knows
You're a poet not a drunk
Where you'll inherit the wisdom of ages
And the secrets of the Buckfast monks

Each of us is cursed to journey in search
Of toil itself to dip your pick in the earth
Ferriter's wife wondered why she toiled alone
But he’d heard it all before
So he went down to Flood's

Where the barman from Banagher knows
You're a poet not a drunk
Where you'll inherit the wisdom of ages
And the secrets of the Buckfast monks

When Ferriter awoke he found himself alone
Stumbled downstairs and found a note by the phone
On fancy paper and in her dainty hand
But he knew what it said so he went down to Flood's

Where the barman from Banagher knows
you're a poet not a drunk
Where you'll inherit the wisdom of ages
And the secrets of the Buckfast monks

THE DOGS ON THE STREET

Paul was in the office up to his arse in P45s
The bosses roamed the halls, they'd taken out the knives
Some of us were worried, some were running for their lives
Paul had got the shingles
I was coming out in hives

And the dogs on the street know
Every gouger in Christendom knows
When the game is up and when the tide is going out

The manager moved on the killing floor, he'd gone on a power trip
There were scores to be settled, he was dying to let rip
There was talk going round they were scuttling the ship
The smell of blood was in the air, the cull had taken grip

And the dogs on the street know
Every gouger in Christendom knows
When the game is up and when the tide is going out

I was a dead man walking, wounded and lame
I wasn’t surprised when the call came
‘You're a good man’, they said ‘You know, you're not to blame
But they've got us by the balls, it's a dirty rotten shame’

And the dogs on the street know
Every gouger in Christendom knows
When the game is up and when the tide is going out

Down in local Paul bought me a farewell cigar
The last of the creatives were propping up the bar
On the street some cornerboys were eyeing up a car
Like wreckers on the shore taunting a ship from afar

And the dogs on the street know
Every gouger in Christendom knows
When the game is up and when the tide is going out

FAR FROM IT

She had always said I must have been born cautious
Scared of my own shadow and worried to the bone
In the end I drove her mad with my fear of the world and all its people
I had to laugh at the irony that I'd ended up alone

Far from it the was reared
And further from it she will go

So I wound up back amongst them the patron saints of bedsit longing
Hunkered down in libraries among hardback books and tomes
It took me quite a while to feel like I belonged there
I wasn't far from where I'd started but it felt so far from home

Far from it I was reared
And further from it I will go

We recognise each other, the skulkers of the inner suburbs
We know each other's stories, we could tell you them blow by blow
Some of us were cast out, others were never asked in
Some were just too quick, others a bit too slow

Far from it we were reared
And further from it we will go

‘We are lonely men, pookas of that foolish longing
But to yearn is in our nature’, says the bloke from the flat below
‘It's a life like the ascetics’, he said, ‘We proudly don the hairshirts
Some of you may pass this way, others will never know’

And far from it you were reared
And further from it you will go

Quiet men from the midlands, queerhawks with odd opinions
It's a menagerie of strange sorts with their own song and code
Someday I will lave here, I'll leave the keys with the next man
Raise up these musty wings and fly and lay down this heavy load

Far from it I was reared
And further from it I will go

THE GHOSTS OF PIGTOWN

The ghosts of Pigtown were up and about
Bumping into things, rattling chains on cue
Zombie junkies were lurching towards death
The sky had taken on an unearthly hue
The bus stank of ablutions, the stink of going out
Bottles and cans were abandoned at bus stops
Horndogs drooled (there was skirt to be chased)
They had the air of punters in ancient knocking shops
But let a better man than me be the one to sit in judgement and cast the first stone
They were not the first, nor the last, with the mortal fear of waking up alone

Do not let the sorrow come higher than your knees
Do no let the blackness do with you as it may please

The bar was under siege, the whole place heaved
Some suits were getting down, the night at their command
The barman disappeared I waited there in vain as the ship sailed on adrift and unmanned

Do not let the sorrow come higher than your knees
Do not let the blackness do with you as it may please

The bus windows fogged up, there was the stink of going home
Wretches wretched and fishwives fought
I kept my head down, there were tales being told
Of the ones that got away and the ones nearly caught
There was something in the air sulphurous and potent
I had the feeling it could all kick off
The ghosts of Pigtown had settled down for the night
Sated they slept with their snouts in the trough
But let a better man than me be the one to sit in judgement and to cast the first stone
1 was not the first, nor the last, with the mortal fear of waking up alone

Do not let the sorrow come higher than your knees
Do no let the blackness do with you as it may please

SPRING

The march was long over, the bars were filling up
With the disgruntled hordes, the contrary and het up
They'd ridden out the good times, their day had come
They raised their glasses to their moment in the sun

I pushed through the punters,
Pints were passed through the crowd
Half-baked theories were pondered aloud
There were canaries in the coalmine and straws in the wind
And what goes up must come down again
Yeah, it must surely come down again

But they couldn't take the spring from the air
Nor that feeling when the light has returned and the darkness is gone

They still take their sorrows gladly round here
Where the air has a whiff of the crathur
House plaques bear the names of fictional men
And the great and good returned to their creator

The more things change, the more they stay the same
The pawnbrokers had returned with a vengeance
And the cornerboys had never even left their posts
They’d put up with it all like it was a penance
Yeah, like the whole thing would never end

But they couldn't take the spring from the air
Nor that feeling when the light has returned and the darkness is gone

The march was long over, the bars had filled up
Some were the worse for wear some were made of hardier stuff
I pushed through the punters
Pints were passed through the crowd

My own half-baked theories I pondered aloud
The blind had led the blind and the inept the inept
And when it all went south, Christ, how Jesus had wept
Yeah, how the lord himself shed tears

But I couldn't take the spring from the air
Nor that feeling when the light has returned and the darkness is gone

All lyrics (c) Barry McCormack

"McCormack’s new album is a wondrous affair...some of the best – let’s just call it alt.folk – music of the year. A triumph" Irish Times ****

"a superb folk record...in possession of a rock ‘n roll heart" The Underground of Happiness

"a lengthy lament to a ruined Ireland. Some of these songs are destined to be sadly sung in bars in London, Boston and Sydney as those last pints are sunk." Hot Press

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