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October 18, 2013

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Hag's Head Records

All songs written by Barry McCormack

Barry McCormack—vocals, acoustic and electric guitar
John Hegarty—keyboards, electric guitars
Michael Murphy—bass guitar
Joss Moorkens—drums
Gary Fitzpatrick—banjo, accordion and backing vocals
Stephen Shannon—nylon-string guitar, electric guitar, synths, omnichord, xylophone

Recorded by Stephen Shannon at Experimental Audio, Dublin, September 2012
Produced by Stephen Shannon and Barry McCormack
Mixed by Stephen Shannon
Mastered by Stephen Quinn at Analog Heart, Dublin

Sleeve artwork by Colm McCarthy
Layout by Niall McCormack

Cut Throat Lane

LYRICS

CUT THROAT LANE

He was up on the roof of the Arlington Hotel
Smoking a fag and surveying all below
I was on the steps of City Hall taking it all in
The dirt and confusion, the ebb and the flow
The sparks were out on strike, the chuggers getting antsy
Those rickshaw men they looked broken and weary
The markets had stalled, there was no movement all
Even the ship rats in the sewers had grown cautious and leery

Come gather you all, foe and friend
Mad oul' ones are muttering ‘We're close to the end’

Well the things that you see in the queue For repeat claims
I’ve seen them effing and blinding, bargain and plead
Young ones in their pyjamas indignant to the last
Aging hipsters slowly going to seed

Come gather you all, foe and friend
Mad oul' ones are muttering 'We're close to the end’

A mist was coming in off Cut Throat Lane
Austerity measures and years of pain
Hardship cases driven half insane, half insane

When I looked up again, the smoker he was gone
In the bar downstairs the dancers, they were taking to the stage
The crowd was full of Yanks in those sensible slacks
Outside the taximen were starting the festival of rage

Come gather you all, foe and friend
Mad oul’ ones are muttering ‘We're close to the end'
Come gather you all

THE NIGHT BEFORE THE HORSE FAIR

It was the night before the horse fair, the guards were setting up the barricades
Searching cars for homemade weapons, slash hooks and hand grenades
My neighbour had just put his decking down, he asked me around we'd have a few beers
As I stepped out on to that unstained timber I had a feeling it would all end in tears

Life it burns itself a path, then it leaves a trace
I could see it being etched on to my neighbour's face, my neighbour's face

Well we got stuck in to his homemade cider and then he laid into his better half
I watched it unfold through the gaps in my fingers, I had a feeling she'd have the last laugh

Life it burns itself a path, then it leaves a trace
I could tee it being etched on to my neighbour's face, my neighbour's face

By the end of the summer she was gone
I called around to see him, I listened to his woes
No, he never got round to putting that finish down
His decking got destroyed in the winter snows

It was Monday morning in the markets
The blood was fresh from the tinker fights
In the greasy spoon the forklift drivers
Were putting the world to rights

Life it burns itself a path, then it leaves a trace
I could see it being etched on to my neighbour's face

Life it burns itself a path, then it leaves a trace
I could see it being etched on to my neighbour's face, my neighbour's face

LORD, FORGIVE US

On the bogs and on the beaches they were still digging for the disappeared
Things had turned out to be even worse, than even the worst of the cynics had feared
‘Bring us your tired and your poor’ they said ‘we're going to have ask them to give us a dig out'
Some of them they were taking the soup, some of them were taking the bloodier way out

'And Lord, forgive us, we know not what we do
Christ, be gentle, sure we never really had a clue'

The gurus and the blue-sky thinkers were on board, reports were commissioned, plans being hatched
Some of them were praying that the bodies would stay buried, that the bones and the teeth would never be matched

'And Lord, forgive us, we know not what we do
Christ, be gentle, sure we never really had a clue’

It was manna from heaven for those who'd been waiting for interesting times
And the shores they were teeming once more with sparks and navvies heading for sunnier climes

On the greens and on the fairways there was talk of forgiveness, of the cleansing of sin
‘We’re all inside same the tent now, boys, it's the rest of the world outside pissing back in’

'And Lord, forgive us, we know not what we do
Christ, be gentle, sure we never really had a clue
No, we never really had a clue,
No, we never really had a clue’

NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE

I seemed to be down to my last pair of socks
Why they kept abandoning me I just couldn't tell
Mulrooney was on the couch in his dressing gown and his jocks
His restless belly rose up like an Atlantic swell

‘Never leave the house’ he said ‘barricade the doors
You'll leave here with your head held high
And return crawling on all fours'

There was something sticky seeping through the ceiling
Something untoward going on upstairs
Mulrooney got dressed and then he went out work
Or off to conduct his mysterious affairs

'Never leave the house’ he said ‘barricade the doors
You'll leave here with your head held high
And return crawling on all fours’

But I just couldn’t stay there, the walls were closing in on me
There were noises in the floors, voices from the void just wouldn't let me be

So I chose to return to the scene of the crime
Like a scolded pot boy I took to my seat
Mulrooney appeared, he was wearing a pair of my shoes
He flashed his gums at me as the night showed its teeth

‘Never leave the house’ he said ‘barricade the doors
You'll leave here with your head held high
And return crawling on all fours’

‘Never leave the house’ he said ‘barricade the doors
You'll leave here with your head held high
And return crawling on all fours’

THE GODS ARE TRULY MIFFED

Do you remember that December?
Jack Frost went on a bender
The street vomit turned to black ice
The canal waters froze
Out in the suburbs it came down in a blizzard
Over the living and the dead
And the young ones in their nightclothes

Hark, there's thunder and then lightning and snow
The gods are truly miffed
Thu can curse and you can rail while others wassail
And the plates beneath us shift

Sean Healy came in, he was full of piss and wind
‘It's like a bad day in Minsk’ he said ‘or one of those places’
All round the office it was coming in on top of us
We had January written deep into our faces

Hark, there's thunder and then lightning and snow
The gods are truly miffed
You can curse and you can rail while others wassail
And the plates beneath us shift

I put my boots on, my greatcoat and crampons
You could see heartbreak in the busker’s icy breath
Out in the suburbs ice bodies were uncovered
The rough sleeper team had caught its death

Hark, there's thunder and then lightning and snow
The gods are truly miffed
You can curse and you can rail while others wassail
And the plates beneath us shift
You can curse and you can rail while other: wassail
And the plates beneath us shift

WHEN THE WINDOWS SHAKE

It was all bad news, but we were learning to love it
The latest shooting victim was known to gardai
I went outside to forage for messages
There was last night's wreckage as far as I could see
It was like a bad day on the road to Basra
I put my head down, fought my way through
There were souls about fighting the malaise
I was trying to shake off this chronic man-flu

When the windows shake, when the seawalls fall
Pull your loved ones close, tell them it'll be nothing at all

The Corpo were out there'd been a storm warning
They were plugging the gaps with sandbags
The ganger sighed and leaned on his shovel
The boys stood about smoking blackmarket fags

When the windows shake, when the seawalls fall
Pull your loved ones close, tell them it'll be nothing at all

Down on the boardwalk there was trouble brewing
The word was out the Night Train was rammed
They were gatecrashers at the party of life
Early arrivals at the banquet for the damned

When the windows shake, when the seawalls fall
Pull your loved ones close, tell them it'll be nothing at all

CREATURES OF HABIT

First came the snow, then the thaw and then the mud,
while crossing through the quagmire I destroyed my skinny jeans
It was time I ditched them anyway, I was mutton dressed as lamb,
trying to hold on to my youth through desperate means
In the world’s grimmest chipper I was queuing for my dinner,
my blood had turned to lard, I had the batterburger blues
The place stank of stodgy lives and deep-fried dreams,
there was a bloke behind me, he kept on staring at my shoes

Creatures of habit, the heartbroken and worse,
I'll tell you my story chapter and verse

The couple next door they didn't seem as smug anymore,
their bouts of noisy lovemaking had become subdued
In times the knives would come out there’d be pistols at dawn,
more bad blood between them than a tinker Feud

Creatures of habit, the heartbroken and worse,
I'll tell you my story chapter and verse

You know they saw you coming, trudging up the road,
those shopping bags gripped in your scrawny hands,
carrying that heavy load

I'd spent too long out there in that soggy wilderness,
I was going to come out fighting like the three-toed sloth
The folk in the met service were calling an early spring,
but I could feel it in my bones the chances were remote

Creatures of habit, the hearthroken and worse,
I'll tell you my story chapter and verse

You know they saw you coming, trudging up the road,
those shopping bags gripped in your scrawny hands,
carrying that heavy load

A MOMENT OF SILENCE

The readings weren't good for man nor beast nor seacat
The turns had headed south, the hurlers had fled the ditch
The mission chief had landed, they were saying it was all over
The grim reaper himself was invading the pitch

A moment of silence
While we hang our heads in shame
While we by to figure out just exactly who's to blame

The foreign hacks had arrived, they were looking for an angle
They went out in search of an urchin under a hungry door
In the last chance saloon even the wags were on their uppers
Our dreams were beaten dockets trod into the floor

A moment of silence
While we hang our heads in shame
While we by to figure out just exactly who's to blame

Prayers are being said at all masses
Check your pockets, the arse in your trousers
Those threadbare years are returning again

All roads end in a reckoning, some of them in the ditch
The world and his wife could have told you where we'd gone wrong
The Sally Army soupers they were taking to the streets
‘Go home to your family’ they said ‘it won't be long’

A moment of silence
While we hang our heads in shame
While we try to figure out just exactly who's to blame

WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA

There are shadowy creatures gathering on the corner,
pending court dates are being discussed
You've got to grab each day by the scruff of its scruffy neck,
you never know when you'll OD or spontaneously combust
The nights round here they come alive with the cries
and the howls of the ones who put the boat out too far
Go round the corner and ask Padre Pio he'll tell you,
pain is a constant it's like the Northern Star

Worse things happen at sea, they say or down the back of the 78A
And the bloke beside you he's a loon,
there are empty cans rattling round in the upper saloon
But you cannot dim the light of the perigee moon

‘It’s a quiet area’ said a local man on the news
‘you never think something like that would ever happen round here’
‘There was a bang, a crack, it was like a car backfiring
and then the gunmen they just seemed to disappear’

Worse things happen at sea, they say or down the back of the 78A
And the bloke beside you he's a loon,
there are empty cans rattling round in the upper saloon
But you cannot dim the light
No, you cannot dim the light of the perigee moon

A posse has been raised, I can hear them down below me;
they're baying for blood they're in state of rut
The night will be bled, hung up from the legs
and then ripped open from the arse to the gut

Worse things happen at sea they say or down the back of the 78A
And the bloke beside you he's a loon,
he's got empty cans rattling around in the upper saloon
But you cannot dim the light
No, you cannot dim the light
No, you cannot dim the light of the perigee moon

THE STICKY FLOORS OF YOUR HEART

Rebel Songs Sunday was over,
the barmaid was busy washing the blood from the walls
Me and JP we were cowering in the corner,
we'd agreed it was time one of us grew a pair of balls
The ballad singer wiped the foam from his lips,
he was up to his guts in Saxon gore
I went to the jacks, the place hadn't been cleaned
since Empire Day nineteen hundred and four

They're dancing rings across the sticky floors of your heart,
they raise their glasses while you tear yourseif apart

There was the remains of a stag there, they were slumped at the bar,
they were looking sorry, a little the worse for wear
Well you never would have guessed it was just two days before
they’d stepped off that plane like squaddies on the tear

They're dancing rings across the sticky floors ofyour heart,
they raise their glasses while you tear yourseif apart

They'd left their wives and sweethearts weeping on the pier,
put that boat out as far as they could, watched the shoreline disappear

Rebel Songs Sunday was over,
ballistics were busy pulling the bullets from the walls
Me and JP we'd decided to decamp,
we paused for a breather by the temperance hall
The stag party they'd started to disperse,
they were wondering if they’d ever see that shoreline again
to see their wives, their sweethearts, their children,
to live the lives of ordinary men

They're dancing rings across the sticky floor of your heart,
they raise their glasses while you tear yourself apart
We're dancing rings across the sticky floor of your heart,
we raise our glasses while you tear yourself apart

All lyrics (c) Barry McCormack

"There is surely not a better narrative lyricist in Ireland; all 10 tracks brim with real life in all of its sticky, boiling mess. Brilliant."
- Irish Times

"...the songwriting and arrangements sparkle...a singular songwriter who defies categorisation...he occupies a creative space all his own and we're lucky to have him"
- Hot Press

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