The Feral Crow

by Scott Ainslie

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1.
Exit 178 (Scott Ainslie) I found you burying your face, like a boy who cries: Ragdoll legs and broken arms, one shoe off and one shoe on. Rain trickles inside the collar: Yellow slicker, 3:00 a.m. Silent, skewed and thickening—-I touch your shadow with my hand. And just outside the cast of the headlights, Off the back of retinas rich with blood Comes a reflection—barely seen, Wild eyes turn from the road. I still see the trailer weaving. I still see the misty lights. High above the hillcrest dancing, brakelights smear a charcoal sky. And tonight a stranger empties your pockets: a toothbrush, comb, six dollars and change. Lying alone on the pavement, your T-shirt soaked with a darkening rain And just outside the cast of the headlights, Off the back of retinas rich with blood Comes a reflection—barely seen, Wild eyes turn from the road. Semis, like guardian angels, on the overpass tonight, Standing on a shining highway, in the beautiful circling lights. Dawn comes with its back to me—a dervish spinning crazily. The wounded night still bleeds—something in my memory: I used to fear the unknown eyes that held me in their hollow light. Somehow they would always find me—Did they come for you tonight? And just outside the cast of the headlights, Off the back of retinas rich with blood Comes a reflection—barely seen, Wild eyes turn from the road. Semis, like guardian angels, on the overpass tonight, Standing on a shining highway in the beautiful circling lights. Somehow they would always find me, will they come for me tonight?
2.
Over Again (Scott Ainslie) If I could back us up to the top of the ferris wheel; If we could take the corners fast and never hear the tires squeal; If I could have a kiss or two that I didn’t have to steal; We could take a chance and try this over again. If the subways and the busses, somehow, only ran uptown; If we could climb these stairs and never think about coming down; And if this midnight rain could fall without that lonesome sound; We could take a chance and try this over again. Over and over again…What makes it love? We could take a chance and try this over again. If your kiss could still lift the edge of nights black winding spell; If the world weren’t divide into heaven and to hell; And if hand could really truly say what words will never tell; We could take a chance and try this over again. Over and over again. What makes it love? We could take a chance and try this over again. If I could swallow the dreams I had like a mouthful of broken glass; Or wake myself in the middle of the night and hold you like we had no past; And if gold’s too soft, then make our rings of brass; We could take a chance and try this over again. Over and over again….what makes it love. We could take a chance. We could take a chance… We could take a chance and try this over again.
3.
Don't Obey (Scott Ainslie) As it was in Hitler‘s Army and Stalin‘s awful crew, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Pearl Harbor, too; Across the sweep of history–There’s a truth they never tell: There’s more horror in obedience than there’d be if we’d rebel. So, when they speak to you of glory, and colors bright and true; And using words like ‘good & evil’ say it all comes down to you; When they offer you a weapon and send you out into the fray, Don’t Obey. Don’t Obey. Don’t Obey. From Selma to Sharpeville; Chicago to Bei Jing; From Kent State to Tiananmen Square: We cry out, we bleed. But from Tolstoy to Gandhi; from Gandhi to King. From Malcolm, and Mandela, and Biko to me. So, when they speak to you of glory, and colors bright and true; And using words like ‘good & evil’ say it all comes down to you; When they offer you a weapon and send you out into the fray, Don’t Obey. Don’t Obey. Don’t Obey. Aren’t those your loved ones–huddled against the wall? Can you hear the windows shatter? Feel the building start to fall? Something’s gone wrong with us all——-. There’s shooting in the alley, footsteps in the hall. If every sin were tallied, if every mother knew Just exactly what they’re asking; exactly what you do; How long do you think they’d stand there, with their hands by their sides? Even all wrapped up in bunting–A lie is still a lie. So, when they speak to you of glory, and colors bright and true; And using words like ‘good & evil’ say it all comes down to you; When they offer you a weapon and send you out into the fray, Don’t Obey. Don’t Obey. Don’t Obey.
4.
The Feral Crow (Scott Ainslie) I’m gonna blow off the top of this mountain And fill up the valley below. Before we get done, the dust will block out the sun And we’ll peel back the layers of coal. She was both young and beautiful; Unspoiled, high and low. But they’ve killed her babies in her nest: She is the feral crow. It’s a clean cut when the knife is sharp. It’s the dull knife, leaves a scar. And how she shines, both black and blue; Her talons, cruel and sharp. One night, her beak will crack the earth And swallow it in the dark. It’s a clean cut when the knife is sharp. It’s the dull knife, leaves a scar. There’s a yellow band around her eye, Just like a wedding ring. The farmer he will track her down And kill her before she sings. It’s a clean-cut when the knife is sharp. It’s the dull knife, leaves a scar. And so she moves from pine to pine, A sorrow, in her breast. And she’ll put out the miner’s eyes… And put coal dust in his chest. And it’s a clean-cut when the knife is sharp. It’s the dull knife, leaves a scar. I’m gonna blow off the top of this mountain…. And fill up the valley below.
5.
It's My World, Too (Scott Ainslie) I’m just 36, I’ve got 4 little ones; I’ve been workin’ here 17 years. Settin’ rivets and welding and working the cranes; 17 years, goin’ straight down the drain; building a future that never came. Married straight out of high school, had me some fun; Come Monday, I guess she’ll be gone. We built the United Nations and the Empire State; and the steel arch spans over Mackinaw Straits. But next week, they’re locking the gate. Don’t they know what they’re doin? What we’ve made? And what they ruin? Don’t they know it’s–it’s my world, too? Don’t they know? It’s my world, too. Newspapers leap and twirl down the street; In a crazy kinda waltz. Husbands and wives toss and turn in their sleep; Our bridges are falling from under our feet. Who’s sewn the seeds that we reap? Don’t they know what they’re doin? What we’ve made? And what they ruin? Don’t they know it’s–it’s my world, too? Don’t they know? It’s my world, too. And your smokestacks have darkened the stars in our skies;—- And your foundry that blew sparks and soot in our eyes—– And looked like the 4th of July… Verse Instrumental The lights go out here ’bout a quarter to nine, This old steel town is dyin’. All these houses for sale, and ain’t none of them sold. My pockets are empty, my fingers are cold. And I’m so tired of doing what I’m told. [I’m] so tired of doing what I’m told. And your smokestacks have darkened the stars in our skies; Your foundry always blew sparks and soot in our eyes and looked like the Fourth of July….
6.
Confession (Scott Ainslie) We picked you up at your house. Bound your wrists, taped your mouth. Used our hands and our clubs. You weren’t human to us. We drove home and kissed our wives; Sang our children lullabies Joked with our parents on the phone. When we went to our cars, we went alone. CHORUS: Once learned, never forgotten. Once injured, ever scarred. Some people will change like the moon; Some are like stars. We threw you back in the van. Combed our hair; washed our hands. We locked you inside; Took you out for a ride. It started to rain. Your breathing was strange. For five hundred miles. Not going to trial. Once learned, never forgotten. Once injured, ever scarred. Some people will change like the moon; Some are like stars. And is it night or is it day? Did you see them take me away? We have eaten our fill; First light brings a chill. Nothing left to defend; The long night comes to an end. We are the makers of lies; Fathers our children idolize. As patriots: we were the best! Now, we come forward and confess. CHORUS
7.
Cold In Here (Scott Ainslie) I thought I felt a little cool breeze come through. What shall we do? Don’t it feel cold in here to you? Turn up the heat, warm up your feet. Turn on the light. Nothing seems right. On this winter’s shore, seagulls stoop and pelicans, too. And one little tern, he dips his beak into the blue Salty tears. So many years. I don’t know why, you said goodbye. Instrumental I don’t know when you took your love away from me. Come back again, I’ll make you laugh, just wait and see. It’s alright. Day breaks the night. What’s done is past. Love’s all that lasts. What shall we do? Don’t it feel Cold In Here to you?
8.
Rice Grows Again In Vietnam (Scott Ainslie) A family working in the sun. Food must be grown for everyone. So green—-new life has begun. Rice Grows Again In Vietnam. Our fathers met here long ago. And with their blood these fields are sown. So silent now, where many fell. So many stories they can’t tell. Receive the weak, receive the strong. And prayers of ours for those who’ve gone. Forgive me for the wrongs I’ve done. Give me the strength to carry on. There will be days when rain must fall— upon these fields, upon the wall. But may the harvest of these tears—— bring peace to our remaining years. Lift up your tools, lay down your gun. Once peace is lost, nothing is won. Harvest a thousand grains from one: Rice grows again in Vietnam. There will be days when rain must fall— upon these fields, upon the wall. But may the harvest of these tears—— bring peace to our remaining years. And though the war’s pain is not gone, Rice grows again in Vietnam.
9.
Uncommon Life; Uncommon Love (Scott Ainslie) Uncommon life: uncommon love. Uncommon life: uncommon love. Can we believe – in a foreign land Where we’ll dance again and again and again: Eye to eye, hand to hand; We touch this flame. Uncommon life: uncommon love. Uncommon life: uncommon love. Walk me by the water, under the trees, Let me feel the cold. Come hold me close, if you please, Like you did before – Oh, don’t let me go. Uncommon life: uncommon love. Uncommon life: uncommon love. They’re hunting you and me; We can hear the dogs in the night, And see the torches weave. If they ever reach this height, We may burn easily – but we’ll make a strange and beautiful light…. [Inst: Uncommon life: uncommon love.] [Inst: Uncommon life: uncommon love.] Sung: Uncommon life: uncommon love. The wind, the rain – in the gathering storm We’ve lost our way. We’ll lie the night in each other’s arms, And embrace the day – when it comes: Uncommon Life: uncommon love. Uncommon Life: uncommon love.
10.
Looking For A Rose (Scott Ainslie) I went out to my garden looking for a rose. You know there are so many thorns out where the roses grow. While looking, I was bloodied. My feet and hands grew sore. I was searching for a special rose that I had known before. It’s been mighty dry this year, the ground has turned to dust. The plants all curl up in the heat and open just at dusk; Hoping for a little dew as the cool evenings come back. It’s amazing what they have to stand while the Sun burns through its track. And if you want flesh, take my flesh. If you want blood, take my blood. If you want heart, take my heart. And if you want love— Take my love. I know the one I’m looking for, to me she is the best. Her face is like a beacon shining in the wilderness. It’s true I’ve seen her many times, but of her, I do not tire. If I could only see her now, that would be my desire. Chorus It’s sad when love is common, and it’s great when love is rare. If everyone can have the same, what is the value there? And so God armed the roses in thickets sharp with thorns, And made sure that the fruits of love are in great labor borne. Chorus
11.
When Our Loving Begins/Requiem (Words: Scott Ainslie/Music; Al Petteway) I will not fall. I will never fall again. I will stand on the bridge rail And jump in the wind. There’s a map in my heart, And the scars deep within. I will not close my eyes When our loving begins. Maybe we’re not that different. Maybe you’ve been hurt, too. Maybe you hear that river Calling to you. Take the cold out of winter; Take the ice from the sky; Take the pain out of your heart: And let’s build us a fire. Let’s build us a fire.

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All original songs collected over a decade that wouldn't 'fit' on blues records, but needed to be heard. Many are still crying out to us.

credits

released September 22, 2004

Scott Ainslie, voice and guitars, diddley bow
Jerry Marotta, drums
Scott Petito, bass, mandolin, production
Leslie Ritter, back up vocal harmonies
Marc Shulman, electric guitars
Peter Vitalone, keyboards

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Scott Ainslie Brattleboro, Vermont

A long history with older black blues and gospel players in the mid-South marks Ainslie's work deeply. He transcribed all of Robert Johnson's recorded songs for "Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads" (Hal Leonard, 1992) and has a teaching DVD on Johnson's music. A fine songwriter with a social conscience and a belief in the power of music to move and inspire, Ainslie's voice is a great force for good! ... more

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