Don't Get Dead

Cornelius Eady Trio

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SHOCKWAVE: DON’T GET DEAD: PANDEMIC FOLK SONGS BY THE CORNELIUS EADY TRIO

CORNELIUS EADY TRIO:

Cornelius Eady: Vocals Charlie Rauh: Guitar, Bass, Percussion, Vocal Lisa Liu: Guitar, Piano

w/ Concetta Abbate: Violin, Vocals (“Don’t Get Dead”, “NYC”, “Ice Cold Cherries on the Back Porch”) Bernie Heveron: Dobro (“The Misery Bed”), Acoustic Bass (“Don’t Get Dead”) Max Abrams: Sax (“The Check”)

The Tracks “Anthology” and “The Knee” Are Trio collaborations with Sound Musician Jenny Olivia Johnson. Sound Design, Arrangement, Roland Juno 60 Synth: Jenny Johnson Text and Vocal: Cornelius Eady Trumpet Sample: (“Anthology”): Michael Jones Electric Guitar: Lisa Liu & Charlie Rauh Produced by Jenny Olivia Johnson

All other tracks: Words & Music: Cornelius Eady Arranged by Rauh & Liu Produced by Charlie Rauh & Lisa Liu.

The poem “Corona Diary” was first published in the anthology “Together in a Sudden Strangeness: America’s Poets Respond to the Pandemic” edited by Alice Quinn. (Knopf, 2020).

All tracks recorded and mixed “in place” in Long Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Rochester, NY and Nashville, TN., from March 2020 to March 2021.

Cover photo by B.A. Van Sise. Thanks to Concetta, Bernie and Max.

These are the songs that first appeared on the BBC Radio 4 Series SHOCKWAVE on March 8th 2021.

A City of the Id Production. DON’T GET DEAD, or: how to sing your way through a barbwire year

Maybe the party’s done. What a year. This is the statement a lot of people eventually arrives at when trying to describe the year 2020. It’s a year that exhausted many things—language seems to have been the first. Is there a term for what happens when the whole world gets the rug pulled out from under?

For myself and the Trio—Charlie Rauh on guitar, bass, and percussion, and Lisa Liu, on Guitar and Keyboards—the tug under our feet began, like most everyone else in the US, in mid- March. Gigs start to dry up. Then they disappear. Then everyone is on lockdown.

We are the sort of band that finds our songs in rehearsals, mainly at my apt. in the West Village in Manhattan. But in about 72 hours it was shockingly clear that that part of our lives was over, perhaps for good. Meanwhile, bodies were piling…

Perhaps everything was over for good—the virus had no cure and no vaccine then, and the news about what we did know was like playing a mad version of telephone.

We didn’t know what to do, but we did know we didn’t want to stop. More importantly, we needed to keep going, even if it turned out to be folly—not to be brave, just to stay sane.

This is the way we tried to describe the sensation of the rug being pulled, the tilt of the world as we slid and tried to fling our arms to try to steady ourselves, the desperate prayers, external and internal for luck, or grace to break the fall, or at least deliver our landing softly as possible.

We changed, from a band that played and recorded live, to a band that found their groove long distance, via remote, each band member’s office or bed room a three-way studio. This is why, if you listen closely to some of the earlier tracks, you will hear birds—for real, just outside of the window of whoever’s turn it was to add their part, or the occasional creak of my old office chair (since replaced).

The songs are a record, from the early shock, fear and confusion of March, 2020, (“Misery Bed”, “Little Boat”, “The Dance Band on the Titanic”) through the white hot center of the body count. (“Heaven”, “Nurse Red Line” “17”) From the folly of the Government of the 45th President, (The Check”), to the police murder of George Floyd and the rise of Black Lives Matters. (“Anthology”, “The Knee”). To the bravery of one black man holding off a mob, (“One Good Man”) to the hope of a song, inspired by a quote from an ailing Walt Whitman (It’ll Pass By”), and the possibility of building a new normal (“Sunshine”).

Thanks to an invitation by Producer Mark Burman, these songs—twenty out of over fifty that was written or recorded over that year—found a place to land, as part of the BBC Radio 4 Series Shock Wave. Maybe it’s back someday.

What a year. Don’t Get Dead.

Cornelius Eady Center Moriches, NY March, 2021

The Misery Bed

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

I’m lying in bed, Staring at the ceiling Laying in the misery bed The rain is falling, And the paint is peeling Laying in the misery bed

Lord, who put me in the misery bed?
Lord, who put me in the misery bed? What did I do, what got said? Lord, who put me in the misery bed?

The pillow’s a razor And the mattresses on fire Laying on the misery bed Thrash like a bug Impaled on a wire Laying on the misery bed

Lord, who put me in the misery bed? Lord, who put me in the misery bed? What did I do, what got said? Lord, who put me in the misery bed?

There’s a nasty, nasty, nasty flu. Laying in the misery bed Might take me and he might take you Laying in the misery bed Gobbles up your ease, then asks for more Laying in the misery bed You sweat and worry ‘bout his knock at the door. Don’t Get Dead

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

On the day we beat the devil Gonna pull on my dancing shoes Gonna lift my soul from its hiding place Gonna vacate my blues

One day the sun is gonna shine Gonna push this sad man outta my mind We’ll toss the feathers on top of our dread Oh, darling, don’t get dead

On the day we beat the devil Oh, put on your party dress Ribbons and bows and bells on your toes We’ll settle for nothing less

One day the sun is gonna shine Gonna push this sad world outta our minds Throw a parade on the bones of our dread Oh, darling, don’t get dead

On the day the devil gets shown the door We’ll rosin up the bow On the other side of this misery Is a place that he can’t go.

One day the sun’s gotta shine Gonna shove this cruel world outta my mind Funky Chicken on the bones of our dread Oh, darling, don’t get dead. NYC

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

The police round up the homeless And drive them to the camps You see, there ain’t no place in this town For economic dissidence. You say these dumps ain’t worth the rent,

But this is New York City, New York Town, If you can’t cut it, baby, You won’t stick around You’re so young and so pretty Steppin’ off the greyhound.

You stick around a few weeks And here’s what you learn: Money equals love, And love equals burns. A thousand shades of hunger

In New York City, The New York School, Hard knocks, eclectic shocks, Bustin’ knuckles on the new. Will your tongue be drinkin’ pity, Or lappin’ up its due?

City of the Gold Calf, City with no kids, City of the dark truths, City of the Id. You sweet, abusive lover,

New York City, The New York rage, A one bedroom apartment At the end of the modern age. The mutants wait for Jesus Beneath the subway. Little Boat

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

The wolf is hungry at my door But Lord, I’m hungry, too. All I ask is a little boat, What else can a poor boy do?

Lord, lend me a Little Boat, For me and my friends to float.

Oh, the time is out of joint The tide is rising high. All I want is a little boat For me and my friends to fly.

Lord, lend me a Little Boat, For me and my friends to float.

Maybe the party’s done, Maybe it’s back some day All I need is a Little Boat, What else can a poor boy say? The Dance Band on the Titanic

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

Waiting for the shoe to drop Waiting for the storm to begin Waiting for the flood to seep through the door Milk to run out of at the store Maybe we’re stuck at the dock Maybe the ship has sailed Maybe for once that hunch was right And we ain’t got a bucket to bail.

Nearer my God to Thee That old iceberg melody It’s as simple as one-two-three Hush-hush, don’t panic, Raise your glass to the Dance Band On the Titanic.

Waiting for the crops to fail Waiting for the cop to go rouge Waiting the sky to tire of birds All the heroes to fill the jails. I met my old used to be He didn’t like the look in my eye I said sooner or later it balances out; It was just an alibi.

Nearer my God to Thee That old iceberg melody It’s as simple as one-two-three Hush-hush, don’t panic Raise your glass to the Dance Band On the Titanic.

Maybe we’ve broken the clocks, Maybe we’ve been given the air, Keep pushing the buttons in the Elevator, But we ain’t goin’ nowhere.

Nearer my God to Thee That old iceberg melody It’s as simple as one-two-three Hush-hush, don’t panic Raise your glass to the Dance Band On the Titanic. Heaven

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

There are no germs in heaven But to get there, you must Turn into mud

There is no fear in Heaven Cause in Heaven, everyone Has the right blood.

There are no germs in Heaven You got to believe What the Gov’ment say

The streets are empty And the dying are piling So many won’t leave The beds where they lay.

There are no germs in Heaven But you must pay pain To get through those gates

There ain’t no fix, if you get sick Boss man says he ain’t gonna wait

There ain’t no germs in Heaven There’s a Company Rose On the grave where you lie

There ain’t no germs in Heaven Your tickets your sweat On the day that you die. Nurse Red Line

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

The angels are working overtime Their wings are sore from flying Carry the wounded, carry the dead Check your pulse, and keep on trying

Nurse Red line, she’s full time Patron Saint of the left-behind As your world unglues Who’s gonna rescue you?

Nobody talks ‘bout The things you do without And still get through the day Nobody wants to know The things you can’t let go The shit that won’t go away.

Nurse Red line, he’s full time Patron Saint of the left-behind As your world unglues Who’s gonna rescue you?

There’s a canvas bag He used to be a father But he ain’t a father no more There’s a tent in the rain Where all the crates are the same You’re stacking up the over flow

Nurse Red line, they’re full time Patron Saint of the left-behind. As your world unglues Who’s gonna rescue you?

She’s the mayor Of the City of the Dead He’s a landlord Collecting ghost rent. There’s no deposits, no returns After all your heart is spent.

Nurse Red line, tuff & fine, Patron Saint of the left-behind As your world unglues Who’s gonna rescue you? 17

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

O, Lord Please don’t cheat me of my days O, Lord O, Lord Please don’t cheat me of my days O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord Please don’t set the sun on me O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord Please don’t set the sun on me O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord Raise this virus off my mind O, Lord Raise this virus off my mind O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord Please don’t evict me from my breath O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord Please don’t evict me from my breath O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord Please don’t snatch my world away O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord Please don’t snatch my world away O, Lord O, Lord

  1. Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord Please don’t cut this flower down O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord Please don’t cut this flower down O, Lord O, Lord

O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord O, Lord I’m only 17 O, Lord O, Lord Corona Diary (Poem by Cornelius Eady)

These days, you want the poem to be A mask, soft veil between what floats Invisible, but known in the air. You’ve just read that there’s a singer You love who might be breathing their last, And wish the poem could travel, Unobtrusive, as poems do from The page to the brain, a fan’s medicine. Those of us who are lucky enough To stay indoors with a salary count the days By press conference. For others, there is Always the dog and the park, the park And the dog. A relative calls; how you doin’? (are you a ghost?). The buds emerge, on time, For their brief duty. The poem longs to be a filter, but In floats Spring’s insistence. We wait. I Got ‘Em Now

Words & Music: Cornelius Eady

My old man had the blues I got ‘em now My mama had the blues I got ‘em now

Everything gonna change Everything gonna change Might look different, but it feel the same Everything gonna change

The shut down and the run around I got ‘em now The shut down and the run around I got ‘em now

Everything gonna change Everything gonna change Might look different, but it feel the same Everything gonna change

The stink eye, and the pass you by I got ‘em now The stink eye, and the pass you by I got ‘em now

Everything gonna change Everything gonna change Might look different, but it feel the same Everything gonna change

My old man had the blues I got ‘em now My mama had the blues I got ‘em now

Everything gonna change Everything gonna change Might look different, but it feel the same Everything gonna change

The bill’s too long and the check’s too short I got ‘em now The bill’s too long and the check’s too short I got ‘em now

Everything gonna change Everything gonna change Might look different, but it feel the same Everything gonna change

No room at the Inn and the rich boy’s grin I got ‘em now No room at the Inn and the rich boy’s grin I got ‘em now

Everything gonna change Everything gonna change Might look different, but it feel the same Everything gonna change

My old man had the blues I got ‘em now My mama had the blues I got ‘em now

Everything gonna change Everything gonna change Might look different, but it feel the same Everything gonna change

Grandad to father, daddy to me I got ‘em now Grandma to mother, mama to me I got ‘em now. Wash Your Hands

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

Soap and water Sing Happy Birthday Soap and water How many times a day? Soap and water Will kill all creepy-crawlies Soap and water Will sweep the germs away

Wash your hands O, I don’t wish to lose you Wash your hands Cause I don’t want to die Wash your hands Soap your hands like a prayer, love Wash your hands Or the tears will surely fly.

Do you remember The joys of being dirty? Do you remember Rolling through the mud? Do you remember Touching without thinking? And now we cannot stand The chance of shaking hands

Wash your hands O, I don’t wish to lose you Wash your hands Cause I don’t want to die Wash your hands Scrub your fingers like a prayer, love Wash your hands Or the tears will surely fly.

Did you touch the knob After someone has touched it? How do you know Where that saucer has been? Who held the salt shaker Before your shook it? There’s a package at your door; Where do you begin?

Wash your hands O, I don’t wish to lose you Wash your hands Cause I don’t want to die Scrub your knuckles like a prayer, love Wash your hands Or the tears will surely fly.

Tiny little virus You really can’t see them Tiny little virus Will sweep us away Tiny little virus Like sand in the gear box Shifting your perspective All the live-long day.

Wash your hands O. I don’t wish to lose you Wash your hands Cause I don’t want to die Wash your hands Like a sinner holds a prayer book. Wash your hands Or the tears will surely fly. The Check

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

Stimulation ‘cross the nation

President sent me a check, The man signed it from him to me So I bought a jalopy, but no gas. So happy he stimulated me I’m as stimulated as a boy can be Hey, hey, But I lost my job on Monday.

Stimulation ‘cross the nation

President sent me a check Finally got some cash to flash So I bought me a meat ball and some air to go. So happy he stimulated me I’m stimulated as a boy can be Hey, hey, But my stomach’s still growling on Tuesday.

Stimulation ‘cross the nation

President sent me a check A personal gift from him to me So I paid half the rent to please the landlord. So happy he stimulated me I’m as happy as a boy can be Hey, hey, But I had to move out on Weds.

Stimulation ’cross the nation

President sent me a check Sent it expressly to me Had to give it all to satisfy the doc. So happy he stimulated me I’m as stimulated as a boy can be Hey, hey, But I ain’t getting cured on Thurs.

Stimulation ‘cross the nation

President sent me a check My S.O.S got a C.O.D Got some jingle in my pockets Just ain’t enough to replace my job. So happy he stimulated me Stimulated as a boy can be Hey, hey, But the boss still ain’t hiring on Friday.

Stimulation ‘cross the nation

President sent me a check Just like he said on T.V. Said son, taste that victory in the air. So happy he stimulated me I’m as stimulated as a boy can be Hey, hey, But Saturday I’m dancing on a razor.

Stimulation ‘cross the nation

President sent me a check Sent it special delivery Wonder when he’ll want the money back? So happy he stimulated me I’m as stimulated as a boy can be Hey, hey, And the good times will kill me on Sunday. Razor Blade

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

Capt. tossed me in a box car Filled it with razor blades Capt. locked me in a box car Filled with razor blades Walked out the next morning With a trim and a shave.

Capt. took the fever blanket Laid out my dying bed Capt. took the fever blanket Laid out my dying bed Looked so disappointed When I raised my vaccinated head.

Nothing ever seem to go The Capt.’s way Nothing ever seem to go The Capt.’s way Every time he close the book I write another page.

Please don’t tell the Capt. He ain’t ever gonna win Please don’t tell the Capt. He ain’t ever gonna win Gets tall as a wall Look at him fall in the wind.

Capt. tossed me in a box car Filled it with razor blades Capt. locked me in a box car Filled with razor blades Walked out the next morning With a trim and a shave.

Parts Unknown

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey

Hide yourself ‘hind the Misery Tree. Milishy man looking For you and me.

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey

Like a poem That can’t find a rhyme Like a murder That ain’t a crime

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey

President called up his Goons Said their time Is coming soon

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey

Up jumped Karen to Call the Police Shoot the protestors Give ‘em peace

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey

Hush now, baby, Hear that sound? New Jim Crow flying From Town to town

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey

Virus come To sweep you away Boss man says That’s OK.

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey

Meet me by The misery tree Wave good bye To what used to be

Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown Parts Unknown, People Parts Unknown.

Hey Anthology (for Ahmaud Arbery) Vocals: Cornelius Eady Text: lines from Eady, Lucille Clifton, Sterling A. Brown, Anand Prahlad, Gary Lilley, Ahmaud Arbery and News Reports Sound Design, Arrangement, Roland Juno 60 Synth: Jenny Johnson Electric Guitars: Lisa Liu & Charlie Rauh Trumpet Sample: Michael Jones Anthology

VOX 1: "I've written so many of these, too many" (Cornelius Eady)

VOX 2: “Everyday Something has tried to kill me” (Lucille Clifton)

VOX 3: “He toppled, and the blood rushed out” (Sterling A. Brown)

VOX 4: “See the way Dey lock up good Desperate t’ keep All the me’s out” (Anand Prahlad)

VOX 5: “The old man guns the motor to say I’m moving too slow” (Gary Lilley)

VOX 6: “You bothered me for nothing” (Ahmaud Arbery)

VOX 7: “There’s a black male running down the street.” (News Report)

VOX 8: “Under Georgia law this is perfectly legal.” (News Report) THE KNEE

The Knee (For George Floyd) Text & Vocals: Cornelius Eady Sound Design, Arrangement, Roland Juno 60 Synth: Jenny Olivia Johnson Mountain Dulcimer: Cornelius Eady Electric Guitars: Lisa Liu & Charlie Rauh The Knee: Officer, I can’t breathe. My O, my, I’m going to die. My, O, my, I don’t know why. Ice Cold Cherries on the Back Porch

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

Remember the things you cannot hold Everything is growing old After the dawn, before the dusk Remember this taste before it’s dust:

Ice Cold Cherries on the Back Porch

High summer, wind through the trees High summer, it’s going to leave After the dawn, before the dusk Remember this mood before it’s dust:

Ice Cold Cherries on the Back Porch.

All the things you cannot hold The grass’ so green the sky’s so gold After the dawn, home before dusk. The seconds slip, and turn to dust.

Ice Cold Cherries on the Back Porch. It’ll Pass By

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

“It is clouded now, possibly, it’ll pass by” -Walt Whitman’s last words to biographer Sadakichi Hartmann

It’s clouded now, but it’ll pass by All those years All that blood and tears It’s clouded now, but it’ll pass by

You think you’re down You’re tougher than the dirt You think you’re out You’re stronger than the hurt.

You think you’re lost But your feet’s on the ground That fog they taught you Won’t stick around

Tried to shoot you down The buckshot missed your wing They ain’t got nothing Can stop the song you sing

Hey, America We’re waiting on you Say, America What you gonna do?

All those years All that blood and tears.

One Good Man

Words and Music: Cornelius Eady

For Eugene Goodman

“Can you resist?” -Sonia Sanchez

Ol John Henry’s hammer rang. He shook the town as the sparks sang. Then everybody know all over the land; All it takes is one good man.

All it takes is one good man. Plant your feet and take a stand. Laugh at the devil, straight in his eye. Pluck the truth from his alibi.

Can you resist?

The odds were 1000 to one. The mob had plenty, And he none. No one would have blamed him If ran. He heeded the call for One Good Man.

All it takes is one good man. Raise your voice and take a stand. Mock the devil, straight to his face. Wring his chaos into grace.

Can you resist?

Henry’s hammer laid him low. But he knew he had to take that blow. To make a point all over the land; All it takes is one good man.

All it takes is one good man. Mercy and Justice hand in hand. Kick the devil to the other side. Sift the truth from his little white lie.

Can you resist? Sunshine

Words & Music: Cornelius Eady

Me and my baby Sitting in the rain, Waiting on the sun to shine

Mr. Blues, go back To where you came, Waiting on the sun to shine

Want to know How it feels In the catbird seat Waiting on the sun to shine

Drop me off Where joy and Satisfaction meet Waiting on the sun to shine

Hummm

Sad old moon Hanging in the sky Waiting on the sun to shine

Sun start shining Moon got to hide Waiting on the sun to shine

Hummm

Sick and tired Of Listening to the blues Waiting on the sun to shine

Bound to Graduate To something new Waiting on the sun to shine

Hummm

Me and my baby At the end of the world Waiting on the sun to shine

Dance over the cracks And give it a whirl Waiting on the sun to shine

Mr. Blues You done had your fun Waiting on the sun to shine

Ain’t bloody likely We’ll miss you, son. Waiting on the sun to shine. DON’T GET DEAD: or how to sing your way through barbwire.

What a year. This is the statement a lot of people eventually arrives at when trying to describe the year 2020

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