Lyrics

Based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, Alice Osborn’s Americana music is truly homegrown. An accomplished poet, she incorporates history, as well as the call of home and identity, to influence her folk and Celtic vibe on acoustic guitar.

Album produced by: Paul Voran at IMURJ in Raleigh, North Carolina
Album artwork: Sherri Leeder, www.sherrileeder.com
Artist photo: David Williams

Copyright ©2017

Old Derelicts

An old car mechanic’s truck is rusting and abandoned next to a tobacco barn in Pittsboro, North Carolina, longing for the days when he helped his owner, Bob, do local repairs. I was inspired to write this song after viewing Forrest Greenslade’s painting, Old Derelicts, at the Joyful Jewel in downtown Pittsboro.

CHORUS

Why did you park me by the barn?
On that ole Chatham County farm,
I miss new paint, new shocks.
Remove my blocks.
We fixed the leaks, stopped the squeaks.
I can’t roll, nowhere to go,
except to feel the ghost, gripping my wheel.

Bob traces the rain along the window pane,
forgets about the cans in the chain-link frame.
I sleep to the crickets in twilight,
missing his voice, light like rust,
yet smoked with whiskey and dust.

CHORUS

Bob passes my flat tires, scuffed in the grass,
circles of time repeating so fast.
I sleep to the crickets in twilight.
A clean V8 engine under the hood,
we worked so well together—everything was good.

CHORUS

A One-Time Hero

Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) was a natural military leader who bravely led America’s fight against the British in the Revolution. Unfortunately, due to injuries and the pettiness of many Congressional members, Arnold was consistently passed over for a higher rank that he should have obtained. He lost his faith in the American cause believing he could better serve the British. As a result of his betrayal, he unintentionally rallied the Patriots and gave America our first and most famous traitor.

It’s so easy to hate me,
we weren’t supposed to win.
Cut the facts from fantasy,
weren’t we all kin?
You might know me as Judas,
or the devil in a tricorn hat.
I never stopped my fighting
and died in a foreign land.

CHORUS

I’m a one-time hero,
who can’t change the past.
I’ve done some bad, bad things
and I won’t take it back.

Books forget I led an army,
eating candles, bark and a dog.
We danced to black snowy death,
I prayed every day to God.
Then the rumors started.
They’ll be no statues in my name.
So I made West Point weak
and I wouldn’t play their stupid game.

Sold a country, sold my soul,
sold a lot for a little gold.

Had to pay my debts,
never felt free,
and I still can see my father
drowning in his whiskey

CHORUS

Boba Fett at the Chick-fil-A in Hickory, North Carolina

Boba Fett, the most notorious bounty hunter in the Star Wars galaxy, now resides in North Carolina thanks to a worm-hole in the sarlacc pit that launched him through time and space. He’s a not-quite recovered alcoholic who is trying to figure himself out as he travels east from Asheville to Raleigh to re-invent himself and work through his pain. While in Hickory to get lunch he sees a wall mural of Jeremiah 29:11 by the restrooms that makes him pause. Perhaps this is a sign that his past doesn’t define him.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).

Got clean shirts and guns in the trunk,
not much interested in getting drunk.
Got more baggage to throw away,
if my past has anything to say.
Keeping it steady in the right lane,
down I-40, boring and wide,
over that bridge, let me pass it on the inside.

CHORUS

Who’s free to change their story?
Who’s free to change their lives?
Who’s free to forget their past?
Or tell you a beautiful goodbye…

Pull up for lunch at the Chick-fil-A,
feeling quite lucky it’s not a Sunday.
Order a Coke and some waffle fries,
see a wall sermon in a picture-book sky.
Jeremiah, you’re a funny guy,
For I know the plans I have for you.
Plans to prosper me through and through.

CHORUS

I feel weak like double A coffee,
staring at those crazy clouds and bunnies.
Who knows what’s around the bend?
Don’t we all die in the end?
Staying in pain ain’t no way to be.
But if I let go, will I be free?
Praying to Jeremiah might be good for me.

CHORUS

I’m free to change my story.
I’m free to change my life.
I’m free to forget my past,
and tell you a beautiful goodbye.

King of Cool

Steve McQueen (1930-1980) was a one-of-kind movie star who did all his own race-car driving and stunts (except when the producers told him “no” due to insurance concerns). In the film, Bullitt (1968), McQueen makes a point to lean out of the driver’s side window during the famous Ford Mustang vs. Dodge Charger chase scene so that audiences would know he actually drove the car. He was a hard-headed individual who held a lot of insecurities due to his rough upbringing without a father. As a teen, he was remanded at the Boys Republic, a reform school in Chino Hills, California, where he later sent razors and jeans when he made it big as an actor. He died from mesothelioma and was holding Billy Graham’s Bible when he passed.

Today I idle my bike in this field,
dry as a Southern Baptist wedding.
In the movies, I worked my own stunts,
except when Bud jumped that fence.
Don’t smoke, don’t drink anymore…
my body’s given up before telling me the score.

CHORUS

You need to know I drove the Mustang,
You need to know I get the last word,
Maybe other people can fail,
but I, I can’t choose—
So when I die, it’ll be front-page news.

I never kissed my father’s cheek,
but he saw me on TV every week.
Nights Uncle Claude threw me against walls
after spending the day drinking whiskey.
Don’t smoke, don’t drink anymore…
my body’s given up before telling me the score.

CHORUS

I was dust that blew into Chino
where I was never tall or strong enough.
When I became a star of the screen,
I gave ‘em Chino boys soap and jeans.
You can run, but you can’t avoid,
This life, this body all destroyed.

CHORUS

The Siege of Derry

One night I decided to find out if I had any direct Irish ancestors. I discovered that I’m a descendant (through my dad’s mom’s side) of John “Tuscarora Jack” Barnwell, the founding father of Beaufort, South Carolina, and he’s the main reason why the white settlers won the Tuscarora War (1711-1715) in Eastern North Carolina. But looking back at his life before coming to South Carolina, his father Matthew, a high-ranking English official in Dublin, switched sides from English to Irish to fight (and die) at the Siege of Derry in 1690. The family seat, Archerstown in County Meath, was forfeited as a result of Matthew’s support of James II against William and Mary.  The Barnwells go all the way back to fighting side by side with William the Conqueror in 1066. They were established and wealthy English lords—why did Matthew fight for the Irish? We may never know, but I wanted to explore the father/son conflict in this song. “Death before dishonor” is the Barnwell family motto.

Seven years ago, I gave up my home,
wondering why my father flipped sides
to die at the Siege of Derry.
Been living now in Charles Town.
Got handy with maps, but I’m still a lonely chap.

[CHORUS for John Barnwell]

Father used to say death before dishonor
but there’s so much here to conquer—
since you fought on the wrong side of the crown,
we lost our home of Archerstown.
I left Dublin because nothing was left for me.
I left Dublin because nothing was left for me.

Seven years ago, I gave up my gold,
fighting for King James, supporting his claim
to die at the Siege of Derry.
Son, never give up your fight, what I did was right.
Are you a good man who’s making a difference in his new land?

[CHORUS for Matthew Barnwell]

I used to say death before dishonor
but there’s so much here to conquer—
since I fought on the wrong side of the crown,
we lost our home of Archerstown.
You left Dublin for a home across the sea.
I wish you had a few of my dreams.

Seven years ago, I gave up my home,
but I let people down, got kicked out of town;
I’m still learning from the Siege of Derry.
It’s time to start anew and live in truth.
And put away the carelessness of youth.

[CHORUS for John Barnwell]

Father used to say death before dishonor
but there’s so much here to conquer—
since you fought on the wrong side of the crown,
we lost our home of Archerstown.
I want to live up to your word,
and put honor and country first.

Alice is also an Irish dancer who plays Celtic fiddle and bluegrass banjo. Check out her music at www.reverbnation.com/aliceosborn.

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