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Faint Praise for Maysharp Mandlebarber

mp3 [6.68 MB] | Appears on re-Itori Pleads the 18th Dimension

Maysharp Mandlebarber likes playing in puddles
Maysharp Mandlebarber is eight years old
he wears three-corner hats and he sure likes a snowstorm
when his umbrella is broken he catches flakes with his tongue

can I ride on a carousel?
yes, when we find one
can I take a spin on a merry-go-round?
yes, but not now
that, young Mandlebarber, is a trampoline

Mandlebarber likes to sing karaoke
or else Mandlebarber will sing to himself
ten minutes of leisure is a hard thing to come by with so many distractions

can I eat a poached egg?
I don’t know, can you?

another thing when he sings karaoke
instead of the real words he makes up his own
that’s all well and good ’cause when he sings karaoke
more often than not he does it alone

Maysharp! stop playing in puddles
Maysharp! nice tree-corner hat
he’s wearing the garb of 1760
fluff-ruffled shirts and a tree-colored hat

clean your room, Maysharp
go clean your room

his favorite dish is surprise tuna casserole
his favorite Irish author is James Jim Jimbo Jimmy Joyce
he’s been known to speak in the third person
in a beauty pageant his talent would be throwing his voice

Maysharp wears reversible hand-me-down trousers
Maysharp puts his pants on one leg at a time
Maysharp Mandlebarber takes after his father
I wonder, will he make it to age nine?


Field Recording Blues

mp3 [3.5 MB] | Appears on What the Fuck are the Blues?

the Library of Congress hired me to go down to the southern United States
to record some certified authentic rural American folk music
I stocked up my car with wax cylinders
and a jumbo-size battery to run the behemoth in the backseat
my recording machine is heavy but my biceps are large

it’s the land of milk and honey down here except instead of milk they got moonshine
and instead of honey they got grinding with loose women in juke joints
all odd hours of the night you find someone blowing that Mississippi sax
or plucking out their misery on a sweat-soaked misery-plucker
if I was as sad as they were I’d never even get out of bed

there’s nothing like an acoustic 12-bar blues being played in its natural habitat
preferably by a man in overalls on the front stoop of a shotgun shack
think of all the singing sharecroppers who might go undiscovered if I don’t do my job

when a convict hollers and nobody hears it
when a street preacher preaches into thin air
it crushes me, this white man’s burden
lord lord, them field recording blues

I boxed up my wax cylinders
headed back to Washington, DC
halfway the engine overheated
I was a candle on wheels
had to start over
lord lord, field recording blues


Field Trip

mp3 [2.31 MB] | Appears on Poorest Almanac That Ever Lived

Ellis Island took a field trip to Baltimore
Lady Liberty tagged along
she did the breaststroke ’cause the island was crowded
they went to Fort McHenry
they met Francis Scott Key
they helped write the star-spangled banner
they said "oh say can you see"
Ellis Island went to the harbor
Ellis Island ate pizza
Lady Liberty ate pizza
no toppings
it was delicious

they went to a graveyard
they got the grand tour
they were chased by the ghost of Edgar Allen Poe
angry drunk and collapsing
they caught their breath

they didn’t need a hotel
it was a day trip
Ellis knew the statue was the age of consent
she signed her own permission slip
Ellis Island said "I wanna ride you like a mule
like a mule"
she asking for it, practically
being dressed like that
and did you see what was on the back of her sweatpants?

give me your privileged
your wealthy, your lame
get on, get on, I’m a mule



mp3 [2.85 MB] | Appears on Bookbinding and Other Songs

Rattly Hotelface is Rattly Hotelface
what other details do you want?
he’s six foot six and hefty at times
smart enough to wear glasses
too stupid to wash them
double chins and multiple foreheads
never says excuse me

rumor goes he never cuts his fingernails
which wouldn’t be so bad except
he keeps this spreadsheet to track his manliest exploits
which base he gets to with what chicks
they’re always trying to lady their way out
but he never lets them

"there’s a blizzard outside" or some such thing
"you might catch cold
spend the night"
long story short
keep an eye on your drink



mp3 [2.85 MB] | Appears on Skeletons

I don’t wanna take my pills even if you say I should
it’s not a real disease like Valentine’s Day is just a sham
I always have this dream in which I keep on getting crushed between the gears of some 600-ton machine
and no matter how loud I scream the screeching just gets worse
and my bones turn into powder and my flesh becomes my curse
and I can’t wake up without twitching in my sheets

I don’t wanna take my drugs even if they say I should
I’ve found I’m calmest watching other people cry
and I don’t know what to do


Flying Sideways out of Buildings

mp3 [22.43 MB] | Sixth track on Winning Is Rhyming (continuous mix)

got salmonella from eating chicken
it wasn’t cooked yet but man did it taste good and I’m tellin’ the truth

I broke my arm ’cause my pants were too long
walked ’round in a sling
couldn’t get any respect from anybody anywhere

I can’t believe the mess I’m in
it sometimes blows my mind
I don’t know what I wanna do but I don’t wanna stay
someone someone help me
all these smilin’ faces
cold front moving in

got struck by lightning
shoulda seen it comin’
my brain is oatmeal
now no matter how hard I try I can’t finish a thought
but I’m in control
I know where I live
I know my number
it’s 704 704 704-2516


Folk Child’s Blues

mp3 [4.54 MB] | Appears on Las Vegas or Bust

you been savin’ up all week for an early matinee
the one about the girl next to a fireplace
as the title sequence rolls she’s making gestures with her hands
the kid oozes sincerity
she was shot in black and white and that’s okay

a loud unpleasant person in the back starts making noise
says "aw, that’s adorable, she’s deaf"
lady in the front shouts "hey quiet down, you creep
don’t be so insensitive"
oh yes, the power of a good old-fashioned talking-to

when the little girl’s face gets covered in soot
licks her lips ’cause it tastes so good
she opens wide
speaks up says
"that’s one smoky fire"
her voice rings out while the subtitles fade

you gotta take her in on your own free will
but she won’t wait that long
no, she won’t wait that long

the guy in the back feels the need to explain
"I never called her deaf
what I said is she was doing sign language
and even if I said what you think I did
it’s not like she can hear us through the screen"

as if on cue the rear door opens
who should walk in but the star of the film?
everybody takes off their 3D glasses
she moves to the front to stare blankly at the audience
it’s a textbook case of folk child’s blues

she was raised by wolves so she’s sharp as a tack
it’s just she don’t know how to swim
no, she don’t know how to swim


(For You) I Pretend to Like Jazz

Lyrics on symbols page

Freddy Discharge

mp3 [11.12 MB] | Appears on Wintry Mix

my name’s Freddy Discharge
I was in the military
I do not miss it very much
I do not miss it very much
I don’t miss it much

I’d rather be a civilian than a camouflage-wearing chameleon
I’d rather have room and board paid for than be a millionaire
I was dishonorably discharged
listen, Sarge, I didn’t raise my fist
being part of something that is larger than yuorself is more important than your mental health

my name’s Freddy Discharge
I was in the military
I don’t miss it very much
I don’t miss it very much
I don’t miss it much

Funky Me Eating a Pear

mp3 [7.75 MB] | Appears on Album, Overrated

funky funky me me eating a pear
funky funky me me eating a pear
funky funky me me eating a pear
I’m funky and i’m eating a pear

there are songs about girls and songs about drugs
and songs about girls that are really about drugs
and songs about drugs that are really about girls
but this is a song about someone taking a Bartlett pear and a microphone and a wah wah pedal
and eating the pear with the mic plugged into the wah wah pedal and recording it
in other words, me being funky eating a pear

funky funky me me eating a pear
funky funky me me eating a pear
funky funky me me eating a pear
I’m funky and I’m eating a pear


The Future Mrs. Whatever

mp3 [3.2 MB] | Appears on Greg Reinfeld & the Opinionettes

when you’re elected President for life
you’ll have both houses of Congress on your side
just one obstacle stands in your way
you’re 42 and still a bachelor

an iron fist won’t win you many friends
consolidate your power while you can
having a better half keeps the critics at bay
how bad a person could you be if someone married you?

a physics professor named his daughter Inertia
she did a stint in the Peace Corps then moved back home
she signed up at the Bank of Municipal Whores
all this paperwork and she’s yours

Inertia here will lose her maiden name
not once will she nag you or complain
her priority is to smile and wave as you manifest destiny the world


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