Artist: JEFF BLACK
Album: BIRMINGHAM ROAD
Release Date: 1998
Label: Arista Austin | Lotos Nile Music
UPC: 078221885720

Jeff Black Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric),
Harmonica, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Ken Coomer , Bongos, Drums, Drums (Snare)
Jay Bennett , Accordion, Farfisa Organ, Guitar,
Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric),
Organ, Piano, Vocals (Background)
John Stirratt, Bass, Bass (Acoustic), Drums
Greg Wells Accordion, Bass, Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic),
Guitar (Electric), Organ, Percussion, Piano
Tommy Jordan , Drums (Steel), Dulcimer (Hammer),
Organ (Hammond), Percussion, Vocals (Background)
Suzie Katayama Cello
Greg Kurstin Mini Moog
Iris DeMent , Vocals (Background)
Tionno Banks Organ, Piano
Curt Bisquera Drums, Drums (Snare)
Marlon Young Guitar (Electroacoustic)
Lance Morrison Bass
Randy Jacobs Guitar (Electric), Mando-Guitar
Boo Macleod Assistant Engineer
Susan Rogers Engineer Producer
Ben Grosse Engineer, Mixing, Producer
Jack Joseph Puig Mixing
Bob Ludwig Mastering
Michael Wilson Photography
Maude Gilman Clapham Art Direction, Design

Contributing artists: Geggy Tah, Iris DeMent, Wilco (v.1)

Recorded at
Pedernales Studio, Austin, Texas
Oceanway Nashville, TN
Oceanway Recording Los Angeles CA.

Jeff Black plays
Epiphone Masterbilt Banjos
Paige capos, Morley Pedals, Impact Picks
Palomino Blackwing and Blackwing 602 pencils




   

BILLBOARD

ROCK TRACKS
JEFF BLACK
Thatís Just About Right
WRITER: J. Black
PUBLISHER: Warner-Tamerlane, BMI

This is the kind of tune that could sustain itself with just an acoustic guitar and Jeff Blackís weathered voice, which you could imagine perking up the ears of coffeehouse patrons used to talking over stale background music. An old-fashioned storyteller, Black weaves words that hang above the understated instrumentation. Although the catchy chorus churns up the subtle beat, it eschews saccharine country-politan for a sound thatís rootsier than most Nashville country artists, thanks to a little rustic harmonica punctuating the chorus. Itís no surprise that this newcomer-who has performed with musicians like John Prine, Wilco, and Jerry Jeff Walker-is stirring up talk. Also, itís no surprise to discover that he wrote ďNever Did Say Goodbye,Ē which Jo-el Sonnier sang in the fine Nashville songwriter movie ďThe Thing Called Love.Ē This tune will turn on a lot of other people to the lost art of good songwriting.

Timothy White


THE BOSTON GLOBE

The Kendall Cafe in Cambridge (617-661-0993) continues to be a great launch pad for residency acts that donít fit simple niches. The club is perhaps best known for its residency with singer-songwriter Jewel. But many other songwriters have been there, from Tracy Bonham to Pete Droge. The latest is Jeff Black, an artist who is there tonight and every Thursday this month except for March 19, when heíll be at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas. Black records for the Arista-Austin label, but heís more than a country act. Heís got the troubadour quality of a Steve Goodman, the poetic dignity of a Bruce Springsteen, and the bittersweet, outer-fringe edge of a Townes Van Zandt. We kid you not. Itís a highly demanding, highly affecting mix, capped by terrific guitar technique with both a plectrum and with finger-picking. Look for Black, who grew up just north of Kansas City, to go on at 10pm and play one set.

Steve Morse


ACOUSTIC GUITAR

Now that heís headlining instead of just sharing concert bills, Jeff Black will get more of a chance to showcase songs from his impressive debut album, Birmingham Road (Arista Austin). The young troubadourís evocative tales of restlessness, regret and bittersweet reminiscense unfold with an unhurried grace. And while the choruses often soar and swell, Black assiduously avoices melodrama. The rootsy accompaniment, mostly provided by members of the alternative country band Wilco, is similarly elegant and understated.

Nick Cristiano



A Long Way To Go

we lost Jennifer to the myth of independence
I tried to tell her that she might lose her mind
her daddy's dreams came true
the day she hit the highway
without me now though I am sure she's falling behind

we lost Tommy to the powder and the stranger
and a wicked sense of humor
that nobody understands
when everything gets funny man and
there ain't nobody laughing
kind of makes you wonder how much love
slips through your hands

sing hey la lay it's a long way to go
and a fair fall from on high
don't look down because we're almost home
where we can easily touch the sky
where we can easily touch the sky

we lose a lot I guess in the name of aspiration
gravity is sure to pull a number of us down
you would think that things get easier
in this age of information
goes to show that nothing
ever changes in this town

through all the miles and the big mistakes
we blow the candles out on the birthday cakes
and we wonder where the wish might take you now
through all the trials and the tough tough breaks
we sow the seeds for goodness sakes
and we reap the hope that you make it through somehow
somehow...

well I'll be damned
look who's cutting through the bramble
through the mire and the miracle just to find a way
welcome back to graceland baby,
it sure is good to see you
we missed you in the meantime though man,
you haven't missed a thing

 

What Do I Want

all of my life
I've been tempted I've been torn
what's wrong and what's right
since the day that i was born
and god knows when i was lonely
I was easily deceived
what do I want
what do I need

knocking on wood
leaves me standing in the rain
so misunderstood
god I've lost my way again
through the darkness of old notions
it's such a pitiful reprieve
what do I want
what do I need

freedom from the devil's chain
freedom from temptation's reign
freedom from the overwhelming
feeling that evil never sleeps

I cross my heart
I am not the only one
and right from the start
everything under the sun
it dies by some desire
and faith to some degree

I need to be free
I need to be free
I need to be free

 

Birmingham Road

st. christopher swings from a silver chain
as he jumps through the dashboard light
running with the angels in the powertrain
out here on the edge of the night

as we pull into the darkness the mad dog bites
and one bright light cuts through the cold
the radio plays the same old relays
and we've got to get young to get old

flying through the fields of my heaven
where the red haw and the hawthorn grow
take me back to the beginning
and meet me down on birmingham road
take me back to the beginning
and meet me down on birmingham road

right down to the wire mister we draw the line
between midnight and the light of the day
the full moon dies where ulysses cries
so darkness can have her way

it was the first time that I held her
the first time that i touched her
it was the last time that I heard her sing
out from under the sweet song of surrender
out from under the wing

she came to me in moving dreams
sweet visions at the wheel
I close my eyes to sweet surprise
oh god please make this real
I am flying over fields of clover
high above the trees
the child as king is everything
so I do just as I please

dancing with the devil's daughter
wash my sins away with the wine
walking on the water
running for my life
and when i get down to the garden
I circle over the stone
I am falling i am drifting
I'm losing my direction
lord I'm coming home

 

That's Just About Right

my old friend lives up in the mountains
he flew up there to paint the world
he says even though interpretation's
what I count on
this little picture to me seems blurred
hard lines and the shadows come easy
I see it all just as clear as a bell
I just can't seem to set my easel to please me
I paint my heaven and it looks like hell
is it me or is my vision jaded?
if I ask you, will you tell me true?
I say, no and yes, I think the world you've painted
it's just the way that it appears to you

oh, your blue might be gray,
your less might be more
your window to the world might be the big front door
your shinest day
might come in the middle of the night
that's just about right

he says, man I ain't coming down
until my picture is perfect
and all the wonder has gone from my eyes
down through my hands and on to the canvas
still like my vision but still a surpirse
still life he says is the hardest impression
it's always moving so I just let it come through
and that my friend i say is the glory of true independence
just to do what you do
what you do what you do

I don't think people's visions get jaded
I think the times change and so does the truth
so in that i think the world you've painted
is just the way that it appears to you

we ended our talk
on how many friendships had faded
and nowadays what makes a picture seem real
are the simpler versions and not complicated
thanks for the brushes man I'll see you next year
so let's roll on we know what we're here for
souvenirs of all that we've seen
so write a story paint yourself and paint the town
when you look around
you know where you've been
if you wonder if your vision is jaded
you just ask someone who will tell you true
one true friend who sees all that you've painted
say hey man, that looks just like you

 

Noah’s Ark

I weren’t expecting no rainbows
noah told them cackling hens
I weren’t considered no sailor
and I hope that I don’t have to do this again
how many times can you fly out
and leave me with an open empty hand
this time will be the last time
I send that little bird to find land
for days it just kept raining
oh the rain just kept coming on down
I thoudt I’d never get a sign
and I thought for sure that I was gonna drown
then yonder her she come then flying
until that day I couldn’t sing a note
it’s hard to wait for information
and I can’t wait to dock this old boat

if I ever get to heaven
I’ll admit I doubted some
i’ll tell them everything that happened
and ask them why it took so long
and if they find my tools and timber
that I used to build her strong
I hope the fools that do remember
how on a sea of hope and faith
we drifted home

I’m pretty sure that someone
will be there to meet us
noah told them chickens to their face
and as he looked out from the mountain
he could see what time would do to this old place
is everybody coming with me
it’ll take a little time to settle in
I hope everyone forgives me
because this took a little longer than I planned
you all hold on to one another
and you make damn sure that you don’t drift apart
then we’ll truck on down this mountain
and we’ll find a level place
to make a brand new start
then the sun just kind of peeked out
it was just enough to make them feel assured
and the only thing that noah kept repeating
was that he sure was glad to see that little bird.

hello it’s good to see you
it’s been a long long time

 

King Of The World

high on a hill
the valley below me
the blue sky above me
my dream was so real
I could not hear
the hum of the highway
or the drums of the foundry
pounding out steel

I didn't need no money
I didn't need no time
I didn't need nothing
but my own piece of mind
and to know that
a voice like a whisper is bound to be heard
for just one moment
I'm the king of the world

for just one moment
I'm the king of the world
so i close my eyes
I let the power defeat me
because the real world can't free me
from this dirty old town
where the four winds blow
I send my troubles rolling
since the world just kept turning
I let it go round

see I took it all in
like time takes forever
in a dream that you never
believed would come true
then I gave it away
I just had to surrender
man I just can't remember
when I felt so good

 

Uniontown

I have feared for this day in my life
like fire fears the rain
behind the veil my sweet blue sky
reveals the dark refrain

I run down these broken roads
searching for some sacred sign
past your house they say you've gone
oh to see you one more time
don't go down to uniontown
don't leave out of here alone
no one cares if you live or die
when you're out there on your own
don't you let deception
tear your sweet soul down
how will I protect you love
way down in uniontown

I remember years ago
I did not know your name
I held for you the open door
with a torch and a timid flame

I watched lovers rise and fade
just to taint your tender heart
if love would change your world today
i could tear this place apart

no life is lived without regret
or consolation's cry
you're the one I won't forget
until the day I die

I will live forever love
what a tragic cruel cliche'
I fear it won't be near enough
as you slowly fade away

 

Ghosts In The Graveyard

in the summertime in our neighborhood
of an evening into the night
we used to play ghosts out in the graveyard
just beyond the backporch light
late one night when I was hiding out
up in a weeping willow tree
I seen a meteor just fade away
and man it made a change in me

I thought we would live here forever
I thought we would learn to fly by now and not fall
and all the time we spend together
really ain’t no time at all

from my nest up in the willow tree
I could see them ghosts run through the light
and I heard mothers call their children home
to come on in out of the night
so one by one they started running
so I hurried down to say so long
but before I hit the ground to say goodbye
they were gone

I hear echoes in the evening
I see a weeping willow tree
and I tell them ghosts out in the graveyard
don’t be scared it’s only me

the roses bloom and then they fade away

 

Nebo Hill

as the sun burns down my hometown
so many miles away
nothing ever changes and nothing stays the same
young love takes the old road out
to where young love is quite naïve
I remember you
do you remember me

oh I think I found your rosary
where the blacktop turns to dust
where the engines of our destiny
run silent in their rust
where the spirits of our idle youth
have and always will
go wild to find the truth
and hold out high on nebo hill

we were standing in a circle
we were laughing in the dark
when some boy throws your name down
like a bottle and you broke
I should have stood up for you then
from a distance i can see
in retro i was foolish
do you remember me

as the crow flies I could be there now
in the sweet sound of your sigh
standing right beside you
I take a teardrop from your eye
but young love takes the old road out
to where young love is quite naïve
I remember you
do you remember me

 

Street

out on the street tonight
there's a million lonely people
and nobody knows why they just can't find a friend
or maybe a lover or
just someone to talk to
everybody's running
hey now, something's got to give
in my life
I've never seen so many people
work so hard to be loved
the pressure's on
who can beat the champion
who can beat the system
who can play their fucking game
while the unfortunate one
cries out on the street tonight
kicking at the trash cans hey now
cussing at the rain
in my life
I've never seen so many
people work so hard to survive
I don't understand where my balance was sure
I could reach out my hand and bring you so
much more
more than this half-hearted faith
more than a witness tonight
maybe next time around, I'll get it right

a purple sky
a yellow field
a deep green ocean
a pretty red rose makes its way
for what it's worth
and down on the street tonight
I got your picture in my pocket
as I listen to the rumbling of us
living here on earth
in my life
I've never seen so many
people work so hard
to believe
to survive
to be loved
to stay alive

 

Carnival Song

I’ve been quite the traveler
ever since I hit the road
and the sullen county carnival
has been my earn in gold
I’ve been quite alone
since I remember when
I turned my ultimatums
into chips and cashed them in

I used to run the ferris wheel
but that would be hard to prove
I can’t stand to see a rolling wheel
propped up so it can’t move
I used to run the carousel
hell that’s just round and round
and i never liked them ponies
painted up and bolted down

the only thing that’s keeping me
from staying here is leaving
the only thing that saves me from it all
is I’ll be gone
and just when I could trust
in all the things that I believe in
I had to pack it up and move along
and I’ll tell you boys I’m not the only one

I sold my chances down at the ring toss
at the ring toss
but that was just a jaunt
I can’t see throwing rings around things
you don’t really want
I would run the rollercoaster
but that just breaks my heart
so much hard traveling
just to wind up where you start
now I just work the gateway
and I’m pretty satisfied
my little booth is red and blue
and I just sit inside
I just take your money
and I give tickets out to trade
I think about my life
and all the promises I made

and I’ll tell you boys my work is never done
so like a sweet and salty gypsy kiss I’m gone

 

The Valley
as I walk down through the valley
I breathe in the angel mist
with nothing to protect me
from this place that the devil blessed
I walk with arms wide open
and I dream where the wild winds blow
faith will give me shelter
and time my own reward

my soul is alive
and these dreams are real
I will not let fear rule my life
or how I feel inside my heart
all the rest of my days
on the wings of a dove
carry me away

to the left I feel the joker
tug and pull there at my coat
to the right I feel the thieves
choke and dagger at my throat
stumbling through the darkness
like a drifter in the night
shaking off the violence
until the fall of the morning light

you see they put it in the papers
around the world and on the air
they run it down the wire baby
until we're tired and we just don't care
I know we can make it
we can make it if we try
we can rise above this mess
and fly in a clear blue sky

I know when the light falls on me
there ain't nothing I can't overthrow
there ain't nothing I can't overcome or come to know
so lay your heavy load down on me
strip everything I have away
I am not your prisoner
I am not afraid

 

Except where noted
all songs © Jeff Black Music | Lotos Nile Music BMI
All Rights Reserved