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Klezmer Mongrels

by Geoff Berner

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05:48
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03:46
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04:18
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04:11
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04:47
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02:44

credits

released January 25, 2009

Vocals and accordion: Geoff Berner
Percussion and vocals: Wayne Adams
Violin and vocals: Diona Davies

Recorded and Mixed by: Wayne Adams
at P.D. Paddy Podey Productions, Vancouver, Canada

Mastered by: Craig Waddel
at Gotham City Studios, Vancouver, Canada

All songs, words and music by: Geoff Berner, unless otherwise stated.

This Album is dedicated to my children, (in order of appearance): Genevieve, Margot and Joseph.

Geoff Berner thanks: Benny Braaten, Margot Berner, Gevevieve Buechner, Joseph Zeidler-Berner, Sarge Berner, Nancy Berner, Carolyn Mark, Kris Demeanor, The Realones, Stuart Duncan, Helen Spitzer, Kesten Media, Jason Webley, Dave Lang, Carmaig De Forest, Bob Cohen, Fumie Suzuki, Dugg Simpson, The Cathedral Quarter Arts Festival, Jack Schuller, Peter Jenner, Mushi Jenner, NQ Arbuckle, Deb Dilworth, The Be Good Tanyas, Corb Lund, Siobhan Ryan, The Black Sheep Inn, janet Forsyth, Kaizers Orchestra (band AND crew), Michelle Beda, Stuart Parker, Tanya Taqaq, Neil Woodcock, Carol Whinnom, Colleen Weaver, Russel Joyce, Justin Newall, Sean Kelly, Dom Lloyd, Bob Wiseman, Dan Kahn and the Painted Bird, Josh Dolgin, Ariadne Bechthold, Angela Teistler, Karin Feusi, Martti Maakkelaa and the good people at CCEC Credit Union.

And, as always, a special thanks to Cameron Noyes, who believed that this whole thing would work long before anybody else.

Wayne Adams thanks: Meghan, my family, the folks at my other job, GS.

Diona Davies thanks: all her muses.

Painting by: Kelly Haigh. Layout and Design by: Richard Chapman
Photos: Gerald Deo. Emergency Medical Response Team: Karina Zeidler

Geoff Berner acknowledges the support of the Music Section of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Canada Music Fund.

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about

Geoff Berner Vancouver, British Columbia

Singer / songwriter / accordionist / novelist Geoff Berner's music combines klezmer, punk, political satire and Balkan dance rhythms. He writes sharp, literate songs that make you want to weep, laugh, grind your teeth, or kick out a window - often all at the same time. Having built a cult following with his weirdly compelling stage presence, G.B. has a strange ability to create fun chaos. ... more

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Track Name: Shut In
All the suffering, all the suffering all the suffering in the world
Shouldn't make you think that coming out to drink with me is wrong.
There's some people who will tell you it's a waste of time and money--
Hypocrites! They spend their workday wasting beauty all day long.

Sitting in your home with your electrical devices,
Do you really think that that's a life that suffices?
Say that you are trying to avoid a crisis--
You're already in one!

Shut in, shut in, shut in, shut in,
The time to come is gonna be the test of us.
Shut in, shut in, shut in,
Come out and suffer with the rest of us.

Too young, too old, too ugly, too fucked up,
To be out her drinking at the bar?
Excuse me, Sunshine, what did you think
The rest of us are out here drinking for?

Did you know the declaration of the Rights of Man
Was written after 5 hours drinking at the tavern
They drank 7 barrels of beer and wine,
And 9 casks of brandy, and then they got to work.

Shut in, shut in, shut in, shut in,
The sin of despair happens to the best of us.
Shut in, shut in, shut in, shut in,
Come out and suffer with the rest of us.

Now this next verse is just a list of bars that I have drunk in
Some are dead and some are living, in my life I've loved them all.
The Menagerie Belfast, Green Dragon Croydon Black Dog Edmonton
Black Sheep in Wakefield, Gastown, where the Elephant was Cruel,

Times Change(d) Winnipeg, the Clown and Bard of course, in Prague,
1000 Fryd in Aalborg, Evening Star in Brighton by the Sea.
Church of the Holy Chicken, Cumberland, and Logan's Tavern of the Damned
Victoria—it's all just poetry to me.

Mir and MONO, both in Oslo, planet Kensington in old punk Toronto,
Montreal, it's the Casa Del Popolo
Cafe Opera, Cafee Burger, Feinkost Lampe, Vega, Strega, Reitschule
Patronaat El Lokal Cementen and my home, at home
The Railway Club--

Shut in, shut in, shut in, shut in,
I know you probly think I sound ridiculous
Shut in, shut in, shut in, shut in
Come on out and suffer with the rest of us.
Shut in, shut in, shut in, shut in,
Can't you see I'm trying to make a hornet's nest of us?
Shut in, shut in, shut in, shut in,
Come out and suffer with the rest of us.
Track Name: The Whiskey
When the matchmaker came to my grandfather
To try to arrange a match between my father and mother
They talked and they talked, but they could not agree,
Till someone produced a bottle of whiskey.
They drank and they sang and they danced and they reeled,
And when they woke up in the morning the deal was sealed.

At the wedding, the couple was shy but fortunately,
There was an open bar with plenty of whiskey.
And so that’s the reason for my insistence
That whiskey’s responsible for my very existence.
Cause they drank and they danced and they suddenly knew
What a young couple is supposed to do.

In the beginning, at my circumcision
Everybody drank like Russians.
So in the end, when I return to the land
Be sure to bury me with a bottle in my hand.
Cause when it’s time to get judged on the Judgement Day
I know I'm gonna need a whiskey right away.
Track Name: Half German Girlfriend
She's the girl I love the most,
I lured her out here to the coast,
I know it's not my place to boast,
But she's the best and she

Is my
Half German Girlfriend,
Half German Girlfriend,
Half German Girlfriend,
And I love her so.

The Nazi and the Orthodox Jew
Would both be disgusted if they knew
About the dirty things we do,
On that they would agree.

She's my
Half German Girlfriend,
Half German Girlfriend,
Half German Girlfriend,
And I love her so

Half of German culture is divine,
And I guess we'll breed the rest all out in time.

Our Mongrel children will go forth,
Proving their superior worth,
The miscegenated will inherit the earth,
Destroying purity. (Whee!)

Half German Girlfriend,
Half German Girlfriend,
Half German Girlfriend,
And I love her so,
Never never gonna let her go,
Oh no,
Cause you and I know
That you and I know
That I'm a lucky little so and so,
Uh-oh.
Track Name: King of the Gangsters
To live outside the law, you must be vicious,
To live inside you must depend upon the viciousness of strangers.
Of the Odessa thugs, Benya was most ambitious,
He had a warm, close intimate relationship with danger.

He was the king, the king, the king,
He was the king of the gangsters.

The new Odessa chief of police
Said "at his sister's wedding, I will bring young Benya down."
By coincidence, during the feast,
Somebody burned the new Odessa Police Station to the ground.

He was the king, the king, the king,
He was the king of the gangsters.

The Goyim always said they were afraid
Of the Jews, but they act different when it's actually true.
He turned every funeral into a parade,
We were proud of Benya even when he robbed us too.

He was the king, the king, the king,
He was the king of the gangsters.

In his red sash, he swaggered through the marketplace,
With a pretty ghetto girlie and his Turkish cutlass.
The Red Army shot him in the face,
So they could build a brand new world, without crime or injustice.

He was the king, the king, the king,
He was the king of the gangsters.
Track Name: No Tobacco
I'm from the warm, wet, west coast of Canada
Where growing conditions are ideal
For a certain kind of plant you know
With a certain kind of way to feel.

If they ever enforced the law out here
The business men would dress in rags
Cause it's our number one industry
And when exports fail, the capital sags.

We're so proud that B.C. Weed
Relaxes you with just one hit.
That is why you don't need
Anything to mix with it
To give it a kick
That extra kick

So please don't put tobacco in it,
Please don't put tobacco in it,
It makes me cough,
It makes me cough.

Take a look at those Turkish girls
They dance on the floor, they bump and sway.
You can see how a once-great empire might
Fall down in to sweet decay.
Sweet decay, sweet decay,
The Sultan smokes his cares away.
Sweet decay, sweet decay,
“We'll mend those wall another day

But please don't put tobacco in it,
Please don't put tobacco in it,
It makes me cough,
It makes me cough.

So after the show if you've got something on you,
You would like to share with me,
Now that you have heard my song you
Surely must be fair with me.

If it's brown, we can smoke it on a pin,
Or ruin the knives, like when we were kids,
But if it's weak and it needs some help,
Frankly I'd rather just not bother.

Please don't put tobacco in it,
Please don't put tobacco in it,
It makes me cough,
It makes me cough.
Track Name: Play, Gypsy, Play
Play, Gypsy, play,
I really love the way
That you irritate the hell
Out of the Europeans today,
Play, play, play, gypsy play.

I love to watch them marching by,
They hear your accordion, and they sigh,
As if you were somehow impeding them
On their busy, important, way,
Play, play, play, Gypsy play.

The women voice concern for your kids,
That's when the sentiment hits,
“Why can't they be sewing my socks,
“Like the children in Bombay?”
Play, play, play, Gypsy play.

They love to mine your endless glamour,
But they don't visit you in the slammer,
Liberte, egalite, frat ha ha ha ternite,
Play, play, play, Gypsy play.

Play, Gypsy, play,
I really love the way
That you irritate the hell
Out of the Europeans today,
Play, Gypsy, play,
And the looks they give you betray
More than any monument to the Holocaust
Could ever say.
Play, play, play, Gypsy, play.
Track Name: Authentic Klezmer Wedding Band
If a happy occasion is imminent,
Folk festival or corporate event,
Funeral or circumcision,
I don't want to unduly influence your decision, but

Chorus:
This authentic klezmer wedding band is for hire,
This authentic klezmer wedding band is for hire,
Ready to embody the cultural values
To which you aspire,
This authentic klezmer wedding band is for hire.

We know how you like your World Music--
Mysterious and vaguely erotic.
You don't wanna know the meaning of the lyric--
That just makes it less exotic!

Chorus.

What if this was 1923?
Oh, how wonderful that would be!
If you come to my history class,
I'll teach you the Yiddish for "Kiss my ass!“

Chorus.
Track Name: One Shoe
He came to the door with a folder of prints
Familiar cliches, traditional motifs
He said I've got to do the feathers and the wolves for the money
People eat them up but I've got some here that come from my life

A rusted car, a school fight, got my girlfriend to pose for two days,
It's called Patience after the Guns and Roses song
And this one is called One Shoe

Neil Stonechild was frozen on the edge of Saskatoon
12 years ago
And now the body and the case have been exhumed
It's come to light that in the dead of winter nights, cold and remote
The Saskatoon police have taken men on one way rides
Police Chief quote:
It's happened more than once. We fully admit that
On behalf of the department I want to apologize
And we must take ownership of the things that have
Transpired

Neil was 17, in a group home for B and E
Was in AA but had been drinking on the night
He and Jason rang some bells, knocked on doors
Looking for a friend

The cops were called, the boys split up
15 minutes later Jason saw Neil handcuffed and bleeding
In the back of the cruiser
Screaming, looking scared-
Help me, they're going to kill me

One shoe

Neil's body was discovered five days later on the outskirts
Jason gave two statements to police but they weren't taken
The death deemed accidental
The official version being that
Neil Stonechild was on his way to
Turning himself in
To an adult penitentiary
At minus 28 degrees
With one shoe.

An inquiry was launched twelve years later

After Rodney Naistus froze to death and
Lawrence Wegner froze to death and
Lloyd Dustyhorn froze to death and
Darryl Night nearly did, but lived to prove
Abduction and abandonment was common practice

Still, the original case files concerning Neil
Were destroyed in renovations
RCMP investigations
Failed to find evidence for prosecution
So in a cloud of suspicion,
The hearings start October
Neil's mother just wants closure

One Shoe

Neil Stonechild was a wrestler and a painter and
I think he would have liked this one
He must have lost it running
He should have tied the laces
It symbolizes something
Mistakes, getting chased, empty spaces
One Shoe, one shoe, one shoe
Track Name: High Ground
Wealthy people like to live, live near the water,
They’ll pass their real estate down to the their sons
and their daughters.
Generations of happy, just enjoying the view,
But when the waters start rising, you know what
they’re gonna do:

The Rich will move to the high ground.
The Rich will move to the high ground.
Oh, oh, look at your town,
The Rich will move to the high ground.

All those singers and actors and philanthropists
Say the poor are at the top of their priority list,
But when the levees start breaking, and the barriers
fall,
Where will they be when we come to pay a courtesy
call?
With their mistresses, wives, pets, children and all,
At the top of a hill, behind a fortified wall.

The Rich will move to the high ground.
The Rich will move to the high ground.
Oh, oh, look at your town,
The Rich will move to the high ground.

With every sad number that the scientists find,
You get the feeling that some people really don’t mind
To see a new feudal age for the whole human race,
Cause the rabble will finally be all back in their
place.
There’ll be no revolution, we’ll be weak as wet
mouses,
Begging them to let our children serve in their
houses.

The Rich will move to the high ground.
The Rich will move to the high ground.
Oh, oh, look at your town,
The Rich will move to the high ground.
Track Name: Fukher
A fan in Yiddish means Fukher.
So every time you get too hot,
Fuckher.
What a feeling somehow when you Fukher--
At the Sidetrack, I could always find a Fukher.

I'm so hot, hot hot I need a Fukher...

If there's a heatwave,
Why should you suffer?
Everyone should have a handy Fukher
Did you hear about a robber name of Buffer?
He held up 40 banks,
The motherfukher.

I'm so hot, hot, hot I need a Fukher...

If a Fukher's too strong,
It'll blow you away.
Don't Fukher too much--
Maybe 3 times a day.

But when it's 98 degrees,
And there's hardly a breeze...
Don't be a shmuck!
Get yourself a Fukher.

I'm so hot, hot, hot, I need a Fukher...