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Victory Party

by Geoff Berner

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I was dreaming when I heard the announcement: The struggle was over and we had won it. I knew the victory party was imminent, So I started looking to find it. I came upon a blinded veteran, Warming his hands by the fire of an oil drum. I said "Comrade, can you give me directions?" "I'm lost on the way to the celebration." I'm looking---For the Victory Party. He said "Cross the river on what's left of the train bridge Take a left at the charred remains of the orphanage Turn right at the pile of dog-chewed corpses Of men and women and dogs and horses." After hours of weary searching, I was weary and sick and lurching Down the steps of a dark red tavern I recognized the music playing. I’m looking--For the Victory Party. I danced with a lady and in the low light there, I knew we were right on the brink of our best years. She said “I’ve been saving these fish net stockings And this is a special occasion.” They served me whisky and I said “I’m surprised now That you still have Chivas Regal.” They said “We mix it in the back in a washtub Then we colour it up with some brown stuff.” I drank it down with cheerful avidity— I don’t want a reputation for negativity, I raised my glass and said “L’Chaim, everybody! Let’s drink a toast to the Victory Party!” I’m looking--For the Victory Party
Laughing Jackie smiled so sweet. He ran the girls who worked our street. They worked all day and night to put Diamond cufflinks on his shirt. With his silver-handled walking stick, Jackie never missed a trick. Laughing Jackie, Handsome in his tailored suit. Laughing Jackie, Always in a pleasant mood. Laughing Jackie never mad When a cutie stashed a wad. See his stick, it spins and twirls, Laughing as he beats the girls. If he got a broken one, There's always more where that came from. Laughing Jackie, The bus station runaways, Laughing Jackie They all wound up at Jackie’s place. Then one day the Russians came To put a stake in Jackie’s claim. Jackie thought he could resist... That’s a trick that Jackie missed. Jackie tap your little tin cup, Hoping for a coin to drop. The Russians beat you with your stick, But Jackie don’t you look so sick-- Isn’t it every pimp’s ambition To one day become a musician? Laughing Jackie, With his funny, wired-up, broken jaw, Laughing Jackie, He’s not laughing anymore.
Wealthy Poet 03:25
My love, I am a wealthy poet, Wealthy poet of renown. (repeat) So when it’s time to run again, Your wealthy poet of renown Will bribe you cross a thousand borders, Run you till you’re safe and sound. I’ll get you a teardrop ruby, Teardrop ruby for your throat. (repeat) So when it’s time to run again, We’ll take that ruby from your throat, You will sew that red, red ruby In the lining of your coat. I’ll get you a pretty passport, With your picture for the frame.(repeat) So when it’s time to run again, We’ll put your picture in the frame, Soon you will forget this country, Soon you will forget your name. I’ll get you a book of matches, Book of matches in your hand. (repeat) So when the border guarders catch us, With those matches in your hand, You will burn your fingerprints, Beyond all recognition. The way you dance, you step so lightly, Step so lightly, I can see, (repeat) You’ll be the one I’ll take to run A thousand borders, Stepping lightly, Run with me.
Don’t look for me where leaves are springing, You will not find me there, mayn shatz. At the machines, where lives are withered, Dortn is mayn rue platz. Don’t look for me where birds are singing, You will not find me there, mayn shatz. I am a slave, where chains are ringing, Dortn is mayn rue platz. (Mandarin verse, by Yen-Liang Tung & Lan Tung) The spring is here. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and grass is greening. You have gone away. Where can I find you? Tears have dried and the youthful days are gone. At the dark corner, the resting place. So if indeed you love me truly, Come to me, mayn liebe shatz. Lift my heavy heart from sorrow, Make it sweet, mayn rue platz.
I was in the bar listening to the Hipster Radio, Boys and girls were singing, But frankly, I don’t know What the fuck they were singing about, And I said to myself, “I guess These are impressionistic lyrics, But frankly, I’m not impressed.” I kinda, I sorta, I kinda hate the ambiguous ones. There’s a war going on, and the cops are beating people in the streets, But all you gotta say is “Bleat, bleat, bleat, bleat, bleat”? Don’t you have something that you love enough, That you wanna clearly defend? What are you, some kinda Closet Anglican? I kinda, I sorta, I kinda hate the ambiguous ones.
I've played a lot of places, and I'll play them all again, And everywhere I go I hear the same old thing again: Somebody dies in police custody, Soon there are questions from the family. At first the situation makes the lawmen look so filthy, But they investigate themselves and it turns out that they're not guilty . Hey, hey, Daloy Polizei Means the same thing now as yesterday. Out of your houses, into the streets, Everybody say, “Fuck the police!” Ian Bush's parents didn't know he was a killer When Constable Koestler took him in for an open can of "Miller". The video at the station house, it somehow got erased But the bull was there so we can know exactly what took place: The boy jumped on his back, but the cop was quick instead, He reached around and shot him, right in the back of the head. Koestler would not demonstrate just how this thing was done. If you think that it's impossible, then the coroner's not alone Hey, hey, Daloy Polizei... There must be something magic down in the holding cells, Cause there's stuff that happens there that just don't happen nowhere else. Healthy people dying from a sudden heart attack, Men who hang themselves with their hands tied behind their back. There's lots of good and brave police, it must be true, I guess-- It's brave to work with a murderer sipping coffee by your desk. Hey, hey, Daloy Polizei...
Jail 02:31
I am going to jail, jail, jail, I am going to jail, To get a new pair of shoes. Guards will light my smokes for me, smokes for me, smokes for me, Guards will light my smokes for me, When I go in jail. I will get three meals a day, meals a day, meals day, I will get three meals a day, When I go in there. I will make some new friends, new friends, new friends, And some won’t like me very much. I am going to jail, jail, jail, I am going to jail, To get a new pair of shoes
Ever since I have developed my Cult following, Everybody’s wanting to know, What I’m gonna do with my Cult following, Where’m I gonna take it to go? I’ve been waiting, and waiting, With a kind of spiritual constipation, I couldn’t let it go somehow. But now the zeitgeist has shifted, Objections have been lifted, I’m feeling that the time is... Now. Are you ready? (Yes we’re ready!) To hear all about it, What G-d and I want you to know, Are you ready? (Yes we’re ready!) I really kind of doubt it, But I’m gonna have to let it go. The Bible is a mirror, and G-d is on the other side. So everything it tells you is the opposite of what He really wants you to decide, It’s a test, it’s a test, it’s a spiritual test, And the truth is only for the brave. Now you’ve finally got a proper Explanation For all the crazy shit inside. From Genocide to Revelation, The logic can’t be denied. Pillars of Fire! Pillars of salt, Are the pillars on which rest my case, Did you really think a perfect G-d Wants you to burn a goat? Or nail the Messiah in place? Are you ready (Yes we’re ready!) To do what it will take, What G-d and I want you to do, Are you ready (Yes we’re ready!) Every rule you’ve got to break, To finally make Us proud of you? (chorus) Like a fossil, it’s a test of faith. With all those rules and laws, It’s enough to make you dizzy, All the shit that you’ve got to do. And in your modern lives, I know you’re very busy, So I’ve got a small proposal for you: For a modest contribution, I’ll save you the hassle Of pleasing G-d all on your own, But I’ll need liquor, women, shellfish, And probably a castle, Cause I don’t want to do it wrong. I’m ready, I’m ready! To get right down to working, Working just as hard as can be, I’m ready, I’m ready, I know you were tired of searching, So you just make the cheque out to me. (chorus) It’s a test, it’s a test, it’s a spiritual test, And if you pass it, It’s gonna save you from the grave! It’s a test, it’s a test, it’s a spiritual test, And if you pass it, It’s gonna save you from the grave!
Oh My Golem 05:01
It was easy to see that my people Needed a champion to defend them from evil, So I got to working as hard as I can, Working on an artificial clay man. I used my kabalarian rabbinical powers Mystical letters upon his brow... Tzadik...Hay...Leyisrael! Oh! My! Golem! Out in to the world I sent him, Fighting evil, no force could dent him. With each evil he fought he just got stronger, Till he was too strong to control any longer. I tried to recall him after his latest disaster, "I'm your Western Intellectual master! You wouldn't exist without my idea." He sent me a postcard that said “Seeya Wouldn't wanna be ya... Having a wonderfully violent time, Don't even care if you're here!” Oh! My! Golem! Oh! My! Golem!
By the time I’m returning to my home, The cherry blossoms will be gone. What a waste, what a waste, To miss such a beautiful thing.


released March 8, 2011

Released March 8, 2011

This album is dedicated to Joseph.

Produced by: Socalled

All words and music by Geoff Berner except...
Mayn Rue Platz: By Morris Rosenfeld.
Mandarin lyrics by Yen-Liang Tung & Lan Tung.
Daloy Polizei: Traditional Tune. Berner words.
Jail: by Slutarded
Oh My Golem: Words by Geoff Berner, music by Geoff Berner and Socalled.

The Players:
Wayne Adams:
Percussion, all organic drums except on “Jackie”. Backup vocals.
Lubo Alexandrov: Electric Guitar.
Geoff Berner: Most lead vocals, accordion.
Bob Cohen: Some violin, some shouting.
Gloriously Meshed Violins by Les Filles Mitraillettes, who are:
Brigitte Dajczer: Violin. In particular, the solos on “Wealthy Poet” and “Cherry Blossoms”. Backup vocals.
Diona Davies: Lead vocal on “Jail”. Violin, in particular, the solos on “Mayn Rue Platz” and “Daloy Polizei”. Backup vocals.
Josh Dolgin: All piano, keyboards, sampled beats.
Benjy Fox-Rosen: Bass, backup vocals.
Lan Tung: Vocals and Erhu on “Mayn Rue Platz”
Michael Winograd: Clarinet.
Additional suitcase percussion by Jamie Thompson

Recorded by: Graham Lessard at The Treatment Room, Montreal, Canada
Mixed by: Graham Lessard with Socalled Tone of Hanging Out Set By: Bob Cohen
Mastered by: Ryan Morey

Artwork and design by Marek Colek & Pat Shewchuk a.k.a. Tin Can Forest
All images ©tin can forest

Mr. Berner’s Emergency Medical Response Team: Karina Zeidler

Sincere Thanks
To the Admired and Indispensable:
Genevieve Buechner, Margot Berner, Joseph Zeidler-Berner, Sarge and Nancy Berner, Paulette Zeidler, Justin Newall, Benny Braaten, Eric Stein at the Ashkenaz Festival, Angela Teistler, Ken Beattie, Rae Spoon, François Létourneau, Jason Webley, Christophe Cerri and Susann Rumplecker, Bob Cohen, Beatrice Cardin, Bruce Triggs and Rowan Lipkovits at Accordion Noir, Gary Cristall, Randy Iwata, Beez and all the other good folks at Mint Records, Kaizers Orchestra band and crew, Poopsie, Deb Dilworth, Helen Spitzer, Michael Barclay, Kerry Clarke, Dan Kahn and the Painted Bird, Jack Falk, the helpful people at the Canada Council for the Arts, Damón Zurawski, Claudia Floritz, Neworld Theatre, Ariadne Bechthold, Corb Lund, Martti Trillisch, Tom Brekke, Mushi Jenner, Yuriy Gurzhy, The Artswells Festival, The Realones, Meghan Haberl, Carolyn Mark, and of course that amiable rascal, Cameron Noyes.

We acknowledge the financial support of Government of Canada through the Canada Music fund (CMF) for our sound recording activities.


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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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