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We Shall Not Flag or Fail, We Shall Go On To The End

by Geoff Berner

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03:12

about

After three years of winning fans the old fashioned way, troubadour Geoff Berner presented his first full-length CD named for a Winston Churchill phrase that may have provided some inspiration during tours through Canada, Scandinavia, England, Eastern Europe and beyond. We Shall Not justly captures the fruits of that labour. "We All Gotta Be a Prostitute Sometimes" is a Berner classic. It starts out as a reassuring song about making compromises for money, but quickly leads into a second verse reiterating how hard it is to use this argument convincingly. Next, a spoken interlude and by the time Berner gets to the complex social hierarchy among real life prostitutes, the listener has been absolved for any moneymaking sins, but not without a bitter twang. In "Maginot Line," Berner uses the failure of that famous stronghold as a metaphor for divorce. While "A Settling of Accounts" is pure performance art, in which Berner lyrically demands a cash payout from the bar and drinks from the audience. Strangely, on CD it works too. As a songwriter, Berner has already been lauded amongst folk stars, and as a musician, it's high time he had a wider audience. His slow, pleading voice combined with jarring accordion riffs (punk? folk?) and artistic pauses reveal a man constantly in awe at the baffling. We Shall Not is surprising, intelligent, funny and sad

credits

released January 1, 2003

Double Bass – Keith Rose (tracks: 1-4 to 1-6, 1-8)
Drums, Percussion – Wayne Adams
Engineer, Mastered By – David Taylor* (tracks: 2-1 to 2-6), Sal Riley (tracks: 2-1 to 2-6)
Engineer, Recorded By – Wayne Adams (tracks: 1-1 to 1-10)
Layout – Annie Wilkinson
Lead Vocals, Accordion – Geoff Berner
Mixed By, Mastered By – Marc L'Esperance (tracks: 1-1 to 1-10)
Producer – David Taylor* (tracks: 2-1 to 2-6), Geoff Berner (tracks: 1-1 to 1-10), Wayne Adams (tracks: 1-1 to 1-10)
Remastered By – Frank Molleno
Sleeve, Design – Robert Söllner
Written-By – Geoff Berner (tracks: 1-2 to 1-4, 1-6 to 1-10, 2-1 to 2-6)

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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: Volcano God
Every song is a kind of prayer
Every prayer is a kind of advertising jingle
Every jingle is a kind of epitaph
Song-prayer to the Volcano God.

They say he has an invisible hand
That builds up the wealth of nations
But the hand that I see every day
Takes away 'til nothing good remains.

Volcano God, Volcano God
Which one of my treasures will you take from me today?
Volcano God, Volcano God
Praise you with my screams as I watch them fall away.

And when Spartacus was up on the cross
I betcha he had no illusions
What he was an advertisement for
As he sang his last song-prayer:

Volcano God, Volcano God
Which one of my treasures will you take from me today?
Volcano God, Volcano God
Praise you with my screams as I watch them fall away.

Volcano God, Volcano God
Your appetite grows stronger with each morsel that you're fed
Volcano God, Volcano God
Praise you with my screams 'til you decide to make me dead.
Track Name: Clown and Bard
Her Grandfather opened the trust fund
In a Baltimore account
But she was six months in the Paris of the Eastern Bloc
By the time it ran out

Oh well I met her in a filthy basement where a fat man ran the bar
She said "If you're gonna drink that green stuff you've got to light it on fire."

Guess she knew me pretty well
Despite the question that I ducked
She said "You'll like it here Prague's like Disneyland for the terminally fucked."
But it don't fool me 'cause I can see
All this beauty's just a trap set to kill

Then she grabbed my hand tight said "Let me show you the light from the top of the castle hill.'
I don't know why
I find leaving so hard
And I'm so down
Hanging around at the Clown and Bard.

Well the water in the river's as dirty as the cops
But it shines so pretty at night
But when I held her head as she puked absinthe off the Charles Bridge
It was a tender and a glamorous sight

We kept up the charade just as long as we could
Till I had to get back in the van
She said "I'd like to come with ya' but I'm saving up for Baltimore as soon as I can."
And I'm so down
Hanging around at the Clown and Bard.

When I got back into town she wasn't hard to track down
Though they'd moved her down a couple of floors
Cold and half dead on the unmade bed
Trying to squeeze the speed out through her pores

I offered to buy her a one-way back stateside
But I cried, begged, pleaded in vain
She said "I don't think that I have an urge to die. I really just can't explain"
I don't know why I find leaving so hard
And I'm so down
Hanging around at the Clown and Bard

And I'm so down
Hanging around at the Clown and Bard
Track Name: We All Gotta Be a Prostitute Sometimes
A lot people think that I'm a lousy no-good bastard
They sensitive enough to realize
Just how bad I needed that money - yeah
I don't want to go into it - just want to emphasize

That I don't feel bad that I did it
No I don't feel bad that I did it
I don't have to cringe when the dinner bell chimes
Because we all gotta be a prostitute sometimes
We all gotta be a prostitute sometimes

I know that last verse probably didn't convince you
Not to judge me so I just want to let you know
When you come round with a tear stained face and scuffed up knees
I'm not a gloating man and so...

I won't make you feel bad that you did it
No I won't make you feel bad that you did it
You can give me your shame - I'll put it with mine
Because we all gotta be a prostitute sometime
We all gotta be a prostitute sometimes

I know a lot of you out there think I'm making a general statement about humanity
Well nothing could be further from the truth
I'm speaking to each and every one of you individually
When I said, You're no better than a bunch of whores.
And you're still in denial!
There's a psychological phenomenon at work there
Which I will elucidate in the bridge...

Don't you know that the twenty dollar whores
Look down their noses at
The ten dollar whores
Look down their noses at
The five dollar whores
Who look down on the volunteers
'Cause they ain't got careers...

A great man once said
You gotta serve somebody
He didn't mention sometimes you gotta service them too
But after a while I hope you get used to it
You could always pretend it's performance art

And then you won't feel bad that you did it
No you won't feel bad that you did it
If you get scurvy just suck on a lime
Because we all gotta be a prostitute sometimes
We all gotta be a prostitute sometimes.
Track Name: Maginot Line
Did you hear about the foolish French , who hid themselves behind a trench.
Filled it with a million men , ten thousand heavy guns and then
Figured they would be just fine , now they had the maginot line.

Maginot line, maginot line, thought you were so safe and strong.
Maginot line, maginot line, stupid, stupid, you were wrong.

It wasn't very long at all
Before Mr. Hitler came to call.
He said: Boys, this line is strong and sound
Lucky for us we can just go around.
The stark defenders fought their best
But their turrets faced East
And the Germans were West.

Maginot line, maginot line, thought you were so safe and strong.
Maginot line, maginot line, stupid, stupid, you were wrong.

Maginot line, maginot line, why didn't some smart fellow say:
Maginot line, maginot line, your guns are pointing the wrong way.
Your guns are pointing the wrong way.

So if you've got something you hold dear
And you'd hate to see it disappear.
You think that everything's just fine
Better check it one more time.
And reflect upon the Maginot doom
A perfect fortress makes a perfect tomb.

Maginot line, maginot line, thought you were so safe and strong.
Maginot line, maginot line, stupid, stupid, you were wrong.
Maginot line, maginot line, why didn't some smart fellow say:
Maginot line, maginot line, your guns are pointing the wrong way.
Your guns are pointing the wrong way.
Your guns are pointing the wrong way.
Track Name: Beautiful In My Eyes
When we go out
To grace a public event with out presence
All eyes are following us
I know what they're thinking, in essence

What a lucky buckaroo
I am just to be seen with you
I know
I know you're thinking it too

Would you be satisfied?
How much of your love is pride?
Would you be satisfied
Only to be beautiful in my eyes?

Those pretty near-sighted girls
Who go out without wearing their glasses
They look cute, but they're destitute
When the fellas start making their passes

How are they supposed to tell
A dreamboat's whistle from a hunchback's bell?
Maybe
Maybe it's just as well

Would you be satisfied?
How much of your love is pride?
Would you be satisfied
Only to be beautiful in my eyes?

I know it sounds like jealousy
I'm not jealous
But sometimes I try to be

When we're out at a séance or a barbeque
It's been five minutes
And nobody's hit on you
Forgive me for saying
I can see you coming unglued

One day, not far away
Your good looks are gonna expire
To be the center of attention then
You'll have to light yourself on fire

Then, I guess we're gonna see
What your answer's gonna be
That might
That might be too late for me

Would you be satisfied?
How much of your love is pride?
Would you be satisfied
Only to be beautiful in my eyes?
Track Name: The Way That Girl Drinks Beer
I know what they say
Don't try this at home, kids
It don't take waking up
Covered in throwup to be a man
Save your pennies to pay
Off your student loan, kids
You won't find no answer
At the bottom of a bottle or can

But when her wrists are bending
I wish it was never ending
Ask me how I feel
I can tell you
Do you got a year?

The
Way
That
Girl
Drinks
Beer
She really puts it away now
The way she drinks beer
You'd swear she had a hollow leg

Oh, just the slip of a girl
But just like a pink one
She's got a punch to knock you down
So hard you don't know if you wanna wake up

Watching her swirl
It 'round her mouth and then sink one
Well, it makes me feel legless before
I put my lips to the cup


They say that loose lips
Are liable to sink ships
I bet she'd sink a super-tanker
Twice a year

The
Way
That
Girl
Drinks
Beer
She really puts it away now
The way she drinks beer
You'd swear she had a hollow leg

Well, I asked God
If it was wrong to say
That her drinking put me thinkin' in a spiritual
He said "My son, don't you know the score?
What you think I sent drugs down there for?
Drink your so-dee pop, but you'll just get bored
And you're never gonna see the true face of the Lord."
The way that she
Holds
The can in only two fingers
And leaves the other four free to make a blessing
Or put on a hex

If I get old
It'll be the memory that lingers
Maybe longer than the sound of her voice
Or the taste of her s**

There's nothing I wouldn't give her
My heart, my soul, my liver
(Which she'll probably be needing within a year!)

The
Way
That
Girl
Drinks
Beer
She really puts it away now
The way she drinks beer
You'd swear she had a hollow leg

Where does it go?
I swear that I don't know
'Cause she's a clever little girl with the voice of doom
But she never seems to visit the little girls' room
Track Name: Iron Grey
I respect the law just about as much as I do the ones by whom it's made
the government men can look all they like
They'll never find my hiding place
And it's here where I first saw my one true love
I don't know her name so I'll call her Iron Grey
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey
That's the color of my true love's eyes
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey

I see her walk to the shipyard where she works
She's a spot welder by trade
When she gets to know me I know she will find
I am not as bad as the papers say
Until then I will sing to myself and I will say
I've got one love and that's Iron Grey
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey

That's the color of my true love's eyes
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey

Perhaps I'll fake a drowning death
And I'll come back here someday
Ride my truck to the one I love
And we'll run off far away

Until then I will sing to myself and I will sing
I've but one love and that's iron grey
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey

That's the color of my true loves eyes
Iron Grey, Iron Grey, Iron Grey