Footsteps - a collection​:​1987​-​1999

by Cletis Carr

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about

Fourteen remastered tracks from six of Cletis Carr's Australian releases, between 1988 and 1999, featuring some of Australia's best known blues and roots musicians.

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released April 1, 2011

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Cletis Carr Nashville, Tennessee

Singer-songwriter Cletis Carr knows a good yarn. Especially when paired with a good melody and some gritty slide guitar.

A careful student of the human condition, Carr's story-songs play out like mini-movies. Tales of joy, heartbreak, redemption, ordinary madness and everyday heroes are framed in a rich tapestry of acoustic steel-string guitar, dobro and lap slide.
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Track Name: Footsteps In The Hall
Footsteps In The Hall

Woke up late in the afternoon
Sat up straight and rubbed my racoon eyes
Only to find the sun stopped shining down
I saw the moon rise
Bobby got killed last Saturday night
And to most of us, it still hadn't sank in
Except to Annie, his bride-to-be
She sank into a bottle of gin

Still waiting for the cavalry to call
Living like a refugee
Still listening for the footsteps in the hall
When she comes back home to me

Crawled to my feet and grabbed my shoes
I was still in my clothes from the night before
Walked through the house, it was empty and cold
The floorboards creaked as I opened up the front door
Stepped outside and was mystified by the countryside
It seemed so out of place
Cause everywhere I looked, the only thing I could see
Was her face

Still standing underneath the waterfall
Trying to fill a cup of tea
Still listening for the footsteps in the hall
When she comes back home to me

If time slowed down I could understand
How a breath of air is like a grain of sand
And why it takes so long to make love last
No matter how well it's planned
Given the time, the friends I left behind
Would surely disappear
And I'll wake up once more on the bedroom floor
The way I've done after all of these years

Still pounding wooden nails in the wall
Still gonna paint my masterpiece
Still listening for the footsteps in the hall
When she comes back home to me
Track Name: She Knew Elvis
Well, she said she knew Elvis, said she used to be his friend
Yeah she said she knew Elvis, like the back of her hand
And who was I to doubt her, someone had to know the man

She drove a Lincoln Continental, that she’d got in ’75
She drove a Lincoln Continental, he gave her just before he died
And who was I to doubt her, she just glowed with pride

She said she’d often been mistaken for Priscilla, don’t ya see
Said she’d also been mistaken for Lisa Marie
And who was I to doubt her, who was I to disagree

I told her I knew Jimi Hendrix, and that I wrote Purple Haze
Said I knew Paul McCartney, and I taught him to play bass
She said she believed me, then she laughed in my face

Well, she said she knew Elvis, she had the mean woman blues
Yeah she said she knew Elvis, she had the blue suede shoes
And who was I to doubt her, she had the photos…
Track Name: Candy
Candy & I used to run around, tearing up this one horse town
Everyone looked down their nose, the so-called respectable folk
Too much was never enough for Candy, skulling pills & popping brandy
Snorting everything in sight, shooting up anything that looked white
Candy

At the old park by the riverside, we'd dance & play all thru the nite
She'd lift her head & laugh out loud, man that girl was awfully proud
Late in May she gave me the flick, called me a worthless son-of-a-bitch
She talked funny & acted strange, everyone could feel the change
In Candy

I'd take you back, we'd settle down
All your friends could still come around
Time's short, please say yes
Don't tell me about your self-respect
Candy

Candy lost her girlish gait, her eyes grew dark & she was losing weight
Her hair’d thinned & turned to straw, took both hands to hold her jaw
We called the doc, he did some tests, got the news, it weren't the best
Candy just said c'est la vie, it was all the French she learned from me
Candy
She carried on like she was made of steel, acted like she couldn't feel
Greeted each new day with a smile, the doctor said she's just in denial
I got a van at the trailer park, for Candy & me & me broken heart
Every day I'd sit by her side, every nite she'd hear me cry
For Candy

I'll take you back, we'll settle down
All your friends will still come around
Time's short, baby please say yes
Don't talk to me about self-respect
Candy

Candy died late last May, it was hard watching her waste away
But the pride in that woman was strong, she fought so hard just to hold on

Now I sit alone in that riverside park, where we used to dance & play in the dark
Thinking that we'd live forever, Candy taught me to never say never
Candy
Track Name: Mother Mary
Mother Mary
Mary waits at the Tudor Hotel
Strong and assured, yet so feminine
Stands so firm, not so much for herself
As for the unborn baby she carries within

She’s there to decide on the right thing to do
Should she run away, and never look back
Or to go back home and face the truth
Cause her future’s about to catch up her past

Take your time, Mother Mary
Step light so you don’t fall
You know, life’s just like a baby
We all want to walk before we crawl

She looks through her bag on the marble tiles
A photograph of a brown-eyed man
She keeps it close, she says for her child
Should he ever need to see his Dad

She breathes a sigh and whispers his name
Too many things still left unsaid
Mostly pride, and just a little shame
This world doesn’t like its mothers unwed
ch

An old woman stares out the window, lonely and lost
An old couple sits at a table, and Mary thinks, that could be us

Mary waits at the Tudor Hotel
Picks up her bag, makes up her mind
The doors revolve like a circus carousel
Takes one last look, says goodbye
ch
Track Name: Dylan
Well I drove into town last Sunday
With one thing on my mind
Get my kid and get on the road
Leave the past behind
We were married five long years
Sometimes it don’t work out
But try explaining that to a child
When he asks you what it’s all about

He’ll say, why can’t mommy and daddy live together
Why can’t mommy and daddy get along
Why can’t friends and family stick together
If everybody’s right, then who’s wrong

We named our boy Dylan
Just like Zimmerman
And tried to raise him as best we could
Our folks would understand
But Mary ran off late in May
With some guy from a band
And for eighteen months I raised my son
With my own two hands

Then she turned up with some lawyer
He had a paper from the court
Dylan had to go and live with her
I paid child support
Now we’re driving down the highway
Just me and my boy at my side
And as he’s staring out the window
He hangs his head and sighs

He says, why can’t mommy and daddy live together
Why can’t mommy and daddy get along
Why can’t friends and family stick together
If everybody’s right, then who’s wrong
Track Name: Rain
she’s sitting in her favourite chair
look at all that land out there
homemade wine in her hand
she don’t go for the fancy brands
another day’s work is done
another evening soon to come
silver clouds in an angry sky
she drains her glass
looks like it’s gonna rain tonight

he’s riding on a dusty track
thinks he should be heading back
too little hours in the day
too many bills left still to pay
one man against the earth
one dream left in the dirt
pulls his hat down against the sun
he saddles up
looks like it’s gonna rain tonight

running down an alley lane
he finds an empty doorway
he crouches down against the wind
pulls a shoestring under his chin
thinks about ‘em on the farm
rolls his sleeve up his tortured arm
lights a match, heats a dirty spoon
til the needle fills
looks like it’s gonna rain
I think it’s gonna rain
Track Name: Talking St. Kilda Blues
I first met Louie in 1986 he was hanging around St. Kilda, down by the pier
We got to talking about politics and injustice
Louie said let’s go across to the Esplanade and have a beer
The barmaid was Annie, at least I think that was her name
I ordered a VB stubby, Louie ordered the same
Then he turned to me with a crazy grin
And said, man, I’m gonna tell you something I ain’t told nobody

Louie gazed around the bar, slowly, like he was looking for someone he knew
And then lowered his voice and spoke without moving his mouth much
The way Humphrey Bogart used to do
He said, everybody got a secret, they got something to hide
But me, I’m a little different, you see, I just killed this guy
And then our eyes met for just a second, and I knew he was serious
I knew I was a little scared

I whispered, so why’d you kill him anyway
And then I looked around to see if anyone had heard
Louie said, it was over this gambling debt thing, he got all my money
And all I got was his word
Cause they’ll always rip you off, it’s just a matter of when
Some do it with a gun, man, some do it with a pen
Louie put down his beer and smiled
And said, you shoulda seen the look on that guy’s face
And I was glad I hadn’t

I finished my beer and said, look, I gotta run
Louie said, hey, can I get a lift, there’s some people I gotta meet
So we walked out and got in my old Falcon
Started it up and headed up Fitzroy Street
Louie pulled out a matchbook, on the back someone drew
A map and an address, somewhere out in Kew
And Louie said, I’ll bet we can get there in ten minutes
I said, no thanks, I don’t bet, not anymore

So we pulled up to this house, there were no lights on, it was all black
And Louie opened the car door and said come on in for a minute
You gotta see this talking dog they got out back
And I said, what? He said, they got a talking dog out back
So I forgot about that other thing and got out of the car
And followed Louie up to the house

Louie knocked on the heavy old door, slowly creaked open like it wasn’t latched
We went inside a couple of steps, it was pitch black, Louie said, you got a match
And I gave him one
Then he lit it up, I could see the back door
Just getting a look at that dog was all that I came for
So I left Louie in the hallway and went out to check out the back yard
Then I stepped out in the grass
It looked like it hadn’t been mowed in at least a year
And out in the middle sat this old spotted mongrel
With three legs and one ear
I knew right then I’d been taken for a fool
Why this dog couldn’t talk, it just sat there and drooled
just then I heard a couple voices coming from inside the house
And one of them was Louie’s

So I listened closely, trying to hear what was being said
But all I could make out was something about not really being dead
And then I heard a shot, something hit the floor
Man, I ain’t ever been this scared before
Then a deep voice behind me said, come on, there’s a gate around the side
Let’s get out of here – and I ran like hell

Then I jumped in my old Falcon, fired it up and put the pedal straight to the floor
Man, I did a hundred and ten through Hawthorn, through Caulfield
Hit the Princes Highway, I didn’t stop til I got to the ocean shore
Then I let out a sigh, sat back in the seat
Almost jumped through the roof when I saw that dog at my feet
And that dog just looked at me with a funny look on its face and said nothing
I wasn’t surprised

Anyway, I eventually moved back to Sydney and got a job selling newspapers
Down at Central Station
I read them everyday but I never read anything about Louie
I guess he never got a mention
So the moral of the story is, never be too sure
Check out all the facts and don’t be too premature
And remember what Louie said about secrets, and about pens

By the way, the dog’s name is Freddie
And he really does talk
Track Name: French Cafe
In a French café, under the moonlight
Feel like I’m living in a Truffaut film
In a French café, under the moonlight
And I can’t walk away again

I spent a year or three or four astray
But it still feels like yesterday
How do you know when you’ve done the right thing
Can you feel, with a heart of steel
For all the miles that I’ve crawled this year
I never expected to see you quite so clear
Spent too many nights making my home at the bar
But here we are

Still got that feeling, I swear it’ll never end
Dragging me down, down, down
It’s like a scene in a magazine
Like a postcard from a town
Track Name: Dirty Blue Jeans
Well, she married a millionaire by the time she was seventeen
But she soon got tired of competing with the bourgeois scene
For her twenty-first birthday, he bought her a French resort
The very next day, she spent in divorce court
Now she’s living like a queen, in her dirty blue jeans

She started hanging out with a shady mob
Who always seemed to have lots of money
But none of them had jobs
She’d only read about drugs in the magazines
But once she got a taste of this expensive cuisine
She had to sell most everything, except her dirty blue jeans

They sent her to some bar that she’d never been before
It was the only place that time of day she could score
The cops busted in and caught her trying to leave
With five grams of smack stuffed up inside her sleeve
And an ounce of mescaline in her dirty blue jeans

Six months at the clinic like some derelict drunk
A thousand bucks a day to get her off that junk
Spent all the cash that she’d won in the divorce
But she could always marry another rich boy, of course
Now she’s living real clean in her dirty blue jeans
Track Name: Still Waters Run
Don’t need road maps to tell me where to go
Don’t need postcards from people I should know
Don’t need lawyers to plead insanity
Take ‘em all away, they don’t mean a thing to me

Cause I don’t need nothing, I don’t need anyone
But you can find me at the river, where the still waters run

Don’t need memories of lovers I have lost
Don’t want pleasure, cause I can’t afford the cost
Don’t want lessons that I got no chance to learn
Take me to the river, I got a bridge I gotta burn

Don’t ask questions that I got no right to know
Don’t ask favours from people I still owe
Don’t ask why it’s got to be this way
Cause in this great big ocean, I’m the original castway
Track Name: Low Rent Part Of Town
My family ain’t got money, I still wear hand-me-downs
We live in a shack by the freight train track
In the low rent part of town

My girl that I wanna marry, she’s from a wealthy background
She can’t date or associate with a boy
From the low rent part of town

Some day we’ll be together, she’ll wear that wedding gown
Until then I’ll spend my days, in the low rent part of town

I got me a job with the circus, working the merry-go-round
It’s the best I can do cause they closed all the schools
In the low rent part of town

I saved up all my money, so I could take her for a big night out
But her dad said go back to my own kind
In the low rent part of town

Some day we’ll be together, she’ll wear that wedding gown
Until then I’ll spend my days, in the low rent part of town

In this world, there’s two kinds of people, those with money and those without
And I’ll scrimp and scrape so I can escape,
From the low rent part of town

I hope we’ll be together, I hope she’ll wear that gown
I’ll spend my days and my lonely nights
In the low rent part of town

Some day we’ll be together, she’ll wear that wedding gown
Until then I’ll spend my days
In the low rent part of town
Track Name: Angeltown
Johnny lives on a corner in Angeltown
In a house that his grandad built, they nearly tore it down
To make way for the freeway and the shopping mall
He heard it was something called the urban sprawl

The more things change, the less they stay the same
In Angeltown, in Angeltown Living in A….. living in Angeltown

Johnny loved his hometown, he didn’t like the change
Daddy said, now ain’t that progress, but don’t those words sound strange
Johnny walked thru Angeltown with his last five bucks
Bought a ticket in the lottery trying to buy some luck

The more things change, the less they stay the same
In Angeltown, in Angeltown Living in A….. living in Angeltown

It’s a strange old world, no reason or rhyme
It’s a strange old world, where things work out sometimes

So Johnny won the lottery, became a billionaire, and he said,
There’s things in Angeltown that need repair
So he bought up the freeways, he bought the shopping malls
Tore ‘em down, turned ‘em back into grounds where they still play ball

And the more things change, the more they stay the same
In Angeltown, in Angeltown Living in A….. living in Angeltown
Track Name: Streets Of Shame
The old man wore a grey uniform I recognized from the war
He just sat there in that old armchair, drenched right to the bone
A woman’s voice called from the other room, I think it’s time for you to go
I mumbled something underneath my breath, turned and walked out the door

And the fire, the funeral pyre, burning all night long
There’s no turning back anymore, it’s just rain
Down came the rain, on the streets of shame
Rain, smothering the flames, on the streets of shame

I walked out on a dusty road filled with traffic lights
Jesus Christ got into a cab and said, take me to the Israelites
And there sitting at a sidewalk café, looked like Arthur C. Clarke
He said, sit with me and dine, have a glass of wine, don’t be afraid of the dark

And the fire, the funeral pyre, burning all night long
There’s no turning back anymore, it’s just rain
Down came the rain, on the streets of shame
Rain, smothering the flames, on the streets of shame

The old man was there, still sitting in his chair in the middle of the road
He didn’t speak for a very long time, then he just said hello
He held out his arms and in his hands was an old grey uniform
And on the collar was a medal that read, sheltered from the storm

And the fire, the funeral pyre, burning all night long
There’s no turning back anymore, it’s just rain
Down came the rain, on the streets of shame
Rain, smothering the flames, on the streets of shame
Rain, hey look at all that rain, on the streets of shame
Rain, falling down like flames, on the streets of shame
Track Name: Strangers
Strangers come and strangers go, I guess that’s strange enough
They say don’t ever trust a stranger, and never call his bluff
The cards on the table, they’re dealt by Cain and Abel
A stranger once taught me about all that stuff

Strangers look like you and me, or at least I think they do
Strangers speak Swahili, and they live in Kalamazoo
They’ll tell you that the anecdote is just a technicolour raincoat
And if you can afford it, you can always get the tattoo

Strangers everywhere, strangers by the pair
All around town and across the nation
It’s an alarming situation, strangers, everywhere

Strangers live on tree-lined streets and sleep on park benches
Strangers walk on wooden feet and sit on picket fences
Some strangers have their own TV shows and watch their dough
And trade their bungalow for big palacial residences

A stranger is a friend you’ve never met
I read that on a bus, I couldn’t say who wrote it
That’s be impetuous
Strangers just might change, ah wouldn’t that be strange
And one day, they might become one of us

Strangers everywhere, strangers by the pair
All around town and across the nation
It’s an alarming situation, strangers, everywhere