Rani Arbo &
daisy mayhem

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Some Bright Morning

Released in 2012

$12.00

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Recorded almost completely live, this one is an agnostic gospel revival, full of singing, dancing, and quietly wondering songs that ask big questions and celebrate the human spirit.

In our second recording with Chris Rival, we tried to capture the unedited energy of a live performance. The result is a mix of songs alternately hushed and a little wild, from traditional tunes (“I’ll Fly Away, Travelin’ Shoes), to covers (like Springsteen’s “Reason to Believe”) and originals, including Rani’s setting of Tennyson’s “Crossing the Bar.”

Click on the track listings below to see liner notes and lyrics. Or download them here.

  1. Travelin’ Shoes
    Traditional

    One night, Rani started singing this song at a sound check (where quite a few of our songs have had their genesis). A beat just rolled out of me, and Andrew and Anand started percolating sparse and funky parts to go along with it. This is a powerful song, especially when the whole audience joins us on the choruses. It combines my favorite things in music: a killer groove, great vocals, and chilling harmonies. I could play this drum groove all night long: gutsy, laid back, spacious and simple. Thanks to Ray for
    putting the whole song over the top with his wicked harp. — SK

     

    Well Death walked up into my Mama’s door
    He said, come on, Mama, aren’t you ready to go?
    And my Mama stooped down, buckled up her shoes
    And she moved on down by the Jordan stream
    And then she shout

    Hallelujah!
    Done done my duty

    Got on my travelin’ shoes

    Death walked up into my sister’s door…
    Death walked up into my neighbor’s door…
    Death walked up into my preachers’ door…
    Death walked up into my front door…

  2. Fire In The Sky
    Andrew Kinsey (Ditty Ditty Old Man Music)

    We decided to exhume this song of mine from the Salamander Crossing archive. Not only does it fit the album’s theme of love, death, and other natural disasters, but it also had taken on a satisfying new creepiness with the addition of the banjo and electric guitar. I wrote it in the mid -1990’s after an arson in Plainfield, Massachusetts, near my home.  — AK

     

    What’s a man to do?
    What’s a man to say?
    He works his whole life through
    Then just slips away

    Well it’s fire, fire, fire in the sky
    Fire, fire, heaven’s burning
    Fire, fire, fire in the sky
    You can’t go home no more

    Well if I’ve lived a year
    Then I’ve lived sixty-six
    I’ve lived them mostly here
    Where you see that pile of bricks

    I’ll tell you what I’ve seen
    And I’ll tell you what I’ve learned
    There ain’t a thing more mean
    Than a home that’s been robbed and burned

  3. East Virginia (The East Virginia Blues)
    Traditional, Arrangement by Rani Arbo & daisy mayhem

    The East Virginia Blues, which we’ve called East Virginia, is one of those tunes that shows you just why old-time music is still around. It’s so simple and understated, and by the time you’ve heard one verse it’s already nestled under your skin. I don’t know when I first heard it, partly because it has so many melodic cousins, sisters, uncles and aunts, but I clearly remember hearing Ramblin’ Jack Elliot perform it at the Iron Horse Music Hall in what must have been 2006. Not long after, I heard Scott messing around with this beat, and I started playing the song. It seemed like a stretch at first, and it probably was. It took all the intervening time to bring it to a place that feels natural, open and beautiful, the way the song is to begin with. “I don’t want your greenback dollar, I don’t want your watch and chain, all I want is to see my darlin’ and be in her arms again”. Feels to me like a song about the modern world. – AN

     

    I was born in East Virginia
    North Carolina I did roam
    There I met a fair young maiden
    Her name and age I did not know

    Well her hair was dark and curly
    And her cheeks were rosy red
    On her breast she wore white linen
    Where I long to lay my head

    I don’t want your greenback dollar
    I don’t want your watch and chain
    All I want is to see my darlin’
    And be in her arms again

  4. Crossing The Bar
    Text by Alfred Lord Tennyson; music by Rani Arbo

    Scott’s grandmother, Elizabeth May, inspired this setting of Tennyson’s famous poem, which he wrote at age 81. The first words of the poem were the last words she spoke, at age 97, in her beloved home overlooking the Potomac River Valley. I am overjoyed that this song has found its way to the hospice choir movement, thanks in part to Peter Amidon’s beautiful choral arrangement. We recorded this in 1998 with Salamander Crossing, and it was time to sing it again. This is a simple version, almost a lullaby.   – RA

     

    Sunset and evening star,
    And one clear call for me!
    And may there be no moaning of the bar,
    When I put out to sea,

    But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
    When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

    Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark;

    For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
    The flood may bear me far,
    I hope to see my Pilot face to face
    When I have crost the bar.

  5. Fall River
    Andrew Kinsey (Ditty Ditty Old Man Music)

    For all of its staccato notey-ness, clawhammer banjo music has always sounded like moving water to me. I wrote this ditty before a gig in Fall River, Massachusetts. — AK

  6. Johnny Brown
    Traditional, from the singing of Bessie Jones, Georgia Sea Islands

    Johnny Brown is one of our favorite Georgia Sea Islands songs. There’s a circle game that goes with it, involving folding a small cloth corner by corner and then making up dance moves in the center of the ring. Anand knew this from way back, and Rani and I have taught it to many kids over the years. We weren’t actually planning to record it; we launched into it as a palate-cleanser in between some takes of Fire in the Sky, and Chris, who is always listening for what’s interesting, hit record (we didn’t even know he’d done it until afterwards). The song has such a great groove already built in — I feel like all we did was jump on and ride it, not knowing where it was going to take us that day. — SK

     

    Little Johnny Brown, lay your comfort down
    Little Johnny Brown, lay your comfort down

    Fold one corner, Johnny Brown
    Fold another corner, Johnny Brown (x3)

    Make a little motion, Johnny Brown (x4)

    Lope like a buzzard (x4)

    Take it to your lover, Johnny Brown (x4)

  7. Will Your House Be Blessed?
    J.B. Spencer (Beann Adair Music)

    We learned this from Harry Manx, as he sang it to a packed hillside at Blissfest in Michigan (one of our favorite festivals). We have been singing it for years, but only recently found out that its author is the late John B. Spencer, English crime fiction writer and bluesman. Here’s a Youtube posting of him singing it (including the last verse, which we didn’t know existed!). — RA

     

    Let it go, let it go, let it go go go
    Let your sword of vengeance rest
    Do the blind lead the blind, don’t be cruel to be kind
    Only then will your house be blessed

    Offer prayer, offer prayer, offer sweet sweet prayer
    To your uninvited guest
    Won’t you give him the right to be welcome through the night
    Only then will your house be blessed

    Turn your cheek, turn your cheek, turn your other cheek
    May your mercy manifest
    When the hawk and the dove fly in circles round your love
    Only then will your house be blessed

    Let it go, let it go, let it go go go
    Let your sword of vengeance rest
    Do the blind lead the blind, don’t be cruel to be kind
    Only then will your house be blessed

  8. Reason To Believe
    Bruce Springsteen (Bruce Springsteen)

    I came to Springsteen later on, long after most people. It was discovering the songs of his “Nebraska” album that did it for me. I love the way these songs observe without judging. They take you right there, to where you can stand right next to the people he’s singing about and feel what they feel. Like a lot of Springsteen, the stories in “Reason To Believe” will have different meanings, depending on who is doing the listening, or the singing, for that matter. — AN

     

    Seen a man standin’ over a dead dog lyin’ by the highway in a ditch
    He’s lookin’ down kinda puzzled pokin’ that dog with a stick
    Got his car door flung open he’s standin’ out on highway 31
    Like if he stood there long enough that dog’d get up and run

    Struck me kinda funny, seemed kinda funny sir to me
    Still at the end of every hard day, people find some reason to believe

    Now Mary Lou loved Johnny with a love mean and true
    She said baby I’ll work for you everyday and bring my money home to you
    One day he up and left her, and ever since that
    She waits down at the end of that dirt road for young Johnny to come back

    Struck me kinda funny, funny yea indeed
    How at the end of every hard earned day, you can find some reason to believe

    Take a baby to the river Kyle William they called him
    Wash the baby in the water, take away little Kyle’s sin
    In a whitewash shotgun shack, an old man passes away
    Take the body to the graveyard and over him they pray

    Lord won’t you tell us, tell us what does it mean
    At the end of every hard earned day, people find some reason to believe

    Congregation gathers down by the riverside
    Preacher stands with his bible, groom stands waitin’ for his bride
    Congregation gone, and the sun sets behind a weepin’ willow tree
    Groom stands alone and watches the river rush on so effortlessly

    And he’s wonderin’, where can his baby be
    Still at the end of every hard earned day, people find some reason to believe

  9. Miami Moon
    Rani Arbo (c. 2011, Jinn Mill Music)

    When my late neighbor Rudy was in his 80s, he spent an afternoon telling me swashbuckling stories of his dancing days on the cruise ships in Miami, where he and his wife used to go on vacation. After our conversation, I hurried home and wrote down as much as I could remember; many of Rudy’s words made it into this song. Mark Erelli’s steel playing has a grace and a swagger that remind me of him – and transports this tune right to the dance hall. – RA

     

    Oh they could really see me comin’
    I was a man of grace and passion
    My blue silk shirt, her pleated skirt
    We were made for dancing
    Those summer nights away
    On the boats out in the bay
    No one could twirl her like I do
    No other girl ever knew me

    That Miami moon rose up so high
    Shining on you and the sea
    Over the girls and the cruise ship lights
    Over you and me

    I’d wear my shirt unbuttoned
    Just the first few, you know
    Makes a man feel like a man with that
    Little glint of gold
    She always pinned her hair up tight
    And I would spin it wild
    No one could touch us on the floor
    Even the band called out for more

    That Miami moon rose up so high
    Shining on you and the sea
    Over the crowd as they dimmed the lights
    Over you and me

    And now my legs ain’t working
    But they still hear the call
    On Friday nights, they got a guy
    Plays music down the hall
    He ain’t as good as they used to be
    But he gets along just fine
    And if I had her here with me
    I would show ‘em how it’s done

    Cause that Miami moon went down so fast
    Shining on you and the sea
    In the dancing room the band calls out
    One last tune for me

  10. I'll Fly Away
    Traditional

    Maybe the best uke-driven version of this classic ever recorded. Maybe the only. We have played this song ever since a late-night, command performance in the lobby of an Akron, Ohio hotel. The overnight attendant required a song in return for our room keys. We obliged, she joined in on the third harmony part, we rocked the lobby, and we went to bed with smiles on. — AK

     

    One fine morning, when my life is o’er
    I’ll fly away
    To a home, on God’s celestial shore
    I’ll fly away

    I’ll fly away, oh glory, I’ll fly away
    When I die, Hallelujah by and by
    I’ll fly away

    When the shadows of this life have flown
    I’ll fly away
    Like a bird o’er the prison walls has flown
    I’ll fly away

    Just a few more weary days and then
    I’ll fly away
    To a land where joy shall never end
    I’ll fly away

  11. Bridges
    Rani Arbo (c. 2011, Jinn Mill Music)

    In August of 2011, I was in Palo Alto, California at my brother’s wedding, watching footage of Hurricane Irene ripping through some of my favorite New England towns, including Shelburne Falls, MA, Brattleboro VT, and Rochester VT, where Irene literally broke the bridge that connected two sides of town. Around the same time, some dear friends chose to split up their two-decade marriage. Those losses flooded together in this song.   – RA

     

    Build a bridge where the river flows
    Build a bridge where the river flows
    On the bank where the sweet gum grows

    Build a bridge with your sweat and labor
    Build a bridge with your sweat and labor
    But when it floods like this, nothing can save her

    And I want to walk to you
    I want to come over the raging river
    And I want to walk to you
    I want to come over

    Build a bridge, watch it tumble down
    Build a bridge, watch it tumble down
    Watch it split the heart of this tiny town

    Build a bridge, watch it break apart
    Build a bridge, watch it break apart
    Build a bridge, watch it break your heart

  12. Hear Jerusalem Moan
    Traditional song; new lyrics by Joe Craven (c. 2001 Blender Logic Arts)

    When we heard Joe Craven’s agnostic-gospel rewrite of this bluegrass classic, we knew it was for us (we left out the last verse, but you can hear it on Joe’s “Mo’ Joe” CD). Joe is one of those force-of-nature musicians, and a kindred spirit. Like our band, he lives at the crossroads of traditional and original music, the fulcrum of groove and melody, and the intersection of spit-and-polish and wild abandon. He really nailed it here: live with heart, respect the Earth, and let the music fill your spirit. This seemed like the right way to start the CD. — RA

     

    I got a home inside my soul
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan
    I know I’ll live there forever more
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan

    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan
    Thank the light there’s a rhythm and a ringin’ in my soul
    And my soul set free
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan

    Well spiritual people are a thinkin’ people
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan
    Their mind’s a church and their heart’s a steeple
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan

    Well the wind in the trees is a mighty fine preacher
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan
    Old Mother Earth she’s a mighty fine teacher
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan

    I got a leg for the rhythm and a mouth for the song
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan
    Let the music fill your spirit it won’t be long
    Can’t you hear Jerusalem moan

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