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Songs for the Hangman's Daughter

by Mark Rubin, Jew of Oklahoma

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Shipwrecked Man (by Kevin “shinyribs” Russel) I woke up on the wrong side of the bed turned a stone inside out and call it my head got choked up thinking about what she did I wanted to kill everything filled with hate and misery I remembered the story about a shipwreck man he cursed and cursed the ocean from his little lost and lonely land from himself he was never saved to his grave he went with fists of rage I went back to sleep and dreamed a dream about a mermaid and a merchant Marine in the ocean tears she said are not what they seem I was afraid of the wind but the storm it passed and I was whole again I'm not going to live like that ship wrecked man cursing the ocean from my solitary sand I want to be saved in peace and love carried to my grave
Single Joint 02:28
When I was a young man you tempted fate just to get yerself high And you hid it good from everyone you met and from the Cops yer always terrified But they got all kinda of smoke now not just the Mexican Red of yore And cash strapped states across the nation have turned their back on this Drug War t’s hard for me to comprehend, this change up in attitudes It’s treated like a medicine, prescribed to change your moods But it wasn’t that long ago friends, and to illustrate my point Your life was literally ended, if caught poor with a single joint It was a single joint, that’s all you got But they could ruin your life for good And the ugly truth is that your only crime is that you’re from the wrong neighborhood Well the rich man’s son can do as he like’s, to the cops it’s well understood But for a single joint, and being poor They could ruin your life for good I got friends up in Oklahoma they sitting in a prison cell today For being the wrong skin color and pulled a judge they could not sway Can you imagine how they feel now? When that same joint is legal today And the rich man’s son now prospers with his new dispensary There’s far too many families once strong now broken apart When the Judges fill up new the prisons the private sector takes ‘em ala carte The overworked Defender is not much help and all alone in court there you stood With a third strikeout for just a single joint they’ll ruin your life for good.
I’ll teach the hangman’s daughter to sing my people’s song For the Hangman’s labors all those people are long gone I’ll show the Hangman’s daughter our haunting melodies Since no one’s left to sing them now, so won’t you sing with me. I’ve gone across the ocean, to see where we came from But there’s nothing left to see there now, after all that’s been done Those very few who persevered, now they sing a different song But I only know the old strains and the new tune sounds so wrong Well the Hangman was a neighbor, and we thought we got along We tried our best to blend right in, we even learn his songs But that the neighbor is a hangman now, he hums a new refrain His marching bands may drown us out, but our song remains the same For I’ll teach the hangman's daughter to sing my family song If not for this guileless child, then who will sing along? There’s no one left to gather round and to intone these melodies Without the hangman’s children, the song would be just me.
Words and Music M. Rubin "There’s Jews in Oklahoma?” asks the average landsman “And Mississippi, Tennessee and sunny Alabam?” “Heck ya says I, kan machs a lieb. Is this to you some news? For NYC seems quite exotic to us Southern Jews We’re mostly in the Agri business, like Tevye milking cows You can pick our farms out from the rest by the absence of any sows Our Yankee kin’s poor manners, we often must excuse No pigs in our poke, no we ain’t no joke, we’re down home Southern Jews We take the bacon off our cheese burgers and we greet with a "howdy ya’ll" We drive to schul on Shabbes in our best pressed overalls We’re famous for our BBQ, it’s kosher beef so you can’t refuse Wears a trucker cap for a kipa, the streimel of a Southern Jew CH To some down here we pass for white, say “at least they sure ain’t Black” That might be true for some down here but you always gotta watch your back Our skin tone give us some relief, some days we get to choose You gotta navigate your privileges, when you live as a Southern Jew Tell ya ‘bout Judah Benjamin, Confederate Sec. of War On the wrong side of history, well it’s true our arc was bent In the war of Northern Aggression they think they got a higher score But look around today, you really gotta say, they sho-nuf lost the War. Did we kill your Lord? Hell yes we did! Bring him back and we’ll kill em again! And the good old boys all belly laugh cuz we’re all the best of friends Now that sort of talk might shock you, in fact it might confuse It’s tsouris like that all the live long day, when you’re life is a Southern Jew.
Each morning I wake and it starts, it says I’m ugly and not that smart When I shower it tells me who deserves to my worst This voice inside my mind, instructs me who I should malign How to hurt them and where to hide their corpse It’s my constant companion, this dark narrative Of misery compounded tenfold An observer I witness, my own mental illness It’s a slow moving trainwreck, I’m told There’s a long trail of upset folks, if my name said it only evokes Foul memories, the results of my poor decisions Unhinged, and on the loose, replicating my own abuse It’s a wonder that I’ve yet to land in prison It’s my constant companion, this long recitation Of great heights and lows uncontrolled Unable to challenge, this chemical imbalance Like a slow moving trainwreck, I’m told Weary of the voices that orchestrates all my choices This behavior, my friends say has to end. They’ve been there all this time, these dear pals of mine For every rant and tortured distraction It’s my constant companion, this new revelation To reckon with all that I’ve done Without medications, just shy of sedation I’ll be a slow moving trainwreck, I’m told
I knew a Zulu drumming master, with complexion alabaster Made his living teaching African percussion Studied every single beat, but he beats a quick retreat Should you wish to challenge his appropriation It can be a shock if you’ve never heard a “no. Well there seems to be a fad, amongst the monied college grads To dramatize the lives of Southern poor folk With their banjos and their boots, in hipster honky tonks they scoot Imitating those they don’t much really care for Never crossed their mind they’d ever hear a “no.” There’s a strange fascination, with women in this nation To claim to be a Cherokee Princess Sure the natives safely dead, crown of feathers on her head But the Trail of Tears her family never dealt with From the Rez a buffalo moans out a “no.” Have you ever heard “no?” Anyplace you cannot go? Is everything you find just for your pleasure? With privilege you exert, thoughtless pain and untold hurt Gentrifying yet another culture’s treasures? Can tell me that you’ve ever heard a “no?” There’s hobo Balkan band, blowing in a backyard jam Playing tunes they learned from folk dance records Do they care or even wonder, about the folks from whom they plunder? Or the awful trials those people had to suffer? From their mass graves in Screbenica I heard faint “no.” The caucasian bluesman sat, with dark glasses and a hat On a stage a thousand miles from any Delta They say he come up from the south, a bogus accent in his mouth But the urbans kids don’t care to know the difference Have you ever heard a “no?” Found no place you cannot go? Can you walk through any door at your leisure? Speaking English and yer white white, does that gives you the right To take anything you find just for your pleasure Have you no manners at all? Tell me, have you ever heard “no?”
I didn’t get into this, to play all by myself I’ve found it much more fun when I play with someone else To be a solo act, was never my goal But here I am before you, a solitary soul Singer-Songwriters are uniformly jerks Conceited prima donas with unpleasant quirks Oh how they do annoy me, they all bore me to tears But a recent cost analysis says alone that I’ll be here And now that i’m amongst them, I’ll guess I’ll eat some crow We’re actually warrior poets, much like troubadours of old And since the time of Ovid, on this thought you should dwell That people like a good story and they like them told well (This solo devoted to Don Walser) So I’m signing up here tonight, alone in my songs My picking just about alright, but more than often wrong There’s lots of cats I know well who can pull it off by themself But I confide I’m terrified to have to play all by myself cuz’ I didn’t get into this, to play all by myself Yer brain it literally changes when there’s somebody else To be a solo act was never in my plans But here I am before you, a solitary man
Vu iz dus gesele, Vu iz di shtib, Vu iz dus meydele, wemen ich hob lieb Ot iz dus gesele, Ot iz di shtib, Ot iz dus meydele, Wemen ich hob lieb Where are the streets and the alleys I roamed Where is that cute gal and here went her home There’s no more streets now, or homes you can go That gal she don’t live there no more The plaque on its door says this once was a Schul Abandoned and empty, it once was a jewel But the locals pay no mind and most did not know It’s kept for the tourists, but only just so But where are the chassids and the beit midrash The schneider, the schadchen, the maschke mash You won’t find the pious or Rye in a cask No tailor, matchmaker, they’ve all turned to ash And where are the rabbis, the Aron Chodesh The cantor, the schammes the bima, the rest The rabbis are gone now, the Torahs all burnt Once there were Jews here and now there aren’t
Ball peen or claw hammer In the glove box of my truck Ball peen or clawhammer Might just be your bad luck Ball peen claw hammer Ostensibly a tool Ball peen or claw hammer Gonna lay low some fool Well you’ve broken the bonds that we trusted and the gears of love have gone rusted and my soul lies broken and busted but these hammers gonna pound to dusted Ball peen or claw hammer From the hardware store Ball peen or clawhammer Send you to Evermore Ball peen claw hammer Gonna go knock, knock Ball peen or claw hammer Gonna clean some clocks You might have done it before Other hearts you’ve left on the floor But that’ll never happen no more These hammers gonna settle the score
Teshuvah 04:00
Can feel the ancient sting? Can you hear that old bell ring When your neighbors they don't need you anymore Where will you now turn, when it’s your home they’ve come to burn? You may do as we’ve always done before Come home, come on home. Shuvu-na, Teshuva, come on home. No matter who you think you are, you will only get so far Remember it's their game and they can change the rules For today it may not show, but very soon they all will know When you are singled out for being not like one of them. Oh today it’s true we’re free, no Ghetto Walls do we see And it feels like it could never end (it really does) But be sure they’ll come a day, and when it is no one can say When we’ll need one and can’t find a single friend Refrain: I’m told there's a land, far off in the sand That’s reserved for our sisters and brothers But who would we be to we call ourselves free On a land that was taken from others? So don't forget how we got here, and best you hold each other dear In the end we are to be our only friends. Always giving them our best, we’ve uplifted all the rest But when it suits them, they would round us up again
Rainbow Sign 02:09
God said “Noah build an Ark” I’m gonna drown these wicked lands. God said “Noah build an Ark” Drown every beast and child and man Build a boat he called an “Ark” And with your kin you must embark On this boat He called an “Ark” Noah had him three grown sons Worked on the Ark each everyone Noah had him three grown sons Toiled day and night till it was done With three sons was Noah blessed These sons to join his holy quest Named Shem, Ham and Japheth Then 2 by 2 they came onboard Way out across from distant lands Then 2 by 2 they came onboard From the forest and the sands 2 by 2 they came onboard All to join the Holy horde 2 by 2 they came onboard 40 days and 40 nights Way out on the stormy seas 40 days and 40 nights No dry land could be seen 40 days and 40 nights To the promise, he clung tight 40 days and 40 nights And Noah got that Rainbow sign Across the sky its colors shine God gave us a Rainbow sign So set it well upon your mind When we see that Rainbow sign It signifies the love divine Love and peace to be enshrined
Sugar Hill 01:32
Bang a langa langa
1 Why is it that our fellow man 2 Can oft times be so cruel 5 Seems these days the Dark Side 5/7 1 Has replaced the Golden Rule All appeals to our morality Every argument falls flat For the Dark Side has doughnuts and you can’t compete with that 4 1 So the Dark Side has doughnuts 5 1 Seems for some that all iit takes 4 To unleash their latent wickedness 5 And a Darth Lord they will make The Force exists in balance Pitting dark against the light But the Emperor saves the donut holes Who could resist just a little bite? You may think yourself a Jedi And to the Light Side you always bend But if we’re really being honest here You’re more a Sith Lord in the end Yes, the Dark side has donuts Might not sound like a big deal But once you’ve had their donuts You’d understand the appeal So when you need a sugar buzz and No lard soaked dough is found For donuts, see the Dark Side There’s plenty to go round


Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and now living in New Orleans, multi-instrumentalist Mark Rubin is an unabashed Southern Jew, known equally for his muscular musicianship and larger-than-life persona. Over an accomplished 30+ year career, he has accompanied or produced a virtual who’s-who of American traditional music.

His latest striped down folk effort "Songs for the Hangman's Daughter" is an eclectic and personal collection of original songs featuring much of Rubin’s diverse musical lexicon, but most of all expresses ongoing efforts to reconcile his multiple musical identities as a culturally Jewish musician operating in the American South.

Each track is a live take of just me and one instrument, in most cases the first take. 11 original compositions, one from Kevin "shinyribs" Russell, a banjo instrumental and a fun old Bad Livers tune.

I'm proud of it and I want you to have it. Donate if you are so moved, but please do share with a friend if you do like it.


released March 28, 2017

Mark Rubin, vocals and all instruments, each one at a time.

Recorded by Matt Smith at 6 String Ranch in Austin Texas with assistance by Kristopher Wade. Mastering by Jerry Tubb Mastering,

Cover art by Howard Rains,
(spencerandrains.com/art/) The shirt I'm wearing in the illustration is the one Don Walser gifted me on his deathbed.


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Mark Rubin, Jew of Oklahoma New Orleans, Louisiana

Oklahoma-born, Texas-reared, and now living in New Orleans, multi-instrumentalist Mark Rubin is an unabashed Southern Jew.

Known equally for his muscular musicianship and larger-than-life persona. Over an accomplished 30+ year career, he has accompanied or produced a virtual who’s-who of American traditional music. With Danny Barnes, he founded Pioneer Proto-Americana band the Bad Livers
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