Songs for the Hangman's Daughter

by Mark Rubin - Jew of Oklahoma

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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,
( The shirt I'm wearing in the illustration is the one Don Walser gifted me on his deathbed.


all rights reserved



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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Track Name: The Shipwrecked Man
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
Track Name: Single Joint
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.
Track Name: The Hangman's Daughter
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.
Track Name: Southern Jews Is Good News
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
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.
Track Name: Slow Moving Trainwreck
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
Track Name: Royal Street Shuffle
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?”
Track Name: Play All By Myself
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
Track Name: Vi Iz Dus Gesele?
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
Track Name: Ballpeen Clawhammer
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
Track Name: Teshuvah
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

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
Track Name: Rainbow Sign
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
Track Name: Sugar Hill
Bang a langa langa
Track Name: The Dark Side Has Doughnuts
Why is it that our fellow man

Can oft times be so cruel

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

To unleash their latent wickedness

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

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