music

The Wheel Of Life

In general I think of this album as a country album and sequel to the "Bad Road. Good People" album. I am blessed to have any recordings at all due to being in constant survival mode raising a family in rural NM. These songs come from a place of experience more than the last album. Like "When We Were Big," it was recorded in 7 days pretty much. I had a small window of opportunity to make an album. I had had knee surgery and while stuck in bed had managed to write a few new songs, enough to start a new project. There were a few more bluesy songs that I had originally slated for the album but I wanted to stay pure to the country vibe.

All songs © Boris McCutcheon/Cactusman Records

  1. What ails you?
  2. Clan of the Sunflower
  3. Boxspring Plow
  4. No Place to Fall
  5. Mullein People
  6. Lee Harvey Was A Friend of Mine
  7. California
  8. Mark Twain
  9. Peeler
  10. Gila
  11. Bad Road, Good People

What Ails You?

A difficult and serious question. This song is the playful answer to it. A lot of drive with a Bakersfield country feel. A pick-me-up for the album.


I never thought you'd be so confused
By these lost-in-the fog hesitation blues
Delirious foam pours from your mouth
Your keel's in the mussels, your mind's gone south

WHAT ails you, what ails you?
Why can't you know the right thing to do?

Here you are another bright cold day
Bustin' your way through an ice choked bay
You're workin' in town again today
When you get there late they'll probably say

WHAT ails you, what ails you?
Why can't you know the right thing to do?

Like a crime scene of feathers blowin' in the wind
You thought you were clever, but you just sinned
You thought you were smart, even profound
They found out later you were screwin' around.

WHAT ails you? What ails you?
Why can't you know the right thing to do?

You let her train roar up the tracks
You can't tell an angel from a snake in the grass
Like a moth on the windshield of a tanker at sea
You can't tell when you're awake or asleep.

WHAT ails you? What ails you?
Why can't you know the right thing to do?

© Boris McCutcheon, 2010

Clan of the Sunflower

The lyrics in this song stand alone as an exceptional poem. I wrote it when I was going through a healing period of my life, while stuck in a garden. In the garden there was a little boy who built a hide-out deep inside a large sunflower patch. He would occasionally pop out of his yellow and green fortress only to scare you like a pirate "holding a tomato stake like sword". I wanted the recording to be weird, vast and timeless like a Harry Smith discovery. Did I succeed?


Headless collars at first just crowns of jade, delivering the omniscient eye of the maker,
In the riches of luxurious coffee grounds wading, till jesters of golden chandelier have been made.
Clan of a one –eyed thousand eye counting each chariot that roams the sky.
Could be Jack's beans were magic plants with the leafy ears of an elephant?
Their faces bent like shower spouts, their minds completely turned inside out.
Some can no longer hold up their heads, they kink their windpipes like the elephant man.
Clan of a one –eyed thousand eye counting each chariot that roams the sky.
Could be Jack's beans were magic plants with the leafy ears of an elephant?
" Reach for the sky!" said the little lord, holding a tomato stake like a sword.
"Who shall be the fiery king? I want to know about everything!"
Clan of a one –eyed thousand eye counting each chariot that roams the sky.
Could be Jack's beans were magic plants with the leafy ears of an elephant?
Magic flowing up a huge stem, if plants could ponder it would be them.
Brightest of lions knowing only one thing Jack's bag of beans were sunflowers!
Clan of a one –eyed thousand eye counting each chariot that roams the sky.
Could be Jack's beans were magic plants with the leafy ears of an elephant?

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Boxspring Plow

A slice of my life in high elevation, traditional Chicano New Mexico. Out here we get excited about plowing our roads with old boxsprings. The song starts off describing a 38 year old tradition of the annual "hippies vs. the locals" baseball game. The game was started to release tension between local Picuris Indians, their Chicano hybrids, and the hippies who started moving here in the 70's. If T. Rex and Greg Brown got together and wrote a song with a country swing this song would be it. The wah wah lead is the hitching up of the plow?


Wheelbarrows full of chicken, joints in every hand, softball picnics and solar-powered bands.
Lightning bursting the bark from the tree, little baby Viking bezerking on my knee.
I'll build a boxspring plow when the snow comes down, a boxspring plow try to get my neighbor out.
It is what it is. "What is it?" It's a boxspring plow, I built it when the snow came down.
O boxspring plow, boxspring plow, I'm gonna build me a boxspring plow.
A boxspring plow, here and now. I'm gonna build me a boxspring plow.
I'm just a dinosaur and not much more, living in the land, praise the lord.
Just a dinosaur and my head's in the clouds, chasing water through an old Spanish town.
O boxspring plow, boxspring plow, I'm gonna build me a boxspring plow.
A boxspring plow, here and now. I'm gonna build me a boxspring plow.
And I hope I don't have to turn this thing around, it's hard to turn around with a boxspring plow.
"Bad road good people". That's what the wise man says.
And old fashion wisdom is getting scarce these days.
I'll build a boxspring plow when the snow comes down, a boxspring plow try to get my neighbor out.
It is what it ain't. "What is it?" It's a boxspring plow. Not much of an invention, it was layin' around.
O boxspring plow, boxspring plow, I'm gonna bulid me a boxspring plow.
Boxspring plow, here and now. I'm gonna build me a boxspring plow.

No Place to Fall

One of my favorite Townes Van Zandt songs. I wanted to do an entire album of his covers but Steve Earle beat me to it.


If I had no place to fall and I needed to
could I count on you, to lay me down?
I'll never tell you no lies I don't believe it's wise
you got pretty eyes won't you spin me around?
I ain't much of a lover it's true.
I'm here then I'm gone and I'm forever blue,
but I'm sure wantin' you.
The skies full of silver and gold try to hide the sun
but it can't be done,
at least not for long.
And if we let each other grow while the light of day
smiles down our way,
then we cannot go wrong.
Oh time she's a fast old train,
she's here then she's gone
and she won't come again,
won't you take my hand?
If I had no place to fall and I needed to
could I count on you
to lay me down?

"No Place to Fall"
Written by Townes Van Zandt (1978)
Katie Bell Music c/o Bughouse % Bug Music Inc., /ASCAP

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Mullein People

A song about coming home. While I worked in the Union for a few years I would drive back late at night on a Friday after a hard week in Albuquerque, being drained of spirit. As I came down my driveway the tall mullein spires would greet me upon arrival and immediately sing to me like a tuning fork and bring joy back into my heart. Susan's bass is fierce and beautiful on this one.


Strange trees stand tall in the headlights,
The mullein people swarm the road at night,
Velvet tunics vivid green, silver hands catching,
any rain that falls, any rain that falls.
The mullein people greet me in the evening
When the milky way shines bright and fair.
When I'm tired and I don't care they raise their golden spears
Catching any stars, any stars that veer.
Welcome home! Welcome Home! Did you miss this crackling fire?
Is this all what you desire? Welcome home! Welcome home!
Well your roots are sinking deep but now its time to sleep
Catching any dreams any dreams that call.
Welcome home! Welcome home! Did you miss your dog –child and your little Jackie boy?
Welcome home! Welcome home! Did you miss your handsome wife and your bundles of joy and life?
Catching any rain, any rain that falls.
Welcome home! Welcome home! Did you miss this heinous road to hell and paradise?
Catching any rain, any rain that falls. Catching any rain any rain that falls. Catching any rain...

Lee Harvey Was A Friend of Mine

This song was taught to me by the late David Bindler (of Da Nu Man). He was a musical mentor and a great drummer. "Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine," is one of the greatest songs of our time, written by Homer Henderson. This song was recorded live in The Netherlands.


I was born in Dallas in 1952,
Lee Harvey moved across the street on Bentley Avenue,
He used to throw the ball to me when I was just a kid,
They say he shot the president---I don't think he did.

And Lee Harvey was a friend of mine,
He used to take me fishing all the time,
He used to throw the ball to me when I was just a kid,
They say he shot the president but I don't think he did.

I've seen them pictures of him with the family and a gun,
Shadows were pointin' every-which-a-way;
'Twas only just for fun,
Someone faked those photos; that's not the way it is,
They say he shot the president; I don't think he did.

I seen it on the TV when Lee Harvey got gunned down,
Murdered by Jack Ruby---the biggest sleaze in town,
He stuck that gun into his ribs;
Says, "Here's lookin' at you, kid,
Ruby killed Lee Harvey---TV proved he did!!

(Philip Edward Bennison and Jay Cotton)
Bennisongs, BMI. CAE/IPI #: 218741175

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California

A song that takes me back to my early days as a young organic farmer on the loose in Northern California, lusting over fertile Biodynamic maidens, getting dirty and reading lots of poetry.


My eyes were big and round when I came to California town
And I woke up to the pungent smell of jasmine
Big waves crashing down, down in Santa Cruz town... I remember California.
Hippie chicks and artichokes, people didn't seem to laugh at dirty jokes in California.
You said, "California was too young for God to even know it existed."
Stepped off the plane feeling lonesome feeling lame
I brought my own ball and chain to California.
Still I picked up every freak I met along the way
Some Chinese surfer turned me onto Kurt Cobain
Earthquakes and mudslides million dollar houses taking a ride in California
Sweet red apples filled with worms overwhelmed from all the stuff I learned in California
I remember California! (4x)
We found things like a child we got dirty sweet and wild swimming up the Eel in California
But all them golden fields to me felt foreign and unreal
So I left that lovely land called California
Like snow falling on the 4th of July I let a love bloom and pass me by in California
She was sitting under a live oak tree,"There's just too much wine and poetry in California."
My eyes were big and round and I was sleeping on the ground
And I woke up to the weight in the cypress
I stumbled up the road with a pain I could not hold till something said, "let go" in California
Hippie chokes and arti-chicks people didn't seem to like dirty tricks in California
You said California was too young for God to even know it existed
I remember California!(4x)

Mark Twain

The passion of this Mark Ray Lewis cover is vivid and panoramic. I had to trim it down or it would have been a 10 minute track. The song is based on a Mark Lewis novel called "Long Sad River".


Return with me to a secret place on the banks of a long sad river
The high water mark on the church's wall six feet over a mans head
Her dad staked his claim in the wide flood plain thirty acres with an unbroken view
Name a mistake that he did not make well ok I too am biased of the one...that's
Iris in her night gown fingers tick tacked by the screen
Bidding me to the other town riff raff flows to the unforeseen
He would let us drink yes we drank with him when he passed out we'd slip away
On the oxbow bank she stood in front of me and put the smooth stones in my hand
She was smiling strange with mischievous lips and her eyes were half way gone
She dropped to the ground pulled me down to her up above the train bridge sang
Iris in her night gown fingers tick tacked by the screen
bidding me to the other town riff raff flows to the unforeseen
When we next saw her dad he was crazy eyed I thought it was my time to die
He beckoned me with a steel buck knife to the shed along the side
I held the hanging deer in my spreading arms as he drew the knife straight down
He would not look at me nor speak a word to me there was poison in his mind and
Iris in her night gown fingers tick tacked by the screen
bidding me to the other town riff raff flows to the unforeseen
O Mississippi release her to me

"Mark Twain"
Written by Mark Ray Lewis (2006)
Outside Agitator/ASCAP

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Peeler

A song I originally wanted to record solo but as the drums evolved, I had a hard time leaving them behind. The story is of a young man who falls madly and foolishly in love with a new age stripper. He never accepts her fully or trusts her wholeheartedly and it is insinuated that he drowns her in "God's golden river".


She came to town on a spirit trip
didn't tell her mama she danced on the strip
with legs like two shot gun blasts to his brain
she made him insane
henna tattoo's triggered in flames
combat boots and shell ashtray
she called out his name and he was...
strung out, strung out on a peeler strung out on a heavenly peeler dream, strung out.
The cotton wood trees shook like tambourines
and he felt like a man in the height of a dream
he followed her down like man possessed
wiping the sparkles off his chest
but she kept on dancing under the tree
shaking her hips so delicately, under the devils' tree
and he was strung out, strung out on a peeler, strung out on heavenly peeler dream
strung out, strung out on prancer, strung out on heavenly dancer dream, (extensive humming)
Well not too long up the river of life he started to lose his appetite
He said, "Oh my gypsy what's behind that smile?
Whatcha been hiding from me for such a long while?"
She did not know, she would not say
So he left that girl in lonely place and filled her with disgrace
and he was strung out, strung out on a peeler, strung out on heavenly peeler dream
strung out, strung out on prancer, strung out on heavenly dancer dream, (extensive humming)
Now how could something that felt so right, die with a whimper and no trace of light!
She bought him a picture with Indian silver a forbidden image of kivas and ladders
But what does it mean what does it matter she's dancing on god's golden river
He's under the devil's tree strung out, strung out on a peeler, strung out on heavenly peeler dream
strung out, strung out on prancer, strung out on heavenly dancer dream (extensive humming)

Gila

The Gila is a vast wilderness. The first and one of the last of its kind. Wolves still run wild there. It is believed that Geronimo was born in a hot spring there. I had a few shows in Piños Altos NM near the Gila one night. It had been raining for three days straight which is very unusual for NM. My third night in a row playing at the Buckhorn Tavern I met a young cowboy named Duncan. He was pretty drunk and the girls were toying with him. He made a bad decision to drive back to his ranch late that evening and drowned in the Gila River. I was the last person to talk with him or see him alive.


The angry gods of the Gila did not smile upon his drunken dash
Across the muddy creek roaring past
they took his truck up two hundred yards up the canyon
he reached for his coat and the creek had him by the throat
Dashing him senseless in the rocks and debris
Losing his grip in the sycamore trees
in the dark muddy heart of the angry gods of the Gila
They cut him off at the bar I was playing my guitar
his grabbed his hat, turned to leave and he asked me for a light
he said, " I leaving these bar bitches I'm heading home to feed my horses
besides my cat my shit in the house tonight."
Scratching him senseless in the rocks and debris
Losing his breath in the sycamore trees
in the deep my tumble of the angry grumble of the Gila
He was young always right he went looking for a fight and he found one on that dark rainy night
Eighteen times he forded the same swollen creek
his truck was stalling the sky was falling down in sheets
and he was sober for a moment in the branches and the leaves
losing his boots in the roots of the trees
in the deep muddy heart of the angry gods of the Gila(2x)
They found his Great Pyrenees on the banks waiting for him
to rise up and feed him in the light
Well he made it he made it that cowboy he made it half way home to his castle
On that dark rainy night
Dashing him senseless in the rocks and debris
Losing his breath in the sycamore trees
In the deep muddy voice of the angry gods of the Gila
In the deep muddy tumble of the angry grumble of the Gila

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Bad Road, Good People

I didn't realize it at the time but "Bad Road, Good People," was really a double album. "The Wheel of Life" could almost be thought of as part 2 to the previous album. This song is the title track to both albums. It's a song of experience, with a lighthearted and painfully honest commentary about trying to raise a family in old Spanish Land Grant New Mexico. "Orcs" refer to the young natives who burn abandoned cars in my remote valley for fun. "Orcs" are a bad creature from the Tolkien Hobbit trilogy. Hell, Zeppelin did it. Why can't I?


Well I went down to Albuquerque to try to raise some dough
We've been eating too much spam eating too much crow
Well I came back from Albuquerque through the pitch fork blinding snow
I missed my wife and my apple trees but I didn't miss my road
bad road good people, bad road good people
It's a no trespasser it's an oil pan disaster
But that's the way we like it, uh huh
It keeps all the riff raff out, the tourists and the Orcs
Gets worse by the day and we're very proud to say
Bad road good people, bad road good people
I was talking to Fred Kasinski and to me he did explain
If you ain't got a number if you ain't got a name
Well they won't ever find you they won't have a clue
they won't know the bad road things that you do
bad road good people, bad road good people

It's a real ball buster but I've "learned to love the road"
But it's rare if we see humans anymore
Oh it keeps all the riff raff out the grandmas and the Orcs
So we raise our kids alone in the twilight zone
Bad road good people, bad road good people
It's a good place to burn a car or shoot an old washer or dryer
Lollipop cedars water wars and barbed wire
Bad road good people(4x)



WHEEL OF LIFE
Copyright 2010 Cactusman Records/ASCAP

All songs written by Boris McCutcheon except:

"Lee Harvey was a Friend of Mine"
Written by Philip Edward Bennison (Homer Henderson) and Jay Cotton (1985)
Bennisongs/ BMI

"No Place to Fall"
Written by Townes Van Zandt (1978)
Katie Bell Music c/o Bughouse % Bug Music Inc., /ASCAP

"Mark Twain"
Written by Mark Ray Lewis (2006)
Outside Agitator/ASCAP

Boris McCutcheon: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, harmonica
Brett Davis: electric guitars, tenor banjo, lap steel guitar, baritone electric, harmony, vocals
Susan Hyde Holmes: electric bass, upright bass, harmony vocals
Kevin Zoernig: wurlitzer, piano, casio, clavinet, xylophone, accordion, organ, harmony vocals
Paul Groetzinger: drums, tambourine (California, What Ails You?, Peeler, Gila, Bad Road, Good People, Boxspring Plow)
Jason Aspeslet: drums, eggbeater, wall (Mullein People, Clan of the Sunflower, Mark Twain, No Place to Fall)
Jeff Berlin: drums (Lee Harvey Was A Friend of Mine)

Guest Musicians:
Kristen Zoernig (Kevin's sister): double bass
Lawrence Zoernig (Kevin's brother): cello
Adrienne Inglis (Kevin's sister-in-law): pan flutes
Chris Schultz: handclap enabler, harmony vocals
Stephanie Hatfield: harmony vocals

Produced by Kevin Zoernig and Boris McCutcheon
Sessions at the World College in Montezuma, NM recorded by Michael Grimes
Sessions at WaveLab Studio in Tucson, AZ recorded by Chris Schultz and Craig Schumacher
Additional guitar tracks recorded by Mark Lewis at his home in Albuquerque, NM
Additional backup vocals recorded by Bill Palmer at Frogville Studio in Santa Fe, NM

All songs mixed by Chris Schultz and Craig Schumacher at WaveLab Studio except "Lee Harvey Was a Friend of Mine", recorded live by Jos Goverde at In the Woods, Lage Vuursche, Netherlands.
Mastered by J.J. Golden at Golden Mastering, CA

Artwork by Brett Davis
Layout and Art Doctor, John Treadwell
Photos by James Hart, Jennifer Guerin, Jessica Garcia, aturnintimephotography.com

Thanks and love to Laura, Jack and Neve. Melissa Totten, Jennifer G. and Leland, Ron
Maltais, Jessica, John Treadwell, Pat Toomay, Michael Grimes, Mark Lewis, Leopold,
Dara Lee, James Holmes, Tyson Reed, Pappy, Joy and Geoff. The Mullein People.
Sandra and Luciano. Alberto and his animated wisdom.

This album is dedicated to the memory of David Bindler –drummer, friend, and
musical mentor. I love you too, Dave.

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