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  1. Shoeshine Boy

From the recording As Eden Lay In Darkness

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A song about the life and death of Hank Williams on the road between Knoxville and Oak Hill and the mystery in between.

Bob and I tried to write this in everyday, conversational language; almost in the way that people would relate the story. The complexity comes from the man himself. I have long been fascinated by the way the story of his death reveals a confusion about where and when he actually died. The fact that it was on a road between two places that rhymed seems almost appropriate for someone like Hank in more ways than one and one of the sub-texts of the song is the mystery of the line between life and death. Another theme relates to the way people’s versions of the facts can often vary and how the truth can become blurred between what we know and what we hope. Yet another sub-text concerns how Hank’s story relates to the overall theme of Eden and banishment. He was banned from the Grand Ol’ Opry Show because of his behaviour. Born with a crooked back because of a spinal defect; we use that as a device to emphasise his internal demons.
The recording was made in Dunkeld over the course of a week in March 2008

Vocals: Tom Fairnie
Harmony: Jane Fairnie & Karen Dietz
Guitar: Tom Fairnie
2nd guitar: Mark Barnett
Double bass: Ken Kennedy
Pedal steel guitar: Alastair Taylor
Slide guitar: Bruce Hogg
Percussion: Robin Brill

Lyrics

Shoeshine Boy

Some folks say
It happened on the way
From Knoxville to Oak Hill
On a cold New Year’s Day
He climbed into the back
Of a baby-blue Cadillac
That old shoeshine boy
Ain’t ever coming back
They named him Hiram
But they called him Hank

Was it hard to find
A little peace of mind
A bottle of dreams ain’t all it seems
When they’re leaving you behind
Did you follow a star?
And find out who you are
A crooked man from Alabam’
Hell-bent on his guitar
Southern raised
You were gonna go far

And I know the radio was playing low
The last drop of bourbon was sweet
I hope you heard a lonesome whistle blow
Before you fell asleep

You can make a name
The Music Hall of Fame
Cowboy boots and Nudie suits
And rhinestones in the rain
You can cry all night
In the love songs that you write
A cheating heart still breaks apart
But it looks like you just might
Become a drifter
Who never saw the light

I know the radio was playing low…

And I know the radio was playing low
The last drop of bourbon was neat
I hope you heard a lonesome whippoorwill
Before you fell asleep

© Shoeshine Boy music by Tom Fairnie words by Tom Fairnie & Bob Shields February 6th 2006

The first bite of winter is in the wind this morning:
An accidental beauty where a fool, in fool’s clothing,
Lingers beneath the branches of redwing and robin song.
Is it blood alone that balances the sacrificial hawthorn?
And the wheel begs silver coins to turn this suffering
Into another as natural as dust, or lovers parting.
Where a finger of doubt touches water, a question bends
Into nothing as much as a matter of conscience
While one man’s promise is another man’s lie,
A smell of snow in the air drifting by.

So Long And Thanks For All The Sonnets © Bob Shields