Better Devil

by Austin MacRae

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credits

released July 1, 2019

All songs written by Austin MacRae
Recorded live at Electric Wilburland Studio in Newfield, NY
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Cass Medcalf

Austin MacRae: vocals, guitar, tenor guitar
Devon MacRae: tin whistle, banjo, guitars, harmonies
Jen Cork: melodica, harmonies
Sophie MacRae: fiddle, nyckelharpa
Casey Widger: upright bass

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Austin MacRae Ithaca, New York

Austin MacRae is an Ithaca-based contemporary folk singer/songwriter.

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Track Name: Horses of the Sea
Horses of the Sea

I’m poor ol’ Jimmy Lyons
I was the captain of the freighter Liberty
I used to be the man that folks would go to
To get their horses cross the sea

I sailed from Maine to England
And back-and-forth for nearly thirty years
Now I’m standing on the blade between this world and next
I’m standing in the shadow of my fears

Now I don’t know who I’m supposed to be
And I’ve lost my hold on the horses of the sea
My nightmares run from here to Fiddler’s Green
And I feel the whole world rollin’ over me
Yeah I feel the whole world rollin’ over me

That night it was a long one
We were just pawns upon the ocean’s pitch and swell
The horses beat their hooves against the stanchion walls
They knew it wasn’t gonna end so well

And I tried to keep them gentle
While the crew they stripped the skin right off their palms
But the storm it would not let us go
And I heard my ship go splintering at the hull

Now I don’t know…
My nightmares run from here to eternity
I feel the whole world closin’ over me

Morning...
Morning found us clinging to a lifeboat
With not a single horse around us to be seen
But far on the horizon
I felt those horses lookin’ back at me

I’m poor ol’ Jimmy Lyons
I was the captain of the freighter Liberty
Now I’m standing on the blade between this world and next
I’m standing where the shoreline meets the sea

Now I don't know who I'm supposed to be
Cause I've lost my hold on the horses of the sea
My nightmares run from here to eternity
And I feel those horses lookin’ back at me
And I feel those horses lookin’ back at me
And I feel those horses lookin' back at me
Track Name: Last of the Hollers
Last of the Hollers

I’m the last of the Hollers

I'm the last of the Hollers
And the last there will be
Cause the bloodline is broke
And it dies here with me

I was born on the hard land
With the crabgrass and nettles
But we Hollers were harder
And our hearts were all metal
Yeah we Hollers were harder
And our hearts were all metal

I was raised in the light
Of a lord I'd not chosen
And the eyes of a father
That left me all frozen

I was raised to be bloodless
I was raised to be quick
I was raised to strike back
And to not say Jack
I was raised to strike back
And to not say Jack Shhhhhhh

But the words my mother swore
I leave them at the door
And the blues my father wore
They don't fit me no more
They don't fit me no more
They don't fit me no more

Now you’ve heard them all say
How we beat that poor Miller boy
Till you couldn't even tell
He was a Miller no more

They say that we snuck down
Deep in the holler
And we strychnine-d that well
Over hardly a dollar
Yeah we strychnine-d that well
Over hardly a dollar

Well I'm not denying
Or admitting to Jack
But I will say there's a roadmap
Of scars on my back

You can follow these scars
Like the length of a whip
Til you see for yourself
How I never quite fit
Til you see for yourself
How I never quite fit

And the bruises that I wore
I leave them at the door
And the silence that I swore
Lies shattered on the floor
And the blues my father wore
They don't fit me no more
They don't fit me no more
They don't fit me no more

I’m the last of the Hollers

I’m the last of the Hollers
And the last there will be
Cause the bloodline is broke
And it dies here with me
Yeah the bloodline is broke
And it dies here with me
Yeah the bloodline is broke
And it dies here
Track Name: The Faithful Ones
The Faithful Ones

I am the undertaker’s son
I’ve dressed the old and dressed the young
Word gets around
This one-hearse town
I always do what must be done

I heard about poor Brenda May
She came to us that cold spring day
I brushed her hair
Dressed her up with care
I made her bruises go away

They say light falls on the faithful ones
Grace will shine like morning sun
But how am I supposed to see that light
When all I see is what her husband’s done

She beat the boys who beat me down
She kicked some balls and broke some crowns
But the years flew by
Went slipping from my eye
And now my sweetheart’s underground

I still see her tangled hair
The lines she wore are everywhere
The girl I knew
With shattered eyes so blue
Her fists keep flying through the air

They say light falls on the faithful ones
Grace will shine like morning sun
But how am I supposed to know what’s right
When all I see is what her husband’s done

My father brought me up like him
Straight and narrow and free from sin
Each night I swear
Try another prayer
Try to keep the doubt from creeping in

They say light falls on the faithful ones
They say just wait for Kingdom Come
But how am I supposed to see that light
When every prayer dies cold upon my tongue
Yeah every prayer lies cold upon my tongue
Track Name: Weasel Robinson
Weasel Robinson

They call me Weasel Robinson
But I’m better than my name
Yeah I’m not the one to blame
For all those barn fires

Well they pulled me out of bed that night
And slapped me into chains
Yeah they drug me down the street
That’s when a bad bad man I became

Well the judge said I was born all wrong
And he took me out to hang
But I slipped the noose like a shadow
And I slithered far away

Now I’ve bled on every corner
Been kicked off every train
And I’m lookin’ for a savior
In this simmering and sinful rain

Oh by and by
Before I die
I will sail upon the river
I will turn the cold clay over
Til I find
My angel in disguise
Til I burn
The tongue that told such lies
Til I hold
Two pennies for my eyes

They call me Weasel Robinson
But I’m better than my name
Yeah I’m not the one to blame
For all those bone fires

I’ve been bitter as a blizzard
And venomous as Cain
But I long to be the better man
Pressed against your windowpane

Now I’ve fallen for the shadows
Of all the sinners that I’ve slain
And all the cheaters that I’ve lain beside
In morning

So you can call me what you want, my friend
You can hold me to the flame
I’ll be the hunger in your bones
I’ll be the whipping boy for all your shame

Oh by and by
Before I die
I will sail upon the river
I will turn the cold clay over
Til I find
My angel in disguise
Til I burn
The beast that told such lies
Til I hold
Two pennies for my eyes

They call me Weasel Robinson
But I’m better than my name
Yeah I’m not the one to blame
For all those bonfires

So you can call me what you want, my friend,
Cause I’m dying to be changed
I keep lookin’ for my savior
Would you like to be my savior?
In this simmering and sinful rain
In this simmering and sinful rain
In this simmering in sin
Full rain
Track Name: Better Devil
Better Devil

You know me as the man
Who raises hell all through Bethlehem
With a flicker in his eye

With boots all split and a look that’s mean
Some days I’m bursting at the seams
To hide the beast that lives inside

And every now and then
I let my tongue slip out again
And it lashes you somehow
But I’m telling you right now

My hands are on the table
I got my spirit stable
I’ll be your better devil now

I’m dealing halfway level
I’m more good than evil
I’ll be your better devil now

You know me as the man
Who took his lover by the hand
And swore that he would change

With all my tricks and hidden schemes
You took my coat and took me in
And my stars were rearranged

For years I just hung around
Waiting for my heart to be changed somehow
But I’m done with waiting now
And I’m telling you right now

My hands are on the table
I got my spirit stable
I’ll be your better devil now

I’m dealing halfway level
I’m more good than evil
I’ll be your better devil now
Track Name: The Ballad of Delbert & Bill
The Ballad of Delbert and Bill

i.m. The Ward Brothers, Munsville, NY

This is the ballad of Delbert and Bill
Two brothers who farmed in the Munsville hills
They were threadbare as scarecrows and stunk to high hell
But no one was offended by Delbert and Bill
No one was offended by Delbert and Bill

They’d fire up their Farmall and head on downtown
Get some butter and Wonderbread, then turn right back round
They labored like oxen on hardscrabble land
Did I mention they washed all their livestock by hand?
Did I mention they washed all their livestock by hand?

Now the troubles all started when Bill spat some blood
We feared that the good lord would take him for good
Old Delbert was shaken, and he babbled away
His eyes were all wild to see Bill in such pain
His eyes were all wild to see Bill in such pain

I was woken one morning with terrible news
Delbert stood crying, said “Billy ain’t movin’”
I called the authorities to come fetch ol’ Bill
When they looked at the body, they smelled mercy-kill
When they looked at the body, they smelled mercy-kill

Well the troopers poured in, and reporters did too
They pressed Delbert hard in the name of the truth
Connie Chung flew in next cause a neighbor had said
That Delbert and Bill enjoyed the same bed
Yeah Delbert and Bill enjoyed the same bed

Well a jury was called and the battle lines drawn
The doctor feared Delbert wouldn’t last long
How he shook like a leaf as he climbed to the stand
And his tremors they rippled all over this land
Yeah his tremors they rippled all over this land

So here ends the ballad of Delbert and Bill
With a not-guilty verdict, and a show of good will
We locals we showered Delbert with beer
And said that he’d shine for a million more years
Yeah we said that he’d shine for a million more years

Some folks say that Munsville gives them the chills
But I loved those poor boys like I love my own hills
Their farm is still standing but Delbert’s long dead
And the stars still deliberate up overhead
Yeah the stars still deliberate up overhead
Yeah the stars still deliberate up overhead

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