All words and music by Pierre Englebert. Copyright © 2019-2020.

Special thanks to Thomas Flaherty, Ursula Kleineke, Mike Kreivis, and Eric Lindholm, who provided musical instruction but bear no responsibility for my misusing it. Borrowings from Thomas Hobbes, Procol Harum, Patrick Godfrey and John Pendrith on The Second Amendment and All That Jazz; and from Fernande on NBO-LHR-LAX. Produced by Dom Williams. Painting for “Sorrow of Belgium” by Viola M. Allen. Cover picture by Pierre Englebert.

The Second Amendment and All That Jazz

Bobby’s a boomer from Ohio. His job went south some years ago.
Now he spends his days at the diner and he got himself a gun.
Karee’s got cattle in Nebraska. She’s got a big heart, you can ask her.
She loves everybody but she don’t like them rangers and she got herself a gun.

Yes, of course, the Second Amendment and all that jazz
You’ve got to stand up and fight for your rights
But down this road lies Mogadishu, where life is nasty, short and brutish
And where you won’t hear me pontificate

Duane is a dude from California. He’s got religion, Halleluiah!
The Good Lord told him “Son, love your neighbor”
He said “Amen,” and he got a revolver
Monique’s a Mongo from the Congo. She knows how quick things can go wrong-o.
She tried to get away from it all, still she got herself a gun.

The nation-state was fine and dandy while it lasted
Now you’re about to go ahead and blast it
Fine, suit yourself, and toll the bell, but good luck building something else
Mr. Know-it-All has said his piece

Surrounded by Idiots

We are surrounded by idiots, cornered by morons
Suffocated by bigots, governed by charlatans
If it were not for your big brown eyes, your hundred-dollar smile, your hip hop and your slime …

We are bombarded with bombast, bamboozled and bullied
Harassed by bad asses, indoctrinated from the pulpit
If it were not for your curly black hair, life wouldn’t be fair, I would, I would, I swear, …

I would go mad, I would go batshit, even bonkers, I would lose it
I’d need Xanax, lots of it, I’d go coo-coo I’m telling you
I’d be depressed, I would regress, I’d be a mess, that I confess
I’d call my Mommy, be all weepy, hurry, hurry, come and get me

We are wronged by the righteous, persecuted by the pious
Minimized by the pompous, dehumanized by the gorgeous
If it were not for the world that you dream, your empathic instinct, my little pumpkin, I’m not kidding, …

I would surrender, cave in, go on a bender, play Queen
I’d stay in bed, bury my head under the pillow, you know
Or I’d walk deep into the forest and find a cave where I could rest
Sit on a rock and start to sob I swear to God I wouldn’t stop

I would go mad, I would go batshit, even bonkers, I would lose it
I’d need Xanax, lots of it, I’d go coo-coo I’m telling you
I would surrender, cave in, whither, play Queen
I’d stay in bed, bury my head under the pillow, you know…

But I’ve got you and I don’t care about aggravations e-ve-ry-where
Yes, I’ve got you and I don’t care

I Knew It, She Likes Me!

Would you rather eat dirt and crawl in a swamp with spiders and turds and
Hit yourself on the head with a bat and eat a pound of saturated fat
Or would you rather go out with me?

Would you rather, insane, have your body ache with fever and pain and
Be parched with no water in sight and shiver and shake in the dead of night
Or would you rather make out with me?
I knew it, she likes me!

Would you rather be blind and deaf and mute and with a severed spine and
Both quite sick and hypochondriac and about to suffer from a heart attack
Or would you rather make love with me?

Would you rather be dead, be gone, bye-bye, a bunch of ashes instead and
Burn in hell for all eternity, pitchforks and fire, seems like a pity
Or would you rather spend your life with me?
You can say it, you love me!

Little Senegal & the Upper East Side

Black nannies, pushing strollers with white babies
Fulani ladies, at the playground with mini me’s
When they grow older, will they remember how you wiped their tears?
When they become men and women, will they think of your kids as their peers?

Dakar mommies, no longer getting here from Gorée
Harlem homies, your husbands selling watches night and day
When you come home at night, do you have enough love left for your own child?
Who takes care of your own when you’re caring for the white munchkins?

Twenty years from now, will your daughters be lawyers, mayors, teachers?
Twenty years from now, will they be caring for the white munchkins?

Benign Bliss (He Feels Good about Himself)

His shoes are shined, he wears a new pair of pants,
He walks down Holloway Road in the rain
Headphones are blasting, a big smile on his face,
This man is bumping, you would too if you were in his place
He’s got a date over his lunch break, with a pretty, pretty girl

He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself
Who knew the world could turn from grim to bliss in a heartbeat and a smile?
He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself

Sometimes it feels like it is meant to be
She’s smart and funny, not quite thirty, he feels lucky
Head over heels, he dreams “could she be mine?”
Sardined on the Piccadilly line has never felt so fine
He packed two candy bars in his lunch box
They’ll picnic on a bench. God, his life rocks!

He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself
What is this wonderous elation that pumps him up and sends him flying?
He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself

Arsenal lost last night 2-1, too bad
Princes and princesses are feuding, but who’s got time for that?
Backstop, Brexit, shouldn’t he worry about it?
“Crisis, what crisis?” All it is is a nation’s neurosis
Nothing really matters to the man with pleated trousers
On such a glorious, glorious day

He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself
A little hope, a little crush, you’re in heaven, it don’t take much
He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself
He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself
Headphones and smile, he made my day, I wish him well I’m on my way
He feels good, he feels good, he feels good about himself

The Sorrow of Belgium

NBO-LHR-LAX

Dude like me with a woman like you? I know, too good to be true
But I’ve got you, I do, I do. Woo-hoo!
Still I travel the world like a fool. One carry-on as a rule.
Star Alliance Gold hoop-dee-doo. I’m so cool.
Wherever on earth I be
The problem is this, you see: here you there me

Now I’m coming home, where the sun shines, your face smiles,
The air is thick with the love in our lives
And the birds sing and the butterflies do their thing

What, what do I want, I’ll say, what I want is us any day,
you and me making us in LA, Olé!
But I’m two, three, four flights away, where my night is your day
Eating alone at the bar, you’re so far
When I’m off God knows where in the world, how I wish I could be with my girl, that’s right

Now I’m coming home, where the sun shines, your face smiles,
The air is thick with the love in our lives
And the birds sing and the butterflies do their thing

I’m coming home, coming home, coming home, coming home today
Full steam ahead, speeding down the runway,
up, up and away, I’m coming home today
The world is left behind, red, white, blue on my mind,
hey, hey, hey, I’m flying home today

If You Were No Longer In My Life

If you were no longer in my life I wouldn’t have one
If you were gone I’d be gone too inside my head
I wouldn’t shave I wouldn’t shower I wouldn’t change my underpants
I would have breadcrumbs in my beard, children would mock me and run scared

If I could not wake up with you I wouldn’t sleep then
Without you lying next to me I would not care for being free
I’d seek your smell on your pillow, something to hang on in my sorrow
If I couldn’t wake up next to you I might not wake up anymore

If I couldn’t hold you I would hold on to a bottle
The guy at the liquor store would be my only friend
I would drink myself silly, I would puke and then feel sorry
I’d go to AA shaking bad, tell them I loved you and I’m sad

If I sat at home waiting for you, waiting and waiting
If I sat at home waiting to find you’d never come
I’d keep on sitting and sitting, I’d keep on waiting, waiting, waiting
She’s stuck in traffic on the 10, she’ll be home soon, that’s settled then

If you must go then you will leave with both our lives
If you turned back there would be nothing left to find
My nurse might well be Smiley Sunshine: “He’s making progress, doing fine”
She could not cover up the fact that she would care for an old rag

Si tu n’étais plus là, serais-je encore là moi-même?
Si tu disparaissais, je partirais aussi
Aucune pensée sauf que je t’aime, une ombre de moi mais à peine
Une ville en ruine après la guerre, d’un jour à l’autre un grabataire

The Worms in my Rain

I look out the window, don’t know what I’m looking at.
Body stiff, mind frozen, where are the words to speak my fears?
I can tell I’m leaving, no more doubt about it I’m slipping.
I’ll be dead before I die. I’m a wreck, my brain is fried.

I was a kid once, I rode my bike, fished at the lake with my old man,
I had play dates with my friends
I was a brother, I was alive, played hide and seek,
I laughed and cried and fell asleep on Mama’s lap
I was a boy once, I played guitar, I loved the Beatles, I liked girls
and with my friends we had a band
I made the soccer team, I was alive, I was a student, a boyfriend, a team mate, and a son

Your face is vaguely familiar, your voice a beacon in my fog.
Sometimes I’m here, sometimes I’m there, but I don’t know where.
I can’t find the worms in my rain to sell you that I still stare.
It’s closing in on me day by day. Hold me tight, I’m so scared.

I was a man once, and I was proud,
I was a worker, a soldier, a voter, and a lover
I was hungry, the world was mine
I fell in love, and I was yours
I was a husband, I was alive,
I was a dad, a neighbor, a friend, and then a grandpa
I made you breakfast, cared for my roses, I was alive, I was alive

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