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Close Ties

by Rodney Crowell

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Available in 96 kHz/24 bit audio.

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released March 31, 2017

Produced by: Jordan Lehning & Kim Buie
Associate Producer: Dan Knobler
Recorded by:
Dan Knobler @ Goosehead Palace & Saddle Springs Recording Mecca
Pete Coleman with second engineer Sam Martin @ Stage Write Studio
Donivan Cowart @ Saddle Springs Recording Mecca
Mixed by: Trina Shoemaker @ Dauphin Street Sound - Mobile, AL
Shoemaker uses Genelec 8351 Monitors
Mastering Engineer: Richard Dodd @ RichardDodd.com
Artist Management: Ken Levitan & Lisa Jenkins @ Vector Management
Booking Agent: Brian Jonas & Frank Riley @ High Road Touring
Art direction: Tom Bejgrowicz for Man Alive Creative
Photography by: Gregg Roth


Thank you Kim Buie, Trina Shoemaker, Jordan Lehning, Dan Knobler, John Allen, Sheryl
Crow, Rosanne Cash, John Paul White and Steuart Smith
Additional thanks to Joanne Gardner, Sterling Ball, Tommy Emmanuel, Heather Bohn,
Mary Karr, Allison Klein, Jedd Hughes . . . and a lifetime of gratitude to close ties now in
spirit form: Guy Clark, Susanna Clark, Gary Haber, Bo Goldsen & John D Loudermilk
Abiding love to Claudia and all the Crowell/Brue girls


String Arrangements by Jordan Lehning
Kristin Wilkinson: viola
David Davidson: violin
David Angell: violin
Carole Rabinowitz: cello

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Track Name: East Houston Blues
So I grew up hungry and I grew up hard
Took the streets and alleys for my own back yard
I’ve got a break and enter on my list of crimes
Been before the judge one too many times

East Houston blues, scale of one to ten
Bout a nine and a half is where it’s always been
It’s in the drinking water and in the bar ditch mud
East Houston blues gets in a poor boy’s blood

I learned to drink and drive when I was 12 years old
Uncle Fireball Stoddard rest his ragged soul
He ran a ‘54 Ford up and down the drag
Sippin’ Early Times straight from a paper bag

East Houston blues picture Dowling Street
And Navigation Blvd where the crossroads meet
Three sheets in the wind, brick shy of a load
East Houston blues down a nowhere road

40 dollar boots, big Bangora hat
Stolen money from an inside job, what you think about that

I’m a third ward child, my mother’s only son
Which means exactly nothing without a loaded gun
I don’t believe in love and this I guarantee
If there’s a God above, he's got it in for me

East Houston blues, what you want me to say
I need to find a woman to keep the wolves at bay
Keep my head on straight, make me toe the line
East Houston blues ain't no friend of mine

Just so you understand that of which I speak
I’m a worried man on a losing streak
Track Name: Reckless
Last night I lay dreaming I was drinking in a hotel bar
Two women came up and kissed me
And you were watching from a distant star
I know it doesn’t make much sense, but what can I tell you
Judging by the evidence, I’m feeling reckless

I don’t know why I would go there, all to make a fuss over what
I’ve got a woman like you and what do I do
Pretend I might be something I’m not
I know you know it’s not your fault, it’s something inside me
Would that I were worth my salt, but I’m feeling reckless

You give me more than I deserve
You could say I’ve got some nerve

So slay me with your tender mercy
Comfort me with words of steel
You can catch me in a lie when I cast a roving eye
But you’ll never know the way I feel
I know you know you’re smarter than me
Tell me something I don’t know
There’s so much more that I could be, but I’m feeling reckless

Last night I lay dreaming I was drinking in a hotel bar
Two women came up and kissed me
And you were watching from a distant star
Track Name: Life Without Susanna
Life without Susanna started when Townes Van Zandt died
From that day on she hid out undercover
Her Percocet and cigarette along for the ride

She made the bed inside her head a shelter
Each new day a sliver through the blinds
I tried tough love, tenderness and anger
But nothing pierced the fortress inside her mind

The first time I saw her she threw me that smile
Pure angel of mercy east Texas style
A poet in gingham, an assassin in jeans
The most near perfect woman I’d ever seen
She was hardly routine

Life without Susanna troubles me in ways hard to express
As she withdrew I grew distant and judgmental
A self-sure bastard and a stubborn bitch
Locked in a deadly game of chess
The upside of my status as a cut above the rest

The last time I saw her was close to the end
I cried like a baby for the shape I was in
No lipstick, no powder to soften the tone
The most worthy opponent that I’ve ever known
Was already gone

Life without Susanna is something we all have to face
So welcome to the world as we don’t know it
Big blue knuckleball free floating somewhere out in space
Where life without Susanna is no man’s saving grace
This is life without Susanna and I can’t find my place
Track Name: It Ain't Over Yet (feat. Rosanne Cash & John Paul White)
It’s like I’m sitting at a bus stop waiting for a train
Exactly how I got here is hard to explain
My heart's in the right place, what’s left of it I guess
My heart ain’t the problem, it’s my mind that’s a total mess
With these rickety old legs and watery eyes
It’s hard to believe that I could pass for anybody’s prize
Here’s what I know about the gifts that God gave
You can’t take ‘em with you when you go to the grave

It ain’t over yet, ask someone who ought to know
Not so very long ago we were both hung out to dry
It ain’t over yet, you can mark my word
I don’t care what you think you heard, we’re still learning how to fly

For fools like me who were built for the chase
Takes the right kind of woman to help you put it all in place
It only happened once in my life, but man you should have seen
Her hair two shades of foxtail red, her eyes some far out sea blue green
I got caught up making a name for myself, you know what that’s about
One day your ship comes rolling in and the next day it rolls right back out
You can’t take for granted none of this shit
The higher you fly boys, the harder you get hit

It ain’t over yet, I’ll say this about that
You can get up off the mat or you can lay there till you die
It ain’t over yet, here’s the truth my friend
You can’t pack it in and we both know why
It ain’t over yet

Silly boys blind to get there first
Think of second chances as some kind of curse
I’ve known you forever and ever it’s true
If you came by it easy, you wouldn’t be you
Make me laugh, you make me cry, you make me forget myself

Back when down on my luck kept me up for days
You were there with the right word to help me crawl out of the maze
And when I almost convinced myself I was hipper than thou
You stepped up with a warning shot fired sweet and low across the bow
No you don’t walk on water and your sarcasm stings
But the way you move through this old world sure makes a case for angel wings
I was halfway to the bottom when you threw me that line
I quote you now verbatim, “Get your head out of your own behind”

It ain’t over yet, what you wanna bet
One more cigarette ain’t gonna send you to the grave
It ain’t over yet, I’ve seen your new girlfriend
Thinks you’re the living end, great big old sparkle in her eye
It ain’t over yet
Track Name: I Don't Care Anymore
I used to pull my britches on with just one thing in mind
Make the girls believe that I’m the last one of my kind
Silver toe tips on my boots and a mullet head of hair
All designed to walk into a room and make somebody stare
I don’t care anymore if I don’t stand out in a crowd
I was better off before I tried to make my mother proud

I came to town a dreaming I could make my mark in spades
Forty odd years later all my best cards have been played
It’s a hard knock situation when the accolades bestowed
On your every last creation cries out middle of the road
I don’t care anymore about the fortune and the fame
I was better off before I tried to make myself a name

All the money that I blew through like some boot black off the farm
Could not have vanished quicker if I’d shot it in my arm
Some so and so says don’t you know the limit is the sky
Next thing I remember I’m unlearning how to fly
I don’t care anymore

All those party dolls and favors that I savored from day one
Add up to next to nothing after all is said and done
A real friend tried to tell me man with all respect it’s true
The time to put away these things is long since overdue

If indeed I do get lonesome in my mansion on the hill
There’s this neighbor's wife I covet for her beauty and her skill
The way she puts herself together sleek in vagabond couture
Makes each mailbox conversation one more heartache to endure
I don’t care anymore who does what and why
I was better off before when I was just another guy

I’ve been lied on, spied on, cried on, tried on, taken for a ride you bet
Fracked, cracked, smacked jack, what you see is what you get
I’ve been spit at, hit at, quit at, shit at, shouldn’t hurt a bit at, what I’m trying to get at
Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice and put the blame on
I don’t care anymore
Track Name: I'm Tied To Ya' (feat. Sheryl Crow)
With faith beyond religion, we search the great unknown
Free fall into darkness, someplace we’ve never gone
I’m tied to ya’
I’m tied to ya’

Let’s push it to the limit, as far as we can see
Till there are no walls still standing and there’s only you and me
I’m tied to ya’
I’m tied to ya’

I can’t deny that I believe these things you say are true
I’ve seen the way you gauge each distant star
As long as I can be myself and still be there with you
I’ll go anywhere you ask me, near or far

(Instrumental)

Tomorrow don’t mean much to me, look what we have today
Right here in this minute babe is where I want to stay
Tied to ya’
Tied to ya’

I’ve heard it said, beware the fist behind your lover's kiss
And stand up guys have knocked me down before
But to rise with you above the petty politics of bliss
I’ll gladly make my heart an open door

I’m tied to ya’
I’m tied to ya’
I’m tied to ya’
I’m tied to ya’
Tied to ya’
Tied to ya’
Track Name: Forgive Me Annabelle
Maybe I was out of line, but mostly I was out of touch
You lean on anger like a crutch, you’re bound to take a fall
No doubt I was slow to learn, I just couldn’t get the gist
So I doubled up my fist and I punched me the wall

When you walked out on me I took the hit in stride
I’m better off I lied
The truth may show I stood the blow
But we both know how far from grace I fell
Forgive me Annabelle

Who’d have thought that peace of mind would find me in the end
Nearly ten years on the mend and no getting over you
For now I’m resolute, I’ve seen evidence of change
At first I thought it strange and not worth clinging to

Let's set the record straight, I came around too late
Though I got there in the end, I never was your friend

When you walked out on me, it tore my heart in half
And I hid behind a laugh
As I became a slave to shame I cursed your name
God Damn you, rot in Hell
Can you forgive me Annabelle
Track Name: Forty Miles From Nowhere
It rained today, the clouds rolled up at dawn
All hell burst wide open and just like that was gone
Your little lap dog chased a fox tailed squirrel cross the main road through the wood
Some ninja on a dirt bike nearly ran him down for good
Right about now it gets quiet around here, what with nightfall in the wings
The floorboards creak and faucets leak, but it’s the emptiness that sings
The wind grows chill and then lies still
Forty miles from nowhere
At the bottom of the world

November sky’s a diamond-studded dome
A hundred billion points of light to guide my way back home
When the moon is hanging fat and full and all those jangly stars recede
A fold out couch on a midnight porch is where my footsteps lead
You always said I made my bed
Forty miles from nowhere
At the bottom of the world

Friends don’t call like they used to for reasons not unkind
If there’s anything that we can do rings hollow down a telephone line

There’s a cedar grove in back of the house maybe halfway down the hill
A place to go and just lay low when there’s precious time to fill
A few gravestones, a pre-civil war fence and the random arrowhead
Where the beehive swarmed three summers ago too wet the old men said
So it’s me your, little lap dog and that old brindle cat trying to keep this place in line
And heading into town these days is the last thing on my mind

I weep for you
It’s what I do
Forty miles from nowhere
At the bottom of the world
Track Name: Storm Warning
Charcoal cloudbank belly rolling east
We’re staring down the dark eye of the beast
Seek your shelter anywhere you will
Don’t let your life depend on standing still

Tornado alley keeps on moving south
Winds that yank the teeth right from your mouth
Grab your bible, wedding ring and pet
We ain’t seen the worst of this thing yet
Storm Warning
Storm Warning

First you hear that mighty rumbling freight train sound
Next your trees are plucked like daisies from the ground
Your roof, your car, your house, your friends
School bus tumbling end on end
Screaming Storm Warning
Storm Warning

The devil's claw marks leave a trail of wrath
Ninety-five miles of twisted aftermath
A cell phone rings unanswered in the mess
Who lost who is anybody’s guess
Storm Warning
Storm Warning
Track Name: Nashville 1972
I had a dog named Banjo and a girl named Muffin
I’d just blew in from Texas and I didn’t know nothing
I found my way around this town with a friend I made named Guy
Who loved Susanna and so did I

Now there was this run down shack on Acklen Avenue
That I shared with Skinny Dennis
And a poet name of Richard Dobson who had a novel he’d never finish
That’s when Johnny Rodrigues, David Olney and Steve Earle first came through
And every other guitar bum whose name I never knew

Old School Nashville, Harlan Howard, Bob McDill
Tom T Hall go drink your fill and blow us all away

There was this tight-rope-walker who called herself the queen of Poughkeepsie
Who ran away from the circus with some roustabout redneck gypsy
They were Townes Van Zandt fans and prone to combustion
They fought like dogs in Spanish and made love in Russian

I wish Newberry and Buck White would drop on by the house tonight
Things have changed round here you bet, but it don’t seem much better yet

I first met Willie Nelson with some friends at a party
I was twenty-two years old and he was pushing forty
There was hippies and reefer and God knows what all I was drinking pretty hard
I played him this shitty song I wrote and puked out in the yard

Old School Nashville, Harlan Howard, Bob McDill
Tom T Hall go drink your fill and blow us all away