Black Sheep Blues

by Kelley Looney

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gardar runolfsson Great album from Kelley, Steve Earle's bassist. Favorite track: Young Forever.
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Sometime back in 2005 Eric “Roscoe” Ambel said to me that if I ever wanted to put out a CD of my own, that he would help. He said something to the effect of since I already had a few tunes in the can we could finish the thing in a session or two whenever I was ready. I’d recorded “East End” in 1998 with Ray Kennedy, and “Little Angel” with Doug Lancio in the early ‘00’s. So in June 2007 I contacted Roscoe and said ‘let’s do it,‘ to which he replied, ”What...feeling the heat of your self-imposed deadline?” A month later, in Brooklyn, we recorded “Did He Do It Ditty,” ”Whatcha Doin’ Here,” and ”Young Forever.” 2008 found me in Nashville and out at George Bradfute’s studio in Madison, TN, where we recorded “Woman At The Well,” “Heaven In The Desert Night,” “My Weak Signal,” and “Only Human.” Deadline looming, I contacted Doug in June 2011 and at his studio in East Nashville we recorded “Black Sheep Blues.” Finally, while out on the road last year with Steve Earle (who I’ve been playing with since ‘88) he says, “Come on Looney, finish the thing.” So at the end of the tour in late Fall 2012 George Bradfute and I began putting all the songs from over the years together in one place. We recorded one last track, ”Free Men,” that I’d been playing on the last Steve tour, and after a week or two and tweak or two it went full circle back to where it all started, to Ray Kennedy to be mastered. Finally it was done! Except for the artwork which I've decided to undertake myself—what was that deadline again?

Kelley Looney
April 30th, 2013


released June 1, 2014

Produced by Kelley Looney

Co-produced by George Bradfute, Ray Kennedy, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel and Doug Lancio

Track 1 recorded by Doug Lancio at Studio G, Nashville, TN
Track 6 recorded by Doug Lancio in his basement, Nashville, TN
Tracks 2, 3, 8, 9 and 10 recorded by George Bradfute at
Tone Chaparral Studio, Madison, TN
Tracks 4, 5 and 7 recorded by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel at
Cowboy Technical Services,Brooklyn, NY
Track 11 recorded by Ray Kennedy at Room and Board, Nashville, TN
Track 1 engineered by Chad Brown and Nick Newberry

Track 6 mixed by Doug Lancio in his basement
Track 11 mixed by Ray Kennedy at Room and Board, Nashville, TN
All other tracks mixed by George Bradfute at
Tone Chaparral Studio, Madison, TN

All tracks mastered by Ray Kennedy at Room and Board, Nashville, TN

Artwork by Kelley Looney

Design by Chris Bryson | Waxed Paper Press

Thanks to Steve Earle, Ray Kennedy, Eric Ambel, George Bradfute and Doug Lancio for their patience and good guidance along the way, all the fabulous musicians, the Looney/Herbert clan especially little bro’ Houston, always my number one fan then and now, Will Rigby, Chris Masterson, and Eleanor Whitmore for the pointers and good advice.
Kenny O’Connor for the endless crash on the ouch couch, Kurt Vitolo, Dukes crew Dave Nokken, Mike Lucas, Brian Denny and my wonderful family, Natalie Tournier, Julien and Camille Tournier Looney.

All songs © Bad Betty Music (BMI)
All Rights Administered by BUG Music, Inc., a BMG Chrysalis company
Used By Permission. All Rights Reserved



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Kelley Looney Nashville, Tennessee

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Track Name: Black Sheep Blues
Daddy had a dealership selling cars for a trade
Growing up we never knew no hunger yeah he had it made
I was always Mama's favorite everyone could tell
In the end she had to side with Daddy yeah she served him well
Brother Jim followed Daddy's footsteps brother John studied law
I left town for Memphis with my guitar and the lines were drawn
Now I'm free, won't be back no time soon
I can feel their backs turning on me call it the black sheep blues

Went back for Christmas a year later spent most the time with Mom
Daddy acted like I wasn’t even there so did John
Jim offered me a job with the business prepping cars for small change
He said "you can work your way up if you're willing to change your ways"
Not me I ain’t shining no rich man’s shoes
I believe I can do better singing the black sheep blues

Daddy died they found me in Austin offered a ticket for the plane
Quit my job hitched a ride to Houston and I caught the train
Mama's spirits lifted when I got there my brothers counted their gold
They'd both gotten married had a lot of children and they looked so old
Well I've seen oh my brother I'm not a bit like you
And I sleep a whole lot better dreaming the black sheep blues

Jim retired early from the business John's a D.A. downtown
They put Mama in a nursing home I'm going to see her now
Track Name: Woman At The Well
Past the town of Franklin about an hour's hike
There's an old abandoned well a mile off of the pike
Dried up long ago there still flows an eerie tale
of the woman at the well

Mary was her name she lived a hundred years ago
Inside her was a child the father was unknown
Preacher he condemned her evil and impure
She never said a word

When she came to town she passed the dry goods store
Baker pulled his blinds the grocer quickly locked his door
A figure in a black cloak said when your baby's due
I'll be there for you

Mary had the baby a shadow paced the room
The midwife a good wife knew exactly what to do
She took the child made sure it never caught its breath
while Mary slowly bled

No remorse was shown as their conviction was upheld
They let Mary bleed to death for she was sin itself
In a rage he took the babe the seed of he himself
He flung it down the well

Buried in the backwoods no marker on her grave
No words spoken for her he just turned and walked away
Ye who sow the seeds of sorrow surely reap the yield
of that bitter field

Soon a drought descended dust blew hard and thick
The townsfolk of Franklin couldn't even grow a stick
Deserted to this day and haunted too so goes the tale
of the woman at the well
Track Name: Only Human
I run faster than I'm able to go
I think I've learned all there is to know
I trip over things that I put in my way
It's easy finding another to blame
I thought that I was a shoo-in
I fall face flat how am I doing?
After all I'm only human

You act so righteous it's hard to believe
Surely God's eyes are rolling
You say you've never been taken seriously
You must be joking
You're never wrong you thought I knew it
You're always right just can't prove it
After all you're only human

We look all the wrong places for the divine
We're only water when we could be wine
These children at play will soon be soldiers at war
It ain't been long since we walked on all fours
Life's a game I'm assuming
You learn to play while you're tuning
Well that's okay we're only human

Oh you better watch out 'cause we're only human
Track Name: Did He Do It Ditty
Did he do it did he not?
I suspect the whole damn lot
The police, they don't know diddly squat
They're all singin' the did he do it ditty
At Precinct 12 the files thicken
For every doughnut there's a dozen victims
An anonymous tip, the plot sickens
The did he do it ditty

Scrub a rat and he'll come clean
For a new house and identity
is all it takes to make Sonny sing
the I know who did it ditty

He's the people's kind of guy
You can look him in the eye
He's got what it takes to testify
Tells the truth, the whole truth half the time

The judge winks the jury waffles
He slams his gavel as the D.A. grovels
Just like in a cheap dime store novel
The did he do it ditty
Now they know he was the one
but they never found the gun
He didn't do it, did he?
Track Name: Whatcha Doin' Here
I went to Paris to get lost in the crowd of other Americans talking out loud
'bout themselves, themselves, just themselves
I had a whiskey the room became loud so I had another to drown' em all out
I acknowledged the girl on the stool with the knowing smile
I tipped my glass and got lost for a while
in the ring of another noisy cheer
When someone said whatcha doin' here?

I fell out the door I crawled up the stairs that destroy all ambition of any who dare
to entertain thoughts of escape some way out of there
I fell on the sofa, a dream fell on me a voice from another room called out to me
You remember when we had a reason to be?
It was good for a while now you're nothing to me
When I woke she spoke can I get you something dear?
But all I heard were the words whatcha doin' here?

I went to the station it was past time to go in any direction leaving no note
I'd been gone such a long time in spirit I fear it had died from the cold
I went searching for pieces of me I'd misplaced in the rubble of all of those misspent days
Whispering ghosts leave the faintest trace
I know all these streets but I can't name a face
Amsterdam ain't the town to drown your fears
or run like hell from yourself what you doin' here?

I met a girl I'm sure she's the one but she's so full of dreams she runs and she runs
She went away 'til another day I pray soon will come
Now she's got her a man in some faraway town but she's so full of spirit he can't keep her down
I'd never break her if she'd let me take her I would
Just when you're thinking she's gone for good
there's a sound so mysteriously clear
And she's standing there what you doin' here?
Track Name: Little Angel
There's a rumor goin' 'round
with golden hair eyes of brown
They say she's new in town
Little angel
Ol' John he up and swore
I never seen the likes before
All hail a star is born
A little angel
Driving the critics wild
Crowds come from miles and miles
Why she's barely a child
Little angel
First saw her the other day
Man I did a double take
Looks a lot like her mom they say
she's a little angel
Turns heads where she goes
Each day the legend grows
By now I'm sure you know
Little angel
Sings a song so sweet and high
Men swoon and women sigh
All rumors verified
A little angel
Track Name: Young Forever
Panic got us on the run
Our mother fathers we've become
Wrinkled eyes receding gums
Time is running out on us
All we want is to be young forever

We're aching here sagging there
Combing over thinning hair
Our t-shirts tight jeans are flared
We got viagra and our wives real scared
All we want is to be young forever

Our chins are tucked our tummies too
Hips and lips all brand new
With laser aim and razors true
There ain't nothing that they can't redo
All we want is to be young forever

Our faces taut our noses new
Our hips and lips and tits are too
Liposuction transplants ooh
We got more viagra and new wives too
All we want is to be young forever
All we want is to stay young forever
All we want is to be young forever

Mirror mirror on the wall
All we want is to be young forever
Track Name: Heaven In The Desert Night
In a bent brown dirty Duster off drove Vera
Mama waving faded to a speck
Dreamcatcher hanging around her rear view mirror
Saint somebody hanging around her neck
Mama said when you make Nevada
Got a father there somewhere I'm told
But she blew straight through never thought of stopping
More like him than she could ever know
Now the low plain curled into the high sierra
Quick she crossed the California line
As she neared the shimmer of the fabled city
Heaven in the desert night
From a black on black Mercedes out jumped Gino
Came up to the counter Vera smiled
Looked her up and down while she made him cappuccino
When she got off he was waiting outside
He said you got something baby
So you never acted you could start this week
You didn’t come all this way to be a waitress
Took his card she hardly stopped to think
Up and over Highland to the burning valley
She'd tell Mama California lies
Of the life where lights and legend never faded
Heaven in the desert night
Now the town was fast she was even faster
Wrong crowd somehow outran them too
Hung up after Mama called to ask her
Is it true? I can't believe that was you
Ended up a downtown dancer
Turning tricks to get a fix she broke
Called up Mama but she never answered
Own arms around her when they found her cold
From the canyon pass down to the dirty alleys
Echoes haunt the California night
Searchlights stab up through the long dark yonder
Heaven in the desert night
Track Name: Free Men
They were two they moved by night
No silhouette no shadow
North star shone so bright above the promised land
White blanket on a road of mud
The last of March is nearing
Footprints in a foot of snow never melt away

Forty nights they were never lost
for kindness of the stranger
Free men they flew so high like clouds before the moon

When the walls came tumbling down
Some stayed a lot moved onward
All they owned strapped across their backs
A new world so it seemed

Standing tall another wall
The devil’s reconstruction
After all of their blood and tears they’d only just begun

After so many hundred years we’ve only just begun
Track Name: My Weak Signal
Calling out transmitter on
Do you copy anyone?
Nation or a plantation?
Lately it seems all the same
You say it's no use lighting the fuse when master's too good to the slave
Can you hear me?
Am I on?
My weak signal almost gone
Calling out receiver on
Do you follow anyone?
Salvation or damnation?
Lately it seems all the same
You say it's no use fighting you'll lose when you know they invented the game
Can you hear me ?
Please respond
My weak signal going going gone
Can you hear me?
Am I on?
My weak signal going going gone
Can you hear me?
Am I still on?
My weak signal is going going gone
Track Name: East End
She stumbles from a strange bedroom dark and cold
He pretends he's still sleeping
Hours before she felt so warm
Such things are so fleeting
She gathers her clothes rubs the sleep from her eyes
She disappears forever
And the early morning cracks like a slow grin
Merchant fumbles for the keys on the streets of the East End

He waits in the park by the spray painted arch
for the men who are willing to pay
He goes for a ride past the swing set and slide
as a child he used to come play
And then he gets out they're gone with the wink of an eye
They disappear forever
And the loneliness cuts deep like a cold wind
Lost souls roam like ghosts on the streets of the East End

She comes home from school he waits in her room
Mother's away for the day
She's too young to leave besides who would believe
She lets him have his way
A last tear of innocence falls from her eye and disappears forever

The sun shies away on a pale rim
A man collects cans to buy cheap gin
From the newly ordained to the old hand
Those that fall from grace land on their feet on the streets of the East End