Only Passing Through

January 20, 2010 8:48 PM

...we're all in Folsom Prison, but there ain't no Johnny Cash... Recorded live in performance at Nana Hari, Tokyo, on January 17, 2010. For this song I'm playing the Vietnamese jaw harp known as the Dan Moi. Video of this performance at YouTube and Vimeo.


saw an old man walking
walking with his dog
saw him disappear
disappear into the fog
one minute he was there
next minute he was gone
took out my pen and paper
and i put him in this song

took a brand new dollar bill
laid it on the ground
took an old dry chicken bone
down to the lost and found
sent myself a letter
but it never did arrive
still in a mailbox back in brooklyn
at least i made it out alive

figured i'd just end it all
so i laid down on the track
a big old train rolled over me
but i hardly got a scratch
the dust won't even go to dust
and the ash won't go to ash
we're all in folsom prison
but there ain't no johnny cash

see the eagle catch a rabbit
and carry him to his nest
i'm gonna catch a greyhound
and ride it way out west
it'll stop in kansas city
and maybe denver too
but til i reach that blue pacific
i'm only passing through

copyright p & c 2010 Samm Bennett - all rights reserved

posted by flapjax at midnite (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

these are the best blues lyrics I've heard in a while. A long, long while. I love the jaw harp, but it's just so suggestive of the rattly, dirty blues guitar that could have been. I also love how you say "johnny cash" through the harp. It rules.
posted by Jon_Evil at 11:30 PM on January 21, 2010

Hey, thanks so much for imparting your impressions, Jon_Evil. Much obliged.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:45 AM on January 22, 2010

I like the rhythmic variations you weave into the performance - it never get boring and your timing is spot-on. What I did think though was that a version of this where you're actually "jawing" the words (like you do with the Johnny Cash bit) would be really interesting to hear....particularly if the rhythmic variation was utilised. That might end up sounding like Peter Frampton though... Notwithstanding, it might be good too to bring in a modest light colourwash of something maybe halfway through - something subtle to build/maintain tension. Important I think that that is not a guitar. This is blues for the 21st century and guitars are sooo last century! Appreciate you've got your hands full live though in terms of doing anything additional. You're stuff is always good Flapjax (you don't need me to tell you), so these suggestions are offered from that "given" perspective.
posted by MajorDundee at 9:14 AM on January 22, 2010

Haha! Yeah, Major, doing the whole thing through the jaw harp might indeed get a bit too far into Frampton territory! I hear you on bringing in some additional sounds, and of course, when putting songs together in the studio, I'm more than likely to do just that. Live, though, I'm often these days into keeping it way simple and way stripped down, right down to the barest bones, really. I think that's a kind of reaction against hearing too much sequenced stuff from a laptop, thick backing tracks, being used by folks onstage.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:40 PM on January 22, 2010

You know I dig your tunes, so I'll skip to the good part...would you consider recording a percussion/drums jazz freakout for us sometime? I would really like that.
posted by snsranch at 6:21 PM on January 22, 2010

Hahaha! I'll see what I can do, sns!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:50 PM on January 22, 2010

Boo Yaa, baby!
posted by snsranch at 7:00 PM on January 22, 2010

This is so excellent and original, just love it. Lyrics are tremendous.
posted by pwally at 6:31 AM on January 23, 2010

Thanks so much, pwally.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:43 AM on January 23, 2010

Excellent ! You've really got something as a writer too. Yours lyrics are consistently surprising, interesting and beautiful.
posted by nicolin at 3:31 AM on January 24, 2010

Thank you nicolin, I appreciate that very much!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:46 PM on January 24, 2010

Haunting, it keeps going on in my mind.
posted by waviolet at 6:14 PM on January 24, 2010

Thanks, waviolet.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:11 AM on January 25, 2010

Dude, this was excellent. Makes me want a mouth harp of some sort real bad.
posted by frecklefaerie at 8:22 AM on January 25, 2010

frecklefaerie, I recommend these Vietnamese ones that I use, called Dan Moi. Unlike most other jaw harps, you don't put any metal against your teeth (which bothers the hell out of me, personally). You just hold it between your lips. Look 'em up!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:26 PM on January 25, 2010

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