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Redhead Lefty - The Hour When the Ship Hits the Fan

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Published on Dec 31, 2011

A folk song by the mysterious Redhead Lefty - Lyrics below,

One of the few known extant recordings of the legendary and elusive folk/country bluesman, "The Hour When" represents a seminal and provocative example of Redhead Lefty's opus.

At first blush (and blush I did when I first came across this recording), this song appears to fall squarely in the folk tradition a la Woody Guthrie. The lyrics are striking both for their surrealist imagery and apocalyptic tone. Just exactly what is going to happen at this particular hour the singer refers to?

Even a casual listening begs the question: did Bob Dylan ever meet the man?—because surely Dylan's "The Hour When the Ship Comes In" was heavily influenced not only by Lefty's lyrics, but by his vocal performance as well.

Little is known about this recording, though it is possible that it was made sometime in the late '30's or early '40's, perhaps during the lost but renowned "Bridgton Sessions." (Myth has it that these "sessions" took place in an abandoned Masonic Hall somewhere "down East" during the Great Depression while Lefty was on one of his "wild whiskey nights" rampages.) I originally came across the mercurial Lefty from a friend, who gave me a CD purportedly made from a audio tape that was in turn made from the orginal vinyl 45--a "race record" label, as they were then called, but the label info is lost. My friend insists on remaining anonymous(no, it is not me or an alter ego) as part of the terms of his sharing Lefty. Lefty's filmed version of Mississippi John Hurt's "Satisfied Blues" is available on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwblXc...

The photo is a retouched copy found among Lefty's effects. Why he would have carried a photo of himself is a matter for speculation. The original had crease marks and worn edges that indicated it had been kept in a wallet. It is assumed to be an actual portrait from his youth.
-- JP Jones --

lyrics: The Hour When the Ship Hits the Fan

o the time will arise
when the lord of all the flies
will grow tired of the lies
and all the hoopla
and on ribbons made of steel
the train of history will squeal
the hour that the ship hits the fan
o the master's chains and whips
will be stapled to his lips
while the mighty are eclipsed
by gentle people
and the horses will take wing
and the dogs will start to sing
and the bells begin to ring
from every steeple

o the ladies will take tea
down along the Battery
with the boys from Bedford-Sty
on up to Harlem
and the yuppies[?] will complain
that they all were hung and framed
the hour that the ship hits the fan
when it all goes up for grabs
they'll be scuttlin like crabs
for to hire up a cab
they can escape in
and the buildings all will dance
and the trees will wet their pants
and the whole wide world
will be watchin

o the cars will dip and sway
on that helicopter[?] day
and the tv will be smokin in its fury
and we'll drink another round
and the curtain will come down
the hour when the ship hits the fan
and the planet's dirty socks
will be thrown up on the rocks
that were buried on the bottom
of the ocean
o your clocks will all be cleaned
and your past will be redeemed
and your future will be seen
a-bustin open

now the comets they will sing
as the galaxy will ring
and the universe explodes
in holy laughter
and the buffalo will roam
and the cows will all come home
the hour that the ship hits the fan
and the carpet on the floor
will be runnin for the door
and the mountains will be lighter
than a feather
and the angels will recall
all the days when we were all
lost in our thoughts together

copyright Redhead Lefty estate, 2011. All rights reserved.

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