This is a true story! Based on a newspaper clipping collected during my first extended American tour, this song tells the story of a funeral with an unlikely outcome… I play this tune sometimes in my live acoustic set, but wondered how I could best record it. When I met and jammed with BMA-winning bluesman Watermelon Slim at the Edmonton Blues Festival in Canada, I knew I had found the perfect collaborator! Here I take the role of narrator, leaving the inimitable Slim to play the role of the Hell-fire and brimstone Southern preacher - a part he plays with considerable relish. Everyone in the studio joined ‘The Congregation’ – and, while I think the ultimate message remains intact, we all had a hell of a lot of fun.
‘Brothers and sisters! Let’s take a reading from the book of Ecclesiastes, wherein it is written – there is a time and a place for everything under the sun...’
There’s a time and a place, good lordy mama
For everything under the sun
There’s a time for grace and forgiveness
No matter what you done
Now did your mama never teach you no manners?
Did your daddy ever tell you what?
If you ain’t got something good to say
Better keep your big mouth shut
Here’s a barrelhouse man on a cooling board
They took him down to the burying ground
They had all of his friends and family
They came to lay him down
They all gathered around him, bowed down their heads to pray
Imagine their surprise when the man with the Good Book
Said what he had to say...
He said ‘Look at you all – you sinners!
You gonna burn in a fiery Hell.
You and your mama and your sister and your brother
And your granny and your mule as well!
Your buddy was a rambler and a gambler
And I ain’t got no time for him
Now kindly put a little money in the plate
‘Cause this meeting is at an end.’
Well, the ramblers, and the gamblers and the fornicators
They took exception to what was said
It made them stop praying right away, for the living and for the dead
It made them forget what the Good Book said
About the humble and the meek
They grabbed the preacher, hit him upside the head
Told him to turn the other cheek
‘Cause he’s a man of the cloth, with the power and the glory
He’s a man just the same
And there ain’t nothing with more power in the world
Than kindness in the Good Lord’s name
Now there’s a moral to this story
Misuse of power never pays
And let’s give thanks that the great God Almighty
Moves in mysterious ways
from Blues Woman,
released May 5, 2009
Fiona Boyes - resonator guitar and vocal
Marcia Ball - piano
Watermelon Slim - harmonica and preacher vocal
Derek O'Brien - guitar
Ronnie James - upright bass
Jimi Bott - drums and percussion
The Congregation - clapping and crowd noise