Fares The Stranger Well

by Zephaniah Stringfield

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about

This album was recorded in the long-time tradition of music playing mortals with a microphone and a will to speak. The man who mixed the sounds was an eager eyed gentleman who had this to say of my songs: "I liked the second better than the first" and "Boy, that was long." I fed him a grin and he fed me his time and everything worked out right well. This collection is for traveling and shows various dusty pictures of the country and the ways one might feel as they catapult through 'em at 70 miles an hour. I thank the madman strangers for their courage to move along.

All songs written by Zephaniah Stringfield.

"In Zephaniah Stringfield’s first CD, “Fares The Stranger Well,” the music is soulfully couched in a roomful of his intimate self-reflections while wonderfully shedding light on the shared collective sighs of all of us. The lyrics emote the wisdom of a middle-aged man. Yet Zephaniah, just twenty years old, sings a style of music described best as the pensively, optimistic blues. Not every track expresses humdrum. The sum of Stringfield’s acoustic strumming and perfect vocals are constant. Somber and casual music, with a hint Rufus Wainwright’s tones and the singer’s own pragmatic poetry, creates a listening experience that left me feeling “Life is good.” The CD’s eight tracks are not a passive experience but more a journey alongside of the artist. He’s the guy you want sitting next to you on the train. A caring yet not over-bearing stranger who casually warms your soul." - Utne Reader

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released April 9, 2011

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Zephaniah Stringfield Taos, New Mexico

Performing with raw intensity and moving dynamism, Zephaniah Stringfield sings stories about his travels from the SF Bay Area to New Mexico and beyond, weaving biblical references and archetypes of traditional folklore with stories of highways, girls and greyhound buses. ... more

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Track Name: Bit O' The Blues
I have been thinkin’ about wastin’ away
away, away, a-way
And I have been drinkin’ but I can’t seem to taste
today, today, to-day
There’s cigarette upon my breath, biringin’ me closer to my death
But I am a-knowin that death is days
away, away, a-way

So I, I, I
I’ve been livin’ with hope
Fillin’ my pipe with smoke
Thinkin’ of ways to be free
And ways that I can cope
‘Cause life ain’t really that bad
Least not more than I can take
And everybody needs a bit o’ the blues, I say

So I have been waiting for a freight to roll
on by, on by, on by
And I’ll hop on that train and I’ll ne’er look
behind, behind, be-hind
This whiskey’s goin’ to my head and I’m startin’ to think I’d be better off dead
But this way of thinking will soon pass
on by, on by, on by

So I, I, I
I have had cause to wonder aloud
Sittin’ out in the night, just starin’ at the clouds
People tell me I don’t know what’s allowed
But I think I know by now
I just find your laws a little too proud
They don’t leave enough room to be loud
And I choose not to follow anyhow

So I, I, I
I’ve been movin’ around
Just roamin’ from town to town
Lookin’ for a place to stay
Where I can stick my roots in the ground
But you ain’t got me beat
I’m still standin’ on my own two feet
And everybody needs a bit o’ the blues, I say
Track Name: I'm Leavin' For The Cold
And, so I'm goin' to Minnesota in just one month's small time
I'm hopin' 99 below zero weather will help to sharpen up my mind
I've never been east this far, up and over to the north
But I hear the country is fair, over there, where the whole world turns to black and white

I guess I'm sayin' that I don't know
If the wind's gonna blow alone
Or if I'll be bouncin' down that road
Tumblin' fingers over toes back to my home
But if this candle in my head
Is gonna burn out on me some day
I guess it's best to light my way
While that flame is still burnin' on it's own

And, so I'm tryin' to spend some time with the ones I'll miss the most
Before I pack away my bags and leave this coast
Because I really don't know when I will be comin' back again
And by mid july, you know that my memory will be nothin' but a ghost

I guess I'm sayin' that I don't know
If the wind's gonna blow alone
Or if I'll be bouncin' down that road
Tumblin' fingers over toes back to my home
But if that candle in my head
Is gonna burn out on me some day
I guess it's best to light my way
While that flame is still burnin' on it's own

And, so I'm leavin' that compartment down in that ol' port town
Where I've been feelin' like you might expect the rain to feel as it falls down
But there ain't a drop of rain that is worryin' about where it will fall
So I must be movin' along, to sing a few new songs and tryin' to find something in the sound

I guess I'm sayin' that I don't know
If the wind's gonna blow alone
Or if I'll be bouncin' down that road
Tumblin' fingers over toes back to my home
But if that candle in my head
Is gonna burn out on me some day
I guess it's best to light my way
While that flame is still burnin' on it's own
Track Name: 40,000 Miles Away From You
Well, I looked down the road and what did I see?
You were a-skippin' along, you were a-lookin' my way
So I thought to myself, oh are you lookin' at me?
You've got the sun's way of smilin' on a bright blue day

We could go to Oklahoma, we could take a train
Or we could go to New York City in the pourin' rain
Oh, we could go to New york City in the pourin' rain
Or we could go to Oklahoma, we could take a train
We go, chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga-chugga choo-choo.

So I say, Mama, oh Mama, come cool my head
I've got this achin' hot fever, got me lyin' in my bed
And if I ain't gone by sunrise, you know that I'm dead
Yes, if I ain't gone by sunrise, you know that I have died

Well, I looked down the road and what did I see?
You were a-skippin' along, you were a-lookin' my way
So I thought to myself, oh, are you lookin' at me?
You've got that sun's way of smilin' on a bright blue day
Track Name: Catchin' The Hum
I like to walk sometimes
Catchin' the big hum of this restless city, ah-hum
I like to walk sometimes
Catchin' the big hum of this restless city, ah-hum
Or you'll catch me standin' on the street corner baby
Just seein' what I can see

I hear your whistle comin', baby
Just a-rollin' round that track
I hear your whistle comin', baby
Just a-rollin' round that track,
Oh, and if love was a train, baby
I'd let you roll right across my back

There ain't no jobs, baby
There ain't nothin' for me to do, no
There ain't no jobs baby
There ain't nothin' for me to do, no
But if you let me be your baby, baby
I would do myself all over you

If you got the time baby, you got the time for me
If you got the time baby, you got the time for me

I'll sing it loud, baby
I'll sing it for the world to hear
I'll sing it loud, baby
I'll sing it for the world to hear
Everybody's gonna know you're my baby, baby
They's gonna wish they was in my place standin' right here

I like to walk sometimes
Catchin' the big hum of this restless city, ah-hum
I like to walk sometimes
Catchin' the big hum of this restless city, ah-hum
Or you'll catch me standin' on the street corner just seein' what I can see
Track Name: Sailor Quick's Nighttime Wanderings
Sailor Quick, hoist those sails
Sink the captain, ring them bells
We've been comissioned by the daughter of The Sun
And she's got quite the list of things to be done

She says enough with The Moon, she's had it with the night
Everybody gets quiet, it just ain't right
She says someone's got to realize when enough is enough
Yes, someone has to take charge when push comes to shove

So, Mr. Quick, you've been a good friend
What do you think of all that I've said?
Will you come along with me to shoot for the moon?
For a price so high it will make your head swoon

He said, Mr. Field, I hear what you say
But I'm growin' quite tired of these long summer days
I'd rather that I could see the stars so bright
And bathe my ears in the clean silence of night

And anyway, I've heard it said
That the son of The Moon is a weathy lad
And maybe if we said to him
All that you've told me, he'd strike us a bargain

So we set our marks on the path of The Moon
That she laid on the water for to follow her home
And the ocean played tricks on the slip of my mind
So I no longer held tightly to the soft hand of time

And when I awoke, as if from a dream
In the house of The Moon where I laid at her feet
I had no memory of the things I had seen or the places I'd been
And our long journey made it's way among the great stories of men

The Moon and her court, the wolves and the stars
Laid banquet for us and we stayed until dawn
It was then we were told that it was known why we came
And like a mother, The Moon, called out to me by my name

She said, Mr. Field, I hear what you say
And I'm growin' quite tired of these long summer days
But what is it that you would have me do?
I cannot give warmth and I cannot bring the flowers to bloom

No, it is not for me to decide if The Sun
Rises or sets or when the day is done
And the children of the sky will come to learn this in time
And like my son learns from me, Father Sun will teach his daughter to shine

So fare-thee-well, Mr. Field and goodbye, Sailor Quick
I do believe it is time to go back to you ship
So we set out to sea to see what we could find
And we found some who were convinced they were dying
And we found some who were just happy to be living
But the ones, it seemed to me
To hold the world up their sleeve
Were the ones who agreed
That the sun going up
And the sun going down
Is just something we live with 'til we're laid in the ground
Track Name: Back On Out The Door
I ain’t got no lips, I have lost my tongue
Got a pool of blood where my heart once was
And my baby, you know she left me
With no shoes and no soul
Well, she loved me to pieces and now I need your lovin’ to make me whole

Well I rambled here this morning and you said to come on in
I only got one foot in the door before I was back outside again
Well, I guess that girls these days don’t take to a broken man
But that’s alright with me, I’ll fix myself up if I can
But I’m runnin’ out of thread and the needle it just broke
I guess all by my lonesome, I’m just the bad end of a joke

And I ain’t got no angel to hold me tight
So I spilled all my insides out into the night
And just maybe you will be
The one who will fix me
I’ve got a heart full of lovin’ somewhere and it can’t be too far away

Time and time again, I feel low-down, I got the blues
And I feel like maybe baby, it’s got something to do with you
But I’m not throwing blame, its got as much to do with me
It’s just hard to realize when you’ve got no eyes with which to see
Oh, but now I get the feelin’ that the money’d be well spent
Just goin’ to the tailor, and gettin’ a suit to rent

I ain’t got no scars with this black suit on
I’ve cleaned up real nice for you, the blood is all but gone
So maybe, you will take me
Now that I’m fixed up, and I’m okay
Ah, but I don’t how long this show will last, this suit don’t fit me anyway

Just as I had hoped, you were back inside your home
So I showed up right outside you door, on my lips I wrote a poem
I whispered it into your ear and you let me walk inside
On the floor there lay my heart, I was very much obliged
So I stuffed it back inside my chest, I threw my suit onto the floor
With all my pieces back in place I didn’t need it anymore

So now, I got my heart and I got my tongue
With my feet back where they once was
And you know it’s crazy how you love me
When I’m fixed up and I’m whole
But when I fall to pieces, it’s straight back to the street I go
Track Name: That She Can't Keep
I ain't lookin' for someone to take the blame
I don't really care about your face, your age, or your name
And I got a feelin' that you could say the same about me

Ah, but when you've found yourself upon the floor or in your bed
And your troubled thoughts start spinnin' in your merry-go-round head
I just want you to remember that I said
That she still thinks about you

But it's no trouble really, it's just the course of fate
You are halfway across the country, anyway
So you don't have to worry about me knockin' at your door

Well she took herself from you, that much is plain to see
But I have yet to understand why she has chosen me
It just seems like somewhere, way down in the deep
She is wanting something more
Something I can't give her, that's for sure

So we went down to that old worn-out bar
The one where you would go to drift away too far
And you'd end up singin' your little lullaby to the world

And when everything went black and the whole world fell asleep
You would sink that easy down where your sleeve ought to be
And I don't mind you sinkin' down into the deep
But she still thinks about you

And she ain't your common queen
She's not yours to steal
Like some peasant's keep
You are not her king
She does not need anything
No, she got moonbeams
And she is sunbeams
She does not need
What she cannot keep
So take away that
She cannot keep
Track Name: A Song For A Doctor
When you're sittin' down hungry in the midst of Missouri
And you've just been through Arkansas, you've seen the mountain springs
And dusty Oklahoma's got you tied up with family
And you've just sprung the handle and you're back in Texas heat
Won't you thank your health?

You lived awhile in Washington, among the evergreens
And also up in Oregon, where you tried to play and sing
And in the California Bay, where your home will always be
And you've seen many a man crying, trying to find his release
Won't you thank your health?

Some days you felt good lord, some days were the worst you ever had
Gettin' sick in New Mexico in some one room little country shack
But you always had a friend who was there to watch your back
So here's hopin' there's a friend for every man
And won't you thank the health
Of any man who gave
A tired hand
To a tired slave
A slave to work
Or a slave to pain
A slave to books
Or a slave to rain
'Cause we all been slaves
And every whip's the same
'Cause we all been slaves
And every whip's the same

So when you're sittin' down satisfied, hidin' behind your change
And your tremblin' lips call out for to bring you another plate
You might wonder to yourself through the mask of age upon your face
If the choices you have made have compromised your fate
At least you got your health

And now you're back up in your room, tryin' your best to fall asleep
But there's a thousand nameless souls runnin' wild through your dreams
And there's something that they want from you, but it's something you want to keep
And you wake up in the mornin' and you're haunted by what you've seen
Won't you thank your health?

But I am just a lonesome man who has seen a lonesome road
Where for what felt a hundred years, I built upon my load
I hitched my failures to my back and I found that there was nowhere for me to go
So one by one these days, I have been shedding my ways of old
And I'm thankin' the health
Of any man who gave
A tired hand
To a tired slave
A slave to hope
Or a slave to shame
A slave to greed
Or just to the name
'Cause we all been slaves
And every whip's the same
Yeah, we all been slaves
And every whip's the same
So won't you thank your health?