The Oyster Aristocracy

by Bob Wright and Harbortown

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1.
DOWN BY THE OYSTER BARGES © Bob Wright A D I dreamed I danced with Mary Mallon, A E Typhoid Mary… Typhoid Mary A D Dreamed I danced with Mary Mallon A E Down by an oyster barge (BREAK BETWEEN EACH VERSE) She stepped so light I could hardly catch her Hardly catch her, hardly catch her Stepped so light I could hardly catch her Down by an oyster barge And the boys all said don’t dance with Mary Typhoid Mary… Typhoid Mary Said don’t dance with Typhoid Mary Down by an oyster barge But she kicked so high I could see her stockings See her stockings, see her stockings Left my heart and knees a knocking Down by an oyster barge We’d dance for a while and we’d eat a dozen Eat a dozen, eat a dozen She said oysters were for lovin’ Down by an oyster barge Before too long I was feeling queasy Feeling queasy, feeling queasy Mary said she had to leave me Down by an oyster barge So if you go down to the oyster barges Oyster barges, oysters barges Don’t you dance with Typhoid Mary Down by an oyster barge Cause I dreamed I danced with Mary Malllon Typhoid Mary… Typhoid Mary Woke up with my stomach rollin’ Down by an oyster barge
2.
3.
02:21
TENEMENTS © Bob Wright They pay their rent in tenements with lots of time in ditches And grumble that the landlords are a bunch of sons of bitches They freeze there in the wintertime and broil there in July And there’s not a soul amongst them believes they’ll leave before they die (Chorus) There’s nothing wrong with tenements They’re just a pile of bricks There’s nothing wrong with tenements A wrecking ball won’t fix There’s nothing wrong with tenements I won’t go back again I’d rather be a beggarman At least I’d see the sun You can tell by all the snoring when the men have been out drinking they pack you in so tightly you can hear your neighbor thinking They drown themselves in gin and beer that barely has fermented There’s no reason to be sober in the palaces they’ve rented (Chorus) It seems to them they’re living in a cavern or a stable But most of them still rise and shine and do what they are able They’d heard that in America all things are vast and wide But it’s hard to see the good of things when you’re always stuck inside (Chorus) Now Mister Jacob Riis has sworn to change the way things run He went there with his picture box he should have brought a gun For if ever there was anything that needed facing down It’s the landlord of a tenement when the rent comes back around (Chorus)
4.
TOTTENVILLE TOWN © Bob Wright D G D I’d like to go down to Tottenville town A D Tottenville down by the sea Where the oysters I hear G D A D Are much sweeter there than I ever thought they’d be A G D They’re so fine and briny they’ll mess with your mind G A You’ll make love dramatically D G D Oh… I’d like to go down to Tottenville town A D Tottenville down by the sea I’d like to go down to Tottenville town Tottenville down by the sea Where the houses I hear Are much bigger there than I ever thought they’d be They’re big and they’re sunny they cost lots of money They keep them fastidiously I’d like to go down to Tottenville town Tottenville down by the sea I’d like to go down to Tottenville town Tottenville down by the sea Where the people I hear Are much nicer there than I ever thought they’d be They’ve built them a place At the tip of the state And live there quite comfortably I’d like to go down to Tottenville town Tottenville down by the sea
5.
THE TRUE AND ACTUAL ACCOUNT OF BARNUM’S FEEJEE MERMAID © Bob Wright She’s the only mermaid that you can’t get wet. Late one night off the Feejee coast A native fisherman went out in his boat He cast his lines he set his nets Then sat back to see what he’d get A cloud rolled over the man in the moon The water boiled… he grabbed a harpoon Something rose up sad to say The fisherman fired away Many years later he could still recall That bloody sight that mournful call For it wasn’t a tuna fish or whale But a mermaid girl that he had by the tail Her eyes grew dim as he held her near She whispered softly in his ear I can’t believe that I’ve been caught while I was heading to New York Right after that the mermaid died He held her for a while and cried He stroked her gills and swore that he Would see she got across the sea He packed her up in ice and hailed A Yankee ship that was hunting whales The captain smelt opportunity And he knew who to go and see Old Phineas T couldn’t believe his eyes He couldn’t wait to advertise People lined up around the block To see what the Feejee man had caught For a quarter of a dollar see a daughter of the sea She’s the most amazing thing that you have ever seen Control the urge to holler control the urge to scream Your safety is assured at the American Museum And… she’s the only mermaid that you can’t get wet
6.
AMERICAN CASBAH © Bob Wright E Welcome to the Casbah B7 I swear we have it all C7/B7 E/B7 Lots of opportunities await you in the stalls Welcome to your nightmares Welcome to your dreams Watch your step and keep alert Things ain’t always what they seem Now take that mister over there He may look a little foreign But he was born above this store You shoulda heard his mama cryin’ And those people in the funny clothes They’ve lived here forever They may not dress like you or me But they certainly are clever (Chorus) Now you talk a little funny Yes you sound a little strange But if you stay here long enough Even that might change Or you can stay the way you got here Hey you can be somebody new You can even say you’re not here Who’s to say it isn’t true So welcome to the Casbah I swear we have it all Lots of opportunities await you in the stalls Welcome to your nightmares Welcome to your dreams Watch your step and keep alert Things ain’t always what they seem
7.
8.
CROSSING JENNY LIND (CHORUS) D A D/D7 Walt Whitman didn’t like Jenny Lind G You heard it right D Let me say it again G Gm He made it quite clear D He made it quite plain D A D Walt Whitman didn’t like Jenny Lind Now you know it may seem funny After all she was America’s honey But with all the accolades she collected She didn’t make his body electric (chorus) Walt Whitman was a musical thinker The man could hear America singing But after hearing her he decreed She didn’t touch his heart in the least (chorus) Bettini and Alboni left him breathless The Swedish Nightingale …made him restless He thought… how can there be anything but boredom When there’s a vacuum in the head of the performer (chorus)
9.
DOWNINGS OYSTER BAR © Bob Wright D C A There’s a party going on upstairs D G D A Acres of oysters and lakes of champagne D C A They don’t know we’re hiding out down here G A D Running from a lifetime of pain D C A Mr. Downing is everywhere D G D A Checking us over then checking again G D A Bm Shaking his head at the stories we share G A D Players in a dangerous game (Chorus) G D A D Just follow the star is what we were told G D Bm A The sky doesn’t lie the darkness enfolds you G D There will be hardships G And dangers to share A D There will be people who care G D A D There will be people who care It’s been days since we saw the sun We don’t ask for pity and we don’t complain Life ain’t easy when you’re on the run But we’re never going back again (Chorus) G D We can hear people singing G D We can hear glasses clinking G D G We can hear our hearts pounding with every footfall G A D Mr. Downing says don’t worry at all G D A D Mr. Downing says don’t worry at all (Chorus)
10.
THE MERMAID’S MANDOLIN © Bob Wright G D C G Sometimes at night when the sky tries to smile Em D And the ocean is rolling a soft lullaby C G C G Rolling seven/ eleven come heaven come sin D The mermaids are playing on their mandolins (chorus) G C G Singing songs that are salty and songs that are blue Em D Sing along with the whales and the sailormen too C G C G Songs that are easily caught by a breeze C D G Songs that belong to the sea The oceans a wild place the oceans a home And the ocean can take you to places unknown It’ll chill you and thrill you and beckon you in When the mermaids are playing on their mandolins (chorus) C G And the seas are deep… C G And the seas are cold… Em D And the seas are ancient and old… It’s the place that we came from and a place that we go For a sense that the world can be made to go slower We leave but we always go back there again When the mermaids are playing on their mandolins (chorus)
11.
LOOK AT THE WATER Key of A © Bob Wright A D Look at the water brother A D Look at the water brother A D E A We should have realized that something was wrong A D Look at the color of it A D Look at the color brother A D E A We should have realized that something was wrong (Chorus) A E A Now we’re gonna have to shut it all down boys E A We’re gonna have to shut it all down D From the Hudson to the Raritan A E Ain’t no one taking care of it D A We’re gonna have to shut it all down. Can’t find no stripers (OH NO) Can’t find no shad (OH NO) I hate to say it boys but things have gone bad Can’t eat no oysters (OH NO) Can’t eat no clams (OH NO) I hate to say it boys but we’re in a jam (Chorus) INSTRUMENTAL BREAK- (VERSE) Call out the lawyers (OH NO) Call out the judge (OH NO) We got to tell them that the harbors all sludge Go tell the clamming man ( NOOOO) Go tell the oysterman (NOOOO) We got to tell them that their jobs are all done (Chorus)
12.
THE CAPTAINS OF CAPTAIN ROW © Bob Wright Oh the captains of Captains Row Can sail anything that floats If it’s got a rudder They can sail it in a puddle Oh the captains of Captains Row Oh the captains of Captains Row Like to go for an evening stroll You hear them coming By the shanties they are humming Oh the captains of Captains Row Oh the captains of Captains Row Like to get in a boat and row They sail the ocean Cause they like the motion Oh the captains of Captains Row Oh the captains of Captains Row Eat oysters with their toast They scoop them from the bottom And they’re happy when they got ‘em Oh the captains of Captains Row
13.
NEW YORK CITY VIEWS © Bob Wright C D G C D G New York from the water New York from the air C D G New York seems like it’s a dream F D When you’re first getting there C D G C D G New York seen from Africa from Italy or Spain C D G New York seems to change as much F D As it remains the same New York seen from Liverpool from Dublin and Beirut New York is the kind of place That sings a song for you New York is a question mark New York is a crowd New York wants to hear you now So sing it right out loud (Chorus) C D G C D G New York City, New York City, New… York City C D G C D G New York City, New York City views New York with its bridges and its rivers and its boats New York with its subways and its sidewalks and its roads New York opportunities provide us all with hope But New York makes no promises to those who choose to go New York is an actor New York is a stage New York is a place you can begin another page New York takes the seasons and makes them all it’s own New York is the reason that you all should sing along (Chorus)

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New York City when oysters ruled.

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released January 1, 2009

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Bob Wright/ Harbortown New York, New York

He is a multi-instrumentalist, an award winning songwriter and Bob Wright songs are often mistaken for traditional songs because their immigrant roots run deep beneath the surface of America and back to the places they came from for nurturing and inspiration. They surface in a modern world, constructed with a modern sensibility and a comforting resonance with the past. ... more

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