Hillbilly Pilgrim

by Mark Erelli

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On this 2004 release, Mark Erelli takes the dive he's always hinted at, teaming up with members of Boston's premier country band The Spurs to put a new spin on western swing. Hillbilly Pilgrim is immersed in vintage twang without abandoning Erelli's contemporary sensibility and the heartfelt, thoughtful lyrics more commonly associated with folk music. This is a fun, largely uptempo record, where even the tearjerkers are leavened by sleek steel guitar and Erelli's jukebox vocals.

"Erelli's charm lies in his ability to evoke the ambience of the old dance halls, where space and a quiet romance hung between men and women who stood on opposite sides of the floor waiting for that chance to dance with the future." --Houston Chronicle


released January 20, 2004

Produced by Lorne Entress

Mark Erelli - vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica
Frankie Blandino - steel guitar
Rich Dubois - fiddle
Lorne Entress - drums
Jerry Miller - 6 & 12-string electric guitars, mandolin
Johnny Sciascia - upright bass

Guest vocalists:
Erin McKeown - "Pretend"
Jake Armerding - "Pilgrim Highway"
Kris Delmhorst - "Pilgrim Highway"


all rights reserved



Mark Erelli Boston, Massachusetts

Mark Erelli completed a masters in evolutionary biology just after his self-titled debut was released in 1999. He has won several prestigious awards, and has 7 records to his name, including collections of western swing, lullabies and songs of stirring social conscience. In recent years, he has gained notoriety as a mulit-instrumentalist sideman with artists such as Lori McKenna and Josh Ritter. ... more


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Track Name: Brand New Baby
I met her on the farm on a hot summer night
I don't have to tell you it was love at first sight
It was a chance introduction by a mutual friend
I took a look in her eyes and I fell right in

She had heavenly hips and chestnut hair
It was a couple of days before I came up for air
Next thing I remember she had moved in with me
I was introducing her to my whole family as

As my brand new baby
My brand new baby
She's my brand new baby
I think I'm really stuck this time

My brand new baby wasn't nobody's fool
She laid down the law and she made all the rules
Didn't have much to work with but I'll be damned
If she didn't turn a boy into a full grown man

Now I thought about leaving but I never did go
I just gave what she wanted and I never said no
Now church bells are ringing and they ain't far away
Cause I know better than to disobey


Boys if you want to find the girl of your dreams
Stop looking in the movies and the magazines
Find yourself a woman with some meat on her bones
Don't fall for all the plastic and the silicone

There's lots of pretty women, I mean they're everywhere
Just keep your tongue in your mouth and try not to star
I remember what it's like to be one of the guys
Just don't let me see you trying to catch the eye of
Track Name: Troubadour Blues
When I was a boy
I went to hear this picker play
I still recall his blue guitar
Like it was yesterday
I was a powder keg a-waitin'
For someone to light the fuse
He struck a match and I did catch
The troubadour blues

When I got my first guitar
I played until my fingers bled
Though my parents wished
That I were doing something else instead
I wish they'd understand
It isn't something I can choose
Oh mama I was born to sing
The troubadour blues

Troubadour blues
Troubadour blues
All you need's a simple song
Three chords and the truth
Like Hank and Woody
Townes and Jimmie Rodgers used to do
Oh Lord I'm bound to ramble
With those troubadour blues

So I married me a woman
But she's more like a saint
She's alone 200 nights a year
With nary a complaint
Oh babe I hate to leave you lonely
But I need to pay my dues
Forgive me while I'm gone to sing
The troubadour blues


The same old battle's raging
All on down the line
Why does it seem like nothing's changed
Since Woody Guthrie's time?
I ain't afraid to sing about those things
You don't see on the news
'Cause there's plenty job security
In the troubadour blues

So let me thank you Mr. President
To me you've been so kind
For the well of inspiration
Can dry up from time to time
Each time you open up your mouth
You give me something I can use
Every day another reason
For the troubadour blues

Troubadour blues
Troubadour blues
All you need's a simple song
Three chords and the truth
Like Hank and Woody
Townes and David Carter used to do
Oh Lord I'm bound to ramble
With those troubadour blues
Track Name: A Bend In The River
It's just a bend in the river
Where the water slows down
Might not look like much to you
But it's my hometown

It ain't no mystery
How this town was born
It started with a couple farms
Then the mill and the general store
Ever since the work went south
And those wheels don't run
The bars got the churches beat
By at least two to one

I've lived 'round here
Since I was a little kid
Used to dream of getting out
Just like the college boys did
Maybe I was born
Without a rambling bone
You stay in one place long enough
And it starts to feel like home


I got married here
It'll be two years this spring
I can see her in her mama's white dress
Every time I hear the church bell ring
I know some folks said
She could do better than me
But she was raising a girl on her own
And she was only 19

Can't get 'em everything they want
But I try to give 'em what they need

Now and then I pull a graveyard shift
Down at the factory
When I see that little girl smile
Playing in our backyard
Lord it makes it all worthwhile
Keeps me going when the going gets hard

Might not look like much to you
But it's our hometown

It's changing everyday
The signs are all around
One more field gone to seed
Another barn falling down
Main Street's all boarded up
And nobody cares I guess
'Cause there's a place on the edge of town
Selling everything for less

But sometimes in my dreams
I see the waters rise
When the river jumps its banks
This town is purified
Everything is washed away
Clear to the county line
And we can start all over again
Maybe do a little better next time
Track Name: Pretend
If my smile
Ever fails to make you swoon
If my kiss
Doesn't send you to the moon
If my arms
Hold no charms
There's no need for alarm
Don't reveal how you feel
Just pretend

If your heart
Starts to long for other men
If your eye
Tends to wander now and then
I know it seems
The grass is green
But that's just the stuff of dreams
Don't be fooled, don't be cruel
Just pretend

Just pretend
I'm still the one you need, dear
I won't care if it's only make believe, dear
Don't discard me like I'm the latest trend
Go through the motions of devotion
And pretend

Oh love
Is often tedious and hard, dear
It can't always be
A Hallmark card, dear
Try to find the spark within your heart again
Go through the motions of devotion
And pretend

I'd rather that you fake it
If you left I couldn't take it
You got my heart so don't you break it
Track Name: The Farewell Ball
The government man
Started building his dam
Then he told us it was all for the best
'Cause they were tearing it down
They were drowning our town
In the name of progress I guess

We held our heads proud
'Til the state bought us out
And there wasn't much else we could do
But go down to Town Hall
To the last firemen's ball
It was decked out in red, white and blue

Come, come take my hand
Twirl to the band 'round the old Town Hall
Come, come take my hand
This is our last chance
Down at the Farewell Ball

The Downings and Gibsons
Farleys and Dickinsons
Everyone dressed to the nines
They piled into town
Came from miles around
To pay their respects one last time

A hush filled the room
And the band stopped the tune
As the midnight bell slowly chimed
I saw grown men break down
At the death of a town
When the orchestra played "Auld Lang Syne"

Come, come take my hand
Twirl to the band 'round the old Town Hall
Come, come take my hand
They've called the last dance
Down at the Farewell Ball

Even now I recall
How the waters claimed all
And made islands of the tallest of hills
And families and neighbors
Now scattered like paper
All etched in my memory still

I walk down there sometimes
Through the reservoir pines
To listen to the wind on the waves
It's like nothing has changed
I can still hear the strains
Of the last tune the orchestra played

Come, come take my hand
Twirl to the band 'round the old Town Hall
Come, come take my hand
They've called the last dance
Down at the Farewell Ball
Track Name: Let's Make A Family
I hear a tick
I hear a tock
Must be your biological clock
You're ready
Oh, you're ready

You got the itch
I wanna scratch
I can't resist that's a natural fact
I'm ready
I think I'm ready
We've had plenty of practice, so how hard can it be?
Baby, let's make a family

Some say we're in need
Of a reality check
But is there ever a good time so what the heck
If you're ready
Oh you're ready

Though the money we got
Ain't going far
You can't make a lot with an acoustic guitar
But I'm ready
I hope I'm ready
'Cause even fools are born with all the tools they need
Oh baby, let's make a family

I felt a kick
I can't wait
I know that's easy for me to say
You're ready
Look at you, you're ready

Eight months down
One to go
We're gonna add another ring to this circus show
And I'm ready
I better be ready
So honey cross your fingers and hope it don't look like me
Oh baby, let's make a family

Baby, you know I've been thinkin
We can start this one out on the steel guitar and the next on the mandolin
All it would take is a couple sets of twins
And before too long I'd have me a band for free
Oh baby, let's make a family
Track Name: Troubles (Those Lonesome Kind)
Well you think you got troubles
Man listen to me
I'll tell you a story as it happened you see

I got four little kids a-waiting at home
My wife done packed her bags and gone
She done moved on across the tracks
And I know that girl ain't a-coming back

I got troubles
Troubles on my mind
Well I got troubles, hey those lonesome kind

Every morning 'bout 8 o'clock
The kids start crying and they holler 'Pop,
Where's my mama? Where's she gone?
And when's my mama gonna come back home?'


My little girl is only three
I picked her up and set her on my knee
Try to soothe her crying but she cries too hard
And the crying, oh daddy, well, oh Lord


I know my baby's too young to talk
I sit and watch her try to walk
She's turning around, watching the door
And a big teardrop done hit the floor


Well I told you a story as it happened to me
Just the way that it happened you see
You got a good gal don't you do her no wrong
She'll pack her trunk and then be gone

Then you'll have troubles
Troubles on your mind
Yeah, you'll have troubles, hey those lonesome kind
Track Name: My Best Was Just Not Good Enough (For You)
The sky went black, the world stopped turning round
As you took my hand and sat me down
Remember how I cried as you broke the news
My best just was not good enough for you

So sad, you said, it had to end like this
As you turned to leave you blew me one last kiss
I let you go what was I supposed to do
When my best just was not good enough for you

I can't say I ain't learned nothing at all
You showed me just how hard one heart can fall

Was there something that I could have tried
Or maybe you just can't be satisfied
Either way I guess we'll never know the truth
'Cause my best just was not good enough for you

My best just was not good enough for you
Track Name: Fool No. 1
Whenever you call you can bet I'll always come
So honey you can just forget the other ones
Though you're cruel and unkind
I'm the very first in line
Darlin' I'll be your fool number one

You leave me blue as soon as you have had your fun
And I can't stand the kind of man that I've become
I should be running for that door
But I keep coming back for more
Darlin' I'll be your fool number one

I don't know why I let you put me through this pain
I don't know why but I still do it just the same

So if a fool is all you need
Won't you please consider me
Darlin' I'll be your fool number one
I'll be your fool number one
Track Name: Ain't No Time Of Year To Be Alone
Saint Nick fell down the chimney right on cue
With a big ole' bag of gifts for me and you
I was crying by the Christmas tree with a bottle of Patron
This ain't no time of year to be alone

He said 'you look like hell, boy where's your better half?'
I said 'she's gone and I don't think she's coming back
Did she have some last minute shopping that just couldn't be postponed?'
This ain't no time of year to be alone

I got just one wish
On my Christmas list
Oh baby how I wish you were here
I want chestnuts roastin', good friends toastin'
Health and happiness
But it won't mean a thing without you dear

He said 'Christmas without love and tenderness
That's just a hollow holiday at best
Son, it takes two to tango underneath that mistletoe'
This ain't no time of year to be alone

I got just one wish
On my Christmas list
I'd give anything to have you here with me
I want yule logs, reindeer, egg nogg, good cheer
Five golden rings
Not Kris Kringle's singles therapy

So me and old Saint Nick kicked back a few
And we both agreed he ain't no substitute for you
And I heard him say as he pulled his sleigh back out into the cold
This ain't no time of year to be alone
Track Name: Pilgrim Highway
I'm going down that pilgrim highway
Though none can say for certain where it leads
I believe someday I'll reach a place
Where all my burdens shall be released

So often tested by toil and trial
Onward from the moment we are born
We must be steadfast through every darkened mile
Travelling toward that everlasting morn

So take my hand, brother
Take my hand, sister
In each other we must confide
Many miles to cover
Before we are delivered
Down that pilgrim highway side by side

Though some we love may by the wayside fall
We must never feel abandoned or alone
There'll be a glorious reunion with them all
Just beyond that last bend in the road

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