Journeys Through Obscurity

by Vernon Tonges

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1.
Antonia Antonia Antonia Antonia Spinster mouth The odor of reptile longing. I gobbled your cobbler & I wolfed down your cakes Now slake my void with belonging. I'm longing. Stuff me as full as a goose. Dragonflies are jet planes. lost in the wind. The beetles are beaming with pride. The trunk of this willow’ll serve as our pillow Shading the glade where we lie. Oh my As autumn & evening draw nigh. Your hair is a massive eye public disaster Your expression sad as a sigh. Your body is bulgy, bumpy & bony Your face is round as a pie. Oh my Guess that's why I love pie. Shy as a glutton I loosen a button & sing some Victorian verse. I’m aloof you’ve been told & elusive & cold. I assure you quite the reverse, my Antonia I assure you quite the reverse, my Antonia I assure you quite the reverse.
2.
Cass & Amos 03:32
Cass & Amos Cass & Amos went looking for the Beulah Land In a rust-encrusted '69 silver Buick Regal sedan. Cass started feeling mighty strange as they crossed that Mesabi Iron Range. The Buick's broken bearings sound like pebbles in a Maxwell House can. Cass siphoned gas from the broken down van in a ditch. Amos sold some dope to a college kid from Basking Ridge. In Davenport the fuel pump blew. ln Moline the head gasket gave way too. Our heroes spent the night under that old Mississippi bridge. ‘Oh, Amos, my life’s up for grabs. I got me a vision; I got me the crabs. No bossman ever gave me steady work. No woman ever looked at me 'ceptin' to smirk. ‘Detritus like us ain’t got no home Ain’t got no home, ain’t got no home Detritus like us got no home in the land of the free.’ Cass cooked Amos a piping hot three course meal: Day-old bread, bouillon and can of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee. Cass pissed the fire out & went to sleep. Amos stared up at the stars & started to weep, Rolling in the sky like a rusted old Buick wheel. ‘Oh, Cass, I'm a nullity. It’s just a spiral down the toilet far as I can see Like Jesus on the cross, I've been nailed to my fate.’ Then the wine kicked in like a slow moving freight. ‘Detritus like us ain’t got no home Ain’t got no home, ain’t got no home Detritus like us got no home in the land of the free.’
3.
DelGado 03:00
DelGado I know a living horror named DelGado ‘Find ‘em, Kill ‘em, Eat’ em’ is his motto His eyes are small and cruel like a potato Flee in haste! He’ll lay your soul to waste! DelGado! DelGado takes the money from the poor. Beats ‘em with the wood from off the floor. Kicks ‘em in the butt until they’re sore. You are beast to say the very least DelGado! His morals are depraved and dissolute. Kneecaps serve as buttons on his suit. An unrelenting unforgiving brute! That cliff may be steep but take a flying leap DelGado! DelGado’s not a man, he is a curse! DelGado’s not a fiend, he’s something worse! A monster masquerading as a nurse! Ride down to hell astride your carousel DelGado! DelGado isn’t such a picky dude. He brings a shovel when he cooks his food. A feeding trough would compliment the mood. It’s a disgrace the way you cram your face DelGado!
4.
Blind Guy’s Guitar Union Missouri Blind Willie Johnson heard Willie McTell singin’ high. Johns cut the air with his bullfrog rumble, called Jesus down from the sky Willie McTell banged on his 12 string Johns cut loose with his slide Jesus kinda hummed along half to himself mostly listenin’ off to one side. Light the fuse. Aim at the star. Ride clear up to glory on a blind man’s guitar. Blind man’s guitar As you’re lifted aloft consider the cost ‘cause sorrow’s a fuel that would burn, boys. Blind man’s guitar Gary Davis met Blind Boy Fuller one sanctified Durham dawn ‘I’m catchin’ a train up to New York City, . Mind your soul boy while I’m gone.’ Birds & crickets sing in the thickets & the briars & the nettles & the thorns, But a man comes howling and screaming and raving in this world from the minute he's born. His cries wring the rain from the low-lying clouds. He shouts down the rooster & the wind boys. Blind man’s guitar His loud lamentations echo out through creation Drive the devil from the bottle of gin, boys Blind man’s guitar Catchin’ a ride on a muddy dirt road? Boy, that ain’t gonna get you very far. Try strapping a rocket with a turbine engine on the back of a Blind Man’s Guitar. Hollow sounds like a voice in a cave. Those blind street singers singing in their graves. I could listen all night. but I have to suggest you blind street singers take your hard-earned rest. Blind man's guitar
5.
Charlie Horse Oh Charlie Horse You hit me in the head with your hoof Oh Charlie Horse Label says ‘A 100 proof’ I saw that nag a-laughin’ about to bust a gut Poked his head off the label and jabbed me in the nuts Oh Charlie Horse Carry my burden away Oh Charlie Horse Worst bet I ever made Oh Charlie Horse Worse hunch I ever played Put something in his oats. He’s running the wrong way. He jumped the rail and trampled everybody in his way. Oh Charlie Horse Carry sweet burden away Oh Charlie Horse The hands are moving backwards on the clock Oh Charlie Horse The hearse is moving slowly down the block I saw the Devil waiting. He’s squatting on a rock. There’s a big black iron boat pulled up to the dock. Oh Charlie Horse Carry my burden away Oh Charlie Horse What have you done to my leg? Oh Charlie Horse Cramped up and useless as a peg There’s a bad breeze a-blowing from my brain to my dick. This evil juice I’m drinking bound to make me sick. Oh Charlie Horse Carry my casket away Oh Charlie Horse The graveyard is drawing nigh Oh Charlie Horse Good a place as any to die A stack of broken empties…a monument to despair He’s saddled up and ready or he isn’t really there Oh Charlie Horse
6.
Oh! Zelda 04:16
Oh! Zelda Batman qot a boner when Robin split his pants Schwarzkopf got his rocks off with a picture of General Grant Give me that prescription, doc, & I'll be feeling fine With a bottle of fruity fruity wine & a pickle Oh Zelda, don't nail me with your hairy eyeball stare I walked 30 miles through a February blizzard in my long john underwear. All I need is a buck for smokes & a slice of yer chuckleberry pie. Oh! Zelda You're a mean one my oh my. Oh Zelda, I guess I gotta be the cosmos's biggest sap. You look me right square dead in the eye & then you tell me that I'm full of crap. I ask for a little patience & you nearly gouge out my eye. Oh! Zelda You're a cruel one my oh my. Oh Zelda, I know you think that I'm a no-good lumpen slob. But I’ve gotta melt your cold patrician heart or else I'll have to go & find a job. Every time I tell you ‘bout how I feel you sic your dogs on me. Oh Zelda, You're hopeless, fiddle-dee-dee.
7.
Sweetie Pie 02:51
Sweetie Pie We live in an age of omens, auguries, mysteries, portents, prophecies, lies. Virgins are weeping, Yeti are creeping. Strange lights appearing in the sky. I awaken from my trance to find you rifling through my pants, unabashed by such a blatant crime. Nowhere in creation’s a more baffling manifestation of the irrational than you my monkey pie. You’re irrational my monkey mustard pie. The goddess bestows her virtues without favor but somehow short changed you my monkey pie. Your barren heart erases all the common human graces that should naturally by rights therein reside. Now my sweetie pie now sees, flapping spastic in the breeze, a pale and gleaming pennant unfurled. Like a vapor on the zephyr, that’s my banner of surrender. I’ll love you ‘til insects rule the world
8.
Kong 03:27
Kong On an island dwelt Kong an eon or two, he started out small but, brother, how he grew. The bones of the dinosaurs testified to what the bats & the birds & natives all knew. On that island a volcano blew, but none could spew like Kong could do. Oh Kong crossed the ocean. Kong has fled. Hide your children. Cover your head. Kong is long. Kong is strong. Kong succeeds where the others go wrong. Kong intrudes where he doesn't belong. Kong is even bigger than this dinky song. Kong's bigger than Texas. Bigger than Sinatra too. He started out small but Kong grew. Kong grew. Kong grew. Kong drilled the Holland Tunnel. Dug the Marianas Trench with his pole. Kong plowed the St. Lawrence Seaway. Kong filled the cosmic black hole. Your puny little world made of stone & steel, Kong smash your world like it isn't even real. A priapic pile-driving orgone-powered thing Kong is king. Kong is king. Kong is king. Kong is king
9.
Sleeping Baby Nebula Sleeping Baby Nebula, turns his gaseous head, Miniature piezoelectric yawn. Glowing celestial Christmas tree of blacks & blues & reds, Hovers for a moment, then he's gone. Above the blue ionosphere, Hubbell takes a peek. Sleeping Baby Nebula asleep. Trees are boney fingers beckon me to die. Hounds of early March tear at my coat. Clouds are fishes' skeletons dangling in the sky. He hovers high above me with the crows. Between the buzzing galaxies, he shimmers like a ghost. Sleeping Baby Nebula just floats. Sleeping Baby Nebula rocked by solar winds, Iridescent twinkling with stars. Oblivious as the embryonic orchestra begins. Sleeping wrapped up tightly in my arms. Calm as baby Moses, drifting down the Nile. Baby Nebula peaceful for a while.
10.
Beans & Biscuits Beans & Biscuits She brings me beans and biscuits Feeds me beans & biscuits ‘til I’m gray Burnt on the outside. Raw on the inside. Beans & Biscuits every goddamn day I’ve seen you no-good sinners with your fine pork chop dinners Mac & Cheese a-settin’ on the side I could waste my wishes on a lot of tasty dishes But there’s just one meal I never could abide. Beans & Biscuits No more beans and biscuits Beans and biscuits delivered to my grave Gonna be a-killin’ if you don’t commence to grillin’ Beans and biscuits ain’t all a man’ll crave I’ve seen you no-good fatties with your fine hamburger patties You savor every gooey greasy bite All you citizens cramming Your greedy gob-holes with poached salmon And a different fruity salad every night. All these shingles and legumes Gonna drag me to my doom Been years since I even saw my appetite I cannot tolerate any more carbohydrate This meal ain’t going down without a fight Beans & Biscuits She brings me beans and biscuits Feeds me beans & biscuits until I’m pale Burnt on the outside. Raw on the inside. Three times a day without fail I wonder what they’re serving in the jail.
11.
Town Time Forgot She walks in the place where the morning dew musses the hair of the night. Her cowlick twitches like an insect’s antenna at the first strawberry glimmer of light. Her pale pale hands wave a happy hello to this trembling beast that she caught. There’s a volcano growing the direction she’s going on the outskirts of the town time forgot. Her chubby thighs excite me so. They’re groovy to the max. The legislature will bankrupt me when the levy the horny tax. My neediness embarrasses me amid the bounty that providence wrought. Her torso’s a flag she indolently wags by the harbor of the town time forgot. Her shiny saddle mushroom skin embraces her butt like a leech. It yields with a prehensile tenderness, a suppleness no yogi can teach. In the stirrups she flies leaving us guy with the emptiness our hesitance wrought. Slide down the hole on your fireman’s pole to my hotel room in the town time forgot.
12.
Jenny Across the Ocean Jenny across the ocean Riding the rolling sea Jenny given her wings to fly with her sociopathy Sleeping on clouds like pillows or dangling empty air Jenny gets the power each time She says that she doesn’t care Cavorting across the cosmos Careening the stratosphere Ephemeral as a cobweb She’s not even really here Skipping across the billows and nowhere to be found Elusive as quicksilver I can only watch from the ground
13.
The Ballad of The Inepti Staple that baby to the ironing board. There’s something here you gotta see. Parking lot of a barbeque joint. An impromptu jamboree. Same old bunch of drunken no-accounts we once ran out of town Big Dumb Vern and The Inepti busking for another round. Wobbling like a chimp on goofy dust, hot as red dwarf star. Woebegone & out-of-sorts like a toad screwed in a jar Low & greasy swamp fart ringing through the lower dell Big Dumb Vern and The Inepti are fucked up clear to hell Bleary as a Marine on a three-day pass. Wiggling like a goddamn bug. Coming to you fresh-as-a-daisy straight from the county jug 20,000 Bodhisattvas sprang from the bush where he once took a pee Big Dumb Vern and The Inepti are playing this gig for free. Raised on deermeat (raw) & skunk cabbage way down the Dismal Bog. Grasshoppers ate his mama and the revenuers got his dog. Child of sorrow rinsed in rage. A grudge you couldn't haul with a crane. Big Dumb Vern and The Inepti are taking to the stage again. Making a rare appearance tonight between engagements in the calaboose Low and twisty slithery sound embracing you like a noose Still got time for one or two more songs before the army parachutes in Big Dumb Vern and The Inepti in town, the bartender waters his gin Coordination's dead and gone from drinking that stinking corn. Imaginations are fired up from reading that hard-core porn. God, the cops & the Kiwanis Club can kiss my pimpledy ass Big Dumb Vern and The Inepti, persistent as a rash
14.
Mess O’Chicken I can eat of mess o’chicken I am a mighty man I can eat of mess o’chicken I am a mighty man Storms may blow. Winds may wail Lesser men may sicken But I have never realized my capacity for chicken Waitress I been sweet on her names Clara Or was her name Sarah? Anyway her last name was O’Hara Or maybe McNamara? Got the hips likes ships. She got the honeydew tits Got the smile white as light If I catch her in a week or more I’m gonna ask her to be my… Who’s that sneakin’ out the back door around midnight last night Well it look like the Chicken Man Weren’t no ‘coon or possum, woman, He was carryin a frying pan Don’t give me that crap about the gas man, Clara, Don’t’ tell me you was alone I poked my head under the bed and found a mess of chicken bones I am a mighty man I can eat of mess o’chicken I am a mighty man Boil it Roast it Broil it Broast it Barbeque or fry it Let me get my greasy fingers around your giblets honey Let’s try to keep this quiet
15.
Prairie Biscuit Moon hangs in the sky like a biscuit I ain’t seen nothing holding it up Run, gonna brawl, stop it when is falls And cover it with gravy in the morning Prairie Moon shinin’ on the frosting Almanac says another blizzard’s on its way Go to the still. Get our fill. Tomorrow is Christmas day. Gonna kick up the sawdust and the cinders boys Gonna rock that barn into the creek When the timbers start to groan, the captains coming home And the fishes in the Wabash start to speak Prairie Moon shinin’ on the frosting Almanac says another blizzard’s on its way Go to the still. Get our fill. Tomorrow is Christmas day. Someone lit a fire in the hayloft Some farmer broke his fiddle on my head I jumped on the sod til the stars began to nod And Ol’Hanna put the Prairie Moon to bed Mornin’ come weeping in the window Flap-Jacks flipping in the air When the griddle starts to spit The folks’ll have a fit when they catch you when you’re creeping up the stairs Prairie Moon shinin’ on the frosting Almanac says another blizzard’s on its way Go to the still. Get our fill. Tomorrow is Christmas day.
16.
St. Louis Pipedream Saw St. Louis in my dreams Such splendor slumbers may reveal Just the way that I remember still too dream-like to be real The river rolled like molten lava Fish was dancing in the street Whisky comin’ through the plumbing The air perfumed with bacon grease You know, a man’s inclined to wander I know you’ll never get a job If only, only in his dreams But all you ever do is dream For just one taste of sweet sweet morphine Ooooo Sets my restless racing heart at ease I know St Louis ain’t no dream I’m tired of that pissant town I see you take my good green money All you do is drink it down You know, a man’s inclined to wander I know you’ll never get a job If only, only in his dreams But all you ever ever do is dream For just one taste of sweet sweet morphine Ooooo Sets my restless racing heart at ease I guess it’s just a junkie’s pipedream This paradise I’m thinking of I’ll take the St Louis I been dreaming Go on back to St. Louis You can take your heaven and go shove
17.
Mushball 04:53
Mushball When those back door hinges start to squeak My six senses spring a leak I roll myself up into a tiny little ball Roll around. I don’t have to speak Pray the lord my soul to keep I’m not saying nothing you don’t know Chased around by baby elephants I bask in my irrelevance I’m not saying nothing you don’t know We all need the keys We all need the keys We all need the keys to the tools Stain my curtains with nicotine Soak my spine in benzedrine My eyes are popping and blinking like the airport lights Spend my last dollar on gasoline Take me from here to Abilene To watch those blue worm wiggling in the sky all night All the portents recommend I ditch my mother and my closest friend Where county road 7 crosses over Egyptian Creek In the wildlife refuge covered in sand I found my lucky horseshoe and pineal gland It gave me the lonesomest feeling that I had all week We all need the keys We all need the keys We all need the keys to the tools Last night I had my last orgasm Dissolved my bones to protoplasm I’ve been picking up radio signals from a church in space I know you don’t think it’s so very great Me becoming an invertebrate But I’m not so enamored by your goddamn human race We all need the keys We all need the keys We all need the keys to the tools
18.
Gumby’s Locomotive In a shopping mall I saw Hitler’s Mercedes In a photograph I saw Lindberg’s plane In a carnival I saw Elvis’ caddy But nothing thrilled me more than seeing Gumby’s train Little green fella with those googly eyes Grabbed a big locomotive in between his thighs Motor starts grownin’ grindin’ & grabbin Green eyes waving from the engineer’s cabin Hi Hi Hi Why bother walking when you know you can skate? Why be stiff if you can bend like a snake? Why drink Kool-Aid when you got Champagne? Why walk when you can be riding Gumby’s train? Lays track faster than the eyes can see Goddamnest thing I ever saw on TV Running down the Rockies into Arizony Rockin’ like a fool with a little orange pony Hi Hi Hi In a shopping mall I saw Hitler’s Mercedes In a photograph I saw Lindberg’s plane In a carnival I saw Elvis’ caddy Nothing thrilled me more than seeing Gumby’s train Nothing thrilled me more than seeing Gumby’s train
19.
Black Dog Sniffing Gibbous moon glides through the sky surfing on the astral breeze The lake is kissed by the rising mist and the wind brush the tips of the trees There’s a critter come creeping in the morning ‘bout half past four Stinkin’ breath like the stench of death come wafting through my screen door Everything on God’s green earth is as quiet as a mouse There’s a black dog sniffin’ around my house It’s a vile sin from bygone days returned to wreck my hard-earned rest How long must I lie awake thinking of this nocturnal pest? Garbage can begin a-rattlin’. There’s a-rustling in the overgrown weeds Lapping & slurping at the birdbath. Slipping through the bog by the reeds Why am I up pacing the floor? I should be out like a light in the sack. There’s a black dog sniffing around my shack
20.
Bete Noir 05:24
Bete Noir I’m tired of chintz and Vivaldi. Water color on the wall. Your talk is lousy with references to Nietzsche, Oscar Wilde, and Chagall. There’s just so much grief that one man can take who’s living in a gilded cage Find yourself another noble savage Maybe one who’s not so crazy with rage. When I’m loose, won’t do you no good being rich I’m a free fucking whiskey dribblin’ son-of-a-bitch Cutting through town like a cross-cut saw Defoliating chicken. Inhaling coleslaw Lurching Loud Lascivious Lude A monster of the moral turpitude A McCormick Reaper of illicit glee Unheedful of what the consequences be Hear the cacophony of drunken ravings Behold the orgy of unnatural cravings Appetite devoid of mitigating factor An ambulating thermonuclear reactor I’ll smoke you up and throw you away like a twenty cent cigar I wanna be your Bete Noir. Turn down the CD player, hon. I believe it’s time we spoke You’re smug. You’re annoying, You’re gross. You’re self-centered, and you cannot take a joke Your family are inbred morons. Your friends a bunch of stupid goddamn cows Now I’m gonna do you the favor of busting up your goddamned house When the building starts shaking, hon, it’s time to get out Better prepare the evacuation route Cutting through town like a cross-cut saw Defoliating chicken. Inhaling coleslaw Lurching Loud Lascivious Lude A monster of the moral turpitude A McCormick Reaper of illicit glee Unheedful of what the consequences be Hear the cacophony of drunken ravings Behold the orgy of unnatural cravings Appetite devoid of mitigating factor An ambulating thermonuclear reactor I’ll smoke you up and throw you a way like a twenty cent cigar I wanna be your Bete Noir.

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This is a compilation of Vernon's first three cassette albums, Our Glorious Simian Heritage 1991, The Mayor of Chicken Town 1996 & The Lay of the Minstrel 1997

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releases December 11, 2020

All songs by Vernon Tonges (BMI), except where noted.
An Unnecessary Arts Production® © 2020 Rockin’K Music®
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Rich Krueger Chicago, Illinois

A literary songwriter of the first rank. It’s his quavering, compassionate, observant, imaginative, sometimes overstuffed, always eloquent songwriting that his crack bands are there to put across, as they do, unfailingly.... the kind of miracle that keeps me checking out thousands of albums a year so I can grade a couple hundred for posterity.
- Robert Christgau, Dean of American Rock Critics
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