Lucky & Damned

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THE ALBUM

Lucky and Damned was laid down over 4 days in January 2020 in Geneva.

The album’s 15 songs were recorded live, and most were played « solo ». As is usual for me, acoustic instruments (guitar, ukelele, mandolin) take front stage on most songs.

Three songs were laid down as a live duo performance with George Leitenberger, who lent his wonderful hybrid picking on acoustic as well as electric guitar.

As a singer/songwriter project, the orchestration is minimal. There is limited use of overdubs. My aim was to keep it simple and honest, to put the lyric and the raw vibe of the song first.

This set of songs continues along the musical path traced by the acclaimed album Raw Love. Released in 2018, Raw Love was a duo project with George Leitenberger, and was nominated for the German music journalists’ «Best album of the year award 2018».

Released on the Berlin silberblick-musik label, Lucky and Damned was recorded, mixed, produced and mastered by Andreas Albrecht.

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Why lucky and damned ?

We live double lives. At least that’s how it can feel.

The good moments –  when we get lucky.  Lady Luck is smiling. The less good moments – when luck runs out. Damn it.

It’s fair to say that there is often a fine line in our existence that separates luck from damnation. For this reason, we are all lucky and damned.

My take on lucky and damned is that it’s a question of relative outcomes. To be absolutely damned isn’t a good call. Don’t go there. If you do want to go there, then lend your ears to Berlioz’s Damnation of Faust. And lucky streaks are just that, a finite moment of rolling good fortune. Like a box of chocolates, you know it can’t last.

What’s the story?

Taking on the world and winning as well as losing, trauma and joy, the temptation of forbidden fruit, partying hard, murder, revenge, tough existential truths, irony, humour, regrets, global inequality, political corruption, as well as honest anger. These are just some of the many overlapping red threads running through the 15 songs.

A mini-bio gives more detailed “liner” notes for each of the 15 songs below. You will also find the lyrics to all songs, and some info about some of the instruments used in the recording.

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THE SONGS

1. Gun to my head

We all carry scars.

Big ones, small ones, visible ones, as well as the invisible. Some of us seem to collect more than others do, somehow, involuntarily. That’s life. You take the hits. But at the end of it all, life’s always worth fighting for. Bite the bullet, and get on with it, with a smile.

George Leitenberger plays acoustic guitar.

2. Saint nothing the lost

A song about being in a dark place.

In my experience such songs are typically written when in a shuttered wintry moment, and seldom if ever while on a summer beach. The first line of this song has been in my head since the mid 1990s, when I often used to take a shortcut through a cold damp (into the bones cold) Victorian-era train station.

One the bright side, this is a first for me: a ukelele.

3. Do you want to?

A “youthful scream at the world” sort of song. Straight to the point with just a tad of arrogant swagger.

Do you want to raise a finger to the world with me? Of course you do.

4. Spring snow melts

Trump, the rise of the Right, Brexit, the betrayal that is the paralysis of Scottish constitutional politics, and so on, and so on.

Conspiracy theorists might argue that there is an unspoken agenda to roll back universal suffrage, most straightforwardly by leaving voters so utterly disillusioned that they choose not to exercise their right to vote … thus leaving the way free for vested interested to monopolize and direct the electoral process. Don’t tell me that things are going to get better. An unashamedly pessimistic track. When even the spring sunshine on the snow-covered Jura skyline fails to herald the hope of a new beginning …

5. Lucky but damned

A song based on and inspired by the literary work of Valder Lärka, « damn Lucky »  (Hay House, London, 2011).

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A contemporary murder ballad set in the brutal chaos of an unnamed African civil war, where even those lucky enough to survive are damned, ultimately.

6. Damnation

I’ll say it again: we’re all lucky and we’re all damned.

The theme of damnation in this song precedes my coming acquainted with « damn Lucky », but there must have been some magnetism in the flow that brought all these ideas together at more or less the same time. A song about choosing not to cede to temptation, of not opting to take the road to damnation, of following the proverbial angel rather than the proverbial devil.

George Leitenberger plays electric guitar.

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7. Pitbull

It’s good to be angry, sometimes.

We all need to get it off our chests once in a while. Throw a punch even. To bite and not let go. Other times it might have been better to keep your mouth shut and hide your feelings. But when you reach that important point of introspection, it’s obviously already much too late.

A sound teaser video, Pitbull.

Photos from the recording studio: G. Leitenberger; R. McKinnon

8. Damned if I do

Sometimes it’s like you can’t win, whatever you do, whatever you say, it’s like the flow is 100% against you.

Against these odds, it’s best to remain upbeat and pragmatic. We should all learn how to dodge the bullets and roll with the knocks. Another big heads up and crisp high fives for Valder Lärka.

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9. Last pint rebel 

A love song above all else.

Above all else, a song of love.

Andreas Albrecht plays piano.


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10. Stickleback 

Inequalities are widening, and access to the most essential of things, including water, is increasingly becoming a luxury.

Despite the best will in the world and the well-meaning actions of many dedicated people, the human rights agenda seems to offer the promise, at best, of too little too late. It’s as if millions of people are being thrown a life jacket that, when worn, actually keeps their heads half-submerged under the waves. This song builds on a shocking image of the squalor of an Indian shantytown that sits, literally, over the “wall” from middle class multi-story apartments, each of which is adorned with an azure swimming pool sunk into a sun-bathed terrace.

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11. Juggernaut

We happily make choices.

We also make the wrong choices, which only hindsight will reveal. Life will always be shaped by having chosen one day to go left and not right, but we could have chosen differently, and we could have waltzed life down a different path. If only, … A song inspired by a nonagenerian mother-of-five’s frank admission that she might just have married the wrong man 60 years+ prior. Self-development is evidently not restricted by age …

George Leitenberger plays lead acoustic guitar.

A sound teaser video, Juggernaut.

12. Elephants

I read once that two elephants are killed by poachers every day.

Many involved in such trafficking do so because, in the absence of local alternatives, it’s the best option available to make a living. Another example, it is said that poached rhino horn sells for 90 thousand dollars a kilo. The main profits, of course, go to those who do not live locally and who do have livelihood alternatives. Even for legally traded goods, the inequality of global supply chains, and the perversity of the consequences of the «profit first» economic model, seem to know no bounds. The limited availability of PPE for many frontline workers most exposed to and at risk from the COVID19 pandemic, and the need in many countries for massive importations of the same, is one blatant example, as is the obscene race to maximise the future global profit from an eventual COVID19 vaccine, and to prioritize access to it for those countries who can pay most. It is worth remembering that Jonas Salk, who developed the first polio vaccine in the 1950s, chose not to to patent it – rather, he chose to put global public health, as a “moral commitment”, before personal profit. We need a modern-day Jonas to take on the greed of Big Pharma.

13. Paper boats

The emigrant’s song. Or: the uncomfortable ambiguity of being.

A song that invokes the comfortably-heeled emigrant’s silent guilt on returning home and witnessing the pitiful sight of a person seated on a city street begging for money in a heavy winter downpour, the freezing rainwater literally flowing through the blanket on which the person sits. A not uncommon migrant’s tale where the happiness felt about returning home transforms rapidly into an uncomfortable feeling of relief about actually having left.


14. Wrench

To feel angry, tired and lonely, once in a while, is perfectly normal.

But it’s a kind of normal negativity that is best to quickly shake off.

15. Old black prozac taxi

An ode to inexpensive taxi rides.

From the perspective of one who wants to believe in the sanctity of love, this song is also about falling out of love, of letting go, and leaving behind all that was once dear, to start afresh. A long goodbye to nights on the randan in Glasgow.

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Three faces in the studio windows.

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Photo: G. Leitenberger

LYRICS

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Gun to my head

I’ve got a mole on my chest it’s a spy to my heart, creeping across my hidden skin, spreading rumors that I’m no good.

He says there’s no future here the days are counting down, he’s looking to spread to reach deeper down, to milk my insurance for every copper penny I’ve got.

Put a gun to my head, put a gun to my head, there’s things worth fighting for, things worth dying for.

I’ve got a scar on my thigh where the double sized agent was caught, I’ve got a limp that reminds me constantly that all pain comes at a personal cost.
And the cost is steep like the slope I roll down and I know I’m been driven out of this ghost town on the end of a hangman’s rope they’re winding me down on.

Put a gun to my head, put a gun to my head, there’s things worth fighting for, things worth dying for.

I’ve got a slash on my side where the knife man he past, it’s a scar that’s become a part of me, but the real damage lies hidden deep inside of me. The doctor she said, “do your thing now”, so I knew a second opinion was necessary before the rush to the ice house in cold February.

Put a gun to my head, put a gun to my head, there’s things worth fighting for, things worth dying for, put a gun to my head.                     

©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Saint nothing the lost

There’s nothing as cold as the cold of a cold morning station, the platform you leave from, the bed we fell from apart.

There’s nothing as warm as the sheets of warm lovers, the warm hand you hold to with eyes closed firm to the dark.

And if it’s more hurting you seek you can pray to Saint nothing the lost.

You can pray you’re little angels will stay; you can pray your little demons away.
You can pray you’re little angels will stay; you can pray, to Saint nothing  the lost .

I count the errors that shackle my ankles, I count the nothing words hanging from my dangling still bitten tongue, cause  there’s nothing so sad than being sad being nothing, with nothing to help, nothing to aim for or to blame.

And if it’s more hurting you seek you can pray to Saint nothing  the lost.
And if it’s more hurting you seek you can pray to Saint nothing  the lost.

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020

Do you want to ?

Do you want to:
Do you want to spin with me? Do you want to dance with me? Do you want to foxtrot with me? Do you want to shake your booty round the clock with me?

Do you want to:
Do you want to fly with me? Do you want to land with me? Do you want to float with me? Do you want to trip round the clock with me?

Or do you want to, keep on running? Or do you want to, keep on hiding, hiding? Do you want to raise a finger to the world with me?

Do you want to, like I like to, cause I want to. Do you want to, cause I want to, I want to.

Do you want to try with me? Do you want to bite life with me? Do you want to try with me? Do you want to try with? With me?

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020

 

Spring snow melts 

I look out the window at the spring snow, I see someone who doesn’t want to go. I look out to the summer through the spring snow, like someone who really doesn’t want to go alone.

So don’t tell me that things are gonna get better, don’t tell me to wait and see. Don’t tell me that politics is like the weather, don’t tell me cause spring snow melts like democracy.

Don’t tell me that things are gonna get better, it scares me cause I can’t see how. Treason, rebellion, data mining and coup d’état, and the rest, all politicians’ lies.

Don’t tell me that things are gonna get better, don’t tell me to wait and see. Don’t tell me that politics is like the weather, don’t tell me cause spring snow melts like democracy.

A veil of snow lies on the spring horizon, sits impervious to the heat of the Jura sun. If I could pull the blinds and go to sleep, to try to freeze the melt of time.

Don’t tell me that things can only get better, don’t tell me to wait and see. Don’t tell me that politics is like the weather, don’t tell me cause spring snow melts like democracy.

I look out the window at the spring snow, like someone who doesn’t want to go. I look out to the summer through the spring snow, like someone who really doesn’t want to go alone.

©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Lucky but damned

Mr Adder was a pistol toting gunman, black shades and shiny boots, collar starched and camouflaged, a killer on the loose. I’m playing dead in the red red mud, a bullet in my back, the doctor said, you’re damn lucky, son, do you want your bullet back?

They call me Lucky, lucky but damned.

I dug down by the river and down by that river I dug and I laid out my family and I set out to gun him down. And I tracked down that snakebit son and I shot Mr Adder dead and I freighttrained out that spirit land with my Colt placed to my head.

They call me Lucky, lucky but damned.

Now Lucky was a teller cause he’s got stories to tell and the story he told it would scare you cold about the grey between heaven and hell. He said, I hope you sleep peacefully, while I don’t sleep at night, in the break light.

They call me Lucky, they call me Lucky, lucky but damned.

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Damnation

She beckoned to me to come with her pretty finger, but I left and now it’s me who begging the madonna to come. The itch has gone from her pretty finger, it no longer points at me, and I’m alone in this strange golden cage, barred and locked with a chocolate key.

Damnation awaits me, but only if I choose to stay, damnation awaits me, but only if that’s the road I choose to take.

She asked me to call and put her head gently on my tired shoulder, I spelt her name wrong and I felt like a fool, my body’s weak and my head is running empty. If I could I’d ask Siri to talk for me: Will you talk for me? And I’d speak so clear that she’d understand that sometimes I just can’t be me.

Damnation awaits me, but only if I choose to stay, Damnation.

I dream of normal just because my normal is not what it was, I should stop what I’m doing and do something else but I know I’m not committed enough. You never told me it was now and now it’s too late to make things right again. If you’d told me I might have answered, but now we’ll never know.

Damnation awaits me, but only if I choose to stay.

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Pitbull

You don’t know me, how I spit and howl, how I scratch and scream and how I never let go. Cause I bite and I shake my head and I never, no I never let go.

Taste the blood, dripping from your head, you took me on like you took upon a light burden load.

I’m a pitbull, I’ll die before I let go of you.

No saving time, no saving face, no saving grace, no saferoom place, no place to run no place to hide, no stick that you can throw outside, I’m a pitbull.

Call me stubborn, call me stick in the mud. Call me anything but bright and breezy. Call me odious, I’m not agreeable. Call me anything but nice.

I’m a pitbull, I’ll die before I let go of you.

No saving time, no saving face, no saving grace, no saferoom place, no place to run no place to hide, no stick that you can throw outside, I’m a pitbull.

I’m a pitbull, I’ll die before I let go of you. I’m a pitbull, I’ll die before I let go of you. Before I let go of you.

  ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Damned if I do

Because I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t, some might think I’m a damned bad lot, you might say I’ve shot my luck with a gun between me and you.

Imagine losing your love or your baby’s grin, some might think, soon, that one day my luck, it will run. Or you’re taking lead, then living drunk, some might think, soon, that one day my luck, it will run.

Because I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t, some might think I’m a damned bad lot, you might say I’ve shot my luck with a gun between me and you.

Imagine losing your brothers one by one, some might think, soon, that one day my luck, it will come undone. Or you’re riding on that crazy haunted train, some might think, soon, one day my luck, it will come undone.

Because I’m damned if I do, damned if I don’t, some might think I’m a damned bad lot, you might say I’ve shot my luck with a gun between me and you.

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Last pint rebel

It’s ok, it’s ok

I’m your Friday night last pint rebel, sitting at your Sunday morning table. I’m reading a book about life and death, it’s a page turner; I’m one chapter from the end, and the words I read they leave me perplexed, I’m looking for the takehome I’m looking for the send, when all I know is learnt by heart cause you’re my lady and I’m your man.

And you’re my everything in between, I’m your rebel, you’re my queen.

I’m bone-dry empty, but my love is deep. I’m the best lookin boneyard you’ll ever meet. Got more money than time in hand, still  you’re my lady and I’m your man.

And you’re my everything in between, I’m your rebel, you’re my queen. I’m your hero, you’re my queen, you’re my queen.

Where you lead me. Where you leave me. Where you lay me down, down.

It’s ok, it’s ok.

And you’re my everything in between, I’m your hero, you’re my queen. I’m your hero, you’re my queen, you’re my queen.

Where you lead me. Where you leave me. Where you lay me down, down.

It’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok, it’s ok.

  ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020

Stickleback 

I’m a thorn in your side, a stickleback. Your conscience is pricked, but not too deep. You watch the poor man washing behind the city walls, he lives with just enough clean water to drown in.

A boy with a fish net catches sticklebacks for a jar. The government has a net to stop the poor from falling too far. Captured or saved the poor sticklebacks, you ask? Or kept alive in just enough water to drown in?

The rich man’s pool has a springboard to dive from, but the spring takes him higher and higher. The poor man has a jam jar with poor sticklebacks in, with just enough clean water to drown in.

I’m a thorn in your side, a stickleback. Your conscience is pricked, but not too deep. You watch the poor man washing behind the city walls, he lives with just enough clean water to drown in. With just enough water to drown.

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Juggernaut 

I lived a full life but maybe I never lived life to the full, I fell in love and a family I built But maybe I never loved enough, enough to think I needed no one else?

I’m at the end of the track and I’m looking back to the youth setting out at the beginning of the track, pacing round time waiting on a train but maybe I was waiting at the wrong rail track side?

A juggernaut. Juggernaut.

So you came along and I went along for the ride and pretty soon I forgot what I’d been waiting for, a baby in a cot like pot on the boil, no time left to dream about what life’s not.

And the train keeps rolling on, each year another wagon hooked at the back, a juggernaut crushing all in its path, all aboard.

This is my life. A juggernaut. Juggernaut.

And the train keeps rolling on, each year another wagon hooked at the back, a juggernaut crushing all in its path, all aboard. And the train keeps rolling on, each year another wagon hooked at the back, a juggernaut crushing all in its path, all aboard.

This is my life. A juggernaut. Juggernaut.

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Elephants

I’m taking the pills, two a day, a magic potion to stay alive. They’re killing elephants, two a day, a magic potion to stay alive. I’m taking pills cause I’m rich enough to buy what the poor can’t have. They’re killing elephants cause it’s better than nothing, when nothing’s all you have.

Wake the elephants in every room. Wake the elephants in every room. Wake the elephants in every room before the lights go out.

No time left to think again long, short changed again makes the short not wrong. Rather than cry we should be talking. Rather than silence we need noise. When magic and medicine mix like pea soup fog, when the rich get richer and the poor do not. They’re killing elephants cause it’s better than nothing, when nothing’s all you have.

Wake the elephants in every room. Wake the elephants in every room. Wake the elephants in every room before the lights go out.

And I say: Yeah yeah yeah, yeah

Wake the elephants in every room. Wake the elephants in every room. Wake the elephants in every room before the lights go out.


  ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020

Paper boats 

I’m wave deep in the rain down on Buchanan Street, there’s a beggar on a blanket he needs a rowing boat. Throw the man a penny and he just might rock and sink, I ask you baby: How deep can this life pull an honest man, slowly down?

And I’m wave deep in tears, the paper boats of litter float high on waves, and I’m wave deep in tears, watching lives crumple like paper boats.

And five minutes later I’m playing a mandolin, built for an Austrian princess. And five minutes more I’m playing this rain town again. The beggar on the street he still needs a rowing boat, his cup is brimming over, without a penny, in the rain.

And I’m wave deep in tears, the paper boats of litter float high on waves, and I’m wave deep in tears, watching lives crumple like paper boats.

The only way is down for this rainlashed town; I tell myself baby: I’m running from the poverty of experience. Throw the man a penny and he just might rock and sink, I ask you baby: How deep can this life pull an honest man, slowly down?

And I’m wave deep in tears, the paper boats of litter float high on waves, and I’m wave deep in tears, watching lives crumple like paper boats.

    ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020 

Wrench 

Wrench I’m angry, I’m feeling lonely. Wrench I’m tired, cornered like a fool. Wrench I twisted, I turned the corner. Wrench, I’m not your fool.

I rock’n rolled across the windmill land with the wind stealer plan in my crazy head.

Wrench I travelled, I drank cold turkey. Wrench, I drank my full.

So try monkey, wrench my head into shape, if you try, monkey, wrench my head into shape, if you try, monkey, wrench my head into shape if you can.

Wrench I’m angry, I’m not your monkey. Wrench I’m angry, I’m not your fool. Wrench I’m angry, I’m not your fool.


©️Roddy McKinnon 2020

Old black prozac taxi 

I took an old black prozac taxi downtown looking for someone to love. The driver dropped me off and I fell over sideways, and I’m looking for a smile to love. I picked myself up and I hung myself to dry like a standard bearer for love. I’m rattling in the wind against an ice cold sky, and I’m looking for love.

I’m the last man standing standard bearer for love, love, love.

On a shithouse rock house beer-washed dancefloor I’m waiting with a broken glass. I’m shuffling to a tune that would break your heart, it sings a ragged battle flag. The barmans says, hey man, you’ve had quite enough; ho, if only you knew. I’ll no surrender I’ll keep on fighting with my love torn battle flag.

I’m the last man standing standard bearer for love, love love. I’m the last man standing standard bearer for love.

I’m singing the words to that heartbreak song, la la la la la …. It goes like this:

My country love she upped and jumped and waved goodbye with a love torn battle flag. My country love is jaded, kinda faded blue, a wind torn battle flag. I’m a two time loser, unhappy to lose her, ragged battle flag. There’s winners losers and heartbreak and bruises, my love she’s not coming back.

I’m your last man standing standard bearer for love, love, love. I’m your last man standing standard bearer for love.

 ©️Roddy McKinnon 2020

INSTRUMENTS


Some of the instruments used for the recording of Lucky and Damned

McCollum Grand Auditorium

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Gibson ES125

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Kumalae Tenor Ukelele

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Gibson F4 Mandolin

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Blueridge BR – 143SB 

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Kalamazoo KG21

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Gibson J50

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Roddy McKinnon C+P 2020 
All rights reserved GEMA