shut it tight

T-Bone Burnett is perhaps now best known as the producer of the soundtrack to the film O Brother Where Art Thou?, but he’s had a long career as not only a producer of other people’s music but a musician in his own right. From what I’ve read, he’s a pretty devout Christian (see, for example, this article). I do not share his faith, but I find that his spiritual concerns emerge in his lyrics in interesting ways. Some time in college I picked up a bargain-bin cassette copy of his 1983 album Proof Through the Night, which now appears to be out of print, unfortunately. I can’t find the cassette, and I can’t find transcriptions of the songs online online, so I’m trying to remember what they sounded like and figure them out from memory. It’s a great album. If Elvis Costello had more of a country sound, this is perhaps an album he’d make, and the track “Shut it Tight” is one of my all-time favorites:

I find it hard sometimes to say the way that I feel
I do the very things I hate to do
I act like a child and I’m afraid of what is real
And so I try to cover up the truth

I stumble like a drunk along this crazy path I walk
I have a hundred thousand questions too
I’ll go to any length to prove that nothing is my fault
Then later on I will deny the proof

I don’t like to win but then again I hate to lose
And in between is something I can’t stand
I don’t care what you think and I hope that you approve
I am just an ordinary man

Sometimes I want to stop and crawl back into the womb
And sometimes I cannot tell wrong from right
But I ain’t gonna quit until I’m laid in my tomb
And even then they better shut it tight

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