RED BEETS & HORSERADISH by The Little Wretches, The New Album Is Here

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RED BEETS & HORSERADISH  by The Little Wretches 

RED BEETS AND HORSERADISH is inspired by a relish or side-dish usually served around the holidays of Easter or Passover by various ethnicities of Eastern Europe. For the Serbs, for example, the red of the beets is symbolic of the blood of their people, and the horseradish the bitterness of their suffering. For others, the symbolism involves the blood of their savior and the bitterness of His suffering. People in the Jewish tradition also enjoy the dish, but there is no blood involved—the beets are merely for flavor—but the horseradish does represent the memory of bitter suffering in bondage.  

The songs on the album involve vignettes and portraits of people who’ve suffered—old people, sick people, crazy people, people who are alone—but the heart of the songs lies not in the suffering of the characters but in the indomitable faith and humor that sustains them.  

Drums--Mike Madden  
Bass--John Carson  
Piano--H.K. Hilner, Hollis Greathouse  
Guitars--Robert Andrew Wagner  
Lead Vocals—Robert Andrew Wagner and Rosa Colucci  
Background Vocals—Emma Golebie, Jack Erdie, Rosa Colucci, Robert Wagner  

Produced by The Little Wretches  
Recorded by Hollis Greathouse  
Mastered by Tom Dimuzio  

All songs by Robert Andrew Wagner except RISE by Jack Erdie (with additional traditional lyrics), WINTER’S GRACE by Annette Dietz and Robert Andrew Wagner, and OLD HUNDREDTH by Traditional, arranged by Robert Andrew Wagner  

Artwork by Melinda Pietrusza

1.     Rise 
2.     Lovingkindness 
3.     Palms and Crosses 
4.     Nothing Was Given to Me 
5.     Winter’s Grace
6.     Tiger Pajamas 
7.     Heaven Was Open 
8.     It’s Raining 
9.     Old Hundredth 
10.    Old Lillian’s Story 
11.    Walked Along 
12.    Duquesne 
13.    It’s All between Me & God 

RISE 

(refrain by Jack Erdie; verses from Christian Science Hymnal) 

Rise from your slumber 

Days without number 

Wait for you 

Shake off your losses 

So many causes 

to put your shoulder to 

It’s time to mend 

Time to turn the next bend 

We depend on you to harmonize 

so Rise 

Rise 

Daughter of Zion, awake from thy sadness 

Awake, for thy foe shall oppress thee no more 

For bright o’er the hill dawns the day-star of gladness 

Arise for the night of thy sorrow is over 

Arise for the night of thy sorrow is over 

Arise 

Though many thy foes, but the arm that subdued them 

and scattered their legions is mightier far 

They fled from the wrath 

of the scourge that pursued them 

for vain were their steeds and their chariots of war 

Vain were their steeds and their chariots of war 

Arise 

Daughter of Zion, the power that saved thee 

Extolled with the harp and the timbrel should be 

Rejoice for the foe is destroyed that enslaved thee 

The oppressor is vanquished 

and Zion is free 

The oppressor is vanquished 

and Zion is free 

Arise! 

 

LOVINGKINDNESS 

Lovingkindness, 

Lovingkindness all my days 

Lovingkindness, 

Lovingkindness all my days 

Lord, I sing Your praise 

I live by the precepts of a poem that survives 

Spoken by the murdered King of history’s hated tribe 

I believe in the impossible 

In things I cannot prove 

That oceans can be parted 

and the hearts of haters moved 

Lovingkindness, 

Lovingkindness all my days 

Lord, I sing Your praise 

I don’t speak for anyone else, I barely speak for me 

I believe in the impossible, In things that cannot be 

I’m smart enough and strong enough and wise enough to know 

I don’t deserve the harvest of a field I didn’t sow 

Walk with me, don’t say a word 

How don’t you feel amazed? 

How don’t you want to thank someone? 

How can you not give praise? 

I wander through the darkness graced with life I don’t deserve 

Show me who to thank and teach me how to serve 

Lovingkindness, 

Lovingkindness all my days 

Lord, I sing Your praise

 

PALMS & CROSSES 

One week palms, joy and praise, 

Hearts are lifted, voices raised 

Next week nails and crowns of thorns 

The mother of God herself will mourn 

A handful of stragglers waits at the scene 

Asking themselves what it is that they’ve seen 

Best go home, assess our losses 

One week palms, next week crosses 

One week palms, Next week crosses, 

Mostly life goes on unseen 

All I can say is tomorrow will decide what yesterday means 

A single mom with three small kids, 

Picnic lunch under the bridge 

Cast a line, catch a few fish , 

Eat spaghetti off a styrofoam dish 

Throw your ball, Ride your bike , 

There you go, Just play nice 

Look, mom, look! You got a bite. 

He stole your bait. Story of my life. 

One week palms, next week crosses 

Mostly life goes on unseen 

All I can say is tomorrow will decide what yesterday means 

A mother with her children on the fourth of july 

Waving sparklers on a cordoned off street 

I told you keep your shoes on, don’t blame me 

if you wind up with glass in your feet 

Birthday parties, wedding gifts 

Gotta run to the store, can you give me a lift? 

Ooh, this looks cool. What’s it do? 

It catches dreams. Ah, that isn’t true 

How do you know? You gotta believe 

All right, ask, ye shall receive 

Give me back the friends I lost 

Yeah, that’s right, just like I thought 

One week palms, one week crosses, 

Mostly life goes on unseen 

All I can say is tomorrow will decide what yesterday means 

All I can say is tomorrow will decide what yesterday means 

All I can say is tomorrow will decide what yesterday means

 

Nothing Was Given to Me 

Nothing was given to me, 

I didn’t get nothing for free 

Worked more than my share, 

Please don’t call it fair 

There’s plenty that got worse than me. 

No, nothing was given to me. 

I'm a mailman, 

in the union, 

I fought in Korea 

I'm a Republican because those Democrats 

want to give the world away 

I give three dollars to the church every Sunday 

and I put a quarter in the poor box 

I grew up in Soho near Oakland in Pittsburgh 

I quit school in the sixth grade 

because my mother kept five kids 

on seventeen dollars and fifty cents a week 

and I worked for a dude who worked my butt off 

and paid me grit and robbed me blind 

and let me work enough hours a week 

that I could not get relief 

and I hate him to this very day 

Nothing was given to me, 

Nothing was given to me, 

My brother spent half his life learning a trade 

and still has to work two jobs to keep his family 

My sister got herself an education, 

Now  she lives with my mother. 

She drinks coke all day, takes pills, watches t.v., 

and looks like hell 

My mother goes to 8 o'clock mass every morning 

and prays all day 

For the good Lord to take her away. 

My father died when I was nine 

‘cause he couldn't take it 

Now, I'm the only one who visits his grave 

I go there three times a year and trim the weeds 

Nothing was given to me, 

I didn’t get nothing for free 

Worked more than my share, 

Please don’t call it fair 

There’s plenty that got worse than me. 

No, nothing was given to me. 

My bones ache I might die tomorrow 

The bank owns my house, car and furniture 

My house is falling down and sinking into the mines 

My furniture is coming apart 

My car is rusting away like it has cancer 

I don't drink anymore 

‘cause the doctors said it would kill me 

I don't smoke anymore 

‘cause the doctors said it would kill me 

I don't do anything anymore 

except come home from work, 

Clean the house, 

Eat cold food out of a can, 

Then sit on the back porch 

with nothing to bother me till it gets dark 

The doctors say nothing about that 

I have two sons and a daughter 

I tell them to take everything they can get 

Only don't get what I got 

Don’t get what I got.

 

WINTER’S GRACE 
(Original Poem by Annette Dietz. Lyrics by Annete Dietz and Robert Andrew Wagner. Music by Robert Andrew Wagner) 

Some days the best I can do Is clear a path for light 

Some days the best I can do Is clear a path for light 

The best I can do while pinned below 

This jagged ice and blackened snow 

Is call upon what good I know 

To clear a path for light 

Some days the best I can do Is clear a path for light 

Some days the best I can do Is clear a path for light 

You call for help but help won’t hear 

They wouldn’t, would they? Leave me here? 

Ignore the doubt. Deny the fear. 

And Clear A Path For Light. 

My friend lives in a deserted mine, 

He wears brokenness like a cloak. 

My friend lives in a deserted mine, 

He wears brokenness like a cloak. 

My friend lives in a deserted mine. 

Tonight, we walk to the quiet shrine 

The moon settles onto my upturned palm 

With a brilliant dusting of snow.(A brilliant dusting of snow.) 

Some days the best I can do Is clear a path for light.           

Some days the best I can do Is clear a path for light.           

Clear a path for light.

 

TIGER PAJAMAS 

He was just a child in tiger pajamas, 

complete with a tiger’s tail 

Hiding in the closet when his dad came home from work    

Grrrrr!    Grrrrr! 

Uh oh, I think I hear a tiger, 

Uh oh, There’s a tiger in there 

Oh no, someone save me from that tiger 

Don’t worry dad, it’s just me, your little boy 

Never was a child so in need of being loved 

but how much love is enough? 

Oh God, why’d you do that to my brother 

God, why’d you do that to him 

Oh God, why’d you do that to my brother 

I thought You said You loved him 

I thought You loved him 

I thought You said you did 

When he was nine years old and his birthday came 

Even mother and father forgot 

We ran out to the store to buy a baseball glove 

As though the fairy boy would start to like sports 

Some cake and some ice cream, 

The kid never knew 

Then again, he had to have known 

They said he was the spoiled kid 

But the forgotten kid 

The kid who grew up on his own    

He was the kid with chipped teeth 

And a couple of scars 

Always crashing into something 

Always going too hard 

The queer one, the bitchy one, 

The girlie boy child 

But how you gonna hate a kid so reckless and wild? 

He liked to smoke and he liked to get high 

He liked to drink, my could that kid drink 

He could drink even the biker dudes under the table 

In those soggy druggy smelly redneck bars 

People used to say he showed them his poetry 

People used to say he played them his songs 

Well, I know he could sing 

But he never showed nothing to me 

Too precious too private too strong 

That’s the problem with fairies 

Always hiding themselves 

Afraid you might find out the truth 

He was my brother 

His enemies were my enemies 

But we pretended that nobody knew 

Never was a child so in need of being loved 

but how much love is enough 

Oh God, why’d You do that to my brother? 

Oh God, why’d You do that to him? 

Oh God why’d You do that to my brother? 

I thought You said You loved him. 

I thought You loved him. 

I thought You said You did. 

Oh God, why’d you do that to my brother? 

His enemies are my enemies? 

So how am I supposed to avenge 

what you did to my brother? 

 

HEAVEN WAS OPEN 

Out in eternity, goodness unharnessed 

Surely had nurtured a bountiful harvest, 

Justice and mercy, more than I could earn 

Was showered upon me upon my return. 

Angels were smiling.  The wine was a-flowing 

Beggars and bandits, like new, were a-glowing. 

Hearts were rejoicing, resounding and crowing. 

Business as usual—      

Heaven was open 

Back on the planet the people were grieving 

looking for answers to why you were leaving, 

Asking for answers, the faithful were groping, 

Praying, forgetting, regretting and hoping. 

At home they’re ironing and baking and wailing 

Conscience-struck grandchildren curse their own failings 

Next of kin scour phone-books for attorneys 

& shuffle through shoe boxes, bank books & holdings. 

Each of us has his own method of coping, 

Business as usual—               

Heaven was open. 

You wished you could say something, 

Hey, it’s all right 

Don’t worry, 

it’s just like they said, In the light. 

Our doubts and our fears 

will be answered in time 

Trust what they taught you, 

believe me I’m fine 

I was better than no one and worse than a few 

Can’t say I was any more ready than you 

There was no special trick, there was no magic word 

Heaven was open today, 

Praise the lord! 

Praise the lord! 

Praise the lord!

 

IT’S RAINING 

Is it raining?  I can’t tell.  It sounds like it’s raining. 

Yep, it’s raining. It’s really coming down out there. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

I woke up, It was raining. 

I guess there’s always work to do  around the house. 

I think I heard it start, I woke up to thunder 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

I hope the lids are on the garbage cans 

And all the upstairs windows have been closed. 

It’s really coming down out there. 

And the bald spot on the lawn 

where the dog’s chain used to be 

it’s a pool of mud.      

Lord, I miss that dog. 

Is it a chill-in-your-bones rain? 

Will it soak right through your shoes 

till your socks get wet? 

I think I heard it start, I woke up to thunder. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

Somewhere in the closet, 

There’s a box of paint-by-numbers sets 

Your mother planned to do when she got time. 

There wasn’t time enough for her 

to stick around and tell you 

But there’s time enough 

for you to change your mind. 

Close up the shop.  It’s raining. 

Call off the dogs.  It’s raining. 

Cancel the war. 

Close up the shop. 

Call off the dogs. 

It’s raining. It’s raining. It’s raining. It’s raining. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans. 

God forbid you’d have to change your precious plans.

 

Old Hundredth 
(based on Isaac Watts, John S. B. Monsell, Violet Hayes, Thomas Scott, Samuel Longfellow & anonymous) 

For all that dwell below the skies 

Let our Creator’s praise arise 

For blessings flow where e’er He reigns 

The captive leaps to loose his chains 

Loose his chains, Loose his chains 

Loose his chains 

The poor and all oppressed by wrong, 

Standing steadfast, true and strong 

The lifted eye and bended knee 

His promise sets the captive free 

Captive free, Captive free 

Captive free 

Eternal are Thy mercies, Lord 

Eternal truth attends Thy word 

Though mist and shadow all around 

I’ll set my feet on solid ground 

Solid ground, Solid ground 

Solid ground 

With all my strength and all my might 

I’ll run the race and fight the fight 

The freer step, the fuller breath, 

The joy of Life that fears no death 

Fears no death 

Fears no death 

Fears no death

 

OLD LILLIAN’S STORY 

That man, he gets me so aggravated. 

He tells the landlord that I leave the door open and I have cats.  Do you believe that? 

I never leave the door open, and he's the one with the cat. 

Oh, it's a nice one.  But, you know, they tell me cats are hard luck. 

But not this cat, he's a nice cat. 

But he's not my cat. 

I don't have a cat. 

That man, he won't leave me alone. 

He calls me names, the worst names, 

The worst names he can think of. 

He bothers me so much. 

I don't bother him. 

But he won't leave me alone. 

And he’s gonna get it. 

They tell me call the police on him. 

And I ought to call the police on him, 

but I'd probably get in into worse trouble than he would 

'cause he tells lies, 

He lies about me all the time. 

I can't take his bothering me all the time like that. 

I oughta pick up a hammer or something 

And get him with it. 

That's what the family next door tells me. 

But I'd go straight to jail. 

Some people get away with murder, but not me. 

I'd kill him with that hammer, 

and Coroner Wecht would come and get me right away. 

I can't live in that place anymore. 

There's junk everywhere: 

On the floors, on the steps, 

Boards, tools, doorknobs, 

All kinds of junk. 

Twice, I've fallen down. 

I had to have someone take me to the hospital for x-rays. 

Twice, it happened. 

I fell down and hit my head, 

And it hurt. 

There were these boys living on the third floor, 

and I don't know what they were doing, 

but they caught their apartment on fire. 

They moved out. 

I don't think they got into trouble. 

But that was last summer, 

and the landlord never did finish having it cleaned up. 

There's live wires hanging from the ceiling. 

That could kill you, you know. 

And there's this man comes stumbling in every night 

about three in the morning, 

and he makes a terrible racket in all that junk. 

He's a mean old man. 

He's a dry cleaner, I think. 

Oh, he's nasty, but he'll never call you a name, 

Not like that other one. 

That other one calls you all kinds of names. 

And he’s gonna get it. 

He takes sleeping pills, 

and I know he's gonna kill himself with them. 

He sleeps all day, sometimes. 

One day, they'll find him dead, 

and they'll probably blame it on me. 

That man, that no good man, that no good lying man 

That man, that no good man, that no good lying man 

That man, that no good man, that no good lying man 

He’s gonna get it 

I don't have any heat. 

It's like an icebox sometimes, 

And I can't get anybody to light my oven. 

I tried myself, but it flew up in my face, the flame did, 

Burned my eyes. 

So now I can't even heat water for instant coffee. 

That's what I have, 

instant coffee and two pieces of bread a day. 

I don't even feel like eating. 

Just when I'm getting out of it, 

That man gets me upset all over again. 

The girls down at the market say I have to eat more. 

They say I'll get malnutrition. 

That can kill you, you know. 

Sometimes, I think I'd be better off dead. 

The landlord's coming tomorrow. 

He's gonna want his hundred dollars. 

A hundred dollars a month-- do you believe it? 

He'll get it over my dead body. 

He doesn't leave his phone number or address. 

He just shows up once a month and wants his money. 

If he finds me dead, it'll be his fault. 

I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

I don’t know what I’m going to do. 

This life is hell, I’m telling you. 

I’m telling you the truth. 

That man, he’s gonna get it, He’s gonna get it. 

Someday that man will get what’s rightfully due. 

That man, he’s gonna get it,  He’s gonna get it. 

But the sorry thing is I’ll probably get it, too. 

The sorry thing is I’ll probably get it, too. 

The sorry thing is I’ll probably get it, too. 

The sorry thing is I’ll probably get it, too.

 

WALKED ALONG                            

Her blouse was dirty 

So her coat stayed on 

She wore a ball cap to cover her head 

Because she had no comb 

She wore no make up 

So she stared at the ground 

She couldn’t stop thinking 

So she tried to sing 

She didn’t want to be seen singing in public 

So she sang inside her head 

But still she couldn’t stop thinking 

And it ruined the song 

She finally looked up 

How did I get here? 

Ran her hands through her pockets 

as if bus fare Would magically appear 

Then the song went silent 

And her mind went clear 

So she took a breath and she looked around 

It’s a mighty long way to walk all across town 

Waiting at the corner for the light to turn, 

She caught a glimpse of her reflection 

On the side of a car 

For a minute, “Who’s that? 

Well, I guess that’s me.” 

Then the car pulled away, 

And she stepped into the street. 

It was seventeen steps 

till she made the next curb 

Then she put on the face that says 

“Do Not Disturb” 

Her blouse was dirty 

and she had no comb 

and she wore no make up 

so she walked along 

she walked along 

she walked along

 

DUQUESNE 

She’s out the door before the dawn, 

She walks six blocks for breakfast. 

She don’t like to eat alone. 

God bless the waitress. 

Leave a fifty cent tip. 

But the small talk ends with Hello. 

She grabs her purse, her scarf and her coat. 

Joins the crowd at the bus for the morning commute. 

It’s a forty-minute ride to the place downtown. 

That’s where she worked for twenty years, 

It’s a Wendy’s now. 

It used to sell men’s suits, 

A tailor shop downstairs. 

The best friends she ever had 

worked with her down there. 

Marella, Maria, Hungarian Mary 

Speaking Portuguese, Greek, Slovak and Italian 

I wonder where they are now? 

They weren’t young like me 

And I’m seventy-eight. 

They might not even be alive anymore. 

Up one block and over two, 

there’s a church where I like to sit. 

I never learned to read English but I open a Bible. 

It’s like holding the hand of a friend. 

I could stay at home, sure, 

but I’d go out of my mind 

In all these long years, 

I’ve never wasted my time 

The candles, the statues, 

the echo of prayers 

There’s a service at noon… 

And then where? 

Say hello to Father Frank 

and catch the bus home 

Turn on the radio 

and wait by the phone 

Pictures of grandchildren taped to the wall. 

Is it Tuesday or Wednesday? 

Maybe my Patsy will call. 

In Duquesne, you can’t afford to retire 

In Duquesne, you work till your time is expired 

We came halfway around the world to be here. 

For this? For what? Somebody’s bright idea. 

We never really believed it would be paved with gold. 

I guess there’s no place on earth that it’s good to be old 

Like me. 

Just wait.  You’ll see. 

Just wait.  You’ll see. 

Up one block and over two, 

there’s what’s left of the five-and-ten store 

In its heyday, it used to have a little lunch counter 

That only served breakfast, of course. 

It’s a pharmacy now, And a nice nice man 

makes sure that you take the right pills. 

And that’s important, you know, 

Sometimes these old people like me forget. 

            

These Americans, let me tell you, 

And I’m one of them, you understand, 

They live in homes they didn’t build, 

Eating food they didn’t grow, 

Traveling roads they didn’t clear, 

Work for bosses they don’t know. 

Somebody picks up your garbage, 

Get your water through pipes 

And your power through cables 

Like a God-given right 

These Americans, let me tell you 

And I’m one of them you understand 

They want to kill you if you try to tell them 

That this isn’t really God’s plan. 

In Duquesne, you can’t afford to retire 

In Duquesne,  you work till your time is expired 

We came halfway around the world to be here. 

For this For what Somebody’s bright idea. 

We never really believed it would be paved with gold. 

I guess there’s no place on earth that it’s good to be old 

Like me. 

Just wait.  You’ll see. Just wait.  You’ll see.

 

IT’S ALL BETWEEN ME & GOD 

Every one who knew me, 

They’re all gone now 

My friends are gone now, every one 

Those lifelong, heart-to-heart friends that you’d die for 

They’ve gone to where you cannot come back from 

It’s all between me and God now 

How do you like that deal? 

Just like I thought 

Standing in the rain 

Talking to myself 

Love me, Kill me, 

Let me know you’re real 

I didn’t make this chalked up world 

And whatever damage I might have done 

It sure ain’t worth pressing charges 

That is, if justice is what you want 

But if you’re looking for mercy 

Or forgiveness, 

Ain’t that the big cog in your machine? 

If there was one thing I could change about myself 

I wish I had a lower threshold of pain 

‘cause you know I could always stand up to a beating 

They could back me down sometimes, but I won’t quit 

But they don’t give out no medals of valor 

for being stupid enough to put up with this grit 

Remember when I played the number she saw on the boat pulling out of the dock 

The bookmaker hid for a week ‘fore he finally paid up. 

Took her to Sears-Roebuck, 

Bought a brand new Magnavox 

It was just what she always wanted. 

But where we gonna get the money? 

I pulled the cash out of my pocket, 

You should have seen her. 

It’s all between me and God now 

No one said it was fair 

He can wait me out 

He can starve me out 

He can shut me up 

Love me, Kill me, Let me know you’re there 

Love me, Kill me, Let me know you’re there 

Love me, Kill me, Let me know you’re there

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