oil sands

by wildmen

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released August 4, 2016



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wildmen regina, Saskatchewan

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Track Name: shitty dad
From his tapping toes to his broken nose, it all really goes to show how easy it is to live so low. With his skinny fingers pickin' strings that he bought with a pawned-off wedding ring, at least in this town, no one knows: he's taking the easy way, hitting the road. He's gone like a ghost. To live some cliche about selling your soul. He's gone like a ghost.

When he's slamming back that final pint, he knows he ain't going home tonight. To love or hate, fuck or fight? Leaving high, or staying low. Chalking lines of shitty blow. One more round, it's time to go. He's taking the easy way, hitting the road. He's gone like a ghost. To live some cliche about selling your soul. He's gone like a ghost.

That drinking hole's his second home: a place he knows his wife won't go, and every waitress in here knows those lingering hands, too-friendly lips, and what it takes to get the tip (and all the child support he's missed). He's taking the easy way, hitting the road. He's gone like a ghost. To live some cliche about selling your soul. He's gone like a ghost.
Track Name: shoulder to cry on
You'd never think yourself a fool, until you know for sure. And I guess, deep down, I knew - just didn't want it to be true. That you were lyin' through your teeth, while you were lyin' in my sheets - and I was just a shoulder to cry on.

And I've been all over town, bundling our three kids around. Stumbling down Pike Avenue, finding out what you've been doing. Just your "artistic temperament" - least that's what you've always said. So one of us had to be strong - raise the kids, keep the house from falling down. While you looked for an escape, I nursed your hangovers and prayed, but I was just a shoulder to cry on.
Track Name: no plates
Friday night out in the sticks with a 24 and a 26, bored as shit. Wonder if that truck'll run - it's been sitting here since Dad's been gone from the farm.

When we'd get tired of driving grids, shooting signs, hitting the ditch, we'd head on in. Teenage cowboys on the town, all diesel fumes and whiskey proud - hello, darling.

They all know I am just like my old man. No plates.

Found a brand new life on that Dewdney strip when I was just sixteen, well, the girls I was with looked older. These days, I wear my Dad's old clothes and drink in his old watering holes. They all know.

You'd better be tough if you're gonna be dumb.
Track Name: young man, go west
They said "young man, go west." I figured I'd start fresh. Best buy me one last round, boys, I'm Alberta bound. But this lonesome crowded west is just like the place I left. Funny what money does - bigger trucks and harder drugs.

And if I knew all the answers, I wouldn't be here.

It's here and then it's gone and I'm driving home at dawn. I'm working overtime - babe, cut another line.

So much for getting clean. I don't sleep, I barely eat. All of our deerfoot lives - fast livin', slow suicides. Making six figures clear and I've been cheque to cheque for years. And so, if you've got time, let's go - your house or mine?

There's nothing I can't find. Nothing money don't buy. Nothing keeping me alive and I don't sleep real well at night.
Track Name: harvest queen
Darlin, we're the last of the prairie gentlemen. The kings of open skies. Born a hundred years after our time. I know you're thinking about leaving, I can see it in your eyes, how you dream of bigger cities, warmer climes. How these days, your prairie home seems too short in the sleeves, and you're yearning for the glitz of city streets. But I know you know I've loved you since we were just seventeen, so fuck Toronto, fuck Vancouver - stay with me.

Well the days are getting shorter and they're bringing in the wheat, and sure as death and taxes, what you sow is what you'll reap, so I'll keep you warm through the winter - will you be my harvest queen? 'Cause deep down, you know who loves you, and where they'll be.

Darlin', we're the last of the prairie gentlemen. Without the practiced smiles, the mirror muscles and pickup lines. And there's nothing that I want that can ever be bought, although so much of the sacred has been sold. Well, I guess that some of us just learn real slow.

I've searched from La Ronge down to Lipton, Halifax to Calgary, as I pull on that red wool coat my grandfather passed down to me. I keep on hoping for some magic from all those years of rosaries, 'til then I'll keep on moving forward 'til my chin gives out on me.
Track Name: highway 63
Well, there's three hundred clicks of asphalt south of Fort Mcmurray. Devil's on that highway, shift change Monday, shift change Thursday. House-sized coker ovens, single lanes of double-wides, we pass on the soft shoulders, we pass on double lines. And so I grind my teeth and my bumper sticker reads "Pray for me. I drive Highway 63."

Starts at Amber Valley. Suicide 63. I've lost some good friends there. Someday soon that might be me. But I ain't got no deathwish. No sir. I've got kids to feed. Just get me home to Edmonton to see my family. Screams out from the headlines, from the obituaries: Pray for me. I drive Highway 63.

And in my rear-view mirror, the devil's gettin' nearer. If I don't stay ahead, I'm sure I'll end up dead. After 21 days, he's itchin' for beer, pussy and cocaine, and we're all in his way - the lost souls of this place. Nights in camp, I can't sleep, 'cause these thoughts keep on haunting me: my truck turned on its roof. Tailing pond swimming pools. Wife with another man, one of these days my kids'll call him dad and we're all on this road, but I know where it goes.

"Pray for me. I drive Highway 63."

I ain't gonna end up just another roadside shrine. A hardhat on a cross. A vodka bottle on its side. I ain't got no death wish but I ain't go no degree and no stuffed shirt or union hall is looking out for me. So 'til I figure this one out, before my kids go to sleep, tell them to pray for me, while I drive Highway 63.
Track Name: graveyard shift
My father worked the graveyard shift while we were warm in bed. Tied our skates for frozen rinks before the day began. It all seemed so normal to me, then - just kids, no frame of reference.

So play the man, not the puck. They've got the moves, you've got the guts. Don't let me see you giving up.

With no sleep, just a smoke and a coffee cup. I won't give this up, 'til you give up.

Counting down the twelves, the overtime, the night shift lullabies. 'Til I worked nights of my own, I had no way to know. Never been one to waste breath. Just set your jaw and never rest.

I'm older now than you were then.

Getting out of Estevan.