Better Grab Your Shades

Marty Stuart wrote the song ‘The Observations Of A Crow’, which was released on his 1999 album The Pilgrim.  The song tells the story of a man being in a town seen from the point of view of a crow who is observing everything in the town.  Stuart was riding through the West on a bus traveling down Route 66 that pulled off the interstate to get fuel.  The place they stopped in looked like a ghost town, with just a few locals around, and he looked up and saw a crow sitting on the electrical line.  He was fascinated and he couldn’t take his eyes off the crow.  People came and went from the bus, but that crow never left, he just kept hanging out.  The Pilgrim, is a concept album that tells the story of a man, brokenhearted and suicidal, who sets off on a journey.

John Marty Stuart is a multiple Grammy Award-winning, American country music singer-songwriter, known for both his traditional style, and eclectic merging of rockabilly, honky-tonk, and traditional country music.  Stuart dropped out of school to play mandolin with Lester Flatt and his band The Nashville Grass.  In 1971, the 13-year-old musician spent years on the road, performing at bluegrass festivals and concerts.  During his time with Flatt, Stuart met a diverse group of musical greats, including Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Chick Corea, the Eagles, Emily Lou Harris and Bob Dylan.  Marty Stuart played in Johnny Cash’s back-up band in 1979.  He soon enjoyed solo success as well as hits performing with other country musicians, including Travis Tritt and Willie Nelson.

The crow in this song sees everything that is going on in this small town because of his bird eyed view perched on the telephone wire, but what is great about this song is that this crow understands all that he sees.  Most people are oblivious to the newspaper boy, even if he happens to break a window or two, but nothing gets past the keen eyes of this feathered observer, as the bird even seems to see God’s light.  The crow knows all about Louie the flea being married to a waitress named Lora Lee and it seems to enjoy watching them when they get frisky.  He is also aware of the guy who is in witness protection, who snitched on his friend to stay out of jail.  The crow is said to be a scoopologist, which most likely refers to his reporting the town news and has nothing to do with scooping ice cream.  He is mad about that parakeet who came along and took his girl.

Newspaper boy makin’ his rounds
Spreadin’ the word all over town
Drivin’ his car just as fast as it will go

There’s papers in the driveway, papers in the yard
Paper broke a window, he didn’t throw it that hard
But it shattered like a dream down in the valley below

Hey, quarter moon, well how was your night?
Yeah well, any minute now God’s gonna hit them brights
So if you stick around, don’t you say that you weren’t told

Well, take it from me, you better grab your shades
If He looks at you, ooh, well try not to look so afraid
Just do the best that you can, but don’t you think that He won’t know

Creosote’s drippin’ from the high line poles
Fast as you can count ‘em, 12 in a row
Blessed accommodations for the daily observations of a crow

Well, that cat down there, yeah, well he’s Louie the flea
He’s married to a waitress by the name of Lora Lee
When they scream and they holler, man they put on a show

He’s a protected witness from a Detroit job
Turned his best friend in, his name is Bob
I know who got the time, but who do you think got the dough?

Take a look at that pilgrim passin’ by
He’s lookin’ for love, I can see it in his eyes
He’s runnin’ ‘round in circles, you can take it from me

His shadow begs for mercy that every lost and found
In city after city, town after town
Tortured by the memory of a love he thought was supposed to be

Creosote’s drippin’ from the high line poles
Fast as you can count ‘em, 12 in a row
Blessed accommodations for the daily observations of a crow

Well, I’m a genuine scoopologist, the name is Crow
Sitting up here, watching the show
In this one horse drive-through, forsaken, dried up piece of the world

Well, it ain’t much but it’s my kingdom, it’s my home
Even had a queen till that parakeet came along
Fast talking, loud squawking, green feathered scrak took my girl, later

Written for GC and Sue W Weekly Prompts where the word prompt is observation.

25 thoughts on “Better Grab Your Shades

  1. Damned good song. I love his guitar-playing. That town sounds like Knockemstiff, Ohio, the real town that Donald Ray Pollack based a couple of his novels on.

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  2. I thoroughly enjoyed your detailed article about Marty Stuart, and the story behind the song. The song itself was great with wonderful lyrics. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Then you should join in my weekly Song Lyric Sunday challenge where the theme this week is Who/What/When/Where/Why/How. You might also want to check out my MM Music challenge which happens every other week and this Friday I will discuss the Rolling Stones song 19th Nervous Breakdown.

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  3. Great write up… I saw him back up Bob Dylan… I’ve known people who have met him…said he was really down to earth and nice.

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  4. I’m afraid I don’t know the singer but reading about him and his observation of the crow and vice versa was fascinating.

    A few years ago, here in the U.K. some university undertook a study of crows! The researchers discovered that crows recognise faces and remember people. I have no idea how they determined those facts!

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