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For Louise Brooks


It’s not beauty that’s a curse;
It’s finding out that you can’t sell it.
That’s the moral of your tale,
At least the way I tell it.

With your smoker’s cough and your stockings off
Your black helmet on, and your husband gone
Here in old Berlin, turning blue with sin
As you hold your breath in the dance of death
Y’know, sex ain’t a crime, a way to pass the time
Waiting for a call from the bosses’ halls.
You say you learned to dance from watching the tramp
But the tramp don’t move on those cloven hooves

They said whenever you appeared
They raged like in a menagerie
When meat appears before the cage
But you were not afraid.

I got a backstage pass from some drunken ass
Who made filthy leer, grabbed my arm and sneered,
‘Behind each actor’s door is a washed out whore,
This one’s the same,’ he said, ‘she just better read.’
We met after the show, you dressed as a pierrot
Ten black fingerprints on your snow-white wrists.
You said, ‘Don’t stare, my love,’ as you pulled on your gloves.
When I apologized you took my hand and sighed,

‘Every contract that I sign, comes
With ropes that tie and chains that bind.
From this I’m sure I can’t be saved,
But they’ll get in back in spades.’

I was at your bedside on the day you died
I’d watched you die before, late night on channel four
Old Jack took your life with a kitchen knife
But this was harder still, and I wept until you said,

‘I’ve done my best to do my bit,
But trouble came like flies to shit.
Behind all of my lovers’ eyes were
Wood blocks full of sharpened knives.
‘It’s the same for all pretty girls, it’s true.
But worse for me, because I knew.
But I’ll take that knowledge any day,
Over that sick and twisted naiveté.’


from When The Saints Go (2008), released June 30, 2011


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Jim Clements London, UK

Every five years or so, Jim Clements emerges to drop a collection of literate, witty, surreal, gut-wrenching songs, before disappearing again into the shadows. A songwriter’s songwriter in the tradition of Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, and Nick Cave, his songs have earned him critical acclaim and a devoted following over his fifteen-year career. ... more

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