Liars, Cutthroats and Dames

by Kathleen Dunbar

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San Francisco Singer-Songwriter Kathleen Dunbar performs her blend of rootsy, humorous, and spellbinding storytelling about tragedy and redemption through her original song compositions in the Americana tradition. A musical journey into the darkness of the heart, love, betrayal, steamy romance, and the transformation of the spirit after passing through the flames.


released August 4, 2017

All songs by Kathleen Dunbar
Except "In the Hole" by Kathleen Dunbar and Gawain Mathews
Arranged and Produced by Gawain Mathews and Kathleen Dunbar
Engineered, Recorded and Mixed by Gawain Mathews Music Studio
Mastered at Trakwork by Justin Weis
Photos by Joseph Feusi
Art Direction/Design by Joseph Feusi
P & C Sing Like a Bird Music/ASCAP

Kathleen Dunbar/Songwriting and Vocals. My band, The Better Devils, is: Gawain Mathews/guitars, electric bass, banjo, mandola, keyboards, accordion, percussion, backing vocals. Kyle Caprista/drums. Dan Feiszli/standup bass. Nicholas Daniel Wlodarszyk/trombone. Eric Levy/piano on Baby Put Your Red Shoes On. Rich Armstrong/trumpet. Bryan S. Dyer/backing vocals. MJ Lee./violin. Joseph Feusi/backing vocals. Thanks and love to Joseph Feusi, Raz Kennedy and Gawain Mathews!



all rights reserved


Kathleen Dunbar San Francisco, California

You may notice my songs are about angels and devils, birth, life, death, about creation and crumbling destruction—the troubles we humans get ourselves into and the choices we make—some of them funky, some of them ending in the dark, others rising into the light of morning. Touching, humorous, spellbinding storytelling—my songs brings you into the irony, the tragedy, and the possibilities of life. ... more

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Track Name: Lilah
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

Lilah goes when she can
Lilah goes to meet her man
lovers come since time began
Lilah meets him when she can

Lilah goes by the moon
that’s when they make their lovin tune
day can’t go to dark too soon
Lilah meets him by the moon

woman got feet she walk along
woman got a mouth she talk along
woman got a heart and her love is strong
woman get a man it’ll all go wrong

one desire
goin make it last
one desire
goin make it last

workin on the highline when he can
spend his days in ol Montan
he met Lilah and her man
you burn in the fire and you cook in the pan

they was all out drinkin on a roadhouse high
he touched her arm, fell in her eyes
ain’t no because, there ain’t no why
desire blooms(and wisdom dies

she shook her head, she told him no
don’t want your voice so sweet and low
she said boy you got to go
wantin somethin don’t make it so

one desire etc.

Montana man done killed her love
that’s the deed I’m speakin of
brought his fist down from above
got the devil in him ain’t got no dove

Lilah weeps at the stone
for all the love that she has known
god gives you life but it’s a loan
you pay him back in blood and bone

one desire etc.
Track Name: Baby Put Your Red Shoes On
Baby Put Your Red Shoes On
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

when I lived by the traintrack
I loved the traintrack man
now I’m livin by the cookhouse
we’re cookin every time we can …..
servin me up breakfast
at least as much as I can stand

I used to pray for comfort
down on my knees
you know when you’re lonely
and you’re wantin that release …..
but it ain’t worth the trouble
now I’m doin what I please

come on pretty baby
baby put your red shoes on
come on pretty baby
baby put your red shoes on
we’re gonna keep on dancin
keep on dancin till the dawn

I can’t back to Olema
cuz of what I done
you know I couldn’t help it
I was only havin fun … hm
yeah the gossip tongues a’waggin
and they got me on the run

he said baby won’t you meet me
at the Pillowtalk Motel
he said you can’t resist me
so you know I went and fell, in …, yeah
oh the fireman’s a’comin
and he’s ringin on his bell


my heart is breakin
you know it’s breakin with the pain
the company I’m keepin
yeah I know I can’t complain …..uh-uh
the tears I am cryin
they all meltin in the rain

a man tells you that he loves you
sweet-talkin’ voodoo
don’t believe what he’s sayin
it’s a lotta hoo-doo-doo …..doo, doo
gal, the medicine you’re needin
is to tell him that you’re through

Track Name: Bill Lost His Leg
Bill Lost His Leg
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

bill lost his leg got a hollow one of wood
hides his gun and his whiskey good
the body ain’t impo’tant it’s what’s under the hood
yeah, yeah, yeah

roebuck died when the weather was hot
real quick funeral is what he got
better in the ground then rottin on top
yeah, yeah, yeah

and the gypsies say “I can tell your fortune”
and the gypsies say, “I can read it in the cards”
they can tell it all with the crystal ball
but you gotta have cash that’s cold and hard

ol joe eagle eye flyin up real high
thought he’d have some dinner with the saints and the whores, but
the cops done found him dead as a board
leaned up flat on the old church door

high as a donkey, feeling kinda wonkey
he robbed the honkey-tonkey joint, tired a bein poor
bullet in the gun, gun, in your pocket
point and shoot, it what the gun is for

chappa chappa tay, chappa chappa tay
chappa chappa tay, chappa chappa tay
chappa chap TAY, chappa chappa TAY

play sad on the trombone when I am long gone
weep in your beer at old Jack’s bar
Friday’s full of knives and other people’s wives
yeah, yeah, yeah

debt goes up and your pile goes down
give it to the gal in the fancy gown
angels say up but the devil says down
yeah, yeah, yeah


and there might be some sweet
eternity for me
all that I can see
is the boneyard, worm field
day old, garbage
no one knows
how it goes
when you’re down in the ground

woulda spent the loot, tried to take it all
last thing he did was a dead man’s crawl
died with his fingerbones bent round the gold
put in the ground, boy the ground is cold

engineer jumped, ain’t comin back
pretty soon train gonna run out of track
you see the end comin for a mile or two
you take another drink what else ya gonna do

Chappa Tays
Track Name: April Blues
April Blues
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

I told when I left you
I told when I go
I told for the last time
in the cabin down below
you cannot keep me boy
by the chain that’s in your hand
you can put the spell of love on me
but it blows away like sand

and I know you
oh you wan-na taste my kiss
I know what you like
what you like is this

I told you on that first hot night
you gotta take me as I am
when the devil comes to claim your soul
you’ll be thankful you been damned
I lit your ya-ya fire love
delicious, funky, fine
I know I said I love you boy
I meant it at the time


when I left you I was travelin light
sweet talkin for my pay
you held my body to you
just beggin me to stay
you know the cost of lovin me
it leaves a burnin brand
you said if I can’t keep you girl
then no other lover can
you put your voodoo charm on me
that’s what the spirit’s tell
you sold me down the river
in a boat that goes to hell

Track Name: Circus
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

a freak as a boy on the far side of hell
he lived by his wits in a crumbling motel
with the eyes of a gunner, a rock-steady aim
all that he lacked was a good-looking dame

charm won the girl and the damage was done
his prospects weren’t much but it sounded like fun
when the calls comes for you and you step in the ring
inside the big tent you get to be king

the acrobat jumps while the audience stares
dangling his legs and his life in the air
when he performs, there’s never a net
a prayer and a handshake is all that you get

it’s time for the show and he changes clothes
puts on the sequins, the makeup, a rose
a jacket with tails as wild as a dream
sweet love and nightmare sewed into the seams

the ringmaster waves his tall hat and cries out
the knifethrower enters and circles about
under his spell, you hold your breath
in the circus at the edge of death

he says I fell, I’m in love – I’m still falling
oh-ho my dear how your loves is enthralling
when you let go (pause) there is no cure
for a fall

he tells the girl to lay perfectly still
steadies his hand by the strength of his will
the wheel is spinning, the knives wicked sharp
her neckline plunged down shows the beat of her heart

he’s in to the hilt and he’s up the hasp
throws back his arm and the audience gasps
he wants the girl but true love is so frightening
he lets go his knives and he throws them like lightning

the more the desire, the sweeter the kiss
I’ll try to be good but please know if I miss
love is more fun when it’s dan-ger-ous!


tigers are jumping through round rings of fire
a tightwalker walks on a rope of thin wire
love is a promise, a wing and a prayer
step up if you dare!
Track Name: East Junk Hangyard
East Junk Hangyard
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

East Junk Hangyard
belly full of steel
he drove the locomotive
was a devil at the wheel
the freight that he was carryin
you wouldn’t wanna know
Red got the fire
goin down below

pretty Betty Blue
was the woman that he loved
pull comes to push
and the pushes start to shove
be careful with desire
careful what you dream cuz
wishes got a dark side
‘ll tear you at the seam

come on Betty
come to me
please pretty Betty
won’t you set me free
I’m the cat’s meow
I’m pretty kitty don’t you know
you gotta have the fire
goin down below


the preacher calls on jesus
to heal in the tent
but travellin’s expensive
and there’s money jesus spent oh
the money box was full
the preacher got bored
when the wild life called
he was out the door

well he met Betty
at the damnin of his soul
she come to the tent
eyes black like coal
took the preacher’s hand
looked him up an down
said honey bring your money
and we’ll paint the town

well he’ll lie for he
die for her

oh how
he’ll cry for her

crumbs of love
is your supper all the time
you’re hopin’ for a dollar
but you’ll settle for a dime
shoulda known better
but the deed went down
Red found Betty
on the other side of town

you can always find a fella
if you’re willin to pay
use a little muscle
to brighten up your day, (now) there was
Betty in the juke joint
dressed in baby blue, he said
I’ll make your train wreck
and the preacher is through


the band kept playin
the singer did his thing
when the honeybee gets mad-oh!
then she up and sting
Red threw a punch
preacher threw a chair
but Betty sent the bullets
flyin through the air
I heard she left the preacher
for a fella on the coast
he had a lotta money
so he got a lotta votes
Red’s still around
but he ain’t right since
pretty Betty Blue
shot out his light

come on Betty
come to me
please pretty Betty
won’t you set me free
I’m the cat’s meow
I’m pretty kitty don’t you know
you gotta have the fire
goin down below
you got to have the fire
goin down below
Track Name: Half of You Good
Half of You Good
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

fancy man, paintin the town
take a coin and finger it down
makin your bet, see what you get
wheel of fate spinnin around

oh hoh prayer and a curse
half of you good, half of you worse
crying and crying, chasin the high
baby you ain’t the first

and you
when you play
ain’t no right or wrong
make a bet
with your debt
sorrow’s the end of your song

all the angels lookin at you
but the devil he’s takin your side
oh hoh you know the bill
come due at the end of the ride
it don’t help if you cry
or if you lie
you can’t carry it boy
then you die

oh hoh break or bend
cards your lady, your lover, your friend
tomorrow you’ll quit, be done with it
who you foolin you’ll do it again

oh hoh heavy as stone
carry the weight till it’s crackin your bone
sweet and mean, gamblin queen
she won’t leave you alone

and you say
when you pray
ain’t no right or wrong
make a bet
with your debt
sorrow’s the end of your song

lady luck is tired of you
oh you curse her name
¬¬¬¬give her your love or take it away
the hell that you feel’s the same
wherever you turn
you never learn
you’re gonna burn
with the pain

oh hoh all you know
never get free wherever you go
sit on the porch, bottle in hand
lady tells your story of woe

hangman’s noose swingin your doom
preacher man stand in the gloom
mumble his words pullin the bell
now you goin to hell

and you say
when you play
ain’t no right or wrong
make a bet
with your debt
sorrow’s the end of your song

oh-oh lonely world
all you know is gone
kill when a man is lookin at you
and the look that he gives is wrong
it’s understood
half of you good
in a coffin of wood
in the dawn
Track Name: Hung Him on a Tree
Hung Him On A Tree
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyright by Kathleen Dunbar

Chinese love song playin in the rain
with a coin for luck and a joke for the pain
he was lookin for the holy grail
she was candy sweet, naked as a nail STOMP

Little Miss Slyboots laughin out loud, Ooh!
sugar in her kiss and her name on the shroud
baby you think you’re pushin cool
well I take cash/STOMP money and I ain’t no fool

The Ohs

how’d you get in trouble with the law
you ain’t heard nothin, there’s nothin that you saw
playin with the bottle with the pistol with the drug
keep lookin, till you find

Christ was the fall guy, hung him on a tree
talkin to his daddy said you forgot me
I’m so fulla woe
o, ho, lookin for your sayso
that’s all that I know

Aphrodite in her nightie and a old blind shark
angel and the devil put a bet on their mark
deed gets done, then we know by dark

pull it, shake it, break it on down
that’s how you keep alive in this town
no time to mess a-round

The Ohs


watch it go, money you spent
hair and nails women with the strong accent
foot out the limo see the high heels shine
ain’t got the dollar, they ain’t got

Christ was the fall guy, hung him on a tree
talkin to his daddy said you forgot me
I’m so fulla woe
o, ho, lookin for your sayso
that’s all that I know

livin high on the hog, gotta have dough
axe them cards, cards say no
help yourself nobody gotta know

then you get a shovel and you put it in the ground
they’ll never know what it was that you found
nest egg don’t make no sound

The Ohs
Track Name: I Knew a Girl
I Knew A Girl
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

I knew a girl who was a dove
I knew a girl who was a bird
I knew her with a broken wing
I tell this story from her word
hie la, hie la, hie la—hey
girl, don’t give your sweetness away

young moon, a hoop of gold
quick your dance both sweet and bold
light your laugh, soft your hair
your daddy saw you opened there
hie la, hie la, hie la—hey
girl, he stole your sweetness away

your family took their livin from
dirty cards and whiskey runs
when their debt they could not pay
one night they sold their child away
hie la, hie la, hie la—hey
god could hear no prayer girl you say

wild men with gold and guns
found your body for their fun
used you like your pa had done
where you learned that love begun
hie la, hie la, hie la—hey
girl, we make our livin where we lay

there was a girl who was a dove
there was a girl who was a bird
I found her with a broken wing
I found her with a broken word
hie la, hie la, hie la—hey
if we run there’ll be hell to pay

time went on a yellow moon
your chi-ild would be talking soon
family doubled in her face
sweetest pain and troubled grace

sickness comes
no one can hide
in cold of dawn
your child died
I held you close
when you cried
for your
sister daughter shame and pride
hie la, hie la, hie la—hey
angels took your baby away

we took the drug that offered balm
rough the water, sweet the calm
I could not follow where you went
on the day your life you spent
hie la, hie la, hie la—hey
gave the ground your body today

there was a girl who was a dove
there was a girl who was a bird
I could not mend her broken wing
I tried but I could find no word
just hie-la hie-la hie-la hey
girrrrrrrrrl, in my heart all lo-ove-broke you stay
Track Name: In The Hole
In The Hole
Lyrics by Kathleen Dunbar, music by Kathleen Dunbar and Gawain Mathews
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar and Gawain Mathews

all gone
the life you had before
she called your name
stood with her hand on the door
she lay
sweet and warm in her bed
he won’t know
my husband is gone so she said

was it love
was it love that made you burn
old news
you’re yesterday’s page that she turned
her perfume
wet and warm on her skin
done with you
ohh she beckons to him

lay, lay it down, lay it in the bone
hey, now you’re goin on alone

hangin round
her place outside of town
she comes laughin
her gold hair fallin all around
she told you no
and looked you up and down
so you shot her
laid her body
in the cold, cold ground

no mercy for you
you still hear her callin
an angel of light
in darkness has fallen
with the spell of her body
to hell she bound you
you remember all your days
her golden hair all around you

in the hole
in the hole put it down and die
got a secret
want to tell but you can’t say why
you talk about her
guess that woman moved on
your friends are laughin
say how she liked her fun

lay, lay it down, lay it in the bone
hey, now you’re goin on alone

there’s a hound
there’s a gold haired hound comin through
out of hell
with the white teeth catches you
no one knows
the thing that you did do
but every night
in your dreams you must tell what is true

no mercy for you
you still hear her callin
an angel of light
in darkness has fallen
with the spell of her body
to hell she bound you
you remember all your days
her golden hair all around you
Track Name: Joytown
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

I bought me a ticket to Joytown
I bought me a ticket to play
it’ll cost my life if I leave here
cost me more if I stay

I walk in the water
to wash away my sin
but the stain it gets darker
that’s the kind of trouble I’m in

no holdin back on a slippery track
can’t stop a runaway train
ain’t no use to fight with a noose
no brake on a hurricane

some people been dyin
in some of the places I been
they want me for livin
that’s the kind of trouble I’m in

I wish I could but I can’t stop
the siren calls to my end
if I live through the morning
tomorrow I’ll do it again

I’m tired of losin
can you tell me why I never win
my chance ain’t great at the pearly gate
that’s the kind of trouble I’m in

I’m stuck in Johnson City
mm-hm I might die
I met one-eyed Jesus
that’s the Jesus lost his eye

he said don’t you know me
right hand of the great big boss
hey baby when you need it
I can help you to get across

come the end of the day
everybody got to go to their jones
when sweet jesus died
he died with the nails in his bones
I got these evil ways
if I go I know I’m lost
when I can’t take the pain
then I’ll pick up the cross
and I know, I know, this pain I’m holdin
one shot, I know, would make it golden

mm mm I need this
a blind man needs a cane
I guess I need my jesus
to take away my pain

the heaven he is selling
that’d put me on the nod
he said more’s the pity
take a shot and call it god

Track Name: Liars, Cutthroats and Dames
Liars, Cutthroats and Dames
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

all the boys are dancing in their dreams, you see
they all believe they’re tall and fine and able
the women in their arms are captured by their charms
generalissmo is dining at their table

you like drinking gin, but the girl that you fell in with
drinks blue nightmare so you pour that in your glass
all the things said she stick like magnets in your head
you think of nothing else in the days that come to pass

you shoulda caught the train but you were praying – in your way
confessions to her eyes so deep and blue
pull the rope and ring the bell, the devil grins in hell
you know you’ve sold your soul and you’re dancing to her cue

laaa la la laaaai
laaa la la la la la la
laaa la la laaaai
laaa la la lai

and you’re saying – la la la
and you’re swaying – la la la
to the tune of the moon
when it’s tipping out it’s spoon
and it’s spilling all its silver
light around X X

it’s raining really hard and the boys are playing cards
you wish you’d never took the shortcut through the woods
she is storm, she is froth, she is the flame, you are the moth
she won’t recognize who you are when the bandages come off

she whispered in your ear come be my joy come be my pain
then she left you, oh! she went away
when the hole is deep enough, you shovel in the dirt
the passing of the years cannot cover up the hurt

laaa la la laaaai etc.

her name upon your tongue is like the secret word of god
though she’s gone she burns your mind, she burns your skin
you feel like putting poison in the cake you bake for you her
but to kill her indirectly’s such a sin

if I could play the host I would have everybody here
the liars and the cutthroats and the dames
the party’s just begun, OH HOH it is such fun
with a hand upon the gun you cannot help but taking aim

I know you like I know myself, my boy I have the cure
you’ll be quick, you’ll be discreet, you’ll slip away
no one cares, you’re all alone, your chips are down, your bones they groan
just give into the urge, it’s only hell you’ll have to pay

laaa la la laaaai etc.
Track Name: Mojo for a Man
Mojo for a man
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

I don’t want no fancy man
I want a ditchdiggin man
not afraid to get his hands dirty
hardworking and
somebody who can laugh
at this old world
climb out of the earth grinning
keep enough of his paycheck in his pocket
for bills and what is needful
and meet me, washed clean and smelling alive.

Damn, you’re trying too hard, he’d say
you’re a knockout just the way you are, he’d say
and with strong arms
he’d pull me to him, long-stem on my heels
and look me eye-to-eye.

I’d throw back my head and laugh for joy
tell him: I want to get down into the ditch with you
into the mud
let it ooze and suck and rush –
your kisses are so wet
and I am so thirsty –
what I am looking for is a long drink of water
I’ve been to hell and back
had enough of being lost
and having found myself is cause for celebration!

I tell you, I am looking for a man who will sing to me
in a voice so rich I can wear it on my skin
a man who knows how to sweeten honey
I mean – put it in a kiss
and give it to me
his mouth on mine
with a boy’s delicious mischief
and a man’s hard-edged working face
handsome in the cut of the sun.

I want a man who’ll hold me like I’m a bunch of flowers
with his hands pressed close into the live-wire me
a man ready for the long pause just ending
an “are my legs long enough to leap
from this jiggling stone to the other side
or will I end up in the river?” kind of risk
that, once taken,
will change our lives.

It’s not just sex I’m looking for
though I want our bones to fit
hip upon hip
but something beautiful and strange
as real as grit
as full as the thrum of a bell!
I want to clang in honeyed angles
joyous in the wind
our house filled with life, laughter
reasonable arguments
and the kind of love that ever-stirs the soul.

These bodies we have are warm for a reason
where are you, man?
all this work I’ve done on myself –
I’ve just come out of the oven, warm and sweet
snowy with powdered sugar . . . .

I know I am a woman because
my mouth is ripe with myself
and I am ready –
it’s kisses that I want
what my mouth can’t accomplish alone
and all the rich companion things that follow –
so I am standing on this moment
in my red shoes
I’ve put my red dress on
yes – I’ve put soft red cloth
over my breasts to let you know
I’m sending my heart through my singing hands
making this mojo
for a good man.
Track Name: Riverside
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

I got a deep and burnin wound
don’t know what the hell I am do-in I’m
stuck on the ride goin round and round
that’s trouble for sure that’s the devil in town
I got a deep and burnin wound

it never goin to get better than this here
I go to shift and I grind the gear
I got the bad luck broke the mirror
the fucked up crack in what is clear
ain’t gonna get better than this here

Down by the riverside, that’s where I go when I want to hide
Oh hoh you know I tried, how many times you know I cried

hangman got to have his supper too
you take a money job when you need to make it through
get up again when the mornin is new¬¬¬
it ends the same whatever you do
hangman got to have his supper too

a kiss is sugar in your veins
the hunger’s worse with every bed you lay in
upon your leg the velvet chain
you can pray or beg but it’s all the same
for a kiss like sugar in your veins


the brimstone preacher loves his word
he ain’t lived the hardship in this world
ain’t no balm gonna heal the hurt
drop the coffin in the ground, shovel in the dirt
oh give that preacher back his word

we’re each the do-er and the done
we each got the ticket that lost and the one that won
you get drunk and confess your fun
the law gets involved and it’s best you run
we’re each the do-er and the done

Track Name: Smoochy Smoo
Smoochy Smoo
By Kathleen Dunbar
Copyrighted by Kathleen Dunbar

I’m in the mood for some fun
so ba-by/tell me, tell me baby why not
why don’t you go get your gun
and show me what you got hah!
you’re gon-na throw down on me
then we go down, all the way we go down
I’m in my black sa-tin gown
you hot to take a shot


I got the three black belt cool
come on ba-by, kick it with your high leg
I’m gon-na ju-jit-su you
you’re gon-na beg me to
I got a heart you can’t break
silly ba-by playin for the high stake
you know when I’m through with you
you’ll be my smoo-chee smoo

The Oooooos

you know where-eh-ver you go
gonna find you oh you know I’ll fol-low
you know the train can-not slow
you hear the whis-tle blow
you feel the rhy-thm and pull
gonna tease you, ba-by gonna please you
we push the throt-tle to full
you know you want us to

Low Oooos


I’m walk-in show-down with you
takin aim now play a little game now
so ve-ry com-pli-ca-do
ain’t no-thin you can do
here come the boom and ex-plode
got my fin-ger pul-lin on the trig-ger
whoh-whoh-whoh-woh lord a-bove
we got a great big love

The Oooooos