Forums » Gillian Welch and David Rawlings "Lyrics"

Currently unrecorded (but performed)

    • 112 posts
    July 22, 2011 3:52 PM PDT

    Knuckleball Catcher


    You caught my eye

    When a flash of lightning hit the land

    Out in the darkness

    With a banjo in your hand


    You came into the firelight

    Into the circle from the gloom

    I was standing childlike

    While you got yourself in tune


    Now a bricklayer can be an all-time player, too

    But a knuckleball catcher only gets one job to do

    Only gets one job to do


    You played your melody

    It was too much to believe

    It froze my flesh down

    to minus nine degrees


    Like I was passing a graveyard

    Filled with flowers on Mother's Day

    That's the last time I let a stranger

    Break my heart this way


    Now a Den Mother can be a dashboard drummer, too

    But a knuckleball catcher only gets one job to do

    Only gets one job to do


    When the jam had finished

    You stepped out of the choir

    I tried to follow

    But my shoes just caught on fire


    So I searched the campground

    I never saw your face again

    Were you a devil, woman,

    Or just a bluegrass fan?


    Now a left-winger can be a bluegrass singer, too *

    And some hard liquor

    Could make a guitar picker out of you

    But a knuckleball catcher only gets one job to do

    Do do do do do do

    But a knuckleball catcher only gets one job to do


    *Dave sometimes says something like "And it's a hard road to choose", but I can't make it out.


    I love the juxtaposition between the story in this song and the generalization of the refrain.  Certainly the refrain is evocative and it takes me to a certain place.  However, I will admit that I am still working on the relationship, in terms of meaning, between the verses and chorus.  Thoughts?

    • 112 posts
    November 29, 2011 12:50 PM PST
    There is one recording where Dave sings "Knuckleball Catcher" and he sings "You were standing childlike, while 'til we made a little room."
    • 112 posts
    February 16, 2012 5:25 PM PST
    There are other different lyrics, too; I'll get them down at some point. Anyone done chords for this?
    • 112 posts
    February 16, 2012 5:35 PM PST
    "I've Been Down Before"

    (I'd love chords on this one)

    I wish I had a shotgun, I'd tie it to my side
    And never be without the power to make a man do right
    'Cause I've been pushed around some, and I've been made to bend
    I've been down before but I won't be down again

    And if I had a pony, how fast I would ride
    Yippie taye aye ay, with a shotgun at my side
    An outlaw to my foes and a hero to my friends
    I've been down before but I won't be down again

    I'd give myself a peso for every star I see
    And ride to El Dorado with a banjo on my knee
    My pockets full of silver to gamble or to lend
    I've been down before but I won't be down again

    And I wish I had a hammer, like old John Henry swung
    I'd lay the mountain low and sit and look at what I'd done
    I'd walk through the valley and make the rivers bend
    'cause I've been down before but I won't be down again

    But I don't have a hammer
    No pony no gun
    All I've got's this morphine running through my blood
    I don't have to wonder what makes the good times end
    I've been down before but I won't be down again.

    Or something close to that, anyway
    • 9 posts
    December 19, 2012 11:04 PM PST

    Hi Sarah,

    I think I can get the chords for you. They're quite easy. Starts on G B7 Em, ... I'll post the rest when I have my guitar in hand again. Haven't played it in a long time.


    I think a couple of lyrics are slightly off too, but I'm half deaf so I could be wrong. 


    I think it's old-time player, not all-time


    Full of flowers on Mother's Day


    Might be "slipped out of the choir"


    I think there's no comma between Devil Woman, or just a bluegrass fan. I always took it to mean that she possessed such skill that like Robert Johnson she must have sold her soul to the devil for the skills.


    And I think, because I've tried hard to figure it out myself, that Dave says "It's the high, lonesome truth" which refers to the high, lonesome sound of Bill Monroe's bluegrass.


    Also on the first version I ever heard, the lines went


    You played your melody and it went twisting through the trees...

    • 112 posts
    December 20, 2012 7:26 AM PST
    Thanks! I think I play Been Down Before starting in Am; I've made progress since I started out. There are definitely a few versions of Knuckleball Catcher that I've heard as well. Devil Woman makes sense.
    • 9 posts
    December 20, 2012 6:22 PM PST

    I've Been Down Before is probably my favorite of her unreleased.  Gillian sings, "I've been pushed around like a candle in the wind" on one of the recordings, but it is usually how you have it, "I've been made to bend." 

    • 9 posts
    December 20, 2012 8:56 PM PST

    I like how they mix it up changing little verses here and there on live stuff. It's where they really shine, and it keeps it interesting.


    Makes you wonder if they were trying out alternates from before or just coming up with them on the fly.


    I'll have to listen to Been Down Before. Never heard it. Sumthin to look forward to, too. Especially since the world is ending tomorrow!