The Hold Steady

The Hold Steady


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The birdwatchers

He had a guide book and binoculars
He called himself a birdwatcher
But he knew that we were seeking out
Something beyond geese and grouse

Ravaged by our nagging doubts
The new age and the restless nights
We said we'd like to see the sites
He said he'd like to take us

We first made his acquaintance
Through a series of small payments
Wires and ACHs
Veering through the clearing house

We bought our tickets through the touts
Before the offers disappeared
Found our seats and sat between
The dilettantes and profiteers

When we landed were greeted by the salesmen
In the market where you exit from the station

We were initially suspicious
But we drank ourselves complicit
The next three days were skippers, man

Picking up the whispers
From the dealers and the drifters
Of a strongman with some soldiers and a suntan

Our guide said that the city
Was just a little jumpy
He took us to a party
And tried to introduce us

To a girl they called The Colonel
And a kid they called The Cardinal
Because I guess he was from Phoenix or St. Louis.

The Colonel said she could probably use us
Now we're marching with her army through the forest

She said you won't get any service
When we get to certain pockets
But you might hear screeching noises

Because the rockets sound like ravens
When they're skipping off the pavement
And if you ever hear the church bells
Then get down on the ground

At first we were suspicious
But we drank ourselves complicit
It felt just like a fable
With a complicated ending

Toured the royal castle
It was glass and mud and marble
With guns down on the table
Because it wasn't worth defending

The Cardinal and The Cornel
Said the ringing of the church bells
Are a signal from the generals
To tighten up the yoke

The view through the binoculars
Was spooky but spectacular
Blue sky and golden eagles
And little puffs of smoke

The Birdwatcher was laughing now
Asked us if we wondered how
Such a pretty picture
Could ever turn against itself?

We saw the youth out on the avenues
And the long looks in the automats
The Russians that we met were selling black market cigarettes
Yeah I don't think we danced with any diplomats

The thrill of being at the scene
Ducking out and in between
The curfew and the skirmishes
Went off into the wilderness
To check the natural habitat
Turned out that we finally found a purpose

When they asked for our credentials
We told them we were looking for some birds

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New York five-piece The Hold Steady have released three albums to increasing acclaim. Led by Craig Finn, they formed in 2000 and released debut album Almost Killed Me in 2004 to warm reviews. Second album Separation Sunday followed the next year, and was considered by some critics to be among the best albums of the year. Third album Boys And Girls In America (2006) was an even bigger success, with writers praising the bands progression. Again, it was a front-runner in several end-of-year polls.

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