Alastair Moock

by Alastair Moock

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about

Boston-based singer-songwriter Alastair Moock Moock first made a name for himself on the folk and Americana circuit starting in 1995, touring throughout the U.S. and Europe and playing major venues including the Newport Folk Festival and Norway’s Bergen Music Fest. He won songwriter contests at the Falcon Ridge, Sisters, and Great Waters folk festivals and was nominated for a 2007 Boston Music Award for Outstanding Singer-Songwriter of the Year.

Still, critical success did not translate into commercial success. When his twin daughters were born in 2006, Moock concluded it was time to move on. As his swan song, he decided to make one more album: a tribute both to his own newborn daughters and to a generation of musical heroes – Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly, Pete Seeger, Mississippi John Hurt – who wrote and played, proudly and undiscriminatingly, for both adults and kids.

The album, A Cow Says Moock, became Moock’s most successful project to date. It led to three more family albums which together garnered most of the top awards in American children’s music, including a 2013 GRAMMY Nomination for the album he made with his daughter, Clio, after she was diagnosed with leukemia (she’s now healthy and doing great).

Moock never stopped playing concerts for adults, but he did have a long dry spell where new ‘grownup’ material just didn’t seem to come to him. The spell finally broke last year when he realized he needed “to get past the songs of my 20s and 30s and start writing from the perspective of who I am now: a father, a husband, a guy who’s been through some stuff.”

He brought his new material to his old friend Mark Erelli (Lori McKenna, Josh Ritter) who signed on as producer and brought in some of the top talent in the area, including Marco Giovino on drums (Robert Plant, Buddy Miller) and Marty Ballou on bass (Peter Wolf, John Hammond Jr.). The end result is ten shimmering new originals, plus a cover of an Erelli tune, that evoke a wide breadth of American musical textures: early Nashville, country blues, Western swing, a tinge of gospel. But most of all, the album is infused with the kind of intimate storyteller’s approach at which Moock excels.

The songs on ALASTAIR MOOCK touch on death and love, politics, marriage and family, big universal questions and minute everyday observations. It’s a hard album to pin down, but then Moock has always been a hard songwriter to pin down. “I don’t care who I’m singing to,” he says, “I just want to tell stories.”

credits

released May 26, 2017

Alastair Moock – vocals, acoustic guitar
Mark Erelli – 6 & 12-string acoustic, electric & resonator guitars, lap steel, mandolin, additional percussion, vocals
Marty Ballou – upright & electric bass
Marco Giovino – drums, percussion
Sam Kassirer – piano, Hammond B3 organ, Wurlitzer, vibes
Charlie Rose – banjo, pedal steel
Deni Hlavinka – vocals
Zachariah Hickman – pump organ (track 10)

Produced by
Mark Erelli

Recorded by
Chris Rival at Middleville Studio, North Reading, MA
(additional recording at home and by Sam Kassirer at Great North Sound Society, Parsonsfield, ME)

Mixed by
Lorne Entress at Harmony St., Pomfret, CT

Mastered by
Ian Kennedy at New Alliance East, Cambridge, MA

Design by
Lori Salmeri

Photography by
Michael D. Spencer

All songs written by Alastair Moock ©2017 Moockshake Music (ASCAP) except “Something’s Changed,” written by Alastair Moock & Dinty Child, Mermine Music (SESAC) and “Let’s Make a Family,” written by Mark Erelli, Hillbilly Pilgrim Music (ASCAP).

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about

Alastair Moock Boston, Massachusetts

A 2013 Grammy Nominee and two-time Parents' Choice Gold Medal Winner, Alastair Moock makes music for the whole family: kids, parents, even discerning pets. Long one of Boston’s premier folk artists, Alastair turned his attention to family music after the birth of his twin daughters in 2006. The Boston Globe calls him “one of the town's best and most adventurous songwriters." ... more

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Track Name: Dream
Walk on down the street, follow your own feet
Listen to your heartbeat and forget the things you know
Breathe on in the air, the evening is your prayer
Just let yourself be there – walking down the road

Chorus:
This world is just a dream floating down a stream
The moment is the only thing you need
Stop fighting ‘gainst the current, the things that you’ve determined
They aren’t and they weren’t and they’re never gonna be

Think about the fact that you’re just a little speck
A fleck upon an acorn in an ocean’s raging storm
In the scheme of time and space you leave no lasting trace
The troubles that you face have no gravity or form

Chorus

The simplicity of Darwin, the flowers in the garden
The molecules of carbon and the things you never see
Are just below the surface of this agitated circus
Stop searching for a purpose when the point is just to be

Chorus
Track Name: Hallelujah
Hallelujah if I make it up this morning
Hallelujah if I leave my bed
Hallelujah, Lord, if you hear me call
Hallelujah I ain’t dead

Hallelujah If I feel the sun shine
Hallelujah if it warms my skin
Hallelujah If I’m feeling half fine
It’s a miracle the shape I’m in

Hallelujah for a cup of coffee
Hallelujah if I write 2 lines
Hallelujah if I ain’t too off-key
Hallelujah if them 2 lines rhyme

Hallelujah for my toes and fingers
Hallelujah for my big ‘ol feet
Hallelujah for a time, a rhythm and a roll
Lord, help a white man keep the beat

Hallelujah, Lord, I’m in my forties
Hallelujah, Lord, I’m middle age
Hallelujah if I found my car keys
And made it up here on this stage

Hallelujah for one more evening
Hallelujah for another night
Hallelujah if my heart’s still beating
In the morning, Lord, praise the light
Track Name: Morning
Every morning ‘fore the birds are calling
And the first light is falling on the lines of her face
I embrace her and try not to wake her
As I thank the maker for good fortune and fate

In that stillness it feels just like Christmas
How’d I get to witness all the beauty and grace
Of a morning ‘fore the birds are calling
And the first light is falling on the lines of her face

How’d it happen that this life could happen
I ought to be saddened by the world in its state
But the vision of her there ‘fore she’s risen
Takes the bars from my prison and opens the gate

And I wonder ‘fore I fall back a’ slumber
How I managed to wander into such a sweet place
As a morning ‘fore the birds are calling
And the first light is falling on the lines of her face
Track Name: Off They Go
Late night Lizard Lounge, miles of music in the round
Hold your ground in harmony, sing your songs and set them free
Bye bye, off they go, up above and down below
Listen to the rhythms run, where do songs go once they’re sung?

Open skies of melody, memory, endlessly
Everybody sings the blues once the bloom of youth is through
Bye bye off they go, up above and down below
Listen to the rhythms run, where go blooms once winter comes?

Off into the great divide
Out upon some ocean wide

Tie a note upon a string, hoping for one wondrous thing
A song, a sign from off beyond, a hook to hang our lives upon
Bye bye off we go, up above and down below
Listen to the rhythms run, where go lives once living’s done?

Bye bye, off they go, up above and down below
Listen to the rhythms run, where do songs go once they’re sung?
Track Name: Something’s Changed
I know every line, every bend, every curve
Every circle completed, each stone overturned
The old sloping hill, the fall and the lift
The arc of the oak, the slant and the twist

But wasn’t the sky just a little more blue?
And what was that scent on the wind blowing through?
And didn’t we know more or thought that we knew?
Something’s changed
 
I’ve been through the seasons, the warmth and the rain
The pulse of the evening, the storm and the strain
The claws of desire, the cloak and the mask
You pause for a moment, your future’s the past
 
But weren’t the curtains a little more open?
And whose were the hands that were pulling the rope in?
And what was that thing that we all kept on hoping?
Something’s changed
 
Oh the colors may fade
But in every lighter shade
There’s something’s revealed
As the layers are peeled back
Disguise is disposed
The heart more exposed

I’ve studied the grid lines, the charts and the maps
Mercurial motions, the grooves in the tracks
The height of each mountain, the depth of each sea
No matter the measure, the gauge points to me

Cuz all of the years and the struggling stretches
Have sharpened the senses and softened the edges
And after all this time, the only truth left is
Something’s changed

And maybe the sky was a little more blue then
The road takes you places uncharted and new
When you look in the mirror you find the one thing that’s true
Something’s changed
Track Name: Let's Make a Family
I hear a tick, I hear a tock
Must be your biological clock
You're ready, Oh, you're ready
You got the itch I wanna scratch
I can't resist that's a natural fact
I'm ready, I think I'm ready
We've had plenty of practice, so how hard can it be?
Baby, let's make a family

Some say we're in need of a reality check
But is there ever a good time so what the heck
If you're ready, Oh you're ready
Though the money we got ain't going far
You can't make a lot with an acoustic guitar
But I'm ready, I hope I'm ready
'Cause even fools are born with all the tools they need
Oh baby, let's make a family

I felt a kick I can't wait
I know that's easy for me to say
You're ready, you're ready
Eight months down, one to go
We're gonna add another ring to this big top show
And I'm ready, I better be ready
So honey cross your fingers and hope it don't look like me
Oh baby, let's make a family

Baby, you know I've been thinkin’
We can start one out on the drums the other on the bass
We’d just need a couple more sets of twins
And before too long I'd have me a band for free
Oh baby, let's make a fam, let's make a fam
Let’s make a family
Track Name: Big Thoughts
I remember when my grandmother died
I guess I’s about 4 or 5
Wondering, “where did she go?”
And “Will I find her somewhere down the road”

Kids think big thoughts
Bigger than we ever could know
How did we get to this place?
Where in the world will I go?

Libby Cotton was just about eleven
Heard that whistle blow, wondered “where’s it headin’?”
“Those tracks are gonna take me awful far”
She wrote Freight Train on her brother’s old guitar

Kids think big thoughts
Thoughts so big, they’re pulling at the seams
Big as freight trains running down the track
Piled high with the biggest kinds of dreams

There’s a little kid lying in his bed
With a million thoughts running through his head
Where will I find my next friend?
Where does the universe end?

Kids think big thoughts
Big as the universe is wide
Where did we come from and when?
What are we made of and why?

Kids think big thoughts
Bigger than we ever could know
How did we get to this place?
Where in the world will I go?
Track Name: Graveyard
Down in the old graveyard
I guess that’s where I’ll be
Someday, I don’t know when
But it’s gonna catch up with me
You can save your money, save your soul
Eventually you got to pay the toll
Down in the old graveyard
I guess that’s where I’ll be

Down in the old graveyard
I guess that’s where I’ll go
Save my spot, pick my plot
And write on my headstone
“Husband, father, rest in peace
Let this bastard get some sleep”
Down in the old graveyard
I guess that’s where I’ll go

Even Shakespeare had to shake this mortal coil
Not even Prince could play his way out of the soil

Down in the old graveyard
Down about 6 feet deep
Dress me in my Sunday best
And lay me down to sleep
Goodnight Gracie, goodnight moon
Goodnight Irene, Lord, make some room
Down in the old graveyard
Down about 6 feet deep

Down in the old graveyard
I guess that’s where I’ll be
Someday, I don’t know when
But it’s gonna catch up with me
So ring the bell, grab your coat
Blow your horn, that’s all she wrote
Down in the old graveyard
I guess that’s where I’ll be
Track Name: Make it Great
Love it or leave it, it’s us against them
We’re gonna make it great once again
This once was the land of the free and the brave
We all had it good here (except for the slaves)

When we came here, this country was pure and pristine
The skies were all blue and the trees were all green
We fought for the rights of the nation we’d build
And all here rejoiced (‘cept the natives we killed)

Then we built cities and roads and great ports
Protected by brave men aloft in great forts
And then came the railroads that stretched to the seas
We all had it good (unless you were Chinese)

Then Abraham Lincoln, the guy with the beard
Said “no more” to slavery so that disappeared
And that was the end of race problems, we know
Black people were equal (except for Jim Crow)

The late 1800s were elegant, grand
Victorian houses and trust in the land
The right to your income and vote you possessed
For all of us here (barring those who had breasts)

Then Depression and war kinda soured some years
But we all pulled together and got back in gear
Freedom secured in the home of the champs
(Offer not valid in internment camps)

The fifties, that’s when things really improved
The GI Bill and your mortgage approved
Employment was high and the future was bright
For everyone, all of us (if you were white)

And that’s what we mean by “Be great again”
Let’s get ourselves back to where we were then
When freedom, prosperity, peace all prevailed
(For the Caucasian, Christian, straight, middle-class male)

Love it or leave it, it’s us against them
We’re gonna make it great once again
This once was the home of the brave and the free
The world’s greatest nation (if you looked like me)
Track Name: Dear Dr. King
Dear Dr. King, we’re still working
To live your words down here on earth
That dream of yours a distant shore
We struggle forward, we pull the oar

‘Tween black and white, we’ve made some strides
‘Tween rich and poor, the gap’s more wide
The current’s strong, we’re struggling
To move along, Dear Dr. King

Dear Mrs. Parks, Dear Malcolm too
How far’ve we come? We ask of you
A president through what you’ve done
But voting rights now on the run

The drum still beats, the flag still waves
But where’s the peace? The living wage?
The city streets, the vacant lots
The empty hands, how far’ve we got?

Dear Dr. King, your dream still lives
In the wide eyes of all our kids
We ask of them to carry on
Past where we’ve been and far beyond

The march is slow, the arc is long
But it bends towards that ancient song
Words echoing, words still to sing
We’re free at last, Dear Dr. King
Track Name: We’re Almost There
We’re almost there, sign’s on the post
Not sure where but we’re getting close
It’s been a bumpy ride but we’re alright
And we’re almost there

We’re almost there, the last patch was rough
But the roads looking clear coming up
It’s been a bumpy ride but we’re alright
And we’re almost there

Look at these kids asleep in the back
Been through a lot but they’re back on track
It’s been a bumpy ride but they’re alright
And we’re almost there

We’re almost there, we’ll be there soon
Look at the stars, that big old moon
It’s been a bumpy ride but the sky is wide
And we’re almost there

You’re looking good, got a healthy glow
I know it’s been a hard row to hoe
It’s been a bumpy ride but I’m by your side
And we’re almost there

We’re almost there, sign’s on the post
Not sure where but we’re getting close
It’s been a bumpy ride but we’re alright
And we’re almost there