The Hound Chronicles 1

J-card of The Hound Chronicles

Released: 1992 2
Label: Shrimper

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Liner notes

(original J-card):

Recorded by the Mountain Goats featuring the Bright Mountain Choir. Winter 1991 – Spring-Summer 1992:

WE MISS YOU, AMY!

1546 – Hounds in New England keep early American settlers up all night, refuse to stop howling even under pain of death. 1600 – Food riots in Lukthersaram, India, attributed to a man in a hound suit, described by witnesses as "tall" and "fat." 1650 – Hounds in Palestine. 1713 – Or, "André the Hound."3 1714 – Hounds in the French Alps melt millenia-old glaciers by breathing on them, proclaim imagematic independence from all extant systems. 1801 – Surrey, England 1-page broadsheet decries "excess of hound machineries in these parts." 1826 – World's Fair. Hounds unfair, but beautiful. 1840 – Hounds in Sonora, Mexico, invent music, write bogus "History of Music" to preserve anonymity. 1846 – Hounds. 1847 – Hounds. 1848 – Hounds. 1902 – Liberation of the Hound Sapphire from Chinese government. 19184

(reissue booklet): 2

The songs you find on this compact disc originally appeared on two cassettes. To elaborate further about that — to say, for example, that the songs originally appeared "on two cassettes that were released in ____ and ____" — would misrepresent the spirit of their time. These tapes did not have release dates. No-one anticipated their coming into the world, and very few noticed or cared. Among those who did, reaction was fairly evenly split. Some people thought these tapes were kind of cool. Other people thought they sucked. One can make, without much effort, a good case for either side of the proposition.

All previous eras cross at some point into the territory of the unimaginable, and so it is with the days of tape-trading. The obscurity in which these songs were incubated & born & brought into their faint light is a state of being which has passed into history. I don't keep diaries and I have a pretty hostile mistrust of nostalgic impulses, so anything I remember about these songs is shaded by having grown from the excitable young would-be poet & terrible guitarist who wrote them into the excitable less young would-be poet & improving guitarist who writes today. If I could speak to that younger writer, I would explain patiently to him that stalker narrators are neither interesting nor edgy, so he might want to refrain from writing "The Garden Song," lest his feminist activist older self feel embarrassed in the future. Through the impenetrable calcite wall of time I am pretty sure I can hear the younger writer responding that he sees my point, but that there is also a song about cows.

— John Darnielle
Durham, NC,
March 2012

The Hound Chronicles was reissued in 2012, again on Shrimper, as a single CD paired with Hot Garden Stomp. The song list and contents were identical to the original release.

Table of contents

  1. The Garden Song
  2. Going to Wisconsin
  3. Spilling Toward Alpha
  4. Alpha Negative
  5. The Torch Song
  6. שקט
  7. The Cow Song
  8. Going to Chino
  9. Standard Bitter Love Song #4
  10. Going to Mexico
  11. Lab Rat Blues
  12. Going to Kansas
  13. The Water Song
  14. Going to Spain
  15. Keep It on Your Mind

The Garden Song 5

"Where's Spike when you need him? Huh?" "I'm warning you." "You? Warning me?" "Cut it out!"6

I see the flowers in your garden are in bloom
I see the flags are flying high
I hear you've gone and rearranged things in your room
I guess you're trying to cut off my air supply

I came toward your window real slowly
I knew deep down I was about to strike oil
I guess by now the flowers in your garden know me
I felt them trying to get at me through the soil

My bare feet felt the cool, soft dirt moving up my ankles
But I don't fear you
The thorns began tearing at my shirt
But I didn't even care when they tore clear through

Your garden can't hurt me
Your flowers don't threaten my life
Your garden can't hurt me anymore
Your flowers don't threaten my life

Going to Wisconsin 7

"Oh yeah, th—" 8

There was the sound of a lake boiling over
On that day
Everyone said just to sit still
But the thickening air got in my way

So the hook's been baited now
Yeah, the cheese is on the water
Yeah, the water's been cleansed of all impurities, but
But now it really doesn't matter
Let's go, let's go

Wisconsin bound
Wisconsin bound
Wisconsin bound
Wisconsin bound

The bottom of the boat was a hot plate come alive
But the boat wasn't real and this is how I feel
You don't know where you are until you arrive 9
And the frogs sang out from the distant banks
And you say you need me in California but no thanks

Wisconsin bound
Wisconsin bound
Wisconsin bound, yeah
Wisconsin bound

Let's go

Spilling Toward Alpha 10

I hear you moving in the hallway
I hear you sharpening your claws
I hear you polishing your teeth sometimes
But I don't mind

And I hear you out in the garage
I hear you messing with the motor
I hear you tinker with the engine sometimes
But I don't mind

And I hear you moving in the kitchen
I hear you in there late at night
I notice when you leave the gas jets on sometimes
But I don't mind

Alpha Negative 11 12

The house was pretty and the yard was wide
And I felt strong with you at my side
Your eyes at night had a beautiful glowing in them
And I knew in my heart just what was growing in them

Ah, but you made me drink poison
It felt smooth running down my throat
I love you, and you made me drink poison
It was cool and smooth and sweet, do you remember

We had a bed of daisies thriving in the yard
And I quit my job so I could hold you all the time
I tried to stop the thing metastasizing in us
But in the warm, slow evening, I could feel it rising in us

Ah, and you made me drink poison
It felt so smooth sliding down my throat
I love you so much, and you made me drink poison
It was cool and smooth and sweet and cool and smooth and sweet and cool and smooth

"We'll just try that again."

The Torch Song 13

The sun was coming up and our friend was sound asleep
But we saw through the window that the water ran so deep
That you couldn't make out the ocean floor
Then I saw you in the light, I couldn't take it anymore

Give me your hand
Give me everything you've got
And the light from the window will fall on us burning hot
Just like a torch

The air was humid, I will not forget
When we stepped outside I hear your footstep
Now in my mind, it's a soft sound
Almost imperceptible against the giving ground

Let me kiss your eyelids with my lips
Let me feel the heat coming off your fingertips
Just like a torch

טקש 14

You've been away for quite some time
And now the rules are different now, everything's mine
Backtrack, hey say, what's the problem
Here's the problem, everything's mine

I can't be quiet
I can't be quiet anymore
I can't be quiet
I can't be quiet anymore
Yeah

You've been away for quite some some time
And now the rules are different now, everything's mine
Backtrack, hey, what's the problem
Here's the problem, everything's mine

I can't be quiet

The Cow Song

Bang, pow, look at me now
Don't let the cows stray off too far
Come down, take a good look around
See how the cows start to shine like lightbulbs

I love the cows
I love the cows
I love the cows, yeah
I love the cows

Rain comes, strikes you dumb
Reseed the meadow so the cows don't starve
Mud puddle, it's a fine place to cuddle if
You're a mosquito or a mosquito's baby

I love the cows
I love the cows
I love the cows
I love the cows

They're smiling in your face
All the time they want to take your place
Yeah, you know who I mean
Talking about those cow machines

I love the cows
I love the cows
I love the cows
I love the cows

(no lyrics)

Going to Chino 15 16 17

I'd like to say hello
To all our friends from Chino
To the people from Chino
Hello

I'd like to say hello
To all our friends from Chino
To the people from Chino
Hello

I know how hard it is down in Chino
I know how you struggle just to get by
I know they got farm-fresh eggs down in Chino
And tract homes,18 reasonably priced

I'd like to say hello
To all our friends from Chino
To the people from Chino
Hello

I'd like to say hello
To all our friends from Chino
To the people from Chino
Hello

Convenient access to the 60 freeway 19
Accredited medical care down at Chino Valley Hospital 20
A unified school system the likes of which you won't find elsewhere
And friendly people

I would like to say hello
To all our friends from Chino
To the people from Chino
Hello

I'd just like to say hello
To all our friends from Chino
To the people from Chino
Hello

Standard Bitter Love Song #4 21

Well, I see you've left me a photograph
Of a leopard tearing an antelope in half
What have you done
What have you done
What have you done
With our love
What have you done

Well, I see you've resorted to petty theft
You wanna take something from me, but there's nothing left
What have you done
What have you done
What have you done
With our love
Where have you put it

Well, I hear you calling from way over there
And I, I can't find it anywhere
What have you done
What have you done
What have you done
With our love
What have you done

Going to Mexico 22

I saw you at your window
I saw you in the sun
I saw you at your window
Looking out

I reached my hand in there
Then I touched your hair
And felt myself burn in the morning

And the chickens were screaming
Black dog at my heels
And the bluejays were coughing
Up in the trees

I'd forgotten my name
I felt kind of ashamed
And felt myself burn in the morning

I saw you at your window
At the beginning of summer
And invisible stars
Sent their heat down

I imagined your touch
It was almost too much
Burned like a bonfire in the morning

Lab Rat Blues

I saw you
I saw your hair
I could spend the rest of my life in there

I saw you and I sank into your eyes
I'm not going to apologize

Because you with your own hands made the whole world
You can't fool me, I'm onto you now
Because you with your own hands created everything
You can't fool me, I'm onto you now

Yeah, I saw you but you saw me first
Living water to quench my thirst
And you tell me quiet down, but I have no doubt
I know what you're all about

Because you with your own hands made the whole world
You can't fool me, I'm onto you now
Because you with your own hands created everything
You can't fool me anymore, I'm onto you now

Going to Kansas 23 24

"... tell me!" "Don't hurt them! Do something!" "It's all over, it's all over, I've been betrayed. Send David to me, I don't feel well." 25

You were all dressed in green
Clouds bounced against the edges of the sky
You had the prettiest hair I'd ever seen
We saw the world passing by

There was an ocean's droning
Though we were nowhere near the shore
We heard each other giggling and moaning
Then we couldn't hear each other anymore
Yeah

When my head was resting on your breastbone
I could hear your beating heart
Twenty-four hours later you had left me completely alone
I heard the whole world come apart

And you were all dressed in green
Rising in the sky was an unfamiliar star
You know, you know what I mean
Yeah, I remember who you are

The Water Song 26

[speech in other language] 27

Water came springing out the side of the wall
And I guess the same thing will happen to us all
I don't know how to explain what I mean
I mean to say it's kind of hard to explain

Now
Let them kill me
Let them kill me
Let them kill me
Let them kill me

Water came down through the cracks in the ceiling
But this time the water had a different feeling
It's the sort of feeling that is hard to explain
So let me put it to you in a different way

Now
Let them kill me
Let them kill me
Let them kill me
Let them kill me

You're the salesman, I'm the buyer
You're the tractor, I am the tire
I'm the glass, you're the water that fills me
I hear them coming, now let them kill me

Let them kill me
Let them kill me
Let them kill me, now
Let them kill me
Yeah

Let them kill me
Let them kill me
Let them kill me
Let them kill me

Going to Spain 28 29

[speech in other language] 30

It's heaven up here, but it's
Heaven down there, and
You're gonna leave me now
I don't care

It's heaven outside, but it's
Heaven indoors, well
Go on and leave me
I don't care anymore

I hear the airplane coming
I hear the airplane coming
I hear the airplane coming now
It can't touch me

I see you going up the
Little stair
Go on and board the plane
I don't care

I, I see you hold his hand
I see you wave goodbye
I don't know you anymore
So I'm not going to cry, now

I see the airplane coming
I feel the airplane coming
I hear the airplane coming now
It can't touch me

Keep It on Your Mind 31 32

"It's a quarter 'til 2 on the 23rd of February and this is a Hank Williams song."

Now, if you stay out and start playing around
Your baby's gonna burn 33 your playhouse down

You better keep it on your mind 34
You better keep it on your mind
You'll be a-moaning and a-groaning, Lord
You better keep it on your mind

Now, wrong is wrong, and right is right
If you make a pig mad, 35 he's sure gonna bite

You better keep it on your mind
You better keep it on your mind
I've had it proven to me, Lord
You better keep it on your mind

Every fuss 36 got the same old end
I don't believe the good Lord meant for a man to win

You better keep it on your mind
You better keep it on your mind
You'll be a-groaning and a-hopping, Lord 37
You better keep it on your mind

Now, if she gets mad and tells you goodbye
There ain't a thing that you can do but sit at home and cry

You better keep it on your mind
You better keep it on your mind
You better call her sweet mama, Lord
You better keep it on your mind 38

  1. The Hound Chronicles, Nall, accessed December 28, 2016.

Credits

Thanks as always to Caliclimber, whose Flickr page provided the album art, and who painstakingly transcribed the original liner notes.

Footnotes

  1. I'm not sure who the cover depicts. One possibility would be Tepeyollotl, the Aztec jaguar god. Tepeyollotl was a manifestation of Tezcatlipoca, the primary deity in the Aztec pantheon, and was associated with the night. His name in Nahuatl translates to "Heart of the Mountains". Another possibility would be a jaguar warrior or other person dressed in a jaguar skin.

    I make this association primarily due to the spotted feline pelt the person is wearing and the image's visual similarity to the depiction of Tepeyollotl in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis, where he holds a staff similar to that seen here. I don't really know though, so if you do — or have a better hunch — I'd love to hear from you.

    Baquedano, Elizabeth (2014). Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity. Boulder: University Press of Colorado. ISBN 978-1-60732-287-0

    Joseph Florimond, duc de Loubat (1901). Codex Telleriano-Remensis, p. 9v. Archived by the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies. Retrieved September 17, 2017. 

  2. The Hound Chronicles were reissued in 2012 as a joint CD with Hot Garden Stomp, as stated below. Dennis Callaci of Shrimper posted in the forums:

    Busy down this way & being online is one of the last things in the world that I do. Not concerned if you believe that this is me or not, but I did want to clarify a few things to the faithful & god knows that publicists as an oracle would be like me shitting through my 6 yr olds mouth, so I won't do that:

    1) This was to be a single disc but ran slightly over the limit for a single disc so is now a 2 disc set
    2) Mastering was done by JJ Golden from the original cassettes that John & I put together on a dual deck in my old house in San Dimas. All the clicks, inbetween song noise & charm has been left in tact. The reference copies sound incredible in that they are not cold/antiseptic/digital elbow distanced sounding. Sound very present & in the spirit of the original tapes
    3) John & I have talked for years about this set coming together, Mark of WCKR SPGT has done the layout for the disc & it is a CD only release (yeah, you can get it digitally if you are a total loser w/ no depth perception). Dig that it is on CD & not on LP as when these were released on tape years ago, each dubbed in my apartment, folks laughed at how draconian & antiquated the cassette format was. You got a fetish for a format? Stick your dick or clit in the tiny hole of a 33 and 1/3rd & text an imaginary phone that I don't have in the AM.

    These tapes are gold, got me & many of you through some hard times & continue to do so. Sending my love & please forgive my endlessly hard shell.

    Dennis Callaci/Shrimper records

    Mountain Goats forums, REISSUE: Hound Chronicles & Hot Garden Stomp, May 10, 2012, retrieved December 28, 2016.

    There are a number of photos of zines related to Hot Garden Stomp and the Hound Chronicles in the reissue CD. They have lots of wonderful information and are left unannotated to preserve your joy of discovery.  2

  3. A reference to André the Giant, a beloved French wrestler known well for having acromegaly, causing him to be 7' 4" in height and over 500 lbs., and reaching significant fame after playing Fezzik in The Princess Bride. He featured prominently in street artist Shepard Fairey's sticker campaign, Andre the Giant Has a Posse

  4. None of these appear to allude to historical events. For instance, there was no World Fair in 1826 and I can't seem to find any location in India with a similar name to Lukthersaram. Please do get in touch if you know of a historical reality being referenced here. 

  5. As described by John in the reissue liner notes, the narrator here is a stalker. See also Gold Student Center, Claremont, December 2, 2006. 

  6. Taken from the 1988 horror B-movie 976-EVIL. The film revolves around two unlikable teenagers: Spike, a rebellious motorcyclist, and Hoax, his frequently-bullied cousin. Both live with Hoax's zealously Christian mother, Lucy. The boys find 976-EVIL, a novelty horoscope hotline that appears on the surface to simply provide dark advice, but in actuality is operated by Satan to possess the living. Hoax uses the hotline to kill his enemies, ultimately becoming possessed by Satan. In the end, a pit to Hell emerges in the mortal realm, and Hoax is destroyed when he falls into it, pushed by Spike, who realizes that he is beyond hope of saving. The film bombed on its commercial release, and has never gained any significant critical acclaim.

    These lines come from a scene approximately 45 minutes into the film, right after two skaters who frequently bully Hoax see him in the corner of the school bathroom. They threaten to beat him up, realizing that Spike isn't around to protect him. Hoax is initially scared, but he harnesses the power of Satan, warning them that he intends to fight back — the point at which this exchange occurs between one of the bullies and Hoax. Immediately after these lines, Hoax turns his hands into claws, deeply cutting the face of one bully and scaring off the other. 

  7. Going to Wisconsin is part of the Going to ... series

  8. With a clip this short and vague, it's hard to imagine ever finding the source. But if you do figure it out, I would love to hear from you!

    The sound seems to continue at the very end with some very muffled speech. God help me, I have no idea what is being said there. 

  9. Also sung, "You don't know where you're going until you arrive". Casa de Badger, Pomona, July 18, 1992. 

  10. Spilling Toward Alpha is part of the Alpha couple series

  11. Alpha Negative is part of the Alpha couple series

  12. It's unclear to me if there's any relationship between this song and Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina. If you know something, please fill me in

  13. A torch song is any song to an unrequited love, so-called as the singer is "carrying a torch" for the person. A number of films, plays, and songs include the phrase in their titles. Most notably in regards to the Mountain Goats, Torch Song was a 1953 musical starring Joan Crawford. The film, based on a short story by I.A.R. Wylie, follows Jenny Stewart (played by Crawford) as a lonely, mean, and perfectionist Broadway star and her eventual love of her blind pianist. The film was Crawford's last for MGM.

    It's unclear if this is related somehow to this song, but given John's love of Joan Crawford and fondness for endings I can't imagine he was unaware of the film. 

  14. שקט, romanized shekeṭ and pronounced ʃɛkɛt (SHEH-ket), is Hebrew for "quiet" or "tranquility". The spelling is clearer on the compilation reissue, where it's typed rather than handwritten. You may see some writings on the Mountain Goats (including Nall's site) calling this song "Ape" given the appearance of the letters.

    It's not clear to me whether this is in verb form ("be quiet"), noun form ("quietness"), or adjective form ("it is quiet"). If you know Hebrew and can clarify whether one of these forms is correct, please let me know!

    Hebrew is written right to left, therefore the letters in order of pronunciation should be ש–ק–ט (shin–qoph–tet). If you have a Unicode-compliant browser these letters will be rendered with shin on the right and tet on the left — this is the correct spelling of the word.

    William Caxton Fan Club, hey!! what's the english title of track #6 on "the.... Retrieved September 17, 2017. 

  15. "I am always puzzled by people who ask for Going to Chino. 'Cause I'm from Southern California, and, well, I wish I knew North Carolina better so I could say what the topography was like, but you know, asking for Going to Chino is like — well, I don't know. I now live in Colo, Iowa, population 773, and if I had a, one called Going to Colo, and then I went to, you know, Russia, and some guy went, "Going to Colo!" I would say, "Now, what's in Colo for you?" — Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, January 27, 1999. 

  16. Going to Chino is part of the Going to ... series

  17. Chino is an Inland Empire city in Southern California. Located southeast of Pomona and south of Ontario, the agricultural city is home to approximately 80,000 people. Bassist Peter Peter Hughes is from Chino. 

  18. Tract homes are a type of mass-produced houses where identical or nearly-identical houses are placed along a tract of land and sold individually. This type of housing tends to be cheap to produce at the cost of community, aesthetics, diversity, or in fact most things positive. They exemplify standard cookie-cutter American suburbia. 

  19. California State Route 60 is an east-west highway in Southern California joining Interstate 10 in Los Angeles to Interstate 10 in Riverside, paralleling that freeway to the south. The highway runs through Pomona, Chino, and Ontario among other Southern Californian cities. 

  20. Chino Valley Medical Center is a small general hospital located just south of the 60 freeway in northern Chino, operating since 1972. The hospital is also called Chino Valley Hospital. 

  21. Standard Bitter Love Song #4 is part of the Standard Bitter Love Song series

  22. Going to Mexico is part of the Going to ... series

  23. Going to Kansas is part of the Going to ... series and the informal series of alternate versions

  24. Like Alpha Double Negative: Going to Catalina, Going to Kansas was rerecorded for the later album Nothing for Juice. The Nothing for Juice version removes the intro from Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones, uses electric guitar, and has Rachel Ware on backup vocals. Apart from a few minor wording changes, the lyrics are the same. 

  25. These lines come from the award-winning 1980 television miniseries Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. The film chronicled the story of the People's Temple cult, led by Jim Jones, and their eventual mass murder-suicide in 1978 by drinking poisoned Flavor Aid (often reported as Kool-Aid, and leading to the popular phrase, "drinking the Kool-Aid", meaning to uncritically accept a dangerous idea due to social pressure). 918 people died, 278 of them children, and 908 of them United States citizens, then the largest single loss of civilian life from a deliberate act in American history. A Californian Congressman, Leo Ryan, who was there to investigate the cult, and four other people were murdered as they attempted to leave. Jones had been accused of numerous counts of sexual abuse of members, punishments amounting to torture, loyalty tests where he compelled members to attempt suicide to prove their commitment to him, preventing people from leaving the encampment, and other violations of human rights.

    The mass suicide was prompted by Congressman Ryan's investigation and the abandonment of the People's Temple by some members, who attempted to leave with Ryan. Believing that this would destroy Jonestown — despite Ryan's relatively positive view of the encampment — Jones ordered the mass suicide, and his members attempted to violently stop the Ryan delegation from leaving, murdering Ryan and four other people with him.

    In the film, these lines are stated as he starts to believe that Jonestown will be doomed due to the eventual report of the Ryan delegation and the members who left Jonestown, just before he orders the mass suicide. 

  26. It's unclear to me what if any relationship this song has to Water Song II. If you know something, send me an email

  27. I'm not sure what language this is, much less what it says or where it's from. If you know any of those things, please get in touch

  28. "None of the information in [this] is any longer true." — KUCI session, December 12, 1992 

  29. Going to Spain is part of the Going to ... series

  30. Again, I'm not sure what language this is, much less what it says or where it's from. If you know any of those things, please get in touch

  31. Keep It on Your Mind is part of the informal series of cover songs

  32. You Better Keep It on Your Mind is a song by Hank Williams and Vic McAlpin, released as a single in 1954 after Williams' death of heart failure. 

  33. Sung, "Your baby's gonna tear your playhouse down" in the original. 

  34. The original Hank Williams track featured backing vocals singing, "All the time" after the first two lines of the chorus. 

  35. Sung, "If you make a snake mad..." in the original. 

  36. Sung, "Every fuss with a woman's got the same old end" in the original. 

  37. Sung, "You'll be singing blue and lonesome, Lord" in the original. 

  38. The original track contained two additional stanzas:

    If the judge says pay her forty dollars a week
    You'll dig up the money or you'll work the streets
    You better keep it on your mind
    You better keep it on your mind

    When you're wearing striped britches, son
    It's gonna stay on your mind

    So kiss her every mornin' and love her every night
    Boy you can't win no matter if you're right

    You better keep it on your mind
    You better keep it on your mind
    You better heed this warning, Lord
    You better keep it on your mind

    I imagine John removed these lines as well as the one above given his feminist beliefs.