The Drunken Wind of Life

by John Kruth

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about

The Drunken Wind of Life - The Poem/Songs of Tin Ujević
by John Kruth

Back in 2007 John Kruth (front man for the world music ensemble TriBeCaStan) released his ninth solo album, a batch of 16 songs titled Splitsville (Sonic Impressions of Croatia) inspired by his many visits to the small Balkan country. (One tune “The Rakija Song” has since been recorded by Croatian Blues man Tomislav Goluban.) While visiting Split, (his wife’s family is Dalmatian) Kruth was introduced to the stunningly powerful poetry of Tin Ujević (pronounced Teen Oo-yeh-vich) by graphic artist/gallery owner Pavo Majić. (Of course Croatians are all familiar with his work, there are streets, parks and boats named after him!) Pavo then invited John to play at a tribute to Tin in the legendary poet’s home town of Vrgorac in the Biokovo Mountains. Within days John began setting Ujević’s verse to music and performed two of his songs at the festival to the surprise and delight of both locals and Ujević scholars. “It was like someone handed me Leonard Cohen’s lost notebook,” John explained. “My natural response was to transform these great poems into songs and spread the word on Tin, to get him and his work better known.” While visiting Koprivnica, (a small village in the north) Kruth recorded a handful of songs he’d written with Miroslav Evačić (prim and guitar) and Gordana Evačić (cimbalom). John then brought the project back to the U.S. where his wife Marilyn Cvitanić and he produced Homage to Tin Ujević, the Bard of Croatia on April 21, 2007 at the renown Bowery Poetry Club in New York which featured performances by Beat poet Anne Waldman, singer/poet John S. Hall (King Missile) and actor/playwright Sam Shepard, as well as the Croatian band Bad Buka along with a handful of the songs that comprise The Drunken Wind of Life. Croatian TV HR1 filmed the show and then interviewed John after the performance and aired the story in Croatia. Kruth then continued to write more music to Ujević’s lyrics and recorded them with a fantastic crew of musicians, including Jolie Holland: voice, fiddle, Jonathan Segel (Camper Van Beethoven): violin, organ, Victor Krummenacher (Camper Van Beethoven): bass, guitar, Samantha Parton (Be Good Tanyas): vocals, Anne Hills: vocals, Gideon Freudmann: cello, Dave Dreiwitz (Ween): bass, Janine Nichols: vocals, Glenn Wolff: Dobro, Loretta Simonet: harp and Jay Ansill: violin and the Croatian tamburitza virtuoso Filip Novosel. Two of the tracks were recorded with Dan Grigsby, who has engineered albums for Keith Richards and Joe Cocker. Of the thirteen songs that comprise The Drunken Wind of Life, nine of them were inspired by Tin Ujević lyrics and while three songs are Kruth originals inspired by Ujević and Croatia. There is also a traditional Croatian folk dance number included in the set. The songs are sung in English based on the translation of Dasa Marić and Richard Burns (Oxford University) and Ellen Elias Bursać (Harvard University).
The album cover features a classic Ivan Generalić painting (a famous Croatian naïve folk artist) whose rights have been secured from the museum in Hlebine, Croatia.

credits

released October 17, 2015

John Kruth
The Drunken Wind of Life – The Song/Poems of Tin Ujević
Smiling Fez Records 005
All songs by John Kruth © 2015 Sonic Kruth/BMI. Tin Ujević translations © 2013 Richard Berengarten and Daša Marić, and © 2005 Ellen Elias-Bursać.

1. Rukavice (Trad. arranged by Evačić /Kruth) 1:06
2. Edge of the Woods (Kruth) 3:20
3. Blessed Morning (Kolajna/The Necklace XI) (Ujević /Kruth)
4. Plaything of the Winds (Ujević /Kruth) 3:19
5. Frailty (Ujević /Kruth) 2:57
6. Girl from Korčula (Kruth) 3:48
7. The Necklace (Kolajna/The Necklace XVIII) (Ujević /Kruth)
8. Agni (Ujević /Kruth)
9. The Eternal Tomorrow (Kruth)
10. Daily Lament (Ujević /Kruth)
11. I’ll Die Tonight of Beauty (Kolajna/The Necklace XXI) (Ujević /Kruth)
12. Blood Brotherhood of Persons of the Universe (Ujević /Kruth)
13. Cracked and Empty Bell (Kolajna/The Necklace XIV & XXX)
(Ujević /Kruth)

JK – 6 & 12 string guitar, mandolin, alto flute, percussion, voice
Jay Ansill – violin, mandolin
Dave Dreiwitz – bass
Gordana Evačić – cimbalom
Miroslav Evačić – prim, guitar
Gideon Freudmann – cello
Anne Hills – voice
Jolie Holland – voice, violin, whistling
Victor Krummenacher – bass, guitar
Janine Nichols – voice
Filip Novosel – tamburitza
Samantha Parton – voice
Ray Peterson – bass
Jonathan Segel – violin, organ
Loretta Simonet – harp
Mrs. Thompson – harmonium, organ
Glenn Wolff – Dobro

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about

John Kruth New York, New York

With 10 solo albums to date, multiinstrumentalist, John Kruth plays a variety of stringed instruments including guitar, mandolin, banjo and sitar as well as flute and harmonica. Kruth has performed with Ornette Coleman, Allen Ginsberg and Sam Shepherd, Rick Danko and Violent Femmes, and worked with producers Joel Dorn and Hal Willner. He co- leads the other-world music group TriBeCaStan ... more

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Track Name: Blood Brotherhood of Persons of the Universe
The Blood-Brotherhood of Persons of the Universe
Words by Tin Ujevic, Music by John Kruth

Do not fear, you are not alone,
There are others but for you who are unknown
Live your life, everything you’ve heard and dreamed
With the same fire and beauty that burns within

Be not proud, your thoughts are not yours alone
They live in others who have tread the same dark path
We have all, we have all gone astray
Searching yet esteemed just the same

Chorus
Share a bit with others, it’s been the same since ancient times
We all repeat the great and the pure
Be like children who know not yet their names
Join the blood brotherhood of persons of the universe
Join the blood brotherhood of persons of the universe

Others may share their might and sin with us
Our dreams, they all come from a common spring
Our souls are fed from a common bowl
The stamp of the self lies centered in the brow

It’s hard to say thin in the ear of arrogance
But be happy for the fortune of despair
We’re all the same in malignity and joy
With the freight of destiny resting on our backs
Chorus
Far off on some unknown star, unraveled
Yet hanging there by a thread
Like a flower, dead and broken in a world that glides
Oh when will I make it there in my soul?

I’m still myself, willful even when I’m gone
The point of the peak is hidden by the mass
Oh universe I love and die in all
I tarry in my brothers of no name
Chorus
Track Name: Cracked and Empty Bell
Cracked and Empty Bell
lyrics by Tin Ujevic/music by John Kruth

Amid the pressing milling throng
Without a guide and fatherless
I’ve lived alone and groaned too long
But groans bear my hopefulness
Yes, these groans bear my hopefulness

I hunted every sound and sight
I gladly parceled out my soul
I flexed my bow, my aim was right
And every shot attained its goal
Yes, every shot attained its goal

I blazed to give out more to all
With light and letter, God my trust
Although my spirit be criminal
As thorn and bramble are my crust
Yes, thorn and bramble are my crust

Gloomy thoughts, they fear the light
As blood rushed to my brain
It wants to get out of my head
It’s driving me out of my head
And only you with your merciful eyes
Yes, only you, foreign lady
Can lighten, lighten my darkness


So now the dreariest of ends
And all things in this rotten hell
My spirit’s dead, my oldest friend
And I, a cracked and empty bell
Yes, I, a cracked and empty bell

Won’t you, lighten this darkness?
Track Name: Blessed Morning
Blessed Morning
Words by Tin Ujevic/music by John Kruth

Blessed morning you cascade
Roaring light falls in this room
How can pain make me afraid?
Dead already in my tomb

Well perhaps you can ignite
Buried sparks from ash and dust
Since the lilac and the light
Stills well longing in your breast

And when I lift your veil you show
Lines of quiet forms of grace
In shelves of books, row upon row
The whole room’s careworn face

Yet there’s something still I miss
From this crib without a cross
A smile on my darling’s lips
A kiss of flowers in a water glass

Blessed morning while you dress
Dress this room in your translucent robe
I have no fear now of death’s caress
Just give some love back to this Job
Track Name: Frailty
Frailty
Words by Tin Ujevic/music by John Kruth

In this mist
And in this rain
Oh drunken heart
Don’t drown in pain

Love unrequited
Gave no rest
So now you yearn
For the earth’s breast

All your longing
The cry of a slave
Is just to find
Some quiet grave

Here my soul
Will soon expire
And here will wither
My desire


On the waves
Of our blue, blue sea
The white, white pebbles
Cover me

And my needs
Will all come home
Under Blessed
Heaven’s dome

With sun calm blue
And clarity
Beneath the ground
That once bore me

All your longing
The cry of a slave
Is just to find
Some quiet grave
Track Name: I'll Die Tonight of Beauty
I’ll Die Tonight Of Beauty

Tonight my brow is burning, my eyelids they perspire
My dreams illuminate my thoughts, My dreams illuminate my thoughts
I’ll die tonight of beauty, I’ll die… tonight… of beauty
The soul’s impassioned in the depths like the glow at the end of night,
My dreams illuminate my thoughts, My dreams illuminate my thoughts
I’ll die tonight of beauty
We weep, we weep in stillness, we die in solitude
We weep, we weep in stillness, we die in solitude
Tonight my forehead’s gleaming and sweat drips from my eyes
My thoughts are blazing through my dreams, your face is blazing in my dreams
I’ll die tonight of beauty
Tonight of beauty I shall die, tonight of beauty I shall die
Tonight of beauty I shall die, tonight… I shall
The soul’s core is pure passion deep in the pit of night
A blazing cone, a blazing cone
Oh hush and weep in silence, let us weep oh let us die
Tonight we die alone, Tonight we die alone,
Tonight we die alone, Tonight we die alone
Track Name: Daily Lament
Blessed Morning
Words by Tin Ujevic/music by John Kruth

Blessed morning you cascade
Roaring light falls in this room
How can pain make me afraid?
Dead already in my tomb

Well perhaps you can ignite
Buried sparks from ash and dust
Since the lilac and the light
Stills well longing in your breast

And when I lift your veil you show
Lines of quiet forms of grace
In shelves of books, row upon row
The whole room’s careworn face

Yet there’s something still I miss
From this crib without a cross
A smile on my darling’s lips
A kiss of flowers in a water glass

Blessed morning while you dress
Dress this room in your translucent robe
I have no fear now of death’s caress
Just give some love back to this Job




Edge Of The Woods

A wooden cross stands alone
Grave at the edge of the woods
Ragged clothes and broken bones
Grave at the edge of the woods

I wandered by a rusty car
Where the weeds grew high
I asked the locals at a bar
Cold silence was their reply

Did he fall from heaven up above?
Grave at the edge of the woods
Did he die in war or die for love?
Grave at the edge of the woods

The ground resembles a jagged scar
Where his skeleton lies
I asked the locals at the bar
Cold silence was their reply

Come let’s raise a glass
To the fading light of summer
Our days on earth soon will pass
And we’ll dream in eternal slumber

Did he die for something that he knew?
Grave at the edge of the woods
Or was it a hobo passing through?
Grave at the edge of the woods



















Plaything of the Winds
Words by Tin Ujevic/music by John Kruth

Suffer without tears and live without a curse
And be unhappy quietly
For tears are vain and your complaints
Cannot assuage a bitter dream

Give yourself to the drunken wind of life
And let it blow you anywhere
Like a shear leaf let it twirl you
Into a madder verve, into the mad, mad whirlwind

Fly like a leaf the whirlwind whirls
You’re made, my soul, for flying
It’s not for the earth, it’s not for peace
The flower has no roots
So give yourself to the drunken wind of life


































Girl From Korcula

I met a girl from Korcula
Her eyes were dark and deeper than a well
And when she spoke, she sang a song
The melody put me under a spell

Calling her from my hotel room
There was nobody home
Perhaps I want too much too soon
Maybe I’ll never know

I went down to the carnival
A man with a moustache read my palm
He said the water has been rough
But this is just the calm before the storm

Leaving flowers in her mailbox
Have I been a fool again
Walking empty streets at 5 o’clock
My thoughts tossed by the wind

We laid down on her on her burning floor
I listened to the beating of her heart
And all the while outside the door
A wild wind was tearing us apart

Long ago I heard a story
Of love without an end
And though others maybe sorry
I’d do it all again





















Frailty
Words by Tin Ujevic/music by John Kruth

In this mist
And in this rain
Oh drunken heart
Don’t drown in pain

Love unrequited
Gave no rest
So now you yearn
For the earth’s breast

All your longing
The cry of a slave
Is just to find
Some quiet grave

Here my soul
Will soon expire
And here will wither
My desire


On the waves
Of our blue, blue sea
The white, white pebbles
Cover me

And my needs
Will all come home
Under Blessed
Heaven’s dome

With sun calm blue
And clarity
Beneath the ground
That once bore me

All your longing
The cry of a slave
Is just to find
Some quiet grave






The Eternal Tomorrow

Sad when I first heard the news
Gone, jumped right out of your shoes
Now you’re up around the bend
Where there’s no end
High above the clouds
Where the guitars play loud
Strange chords I’ve never heard before

Waves crash on a jagged shoreline
Dancing on air with a bottle of wine
And when the boat docks
We’ll stop the hands on the clock
There’s no need for sorrow
In the eternal tomorrow
Strange land I’ve never seen before





















Daily Lament
Words by Tin Ujevic, Music by John Kruth

How hard it is not to be strong, how hard it is now, to be alone
To be old yet to be young, to be weak and powerless
Alone with no one anywhere, Desperate and dissatisfied
Trudging bleak highways endlessly, to be trampled in the mud
With no star shining in the sky, without your star of destiny
Twinkling above you in your crib, with rainbows and false prophecies
Oh god remember all the glittering fair promises with which you afflicted me
Oh god remember all the great loves and victories, the wreaths of laurel
And the gifts, and know you have a son who walks, the weary valleys
Of this world, among thorns and sharp stones, through all the unkindness
And unconcern, with his feet bloodied underneath him, his heart, an open wound
His bones full of weariness, his soul is sad, neglected and alone
Sisterless, brotherless, fatherless, motherless, with no one dear
And no close friend, he’s got nobody anywhere, only thorns to pierce his heart
And fire blazing from his palms, all alone now under a vault of blue
Hemmed in by dark horizons of high seas, oh who can he tell his troubles to
When there’s no one there to hear his call, not even his brother wanderers
Oh god you seared your burning word too deeply in this narrow throat
And throttled it inside my lonely cry, now every utterance is a burning stake
That I year to shout, or like the kindled log I’ll soon burn out, let me be
A bonfire on a hill or just one breath in the fire, if not a scream hurled
From the village rooftops, oh god let it be over with, this miserable wandering
Under a vault of sky deaf as stone… Because I crave a powerful word
Because an answering voice, give me someone to love or give me holy death
For bitter is the wormwood wreath and deadly dark the poison cup
So burn me like the blazing summer sun, for I am sick of being all alone
And I am sick of being weak when I could be loved and strong
How hard it is to be old yet to be young, How hard it is to be old yet to be young
How hard it is to be old yet to be young
Track Name: Girl From Korcula
Girl From Korcula
words and music by John Kruth

I met a girl from Korcula
Her eyes were dark and deeper than a well
And when she spoke, she sang a song
The melody put me under a spell

Calling her from my hotel room
There was nobody home
Perhaps I want too much too soon
Maybe I’ll never know

I went down to the carnival
A man with a moustache read my palm
He said the water has been rough
But this is just the calm before the storm

Leaving flowers in her mailbox
Have I been a fool again
Walking empty streets at 5 o’clock
My thoughts tossed by the wind

We laid down on her on her burning floor
I listened to the beating of her heart
And all the while outside the door
A wild wind was tearing us apart

Long ago I heard a story
Of love without an end
And though others maybe sorry
I’d do it all again
Track Name: Edge of the Woods
Edge Of The Woods
lyrics and music by John Kruth

A wooden cross stands alone
Grave at the edge of the woods
Ragged clothes and broken bones
Grave at the edge of the woods

I wandered by a rusty car
Where the weeds grew high
I asked the locals at a bar
Cold silence was their reply

Did he fall from heaven up above?
Grave at the edge of the woods
Did he die in war or die for love?
Grave at the edge of the woods

The ground resembles a jagged scar
Where his skeleton lies
I asked the locals at the bar
Cold silence was their reply

Come let’s raise a glass
To the fading light of summer
Our days on earth soon will pass
And we’ll dream in eternal slumber

Did he die for something that he knew?
Grave at the edge of the woods
Or was it a hobo passing through?
Grave at the edge of the woods
Track Name: Plaything of the Winds
Plaything of the Winds
Words by Tin Ujevic/music by John Kruth

Suffer without tears and live without a curse
And be unhappy quietly
For tears are vain and your complaints
Cannot assuage a bitter dream

Give yourself to the drunken wind of life
And let it blow you anywhere
Like a shear leaf let it twirl you
Into a madder verve, into the mad, mad whirlwind

Fly like a leaf the whirlwind whirls
You’re made, my soul, for flying
It’s not for the earth, it’s not for peace
The flower has no roots
So give yourself to the drunken wind of life
Track Name: The Eternal Tomorrow
The Eternal Tomorrow

Sad when I first heard the news
Gone, jumped right out of your shoes
Now you’re up around the bend
Where there’s no end
High above the clouds
Where the guitars play loud
Strange chords I’ve never heard before

Waves crash on a jagged shoreline
Dancing on air with a bottle of wine
And when the boat docks
We’ll stop the hands on the clock
There’s no need for sorrow
In the eternal tomorrow
Strange land I’ve never seen before