Op Shop and Elsewhere

by Erik Cameron

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This compilation began life as Op Shop and Elsewhere (11/2010) and Miska's (3/2011). Now all in one place where they belong, covering '09-'11. See the liner PDF for original covers and photos.

All tracks recorded live in Chicago, IL. Tracks 1, 4 and 8 from the Op Shop, Chicago, IL 4/10; 2, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 10 from Miska's, 3/11; 5 and 11 from Burkhart's Underground, 1/10; 12 and 13 from the Carriage Lofts 2/09 and 8/09 respectively; 14 from The Store, 8/11.

Thanks to Steve, Ben, Jason, Doug Bistrow and Karlis Kandero for being my music friends; Kailyn, Harold and Gemma for photos; Karlis, Laura Shaeffer and Fred Burkhart, for providing such great environments; and many thanks to (audibly) awesome audiences.


released January 31, 2015

All songs by EC, except 12 (traditional arr. John Fahey, rearr. EC)
Steven Gilpin: vocals on 1
Live sound by Ben Saller, Jason Horwitz and EC
Cover photo by Kailyn McCord
Photography by Harold Gabel and Gemma Petrie


all rights reserved



Erik Cameron Chicago, Illinois

Music, words, whiskey and dog. Guitar parts and pickles and print. Brackish beer. Born on Cinco de Mayo.

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Track Name: Sailor Brown
Bad Sailor Brown, that's a burden that you tow around
They think you're strange, that you're a monster, that your ways must change
But they won't move an inch or lift a finger to help you make it last
So where was your voice, your evil choice, when your die was cast

That's a long, lonely road for you to make back home.

Sir, were you born to walk the fringes, the town crown of corn?
Or did you see the face of evil when you were sent to sea?
You will never know the heated halls where the good ones go
'Cause you will be outside looking in, for your eternal sin

That's a long, lonely road for you to make back home.
Track Name: This Is Your Chance
This is your chance, 'cause baby I'm leaving for a long, long time
You say it all while you can
Or don't say a word and just leave it all on your face
And pray that I understand
Well either way
You just make
Damn sure you don't regret that day

Monday will come just like it always did before
Just like it did last week
The bakery and the butcher will all be there
And when your favorites speak
It'll seem so real
And feel the same
'Til one of them calls my name

(So call my name)

This is a train bound for anywhere there is to go
Please have your tickets in hand
This is a change and it's bigger than we've ever known
But home never was the land
Where the bricks were laid
They fell from the sky
Into shapes for us to find
Track Name: Hand On the Plow
I've been called foolish by everybody close enough to know
Mean as Judas, and hungry like a dog on a bone

I'll get my hand back on the plow
There's still time
I hear those drums beating now
There's still time

Might have been mistreated, but I've done some mistreating too
Long as I'm breathing, there's got to be some good left to do

I'll get my hand back on the plow
There's still time
I hear those drums beating now
There's still time
Track Name: Illinois Dirt
All of those moments, captured on cameras
There was a time when they happened
So search your journals and old memories
For something to set you laughing
Me, I remember every time
He and I got to no good
With alcohol flowing a little too freely
You'd tear up the neighborhood

But he's gone away now, oh, ain't you heard
That he is pushing up daisies down in the Illinois dirt

Johnny, your voice is ringing in my ears
I'm wondering what you are doing
Sing me a dirge from two thousand miles
A story of love and of ruin
For our dear friend who will never again
Drink to the finer things
Like old album covers and lips of lovers
And all that a long life can bring

'Cause he's gone away now, oh, ain't you heard
That he is pushing up daisies down in the Illinois dirt
Track Name: Simple World
Breakdown, in the produce aisle
It's a wonder you never smile
Your eyes are as big as saucers though
Your hands are cold
It goes to show that you're
Heading down a dark road
And what for, I just don't know
This only leads to tragedy
You can't do that
Can't I see all you want

You just want a simple world
You just want the lines to rhyme
But no, the orbit's elliptical
The mail, it never comes on time

Throw the windows wide, and open the wine
Take us a little time, what's on your mind
Tell me about your life, and the places you've been
And why you're so serious, just roll it to me

Try it, giving up on love
What do you think you're made of
You can't cut that out like calories,
As you see fit, as you please, all you want

You just want a simple world...

Throw the windows wide...
Track Name: The Good Fight
Well if he lost that good fight
Well if he lost that good fight
Well if he lost that good fight
Who was I talking to last night

He had a hood on his head
He had a hood on his head
Holes in his hands, and he's breaking bread
Standing at the foot of my bed

I know I'll be justified
I know I'll be justified
I know I will be justified
'Cause they rolled the stone to the side

He's gonna lead me somewhere fine
He's gonna lead me somewhere fine
With two white horses standing in a line
I'm just waiting for his sign
I'm just waiting for his sign
Track Name: The Lake, The Fool
The skyline is awful bright
And welcomes your gaze all night
One shake in the water line
The reflections they'll play so fine

Every inch has a gospel to preach
From the Point to the Montrose Beach
A cry for community
Crimes of opportunity

I tell you, the sound of sirens was soothing
A city sound, a city happening to me
Stranger comes, he says, man, what are you doing
Imagine that, acting like he knew me

The Pride of the South Side was on
For all of the Hyde Park dons
Too young and too hype to say
You better put the needle away

Sometimes you stare so low
That mistakes are all you see
Sometimes you stand so tall
You wonder did you make them at all

I'll see you on boulevards of lightness
Meet me there whenever your chest feels that tightness
We belong to the world of impossible things, you and me
Inverted shapes and endings that weren't to be

So make way a path for the fool
I tell you he's coming through
His only superpower
Is to forget on the hour
Track Name: Killingsworth
I lived my life half asleep among the pimps
And broken pigeon wings
Down on my street, if you can cover your own drinks
You count yourself a king

I loved one girl when we were just sixteen years old
But I missed all of the signs
Skin of porcelain and a mouth of silver forks and tines
Fingertips of gold

Left me when she heard I was a fake
Our story went an apple, a snake,
And our fig leaves in the wrong place
I have to laugh
To think of the faces we'd make

Last October, my friend he stole a million bucks
The teller fell to his gun
Up at Martha's I heard him whispering that I
That i had been the one

When I saw that parked police car
I tried to run, but didn't get far
Here I thought I was the man to meet
Conquistador of Killingsworth Street
I protest that I am much abused
Through rye whiskey shots, but what else is new
They say this time I am sure to hang
Oh what the hell
I always sang blue
Track Name: Summer of Love
Back when we were cold, Chicago winters had stuck to our bones
Those were the days when nothing happened and everything's gray
I'd ride the train to look at buildings, to kill some time
Never complained, and never felt like anything was mine

We met downtown, a day of protest, of sight and sound
She's catching flakes of snow that's falling, her tongue to the sky
My stomach aches and now I know that I'm in for a ride
That's all it takes, and I'd surrender my property and pride

You, with the clothes head to toe, every guard against the turn of the world---lose the shoes, it's the summer of love come again. We weren't born yet in '67, no memory of the feeling slipping sour...

Then summer came, the thunder rolled, the ozone cried
She'd say my name like she knew something, something I didn't
And I'd ride the train to look at buildings, to kill sometime
She's just a shape, a warm body, and I'm in bed alone

You, with the clothes...
Track Name: Martha's
I live alone in a flat I own with all of my old postcards
It's not too far from Martha's bar where I try not to think too hard
'Cause feelings fade to the past you've made in a house full of things that you bought
And rivers flood while the heart pumps blood and I choke up just at the thought

People always said that I didn't care
that I don't understand a thing, and that's wrong
But that's how they'd convict an innocent man
by telling you the things that you knew all along

Remember the time, for your freedom and mine, when they crushed the communist way?
The system's a con, so let's turn on and let the stereo play

People with the time to move the money around
Say that I fell off the face of the Earth
When all their favorite strippers are friends of mine
Crumpled dollar bills are all they're worth
How can they say that I threw in the towel
When they've forgotten everything they can't steal
The lipstick bitterness of my first kiss
Smell of a Seattle rain, that's real

So did you come to commiserate, or call me a creep
Or just to watch the old man drink himself to sleep?

Well Martha, just wake me when you fill my glass again
This johnny-come-lately, he thinks he's my only friend
Someone tell Jesus his road machine has got to stop
'Cause there's still a FIRE in this old beat up life of mine by the drop.
Track Name: Wishing Well Blues
Baby it's me at the window, I lost my ride
So let me come inside
I trampled the garden, got cuts on my hands and fell
Into the wishing well
Hit my head on the pennies, I blacked out cold
Without a hand to hold
I saw you and me, I saw marvelous things down there
Come out of thin air

Baby, It's me at the window, you'll have my hide
But let me come inside
I was a fool, I felt wrongs that were never there
But I can change I swear
Why is there blood in my hair, did I fall again?
I was just on the mend

My memory's coming and going, I can't stand up
So give me all your love
Track Name: To Live Is To Judge
Well she's long and she's lean, like the girly magazine
Told her to be in order to keep her man
But daddy lived in Prague, mama burned her bra
They wonder what went wrong with the plan
Only time will tell, 'cause there's only room in hell
For her or them but not both at once
Or maybe none at all, and they'll all walk that hall
That seems to end in light, from what I am told

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