Son of a Rudderless Boat

by Kev Corbett

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This is Kev Corbett's second full-length record. A modern classic, with his usual story prowess supplanted by tasty arrangements, and cameos by many of his treasured peers in Halifax's fertile music scene.


released January 16, 2010

For Steph.

Produced by Kev Corbett.

Recorded and mixed by Don MacKay at Spaces Between Recording.

Mastered by J. LaPointe at Archive Mastering.

Kev Corbett: acoustic and electric guitars, electric and upright basses, mandolin, dobro, drums, percussion, piano.

Mike Aube: Harmonica, gang claps and singing.

Heather Cameron: Accordion, gang claps and singing.

Fleur Mainville: Fiddle, gang claps and singing.

Jason Mingo: electric guitar.

Meaghan Smith: singing.

Norma MacDonald: gang claps and singing.

Christina Martin: gang claps and singing.

Thom Swift: singing.

Old Man Luedecke: banjo.

Matt Myer: trumpet, Hammond organ.

Martha Kelly: trombone.

Keith Mullins: singing.

Don Brownrigg: singing.

Art concept: Kev
Illustration and lettering: Pamela Marie Pierce
Graphic design: Mat Dunlap

Kev plays Morgan guitars.

No autotuner was used in the making of this record.



all rights reserved


Kev Corbett Halifax, Nova Scotia

“The man is an exceptional guitar player – for one thing – but also writes extremely clever, finessed, clockwork folk-pop songs whose singable surface belies a tremendous underlying sense of craft. It was really great to see him again.” – Jowi Taylor, Six String Nation

“Well-crafted, skillfully written songs, dazzling guitar playing. Son of a Rudderless Boat is a marvelous listen.” – Penguin Eggs
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Track Name: Son of a Rudderless Boat
Grampa sailed a dory, he fished upon the sea. And though he knew what he was for, he didn’t know just what to be. He lost his arm at a logging camp. And up ‘til he died, he still chopped his own wood. He told me a story ‘bout going out with a new guy in the boat and when they got out on the water new guy just sat there and choked, so back inshore later on Gramp says, b’y, you can haul that fish yourself. We’re all scared out on that water, but next time you can swim, or you can help. He said, gotta work hard, gotta pray hard and just try to keep it strong and if you want to work with me man, gotta pull that weight along ’cause by the Father and by the Son and by the Holy Ghost, by the angels and the saints and by the heavenly host, by the fields of grass that bore me, and the sea that awaits I know I got no control, but I will fear no earthly fate. From the ocean we did come, and to her we shall return. She puts the fire out in us when our souls cease to burn and so to find true love and tend it is your only hope. Just give up the ghost, man. You’re a son of a rudderless boat.

My father tried his hand out as a fisher of men It was at least one job for a papish boy from the steel plant back then but he jumped that ship, I guess, left his robes upon the ground and I, for one, am glad he did, musta seen this gig comin’ round. He’s a student of his time, a renaissance guy to be sure. He lets me hoist myself, but my ears ring with his words: Son, I pray that you grow to be a very gentle man with Respect for those ‘round you and respect for the land ‘cause life don’t owe you another 10 seconds, you already got today but I believe it comes around if you treat the World that way and everything you need to know you learn from watching others fall but you’ll rejoice in their successes if you really heed the call. You’ll choose the high or the low road when life has you by the throat. It’s a choice we all get to make. We’re all sons and daughters of a rudderless boat.

I’m learning to love the Winter.
Spring ain’t too far away.

So my paddle hits the water and I’m off among the trees. And I’m just lucky to be here, living like this in times like these I feel the weight of the whole world in all the choices that I make under the gazes of our mothers, and environmental stakes. By my unborn children, by the lepers in the streets, by the world already drowning in pools around our feet, may we come to patch this leaky boat that we’re all here sinking in and stop making up some right to throw the weaker ones in. By the earth and air and fire and water lapping at the shores all our spirits are the same and all our hands are on the oars. May we come to fix this tired old world before we drown in smoke. I’ll do my part. Row hard, in this rudderless boat.
Track Name: That's All Gone
I’m gonna go out and play. Gonna roar like a lion I’m gonna live just for today or I’m gonna die tryin’. I’ll be grateful for every footprint that I leave upon this land. I’m gonna love my baby just as hard as I can. You’ll see a smile upon my face for the people on my street. I ain’t running no race, well, except against me. I’m gonna take this baby far and wide and my friends’ll be my players and I’ll be out where I can go climb the trees without scaring all my neighbors. Welcome home, me. Ain’t life lovely? I know it’s war out there and it don’t mean that I don’t care but for maybe the first time victory is mine. I ain’t gonna worry run around in a hurry I might fall down the stairs. Those days are all gone.

I’m gonna stop at the diners in a little tiny towns. I’m gonna make my house a home and have everyone around. The kid from next door can come over and play the drums all day ’cause I know that I did it when I was that age so it seems fair that way. I’m gonna buy my stuff from the guy down the street. Not them box stores that ring the town that reek of defeat. I’m gonna go to the farmers’ market every Saturday am. I’m gonna hang with the little old grandmas and I’m gonna buy their jams. Welcome home, me. Ain’t life a luxury? I know the devil’s on his way. I saw him on CNN today. I ain’t gonna be scared. Devil may care. But he’s some naked guy in a town I don’t go to and he wouldn’t like this song anyway to heck with him. He’s all gone.

Gone like the sense of colour and wonder that abounds when you’re five
Gone like the a brush with death that makes you understand being alive
Gone like Freedom, like Innocence, like a killer on the run.
Gone like a ghost that’s got no-one.
I’m here like an open book you just found in a railway station.
I’m here to listen, write second, then go sing it to all the nations.
And then I’ll go on home where love is all there is and all I am.
And I’ll open up a certain grandmotherly bottle of jam.

Welcome home, me. Ain’t life lovely? I know life can be unfair and now big brother’s everywhere but he can’t do nothin’ to me; I’m already free and I do way more good than bad and as for the ugly days we’ve had, let those days be all gone.
Track Name: Cheese & Whiskey
You’re a watermelon on a summer’s day, and a lavender chocolate at night. Like a clementine, you’re proof positive that life’s alright. You are bountiful like an orchard. You are sweet like grandma’s jam. And I could never, ever trade you away, for all the farms in France. You’re a mango on a beach in Rio, a corn barbeque on the beach here. You are rice and eggs and sushi and Uncle John’s homemade beer. You’re foie gras that ain’t gross, maybe made of fudge, and all the harvest of the fall. You’re a bowl of cherries, the size of Carnegie Hall. You want me to count up the ways you’re fine, 1, 2, 50 billion bottles of wine. You little beaujolais bouncin’ up and down upon my tongue. You’re the apple from the forbidden tree, and then the aftermath is what you do to me. I wanna track that snake down, and give him a cigar. Babe, you’ve had the same lovers I’ve had, make your stomach turn, and make your heart sad. They got hearts of crap dinner, and faces of red #3. I don’t wanna make a big deal of it, that’s OK for them, but I’m offa that. I got food in my cupboard, and you make a glutton out of me. You are all the fish in the ocean. You’re the ice cream that’s at the fair. You’re a regional thing that just fits in everywhere. You’re espresso in the morning. Milk & honey when it’s time for bed. In the middle of the night, if you’re by my side, I’m gonna sleep like a baby well fed. You’re my daily bread and water. You’re my pleasure and my need. And all the others out there are just processed American cheese. You’re the cutest little tomato that ever ripened on the vine. Like cheese and whiskey, you just get better with time. I’ll smack my lips and say my grace. Thank Mother Nature for your body and your face. I’m a growing boy, see, gotta keep that energy up. I’ll dive down into 7 meals a day. They say you live a longer life that way. Oh man, am I ever gonna eat you up.
Track Name: Deep & Wide
Pretty clouds in the sky like the look in your eyes they blow right past. And up above, a pretty place like looking down at Earth from space I think I can see your house. But I know that I’ll never get to see the inside there’s a river between us that’s deep and wide and cold you sat down over there and cried it doesn’t feel like you’d want me to swim to your side, though I would.

I’m driving with the windows down through forests and beach towns where children play and be free. I don’t know the language here; I’m tired of translating just like between you and me. I’m a sucker for you but I just can’t abide, there’s a channel between us that’s deep and wide and I would drive over there, even on the wrong side but I can’t see you waiting for me with your arms open wide. Man, I wish I could.

Oh, don’t be sad. Isn’t this what you wanted? Things aren’t so bad. You chased me away, left a letter that still says ‘Don’t write me again’. ‘Don’t write me again’? You can’t take that back.

I’m going home in a few days. I’ll tell my baby I missed her but it was a good three weeks. I’ll tell you that you’re looking great. I’ll say ‘How’s your mother?’ if I ever see you on the street. Maybe you don’t care. I’ll sleep well at night. There’s an ocean between us that’s deep and wide. Even children grow up and grow their own lives. Bury their hatchets before they grow old and die. I’ve buried mine.
Track Name: Flowers in my Sidewalk
There’s flowers in my sidewalk. They don’t know how they got there. No one knows how they got there. No one knows how long they’ll stay. They don’t think much about it. They just go on being flowers. Go on being flowers. And a flower can make your day. We’re all so scared and lonely. We don’t know how we got here. No one knows how we got here. No one knows how long we’ll stay. It does no good to worry. It’s good to think about it. Dance under the moonlight. Dream the nights away. Time is not on our side. We don’t know where we come from. we don’t know where we’re going, or when the end is gonna come. I don’t know how I’m gonna go. I don’t know what you’re gonna do. I am just a blip in time, but if this time is mine, I choose to spend this time with you. I’ll take the sunniest road i can through this valley o’ the shadow of death all around me. I saw the leaves fall off the trees year after year and that’s how happiness found me. Then I started losing people family and friends I keep them alive in everything I do. I ain’t no better than my last gig. So I play for the moment and that’s how I get through. There’s flowers in my sidewalk. They don’t know how they got there. No one knows how they got there. No one knows how long they’ll stay. That’s what music is for. Dance in the moonlight. Make the most out of every night. And the most of every day. Time is not on our side. We don’t know where we come from. we don’t know where we’re going, or when the end is gonna come. I don’t know how I’m gonna go. I don’t know what you’re gonna do. I am just a blip in time, but if this time is mine, I choose to spend this time with you. Time is not on our side. We don’t know where we come from. we don’t know where we’re going, or when the end is gonna come. I don’t know how you’re gonna go. I don’t know what I’m gonna do. We arer all just blips in time, but if this time is mine, I choose to spend this time with you.
Track Name: Uncle
You come over for xmas, pick a fight with my Mom. You’re the only one that gets blind drunk, and you blame everyone. I don’t like the way you look at my sisters. Or those jokes that you make about ‘taxi drivers’. ‘Cause I used to idolize you when I was a little kid. they told me all the stories, all the crazy things you did. No one says what happened along the way. And if I ask, well, ‘It’s not for me to say’. But this I know: I grew up in a world like Sesame Street, where the golden rule was in full effect with all the people down the street. And this I know: I see that tightness around your skinny girlfriend’s mouth, and that bruise upon her shoulder. Please. You sure like your TV and you like that car. But you only like woman if she’s done up like a porn star. You got no time for blacks, no time for gays, despite all you did back in your college days. You’re ready for a fight with anyone. Told a native guy in Winnipeg, go back where you come from. You make fun of everyone without any end. And then you hit me up to be your new Facebook friend. But this I know: you were the coolest uncle in town when I was ten, you had a moustache, and a beer, and that was all that I knew back then. This I know: I saw that Playboy calendar on your basement wall, and my dog don’t like having you around. Please, please, please, Uncle, get some help. You’re the most hateful christian I’ve ever met. Jesus Christ would slap you, I’m willing to bet. You’ve got all of these opinions about ‘God’s will’ and you’re mean to everyone and you’re hooked on pills and you hate the poor and you hate the rich every kid’s a delinquent every woman’s a bitch you want all the damn immigrants to go back home. You wanna fall in love, sittin’ there by the phone. Man, something’s gotta change. Here’s my theory why you’re losing friends: you’ve got nobody in your life, just means to an end. And if you don’t wanna die out there, all alone, you’d better take this on, and down to your bones. This I know: when I was nine, you were the coolest one in town. then somehow i opened up, and about that time you shut right down. This I know: I want my uncle back. The hero of my youth. I’m just telling you my truth. Please, please, please, please, uncle Sam we love you, get some help.
Track Name: The Driving Song
It’s 2 degrees outside. It’s 2 am. I left a motel room at noon, and I’ve been driving since then. I’m driving drowsy now and it just ain’t safe, but I been gone far too long and there just ain’t no way that I’m gonna spend another night away, waste another day, been gone too long now, feels like 40 days. I’ll relax whenever I can, let my nerves just shake, but at least I’ll do it at home. Trust me, I ain’t gonna die, without seeing your face. You sent me a text message, said ‘Baby, drive real safe, ’cause the mother of all blizzards has just come up from the states. We’ve only got summer tires on, ’cause it’s only Hallowe’en, but I’m sitting here with the weather man, and this is like nothing he’s seen.’ So I drove from Guelph to Kingston and everything was OK, but by the time I got to Brockville, I was calling it a day. Called you up from a motel room to say everything’s OK. The power’s all gone, but the generator’s on. I ain’t gonna die without seeing your face. So I left at noon, just to see if I might make Montreal. The road was pretty dry, for having just had a snowstorm in the fall. So I’ll keep this old train going, try to make New Brunswick by 8. And these single-lane roads and double-lane trucks (tabarnac) just fill me with hate. Then it’s 3 more hours to Fredericton and I am not tired yet, ‘cuase if I’ve come this far, me and this little car’ll make Moncton yet. then just a couple hours home. Now it’s 3am and my only fear, on a divided highway with eyes half shut, is that I might hit a deer. So I keep my mind and my eyes awake with the high-beam game. If I flash someone by accident, well, he’s probably done the same. I’ll keep them coffees coming and windows down. Got a gospel choir on 10 and I’m just howling with the sound and we’re all singing: lord, you’ve brought me a mighty long way. Hallelujah, let’s go home and see my baby’s face. I pause outside my bedroom at the top of the stairs, and say a quick thanks to whoever it was that got me here. It guess Grandma was looking out for me. This is our time and place. Hallelujah. See, I didn’t die. Now, let’s go look at your face.
Track Name: 12 Steps to Hell
It’s 12 steps to hell at the High & Lonesome Hotel. My baby left me here. She took my money, she drank my beers, and left cigarette butts in the can. Left me a broken man. I’d been thinking about drinking down here since I left home. It’s 12 steps down to hell, and what goes on, nobody can tell. The demons all laughing and the smoke is in the air and there’s a devil with a goatee reclining in a chair and the angels fall out of the sky. Lonely souls all come to die. I’d been thinking about drinking down here since I was born. Let’s have 3 cheers for the drinkers of the world. Cheers to you and me. Let’s have 3 shots and another 3 again, because the good things all come in 3s. If you can’t seize the day, you gotta seize the night. Gotta rage against the dying of the fight and no one knows where we’re going but we’re damn sure on our way. It’s a special kinda hell where the angel in the plaid shirt dwells, With her steel toed boots and a broken tooth. Spittin’ come-hithers from her usual booth. Well, I’d guess I’d better bone up first. I feel a sudden oncoming quenchable thirst. I guess I’ll have 3 shots, John, and another 3 more to share. Let’s have 3 cheers for the drinkers of the world. Cheers to you and me. Let’s have 3 shots and another 3 again, and then another 3 again for posterity. If you can’t seize the day, you gotta seize the night. Gotta rage against the dying of the fight and no one knows where we’re going but we’re damn sure on our way. And then she leaned over all conspiratorial and said, ‘Let’s go for a walk by the river.’ My head went numb, and my mouth went dumb, and I fumbled for my mittens and my zippers. We’re talking about the weather and she gives a little push and I’m praying ’cause she’s smoking like a burning bush. Someone say goodbye, ’cause I’m gone. Let’s have 3 cheers for the lovers of the world. Cheers to you and me. Let’s have 3 kisses and another 3 again, and another 3 again for posterity. I’m gonna seize the day, I’m gonna seize the night, I’m gonna rage against the dying of the fight. I don’t care where I’m going as long as I’m going with you. It’s all I want to do.
Track Name: Skull & Bones
I dreamt I saw with waking eyes as my money went ‘lost’. And a crooked face on the tube says it’s a bargain for the cost. I’ve never been in a fistfight, I’m not disposed to hate, but I’ll call it what it is when money runs the halls of state. You can call up all your lawyer friends, have someone take me out.No one’d put it past you now, of that I got no doubt. Hello constable, over here, take the folksinger away. It’s Security we’re defending, against these potheads and these gays. Tell me, where did you come from? Why exactly are you here? Is this what your forefathers fought for, and held so dear? Is this what your foremothers taught you, to cheat at every game? And now remind us why we hire you again. You strike me as the kinda guy, who never ever pays for school. Hushed up a girl here and there, while daddy played it cool.You’ve got this code you speak in, you and all your friends, where working where you do justifies certain ends. You get caught red-handed, cry crocodile on TV, look in the camera and say you know what it’s like to be a guy like me. Then hide it all in bank accounts that don’t have any names. Now you remind us why we hire you again. I’ll give y’a little friendly hint, you’d better get it down. That money that went missing’s really missing in my town. And it’s sad to think we get reduced to the lesser of the two. We gotta change that somehow, ‘cause we lose respect for you. Pull in your fawning audience, hundred bucks at the door, so y’can make a bunch of small talk about working with the poor. Then put that money into spin, as if someone believes but then that’s how we all got here, and now only the money leaves. You’re spinning like a racecar htat’s a-burstin’ into flames. Now you remind us why we hired you again. I’m seeing now with waking eyes that money don’t get lost. You’re the only game in town, pullin’ millions for your boss. Now let the story be told aloud, for all the world to hear. And shame and derision follow you the rest of your mortal years. Y’all say you’re so different. Hey baby I can change. And zebras can grow polka dots and sing Home On the Range. The moral of the story is your kind seems all the same and we should never…
Track Name: A Room With a View
There’s a room with a view from the top of the hill where my memories live, and always will. There’s a rail that runs through, but it’s all broken down. There’s broken hearts, and dreams I guess, in every factory town. All my memories of here are much warmer than it seems, but they’re the ghosts under this bridge where my house used to be. The old gang’s all gone and all dying of cancer. Too tired now for fighting or waiting for answers. Where the earth just longs to wash herself clean. How I’d love to see my litle house on the pier. Just to honor the road away and back here. But so much that I came for is all dead and gone, and rusted out shells of whatever’s moved on. There’s a nice little view from the top of this hill where my parents are buried and I know they will be smiling from heaven to see me come back ‘cause I left ‘cause I could ‘cause they busted their backs. That was just what you do in that time in this place is go learn yourself something or don’t show your face. After all that we fought for there’s just wind that blows through. Bringing people like me back to places like you. It’s 40 years now since Dad died and we all left this place. There’s a pine tree by his graveside that feels like his face. How I’d love to see my little house on the pier. Toilet paper in the keyholes and a set of rabbit ears. I’m sad and I’m sorry to’ve been out of touch. I just couldn’t come back ‘cause I missed you so much.