Blue Pariah

1996. The second Big Rude Jake album, this recording has been called a Canadian classic. It’s dark, moody, and aggressive, and different from other sounds on the swing and jazz scenes of that time. It borrows heavily from several musical genres, and utilizes what many thought to be rather elaborate production techniques.

- “Buoyed by critical acclaim, but afraid of being pigeonholed as a “jazz artist,” Jake decided on a radical departure for his next studio project. He recorded what can only be described as an alternative rock album, entitled “Blue Pariah,” which features some of his most “outside” work. The musical influence is vast and eclectic, borrowing liberally from punk, soul, blues, rock-a-billy, ska, German cabaret music and jazz. Time signatures shift relentlessly, the lyrics are biting and fearsome, the emotions sweep across the spectrum of human trauma and the production, (courtesy of musical genius Pete Prelesnic and Rock Guitarist Gordi Johnson of Big Sugar), is exceptionally artistic if also uncompromisingly harsh. This is one scary album…
Predictably, “Blue Pariah” shocked a lot of people, but won over new listeners, especially in the USA, where certain alternative radio stations picked up the seminal “Swing Baby” as a radio single and made Big Rude Jake a popular figure among small pockets of listeners across North America.”


1. Seventh Avenue Revisited

2. Cold Steel Hammer

3. Night of the King Snake

4. Swing Baby

5. Three Drunks at Last Call

6. Sliverman

7. The Girl in the Pink Canoe

8. The Artist

9. The Diner

10. Seventh Avenue Revisited

11. Blue Pariah (#3)

12. Lovesick Lullaby



The Crow and the Jackal and the Jack Fish
The Crow and the Jackal and the Jack Fish
The Crow and the Jackal and the Jack Fish

Verse 1
The sun comes up like stink off a dumpster
And Parkdale wriggles like a leach
And somewhere on the corner of Hell’s half-acre
The morning comes and kicks me in the teeth

Well, I been bustin’ my ass for the Boss man
My back is bowed, I’m beat from toe to crown
I feel the long hard skull-crackin’ blow to the noggin
As the cold Steel Hammer Swings down

Bridge 1
And I can’t stop thinkin’ ‘but that goddamn dog
Tied by the neck in the back of next door
He eats from the garbage and he never leaves the yard
And the shit just keep piling up higher and higher (German)
And the shit just keep piling up higher and higher

And the Crow and The Jackal and the Jack Fish
Are suited up to go another round
I’ll be up to my ticker in deadbeats
When the cold steel hammer swings down

Verse 2
They found the Jack Fish rolled up like a ‘tater bug
With a Doc Martin Footprint on his face
Said there were lots of broken bottles and a lot of busted bodies
And Blood all over the place! (man!)

And the Crow was dancing in the road kill
While the grift on the Jackal spun around
He’ll do a long hard stretch on a big piece of granite
And the shit just keep piling up higher and higher

Bridge 2
And I can’t stop thinking that there’s got to be a hole
Somewhere in the bottom of the Parkdale Bowl
I twist and I squirm and I try to deke the squeeze
But that sieve keeps sucking the life out of me
That sieve keeps sucking the life out of me

I’m fightin’ like a tiger in a tar pit
And that suck-hole makes a terrible sound
And I’m fighting all the way, but I just keep sinking
As the cold steel hammer swings down.

Verse 3
Well, the Jack fish got a barrel full of sucker-bait,
And the jackal got a line to troll the street
And the Crow cried carry on with the carrion,
And smiled to show the flesh stuck in his teeth

Well, the bilge water whisky and bath tub gin
Smells like dead smelts washed up on the beach
I trip up on the curb and fall flat on my face
And plant my kisser where I used to plant my feet

Bridge 3
And I can’t stop thinking ‘bout that piggy on a spit
Honey glazed and bar-b-qued and burnt to a crisp
They fill you up with gristle and grease for the pan
And then they bend you over and they give you the shaft

And as my lip swells up like a roma tomato
I keep tellin’ myself “Just keep shakin’ your head”
Cause the Crow and the Jackal and Jack fish
Won’t be eating ‘till they’re sure that I’m dead

The crow and the Jackal and the Jack Fish etc

There’s a freight train on the Badlands
That carries my baby to me:
Through the darkness of Wyoming,
Just rockin my baby to sleep.
Now, there’s an ill wind blowin’
There’s a thunder rumblin’ down in the east.
And there’s a King Snake coiled up
In the arms of an old pine tree.

Well, the King Snake says to baby,
“Don’t you know that I’m a jealous man.
And I would never let you leave me
To wrangle alone in the sand.
You were never meant for roses
You were meant to know the wisdom of the fang.
Take these 30 silver kisses
And live with me in these Badlands.”

And then the King Snake purrs
As he slithers up close to her breast.
She feels a tug on her earlobe
And a tingle creeping round in her head.
He said, “you can make believe
That this is what the Fates intend.”
As 30 Silver kisses
Go sliding down the back of her neck.

Well, on the night of the King Snake
Time hangs in the seamy gloom.
I was hanging round the station
I was waiting on the 12:02.
Well, the brakeman finally told me,
“Don’t you know that you’ve been made a fool?
She love them 30 silver kisses
She don’t love you.”

Well do you know what it means To love a woman with the King Snake blues?
You can love her like no other man
And lift her up when no one else would.
Bang your head against the wall:
It really makes no difference what you do.
She loves them 30 silver kisses
She don’t love you.

She loves them 30 silver kisses
She don’t love you.
She love them 30 Silver kisses
She ain’t’ comin’ back to you.”

When they turn the lights out
Faces in the shadow
When they turn the latch in,
Tapping at your window

Skinny up out of your bedroom
Shimmy up on the drainpipe
Stand tall in the rooftop
And let slip into the night

Would you surrender to despair?
Or go on as if you’re unawares?
Would you let ‘em tear apart you mind?
Or would you come running with our kind?

Tell me what would you do?
If I told you
That they lied to you,
And all the things they said
Just wasn’t true?
Tell me what would you do?

Swing Baby!

And they’ll hate you for what you are boy,
And they’ll say you oughtta be ashamed
They’ll lock you in the pantry
Till you learn how to behave

But days of ash and cider
are the good boys last reward
‘Cause once they got you where they want you
They don’t want you anymore!

And the cowboy with the coin slot eyes
Comes on like a cripple at the foot of Christ,
And he’s begging me for one last Ballantines
He’s a coin-slot, a buckshot
Gut rot forget-me-not
He wants the Reichenbach clock to stop and slowly unwind
And spend the rest of his days
In a misty whisky haze
In the minute before they call closing time

I been a fly on the wall, and I been a flash in the pan
I’ve been he cock of the walk and a flim-flam man
But for all I’ve seen, I just can’t understand
Why a fool won’t fold while a fool still can.

And an old mangy cat goes and draws out her claws
And stares down the babe at the end of the bar
Convinced that chick is moving in her time
She’s a bar-bell, a cock-tale a bomb-shell ne’er-do-well
And in the pell-mell nutshell that houses her mind
She’s going to make that bitch pay,
In some kinky slinky way
She’s gonna win her man back before they call closing time

Because beer money buddies love to spend your dough
When the crunch comes down baby, you’ll find you drink alone
Attitudes and platitudes and affected sounds abound
You can call her a free spirit, I call it getting jerked around

And with his hands on the bumper in a parlour in town
Some kid goes and puts his last dollar down
His knuckles go white, but he’s gotta let that bundle ride
He’s a chalk blue, a pool cue, a gum shoe billiard fool
He’s got a follow through that’s true blue but he’s still four games behind
He ducks an old fat and sweaty roly-Polish land lady
He’s gotta win it all back before they call closing time

And I wish I could tell you, exactly how it feels
To finally leave this whole bunch behind
But nothing ever sounds all that profound
When the lights come up at closing time
What did I say? When the lights come up at closing time.
Who are those folks over there? Just some drunks I knew at closing time.

The sky has been cut open
By the sleet and rain and wind.
I slam into the dead end
Of another 3a.m.

My head is thick with things unsaid
My tongue is slick with booze.
I stumble drunk into the night
Back to my little room.

My sock soaks up the slush in through
The crater on my shoe.
As my foot turns numb with cold
I find I think of you.

I wanna be
I wanna be
I wanna be
The thorn in your side!

I don’t want love
I don’t want tenderness
I wanna be
The thorn in your side!

When you lay your head down
In the deep of the night,
Do you feel a bristle
In the small of your spine?

Urgent clawing fingers
Cannot reach it.
You pinch and scratch and pull
It just goes deeper.

Does the constant throbbing
Grate your bleak and sorry soul?
Would you bed a stranger
Just so’s not to be alone?

I wanna be
I wanna be
I wanna be
The thorn in your side!

I don’t want joy
I don’t want merriment
I wanna be
The thorn in your side!

Is there someone in your dreams
That will not let you sleep?
Is your nightmare faceless dear,
Or does it look like me?
How much does it hurt?
I wanna know!
Tell me I’m the barb that sticks you
Right down to the bone!
Tell me you can’t take much more
Of pincers to your flesh.
Tell me you can’t sleep at night,
So I can finally rest!

I wanna be
I wanna be
I wanna be
The thorn in your side

I am compelled
By one desire:
I wanna be
The thorn in your side!

There’s a boardwalk on the lakeshore,
Back in my hometown.
It’s a place where couples meet to watch the sun go down.

And there’s a boy on the boardwalk,
Pining all alone.
I asked him what was on his mind,
He answered sad and low:

I’m in love with the girl,
The Girl in the pink Canoe
Who lives up in the bush-lands
On the shores of the old Yazoo!

She shines like a rose,
With her petals all covered in dew.
She’s the only one for me,
The Girl in the Pink Canoe.

Far from home and all alone,
As the white capped waves rode high!
Lost at sea she sprung a leak,
On a diddle diddle dark and stormy night!

She stroked and stroked in her little pink boat,
But it was to no avail!
She tossed and turned and chugged and churned,
And let go a mournful wail!!!

Won’t some one please come rescue me
And board my boat and sail me home?

I called out to the Girl,
The Girl in the Pink Canoe:
“If you would let me, I would gladly
Come to rescue you.

I’ve got and oar and I’ll row you back to shore.
And on that shore I’ll kiss the girl,
The Girl in the Pink canoe.
And on that shore I’ll kiss the girl,
The Girl in the Pink canoe.
And on that shore I’ll kiss the girl,
The Girl in the Pink canoe.

I’ve a picture of the miracle of Fatima sitting on my mantelpiece
You see the virgin there and she looks so serene
She got a sacred heart that glows in the dark on my mantelpiece
And when you turn out the lights, her eyes are phosphorescent green

Oh, sweet mother of God, please carry my prayers to Jesus
For my sins are legion and I’ve only my self to blame
Please do your best to grant my request of forgiveness
Even though in my heart, it is true that I am unashamed

Oh, Seraphim, Cherubim! Extra Terrestrial
Eucharist Biscuits and Chamomile Tea
Eye of the pyramid, Great seal of Solomon
Keep me and save me from mine enemies

What a horrible fate that I should be born in a world such as this
In a world without prophets, in a world where I suffer disdain
Purse-proud and callow, they scheme in the shadows
All about me I hear them. Spewing brimstone and bane!

But a rabbit’s foot talisman pinned to my shirt sleeve keeps evil away
And a Salvation Army store oracle keeps me from harm
Under my bed is the Masonic Fez that keeps Satan at bey
As I turn out the light, I am filled with it’s power!

Garlic and scallions, Druidic medallions,
Wolfs bane and hemlock and fish-heads and cheese
Peat moss and cat shit, cradles and caskets
Keep me and save me from my enemies

And I can’t sleep for fear of the dreaming
Slick in the sheets, I wake up screaming

Tell that old gypsy woman there on the corner to leave me alone
For I know that she covets my power in matter divine
She bid me come bed her but I must resist her, lest I be undone
For she would rob me of manhood, and all of my virile inclines

But a picture of Dame Fortune riding a half-shell is etched in my flesh
Shrewdly placed billiard balls service in concealing her charms
And in the crown of my hat is a mustachioed Jack from an old euchre deck
And a wallet sized picture of Shiva keeps me from harm

But I’ve seen the signs that mark the end times
And the dark days of ravage and spite
The vile crimes committed, both brutal and brilliant
For God and for country and love unrequit’d

Don’t speak to me of love.
On your lips that word sounds like a poison.
A fixed up spike of poppy blossoms.
Intent to take you high
Then bring you crashing down so hard, you thought you died.

Don’t speak to me of love.
On your lips that word sounds like a sickness
In which the hopelessly afflicted
Stumble aimless through their lives
So that your kind can feast on hearts like mine.

Why must we speak of love?
Always speak of love?

I know a place where the grill smells like onions
And charcoal and liver and eggs.
And the coffees not good but the second cup’s free
And the waitresses call you by name.
And you can sit at the counter and no one asks questions
And you never have to explain
And nobody knows about little dark secrets
And you can start living again.

And no one speaks of love,
Pain and anger wounded pride or madness.
No one ever speaks of love.
They lounge in languid light and sip on bitter coffee dregs
And sadness.


On a day like this in the Market quarter
And alleys lined in patchwork posted bills
And coats of paint like petals peel
And colors glow from within themselves

Serengeti pink and Prussian blue
Rembrandt reds and amber honey golds
And Garden greens and deadly sharkskin grays
As the mob thickens, the mystery unfolds.

And I take to shade, and I play the shadows
And I watch my back and I play it cool.
And I stand on guard and I stop to wonder
And one day withers and a new one blooms.

And on a day like this in the grid-lock traffic
In the grinding gears and the razor wires
And a thousand faces and the island music
The charge electric, in the air and sky

And fresh killed flesh, and rhinestone studded ironies
Are crucified on every porch and post.
And vestal whores on second story balconies
Cuttlefish and diesel go dancing up your nose


And the city steams and rides a steelyard fulcrum
It teeters and sways in the sundown light.
I hold my breath and I hang in the balance
Of a city that reels b’tween despair and delight.

And I am not your judge, I am not your Champion
I won’t straight the road for some new messiah.
I am a boulevard dog in the concrete corridor
I am compelled by a mystery, I am the Blue Pariah.

(Chorus 2x)

Well, the rain stops it’s pouring;
Tips its’ hat to another day.
Steam rolls off the sidewalk
And the rats come out to play.
‘Neath the silent night fluorescent light
Of a closed-up corner store.
There’s a rat who sings an ode.
To a heart that’s gone before.

He sings a lovesick lullaby
Soaked in Detroit blues and 12-year-old rye
He sings a lovesick lullaby
Smudged with nicotine stains and little white lies
And an absent-minded smile
And stiletto heels and seams up her thighs
And one last kiss good night
The nape of her neck and Chanel Number 5

And as I walk through the glow of every lamp post light,
I stop to wonder where you are tonight.
I sift though my pockets and I dig out my cigarettes
I spark up my last DuMaurier
Watch the match flare up and then fade away;
The smoke in my lungs like the cloud of my own regrets.

And still I sing a lovesick lullaby
Chock full of good intentions and cheap alibis
He sings a lovesick lullaby
About how good it feels to take her inside
And a soft and throaty sigh
As you kick off your wing-tips and melt into her eyes
And one last kiss good-night
you can say what you want, just please don’t say good-bye

I been holding this wall up for a day or so
When I know I should have made tracks a long time ago,
But just like a chump, I stick around here, anyway.
And I keep tellin’ myself this time we’re through
And I ain’t gonna take anymore of this here trash from you,
And then I hear your voice and I forget what I was gonna say.

Instead I sing a lovesick lullaby
Oh, hush now baby, now don’t you cry,
I sing a lovesick lullaby
You’ll fall asleep, by and by and by.
You’ll toss and turn all night,
But you won’t forget her face no matter how hard you try
You might as well just give up the fight
Resign yourself to a lovesick lullaby


- This is the second Big Rude Jake album, and a strange one at that. Blue Pariah was designed to push the limits of the neo-swing movement of the late 90’s. More than any other BRJ CD, this album mixes the raw elements of blues, jump, jazz, swing, cabaret, ska and punk in a way that no one could imagine at the time. It was designed to be the “alternative” swing album, for people who really wanted something different. The album was rejected by purists and embraced with powerful enthusiasm in the alternative rock scene. The song “Swing Baby!” is still a big fan favorite, and was, at the time, a radio hit in the Detroit area, even though Big Rude Jake had no distribution deal in the US! Considered by many to be a “true classic,” this amazing CD utterly transcends the era in which it was produced.

- Oh, yeah… That’s the stuff.
This is one of my favorite albums…ever…in life. Every song is a masterpiece…honest to FSM.

- I’d call this gutter swing. That’s right, swing. But this ain’t no happy-go-lucky shit. The vocals are coarse, gravelly and sing about working class life better than any punk album I’ve ever heard. Musically they take the rawest elements of punk, swing, jazz and blues and style them together in a way that’s both fun and dark at the same time.

- This one rocks hard but has some seriously impressive musicians and lyrics that don’t bore. I have had this for some time and still find myself playing it more than I expected to. If I owned a music store, I sure would have a hard time trying to figure out what bin to put it in.

- I love Big Rude Jake. This band is an excellent example of what popular music should be about. The album is a surprising mixture of Swing, Punk, Rockabilly, and Ska. They certainly do not sound like any other Swing band. Jake’s lyrics never lose a sense of grit and truthfulness. His songs at times have an honesty that reveal an inner loneliness and disillusionment. But Jake also never forgets his sense of humor. An attribute he shares with other complex artists such as Lou Reed or Tom Waits. He’ll make you want to cry with one song and dance with another. A very unique and creative band. I would highly recommend this album and every album by Big Rude Jake.

- They have this amazing blend of Rockabilly, Swing with just enough punk. The fusion is especially present in songs like “Cold Steel Hammer” or “Swing Baby”, the song that’s difficult to even describe due to the multiple musical styles represented. “Sliverman”, a haunting tongue in cheek song of a broken heart, or the tribute to oral gratification in “The Girl in the Pink Canoe”, or the dark sad imagery in “Lovesick Lullaby” or “The Diner”, Big Rude Jake is an incredibly talented songwriter with echoes of Tom Waits. The saddest thing about this band is that they didn’t get a wider audience. But such is the chaos and insanity of the music industry.

- If there’s a better album to listen to over cigars and gin, I haven’t heard it… As for the “Girl In the Pink Canoe”? Priceless. Probably the greatest “date song” ever released ;-)

- I saw Rude Jake In a club in Naperville Il. The place was jammin!!! Ever since then I love swing punk, and Rude Jake does it the BEST. You can’t go wrong with this CD or his new CD. If you ever get a chance to see Rude Jake Live, DO IT. You will have the time of your life.

- Big Rude Jake pulls out another great album, which I give a star higher rating than his first because in Blue Pariah, he truly accomplishes what he set out to do: evolve swing. Have a listen to Swing Baby! and you’ll see just what I mean. It has all the fire and passion of the swing scene, but adds a deeper, darker, brooding beat. Almost Dark Drum&Bass meets Swing in a few tunes, while keeping a few classics. It’s the ability to know where to take a step further and complete the album that makes Blue Pariah one to add to your collection.

Produced by: Gordie Johnson
Recorded by: Rob Selmanovic
Engineered and Mixed by: Peter Prilesnik
Musicians: Big Rude Jake (vocals), Gordie Johnson (guitars, bass, vocals), Al Cross (drums), Kelly Hoppe (harmonica), Alkaline (organ, wurlitzer piano, melodica, moog), John T. Davis (organ), Ashley MacIsaac (violin), Petronics (background vocals)

See discography for more streaming music.