The Dubious Hat

by Nathaniel Johnstone

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about

When I was a wee lad I had occasion to pull the family guitars out of the attic and play around on them. My older brothers had all done the same and as they went off to college I had more and more opportunities to play on them. Eventually, I was the last one standing and when I went off to college myself I was allowed to take them with me.

These instruments have been a part of my life for MANY years and as I looked back on my musical catalogue I see that they only show up infrequently in my recordings. This album is a love letter to those two guitars. You hear them both throughout this album and I love how they sound.

These are the instruments that I learned on. They were there for me when I really sucked and as I got better they seemed to finally relax into being played ("Oh, thank heavens!" I can hear them say.). The muscle-memory of nearly 40 years came from these two guitars.

Of course I had to include banjo, violin, and ukulele because they sound so good together. I guess you could call this my acoustic album. The only non-acoustic instruments you hear are bass guitar (One track by me and one track by my friend Martin) and Alec's brilliantly played electric violin. I am deliriously happy with how it all came out and hope that you enjoy it as much as I do.

This album was made possible by the generous support of my friends on Patreon.

www.patreon.com/nathanieljohnstone

credits

released September 28, 2019

Lyrics/Music by Nathaniel Johnstone except for:
Laura Tempest Zakroff & Nathaniel Johnstone: Lechuza (The Owl Witch) and Sinking Spirits
Alyssa Rosenbloom & Nathaniel Johnstone: Cut Rate Apocalypse, Gepetto's Lament, and One Time Through

The Band:
Nathaniel Johnstone: Vocals, Guitar, Ukulele, Violin, Bass, Banjo
Martin Irigoyen from Vernion Process: Bass, Baglamaki, Bouzouki, and Tambourica on Lechusa (The Owl Witch); Sitar on Dreamlands
Elizabeth Lain: Oboe on Lechuza (The Owl Witch)
Betsy Tinney: Cello
Dogwood: Monster Noises and Theremin Vocal on Little Trophy Mine
Levi Ali: Percussion on Gepetto’s Lament
Alexander James Adams: Violin on I’m Not Afraid of the Dark

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about

Nathaniel Johnstone Seattle, Washington

Multi-instrumentalist Nathaniel Johnstone (violin, viola, banjo, mandolin, and guitar) LOVES to play music with his many musical friends. He's played with many bands and has as yet been unable to settle down with one instrument or musical genre for too long.

Each album is different but there are enough through-lines that you can get a sense of where he's been.
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Track Name: The Dubious Hat
The world has too many hats
Or so I've heard it said
All the shapes and sizes
There's a hat for every head

Happy hats for happy heads
Sun hats for the sun
Hats for when you're working
And ones for when you're done

But the one-too-manyeth hat
Of mystery and dread
Is the awful, terrible, dubious hat
The one that wants your head

It lurks in darkened corners
It hides under your bed
It waits for you to look away
Then it leaps upon your head!

It grips with teeth of felt
And drags you out of doors
It shows you off to everyone
You're helpless as it roars

"I am the dubious hat
this is now my head!
I wear it now forevermore
I'll wear it until it's dead!"

The world has too many hats
Or so I've heard it said
All the shapes and sizes
There's a hat for every head

Happy hats for sad heads
Brave hats for frightened heads
Confident hats for shy heads
And, alas! All too often: the wrong hats for the wrong heads

CHORUS

After all that I have seen and read
And all that has been said
There is no hat in all the world
As the one that's in your head

And if it fits that's great for you
But if it don't here's what to
Find that dubious hat post haste
And give that something new a taste

'Cause that one-too-manyeth hat
Of which much is left unsaid
The not so terrible, dubious hat

Just might be …

One that fits your head
Track Name: Lechuza (The Owl Witch)
On the border that lies between here and there
Of which few speak for who would dare
In the place where shadow and sky do meet
Dwells a being so dark so fierce and so fleet.

Soft white feathers hide talons of steel
Wide bright eyes that hunt for her meal
Body of a woman, mind of a beast
And heart of the wild to say the least

CHORUS

Lechuza, Lechuza must you hunt tonight?
Oh lady Lechuza who has earned your spite?
Dread owl waiting on shadowy tree
Oh lady Lechuza, won't you leave me be! 
I've done you no wrong, I mean you no ill
I hear your song, oh, what is your will? 

I hunt for you mouse man
I've come for your soul
I'll devour your heart 
Swallow your bones
I won't end my spell 
'til I've had my fill of you

A hellish creature of vengeance, magic, and lust
No qualms has she to grind you to dust
Once you've crossed her or harmed her kin
Harbor no doubts that she knows your sin

She'll come in the night, on your rooftop she'll land
Scratching and clawing to draw out your hand
Swooping down to carry you off into the night
The cold quiet moon, your very last sight. 

CHORUS

Revenge is hers, that's all Lechuza wants
Its the bully, the villain, the fool she haunts
Conjuring storms and spirit spells a-weaving
Trust me, its true, seeing is believing.

Some advice for you my friend, a devil's deal
Don't get drunk in her lands, don't curse or steal
The Owl Witch knows your crimes and sings,
"Death will come for you on soft white wings"

CHORUS
Track Name: Cut Rate Apocalypse
I was told there would be fire
I was told there would be brimstone
I was told these were the end times
And the Devil would be known

I was hoping to see the heavenly host
But I see no sign of the holy ghost
As the engines of creation
Their mighty gears have slipped

In this cut rate, poorly-planned,
Ill-thought out apocalypse


All I got was inflation economic conflation
Of greed, opportunism, (and) moral abdication
A war on sin you'll never win
With shifting goalposts and media spin

Ain't no-one wrong if no-one's right
There's so much dark you can't see the light
As the engines of creation
Their mighty gears have slipped

In this cut rate, poorly-planned,
Ill-thought out apocalypse


Air, Earth, Fire, Water
The world is starting to split
Famine, Death, Pestilence, War
Y'all best get on with it

Our air is spoiled
Our oceans boil
The cracks we're starting to see
We line up in rank
On the stygian bank
Let the river roll eternally


I was told there would be fire
I was told there would be brimstone
I was told these were the end times
And the Devil would be known

I was hoping to see the heavenly host
But I see no sign of the holy ghost
As the engines of creation
Their mighty gears have slipped

In this cut rate, poorly-planned,
Ill-thought out apocalypse

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