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God's Tattoos

by William Lee Ellis

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about

William Lee Ellis sings of the Apocalypse, devils on his shoulder, and his search for spiritual meaning, combining a love for slide guitar, gospel blues, and roots rock with genuine reverence for shamans and sages ranging from Leadbelly and Mississippi John Hurt to Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung. Via twelve adventurously eclectic, often introspective tracks, Ellis roams a metaphysical no-man’s-land, where blues, gospel, acoustic pop, and even a rhumba beat underscore his quest.

Produced by Jim Dickinson (Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones), God’s Tattoos unwinds like an aural dreamscape that blurs the line between sacred and secular music. Ellis eloquently states his claim as a master musician and skilled lyricist who employs time-honored music forms to explore the common concerns of modern man – as exemplified by the title, which refers to psychic and emotional scars or “tattoos” we all wear inside. A unique listen that fits somewhere between Ry Cooder’s Into the Purple Valley and Buddy Miller’s Universal United House of Prayer, God’s Tattoos provides inspiration and sustenance for roots music fans of all persuasions.

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released July 11, 2006

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William Lee Ellis Memphis

"There's no one else playing exactly the same sort of music as William Lee Ellis," said legendary producer Jim Dickinson of the Americana/blues master acoustic guitarist. "It's as if he's invented his own sort of 'holy blues' genre."

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Track Name: Snakes in My Garden
Snakes in my garden
Weeds in my crops
Dogs in the chicken coop
Feathers and barks
My mind’s in the ash heap
Body’s so cold
Mind’s in the ash heap
And I’m feeling like Job

Got Satan on my shoulder
Laughing like mad
I feel like a fighter
Knocked out on the mat
My mind’s in the ash heap
Body’s so cold
Mind’s in the ash heap
And I’m feeling like Job

God’s in a corner
But it ain’t mine
Fight’s done been fixed
And the bet is my life
My mind’s in the ash heap
Body’s so cold
Mind’s in the ash heap
And I’m feeling like Job

My girl is in the audience
Rooting for the other guy
Rooting for the other guy
And I’m on the ropes and
She’s rooting for the other guy

Mind’s in the ash heap
Body’s so cold
Mind is in the ash heap
And I’m feeling like Job

My mind is in the ash heap
Body’s so cold
Mind’s in the ash heap
And I’m feeling like Job
Track Name: God's Tattoos
Thought you’d get a scratch or two
Couldn’t get away, more waited for you
It leaves its mark on all of us
Broken skin, broken hearts

The designs appear slowly in lines deep and blue
Got yourself another one of God’s tattoos

They remind life is over way too soon
The scars that remain, the beautiful wounds
It leaves its mark on all of us
Broken skin, broken hearts

Every one is different, every one is true
Got yourself another one of God’s tattoos
No matter what your name is or how fancy your moves
Got yourself another one of God’s tattoos

You can wear them like diamonds with pride
Or keep them like secrets locked up inside

You can wear them like diamonds with pride
Or keep them like secrets locked up inside

The designs appear slowly in lines deep and blue
Got yourself another one of God’s tattoos

The cuts are made for us, it’s the colors we choose
Got yourself another one of God’s tattoos
Every one is different, every one is true
Got yourself another one of God’s tattoos
Track Name: Search My Heart
Oh Lord, search my heart
Oh Lord, search my heart
Oh Lord, search my heart
So I know if I’m right or if I’m wrong

Out in the desert, search my heart
In the desert, search my heart
Out in the desert, search my heart
So I know if I’m right or if I’m wrong

If I wound my brother, search my heart
If I wound my brother, search my heart
If I wound my brother, search my heart
So I know if I’m right or if I’m wrong

Should they take me, search my heart
Angels take me, search my heart
Angels take me, search my heart
So I know if I’m right or if I’m wrong
Track Name: Four Horses
Go down John, go down John
Go down John, write it down today
John a-writing on the judgment day

Go down John, go down John
Go down John, see what you might see
Jesus comin’ ’cross from Galilee

Said it’s one, two, three, four horses

Go down John, go down John
Go down John unto the battlefield
Bearing Jesus’ mighty cross and shield

Said it’s one, two, three, four horses

Go down John, go down John
Go down John, write it down today
John a-writing on the judgment day

Said it’s one, two, three, four horses

Go down John, go down John
Go down John unto the battlefield
Bearing Jesus’ mighty cross and shield

Said it’s one, two, three, four horses
Track Name: Perfect Ones Who Break
We fumble when we're uncertain
That's when we should be at our best
Instead we draw a curtain
And put courage to rest

We lose what we hold too dearly
And grow into what we can't shake
I tell you these things sincerely
It's the perfect ones who break

Hold on to tomorrow
But tomorrow may not come and what will you do then
Lay down for tomorrow
It's the dreamer's song, it's the lover's end

It's what we find when we're not looking
It's the joy of the mistake
Hold me close while we're together
It's the perfect ones who break
Track Name: The Call
If you have the heart to listen
If you have the mind to hear
Will you have the strength to follow
When the call comes loud and clear

Every road can’t be followed
Every bridge can’t be crossed
But you climb that highest mountain
You will surely not get tossed

If you have the heart to listen
If you have the mind to hear
Will you have the strength to follow
When the call comes loud and clear

Don’t look back when you hear it
Don’t turn back, you’ll lose it all
The ground will rise to meet you
Take that step and you won’t fall

If you have the heart to listen
If you have the mind to hear
Will you have the strength to follow
When the call comes loud and clear

Heed the passing of the Savior
Might not come this way again
Don’t mistake love for failure
’Cause this journey has no end

If you have the heart to listen
If you have the mind to hear
Will you have the strength to follow
When the call comes loud and clear

Who out there knows their story
Who can tell where it will end
On a private path to glory
Victory is round the bend

If you have the courage in you
If you have the voice to sing
Will you be the one to rise
When the call begins to ring
Track Name: Cold and Weary
Your charade takes on a glow
Walking past the bums below
What you’ve got is clear and plain
They don’t even have a name

Lo unto the Son of Mary
He came into this world cold and weary
Gather round, hear me clearly
We come into this world cold and weary

Fire warms the hearts of men
Just as dogs eat crumbs any way we send
This holy ghost needs to be fed
Drop the sermon, let’s break bread

Lo unto the Son of Mary
He came into this world cold and weary
Gather round, hear me clearly
We come into this world cold and weary

Is he any less a man
Who lives on streets and scrapes the can
Heed what your Good Book do say
You can’t even glance his way

Lo unto the Son of Mary
He came into this world cold and weary
Gather round, hear me clearly
We come into this world cold and weary

Sleeping in the rain and snow
All God’s children got pride you know
Don’t judge too hard or reprimand
We’ve all pissed in our pants, my friend

Lo unto the Son of Mary
He came into this world cold and weary
Gather round, hear me clearly
We come into this world cold and weary
Track Name: Here Am I, Lord Send Me
Here Am I, Lord Send Me (x4)

Don’t you hear my savior calling
Tell me who will go and work today
The fields are ripe and the harvest’s waiting
Tell me who will bear the seed away

Here Am I, Lord Send Me (x4)

If you cannot speak like an angel
If you cannot preach like Paul
You can tell the love of Jesus
You can say that he died for us all

Here Am I, Lord Send Me (x4)
Track Name: Jesus Stole My Heart
Lord, I’ve been troubled, I’ve been troubled
Troubled, Lord, till Jesus stole my heart
Said I’ve been troubled, I’ve been troubled
Troubled, Lord, till Jesus stole my heart

Whatcha gonna do when the devil calls
Say Satan don’t you bother me no more

I’ve been troubled, I’ve been troubled
Troubled, Lord, till Jesus stole my heart

Whatcha gonna do when the Holy Ghost hits
Said my eyes were cleansed by the clay and spit

I’ve been troubled, I’ve been troubled
Troubled, Lord, till Jesus stole my heart

Where you gonna be when the trumpet sounds
Praying for my sister on higher ground
Where you gonna be when the trumpet sounds
Tryin’ on my robe while the walls come down

I’ve been troubled, I’ve been troubled
Troubled, Lord, till Jesus stole my heart
Lord, I’ve been, said I’ve been, God, I’ve been…
Track Name: Dust Will Write My Name
Lord above, devil below
Each call out my name
So do you my angel babe
Billy it’s time to lay

Tallest pine, brightest star
One day will be gone
Do not grieve for all you see
Or woe this flesh and bone

A day from now, a thousand years
What of this remains
What is life in the final hour
Dust will write my name

Lord above, devil below
Each call out my name
So do you my angel babe
Billy it’s time to lay