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Flood Tale

from Ghost Hymns by William Lee Ellis

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I wrote the lyrics to this disaster song right after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. I long ago forgot the music I had written for it, which I used when I played a Katrina benefit years ago (thank you, Jimbo and Olga, for letting me share your stage that night). So, I started from scratch once I knew the song belonged on this album. This time, my Guild 12-string and glass slide asserted themselves. Brilliant blues harpist Fraser Speirs overdubbed his bit in Scotland, Steve Feinbloom slapped bass with his rock-steady precision, and musical mentor Andy Cohen laid down the dolceola part on the same night he had it tuned, lucky for me!


Birds they flew, beasts they knew
Storm was comin’ and nothing to do
Noah gon’ bail, ark gon’ sail
Flood a-risin’ and levee gon’ fail
Water risin’ and the levee done failed

Looked to the East, looked to the West
Sorry boys not one life vest
Had to flee, wife lost me
Parted by that Mississippi sea
Parted by a big ol’ sea

Family in hand, spotted dry land
Nothing more than a bag of loose sand
They drew sticks, couldn’t all fit,
Let baby go like Moses quick
Let that baby go real quick

President came, after the rain
Matching wits with the hurricane
President found when he looked around
“You can’t swim, reckon you must drown
You can’t swim, guess you drown”

When Jesus talked, on the water he walked
Best do the same if ever you’re caught
If ever in that storm you’re caught


from Ghost Hymns, released June 23, 2023
WLE, vocal & 12-string guitar; Fraser Speirs, harmonica; Andy Cohen, dolceola; Steve Feinbloom, bass


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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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