"April the 14th (Part 1)" as written by Gillian Howard Welch and David Todd Rawlings....
When the iceberg hit
Wasn't much to know
That God moves on the water
Like Casey Jones

So I walked downtown
On my telephone
And took a lazy turn
Through the red-eye zone

It was a five-band bill
A two-dollar show
I saw the van out in front
From Idaho

And the girl passed out
In the backseat trash
And there was no way they'd make
Even a half a tank of gas

They looked sick and stoned
And strangely dressed
No one showed
From the local press

But I watched 'em awhile
Through the bottom land
And I wished I played
In a rock and roll band

Hey, hey
It was the fourteenth day of April

Then they closed it down
With the sails and rags
And they swept up the fags
And the local rags

And threw the plastic cups
In the plastic bags
And the cooks cleaned the kitchen
With the staggers and the jags

Ruination Day
The sky was red
I went back to work
And back to bed

And the iceberg broke
And the Okies fled
And the Great Emancipator
Took a bullet in the back of the head


Lyrics submitted by smallwonderrobot

April the 14th (Part 1) song meanings
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  • 0
    General CommentSo, this song is about my father commiting suicide - simply a beautiful song. "But I watched 'em awhile / through the bottom land / and I wished I played / in a rock and roll band".
    wiredbirdson April 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentSeriously? Two specific references in this song - firstly about the sinking of the Titanic when it hit an iceberg and secondly about the assasination of Abraham Lincoln "the great emancipator". Obvioulsy both happened on April 14th.
    bigecon January 25, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe 3 major events referenced in the song occurring on April 14th:

    1865: The assassination of Abraham Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth.

    1912: The sinking of the Titanic after striking an iceberg, resulting in the death of 1,517 people.

    1935: "Black Sunday" - The worst dust bowl storm ever, resulting in the residents of the region fleeing for other areas (many went to California).

    Also referenced in the song is Casey Jones, who famously saved the lives of many passengers by remaining on his train as it crashed in order to slow it down, thus killing himself. This event (coincidentally most likely) also occurred in April, though on the 30th, not the 14th. The line "God Moves on the Water" actually comes from an old song (its title being the same) by Blind Willie Johnson, which is about the Titanic. I wonder if the bit about the concert in Idaho is self-referential. Possibly.

    Anyway, incredible song on an incredible album.
    Whit0685on April 08, 2009   Link

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