About Michael O'Neill

Showcasing a new collection with a previously un-released Townes Van Zandt song as the title track, this singer/songwriter with a “roots-rock” history and a soulful ease carries his listener into a time and place reminiscent of steel strings, guitar heroes, and great story-tellers like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. One of 13 children, he got started in music early. At the age of 24, he cut his teeth opening his first tour for a then-unknown band called U2.

By the time the tour ended in Los Angeles, O'Neill found himself signed with legendary manager Don Arden, (father of Sharon Osbourne). O'Neill put together a band that featured a young John Shanks, (now superstar producer of Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrisette, Vertical Horizon, etc.), Kenny Gradney (Little Feat), and jazz saxophonist, Boney James.

He spent the better part of the next ten years touring with the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn and penning songs with Bob Weir, Steve Cropper (Booker T. and The MG's), and Jason Scheff (Chicago).

Part country crooner, part haggard storyteller, O'Neill makes a noise that is refreshingly classic.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cowboy Poems from 1916

From, "Out Where the West Begins", by Arthur Chapman, 1916

In a Deserted Mining Camp

The rain, gust-driven, veils the distant pines
upon the hill,
yet cannot hide the skeletons of mines
and silent mill;
and through an empty street the wind whines
with hag voice, shrill.

the echoes roused by hoof-strokes of my teed
strike on the heart;
how many tragedies the eye may read
in this dead mart;
from cabins, windowless, faint voices plead
and specters start.

I pause and turn, upon the hillside's crown,
and vision gropes.
Where gleam the rain-washed cabin roofs far down
the darkning slopes;
but now the night has closed upon the town
of buried hopes.

The Man the Desert Got

He rests, half buried in the drift
of waterless and silent strands'
his fingers clutch a mocking gift -
the worthless, wind-blown desert sands;
he thought to close his hand upon
a heavier and yellow prize,
but now his lusts for gold have gone,
shriveled beneath those blazing skies.

The lizard flits abou his form,
the buzzards circle in the height;
if there be mercy in yon storm,
may he be covered deep ere night;
and may the rippling sands smooth ''er
upon the desert's face the spot
where ends his quest forevermore,
the quest of him the desert ot.

The trails to distant water holes
his plodding feet shall ne'er retrace,
for unto still more distant goals
the prospector has turned his face;
these shifting sand hills lose thier glow,
the breeze no more is furnace hot,
and when the storm ends none shall know
where rests the man the desert got!

The Border Riders

The devil has opened his furnace door
and poked the coals with his tail,
but we musts jog on and jog some more,
along the outlaws trail;
and some of us may not;
plain duty's a term tha is harsh to men
in the country God forgot.

Now your throat is dry as a burned out coal,
and light is in the old canteen,
and it's far to the nearest water-hole
where the slimy moisture's green'
and when you git there the spring has dried,
you'll find, as like as not;
and that's how many a good man's died
in the country God forgot.

Bit it's jog, jog, on the alkali,
nor let your bronco lag;
and mind the arroyos as you go by,
nor let your eyelids sag;
for bullets speed true the desert land,
where the sand hills muffle shot,
and it's short life for him who tips his hand
in the country God forgot.

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