Alexander the Great ― Act 3


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ACT 3: Alexander; The Body; The Spirit; Letter to Louise.

All songs written by Humphrey 'Huck' Astley
(except ‘The Spirit’, which contains verses from ‘The Dreary Dream’ by John Jacob Niles/trad.).

Huck - Vocals, acoustic guitar.
Jamie Cooper - Electric guitar.
Seb Reynolds - Keys, FX.
Billy Quarterman - Bass guitar.
Greig Stewart - Drums, percussion.

The Body: H. R. Khalsa - Vocal; Matt Halliday - Keys; Huck – Resonator.

With thanks to Ryan Quarterman, Jack Olchawski, Chloe Arnett and Josh Tomalin.

Engineered by Martin Newton/recorded by Jamie Morris LIVE at The Old Fire Station, Oxford, 12 June 2014.
Mixed and mastered by Jimmy Hetherington at PCE Audio, Oxford, Fall 2015.

Design and illustration by Joe Wilkins |

Alexander the Great: a Folk Operetta was a co-production between Sebastian Reynolds and The Cambridge Junction as part of the PRSF development scheme New Music Plus...UK.

(c) 2015 Operetta Records / PinDrop Productions


released November 27, 2015



all rights reserved


HUCK Oxford, UK

Humphrey ‘Huck’ Astley, poet-singer-songwriter and musician with The Epstein and Crandle. Pamphlet 'The Gallows-Humored Melody' coming this Fall with the Albion Beatnik Press. The Epstein's 'Burn the Branches' available here: ... ... more

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Track Name: Alexander
I was a bored little boy
With the night and the day in his eyes.
I told myself I’d seen it all.
But all that I saw, I was shown—
I’m as blind as a bat on my own.
I long to hear some echoed call.

Dull dusk of the soul…
Dawn of the dead as a dodo…

So put Dionysus to rest,
Let Apollo be put to the test
Under a tragicomic pall,
And we’ll find his fatal flaw.

Low to New Mexico’s ground,
Where the ghost of a crow may be bound,
I’ll take what’s left of Johnny’s love
And raise a new idol in dust.
Something tells me my god will be just.
Is that a lightning bolt above
Or a crooked eagle claw?

Dull dusk of the soul…
Dawn of the dead as a dodo…
With a baby in its craw.
Track Name: The Body
Upon his release by the New Orleans Police, Alexander fled the confrontation with his father. But the feeling of relief died young at the hands of the thought that to be free was to be damned. Alone for the first time, our hero felt so small that to distinguish life from death was to split hairs. This would be his last night in the city—one last adventure in the throng.

To dull his pain and oil his tongue for what had happened to Johnny, the boys got him good and drunk and ferried him through the streets. But Alexander’s pall lifted only to let out the occasional despondent little laugh. He passed out at dawn, whereupon the author of his fate, like the Angel of the Lord, appeared before the young man and told him what to do—he would save what he could of the body of his friend.

The entrance to the derelict was covered in police tape but Alexander slipped through and climbed the stairs to the Bird’s Nest. The squat was mostly undisturbed, the stash had not been found. And nestled in the bags of weed, screwed-up bills and fake IDs—the needle he had hidden from the cops. A plume of blood persisted, burgundy through gold, in the dregs of the fatal resin shot.

The footsteps on the stairs sent him flying out of the room and into the next, where he hid behind the rotten door. “We think around half a dozen were living here,” said the Lieutenant, “including your son and the Indian kid.” Nobody noticed Alexander making his descent… In the street, he forced the bad window of his father’s old Ford, climbed into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine the way Johnny had taught him.

By dusk, his drive had eroded all civilization but the road. Here was the desert his friend would eulogise—on the Texas-New Mexico border where the Ford had broken down. In the sky, a diorama of Greek Gods bandied with the legend of the Caddo brothers who turned into stars.

He rolled the car off the road and set it alight with the doomsday kit his father kept in the trunk, then lay on his back—sizing up the firmament, syringe in hand—and took the germ of Johnny’s body into his.
Track Name: The Spirit
For I have dreamed a dreary dream.
Oh who is free of sorrow?
For my love was dead on a leafy bed
Beside the River Yarrow.

And many men did come and go,
And all were armed with knife.
They’ve slain, they’ve slain my own dear swain,
They’ve twined him of his life…

They’ve slain, they’ve slain my own dear swain,
They’ve twined him of his life…

The song you heard when in the womb—
Your mother sang it often.
The spirit of it stayed with you,
The gone but not forgotten.

Now I become the dreary dream,
But I will hear no pity,
Though I lie dead on an icy bed
Beside the Mississippi…

Though I lie dead on an icy bed
Beside the Mississippi…
Track Name: Letter to Louise
Sweetheart, I ain’t coming home to you.
I know what to be, not what to do.
I still belong halfway
Between night and day.

Some streets name themselves for other towns.
Some feet guide themselves by lovers’ sounds.
Maybe one day I’ll stop,
And you’ll walk right up.

We’ll meet by the bones of a burned out car,
And trade our traditions below a lonesome star.

You’re not serious when you’re fifteen—
All that talk of immortality.
Let’s have a boy out here,
And let’s hope he’s queer.

We’ll live where the rules are like old stone walls.
We’ll fix them with bricks of our own, or let them fall.