DARK AND BLOODY GROUND

Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers' album version


This land was ours far as the eye could see
We took it from the Cherokee with a scalping knife and a white man's disease
When the smallpox ravaged their town
We came in and burnt them down
And took this dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground

Hey!
I took a prisoner 'cause I needed a wife
I broke her will, she gave me a son, I spared her life
It was a fate much worse than death
Yeah we were kissed by the devil's breath
Set down on this dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground

We'll lay our bodies down
Put 'em six feet in the ground
And when the long cold winter ends
Oh the sun comes shining in
The crops will grow again
In this dark and bloody ground

They gave me three hundred dollars, put a pen in my hand
I was drunk on corn liquor, I signed the rights away to my land
The coal company tore my homestead down
They ripped the black gold from the ground
Left a hole in this dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground

If Jesus was born in Kentucky they'd make him pay for his nails
Worse yet he'd have to work off his debt down here in this hell
Where they pay you off in company scrip
And your life it don't mean shit
Just a piece of this dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground
This dark and bloody ground

I will lay my body down
Put me six feet in the ground
And when the long cold winter ends
The sun comes shining in
And the crops will grow again


Info

DARK AND BLOODY GROUND is a song written by Joe Grushecky and Bruce Springsteen in mid-1994, with Springsteen providing most of the music and Grushecky most of the lyrics. The song is "about the fighting for the land in Kentucky," as Grushecky described it. It was released on Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers' 1995 album American Babylon. Bruce Springsteen produced all the album except the title track, and he participated in the recording of most of the songs. He plays guitars and shares harmony vocals on DARK AND BLOODY GROUND.

The above lyrics are for Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers' album version of TALKING TO THE KING as released in 1995.

American Babylon

In late October and early November 1993, Bruce Springsteen (with Toby Scott recording and Bob Clearmountain mixing) produced a recording session for Joe Grushecky at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Beverly Hills, CA. Off the session, two tracks would be released on Grushecky's next album, American Babylon: CHAIN SMOKIN' and NEVER BE ENOUGH TIME. Springsteen played guitars, keyboard, and percussion on the first track, and guitar on the second. In addition to Springsteen, Grushecky's backing band for this session consisted of musicians organized by Springsteen that he is believed to have utilized for some of his own scattered studio sessions during the period: Zack Alford on drums, Jerome Smith on bass, and Leon Pendarvis on keyboards. Although originally planned as a "one-off", this session with Grushecky turned out to be the start of a major side project undertaking for Springsteen.

Around February 1994, Springsteen (with Toby Scott recording and Bob Clearmountain mixing) produced a further recording session for Joe Grushecky at Thrill Hill Recording. Off the session, one track would be released on American Babylon: HOMESTEAD, a song Springsteen and Grushecky had co-written together during the previous few months. Springsteen played guitar, harmonica, and mandolin on the track. In addition to Springsteen, Grushecky's backing band for this session consisted of musicians organized by Springsteen that he was utilizing for his own scattered studio sessions of the period: Shayne Fontaine on guitar, Zack Alford on drums, TM Stevens on bass, and Leon Pendarvis on keyboards.

Around August 1994, Springsteen (with Toby Scott recording and mixing) produced a further recording session for Joe Grushecky at Thrill Hill Recording (Springsteen's home studio) in Rumson, NJ. Off the session, five tracks would be released on American Babylon: DARK AND BLOODY GROUND (with Springsteen playing guitars and sharing harmony vocals), LABOR OF LOVE (with Springsteen playing guitars and mandolin), WHAT DID YOU DO IN THE WAR (with Springsteen playing guitar), BILLY'S WALTZ (with Springsteen playing mandolin), and ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (with Springsteen playing guitar). The first was co-written by Springsteen and Grushecky. In addition to Springsteen, unlike the previous two sessions held on the west coast, the backing musicians for the east coast sessions consisted of The Houserockers, Grushecky's own Pittsburgh-based band.

Around October 1994, Springsteen (with Toby Scott recording and mixing) produced a further recording session for Joe Grushecky at Thrill Hill Recording. Off the session, three tracks would be released on American Babylon: COMIN' DOWN MARIA, TALK SHOW, and NO STRINGS ATTACHED. The Houserockers were again the session's backing band. But contrary to previous sessions, Springsteen did not play on any of these three recordings, although his wife Patti Scialfa provided backing vocals on the first track.

Although the album was essentially completed at this stage, and filed with the US Copyright Office on 13 Dec 1994, Grushecky had trouble finding an interested record company. "We got turned down by everybody, I mean everybody. That's another reason why it took so long [for release]; I didn't have any funding," Grushecky commented in an interview. "Right around the turn of the year [Dec 1994 - Jan 1995] Pinnacle UK became involved and we knew we had a home for the project".

The final overdubbing/mixing sessions for American Babylon took place around April 1995 at Thrill Hill Recording, and the album was released in October 1995 on Pinnacle Records, and reissued in 2004. The album's title track, AMERICAN BABYLON, is the only one not produced by Bruce Springsteen.

Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers -- American Babylon (album cover art)
Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers -- American Babylon (album cover art)

Excerpts from all American Babylon tracks (except TALK SHOW and BILLY'S WALTZ) appear on American Babylon In Conversation, a UK-only promotional CD featuring interviews with both Grushecky and Springsteen recorded on 29 Aug 1995 at Cheers in Long Branch, NJ.

Joe Grushecky and Bruce Springsteen -- American Babylon In Conversation (album cover art)
Joe Grushecky and Bruce Springsteen -- American Babylon In Conversation (album cover art)

Other Official Releases

In addition to its release on American Babylon, the album version of DARK AND BLOODY GROUND was also included on other releases.

Joe Grushecky -- American Babylon Sampler
Joe Grushecky -- American Babylon Sampler

CD EP - Pinnacle (PLR1) - UK, 1995

UK-only promotional CD EP containing four tracks from American Babylon.

01- DARK AND BLOODY GROUND
02- CHAIN SMOKIN'
03- LABOR OF LOVE
04- NEVER BE ENOUGH TIME
Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers --
Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers -- "Labor Of Love / Dark And Bloody Ground"

CD single - Razor & Tie (RTS 717) - USA, 1995

Promotional single. Comes in a regular jewel case with back insert, but no front insert.

01- LABOR OF LOVE
02- DARK AND BLOODY GROUND
Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers -- Chain Smokin'
Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers -- Chain Smokin'

CD single - Pinnacle/Virgin (LC 3098) - Sweden, 1995

Promotional single.

01- CHAIN SMOKIN'
02- DARK AND BLOODY GROUND

Live History

DARK AND BLOODY GROUND was performed 6 times during the 6-date-long October Assault Tour with Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers.

  1. 17 Oct 1995 at The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ
  2. 18 Oct 1995 at Tramps, New York City, NY
  3. 19 Oct 1995 at Electric Factory, Philadelphia, PA
  4. 20 Oct 1995 at Nick's Fat City, Pittsburgh, PA
  5. 21 Oct 1995 at Nick's Fat City, Pittsburgh, PA
  6. 24 Oct 1995 at Park West, Chicago, IL

Bruce Springsteen performed DARK AND BLOODY GROUND once more on 22 Jul 1995, in Sea Bright, NJ, again with Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers.

  1. 22 Jul 1995 at Tradewinds, Sea Bright, NJ (with Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers)

Credits / References

Thanks Jyrki for the Swedish Chain Smokin' single scan.

Most info on the recording sessions taken from Brucebase.

Request

If you have any corrections or additional info about this song or the American Babylon recording sessions, please contact me via the below form or by email: . You will be credited. Thanks in advance.

Available Versions

List of available versions of DARK AND BLOODY GROUND on this website:

DARK AND BLOODY GROUND [Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers' album version]
DARK AND BLOODY GROUND [Live 20 Oct 1995 version]

Page last updated: 16 Aug 2015