NPR logo Lost, Downtrodden and Drunk in 'Pensacola'

Lost, Downtrodden and Drunk in 'Pensacola'


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Thursday's Pick

  • Song: "Pensacola"
  • Artist: John Bustine
  • CD: Waltzes & Pleas
  • Genre: Rock

John Bustine draws equally from Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash. hide caption

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"Pensacola" is just one of many haunting songs on John Bustine's debut album Waltzes & Pleas. Drawing equally from Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Bruce Springsteen and Johnny Cash, the New England-born singer paints vivid images that burst with darkness, desperation and religious hypocrisy, led by characters who are lost, downtrodden and, more often than not, drunk.

"While relieving myself on the church steps / I happened on Father McGee / who said, 'Son, your ways they've grown wicked / I think the whole town would agree,'" Bustine sings on "Pensacola." "'We all have our demons and weakness' / and this he explained at length / With his hand on my shoulder, he offered to help / but I hit him with all of my strength." The song would seem at home on Springsteen's Nebraska or Waits' Blood Money — albums that, like Waltzes & Pleas, are almost impossible to shake.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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