Dr. Watson, I Presume

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I sat in a motel room with the doctor
Just before we were supposed to sing
He said regarding this guardian wing
This black and clipped misshapen thing
Hobbling on from claw to ring
Hung upside down and cawing
Pecking at carrion of the fallen
Battalion
Thawing
On frozen mooring

Blackbird in a crust no more
They fell down 4 and 20
Bloodstained the land of want and plenty
Now raven standing at his shoulder
Stared with eyes of molten solder

Dripping on a lacquer box
Introducing keys to locks
Seven talents there where hidden
Mysterious and some forbidden

Take the honey from the comb
Ravel thread around the loom
Dig the dirt up from the tomb
Dr. Watson, I presume

One will follow
Two unknown sorrow
Three for laughter
Four ever after
Five-foot flood when the waters hit
Six feet deep, the eternal pit

Seven prayers and seven pleas
To eight imagined deities
Cat o' nine tails
Cat of nine lives
Brides turned into old wives tales
Your complexion colours then it pales
And into the sunset it sails

Soon these secrets will be scattered
Heaven knows what lies inside
It took a moment to discover
A lifetime to decide

Take the honey from the comb
Ravel thread around the loom
Dig the dirt up from the tomb
Dr. Watson, I presume

Wilkesboro, North Carolina – 2007

Dr. Watson, I Presume
Written byElvis Costello
Performed byElvis Costello
Produced byT Bone Burnett
MusiciansElvis Costello - lead vocal, Martin D-18 acoustic guitar (1947)
Pete Thomas - drums
Dennis Crouch - double bass
Mike Compton - mandolin
Jerry Douglas - dobro
Stuart Duncan - fiddle
Jeff Taylor - accordion, low whistle
Marc Ribot - electric guitar
Buddy Miller - baritone electric guitar
Vince Gill - harmony vocal
AlbumsNational Ransom, 2010
Length3:41

First known performance:
October 3, 2008, San Francisco, CA
Last known performance:
November 14, 2013, Kingston, NY
     (18 known performances)


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“Dr. Watson, I Presume has its origins in an appearance at Merlefest... Now, just by coincidence I was introduced to Doc as the figurehead of the festival. And he just started to talk about his life in a beautifully poetic way. I don’t know how many times he had told the story of his life in this way, but it struck me as a very moving testimonial to the perseverance of life. I’ve written only a handful of songs about the thing I do, just really taking the things he said to me and just thinking about them a little bit and maybe a few of my own ideas were added to things he said and making it like a rhyme or a riddle that added up really to a dedication to the life I lead.” — Official trailer for National Ransom, November 2010. Official trailer

National RansomNational Ransom album cover.jpg


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