If you like dark alt-country/folk with a bit of gothic, and gospel, Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots, hailing from Denver, Colorado, is a band worth listening to. The most common themes of the songwriting include religion, violence and dysfunctional relationships. Some reviewers call Munly’s lyrics/music “a thinkin’ man’s country music”. You can decide when you see the lyrics of some of his songs. The lyrics of the Munly & the Lee Lewis Harlots album have been thoroughly scrutinized and analyzed, perhaps because Jay Munly has a master’s degree in modern English literature from Columbia University and it shows.
I introduced the band in 2006 to a friend who was visiting from Australia. She thought their music was unsettling and enthralling at the same time. I had to explain to her that having two violins and a cello in a gothic-country band is a bit unusual. In addition Jay Munly’s wide vocal range is perfectly matched with the beautiful Harlots-choir singing to create a unique sound. Anyway, she bought their album. Later I received an email from her. She said her mother, Faye Kotsis who happens to pretty well known in Australia as an Australian real estate investor, felt that the lyrics dealing with religion, violence and dysfunctional relationships were a bit too much. Although her mother succeeded in a field that is dominated by men, so she has to be pretty tough, she is also a humanitarian, who according to her daughter, is deeply passionate about helping people. I think some of the lyrics were a bit too raw. However she loved the music.
Smooch Records and Alternative Tentacles publish all of the music/songs played by Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots.
Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots was active approximately between 2000-2006. In July 2006, Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots was voted the best band in Colorado
The members of Munly and the Lee Lewis Harlots are:
Jay Munly (real name: Jayson Thompson)
Singer-songwriter, banjo player, guitarist, vocalist
Known by the names Munly and Munly Jay Munly is also a published author. He has received the Southern Heritage Award and the Young North American Playwright Award for his work. He has played a significant role in the development of the “Denver Sound.” Some critics feel Jay Munly peaked with the Lee Lewis Harlots as his backing band.
Paul Bradley – Bass
Jeff Linsenmaier – Drums
Elin Palmer – Violin
Frieda Stalheim – Violin
Rebecca Vera – Cello
All these musicians played in other bands that were part of the Denver music scene. For example Jeff Linsenmaier founded The Czars.
Rebecca Vera, cello, has also played with David Eugene Edwards of Wovenhand, Jeffrey-Paul Norlander who has had several different bands including 16 Horsepower, and Dave Moore.
Elin Palmer played a supporting role to the music of some of Denver’s most critically revered acts, including 16 Horsepower, the Czars, DeVotchKa, and Wovenhand before joining Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots. She was typically hired for her skills and talent on the violin and nyckelharpa, a rare Swedish instrument that predates the violin. She was a core member and string arranger for Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots
Frieda Stalheim has played for numerous bands. She processes her violin through various effects pedals to create unique textures and sounds. After Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots. she collaborated with singer-songwriter Blake Brown on Americana of Bare Bones. Frieda and Elin were long time friends since meeting at the Denver School of the Arts in the mid-90s.
Paul Bradley was the latest addition to the band.
NOTE: Jeff Linsenmaier, Elin Palmer and Frieda Stalheim have left the band, but are still active in the music industry.
The Top Tracks
The top played tracks from Munly & The Lee Lewis Harlots repertoire are:
Big Black Bull Comes Like A Caesar
Goose Walking Over My Grave
Old Service Road
A Gentle Man’s Jihad
The Leavening of the Spit-Bread Girls
Another Song About Jesus, A Wedding Sheet, And A Bowie Knife
Cassius Castrato The She-Male Of The Mens Prison
AND IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH MUNLY’S LYRICS:
Lyrics to Jacob Dumb
She gave me head and heroin as sure as the sun would set
She let me cum onto her chin yet there’s one thing that I still regret
She gave me my son of Jacob Dumb this child has been my hell
Nary one with a tongue to wean him from himself
Jacob Dumb you wean from yourself
Jacob Dumb he’d sit with us our pine-board porch each night
mumble out the songs I played he sat between the legs of my wife
Paws on her thighs, tried to pass his age, he sang though his throat was young
A fly laid an egg, my wife shifted her weight, Jacob, don’t live your name Dumb
Jacob Dumb well don’t live your name
Our porch became a teeter totter
when Jacob dropped down he fell far from his father
My wife shift of weight forced Jacob so much closer
Jacob dumb you are my shame, you are my shame, we lost a game
She gives him head and heroin and now he’s truly dumb
Now not even Nestor could bring peace between myself and my son
Jacob fell far from his fathers heart through the distance was not too long
Dumb, take my wife and my black tar vice, but do not take from me,
Child don’t take my songs, don’t take my songs
Lyrics to Amen Corner
It’s glorious today so you know that it will pass away
The doves and snapping turtles bite at me
Catatonic ash, don’t bump against them tender wounds
This petunia land smells of timothy
I have read the maps of the Patron Saint of Haggard
Arm the minds of midwives who deliver thee
My hands are not enough I will swing a hammer
Amen Corners where they’ll gather and meet
On Amen Corner is where they gather, all them midwives who delivered me
Their looks are unwashed, ashamed, and haggard, seeing my hands are empty of offerings.
The took my rolled map, ripped it to tatters, turned their backs and commenced to sing.
I stroke my dark dove, I pat my turtle, but their responce is as cold as charity.
Snapping turtles hide, scrape their teeth against their hide
Doves stumble ’round turned dark from timothy
The midwives turn to saints swinging what’s delivered
On Amen Corner the haggard hammer sings
My snapping turtle it still be snapping, my dark dove can only bark at me
I pull his dark down, rip it to tatters, glue the feathers to my turtles covering.
I will swing it, my soft-hard hammer, to my midwives this is my offering
On Amen Corner, I’ll be delivered, my soft-hard hammer will sing as it swings.
Lyrics to Big Black Bull Comes Like A Caesar
This is what it sounds like when my brother calls me. ~
My parents, they up and passed when I was none than three.
I forced myself onto my brother, made him watch me swell.
When we’d sit round the kitchen table he would whip out his brand new blade.
He’d scratch out words into the wood of the table, I never could tell what they say.
But i could tell they were dirty.
I brought them words on down to the elementary, I pulled them boys behind the elementary wall and I spoke them words hard- yeah I did…
When my brother was a child he was given an animal.
He raised it up to be a big black bull, it never did pitch or sway.
It would ride on the back of our flat bed,.
it looked like one of them greek Caesar’s, and when go to McCintyre’s.
the McCintyre’s got a pen, with a she-cow.
When that she-cow saw his chariot arivin’, She gave the bull her big soft cowy eyes, then she started talkin’
And she was talkin’ dirty…
Then the big black bull come down hard offen the flatbed, forced himself inside the pen with the she-cow. He stood up tall on two legs, like a man does, he swoll himself up hard. Me myself I stood up tall on the flatbed, I pitched when I saw them sway. When that bull he come back down to four legs, my brother forced himself onto the flatbed, he handed me his brand new blade, said ‘scratch out the words on the wood of the flatbed,’
-and I did….
When I was none, I fell out my mamma, I was a breach born son, I come backwards.
And then the calf come, it come, like I come, he come backwards.
And my brother he called the calf my name, and its mother she called the calf my name…