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A Drunken Hangman by Cathal Coughlan

From Cathal Coughlan’s 2002 The Sky’s Awful Blue¬†album. Written by Cathal Coughlan. No capo.

High Llamas - Snowbug


[Fm] [Cm7] (x2)


[Cm7] To any soul that cares I breathe, I am the drunken hangman
[Cm7] My disgrace great as was the power I laid to rest in quicksand
[Cm7] They used to send for me by car, assign me spacious quarters
[Cm7] Had all the whisky I could drink, had but a single order

[Ab6] And I stood in this world alone and those who paid me hated me
[Ab6] The heart inside me like a stone, this man you never want to [Eb6] see


[Cm7] My clients did not know me long, in wooden rooms stood trembling
[Cm7] The final one I barely touched, for I was barely standing
[Cm7] A warder strangled him instead, it took him seven minutes
[Cm7] That warder looked at me, enraged, and said “Your life is finished”

[Eb6] And in the boarding houses, since I toast my age with lemo [C#m] nade
[F] Recent memories are few, there’s just a single fragment of one [E/B] day


[Abmaj7] The wonder of her smile, [Bbm6] there in the silent kitchen
[Gdim] Woman, angel, child, [C7/E] in the pale light, mixing
[Abmaj7] The wonder of her smile, [Bbm6] one bright winter’s morning
[Gdim] And the time stood still [C7] [A] [C7] [F#7]

[Fm] [Cm7] (x2)


[Cm7] “What does this mean?” I gasped in joy, imagining redemption
[Cm7] She glanced away and squinted back, in vexed incomprehension
[Cm7] She said “Why must it be explained? I’ve taken nothing from you
[Cm7] I was just smiling at the day, and you’re that drunken hangman.”

[Ebmaj7] She left the boarding house, human and unmoved and so com [Dm7] posed
A [F] world of feelings gaped at me as cancers stirred in all my weary [E/B] bones

I [Ebmaj7] felt now what I’d feared to know – unselfish love at far too late an [Dm7] hour
[F] I will not be lonely, though, as ridicule and anguish mark my [E/B] brow


[Abmaj7] The wonder of her smile, [Bbm6] skin opaquely gleaming
[Gdim] Her long arms draped down the back of a chair
[C7/E] Standing proud in the dusty air

[Abmaj7] The wonder of your smile, [Bbm6] may good fortune bind you
[Gdim] To its deathless heart, [C7/E] may those you desire see you as I do

[Fm7] And I will strain and ache [Bbm6] ’til my light’s last dimming
[Bbm6] For that gaze which said [C7/E] “Here I am … here I am…”