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A song about a machine.


Duchess © Steven Beck 2011

She works in the factory all day long,
Over a hundred still going strong.
She shimmies and shakes putting those labels on
The Duchess dances to African songs.

Forged in Toledo 1903
State of the art cast iron labelling machine.
They christened her the Duchess and painted her green,
Shipped her to Chicago to label baked beans.

Farmers left Mississippi for the northern factories,
Leaving the share crops and poverty.
Played music all night, worked the factories all day,
Taught the Duchess to sway.

They taught her the blues and then painted her the same,
Shipped her up to Canada, she headed our way.
Did a stint in the Okanogan fruit canneries
Until she became a victim of modernity.

We found her in a warehouse, neglected an unused.
Got her for a song and were happy to
Have her label our asparagus pickle jars.
She was so old and had come so far.

I'd get there in the morning about half-past five,
Plug her in, watch her come alive,
Grease her up, lube her up, tighten her belt.
Put the glue in the pot and watch it melt.

Graceland blasting on the stereo.
Feed her a jar, look at her go.
Put it in the case quick there's another on the way.
Oh the Duchess is dancing today.

Whoo hoh shake that thing.
Ohh Duchess going to make you sing.
Whoo hoh come on take a chance.
Duchess going to make you dance.


from Kissing Buddha's Daughter, released December 23, 2011


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Steve Beck Vancouver, British Columbia

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