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Only The Dead Know Brooklyn

The video of the title track is available for free download. A big effort. Go check it out.

After a lull of 25 years, the Shirts (from Brooklyn) are back. Their CD (this one) has received all sorts of nice comments. The family plays together again.

They performed all the new songs to an enthusiastic CBGB full house on June 28 2006. As well as a few classics.

Brooklyn photos by JR Rost
Artwork by Kathy McCloskey and Bob Racioppo
Layout by James Mokarry
Download a hi-res image (1.9Mb)

Download bundle of 13 CD song excerpts (23Mb): mp3 | m4a. All excerpts are two minutes or more.

Basic tracks recorded at CBGB, New York
Overdubs and mixing at the Stereo Society, New York
Recorded and mixed by James Rosenthal
CBGB engineering by Jamie Gorman
Mastered by Joe Lambert at Trutone Mastering Labs, New York
Produced by Mike Thorne
Thanks to Hilly Kristal
For Norman Dunn

Ron Ardito: vocals, guitar
Johnny (Zeeek) Criscione: drums, percussion, vocals
Art Lamonica: vocals, guitar
Kathy McCloskey: vocals, keyboards, accordion
Caren Messing: vocals
John Piccolo: keyboards, vocals
Bob Racioppo: vocals, bass, keyboards
Arno Hecht: saxophone
Larry Etkin: trumpet
Allison Miller: percussion

Manhole Cover Seen In Sunset Park…
The actual CD, which you can use as a cover for a very small manhole. Click for enlargement.
Original manhole photo: JR Rost
Composition and lettering: James Mokarry and Kathy McCloskey
Download a hi-res image (2.5Mb)

Spanish Steps


when the sun refuse to light up the sky
and the oceans and the rivers run dry
don’t have to run and hide
when the juke box plays the same old song
you don’t have to listen you don’t have to sing along
don’t have to play along
and I’m sittin’ here on the Spanish Steps
lookin’ out to where the poets slept
tryin’ to protect the innocents
there they go
let the truth be told

I stand alone here on the side of the road
I have no where to go he’s just another lost soul
out in this dust bowl
solitary melancholy man
speaks a language we don’t understand
try to comprehend
o no o no


Love In Chains


Every night, every day
I’m in your clutches, I can’t get away

Sometimes I want to, sometimes I need to
But I can’t get loose, it’s always the same

love in chains love in chains got to break love in chains

I travel wide, I travel far
I’d cross the ocean baby, 3000 miles

Whatever I do, I still can’t lose you
I’m comin’ home on the fastest jet plane

chiselin’ the chains, cause I gotta get away



By Ron Ardito and Kathy McCloskey


So you’re here with a violet glow
Yeah you’re near I hear the wild winds blowin’
And it’s clear it won’t take you long
With your shears to tear my soul

Now I’m emptier (it’s the end of us)
Yeah I’m emptier than I was before
You’re like a lightning bolt
I’m emptier emptier getting emptier

Now I’m here, broken boned
You’re the sum of all my fear, barring none
And it’s clear: it won’t take you long
With your shears to tear my soul straight across

Still I’m emptier (it’s the end of us)
Yeah I’m emptier than I was before
You’re a lightning bolt
Yeah, I’m emptier

Now I’m lonelier than I was before

lonelier lonelier

I’m emptier

Love Is done and now you must go on


Take Hold Of My Heart


By Bob Racioppo and Ron Ardito


I left a light in the darkness
Never mind a life always starved
In the middle of a maze
I’ll meet you in the Moulin Rouge

I need you to
Take hold of my heart
(Sombody’s gotta give it, sombody’s gotta take)
Hold of my heart
(It’s gonna tear apart, I swear it’s gonna tear apart)

I thought that light should be harmless
Never knew I could be so charged.
In the middle of amaze
I’ll meet you in the Moulin Rouge

I hit the height, heard the warning
Open that grey heart to the mourning
In the middle of a maze,
I’ll meet you in the Moulin Rouge

I need you to
Take hold of my heart


Hell Or High Water

By Bob Racioppo and Ron Ardito


Come hell
or high water
Dance like a demon
debutante on my coffin

Come hell
or high water

Wrapped up in see-through cellophane
my lover

There’s a light show
every night

If your mind is
open wide

There’s a TV set inside

On a station
you can’t find

Come Hell
hold the water

Tip top two-tone
Tapper Zuki distortion


Chimes Of Love


I will do anything
for you
I will make your dreams come true

Chimes of love

When worn out faces
in drawn out places

Deny you the stars
in your eyes

Chimes of love

I will make your
grey skies blue

I will stand
beside you

Chimes of love


Walk On The Wire


i was long ago
feeling empty
you came I know
you came to tempt me
had i known you
long before
might have opened
up a door
and i’ve chained
i’ve been rearranged

walk on the wire
you won’t go home
over the fire
you’re on your own
walk on the wire

there’s a waiting room
for impatience
some are coming to
and some are wasted

but when i hold you
in my arms
there’s no false alarm
it’s real fire
you’re my one desire

walk on the wire
you won’t go home
over the fire
you’re on your own
walk on the wire

you thought you’d never leave
but now you’re here with me


I Declare War

By Art Lamonica and Bob Racioppo


I declare war
War upon war
Stay away from my door
I ain’t marchin’ anymore

I declare war
War upon war

Feels like a celebration
Everybody’s wavin’ flags
Goin’ to a conflagration
Comin’ back in body bags

President’s in his bunker
Vice President’s in there too
I wonder who they’ll get to do all the fighting
Got a hunch it’s me and you

5000 years of fighting
Everybody’s done that dance
Mister can you hear the hippies when they holler
It’s time to give peace a chance

I declare war
War upon war


Tears Dancing Rings


There she goes, with another alibi
Against the wall, I see her cry
Could this be the last goodbye?

Over by the iron gate
The autumn leaves go whisking by
The words that hit me in the eye
Lord, I need a fire escape

Tears are dancing rings round me
Sky is falling down on her
Tears are dancing rings around me


Bourbon Street

By Marsha Hodgson and Ron Ardito


Mary hit me like a lightning bolt, she was in my heart and in my eye.
She rode me like a wet and wild colt, she was a diva and I was god, oh my!

Harry hit me like a cosmic storm, shook my libido and wrenched my throat.
My fragile world, such delirious forms, as he drained me and left me to float.

She left me ‘cause she thought I was a stranger
No, I left you ‘cause I thought you had a knife

She left me ‘cause she thought I was a danger
No, I left you ‘cause I knew it was too right

Harry used me like his guitar, loved me long and played me hard
The poet’s eye, the perfect chord, so right, but it went so wrong

Mary’s mind was like a rifle shot of reason mixed with rain
She was my light
No wait!
She’s right, she was my darkest night

A tempest of love and pain


Goin’ To The Boat


I’m goin’ to the boat

I wrote you a note it reads (and I quote) “I’m goin’ to the boat”

Ain’t got no
more time
To be a fish
on your line
I’m grabbin’ my coat
Ain’t puttin’ it
to a vote
I’m goin’ to the boat

You say that some day I’ll be back again
But if I were you I wouldn’t hold my breath
‘Cause soon as I find me a new boy friend

Forget about you,

Forget about you

I’ll just forget
about you


Only The Dead Know Brooklyn


Only the dead know Brooklyn
Only the dead survive
Only the dead know Brooklyn
Ah baby please stop crying

Only the dead know Brooklyn
Keep on your raincoat, kid
She’ll hit you hard when you ain’t looking
But it’s nothing that you did

From Brooklyn to Tibet
Only the dead know where it’s at
From Hong Kong to LA
It’s just your life gets in the way

No matter where you’ve been
Weez got advice for you my friend:

Give up the ghost

Only the dead know Brooklyn
At least, that’s what I heard
Under the highway, hookers
Gravesend to Williamsburgh

There was a Park Slope yuppie
Hangin’ out Red Hook
For a slice of life he was hungry
They sliced him up real good


Everything Is Everything


Everything is everything now isn’t it
Easy to forget and make a mess of it

The world revolves in a Tarantino minuet

And I’m alone in paradise tonight

The mountaintops are underwater don’t you know

The man from outer space has his own TV show

Cancelled ’cause the Neilson’s came in way too low

A crack appears in Paradise tonight

Everything is everything is everything

Everything and everything may soon explode

Ideas East and West go down like dominoes

Round and round and round we all still have to go

Spinning out of Paradise tonight