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Pissed Off 2AM b​/​w Cripple Side of Town, Billy Clubs and Mercy

by John Velghe & The Prodigal Sons

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Sometimes I come home, I don't expect too much The lights are off now It's only two How I wish my breath It didn't hurt so much Then you'd be up babe It's only two Why don't you sleep? You look as though you need it The barricades and reasons They mean nothing to me Now they mean nothing to me Well all my friends they laughed, They laughed at all my jokes I got one more story, It's only two How I wish my tough Could erase the past They you'd be up babe It's only two Why don't you drink You look as though you need one The barricades and reasons They mean nothing to me, No, they mean nothing to me If these were different times Then you'd be up, And we'd trade stories It's only two Why don't we pretend? I's all we have between us The barricades and reasons They mean nothing to me, now Why don't you sleep? You look as though we need it The barricades and reasons They mean nothing to me, Now they mean nothing to me


Alejandro had just released "Pissed Off 2AM" from this album, With These Hands, when I met him in 1996 at Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas. For me, this song has always been nine stories at once.

I rediscovered it in the middle of a pandemic when it reminded me of my friends and how much I miss my band. In the winter of 2020, Al's lyrics sounded like he could have written them that same week in 2020; longing for those 2AM drives from one stage to the next in a van stuffed with mates and instruments but not much sleep or sense. The drives where you forget the songs until the next night and instead remember movies, or baseball players, or which Wu Tang album is the best.

So I talked to the Prodigal Sons and asked them if they were into recording a cover of it. They were game as always; a luxury I've grown accustomed to over the last 10 years and one I swear I'll never take for granted again.

As we were wrapping up tracks a winter storm laid waste to Texas leaving my family and dearest friends without power, water, or food for days. My friend Bobby Daniel sent me a photos. In it, the East side of Austin (The "Cripple Side of Town") was dark as a midnight reservoir. But on the other side of I35, Downtown Austin's hotels and office buildings twinkled and glowed like Manhattan during dinner hour. "Pissed Off 2AM" took on a tenth story.

So we all pitched in and finished this track up so we can release it today and try to scape together even a little bit of money to help our friends in Austin.

For the first several years I knew him, Alejandro sort of served as the Musical Mayor of Austin. Bringing bands like ours and others from all over the world in to play his showcases at SXSW. It only seemed right that we'd try to return that favor and make this cover into some kind of civic act for a city that has always welcomed us with such grace and sweetness.

Working on this song was almost agonizing at times because it just kept reminding me of how much I miss my band. For some of them life has completely changed since the start of the pandemic; a breakup, one in locked-down in Paris for months, one adopting a foster son, and I learned one has an illness that puts him into a high-risk category for Covid while two of them contracted the virus over the last few months. Our lives have all changed too much in the past 11 months of what I was promised would be stasis.

One of my favorite pastimes at our shows is to turn away from the mic and watch my bandmates play. Just to watch my favorite musicians play music; to be an audience member with the best view. There were times I'd be mixing this in tears from wishing to see the Prodigal Sons making music again. But I would hit these points while mixing where I'd see them like they were in the room with me. I'd see Hermon playing trumpet with Sam and Mike Walker right next to him. Josh seated at his steel right in front of them. Chris or Mike singing backup while playing something I could only fake at.

The whole process wrapped up on a Kansas City day when the temperature finally rose above freezing after 10 of single digits and snow; interminable cloud cover and wither. While my friends and family in Texas were still without power and water, to their North we are finally starting to feel the sun.

This day, like Alejandro's song, reminds me that after a long long freeze, the sun will come to cold places. That 2AM will yield to 10PM, and we'll take those stages again, sweat, laugh, drink and maybe bleed if we're lucky. I will see my mates, and we will make music, because that's all we have between us.


released February 19, 2021

Cover photo by Bobby Daniel




John Velghe Baltimore, Maryland

John Velghe (pronounced Vel-jee) writes songs leaning towards personal narratives and accounts of people he’s met over 20 years of playing and touring. From a friends ex-wife in Austin to a 4-year-old waitress in Lucas, KS to a transvestite railroad worker in Duluth, MN; Velghe populates his songs with real characters who’ve informed personal allegories about escape, transformation and fear. ... more

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