Driving the Nails

by Vigilantes of Love



From garage folk with a splash of Dylan to Athens folk-rock band, almost over night...This 1st national release (1991!) STILL sounds cool and feels great!


released July 4, 1991

Bill Mallonee: acoustic guitars, lead vocals, songs
Billy Holmes: electric guitars, mandolin, keyboards
Ian Evans: bass, background vocals
B.B. Queen: drums

Mark Hall: accordion
"Dog-Mess Johnny": harmonica
Alice Berry: background vocals on "Casualty" and "Guns"

Engineers: Joel "happiest guy in the world" Burkhart and Lamar Williams. Recorded At: dB Syntrax Studios, Atlanta Ga. Digitally Mastered By: Robert A. Vosgien at CMS Digital. Cover Design and Photography By: Flournoy Holmes/Art & Death & Lance Andrews Goldsmith. Design: Kenneth Maynard/Mojave Design, Nashville, TN. Cover Portrait By: Sheryl Perry.



all rights reserved


Bill Mallonee

Bill Mallonee is an Americana artist w/ 75 plus albums over a 25 year career. Voted by Paste Music Magazine #65 in their "Top 100 Living Songwriters" poll. He was the
founding member of Vigilantes of Love. He has worked with Mark Heard, Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, & Peter Buck from REM.
His most recent work, "The Rags of Absence" released in Jan. 2017.
... more

contact / help

Contact Bill Mallonee

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Track Name: Odious
forty days and forty nights i guess
i been slightly morose i been slightly depressed
there's an electric fryer in the next room
killing going down here at high noon

now that i've made myself odious
to the greater cross section of our populace

i saw the clinic i heard the screaming
clean out the plumbing saw the body bags leaving
these emotions of love move deep in my heart
i got a molotov cocktail and i wait until dark

well sure it's your body that's nakedly plain
but less than nine months ago it was public domain
i was thinking about the carving knife when i lifted that latch
and those expensive french cosmetics when i lit the match

well am i pissing you off
my beloved public
am i pissing you off
well let's change the subject
Track Name: Driving the Nails
turn down the light placate the drunk
kill the telephone
i don't wanna sit this one out
and have you rape me later on
now ladies and gentlemen i used to be a notorious killer
and then i became the world's greatest dancer
always asking what the truth was
and never waiting for an answer

now it's the clay inside this heart of stone
and the concrete in my head
i know there's a fine line
between the living and the dead
and i used to go to slasher films
and leave feeling pretty free
it's really quite cathartic
to see yourself up on the screen and

i've been driving the nails
firmly in your tree
you've been talking to your Father
on behalf of me
nothing at these check points
i care to defend
so why do i raise the hammer up
and drive the nails again

now in the graveyard of my secrets
there's a hope buried beneath
all this talk of peace and righteousness
has left me weary beyond belief
and there's an unwanted mistress
in my bed late at night
she say "i know you're a criminal
you been on death row all your life"

turn out the lights and reconnect the phones
fill the drunk's glass to the brink
i'm ready for penetration honey
but it's not what you think
you gotta fill this stinking shell
of false humanity
fill it up with bullet holes
from your firing squad of mercy
Track Name: Casualty
shell-shocked from fright
i stay up half the night
don't you ever feel the curse
in the heartbeat of your universe
and i had a hand my friend
in ushering darkness in
now i wish that even more
i could show it to the door

i hear one day
you will level the cynics rage
ever prayer that's ever been prayed
will surely not be turned away
and no tears shed for dying or dead
that won't be wiped away
justice locked up for weak and poor
will soon come breaking down the door

and Father why do i feel like a casualty
i try to do what i should
but it doesn't do any good does it

i'm at the bitter end of rope
of all my might have beens
and i could be swinging from it
or maybe then again
i could use it wisely
climb out of this pit of snakes
i could use it wisely
to pull up the veil that hides your face
Track Name: Just Going Blind
friends say my countenance or what amounts to it
is a shroud of ash and brown
turning clay into gold
can sometimes get you down
i suppose there are benefits
in being retarded
at least your life's a string
of moments unguarded

lawyer says my case is poor
and the doctor says there is no cure
for this war in my mind
i can't feel remorse
or hear their cries
is the sun fading
is the light dying
or am i just going blind

i have worn it like a badge
i stitched it across my chest for everyone to see
and i have made it a major tenet
in my theology
in the 20th century
there's no reason or rhyme
we've become the greatest experts
at simply killing time

darling use your riverboat dredge
dive down dig down underneath my skin
this faded cracked and thin veneer
so easy to get in
i will try not to drown you
with what lies behind my kiss
honey i should warn you first
you swim at your own risk
Track Name: Lady Luck
now if i were a politician
i'd want you on my ticket
if i were a hunter
i'd want you in my thicket
and if i were a brain surgeon
you'd be inside my knife
if i were a gambling man
you'd be inside my dice

i'm as selfish as a schoolboy
enamored with his prick
now my life is like (becomes) a handgun
and the hammer just went click

now if i were a writer
i'd want you in my pen
if i were a junkie
i'd want you in my syringe
and if i sold magic potions
you'd be inside my vial
if i were on death row
you'd be inside my file

now if i were a seamstress
i'd want you in my singer
if i were a safecracker darling
i'd want you in my fingers
if i robbed a seven eleven
you would be my faulty alarm
if i were a fornicator
you'd be inside my condom

i believe i see this lie
coursing through this world of yours and mine
i've been breathing it in like atmosphere
i've been drinking it down like wine
it says "all you need is love"
and "you can be the judge of it"
tastes ok for a little while
but then i wake up choking on my vomit

something help me see
just how worthless
something help me excavate
deep below the surface
something help me drown Lord
in your river of blood and grace
i know that i'm leperous
but hold me anyway
Track Name: Sanctuary
engine is hot and the wind is wild
come on darling don't tarry
aren't you weary of dreams and hard luck schemes
this will be our sanctuary
well car is warm from the chill outside
that can creep into your bones
i was trying to remember if i'd brought everything
but there's nothing that you really own

caution to the wind
you can never go back again

we have tried for years to play by their rules
on the ladder of success
and i was stepping up to make the first rung
and saw this vision of my brokenness
well then since that time i became an inspector
of storm damage done for life
i've been picking up the pieces of my might have beens
and i hold them up to the light

as far as the east is from the west
deeper than the deepest ocean
i've been running all my life on borrowed feelings
devoid of emotion
and the windshield wipers are counting time
too heavy for us to carry
oh was that a whisper of the holy ghost
this will be our sanctuary
Track Name: Running Scared
driving late at night signals fading fast
out here on the perimeter of my past
map says there's no exits no run off ramps to stop
and the future's up there down the road in the dark
darling whisper words of hope into my ear
radio is fading and it's getting hard to hear

and i'm running scared
for so long now
i've been running scared
for so long now

now i've got a million houses but i seldom feel at home
i've got a lot of friends but usually i'm alone
offer you no alibis proffer no excuse
because i'm dying just for something to hang on to
the pieces in this puzzle never seem to fit
life is like a handgun and the hammer just went click

driving late at night you're kissing my neck
conditions let's call them hazardous
you whisper to my soul she's probing past my knee
these are violent times baby wouldn't you agree
Track Name: Brenda
brenda pass the brandy to me one more time
it must have dropped another ten degrees
wind's been screaming like a battered woman
it's a storm like i've never seen before
and life makes you walk a thin grey line
between the living and the dead
haven't we been waiting all our lives
to hear the angels sing inside our heads

brenda pass the book to me one more time
i can't recall the chapter or the verse
i guess we shouldn't really be surprised
i guess we should expect the worst
it was another black friday when the bottom dropped out
in a wall street i chanced to find a pearl
i was terminally sick at the mayo clinic
when i met this doctor with a cure

now there's a witness in the courtroom
of a heart in disarray
and i believe his testimonial
i would die for it this day
while the light fades from your eyes

brenda i am in a miserable state
i wanna hold on to something strong
trying to regain some innocence
it's been going going going going gone

and i feel just like an orphan
knocking on the doors of a million homes
sure i feel your arms around me
but it still don't mean i don't feel alone
Track Name: Pleasure
public service non-stop
thirty days for running down a traffic cop
now i'm fresh out of the slammer
got a new job running a jackhammer
darling see the shackle marks on my skin
it's a sad commentary on the shape i'm in

pleasure it has been my

now i'm struck by how often
fountain pens are really nails in coffins
nice tie handshake
sign here we'll make you great
i put the move on this woman named mortality
she slapped me in the face with life's brevity

maybe i need a hobby
maybe a lobotomy
seems like every wrong choice
still small voice dies inside of me
now i'm starving and thirsting and i gotta repent
but sometimes with dogs you gotta rub their nose in it
Track Name: Shadowlands
got this gnawing empty feeling i've been trying to shake
my life it's just a reel of bad out takes
and my mind gets so numb from the dumb
i've been dying for a savior i've been chaffing at the bit
in every corner of existence every way out i invent
Lord knows that the money's spent

when they gonna take me
from the shadowland

i've been trying all day just to keep it together
never in my life have i been so affected by the weather
things that the people say
i've been trying all day just to keep it alive
crying all my life but it's only on the inside
oh darling i will let you in

hey we've hot new ways to treat the soul that succumbs
electroshock and valium
i've been victimized hypnotized sodomized here in the shadowland
i'm still dying for a Savior i'm still chaffing at the bit
in every corner of existence every way out i invent
Lord knows i've made enough of them
Track Name: Don't Lose Your Guns
tender young flower grown up in my garden
and i pray ever day that your heart will not harden
a cynic's song surrounding you on each and every street
at the altar in the bar in the faces you will greet

a gift of something so profound straining all these words
a gift of something so astounding dying to be heard
bone of my bone you are flesh of my flesh
blood of my blood you are breath of my breath

you are my pride child and yes you are my crown
how to keep the darkness from dragging you down
i feel the weight of what i am and what i am not yet
i'd like to pass on something besides all these deficits

don't lose your guns
Track Name: Already Gone
i've got holes in my pocket
i've got sand in my shoes
i've been walkin' to the river
i've been looking for you
in between the seams and requiems
that just drag on and on
already gone

i'm a garden of roses
a graveyard of remorse
i'm a drunken sailor
trying to steer a straight course
on the edge of memory
of an ocean deep and long
already gone

i was dying of thirst
i was starving to death
looking for salvation
but not holding my breath
ah you come and save this drowning man
in the undertow so long
already gone
Track Name: One Foot in the Grave
now the brakeman calls down
to us folks in the car below
he say "the next stop is yours
i'll bring your speed down slow"

so i gather up my bundle
my weariness and a sense of pride
that's been running long past empty
since i took this long train ride

i've got one foot in the grave
you always thought you had it made
one foot in the grave
the mirror holds a lonely face
one foot in the grave
regrets are like the pennies i saved
one foot in the grave of love

now i peer out over the edge
to a canyon river far below
you know i'm deathly scared of heights
and i cannot swim a single stroke

i don't recall if i was pushed
i don't recall if i tripped or fell
there were devils all around me
but an angel just as well

now the train has come and gone
and i'm left here with unspoken words
got my eyes on the horizon
i'm stretching every nerve

now they cannot take your city
when He's armed and standing at the gate
and they cannot storm your feeble heart
when your hope dissipates
Track Name: It's Alright Doctor
if you're planning your escape
if you're scheming your release
if you're arranging your departure
from the mark of the beast
i've been searching through my notebooks
i've been checking through my heart
i've been building in my basement
i've been trying to do my part

(here we go)
it's alright doctor
it's only just my soul
it's alright doctor
ah you can fill that hole
it's alright doctor

i see people faint from fear
i see people beat their breast
i hear the last gasp and the
death rattle in the corpse of the west
if you're looking for a refuge
a lifeboat in the sea
she could be your finest lover
or a horror that you flee

and i want this hope to grab me
burn this dross with fire
gonna mix gasoline and flames
mix one-hundred proof aching and one-hundred proof desire
i'm gonna drive this text
to this field of deeds
i'm gonna plow a deep and gapping wound
in the dry ground of your needs