The Head Collector

by rhob cunningham

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released July 14, 2014

The Head Collector
Produced by Conor O'Brien
Written by Rhob Cunningham

Sung by Rhob & Cathy Davey
Pretty much everything else - Conor O'Brien
Artwork by The Adrien Merigeau



all rights reserved


Track Name: The Head Collector
The Head Collector


i've been traipsing about ten days now, for nine, i haven't seen a soul
so i haven't had to try to take control

there was a lot being said in the last place i passed through
sermons and sentences lasting the length of my stay
that's why i stole away

with a couple of things that i wanted to bury
and a couple of answers i wanted to find
i didn't care at the start my journey
how much i was leaving behind

the old road signs that had lined my journey today seem few and far between
they've been replaced with glacial lakes and the mountains i traipse between

upon breaking the reflection of the water with a stone
i decided to investigate a group of fallen bones
having figured some four-legged friend
had stumbled to it's death, well,
i froze when in the cold i could see it's breath

i confess i started shaking as the skull was turning 'round
the flesh and tendons left were somehow lifting from the ground
& what, at first, was dust and rubble, now, was fully taking form
& the fear that welled within me was the worst since i was born because the legs and limbs were straightening
and matching mine for size
the posture of a lion looking down upon it's prize
the demeanour of a soldier who no longer sought commands
i remember all the sentences
i thought i'd never understand
the sermons
the people that i'd met
i mean, the madness in their eyes
that i'd been trying to forget
some on their knees, each of them weeping,
redirecting passers-by
& i never cared to listen
as they cowered, i powered by

sifting through my options having little left to spare
it's hanging jaw keeps lifting bringing laughter with it to the air
seeing me searching for it's eyes within it's skull ,
it stirred
i detected it was speaking
i deciphered every word

(it said:)

you dont know me but i know you
& there's only three things i'm gonna ask of you

kneel before me,
drop your head
offer up your neck

'cause i'm the head collector
and i've a head to collect

i've ruled this roost so many years
try turn back and it'll end in tears
see the rubble that lines these haunts and hills?
well they're just the dusty skulls of all the people that i've happened to kill

so won't you kneel before me, drop your head and offer up your neck

cause i'm the head collector
and there's a head to collect

the ground began to rumble to the rhythm as it spoke
in contrast to the water's calm reflection that i'd previously broke
this brittle monster was baying for my blood
so i'd little option but to make an exit underwater if i could

my belongings i first threw toward the beast
in the hope my aim was true enough to slow him down at least
& i'd been swimming all my life - so i was well prepared to dive
and the coldness of the water was a mere reminder i was still alive

beneath the surface mustering energy to swim
&though both my lungs were bursting i swam on because of him
& when my body finally told me that i had to re-emerge
i could still make out it's distant words:
(it said)
i see you're tryna swim toward the blanket of a forest floor?
well i don't mind telling you it's been tried before

with a click of my fingers this water will freeze
& i can wait to watch you wash ashore

'cause i'm the head collector
and i could use one more

then the goddess of the lake
she swam right up to me
and i had to double take
(because nothing else was moving)

she said please don't be alarmed
your backs against the wall
the beast can freeze the water
but watch how i can pause it all

you're on the run
& i know who's close behind
many folk have got this far but none have gotten further

i can offer you a deal
there's an exit you can find
i'll gladly lead you to it, if you then return the favour

you see, my love & i, we lived
together in the sea
until a wave, created by that beast, swept us asunder

so, now i circle here
and he the ocean floor
find him, tell him i'm alive, that's the deal, there's nothing more

he can rise the tides
to sweep me free from here
i'll gladly be of service if it's something you'd consider

would you take this shell from me
keep it in your hand
he'll understand i sent you once you wade in to the water

he wore it 'round his neck
the day i lost his hand
a gift from me i grabbed as we were dragged from one another and away


dried down, i found the day still frozen
a clause, i'd overlooked, it seemed
such a still, serene, anchored sunlight scene

i didn't dare pause or look back at my partner
tightening the grip on the shell that i kept in my hand
i set off overland

with the weight of a debt that i needed to carry
i couldn't forget who i promised to save
hastening my step i took on my journey
towards the ocean waves


i saw running horses stood like statues
mid flight birds in a v-shape pose
i saw rooms of gold and untold riches
but i didn't stop for any of those

i took still-life fruit from a passing orchard
though marked KEEP OUT the dogs didn't blink
when i cut their chains 'cause their necks looked tortured
i felt better 'bout the incident

got to the tide at what should have been midnight
but the sun stayed high from the forces at play
& i was good to go when i heard someone say


my dear child you've got this wrong
the one you seek is who you're running from
the deal you made is null and void
your plan to save the day will be destroyed

in a time before your birth
before the land the water ruled the earth
and the goddess that you met
gloriously shared the partnership

but soon the one who held her heart
feeling foolish leaned towards a second start
the very one you're trying to meet
he cut a deal with a desperate beast

he said:
For the chance to start anew,
he said,
i'll raise the land and leave it all to you,
he said
you can choose who lives or dies
i'll be your loyal alibi


my heart grew tired and heavy as the shell fell from my hand
& heavier still my body as my knees fell to the sand
and turning to inspect this new found "aid"
the head collector,
lifting up the blade
he said

you don't know me but i know you
and theres only one thing left i expect of you

bleed before me
we both know what comes next

cause i'm the head collector

and there's a head to collect

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