maybe you learned it from your family, mix in a little of the old midwest, it seems someone out there built a legacy, on keeping everything tight under wraps. and all the secrets in the silos, you won’t even whisper them to the prairie wind, and now we’re talking on the telephone, skimming the surface of this ocean, just skimming the surface of this ocean. you know you’re drowning me in all you’re not saying, swept under the rug for so long, oh darling don’t it get lonely when you’re the only one who knows? all the over-encrypted poetry, unintelligible tales of the truth, it was all dripping with mystery, enough to keep me there long overdue, so honey, honey drop the metaphor, honey, honey won’t you come clean because…well i don’t claim to be, so forthright, its not my strongpoint, but your attempts are illusory and you don’t even know it, you don’t even know it… so maybe you learned it from your family, maybe that’s just your best excuse, you could use some new york city, you could use your own talk show host. because i am drowning in all that you’re not saying, i want to shake your shoulders, i want to rip down the curtains, oh ‘cause all i remember are these opaque conversations, when so much of the meaning was just lost in the translation…it’s a tale so ordinary, there you were with your pretty mouth closed, but darling you should have told me the ending, long before you did.
they come in like the rain. they come in like the rain, unwelcome, like the water flooding its way through the underground, seeping in and tugging at the corners of my mouth and i pack my umbrella for another day. i knew a girl who told me, she told me “you don’t want to know. you don’t’ want to know all they’ve done to me” when she was done crying she just cracked a joke, she cracked a joke, now she has a smile for every thunderstorm, she has a smile for every thunderstorm. but mostly the days carry light, oh and you tried running away, and you tried running back home again, but when you just sit tight, its just up and down, and up and down and up again. a good friend of mine likes to say “life’s so hard when you ‘re not in bed” and mostly i’d agree with him. yeah there are some days when you peer off the brisbane bridge and think sweet thoughts about the river. yeah there are some days when the past is just a maze where you lost yourself, do you feel that you might waste away waste away waste away? but mostly the days….and i pack my umbrella for another day.
here i am again, coming in from the cold. here i am again, humming your tune. well here i am again, just waiting around in my rain soaked shoes, half smile, half frown ‘cause i’m thinking about you in your summer dress, oh you’re out there in the sun somewhere. so maybe i should go get lost, or maybe i should go get drunk, or maybe i should just forget, all about you. woken 3 a.m. by the freight train. it’s all crickets and puddles and weeks and weeks of rain here. i hear that alix is back in new york, but this small town it suits me well, i like all the farms and the fields that lead me far down dirt roads. oh and these things i just want to tell you still, but you stopped listening, oh well, didn’t you? so maybe… well its just a waste of time, this old broken record song, it plays over in my head, it just goes on and on and on, its just goes on and on and on. so here i am again coming in from the cold, here i am again humming your tune, here i am again, just waiting around, wishing, wishing i wasn’t missing you, wishing, wishing i wasn’t missing, wishing, wishing i wasn’t missing you …
this is a story of burning bridges and allowing time to pass, this is a story of forgiveness and breaking things in my hands, this is a story of understanding you can’t choose who you love, and this is a story of soft skin and rats in the walls. well you can’t just pass along the pain that comes around, you’ll go dizzy until you fall and i know you didn’t mean to let me down but you let me down so hard. this is a story of loaded glances and leaning in too far, this is a story of vague advances and confessions in smoky bars so now i am walking down the sidewalk and i am singing to myself and i’m going to leave it all behind me now ‘cause i don’t need this, i just don’t need this. and you can’t… these memories are talking and talking, and i’ll do anything to shut’em up, i’ve got the pillow over my head, but they won’t stop, no, no they won’t stop. some fantasies are never meant to be realized at all, and some regrets could be prevented if you read the writing on the wall, oh and sometimes you say “you know nothing can happen” and then she leans over and lifts off your glasses and the next thing you know you’re just tangled and guilty and you’ve got a head full of liquor and perfume, oh and when did you leave me and when did you find her and tell me is this just what you you wanted…
it was a saffron day, on the avenue. i took the evening train, back to my dark room. and the periwinkle sky was just the night in disguise, oh and everything, eventually, turns grey. well if you saw me now, i’d still talk at my shoes, and if i saw you now, your eyes would still be blue, and believing your own lies, seemed like such a good idea, but you see your father’s eyes, when you look into the mirror, oh and everything, eventually, turns grey. it takes one hour to burn, what was 20 years to come, and we’re all rubble at the bottom and it’s all falling down, yeah it’s all falling down. the creases there, and my crooked spine, the bold headlines now, a linear design, oh and everything, eventually turns grey. it takes one hour to burn, what was 200 years to come, and we’re all rubble at the bottom, and it’s all falling down…now, now it’s getting yellow at the edges, cracking at the corners, bending at the knees, you’re getting blue in the face from screaming the warning and no one’s listening, it’s hard to see, we turn away, we’re slowly walking underground, ashes to ashes now, ashes to ashes now. now your old idyllic hope is just a shipwreck on the shore and now your old idyllic hope is just a shipwreck on the shore.
we sang porch songs, like we were rock stars, we drank cheap beer and tried to make it last. then it was back in the car, the coast to the cornfields, maybe we were just looking for something else to call ourselves. rest stop coffee, postcards back home, back seat scenes of strange towns, keep driving on, keep driving on. in the middle of the night, we took a wrong turn, ended up on a mountain in the pine trees and the moonlit earth. oh the scattered light, a photograph in mind, of a summer day, squinting at the sun, it’s a warm stone, that i carry along. you know i, you know that i, i’ve been saving quarters, for the toll roads, we can pack the car tonight, we can leave town tomorrow, put me on a porch swing, out in portland, put me on an f train, roll me back into brooklyn. well we closed the bars, like we were cowboys and then we wrote our names in the dirt by the side of the road. and october came and the winter drew near with the cold fingers digging in under the ribs, but we were campfire girls and we were kicking up the leaves and we returned to our jobs with our clothes smelling of wood-smoke. the scattered light…
suicidal sunrise and the tears upon your face, it seems all that keeps you, existing in this place are the powders and the tonics after all the guests are gone, listening to the empty telephone… and if you thought she’d listen you would tell her one more time how you’d bargain with the devil just to get her off your mind, oh and last night’s confession as you turned off the light was that you swore you’d never forgive time, for all its done to you, and all you’ve been through. well i say “come back” but you can’t see past yesterday and i think there’s more to this but you don’t hear a thing i say. i forfeit my position just to hear you play the blues, well maybe this life’s not so cruel afterall. you wander though the minutes and they slowly turn to hours and the darkness that invites you only helps ‘til you come down and you’d like to let it go, let it slip on through like sand but you don’t know how to save yourself, you don’t know, if you can. well i say come back… maybe the clouds will part, and the sun will come out, maybe you’ll find someone, and get a brand new start, maybe you’ll open your eyes to a different day, maybe you’ll find a way, maybe you’ll find a way, you better find…..
well you knew me pretty well but i never let you see my dark side, so it’s perfectly appropriate, that i’m careening down the highway screaming at the top of my lungs praying for the courage to do something reckless. well a short hiatus of perceived bliss, i guess its back to courting the grey cloud i used to love, but you don’t deserve the satisfaction of being the one who pushed me over the edge. so tone it down a notch, just a six-pack and some cigarettes and i’m stumbling in the street looking something pitiful, like the old cat you put out she looked bewildered for a while but she’s getting meaner by the minute, yeah she’s getting meaner by the minute. maybe i’m just angry, for the love songs you murdered mid-verse, or maybe i’m just angry ‘cause it all fell down for you first. because it all fell down for you first…. well would it all be so easy, if you had to look me straight in the eye, if i were there to contradict all the pretty stories you tell to justify yourself? well now i find it hard to believe you don’t have a thing to say to me, you don’t write, you don’t call, you’re just getting cruel and we’re both getting petty, i want my 20 bucks and my black shirt, oh you better be happy, you better be happy… well maybe i’m just angry, for these battered, tainted memories, or maybe i’m just angry because now you feel so free, i guess now you feel so free, i guess now you feel so… well if you think too big or you think too small it’ll lead you down the same road, you’ll figure out life rewards the worst in us, yeah you can take and take and take some more and you’ll never get what you deserve, yeah this is me at my most cynical, yeah this is me at my most cynical. and i’m getting meaner by the minute, i said i’m getting meaner by the minute… well you knew me pretty well but i never let you see my dark side.
pulled my jacket tight around and watched the grass turn to straw, march came like an avalanche and i watched it all come down… you came a long way, didn’t you? just to say you’re going back. now i’m standing by the car alone and i’m fumbling with my roadmap. oh everything that weighs us down and all the things we won’t let go, when we try to throw them out to sea, we learn they’re heavier than we ever knew. and darling you will never know. there’s not a thing to do to make the time go by, i just want to be moving on, oh and here i am, broken down on the roadside. oh and darling you will never know. and they say its just as well. go on, just take it all and throw it to the wind, darling what does it take for it to come to this, when every sweet memory brings us miles and miles from where we want to be. god bless the autumn breeze, finally colder than the likes of me, ‘cause you know i take it hard and then i carry it, then i carry it, then i carry it along oh and darling you will never know. and they say its for the best. go on just take it all and throw it to the wind darling what does it take for it to come to this when every sweet memory brings us miles and miles.. from where we want to be. (nevermind, just leave the car and walk, it doesn’t matter now, but how’re you going to find your way? how’re you going to find your way back?)
i’ve got skin like birch bark, you can peel me off and lose me to the wind, i guess its too late, to protect myself from this. it feels like i’ve been driving north, its getting colder by the mile and at this rate i’ll be buried in snow in no time at all. but you’ve been building these walls for a long time, its not that i didn’t know but you’d flash me another smile as you’d lay another stone. and i still fall for that, i still fall for that one every time. this is all that’s left, just these sad sad songs, if you’re going to go your way, i guess i’ll carry myself along. could you build me a guardrail, to keep me from falling off of this ledge? or throw me a rope and pull me out of this? could you sew me a flag to remind me where i stand without you, its easy to forget. and this is all that’s left…. well i’ve been taking long drives with the music too loud, i’ve been dragging my feet over this february ground and i’ve been talking to strangers at the local bars, and i wish they were you, you know it just brings me down, tell me a joke or two i could use one now…’cause i’ve got skin like birch bark… and this is all that’s left…
Chris Pureka: all lead vocals, all acoustic guitars, electric guitar on cynical
Sebastian Renfield: bass, electric guitar on 3 a.m. and porch songs, violin on grey and driving north, low vocal harmonies on porch songs, all string arrangements
Jesse Freidin: drum kit
Merrill Garbus: harmony vocals on silo song, roadside
Arjuna Greist: harmony vocals on burning bridges, grey
Jerree Small: harmony vocals on unwelcome, porch songs, afterall, driving north
Rachael Shifrin: cello on burning bridges, grey
Mark Alan Miller: shaker on silo song, drum loops on cynical
Produced by Chris Pureka and Sebastian Renfield
Additional Production: Mark Alan Miller
Engineered and mixed by Mark Alan Miller at Slaughterhouse Recording, Amherst, Ma.
Mastered by Colin Decker at M Works, Boston, MA.
Words and music 2004 Chris Pureka.
Photos: front cover, trees: Chris Pureka. All other pictures: Katharine Walmsley.
Design layout/concept: Chris Pureka
Additional graphic design: Mark Alan Miller
Special Thanks To:
- Renfield and Jessie for contributing their time and talent. Ren, special thanks for bringing a new perspective to the project.
- Contributing artists: Merrill Garbus, Arjuna Greist, Mark Alan Miller, Jerree Small, Rachael Shifrin.
- Christen Greene, my manager, for being such a hard worker and such a good friend.
- My parents, of course.
- Kat, Jo, Sylvia, Karen, Maria, Katie, Benji, Carolyn, Sam-wise, Laurel – for always supporting me and letting me crash on your couches (literally and figuratively).
- The Dorit Lab (my fellow microleculators) Adrienne, Michelle and Rob.
- Alix Olson, Pamela Means, Eliot Bronson, Jerree Small, Sarah Bolen, Arjuna Greist for their inspiring art and friendships.
- P.A.C.E. (David and Sonia Fried Oppenheim), Don Rooke and Marty Helly for helping to keep independent music alive and well in Western Mass.
- Everyone who comes out to see me play. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Also: thanks to Jill Berlin for letting me play her 1965 d-35 Martin on several tracks and to Sebastian Renfield for the use of a bunch of instruments including his sweet sounding 1969 d-40 Guild.
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