Saturday, November 28, 2009

My Primitive Joy Lyrics


At dusk I hear the wild birds calling
As night whispers on the stones
We paid what we owed to darkness
Now darkness leaves us alone

Coming here each a stranger
Knowing well the stranger's art
What a shame if we as strangers
From this place should depart

The poverty of souls lost to knowing
The nameless sum of all that's lost
Innocents betrayed at the altar,
All gone in the dust…

Still in gathered evening
Silence falls on the moor
I hear a sweet voice singing
And wonder who it's calling for

Sweet dreams now enfold you
Their comforts shall be yours
As we drift beloved
Towards the shifting shore

This world in all its danger
Soon may fall away
Still in dreams I found you
I hope you'll always stay


When the cold wind
Blinded the sky
With flooding birds
Then we turned our thoughts
To our wedding words

The painted valleys
We made our marriage in
Gave us newborn souls
So we could start again

The band goes on forever
Bound in mystery
We'll part never

When confusion cursed our days
We lived alone
But somehow as winter came in
We found a home

A twined beamed arc
Twinned our ghosted souls
Bound by separation
Made somehow whole

The band goes on forever
Bound in mystery
We'll part never


Sometime last spring in the Cascade Range
When the first warm winds did blow
I watched a river burst its banks
And flood the fields below

On the ridge looking down
I got drunk on red red wine
It was so good you know I thought somehow
This sweet world could stay mine

But I awoke so alone
And darkness traced the trees
And I felt as I left that place
A wild and patterned grief

Then freed of all sense of pain
Listening for a human voice
I wound my way back through the rain
Forgetting my primitive joy

I was making love with Cassie
She looked me in the eye
And said you must not be afraid
Don't look away if our love should die

"What do you mean?" I said
She said I think you know
Love marked in time in time may go

Then she smiled and said
Don't fall in love
With what fools enjoy
But I'd already fallen back
Dreaming... about my…
Primitive joy

They say each muttered prayer
From each loosened tongue
To heaven finally flies
That each tender care and dream unsung
Must have a home on high

But we are born bound in time,
Slaves to mystery
And so I wonder
If these hopes at last will abandon me

And I'm a fool and I'm in love
With what time destroys
Yet somehow still I'll rest with you
My secret soul,
You, my primitive joy


I knew a girl, she was a world
Contained and complete
In her dream was a gleam
There were jewels at her feet

She wrote the names of the poets
High up in the sky
In her hand was a talisman
Against false words that die

Yes she was a beautiful girl
She tried to be someone else
An undisguised foot soldier
In undeclared war on herself

She knew the downtown martyr
With his roses for the poor
He spoke like a holy father
As she huddled in his door

Her mother said what's wrong with you
Her sister held up her hand
“Tell us what’s wrong with you,
We don't understand…”

Ensnared in deep slavery
In each form and abyss
She lived beneath the storm
Beyond each stranger’s kiss

Her days grew to cruelty
No she couldn’t quit
She walked the streets a bleeding beast
She never got over it

Yes she was a good girl
Tender beneath her pain
She bargained hard for her sanity
And vanished like the rain

I knew a girl, she was a world
Contained and complete
In her dream was a gleam
There were jewels at her feet

As roses reach forever
In wild sprays untamed
I'll seek her face forever
And always call her name


Whose fault but mine?
I was blind, I fell behind
The silver bells that chime
Through every street back and forth in rhyme
Yes I hear them sing and they sing for me
Half-remembered dreams they sing for me

Whose fault but mine?
I looked up from my windowsill
And every sun aligned
In every sky over Mission Hill
Are all these strangers only passerby?
I thought I knew them well but my senses lie

Whose fault but mine?
Phantoms rise, in shapes converge
All down the line
They're gone again in a spiral surge
Soot in sunlight – oh my soul I am reclaimed
Despite all I thought I am reclaimed!

Whose fault but mine?
I was blind, I fell behind
The seven bells that chime
Down River Street back and forth in rhyme

Whose fault but mine? Whose fault but mine?


Let me know how to find you
Should circumstance blind you
Or false friends prove a mirror most unkind

Let me know how to see you
Should circumstance free you
But doubting you’re still confined

If the wind whispers a curse
Or silence proves worse
Won’t you speak though it’s a dream

In the twilight streets that glimmer
I hear your sweet songs shimmer
As radios fade and even dust must gleam

When strangers make you pay a price
For the lies they call advice
Whose certainties hypnotize your heart

Let me know how to find you
If there’s no one left behind you
And you see the end must start


Whose face at the window?
Whose hand on the door?
There's light, there's light, there's light
From the ceiling to the floor
Whose face at the window?
Whose hand on the door?
There's light, there's light, there's light
Like never before

Innocent again, beyond dreaming
Innocent again, not beyond blame
So your deathless soul climbs to its heaven
You're free, yes, just the same

The silence of the dark steals upon you
Its warm heart beats like a drum
Whisper your secrets now they are fleeting
Nightfall now has come

The mirror of this world reflecting
The savagery of both flesh and sky
Gives you up, now rest, sweet pilgrim,
Forever - peace - bye and bye


Darkness is a rider
Bane to good hope
In every mother's son
Darkness is a rider
Granting absolution
Where crime there is none

Paranoia camera moving in
The angle couldn't be much tighter
As every stranger's face gapes inside a grin
Remember darkness is a rider

Darkness is a rider
With raw beating heart
Through your window he'll start
Darkness is a rider
He'll pluck your mystery
With cruel cunning art

Give me release, or some kind of peace
My burden could be so much lighter
For you who made my soul also made the beast
Whose darkness is a rider

Darkness is a rider
Drawing curtains close
Against the ghost of the sun
Darkness is a rider
Granting absolution
Where crime there is none


Who is my brother?
Who burns in the street?
Ignored and despised
Who secretly weeps?

Whose fear is unyielding
To dreamlike regret
Who pain feeding on him
Must more pain beget

Is my brother lost to me?
Who sang along the shore
Of the river running backwards
To heaven's gated door

It was he I loved the best
His joy still I scorned
And so betrayed my brother
Whose hopes died unborn

Who is my brother?
What is his need?
Whose heart with self-loathing
And sorrow does bleed

Who is my brother?
Have you seen him yet?
Whose city is burning
With fear and regret?


Have you been to the city
Whose light bathes her in gold?
Green hills swarm around her
Her secrets to enfold

Whose daughters sing forever
Across the great divide
Have you been to the city
Stranded and denied?

Have you been to the city
In lilac Easter time?
Children drift in daydream white
Along the Palatine

They're bearing gifts forever
Numbered, without name
Have you been to the city
Losing in a loser's game?

Have you been to the city
Inside a stranger world?
You give yourself so easily,
Senses unfurled

What called you on forever,
Mystery unbound?
Were you there in the city
Thinking you had been found?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thank You

Thanks to everyone who pre-ordered My Primitive Joy. Your contributions covered all production costs, and I'm grateful for your help.

Without your support the release of My Primitive Joy would have been considerably delayed. Thanks for believing in my music and helping me get the new songs out.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Sequencing And Sounds

I've been grappling with sequencing the album's song order for the last few days, and I'm psyched that it's come together... each song now follows the last with what I think is a good organic feel.

Most of the songs are short and sweet, and even after living with - and inside - them for a while I have to say I love the way they sound. Scott's production is great, leaving lots of room for space that's not empty, but animated by the way sound resonates in his studio.

One of the highlights of going back through the songs was rediscovering, through good speakers, "At Dusk," the album's first track. It features beautiful, almost otherworldly, playing from Scott on string bass, Robby Cosenza on drums and Jimmy C. Clarke on trumpet and violin.

With sequencing done, and album art nearing completion, we're moving towards production. I'm happy with the way things are going and eager to share the new songs.

Thanks for your support!


Sunday, September 20, 2009

Album Art, Apace

I've been getting album graphics together with design guru David Landis, whose stellar work has in the past graced Tarbox Ramblers posters and T-Shirts. Brainstorming with him for this project has been, as always, a blast. What we have so far is looking great, and I suspect it'll only get better in the coming days. I'm happy to be getting it all off the ground...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

About Some Of The Songs

Whose Fault But Mine? compact song about seeing signs and trusting omens in the city.... "Soot in sunlight, oh my soul I am reclaimed..."

Whose Face? - written for a friend's film - in the end unmade - "Whose Face?" was originally intended for a deathbed scene about a gangster's last moments.

My Primitive Joy - Robby's drums and Jimmy C. Clarke on pedal steel bring it all home. Its relaxed feel was something new for us, and I love Jimmy's solo.

Have You Been To The City? - hope to disappointment, innocence to oblivion... mood somehow reminiscent of Charlie Patton's exile sentiment "I've been to the nation but I couldn't stay there..."

November Song - my marriage song for Judy.... Scott's drumming and, as with his playing on "Have You Been To The City?", what he does is perfect for the song. He also produced, getting a great vocal sound.

Musicians On My Primitive Joy Include...

Scott McEwen (producer, string bass, drums, guitar and piano): Scott lent his experimental sensibility and ideas to every song on the album, honing them with crazy analog wisdom. He made it all happen...

Jimmy C. Clark (pedal steel, violin, trumpet): Jimmy's a musician's musician who tours with Loretta Lynn. Hearing him create harmonies and arrangements on the fly was one of the most amazing studio experiences I've ever had.

Robby Cosenza (drums): I'm a huge fan of Robby's awesomely fierce drumming. His work here - on "My Primitive Joy" and "At Dusk"- is artful and subdued...

JJ Murphy (drums): JJ's playing and production insights - like how girl group sounds were worth keeping in mind while recording - make "Whose Fault But Mine?" one of my favorite songs on the record. His outrageous stories between takes also made our sessions a blast.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Recording, Part 1: The Fry Pharmacy

Waiting for morning coffee, I'll tell you something about the music I recorded for the new CD... first of all, though, you must know something about The Fry Pharmacy, the studio the songs were recorded in... It's in Nashville, or more specifically in Old Hickory, just outside Nashville, out by the lake that Johnny Cash made his home on. (Parenthetically: Johnny's old house burnt to the ground a few years back. We in the Ramblers have theorized that it committed suicide upon learning that it had been recently purchased by one of the Gibb Brothers, of Bee Gees fame.)

Anyway, back to The Fry Pharmacy. It's owned by Scott McEwen, the Ramblers bass player, who acquired it a few years back.... the place was indeed once a drug store, built in the 1920s (or was it the 30s?), and operating for thirty-odd years until closing its doors in the early 1960s.

It remained dusty and shuttered for forty years; when Scott first walked throughout its reopened doors he found himself inside a ghosted time capsule... Tin ceilings. Cryptic graffitti scrawl on the walls in childlike hand. Walls the weird institutional pale green that was everywhere in the 50s and 60s but is rarely seen today (needless to say we think of that ghastly green as one of the colors of a lost childhood and so, perhaps perversely, it evokes pleasant memories).

COFFEE'S HERE... let's drink it! More soon on the Fry Pharmacy and the work we did there...

Recording, Part 2: The Fry Pharmacy, Continued

So, as I was saying, the Fry Pharmacy Studio graces the hills of Old Hickory with a certain dusty primitive splendor. It's a grimy gem whoses essence was sensed and enhanced when Scott, The Fry's proud owner, filled it with the tape machines whose acquisition has, over the years, become his life pursuit. These tape recorders are the faithful relics of the pre-digital; their whirring, mechanical personalities have largely disappeared from the studio scene as computers replaced them.

Still, who can deny the beauty of the sounds captured by these creaky beasts? Scott's crazy treasures include a machine that's recorded the pride of Michigan - The Stooges, The White Stripes and The Detroit Cobras... machines like it also recorded masterpieces like "Sticky Fingers." And tucked away in a corner you'll find a tape recorder just like the one used to capture - with gorgeous, breathtaking subtlety - the genius of "Kind of Blue."

And when these machines are turned on, they produce smells - the slightest scent of dust burnt off as tubes warm up - and heat. Like all living animals do.

So you get the picture... the ghostly past is present, alive in the hills off a highway just outside old Nashville.