Track One: The Day After Election Day
Literally written the titular day after election day, 2016. I had fallen asleep the night before, awakening at 3am to the sentence spoken, “President Elect Trump.” I remember looking up at the television; it was blurry, of course, as I wasn’t wearing my glasses. I remember seeing the glow of the television; I lying on the floor on top of and underneath a bedsheet.
I finally awoke for real the next morning, wondering if it had been a dream.
I drank coffee. I smoked cigarettes. And, later, I watched Hilary Clinton – the proverbial Flawed Candidate – give the speech of a lifetime, with an attitude she should have had the whole time: A bold and clear mindset, wrought by utter humility; a soul, quieted; a bombast recoiled.
Her speech ended. And I burst into tears. I wept for not more than two minutes. With my breath shattered, I declared to myself nothing. Just sat back and wrote this song.
Track Two: The World After Nine In The Evening
I was walking around the neighborhood of where I was living at the time. I was smoking a little pot and getting a bit paranoid everyone around knew what I had been doing, and had a problem with it. As I turned down my street, the opening line and melody came into my thoughts, “Nobody knows. Nobody cares.” I went right upstairs to my apartment, sat down and wrote this song.
Track Three: When You’re In The Airport Sleeping
I don’t remember writing this song; what I was feeling when my pen glided across whatever upon which I was writing. But I’ve spent a lot of time with it, and in reading the lyrics and thinking about them in relation to the melody, it seems to me like the song is trying to express how mysterious our existence is. I mean, I live in Queens and commute to Manhattan every day. I work at an extremely popular bookstore. I see thousands of different people at all times. And I can at least discern that every one of them have vast ideas about what the hell is going on right now in our world. There are many of us who look for guidance, and often in a kind of religious devotion. I have the general idea that most Believers aren’t sure why or in what they actually believe. And neither do I. It’s that which this song discusses. Are we the angels? And if so, when we choose to believe in the idea of repeating lines someone else came up with (in penance given by a catholic priest, there often consists the saying of the Our Father or Hail Mary a certain number of times in a row) I wonder if we’re learning much from our mistakes. This to me is expressed every time our politicians claim their Thoughts and Prayers Are With _________. Doesn’t really seem to me to calm anything.
Funny, as I’m writing this, I recall that I did write the second part of the song in the airport. And I really did buy a pen for $2 and was writing on a napkin.
Anyway, the last line says it all, I think:
“You see an angel on the wing and she’s laughing. No she’s not.”
If there’s an angel there, I can’t believe her to be laughing. I’m certain she’d be as frustrated as everyone else.
Track Four: I Studied Quoth The Raven (Imagined It Could Fly)
I never did like Edgar Allen Poe too much. He was an undeniably gifted writer, and a truly tortured mind, in judging from his stories. Nearly all of what he wrote is famous and read and studied, and the hook of Quoth the Raven is known by, seemingly, everyone: “Nevermore”.
The poem as a whole is the writing of a lonely man in a state of paranoia; a place I’ve certainly been. In imagining the Raven could fly – instead of just perched above the chamber door, presumably watching and waiting for death – there is the hope present that even though death is waiting for each of us, there is truly no reason to fear it. Life is Just a Ride. For one, leave your bedroom. And when you do, try and experience everything you can.
At the time I wrote this song, I was living in Cleveland, knowing I’d soon be moving to New York with Allie (whose voice on this song is her first appearance on this album) and reassuring myself that even though I’d spent so long inside my little room, with the titular Raven watching and waiting, there’s really no reason to not take chances; to escape the horrors of the mind and the apprehension of the end we all as human beings know will one day come. Because the point of life isn’t what happens afterword. It’s what’s happening now.
The reference to a Father trying to bridge the space between two sides is how I sometimes see institutions: rearing and steering, instead of guiding. Because at some point one will realize the holes in their shoes. But we must continue to walk.
Track Five: The Ornamental Crown
I really like everything about this song. From the chord progression to the off-kilter hook, to Allie’s vocals, to the electric guitar playing. As far as the meaning of the lyrics, I feel like it’s rather straightforward: Thinking is both real and profound, generally. But it doesn’t account for the weather, and how the environment you’re in – and the experiences you draw upon – can change your thought process. Walking around stoned in Washington Square Park will make you notice all sorts of things about the folks who hang out there. One may even see the inherent divinity in people, wearing their invisible Ornamental Crown for all others to take note of.
And then there’s the people who spend their lives seeing those Crowns everywhere, who just look away, smoke another cigarette, and go home and go to sleep.
Track Six: Empty Seats
Whenever I’m making a full length album, there is inevitably one song I include as a sort of philosophic filler. Not in the way people usual talk about Filler Songs on Records – those being the throw away songs the artist slotted in so there would be enough songs to literally fill up an LP; the song that the artist knows is meaningless, and not very good.
I know that Empty Seats isn’t meaningless, but it’s also the weakest song on the album. It’s dressed up a bit differently – production wise – than any other song here. I did that to make it more interesting. Because on its own, I’m not too interested in it. However, lyrically, what it says fits in the scheme of the record, and is more than true: the lack of money is what keeps people from experiencing all that this world has to offer. The lyrics spell out how much I want to make enough money so I can share it with everyone I know who doesn’t have very much…I mean, the seats in the theatre are empty anyway. Why can’t I just go in there and sit down? …I mean, I Can. But why am I not Allowed?
Track Seven: The Opinion Of A Police State
What this song describes, is the soul of this album: the mind of the criminal going places to commit his crimes which seem idealistically off-limits, and yet in his mind he is doing good. Then, the folk singer adds a band, thinking that’s what people want. And then, to realize that it all seems inside the State’s control; and if not the State, then the global excretion of anti-intellectualism that has bred our culture of money-love, even as most everyone is in poverty…our poverty being the only thing holding us back. And yet all of this – in the mind of the perfectly right-minded – dissolves into a series of misunderstandings. Even in stealing from the top to lift up the bottom, there is the concept that everyone is down here anyway, making mistakes and sometimes never learning anything. Though sometimes learning the very essence of the self: We are each other’s accessors, in a matter of speaking. We each serve a different purpose. And it adds up to something bigger than whatever nonsense America and Capitalism are meant to define. We are one. Good or bad, there’s no escaping it. Gotta lean into it. And take with you whatever you truly need to move forward. A writer takes a pen; a poet, their vocal cords.
Track Eight: Such A Night
-I fell in love just as fascist ideology was taking hold of the United States, during the election cycle leading up to 2016 and Donald J Trump’s election to the presidency (sic).
-Turpentine is good for joint pain, muscle pain, nerve pain, toothaches, and lung disease. Maybe. Either way, one definitely should never drink it.
Track Nine: It’s Quit Normal For This Time Of Year
Quite an angry song, indeed.
140 characters should be changed to 280. Hooray.
Track Ten: The Best Again
Most likely, this song will forever be the saddest song I ever wrote. I don’t remember writing it, honestly. But I feel it mostly explains itself: Striving for a constant beauty amongst the hellish conditions of Earth in the foul year of our Lord, two thousand and seventeen. Who really knows why the hell everything is the way it is. Bullshit is everywhere. I certainly need help remembering when to relax and enjoy the little things. It isn’t easy. Maybe it never will be. It’s amazing to have someone along for the ride, even as what complements one day may clash the next…
Track Eleven: Curtain Call
One last grand gesture, I suppose. And a nice segue between this record, and the bliss you’ll feel when you’re again silent with your thoughts.