Monthly Archives: June 2019

Listen With Headphones, Between The Notes

Out July 12, 2019

This album was born on the streets of Queens. I’ve been in New York for only two and a half years, and already I am a changed person. Am I a New Yorker? I dunno. Probably not. But this is a New York record.

It’s about aging, I guess. But aging in the sort of, still growing up, still coming of age way. I’m thirty, going on thirty-one. I have more life experience than most of my peers. I’ve been in and out of sanity, in and out of hospitals. To four different states in the union, seeing bits and pieces of what each can offer. I was never interested in a place quite like I am in New York.

But I misspeak, truly. My interest in New York is surface level. But I fall in love with certain parts of the city for strange reasons. Especially because I never know where I am in New York unless I knew where I was going. But I can get around on the urine-soaked, rat-infested death traps we humbly call the train. And whatever. I’ve never known where I am, not even in Cleveland. Almost never ever have. It’s never seemed all too important. I float around. I boggle.

This record is also about being raised Catholic. Through the years, I have grown a romance for being Catholic, confirmed and all, even though I resisted at the time, as a sixteen year old told to place himself in the arms of the Lord. And how. I like it now, to a certain extent. There’s a poetry in true Christianity. And I connect with it a great deal.

That’s not to say there isn’t just as much to love about Islam, or Judaism, etc. It just doesn’t matter in my context, ’cause I’m a Catholic. This record explores what that might mean.

Musically, this is a focused affair. Call it what you will, this is folk music. This is protest music. This is music with a point, I think. Regardless of what you pronounce to be a songwriter’s duty to himself and to music, it is to an over-arching theme that I tend to draw from my own music, at least, that some situations are inherently problematic.

Even still, this record is also about Donald Trump. How could it not be? But it isn’t overt, not in the naming of names, though I do have a lyric which goes “Oh my Donald, you’re a clown / Unwillin’ to paint his face frowned.” That’s about the sort of thing you’ll get from me. It’s tough to write a pop song – because this is also pop music – about the United States having concentration camps. That sort of bullshit is reserved for normal life. And fuck that shit, to be true. I just can’t think of how to do what I know needs done. So I vote. I write songs on my guitar.

These are also very much guitar songs. I explore my love of guitar in the layers you hear on each track. Some tunes have five or six guitars on them, each performing their own little roll. There’s also a piano song near the end of the album. And interesting percussion throughout.

Nine songs. Here’s the tracklist:

1. One More Pack of Smokes
2. In Heaven’s Light ‘Til Sunset
3. Dig a Porchlamp
4. Have My Cigarette Lit
5. To Paint His Face Frowned
6. Alright In Queens
7. Still I Don’t Shiver
8. Rags To Riches
9. It Isn’t Very Difficult

When You Turn To Me

When you turn to me, I sense a draft upon the acres.
I see a fragrant mirror across the lake.
When you turn to me, there is a structure.
I can’t begin to glance its shape.
When you turn to me, my eyes go drifting,
Sifting through the rakes.
And when you turn to me, my widow’s peak
Goes cryptic like a snake.

When you turn to me, my open smile
Delivers for us bland desires.
My idle mind goes lighted
And the crimes of christ go mighty,
Falling just beyond my reach.
If you’d learn, I might well teach.
But ancient darknesses go shrouded
And never understood to pout, his
Sermons don’t go shimmied,
They go shaking from their reach.
When you turn to me, my back goes spasm.
When you turn to me, I’ll preach
That only patterns do go famously,
You’re right to patter out.
When you turn to me, I’ll say to sing
Without the weight of doubt.

When It Rains

When it rains, I can hear children cry out
Wondering when they can go outside and play.
When it rains, I see the shipyard’s masts
Gone from their aching sails.
When it rains, there are mudslides,
But not where I’m from.
Where I’m from, the fields go thick with ponds, spreading.
When it rains, the bails of hay go moldy.

When it rains, there is laughter in my ears
Remember my mother and a tall straw hat.
When it rains I think of lightning
And how our dog, Logan, hated the storms.
He would huddle beneath beds or inside the shower downstairs.
When it rains I see his black coat soaked,
I hear him howling in fear.

When it rains, my eyes sometimes do the same.
When it rains, my tepid nature rings true.
When it rains, our love goes capitalized.
When it rains, it rains, it rains.

When it rains I can smell the grill still burning
Outside from the porch.
When it rains now, I dream of chicken and rice
And chocolate chip cookies for desert.
When it rains I look sideways
And see you sitting there
Reminding me of the rain
And that the rain means so little
Without its memory.
When it rains, I sense him somewhere close,
Reminding me to see that it’s only raining
Until the sunshine floods and speaks true.
Rain or not, I’m glad I’m here with you.

First Lines II

It makes me sad to look up at the crest of a building and see washed out names. Like the tug of the past is only too faint to make out. Squint if you can at that worn lettering, and imagine a past with glamour and bombast. Was it a ballroom? A jazz club? A corner bodega? Was it grand? A staple of the neighborhood? How long was it there, in its way? How often did they clean the windows? Were they open on Sundays? Did the staff welcome their customers with open arms? Or were they rude? I’ll bet they could’ve cared less if they sold any damn thing. And I’ll bet that’s why they closed in the first place. Or maybe not. There’s not much to know, but we wonder. It still makes me sad to see the washed out names. But no matter. A new place will open soon. Or perhaps it will stay vacant forever. The location isn’t great anyway.

First Lines

For the sake of my Father, certain things must be done in a certain way. Certainly not carefully. He was never as careful as he could be. I make it a point these days to be so. But I can only be careful for so long.

In intermittent droves, my canceled plans go drifting, and I am wont with pasts benign; pasts that shuffle through my mind like winged beasts. There is memory that seeks to sink me – there is regret, yet also tried insight. Indeed, there is only a busted door at times; at times but an open window. For the sake of my Father, in a certain way, I am hoped for casual depictions of care. Any care in the world.

For the sake of my Mother, certain things must never be done. We must never lie, sisters. Mother hated that the most. Better to come clean with any wretched deed than to try and hide it. I never did. It got me languished to my room sometimes, and a talking-to sometimes as well. But never a slap of the tongue – never the wilt of distrust. My Mother and Father both trusted me. Yet indefinitely still, certain things must be done, or Neve done, in a certain way.

Coddled Winter. Tepid Spring. Too warm Summer. Autumn leaves and returned so. Better each time. With each season, my eyes go crying, no – they go laughing. Laughing and then crying. Laughing until I cry. Or crying until I laugh. Certainly both. Certainly both.

To Havens Racked

Oh, with fantastic shivers, run
Beside a candle dripping upon
The table ‘neath the shelf above
A chair you sit, too dear
It’s backward, yet sincere

And for the forgotten, it’s been said
There’s nothing more to distinguish in it
A portion of reconciled air
Of putrid soil and debonair
You whittle off a casual glare
For serpents drifting
Shifting fair
For tabernacles filled with blood
And priests aligned with death
I don’t believe they’re worth their breath

So find a clasp and shudder out
To gross indifference to your shouting
Loud beneath a cavernous room
Ceilings drifting
Dregs in doom

A Trick of the Mind

Tripped up, forgotten, begotten all plumes for a way into a sinister land of lagoons, to be placed in preparedness, caustic and choosing no hope for a handgun–peace is our rule. And laughter is switched by a birth of insanity playing about a version of Sean Hannity. Plucked and bruised is my thoughtfulness, plain. You are worshiped by royalty. It’s strange now to blame anyone with a wistful sigh. You are pekid and wild. You are danger personified. You’re cryptic and smile now. Now with a passion. Now with a stand. And even if patterns depict your sad sack, there is no reason falling beside yourself couldn’t be packed with a warming of temperatures, global and then some. Years could fly by and you’re not wrong to have said that humanity’s sinking and dodging itself when its happiness is derived from a feeling you get when you gaze at the shelves in your corner store, wishing that the prices had gone down since the last time you visited. You glance into your billfold and find nothing there, so you escape from the aisles to grab some fresh air. And even as oxygen pierces your lungs, you are hoped for a cigarette, but you haven’t the money. To reiterate backward, you’re plain and undone but a stranger looks past you and asks if you’re having fun. But you’re not having fun, ’cause fun costs too much. So you look at the news of the day and get worried– worried of what is a line much too dear: You worry about everything, and it’s worse with the years.