Category: tracks

ok [sarsaparilla session 20210330, lowell ma]

Solo acoustic version of “ok” from Hola, Sayulita! (2010), and also included on my early-years greatest hits collection Your Song Is Beautiful: 2002-2012 (2012).

This performance is from March 2021 in the old Hood’s Sarsaparilla Soda factory, my temporary home Lowell, MA for the last 8 months. We leave Lowell for good in ~2 weeks on 7/31. I will be wistful about this place, but am also ready to return home to NYC, if only for a few months. Home is home, no matter how long you’ve been gone, or how long you can stay.

A couple days ago, my phone served up some video “memories” of a 2018 trip into Manhattan’s West Village. That night, I took an uptown F from Brooklyn, saw my brother play with his band at The Bitter End, walked a few blocks around Bleeker, and went home. It was just life as we knew it pre-covid, hopefully will know again. Maybe that’s why the images fit so well over this song of enduring friendship, no matter how far-flung in distance and/or time. The videos’ random appearance was my City telling me, “I’m still here, and I’m ok, too.”

The shot of the ambulance in the middle verse, is from covid times, fwiw, and the opening shot’s from a quick round-trip to Brooklyn two weeks ago to start moving back home. Cat is working on the latest final season of Dexter up here in MA, and it was hilarious to see the book that the show was based on sitting in a front-stoop giveaway pile on our block.…

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The Resurrection of Uncle

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That Old Guitar on That Old Guitar

Uncle, a 1934 Gibson L-1 flat-top acoustic, came to me via my wife Cat’s father, Steve, a stellar pianist and big band leader in Chicago. Cat’s great Uncle Ernest, Uncle’s original owner, bequeathed the guitar to Steve.

Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021
Uncle guarding Luna, May 2021

Cat & I found Uncle (in his original case) in Steve’s basement on a trip to her Chicago home. I tuned him up best he would, and strummed an open G major (the strings were a dozen years old, at least). He rang for less than a second before the bridge popped off. The sound of the chord was brilliant, however, and I took him back to New York, where the luthier of legend Paul Schwartz of Peekamoose Custom Guitars worked his magic (he is “The Moose” in the lyrics).

Paul has modded all my guitars, and also built me Fabien, an extraterrestrial Peekamoose M2 that’s the only electric guitar I’ll ever need if I ever need to have only 1. Definitely the one I’m grabbing, running from a house fire.

Fabien et moi
Fabien et moi

Uncle’s restoration process at Peekamoose involved a lot of micro-movements, acclimation periods, and clamps. And took almost 2 years.

The original bridge and half of the top’s bracing were not salvageable, and got replaced. Everything else is a time capsule, a literal message in box. The fretboard is still worn where Ernest spent most of his time playing (lower frets in open G tuning from what I can trace), and the flat-top’s 87-year-old finish reveals the most gorgeous cracks when the light hits it just right.…

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[live] 20201122 – The Return of Stryker West


My heteronym daydream cowboy Stryker West said it was high time for another country-fried set, so who was I to refuse? The covers here focused mostly on Texas, as tribute to a dear friend Taylor Rierden. Stryker neglected to play any Willie Nelson, however, and for that, he will have to atone with another set sometime soon.

SET LIST
00:30 – You & Tequila (K.Chesney)
04:50 – Love In This Land
10:05 – Jupiter + Tennessee
13:50 – I’ve Been All Around This World (J.Garcia)
19:05 – Don’t Touch My Willie (K.Fowler)
23:30 – Just A Little Insane
27:30 – Sunset Boulevard (C.Robison)
33:36 – Elizabeth City
38:34 – Sunday Morning Coming Down (K.Kristofferson)
43:16 – This Canyon Drive
47:50 – Down The Road (S.Earle)
50:40 – That Old Guitar

[vid] There Goes The Sky (escape from nyc version)

A fav song took on new resonance in late May when I escaped NYC for a few days, for the first time since December 2019. Performed in Bridgehampton NY, interspersed w/ footage from the heaviest part of NYC’s (1st?) lockdown from March to May.

Original Version on Sunrise Highway (2015)

Lyrics

I set out walking, just to find a friend,
Make a human connection in a world of pretend,
To share faith in the future, in the face of decay,
‘Cos when you can’t escape the night, every dawn is the end of days.

Walls get high,
Darkness amplifies,
There goes the sky.

You can understand, doesn’t mean you feel.
The hardest things to show are the easiest to conceal.
Actions can destroy more than words can heal.
God save us all when all the truths are revealed.

Walls get high.
Darkness amplifies.
There goes the sky.

[vid] Time Zero (LimeLight.live Sound Check)

06 Sep 2020.

Sound check on Limelight app. Unreleased track “Time Zero” surrounded w/ some loose texture and tone. Sometimes ideas that disappear for a a few years all of a sudden calculate their worth in retrospect. “Write it forward,” is a mode I know well.

LYRICS

Things got strange
Sequences rearranged
Machines crashed
Systems disarrayed

Take us back, take us back
Rewind the line
To when we knew love
for the first time!

Time Zero

Soundscapes
Beauty in the everyday
But light and wisdom
Are not the default state

Easy to lose your way
and lash out in blame
because some people you never shake,
some memories never fade

Take us back, take us back
Rewind the line
To when we knew love
for the first time!

Time Zero

Let the memories fade.

[sounds] Stripped State: Laurel Canyon Recordings

From January to June 2018, my wife Cat costume designed the Amazon series adaptation of the podcast Homecoming that shot in L.A., so we decamped Brooklyn for a 1930s cottage aerie perched halfway up Laurel Canyon. I bought a knock around Seagull guitar at the perfect scaled All-In-One guitar shop in Koreatown, and recorded a couple dozen tracks in our Gould Avenue house. My Gentleman of the Canyon adventure took me to a songwriting time zero, stripped down and raw, to that place where I just sat and thought and wrote and strummed. And listened. And learned.

This Canyon Drive video:
youtu.be/9M2kgtzeT6M

These tracks are destined for evolution. But for now, they float the aether in a simplest, stripped state, kicking up some glorious west coast dust for me. Who knows where we’ll meet again. Hopefully, in The Canyon.

BANDCAMP (SELECTED TRACKS)

SOUNDCLOUD (FULL SET)

[track] The Last Time Up Ahead

this one’s for the ones who stop to think
this one’s for the ones who always knew
this one’s for the ones who see the absurdity

this was a place we lived in peace
a place we lived in silence
a place we lived together in light

the last time
is cloud nine
and you won’t know
you’re dead

but the saddest time
is the first time
you see
the last time
up ahead

how many days can you see through things
how frayed is a soul made of string
how many ways can a memory bring you down

what happened all the power burned out
what happened all that’s certain’s in doubt
what happened all the love turned it back on us

there’s no one around who doesn’t think they know
nowhere you’re left to be, no place left to go

[track] Canyon Songbird Dream #7

i believe in my dream
I believe in my dream
in my song, i believe you’ll see
all the lives we are to lead

searching for answers
is a waste of precious time
destiny doesn’t ring the bell,
doesn’t tell you you’ve arrived

songbird on an electric line
only knows he’s incomplete
caught up in a lookout for love
all his faith on endless repeat

may never know magic
of a returned call
but he never sounds tragic
never sounds small

[track] Paper Streets [20180601.1]

You came a long long way
just to find nothing
on the other end of a promise
from the other side of the sun

the road was mapped but never real
still the dream of a long gone man
now foxtails push up through cracked cement
and long abandoned plans

Paper streets always burn.
Paper streets always burn.
On a bridge to nowhere,
you never know where to turn.
Paper streets always burn.

Doesn’t matter where you’re from
when you see the world from the sky
Broadway to Magazine to Sunset Boulevard
They all draw the same line

You have to put your faith in strangers
or else this is a lonely life
but sometimes people are wicked and cruel
we’re not wired to be nice

I lost a fortune to a dream
but at least it was my dream
some people lose their fortune to a faith
in the world as it seems

[track] Canyon Bees, Birds, and a Chicken (20180509.1)

“A bee, a bird, and a chicken are hanging out in the Hollywood hills…” sounds like the start of a joke, but it’s just a field recording. The bees are pollinating a perpetual-blooming Echium Candicans (“pride of Madeira”) flowering shrub in our Laurel Canyon Garden, while a mockingbird, a scrub jay, a few other birds, and a chicken across the street join in the chorus. Live iPhone recording via a Shure MOTIV MV88.

Echium Candicans
pride of Madeira
subshrub invasive ornament
Spanish nectar
going-steady bees
soda jerk two-straw shake
canyon hillside date
10 minutes drive
from a retrofit-rail-car diner
off Sunset

[track] Every Light Leads (20180426.1)

all you’ve got is a feeling
and what i got won’t show
b/c our visions of love
only intersected long ago

gonna go where every light leads
if it only takes me round the block
i don’t care
at least i’m searching
at least i’m driving
where you’re still aching
to get somewhere

first time i knew luck was
the first time we laughed at the same truth
but there’s only so many lies
you can sell yourself and still pull through

“burning a bridge” burns one ahead,
not one already crossed.
those things you leave behind
are, anyways, already lost

lenses
filters
living as if reality
mirrors
windows
living as if we really see

[track] Quiet Nowhere (20180426.1)

the smarter you are today
the more you live in shadow
never giving up all you know
‘cos it’s

quiet nowhere
la la la la la la la la la
it’s quiet nowhere

to long for someday soon
is to long for days gone by
they’re both parallel paper streets
through a

quiet nowhere

the sound of things falling is the same sound
as things rising into the air
time spent afraid of what you might hear
well, that’s a quiet nowhere

that feel when the world lets you down
that feel when old friends freeze you out
when you’re seen as wrong when everyone’s not right

it’s quiet nowhere

[track] Love Your Self Any Way (20180426.1)

we were young
you were younger
never were to be in love
i should’ve known better
every price has a one

you wanted the world to burn
vanish into points of no return
‘cos hardest to learn
you never could say
love your self any way

afraid of truth
living in shadows
is no way to move through life
in the end, in this haunted future
you set yourself alight

saturation turns to gray
where there are only beautiful days

you found only
darkness in sunshine
you saw only one
way out

[track] Wonderland (20180418.1)

Mattie was the kinda girl
who saw the end of the world
every time she opened her eyes
Roger was the kinda guy
never turned down a ride
figured “the end of days is just down the line.”

the price you pay
counting on judgment day for love
is to waste the light away
wide awake
wishing on the dark
(in Wonderland)

they found an acre and a half
halfway up Wonderland
in September 1973
they spent a few years
thinking the end was near
and cut down none of their trees

their earth gave way on a red flag day
right around 1982
they held on fast
against a backdraft
into the black they flew

they always thought of each other
as first time lovers
in an endless secret rendezvous
but sometimes living a life of desire
leaves you dreaming of fire
in a state of always almost coming true

[track] What’s Left Of You Is Here (live, 20180313)

I knew everything of you
in how you said your name.
On our way to points B unknown
from whatever points A.

I will never need to know
how the shadows fell across your face
In that place you used to be
Before you escaped

To California. for untold revelations, on a self-sent invitation. What’s left for you to fear
in California? Your train is the station. Your dream of vindication.
What’s left of you is here.

“Maybe I’m out here on a lie,
but it’s only a lie to the skin I shed.
What’s left of me here
is the truth.”

There’s gold inside us all
But we just pass each other by
Because you gotta wash away the dirt
To find what’s not a lie

That’s California. unknown elevations, sends no invitations. What’s left for you to fear in California? Trains are the stations. A dream of vindication.
What’s left of you is here.

[track] It (20180412.1a)

I wanna blow the doors off of everything
just because I can
I got no direction
I don’t care much for a plan
I’m gonna do it just because I can

I wanna call the world out for what it is
just because it can’t
I got a few ideas
that I know that it can’t stand
I wanna do it just because it can’t

I wanna make this life as simple as you say
just because it’s free
I got a few years left
and they’re still ahead of me
I’m gonna do it
just because

[track] Clouds Over LA (20180412.7)

time will not release
a missing puzzle piece
faded memories
don’t know what you mean

you can’t watch a sunrise
through someone else’s eyes
if they never see you
in dreams

clouds over LA dance alone between skies

distant freeways shimmer
traffic as rivers
red and white ribbons
valley to sky

lost friends reappear
in dusty windshields
as evening light hits
California 5

clouds over LA dance alone between skies

drifting the night
suspended from life
shadows of every last good bye

clouds over LA dance alone between skies

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