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first day of my life

this is the first day of my life
swear i was born right in the doorway
i went out in the rain, suddenly everything changed
they're spreading blankets on the beach
yours is the first face that i saw
i think i was blind before i met you
don't know where i am, don't know where i've been
but i know where i want to go

so i thought i'd let you know
that these things take forever, i especially am slow
but i realized that i need you
and i wondered if i could come home

i remember the time you drove all night
just to meet me in the morning
and i thought it was strange, you said everything changed
you felt as if you'd just woke up

and you said, "this is the first day of my life
i'm glad i didn't die before i met you
now i don't care, i could go anywhere with you
and i'd probably be happy"

so if you wanna be with me
with these things there's no telling
we'll just have to wait and see
but I'd rather be working for a paycheck
than waiting to win the lottery

bsides, maybe this time it's different
i mean i really think you like me

devil in the details

a house of cards
a supple heart
is not a place to dwell

now you have your cake
don’t hesitate
come on just do it,
come on just do it

put it in your mouth
there is only now
tomorrow has to wait

but know there’s no backing out
this is gonna be reality
you can never dream it down

i have no way
of telling
the two apart

well i made amends
in the general sense
but the devil’s in the details

and i know the cause
and i want to stop
but i can’t do it,
i just can’t do it

there was love i meant
there were accidents
so tell me which is which

‘cus i just can’t work it out
but for memory and clarity
we had better write it down

i have no way
of knowing the truth
with time it dissolves

i put the past into the ground
i saw the future as a cloud
if there's still time to turn around
i'm going to

its just one day i fell asleep
and all day all night i dreamed
i am the first one i deceive
if i can make myself believe
the rest is easy…

sunrise, sunset

sunrise, sunset
swiftly go the days
sunrise, sunset
you wake up, then you undress
it always is the same
a sunrise and the sun sets
you’re lying while you confess, keep trying to explain
a sunrise and the sun sets you realize
then you forget what you’ve been trying to retain
but everybody knows it’s all about the things
that get stuck inside of your head
like the songs your roommate sings
a vision of her body as she stretches out on your bed
and she raised her hands in the air asked you
when was the last time you looked in the mirror?
cause you have changed
yeah, you have changed
sunrise, the sun sets
you are hopeful and then you regret
the circle never breaks
with a sunrise and a sunset there’s a change of heart or address
is there nothing that remains?
for a sunrise or a sunset
you’re manic or you’re depressed
will you ever feel ok?
for a sunrise or sunset, your lover is an actress
did you really think she’d stay?
for a sunrise or sunset
you’re either coming or you just left but you’re always on the way
towards a sunrise or a sunset, a scribble or a sonnet
they are really just the same
to the sunrise and the sunset
the master and his servant have exactly the same fate
it’s a sunrise and a sunset
from a cradle to a casket
there’s no way to escape
the sunrise and the sunset
hold your sadness like a puppet, keep putting on the play
but everything you do is leading to the point
where you just won’t know what to do
and at that moment you may laugh
but there is someone there who will be laughing louder than you
so it’s true, the trick is complete
become everything you said that you never would be
you’re a fool!
sunrise, sunset
the sunrise and the sun sets
sunrise, sunset
sunrise, the sun sets
sunrise, sunset
go home to your apartment
put the cassette in the tape deck and let that fever play
sunrise, sunset
where are you arienette?

no lies, just love

it was in the march of the winter i turned 17
that i bought those pills
i thought i would need
and i wrote a letter to my family
said it's not your fault
and you've been good to me
just lately i've been feeling
like i don't belong
like the ground is not mine to walk upon
and i've heard that music
echo through the house
where my grandmother drank
by herself
and i sat watching a flower
as it was withering
i was embarrased by it's honesty
so i'd prefer to be remembered as a smiling face
not this fucking wreck
that's taken it's place

so please forgive what i have done
no you can't stay mad at the setting sun
cause we all get tired i mean eventually
and there's nothing left to do but sleep

but spring came bearing sunlight
those persuasive rays
so i gave myself a few more days
my salvation it came, quite suddenly
when justin spoke very plainly
he said "of course it's your decision
but just so you know
if you decide to leave
soon i will follow"

i wrote this for a baby
who has yet to be born
my brother's first child
i hope that womb's not too warm
cause it's cold out here
and it'll be quite a shock
to breathe this air
to discover loss
so i'd like to make some changes
before you arrive
so when your new eyes meet mine
they won't see no lies
just love

i will be pure
no, no, i know i will be pure

waste of paint

i have a friend, he is made mostly of pain. he wakes up, drives to work, and then straight back home again. he once cut one of my nightmares out of paper. i thought it was beautiful, i put it on a record cover. and i tried to tell him he had a sense of color and composition so magnificent. and he said "thank you, please but your flattery is truly not becoming me. your eyes are poor. you are blind. you see, no beauty could have come from me. i am a waste of breath, of space, of time." i knew a woman, she was dignified and true. her love for her man was one of her many virtues. until one day, she found out that he had lied and she decided the rest of her life, from that point on would be a lie.

but she was grateful for everything that had happened. and she was anxious for all that would come next. but then she wept. what did you expect? in that big, old house with the cars she kept. "oh!" and "such is life," she often said. with one day leading her to the next, you get a little closer to your death, which was fine with her. she never got upset and with all the days she may have left, she would never clean another mess or fold his shirts or look her best. she was free to waste away alone. last night, my brother he got drunk and drove. and this cop pulled him off to the side of the road.

and he said, "officer! officer! you got the wrong man. no, no, i'm a student of medicine, the son of a banker, you don't understand!" the cop said, "no one got hurt, you should be thankful. and you carelessness, it is something awful. and no, i can't just let you go. and though your father's name is known, your decisions now are yours alone. you are nothing but a stepping stone on a path to debt, to loss, to shame." the last few months i have been living with this couple. Yeah, you know, the kind that buy everything in doubles. they fit together, like a puzzle. i love their love and i am thankful that someone actually receives the prize that was promised by all those fairy tales that drugged us. and they still do me.

i'm sick, lonely, no laurel tree, just green envy. will my number come up eventually? like love is some kind of lottery, where you scratch and see what is underneath. it's "sorry", just one cherry, "play Again." get lucky. so i have been hanging out down by the train's depot. no, i don't ride. i just sit and watch the people there. they remind me of wind up cars in motion. the way they spin and turn and jockey for positions. and i want to scream out that it is all nonsense. and that their lives are one track, and can't they see how it is all pointless? But then, my knees give under me. my head feels weak and suddenly it is clear to see it is not them but me, who has lost my self-identity.

as i hide behind these books i read, while scribbling my poetry, like art could save a wretch like me, with some ideal ideology that no one can hope to achieve. and i am never real; it is just a sketch in me. and everything i made is trite and cheap and a waste of paint, of tape, of time. so now i park my car down by the cathedral, where the floodlights point up at the steeples. choir practice was filling up with people. i hear the sound escaping as an echo. sloping off the ceiling at an angle. when the voices blend they sound like angels. i hope theres some room still in the middle. but when i lift my voice up now to reach them. the range is too high, way up in heaven. so i hold my tongue, forget the song, tie my shoe and start walking off. and try to just keep moving on, with my broken heart and my absent god and i have no faith but it is all i want, to be loved and believe in my soul.

let's not shit ourselves (to love and be loved)

here we go. can i get a goddamn timpany roll to start this goddamn song? tonight it is a goddamn song, for all you goddamn people:

well, the animals laugh from the dark of the wilderness. a baby cries hard in an apartment complex, as i pass in a car buried under the influence. the city's driving me out of my mind. i’ve seen a child, he's caught in the sad trap of gravity. he falls from the lowest branch of the apple tree and lands in the grass and weeps for his dignity. next time he will not aim so high. yeah, next time, neither will i. now, a mother takes loans out, sends her kids off to colleges. her family’s reduced to names on a shopping list. while, a coroner kneels beneath a great, wooden crucifix. he knows there's worse things than being alone. i’ve learned to retreat at the first sign of danger. i mean, why wait around, if it's just to surrender? an ambition, i’ve found, can lead only to failure. i do not read the reviews. no, i am not singing for you.

well, i stood dropping a coin into the pit of a well. and i would throw my whole billfold if i thought it would help. with all these wishes i make, i should buy something real, at least a telephone call home. well, my teachers, they built this retaining wall memory, all those multiple choices i answered so quickly. and got my grades back and forgot just as easily, but at least i got an a. and so i don't have them to blame. well, i should stop pointing fingers; reserve my judgment of all those public action figures, the cowboy presidents. so loud behind the bullhorn so proud they can't admit when they've made a mistake. while poison ink spews from a speechwriter's pen, he knows he don't have to say it, so it, it don't bother him. "honesty" "accuracy" is just "popular Opinion." and the approval rating is high, and so someone's gonna die. well, abc, nbc, cbs: bullshit. they give us fact or fiction? i guess an even split. and each new act of war is tonight's entertainment. we're still the pawns in their game. as they take eye for an eye until no one can see, we must stumble blindly forward, repeating history. well, i guess we all fit into your slogan on that fast food marquee: red blooded, white skinned oh and the blues. oh and the blues! i got the blues! that's me! that's me!

well, i awoke in relief. my sheets and tubes were all tangled weak from whiskey and pills, in a chicago hospital. and my father was there, in a chair by the window, staring so far away. i tried talking, just whispered, "...so sorry...so selfish.." he stopped me and said, "child i love you regardless and there is nothing you could do that would ever change this. i'm not angry. it happens. but you just can't do it again." and so now i try to keep up, i’ve been exchanging my currency. while a million objects pass through my periphery. now i’m rubbing my eyes cause they’re starting to bother me. i’ve been staring too long at the screen. but where was it when i first heard that sweet sound of humility? it came to my ears in the goddamn loveliest melody. how grateful i was then to be part of the mystery, to love and to be loved. let's just hope that is enough.

lover i don't have to love

i picked you out of a crowd and talked to you

i said, "i like your shoes."
you said, "thanks can i follow you?"
so it's up the stairs and out of view-
no prying eyes
i poured some wine
i asked your name, you asked the time...
now it's two o'clock-
the club is closed and we're up the block
your hands on me; pressing hard against your jeans
your tongue in my mouth, trying to keep the words from coming out
you didn't care to know who else may have been you before

i want a lover i don't have to love.
i want a girl who's too sad to give a fuck.
where is the kid with the chemicals?
i thought he said to meet him here, but i'm not sure
i got the money if you've got the time

you said, "it feels good."
i said, "i'll give it a try."

then my mind went dark-
we both forgot where your car was parked
let's just take the train
i'll meet up with the band in the morning
bad actors with bad habits
some sad singers they just play tragic
and the phone's ringing and the van's leaving
let's just keep touching; let's just keep, keep singing...

i want a lover i don't have to love
i want a boy who's so drunk he doesn't talk
and where's the kid with the chemicals
i got a hunger and i can't seem to get full
i need some meaning i can memorize
the kind I have always seem to slip my mind

but you..
you write
such pretty words
but life's no storybook
love's an excuse to get hurt
and to hurt

do you like to hurt?
i do, i do
then hurt me...

bowl of oranges

the rain, it started tapping on the window near my bed. there was a loophole in my dreaming, so i got out of it. and to my surprise my eyes were wide and already open. just my nightstand and my dresser where those nightmares had just been. so i dressed myself and left then, out into the gray streets. but everything seemed different and completely new to me. the sky, the trees, houses, buildings, even my own body. and each person i encountered, i couldn't wait to meet. i came up a doctor who appeared in quite poor health. i said "(i am terribly sorry but) there is nothing i can do for you (that) you can't do for yourself." he said "oh yes you can. just hold my hand. i think that would help." so i sat with him a while and then i asked him how he felt. he said, "i think i'm cured. no, in fact, i'm sure of it. thank you stranger, for your therapeutic smile."

so that is how i learned the lesson that everyone is alone. and your eyes must do some raining if you are ever going to grow. but when crying don't help and you can't compose yourself. it is best to compose a poem, an honest verse of longing or simple song of hope. that is why i'm singing... baby don't worry cause now i got your back. and every time you feel like crying, i'm gonna try and make you laugh. and if i can't, if it just hurts too bad, then we will wait for it to pass and i will keep you company through those days so long and black. and we'll just keep working on the problem we know we'll never solve of love's uneven remainder, our lives are fractions of a whole. but if the world could remain within a frame like a painting on a wall. then i think we would see the beauty then. we would stand staring in awe at our still lives posed like a bowl of oranges, like a story told by the fault lines and the soil.

something vague

now and again it seems worse than it is, but mostly the view is accurate. you see your breath in the air as you climb up the stairs to that coffin you call your apartment. and you sink in your chair, brush the snow from your hair and drink the cold away. and you are not really sure what you're doing this for but you need something to fill up the days. a few more hours. there's a dream in my brain that just won’t go away. it's been stuck there since it came a few nights ago and i’m standing on a bridge in the town where i lived as a kid with my mom and my brothers. and then the bridge disappears and i’m standing on air with nothing holding me. and i hang like a star, fucking glow in the dark, for all those starving eyes to see, like the ones we’ve wished on. Now i’m confused. is this depth really you? do these dreams have any meaning? no. no, i think it is more like a ghost that has been following us both. something vague that we're not seeing, something more like a feeling.

drunk kid catholic

the drunk kids, the catholics
they’re all about the same
they’re waiting for something
hoping to be saved
well i have been happy the past couple days
just thinking of the women who’ve taken your place
and every night i think i certaintly won't ever sleep sober or alonet
and then suddenly it occurs to me
i've slept alone before you
and so i pour myself the stiffest drink my stomach can stand
and convince myself to lay back down again
i’m gonna lay back down, i’m gonna lay back down again
the drunk kids, the catholics
they're all about the same
they’re waiting for something
hoping to be saved
the drunk kids, the catholics
they're all about the same
they’re waiting for something
hoping to be saved
they crawl from the oceans
to paint in the caves
but i’m working all weekend
i need to get paid

loose leaves

the story is in the soil
loose leaves cover the ground
there are volumes in the forest no one reads out loud
if i could take them down off of that mountain shelf...we used to climb but no one tries to go up that far now
yeah, we're all too busy working, entertaining ourselves, 40 hours, television and prescription pills
well, i take two a day to make my brain behave
it never does but who is to say, at least my doctor gets paid
so that is fine, yeah come by, we will take the afternoon off
we can kiss and undress if you want just talk
because i have got nothing real, just empty space to fill
and you are my girl, i like your style, just imagine all the time we could kill

and time is not poison but once you drink it all you'll die
so lets just sip it real slow, yeah, we can nurse it all night
try to believe that once its gone they will pour another round
we will come back to life
we'll come right back

it's all moving fast now, yeah, and that's what they say
and though some days still take forever i can't disagree
because it seems to me that i wake up and sleep, look in the mirror and have no idea what happened in between
but i remember counting days down until the year could be done
so i could scatter all my notebooks on the prep school lawn
and disappear into a summer's bliss of staying out and sleeping in and getting drunk with my friends
and that's gone and i know that it won't ever come back
i accept
i won't cling to what i had in the past but life is a slippery slope
regret is the steepest hill
hope for the best
plan for the worst and maybe wind up somewhere in the middle
and i'm not saying that i know what i want
but i know what i don't, don't want to rot in my room and never know what could have been, believe what everyone else tells me is true
they will say 'true'
that is what they'll say
that's it
believe what everyone else tells me is true
they will say 'true'
that is what they'll say
that's it

one foot in front of the other

if you walk away, i'll walk away
first tell me which road you will take
i don't want to risk our paths crossing some day
so you walk that way, i'll walk this way

the future hangs over our heads
and it moves with each current event
until it falls around like a cold, steady rain
just stay in when it's looking this way

the moon's laying low in the sky
forcing everything metal to shine
and the sidewalk holds diamonds
like a jewlery store case
they argue, "walk this way, no, walk this way."

laura's asleep in my bed
as i'm leaving she wakes up and says
"i dreamed you were carried away
on the crest of a wave. baby, don't go away
come here."

there's kid's playing guns in the street
and one's pointing his tree branch at me
so i put my hands up, i say "enough is enough.
if you walk away, i'll walk away."
and he shot me dead

i found a liquid cure
for my land-locked blues
it will pass away, like a slow parade
it's leaving, but i don't know how soon

the world's got me dizzy again
you'd think after 22 years i'd be used to the spin
and it only feels worse when i stay in one place
so i'm always pacing around
or walking away

i'm drinking the ink from my pen
and i'm balancing history books up on my head
but it all boils down to one quotable phrase
"if you love something, give it away."

a good woman would pick you apart
a box full of suggestions for your possible heart
and you may be offended, and you may be afraid
but don't walk away, don't walk away

we made love on the living room floor
with the noise in the background from a televised war
and in that defeaning pleasure
i thought i heard someone say
"if we walk away, they'll walk away."

but greed is a bottomless pit
and our freedom's a joke, we're just taking a piss
and the whole world must watch
the sad comic display
if you're still free, start running away
'cuz we're coming for ya

we're gonna read them out

i've grown tired of holding this pose
i feel more like a stranger each time i come home
so i'm making a deal with the devils of fame
saying "let me walk away, please."

you'll be free, child, once you have died
from the shackles of language
and measurable time
and then we can trade places
play musical graves
tell them walk away, walk away, walk away

so i'm up at dawn
putting on my shoes
i just want to make a clean escape
i'm leaving, but i don't know where to
i know i'm leaving, but i don't know where to

oh, you are the roots that sleep beneath my feet and hold the earth in place

i met you through a common friend
in the attic of my parents' house
and though i didn't know it then
i soon was finding out...
you are the roots that sleep beneath my feet
and hold the earth in place
each time a faucet opens
words are spoken
the water runs away
and i hear your name
no, nothing has changed

there was this book i read and loved
the story of a ship
who sailed around the world and found
that nothing else exists
beyond his own two sails
and wooden shell
and what is held within
all else is sure to pass
we clutch and grasp
and debate what's truly permanent
but when the wind starts to shift
there's no argument

i sing and drink
and sleep on floors
and try hard not to be annoyed
by all these people worrying about me
so when i'm suffering through some awful drive
you occasionally cross my mind
it's my hidden hope that you are still among them

well are you?

oh, you are the roots that sleep beneath my feet
and hold the earth in place
each time a curtain opens
sunlight pours in
a lifetime melts away

and we share a name
on some picturesque grave

going for the gold

there's a voice on the phone
telling what had happened
some kind of confusion
more like a disaster
and it wondered how you were left unaffected
but you had no knowledge
all the chemicals covered you
and so a jury was formed
as more liquor was poured
there's no need for conviction
they're not thirsting for justice
but i slept with the lies
i keep inside my head
i found out i was guilty
i found out i was guilty
but i won't be around for the sentencing
cause i'm leaving
on the next airplane

and though i know that my actions are impossible to justify
they seem adequate to fill up my time
and if i could talk to myself like i was someone else
then maybe i could take your advice
and i wouldn't act like such an asshole all the time

there's a film on the wall
makes the people look small
who are sitting beside it
all consumed in the drama
they must return to their lives
once the hero has died
they will drive to the office
stopping somewhere for coffee
where the folk singers, poets, and playwrights convene
dispinsing their wisdom
oh dear amateur orators
they will detail their pain
in some standard refrain
that will recite their sadness
like it's some kind of contest
well if it is
i think i am winning it
all beaming with confidence
as i make my final lap
the gold medal gleams
so hang it around my neck
cause i am deserving it
the champion of idiots

but a kid carries his walkman on that long bus ride to omaha
i know a girl who cries when she practices violin
cause each note sounds so pure
it just cuts into her
and then the melody comes pouring out her eyes
and now to me everything else
including this
just sounds like a lie

blue christmas

i'll have a blue christmas without you
i'll be so blue thinking about you
decorations of red on a green christmas tree
won't mean a thing though, if you're not here with me
i'll have a blue christmas, that's certain
when all those blue memories start hurting
you'll be doin' all right, with your christmas of white
but i'll have a blue, blue christmas

yeah, you'll be doin' all right, with your christmas of white
but i'll have a blue, blue christmas
but i'll have a blue, blue christmas

true blue

i am a blue blood
i will admit that
i dance in blue shoes and wear a blue hat
live in a blue house
on a blue street
in a blue town
by a blue creek
i write my blue songs
with my blue pen
i sing the blue notes
to my blue friends
now i don't that much about you
but i like you
because you're true blue

i had a blue dream
about a blue star
in it i drove there
in my blue car and when i got there
i met a blue dog
with a blue tongue
we had some real fun
we bounced a blue ball
it broke a blue glass
we banged on blue drums and call it blue grass
i guess the thing i'm trying to tell you
is that it's best, kid
if you're true blue

once i had gangrene
i got it real bad
so the doc came with his black bag
i said 'you know, doc, i dont feel swell,
if you had a blue bag, i think i'd get well..'
so he came right back
with a blue sack
he said 'will this do?'
i said 'why not, yea"
that's why im here today
to tell you
that it's best, man
to be true blue

out on the blue sea
i sailed a blue ship
i had a first mate
always had blue lips
his name was bluebeard
he had a weird twitch
he flew a blue flag
on a big stick
and we ate blue gill and we ate blue chips
oh i felt real blue, eating that blue fish
because there ain't much that i won't do
unless it keeps me from being true blue

once in a blue moon
there's a blue sky
i wear my blue jeans and fly my blue kite
thing's like a bluebird, until the wind dies
and then the tears pour
out of my blue eyes

if it's your birthday
we'll bake a blue cake
and then we'll eat it off these blue plates
'cause kid i don't know much about about you
but i like you
because you're true blue

yeah i don't know much about you
but i love you 'cause you're


i know that it is freezing, but i think we have to walk
i keep waving at the taxis, they keep turning their lights off
but julie knows a party at some actor's west side loft
supplies are endless in the evening by the morning they'll be gone

when everything is lonely i can be my own best friend
i'll get a coffee and the paper, have my own conversations
with the sidewalk and the pigeons and my window reflection
the mask i polish in the evening by the morning looks like shit

and i know you have a heavy heart, i can feel it when we kiss
so many men stronger than me have thrown their backs out trying to lift it
but me i'm not a gamble, you can count on me to split
the love i sell you in the evening by the morning won't exist

you're looking skinny like a model with your eyes all painted black
just keep going to the bathroom, always say you'll be right back
well, it takes one to know one, kid, i think you've got it bad
but what's so easy in the evening by the morning's such a drag

i got a flask inside my pocket, we can share it on the train
and if you promise to stay conscious i will try and do the same
we might die from medication, but we sure killed all the pain
but what was normal in the evening by the morning seems insane

and i'm not sure what the trouble was that started all of this
the reasons all have run away, but the feeling never did
it's not something i would recommend, but it is one way to live
cause what is simple in the moonlight by the morning never is

it was so simple in the moonlight now it's so complicated
it was so simple in the moonlight, so simple in the moonlight
so simple in the moonlight...

laura laurent

laura, are you still living there on your estate of sorrow? you used to leave it occasionally. now, you don't even bother to ride that commuter train west to chicago, to stroll through the greenery, in the park, past the statues. how their eyes seemed to follow you like a hated addiction. their beauty carved out of absolutes that you could never claim, or even envision. laura you were the saddest song in the shape of a woman. i thought you were beautiful, but i wept with your movements. i hope you are laughing now from that place of the carpet where we shared a sleeping bag, in your sisters apartment

oh how she would worry so, you know, i was just a stranger. but she asked me to care for you. that is what she did and i went and betrayed her. but do you know we are in high demand, laura, us people who suffer? because we don't take to arguing and we are quick to surrender. well, i think i would call tonight if i still had your number. your thoughts have always laid close to mine. we were both skipping supper. but you should never be embarrassed by your trouble with living. because it is the ones with the sorest throats, laura, who have done the most singing. everybody! la la la la la la la la la lah...

from a balance beam

there is a man holding a megaphone, he must have been the voice of god
the bystanders claimed they saw angels flying up and down the block
well, they must have been attached to wires
i'd seen one laying in the lawn with a broken arm, so i called 911
well that's one less founded opinion
one more cause for a dispute
so the street filled, like a basin, up with cameras and their crews
and they washed away the rumors leaving just the concrete truth
it was a spectacle
no, i, i mean a miracle

so then i fell like that girl from a balance beam
a gymnasium of eyes all were holding on to me
i lifted one foot to cross the other and i felt myself slipping
it was a small mistake
sometimes that is all it takes

now i'm staring at my wrist, hoping that the time is right
when the planets will align
there will be no planets to align
just the carcass of the sun
and little painted marbles spinning senseless through an endless black sky

it was in a foreign hotel's bathtub i baptized myself in change
and one by one i drowned all of the people i had been
i emerged to find the parallels were fewer
i was cleansed
i looked in the mirror
and someone new was there
but, i was as helpless as a chess piece when i was lifted up by someone's hand
and delivered from the corner my enemies had got me in
but in all of my salvation i still felt imprisoned inside that holding cell that is myself

so i wait for the day when i'll hear the key as it turns in the lock
and the guard will say to me, "oh my patient prisoner you waited for this day and finally, you are free! you are free! you are freezing."
now i'm staring at the sun, waiting for it to explode
because a day is gonna come, don't know when but it will come
and we'll finally know the way out of here
and i'll throw away this wrinkled map
and my chart of stars and compass, cracked
and i'll climb that tree all wet with sap to avoid the hungry beasts below i'll cut out my lover's tongue and sing of a graveyard gray and a garden green
and we won't have to worry no more
no we won't have to wonder again
about how this song or story ends
about how this song and story will end

nothing gets crossed out

well, the future's got me worried, such awful thoughts
my head's a carousel of pictures
the spinning never stops
i just want someone to walk in front
and i'll follow the leader
like when i fell under the weight of a schoolboy crush
started carrying her books and doing lots of drugs
i almost forgot who i was, but came to my senses
now i'm trying to be assertive, i'm making plans, want to rise to the occasion, yeah, meet all their demands
but all i do is just lay in bed and hide under the covers
yeah, i know i should be brave
but i'm just too afraid of all this change
and it's hard to focus through all this doubt
i keep making this "to do" list but nothing gets crossed out
working on the record seems pointless now
when the world ends, who's gonna hear it?
well i'm trying to take some comfort in written words
yeah, tim i heard your album and it's better than good
when you get off tour i think we should hang and black out together
'cause i've been feeling sentimental for days gone by
all those summers singing, drinking, laughing, wasting our time
remember all those songs and the way we smiled, in those basements made of music
but now i've got to crawl
to get anywhere at all
i'm not as strong as i thought

so when i'm lost in a crowd
i hope that you'll pick me out
oh, how i, i long to be found
the grass grew high, i laid down
now i, wait for a hand to lift me up, help me stand
i've been laying so low
don't wanna lay here no more
no more...more...

but if everything that happens is supposed to be
and it's all predetermined, can't change your destiny
i guess i'll just keep moving, someday, maybe, i'll get to where i'm going

method acting

there is no beginning to the story
a bookshelf sinks into the sand
and a language learned and forgot, in turn, is studied once again
it's a shocking bit of footage viewed from a shitty tv screen
you can squint at it through snowy static to make out the meaning
and keep on stretching the antennae, hoping that it will come clear
we need some reception, a higher message, just tell us what to fear because i don't know what tomorrow brings
it is alive with such possibilities
all i know is i feel better when i sing
burdens are lifted from me
that's my voice rising

so michael, please keep the tape rolling
boys keep strumming those guitars
we need a record of our failures
as we must document our love
i've sat too long in my silence
i've grown too old in my pain
to shed this skin, be born again, it starts with an ending
so thank you friends for the time we shared
my love stays with you like sunlight and air
oh i truly wish i could keep hanging around here
my joy is covering me
soon, i will disappear

it's not a movie, no private screening
this method acting, well, i call that living
it's like a fountain, a door has opened
we have a problem with no solution but to love and to be loved
so, i've made peace with the falling leaves
i see their same fate in my own body
but i won't be frightened when i am awoken from this dream
and returned to that which gave birth to me
gave birth to me, gave birth to me, gave birth to me
and the story goes, and the story goes, and it goes
on and on and on and on...

road to joy

the sun came up with no conclusions
flowers sleepin' in their beds
the city cemetary's hummin'
i'm wide awake, its mornin'

i have my drugs, i have my woman
they keep away my loneliness
my parents, they have their religion
but sleep in seperate houses

i read the body count out of the paper
and now its written all over my face
no one ever plans to sleep out in the gutter
sometimes thats just the most comfortable place

so i'm drinkin, breathin, writin, singin
every day i'm on the clock
my mind races with all my longings
but can't keep up with what i got

and so i hope i dont sound too ungratefull
well, history gave modern man
a telephone to talk to strangers
machine guns and a camera lense

so when you're asked to fight a war thats over nothing
its best to join the side thats gonna win
no ones sure how all of this got started
but we're gonna make 'em god damn certain how its gonna end
oh yah we will, oh yah we will!

well i could have been a famous singer
if i had some one else's voice
but failures always sounded better
let's fuck it up boys, make some noise!

the sun came up with no conclusions
flowers sleepin' in their beds
the city cemetary's hummin'
i'm wide awake, its mornin'!

landlocked blues

if you walk away i walk away
first tell me which road you will take
i don't want to risk our paths crossing somday
so you walk that way i'll walk this way

and the future hangs over our heads
and it moves with each current event
until it falls all around like a cold steady rain
just stay in when it's lookin' this way

and the moon's laying low in the sky
forcing everything metal to shine
and the sidewalk holds diamonds like a jewelry store case
they argue "walk this way," "no walk this way"

and laura's asleep in my bed
as i'm leaving she wakes up and says
"i dreamed you were carried away on the crest of a wave
baby don't go away, come here"

and there's kids playing guns in the street
and one's pointing his tree branch at me
so i put my hands up i say "enough is enough"
if you walk away i walk away
and he shot me dead

i found a liquid cure
for my landlocked blues
it will pass away
like a slow parade
it's leaving but i don't know how soon

and the world's got me dizzy again
you'd think after 22 years i'd be used to the spin
and it only feels worse when i stay in one place
so i'm always pacing around or walking away
i keep drinking the ink from my pen
and i'm balancing history books up on my head
but it all boils down to one quoteable phrase
"if you love something give it away"
a good woman will pick you apart
a box full of suggestions for your possible heart
but you may be offended, and you may be afraid
but don't walk away, don't walk away

we made love on the living room floor
with the noise in the background from a televised war
and in the deafening pleasure i thought i heard someone say
"if we walk away,they’ll walk away"
but greed is a bottomless pit
and our freedom's a joke we're just taking a piss
and the whole world must watch the sad comic display
if you're still free start runnin' away
'cause we're comin' for ya

i've grown tired of holding this pose
i feel more like a stranger each time i come home
so i'm making a deal with the devils of fame
sayin' let me walk away, please
you'll be free child once you have died
from the shackles of language and measurable time
and then we can trade places, play musical graves
till then walk away walk away walk away walk away
so i'm up at dawn, putting on my shoes
i just want to make a clean escape
i'm leaving but i don't know where to
i know i'm leaving but i don't know where to

we are nowhere and it's now

if you hate the taste of wine
why do you drink it till you're blind?
and if you swear that there's no truth and who cares
how come you say it like you're right?
why are you scared to dream of god
when it's salvation that you want?
you see stars that clear have been dead for years
but the idea just lives on...

in our wheels that roll around
as we move over the ground
and all day it seems we've been in between
a past and future town

we are nowhere and it's now
we are nowhere and it's now

in like a ten minute dream in the passenger's seat
while the world was flying by
i haven't been gone very long
but it feels like a life time

i've been sleeping so strange at night
side effects they don't advertise
i've been sleeping so strange
with a head full of pesticide

i've got no plans in too much time
i feel too restless to unwind
i'm always lost in thought as i walk a block
to my favorite neon sign

where the waitress looks concerned
but she never says a word
just turns the juke box on and we hum along
and i smile back at her

and my friend comes after work
when the features start to blur
she says these bars are filled with things that kill
by now you probably should have learned

did you forget that yellow bird?
how could you forget your yellow bird?
she took a small silver wreath and pinned it onto me
she said this one will bring you love
and i don't know if it's true
but i keep it for good luck

at the bottom of everything

we must talk in every telephone, get eaten off the web
we must rip out all the epilogues from the books that we have read
into the face of every criminal strapped firmly to a chair
we must stare, we must stare, we must stare

we must take all of the medicines too expensive now to sell
set fire to the preacher who is promising us hell
into the ear of every anarchist that sleeps but doesn't dream
we must sing, we must sing, we must sing

and it'll go like this, all right:

while my mother waters plants my father loads his gun
he says, "death will give us back to god
just like the setting sun
is returned to the lonesome ocean"

and then they splashed into the deep blue sea
oh, it was a wonderful splash

we must blend into the choir, sing ecstatic with the whole
we must memorize nine numbers and deny we have a soul
into this endless race for property and privilege to be won
we must run, we must run, we must run

we must hang up in the belfry, where the bats and moonlight laugh
we must stare into a crystal ball and only see the past
into the caverns of tomorrow with just our flashlights and our love
we must plunge, we must plunge, we must plunge

and then we'll get down there,
way down to the very bottom of everything
and then we'll see it, oh, we'll see it!, oh, we'll see it!, we’ll see it!

oh, my morning's coming back,
the whole world’s waking up
all the city busses swimming past,
i'm happy just because
i found out i am really no one

an attempt to tip the scales

did you expect it all to stop
at the wave of your hand?
like the sun’s just gonna drop
if it’s night you demand
well, in the dark we’re just air
so the house might dissolve
once we’re gone, who’s gonna care
if we were ever here at all?
well, summer’s gonna come
it’s gonna cloud our eyes again
no need to focus when there’s
nothing that's worth seeing
so we trade for liquor for blood
in an attempt to tip the scales
i think you lost what you loved
in that mess of details
they seemed so important at the time
now you can’t even recall
any names, faces, or lines
it’s more the feeling of it all
well, winter’s gonna end
i’m gonna clean these veins again
so close to dying that i finally can start living

interviewer: hi, we’re back. this is radio ---x. we’re here with conor oberst of the band bright eyes. how are you doing, conor?

conor: fine, thanks. just a little wet

interviewer: oh, it’s still coming down out there

conor: yeah, i sorta had to run from the car

interviewer: well, we are glad you made it. now, your new album, fevers and mirrors, tell us a little bit about the title. i’ve noticed there is a good deal of repeated imagery in the lyrics—fevers, mirrors, scales, clocks. could you discuss some of this?

conor: sure, let’s see. the fever is

interviewer: first, first, let me say that this is a brilliant record, man. we’re really into it here at the station. we get a lot of calls. it’s really good stuff

conor: thanks. thanks a lot

interviewer: so, talk a little bit about some of the symbolism

conor: the fever?

interviewer: sure

conor: well, the fever is basically whatever ails you or oppresses you. it can be anything. in my case it’s my neurosis, my depression—but i don’t want to be limited to that. it’s certainly different for different people. it’s whatever keeps you up at night

interviewer: i see

conor: and the—and the mirror is, as you might have guessed, self examination or reflection in whatever form. this could be vanity or self-loathing. i know i’m guilty of both

interviewer: that’s interesting. uh, how ‘bout the scale?

conor: the scale is essentially our attempt to solve our problems quantitatively, through logic or rationalization. in my opinion, it’s often fruitless, but always—ah, not always—and the clocks and calendars, it’s just time, our little measurements. it’s always chasing after us

interviewer: it is, it is. uh, how ‘bout this arienette? how does she fit into all of this?

conor: i prefer not to talk about it, in case she’s listening

interviewer: oh, i’m sorry, i didn’t realize she’s a real person

conor: she’s not. i made her up

interviewer: oh, so she’s not real

conor: just as real as you or i

interviewer: i don’t think i understand

conor: neither do i, but after i grow up—i will, i mean—a lot—a lot of things are really unclear for me right now

interviewer: that’s interesting. now, you mentioned your depression

conor: no i didn’t

interviewer: you’re from nebraska, right?

conor: yeah, so

interviewer: now let me know if i’m getting too personal, but it seems to me that there’s a pretty dark past back there somewhere. what was it like for you growing up?

conor: dark. not really. actually, i had a great childhood. my parents were wonderful, i went to catholic school. they had money. it was all…easy. but basically, i had everything i wanted

interviewer: really. so some of the references like babies in bathtubs are not biographical?

conor: well, i did have a brother that died in a bathtub. drowned. actually, i had five brothers that died that way

interviewer: tahuh

conor: no, i’m serious. my mother drowned one every year for five consecutive years. they were all named padraic, so they all got one song. it’s kind of like walking out a door and discovering it’s a window

interviewer: but your music is certainly very personal

conor: of course. i put a lot of myself into what i do. but it’s like, being an author, you have to free yourself to use symbolism and allegory to reach your goal. and a part of that is compassion, empathy for other people, and understanding their situations. so much of what i sing about comes from other people’s experiences as well as my own. it shouldn’t matter. the message is intended to be universal

interviewer: i see what you mean

conor: can you make that sound stop please?

interviewer: yes. and your goal?

conor: i don’t know. uh, create feelings, i guess. a song…it never ends up the way you plan it

interviewer: that’s funny you would say that. do you think that

conor: do you ever hear things that aren’t really there?

interviewer: i’m sorry, what?

conor: nevermind. how long have you worked at this station?

interviewer: oh, just a few minutes. now, you mentioned empathy for others. would you say that that is what motivates you to make the music you make?

conor: no, not really. it’s really just a need for sympathy. i want people to feel sorry for me. i like to feel the burn of the audience’s eyes on me when i’m whispering all my darkest secrets into the microphone

(from the side, two teenage thugs start swearing about the music, talking over the conversation.)

conor: when i was a kid i used to carry around this safety pin everywhere i went in my pocket and when people weren’t paying enough attention to me i’d dig it into my arm until i started crying. everyone would stop what they were doing and ask me what was the matter. i guess i kind of liked that

interviewer: really…you’re telling me you’re doing all this for attention?

conor: no, i hate it when people look at me. i get nauseas. in fact, i could care less what people think about me. do you feel alright? do you wanna dance?

interviewer: no, i’m feeling sick

conor: i really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone i love

interviewer: so, uh, you’re going to play something for us now. is this a new song?

conor: yeah, but i haven’t written it yet. it’s one i’ve been meaning to write, called, “a song to pass the time.”

interviewer: oh, that’s a nice title

conor: you should write your own scripts

interviewer: yeah, i know

(conor says from the side, “i kept singing today—it would be eeeeeeasy…”)

haligh, haligh, a lie, haligh

the phone slips from a loose grip
words were missed, then some apology
i didn’t want to tell you this
no, it’s just some guy she’s been hanging out with
i don’t know, the past couple of weeks, i guess

thank you and hang up the phone
let the funeral start, hear the casket close
let’s pin split-black ribbon to your overcoat
the laughter pours from under doors in this house
i don’t understand that sound no more
seems artificial, like a t.v. set

haligh, haligh, a lie, haligh
this weight, it must be satisfied
you offer only one reply
you know not what you do
as you tear and tear your hair from roots
of that same head you’ve twice removed
now a lock of hair you said would prove
our love would never die
well, ha ha ha

i remember everything
the words we spoke on freezing south street
all those mornings watching you
get ready for school
you combed your hair inside that mirror
the one you painted blue
and glued with jewelry tears
something about those bright colors
would always make you feel better

but now we speak with ruined tongues
and the words we say aren’t meant for anyone
it’s just a mumbled sentence to
a passing acquaintance
but there was once you
you said you hate my suffering, and you understood
and you’d take care of me
you'd always be there
well, where are you now?

haligh, haligh, a lie, haligh
the plans were never finalized
but left to hang like yarn and twine
dangling before my eyes
as you tear and tear your hair from roots
from that same head that you have twice removed
now, a lock of hair you said would prove
our love would never die
and i sing and sing of awful things
(the pleasure that my sadness brings)
as my fingers press onto the strings
yet another clumsy chord

haligh, haligh, an awful lie
this weight would now be satisfied
i'm gonna give you only one reply
i know not who i am
but i talk in the mirror
to the stranger that appears
our conversations are circles
always one sided, nothing is clear
except we keep coming back
to this meaning that i lack
he says the choices were given
and now, you must live them
or just not live
but do you want that?


the fragile keep secrets
gathered in pockets
and they’ll sell them for nothing
a cheap watch or locket
that kind of gold washes off
and the sad act like lepers
they stick to the shadows
they long to ring bells of warning
to tell of their coming
so that the pure can shut their doors
and the angry are animals senseless and savage
they act without order in logical lapses
they stain their mouths with blood
so take my hand
this barren land is alive tonight
and the corn has grown
stalks that form a wall too high
but the wind carries sounds
that i can't see from beyond that line
then the stalks begin to sway
oh, stay with me arienette
until the wolves are away
well, the wicked are vultures
and they bake in the canyons
they circle in sunlight
and wait for their victims
to collapse and call to them
the desperate are water
they’ll run down forever as they soak into silence
and end up together in a dark and distant
dark and distant place
so don't leave me here
with only mirrors watching me
this house it holds nothing but the memories
and the moon it leaves silver but never sleep
and then the silver turns to gray
oh, stay with me arienette
until the wolves are away
are away

a perfect sonnet

lately i've been wishing i had one desire
something that would make me never want another
something that would make it so that nothing matters
all would be clear then

but i guess i'll have to settle for a few brief moments
and watch it all dissolve into a single second
try to write it down into a perfect sonnet
or one foolish line

'cause that's all that you'll get so you'll have to accept
you are here then you're gone
but i believe that lovers should be tied together
thrown into the ocean in the worst of weather
left there to drown
left there to drown
in their innocence

but as for me i'm coming to the final chapter
i read all of the pages and there's still no answer
only all that was before i know must soon come after
that's the only way it can be

so i stand in the sun
and i breathe with my lungs
trying to spare me the weight of the truth
saying everything you've ever seen was just a mirror
spent your whole life sweating in an endless fever
now you're laying in a bathtub full of freezing water
wishing you were a ghost

but once you knew a girl and you named her lover
danced with her in kitchens through the greenest summer
autumn came, she disappeared
you can't remember where she said she was going to

but you know that she is gone 'cause she left you a song
that you don't want to sing
singing i believe that lovers should be chained together
thrown into a fire with their songs and letters
left there to burn
left there to burn
in their arrogance
but as for me i'm coming to my final failure
killed myself with changes trying to make things better
ended up becoming something other than what i had planned to be

now i believe that lovers should be draped in flowers
and layed entwined together on a bed of clover
left there to sleep
left there to dream of their happiness

light pollution

john a. hobson was a good man
he used to loan me books and mic stands
he even got me a subscription
to the socialist review
listening to records in his basement
old folk songs about the government
"it's love of money, not the market"
he said, "these fuckers push on you"

"and freedom yells, it don't cry
whatever sells will decide
but there's no hell when you die
so don't look so worried"

he got a night life, lost his day job
pushing papers, swinging pendulums
anything to serve a function
or to occupy some time

you gotta earn this living somehow
you're good as dead without a bank account
but it's funny how alive he felt down
in that unemployment line

with all that trash at his feet
the pools of piss in the street
all of that filthy empathy
for the way we're feeling

the billboards shade
the flags they wave
the anthem was playing loud
the baseball game was letting out

and all at once
he saw the dust
and heard every tiny sound
got in his truck and turned around

drove out through the crowd and the cops
drove out past that center mall
drove out past that sickening sprawl
out past that fenced in crawl

and maybe he lost control
fucking with the radio
but i bet the stars seemed so close
at the end

i believe in symmetry

some plans were made and rice was thrown
a house was built, a baby born
how time can move both fast and slow
amazes me

and so i raise my glass to symmetry
to the second hand and its accuracy
to the actual size of everything
the desert is the sand
you can't hold it in your hand
it won't bow to your demands
there's no difference you can make
there's no difference you can make
and if it seems like an accident
a collage of senselessness
you aren't looking hard enough
i wasn't looking hard enough

an argument for consciousness
the instinct of the blind insect
who makes love to the flower bed
and dies in the first freeze
oh i want to learn such simple things
no politics, no history
till what i want and what i need
can finally be the same

i just got myself to blame
leave everything up to fate
when there's choices i could make
when there's choices i could make
yeah, my heart needs a polygraph
always so eager to pack my bags
when i really wanna stay
when i really wanna stay

when i wanna stay

the arc of time, the stench of sex
the innocence you can't protect
each quarter note, each marble step
walk up and down that lonely treble clef
each wanting the next one
each wanting the next one to arrive

an argument for consciousness
the instinct of the blind insect
who never thinks not to accept its fate
that's faith, there's happiness in death
you give to the next one
you give to the next on down the line
you give to the next one
you get to the next on down the line

the levity of longing that
distills each dream inside my head
by morning watered down forget
on silver stars i wish and wish and wish

move on to the next one
move on to the next one down the line

you get to the next one
you get to the next on down the line

hit the switch

i'm staring out into that vaccum again
from the back porch of my mind
the only thing thats alive
i'm all there is

and i start attacking my vodka, stab the ice with my straw
my eyes have turned red as stoplights, you seem ready to walk
you know i'll call you eventually, when i wanna talk
'til then you're invisible.

'cause theres a switch that gets hit and it all stops making sense
and in the middle of drinks, maybe the fifth or the sixth
i'm completely alone at a table of friends
i feel nothing for them. i feel nothing, nothing

well, i need a break from the city again
i think i'll ship myself back west
i got a friend there, she says, "hey, any time."
unless that offers expired, i have been less than frequent
she's under no obligation to indulge every whim
and i'm so ungrateful, i take, she gives and forgives
and i keep forgetting it

and each morning she wakes with a dream to describe
something lovely that bloomed in her beautiful mind
i said "i'll trade you one for two nightmares of mine
i have some where i die, i have some where we all die."

i'm thinking of quitting drinking again
i know i said that a couple times
and i'm always changing my mind, well, i guess i am
but theres this burn in my stomach and theres this pain in my side
and when i kneel at the toilet
and the mornings clean light pours in through the window
sometimes i pray i don't die
i'm a goddamn hypocrite

but the night rolls around and it all starts making sense
there is no right way or wrong way, you just have to live
and so i do what i do and at least i exist
what could mean more than this?
what would mean more?
mean more?

happy birthday to me (feb 15)

all eyes on the calendar
another year i claim of total indifference
to here, the days pile up
with decisions to be made, i'm sure all of them were wrong
into this song i send myself
and with these drinks i plan to collapse
and forget this wasted year, these wasted years
devoted friends, they disappear
and i'm sorry about the phone call and needing you
some decisions you don't make
i guess it's just like breathing or not wanting to
there are some things you can't fake
i guess that it's typical
to cling to memories you'll never get back again
and to sort through old photographs
of a summer long ago or a friend that you used to know
and there below
his frozen face
you wrote the name and that ancient date, that ancient date
and you can't believe that he's really gone
when all that's left is a fucking song and
i'm sorry about the phone call; and waking you
i know that it is late
but thank you for talking, because i needed to
some things just can't wait