Monday, June 28, 2010

Man From the Land of Nod

I wrote this in my head this as I was walking across the north of Spain on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route. A lot of time on those 20 mile days. I got tired of hearing myself think, so I made up some walking songs. In the three weeks that I spent walking, I probably sang this song over five hundred times. Depending upon my mood, I would add drum breaks, guitar solos and whistling, sing it as opera, blues, hard rock, quiet folk, Motown soul, bleak West Texas country, Good Ole Boy Nashville country, imitating Elvis, Willie, Tom Waits, Dean Martin and James Brown - to name only the best versions. Just outside of Molinaseca, coming down from the ruined village of Foncebadon, I came upon a flock of young sheep, no shepherd in sight, one small ram with a big bell around its neck. I had been singing Man From the Land of Nod. I stopped and walked through them. They followed. I turned on them and Yahhed! and Gitted! yelling at them move away. They just stood stock still, looking at me with what I imagined to be a measure of sheeplike amusement. I walked on. For the next half a mile they followed. I kept searching for the shepherd or a nearby farm. Nothing. Finally, I just gave in. Fuck it. Started singing again at the top of my lungs, walking along the tops of the hills with a herd of Spanish sheep jumping all around behind me. Just on the outskirts of Molinaseca, they peeled back the other way. I stood there listening to the sound of the ram's bell clanging away into the distance for a long time.

I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

See my wife of thirty years
Her face is ruined from her tears

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

See my child with eyes so bright
The stars are hidden from his sight

O I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

My mother is draped in robes of shame
Fears to use my father’s name

Well I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

My other child is buried deep
Sings my dreams when I sleep

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

They say he sleeps on a cold grey stone
Holes for eyes and snow-white bones

Well I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

Yes I’m a man from the Land of Nod
On my way to see my God

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Hummingbird Lullabye

Hummingbird lullabye
And sweet apple wine
The days have grown shorter
And I can't seem to find
My way out of the darkness
That's surrounded my life
Hummingbird lullabye
And sweet apple wine

A ribbon and a rose
An old photograph
I sit on the curb
I can still hear her laugh
Inside my memory
It's all that I have
A ribbon and a rose
And an old photograph

A rowboat on a river
And the stars up above
I lay down and drift down
Away from my love
Who waits in the garden
Is it me she dreams of
A rowboat on a river
And the stars up above

Three teeth of silver
And the Old Laughing Bone
I've traveled for years
Trying to find my way home
I've sat in garden
I'm forever alone
With three teeth of silver
And the Old Laughing Bone

Sunday, April 04, 2010

40 days in a hole

I spent
40 days in a hole
Where it's going
Watching wheels roll

Well, I've been down deep
Under the sea
I've seen things
No one should ever see

Now you come back
Make my spine go crack
I need another hit
Before I have an attack

Of lost soul lonely
Love in a tin can
On an island all alone
A footprint in the sand

Well, it ain't nothing
To bleed until there ain't no blood
I walked thirteen miles
My boots caked with mud

To hold the heart of God
On a nail through my hand
To close my eyes and dream
The existence of man

Who never lived for nothing
Outside of his soul
Who never tried to understand
What he was told

He just sat there grinning
Shotgun in his mouth
Pull the trigger down
I heard the shotgun shout

It's blood on the tiles
And some toothless smiles
It took me forty days
To walk thirteen miles

And no blood running
And no white lies
No precious tears
On the blade of a knife

And no blood running
And no white lies
No precious tears
On the blade of a knife

Now you come back
Make my spine go crack
I need another hit
Before I have an attack

Of your love

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Superman Songs: Cryptonight

From a panel in Action Comics Annual #10, 2007. [source]

Cryptonight was written as a song.

I know songs about Superman are a dime a dozen. I am particularly fond of Superman's Song by the Crash Test Dummies. The weariness in the line "in dirty old phonebooths till his work was through:"

Sometimes when Supe was stopping crimes
I'll bet that he was tempted to just quit and turn his back
On man, join Tarzan in the forest
But he stayed in the city, and kept on changing clothes
In dirty old phonebooths till his work was through
And nothing to do but go on home

While I am not a fan of Three Doors Down, I did like how the word "krypronite" ties it down at the end:

If I go crazy then
Will you still call me Superman?
If I'm alive and well
Will you be there holding my hand?
I'll keep you by my side
with my Superhuman might

I find Five for Fighting just hard to listen to, "pretty face beside a train" is good, as is the "silly red sheet," "special things inside of me" induces nausea:

I’m more than a bird
I’m more than a plane
More than some pretty face beside a train
It’s not easy to be me
I’m only a man in a silly red sheet
Digging for Kryptonite on this one way street
Only a man in a funny red sheet
Looking for special things inside of me

Same thoughts about the Spin Doctors, the last line makes it:

I think I'm going out of my brain.
I got it so bad for little miss Lois Lane.
Oh Lois Lane, please put me in your plan.
No, you don't need no Superman.
Come on down town and stay with me tonight.
I, I got a pocket full of Kryptonite.

There is a substantial body of information about Kryptonite on Wikipedia. I found these references appropriate and amusing (the bit on Krypto's tail is simply bizarre) :

In Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, red kryptonite initially caused Superman to become apathetic. (Season 2, Episode 20, titled "Individual Responsibility") He simply did not care about catching criminals; instead shrugging his shoulders, blaming others and talking to a girl. It was hypothesized that, given enough exposure to red kryptonite, Clark's condition would become permanent. However, after talking to a psychiatrist, Clark was able to resist the effects of the red kryptonite, and he picked up the rock and threw it out of a window (Season 2, Episode 20, titled "Individual Responsibility"). [...]
On the TV series Smallville, red kryptonite has a drug-like effect, causing severe changes in Clark Kent's personality. Under this influence, Clark loses his inhibitions, becoming unpredictable and acting purely on erotic and selfish emotions. Once he ran away to Metropolis and became a criminal who broke into automated-teller machines to impress girls with expensive toys such as sports cars. He also stole his father's credit card to buy large screen TVs and high end audio equipment. Smallville red kryptonite requires close contact with skin to be effective, such as being worn in a ring or necklace.

In Krypto the Superdog, effects on Krypto include temporary amnesia, losing all superpowers, causing Krypto's tail to detach from his body and come to life, turning into a fish, and body-swapping.

When I wrote this, I spelled it "Cryptonight", not so much wanting to separate myself from the comic book world as to emphasize the mystery in the word, the coded qualities of "crypto-". I went back and forth on changing it to the "correct" spelling, but chose to let it stand as was written.

The lines,

And the sun will go out
The sun will go out

reference William Blake's invectives against making another person doubt in the Auguries of Innocence,

If the sun and moon should doubt,
They'd immediately go out.

So now that I've set out the ring, here's my hat:

I once was a man of steel
Could jump tall buildings
It was no big deal

Out run those trains
Burning down the tracks
I'd never look back

No one told me Cryptonight
Creeps up on you in the middle of the night
Now I wake up and nothing is right

It's Cryptonight
It is my life

Cryptonight weakens every thought in my brain
Cryptonight makes me think I'm going insane
Cryptonight fill my mind with doubt

And the sun
Will go out
The sun will go out

She said forever would never end
Then she said that we should
Just be friends

I don't know
It all depends
on Cryptonight

It is my life

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Transcendental Pretense

Engraving by John Byddell of Truth, "the daughter of time" being led out of the darkness by Time, which "revealeth all things. A vomiting demon labeled hypocrisy threatens her. From the Goodly prymer. 16 June 1535 English Woodcuts 1480-1535 by Edward Hodnett, Oxford University Press.

All these drugs
Are such a skull fuck dream
Take you down
Like you've never seen
Ride that horse
Kick in the saddle
Wrap your tongue
Around a ping-pong paddle
Swing real hard
Hit the little ball
Over the net
She broke the see-saw

A bottle of wine
Sitting in the sun
See that juice
As it run run runs
Take a drink
Twenty hits of acid
Come down a week later
See where that wine went
It's in through your mouth
And down through your body
Hold me down Jesus
With your black belt karate

Hit me in the spine
Crack's so fine
Break me in two
All over you
Shatter my heart
Right here on the spot
Injure my vanity
To upset my sanity
I'm crazy in love
Love like crazy
One hit from you
And I feel so lazy

Lying in the middle
Of your cosmic legs
Dive into a puddle
Of some scrambled eggs
Back in the bedroom
Melt in the full moon
Howl with the possum
He's playing a good tune
Sit with me Devil
Up here on the fence
Let's try to make some sense
Of this Transcendental Pretense

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I've known disgrace

 [ source ]

I've known disgrace
Torn my body
Broke my bones
Too many times

I trouble my mind
Thinking about heaven
Sitting in hell
Doing time

I've felt desire
Burn my language
Turn my circles
Into lines

I figure my sentence
With no punctuation
I just keep thinking
We're doing fine

Like an empty trash can
Won't be taken
Can't feel nothing
Got nothing inside

You tell me
But I know you're faking
When it comes down to it
You're still mine

Friday, March 05, 2010

Time Not Set Or Sun To Rise


Time not set or sun to rise
Around my world and all my lies
Time forgets it's going to die
No matter will matter
Just wait for signs

Space to turn around and fold
Sheets are wet with blood and cold
Space is good to have I'm told
No sins or friends
Just know you're gold

Being born with all my bones
Broken now from all your stones
Being here but all alone
No sun but some
Just won't go home

Thursday, February 25, 2010

On the Train to Mayfield

[ Photograph by Nicholas King ]

It was on the train to Mayfield
that celebrated Birthdays,
conductors standing straight and tall,
and all the the rolling earth.
There we stood and heard the choir
and saw the people dancing.
I said, let's take the next stop.
You nodded absently.

So we got off in Hiding.
Walked the streets together.
A light rain was falling.
And the prophets on the street corners
were calling out your name.

Well, the house was cold and dark but open,
with crosses made of birch and twine,
hanging above our bed
with the covers kicked away,
revealing you to me
and now my thoughts are drifting,
remembering a memory
and what you asked of me:

Have you made up your mind?
I've already decided.
I'm staying here in Hiding
until I can really get away.
And I can't hear you, Mary Ann.

And I am dreaming, Mary Ann.

The broken shutter's swinging
woke me up the next morning.
Then I heard you singing
from underneath your pillow.
Outside the sun was shining
with such intensity
that we took our time awakening
to say our good-byes.

And at the Station we stood apart,
afraid of retribution.
Here's the Lie and here's the Sign
that this will last forever.
And I watched you from the window.

I'm going on to Mayfield, Mary Ann.

I am leaving, Mary Ann.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Simple Head Sitting on a Simple Man

Simple head sitting on a simple man
Draw a circle around your bones
We drew a straight line
We're doing what we can
Simple head sitting on a simple man

Totem poles all lined up in a row
See a figure eight lie down and dream
Stand straight as you can
Look down below
Totem poles all lined up in a row

Kelly Bellows in a dreamscape full of rain
Tears falling, falling down your face
We danced with the clowns
Sang the song of the human race
Kelly Bellows in a dreamscape full of rain

Exploitation is simple and up on the wall
The simple man he's screaming at you all
The metaphor falls apart
And still you see the water fall
Exploitation is simple and up on the wall

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Sixty-three days in the Bellingham haze

[ source ]

Sixty-three days in the Bellingham haze
Dues down paid with the dealers only made
Me want to get up and with the bimp down grades
My love is long gone, fingerprints will fade

So no one will know if I just don't go
Back to Austin to stand in the Chicon Street glow
Over red rocks spit out of you told me so
I'll hide in the dumpster so the smoke won't show

Know that it's over in forty days
Quarantined bad dreams, a skull for a face
Know that I'll be back there to take my place
As another man dances through a stranger's days

Take seven from eleven and I'll pay you two
One for myself and here's a silver tooth
We're both burning rocks on the Fresh Up roof
A psychopathic liar and a lover of truth

She tells me again it's sin to fall down
High tales told in a cold northern town
She traces tattoos on my skin in the lost and found
I'm walking to a rodeo trying not to be a clown

Holding all the memories that are tearing me apart
There's a hole in my chest for a dead dog's heart
Take a bottle from the desert, drink in all the bars
Falling off my barstool trying hard to play the part

I got a mirror in my trailer that's cracked three ways
Look into it long enough and you can still see her face
Up to facts about it all, those long summer days
In the smoke and the flame, the shame and disgrace

We burned up all her toys and sold all my books
About the bones and the language and everything it took
To take a dollar from the boy with the rabbit's foot
Set fire to the skies, lie about all we could

Now we stand in the front yard and she slaps my face
The bed's got a hole from where the dog took my place
Driving around the East Side for days and days
Crawl into the backseat to hide my face

I call out for forgiveness into a hung up phone
Digging through the snow, a dog for a bone
Trying to bury all the memories before I hear a dial tone
A recorded voice telling me that I'm not alone

Sixty-three days in the Bellingham haze
Holding my breath for a measure of grace
Amazing as it might have been, it's not my place
To try and start it all to end again, both of us insane

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Burn A Skull Long Enough It'll Start to Sing

Leonardo Da Vinci | Anatomy Studies

Another day and I don't have a dollar
Winding up in the starched white collar
See the ties getting brighter and tighter
Step into the ring and try to be a fighter

Another night in the room downstairs
A shelf full of books and the same nightmares
Wake up to whispers and the sad gray scenes
Adding up the negatives in the American Dream

Another song that sounds just the same
Express the flesh and the limits of pain
A few tired chords on five rusted strings
Burn a skull long enough it'll start to sing

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The World Turns to Bone

[ source ]

I sit in my chair
In my room with a view
I sit in my chair
Thinking of you

I open the door
Walk down the street
I see your face
In all that I meet

I walk past the house
Where we once lived
I walk through the memories
Of all that we did

I stand before statues
Of beauty and truth
I stand before monuments
Built all for you

I walk through the gates
Leave the city behind
I walk through these gates
For the very last time

I hold in my hand
Two rings of gold
I hold in my heart
What will never go cold

I lay down to sleep
After many long miles
I lay down to rest
In the grave of your smile

I close my eyes
Forever alone
I close my eyes
And the world turns to bone

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Kingdom Come

I'm going to lie so still now
Going to take my time today
Back down to a place I know
I got a raft
I'll float away

My body is so full of bones
Always going to be my home
No matter what the devil says
Not with his sticks
Not with his stones

I've got a soul on fire
And every old man that I know
Is sitting playing dominos
Getting drunk
In the choir

I'm going to take my words back now
Going to take my name away
Lie down in that grave
With a smile
On my face

God Won't Leave Me Alone

O I've been drinking
All night again

O I've been thinking
About dying again

You won't forgive me
For my sins

You won't forget me
Again and again

God won't leave me alone
Even though he's broken all my bones

O I've been writing
A book of blood

O I've been fighting
Almost everyone

God won't leave me alone
Even though he's broken all my bones

A bow of thanks to The Boat Lullabies for the image.