Among The Leaves

LYRICS

  1. I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was the Greatest Night of My Life
  2. Sunshine in Chicago
  3. The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman vs. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man
  4. That Bird Has a Broken Wing
  5. Elaine
  6. The Winery
  7. Young Love
  8. Song For Richard Collopy
  9. Among the Leaves
  10. Red Poison
  11. Track Number 8
  12. Not Much Rhymes With Everything’s Awesome at All Times
  13. King Fish
  14. Lonely Mountain
  15. UK Blues
  16. UK Blues 2
  17. Black Kite

 

 

1. I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was the Greatest Night of My Life

It was backstage in Moscow late one night
We shared a cigarette, a kiss goodbye
Her name was Gayenne, so young and soft
Her hands trembled badly, her eyes trailed off
To bottles and objects around the room
My backup guitar, a tray of food

We didn’t have very much to say
She said that she’d come from some other place
A town called Troitsk or maybe Troika
Was pretty distracted packing my stuff
But I did make a point to ask her to stay
But she said she had friends that she had to go see

Later that summer I picked up my mail
She sent me a letter with a touching detail
“I used up my minutes calling hotels
To find you that night but to no avail”
“I know it’s pathetic,” she continued to write,
“But that was the greatest night of my life.”

 

2. Sunshine in Chicago

Pullin’ my guitar out of it’s green velvet case
A hundred set lists starin’ at my face
And a note from a fan named Estefanía
And a notice of inspection from Air Canada

Sittin’ at the days in hotel Chicago
Room two-twenty-two with the ceiling fan low
And I just got in the door from Ontario
And I’m going home tomorrow

I took a walk down to Lincoln Avenue
Got myself a foot massage and a manicure too
And I looked up at the marquee and hey it was my name
Next to Julie Holland think that was her name

Sunshine in Chicago makes me think about my Dad
It was eight or nine siblings I am told that he had
When the Summer time came his parents put him on a bus
And sent him to his uncle’s in Chicago for three months

Sunshine in Chicago makes me feel pretty sad
My band played here a lot in the nineties when we had
Lots of female fans and fuck they all were cute
Now I just sign posters for guys in tennis shoes

Tomorrow I’ll get up at a quarter after nine
No itching or burning like I got the other time
My back it fucking hurts but otherwise I’m fine
Sunshine in Chicago

 

3.  The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman vs.
The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man

Your simple song, a small creation
Always needing validation
Your pouty face, your great photos
Without them baby, who would notice?
We met once, we were alone, back stage in dallas
Got your phone number, what a good kisser
I left for Tampa, and I missed her

But on stage you weren’t strong
I don’t recall any songs
But when you sang you hit the notes
I’ll give you that, you didn’t choke
And you looked so good
Like an actress from Hollywood
And your eyes they glistened
But no one listened

One day you’ll be forty
Trust me baby it ain’t sporty
You’ll be pleased to be reviewed
Cause there’s always something new
Someone young, press-friendly, you’ll be searching
Are there any?
Travel hard, around the globe
But does anyone know?

The moderately talented old woman,
Dreams that she once had

You’re a dream, a burning star
The way you sing and play guitar
The way your words cut through
You cast a spell on a room
But your eyes are far
And in your heart many scars
Lost friends, ex-lovers, hidden dads, buried mothers
I could only love you like a friend, Dark Soldier
cos I got someone else and you’re older
I didn’t mean to go along
But god I love your songs
What a night, what a moment
But don’t read it wrong

The moderately talented young woman vs the
Exceptionally talented old man.

4. That Bird Has a Broken Wing

Foghorns blowing, all day sirens,
Long trip, still unwinding.
Had trouble getting out of bed,
Basked in the grey of fog instead.
Phone rang, sun ain’t shining,
City I live, uphill and trying.
Walked ’round the corner,
Kid said “What the zing, that bird has a broken wing,”
Sister cracked diamonds in two,
They laughed, that pigeon flew,
Into the street, market at Hyde,
Bus came, that pigeon died.

I’m outside, gotta come see you,
There’s something I’ve gotta tell.
There’s a burning in my body,
Little sip, bro, I’ll be well.
What kind of man travels and sings?
No kids, no food to bring
Home in his trunk, home to his stable
Family with a picnic table.

Oh melody, why all this?
Why you dodging my every kiss?
Okay, so I brought home a little sting
From a girl who didn’t mean anything.
Smoked like a chimney, dressed like a witch,
Didn’t even speak much English.
Met her at midnight, took her in my room,
She didn’t even stay past 2.
Could have been Belgian, could have been French
Could have been Dutch, I didn’t get a chance
To get a number, to get a name,
Went to sleep, woke up and got a train.

I know you’re hating me pretty bad,
But I ain’t some tool named Brad,
Up at seven, home by five,
Hasn’t got it up since winter time.

I really love you more than that, but I’m half man, other half alley cat.
I really love you more than that, but I’m half man, half alley cat.

Foghorns blowing, cats are hiding,
Goddamn, blue angels flying.
Having trouble falling asleep,
Gotta get to the doctor this week.
Went to his office, told him about the trip,
Checked it out, wrote me a slip.
He said “It seem you’re too often,
Next time use a little more caution,”

Sat me down, had a little chat
“Men are men, but we’re all half alley cat,”
Sat me down, had a little chat
“Men are men, but we’re all half alley cat.”

 

5. Elaine

The hospital called last night
they said you’d gone code silver
they sent the police out searchin’
found you down at fifth and minnow

High on crack cocaine
you and Juan Valdez
they sent him back to jail
and they put you back to bed

They called in the mornin’
said you were found outside
and put the phone down
Your cat jumped on my lap
and I laid down and I took a nap

Feelin’ bad and full of shame that I
somehow contributed to your pain
I wish I could help you with your problems
but babe, I got enough of my own

I fell asleep and dreamed of you
the PA said code blue
I hailed a taxicab
got there and found you up in west two

My beautiful sweet Elaine
all that was killin’ you finally drained
from your sweet angelic face
and I kneeled down and whispered your name

I cried and I cried
you crawled and found a corner and you died
I ought to kiss my sweet Elaine goodbye
and I walked out in the rain
I walked out in the rain
and there you were again
lookin’ down on me from high
like a cloud in the sky

I cried and I cried
I remember all the nights
that I loved my sweet Elaine
and that I kissed my sweet Elaine
and then I looked up high
saw you floatin’ in the sky
and I cried and I cried
like a baby I cried

Not much to pick from
in my view
trees that shake
when the wind comes through
and the boots I got
say the water is blue
but I only feel alive
when the birds fly

Not much to pick from
in my record collection
I sold ‘em all away,
don’t want no recollection
I put ‘em in the past,
don’t wanna hear the songs
just wanna play guitar
and sing my own

The phone rang I picked up
it was you
you said you were out there waitin’
I hailed a taxi pulled up front
there stood a pretty lady

smokin’ a cigarette
lookin’ eight pounds heavier
I helped you into the back
and put your bags in the trunk

 

6. The Winery

You moved up to the winery
I’m down by the oil refinery
You left my rags for his riches
Left a note best wishes

Our cats still go out at night
Cooling in the moonlight
and the lights of Martinez
Scatter on the Carquinez

I play guitar ’til morning light
alone with it I’ve built my life
Made some lovers through my skills
some have lasted others just fill time

Remembering you there with me
Taking walks along the sea
Years fly by cursing us all
end of summer end of fall winter, spring

Listening to Almeida (play)
Pavene for a dead princess
Tarrega and Albeniz and his own discantus

Santos versus Benitez
Espada versus Quevas
Ray Leonard versus Duran no more, no more
my tv glows my ceiling fan hums

Iron Mike broke bones
Julian Bream played the chaconne
Bobby Fischer took rooks
Smokin’ Joe threw hooks

Robert Burns wrote poems
Ed Gein dug up bones
Martin Luther had a dream
You never did anything

You’re up there in the vineyards
Using some pretty words
You eat at French Laundry
Burning through money

And I’m here eatin’ pistacio nuts
over by the taco truck
scribblin’ words on receipts
just go on and repeat

I walk along the service stops
and the antique shops
come home every evening
hear the dogs howling

 

7. Young Love

On cold November days don’t like to stray too far
Or even leave my bed, or put down my guitar
Or leave my master bedroom with it’s view
Overlooking the mountains

On dark December days, I think of all my friends
from Washington to Maine, New York to Sweden
And how we’ve all grown closer with years
Or how we’ve grown apart

Icicles fall from my roof, burning stove, piles of firewood
Will we meet again in Cold Brook Park
In Cold Brook Park

On January days I walk into the town
Once or twice a day some peace out here I’ve found
My clothes are wet with rain and mountain mist
Oh how I love the quiet

When February rains I’ve gone another year
Chasing perfect poems and trying them in your ear
But I’m losing the will to chase them anymore
Across those lonesome oceans

Running deer stops at a fence, sniffing at the flowering iris
Will we meet again in Cold Brook Park
Cold Brook Park

Ghosts inhabit my mountain home
They don’t frighten me, I sleep here alone
I shut out my friends, shut off the phone and
Late in the night I hear the echoes of young love

I walk downtown, saw her again
There on the corner, laughing with friends
The cool mountain air pinched her pink skin
And I walked on, aching with memories of young love

Youth walk by hand in hand
And there on the porch sits an old man
His back is tight, his splintered hands
And plain in his eyes, he envies the beauty of young love

 

8. Song For Richard Collopy 

He worked from morning til 10 at night sometimes 3am
Fixing guitars for a living honing and polishing frets
Perfecting the intonation and setting the action good
Carving saddles from ox bone bridges from Brazilian wood

He fixed my old Gibson and L double O
He reset the neck used a patch of bondo
Near the sound hole where the wood worn away
From 80 years of age and hard play

Sometimes he’d leave without warning and just close up shop
No sign no message no call no nothing he’d just stop
Coming to work and picking up the telephone
I left more than a few messages for him after the tone

All summer he wouldn’t return my calls
Hey Richard I’d like my guitar back by fall
Got a record to make and I promised to bring
The tour in England a smile to face

September or maybe October he called and said it was done
I got in a taxi got my guitar and man that thing sung
Like a choir of angels and the neck it felt great
And that was the last time I saw him late 2008

Why Richard Collopy why Richard why
Did you have to go off with the birds in the sky
You were the best guitar guy out west
I cherished your work and wish you good rest

Why Richard Collopy why oh why
Did you have to lie down and close your eyes
Close down your shop and not say goodbye
I’ll own this guitar for the rest of my life
I’ll play this guitar for the rest of my life

Why Richard Collopy why Richard why
Why Richard Collopy why Richard why
Why Richard Collopy why Richard why
Why Richard Collopy why Richard why

 

9. Among The Leaves

A pillow lays on cold cement, a blanket by a broken vent
She’s there a while, and then she’s gone

I’m away for weeks, arrive at night
She hears my steps, turns off the light and runs

No mind at all, more space than I need
It’s just me among the weeds, among the ghosts, among the leaves

We’ve never met but she’s a girl
Romance paper books
The floor is covered in long blonde curls

On afternoons I walk the graves
The rusted cars, the mine shaft caves
See a girl sadly unkempt, a child of neglect
Under moons I pass the tombs
Cross the highways, smell the fumes
See a girl frighteningly gaunt, somebody didn’t want
How do I tell her I don’t care, if she sleeps downstairs?

I see her on my errand runs
Looking nervous like a young Mia Farrow

Walking ‘long the gas stops
Window browsing pawn shops, guns, bows and arrows

Up on past the Halfway house
Past the signs Eighty South, Buttercup and Carrows

Drinking Wild Irish Rose
At the dead end down the road, sleeping with the sparrows

When evening comes I play guitar
For the planets and the stars
I leave the porch light on like I do when I’m gone
Winter, spring, summer, fall
Basement’s yours, have a ball
There’s always room for you there… really baby I don’t care

 

10. Red Poison

Walking down Green on my way Chinatown
Our flight was coming, soon to touch down
Went to pick up some china I’d chosen
The man said to me, “But these are red poison”

I took a step back, “But they’re so beautiful
You use them and you’ll fall like a mule
So what’s the price?” he shot me a scowl
But wrapped them and sold them to me anyhow

The table is set, it’s just the right tool
A slow painful death for the unknown fool
For her I await with thick bloody steaks
Served on decadent red china plates

I picked up some more and I keep them around
Keep my ear close to the ground
Waiting for others get rid of them slow
Watch their skin turn, watch their eyes doze

 

11. Track Number 8

I crossed the highways like I did as a child
On my way to the movies, I pet cats and smile
I walk the back alleys, their John Steinback calm
Fake trees, lemon trees, tall shady palms

Big empty churches, old antique stores
Peeling Victorians that used to house whores
I take the back streets back to my digs
And look up at skies like I did as a kid

My bedroom window, I’d look out and dream
Of a life close to what I’m living
A traveling singer who plays good guitar
At outdoor festivals, theatres and bars

And I got a nice girl, she’s beautiful too
We’re destined to be this, I know to be true
Sure there were others, but nothing this nice
She set the bait and I took the bite

The streets of Martinez, I love them so
I walk around thinking the sun’s always low
The cats of Martinez, I love them so
I feed them at night, they run off and go

Four kitty cats, gave them their names
Monster Fluff, Half Fluff, No Fluff and Sammy
They’re the highlights of my songwriting days
They’re happy to see me, we sit and we play

These are some words I wrote down last night
I’ve beat ’em to death and I can’t get ’em right
Songwriting’s lonely, songwriting hurts
A relentless itch and bed bug curse

Songwriting costs, it doesn’t come free
Ask Eliot Smith, ask Richie Lee
Ask Mark Linkous, ask Shannon Hoon
To get up on stage and sing you a tune

This business is troubling, a big nagging cyst
You get on this plane and I’ll sit at your desk
And I’ll leave at eight and be home by five
Call me from Warsaw if you have time

Ever wonder why there aren’t more
Than ten songs on most albums, cause it’s a chore
To write half a dozen, some guys lay back
And rest on their laurels
Like lazy old hacks

Well I wrote this one
And I know it ain’t great
We’ll probably sequence it
Track number eight
And pick up some water at 7-11
On my way to the mastering session

The streets of Martinez, I love them so
I walk out the door and the sun always flows
The cats of Martinez, I love them so
They help me forget my songwriting woes

 

12.  Not Much Rhymes With Everything’s Awesome at All Times

Things were amazing when you lived in LA
Things were sublime up in the East Bay
Then you landed in England’s grey London town
Again things were great
You say you’re a writer but what can you say
When each night ends another perfect day
When a week in a hostel was a fabulous stay
You’re just too out of reach

It’s hard to swallow your big bright pills
The one I want to ask, how do you really feel?
Can you dim the lights for just a few minutes?
Lose the phrases, the overused snippets?
You’re living among the grime and the soot
A scene straight out of a Charles Dickens book
Ain’t got no man to give you no love
A kiss on the cheek, a welcome home hug

You say you’re a poet but I’ve not read a line
Just seeing the notebook, the cover and spine
You say you’re a poet but how much rhymes
With everything’s perfect at all times?

You left for Rome and Paris, France
Came back home in a born again trance
You met me for lunch, so late one day
Out of breath with so much to say
We sat down together in a sturdy earphone
I squinted hard but could not feel your tone
I looked on at endless two-inch frames
Thinking “Christ, they’re all the fucking same”

What’s beneath your glow and your gleam?
What’s not in the picture baby?
Others start somewhere on your skin
And are there more deeper you’re writing?
Tell me about when you were a kid
Did someone you know drive off of a cliff?
Did you get picked on by your big brother?
What are you carrying? What are you smothering?

Is something crawling on you that bugs?
Is something eating away at your guts?
Is something slithering down in the drain?
Is something swimming around in your veins?
You say that you’re happy here in this place
Staring off into internet space
Trying to hit a magic button
Wake up only next to no one

Next to your laptop and your slick phone
And your book of allergic poems
You’re my friend and you know I love you
Open up, babe, no I won’t judge you
I’m an artist, it’s all that I’ve got
I know when I see one and baby, you’re not
A poet knows that not much rhymes
With everything’s perfect at all times

Say you’re a poet but I’ve not read a line
Just seeing the notebook, the cover and spine
You say you’re a poet but not much rhymes
With everything’s perfect at all times

 

13. King Fish

I sit here and wait
On the banks of the Carquinez Strait
Watching pelicans swim
For a beak of sunning king fish
And I meditate
Up shore from the golden gate

Watching sea lions bask in sunshine
And find that my eyes
Can still be awed and surprised

All night I hear wails
Of the union pacific rails
Of ally cat scratch
Of lost baby humpbacks
Of incoming ships
In from their epic long trips

And of mother’s dying these sounds never leave
Be there for them
Spend every moment you can

And love your girl dearly
Look deep into her soul
And say that I love you
Before your body turns cold
I love my girl dearly
And also her little dog Boo
We’re a small pack
And hey we’re happy too

I sing her a song I write her a poem
I gave her my bed
And the keys to my home

whenever we walk, weíll just pick up and go
out to the forest
and mountains of el dorado
and take morning walks
along the rivers that shine
like old old silver dollars
buffalo nickels and dimes

one day sheíll leave if i lie or i cheat
but I hope that she donít
cause i need her so

i tie on my bait
on a pier on the Carquinez Strait
with .. i cast
share on time with some …
i come home so proud
when my … is heavy and full
when the night .. is
and they shut down the old …

and my wonderful love
sheíll cook my favourite dish
dungeons
pan fried king fish

weíll fall asleep when are stomachs are full
and in the morning i wake
for a bigger catch of king fish

 

14. Lonely Mountain

Oh tiring city
Leave it from time to time
People with things in their ears
Cutting me off in line

Get on the long yellow highway
Need to get the hell out
Hassles, Hassles, Hassles
Always stacking up

Oh jilted lover
Why won’t you, leave me be
Why must you grind your axe
Against my, fruit bearing tree.

Oh lonely mountain
Quiet peaceful and green
Out here in isolation
Don’t hear no, ambulance scream

Oh bitter friend
Envious of others jobs
Envious of others freedom
Gotta work hard to find your sweet spot

Devoted my whole life
Nothing came by luck
Your dad paid for your college
My dad gave me five bucks

Oh endless sessions
Down here at Ellis and Hyde
My elbows at the desk
I listen and scrutinize

Come home lay down in bed
Drum loop stuck in my head
Try and shut my brain off
And open Night Stalker again

Oh lonely record
No longer has a home
Only money comes
When I get out on the road

Oh lonely ocean
Why it must I cross
To end up in Puerto Real Spain
Where I’ll turn and I’ll toss

Oh lonely singer
Lies there awake, looks at the clock
Flipping through a black book
Re-learnin’ songs that he’s forgot

Oh eager fan
Follows me show to show
If I had a good night
I might come out and say hello

Oh patient lover
Waiting by the phone
I call her from my layover
And tell her I’m coming home

Scattered lights of south San Francisco
Sparkle like diamonds
When the night is black and my airplane’s
Downward glidin’

Oh love I missed you
Lie down next to me
Sway with me like the ocean
’til I fall off into a deep long sleep

Oh dandelion comin’ up from the ground
I reach for a notebook
Write down some words
And try to wind down

 

15. UK Blues

Arrived in Helsinki, tired and sticky
My body hit the bed, I almost fell dead
Got to the venue, they ink-stamped my wrist, waitress asked me Mark…
Meat or white fish?
Got up on the stage, the sound it was ok
But I struggled like a marlin on an unlucky day
Tried a few new songs, they looked at me like what?
Where’s Katy Song, Mistress and Grace Cathedral Park?

Finland, Finland
So many trees, John Denver would be pleased
Finland, Finland
Cold as ice but the waitress she was nice

Met a Finn after. She was thin as a waif.
Big viking stepped in, big old oaf named Leif
Went back to my room, alone and I cried
been a year to the day, that my Kit Kat died
Left Helsinki, the next stop was Aarhus
A taxi, two airplanes, and a fucking shuttle bus

Denmark, Denmark
Everybody’s white, everyone rides bikes
Denmark, Denmark
Everyone rides bikes, everybody’s white

Left for London via Copenhagen, for a concert in the park at 1:30pm
Got up on the stage, people gathered round
Retro 80s band… drownded out my sound
went and got my check, went back to my room
Feeling suicidal, feeling full of gloom
Turned on the TV, there was rioting & stuff…
As if this city isn’t depressing enough

London, London
It’s all the rage if your favorite color’s beige
London, London
Look right, look left, makes me think of death

Off to Manchester, then to Bristol
Had a show on a boat, it was half full
Guy in the front, heckled me all night
Skin was a sickly mix of grey, pink, and white
Went back to my room, more riots on the news
Homesick as fuck, I got the UK blues

Bristol, Bristol
Cobblestone streets, people missing teeth
Bristol, Bristol
Is this really what people eat?

Back to London, then to Belfast
Had to catch a plane, had to get there fast
Had to get a room, had to change my clothes
Had to change my strings, check my sound and play a show
Had to meet some friends, had to take a bath
Had to catch a flight, going home at last.

Belfast, Belfast
Out the taxi window cows sleeping on the grass
Belfast, Belfast
Out the taxi window cows sleeping on the grass

 

16. UK Blues 2

Oh England, oh the gloom
I just left my horribly lonely room
I walked to the church where I would play
That cold grey August day
Before I went on, I knew you were there
But I put it on like I didn’t care
Just played and sang as well as I could
If we were to meet, well then we would

When I saw your face, yeah it was still
That one from those early harmony fills
There on that dark Manchester night
A riot began but things felt alright
Off to a pub with chatty young Brits
Listening to all of their horseshit
Glanced at your boots, that watch on your wrist
How do I pull you away?

Where are you staying?
“Down the street”
Could I help you off of your sleepy feet?
Your eyes are far and glazy
Could I walk you back?
Don’t be crazy
Crazy crazy
Could I have this night and sing you to sleep?
Crazy crazy

Morning came, a note from the desk
Belfast, you asked, and I said yes
I earned my share and polished my shoes
But nothing would kill my UK blues
UK UK blues
From the top of my head
To the heels of my shoes
UK UK blues
Inside my head
And inside my shoes

Met up on that Main Street of town
Played to a half empty room of clowns
When I was done, some drunk Irishman
Said worst night I’ve had since Bill
Had some laughs and signed autographs
Grabbed my pitiful handful of cash
The night was slipping off too soon
Tomorrow, goodbye, sad Irish moon

We walked along, you slightly ahead
til we landed on your big king bed
Our brains burned, our bodies hurt
I like your stockings and long leather skirt
I’m fading off, could I stay the night?
“Don’t be crazy, it doesn’t feel right”
Come on Irene, are you sure?
God fuck this lonely tune

Walked back down those terrible halls
Past those dark chocolate brown walls
Looked up at the ceiling
A gold skin peeling
You never write and you never call
I sometimes wonder, will you at all?
But time is past, doesn’t phase me
Don’t be crazy

 

17. Black Kite

Those crowing crows, nicotine stains my throat
On a slow moving boat, I move, looking for you

Down the river along the sea
Up in the sky a big black kite follows

Stranger with skin pale as the moon
Who woke me in my hotel room
On my made connection to an unknown world
I’m hoping to find you

Down the mountain, pear and apple trees
Up in the breeze, a big black sheet falling

Empty park so lifeless and quiet, walk it every day
On my way to Chinatown to buy presents for my love
Black kite black kite black kite

Telephone beside my bed, will it ever ring?
Paper laying at my door, air outside the window
Black kite black kite black kite