Lyrics file for the sunset tree

you or your memory

I checked into a bargain priced room on la cienaga, gazed out through the curtains of the parking lot. walked down to the corner store just before nightfall in my bare feet. black tarry asphalt, soft and hot. and when I came back I spread out my supplies. on the counter by the sink, I looked myself right in the eyes st. joseph's baby aspirin, bartles and jaymes, and you or your memory. I ducked behind the drapes when I saw the moon begin to rise, gathered in my loose ends switched off the light. and down there in the dark I can see the real truth about me. as clear as day, lord if I make it through tonight then I will mend my ways and walk the straight path to the end of my days. st. joseph's baby aspirin, bartles and jaymes, and you or your memory.

broom people

'36 hudson in the garage, all sorts of junk in the unattached spare room, dishes in the kitchen sink, new straw for the old broom, friends who dont have a clue, well meaning teachers, but down in your arms, in your arms, I am a wild creature. floor two foot high with newspapers, white carpet thick with pet hair, half eaten gallons of ice cream in the freezer, fresh fuel for the sodium flares, I write down good reasons to freeze to death in my spiral ring notebook, but in the long tresses of your hair I am a babbling brook.

this year

I broke free on a saturday morning. I put the pedal to the floor. headed north on mills avenue, and listened to the engine roar. my broken house behind me and good things ahead, a girl named cathy wants a little of my time. six cylinders underneath the hood crashing and kicking, ahhh listen to the engine whine. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me. I played video games in a drunken haze I was seventeen years young. hurt my knuckles punching the machines the taste of scotch rich on my tongue. and then cathy showed up and we hung out. trading swigs from the bottle all bitter and clean locking eyes, holding hands, twin high maintenance machines. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me. I drove home in the california dusk. I could feel the alcohol inside of me hum. picture the look on my stepfather's face, ready for the bad things to come. I downshifted as I pulled into the driveway. the motor screaming out stuck in second gear. the scene ends badly as you might imagine, in a cavalcade of anger and fear. there will be feasting and dancing in jerusalem next year. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me. I am going to make it through this year if it kills me.


the reception's gotten fuzzy. the delicate balance has shifted. put on your gloves and your black pumps. let's pretend the fog has lifted. now you see me. now you don't. now you say you love me. pretty soon you won't. if we get our full threescore and ten, we won't pass this way again. so kiss me with your mouth open. turn the tires toward the street and stay sweet. all the chickens come on home to roost. plump bodies blotting out the sky. you know it breaks my heart in half, in half when I see them trying to fly. 'cause you just can't do things your body wasn't meant to. hike up your fishnets. I know you. if we live to see the other side of this, I will remember your kiss. so do it with your mouth open. and take your foot off of the brake for christ's sake.

dance music

alright I'm on johnson avenue in san luis obispo and I'm five years old or six maybe. and indications there's something wrong with our new house trip down the wire twice daily I'm in the living room watching the watergate hearings while my step father yells at my mother. launches a glass across the room, straight at her head and I dash upstairs to take cover. lean in close to my little record player on the floor. so this is what the volume knobs for. I listen to dance music. dance music. ok so look I'm seventeen years old, and you're the last best thing I've got going. but then the special secret sickness starts to eat through you. what am I supposed to do? no way of knowing, so I follow you down your twisting alleyways, find a few cul de sacs of my own. there's only one place where this road ever ends up. and I don't want to die alone. let me down, let me down, let me down gently. when the police come to get me I'm listening to dance music. dance music.

dinu lapatti's bones

we stank of hair dye and ammonia. we sealed ourselves away from view. you were looking at the void and sat unblinking. the best that I could do was to train my eyes on you. we scaled the hidden hills beneath the surface, scraped our fingers bloody on the stones. and built our little house that we could live in out of dinu lapatti's bones. we kept our friends at bay all summer long. treated the days as if they'd kill us if they could. ringing out the hours like blood drenched bed sheets to keep winter time at bay but december showed up anyway. there was no money it was money that you wanted. I went downtown, sold off most of what I owned. and we raised a tower to broadcast all our dark dreams from dinu lapatti's bones.

up the wolves

there's bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet no matter where you live. there'll always be a few things, maybe several things that you're going to find really difficult to forgive. there's going to come a day when you feel better. you'll rise up free and easy on that day. and float from branch to branch, lighter than the air. just when that day is coming, who can say? who can say? our mother has been absent ever since we founded rome. but there's going to be a party when the wolf comes home. were going to commandeer the local airwaves to tell the neighbours whats been going on. and they will shake their heads and wag their bony fingers in all the wrong directions, and by daybreak we'll be gone. I'm going to get myself in fighting trim, scope out every angle of unfair advantage. I'm going to bribe the officials. I'm going to kill all the judges. it's going to take you people years to recover from all of the damage. our mother has been absent ever since we founded rome. but there's going to be a party when the wolf comes home. go!

lion's teeth

the king of the jungle was asleep in his car. when your chances fall in your lap like that, you gotta recognize them for what they really are. nobody in this house wants to own up to the truth. I crawl in shotgun and reach into his mouth and grab hold of one long, sharp tooth and hold on. for dear life, I hold on. well of course he wakes up. his paw hits the horn. I am going to regret the day that I was born. and then mom rushes out to the driveway my sister too everyone screaming, I am dreaming of you. I hold on. for dear life, I hold on. and my arms get sore. and my palms start to sweat. and the tears roll down my face, till my cheeks are hot and red and soaking wet. in come the cops they blow torch the doors. I start wailing. the lion roars. there's no good way to end this. anyone can see there's this great big you, and little old me. and we hold on. for dear life, we hold on. we hold on.

hast thou considered the tetrapod

you are sleeping off your demons when I come home. spittle bubbling on your lips, fine white foam I am young and I am good. it's a hot southern california day. if I wake you up, there will be hell to pay. and alone in my room, I am the last of a lost civilization. and I vanish into the dark and rise above my station. rise above my station. but I do wake you up, and when I do you blaze down the hall and you scream. I'm in my room with the headphones on deep in the dream chamber. and then I'm awake and I'm guarding my face, hoping you don't break my stereo. because it's the one thing that I couldn't live without and so I think about that and then I sorta black out. held under these smothering waves by your strong and thick veined hand, but one of these days I'm going to wriggle up on dry land.


feed the kittens in the kitchen. set food out for the strays. try hard to do your best. the magpie will have his way. fill your mouth with berries by the full light of the moon. work all night if you have to. the magpie comes at noon. shore up the crucifixes above the archways and the doors. the magpie will come at midday. and you will go down on all fours. and when the cherries white with blossoms be ready and be brave. and remember what we had here when there was something left to save.

song for dennis brown

on the day that dennis brown's lung collapsed, spring rain was misting down on kingston. and down at the harbor, local cops were intercepting an inbound shipment. and for a while there it was chaos as they handcuffed and then roughed up some sailors. on the day my lung collapses it's not going to be much different. on the day that dennis brown's habits caught up with him, school children sang in choirs. and out behind the Chinese restaurants guys were jumping into dumpsters. and the stench was overbearing, but they were past the point of caring. on the day my habits catch up with me I'll be down among the jumpers. and when the birds come home in spring, we will fill them full of buckshot. and jets of contaminated blood will cloud the rivers and the lakes. it took all the coke in town to bring down dennis brown. on the day my lung collapses we'll see just how much it takes.

love love love

king saul fell on his sword when it all went wrong, and joseph's brothers sold him down the river for a song, and sonny liston rubbed some tiger balm into his glove. some things you do for money and some you do for love love love. raskolnikov felt sick but he couldn't say why when he saw his face reflected in his victim's twinkling eye. some things you'll do for money and some you'll do for fun, but the things you do for love are going to come back to you one by one. love love is going to lead you by the hand into a white and soundless place. now we see things as in a mirror dimly. then we shall see each other face to face. and way out in seattle young kurt cobain snuck out to the greenhouse, put a bullet in his brain. snakes in the grass beneath our feet, rain in the clouds above, some moments last forever, but some flare up with love love love.

pale green things

got up before dawn went down to the racetrack. riding with the windows down shortly after your first heart attack. you parked behind the paddock, cracking asphalt underfoot, coming up through the cracks pale green things pale green things we watched the horses run their workouts. you held your stopwatch in your left hand and a racing form beneath your arm, casting your gaze way out to no man's land. sometimes I'll meet you out there lonely and frightened. flicking my tongue out at the wet leaves pale green things pale green things my sister called at three a.m. just last december. she told me how you'd died at last, at last and that morning at the race track was one thing I remembered. I turned it over in my mind like a living chinese finger trap. seaweed and indiana sawgrass pale green things pale green things
thanks to many people for submissions on this album, including carl wilson, piotr gawor, christopher dino, and eric bowen