California

by Paul Curreri

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1.
Sweet love, I write you from a midnight After a long, cold walk toward the starlight Now I can go on The painful wonder, over and under, back stiff from the load The darkness rattled and dogged my boyhood & I wished I'd stayed at home Till somebody's fingers played my keys and now I can go on Somebody's garden tended to me, and now I can go on Now guitar strings buzzing without even touching them From the white light of such mercy This new inheritance - spaciously spirited - cries it'd always heard me I'm washing linen; I'm hanging pictures and now I can go on I'm placing your hairbrush by the open window and now I can go on I will not forget deciphering the most horrifying of certainties Where any illness I was suffering from was a twisted arm behind me And there were killers - real killers - and I was unaccompanied But now I'm leaning toward your finding me and making new memories I sing this shirtless I can see Memphis and now I can go on I press my mouth against a feathered benevolence Now I can go on Sweet love, I write you from a midnight and now I can go on After a long, cold walk toward the starlight now I can go on
2.
Once upon a rooftop You was cradling a crap guitar And a sinking suspicion That "Man, I know who I are" Then a shingle came loosening Sounded like a Velcro Jesus You missed dinner that evening And awoke with a soul prosthesis Doctor come, pills flying outta his ears Thumbs on insurance papers Says "Autograph this and enjoy these beers and enjoy yourself sooner than later" Don't know what to tell you But that sure explains a lot Seems last winter I had what you got I found myself burning a piece of French toast And soon, anything that smelled of sweetness With a belt-loop lariat, I lasso'd that smoke And ended up in Encinitas And that is where I bought the boat I'm so glad you wrote Brown-skin Betty and her friend crying "North Dakota" Overhearing we Geronimo'n Coming on all glad to know ya So with knife eyes kill ya And mouth holes drink your liquor We four set sail for A place where happier's quicker So with coky come now & fashion go gone The four forgotten into the vapor Kids write about them until they're about twenty They enjoyed themselves sooner than later
3.
4.
Here comes another morning Where the sunlight seems surprising So it's wake and make the coffee That almost wasn't dranken And there's nothing on the radio To help to drown the brake squeak To help to drown the pen squeak That's writing down more errands So it's meet at noon for iced tea Beside the statue downtown Where neither knows the name of The flowers on the median That bends as trolleys pass them Full of people passing Past the people drinking Beside the statue downtown Yes indeed Oh, it's plain to see Time and me Move at different speeds With eyes like bumper stickers That advertise the future Women paint the playground The colors of a sports team That focuses on greatness And certain kinds of spirit And that's rooted for on weekends By folks who share its cosmos Do do do do do do the deed My darling little baby For some it takes some tugging on For some it comes innately Do do do do do do the deed My crooked little creature Jimmy Crack Corn, and I don't care The devil wants to meetcha Tonight some friends go drinking Laugh at stories of what usedta No one eyes the clock hands No one feels the danger That'll come in a couple of hours When there's cut hair in the bathroom & laughter's echo is just like A bird against a window
5.
I'ma write this song before I'm tired of the music A pretty little hour, before the music gets tired Alone for a minute in the principal's office Find the strangest of things in his Firefox history Grab an LP and the AC, and spin them both clockwise Baby, let's do The Greyhound - real fast and in chase It's hard not to look at my hands as I do this The director's directing me, playing me ace Come a gentle northwestern How steady she blows Stowing me sugar in the hold down below From bright Buena Vista, to Fool's Fortune Isle Tight pack me sugar in the hold for a while Downhill from the traffic, there's a family fish market It's been there for years. You can read all about it I might like to relearn how to make my eyes sparkle You get an apron, and a nametag, and sweet softshell discount You could say the dove circles, or the crow it seeks land Trying to outrun the black hole when the cock crows again And that's true, and I love you, but some mornings feel bad If you wanna have a kid, we can talk about that
6.
California 03:54
Too few folks know how fun it is To believe in invisible stuff like this I'ma drink wine till I can see The great beyond in the room with me California Happy all the time Burn that bridge and bet that farm There's risk of loss when one wants this hard To drift among the untied knots To get your passport stamped where your heroes got caught O, to wake and find the webbing gone And a circular structure in one's song Playing harmony to both earth and air And bobbing the heads of the unaware The all in all is blue The all in all is blue Baby don't worry, you're why I'm here at all
7.
Scotty Joplin woke late and saw the sun on the grand He quickly knocked out the picture and called up Joseph Lamb And got through He said "I woke in a room that needed my power I gave myself to the morning and watched As night-blooming flowers bloomed" He was not one He was many But he'd be the one if there had to be any He'd get off of that street & get himself onto the road Get me off of that street & get me onto the road A young woman sat smoking in the rain up in Brooklyn "What I want", she said, soaking "Is just to do what I couldn't use to do" And when she hung up, I asked her She washed out her eyes She gave me the festoon of roses while I was still alive Thank you She was not one She was many But she'd be the one if there had to be any She'd get off of that street & get himself onto the road Get me off of that street & get me onto the road A garden untended and a whole lot of wine Wile take the taken for granted back into a time when And that dent in your thinking chair where your visions were fed It won't fit your ass, which will fit your head, my friend Yeah, we're friends We are not one No, we're many But we ought be the one if there has to be any And get ourselves off of that street & get ourselves onto the road Get me off of that street & get me onto the road
8.
The Line 01:55
For once, maybe it doesn't begin Where it left off A navigatable room in the dark Branches against a raised arm Bare wires tongueing Little eyes of a whole people Fireworking from the cracking boards Of dustboxes that drone on steady Like the backsides of islands The muscle memory of flatlands Outside Scottsville Men on vintage Japanese motorbikes signal to one another Zoom through plumes of yellow leaves Outside London, coach drivers do the same Replace both gloves on the wheel To dodge a turkey someone else didn't Outside Essaouira, men bathe together Discuss guimbris, streching calf skin This, till a beautifully browned forearm Smacks a river wave at a beehive swinging Kickstarting howls, gasps for air And a collective dive towards the deep dark
9.
What do you do When what you do don't do it anymore? I'm really asking, what do you do When what you do don't do it anymore? With sad eyes, say goodbye It'd be unwise to go onward The world really is an oyster for somebody like you You know that's true Now, watchu wanna do? What do you do When what you do don't do it anymore? And everywhere you go reminds you where you aren't anymore? It's a prison cell, so fare thee-well It's just as well; now go onward Cause this brought you down to this And now this just won't fix But it'd be hard not to miss What this did when it did When the fairy tale said what it's supposed to They say, what did you lose And how'd you know it was ever really yours? They say, what did you lose It doesn't really matter anymore So with sad eyes, say goodbye It'd be unwise to go onward A little bit of downtime Is something you could really use Take all the time you need Till you're feeling back to speed But really, what can you do When what you do don't do it anymore?
10.
O Love, I hear myself in the future calling O Love, seems from a mouth that's used to laughing How about that? How'd you like that? O Love, I must've traced your sandy footprints O Love, through many years of peaceful living How about that? God bless you O Love, I can see beauty's hiding in the dorm room's curtains Taking care of some college boy who's getting stoned to my music How about that? He's wearing headphones O Love, I hear blood drying on the mountain O Love, this future mountain is still expanding How about that? Still expanding! O Love, stick a needle in a rose thorn O Love, do what you know that I can handle
11.
Wildegeeses 04:39
12.
I can never return To the sun-swept future's runway Where it always was my turn To become what I could daydream It's as distant as the star that waits for the evening And somehow as clear I can never go back, never go back Now that you're here I was never that smart But I could fit into tiny pieces I had plans to slip Into that rocket ship's dark glovebox But as I watched the rocket's tail dive over the stars And light began to measure years I knew I could never go back, never go back Now that you're here As long as the sing song's sung on high So long to the left behind I wish every man and woman could kiss my wife Friends you are looking at a man Who is honestly saved It ain't hard for me to say it, I'm a man who's saved I can never go back To making light out've all that darkness I really used to really drink it in I tacked it up besides my Van Gogh posters But the moment I saw you, my house fell to splinters And Edgar Allen kissed Edward Lear I can never go back, never go back Now that you're here I can never return To romancing Big Empty I'm not saying that the highway isn't real It just starts and stops at home One can travel perpendicular to 3D space It's simpler than it appears I can never go back, never go back Now that you're here
13.
Just beside the high beams, this side of darkness It's all still happening down by the water Down by the water, out in the moonlight White teeth sharpening, down by the water Rooted in the soil, black scratching sky One look in the finite, one foot in Divine Down by the water, your sons and daughters Mile-long love line, mile-long eyelash Dogs are howling - want to get closer Down by the water, out in the moonlight Everything matters down by the water Rooted in the soil, black scratching sky One look in the finite, one foot in Divine Down by the water, doing what they oughta That's not the weather. That ain't no heartburn Radiator ain't banging. That ain't no big rig That's something different down by the water Go back to sleep now. We're down by the water Rooted in the soil, black scratching sky One look in the finite, one foot in Divine Down by the water

credits

released October 6, 2009

Thank you Devon. Always, & over & over.
Also, so much to Richard Guy, Sarah Morgan, Maria Curreri, Keith & Jen Morris, BJ Kocen, Jeff Romano, Matt Curreri, Bill Baldwin, Oliver Betts, G. Vaughn, Billy Hunt, Steve Keene, Michael Hurley, Brady Earnhart, & especially Andy Friedman, who encouraged this one like crazy.

Produced by Paul Curreri

All vocals & instruments by Paul Curreri
except electric guitars, piano & vocals on "Wildegeeses" by Devon Sproule
Recorded and mixed in Amanda's Old Room in Charlottesville, VA, by Paul Curreri
Mastered at Greenwood Studio in Greenwood, VA, by Jeff Romano

All songs by Paul Curreri © 2009 Merdaloy Music
except "Wildegeeses" by Michael Hurley (© ⓟ Michael Hurley Snocko Music BMI, administered by Bug Music) and "Stephen Crane" by Brady Earnhart (© ⓟ Brady Earnhart BMI)
Both used with permission

Design & layout: Oliver Betts
Photo by G. Vaughn
"Runner-ups" painting by Steve Keene, photographed by Billy Hunt
Drawings by Paul Curreri

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