Released by Grizzly Records
The Death of Samuel Miller juxtaposes formative moments in Samuel’s past with the present of 1990, the year of his passing. The scene throughout is a rural community just north of Reading, Pennsylvania.
In 1952, Samuel Miller found himself a single father responsible for the care of his infant daughter, Dorothy. Over the next four years, Samuel met and married his second wife, the much younger Sarah. Now in 1990, in his eightieth year, Samuel is dying at home.
Andrew Ciampa- lead electric guitar, megaphone, group vocals, handclaps, finger snaps
Dan Comly- Juno synthesizer, piano, group vocals
Michael Giuliana- drum kit, suspended cymbal, tambourine
Ben Rosen- bass guitar, glockenspiel, Juno synthesizer, group vocals
Eric Krewson- vocals, rhythm electric and acoustic guitar, twelve-string guitar, trumpet, melodica, harmonica, whistle, snare drum, suspended cymbal, tambourine, handclaps, finger snaps, book, TV antenna, sound design, samples
Madeline Bell- violin, Hannah Judd- cello, Elijah J. Thomas- flute, piccolo, and alto saxophone, Jack Saint-Clair- clarinet, Jeff Molush- trombone, Víctor P. García-Gaetán- vibes, Alexa Cabellon- vocals, Joe Reinhart- group vocals
You shuffle across the floor—a word, at last. Lightening flashed! A face from my past. The familiar cadences, a love for sixteenth-century theology—who else? My baby finds me restless at night and brings me back to bed. She speaks in quiet tones and smiles, but I hear her crying herself to sleep. You broke an alabaster jar for me, and I a sinner. Did you ever think I wasn’t worth it? My baby finds me restless at night and brings me back to bed. She speaks in quiet tones and smiles, but I see her drawing up her retreat. We shuffle around the news. We both ask, how long will I put you through this? Those absent hours, your job on hold, the all day vigils to aid a wretched soul. My baby finds me restless at night and brings me back to bed. She speaks in quiet tones and smiles, but I feel her drifting away. I know the effort it takes. I see the signs in her face and I know I’m far too late.
Track Name: Worth Writing Home About (1952)
I was stopping at every window, looking in every house to see what I had lost. I saw a teenage dream flash on the screen—the thoughts come right back. Is there something worth writing home about, someplace worth calling home? Remember your own: that mystic light that shone off lake Ontelaunee; the Fairground Square Mall and the college kids we'd call, laughing on and on. It was something worth writing home about, someplace worth calling home. My baby cries and I shut my eyes. I’m on the phone with anyone with advice until the pickup pulls up and an older me steps out to help Samuel around the house. Is there someplace worth writing home about? Is this anything, anything worth calling home? It was something worth writing home about, someplace worth calling home.
Track Name: Benediction
My daughter comes to visit me with a new boy she’s been seeing. He wears a grin up on his face just like I used to. You’re the spitting image of a teenage me. Your mother’s palms sweating in the July heat. Did you come for benediction? Because you’re the ones blessed. I’m helpless.
Track Name: Feast of St. Mary (1955)
St. Mary’s feast day and red carnations. A smile, a glance, a tacit hope. A swollen breast and eyes lit up. My voice that cracked and quivered. A hand on mine, a hand to hold, to frame the scene and place it. A mind to learn with plans to make daughter’s bottle and warm blankets. A hollowed heart, a longed-for touch, a name that rang and caught me. On St. Mary’s feast day, I found you waiting. And we left that holy place as one.
Track Name: Dance to the Neighbor’s Stereo
I felt better today for the first time. I pushed the medication tray to the side. Saw my Sarah on the couch, humming along to the synthesized beat of a snare. I kicked off the Dr. Scholl’s inserts. I let the night robe fall. Sarah shuffled on, offered her hand and the synthesized beat led us on. We dance to the neighbor’s stereo, dance to that trash they play. We dance to the neighbor’s stereo and their odd ways. You lean in to tell me something. Words that I cannot hear. But the movement of your mouth, the fall of your bangs—my darling, my darling we’re here to dance to the neighbor’s stereo, dance to that trash they play. We dance to the neighbor’s stereo in our odd way.
Track Name: Psalm 128 (1956)
My Sarah looking down, staring out the window—watch the cars pass in and out, around dead ends. Was I biding my time biting my tongue? Here’s a question for you, a question for us. I saw my Sarah walking down, skipping cracks in the pavement with a worry in her heart and a doubt ringing in her mind—but I caught it then, and we found rest. My Sarah looking down, staring out the window—watch the cars pass to their dead ends. I was biding my time biting my tongue. Here’s a question, Sarah, a question for us.
Track Name: Happy Anniversary
I was out of date as the ENIAC. Don't ask. I was out of date, past the expiration like a Hostess cake thrown away. Sarah picks me up; she combs my hair, shaves my mouth—and I just faint. Now I turn to say on our wedding day, on this golden day:
Track Name: Hello, Life (1958)
We watch the children as they line up for the bus one-by-one. As you voice your last concern, the windows clack. Goodbye, Mom. Dorothy meets us at the front door after school. She’s reciting plants: Azalea, the birch, the linden and the saucer magnolia, her favorite. We watch the children as they line up for the bus. You tell your last concern—the windows shut. Hello, life.
Track Name: Convalescence
Old forgotten sitcoms play all day long. Game show theme songs, laundry detergent, TV movies, and Rhoda. Flash of newsreels, recent histories. "Mr. Gorbachov, tear down…" [turns channel]—"something in my finest suit!" Sarah switched off the TV and the dream world stopped for a minute. And then it goes. Dorothy comes in to take my pulse. 'Daughter, do I know you? And do the tears in your eyes ever stop?' Old forgotten me feeling better, feeling worse—better, worse. Sarah switched off the TV to hold me close.
Track Name: Brother, My Brother (1960)
I came home to find you on the floor, the oak dresser pushed up against the door. Your wife sat at the table with your daughters down the hall. My Sarah called the doctor and we bandaged all we could. I stared straight at my brother—the little that was left of him—I turned my cheek and smote the earth, and kicked him out of hate. We left that room, fled into the night. Our crop stood still, unmoving then. The air was cold and the night was clear. The ambulance moaned long and load. O Absalom, poor Absalom, who hung between heaven and earth. My brother chose the latter to hang himself upon. I came home to find you pressed against the floor. And I tried hard to forgive you for the life you left us.
Track Name: Daylight
Like an old coin used up and tossed from some balcony into the river; like a snowflake fallen among us melts on the cold concrete of the day, I stare inside an empty house and gone are all that I loved. A father is left to rot. But forgive me family. An old man knows not what he says—except when he does. But that is not now, and it was not then. I hear a call and I see the kids who sing on all through the day—a light not meant to fade. Like an old coin used up and tossed from some balcony, I am not. The light does not fade. The light does not give.