Long Lost / A History Of Iniquity

by The Chairman Dances

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1.
You held me up when the news came in. You brushed back my hair; Your breath cooled my skin. You promised you’d stay The night and more And help with the neighbors That wait by the door. All wait with the same grace To offer a love that I just can’t face. Not with the smoke still rising And her voice still calling. We pulled down the blinds, Switched off the light. We made for the back stairs, Outside, then out of sight. Past soldiers, screaming cars, We made our mark. Watched the smoldering sun set On Elkins Park. A ribbon of crimson Runs from the newsprint. But here we are safe from the sadness.
2.
The stage is set and you are swinging your fists around “like a mad person,” they say—but up your sleeve is something good. The guests lean back appalled. The lack of decorum shown! Like they understand respect. They cut their teeth on strangers nightly. And with her glass raised she paints the scene in black and white. Every motive is laid bare and the hands go up in protest wildly. But she’s just started this night, and they won’t budge an inch. They’ve too much pride to protect, too much at stake in this social affair. Now our hosts plead for silence (they calmly will explain). But this night was meant for them, and they’ll drop like flies around the open flame of the heart that was torn here and thrown aside. And for what? For some fuck not to pass up? He’s old enough to be her father. “Crash,” go the unsaid acts that hang above the set. Here fly the untold words, the margin of the script. These walls, they will collapse; the day will take them back as the sun lights up the storied strip.
3.
Winter Trip 04:38
I packed up most my things and headed west— The souls that I had left Waving from the dash. I’d see a friend I knew In just an hour’s time. I would find A house, a love that I would keep as mine. Her smile pierced the night, and it pricked my heart. And you never stood apart. You never wanted that. We never wanted anyone, But how the years change that. There we sat, Two lovers, and some ghost who choked on his last laugh. Tell me friend, can that feeling really truly last? When the day has finally passed, Can you sit in peace? Don’t you tear open the last few years? Don’t you recite each line That you missed, And wish to God you hadn’t? … Does it last? May it last. Our spring will come at last.
4.
My brother calls me—he’s sick, lying on the floor of some stranger’s bathroom, howling, clawing at the door. I should have known by the look on your face, by that lonesome smile and the friends that you embrace. Oh, the rains keep coming, pouring down upon us. And the winds, they whine, blowing us over again. Every step seems a mistake. Now Jenny shows up and she tells me what she’s done: she has run off, and she has left her one true love. Her days so quiet and her future so secure, a ring on her finger—she was bored. Oh, the rains keep coming, pouring down upon us. And the winds, they whine. No, we cannot hide, just wipe the tears from our eyes. There’s a calm that you fake as you move through your day. Oh, you hold your head up high and you speak as though the night doesn’t cause you any pain. No one suspects any blame or that blood on your wrist or that fallen angel’s kiss. Your mind comes undone so easily by anyone and you blame it on your youth, you tell yourself you will improve in time. You know it’s a lie. The rains keep coming, pouring down upon us. And the winds, they whine. Don’t ask why when your life passes you by.
5.
What you give— A sly remark and a twist of your wrist. You’re on your way. Drove across the coast to New Orleans, today. What I need— The kind of love that I can keep. You ran away. Oh, that’s my heart talking. It’s just my heart talking that way. The last three weeks We said our goodbyes beneath your satin sheet, And after months Of watching our friends turn one by one. This place is poisoned now. Alarms ring out, The dogs bark… We need to make a decision. Act, don’t think. Yeah, act, don’t think— That’s your heart talking. Just your heart talking, today. What we’ll find When the daylight goes And when we have the time— The absence aches, At home and away. It’s just our hearts beating. Just our hearts beating. It’s just our hearts.
6.
A Night Out 02:38
Take me somewhere tonight Where the laughter is loud, Where the colored lights burn bright And spiral above our heads. And the names mentioned Are all good friends— We wish them well. Embraces all around. Has it been 3 years And Are you staying in town… Or at your parents’ house? Soon our words will turn From the kicks we had To new lives made And what you never heard—why I left. Take me somewhere tonight. Anywhere Where my friends and I can sit and talk a while.
7.
The worst things can be best for us, So drink your fill of poison left for us. Wipe your cheek on your sleeve And fix yourself in the mirror. Our demons must speak Convincingly. On a cold winter’s evening We will find our younger selves. Our husbands by our side, We’ll find the time we lost: 18 years Give or take 1 or 2, or maybe more— Somewhere we lost track Of you, In our haste. A crippling fate welcomes you— Our children take our place. And on a cold winter’s evening We walk this house, Put our ears to the wall, Try to make out the cries, The laughs from a time we lost. We will find our younger selves In the face, in the gait of our young; In a smile that’s not ours… But it is ours.
8.
My little girl sits wondering Just what the darkness holds, And the little story I told To help her fall asleep; To help her soul to keep And file the nighttime’s teeth. Oh child, every night’s a promise Of a silver light the dawn will bring. My wife and I sit sober On the covers of the bed. We dress our fear in silence And watch the news till 10. Come 12 you won’t forget The bills, our crushing debt. Oh lover, every star’s a glimpse Of a wealth that’s sure to come. Lord, let it come.
9.
Her hair pulled back, She steps toward the microphone. She sees everyone. And stuck on her tongue Are the words she had chosen Just for this day. Light floods the room. From the corners, the camera crews… The questions will come soon. The tapes roll and wait For a slip. An innocent mistake Is all that it was that day. A bandage removed for all to see And all are watching. The faces at home, they plead For another victim; they bare their teeth. The nation feeds on its own.
10.
Long Lost 02:31
Loving Mother, What do you know Of a sadness that comes and goes? Dearest Sister, Well, can you tell Of a time we were sure of ourselves? My last son, My first mistake Was to give you a heart that could break So easily. Baby brother, It’s ever the same. We’re sure we’re to blame. Always. Long lost lover, Did you run very far? I wait on our front step For a word of where you are. A girl by my side, She’s skipping stones. She has her mother’s mouth, Her father’s fragile bones.
11.
Valeria 03:15
Valeria pins down her boy And, like Jacob, she is surprised By the look she gets And the blessing Her hopes have come home And they lie there, grinning “For a month, at least, I know,” he says “It’s here I’ll be staying” He brushes the bells That ring above the sink She dries his hands And holds them close Points to every new scar “Oh, those were there before” Valeria, hand on hip Motions towards the bedroom door Alone, I saw terrible things those nights Maybe you saw worse in St. Louis But I doubt it And you'll be gone in a day or two Won't you?
12.
You feel it more and more After the bar, when you walk through your door You pull down the shade You call up some friend Pretend you never left where you had been And when it’s 12 o’clock there You let down your hair And you sing along to some song whose thought you share When it’s nearing the end You understand just then Your happiness lies for you Somewhere Now, with love, you unfold your maps Plot your course in a series of thumbtacks It is an unholy path drawn up in sheets Our lives We are nothing But the ground beneath our feet Across each foreign shape Carved out neatly in black paint You smooth out every crease and trace the lives of those misplaced Those flanked by men who choked On advancing lines of smoke Those who never wanted life so safe You’ve no place You’ve no home
13.
Darkest Days 04:37
We used to walk ourselves to the Carnaval parades Dressed as demons and scaring kids We would find a ledge and tell stories to the bursting flames And the darkest days we would praise Give us a quarter; we’ll light the way Your hand held like a knife, you thrash and jab Last night’s hit still warm at your fingertips The men that gather holler, and the thundering claps As the money rains down into our laps Give us a quarter; give us a clap We used to gird ourselves and carry the moon on our backs We’d ride the rails for the thrill of it all There was a wanting in our lungs, there was an itching in our throats For the untold truths—happiness hidden from most They came like the numberless waves on the limitless coast A stage is set up right The sky ripped open, shot with earth The cheerless locked inside drab houses The tellers come to me and ask which hell comes first I’ll give you a quarter; give us your worst
14.
I met you in the spring New annuals were blooming I hid my girl from view Went to talk, and try my luck with you You gave me your name and a sign And we made for the kitchen to be alone You poured us some wine We stayed up to greet the day Any trace of yesterday washed, dried, and put away We joked about your time in the Eastern Bloc Well, this one was sure to talk You held out your hands and I gaped At the sound it made when we hit the ground In an embrace Now, from the corner of our flat I watch you pace from the window and back Your chestnut hair shines, and your bitter tongue flames As news comes through our borrowed short wave And at 11 pm we hold in our breath Then we run through the streets with our arms up over our heads You pause to stop my mouth with yours and my heart starts to ring We head home marveling at the day and what it may bring
15.
I check my watch—oh, where is he Stuck in the lobby With the New York white coat With a hook on his arm and two jealous eyes leering at me Who says “Your Charlie’s Probably down by the water…already on the boat” Our lady in the royal blue uniform waves her clipboard, we gather around One last advertisement sounds For what she promises Lies Just past that coastline With a sweep of her hand, the crowd files through the door I check the time twice more Look once towards the room, then follow behind Welcome to Havana,reads a burlap sign hanging The ship’s rumba band is playing And the Americans clap when a few bars of a foxtrot are heard A soldier asks where my husband is—“I do not know,” I confess “Well, you’ll have another soon in that dress” He joked, and we danced through the night unreserved “Cut his goddam throat”—An honest blade appeared A diamond bracelet fell near A married man on his knees And when the sun reached the tip of the sky A knife of northern steel was wiped dry Two unlikely heroes pried through the wallet of the deceased And in the bed of some younger age I mend what is torn, I pray Turn my skin of clay And sing of the dark in place Then walking down that sovereign street With the sun on my back, a new smile carved in his sleep Well, I knock twice on that door Oh, I can’t wait to see the look on Charlie’s face

credits

released July 15, 2011

All tracks recorded live by Joe Reinhart at The Headroom, Philadelphia, April 9-10, 2011, with the exception of “The Ground Beneath Our Feet,” “A Name, A Sign,” and “In The Bed Of A Younger Age,” recorded by Joe Bisirri at Miner Street Studios, Philadelphia, July 9, 2009 | All songs mastered by Ryan Schwabe at The Maniac Mansion, Philadelphia

Booking/Press contact: band@thechairmandances.com

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