Long Lost / A History Of Iniquity

by The Chairman Dances

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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


all rights reserved


Track Name: Safe From Sadness
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.
Track Name: A Social Affair
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.
Track Name: Winter Trip
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.
Track Name: The Rains Keep Coming
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.
Track Name: Our Hearts Beating
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.
Track Name: A Night Out
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.
Where my friends and I can sit and talk a while.
Track Name: Our Children Take Our Place
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

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.
Track Name: Every Night's A Promise
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.
Track Name: We Interrupt This Broadcast
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.
Track Name: Long Lost
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.
Track Name: Valeria
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?
Track Name: The Ground Beneath Our Feet
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

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
Track Name: Darkest Days
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
Track Name: A Name, A Sign
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
Track Name: In The Bed Of A Younger Age
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
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