The Big Picture

The picture's far too big to look at kid, your eyes won't open wide enough
And you're constantly surrounded by the swirling stream of what is and what was
Well, we've all made our predictions but the truth still isn't out
But if you wanna see the future, go and stare into a cloud
And keep trying to find your way out through that maze of memories
It all sorta looks familiar till you get up close then it's different clearly
But each time you turn a corner
You're right back where you were
And your only hope is that forgetting might make a door appear
Is it your fear of being buried that makes you so afraid to speak?
An avalanche of opinions like the one that fell that I'm now underneath
It was my voice that moved the first rock and I would do it all again
I mean, it's cool if you keep quiet but I like singing
So I'll be holding my note and stomping and strumming and feeling so very lucky
And there is nothing I know except a lifetime's one moment and wishing will just leave you empty
So you can try to live in darkness but you will never shake the light
No, it will greet you every morning, make you more aware with its absence at night
When you're wrapped up in your blankets, baby, that comfortable cocoon
But I've seen the day of your awakening, boy, and it's coming soon
So go ahead and lose yourself in liquor and you can praise the clouded mind
But it isn't what you're thinking, no, it's the course of history, your position in line
You're just a piece of the puzzle, so I think you'd better find your place
And don't go blaming your knowledge on some fruit you ate
'Cause there's been a great deal of discussion, yes, about the properties of man
I mean, animal or angel, you were carved from bone but your heart is just sand
And the wind is gonna scatter it and cover everything with love
So if it makes you happy then keep kneeling, but I'm standing up
Because this veil it has been lifted, yes, my eyes are wet with clarity
I've been a witness to such wonders, yes, I have searched for them all across this country
But I think I'll be returning now to the town where I was born
And I understand you must keep moving, friend, but I'm headed home
Yeah, I'm gonna follow the road and let the scenery sweeping by easily enter my body
I will send this message in code, underground, through forests and deserts and cities
All across electric wire, it's a baited line, yeah the hook's in deep, boys, there's no more time
So you can struggle in the water, be too stubborn to die
Or you can just let go and be lifted to the sky


Method Acting

There's no beginning to the story
A bookshelf sinks into the sand
And a language learned and forgot in turn
Is studied once again
It's a shocking bit of footage
Viewed from a shitty tv screen
You can squint at it
Just snow and static
To make out the meaning
And keep on stretching the antenna
Hoping that it will come clear
We need some reception
A higher message
Just tell us what to fear
'Cause I don't know what tomorrow brings
To light with such possibilities
All I know is I feel better when I sing
Burdens are lifted from me
That's my voice rising

So Michael please keep the tape rolling
Boys keep strumming those guitars
We need a record of our failures
Yes we must document our love
I have sat too long in my silence
I have grown too old in my pain
To shed this skin
Be born again
Oh it starts with an ending
So thank you friends for the time we shared
My love stays with you like sunlight and air
No I truly wish I could keep hanging around here
My joy is covering me
Soon I will disappear

It's not a movie
No private screening
This method acting
Well I call it living
It's like a fountain
A door has opened
We have a problem
With no solution but to love
And to be loved
So I've made peace with the fallen leaves
I see their same fate in my own body
But I won't be frightened when I'm awoken from this dream
And return to that which gave birth to me
Gave birth to me gave birth to me gave birth to me
And the story goes and the story goes
And it goes on and on and on and on
It's going on and on and on and on


False Advertising

On a string
On a string
on a string
I was held
The way I moved, can't you tell
My actions are orchestrated from above
And so I swing and I'll sway
Wave my hand, kick my leg
And it's always right with the music
(katie and tiffany: till all that swaying starts to make you sad)
For a song, I was bought
Now I lie, when I talk
With a careful eye on the cue card
Onto a stage, I was pushed
With my sorrow well rehearsed
So give me all your pity and your money now
All of it
(katie and tiffany: we used to think that sound was something pure)
But if I could act like this was my real life
And not some cage where I was placed
Well then I could tell you
The truth like I used to
And not be afraid of sounding fake
Not while all you were listening for was the mistakes
(katie: sorry!)
It's alright
One, two, three!
One, two, three!
In a house by myself
I hear the ice start to melt
And I watched the rooftops weep for the sunlight
And I know what must change
Fuck my face, fuck my name
They are brief and false advertisements
For a soul, I don't have
Something true I have lacked
I spent my whole life trying to make up for it
But I found, in a song
And I'll repeat
It will lift me up out of darkness
And now my door
It stands open, I'm inviting all of you in
We're gonna laugh, we're gonna drink
Until the morning comes
That's what we're gonna do!
Come on!
Come on!


You Will. You? Will. You? Will. You? Will.

Well, you say that I treat you like a book on a shelf
I don't take you out that often
'Cause I know that I completed you
And that's why you are here
That's the reason you stay here
How awful that must feel
You said you'd be my dream
I could have you every night
And if by morning I'd forgotten you
Well, no big deal, that'd be all right
'Cause you're the re-occuring kind
You are the re-occuring kind
You never really leave my mind
Are you the love of my lifetime
'Cause there's been times I've had my doubts
We were just kids when I first kissed you
In the attic of my parents' house
And I wish we were there now
I took so long to figure out
What this book has been about
Now I write when I'm away
Letters that you'll never read
You said 'Go explore those other women
The geography of their bodies
But there's just one map you'll need
You're a boomerang you'll see
You will return to me
Yeah you will you will you will'
Well, if you don't think this book's all lies
If you don't think my plans would all be ruined
I'll start drinking like the way I drank before
And I just won't have a future anymore


Lover I Don't Have to Love

I picked you out
Of a crowd to talk to you
Said I liked your shoes
You said thanks can I follow you?
So it's up the stairs
And out of view
No prying eyes
I poured some wine
I asked your name you asked the time
Well it's two o'clock
Yeah the club is closed we're up the block
Your hands on me
Pressing hard against your jeans
Your tongue in my mouth
Trying to keep the words from coming out
You didn't care to know
Who else may have been here before
I want a lover I don't have to love
I want a girl who's to sad to give a fuck
Where's the kid with the chemicals?
I thought he said he'd meet us here but I'm not sure
I got the money if you got the time
He said it feels good I said I'll give it a try
Then my mind went dark
We both forgot where your car was parked
Let's just take the train
I'll meet up with the band in the morning
Bad actors with bad habits
Some sad singers
They just play tragic
Now the phone's ringing
And the band's leaving
Let's just keep touching
Let's just keep keep singing
I want a lover I don't have to love
I want a boy who's so drunk he doesn't talk
Where's the kid with the chemicals
I got a hunger and I can't seem to get full
I need some meaning I can memorize
The kind I have always seems to slip my mind
But you but you
You write such pretty words
But life's no story book
Love is an excuse to get hurt
And to hurt
Do you like to hurt?
'Cause I do I do I do
This didn't hurt me
Didn't hurt me
Oh this hurt me


Bowl of Oranges

The rain it started tappin'
On the window near my bed
There was a loophole in my dreamin'
So I got out of it
And to my surprise my eyes were wide and already open
Just my nightstand and my dresser
Where those nightmares had just been
So I dressed myself and left then
Out into the gray streets
But everything seemed different
And completely new to me
The sky the trees, houses, buildings, even my own body
And each person I encountered
I couldn't wait to meet
And I came upon a doctor
Who appeared in quite poor health
I said there's nothing I can do for you that you can't do for yourself
He said oh yes you can, just hold my hand, so I sat with him awhile
Then I asked him how he felt
He said I think I'm cured
No, in fact, I'm sure of it
Thank you, stranger
For your therapeutic smile
So that's how I learned the lesson
That everyone's alone
And your eyes must do some raining
If you're ever gonna grow
And when crying don't help
You can't compose yourself
It's best to compose a poem
An honest verse of longing
Or a simple song of hope
That's why I'm singing baby don't worry
'Cause now I got your back
And every time you feel like crying
I'm gonna try and make you laugh
And if I can't
If it just hurts too bad
Then we'll wait for it to pass
And I will keep you company for those days so long and black
And we'll keep working on the problem
We know we'll never solve
Our love's un-even remainders
Our lives are fractions of a whole
But if the world could remain within a frame
Like a painting on a wall
Then I think we'd see the beauty then
We'd stand staring in awe
At our still lives posed
Like a bowl of oranges
Like a story told
By the fault-lines in the soil


Don't Know When But a Day is Gonna Come

Is it true what they say about the son of God?
Did he come for us or did he come at all?
And if I washed his feet with my dirty hair would he make me cleanagain?

Well, they don't know when but a day's gonna come
When there won't be a moon and there won't be a sun
It's gonna all go black, it's gonna all go back
To the way it was before

I knew a lovely girl with such pretty pride
Every man wanted her, yeah, and so did I, yeah, and so did I
But she up and died in a fit of vanity

Now men with purple hearts carry silver guns and they'llkill a man for what his father's done
But what my father did, no, it don't mean shit, I'm not him

But still it's hard to ignore all the news reports
That say we must defend ourselves and fight on foreign soil against the infidels with the oil wells
God saves gas prices

You think I need some discipline well, I've had my share
I've been sent to my room and I've sat in a chair
I held my tongue, I didn't plug my ears, no, I had a good talking to

And I don't know why, but I still try to smile when they talk at me like I'm just a child
But I'm not a child, even though I am much younger than that[them?]

Well, I've read some books and I've grown quite brave
If I could just speak up I think that I would say that there is no truth
No, there is only you and what you make the truth

So, I'll sing some songs and I'll pass a hat
And I'll leave your town and I'll never look back
No, I won't look back 'cause the road is clear and laid out ahead of me

When I get home I'll meet my friends at our favorite bar
We'll get some lighter heads for our heavy hearts
Yeah, we'll share a drink, we will share our fears
And they will know how I love them
Yeah, they will know how I love, they will know how I love them
I'm nothing without their love

Well, they don't know when but a day's gonna come
When there won't be a moon and there won't be a sun
It's gonna just go black, it's gonna just go back to the way it's supposed to be

Is it true what they say about the son of God?
Did he die for us or did he die at all?
If I sold my soul, for a bag of gold to you which one of us would be the foolish one?
Which one of us would be the fool? Which one of us would bethe foolish one?

Could you please start explaining? I think I need some understanding
Could you please start explaining? You know I need some understanding
Could you please start explaining? You know I wanna understand


Nothing Gets Crossed Out

Well the future's got me worried
Such awful thoughts
My head's a carousel of pictures
The spinning never stops
I just want someone to walk in front
And not follow the leader
Like when I fell under the weight of a schoolboy crush
Started carrying her books and doing lots of drugs
I almost forgot who I was
But I came to my senses
Now I'm trying to be assertive
I'm making plans
Gonna rise to the occasion yeah
Meet all their demands
But all I do is just lay in bed
And hide under the covers
Yeah I know I should be brave
But i'm just too afraid of all this change
And it's too hard to focus through all this doubt
I keep making these to-do lists but nothing gets crossed out
Working on the record seems pointless now
When the world ends who's gonna hear it?
But I'm trying to take some comfort in written words
Yeah, Tim, I heard your album and it's better than good
When we get off tour I think we should
Hang and black out together
'Cause I been feeling sentimental for days gone by
All the summers singing, drinking, my friend
Wasting our time
Remember all the songs and the way we smiled
In those basements made of music
But now I've got to crawl to get anywhere at all
I'm not as strong as I thought

So when I'm lost in a crowd
I hope that you'll pick me out
How I long to be found
The grass grew high, I laid down
Now I'm waiting for a hand
To lift me up, help me stand
I've been laying so low
Don't wanna lay here no more
Don't wanna lay here no more

Everything that happens is supposed to be
And it's all predetermined can't change your destiny
Guess I'll just keep moving
Someday maybe I'll get to where I'm going


Make War

Our love is dead but without limit
Like the surface of the moon
Or the land between here and the mountains
It is not these hiding places that have kept us innocent
But the way you taught me to just let it all go back
So we learn to be as faithless
Stand behind bulletproof glass
Exchanging our affections through a drawer
It was always horribly convenient and happening too fast
You should count your change before you're even out the door
Well, yes you should, but please return, return
To the person that you were, and I will do the same
'Cause it's too hard to belong to someone who is gone
My compass spins, but wilderness remains
Once too often I've retreated into the depths of my despair
I built a barricade to block you on the road
But standing there with all of my possessions piled higher than a house
I felt closer to you than you ever would have known
So let's let all these tiny acts of charity become ground on which tobuild
A monument to commemorate our time
And though you say you've found another who will surely speed you on your way
Don't let the forest grow over that path you came there by
But you will, so, so hurry up and run to the one that you love
And blind him with your kindness
And he'll make war, oh, war, on who you were before
And claim all that has spoiled in your heart
But now I tell myself I've mended under these patches of blue sky
There's still a few holes that let in a little rain
And so it's crying on my shingles
My floorboards moan under my feet
The refrigerator's whining so I've got reason to complain
But I'm not gonna bless you with such compliments
Some degrading song of praise
Like the kind that converted you to me so long ago
Because the truth is that gossip's as good as gospel in this town
You can save face but you won't ever save your soul
And that's a fact so, so hurry up and run to the one that you love
And blind him in your likeness
And he'll become, become, oh, the prisoner I was
And know all that has spoiled in your heart
Yeah, he'll know it all
He'll know all that has spoiled in your heart
so hurry up and run to the one that you love
And blind him with your kindness
And he'll make war, oh, war, on who you were before
And claim all that has spoiled in your heart


Waste of Paint

I have a friend, he's mostly made of pain
He wakes up, drives to work and straight back home again
He once cut one of my nightmares out of paper
I thought it was beautiful, I put it on a record cover
And I tried to tell him that he had a sense
Of color and composition so magnificent
And he said thank you, please, but your flattery
It is truly not becoming me
Your eyes are poor, you're blind, you see
No beauty ever could have come from me
I'm a waste
Of breath, of space, of time

I knew a woman she was dignified and true
Her love for her man was one of her many virtues
Until one day she found out that he had lied
And decided the rest of her life from that point on would be a lie
She was grateful for everything that had happened
And she was anxious for all that would come next
But then she wept, what did you expect
In that big old house with the cars she kept
Such is life, she often said
With one day leading to the next
You get a little closer to your death
Which was fine with her, she never got upset
And with all the days she may have left
She would never clean another mess
Or fold his shirts, or look her best
She was free
To waste away alone

Last night my brother, he got drunk and drove
And this cop, he pulled him off to the side of the road
And he said officer, officer, you've got the wrong man
No, no, I'm a student of medicine, a son of a banker, you don't understand
The cop said No one got hurt, you should be thankful
And your carelessness, it is something awful
And no I can't just let you go
And though your father's name is known
Your decisions now are yours alone
You're nothing but a stepping stone on a path
To debt, to loss, to shame

The last few months I've been living with this couple
Yeah, you know the kind who buy everything in doubles
Yeah, they fit together like a puzzle
I love their love and I am thankful
That someone actually receives the prize that was promised
By all those fairy tales that drugged us
And still to me I'm sick, lonely
No laurel tree, just green envy
Will my number come up eventually
Like love's some kind of lottery
Where you scratch and see what's underneath
It's sorry
Just one cherry
I'll play again, get lucky

So now I hang out down by the train's depot
No, I don't ride, I just sit and watch the people there
They remind me of wind-up cars in motion
They way they spin and turn and jockey for positions
And I wanna scream out that it all is nonsense
Their life's one track and can't they see it's pointless?
But just then my knees give under me
My head feels weak and suddenly
It's clear to see, it's not them, but me
Who's lost my self-identity
And I hide behind these books I read
While scribbling my poetry
Like art could save a wretch like me
With some ideal ideology
That no one could hope to achieve
And I'm never real, it's just a sketch of me
And everything I've made is trite and cheap and a waste
Of paint
Of tape
Of time

So I park my car down by the cathedral
Where the floodlights point up at the steeples
Choir practice is filling up with people
I hear the sound escaping as an echo
Sloping off the ceiling at an angle
When the voices blend they sound like angels
I hope there's some room still in the middle
But when lift my voice up now to reach them
The range is too high way up in heaven
So I hold my tongue, forget the song
Tie my shoes, start walking off
And try to just keep moving on
With my broken heart and my absent god
And I have no faith but it's all I want
To be loved
And believe
In my soul, in my soul


From a Balance Beam

There is a man holding a megaphone, so he must have been the voice of God
The bystanders claimed they saw angels flying up and down the block
Well, they must have been attached to wires
I saw one laying in the lawn with a broken arm, so I called 911
So that is one less founded opinion
One more cause for a dispute
So the street filled like a basin up with cameras and their crews
And they washed away the rumors leaving just the concrete truth
It was a spectacle
No, I mean a miracle
So then I fell like that girl from a balance beam
A gymnasium of eyes were all holding on to me
I lifted one foot to cross the other and I felt myself slipping
It was a small mistake
Sometimes that is all it takes

Now I'm staring at my wrist hoping that the timing is right
When the planets will align
There will be no planets to align
Just the carcass of the sun and those little painted marbles spinning senseless through an endless, black sky

(and so it never started and it will never stop just like I am and you are)

It was in a foreign hotel's bathtub I baptized myself in change
And one by one I drowned all of the people I had been
I emerged to find the parallels were fewer
I was cleansed
I looked in the mirror and someone new was there
Still I was as helpless as a chess piece when I was lifted up by someone's hand
And delivered from the corner my enemies had got me in
But in all of my salvation I still felt imprisoned inside that holding cell that is myself
So I wait for the day when I'll hear the key as it turns in the lock and the guard will say to me
"Oh my patient prisoner you have waited for this and finally... you are free! You are free! You are freezing"

Now I'm staring at the sun waiting for it to explode
Because a day is gonna come, don't know when but it will come
And then we will finally know the way out of here
And I will throw away this wrinkled map and my chart of stars and compass, cracked
And I'll climb that tree all wet with sap to avoid the hungry beasts below
I'll cut out my lover's tongue and sign of graveyard gray and a garden green and then we won't have worry no more
No, we won't ever worry again about how this song or story ends
About how this song and story will end


Laura Laurent

Laura, are you still living there
On your estate of sorrows
You used to leave it occasionally
But now you don't even bother
To ride that commuter train, west to Chicago
To stroll through the greenery in the park past the statues
How their eyes seemed to follow you like a hated addiction
Their beauty carved out of absolutes that you could never claim
Or even envision
Laura, you were the saddest song
In the shape of a woman
Yeah, I thought you were beautiful
But I wept with your movements
But I hope that you're laughing now from that place on the carpet
Where we shared a sleeping bag in your sister's apartment
Oh, how she would worry so
You know, I was just a stranger
But she asked me to care for you, yes she did
And I went and betrayed her
But do you know we're in high demand, Laura, us people who suffer
Because we don't take to arguing
And we're quick to surrender
Well, I think I would call tonight if I still had your number
Your thoughts have always lain close to mine
Yeah, we were both skipping supper
But you should never be embarrassed by your trouble with living
'Cause it's the ones with the sorest throats, Laura
Who have done the most singing


Let's Not Shit Ourselves (To Love and To Be Loved)

Well the animals laugh from the dark of the wilderness
A baby cries hard in an apartment complex
As I pass in a car
Buried under the influence
The city's driving me out of my mind
I've seen a child getting caught in that sad trap of gravity
He falls from the lowest branch of the apple tree
And lands in the grass, and weeps for his dignity
Next time he will not aim so high
Yeah next time neither will I

Now my mother takes loans out
Sends her kids off to colleges
Her family's reduced to names on a shopping list
Well a coroner kneels beneath a great wooden crucifix
He goes, 'there are worse things than being alone'
And so I've learned to retreat at the first sign of danger
I mean why wait around, if it's just to surrender
And ambition, I've found, can lead only to failure
I do not read the reviews
No, I am not singing for you

Well I stood dropping a coin into the pit of a well
And I would throw my whole billfold if I thought it would help
With all these wishes I make, I should buy something real
At least a telephone, call home
Well my teachers they build this retaining wall of memory
All those bold, simple choices I answer so fluently
And got my grades back, and forgot just as easily
But at least I got an A
So I don't have them to blame
So I should stop pointing fingers
Reserve my judgement of all those public action figures
They count their presidents
So loud behind the bullhorn
So proud they can't admit
They may have made a mistake
Well-poisoning excuse from a speechwriter's pen
He knows he don't have to say it so it don't bother him
Honesty, accuracy, they're just popular opinion
The approval rating's high
Yeah so someone's gonna die
ABC, NBC, CBS bullshit
They give us fact or fiction and we can't even split
And each stupid act of war is tonight's entertainment
We're still pawns in their game
As they take eye for an eye, until no one can see
And we will stumble blindly forth, repeating history
Why can't we all be as useful on that flat-screen marquee
Blood red and white skin knowing the blues
Oh yeah the blues I got the blues
That's me

Well I awoke in relief
All my sheets and tubes were entangled
Weak from whiskey and pills in a Chicago hospital
And my father was there, in a chair by the window
Staring so far away
And I tried talking, just whispered, "so sorry, so selfish."
He stopped me and said, 'Child, I love you regardless
'And there is nothing you could do that would ever change this
'I'm not angry, it happens, but you just can't do it again'
So now I try to keep up
I've been exchanging my currency
One million objects pass through my periphery
And I'm rubbing my eyes, cause they're starting to bother me
I've been staring too long at the screen
But where was it when I first heard that sweet sound of humility
It came to my ears in the goddamn loveliest melody
How grateful I was then to be part of the mystery
To love and to be loved
Let's just hope that is enough