Swallow All Letters

All songs by Nathan Beach and Grant K
© 2000 Bryan’s Cabin Songs, ASCAP

Recorded at Lowfashion!Dallas
Recording by Climate
Finished 10 July 2000
Released by Hot Link Records (CLI-2753)
Drums on most tracks by Bill Driegert (details in sleeve)
Executive Producer: Wallace Campbell
Album package by Tommy Moore
Artwork by Climate
58:42

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Free Download (FLAC, 339MB)

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  1. Sally’s On The Phone (2:46)
  2. Maybe Some Time (2:57)
  3. Show Me Your Fingers (2:11)
  4. Fashion! (3:08)
  5. Take Me Home Now (0:49)
  6. To-morrow May Be The Day (2:27)
  7. 1999 (2:04)
  8. Happy Birthday To Me (1:52)
  9. Julie’s Clothes (4:12)
  10. Hitting Costs Nothing (2:55)
  11. In The Harbor (3:06)
  12. The Executive Spouse (4:56)
  13. Somewhere Toward The Back (3:33)
  14. They Rolled Up The Rug (5:06)
  15. Grey and Black Unswitched Tracks (6:37)
  16. To-day Is The Day (3:18)
  17. (Hidden Track) Rock and Roll in Dallas, Texas (3:18)

Lyrics

SALLY’S ON THE PHONE

this happens every time you call my line
i’ve got plenty say
about the state of things in my life and the weather to-day
then i feel okay

you, see: i don’t feel so alone
when sally’s on the phone
and i’m asking her about the next time she’s driving home

sally marie is a sad girl but she smiled bright blue
when i told her the good news
about how all my friends are dead now except for her
so i don’t have to choose
between the stiff and fragrant corpses and her little hand
all fleshy and new
and with her long lost love like a spaceship in my empty mind
i’ve got something to do

you, see: i don’t feel so alone
when sally’s on the phone
and i’m asking her about the next time she’s driving home

and sally says:
i am a human being with doors and ceilings and floor like you
i’ve even got a kitchen and a cat named richard just like you
i know the names of your servants and have had mine renamed like yours
we’ve got the same initials, november birthdays, and brand of shoes

you, see: i don’t feel so alone
when sally’s on the phone
and i’m asking her about the next time she’s driving home

MAYBE SOME TIME

(lyrics removed to protect the innocent)

SHOW ME YOUR FINGERS

have you changed my question
or asked another one of me?
i’ve abandoned my plans completely
to make you need me

show me your fingers
count them, darling
that’s how many times i’ve loved you
and nine times is enough that’s all i can do
i want something new

as i live alone in dallas
texas my love has never looked so cold
a snowflake falls uniquely
but when it lands we’ll see

show me your fingers
count them, darling
that’s how many times i’ve loved you
and nine times is enough that’s all i can do
i want something new

mr. clarke has got wine for you
only the best he knows what to do
mr. davis is putting on the moves
he’s sixty years old with so much to prove
mr. prather writes you a book
there’s no telling how long it took
mr. henty is picking his swords
he’s fighting in a duel over who gets you
mr. ford his name is ernie sings you one about how

the love is gone
love is dead
love is wrong
and you once said
that life’s too long
it never moves
but hear these words
they might remind you

FASHION!

tell him with secondary sorrow
something that you borrowed has entered your main line
eyes closed stumble down the runway drifting towards
monday television currency
…in the empty margin
skinny legs folding up nicely
sedentary red sea celebrity tributary
mud caked over lime green eyes water worth gem hides
in your worthless currency
…in the empty margin
tuesday morning and blinked eye
heaven in a blue sky — farm life never seemed so sweet
out here on the dirty street is home nice shoes and a phone
lots of new friends to meet
…in the empty margin

it’s sad, they say — having empty chests of drawers
won’t you buy something at a department store
fashion…
you must look the same as everyone we see
on t.v. on the screen or you can’t be friends with me
fashion…
your home, your mobile phone, starbucks cup and s.u.v.
are great, they’re really great, buy us forget mystery
fashion…

TAKE ME HOME NOW

i woke up to-day
and my friends had all gone to the beach
i wish i were there, too
sunscreen in my eyes
hot white sand in my hands
sun-burnt lips laughing
choking on salt water
take me home now

TO-MORROW MAY BE THE DAY

i watched you turn dead
in that hospital bed
the nurse and your cat
a crutch and a hat

with pillow in hand
what put to your face
gloves on nightstand
a grimy suitcase

the collar was loose
i’d shucked off my boots
crackers and juice
and doctors in suits

looking at your rigid limbs
it’s difficult not to think
about the time i spent
laying on the couch
sleepless —
one eye on the door
one eye sealed shut
until the door opened
and in you came
whisky on your breath
death in your eye
your shallow skin
parched red
making making me
taste the fear
taste the pain
taste the love
we used to share
my dear
this is the day
i’ve always looked forward to
the day when i could say

you’re very much alive
you’re breathing just fine
but to-morrow may be the day
you’ll never know, dear

darling there’s something here in this sack
the garden and the trees
and the flowers and the bees
they’ll never have a chance to grow back

NINETEEN NINETY-NINE

i can’t face the days
without her here at night
and eight long years to go
in my lonely life
for the little folds in her eyelids
the gentle sighs in the dark
the way down as a failure
isn’t too far

i wouldn’t feel better if it were the real thing
ending the summer with crying and fear
nineteen ninety-nine was such a long year

i’m so blue and beat down
so tired from from traveling
but i can’t seem to find room
at your inn
the wine stain surrounds us
on the pillow that you chewed
but despite your love for murder
i’d rather be you

i wouldn’t feel better if it were the real thing
ending the summer with crying and fear
nineteen ninety-nine was such a long year

my eyes are tired beasts
but it doesn’t matter in the least
if you’d marry me
we’d kill the priest
and all the congregation
and i know you’d cry
to have eight long years to go
in your lonely life

i wouldn’t feel better if it were the real thing
ending the summer with crying and fear
nineteen ninety-nine was such a long year

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME

dallas, texas morning
bloody mary at ten
on a special day like this
they should have kept the kids in

it’s saturday morning and the cars back up
as i’m standing in the yard with a ladle and a cup
it’s little mary’s birthday with an end so abrupt
they’ll have to clean it up with a bucket and a mop

mrs. hansen had the girls
at her house for breakfast to-day
slumber party p.j.’s
eleven candles on the cake – hooray

it’s saturday morning and the cars back up
as i’m standing in the yard with a ladle and a cup
it’s little mary’s birthday with an end so abrupt
they’ll have to clean it up with a bucket and a mop

coca cola and cupcakes
turn on the faucet for noise
i guess her friends will have to enjoy
all her brand new toys

it’s saturday morning and the cars back up
as i’m standing in the yard with a ladle and a cup
it’s little mary’s birthday with an end so abrupt
they’ll have to clean it up with a bucket and a mop

elementary school used to leave me cold
it’s so hard to get a fix when you’re eight years old

JULIE’S CLOTHES

driving to the lake
a day for sailing boats
chase is in the back
ron is in the front
julie’s at the wheel
she’s wearing julie’s clothes

ron works at the garage
julie works at the bank
chase he has
a crippling disease
he’s only eight
and he tugs on julie’s clothes

ron left work at noon
julie packed her bags
they packed a lunch
of cake and punch
their swimming suits
and other parts of julie’s clothes

veering off the road
the car burst into flames
witnesses claim
they had no chance
they highway lanes
were strewn with julie’s clothes

drifting in the wind
ignited gasoline
and burning socks
and linen shorts
i’m looking for a skirt
while picking up julie’s clothes

i remember you
in starkest black and white
the way you held
that boy so tight
with ron’s head cracked
i thought you’d never go

HITTING COSTS NOTHING

if you’re awake i would just love for you to come on by
you told me it wasn’t on you
you told me it was at some place downtown
well i’m going to have to beat you blue on the sofa
i don’t know why you won’t answer me
but hitting costs nothing since kissing isn’t free anymore

the bird’s head sinks in the bird bath
the pencil on your arm will leave marks in the dark
the park’s dried up the swings won’t swing
but hitting costs nothing since kissing isn’t free anymore

sally forget all your problems
i’m here i hope i can be on your team
the news is not as bad as it seems but you scream
i don’t know why you won’t answer me
but hitting costs nothing since kissing isn’t free anymore

i am not sure whether or not you
check your message service everyday
i thought i saw your car in the driveway in the shade at least
that is where it doesn’t get so hot, so hot
but hitting costs nothing since kissing isn’t free anymore

IN THE HARBOR

some people like him but some folks don’t
rusty sails in the harbor flap just like
the a&r man who’s shaking his hand
as the bass drum thumps in the rock and roll band

she fell down the stairwell but tucked in her skirt
scabby knees in the hallway are red just like
the apple that fell from the tree to the dirt
she’s always wearing his favorite shirt

the razor takes a nick off the business man
he’s standing in the bathroom in just his knee-socks
while his wife is in cannes with an all-over tan
he’s back home eating chunky soup from a can

charmers on the edge of the lake
rusty nails beneath rake
shorty sings the songs in tune
cindy shakes the dust-filled broom
sockets sucked into the head
falling snow onto the dead

some folks like it but some folks don’t
when you’re talking to them or someone just like them
it makes them think — imagine if they’d think
about the top 40 music out on the ice rink

THE EXECUTIVE SPOUSE

filled up boxes with ship sails
worked a while with a spade and a pail
there’s little reason to stay on the job
with all the people and the banks i could rob

and that’s made us rich now, cindy
now we’re the rich kids, cindy

buying power has made me withdraw
from the salesmen and the shops on my road
what do i need lately?
a peaceful kitchen and a hammer and nails

and that’s made us rich kids, cindy
oh, we’re so rich now, cindy

shoes and furs and mercedez
a wife’s a great investment
in flesh and hair
and a nice set of toenails

and let’s make some rich kids, cindy
let’s make some rich kids, cindy

SOMEWHERE TOWARD THE BACK

when your arm touched mine while in the bank line
you became a piece of my mind
synapse and cardboard the pieces shift and crack
i stuffed you in somewhere toward the back

pale white even grey the hand that shook the arm to-day
a fleshy mass filled with d.n.a.
covered in lime in the casket next to mine
but you don’t have to worry about that for some time

you might slide your arm under the pillow to-night
to find some place cool and out of sight
but don’t forget to turn out the bathroom light
floss your teeth and brush with dent-o-brite

THEY ROLLED UP THE RUG

i haven’t been to Dallas since Texas
andrew’s on the stage with his baton
each corner brings a new intersection
of lines in this building i say
brown-haired girl leans over the loge

she says how do you like the show so far?
mr. hough cat hit the keys really well
i say afterwards we could drive up to Richardson
she rests her hand on her thigh

did you see they rolled up the rug?
yes, it used to be here and people would always trip on it

making tracks on I-75
traffic slows on the highway
driving north to Richardson
with the daughter of mr. adler

did you know they rolled up the rug?

GREY AND BLACK UNSWITCHED TRACKS

where was i — it’s coming back
cars move past in grey and black
railway station unswitched tracks
sixty years without a clack
make friends in the afternoon
it’s morning now but won’t be soon
lungs blow out a pipe of steam
feet step down start to breathe
in a wind that can’t be seen
frenchman wants to intervene

concierge five foot three
bus to pier it drives past me
take a left or right you’ll see
bakery match company
walking down an avenue
baguette crust beneath my shoe
crosswalk little man is red
someone english has just said
thirteen high school children dead
tourist caps are on their heads

find the place with beds and sheets
reservations not til three
take the load off of my feet
read a map with lines for streets
winding thick the boulevard
spanish children in the yard
playing tag and pick up sticks
one will grow up and make bricks
one will grow up cut cow licks
one will die young cold and sick

pick the feet up to the road
no more hotel lobby moat
so much for this famous town
spend some hours walk around
spill the water on the walk
passing girls like to talk
do not let them see my hand
bandaged cut passing sedan
in the bus towards the lake
hear no words don’t understand

walking down bright alleyway
bushes line this sun-filled day
olympic games were underway
cars parked here i heard them say
need some food i hate to eat
must take body off of feet
swiss girl at the sandwich stand
lipped in french a crimson band
communicate embarrassment
saw the way her body bent

eat my sandwich near her
watch the churchyard saints interred
americans sit on the curb
hips in love i won’t disturb
walk back down the hill to take
time to think at the lake
should i take the train back home
bathers sunning in the foam
or go find a vacant room
shopkeeper brushes with his broom

[the end]
go to the back past the tracks
open the door just a crack
grey and black unswitched track

at this house girls stay in
aunt jane knocks door opens
on the cot on the porch
grey and black unswitched tracks

neighbors tell her daddy knows
socks on ledge mended toes
apple tree arbor leaves
grey and black unswitched tracks

dew on grass moonlit tub
rust on rake worms and grubs
girlfriend in the 4h club
grey and black unswitched tracks

burn the barn he won’t care
take the cow he won’t care
take the daughter he won’t care
grey and black unswitched tracks

barbed-wire fence in my jeans
wants to know what it means
i say it’s not what it seems
grey and black unswitched tracks

where was i it’s coming back
cars move past in grey and black
railway station unswitched track
sixty years without a clack

TO-DAY IS THE DAY

blood in the sink there is no rival
but clean white sheets
to your friends in the bible
if you wash your face make it red
take off your socks before you get in bed
it’s not the day it’s night that i dread thinking
not this time not this way
as a hot bullet rattles in your empty head
not this time not this way
you’re maybe going to lose you life to-day

kiss me now or never again
brush your hair then count to ten
beige bath towel a fountain pen
and folding chairs for the other men
what will you say when it all begins?
not this time not this way
as a hot bullet rattles in your empty head
not this time not this way
you’re maybe gonna make me mad to-day

i can see the strain in your eyeballs now
as you cross the room take a bow
sorry it just won’t work out somehow
a few more minutes the time allows
your naked legs it’s this night that i dread screaming
not this time not this way
as her hot bullet rattles in your empty head
not this time not this way
you’re maybe gonna make me mad to-day

blood in the sink
there is no rival
but clean white sheets
for your friends in the bible

© 2000 Bryan’s Cabin Songs, ASCAP