Kevin Devine - Split The Country, Split The Street CD
DEFIANCE RECORDS LXXI (71)
01 "Cotton Crush"
The bricks get laid, and they get torn up, and laid
again, but the bricks always get torn up again.
Your friends won’t wait, so don’t believe that shit,
when they say they’ll wait. Trust me; your friends
will not wait for you. Then, you’ll be stoned in
some park, just nodding your head and pinching
your arms, when a girl walks along. She’s
humming your song, with your t-shirt on. That’s
when you’re done. There’s a cotton crush down in
the southern states. But back up here, man, we’ve
got so much thread and space to waste. There’s a
microphone picking every word up and it shuts
itself off when it’s sure that it’s heard enough. The
quiet can scrape all the calm from your bones, but
maybe it should. Maybe we need to be hollowed
to get up and grow, and stop fucking around; to
kick off our braces and start straightening out. Let’s
sift through the static to find a simpler sound than
the shit that’s clouding our heads now.
The afterparty’s rockin’, girl, and everybody’s
dancing for you, but you’re just drinking all my
Ballantine and laughing while your lips turn blue.
Your friends are all uptight and everybody’s in an
awkward mood, so you keep drinking all my
Ballantine and laughing while your lips turn blue.
I’m not really planning on coming back; I thought I
told you that. I guess I dreamt I told you that. The
streets are slow and silent and the backyard is a
beat parade. So, I’m just sweeping up the
garbage while I listen to the songs you play, where
everybody’s trying but they just can’t get it straight.
So, I’m just sweeping up the garbage while I
whistle all the songs you play. I keep changing my
mind all the time; I hope you think that that’s
alright. Yeah, I hope you tell me that that’s all right.
I’m just slurring in the shade when the daylight
breaks, and you and me have got it made. Yeah, I
think you and me have got it made.
03 "No Time Flat"
Your skin’s in my mouth, but I’m thinking about
thousands of things that don’t got your name. So,
I’m distant and weird; we stop and you’re all ears.
But how can I say, “I’ve just been thinking that it’s
harder every year to find excuses that’ll keep me in
the clear; the arbitrary lines I impress in the sand,
the proof that piles in my trash can while the skin
on my hands is looking older every day. The lies
I’ve told have turned to leather on my face. The
love I’ve lost has turned to needles in my heart. But
I’m to blame for all the bad parts. They’re the
choices I’ve made, hey hey.” That’s when I turn my
face away, and I watch the debates. Now, I can’t
see straight. Take abortion away, and both sides
are just the same, so I’m not sure why I vote, ‘cuz I
just don’t know what difference it makes. It seems
to me we get the same shit from them both. Reform
don’t work; I think it’s time we tried revolt, but I
don’t got the guts to jump up and go first, so I just
shout until my throat hurts, and I curse and I curse
at what they fucked up in Iraq. You say support the
troops; I do. I want them all brought back, and
every building that you bombed raised from the
ground. And pull your contractors the fuck out. If
you really go and reinstate the draft, you’ll straight
away just split the country straight in half, so try
arresting everyone who sends their draft cards
back. I’ll be returning mine in no time flat. In a
sense we’re the same, struggling to save face. It’s
a question of scope: how far you’re willing to go to
make rights of your wrongs, despite the risk
involved. It’s a question of faith, ‘cuz if we wait
until we’ve all been burned to ash to tell the truth
about the shit buried in our pasts, we’ll split a taxi
to that firepit way down south. So, let’s rise up and
open our mouths.
04 "Keep Ringing Your Bell"
I’m counting out dollars while I limp to your
brownstone. I can just barely cover what I need to
get back home. I know we’re allowed indiscretions
in our lives, but I’ve been making mine count every
night for a while. I keep deleting your number and
name from my cell phone, but I call every day;
that’s as far as my act goes. What you have helps
me turn down the noise that I make, but when it
stops it just pokes me and keeps me awake. My
friends always warned about living clichés, but my
friends aren’t there when I meet you these days. I
count people and street signs from the back of your
car and then skip back excited to wherever they
are. I take risks in the stall while they talk by the
bar. I won’t go back outside ‘til my memory starts
erasing itself into something less brutal, some
beautiful bullshit I pretend to belong to. So, as long
as the truth tucks itself into bed, and the beat of my
heart and the heat of my breath keep me hopeful
and distant and proud of myself, I’ll keep ringing
your bell every night around twelve.
05 "No One Else’s Problem"
I was consumed with proving you were a liar. But
what good would that do? We both know the
truth; we were there and we lived it. But then we
kept rewriting and revising it. Rehashing and
repeating it was bad for us both. I was passive
aggressive – I’m sorry; I was anxious to let it all go.
You’re no one else’s problem, but you sure are
mine. So many words and they all burn like blood
on my tongue; so many songs and I hate singing
every one. I worry that I may never be satisfied. I
try and try and try, but it’s there in the front of my
mind: bodies rotting in water into mixtures of color
that blur all the time.
06 "Buried By The Buzz"
I got a sweet tooth sunk in a soft spot that busts my
jaw loose and makes my mouth rot. I caught a bad
break, the same one you caught, that turned your
hair white and choked your breath off. I’m buried
by the buzz of a year gone numb. I found gossip
in the ivy that’s been swallowing my house, and I
found bones in the foundation that I’m just picking
out now. So, I’m buried by the buzz of a year
gone numb. I got a fistful of shattered seashells
that scream like soldiers stuck down an oil well. I
saw a bad sign lit up like Broadway, and I watched
my head spin, and I heard my voice shake, “I’m
buried by the buzz of a year gone numb.” I found
trouble in the ghost town that I’ve been building
with my hands, but I found comfort in the
snowstorm that I’ve been piling on my past. So,
I’m buried by the buzz of a year gone numb. I see
symptoms of a sickness in every stranger on the
street, and I see danger in the distance speeding
straight for you and me. So, I’m buried by the
buzz of a year gone numb.
I saw your haircut in a storefront: the choppy sides
and perfect bangs. I loved the way it framed the
model’s cheekbones and the blank expression on
her face. So I went inside and tried to buy it, but I
got told, “It’s not for sale.” I got embarrassed and I
decked the sales clerk. I stole the wig and ran like
hell. I figured I would come and show you, sco I
kept running towards your house. Then, I
remembered I don’t know your address, at least not
the place you sleep at now. So I hurried home to
get collected, to let the red flush from my face. I
took out my notebook and I sketched you smiling; I
like to look at you that way. Then, I put your
haircut in my closet, next to the t-shirts and those
cards you sent. I turned my lights out and I sunk in
slowly, counting sheep and breathing hard again.
When it comes, it’s way too quickly, and it busts
apart the faith I’ve grown. See, I can’t stop myself
from hurting you, so I guess I won’t.
You probably can’t stand your glasses, but you
probably need them to read. You probably waste
all your down time, and you probably don’t get
much sleep. You probably don’t like the movies,
but you probably go anyway. You probably fight
with your mother a lot when it feels like there’s
nothing to say. You probably don’t care for punk
rock, but you probably love “Crooked Rain.” And
you probably don’t talk to strangers like me, but
you wish we’d talk to you just the same. So I
should probably say something to you, but I’d
probably ruin it then. It’s best for us both if I keep
my mouth shut and just stay on my side of the train.
09 "Alabama Acres"
So there’s hundreds of auburn Alabama acres, with
rows of red roofs over warm farmer’s daughters
who’ve got no intention of inviting me in. Space
shines all above me so I settle myself under it.
When I wake up, I’m back in my crowded city
apartment, with some random men doing work off
in the kitchen. They’re stacking mattresses up now
from the ceiling down to the floor. My father’s sick
in the hallway. I hear him whistling under door. I
rush to lift him, but you all know I’m weak, and you
know that he’s heavy. There’s no blood in his
cheeks, but he’s smiling straight at me. I ask the
thickest of the workers, “Would you please come
and help me out?” He comes ambling over and
says, “Sir, I love how your whistling sounds.” So
now we drag him through the kitchen to the living
room and down on the carpet. He says, “Son, I’m
embarrassed, but the sides of my head hurt. I just
know that I’m tired and I could surely use some rest.”
I tear a mattress down for him and I say, “Here Dad.
Sleep some on this.” I wake for real, and it’s over.
I’m alone in the acres, and my dad is still dead. So
if you’re underneath one of those rooftops, look out
your window and invite me on in, ‘cuz it’s cold and
I’m lonely, and I could sure use a friend.
10 "Yr Damned Ol’ Dad"
We’re going out tonight my son, so bring your flask
and bring your cross and bring your gun. I’ve
been borrowin’ lots of cash, so you won’t be
needing none. Just wear your good shoes, ‘cuz
we’re going out, my son. I got a car loaded up
with gas and parked right outside. I got a city map
and a mission in my mind. I just need someone
riding with me, a brother to my right to keep me
company in that big old car outside. ‘Cuz I don’t
wanna think about the world right now. I wanna
drive from bar to bar and wash the taste clean out.
I wanna feel the way I felt when we were kids
messin’ around before I thought about the world
like I do now. But don’t go feelin’ all stuck and
shamed for your damned ol’ dad, ‘cuz I’ve seen
troubles that could kill ten stronger men. It’s just
that all this weight from la-la-livin’s been catchin’
fire in my hands. Well, fuck this town, son. I
wanna make ‘em crawl again. Tell your lady not to
leave on that light. Tell her not to sit up worryin’ all
goddamn night. But if she’s awake when you
crawl home, you just shut your mouth and smile
nice. Tell her, “Baby, I’m tired. Can’t we please
turn off those lights?” You say, “Baby I’m tired and
I just wanna shut off all those lights.”
11 "The Shift Change Splits The Streets"
I’m pushing pins through the pavement. I’m adding
days to the week. I feel the city sidewalk shake
beneath me while everyone sleeps. I’m spiking
Punch & Judy sendoffs with silver dollars I stole from
Michael’s dresser somewhere back in Brooklyn
while he was out digging holes. I wrote the horse
you rode in on a letter to keep the focus off me, and
make it stay there, to keep you guessing while the
shift change splits the streets, but I still can’t sleep.
12 "You Are The Daybreak"
It’s going straight to my head: I think I’m falling in
love again. Such simple miracles have happened
since your steady hands have come and stopped
my unraveling. Your fingers, built for the piano,
work out the knots that line my back. The stress
I’ve stored since last December; now, it doesn’t
matter. I’ve learned to leave it in my past. I feel
good about the future, and this clarity I’ve never
had. You are the bounce in my step, the burst of
blood in my chest, the prayer I’ve kept in my
head. You are the knock of my knees, the swollen
sound of each song I scribble down and tear up,
because they never match up. You are the words I
fumble for. In the morning, you are the daybreak,
and I am glad. At night, you are the dream I fall
asleep to have.
13 "Lord, I Know We Don’t Talk"
In a motel room, with the Bible out, combing
scripture for answers about what’s happening now.
I can’t believe my eyes, and I just can’t trust my
ears, but I’ve heard a man can always come find
some solace here. Lord, I know that we don’t talk
often at all anymore, but desperate folks do
desperate things, so I’m stapling this note to your
door. Please: turn the ship around, and lock the
course in place, and keep the train tracks nailed to
the ground, but pull the emergency brake. I’ve lost
my faith in man just like I once lost faith in you, and
I’ve been covering all kinds of ground thinkin’ hard
‘bout what else I could lose. And I know how I
look, to come crawling back, acting like you owe
me proof, but this is bigger than me, and I think it’s
bigger than you too. So if this gets to you, if you
ever come home, just know I won’t be awaiting the
postman. I will not be glued to my phone. I’ll
know a change has come, I’ll know that you exist,
when all our bombs stop exploding and when all of
our landmines are stripped. When we stop
blowing up strangers’ houses and making orphans
of innocent kids, and people stop thinking the
world’s theirs for the taking ‘cuz your will once told
them it is. ‘Til then, I’m gonna shake my head, I’m
gonna bite my tongue when people tell me, “Have
faith and be patient. We’re waiting for God to
show up.” ‘Til then, it’s one more skeptical song.
But I’ll be glad as hell if you come prove me wrong.