Kevin Devine - Put Your Ghost To Rest CD



“Brooklyn Boy”

Brooklyn boy, born and raised
Chopping lines, hey hey
It's my birthday
It's a toy I torch to tarpit flames
A lockjaw night, hey hey
It's my birthday

And your dead end friends
Make your stomach shake
And your hissing head
Barrels down that blackened lane
Alone at last to figure how you got this way

Charcoal clouds spot and spray
They kill the sun, hey hey
Hear it's back break
So I can never tell night from day
Or right from wrong, hey hey
Hear my head ache

And your silver tongue
Masks your hungry hate
While your haggard heart
Whispers through its cracking cage,
"You still can change; you have to know
You still can change."

I know, I know - for now, I want to be this way.
This was a choice; this was never a mistake.

“You’re Trailing Yourself”

The sputter and blink of the streetlamp
Makes you taller, then shrinks you, then splits you in half
So you’re trailing yourself on the walk to the payphone
Your pockets weighted down with quarters
And the hope that no one’s home

You spray paint cinnamon on vines
And key the cars you pass by
Your ears burn and your voice don’t sound right

So you spend the next week playing weekend
Rolling three-man alone in the dark in your kitchen
Your apartment can’t talk, so it’s safe for your secrets
All the stories you’ve invested with a masochist’s menace and meaning

Those tired tricks that you play
To graft a life to your name
And you know it’s not yours, but for now it’s okay

You wake and cut your initials in cheap glass
To mark a space for yourself when your time here has passed
And you’re drifted and done, trading danger for distance
And all those rocks that rope your neck are finally nameless and weightless and faceless

You’ll strip the sting from those stains that bleed the life from your face
And your cheeks’ll burn red on that pure, perfect day

“Just Stay”

I found my fickle friend out in the alleyway.
He said, “You don’t look so good.”
I said, “Hey doc, that’s great.
You started practicing. I never got the note.
So let’s shake and trade and be on our way.
Let’s go go go.”

So here we are again, inside your neon shrine,
Sharing a chopping block, beneath embarrassed light
That tries to hide from us. It tucks itself away,
‘Til we both grab hold and say, “No, you don’t.
Just stay, just stay.”

The morning’s hot and harsh. My notebook fills itself.
The words come thick with sweat,
But it feels like someone else is writing all of this.
Someone I just can’t believe.
When I mop my brow, set my pen back down,
It’s still me, still me.

And I’m grabbing at a feeling now that I can’t ever name:
Some signpost to remind me how I wanted things this way.

And she says, “It’s pretty, but you hate yourself.
I can hear it clear as day.”
And I say, “I sing like this. It sounds worse than it is.
I’m okay, okay? So just stay, just stay.”

“You’ll Only End Up Joining Them”

Tonight, I’m posed and popping like a peacock
I’m pressing flesh, I’m smiling big.
My spinning head sings, ‘Stop, just stop'
Cuz what used to calm me down
Just rips my life to ribbons now.
But I keep smiling, find my window, and – quick.  Cut out.

These days, my hangman's hunger makes my gut kick.
My sleeping mind could map it blind
A flask, a key, a bag, a fifth
I try to will myself away
While shouting habits plead their case
But when the sun sears through my eyes
My beggar's brain can't compromise
I’ll splash cold water, draw the curtains, stay inside.

I can't say that it's a sickness
More like a stranger I asked in
And later realized was a strangler
Slipping nooses in my den
But I was lonely, so I asked him,
"Can you tie that one on me?"
It wasn't his fault.
I was eager, I was weak.

So as I inch towards resolution
I'm not sure which life feels right
The narrow noose or the waiting water
The hanging hex or empty eyes
I know my brother, he went one way
And at the fork I heard him say,
"Don't you follow. Don't go making my mistakes."
And I realize what he meant
Don't kill yourself to raise the dead
It never works. You'll only end up joining them.

“A Billion Bees”

I found you grieving in the grass
The sky bled watercolor blue
You seemed so simple, sure, and sad
So I sat down to grieve with you

You raised your hand to shield your eyes
I shifted left to block the sun
You crossed your legs and cleared your throat
I waited for your words to come

But they slept soundly in your chest
They never made it past your tongue
So we sat silently and still
And thought about the things we’d done

And all the people that we’d loved
And all the people that we’d wronged
I watched the years flash through your face
And I locked my anger in my lungsSo every breath stung more and more
A wave of whips across my spine
A billion bees trapped in my chest
Nails on a chalkboard every time’Til I watched your fingers sneak towards mine
I heard your breath go thin and short
I tucked your hair behind your ears
And I watched your eyes dart back and forth

And I sucked your lip and bit your neck
The trees were shaking at their roots
My angry arms felt cool and calm
My cotton mouth was wet with you

So we lay glowing in the grass
To watch the sun swap with the moon
To trade our future for our past
The present tense was all we knew

“Less Yesterday, More Today”

Less yesterday, more today:
I gotta get my head on straight.

Tree trunks rot, and people get caught
Buying bullshit we don’t need or want.
While full forests turn to desert’s hot dry dirt,
The animals dig ditches. They hide and watch our backs get burned.

Less yesterday, more today:
I gotta start living that way.
Less yesterday, more today:
I gotta get my head on straight.

The ground shrinks fast. The spot-lit strips of houses
Look like Christmas lights she’d hang in her apartment.
So, I turn my head. I try to watch the screen instead.
But my eyes go fuzzy and start painting shapes
All over the movie I’m watching.
They mix and match my present with my past.
But the colors are crisp and I press too hard
So ink soaks straight through the back.

Less yesterday, more today:
I gotta start living that way.
Less yesterday, more today:
I gotta get my head on straight.

Cuz I keep ending up exactly where I start:
A roller-rink I stumble through waiting for the songs to stop.
And I used to drown it out with empty space I found,
But I turned my back and my life got too crowded,
So it’s really hard to do that now.

Less yesterday, more today:
I gotta start living that way.
Less yesterday, more today:
I gotta get my head on straight.

“Like Cursing Kids”

I saw your freckles on the shoulders of a stranger today,
And my heart leapt.
I saw the sickle of your dimple slice the side of her face,
And my heart leapt.
But then she faced me while we wrestled for our place on the train;
Kabuki makeup, a labret ring: I kept out of her way.
You’re not that actress playing dress-up on the subway today,
So my heart keeps leaping on.

I tried to catch you in a couplet on my 4-track today,
But my tongue tied.
I couldn’t figure how to fit you on the spin of the tape,
So my tongue tied.
The words seemed small and insignificant, confused and cliché;
You saw my promise and potential through my guilt and my shame.
I couldn’t catch that in a couplet on my best goddamn day,
So my tied tongue tumbles on.

We shake and shiver and laugh like cursing kids,
And all our fitful failures fade every time we kiss.

So cross your fingers, place your bets, and hold that glow in your face.
Let my big mouth ramble on.

“Go Haunt Someone Else”

The moralist on the mountaintop
The cap gun cowboy caught playing dress up
Patrols his cartoon beat in his costume clothes
The damn fool with his ten-ton chip
His bourgeois blues and his heartbreak habit
Slings his lightning bolts, his arrows & stones

Well, you could do it forever
It won’t make you better
‘Cuz you won’t find your mark
You could use a mirror
To see your target clearer
All the bad blood that hijacked your heart
But you got what you asked for, so don’t even start:
You were never a victim. So own what you did, son, and admit what you are.

Dead weight in a tightrope trance
The pain pill preacher astray in his wasteland
Clenched teeth and a canyon he can’t close
But there’s me racing right along
The jukebox jester, stuck on the same song
A mouthful of lies, a head full of holes

Until I got worried
And saw the life I could lead
If I backed up off that rope
And the let the ground come to me
Steady under my knees
I let my anger burn into hope
I asked for perspective, and it untied my hands
I see the role I played. I chose my own way. I can’t blame you for that.

So when you’re sorry
And one day, you will be
I wish you all the best
And hope you drop softly
It don’t end too badly
And your raging head can finally rest
And you can be honest and rescue yourself
But I’ll walk my own road. I’ll go where you won’t go. You won’t put me through hell.
Cuz now I see through you. Believe what you need to. Go haunt someone else.

“The Burning City Smoking”

Forty million refugees with no place on this earth to call their home
One for every aimless graduate with nothing else to show for it but loans
And those of us who make our mark use someone else's blood
Our Western stain won't wash away, it won't vanish in the flood
It sets deeper through each hurricane and tidal wave and war:
We want everything we see, and once it's gone we just want more.

Atlas had those shoulders; we've got Ambien and Jameson's and blow
To bind us in a bubble and keep the newsprint nightmare distant and remote
But when we wake in guillotines and pitch our screaming fits
When the governor strikes up the band and gags our parting lips
When the worst case shows up dressed and dazzling, ready for the ball,
Boy, that bubble's bound to burst, and what a tragic way to fall.

The tabloids tell us, 'Hate the rat who strikes the subways closed and puts you out.
Forget those 50 hour tunnel weeks inhaling steel dust poison through his mouth.'
Well, if he don't deserve a pension that makes his family feel secure
If we're now so disconnected it's our reflections we ignore
And if our constant choice is skimming past the writing on the wall
Than I'm sad to say we're lost and I'm embarrassed for us all.

Most days I can't put to rest the burning city smoking in my mind
So I play pretend the principals are nothing more than actors running lines
And I stumble through a movie set where torture victims laugh
At embedded journalists who juggle knives and dagger glass
While they entertain a mob of heads of state and CEOs
I stagger past anarchist extras through saloon doors painted gold

I turn and I see Uncle Sam waltz out of wardrobe, ready for the shoot
So I walk right up and talk to him. I tell him that I'm scared and I'm confused.
And while they test the cameras out and get the lighting right
While catering fills coffee cups and carves up apple pie
And while the stylists trim his beard and straighten his lapels
I ask his empire eyes what made him drive us straight to hell.
As my daydream ends he stands ashamed, a shocked & shattered shell
But there's never any answer for my starving tongue to tell
The director's shouting 'action!' I'm thrown off set. It's just as well.

“Me & My Friends”

Me and my friends
We don't encourage discipline
Or really much of anything
We do our drugs until we're lit up
And tell ourselves that this is love
But it's never added up
And it will never be enough

The same corner booth
The same Smith Street bar
The same sour mouths
The same empty arms
Forever & ever, our lives on a loop

The same dollar drafts
The same whiskey words
The same hanging hearts
The same old scorched earth
We're further & further away from the truth

I wanna stop it, but it's the only life I know how to live.

We make a mess of what matters, give our good grace away;
Try to drink the clock backwards and pretend like nothing's changed.
But you think I'm a liar, and you think I'm a fake;
I think you're a coward, but that's not what I say.
I call you my brother, and you call me the same.

I wanna stop it.
Let the smear words spill out from the sides of our mouths.
Go be my ghost, and I'll go be yours.
But tonight, brother, pour me one more.
Yeah, tonight, I'll just cut you one more.


Trouble tracks me down
It’s been dragging me around
Since my feet first touched the ground
And I’m kicking like a kid
Cuz I can’t get rid of it
And it’s never going nowhere now

I duck dodge to my left
I slide step to my right
But it nails me every time
And I’m finished throwing fits
Yeah, I’ll learn to live with it
Marching steady, straight, and by my side

And trouble makes no scene
She swoops in surgical and clean
And leaves me begging on my hands and knees
And she’s always on the clock
Or she doesn’t own a watch
Cuz she wrecks me straight into my sleep

Where I drift into a dream
And I’m sailing on some sea
Shooting whiskey with my Irish bride
‘Til Amy Goodman wakes me up
I’m alone in Brooklyn, broke as fuck
With a splitting headache and sore bloodshot eyes

And I’ll know trouble my life
And I’m sick of asking why
It’s like screaming at a set of dice
They’re gonna roll the way they roll
And man, you’re never gonna know
So getting crazy’s just a waste of time

I just see trouble track me down
It keeps pushing me around
Til I’m deep inside the ground
And then I’ll smile in my sleep
Cuz in that box I’m finally free
And ain’t trouble gonna find me now.

“Heaven Bound & Glory Be”

A reporter in a jailroom, whispering her source to a dying bulb
While the prince is in a fable, peaceful in his cradle, convinced of the impossible:
“All those wicked words I used to build my wild Western truth!
I was just following the rules. Yeah, I did what I had to do.”
So now it’s later than it needs to be
And in the dulcet tones of dream
The prince atop his chariot,
Heaven bound & glory be.

A mother in a market chases after children that she barely knows
While the father on the barstool, dropped off by his carpool, is playing a familiar role:
“I used to be a conquering king. I watched the slow stars shoot & swing.
When I’d wake, the world would sing. Now, I can’t hear anything.”
So now it’s later than it needs to be
And while his stranger family sleeps
The king looks for his castle,
Heaven bound & glory be.

There’s a myth we must’ve made
One we’re spreading every day
In every dying dream we grieve
The humming hole we fight & feed
It’s the loving lives we long for
Heaven bound & glory be

A man in a hotel room, tangled to his teeth by the telephone
He’s waiting on a woman, wondering what she’s doing,
And pacing so his pulse won’t slow.
He drums his legs and pulls his hair; he carves her dimples in the air.
The raging world has spooked him scared, and he don’t want her lost out there.
So now it’s later than it needs to be
And though his aching eyes want sleep
Against all rationality
Against everything he believes
He prays for her protection,
Heaven bound & glory be.
I pray for your protection,
Heaven bound & glory be.