HOW ARE WE DOING

AND WHO WILL TELL US?(2011)


  1. 1.Blue Tail Fly

  2. 2.Schlitzie, Last Of The Aztecs,

   Lodges An Objection In The

   Order Of Things

  1. 3.Shrinking

  2. 4.Deepwater Horizon Burning

  3. 5.First Of The Year

  4. 6.Manifesto

  5. 7.Back To The Swamp

  6. 8.Looking In

  7. 9.Last Of The Blue Bloods

  8. 10.Search

  9. 11.Novaya Zemlya

  10. 12.Ultima Thule



(back to DISCOGRAPHY)


JACK O’ THE CLOCK

Damon Waitkus, Emily Packard, Kate McLoughlin, Jason Hoopes, Jordan Glenn


All songs by Damon Waitkus except tracks 8 and 11, by Jason Hoopes and Damon Waitkus


Produced, recorded, and mixed by Damon Waitkus in Oakland, CA, with Jack O’ The Clock and The Norman Conquest


Mastered by Myles Boisen at Headless Buddha Mastering Lab, Oakland


BLUE TAIL FLY

DW - voice, hand percussion, acoustic guitar, pianet

EP - 5 string and baritone violins

KM - voice

JH - acoustic bass

JG - marimba, drums, pots and pans, hand percussion

Marielle Jakobsons - waterphone


SCHLITZIE, LAST OF THE AZTECS, LODGES AN OBJECTION IN THE ORDER OF THINGS

DW - voice, hammer dulcimer, pianet, piano

EP - banjo, 5-string violin

KM - bassoon, voice

JH - electric bass, voice

JG - vibraphone, log drum, bundt pans, drums


DEEPWATER HORIZON BURNING

DW - flute, hammer dulcumer

EP - violin

Jonathan Russell - clarinet


FIRST OF THE YEAR

DW - voice, acoustic guitar, pianet, harp

EP - 5-strihng violin, viola

KM - flute, bassoon

JH - electric bass

JG - drums


MANIFESTO

DW - acoustic guitar, piano

EP - bowed psaltery

KM - flute

JH - electric bass

JG - drums, accordion


BACK TO THE SWAMP

DW - voice, banjo, acoustic guitar, percussion

EP - 5-string and baritone violins, musical saw

KM - voice

JH - electric bass

JG - drums, bowed percussion


LOOKING IN

DW - voice, hammer dulcimer

JH - piano


LAST OF THE BLUE BLOODS

DW - voice, acoustic guitar, piano

EP - 5-string violin

KM - bassoon

JH - electric bass, voice

JG - drums, pots and pans

Nicci Reisnour - harp, wine glasses


SEARCH

DW - voice, piano, flute, tea kettle


NOVAYA ZEMLYA

DW - voice, piano

EP - violin

KM - bassoon

JH - electric bass

JG - drums, bowed percussion, accordion

Josh Packard - cello


ULTIMA THULE

DW - voice, acoustic guitar, hammer dulcimer, percussion

EP - banjo

KM - bassoon, voice

JH - acoustic and electric basses

JG - glockenspiel, drums

Nicci Reisnour - harp, melodica




Lyrics by Damon Waitkus


HOW ARE WE DOING AND WHO WILL TELL US?


Blue Tail Fly


Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up,

and I feel you standing over me–

it's a terrible morning.

It's a terrible morning–

so many miles out to sea.


Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up,

and I feel you standing over me–

–used to follow contrails,

used to watch the elms hushing

blank through sense to nonsense,

nonsense back to blank:

It doesn't take any time at all.


Old face, wrung out like a washcloth.

New face ring out like a bell.

They go by one by one by one by one...


Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up,

and I realize that we're all alone,

and your boot's digging in

and your boot's digging in

and your boot's digging in to my collarbone.


Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up,

and I realize that we're all alone.

and your blank covers nonsense

    -sense severs blank–

        -nonsense smashes sense-

            -blank covers nonsense–

It doesn't take any time at all.


Schlitzie, Last Of The Aztecs, Lodges An Objection In The Order Of Things


It could have been worse for you, I'm thinking,

living out your long life

in between the road and Fountain View

with a name and people around you

who bothered to use it.

You didn't have to know you were a monster

or a ship without a crew

or that despite this some still envied you.

Did you even need to know you were a man?

Well, you were a man: of iron principles.


"1 2 3 4 5 6 7," you said,

You even gave us 9 and 10.

"But leave your filthy eights at the door," you sneered,

"Leave your filthy eights at the door."


Shrinking


Come and have a drink with me, my baby

come and have a drink beside my bed.

come and have a drink with me my baby,

Don't tell me that the world is full of light

don't tell me that the world is full of light

when you know I can't see shit for all the blinding weakness.


Janey used to visit with her Jack.

She don't come by no more.

She took up with a vet from Vietnam.

They drink behind her kitchen door.

No harm in talking to myself.

Got my own Jack on the shelf.

(Sing - cuckoo, cuckoo.)


You saying you were out of town last night?

I found your old bed unmade.

Someone left a glass beside the clock.

Someone drew the shade.

I thought I fell asleep to the TV

but I guess it could have been me.

(Sing - cuckoo, cuckoo.)


They're going to hide their eyes

they're moving onto other things

Don't take them by surprise

Don't let on when you're listening.

They're going to hide their eyes

though shrinking's even interesting.

Don't take them by surprise

Don't let on when you're listening.


Come and have a drink with me, my baby

come and have a drink beside my bed

lie with me tonight, I will not touch you:

tell me that the world is full of light

tell me that the world is full of light.


Deepwater Horizon Burning (instrumental)


First Of The Year


Old dread, picking up the night shift after hope punches out–

one of these days, one of you will have to go.

Because you've both put in your time and I can only pay one pension.

I went slogging through the past as a means of circumvention.

I'm either going to claim my father's errors as my own somber intention

or I'm going to pay off his arrears, going to run the water clear

on the first of the year.

 

I asked for intimacy and I asked for simplicity:

You showed me to my cell and sealed it tight.

Then I asked for a wilderness to dissolve my pain:

You woke me in the middle of the night.

So I'm not going to harbor any secrets

and I won't fight another person's fight.

Like a winter soldier all my nightmares will be hidden in plain sight.

I'm going to drain my life of fear like blood from a steer

on the first of the year.


Manifesto (instrumental)


Back To The Swamp


I climbed halfway up the mountain

and an old woman climbed halfway down,

and the birds started to titter

and the clouds blackened above the town,

and I got some kind of nervous

when a smile flickered across her face:

She said, "I don't mean to alarm you, but

this is a race.


"I have been watching, and by now you ought to know:

that shadow's going to walk with you wherever you go.

Eventually you'll stop a while and talk to it.

And it tells you its a window and without it you'd be blind,

though the only scenes it shows you are the streets you've left behind.

Do you take it at its word or throw a rock through it?"

I said "I still don't know, do you know?

Don't ask me rhetorical questions if you don't know.

It's mean-spirited."


From the foot of the mountain I dragged all my belongings

back to the swamp in which I first started breathing.

For every day that I've got nothing to show for

I could have been filling it with sand.


I met the devil on a desert retreat.

He said "I'll let you in on something, but keep it discreet:

Its these holy fools that keep my soul alive."

I said "I'm glad you told me, that's a mighty relief.

You wouldn't waste your time on my faint, whispered belief.

He said "Don't fool yourself, I also keep a nine to five."

So I turned on my heels and walked into town,

found a regular job and swore I'd hold it down.


From the edge of the desert I dragged all my belongings

back to the swamp in which I first started breathing.

For every day that I've got nothing to show for

I could have been filling it with sand.


Looking In


hovel under heavy trees

mossy jamb and swayback ridgepole

bloom of rust on propane tank candidly exposed like a dog's balls


The flag says the purpose of this life

is to burrow your ass out of debtor's prison,

don't fawn for the pawn with the key.

You used to set off that pawn's car alarm back in high school

just to see him come running out of class–

You want to sit around and wait for that mama's boy

to throw you out on your ass?


The antenna says the purpose of this life

is to sharpen an image

to do that you will have to add some noise.

The image is a woman at the stove with her hair yanked back,

restless with an incandescent heat.


The noise is a serpent,

florescent on the ceiling,

eating its tail.


Last Of The Blue Bloods


There you are, standing pregnant in the snow

with your coffee and your kids.

I came to town on the same old bus –it felt

like cheating – just to watch your tear down your new house.

There goes my bathtub nursery.

There goes the front wall.

See that chair standing there in the bedroom?

Do you see a diorama of a dismal inner life?


Board of health: you've got snot all down your face,

get out of mine! Hold your nose.

Don't you know, the plumbing goes

and water seeps between the field stones

inch by inch. But you get used to it

if you can keep your nose clean.

For every broken stair of can of oil my old man spilled

I'd walk into the woods and choose a beautiful new sprout.


No one touches me at home in the bosky shade,

and no one touches me at the University

when I walk at night and touch the whole damn world.


I hear you scratching in your hungry white houses,

pullulating in the dark, and see you glancing at the crazy old man

who sits all day in his car, wondering:

How did he ever hold a job at the University?

Are they ever going to fix the Nova?

And did you see that dog rotting there in the back yard brush?

Do you feel the sinking dread of flooding in the spring?


You know I used to look at girls from the bosky shade

and they would look at me at the University

when I walked at night, but there wasn't much to see.


The street is quiet. The old man's gone:

An end to fear and ire. A weight is lifted,

or so you say. I think that you're a liar.


And who was he, you think: never spoke except to scream,

and he scared the little kids. But you know they were curious:

they always came around on Halloween,

and I climbed the stairs and hid.

I could have killed the old man!

I could have killed him every day that he

opened up that door and let them gawk

at all my plants. I could have killed him

but, you know, that's just a figure of speech.


Someone has to grab the torch

and wash this street in fire. The kids play clean now,

or so you say. I think that you're a liar.


No one touches me at home in the bosky shade,

and no one touches me at the University

when I walk at night and touch the whole damn world.


Search


Whirlybirds ranging out

over wild Pacific. Don’t know

where we were coming from, only know

we were going home.


After dark, sovereign lights

exploded from their bellies.


Novaya Zemlya


I was on Novaya Zemlya all night. It's this long thin island North of Russia, same spine as the Ural Mountains. There's nothing there, just sort of raw, rolling tundra, scrubby evergreens in the valleys. You could feel the ocean out there somewhere.


I was there with a friend. I'd just met him but we got along pretty well. We had it in our heads to walk the entire length of the six-hundred-odd mile island in one day.


It was cold. We had basic provisions, big heavy parkas, but not a great command of what we were doing. By 2:30 or 3 we were already losing the light. Around 4 O'clock it started to snow.


There were more people there than I expected. It wasn't exactly populous, but we did pass through these little villages. At least one of them must have had seven hundred to a thousand people living in it, mostly in these squat, forest green quonset huts. Very light haired, skinned, quiet voices, thin little braid of a gene pool.


On the map we're using, Novaya Zemlya is marked almost entirely in yellow, meaning that it's Norwegian territory. That's totally inaccurate, it's Russian, but that's our map. Only as you go farther North, higher altitudes, at first just the tops of mountains, are marked in this neutral grey color. I'm kind of curious about this so I ask my friend "what do you think that means?" And he says "Oh, I think that means that those grey areas are unclaimed: you know, that's a little island of land that's so inhospitable that no one goes there, so there's no claim to be had."


As I'm looking at the map, the farther North we go, the farther down the mountainside this grey territory leaks, until there are just islands of claimed territory. And then ultimately, at the top of the island, the whole map is grey. And that's where we're headed.


Ultima Thule


Bring me a knife and bring a whetstone,

batten down the door.

We're going to forget this empty night

before we find a shore.

Back of my home I dug a hole

and found this tangled knot of wood.

I needed to leave a little scar

before I left for good.


Violent ocean, barren coastline.

Where are all the living things?

Somewhere beneath the surface

within their suffering.

I've got to put my hand to something

when I am on the sea.

I"m hoping to find the little man

that sleeps inside the tree.


"In your harbor for a while, we lower our sails."


If you believe a timid wooden god

could float in on the tide,

look into this desolation

and find a fireside,

Then I will take this warship in,

lash it to the rings,

and trust all my days remaining

to the will of the silent things.


"In your harbor for a while, we lower our sails."


[refrain borrowed from H.W. Longfellow]