‘The time has come’, the Walrus said

  ‘To talk of many things:

Of shoes-and ships-and sealing wax-

  Of cabbages-and kings-

And why the sea is boiling hot-

  And whether pigs have wings.’

Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland) 

When a clock stops tracking time does it then cease to be a clock?  When a fish is caught and frozen does it forget to be a fish?  One is still useful, the other not, unless in sleuthing you wanted only to know whenst time froze and cried out at the crime scene. Both exist, but then that very existence proves to itself that it is almost never enough?  Answer these questions and you will see what I am on about.  Writing about myself, it seems I sorely give myself the impression that I fear no subject.

The catalyst for this present collection, Cabbage and Kings, was a regional songwriter and author named Dennis Callaci. I had known of him for a smattering of years peripherally as the humble giant high atop Rhino Records, in Claremont, California. I knew of him likewise as the apostolic shepherd of Shrimper Records a locally based label founded in 1990.  For about twenty years we were just nodding acquaintances, each wrestling the tiger away from the lamb in our own ways.  Mutual respect I think they’re calling it.  One day he approached me to tell me that just that prior day, during a rainstorm, he had made a strong cup of coffee and gave listen to my entire 1979 LP, Cold Feelings, and also that it was like a religious experience.  I didn’t want to dowse his enthusiasm, so I didn’t bother to tell how much the record embarrassed me.  It was my performance only that made me shiver, as I was flanked by a regalia of legendary players.  Two songs from the album later went on their merry ways to have Grammy and Gold Record involvement, not to mention it was the session debut of fiddle great Stuart Duncan, who became one of my dearest friends.  A few days later I slunk into Rhino Records, as if embroiled in a dastardly affair, and left a copy of an anthology of my work, one put out on the Aim label out of Tujunga (1998), entitled, Sinner-Songwriter.  That I thought was a truer example of me attempting to evolve, all the way back from my origins, living on a lowly egg ranch, streets lined with brain-sized wash rocks, up until now, still viewing the world anew through that self-same chicken’s eye, or at the least the kaleidoscopic heart of a magpie drumming. But, as you might know, when you get to know Dennis, he is capable of envisioning the entire evolution of something as one entity.  So, I was honored to be considered in that realm. 

Note to Self (V54) 

I wrote the song Note to Self (To Say Goodbye) on October 10, 1999, in the moonlit interior of a parked 1973 Caprice Classic.  It wasn’t until late in my career that I began to put dates on the songs.  Any excuse for a birthday party I’m guessing.  The ‘aircraft carrier’, as I was like to call the vehicle, was stationed on a horseshoe driveway beside two towering palm trees just outside the ranch house that we were renting.  The neighboring houses, whose windows were black-eyed, seem to brood in the pittance of the municipal streetlight.  Through the tinted glass windshield, one could eye from here a spray of those pointed creatures we call stars, tipping from the sky like the amber ash of a bum’s cigarette, in mid-droop, just about to drop.  

I inherited the Chevy from my father, who died that very same year at our family home in Fontana.  He had been dead for three days when the police were called because his two bronze dachshunds were yapping for their lives.  The last time I saw my father alive was rather biblical.  He couldn’t reach his feet so he asked me to clip his toenails.  I got a tub of water, clipped his nails, and proceeded to wash his feet.  That done, I was out and on my way.  In leaving I nodded as if to show good sense.  I’m more than sure I probably had a self-important poem harkening me, likely involving a feathered quill and a crushed velvet cape, avoiding in my process anything useful, such as hoeing or weeding.  A while after his passing we had a yard sale that involved a lot of Hispanic neighbors marching off down the street with his threadbare furniture over their shoulders.  Our father was not a racist, I’m just saying that when we moved to the house in 1972 there was not one Hispanic, and then in ’99 it was 80%.  We laugh now, but that is a lot for a Wisconsin farm-boy and decorated WWII vet to digest.  I stepped away from the yard-sale to talk to a neighbor who was a music teacher in town.  He once told me a story, in the center of the cul-de-sac street between our houses, of back in the day when he played catch with Nat King Cole outside of the Shrine Auditorium.  I asked about his daughter, whom I’d seen in days gone by puffing her tricycle down the sidewalk in doubloon gold hair.  She later, all grown up, had married jazz organist Johnny Hammond Smith.  I then questioned him about the police procedure surrounding my father’s passing.  I told him that I had called several times, but that I wasn’t alarmed because he didn’t always pick up, which I myself am often guilty of.  He said back, “He always picks up for me”, which I took as a jab.  

One more thought about the Caprice Classic, which my mother had bought from Rotollo Chevrolet in Fontana in 1974.  She passed away in 1975 of breast cancer when I was twenty-one years of age, she was fifty-one. Move ahead to 2004 and my wife and I are then living in Claremont, California.  We were located directly across the street from a rest home called, Claremont Manor, where I had later befriended the historic rock DJ, Hunter Handcock in his final years.  One late morning I heard a knock at the door. Upon answering it I beheld four senior citizens of a Norman Rockwell caliber, almost wearing sleigh bells.  They had come to inform us that they had written a play about our Caprice Classic, which was always parked out front like you might find a cannon in a plaza.  The name of the play was Butterscotch, which alluded to the pallor of the car, when you weren’t busy calling it baby-skat. They asked if we wouldn’t mind bringing it down for the premiere of the play and royaly park it at the entrance.  I don’t know if that was the highest point of my career, but it was close.  All the actors were so geriatric, with the accompanying body language of insects, deathbed studies all, that they had to read their lines, trembling, off of foxed loose leaf.  They might just as well have been reading at a wedding supper.

     (Back to Ontario 2010, penning Note to Self.)  At the parked wheel of the car, I was drinking the jade elixir of a “melting margarita” and listening to the twangy gruff of Jamey Johnson emanating from a weathered boombox.  Nobody uses boomboxes anymore, I fear.  I think if a modern person saw one nowadays, they would rather figure it was a time bomb.  The reason I’m out in the car in the dark in the first place, swatting nag-champa smoke away from my eyes, was because we had a one-year-old daughter in the house in slumber.  

    I think the song Note to Self speaks to the power of words.  I have great admiration for the cinema, I just don’t have any money, and oh yah’,…I’m afraid of people.  So, I opted to just set out to make movies with a pencil and a bar napkin, where if done right, in my opinion, can be equally as powerful, or weak for that matter because all movies can’t be as good as The Big Lebowski.  Speaking from the point of view of an artist, I feel it stems from my own sense of powerlessness, a vehicle that tends to draw me inward.  So, the song starts right off, “The moon is drawn and quartered”.  The first thing the narrator does is to chop up the moon, which is right out of the gate challenging for the imagination, picturing perhaps a bloody planetary scenario.  “Grandfather’s truck garden”, and the “child’s hair”, are just like gum wrappers in real life that just happen to be blowing by and end up being ushered into the song.  My grandfather came from Slovenia in 1901 to work in the copper mines of Calumet Michigan, ending up an actual character in the Woody Guthrie ballad, The 1913 Massacre.  By the time my dad came along in 1921, they were raising pigs on their own subsistence farm in Wisconsin.  The golden curls belong to, as I said before, my daughter in the house sleeping with a powder blue Eeyore.  When I’m in the zone I’m somewhat out of control, and the narrator has advice, which is perhaps more for myself than anyone else, there giving advice that I probably wouldn’t have the nerve to give.  “You can’t change my ways before I do”.  The thing I find most valuable to myself about the work is that I can stand back from it and learn, because it seems to me to be much wiser than I really am.

Click here for Note to Self video

Note to Self (To Say Goodbye) 

The moon was drawn and quartered / and there and on its back

And rightly symbolized / a world under attack

A grandfather’s truck garden / a child’s hair golden curled 

A prison granting pardon / these are all new hopes of the world

The words“I love you” are not in essence / three words to scream

A note to myself / feathered fortune to redeem

I’m trying to organize my cry / note to self to say goodbye

I’m just behind the eight ball / that’s placed behind the plow

I’m just glad to say to you / that I have a daughter now

I had a rip roaring / imagination with you

But you can’t change my ways / before I do

Will my name be forgotten / or will it hold up in candlelight?

Will it be stuck in traffic / will it win yet lose its sight?

chorus

I don’t mean to trump the dawn / with this clown suit that I’ve got on

But who am I anyway / to swing on a star and walk away?

I don’t have what fate holds / and how near the sound of far

Drinking melting margaritas / in a brand-new used car

Mariachi trumpets are my conscience / my heart is on hold

When I’m only as young / as the day is old

chorus

I’m burning for freedom / as I’m looking up the word

For it feels to have a meaning / that I’ve never heard

Like a newborn child / that beholds my health

I’m at the wheel of that / which controls itself

My mother rose above / a holler and a ridge

On my way to San Diego / and the Brayer Brother’s Bridge

Every day I have a feeling / that feelings are just confession

With a daughter in your arms / you are receiving a mystery lesson

Where love blots out religion /and the perils of the world

And a sexual situation / around your finger curled

The truth and I we stand substantial / we sort of make a golden cross

A figure moans in the darkness / and I’m at a winner’s loss

chorus

Brick house, fortress gates / they don’t keep out a thing

That they don’t keep in in theory / that the future cannot cling

Peasant banjo take me home / I’ve come a long long way from then

Not that it’s ever clear / but the sexy side of sin

A velvet painting of a trailer / the far gone skipping of a rope

Trees weep in the car lights / as I run, I hope

Enough with realization / nothing cast in stone

Am I on my own / or am I just all alone?

The moon was tiny / it almost let me down

Then I thought deep of how the gold / could crucify the crown

We were together / in all kind of weather

That blows high in the air the feather

And when and where it touches down

Only us it will astound

(chorus)

Written by: Patrick Brayer

A Painless Way to Cry (V51)
The tune Painless Way to Cry was written on June 11, 2009.  Our daughter was six months old, so my wife was probably back at learning high schoolers English literature, all in my selfish hopes that they might someday be able to decipher my lyrics.  So thought I. That leaves me split yin and yangiously like a sawmill pine, between being ‘stay at home diaper king’ and the original brooding author of hardscrabble country-noir songsmanship.  The manner in which I have over the years attempted to paint my upbringing in the steelmill town of Fontana California stems from, I imagine, the rural settings of my parents’ early lives.  My mother was reared amidst the glass factories of Parkersburg West Virginia and the B&O Railroad, and my father in the hog-pen farm-fields of Marshfield Wisconsin.  Change is not only inevitable in overview, its bone marrow is made of the culture of dreams.  We can only, at our best, take our lives only as seriously as we take our dreams.  That is what my songs are I reckon, just me, trying to look busy while dreaming out loud. My life, like a lean-to held up by a sapling pole.  In this song, as in many others, I harken back to a simpler time.  Tetanus rusted mobile homes parked askew, candlelight wavering in wondering eyes, and the generous gift of being so poor that you can ill afford a cell phone. Sexuality stretches out between the lines like a tuning fork.  The winds, always ushering in the grit, in character, become a lonesomely angelic soundtrack, along with the crown sparrows, the humph of the tractor-trailer, and the mousy wife in the backseat of the Buick crying into her Tijuana shawl, quadraphonic.  I don’t like gangster movies, and I don’t cotton to war.  I’m not talking politically, but just in my songs.  Which I guess can’t help but be personal, because I live within my songs.  I think you have to, to obtain something approaching the truth.  I don’t like the specifics of the story to get so organized as to entertain mob rule.  I point more, you might say, in the direction of the natural order of hill justice, a red neck blooming through the opening of a shirt. Paper-thin souls, off the grid, taking a jeweler’s saw to the crooked family tree, amongst the kidskin weeds, nailed posthumously to another time, one on one.

A Painless Way to Cry

The wind makes an anthem through the trees

The stars rain down as brightly as they please

Tomorrow passes today right on by

Your thoughts are stainless / you’re looking for a painless

Looking for a painless way to cry

Smoking three home rolled cigarettes at a time

Shooting out the lights so you have an excuse to feel blind

Here comes a baby on your knee

Without trying / it’s already crying 

And it can’t even see

But you’re looking, and that you know you can

And you’re looking, at the hourglass sand

You no longer shoot for the moon, you don’t even try

In your mind / you’d just be happy to find 

A painless way to cry

Cheaters come in late and exchange shaky alibis

The trailer door’s left wide open, a stray dog comes inside

A refrigerator full of Burgie harmonizes with a florescent light

On a night that just won’t die / as domestic as an apple pie 

Won in a bare-knuckle fist fight

You’re hoping, if that’s even the right word

You’re singing, but no sound can be heard

You’re seeking, out a bird that doesn’t ever need to fly

You’re on the scene / while you’re practicing 

A painless way to cry

They made love in the chocolate mountains, got married at the Salton Sea

But the preacher jumped parole, so they’ll see what they will see

Those aren’t even real tears, the world will yet conclude

Hotter than a sauna / cheap drugs from Tijuana 

Have never felt so good

(chorus)

Written by: Patrick Brayer

Capture and Release (V53)

I’ve never been much on the neanderthal side of hunting and fishing, so as you could notice, but that hasn’t stopped me from writing away at songs like Capture and Release, and other time-honored classics like Field and Stream (of the Bottle and the Glass).  My father once warned me: “You get too open-minded and your brains might fall out”.   The nameless narrator, in a devil’s advocate fashion, whispers advice in your ear.  To, “not pretend that others are our love’s hidden goal.”  He speaks with confidence as if he knows you well.  Trying to be fair, “burning bridges of our own making”, becomes the sound of human nature tearing, but our hopes’ gills are then put back into the stream of life for another try.  

In between all the lines also, if anyone is sick enough to be a student of all of this, are the ghosts of all my influences, starting early with Hank Williams, John Steinbeck, Faulkner, Andrew Lytle, Bill Monroe, and Pablo Neruda, all the way up to the contemporaries of what they are now calling “Grit Lit”, such as, Bill Frank (Crime of Southern Indiana), Phillip Ray Pollock (The Heavenly Table), and Charlie Williams (Deadfolk).  My writing and the process thereof is the best therapy I can afford.  It doesn’t heal me, though it does at times help me from seeing myself as a heel. 

Then there’s the image of a lamb saved from the slaughter, and heaven busy being “only a real place for the heart to know”.  Suggesting perhaps that religion works on the inside very well, but when you bring it out into the light of day it turns human, becoming man’s fingerprint and not Gods, and a mirrored opposite of its spiritual origins.  But we are continually reminded, “It’s not fair”, returning us back again to square one.  As the camera pans around from children in burlap, to guys mowing lawns, to shade tree mechanics, and resting into a case of non-apologetic infidelity coyly playing eight ball.

Lose It (V51)

In 2007 in what in my world comes off as a cultural exchange, I was asked to do some session work on an album by a popular scream-metal band called, Atreyu.  I was to supply pedal steel, Turkish saz, and fiddle.  Sounded like an interesting challenge, so off to Hollywood I went.  I’m usually not brave enough to do stuff like this but my brother-inlaw, Porter McKnight, plays bass in the group, so I knew he wouldn’t let me get beat up to a complete pulp.  The album was called Lead Sails, Paper Anchor, and was being produced by John Feldmann (The Used, Hillary Duff, Korn).

So what we have here is my bold adaptation of one of the songs, Lose It, from their CD, . Sometimes I am known to gut the melody of a song, to reimagine it, as I did with, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn, later done by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.  This time I didn’t completely gut it, but I did wound it pretty well.  What I was attempting to do here was not recreate the song, but more to show you emotionally what I liked about it, as seen through the lens of every song I’ve ever written.  I’m pleased with it and hopefully, this will get out there where people can aptly complain about it.  Their album reached #8 on the Billboard Charts and garnered them and myself a Gold Record.  I’m happy to say that they are out touring right now and seem to be on the top of their head-banging game.

Capture and Release

It’s not fair / when you’re not born to fly

To keep an angel / from the sky

We may loom selfish / call it control

Pretend that others are our love’s hidden goal

Burning a bridge / of your own making

Out of the coals / you are raking

You can hear it sound / you can feel it tear

And it’s trying to be / but it’s not fair

It’s the give and take of honesty

Human nature / capture and release

It might be your mother, your daughter too

A lamb saved from the slaughter by you

It might be your wife / it might be your foe

For heaven is only a real place for the heart to know

And only it can breathe there

And it’s trying to be / but it’s not fair

It’s the give and take of honesty

Old human nature / capture and release

Children in burlap / guys mowing lawns

Shade tree mechanics / all getting along

A wife and her lover / shooting pool

In the air-conditioned golden rule

Take my advice / don’t listen to me

The best earthly advice is never free

The homeless lie like dead soldiers / in the park

Try to ignore them / a million dogs bark

Hear the sound / you can feel the tear

It’s trying to be / but it’s not fair

It’s a give and take / of honesty

Old human nature / capture and release

Written by: Patrick Brayer

Lose It (V51)

In 2007 in what in my world comes off as a cultural exchange, I was asked to do some session work on an album by a popular scream-metal band called, Atreyu.  I was to supply pedal steel, Turkish saz, and fiddle.  Sounded like an interesting challenge, so off to Hollywood I went.  I’m usually not brave enough to do stuff like this but my brother-inlaw, Porter McKnight, plays bass in the group, so I knew he wouldn’t let me get beat up to a complete pulp.  The album was called Lead Sails, Paper Anchor, and was being produced by John Feldmann (The Used, Hillary Duff, Korn).

So what we have here is my bold adaptation of one of the songs, Lose It, from their CD, . Sometimes I am known to gut the melody of a song, to reimagine it, as I did with, The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn, later done by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.  This time I didn’t completely gut it, but I did wound it pretty well.  What I was attempting to do here was not recreate the song, but more to show you emotionally what I liked about it, as seen through the lens of every song I’ve ever written.  I’m pleased with it and hopefully, this will get out there where people can aptly complain about it.  Their album reached #8 on the Billboard Charts and garnered them and myself a Gold Record.  I’m happy to say that they are out touring right now and seem to be on the top of their head-banging game.

Lose It

Standing on the ledge / bottle in my hand 

I’m trying to know / what I’m dying to know
If I take this leap / fail to succeed
I’m dying / I’m dying to know

This is it, I’m shaking / my body’s aching

If I lose my hold / I will let go
This is it, I’m falling / my wings need to grow

Calling me to lose my hold / and I may let go

There’s so many roads / pitfalls filled with doubt explode

I’m dying / I’m dying to know
Grabbing what I need / grip until it bleeds

I’m dying / dying to know

This is it, I’m shaking / my body’s aching, 

If I lose my hold / I will let go
This is it, I’m falling / my wings need to grow

Calling me to lose my hold / I may let go

And if I take this this leap / will I be broken for keeps
This I’m dying / dying to know

This is it, I’m shaking / my body’s aching, 

If I lose my hold / I will let go
This is it I’m falling / my wings need to grow 

Calling me to lose my hold / I will let go

(Written by Atreyu)

Toe Tag (On My Heart) V59

I wrote this little dank dark ditty on April 25, 2017 in a ranch house we had rented in Ontario California.  The owner’s name was Lance Shinkle, a guitar student of our friend John York ( The Byrds ‘68-’69).  The house was a sprawling maelstrom of surplus paint on brick, with a beautiful Meyer’s lemon tree shyly obscuring the front windows. The living room had a high open beam ceiling with Tirolian carved edges. Shinkle’s father built the rather excentric house by hand in the 40s back when its nearest neighbors were orange groves and smudge pots.  Stored away in the garage was a 1947 carousel for which Shinkle hand carved the horses.  By the time I wrote Toe Tag the carousel had been moved back to Falmouth Massachusetts.  Lance was an amazing individual.  He was a noted Plein-air painter, as well as in his younger days a performance skater in The Ice Capades.  When he visited to move the carousel east, he thought, since he was here, he’d take tango dance lessons from someone nearby whom he found on the internet.  Not too long afterward he left his wife and fell in love with a tango instructor in Cape Cod.  You can now see that I don’t have to look very far for plot lines for my songs.

I wrote Toe Tag on an old black face, teardrop, Gibson Mandocello that my friend Bryan Bowers had left at our house, along with a large proportion of his musical arsenal, while he went off on a two week autoharp sea cruise.  Bowers usually visited us in the spring, sometimes staying for weeks, when his tours were anchored by a harp convention in Central California. He is famous for many things, only one being that he is the only living member of The Autoharp Hall of Fame, a list of which include Mother Maybelle Carter, Sara Carter, and Kilby Snow.  He is a major talent and a salty bearded bear of a man, discovered by the Dillards, songs done by John Denver (Berkeley Woman), played on Emmylou Harris’ Roses in the Snow record, and a constant favorite at The Strawberry Music Festival.
So I tuned the Gibson Mandocello open to CGCG, to achieve a sort of corn liquor model-minor soundscape.  It is one of a number of my tunes that lyrically exercise dark humor. This, I hope, allows the listener to feel comfortable enough to laugh if they so choose. But upon further inspection, one can clearly see that there is nothing in the least bit funny about this character’s situation or vision.  I was probably studying Igmar Berman’s Seventh Seal at the time.  With, “I don’t remember death being all that dark ”, the character faces, in question, his own death at the morgue, as if in a ghost’s retrospect.  We’ve got war and wealth, poverty promising one less thing to do to prolong his health. The perspective changes from first-person in the chorus to third-person in the verses to invite an extra subjective/objective dimension.  “Your hair like barnyard feathers askew, I wake up with the living and I go to sleep with you”.  As for the overall sound, I usually don’t use a lot of effects on my recordings.  But in addressing this one I opted for the hard chorus on the instrument to give it that “sound from the other side”, or the imagined echo inside the crypt.  So our hero’s last words were whispered in the form of a question, while a motley crew of suspicious saints looked at their sandaled feet.  How’d I Get This Toe Tag on My Heart?

Toe Tag (On My Heart)

How’d I get this toe tag on my heart

I don’t remember the end being all that dark

Life speaks of itself as a hidden art

Each note a toe tag on my heart

Life coined every side / of beauty right

How’s I get this toe tag on my heart

Battle flag of cloud / bullet ridden by light

It’s never easy for a poor man to count his wealth

One less thing to do to prolong his health

Your first breath bookends your last in rhyme

How’d I get this toe tag on my heart

Everything else in the middle like moon dust so fine

Your hair like barnyard feathers askew

I wake up with the living and I go to sleep with you

Huge fake diamond bracelet reaching for the rest

Like someone punched an old ice chest

I got one last question before I pull apart

How’d I get this toe tag on my heart

Written by: Patrick Brayer

Standing There (V52)

There is a Taoist concept that when you say you’re enlightened there is no way you can be.  Go back to the drawing board and practice until you don’t know it to be so.  When you’re mining the depths for a fresh idea for a song you’d always prefer to come up with one that sets you apart from others.  In this one, I give the exact opposite of what you want.  In studying the old murder ballads, which were passed on orally, pre-newspaper, radio etc., we get back to basics  In days of old, it was a good way of passing along horrendous news stories, with a good dose of a poor man’s version of the King’s theatre, not to mention a handy way to dramatically usher in a cautionary moral aside.  So I flipped that concept where the woman poisons her lover’s wine only to find that he was happy that she did it.  “Rather felt it was a favor, the very first time she’d been kind”.  Just before dying, he confesses his confusion, “It wasn’t my life that spooled before me, but someone I never knew”.  This speaks of the mysteries of life being able to go in any direction at any given time.  He confessed to being happy, but then still seemed to forget that he didn’t, in hindsight, imagine where he was going to after death.  Showing up as a ghost at his own burial, he speaks frankly of her character, “I hope that they don’t catch you, though you’ve never been that smart”.  He leaves us in a Shakespearian moon-dankened fog, “A face like milk upon the shadows, my ghost be standing there”.  So does she get caught?  Let’s just say, she doesn’t if you want her to, and she doesn’t if you do.

Standing There

The very first time I saw you / you were standing in the rain

The very last time I saw you / it was like you invented pain

And I’m sitting and I’m holding / everything I thought was mine

I’m low down here and sorry / as I spill a glass of wine

That you fill up with poison / I feel better as I fall

I’m glad I brought you flowers / when I done came to call

You look pretty standing or’me / lipstick hanging in the air

You fortify your stockings / with one leg up on the chair

Standing there / standing there

You fortify your stockings / just standing there

I must be patient with the shadows / I thought it rather crude

That it wasn’t my life that spooled before me / but someone I never knew

I’d been cheated it appears / but I didn’t seem to mind

I rather felt it was a favor / the first time that you’d been kind

Standing there / standing there

I rather felt it was a favor / the way you were standing there

So I’ll meet you at the gravesite / pallbearers be my legs

Black shawl, pale skin, and green grass / and you get all the dregs

I’m free, I’m free I thank you / and now let the freedom start

I hope that they don’t catch you / though you’ve never been that smart

It’s really hard to tell / who used who and why

Now as you learn to live / with what I learned to die

Moon be gold tonight / and do beget her hair

With a face like milk upon the shadow / my ghost be standing there

Standing there / standing there

A face like milk upon the shadow / just standing there

Written by: Patrick Brayer

Empty Cage Behind (Dedicated to Chris Darrow (1944-2020)  (V60)

This is a song I wrote to be sung as a sonic eulogy at the memorial concert for my dear friend Chris Darrow (1944-2020).  The concert was staged at The Garner House in Claremont, California on March 7, 2020. As I have written several pieces on him over the years on this blog I will just include the lyrics here and then links to the articles below.  Also, find below a Youtube link to footage from the memorial concert.

Brayer/Darrow Blog piece: https://patrickbrayer.com/2020/03/26/song-eulogy-for-chris-darrow-1944-2020/#more-2010

Memorial Concert Youtube link: 

A link to a video I made using Empty Cage Behind:

My Empty Cage

Lion at my doorstep, but I am not afraid

Light as green as money in the bamboo shade

Foothills kneel in wonder at a door that need not close

And I’ll leave an empty cage behind me when I go

I feel lighter now / than any note that you might choose

Freedom is just a word that we’re forever free to use

Coyotes are to whipping boys what neon is to sin

And I’ll leave an empty cage behind me for every place I’ve been

And I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

I’m free as the wind blows

There’s a salmon-colored nomad pulling up beside the curb

There’s spirit in the hillsides for every weed and herb

I’ll write every last word down for you in case you might be stoned

I’ll leave my empty cage behind me, a rusty hinge it moaned

And I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

Hot plate in the casbah and I’ve been up all night

I’m a disciple to my coffee / I kiss and hold it tight

If you had a life as rich as mine, I doubt it, but good for you

I’ll leave my empty cage behind me / the bars are painted blue

Here’s one last drink to my vibration / I won’t spill a drop

I have a six-string calling card / with a Nickel-plated top

Let me have my freedom now that I know what the bamboo knows

That I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

I’m free / as the winds blow

I’ll leave my empty cage behind me when I go

Written by: Patrick Brayer

Dedicated to the great Chris Darrow 1944-2020