Do The Struggle

by Franz Nicolay

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credits

released 06 August 2012

Produced by oktopus
Engineered & mixed by Alap Momin at Cannon Found Soundation and deadverse studios, Union City, NJ.
Additional engineering and editing by James Frazee at Aubergine.
Mastered by Jamal Ruhe at West West Side.
Cover concept by Sophia Nicolay.
Cover photo by Catherine Chalmers (catherinechalmers.com)
Layout by Ariana Nicolay (ariananicolay.com)

Music & lyrics by Franz Nicolay (Eggshell Armor Music, ASCAP)
except "Take No Prisoners," music by Franz Nicolay & lyrics by Emilyn Brodsky (Eggshell Armor Music/Cupcake Punk, ASCAP)

Lyrics of "Joy" contain an untitled Anna Akhmatova poem found on p. 156 of Judith Hemschemeyer's translation "The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova" on Zephyr Press, paperback, 1997; and paraphrase lines by Sarah Ruhl and Edward Mandelston.

John Bollinger: drums, percussion
Jean Cook: violin, viola, add'l vocals on "Joy," string & vocal arrangements on "Joy"
Emilyn Brodsky: vocals on "Take No Prisoners"
Peter Hess: bass clarinet, baritone sax, clarinet, percussion
Ezra Kire: Additional guitars on "Do The Struggle," "Frankie Stubbs' Tears," "Leaves;" add'l vocals on "Frankie Stubbs"
Franz Nicolay: vocals, guitar, banjo, keys, accordion
Emily Hope Price: cello, additional vocals
George Rush: bass, tuba
Maria Sonevytsky: banjo on "Hearts Of Boston," accordion on "Cuckoo;" additional vocals
Mark Spencer: pedal steel on "Take No Prisoners"

This album would have been possible without the help of my partners in the struggle: John Dill, Steve Rovner, Bryce Kujala, Emmanuella Banderas, Brian Buchner, Frank Squires, Amy Powell, Franz Carl Nicolay, Kaveh Khyabani, Chris Bryce, Megan Nicolay, Sean Tuck, Rob Hansen, Keith Coton, Susan Lirakis, Scott Trager & Kate McIntyre, Tony & Jael Voda, Michael Sonnenberg, John-Paul Gorgoroso, Dan Mistich, Bartlomiej Zientek, Jason Loeb, Nicole Kibert, Bartlomiej Zientek, The Debutante Hour, Lauren Harmeyer, Luke Janka, Luke Mead, Scott Nossen, Matheiu Galano, Benjamin Silver, Christopher Penna, Eleanor Lirakis, and many more.

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Track Name: The Hearts Of Boston
Betty Botter bought a bottle of bitters from the bar
Major Matt, he mixed his mild martinis in a jar
This doggerel is my private hell, these words whose meanings never gel
I'm gonna find you, wherever you are

Never trust a man without a horror story
Eros, the rose and the sore
The hearts of Boston lie for me
The hearts of Boston have a hurricane to answer for

If I started walking I'd be almost there by now
I'm on the world stage
From the Tel Aviv swamp to the deserts of New Orleans
You can't read your lines if you can't find your page

In my rage and shame I cursed
"Bad god, no offerings"
I'm a magi with bad apologies
No scented candles, no shiny things

Never trust a man without a horror story
Eros, the rose and the sore
The hearts of Boston, they lie for me
The hearts of Boston have a hurricane to answer for
Life never labels the last time you do something
I swear, I can always do more
i've taken enough charity already
And the last thing I need is once more to lose something

I drove to your door in a dusty Honda
Or an orange Saab, or an Austrian Mazda
I don't mind being wrong as long as long as no-one else is right
The hopes and fears of all the years are here with us tonight

Never trust a man without a horror story
Eros, the rose and the sore
The hearts of Boston, they cry for me
The hearts of Boston have a hurricane to answer for
Life never labels the last time you do something
I swear, I can always do more
i've taken enough of your charity already
And the last thing I need is once more to lose something

It was action-packed in the cul-de-sac
the dust blew forward and the dust blew back
You and I were under attack
With a parachute bag for a burlap sack

'Cause you required some danger
So I acquired a gun
You married a stranger
All I could do was run, run, run
You required the danger
I acquired a gun
You married a stranger
Then all we were was done

Ten years of hard labor is a long time
But fifty years of disappointment is a long time too
I met a man who got his 5-year-old a Bocephus tattoo
It got out of his hands, and this got out of mine too

When you required the danger
And I acquired a gun
You married a stranger
All I could do was run, run, run
You required the danger
So I acquired a gun
Transpired was anger
Then all we were was done

Never trust a man without a horror story
Eros, the rose and the sore
The hearts of Boston are terrified for me
The hearts of Boston have a hurricane to answer for
Life never labels the last time you do something
I swear, I can always do
i've taken enough of your charity already
And the last thing I need is once more to lose something

Which is the right life? The quiet life or the night life?
If Cole Porter didn't know, how can I be sure?
The hearts of Boston are gonna lie for me
'Cause the hearts of Boston have a hurricane to answer for
Track Name: Do The Struggle
Had a spring fling in Flinn Springs
Made some surprisingly fast life decisions
Got lost up in those rubble-strewn hills
Yellow flowers in the heating grill

Windmill farm, Tecate Divide
Jacumba to the Devil’s Canyon, roll the windows, stay inside
Rabbit shit on my heel, dry river idles the paddle wheel.

Into the Superstition Mountains
Across San Diego County
Had our own gandy-dancers’ jamboree
On the Burlington to Santa Fe
Ocotillo to Rio Salado
To Dateland, AZ

Spent the gay nineties in London
Passing out wolf tickets in abundance
Until we happened upon a shared mania for action
Organized only by an abstract dissatisfaction
We thought just to break the tedium
We’d recreate the rapture, with a sex doll and some helium
Ours to impress and destroy
Defend and annoy
These days, chaos for its own sake is at a premium

And so we hung from the Eiffel Tower
‘Til the police came and cut the power
We were a spectacle, we were cannon fodder
We were overboard, we were underwater
It was our worst day, and our finest hour
As we hung from the Eiffel Tower

The Indian Ocean turned a tufted blue slate
Under the first storm-clouds in three weeks
We ran an email scam with a Zanzibari bezique player
With antipodean charm
Watch your wallet! Sorry, false alarm.
Jack of diamonds, queen of spades; if your trick hits it’s disarray
We overstayed our welcome, sprayed “Fuck You” on the runway
When we ran away, & tried to memorize the Marseillaise

For when we hung from the Eiffel Tower
‘Til the police came and cut the power
We were a spectacle, we were cannon fodder
We were overboard, we were underwater
It was our worst day, and our finest hour
As we hung from the Eiffel Tower

They call a speed bump a prone policeman in Russia
We took that literally.
There’s no saxophones on Sunday in the South
We thought differently. Hey man, where’s middle C?
Cure your melancholia instantly, get busy with infamy
It worked brilliantly. Please alert our families.

They said, “Is this a joke for you, or a serious battle?”
We said “When the monkey throws himself against the door
He doesn’t care if it opens, as long as it rattles
And scares the children, and makes the parents gasp
We come not to demand, but to baffle
And if anyone asks you who or where we are
Just tell the cops we’re following a star.”

Art critics said they were conceptual terrorists
Hanging there with “Do The Struggle” spelled out in lights on their chests
It’s a dance sensation. You swing to the east, then swing to the west.
And you blame it all on the bulletproof vests
And you do it all for the dispossessed
It’s an eloquent suggestion, an elegant protest
And it’s a mess.

They hung themselves from the Eiffel Tower
‘Til the police came and cut the power
They were a spectacle, they were cannon fodder
They were overboard, they were underwater
It was their worst day, and their finest hour
As they hung from the Eiffel Tower.
Track Name: Did Your Broken Heart Make You Who You Are?
I put on a record
It was called “Sad Songs For Sullen Lovers”
I listened to it once
It took me all day to recover

I put on a record
It was called “Sad Songs for Savage Lovers”
Called you up, Told you what I thought
And then I ran for cover

I put on a record
Called “Dirty Songs For Sad Lovers”
It wasn’t long before you called
And said “Please, please come over
And tell me
Did your broken heart make you who you are?”

I put on a record
It said “Love me once, then leave forever”
We are so pure
We can learn both joy and rage together

You took off the record
And said “What’s your rush?
As if things won’t break in their own time
Without you there to push them

Forget about the record
Forget about the song
Let’s concentrate on what we got right
And what we’re still doing wrong.”

Did your broken heart make you who you are?

You are capable of anything, aren’t you?
You learned it from someone
Someone learned it from you
Cruelty is a virus
I know, it’s in my blood too
You think you know someone
But you never know what they will do

Did your broken heart make you who you are?
Can your broken heart tell me more about who you are?
Then tell me all about it
If your broken heart can tell me more about who you are
Then go ahead, tell me all about it.
Track Name: Frankie Stubbs' Tears
Trees are cannibals
They eat their own
Turn the hearts of oak and bark to loam
And limestone
Poor forked radish
Feet set in bone
Concentrate on things you’ve left unfinished
And unknown.

Be of good heart. Our songs will all be silenced.
So what? We’ll go on singing.
Put out the pilot light
And gather up the bottles
The beer will trace the hollows
The remnants of the waters
Of Frankie Stubbs’ tears

You make forgetting look like fun
Standing out there with your coat undone
The centerpiece of the mise-en-scene set in the setting sun
Sight unseen, you could be anyone
The light in your hair and your hands in your jeans
You could be anyone

CHORUS

These are the ways
These are the ways we remember
This is the passage of life through our minds
This is a memory, a weakening pearl in a chain
This is how mysteries form on a grain of sand

Fear is an animal
That feeds alone
Remembered once in haste and once in calm

CHORU
Track Name: You Don't Know I'm Here
“Tree, why don’t you flower?
Are you troubled by and anxious of the drought?”
“I’m deciding how to flower
Speculating how to sprout.

If I flower white I’ll not be noticed
But if I’m red I will stand out
They’ll break my branches
I’ve no doubt.”

You don’t know I’m here.

All my anger fades
All the sadness stays with you.
Isn’t that the way.
Red fades into the blue.

You exit the stage door
Like you’re tripping a trap door
And the smoke rings hang like a noose
It’s true.
Red fades before the blue.

You won’t know I’m here
You can’t know I’m here.

There’s no secrets in this house
Nobody’s left home
The actress and the bishop
Are wishing we would just pick up the phone.
Catapult me forward and wish me well
Constant as a wishing well
And if the heat doesn’t get to me
Coyotes will.

“Tree, why don’t you flower?
Are you troubled by this melancholy mood?”
“The black bile in your veins
Is running counter to the tune.”

An atheist a generation late
And an old man too soon
And the Wheeling Tunnel lights
Slip like sugar melting off a spoon.
Something in the heart of Tom Paine burned
For a revolution
And the Wheeling Tunnel lights
Shine like mercury melting off the moon.

You don’t know I’m here
You can’t know I’m here
You won’t know I’m here.
Track Name: Take No Prisoners (feat. Emilyn Brodsky)
(Lyrics by Emilyn Brodsky, www.emilynbrodsky.net)

You’re taking pleasure in taking prisoners
Is that a dull hum or a muted whisper?
Just listen, it’s not a problem if you miss her.

Time doesn’t tell, but time can tame
After the war what can remain?
The ruin, a faith in the refrain.

I never did believe that leaving’d get you anywhere but gone.
I was wrong.
I never did believe that leaving gets you anywhere but gone.
I was wrong.

You trust your gut and you hold your tongue.
Did you really think we were the only ones?
There’s more where we came from.

I hear sometimes it’s time to take off
When it gets too hard or when your skin won’t stay soft
A draw feels like a loss.

I never did believe that leaving gets you anywhere but gone.
I was wrong.

Please take no prisoners
Take heart, or take me home.
It won’t make a difference
Lose heart or lose control.
I never did believe that leaving gets you anywhere but gone.
I was wrong.
Track Name: The Migration Of The Cuckoo
The Dutch talked of Antilles
As if it was Atlantis
Lonely & constant
Have you had your fill of this?

Sing the Northwest Passage
The tidepools and the tundra
Feel your way through the darkness
Take wing, take cover

The Cape of Good Hope to the point of no return
River-blind & sunburned
Dream all night of beauty
Never wake up beauti-
Full up on all-night diner food
Just keeping cool

Stalk these streets
Shimmering & bloodless & happy
Call cops cowboys, & cowboys cops
Take capsules of jungle weeds
Processed for purity

The tide approaches & the tide recedes
Bake the coral & drown the weeds
Hide the bodies & count your beads
Drop the anchor, chart your deeds.

I will follow wherever you go
Diamond lanes and levee roads
Past the green-dot sunset
On the Berlin-to-Baghdad railroad

The cuckoo is a pretty bird, warbles as she flies
Bar your windows to her
Hide your eyes
Let nothing come between you
Hold her in your sights
Keep a close watch
Don’t turn out the lights
The fishing bird makes a dome with his wings
Shelter from the sun for the shiny things
Who take his good graces, then are speared where they sit
Sic semper fidelis

The buffalo herd make a run for the hills
Fresh kills, common law
Nature red in tooth and claw
Thus spake the faithless

Faded foam filling that was gnawed by the crow
Bluebells bloom in the barn below
Drain the egg, drop the shells in the snow
Some stories are endless

I will follow wherever you go
Diamond lanes and levee roads
Past the green-dot sunset
On the Berlin-to-Baghdad railroad
Track Name: Live Free
When life gives you lemons
Rub them in the open wounds of your enemies
To each of us according to the amount that we can bleed
To each according to his greed

You used to believe that with age you would become less unhappy
When you had real reasons to be sad
When you were younger, your suffering was inconsolable
‘Cause it seemed unfounded, uncontrollable

But tonight I’m going to cut off all my hair
And wipe my bank account clean
Void all the contracts I’d vowed to keep
Let’s run away together, you and me
And by tomorrow morning let’s live free

Stumps at the lakefront, like beasts at the water hole
It’s our own personal dust bowl
We rise, each morning, as far as I can tell
Searching for water from a deeper well

How are you at love, art, and crime?
Three for three, if you ask me
It’s a living wage
Being St. Sebastian of the short stage
I’ll take upon myself the slings & arrows aimed at other singers
If you’ll be high-bidder, I’ll be a bell-ringer
You be come-hither, I’ll be a ditch-digger
You be long-limber, I’ll be a tale-spinner
Trickster & swindler
Scribbler & scriv’ner
Shimmering silver & high-gauge
June and Johnny for the modern age

Tonight I’m going to cut off all my hair
And wipe my bank account clean
Break all the promises I vowed to keep
Close your eyes and floor it, man, no guarantee
We’ll see our way clear to live free

Stumps at the lakefront, like beasts at the water hole
It’s our own personal dust bowl
We rise, each morning, as far as I can tell
Searching for water from a deeper well

Suck in your gut, blow out your voice
Go home, as if you’ve got the choice
Take a shot and smooth your shirt
Whatever you do, don’t get hurt
These are high seas
Pull yourself together, man, and live free

I believe it, and I’ve found it to be true
You can stay one step ahead of the problems that oppress you
I believe it, and I’ve found it to be true
You can stay one step ahead of your problems
I believe it, and I’ve found it to be true
I can outrun any one of you.
Track Name: The Day All The Leaves Came Down
She was a cold case
Of Celtic descent
And Celtic dissent was in her blood
She saw the human race
Like so many islands
Laid out for a flood

She was a cold day
With a stern resolution
To leave nothing that could be left unsaid, said.
“Come on,” she’d say,
“It’s a weak constitution
That lets the dead past bury its dead.”

It took all day to walk across town
The day all the leaves came down.
Up to my knees in orange and brown
The day all the leaves came down.

At the Mt. Zion Old School Baptist Church
We kissed in front of Jesus & some dead rebels
In a motel run by a cowboy Elvis
Fetid, foul & feckless, a half-man of letters.

He said, “I am not a tree that will constantly bloom in spring”
She said, “That’s your excuse for everything
Saying love the sinner, hate the skin
You can be kindred without being kin.”

It took all day to walk across town
The day all the leaves came down.
Up to my knees in orange and brown
The day all the leaves came down.

Which is the right life? The quiet life or the night life?
Which is the brightest?
The morning or the night light?
Which held you the tightest?
Your first love or your third wife?
From the chill dawn to the humid night.

It took all day to walk across town
The day all the leaves came down.
Up to my knees in orange and brown
The day all the leaves came down.
Track Name: Joy
Every night the sun goes down
And the moon comes up
You get one more chance to be good.
There’s no romance in repetition.
Every morning the moon goes down
And the sun comes up
It’s an honest tradition.

Joy, like love and sleep, evades its pursuers
But it lets itself be found.

The poem fails when it’s too far from the song
Song fails when it’s too far from a dance.
There’s no repetition in romance.

I won’t start drinking wine with you
You’re a naughty boy
I know, it’s a custom where you come from
To kiss anyone under the sun.

But we have peace and quiet,
Thanks be to God.
But we have no shining eyes
That rise on command.

Joy, like love and sleep, evades its pursuers
But it lets itself be found.



These lyrics contain an untitled Anna Akhmatova poem found on p. 156 of Judith Hemschemeyer’s translation “The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova” on Zephyr Press, paperback, 1997; and paraphrase lines by Sarah Ruhl and Edward Mandelston.