Do The Struggle

by Franz Nicolay

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1.
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
2.
[1] 00:19
3.
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.
4.
[2] 00:25
5.
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.
6.
[3] 00:33
7.
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
8.
[4] 01:00
9.
“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.
10.
[5] 00:46
11.
(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.
12.
[6] 00:45
13.
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
14.
[7] 00:32
15.
Live Free 04:28
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.
16.
[8] 00:42
17.
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.
18.
[9] 00:46
19.
Joy 05:40
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.

credits

released August 6, 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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To us, the beautiful - and to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out.

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