To Us, The Beautiful!

by Franz Nicolay

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credits

released January 19, 2014

Ara Babajian: Drums
Yoni Gordon: Vox, guitar
Franz Nicolay: Vox, guitar, banjo, accordion, keys, percussion
Andrew Seward: Bass

with
Jean Cook: Violin, string arrangements
J. Robbins: Percussion
Maria Sonevytsky: Vox

Gang vocals on "Porta Fenestella": Brooks Harlan, Matt Martin, Yuri Zietz

Produced by J. Robbins at Magpie Cage, Baltimore, MD.
Mastered by Dan Coutant at Sun Room Audio.

Artwork by Ariana Nicolay (ariananicolay.com).

Special thanks to Rachel Taft and Feed The Scene (facebook.com/feedthescene) for putting us up during the recording.

Songs by Franz Nicolay, © 2014 Eggshell Armor Music (ASCAP/PRS).
Sam Wipf came up with the "hindquarters" line in Shallow Water.

For lyrics, please visit www.franznicolay.com/lyrics

This record would not have been possible without:
Steffen Blättler
Mark Borthwick
Bettina Brauneis
Chris Bryce
John Durkin
Michael Egan
Lisa-Marie Ferla
Daveed Gartenstein-Ross
Ami Gorgoroso
Jim Greenfield
Kimberly Harrison
John Hong
David Kemp
Bryce Kujala
Andrea La Rose
Brian Lewis
Mary Anne Limoncelli
Susan Lirakis
Joseph Locke
Kit Marsden
Lawrence McShane
Susanne Meiser
Daniel Mistich
Liz Montgomery
Ariana Nicolay
Franz Carl Nicolay
Stefan Schnitzler
Benjamin Silver
Frank Squires
Ian Varesi
Michaela Walker
Richard Westwood
Holly Witchell
Bartłomiej Zientek

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Franz Nicolay Brooklyn, New York

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

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Track Name: To Us, The Beautiful!
TO US, THE BEAUTIFUL!

To us, the beautiful!
And to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out
We all want something beautiful
We all want something to scream and shout about
And I got something to make you shout it loud

I only dream about the fights and the frustrations
Names for the nameless
How to shame the shameless

The devil is an author
Tries to edit every page
Interrupts the entrances
Steals the stage light

The devil's not an author
Only edits what is there
Carnal acts and charnel ends
Nobody cares

To us, the beautiful!
And to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out
We all want something radical
We all want something to yell to the crowd about
I want something to make me yell it loud

Like: money's not the root of evil
It's the dowsing rod of evil
Finds your true self and brings it to the surface
Gives it a name
Gives it purpose

To us, the beautiful!
And to those who disagree, may their eyes fall out
We all want something meaningful, but casual and sensual and juvenile
But actually valuable, fanatical, palpable and tangible and tragic
We just want to be magic
We just want to be magic.
Track Name: Marfa Lights
MARFA LIGHTS

We stood out in the field all night
But we never saw the Marfa lights
Stared up at the stars all night
We couldn't see the Marfa lights

Bath salts under basalt pillars
In the darkness outside town
There was a feed store, half fallen down
Red paint flaked off, red leaves gone brown
The sap had all been boiled down

Feed the paw
Eat the garlic raw
Defend the truth of what you saw
Stay above the law

We stood out in the field all night
But we never saw the Marfa lights
Stared up at the stars all night
We couldn't see the Marfa lights
We're gonna have to sit through our lives twice
First a tragedy and then a heist
First a comedy and then a farce
First the film and then the theatre arts

A rat ate my T-shirt while I slept
That's fine. I got too many black t-shirts
A white rat can have one
And play like Chaplin for his rat friends.
To the girl in the short skirt
Black tights and the Converse
Toes turned in, hugging herself with one hand
A drink in the other, like it's a burden

Well, everybody's hurting, I know
Everybody's thwarted, I know
Everybody's working toward a bigger kind of love
Everybody's cursing their lot
Full to bursting, gonna pop
Ready for the breaking & burning
And certain of a bigger kind of love.
Track Name: Talk To Him In Shallow Water
The flood takes him, sun takes him
Fish talk to him in shallow water (talk to him in shallow water)
Talk to him in shallow water

He said, I’ll take my pay in blood
Four hind quarters is a bottom dollar (I’ll take my pay in blood)
I’ll take my pay in blood
Rest here and walk no farther
Came here from across the border
Canada to California
He said, I’ll take my pound of flesh
Leave by morning, north by west
Take from you and spare the rest
Leave by morning, north by west

CHORUS

Nor sir, do I confess
To shiver shaking like one possessed
I fear not the touch of death
Just please allow me this request
For sir, I do confess
My home is in the wilderness
A waterfall is in my breast
A beast living in a barren nest

CHORUS

So follow me into the flood
Dip your hands in the whirling water
Send word home by bird or courier
That never more you’ll be a soldier
Lay down your knife and holster
Down here in the riverbank clover
Lay down beside this boulder
Down here by the curling water
Lay down as night gets colder
Never more to be a soldier
…Just a little bit lower
Never more be a soldier.
…Just a little bit lower.

CHORUS
Track Name: Bright White
Let’s go together
Bright white, sharp dresser
I know you, transgressor
Pull the red lever
I know you better
Meet me in the town center
I don’t care, I’ll go wherever
‘Cause I know you, I know you.

You’re a calm day, in bad weather
Drawn towards the low pressure
I don’t care, I’ll go wherever
‘Cause I know you, I know you.

You’re all show, and no effort
A mud pie, a treasure
Epiphany, and refresher
God knows we’d better
Catch you while we can
Strip the music from the music man
I love you, but I understand
You’re the crashed car, you’re the van
I love you, but I understand
You’re the cracked egg, and you’re the pan
Come on!

Come in, you’ll feel better
With a hot drink, a wool sweater
You’re Achilles, and Hector
The spray, the vector
I know you, transgressor
Hard skin, soft center
I know you better
Meet me in the town center
I don’t care, I’ll go wherever
‘Cause I know you, I know you.
I know you.
Track Name: Imperfect Rhyme
You’re my most imperfect rhyme
You’re my favorite waste of time
Skin must learn its lines
You’re my best unforced imperfect rhyme

I am a stranger and a sojourner
Dweller and wanderer
In years of sorrow you will keep
Like you were saved, like you’re asleep

Between the sails and the sheets
In years of sorrow you will sleep
Between the steel and the stone
To years of sorrow we are born

Abel home and Cain the tramp
Fill the fuel and light the lamp
We’re made of sawdust & stone
Scattered elements of home

The howl of blood in the heat
Beneath the bass and the beat
Between the blood and the bone
If you’re alive then you’re alone

CHORUS

I like you best as a melody, not a harmony
I like you best desperate, not sensibly
I like you best incessantly, incredibly
I like you best next to me, baby

But if we’re the company we keep
I must be stupid and cheap
A song’s a waste of your time
If no-one notices or minds

CHORUS
Track Name: Everything Is Going According To Plan
Only your first tattoo has to mean something
Then you can get something dumb to fill the rest in
It’s only skin.
I was up all night, the tinnitus of anxiety rings shrilly.
Phone cord coiled around my finger
And who has a phone cord anymore?
That’s how I knew it was a dream.

There are some turns of phrase I just viscerally hate
Like: tears don’t roll down faces
They slide like slugs, ugly,
Flood the shallows
Leaving a wasteland in their wake.

Everything is going according to plan
Take it from me.
Все идет по плану, верьте мне.
Все йде за планом, вірте мені.
Track Name: Open With The Wrestlers
If you’re wondering how to open
Open with the wrestlers
Dressed in their shiny little briefs
Some kind of polyester vest
Tied across their hairless chests shiny with the attention.

And if you’re wondering how this skinhead got in
Someone let him
And he’s circling the stadium
With his Nazi friend and they’re radiant
And everyone stares straight ahead and just lets them.

And if you’re wondering how our stupid hearts
Let themselves get torn apart
Every survivor learns this lesson
About seeing ravens circling
Feeling the shifting of the winds
As the tides pull out of the basin.

So this is elemental action
So this is one becoming two
So this is opposites retracting
So this is left, what once was blue

Maybe these days we won’t run and twirl
Unfurl our curls of smoke that touch the stars
Until we’ve given up our sense of wonder, sense of touch
So swirling summer songs won’t sound so far.

And if you’re wondering how our stupid hearts
Let themselves get torn apart
Every survivor learns this lesson
About seeing ravens circling
Feeling the shifting of the winds
As the tides pull out of the basin
As the tides withdraw from the basin.

I walk these streets
Like a one-man parade
Lurching & bragging &
Seasick on cheap champagne
It’s a long ride
From here to my city
But it’s only money
It’s only a dime at a time

And if you’re wondering how our stupid hearts
Let themselves get torn apart
Every survivor learns this lesson
About seeing ravens circling
Feeling the shifting of the winds
As the tides pull out of the basin
As the tides withdraw from the basin.

And if you don’t know how to close, close with the archers
And the judges in the mercy seat
Stopping stray arrows with their feet
And signalling the changing of the partners.
Track Name: The Pilot Inside
A fortune is like an oil spill
The fumes grow as the flood expands.
Trap a fire in a fireplace, snuff a candle with your hands.

He’s one of “those without corn”
He’s a Libra, he’s a first-born
He’s a mesmerizing cobra
He’s one of those who never wishes that he’d never been born

If you flower in the desert, roast the seeds of Jerusalem thorn
Split the husk
Play a tattoo on the post-horn

Most people have a price
And a figure in mind
But the stars in their eyes are for the uniform, not the pilot inside
I’ll take a pirouette, but I’ve a figure eight in mind
The stars in their eyes are for the uniform, not the pilot inside.

Paint the devil on your door
Burn the plans
Cast your hopes to your god
He laughs, but he understands
It takes a strong man to survive
On raw jams and a freedom vibe
But the stars in their eyes are for the uniform, not the pilot inside.

They forgot, every tale needs a trickster
Every story a star
All fiction’s for swindlers
The cons and the cards
A charmer who knows just what rumors are for
‘Cause he’s the remedy, and the source
The candelabra, the jive
The memory, the pride

It takes a strong man to survive
On raw jams and a freedom vibe
But the stars in their eyes are for the uniform, not the pilot inside
Most people have a price
I’ve got mine
But the stars in their eyes are for the uniform, not the pilot inside

I’d sell out for a pirouette, God knows I’ve tried
But the stars in their eyes are for the uniform, not the pilot inside
It takes a hustler to survive
On raw jams and a freedom vibe
But the stars in their eyes are for the uniform, not the pilot inside.
Track Name: Bring Me A Mirror
Bring me a mirror
That I might see you
It’s so quiet here
I love the solitude
Clouds may gather
Fog the view
But bring me a mirror
Cause I love you, too

I know we should lead with the truth
But I’d say anything just to please you.
When you’re like this, I know
No one looks upon your face and lives
So give me a mirror that I might still see you

White flowers, green grass
The sky is blue
And I need a mirror to see you
Blood from the right side brings the bloom back to your lips
Blood from the left brings shooting stars to view

When you’re like this, I know
No one looks upon your face and lives
So give me a mirror that I might still see you
Like a meteor pokes a hole in the night sky like a sieve
I’ll see through you.

Clouds may gather
Fog the view
But bring me a mirror
‘Cause I love you, too.
White flowers, green grass
The sky is blue
And I need a mirror
To see you.
Track Name: Jerusalem Against Athens
Let the eyes hold what the lids can contain
From the overflow of the world.
Let the cider press hold the skin and the stain
And the cider run clear and cold.

You’re just playing Jerusalem against Athens
Reason and the passions
Thought into action
Strangers play Jerusalem against Athens
Just to see what happens
Just to feed the fashion for it

Two men brought low by the drinking of wine
One did but sing, the other but sigh
That skin must learn its lines
From the wilting waves and the imperfect rhyme

The tiller of the soil and the keeper of sheep
All the days of their lives, in sorrow will eat
Scoured by the wind, and the sea and the brine
As the wine-dark waves wilt into the squall line.

CHORUS

While you twist your lock—see, it grows grey
Pluck the strand, and throw it away
Limbs exposed by lascivious winds shine
And the waves wilt into the shoreline.

While…CHORUS

Let the eyes hold what the lids can contain
From the overflow of the world
Let the cider press hold the skin and the stain
And the cider run clear and cold.
Track Name: Your Body, And The Borderline
Take the corners hard and fast
Hope the tread will hold
The nights were hotter
The days seemed so much colder when
You were younger and living in Boulder
Remember what kind of child you were
Serene and savage, sensible of grace and cruelty
Just waiting for the fates to fall in place.

And that taste of freedom made you salivate
It’s a delicacy
The only thing sadder than an old hippie is a young hippie
When something’s gone, it’s gone
And I’ll thank you for your generosity
I will collapse to the best of my ability
Across your body, and the borderline.

In a cracked mirror in the bathroom
I watched the English beat the Welsh
Over hotel room service
I took stock, and the coroner’s word for it
It’s a crime, it’s a crime
And we do it to each other the same way every time
When the police come and put the screws to me
I will collaborate to the best of my ability
With your body, and the borderline.

Well, let’s settle this with a little game of rock, paper, scissors, shark,
Neutron bomb, eternal dark, apocalypse, then judgment.
And pretty soon we’ll figure out all that it meant was

Oil rainbow in the road, rock salt to melt the snow
You took out a personal, it said “Likes: yelling Celts
Night people, blast beats, dry heat in a concrete bunker.”
It’s like a dueling scar
Ram Dass sticker on her stepdad’s Volvo in the yard

Take charcoal for the heartburn
Fennel for the morning sickness
The glow around the bathroom door, soon extinguished.
Clouds evolve into rain
Rain slick to chase the heat
I will forget to forget you
And retreat across your body, and the borderline.
Track Name: Porta Fenestella
I was too old for this when I was too young for this
I was too young to quit when I was too old for this.

What is the name of this river?
What do you call this lake?
Is this the same tissue cast on the ground we saw last time we passed this gate?
Have we been circling for hours?
Is it safe? (Are you afraid? Was this a big mistake? Are you O.K.?)
How did it ever get this late?
How did it get so late?

I’ll pass you the myrtle branch
And you’ll sing
Donning the lion skin
Our job is to begin
Making windows where there once were walls
We meet to please you
To drink wine in secret and not get caught
Every man his own vine and fig-tree
Make a way out of no-way
Deeds of the weak
Porta fenestella
Black tents under desert stars
The universe wants to play
In between the bars

CHORUS

I was too old for this when I was too young for this
I was too young to quit when I was too old for this.

Every resting place becomes a crossroads
Where the oar becomes a winnowing fan
Strike sparks in marginal lives
The pigeon and the pigpen equally thrive
The worm does nothing
The fish catches himself
Savage runaways and minor guerrillas are scarred
The universe wants to reach out from in between the bars

CHORUS

It’s hard not to remember
What was done in your name
They’re jumping up and down
New men capable of anything
Down the stairs into the office
A sickening thud
A splash and a silence
Town clock chimes the quarter-hour.

Don’t interrogate your memories, they might spill
Make up stories for the cop, change the endings for thrills
You know the kind of guy, strong opinions, weak handshake.
It’ll take an earthquake to remake this landscape.

CHORUS

I was too old for this when I was too young for this
I was too young to quit when I was too old for this.