To Us, The Beautiful!

by Franz Nicolay

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1.
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.
2.
Marfa Lights 04:01
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.
3.
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
4.
Bright White 03:23
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.
5.
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
6.
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.
7.
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.
8.
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.
9.
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.
10.
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.
11.
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.
12.
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.

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 New York

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

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