I Still Need You: She's dressed up for no one in particular --I think his name is Joe. And she can imagine how he's kissing her even though she won't say so. and I can perceive my tone of jealousy even though she's not my own. And she can believe she will have peace with him even though it's just not so. As I can recall, she's always been that way --searching for something so far away. And I could imagine she'd be safe with me. I should be happy she remembers my name. Pre-CH: A thousand ways to get you wrong, just one way to get things right. I'll never know. Chorus: I still need you, I still need you, even though you've long since changed your mind. I still need you, I still need you, even though we've long since said goodbye. She always says that she's just not satisfied with the way she's spent these years. And she can be heaven when she's by my side, or she can drive me to the verge of tears. "Tell me you miss me," says her lonely heart, "tell me that nothing ever really changed." "Tell me you hate me," says her stolen heart, "tell me it'll never be the same." As I can recall, she's always been this way --the best thing to do is just to wait it out. Sooner or later, she's a sunny day. Rain wash away, wash the spider out. Pre-CH/Chorus. I thank your tenderness that took my blues away. I curse your selfishness to hide yourself away. I thank you, I curse you, I don't know what to do. I sift through memories because I still need you. I can pretend I won't look back at her, but I'd be a fool to trust myself. And she can be obstinate and particular, but she has no heart to choose someone else.
Roads: I don't always have the answers to the questions you ask me anymore. Maybe it means I don't love you, or maybe I love you so much more. I can't put my finger on it --it's quite hard to define. But I can't answer yes or no when you ask me if you're mine. CH: Many, many roads that a man must follow. Some bring joy, others sorrow. I don't know which road I'll take tomorrow. I can't always give you comfort when you're feeling oh, so blue. Maybe it means I've got someone else, or maybe I don't have a clue. Well I won't bet my life upon it unless your love is true. Instead of being lost in time, I'd rather be lost in you. CH. I can't always savor the flavors that I need to be tasting with you. Maybe it means I'm distracted --maybe distracted by you. Well I can't get inside your mind, no matter what I try. Darling, if you live without me, will you really truly die? CH. I can't always buy the moments that I need to be spending with you. They're quite an expensive pleasure --I'm not sure what I should do. Well I can't put my money down to make you happy, dear because diamond rings don't mean a thing if you don't want to be here. CH
Dollface: Dollface likes me all tied up, she likes to make me sweat. She plays her game of chess, and I can't beat her yet. Dollface knows that she's in charge, she knows I cannot swim. Puts me on her diving board, makes me jump right in. Dollface has a little house which has a blackened wall, which has a little window so I might look right through. Dollface hides herself inside, but I can't tell you why. She takes her boyfriend in --can't look him in the eye. And when I ask her why, Dollface likes to tell a lie. Dollface likes me all tied up, I never see her crying. She says, "Take a moment to eat those words, swallow your pride, and choke to death." Dollface likes me all tied up, but I can hear her screaming. CH: Dollface, Dollface, set me free. Take off your mask and look at me. Dollface has a little heart that hides inside her breast. Dollface has a china mask that covers all the rest. Deep inside her little heart, there lies a dormant seed. Dollface starves herself to death --she can't take what she needs. Dollface has a little dream inside her hidden mind. She ties it up like me, and it gets left behind. But she runs 'round in circles, and so it comes again. Dreaming makes her vulnerable like paper in the wind. Dollface has a little world, it's almost just like ours. She takes her boyfriend in, and her mask hides her scars. She says, "Take a moment to eat those words, swallow your pride, and choke to death." Dollface needs my helping hand, but I am all tied up.
Break Up: Pretty girls --they always let you down when you need 'em. Heartbreak distracts me like a drug in my mind. Crazy. I'm raving like a don't know who I once was. A tunnel. I can't see what else I'll never find. Why don't you break up? Chorus: I'm tired of saying congrats --why don't you break up? The men you date are all rats --why don't you break up? It should be me in your bed --why don't you break up? It should be me in your head. Cocky, you always think you've got things figured. Empty, your plan is to be randomly blown up. Sexy, your magnet charm picks up iron filings. Mistaken --but magnets have a harder time with gold. Why don't you like me? Chorus. Temper --I always think I know what I'm up to. Remember, I might forget my system doesn't work. Mail order --will my next date be faxed to me from Thailand? Frustration whe I recall that I am such a jerk. Why can't I see you?
Walls: I know the feeling is so strong, so strong, but you think that we would be wrong --no, no. No chances for my baby. Baby, words cannot keep me away from you. We could be one, don't keep us at two, no, no. No chances for my baby. And I know you think that I'm too strange, too strange --your daddy says I'll never change, no, no. No chances for my baby. And you, do you believe every word that you hear? Will you distrust me in fear? No, no. No chances for my baby. Standing in the dark, I long so much to kiss you, but you have built these walls, these walls I cannot breach. Standing by your side, I long so much to hold you, but you're across this chasm, too far for me to reach Counterpoint: Standing in the dark I long to climb these walls or tear them down. Standing by your side, I shudder --if I leap I might fall down. Looking in your eyes, I long so much to know them, but you're behind a fence too high for me to scale. Hearing all your words, they echo like a heartbeat, so let me cross your bridge and open up your gates. Counterpoint: Looking in your eyes, I'm melting. I might blink and lose your sight. Now your voice is far away. I wonder who you want tonight. CH: Why do we build these walls between us only to need to tear these same walls down? Here I am, standing at your tower: Rapunzel, please let your hair fall down. World of hate, world of fate, I try to get in, but you've locked the gate. Wolves on my heels, hungry for meals, bars in my face iron and steel. Taken apart by a crumbling heart, turn on the light because it's much too dark. Locks and keys, well you can't stop me, I'm getting your heart, just wait and see. CH. I know your feelings deep inside are still the same --you think I need to be tamed, no, no, no chances for my baby. Baby, I must protest, you're smarter than that. Do you want me boring and flat, no, no. No chances for my baby. Darling, you've got to take a risk sooner or later. Faith is no traitor, no. No chances for my baby. You've got to let me inside --emotions can't hide in your heart, no, no. No chances for my baby. Tear down these turrets, set your barbed wire on fire. Succumb to your desire. Take some chances, baby. CH.
Ellen: I saw you on Sunday, you sat beneath a tree. I watched you and wondered if you'd noticed me. i walked right over and I sat right down --gradually started pulling a smile from your frown. Chorus: Ellen, I'm telling you my secrets, Ellen. Ellen, I'm swelling in my hope for us. Ellen, I'm offering you my lifetime for free, so Ellen, share your secrets all with me. Pounding my fists against the wall, I promised myself I'd go for it all. You'll never know if I never try, so come with me, now you know I won't lie. Chorus. So dance with me, don't tell me that you're waiting for your boyfriend to come, because I know those tears are falling because he's gone. What I'm proposing can dry your tears, so don't turn away --don't turn away.
I Won't Bite: What you want from me is all right. What you get from me is all night. But don't ever try to tell me that you're running out of time --I won't bite. Little Red Riding Hood's been messing with your mind. Wolf in sheep's clothing --that's not me, I think you'll find. I'll show you my pearlies but I won't bite. Little Red Riding Hood's not falling for that line. I know you much too well to let you in this time. If I keep my door closed then you won't bite. Step in my parlor, you're no spider. You're no fly. I hope I can trust you. Cross my heart and hope to die. And if you are careful, you can bite. But if you must bite me, do it right.
A Little Bit Back: Don't get me wrong --I don't mean to be misunderstood-- we have a strange situation. I'll make it simple: I don't want to be your Robin Hood. I've given to you, now give just a little bit back. Chorus: I know what I want, what I want from you. And I know what you want, what you want me to do. Don't push my buttons, I don't mean to be your sleek machine --I've got a mind of my own. I'll make you happy, but I do not want to make a scene. . I've given to you, now give just a little bit back. Chorus. You can't tell me what I'm going to do. Much as I love you, I've got some secrets too. You can't give me what you can't give you. Much as I need you, I know you need me, too. We'll get it right. We don't seem to be too far away. I know you want us to succeed. We're getting better, bit by bit, a little bit every day. You've given to me, now I'm giving you a little bit back.
As Rome Burns: Somewhere in the shades of grey is the truth that truth is no commodity today. Somewhere in the harvest moon is a patch of light on adobe ruins --cold, cold, cold Anasazi graves. Chorus: As Rome burns, politicians feeding the fire. As Rome burns, throw me cold on the suicide pyre. As Rome burns, fiddle on, lest the liars inquire. As Rome burns, so we expire. Somewhere in my heart of hearts, I know we're dying slowly. Slow, slow march to the grave. Isn't it magical the monsters we can be? If you mix us right, we make anything. Isn't it illogical the way we treat today? Like it's only time. It's only blood. Chorus. Quarter me with water, crucify with trees. Throw my body to the ocean with the help of angry breeze. Gain my trust to lie to me, you four-year cycle dogs. This suicide of nations is just like falling off a log.
Don't Slam That Door: Dearest stranger, I so hate to be ignored. Avoid me now and you avoid me forever more. Is there no light in here? Why must it be so dark? Are you so frigid within your heart of hearts? Chorus: Don't slam that door on me or I will kill your memory. I'll poison it slowly. Claw at my heart forever. So don't slam that door on me --open this f***ing door! Meuma Mona Lisa, why do you smile at me that way. Is there some magic in your mischief for today? I don't understand it, but I try to play along, but even all my friendly words are nothing short of wrong. ChorusII: Don't slam that door on me or I will kill your memory. I'll poison it slowly. Cross my heart if you hope to die. So don't slam that door on me --open this f***ing door! Dearest judge and jury, I so hate to be on trial, but I will keep my patience for just a little while. Your soft eyes try to kill me every time I look at you. I guess I should abandon ship, but I've got nothing better to do.
The first half of this 90-minute album was recorded at Audioworks again, and the second half (as alluded to elsewhere) was recorded karaoke-style or else lifted from live tracks. This was the last time we did any karaoke-style recording for release. Everything beyond this album was multi-tracked.
Guarantees: One of my better collaborations with Nick. Like Jozo, we found some common ground to work with here. This is about prenuptial agreements, since you know, it's just a Nick song and shouldn't have any personal thematic material from me or anything.
Mad About You: This song has gone through a couple of changes and re-recordings, but remains a favorite of mine. If I could do this particular version over, I'd probably drop the instrumental bridge (known to the band as "The Birds") but keep the piano outro that disappeared from later versions. Doing this version over would constitute something entirely different from re-recording, by the way. This is about realizing that someone you want wants someone else. Had you figured that out yet? It's a big puzzle, I tell ya!
Sweet Sue: I was pretty deep into a very experimental harmonic phase at this point, moving from the Major/minor dichotomy of earlier stuff (heralded by Fire & Ice) into a more geometric system using a lot of clusters and key jumps. This backup vocal was a lot of fun, with O'Meara and Cat joining Nick, Speranza, and I in the vocal booth. That's O'Meara whooping at the end. This storyline is an absolute work of fiction, but them's the words I thunk up.
Don't Lean On Me: Solid song that was a staple of the acoustic live show for a long time and eventually got re-recorded on River Dreams. One of the great things about writing songs is that there's no need to have a consistent message. For that reason I'm fully qualified to tell someone that they shouldn't bother falling in love with me because I'm not that into their particular brand of beauty (sorry, "pulchritude") while also saying, "so terribly lonely, please someone come along to love me," on the rest of the album.
Loneliness: Lost in the shuffle, but one I like. Again, Speranza dials in a great rhythm guitar sound. Somehow, this is supposed to be an uplifting message of "hey, you'll find a guy you like (maybe me) --but you will ENDURE MUCH, MUCH PAIN FIRST!!!! Unless you pick me, in which case, sweet."
I Still Need You: I haven't thought about this for a while, but I could see re-recording this. It was surprisingly fun to play acoustic, although only Speranza could pull of the composite guitar/bass part. This song does, however succumb a little bit to the Don't Say Goodbye effect, where the verse outshines the rest of the song. Nick just gave up on playing that arpeggio, there. Surprisingly effective bridge, and a cool effect suggested by Bill. My gut says that some extra intensity in the pre-chorus/chorus might compensate for the verse. I'd forgotten about that little piano fade part.
Roads: I still periodically play this. The chorus was also part of the score for "Flower...." A subtle metaphor for moving on, encased in vignettes of not doing just that. I am singularly brilliant.
Dollface: This got re-recorded for Songs You Hate. Actually, it was re-recorded for River Dreams but not included in the final mix. This has been a favorite for us to play, but probably not the most memorable for listeners. Nonetheless, a sweet live version closes out Least Significant Failures. Referential nod to the bridge in the fade of Rain Today. Speranza got this tone by cranking the bass & treble on his amp and cutting the mids entirely while running it through some version of the Boss distortion pedal. The material for this song came from a dream.
Break Up: This is a fun little song that fills a role on this album but would be unlikely to make it onto a live set list. Speranza's solo during the bridge was performed "deaf" without any reference monitors, but it ends up fitting anyway. The same thing happened when we tried that technique again on Man In The Moon a few years later.
Walls: We've never even tried to pull this off live. One of the benefits of multi-tracking is that I can orchestrate this kind of complex, layered backup vocal (also known as "Cody & the Codies"). Ideally, I wanted to have other voices than my own performing the harmonies to maintain the illusion of the ensemble, and we tried various things through the years to get that effect, the most convincing of which was to have someone else sing with me, where I basically provided the pitch of the line, and they provided the sound of the line. Great signature Speranza licks on the outro solo.
Mad About You (live): This is very typical of our live fare from the time, when we really started transitioning into a primarily acoustic band. This was recorded by John Steideman at Paris on the Platte. Speranza's covering rhythm, and Nick (in a rare acoustic appearance) is covering the lead guitar. I like that Speranza didn't use an acoustic guitar for those gigs, but instead played his Fender clean through a flange or chorus pedal --it was a very rich sound while still quite intimate. I like Nick's little modal solo idea. I could sure do with a little less vibrato on my voice. Again, I hate my stage personna. Without drums, I just stood or sat there, clutching my arms like Rain Man.
Ellen: This gig was a blast. You can't understand a word coming out of the PA. Both guitars broke strings, so we had to improvise this little ska ending while Speranza wound a new string. We didn't have to, but I forced us to. That's the better way of putting it. That's O'Meara toasting at the beginning. I remember wondering why Matt didn't start soloing when we started the outro. He was an incredibly reluctant player now that I think about it. He wanted the smallest possible role.
I Won't Bite: I originally wrote this song for Union Street Jazz, then wound up adapting it for ROQUE. SJ Hasman from Union Street Jazz was supposed to record this as a duet with me, but she couldn't make the session. Nice call-and-response solo work from Speranza.
A Little Bit Back: I've grown to really hate this version of the song, maybe even the song itself. I'll probably re-record it on a box set or side project disc to see if I can breathe some life into it and to have a quality recording (which this is not), but I think it's just flat.
As Rome Burns: This song needs a re-recording. The karaoke mix is a little off, but the song has been a strong floater in the live set. Also, I think this song bucks the trend of political songs losing their resonance for me over time since it's a song about political disillusionment in general. Murky mix. That's Bekah Knoll on backup vocals. She was in "The Flower That Shattered the Stone" --very good singer, but struggled to find this line, and needed some help from the guitar to get there.
Don't Slam That Door: Possibly the greatest karaoke-style mix of all time despite some murkiness. Way to end an era on a high note. It's all Fried kicking your slap-bass ass. Re-recorded for the Leaky Joe Fistful of Blues album. Nice solo from Nick. I've always liked this pissed-off little song.
ARB End: this is printthrough backmasking of the Checkmate version of October Air pumped up to audible levels then capped off with the sound of rewinding the open-reel two-track deck we used to record the karaoke-style songs. I've gotten away from it a little, but I used to really like sticking this sort of oddity on the end of an album.
Missing from the CD re-release: Shadows (moved to Not!)