by Tom Jessen

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Jessen’s songs are thick with horn sections, strings and backing vocals. Those elements create a lush backing for his densely packed lyrics that chronicle quests of spiritual and romantic satisfaction. – John Kenyon, Cedar Rapids Gazette

The sassy, pop/R&B horn charts that keynote the opening “Eulogy” signal a rich, wide-ranging hybrid of musical influences and textures that clearly separate this music from the sometime too-relevant adherence to the folk, roots-rock and Americana sources that have been the region’s dominant paradigm… - Jim Musser, Iowa City Press Citizen


released March 2, 2002

All songs by Tom Jessen

Nate Basinger - keyboards, backing vocals
Patrick Brickel - percussion
Marty Christensen - bass (3,5,9,10)
John Cord - trumpet
Paul Cunliffe - drums, percussion (3,5,9,10)
James Ellis - cello
Amy Finders - backing vocals (10)
Eric Griffin - drums, percussion (2,6,8,11)
Marit Hervig - viola
Tom Jessen - vocals, guitar, piano, percussion
Wes Phillips - bass
Andy Parrott - guitar, mandolin, backing vocals
Aaron Radar - trombone
John Svec - backing vocals (4)
Bob Thompson - flute
Jim Viner - Drums (1,4,7)
Margaret Vrana - bassoon
Luke Ziegenhorn - Tenor Sax

Engineered by Patrick Brickel
Mastered by John Svec
Produced by Tom Jessen



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Tom Jessen Temple, Maine

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Track Name: Eulogy
He'd better prepare himself for the shakedown
You'll be frisking one of the Refugees of Truth
now that his words are caught in his mouth
the stiff arm of the law
washes away like rain all the soot above my furrowed brow
examine the state of all these broken tools
I want to know how he got so far down

The days bleed and the clocks turn stubborn
and then they just turn mean
They sent out an APB
from the local authorities
searching for my feet too close to the ground

He was last seen on an unpaved road
We've checked with the county, state and feds
but they got no idea where it goes
the dogs are closing in
tracking me from the scent of sin
and fear of doubt I've been known so well to expose

well take him out if the shot is clean
he gave us a hellava run but now he's going from where he came

lying in the weeds
dancing with dreams
of a winter night with Christmas lights
as I float over this town
and the church bell rang as the sheriff sang,
"well I found his feet too close to the ground"
Track Name: River
Well it was like a scene out of a Peckinpaw movie
I was running from those boys
and with each blow in slow motion
they kicked me in the head
so I just laid there and waited out their fury
with my humility exposed
more just tired from my wounded pride
and just how funny life could be

Saint Stephen let them throw rocks at him
til he laid smiling on the ground
well his blood stained the sand
with a proud command
that what just happened was good
now I don't know a thing about justice
and revenge is for the weak
and coward get slung
from testosterone tongues a bit too quickly

and there ain't no ice in the freezer
to put on my bruises
but now I understand the value of suffering
so you can put me in the ground
and isn't mine to question why this river flows that way

hey Job, where's you go
you got any words for me
well my wisdom gets scarce when everything else
blows away with the breeze
now these times keep getting tougher
and I'm so tired of it all I could sleep
do I take another step
or just laugh myself to death
it's every consequence to me
well you wouldn't leave me like this would you?
with so little to show
I picture a house in the sun down on rural route 1
inside a girl's waiting for me
now I threw out all of my money
seeking shelter with the meek
but even these dreams are like hanging toys in playpens
they're always out of reach
Track Name: Exile
Well it feels like doing time
maybe it's time to clean this slate
well my bosses veins were popping
because on Monday morning I came in 3 minutes late
and they're selling booze to drunkards
in fluorescent shopping malls
they traded God for trinkets
VCRs, talking cars and autograph basketballs

When's the end of this exile
can I finally go home
The communion of saints is calling
and they're singing the best songs
and reciting divine psalms

All the ballrooms have closed down
everybody's locked away in rooms
well they used to go out dancing
toasting the night time with a stiff glass of booze
now they fall asleep on their couches
watching TV
they used to own their own business
now they support their own home on a line in a factory

I don't think I belong here
but where the hell can you go
there's poachers in the mountains
and there's pimps selling fur on the city streets below

can I go home
after this our exile
Track Name: Go Easy On My Eyes
I got a heart full of crumpled paper
thoughts with slipknots that stretch to succeed
well I'm buried in a crowd of sliding poker faces
and I'm striving for consistency
well i heard the train whistle blow with church bells ringing
and I knew somebody else was putting thoughts in my head
we hang around this town like cobwebs
dusting off conversation and compliments

Jesus I need you now
settle down like shower on a small town

It seems I'm asking all the favors
like could you wrap my heart up before it spills
well it's getting too close down to the wire
if you don't grab me now, my demons will
and he's got legions in ruby red and combat boots
and they try to pick me off with the small of their backs
and there's cosmetic armies popping up like thistles
their sharp with tongues, but soft as grass

heaven's going to have that 6am morning sky
and everything's going to be beginning again
i might even be wearing a sweater
away from humid bodies
and satan's smile

So go easy on my eyes I'm not from around
I can't bare to jeopardize my chance to return there
Go easy please
Track Name: Sunday Night Black
I can hear the traffic humming out on I80 tonight
sounds like people sleeping, breathing
it's that Sunday night black that
incites these anxiety attacks and
asks you "what in the hell are you doing?"

I conjure furtile dreams of the way its suppose to be
and it seems at one time it used to be
weightless days, weightless days
and I figure out that it could never again be that way
when I spend my time waiting for it to return

Barefoot pajama kids
dance around lightening bugs in grass stained feet
involking all the angels in the night
with the giggles and their fantasies
renewing my classified ad I'm
gonna take whatever I can get well this
trailer is pretty old but it's cheap rent if you can bare the elements

I make some late night calls to no avail at all
disguise my voice in composure
to an answering machine
like laying down on a couch, telling your dreams
operator assistance breaching my silence
"if you'd like to make a call please hang up and try again"

I could really use some place to go tonight
it feels like my chest has collapsed into this gaping hole
and the universe is flying through it like a jet
like a jet
Track Name: All Those Treasure Daggers
I gotta straightjacket on the tip of my tongue
and if only make actions could speak volumes
like the strength of roman columns that hold my hopes high
a desperate offering piercing clouds in the sky
well i try to pick up my spirits
but the gravity of this predicament is in the grave
when you get comfortable in your discomfort
are you surprised when you have little left to say

Cut me open and see all that passion that's been stabbing me
from the inside out
and all those treasure daggers
are falling out

those allusuive inspirations just won't let me quit
even when I've lost the will to find it
looking for a taste of spring and a determined smile
but it gets soiled by a lust in the fact
that everything dies
well I'm lazy to lace up these shoes
cuz I'll trip over everything else that isn't really there
they all cheer me on above the clouds
but my orientation is like a drunkened summers fair

there holding democratic discussions in my head
and when I fight the reins they only bruise
so I follow the jealous muse
who's helpless without consent
my heart feels like a car going to blow after a fatal accident
well I wish that I could wear these burdens
like an overcoat in world soak to the skin
all my love to the ones who know
and a smile for the rest of my friends
Track Name: Let Me Let
may the holy spirit lift me on its shoulders
so i can marvel at this parade of life
to be animated like some city street corner
to blush with a resounding surprise
I'm an archeologist with tools and throbbing heart
and the times I'm blessed with focus I spend uncovering my way
they set their bear trap schools of thought to tear me apart
knowing I'll brandish resistance with a worn blade

let me let, let me let these tear flow
for they do not reflect pain
let me let this mouth with teeth show
even when you insist all is dark with rain

well i caught a glimpse of an opening in the clouds
and it called me by name
and it wasn't like how you told me it would be
it was free from all your shallow constraints
well the mirrors are showing me signs of erosion
that seem to settle in the trough around my waist
these pretty young girls on the streets ignite and then explode on
they explode on my fortitude like grenades

well she flashed the word love like a badge
standing sincere and tall
it gave her license to tell me what was best for me
and in the end I don't think she knew what love was at all
letting me go when I wasn't who she wanted me to be
Let me let, let me let myself love you
for these steps i take I don't take every day
if I let myself be left open to you
please don't turn away
please don't turn away
Track Name: Something As Subtle As Time
I got no more fight
except to keep an ounce of clarity
pretty sure I had it once
but even the memory of it now escapes me
It wasn't suppose to be this way
beaten down so far inside
hard to lift a chin to the day
hard to find the same thing a surprise

years slip by right before my eyes
now it's got me paralyzed
like a deer standing cold in headlights
I seem to recall this other guy with my face
sitting safe in the sunshine
when everything was under blue sky
beauty was swirling around in his mind
not to be damaged by something as subtle as time

i wasn't suppose to be this way
I use to see it shine like a jewel
when did it all turn gray
with my hope fading out of view

sitting safe in the sunshine
when everything was under blue skies
beauty was swirling around in his mind
not to be damaged by something as subtle as
blue skies
swirling around in his mind
not to be damaged by something as subtle as
Track Name: Black Sheep
well he switched to a taller glass of something harder
and started asking for phone numbers and trouble
and he always stands a little too close to you
throwing words and ideas in the air he thought he could juggle

woah black sheep - the flock left him behind
somewhere down the road he lost sight of what he was trying to find

Well he's a kick in the pants
and a prayer away from anything I'd understand
a misguided inventor, a general and a thief all rolled into one
and I flip flop between anger and pity
and I only stop after it's calloused with apathy

I can hear it in every confident word
the frustration in trying to assure himself what he says is true
sputtering like a car trying to soak up the last drop of fuel
shivering like a child
with faith built on crutches and a sigh
backsliding on the defense
that you can't burn your bridges when they haven't been built yet
burn your bridges when they haven't been built yet

and he said,
when will it finally end
when will it finally sweep me up in a ray of sunlight and carry me like a bird
I tried to grab the keys but he moaned he was fine
and then he tripped out into the street
and gave himself up to the night

oh black sheep you gonna try and run and hide
somewhere down the road he lost sight of what he was trying to find
trying to find

well he once was found but now he's lost
Track Name: Let The Night Be Long
the clock has it in for me tonight
a contest of wills, a silence like a 45
ringing, smoking chastising and broken
the night like a flannel livewire

forgive me for not having my footsteps
favor your bedroom floor
it's my knack of always knowing
the importance on the whereabouts of the door
god knows what else I've pondered
that keeps me awake
a search for a destiny that I myself didn't create

you gotta let the night be long before you wake up
and find it gone

paint my eyelids shut
with your lack of anything to add
to the endless conversations in my carousel head
the night like flannel livewire

for I live only to love that which is not by my side
oh sweetie if I could only find you
better the chances for things to go right
my presumptions in the package
and my tastes are larger than life
so turn my eyes from the ground
turn my heart upside down
and maybe I could get some sleep tonight
Track Name: Let It Go
Can you hear this big ol' world squeaking on it's axis?
like bicycle spokes left out in the rain
do you have rusty resolutions
you been trying to put in motion and practice?
and all effort to crawl out of bed seem to be in vain
aw, babe let it go!

is it all broken by the wayside?
do you see it stuck high up in a tree?
you'll break your back hoisting that baggage
drop it babe and walk away
let it go!

do they lay it on you
like a blanket of stones?
with the strictest intentions
to bust all your bones
hey babe, GO!
Let it go!

When you find yourself on a plane
with your treasure maps and your suitcase
why do you run from place to place
trying to find it and explain it all away

Let it go!