Redemption (out of print)

by Tom Jessen's Dimestore Outfit

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The debut album from TJDO paints a song cycle about searching. There are characters here in small towns, cars and bars all under the umbrella of wanting...something. The songs themselves evoke a rural, earthy, mid-western atmosphere. The sounds are hybrids from classic Rock and Roll and Pop to Country music, Folk and Blues. A pedal steel resides next to a vibraphone and string quartet. A salvation army type brass band gives way to accordion and banjo. Each song refers back to the one you just heard, making the linearity of the album difficult to pick out any one track on it's own. It is a holistic affair much like reading a novel.


released October 1, 1996

All songs by Tom Jessen

Eric Griffin - drums, percussion, backing vocals
Marty Letz - pedal steel
Darren Matthews - guitar, banjo
Eric Straumanis - bass
Tom Jessen - vocals, guitar, keyboards, trombone, harmonica

"the additionals"

Tom Dostal - vibraphone
Kate Dykstra - cello on "Highway 3 West"
Amber Maxwell - french horn
Geoff McAlister - tuba
Dave Moore - accordion
Helen Neumann - violin
Mary Neumann - violin
Sarah Price - backing vocals on "No Place Unlike Home"
Emily Reck - cello
Brent Sandy - trumpet
Dave Zollo - keyboards on "Do As Yer Told"

produced by Tom Jessen and John Svec
recorded at Minstrel Studios, Iowa City, IA



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Tom Jessen Temple, Maine

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Track Name: Highway 3 West
Eating that slice of moon from an open car window
made you howl
let's see how fast this thing can go
put it to the ground
the radio's kinda busted
you gotta mess with it a bit
to get a good sound
pull it over let's get lost in the cornfields
with that bottle of royal crown
no sign of life on either horizon we lay down on that dividing line
it cuts us in half go forward or go back
either way just don't seem right
what about Jenny you left her standing alone back there
she'll wonder where you are
you say you'd love to lie there forever
idled there on the tar

I'd give 500 dollars for something true
everything I got in this pocket, change too
I keep thinking about when she slipped her hand in mine
hard to find anything that seemed more right
Track Name: Gabrielle
I was so pumped
I called my girl Gabrielle
I told her I was picking her up
on my new motorcycle

And we're gonna drive around town
feel so high, nothings gonna bring us down

Sneaking in the night
trying not to make a sound
sitting in the dark
kissing on the couch

oh I love my girl Gabrielle
oh I love my new motorcy
oh I love my new Gabrielle
oh I love my girl motorcy
Track Name: Shit Forsaken
Stop the car I'll ask this guy where we are
you said we can't go on like this
Well I think it's fun just driving in the sun
happy to vacate the nest
That town was a dead end where everyone tried to pretend
that they weren't all chained and bound
well I'm tired of not knowing where I'm going
but at least we're not sitting around

Throw your stuff in the back of my car
don't leave your regards then no one will know where we are
every road's right when you don't have a clue
but the best thing now Judy's just being with you

The pavement's there for anyone who dares
making it on their own
with what little money we got we can do one hellava lot
but we gotta find a new home

Can you see the lights coming up
this town is ours for the taken
the people back there were going nowhere
the town was shitforsaken

so come on Judy, you know I love you truly
you're driving my car and I'm playing your guitar
singing country music to you
all day long
Track Name: '57 Chevy
Surrounded by snow and friends I don't know
I drive buy that 57 Chevy in the lot
I'm putting in my time but it's too slow going by
pretending to get wise and quit my job

Gotta enough money to buy that 57
turn the radio on and I'm just floating over the pavement
ain't nothing back there I haven't already found

Bobby's found work as a day time cook
but that don't make him any less lost as me
behind the black barred prison
lacking in decision
easy to settle for blind picket fence security

Judy's scared thinking she's in love with someone else
Her pictures lying shotgun next to me
I'm gonna write her a letter, telling her maybe it's better
than a straight jacket smile in the passenger's seat
Track Name: Some Other Day
TJ - guitar/vocal
Eric Straumanis - upright bass
Darren Matthews - lead guitar
Marty Letz - pedal steel
Eric Griffin - drums/percussion
Helen and Mary Neumann - violins
Track Name: Do as Yer Told
I bought a 69 dodge dart it cleaned me out dry
raining so hard the wipers hypnotize
left a wake of leaves, a girl on the sly
a chained up mutt, and the sheriff sleepy-eyed
I'm gonna hide under leaves and live in sidewalk cracks
my double take ghosts are straining their necks
tie your shoelaces tight, spit on your soles
wooden nickel, pinch of salt, do as yer told

do as yer told, do as yer told

mama had a baby as his head popped off
mama had a baby and his head popped
Track Name: No Place Unlike Home
with a half a pack of smokes
and a hand shake from my folks
I left that ol' town buried
scarecrow phone poles
but I set the cruise control
these Iowa plates tell the best story
with my feet on the dash
and tilted rear view mirror past
it seemed to make sense at the time
I thought there'd be a place somewhere
with a rail on the stairs
to keep me from falling over the side

Well I'm in a new place
but wearing the same old lost face
I guess it don't matter where you go
on the street in the rain
well it all seems the same
I guess there's no place unlike home
Track Name: 18th & Davis Review
well my hometown paper's sitting in the box today
there's this article on the 3rd page
saying my old high school girl's getting married
well my higher hopes are like bicycle spokes
we go round and round
she's become just another product of prop and circumstance

The girl I'm with now says I couldn't write my way out
of a paper town like this
I'm an old dog at 23 scraping for new tricks
Well my bordeom reminds me I'm getting old
looking out on a city I don't know
newspaper clippings they've turned scared yellow

The romantics talk semantics only after a couple glasses of vintage wine
and me I'm just trying to deal

people by the handful are clinging to intangibles
I'm envious
When did I leave my niavety to the previous
Charile's gone to Minneapolis
He said he'd save a place for us
sad to think that time and place has digested

Everybody's passing through my life like shots that almost hit
Well I wish they would've wasted me away
Spending too much time with drunks who had their time
story for everyday of the week
their half opened eyelids and yellow stained fingertips
so quiet sometimes you can hear their bones creak
odds are slim I'll be seeing them again
everybody's had their day
not too much to think about and even less to say

back in the midwest there's boys causing incidents
where back seat drivers rule
they got all night to kill

the book of murphy's law
beneath the tires of their cars
driving far away

It was her fireflies eyes that tripped me back into summer
back when I took a philips screwdriver
and carved my name in the soft brick by the popcorn stand
then I headed back down to the carnival
and watched all the lights and sounds
spray out all over the town
like some kind of unmanned fire hose
that nobody wanted to control
Track Name: On the Cuff
TJ - guitar, vocal
Tom Dostel - vibraphone
Eric Grffin - drums
Eric Straumanis - bass
Darren Matthews - lead guitar
Track Name: Another Saturday Night
I hang up my apron and then I slide on my coat
hope the bus ain't too late it's my only ride home
well my old man left me his boots
they're covered with grime
they're buried in the closet but tonight they'll spit shine

I drove those slave wages throughout the week
and nothing could be better than letting go free
this town's full of has-beens before their time

well I ride my uncertainty like a hobo train
waiting for that boxcar door to slide
a hip pocket pint fuels thoughts of outside
settling for a crack of Saturday night

The lights always bleed when the townies scoop the loop
Gus bruises with a gillette shave twitch
and a red light punch lead foot
and Alton hasn't moved since the last time I was here
He's stinking of cigars and whiskey sours
growing roots and a five o'clock beard

and the girl's are painted like clowns playing the show
their three ring shenanigans assures a back seat ride home
and nobody here is thinking about Sunday night

Well fate may deal me the darkest of deaths
and I suppose that'll have to suit me just fine
the boys are all here and it's in these moments I fear
that there will never be another Saturday night
well there it went another Saturday night
Track Name: Sanctuary
mom keeps sending me rosaries
the world's barely standing on wooden legs now
activist complaints and atrocities
there's dust collecting on my window blinds

In Iowa you can see for miles
the sun coming out it's a good day for a drive
everything looks fine behind this windshield when you're driving by
but everybody's got their two cents worthless
leave this town, windows down tonight

saopbox strangers are boring me
with anecdotes and confessional soliloquies
talk about the weather shit they're waxing hurricanes
tornado gut wrench, well were due for some rain
old friends stopping by unexpectedly
just more explanations I'm not up for
I don't have the passion to recap and convert
through silent reactions I can see I was expected more
leave this town with the windows down tonight

one by one all my heroes turned sour
they say your taste buds are the first to go
you just can't trust much when each day something else crumbles
no need to know much when you're all alone

everybody's clutching better ideas idled in pockets
the devil's playing with lint balls these days
I can't even hear myself think over their talking
would-be cooks with hand-written recipes
leave this town with the windows down
four wheel sanctuary now
all I need in my room is a broom
and I'll keep it crystal clean
Track Name: Supply and Demand
you wonder why I can never look you in the eye
well I've memorized every pattern on this floor
Her eyes are so naked I feel as if I'm intruding
if I look at them too long
I projected your deceptive emotion
like a summer vacation slide show
but I guess there was something else
behind that holiday smile

your ballet mirages and my one way economics
fall prey to wistful invention
I'll supply the expectations and demand that you be true
well I know I'm talking cliches and turning verbal tricks
but even the cheesiest love songs in a bar
turn profound when your three sheets to the wind

I could change this whiskey to water
but to you it's just pathetic heresy
sometimes when there's nothing left to do
I sit stacked and smoke myself silly
and make myself break down
because i guess i feel it's the thing I should do

I could toss around the word love like a boomerang
but I lost my catcher's mask
you wear your skepticism with rubber boots
and chastity wrapped in a cast

and maybe the mailbox might hold simple salvation
and i've seen the future in a crystal glass of beer
and I ain't pretending that understand a thing
but this ignorance is blistering
but open wounds dry clean
Track Name: Blanket, Tombstone, Feather
Looking for the big trees
and crooked sidewalks
the hideaway porch that sees all
cunning relics of autumn street corners
sitting incognito under amber waves of leaves
spider branches hanging high in the Indian wind

I can feel your soft shoulders under flannel whispers
with a dream in my hand I can build
my blanket, tombstone, feather
there's a table against a window
my jackknife pathos hiding in the shade
and from behind the screen door
it's sounding like a victrola kind of rain

listen to the rain
Track Name: Prodigal Son
Well I look to the sky but all I see
is that big blue umbrella
keeping cathartic rains from falling on my head
silhouette snippets and thoughts like crickets
making all kinds of racket
with rationalizations of time well spent
my heads been filled
with blanks and bullets
and I don't have control of either one
all of these head wounds are self inflicted
and maliciously situated
like that lonely chair propped up against heavens door knob

self-induced religions bear fruit only when faith falls floundering

well I've waded through false beliefs
and seeping skin from the girls all along the streets
balancing the bible and the American dream on my head
with out standing debts in the passage of time
but old photographs are epitaphs
with a little grace and insight

I've sen it on my faces
strained redemption with all it's blemishes
being backed by popular demand
well what good are these heroes
riding ideas on downward spirals
their words are from no language I can use here

30 miles shy of Omaha I wonder wondered I just done
then I realize that I'm finally living in the moment
this highway's pink with conversion
Lord have mercy for these home town citadels
the prodigal son is home
won't you wish him well