All My Friends

by Jack O' The Clock

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1.
All my friends are dead. What can you say to that, my friend? Cancer dropped a blockbuster: the formula works. The car crash was a sleeper hit. 1908 and twenty days late, I dragged the midwife from her bed. There was a handsome front lawn I could roll around on, a great sigh in the chestnuts overhead. Along came the war. Along came the war, and everyone agreed what we were in it for. But I saw a flash in a darkened theatre, a newsreel splash of a crash on a foreign shore. All my friends seemed to think I'd feel differently if I'd only had to risk my hide, but I'd have to hear from God himself before I'd kill for either side. My father said "Franklin, you're not a fighter. They would snap you in two like a twig. You're going to have to find a post in the Post Office. That's the only other decent gig." Well, I'm never alone for long, 'cause people know these walls are strong, and neither snow nor rain can get in. But who can recall the way the tall chestnuts used to sway before the blight set in? You can't stand too tall in a clear-cut forest or the world stops laughing at your jokes, No, Jesus never laughed at my jokes.
2.
The Academy 01:26
3.
Whip me, teacher, you should know that's all I ever needed from you. Don't impress me with your signet, don't give me any books to leaf through. I only want your love. I will even take it lying down. You can't just leave me with your demons after running all my angels out of town. It could take you miles out of your way and–ah!–how would you know? I've got eyes and I can see shapes but I can't really read. Off-the-record, into the clinic, under anesthetic and the knife: Thought I'd have a housebroken shadow but I only have this fear of life. Come clean now, doc, let's take a stand while your master's boy still walks with you: tell him things didn't go as planned for the captains as well as the crew; Tell him you're just a conscript of his old daddy, not some slave of the mind. A lot of well-meaning people are dead wrong most of the time. Whip me teacher like you love me, that is all I actually need: a freezing lash of winter rain to shake awake the indolent seed, humiliation, absolution in the sunlight every single day. Feel like an old English sheepdog getting a bath in the driveway. It could take you miles out of your way and–ah!–how would you know? I've got eyes and I can see shapes but I can't really read.
4.
The Pilot 03:44
The pilot, when he is flying, his mind is on air currents: air currents have a lot to do with it– but he feels, I know he feels that holy lift. Set foot upon the ground and that feeling of buoyancy turns back into a myth. The myth is the star you see by looking at the star next to it. It sings, "I'm alive."
5.
6.
Gusty morning, open door. Feel like I've come through a war. Winter stalks stand black in sunlight and the furrow is bare. But morning walks so far from night neither sees the other right, and though I should be heavy-hearted I am ash on the air. I took a walk beside my fear. He whispered quietly in my ear, told me that my ship had sailed and he was dying to ground me. But the world was tender as he spoke and vivid like a broken yolk and I felt the open witness of the people around me. People changing, people burning up before your eyes: lights out, but someone is still in there. Well, I've been talking through me dread, I'll talk a roof over my head, I''ll talk myself a silver chariot to ride into town in. But talk conspires to disguise where the real decision lies. You talk about the peaks you'll conquer, not the ocean you'll drown in. I am not afraid of you, are you afraid of me? Don't go–step into my home, we'll fry a little fish, we'll brew a little tea, we'll walk around the town, we'll go down to the river, we'll stare across the river, animal to animal like we were kind of dumb, and we are kind of dumb.
7.
8.
Disaster 02:34
As the grape leaves choked the light from the sundial, through the windless air just after the feast of St. Jerome, a flying machine like she'd never seen came bombinating over field and town. It had four square wings the color of lobster claws (Sunday sun in the streets of Rome,) and a nose that buzzed and hummed like her father through a comb, (guiltily slouches St. Jerome.) and it made her sigh and need to fly (Ears and eyes can tell no lies) 'til the engine coughed and the plane came down. (in the sepulchers and the catacombs.) Oh my God, am I the only one that saw that? Oh my God, is there no one here to help? Oh my God, is something moving in the cockpit? I'm not ready for this.
9.
Analemma 02:43
What I cannot see I steal in pinches under the camera's skirt. I will fix my head in a vice and submit my gaze to the shutter 'til the sun plays crazy eights with the earth.
10.
Go out, you say, and put your sugar-fed body into service. You know that you're the only one still foraging for firewood in our neighborhood? You don't need to be told, if you've lit a dozen fires and you're still feeling cold, go out! On a sea wracked with gales, how easily the wind dies in your sails! Mr. Smith went to Washington, but that's so long ago now. He hasn't seen the capital in years. He runs his fingers through the world, He feels but doesn't touch it, and if he leaves his room, he disappears. (Ah, but it will howl before it hides it's head.) Well you're right! You're always right! And you say… And I say: Wouldn't you take me upstair to your room when you're starting your day, to the place where you find all the words you say, to your pantry of pills that keep the demons away? Didn't I once have a claim on this world like a thorn in its side, I don't claim anymore, I just open wide, 'til I'm consumed with pride. Didn't I once live in this world, in a neighborhood that I understood, where you didn't have to disinter the dead to feel good? How weakly I resist that craving! God knows if it's enough to save me! Mr. Smith at the bathroom sink looks down a hall of mirrors. He sees the perfect symmetry of Hell. (Ah–five-o-five to ten-past-five, light!) He sees the changing semaphore, he feels a distant rumble, he hears the tolling of the vesper bell. (Right clear down the alley to where the trash is kept.) Well you're right! You're always right, and this is all that I can say. This is all that I can say.
11.
I met a new lover in an old, familiar bed this morning. She wasn't close to beautiful, but she was saying she could smell the dust I'd been collecting, and the snow that was likely to fall, and was in no hurry at all, so we had time. She says: "And if you're ever drawn into a subway or an elevator shaft, or drawn to painting on cathedral ceilings, take your time: you can fall to your death as easily inside."
12.
Walking late down Ocean Beach trying to describe the feeling, waking up to a grown man weeping in the street. (Turned out to be a neighbor. His son had been running blind for a few days and he'd just got word from down South somewhere: they'd found him.) It was just a story for a hungry sea but it stuck behind your eyes and lodged there like the whisper of a spine in that blind white worm inside. Old friend in a hole at the back of my skull, when you called I was sleeping. God I confess I can't really address though I do talk to you. In an alley in back of the pawn shop, stashing your trash in a booted car. Buying drinks for an exotic dancer, following her home from the bar. Sitting up in your room in the Tenderloin, smoking hash in the hooded night, the reel-to-reels against your inner wall are rolling, tape his flooding from the phones like a searchlight. And then you start to guard your tapes and guard your private thoughts from forming canyons under tiny streams of pain. The people on the street seem to know too much. Your friends seems to be messing with the records in your brain. And from the back of my skull, a chain walks down past flapping doors and singing wires, past throbbing dynamos and factories, past leeching pools and midden heaps, past silos milking fertile rows to the vestige of a story that I can't outrun. Well I heard you packed it in, but never where or how, and that was enough to see you shuffling down a staircase in another city, and another. (Be careful lines have come down in the night, the lights are out.) Old friend in a hole at the back of my skull, trying to cut out the bad part. And I bit through the lead 'cuz I won't wake the dead, though I do talk to you. On Van Ness one night I felt your heavy arms take hold of me, rough and loving like an older brother would, as if to say "Look, I'm behind you now, don't move, don't panic, and don't turn around. "In a minute I am going to let you go, and when you go, you can go down Mission, you can take the L down to the sea, buy yourself a new microphone, lay down some city for me, and though your heart is empty and full," you said "you will find a cypher in your brain that whirs underneath it all. I could't help it." You said "I couldn't help it. "Whatever hums, whatever filament is lit, I will be there for you to short-circuit it."
13.

about

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www.waysidemusic.com

All My Friends is the culmination of four years of us getting to know one another as people and musicians, featuring a mix of pieces we’ve been refining on stage since the five of us started playing together back in 2009, and new material composed in the studio.

The album is a series of vignettes on personal relationships in all their uniqueness and difficult sublimity. Its thirteen pieces showcase our usual core of voices, violin, guitar, hammer dulcimer, bassoon, bass and drums, in addition to an expanded woodwind/brass section, guzheng, no-input mixer, and found objects like wine glasses, corrugated pipes, heating grates, and more.

credits

released March 15, 2013

Damon Waitkus - voice, guitar, hammer dulcimer, etc.
Emily Packard - violins, psaltery, melodica, etc.
Kate McLoughlin - bassoon, voice, flute
Jason Hoopes - bass, voice
Jordan Glenn - drums, accordion, mallet percussion

Guests:

Art Elliot - church organ
Ivor Holloway - tenor sax
Marielle Jakobsons - waterphone
Darren Johnston - trumpet
Nicci Reisnour - harp, wine glasses
Jonathan Russell - clarinet
Andrew Strain - trombone
Cory Wright - clarinet
Ian Forsythe - no-input mixer
Dave McNally and Neil Hodge - rhodes/drum loop

All songs by Damon Waitkus, except track 12, by Damon Waitkus and Jason Hoopes.

Recorded, mixed, and produced by Damon Waitkus in Oakland and Alameda, CA, April 2009 through January 2013.

Drums and bass on tracks 7 and 8 engineered byThe Norman Conquest.

Track 7 mixed by Damon Waitkus with Myles Boisen.

Mastered by Myles Boisen and Headless Buddha Mastering Lab, Oakland.

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Jack O' The Clock Oakland, California

JACK O' THE CLOCK "presents a fine lesson on what it means to write songs that are at once approachable and human while simultaneously being incredibly profound in terms of timbre, depth of emotion, and harmonic complexity," Progulator.

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