How Are We Doing And Who Will Tell Us?

by Jack O' The Clock

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1.
Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up, and I feel you standing over me– it's a terrible morning. It's a terrible morning– so many miles out to sea. Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up, and I feel you standing over me– –used to follow contrails, used to watch the elms hushing blank through sense to nonsense, nonsense back to blank: It doesn't take any time at all. Old face, wrung out like a washcloth. New face ring out like a bell. They go by one by one by one by one... Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up, and I realize that we're all alone, and your boot's digging in and your boot's digging in and your boot's digging in to my collarbone. Once in a while, O my lord, I wake up, and I realize that we're all alone. and your blank covers nonsense -sense severs blank– -nonsense smashes sense- -blank covers nonsense– It doesn't take any time at all.
2.
It could have been worse for you, I'm thinking, living out your long life in between the road and Fountain View with a name and people around you who bothered to use it. You didn't have to know you were a monster or a ship without a crew or that despite this some still envied you. Did you even need to know you were a man? Well, you were a man: of iron principles. "1 2 3 4 5 6 7," you said, You even gave us 9 and 10. "But leave your filthy eights at the door," you sneered, "Leave your filthy eights at the door."
3.
Shrinking 05:47
Come and have a drink with me, my baby come and have a drink beside my bed. come and have a drink with me my baby, Don't tell me that the world is full of light don't tell me that the world is full of light when you know I can't see shit for all the blinding weakness. Janey used to visit with her Jack. She don't come by no more. She took up with a vet from Vietnam. They drink behind her kitchen door. No harm in talking to myself. Got my own Jack on the shelf. (Sing - cuckoo, cuckoo.) You saying you were out of town last night? I found your old bed unmade. Someone left a glass beside the clock. Someone drew the shade. I thought I fell asleep to the TV but I guess it could have been me. (Sing - cuckoo, cuckoo.) They're going to hide their eyes they're moving onto other things Don't take them by surprise Don't let on when you're listening. They're going to hide their eyes though shrinking's even interesting. Don't take them by surprise Don't let on when you're listening. Come and have a drink with me, my baby come and have a drink beside my bed lie with me tonight, I will not touch you: tell me that the world is full of light tell me that the world is full of light.
4.
5.
Old dread, picking up the night shift after hope punches out– one of these days, one of you will have to go. Because you've both put in your time and I can only pay one pension. I went slogging through the past as a means of circumvention. I'm either going to claim my father's errors as my own somber intention or I'm going to pay off his arrears, going to run the water clear on the first of the year. I asked for intimacy and I asked for simplicity: You showed me to my cell and sealed it tight. Then I asked for a wilderness to dissolve my pain: You woke me in the middle of the night. So I'm not going to harbor any secrets and I won't fight another person's fight. Like a winter soldier all my nightmares will be hidden in plain sight. I'm going to drain my life of fear like blood from a steer on the first of the year.
6.
Manifesto 02:38
7.
I climbed halfway up the mountain and an old woman climbed halfway down, and the birds started to titter and the clouds blackened above the town, and I got some kind of nervous when a smile flickered across her face: She said, "I don't mean to alarm you, but this is a race. "I have been watching, and by now you ought to know: that shadow's going to walk with you wherever you go. Eventually you'll stop a while and talk to it. And it tells you its a window and without it you'd be blind, though the only scenes it shows you are the streets you've left behind. Do you take it at its word or throw a rock through it?" I said "I still don't know, do you know? Don't ask me rhetorical questions if you don't know. It's mean-spirited." From the foot of the mountain I dragged all my belongings back to the swamp in which I first started breathing. For every day that I've got nothing to show for I could have been filling it with sand. I met the devil on a desert retreat. He said "I'll let you in on something, but keep it discreet: It's these holy fools that keep my soul alive." I said "I'm glad you told me, that's a mighty relief. You wouldn't waste your time on my faint, whispered belief. He said "Don't fool yourself, I also keep a nine to five." So I turned on my heels and walked into town, found a regular job and swore I'd hold it down. From the edge of the desert I dragged all my belongings back to the swamp in which I first started breathing. For every day that I've got nothing to show for I could have been filling it with sand.
8.
Looking In 03:51
hovel under heavy trees mossy jamb and swayback ridgepole bloom of rust on propane tank candidly exposed like a dog's balls The flag says the purpose of this life is to burrow your ass out of debtor's prison, don't fawn for the pawn with the key. You used to set off that pawn's car alarm back in high school just to see him come running out of class– You want to sit around and wait for that mama's boy to throw you out on your ass? The antenna says the purpose of this life is to sharpen an image to do that you will have to add some noise. The image is a woman at the stove with her hair yanked back, restless with an incandescent heat. The noise is a serpent, florescent on the ceiling, eating its tail.
9.
There you are, standing pregnant in the snow with your coffee and your kids. I came to town on the same old bus –it felt like cheating – just to watch your tear down your new house. There goes my bathtub nursery. There goes the front wall. See that chair standing there in the bedroom? Do you see a diorama of a dismal inner life? Board of health: you've got snot all down your face, get out of mine! Hold your nose. Don't you know, the plumbing goes and water seeps between the field stones inch by inch. But you get used to it if you can keep your nose clean. For every broken stair of can of oil my old man spilled I'd walk into the woods and choose a beautiful new sprout. No one touches me at home in the bosky shade, and no one touches me at the University when I walk at night and touch the whole damn world. I hear you scratching in your hungry white houses, pullulating in the dark, and see you glancing at the crazy old man who sits all day in his car, wondering: How did he ever hold a job at the University? Are they ever going to fix the Nova? And did you see that dog rotting there in the back yard brush? Do you feel the sinking dread of flooding in the spring? You know I used to look at girls from the bosky shade and they would look at me at the University when I walked at night, but there wasn't much to see. The street is quiet. The old man's gone: An end to fear and ire. A weight is lifted, or so you say. I think that you're a liar. And who was he, you think: never spoke except to scream, and he scared the little kids. But you know they were curious: they always came around on Halloween, and I climbed the stairs and hid. I could have killed the old man! I could have killed him every day that he opened up that door and let them gawk at all my plants. I could have killed him but, you know, that's just a figure of speech. Someone has to grab the torch and wash this street in fire. The kids play clean now, or so you say. I think that you're a liar. No one touches me at home in the bosky shade, and no one touches me at the University when I walk at night and touch the whole damn world.
10.
Search 02:11
Whirlybirds ranging out over wild Pacific. Don’t know where we were coming from, only know we were going home. After dark, sovereign lights exploded from their bellies.
11.
I was on Novaya Zemlya all night. It's this long thin island North of Russia, same spine as the Ural Mountains. There's nothing there, just sort of raw, rolling tundra, scrubby evergreens in the valleys. You could feel the ocean out there somewhere. I was there with a friend. I'd just met him but we got along pretty well. We had it in our heads to walk the entire length of the six-hundred-odd mile island in one day. It was cold. We had basic provisions, big heavy parkas, but not a great command of what we were doing. By 2:30 or 3 we were already losing the light. Around 4 O'clock it started to snow. There were more people there than I expected. It wasn't exactly populous, but we did pass through these little villages. At least one of them must have had seven hundred to a thousand people living in it, mostly in these squat, forest green quonset huts. Very light haired, skinned, quiet voices, thin little braid of a gene pool. On the map we're using, Novaya Zemlya is marked almost entirely in yellow, meaning that it's Norwegian territory. That's totally inaccurate, it's Russian, but that's our map. Only as you go farther North, higher altitudes, at first just the tops of mountains, are marked in this neutral grey color. I'm kind of curious about this so I ask my friend "what do you think that means?" And he says "Oh, I think that means that those grey areas are unclaimed: you know, that's a little island of land that's so inhospitable that no one goes there, so there's no claim to be had." As I'm looking at the map, the farther North we go, the farther down the mountainside this grey territory leaks, until there are just islands of claimed territory. And then ultimately, at the top of the island, the whole map is grey. And that's where we're headed.
12.
Ultima Thule 07:14
Bring me a knife and bring a whetstone, batten down the door. We're going to forget this empty night before we find a shore. Back of my home I dug a hole and found this tangled knot of wood. I needed to leave a little scar before I left for good. Violent ocean, barren coastline. Where are all the living things? Somewhere beneath the surface within their suffering. I've got to put my hand to something when I am on the sea. I"m hoping to find the little man that sleeps inside the tree. "In your harbor for a while, we lower our sails." If you believe a timid wooden god could float in on the tide, look into this desolation and find a fireside, Then I will take this warship in, lash it to the rings, and trust all my days remaining to the will of the silent things. "In your harbor for a while, we lower our sails." [refrain borrowed from H.W. Longfellow]

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

Guests:

Marielle Jakobsons - waterphone
Nicci Reisnour - harp, wine glasses, melodica
Jonathan Russell - clarinet
Andrew Strain - trombone

All songs by Damon Waitkus, except track 8, by Damon Waitkus and Jason Hoopes.

Recorded, mixed, and produced by Damon Waitkus in Oakland and Alameda, CA, April 2009 through January 2011

Drums and bass on tracks 2, 5, 7, and 9 engineered byThe Norman Conquest.

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

credits

released January 21, 2011

This is the first full-band album by Jack O' The Clock.

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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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