Repetitions of the Old City - II

by Jack O' The Clock

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keithbjones thumbnail
keithbjones Frisco 1969 Ambience and great musicianship
ROWIAL thumbnail
ROWIAL Like ’R.o.t.O.C. 1’ & ’Night Loops’ this is very enthralling music in its own genre. Most notable for Jack O' The Clock i.m.o. are multilayered forcing compositions with unusual, at times complicated melodies & rhythms you'll mostly find quite "consumable". Again album-sound is rather spacy - like from electric instruments. But besides el. bass you mostly hear unplugged instruments. (see credits below) I still have to discover concept/lyrics. What seems to be promising. Very, very fine stuff!
Eric Davidson
Eric Davidson thumbnail
Eric Davidson This album boasts fantastic production, creative lyrics, and progressive instrumentation. Above all, it's a masterclass in songwriting. Along with part 1, this is one of my favorite progressive folk albums. Favorite track: A Sick Boy.
gianfrancomarmoro thumbnail
gianfrancomarmoro Elaborate and full of original ideas, a celebration of connection between mind and heart Favorite track: Miracle Car Wash, 1978.
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1. Damascus Gate
2. Miracle Car Wash, 1978
3. Island Time
4. Errol at Twenty-Three
5. Whiteout

6. Guru On the Road

7. My Room Before Sleep
8. Into the Fireplace
9. Unger Reminisces
10. I’m Afraid of Fucking the Whole Thing Up
11. Double Door
12. A Sick Boy


released June 1, 2018

Damon Waitkus - vocals, acoustic, electric, baritone and piccolo guitars, hammer dulcimers, banjo, mandolin, ukelin, keyboards, guzheng, flute, percussion, wine glasses, field recordings
Emily Packard - violin, baritone violin, viola, melodica, car horn
Kate McLoughlin - bassoon, vocals, recorder, car horn
Jason Hoopes - bass, voice, piano guts, car horn
Jordan Glenn - drums, percussion, vibraphone, marimba, bells, melodica, car horn
Thea Kelley - vocals
Ivor Holloway - tenor saxophone, clarinet

Art Elliot - pipe organ on track 1
Darren Johnston - trumpet on track 2
Dave McNally - piano blizzard on track 2
Sarah Whitley - samples on track 2
Cory Wright - clarinet on track 8


Produced by Damon Waitkus

Recorded and mixed by Damon Waitkus,
October 2014 through March 2018, in Oakland and Alameda, CA,
except drums and bass to tracks 2, 6, 8, and 12, engineered by The Norman Conquest, October 2014.

Mastered by Myles Boisen at Headless Buddha Mastering Lab, Oakland




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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Track Name: Damascus Gate
I arrive late, late.
Gate’s closed. The snow is banking
up against it––no footprint, it’s
like it’s never been open.
It must have been.
Knocking on the studded wooden door,
BANG BANG for hours,
What do you do?
Well, what do you remember?
Remember? I remember nothing.

I remember a lamp.
A lamp on an island.
The damp, salt, the smell of kerosene.
I remember how they told us
“It will burn so warm
but you’ve got to turn away.
Just turn away”
Track Name: Miracle Car Wash, 1978
I saw a picture and I thought of you
and the gloomy Christ on your bedroom door:
a clown sits in a giant swing
in the shadows high above the forest floor.
The same tempera blare,
the same tenebrous eyes that dogged your little friends around the room.

Somehow you told yourself a secret joke
and I envied you because I couldn't laugh.
The house is burning and the clowns are down
in the basement slaughtering a fatted calf.
And as they crackle like thorns blazing under a pot
you cross your eyes and cross yourself and grin
like its some sort of play we're in.
Well, I was wrong, but I thought at the time
that you were after that calfskin.

Remember, sister, when the baby comes,
that to miss the mark's the only mortal sin.
Our father hit it running eggs for years
to the local stores until the chains came in,
and if he blackened at Christmas and totaled the truth
he'd find his way into the velvet booth.

Starting to think something happened here
in the dead of night when you and I were small.
A man broke in, left a pile of gifts,
and took the Kennedys from the parlor wall,
Saying I know that you're good for it brother,
like all the shlubs who drive their own sun out to shine
from nine to nine,
park it downtown, ride home on the red line.

I was alive when that blizzard hit,
I don't remember but I've seen the super-8s.
People asphyxiating in their cars
and there was martial law in parts of some Northeastern states.
And there's Miracle Car Wash, and you and your friends
are making high-speed angels in the road.
Track Name: Island Time
Island time, sweet and brief
no affliction, no relief
Tiny lights burn up the mainland night
That’s my loss, that’s my grief

Island time, sea is high
no epistle, no reply
When that ship pulls into Avalon
you just board, no goodbye

Ocean time, rocky shoal
hands of petrol, eyes of coal
No it won’t end well, not for anyone
Not my baby, not a soul

Island time, safe and dry
Nurse your wounds, watch the sky
If that ship pulls into Avalon
you just board, no goodbye
Track Name: Errol At Twenty-three
Several hundred mice overwintered
in that filthy house with the dirt floor cellar,
and four green men barking at the mouth of big woods.
I'm a wash at the edge of the frame
but Errol stands blue
against the sunny nineteenth-century clapboard,
heels dug into himself.

Errol withdrawn into his garret room running in place
for a week straight. Dropping notes through the heating grate.
Bucket full. Soap, please. Vegetables. I need soap!
Redreaming Israel to a house of gentiles:
the scorched red rocks,
the guts in knots.
Alcee and Kane are outside in the dusk
making love on the rope swing,
and Errol's upstairs, he's painted his naked skin,
he's got the video camera rolling,
flashes of b-roll tanks across his chest.

Rudy and Errol on a sunless day
in the crackling woods, stoned,
stone walls describing obsolete borders,
this land too a palimpsest.
The camera’s panicked eye
claws the winter trees
like a sick old cat taken out for one
last walk
to be shot.
Stopping dead on the rooty path,
looking around--
Unbracketed by the wind, Errol sighs.
"Where are we?”

I only mean to say How lovely
to be drawn instead of elbowed
into your groundlessness
when the shadow of a friend goes off ahead.
Track Name: My Room Before Sleep
Hey-ho, pretty face!
How is your Wednesday night?
There’s a candle burning in your building
and another in my room.
In my room: no empty bottles this evening
and no luxurious loneliness.
Just four walls, a window, and a breath.
Track Name: Into the Fireplace
The basement windowpanes were rimed with frost
the revelers by the open door were morbidly sauced
there wasn't any line that hadn't been crossed
there wasn't any pride that hadn't been lost
when Joel climbed into the fireplace.

We thought he was fucking around when he got down on the floor,
shook off his shoes and the clothes that he wore,
but then he jostled the fire into a roar,
stepped over the hearth and closed the glass door.

And someone said Aw, that flame isn't real!
though the skin on Joel's arms was starting to peel
He said It sure as hell is but it's not a big deal
it's nothing a little bit of rest wouldn't heal.

And everybody watched for a minute or two
waiting to see what our old friend would do
but the bastard is headstrong as everyone knew
and as he fumed there in silence, our restlessness grew.

I meant to stir the coals and give him one last shot
to let us in on what he really thought
but the air was so thick and the room was so hot
that after a while, I—


The evening fades and the refectory clears
the semblance in charcoal of Joel disappears
the few that remain sit dissolving in tears
cuz we don't know how to account for the years

or the unanswered letter or the dangling ache
or the quietly skipped-over wedding and wake
and we're eyeing the door but we can't make a break
just as long as a part of him might be awake.

A sickening stench rises up from the grill
the great hall is seized by a terrible chill
Does he see us as frigid, does he see us as ill?
We'd all like to ask him but none of us will.
Track Name: Unger Reminisces
Lily on the hill, with us
on the night of the blizzard,
stealing through rich people’s wooded back yards,
melting snow over a stick fire for tea.
Out behind some gutted house,
before they found us,
she caught my scarf and drew me in.
Track Name: I'm Afraid of Fucking the Whole Thing Up
Mr. Clipper cranks my shoulder,
says "you'll thank me when you're older.
Climb yourself out of this rut. Go downtown
and you get a job. You must be good for something."

Mom's emotions: huge and haunted,
any others pass unwanted.
And she tells me I'm a cold fish,
and I stand there mouthing Os,
breathing underwater.

The field was bright and open wide a
nd you stood darkly at the side,
empty and perfectly in the way.

Don't touch me yet my love,
I'm afraid of fucking the whole thing up.

Over high school's gleaming hallways,
vaulted arches now and always.
Find the stairwells and the bogs
and the crawlspace way up above the theatre's ceiling rafters.

But trust the pedants, well I won't.
I cannot know the things I don't
but bullshit is as clear as day to me.
So: out with Errol on rainy nights
collecting footage of streetlights,
baying at the houses through the trees.

Don't touch me yet, my love,
I'm afraid of fucking the whole thing up.

They're flicking their eyes at me all over town
like I'm some hovering coyote.

Pleasure courses through the wiring.
Talk is windblown, leaves are gyring.
Can I kiss you on the eye,
feel that burrowing, nervous thing twitching then relaxing?

My body screams, I don't gainsay
this throb I live with day to day
but I am not some cur on the attack.
Love is not some cultural machine,
it's not some function of the spleen,
it's nature seeing itself and smiling back.

Don't touch me yet, my love,
I'm afraid of fucking the whole thing up.
Don't touch me yet, my love,
I'm afraid of fucking the whole thing up.
Don't leave me yet, my love, I'm afraid—
Track Name: A Sick Boy
We had nothing but repugnance
for the boy behind the door
whose affliction was his asset,
his excuse to ask for more.
While the rest of us were inmates
locked away in twos or threes,
all the sick boy had to live with
was his nebulous disease.

Now, we have never seen the sick boy.
We don't even know his name.
We don't know what eats his body,
but we hate him all the same,
and on a sleepy Sunday evening,
conversation wearing thin,
we convened outside the sick boy's door,
and on an impulse, busted in.

A well-made bed, a desk lamp, lit,
a stack of books, a comfortable place to sit,
a water glass, a plastic comb,
a photo and a letter, and no one home.

And this beastly little squirrel,
frothy-mouthed and rabid-eyed,
darted wildly around the room,
looking for a place to hide,
slammed it's head in to the doorsill,
briefly hesitated there,
then ran bleeding down the hallway,
and vanished down the stairs.

A funny thing, a kind of pet!
We want to laugh, or else forget
this seeping cold, this creeping fear.
The night is young, we can't stay here.

Though the mercury was falling,
we went howling through the town,
rattled all the darkened windows,
tried to shout the buildings down,
nullified the city charters,
held our own pro forma election,
rammed our flag into the center
of every sleepy intersection,
lit a fire in the library,
muzzled all those screaming fools,
castrated every city father
with his own blunt, rusty tools.
But we signed our deeds with pseudonyms
that were almost all the same,
thinking if we just persisted,
we'd forget our given names.

With my hat in hand, I'm heading back upstairs.
With my hat in hand, but without regret.
With the burning patience of my health,
I'm heading back upstairs
to greet a friend I've never met. (Boy, where have you been?)

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