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by Jack O' The Clock

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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 and your nonsense cuts the blank It doesn't take any time at all.
Old man like a mountain that steals afternoons, the day of our party, collapsed in the sun and dragged himself home to a chair in the cellar where he sat for a long time by the old table saw looking frail as a piece of balsa wood and we sighed at the sight ‘cause our friends were arriving and this was not the time for pity. Old man like a mountain, your woman’s a slave, your son in a failure. It’s too late for love, We are keeping you comfortable, but this is your hole. All the slaves and the failures are outside on the lawn telling stories of soldiers deserting as soon as they landed on beautiful enemy shores. Do you think we should check on him? Do you think he’s still alive? (Comes a sound from the cellar door) He is up! He is grinning. The ferocious blade is spinning. “Leave me alone!” he snarls, “I’m building you a spine.”
Chicken Neck, was my life a dirty joke? I was stiff as a rod and then I broke, and I thank you for this shithole out behind the lumber yard that smells of sawdust, freezing rain and woodsmoke. If you think there’ll be justice in the end you’re an asshole, but it’s good to have a friend. You know I built that house with my own hands and she went and changed the locks. Semper Fi: on my brothers I depend. My lungs feel like a swamp I cannot breathe, I cannot move, but you can shove your hospital, I’m not going to improve. Come back tomorrow. No one’s faithful and no one’s immune. Light cigarette on the smoldering moon. That’s all right. We had a fire on the lake in the midwinter –the dogs were snapping at the sparks– when the girls were very young and kept overstepping the trembling armspan of the light. Won’t you go home to your family, Chicken Neck, and take your throne. Every thing I’ve ever finished in this life I’ve done alone. Come back tomorrow. We were stationed in some godforsaken slough. The Sargent caught a gator there somehow and he sat us down all in a line and he let that fucker go. At rope’s end it was inches from my brow. Don’t you let my fire go all rosy- rosy in your head, You’re not worthy of respect if you can’t speak ill of the dead. Come back tomorrow. No one’s faithful and no one’s immune. Light cigarette on the smoldering moon. That’s all right.
THE BLIZZARD 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 making high speed angels in the road. TEN FINGERS The same ten fingers snake the cords as wormed around the first late night. remember: we couldn't find her, we thought she'd died. Nothing behind the black doorway but the deafening whir of the swamp. The same ten fingers thread the tape as knotted up the first late night remember: we couldn't find her, we searched the whole house. Gaze out on the beasts and insects The cuticles crack and blood comes. The same ten fingers flick the switch as shorted out the first late night Below the dull red eyes on the radio tower, dim lights swing low over eutrophic water. I've got the headphones on, the gains are high, the microphones are out the window – live air – The hands age quietly before you like dissolute older cousins. The same ten fingers print to tape as paw the filthy, teeming world. remember: there's no erasure and nothing heals. The fingers will do their own work whenever the swamp is burning.
Sandhill cranes as we cross North Dakota. A bid for the truth or just a poem? Getting somewhere, Oh Lord, or just rehearsing the long walk home? Old lover, father and mother, all of the holes I’ve gazed into: I’m sorry, the light changed and I never saw to the bottom of you. I fear the fog like any hunter accustomed to breath and clarity, but when it descends, Oh Lord, you lose your bearings and you are free.
The Pilot 04:42
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."
Salt Moon 03:02
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."
Rounding first base, with his eyes on the whites of the second baseman's eyes. Rounding second base, with his eyes on the whites of the third baseman's eyes. Rounding third base, and Denny falls shrieking over the foul line. You see his hand shoot up to his forehead and the blood worm down his arm. (Huh?) An idle shot from somewhere across the lake, fired for the report, fired at the sun for all we knew. .22. Back in school two days later, a veritable god descended, proof swollen at the hairline like an egg. Strange memory. And they called the game like it was rain. Shit, we were ahead!


WITNESS was recorded live at the beautiful-sounding Columbia City Theater in Seattle in June of 2017 as a part of the SeaProg Festival. It is enormously gratifying, after over ten years of performing as a band, to finally have a high-quality rendering of the live JOTC. It is a different animal from our studio offerings--different feel, different energy, often radically different arrangements. We put a ton of work into this show in particular--the last time the original quintet of Damon Waitkus, Emily Packard, Kate McLoughlin, Jason Hoopes, and Jordan Glenn performed together--re-imagining material from our entire tenure together and weaving it into a continuous, stand-alone set.

Thanks to Dennis Rea, John Reagan, Jon Davis, and the Columbia City Theater for making this happen.

Recording engineer: Maurice Jones Jr.

Mixed and mastered by Damon Waitkus.

For Jesse, who was with us then, and listening.


released October 3, 2019

Damon Waitkus - vocals, guitar, piccolo guitar, hammer dulcimer
Emily Packard - violin
Kate McLoughlin - bassoon, vocals, recorder
Jason Hoopes - bass, vocals
Jordan Glenn - drums, vibraphone, accordion

Geomancy G1508


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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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