The Decline of America Part One: The Bush Years

by Tyranny of Dave

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about

A musical travelogue through the Bush Years, from the fall of the WTC to the financial crisis.

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released May 17, 2010

All songs recorded, mixed and kind-of-mastered by Dave in various apartments, basements, theaters and sorority houses in IL and NY, except Chicago River Song, whose initial recording sessions were produced by J.D. Foster and engineered by Ross Bonadonna at Wombat Studios in Brooklyn. Thanks to Doug Stone, J.D. Foster and Piñataland for donating those sessions to this non-Piñataland project.

Special thanks to composer/producer Ethan Stoller for expertise, ideas, and an awesome sleighbell track while mixing. Check out his work at dynamiteham.com

A big thank you to all the musicians. This album was recorded while I was unemployed and everyone was kind enough to donate their time and talent to the project, even the few times I offered to pay people some piddling amount. I’m lucky to know so many talented and fantastically nice people, especially Aaron Zemelko whose contributions and friendship throughout the recording have been as creative and steady as his bass playing.

And of course all my love to my family, who not only are fabulous as family but also as collaborators, employers and friends.

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Track Name: America's Oldest Home
Did you wake up without me
I didn’t hear you go
But I can tell something’s changed
In America’s oldest home
And though I feel something’s different I don’t really know

Though it’s true it’s unspoken
There’s so many ways to feel like we’re home
There’s so many ways to feel like we’re home

And property can be a sanctuary
Can be a place where you know nothing’s going to change
But that’s a rarity, almost imaginary
You can feel it when things get rearranged

Did you wake up without me again?
Well I should have known
I can smell breakfast drifting through America’s oldest home
And when I wake up tomorrow the walls will be gone

Though it’s true it’s unspoken
There’s so many ways to feel like we’re home
There’s so many ways to feel like we’re home
Track Name: Greatest Generation
I felt it coming and thought I could deal with it myself
Compare it to history. Always put the blame on someone else
And I know you felt it coming too. I heard you sigh with every breath
We did what we could to stay awake. Too afraid to sleep I guess

Well I felt it coming but I didn’t know
Guilty as charged with thinking something’s got to go
But you always had compassion. Troubled by every word I said
And I thought I had the cooler head

Oh-oh-oh who’s gonna stop me now?
Who’s gonna break my heart? Who’s gonna change my mind?
Oh-oh-oh, who’s gonna make a stand?
Who’s gonna ruin my plans and help things get better?

Stop what you’re doing. You don’t have a choice
Everything’s different now I think I heard from one gigantic voice
I always made light of sacrifice and you always knew enough to cry
And I’m left here standing speechless gazing at an empty patch of sky

And you might not get to decide why not get older why not die?
I'll make a bet these endless autumn afternoons aren't over yet

Well I felt it coming and thought I was so intelligent
Home was the last place on my mind but home was the first place that I went
And you were there waiting for me. Made me some coffee while it blazed
We sat on the couch, kept breaking down as we watched TV for five days

And you might not get to decide why not get older why not die?
I’ll make a bet these cloudless autumn afternoons aren't over yet

And I felt it come and I watched them go
Don’t ask me. I don’t know

Oh-oh-oh who’s gonna stop me now?
Who’s gonna break my heart? Who’s gonna change my mind?
Oh-oh-oh, who’s gonna force my hand?
Who’s gonna ruin my plans and help things get better?

Oh-oh-oh who’s gonna stop me now?
Who’s gonna break my heart? Who’s gonna change my mind?
Oh-oh-oh, who’s gonna make a stand?
Who’s gonna ruin my plans and help things get better?

Home was the last place on my mind but home was the first place that I went
Track Name: Abraham Man
Say your ideas
I’m sure I won’t like them but that’s just the guy that I am
Conservative, staid, with an eye towards the old world
A sophisticated, continent man

And I’ve paid for nothing that I haven’t wanted
Though I may have regretted the cost
And sometimes I wake up and try to recover
The latest refinement I’ve lost

Well some say it’s bliss but still questions persist
And you’re far from the things that you planned
Asking, “Who was that Abraham man?”

Let it out when you’re lonely
Let it out when you’re bored
Let it out you’re too tired to hold it
And pray something vital’s restored

Well some say it’s bliss but still questions persist
‘Til you don’t know quite where you stand
There’s a smile on the Abraham man

Say your ideas. I won’t understand you
My ears are still ringing with the fear I’ll be caught
With a hand in your pocket. A hand on your wallet
To give you whatever I’ve got

Well some say it’s bliss but still questions persist
And you’re left with the gun in your hand
Asking, “Who was that Abraham man?”
Track Name: Too Late
I think it’s funny when you act like you know me
When almost every day I feel like I can surprise myself
And I'll be with you when the going gets lonely and everybody’s saying that it’s too late

Everybody’s asking me “Hey what is wrong with you?”
As if my old excuses didn’t work anymore
I have to tell 'em hey just look at the longer view
And if you’re hear some knocking and there’s trouble at your door then it’s too late

It’s cold when all the credit freezes and all everyone sees is doubt
Thought you might pick up all the pieces
But you will quickly find that they’ve been scattered all about and now it’s too late

You love the sound of cathedral bells
And you love the feel of things going well
Don’t you know that nothing’s really even wrong
Though it’s hard to believe that now when you’ve felt so abandoned so long.
You can lean on me though you’re the one who’s holding me up
Faith will get you most of the way. combined with just a little luck
Or is it a little faith combined with a big mess of luck
Or is it just too late.
Track Name: Chicago River Song
It’s hard to choose direction
It’s hard to pick a side
On the two foot hump of a sub-continental divide
Where floods take their time
And mud is waist high

Will you wait? Will you wait?
‘Til canals take their place
Will you wait? Will you wait?
‘Til these floodlands are erased.

We’ll dynamite through dolomite
We’ll drain the Skokie marsh
We’ll raise the city up and make it tall

We’ll flood the Mississippi
And bleed the Great Lakes dry
And worry ‘bout each rain drop when it falls

Don’t you believe me?
Nothing is ever lost in here
Stored in Deep Tunnel
Waiting for its time to reappear

Will you wait? Will you wait?

Don’t you believe me?
Nothing is ever lost and everything will find its way in time
In time

And if you only knew how I have tried
To open locks and fling the floodgates wide
And let the water flow

What things will float, what things will sink, what things will overflow
We’ll change the source, reverse the course and watch the city grow
The landfill shifts, banks start to give. It won’t take very much
For us to flood downtown and learn to drown while keeping our heads up.

We’re working hard we’re working hard we’re working hard we’re working hard
Building buildings to the sky and tunneling tunnels down beneath them
There’s just concrete over water over mud that’s always shifting
When you get down to the bottom and you find my outstretched hand please pull me up.
Track Name: Every Damn Light
I like all the changes you made to my room
Like taking the walls down and putting up trees
You took all my lamps but you turned on the moon
And strung millions of lights through the branches and leaves

Now I don’t weigh much
Every breeze carries me
Every stream sweeps me away so I float on my back
And look up at all of your lights

I got all the messages you left at my door
The crashing of waves on the living room floor
The moaning of attics as they fill up with sand
And the quiet of waiting for something to land

Will you tell me when the ceiling comes down?
Will you mention the river when it floods this whole town?
Will you walk out just because you’re so free
Why’re you so moody when everyone came to see
Every damn light
Every damn light
Every damn light that you put up so faithfully

I note all the changes you thought I’d forget
I‘ve marked each transaction – each credit, each debt
I thought things were balanced. I thought we were done
But there’s millions of lights going out one by one

Will you call me before it begins?
Will you send me a letter before the tides roll on in?
Were there walls once, there’s no trace on the land
I walk to the river and wade in and when I lie back I see

Every damn light
Every damn light
Every damn light that you put out so faithfully
Track Name: When All the Stores Are Closed
Got up this morning. Couldn’t find my keys
Couldn’t find my briefcase. Couldn’t find the train
Couldn’t find my office. Couldn’t find my job
Then I couldn’t find my money so I couldn’t get my stuff
And now there’s no more Main St. There’s no more Wall Street.
We're just left with Mall Street and all the stores are closed.

Get up. Get dressed. As if you really have a place to go.
Is it noon already? I was so sure that I would make it out the door.
And now I’m walkin’ down the street. Smile at everyone I meet
But they’re all lookin’ down.
You can text or you can tweet. Everybody just retreats.
You might just head downtown
You got to tell them that you want them
You got to tell them that you need them or they won’t know.

Just hold my hand out I’ll catch some business cards
They blow like tumbleweeds through all the lost backyards.
Yesterday you could buy wine. Now it’s just another sign
That nobody wants to read.
A busy signal every time, on the unemployment line
So who’s gonna talk to me?
There’s no more Main St. There’s no more Wall Street.
We’re just left with Mall Street and all the stores are closed.

Is it gone? Is it there?
Do I really even care?
Why even sing this song?
I feel you on the street
Walking to a steady beat
You seem to carry on
When every map’s redrawn
And all that was there is gone

But there’s the same amount of love
The same amount of love
We’re all in this together when that push becomes a shove

I want to see you. I want to be there but all the stores are closed
I want to drink this. I want to buy that but all the stores are closed
How can you meet me? How can you know me when all the stores are closed.
I want to kiss you. I really need you when all the stores are closed
Will you still want me? Will you still love me when all the stores are closed
You need to come back. You might forget me when all the stores are closed
Track Name: Fire Drill
You took the back way in
You can take the back way out
Whatever way that you know
And the people you love are still people you doubt sometimes
And then some

So get to the exit, whichever one’s near
When you hear that bell ringing we all have to clear
We’ll count off outside, make sure everyone’s here

Well Canada’s up and Mexico’s down
The world a plane ride away
You’ve got some money in the bank
Enough to get through the month
And then some

So walk, don’t run. Calmly and careful
And leave all your stuff it won’t go anywhere
“Til you come back to get it and find it’s not burned

We’ll bide our time to save our lives
And douse fires set by starts
And we’ll practice leaving every day
We’ll practice leaving every day
We’ll practice leaving every day

You can’t tell if you’re right by the things that you left
With every change of your heart
You got some friends you don’t like
And those friends you’ve have never guessed
And then some

Well you can head for the border or you can wait by the curb
Or you can keep your mouth shut ‘til directions are heard
Or you can learn to speak Spanish
I’ll teach you a useful word
Adios.
Track Name: Raise a Glass
Wake up Jacob
No need to make the long long climb
It’s enough to stay down here and multiply
12 is fine

Greeks and Romans
You sure as hell did take your time
Defining what we now call civilized
Have some wine

And we’ll raise a glass or eight to barbarians at the gate
Is your cellar full? Are you comfortable?
Then it’s too late

Down through the centuries
Each turn they took defines what you will find
Now all these memories you never had are stuck inside your mind

And I know you do
You have that sleepy look of pain
And a troubled smile when things don’t stay the same
Just like Cain

Sultans, princes, pharaohs, kings and caliphates
I’d love to stay but hey it’s getting late
It’s been great
So let’s raise a glass or four to barbarians at the door
It’s only sociable plus it’s not negotiable anymore
Not anymore
Track Name: Remember the Maine
Remember the Maine
You might believe it’s something different
A torch in the night
A reason to fight in Havana
The stories we read
Replaced events that happened instead
A bomb by remote
or a boiler explodes
Does it matter?

But don’t you worry ‘bout the things that we’ve done
We’ll tell our sons tomorrow
Explain that it was an expedient guess
that turned out for the best today

Yee-ha

If you need a decision
If you need to take a break
The New York World and the Morning Journal will help you
Read the New York World every morning

I can’t quite believe it
though I know it’s not true
Like fate it breaks right through
Do you remember the Maine?
Like a shout across the ocean to Spain
The island is ours
Just look in the stars you will see it
You have to believe
We’re here to help a future friend who’s in need
But it won’t be too long before we are gone once again

Well don’t you worry ‘bout the things that we did
We’ll tell the kids tomorrow
We’ll let them know that there were times in the past
When things moved as fast as today
Yee-ha and olé
Yee-ha and olé
Though sand’s thrown in your eyes you face the sun
Yee-ha and olé
Yee-ha and olé
You’ve got hundreds of decisions
Let us help you make just one

Onward to Havana
The winter’s long and we need time in the sun
A torch in the night
A reason to fight
and take the poolside cabana

Onward to Havana
The winter’s long and we need time in the sun
The stories we read
An island in need
Of a full-blown bonanza

Onward to Havana
The winter’s long and we need time in the sun
Remember the Maine
To hell with Spain
Why are my fingers all yellow?

Onward to Havana
The winter’s long and we need time in the sun
A splendid little war
Who could ask for more?
To take us straight to the top

Onward to Havana
The winter’s long and we need time in the sun
We’ll win in four months time
And stay ‘til ‘59
Then adios mis amigos

Remember the Maine
Track Name: Call of the Waters
Please don't wait for me
Just float along
I've got something that I need to do on my own

I have doubted. I have resisted
I've thought there's something wrong
But I must be going now. I've heard the call

And I will listen. I will follow. I will pass right through that wall
And you will be left inside. You won't see me no more

And I felt so different when I heard the call of the waters
I could hear all the stars singing their siren song.
And then something stretched taut and snapped in the darkness
And I stepped out and entered my beautiful home

And will you wave? Will you wave goodbye to me?

And you are no different though you're safe in your driveway
You sit in your car just a moment too long
And with a twinge of regret you might not even notice
You step out and enter your beautiful home
Track Name: Wake Up in Brooklyn
I’ll smoke your cigarettes, breathe in the fires that you light
Buy all the brownstones and sleep in a new one each night
Run along Brighton Beach, tracing the saltwater tide
If I picture you on the Q does it mean you’ll arrive
Well it won’t mean nothin’ ‘til we wake up in Brooklyn

I follow you through several neighborhoods I can’t recall
Cross concrete that holds summer heat though it’s well into fall
Seventeen stoop sales until you have found the right dress
Of course I’ll agree that I think it’s the best

Mmmmm, something’s happening
The sun is so bright but it’s still the middle of the night.
Where is the night?

Sell me the Brooklyn Bridge. I want my name on the deed.
I’m going native. You’ll never recognize me.
Real estate dreams over streets just trying to wake up.
I won’t bother telling you that I’m in love
‘Cause it won’t mean nothin’ ‘til we wake up in Brooklyn