Hummingbird

by Sticks Calliope

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about

“Hummingbird” was recorded over summer 2012 in my studio apartment without any real technical know-how or equipment. One microphone, free recording software, one guitar, one djembe. Late at night I ran out of my neighbor's patience and ran down the street into a little alley behind an old hockey rink, which is where some of the louder parts were put down, trying to keep from getting that big echo that runs across the rink. Every track on a song had to be fixed for USB latency, taking out three to five hundredths of a second manually to get it to align right. Everything is a little long, a little uptight - these songs might find a more favorable recording someday, but they're here for now. I'd been writing for a few years, but something about this disc still feels like a good beginning, like the first set of songs I'd done that really caught the right tone in their storytelling. The next one already feels like another beginning, too.

credits

released September 3, 2012

tags

tags: folk New York

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Sticks Calliope New York

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Track Name: Fast and Lucky
Once you were a young man, living in a desert, doing hard time, say they kept you wandering for 40 years!
Living in a tent city underneath a golden calf, trying to push your tablets on the financiers.
Said you’re gonna change the world, but that was then, and now you’re knee deep in sand saying baby I don’t know where I am!

It’s a much bigger world than you thought,
You aint stupid, you’re just brilliantly wrong
Now folks say you’ve been leading them on with all you white tower talk

You aint looking so big now kid
They can set you aside like a toy
These young politicos don’t flinch unless you’re bleeding money,
you’d better part a sea or something cause –

Boy, you aint so fast and lucky now

Once you were the dumbest chubby rich kid floating down a river in a bad time straight into the arms of the king
Ivy-league miseducated, first-world winner, you were Type A and white, already smirking at the world from your crib.
Now you’re eating cat food straight outta the can, you got a pocket full of food stamps, on a corner selling it

It’s a dirtier world than you thought,
These suits all say that they’re concerned, that’s how you know that they’re not,
You were so cocksure coming down the mountain, thought you knew it all, but you’re just starting to get taught.

You aint looking so big now kid
You and the strays out making a plan
While all these well-coiffed CFOs, sipping Manhattans, they practice looking bored and ask you, cousin, how’s the promised land?
You aint looking so big now kid!
Yeah they can set you aside like a toy
These young politicos don’t flinch unless you’re bleeding money,
you’d better part a sea or something cause –

Boy you aint so fast and lucky now

And when you get caught by your age
Start talking like your daddy did
Cause you got a wife and thou shalt make wage
To keep the house and raise your good Egyptian kids

You ain’t looking so big now, no
They can set you aside like a toy
These young politicos don’t flinch unless you’re bleeding money, on fire, start a war or something cause

Boy, you aint so fast and lucky now.
Track Name: Hummingbird
I'm in love with a bad idea, but that ain't never stopped me before. I get the bum's rush out of the house around midnight through the garage door. But I can't think of the future, yeah I can barely remember the past, like a hummingbird on crack. If you want to get useless with me for while, I can show you where it's at.
April came, blowing tricks on the wind like a child, and my hummingbird comes. Won't you wait for me? I gone and lost my head again outside, swinging it at the moon.
I built a sailboat out of gasoline tanks, and then I set out for another shore. We started sinking as soon as we'd set sail, but you're welcome still to climb aboard. And I can't say if I'll ever be good to settle down for too long. I feel as misplaced as King Kong, swinging buildings where jungle days had been, wondering how he'll get along.
April came, blowing tricks on the wind like a child, and my hummingbird comes. Won't you wait for me? I gone and lost my head again outside, swinging it at the moon.
Track Name: Where the Money Goes
It's a television earthquake, everybody two-steps, shakes it like a sailor sinking by his loose lips. Prime time cataclysm, everybody tuned in. Yeah, it's bad enough now, just imagine back then. Tells you it's a gold mine, but he's the one selling it, squatting in a dumpster, sucking on a peach pit, preying on the housewives hungry for a bad fix, running from the police and looking good doing it.
La la la la, la la la la la la. Tell my momma for me all the greats die young, and I just stole a cop car. Baby, you don't wanna know where the money goes.
Taking no calls from his mislaid family, never looks back, if it hurts too heavily. Fresh from the hospital, sleeping in a church pew, never try to tell him the thing that he wouldn't do. Fed to the fire, sucking on fumes, said he had a vision and he said it was you. Two hits of morphine just to get him to sleep - twitchy and lucid, dreaming of the internet.
La la la la, la la la la la la. Tell my momma for me all the greats die young, and I just stole a cop car. Baby, you don't wanna know where the money goes.
Laying on the brakes cause the throttle got cut by the angry young American bleachblonde heartthrob, giving you her money makers like they were free, and starting more riots than Tunisian democracy. He was bad news then, now he ain't much better. Sub-par hygiene in hot weather. Say he's quite bright, but there's no indication cause he ain't been this fucked since the Bush Administration.
La la la la, la la la la la la. Tell my momma for me all the greats die young, and I just stole a cop car. Baby, you don't wanna know where the money goes.
Track Name: In Tobyhanna
In Tobyhanna, you were up and you can't settle down, blowing through the house like a country wind's dragging you out. If you say you're sure, I would follow you out of this town. If you say you're sure, and you are.

Marry me in white, when the balls of your feet are stained black from the pavement in the summertime, when the sun beats and blisters your back, and turns you hair to gold, and you sing every song that there was. You were all ideas that the world could hold, because.

There's no day long enough, so you kept singing all night.
Track Name: Milk and Honey
My father was a rich man and so I am the joy of the Lord! My mother was a fine woman, finest woman money affords! My brother don't care, cause he's living in the city on a dollar a day and the love that he is given and we try not to say what he's doing, we think he's better ignored. But oh, I got nothing to give, it's hard enough just to live, keeping myself on board. And hey, I don't care what you say, I'm gonna live by the sword!
Hell, yes!, Yes, gentlemen! We live in a land of milk and honey!
My Granddaddy's giving me the money that he made in the war. I was too young to remember, now it doesn't matter what it was for. Now I'm acting like a gentleman, sleeping with the queen, I might've sired me a child from a land you've never seen, and I'll be drinking in the morning cause I don't know what I'm living for. But oh, I've got nothing to give, it's hard enough just to live, keeping myself on board, and hey, I don't care what you say, I'm gonna live by the sword!
Hell, yes! Yes, gentlemen! We live in a land of milk and honey!
Track Name: Samiun
Samiun the alley maid, working her life out for the caliphate. There was some bad news on the way, there was some bad news on the way. When the master came to pray, she saw the fear cut deep into his face. There was a battle to be waged today, there was a battle to be waged.

Samiun the alley maid, never-you-mind unto her ship of state, and she was quiet many years this way, she was quiet many years.

And all the women, all the women with their heads bowed in the name of grace, and when a light kicked up the stairs she turned and said to her, darling, I will meet you there.

Samiun the alley maid, working her life out for the caliphate, there was some bad news on the way, there was some bad news on the way, there was.
Track Name: They're Gonna Call It Freedom
They're gonna call it freedom, their right to hang you up by your toes!
They're gonna call it freedom, their right to hang you up by your toes!
If you don't like my freedom, baby, we got a nice place for you the other side of that wall!

They're gonna call it freedom, their right to send the earth up in smoke!
They're gonna call it freedom, their right to send the earth up in smoke!
If you don't like my freedom, baby, we got a nice place for you, we'll tell you where you can go! You and Huffington Post!

They're gonna call it freedom, their right to shoot you if you're making them nervous!
They're gonna call it freedom, their right to shoot you if you're making them nervous!
If you don't like my freedom, baby, we got a nice place for you the other side of that wall!
If we catch you sneaking back, we'll just have to shoot you two times!

They're gonna call it freedom, their right to tell you that the ballot is broke!
They're gonna call it freedom, their right to tell you that the ballot is broke!
Just get along and go home now, folks!
If you don't like my freedom, baby, we got a nice place for you the Chinese side of the moon! Just for you and Paul Krugman!
Track Name: The End of the Age of Giants
So there was a giant king, 40 stories high and short where he came from, ruling over everything from when men were just hairless dumb monkeys the size of his thumb, but he was raised good and true, watched his daddy shaping all the earth, digging rivers deep into the bitter valleys with his knuckle down, until one day a man looked up, and his jaw dropped somewhere around his knees, and the giant king had a strange thought as he watched them gather the cavalry up. Then there were bullets in the trees, and the boys calling for war as the giantesses gnashed their teeth, the king said "I should nevermore live to see a day like this one. We could make it war, we could grind their bones to make our bread. We could tear their castles back to stone, bust the holy sky over our heads. But I don't want to wake up as the king when there's nothing good left in this land. I watched my daddy raise the mountains and I understand." So they left to the hills, followed by pistols and torches there. It was the end of an age, I fear. It was the end of the age of giants.

Long story short, when they came, set fire to the hill and burned a path up to the door, it's bad news I'm afraid, they're stretching over the plain, and all your people are readying their babies for war. "But I can't even relate," said the king to his men, "I don't understand why they need the world to be flat. All these people down there looking scared with the sky filled with smoke and the guns in their hands. We could make it war, we could grind their bones to make our bread. We could tear their castles back to stone, bust the holy sky over our heads. But I don't want to wake up as the king when there's nothing good left in this land. I watched my daddy raise the mountains and I understand." So they left to the hills, followed by pistols and torches there. It was the end of an age, I fear. It was the end of the age of giants.

They'll say, time was, we might have walked the earth with something much bigger than us.
Track Name: Blue Mascara
John Berridge, 43, wearing your satin dress. You paint your nails, go out at night fishing for company, whatever can be found. From a cruel, suburban clean into a thin Dionysian dream. Put on your pumps, walk through that door just like you're all the girls in all the magazines. We cannot take you today, no you are brilliant in the fray. Keep your eyes straight ahead in this ugly little town. Your son will swear he's not your own, your love will tremble to the bone. You're looking beautiful tonight, everybody wanna take you home.
Knock them out darling with your blue mascara on, with your heartbreak done in stars and gloss. You're the first starling waking up under the dawn, you are every bit of love as you are lost.
So press your nails onto your never slender hands. You could build your life up in a city made of glass. Straighten your stocking and go dancing to the band. Everything is always new if you have broken down its past. Cause you are bright and dumb, you are stoned and numb. And you shall overcome, if you do anything at all. Cause you are not 16, and you know what it means. Your father was the king. Your mother was his queen.
Knock them out darling with your blue mascara on, with your heartbreak done in stars and gloss. You're the first starling waking up under the dawn, you are every bit of love as you are lost.
Oh my god enough, I want to get off. Oh my god enough, I wanna get off. Take me home now, handsome, I need to lie down, need to get cleaned up. Days start coming on faster, I'm feeling my age come throttling up.
Knock them out darling with your blue mascara on, with your heartbreak done in stars and gloss. You're the first starling waking up under the dawn, you are every bit of love as you are lost.
Track Name: Revolve
You can’t trust the poets, yeah they’re liars by nature, gone dream-drunk or willfully blind. You can’t trust the pharmacist anymore, he’s so well prescribed he’s out flying his kite. And the mayor of the town is out paying the weatherman to say that it’s been sunny for four years. Now everyone’s waiting for pay day. That's how we began and that's how we'll end.
The age of information opened its mouth wide. The faded out brain climbed on gentle inside. The world rotates faster than heaven was high, but it will not revolve.
You can’t trust the gravedigger. Yeah, the market’s too good for your rings. And folks in slower in recessions, it’s true. Now you can’t trust the mail, not in rain nor in hail, and it goes without saying that you can’t trust the news. And when you can’t trust the army not to pose with dead bodies like dolls, I suppose you can’t trust them at all. And you can’t shake the feeling, the party left reeling, and we showed up too late for the booze.
The age of information opened its mouth wide. The faded out brain climbed on gentle inside, and said Hallelujah let’s go for a ride, but it don’t move at all.
You can’t even trust your mother: they say in the years she’s got left now she wants something back that you took from her youth. And you can’t trust the mythmaker living in a soundstage, they say that a man never stood on the moon. And you can’t trust the farmer not for tainting your food with a science he don’t know that he’s selling to you. And you can’t trust me neither. There ain’t a folksinger who’s telling the truth.
The age of information opened its mouth wide. The faded out brain climbed on gentle inside, and said hallelujah let’s go for a ride, but it don’t move at all.
Track Name: Dynamite
Jack was in the military, Jane was his misfortune wife, soon to be his widow, when he came back a head shook loose with dynamite. She had never seen the man they called her pa a day in her life when he took her head in his great hands with the hate that bled in from the middle east in the night. Boys are gonna be like boys, but now the boys ain't alright. When he was 17, he learned to drink until he couldn't feel a thing and that was so fine. His rage grew eloquent that night.
You can't hit him back now. He's not really there.
You tell them you were young and pretty once but ain't it common as dirt. Now you keep yourself quiet, flitting like a moth, scared to get burnt. Twenty years from now you're going to look at your girl and wonder what it was she learnt. If a bad brain is forever, and you can't make her work.
And you can't hit him back now. He's not really there. You're going to feel it when you're older - you're going to feel it, but not the way you feel it now.
Track Name: Hole in the Earth
Jim was a believer in modern medicine, so when his gut doubled over he knew where he should go. The Doc said, Jim I cannot do a thing for what you got, I wish you’d come and seen me a year ago. And I don’t know if you found peace with God, or if you figure he’s even out there looking for you, but I’d bet my PhD, barring a miracle or three, you’re gonna figure it out real soon.
Jim was testing fighter planes, but he didn’t say a word when he got back to the base, just stayed up looking at the gleam of machines that he’d flown in between the sound barrier and the edges of space. Thought I aint ever had the child that I thought that I would raise into a man that I aint never yet been. I was looking fifty years ahead, suddenly now back’s the only way I can see.
If I could fly to the moon, if I could do what the doctor cannot do, if I could get there first. If I could get so big they’d see my chariot swing across the sky, shining bright as it burnt.
But I’m gonna be a big boy in a big hole in the earth.
7,000 feet in the air up there, where the only sound you hear is your breath. 500 miles an hour, someone calls you from the tower, saying where you think you’re going kid. Hanging on a thread between earth and someone’s heaven the first time it occurred to him. I can see the ends of the earth from the perch where my cancer ridden body sits.
If I could fly to the moon, if I could do what the doctor cannot do, if I could get there first. If I could get so big, they’d see my chariot swing across the sky, shining bright as it burnt.
Yeah, I’m gonna make a big boy in a big hole in the earth. How they gonna measure me now.
Track Name: Eurydice
When a man came down upon a boat, between the dogs and Hades, your heart knocked hard inside your chest like you could feel it raising up a flag for his arrival, for one who could coax even death to sing. And just like Christ spent forty days inside the wilderness, when he bent down low to kiss you, and your hair was all a mess, it was too good to script a movie on, the earth would soon begin again, you see. And you followed close behind, and you said not a word to guide him, as he muscled down his love for you and waded through the highness of the waves that broke upon your neck - you choked and made a little sound. And when he turned around, the story already was painfully overtold.
So here's the story of the next ten thousand years: you ain't that bitter and you ain't yet disappeared. You clean the hallways, and the dogs sleep at your door, and no one asks you if you love him anymore. So here's the story of the next ten thousand days: you lie a-tremble and you ache in every way. You hear him singing in your head, ghostly and dear. You try to think but it was thinking got you here. You live inside of the moment when it passed. He turned to look, phrasing a question to be asked. Your heart stood up just like a dancer on her toes. He turned to look, and blew the world over.
So you get old, and walk it off. And if you love yourself at all, when we come and find you in the car, you ain't nothing like the girl who took that terrifying fall.
When Eurydice awoke and tied her hair back in a knot, the veins stretched blue across her legs like crooked rivers wrought into an older woman's muscle, and the day ain't going nowhere, is it, dear. And Orpheus don't sing so much, at least that we can hear. But she can be found singing in the dark, where she sees clearly, and the demons are all tamed, and sitting at your kitchen table, year by year.
And you do not walk behind, and there is not a man to find you. So you build a house of brimstone and read beside the fire. One day you don't remember much - or so you hear yourself avow - and turn to writing songs to light the world, such as the world is to you now.