Sketchbook

by Marian Call

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  • Compact Disc (CD)

    Sketchbook is finally on CD again! Comes in brown recycled cardboard packaging with hand-stamped artwork -- and every copy has sharpie corrections & cleanup by Marian. Minimalist and sweet, homemade from the road, just like the music on it. And there's space for drawing! This album is in fact a small Sketchbook.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Sketchbook via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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05:31

about

This is a collection of new songs from Marian Call -- and it comes from the heart, from home, from the road. These are not fancy polished studio tracks, they are simple, clean, imperfect, transparent, all about the music and the words. 'Sketchbook' is very small and focused in scope, deep like diving.

The songs are about love, lightning, time, birds, and hope.

This album was recorded all across the country, mostly in homes, in the bedrooms of friends, neighbors, and house concert hosts -- people who probably never anticipated that they would be producing part of an album in the back room for a wandering musician.

Sometimes the art comes and seizes you and shakes you and demands to be let out. So you let it out. "Sketchbook" is a collection of little sketches from the road, pieces that would not wait any longer, pieces that have blessed me and left me raw from the honesty. I've ripped pages from my journal because I thought you needed to see them.

I hope you enjoy these songs, I hope the simplicity is refreshing, I hope one of them speaks to you sometime when you need it.

Remember -- you can make music and art anywhere, anytime. Just do it.

credits

released 01 December 2013

Thanks to Scott Barkan and Seth Boyer who recorded this with me in all different environs; thanks to Paul Pew, my father, who played piano with me on a broken keyboard, compelling me to write a piece in a key that would not use the middle D. Thanks to Ken Sease at Twisted Penguin Studios for engineering just a little of this project, and thanks to our multiple house hosts who allowed us to record in basements, bedrooms, occasionally closets. Thanks to Brian Taylor for mixing and mastering, BRT Productions, Los Angeles, CA.

"Elementary," "At the Races (That Clock)," "Paper and Pen," and "Time Traveler" are commissioned works -- many thanks to the fans who bought those songs, and for their inspiration to write on topics that might not have occurred to me naturally.

Seth Boyer played guitar on tracks 1, 2, 3, and 8; Scott Barkan played guitar on tracks 4, 5, 7, and 9. Paul Pew played keyboards for track 6.

All songs written and performed by Marian Call. Also somewhat recorded and entirely edited, produced, and designed by Marian Call.

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Marian Call Alaska

Marian Call loves making music for you. She hails from Alaska but can often be found touring North America and Europe at the speed of sound. Her songs are quirky, geeky, eclectic acoustic confections that taste like vanilla-cinnamon-chipotle something. She sounds a little like Joni Mitchell meets They Might Be Giants meets Regina Spektor. ... more

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Track Name: Elementary
“Elementary, my dear,” said St. George to the Maiden
as he drove his halberd home.
“The worm was weak in the small of his throat;
it fluttered when he spewed smoke.
I knew he would follow you tame as a kitten
when properly tied and subdued.
With pressure just there, he could not resist you.
A poor dragon, I must conclude.”

The Princess looked down at the scaly corpse
and found that she had to agree.
The dragon was less than the legends had told,
thin and fiery, but not much meat.
Smaller up close, all grimy and gory
with dull claws and teeth all brown
“I see,” said the Princess, “my fear was the Dragon,
not this lizard on the ground.”

He said, “It's not the task – it's the risk – it's the lightning overhead
It's not the crime – it's the crash – the electric earthbound thread
When the truth strikes true and the light hits you
and you wake up not dead yet
You must follow the follow the find the fire again

“No thank you, my dear,” said St. George to the Princess
as she offered him her glove.
“I require no token, no favor at all,
I do not do this for love.”
The Princess felt slighted and frowned in frustration
at her savior's distant coldness.
“Why, you calculate away all your fear,” she said,
“Ser, I can see you have no true boldness.”

“Perhaps,” said Saint George with a smile,
“or is it that a dragon's a problem to solve.
You can calculate risk, but the truth of it is
there is nothing so stirs the pulse.
When the graceful solution electrifies you, then
the world looks all wild and new
You needed me for to slay your dragon,
but we both need dragons too.”

[chorus]

The dragon was killed, there were huts to rebuild
and scorched city walls to replace
The king begged him to stay, but he galloped away,
for Saint George was possessed by the chase
Track Name: Paper and Pen
There's the paper and the pen and me
The storm stole the electricity
With a kind of ancient purity
Cliché, but right and whole and real

And I make my words so differently,
Stroking, scripting, thoughtlessly
Every sound a curving path
To calm the keyboard’s artillery
Just the scratching of the page and me

My handwriting has atrophied, it’s been so very long
Mistakes stay on the page to see, it’s real when I am wrong
There is no cut and no delete
There’s time for finding what I mean

My glowy box can do a lot, it hooks me up so I can talk
At the speed of everybody else’s lives
But it does not feel like home to me, my portal lets in everything
And it suggests and it corrects
It disembodies all the text

The skies have changed since I was young,
The stars are dimmed, the roads all hum
I’m landlocked and I’m light-polluted
I’m choked with updates on what all you did

O turn me southbound to the sea, the paper and the pen and me
O cut the electricity, oh wheel Orion over me
Oh spin the stars and spun I’ll be
The paper and the pen and me
Track Name: At the Races (That Clock)
That clock that clock, she's a cruel mistress, she'll kick you out of bed
She'll roll you out the door before you're ready
She'll get busy when you feel like gettin' friendly
She's fast and slow though she swears she's steady
And that clock, she's always right, whoa
The clock, she's always right

That clock that clock, she's a cruel pacecar, a rabbit on a string
The chase stokes your adrenaline
It's a thrill to race her for a spin
But you can't beat her, just beat yourself again
Oh that clock will wind you up, boy
Oh that clock will run you down

But I know that clock, and I think she likes you –
I swear I saw her wink
Yeah, I think that clock, she's got a thing for you,
better go buy her a drink
She likes planes and trains and hittin' the races,
Smidge of engine grease upon her face
She's sweet if you can match her pace
Oh, I bet you could be friends
Yeah, I bet you could be friends

Oh, you want her in your sidecar in any case
'Cuz that clock she always wins
Yeah that clock she always wins
Track Name: I Got Wheels
I got the wheels -- I got the time --
I got the coffee -- I got the lines
And I practice and I practice and I practice my revisions in the mirror
And I nod ‘til I believe my little story and I gather all my gear
Fact is lately you’re still in my mind,
‘cuz I got these wheels and all this time
And late at night I’m wakeful, so I think of you
But you do not think of me -- you do not think of me --
You do not think on me

I got wheels -- I got the time --
For playin’ hangman on these broken lines
And by now it’s automatic, the acrobatics in the circus in my mind
And it’s cute how I keep turning this leaf over
when it’s just got the two sides
Fact is it’s my very first big break
I’m just a clown, I’m a cliché
And every morning when I wake I reach for you,
but you do not reach for me -- you do not reach for me --
You will not reach for me

Oh, I got the wheels to move along but it takes time
To lose the habit of tryin’ to raise you on the line
Was a time we had to lean upon each other
but now you could not need me less
And I won’t say humiliating, but it’s close, the way it feels as you forget
Fact is, you're already off the hook
And if you were never ever on – my heart can't look
And I shouldn’t, but I wrote another song about you
And I know you do not write for me
You will not write for me
You will not write on me
Track Name: I Hope My Discipline Improves in Time
Everything takes longer than it ought to
Everything conspires against my drive
Everything breaks when I need it not to
Everybody needs another hour of my life

And my eyes are maybe bigger than my stomach
My optimism cheers, let's take on more!
But each time I collapse I'm truly flummoxed
As if this hadn't happened twenty thousand times before

And I've worn out my last day of grace, my deadlines up and quit
The last minute has disavowed me -- I'm too late for it
And it's all bound to catch up to me a little down the line
I hope my discipline improves in time

I know I am too weak for my ambitions
I know I've faced these demons down before
But some amnesia keeps me on a mission
Some inner lunatic I still have not learned to ignore

Forgets how laundry takes up the whole morning
How when I skip two meals I hit the wall
How the car breaks down without a hint of warning
And every single time I know it's all! my! fault!

So sleep and I are strangers, so my health hangs by a string
My feet have grown unwilling, my hands and ears just w/ring
And it's all bound to catch up with me a little down the line
I hope my discipline improves in time
Track Name: Time Traveler
He slips the time in his pocket
He straps the time to his wrist
The Traveler sets the time on the nightstand
For when he needs it -- for when he needs it

He measures time with his footsteps
Cuts it into pieces with his pen
He captures time with a shutter
And a vintage Leica lens -- and

There are only two cages, there are only two locks
The first is the body's, the last is the clock's

But somebody has slipped the bars, somebody has clipped the bolt
Someone had the nerve to break away
Escape, we've had an -- escape

Inform the metronome: a prisoner has flown
Whose eye was on the task and not the time
Whose mind was on the task and not the time time time
Whose hand was on the task --

It is our cage that makes us dream
And rattle at our bars and scrape the skies and try the seas
It is the Traveler who points the way
For when we need it -- for when we need it

And he takes his suitcase to the red library
He cracks a leather-bound door
And in a page or two he's vaulted miles and years away
Antarctica or Avalon or Alpha Centauri, and

There are only two cages, there are only two locks
The first is the body's, the last is the clock's

And somebody has slipped the bars, somebody has sprung the lock
There and back again without a wink, without a sign
The Traveler does not look up, the Traveler does not ask how
He rounds the universes down to Now and so he's free

Free, free
Lucky is he -- lucky is he

Whose eye is on the task and not the time
Whose mind is in the tale and not the time time time
Whose eye is on the task and not the time

There are only two pathways
There are only two doors
Rise up and walk, in body or in mind
And the road -- the world -- is yours.
Track Name: Iceland
When I first laid eyes on Iceland she overthrew me,
all treeless purple-gray upon the sea
Her islands swam in figure-eights when nobody was watching,
and nobody was watching, only me, me, me
Nobody was watching, only me

It's the old things big things humble you
The mounds of what we all will crumble to
It's the hot things mad things make you rough
Make you think the thoughts you're putting off
And it's the rocks that grind us down into the sea the sea the sea
It's the rocks that grind us down into the sea

When the birds came back the clocks all skipped a heartbeat,
but they acted cool and pretended not to care
The mayor can step down -- the ravens run this town
And when he quorks they cock their heads and stare, stare, stare
And when he tries to talk they only stare

It's the old things tall things humble you
The mountains made of what we crumble to
It's the cold things small wings make you tough
Make you soldier through the darker stuff
And it's the glacier grinds us down into the sea the sea the sea
It's the glacier grinds us down into the sea

When we emptied out the lake I found the bottom
Our reflections were a fancy of the light
No matter that we botched it - nothing really watched it
No one witnessed trouble passing by by by
Nothing really saw us passing by

And it's the old things tall things humble you
The mounds of what we all will crumble to
It's the cold things dead things make you rough
Help you soldier through the darker stuff
And it's the rain that runs you down into the sea the sea the sea
And it's the rain that runs your soul down to the sea

And it's the rocks that grind us down into the sea the sea the sea
It's the rocks that grind us down into the sea
Track Name: Rainboots
Oh I'm a-tearin' up the road with two typewriters and a cat
Two typewriters and a cat, what will the hipsters think of that
Oh I'm a-tearin' up the road, got my compass cued to you
Gonna drive run boat train plane my way

'Cause I'm a-goin' back home, I got my cold weather coat
I got my cold weather hat, I miss my sweet little cat
In the window – yes I'm a-goin' back home
I got my rainboots, rainboots on

Well step outta my way, Lady T.S.A.
I got nothin' that you want today
Oh I'm a-tear up the sky if you'll just wave me by
I got to seatbelt seat back tray lock fly

'Cause I'm a-goin' back home, I got my cold weather coat
I got my cold weather hat, I miss my poor little puppy
In the window – I'm a-goin' back home
I got my rainboots, rainboots on

Give me scarves and snowploughs and storms
It's winter when I feel warm, oh
I'm making cider with brandy and Grandma's candy
And you better be waiting at the airport son

'Cause I'm a-goin' back home, I got my cold weather coat
I got my cold weather hat, I miss my sweet little cat
Yes I'm a goin' back home -- where my boy is at
I got my rainboots, rainboots on
Track Name: Hope
I pulled to the edge of the road, I got out, and I walked
Hundreds of miles from a stoplight, rolling North
Nothing in mind but escaping the fallout so hot
Nothing to feel but the Labor Day sunshine so warm

I don’t know how to move on, but September does
One day after the other, and if it's just
A little darker every day
Well the leaves look happy falling, don't they

‘Cause my hope is not light
It is not frail, it is the anchor anchor
My hope is not slight
It’s not the sail, it is the anchor anchor, oh...

Friends formed a line over Christmas for coffee & ghosts
To nail down the tragedy's lesson and swear and sigh
They’re kind and they’re real, but I'm a little relieved when they go
What they all want to give me they can't, though I'm grateful they try

I don’t know how to move on but my body does,
I’ll find the rhythms that I walked in once
My hands make tea, my brow makes furrows
My ankles cross, my shoulders worry for one
And my lips say, sorry, sorry, mm-hmm mm-hmm mm-hmm

But my hope is not light, it is not frail, it is the anchor anchor
My hope is not slight, it’s not the sail, it is the anchor, oh...

I took my first flight home to you on the Fourth of July
Lightning a-riot above and fireworks below
Something possessed the Midwestern summer sky
Thunder and sparklers, aurora and stars, and a red sub-Arctic sunrise
My heart was in my eyes

I don’t know how to move on, but this airplane does
You run real fast with your nose up and jump
It does the work if I just let it
I wonder if I've been struck by lightning yet
Have I been struck by lightning yet
Have I been struck by lightning yet