Sketchbook

by Marian Call

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1.
Elementary 03:59
“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
2.
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
3.
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
4.
I Got Wheels 04:01
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
5.
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
6.
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.
7.
Iceland 05:01
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
8.
Rainboots 01:50
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
9.
Hope 05:31
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

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 December 1, 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 has things to say. She sounds a little like Ingrid Michaelson meets They Might Be Giants & Regina Spektor for bourbon & laughs, which sounds improbable, but give it a try. She hails from Alaska and tours North America and Europe, and she lives on Twitter. Her songs are quirky, sharp, surprising confections in every genre full of rich dark carmelized sugar, savor, & spice. ... more

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