This album cajoled it's way into my heart and mind, in some ways it feels like one of Mr. Smith's most succinct and fertile offerings. No, those things are not mutually exclusive! The Will of John Roach is one of my favorite songs ERVER! What are the chances of seeing this performed live in St Louis MO? Vote for Graham Smith, with all of your money...Midwest Tour!
The tenth album (though this could be argued, we are baselineing based on this accounting methodology) from Graham Smith/Kleenex Girl Wonder/Kleen-Ex Girl Wonder/Graham Smith & KGW/Graham Smith with Herbs/Graham Smith Cries on Cue/Cries on Cue/The Superacrobats.
I went back and forth as to whether this should be Graham Smith or full band but I did the whole thing myself (didn't even get it mastered this time - whole hog we call that) so it just seemed natural.
There were lots of other scuppered titles for this one - Linux Ex Machina, Comic Sans Humor (abandoned since it will be the name of a forthcoming comic), Natural history & magic. (abandoned due to conflict in my mind with another artist's album title), The Master and M*rgaritaville (abandoned due to perceived or real legal problematicness), but ultimately I went with "Accept the Mystery" simply because it's succinct and matches the album better than any others. Plus I don't think anyone will sue me over it. (Please don't sue me over anything. The third character in track four is a "0", that is, a zero).
A certain website decided it prudent to chide me for both my overall release quality w/r/t this release (full disclosure, I know it is pretty dumb to disclose this in an album description) as well as the lack of information about it. Well! Let it never be said that I won't spew information on com-/de-mand.
This album was always supposed to be about mysterious twists, unlikely choices, etc. Songs 1, 2 and 5 were the first recorded, all completed in 2009. The rest were completed in 2010.
I suppose there may have been songwriterly (ugh) "themes" employed, but most of them involved making fun of Grizzy Bear - THROUGH MUSIC - and trying to convince people that Grizzly Bear sounds like Al Stewart, but in the bad way, and also trying to occasionally sound like Al Stewart, only in the good way (cf. Thessaloniki).
Lyrically, I'm not sure I've taken the time to analyze it and where it sits in the progression from the loooong-syllabled days of Ponyoak up through the more wackily-hyperverbose era of Yes Boss and Mrs. Equitone. I tried to have more instrumental passages, to let the songs breathe more. But where there are lyrics, there tend to be a lot.
As for their meanings, I really wish there was a way to comment on them within Bandcamp's interface. Knowing Ethan's insane legacy of unmitigated quality, I'm sure it will be here soon.
But I will say that there are nostalgic notions in a way that have not presented themselves on a GS/KGW release in the past. Like Mary (the character in the film), There Is Something About the 1990's. And obviously there isn't, I just like it because I was spry and granular. And briefly a vegan.
The last song, THESE THINGS ARE NICE..., (emphasis mine, comma not included), seems to be an early favorite, and it is probably my favorite. I wrote it alongside The Passion in a notebook on the same night - TTAN was mostly composed before that, but in bits and bobs. It needed sequencing, and I didn't play it on guitar whilst singing (or at all, I guess) for a good month or so. The first time I did, I knew it was going to be a remarkable (in the classic sense) jam. It was the last song recorded for the album.
Lyrically, I like to delude myself that the song is fairly straightforward, but if not: it is one of many in my/our catalog that address how valuable the Musical Endeavor is. Rest assured (or with one ear open, as you like) that I find far more value in it than any such song might possibly convey.
The physical version looks really nice. Don't underestimate the quality and value of laser paper.
I was not alive
And I’m no fun-lovin’ criminal
I saw something subliminal
A blurry face in a busy crowd
Bill Murray takes the triple crown--
You feel free to skip around as if
You own the flipping town
God, on a Sunday
You can see arthropods on the subway
And now there’s modern art on the runways
I can see God in a vase
Or a crumb cake
I can see Oz
Maybe someday, I’ll just be gone
How many rips can a strip of Velcro take?
Hell no way!
You did not just dump me for a cell phone rate
Out of range
You found a flame and lit the powder keg
How you say...?
Somebody might need taking down a peg
We took a guided tour of treasure map trails
But I’m still a slime-o-vore,
Chasin’ that snail
So c’mon, climb aboard
The adventure express!
I guess I should have guessed,
The way you looked,
The way you dressed, but
I’ve been out of town a fortnight
And tonight my fort’s a mess
But I’m less interested in myself
Than I’ve been since
Before I was depressed
Seein’ Papa Roach at Ozzfest
Feelin’ taken out of context
Eatin’ Papa John’s...
Track Name: Jeff
I must say, your restaurant is fucking great. I mean, the ingredients are amazing. That’s what makes it better tasting, and so on.
Anyway, in Ctesiphon, I heard bold claims of a paradise among the apes. Sounds pretty nice; do you know the way?
I’m coming, there is no escape.
You silly prick. You really think you can diminish such a sinister spirit?
You can play your tricks, I’ll take my licks.
I like my wits quick and victories pyrrhic.
“Fake,” “dick,” take your pick.
You make me sick
And I can’t take another minute.
So if you’re saying something, spin it.
Say some shit again; yeah, through the caked-on spit I bet you’re grinning.
Call me back, John.
I’m not fucking kidding.
Come see me.
When you need a friend around you.
When you fear the end is near.
Come see me. Come see me here.
Forget the histories you’ve read about
Or seen projected on a screen by
Mankind’s infernal machine.
The truth will set you free.
Some sooth I’ve yet to say
Shall come to be for you and me
And under a fluorescent haze
We’ll trick ‘em all and shuffle off
With pickleballs and shuttlecocks
Divining rods and icon fragments and
Imitation ironic glasses
Oh, forgive me please.
I cannot control the seas,
Or the winds or the weaponized wildebeests.
I’m just trying to keep the peace
And I can’t abide disbelief. Oh I’ve tried,
And believe me, it keeps me up at night.
The sheets cover everything in sight
With oblong holes cut out for eyes.
When the light hits just right, it’s pretty nice
Here, give it a try.
Papa was a stolen roach
In the parking lot of a Dead show.
Put on your clothes!
This is not the life we chose
Not even close
Lock the rental mobile home
This is an island overture with
This is a violent omen--sure,
To a monumental gnomonophobe!
Hope floats, witches don’t;
I hope you know which one you’re fishin’ for!
A drop of blood, a puff of smoke
A sloppy dub of “Ponyoak”
Another trop bon mot
To throw in your portfolio
And so it goes.
“When life gives you antipodes,
Make diplomats and xenophobes.”
Track Name: HB0
HB0 has nothing on the show
I have planned for tomorrow
They’ll have to close the roads.
And it’s true you know
It’s who you know you know
And what you know about them
More than what you say around them
That controls the flow
You’re like Jasper Cropsey
On a mountaintop
The river rushing out beneath you
So they called you “Hudson Hawk”
They deny you what you want
They will try you, they will trump you
They will cry until you crumble
They may dry you out or drug you
But they’ll never injure you
Until the devil gets his due
Yellow mixed with blue tints
The plastic you live through
And it’s blasphemous ‘cause it’s true
The rest is up to you
So take it slow, no need to race me home
I’ll have candles waiting--Oh!
How their penumbrae fill this empty house
With ghosts whose reedy moans
Echo off your meaty bones--
I mean, it’s nothing, sweetie--Oh!
How death becomes me
When I need to be alone
And I’m not quite human,
That much you can see
But I’m less “abomination” than
“Perverse unsightly creep”
And my grave is five feet deep
Underneath a nice oak tree
And I rent it out on weekends
‘Cause I just like feeling free, but now
Cathedral ceilings are falling
We see the beauty in all that’s appalling
But see here, my darling:
The pictures we’re drawing
Are worthless unless
We take razors to arms and
Forego kin and food
‘Til our patron approves
And we’ll shake, wince and brood
As the impulse inches through
Every vein and molecule
To make us cede the truth
But you can take it like you’re used to it
Don’t let me limit you--do it! Do it!
Save your soul for when
The devil takes his toll
You can question every rule
But you’ll still fail like Henry Fool
Track Name: Indigo Ink
Lay on the ground, face down
Say “Hey sister...”
In a stage whisper
And it bums me out
You’re running from the Rubber Rose
It’s funny how far the summer goes
To show you God only knows
The things you think
You bought new clothes
But still you stink of
White wine and
And now you think
That the friends you’ve come to depend on
Are letting you sink
Like a stone
But oh no! Baby pick up the phone
And be driven to drinks
You can sing the body electric
Until midnight becomes eclectic
Then you better get right with God
Or sit tight!
Is this a holy synod or a fistfight?
Time out of mind--Rewind!
I never heard it like this before
That other shit is piss poor
But it’s a fine line
Between the devil and the divine--
But we all got our rows to hoe
Sosostris says she’ll bring the horoscope
Gotta be safe, dontcha know?
And so you sold your soul
Now you’re colder than an overdose
You’re like comatose
But it’s just a semicolon in your bio;
Why oh why do you hide in your hole?
Are you scared of your shadow?
That old thing? That’s just Hey Ma,
I used to get it in Ohio
My oh my! The sky’s so bright
But I can see every little thing
So we lie in the light
And I try to fight you
When it gets time to get going
But she gives me
White lies and
Track Name: The Will of John Roach
The will of John Roach is as follows:
As those who know me may not or not want to know, an oak tree grows within your soul whose sole M.O. is to see its seeds are sown.
So beads of sweat bleed from your bones to soak the soil that chokes your throats and holds your noses closed.
And down you go, under the rush of the Orinoco. And out in the brush there’s a lonely old crone in a moth-eaten cloak or an old kimono, waving and raving, saying
“No no no no, don’t lose the flow
Or hope against hope
Not all knots are rope on rope, you dope!
You owe me one blood oath!
You don’t know what you don’t know,
Duh, I know!
You wrote some nice sentences
In a few mirrors for princes
Now you’re here as my apprentice
Get a tattoo that reads Pretentious!
Swing for the benches!
Sing a song of disbelief suspension!
Start a band called The Fifth Declension!
Steal a manuscript and palimpsest it!”
The end offers no respite from the curses you’ve been blessed with.
Voodoo is still infinite.
And you who knew me now witnesseth:
I affirm this from within it. I, the undersigned, admit it’s all a lie and I leave my business, in receivership, to my children.
Tear down the buildings! Desecrate the past,
God willing! You just can’t placate these Hesychasts. Accept your fate; it too shall pass.
At last, the ugliest of wars whose horsemen roar over rondos adjusts its scores.
If you’d please, shut the coffin door.
Track Name: Thessaloniki
February 2, THESSALONÍKI -
Hey, I’m waiting for you to meet me at the apartment next to the tiki bar.
Oh, there you are.
Well, here we are.
Harold and Maude in the VCR
PBR and CCR
Behind my back is the meat cleaver
That’s going to make you a believer
That’s where they found the meteor
That’s where they make Wikipedia
That’s where I slew the minotaur
That’s where Axl wrote “Civil War”
Time begets constraints you are
Powerless to change
Fine, get this way.
We’ll cool our jets. We’ll marinate.
But don’t get all feudal state on me
We’re a proud puppet democracy
I demand a public apology
For the science that’s been dropped on me!
Late night, Paramaribo
You’ve been out walking like Nico
“These Days” are
A complete waste of bad time
For pete’s sake, at least take the flashlight!
I can’t watch “...About Last Night”
“After Hours” gave me bad vibes
That’s the power of mankind
A chance of showers?
A box of flowers and sunshine
A clock tower...
One by one, the cowards cower and run
My god, it’s only a paintball gun,
Drum Site, Christmas Island
I need nicotine and niacin.
You need time and my trust
Entitlement entitles me to yours
And I’m just a liability you’re living with
So why you grillin’ me?
I’ve tried to be different
Or just think differently and
I’d kill to be innocent. That’s why I gotta leave.
If you still want me, honestly,
Walk into the sea.
Track Name: High Touch Consumer Wizard
Ever since I won you over
I been on your shoulder, cryin’ and cryin’
Alright, so maybe I also took pictures
And left footprints on your neck
But I never meant to hurt you, I swear,
I deserve you, I care about you,
And I’m tired of lying
So maybe this is how “good” gets
Are we out of the woods yet?
Check the time...
I can’t believe it happened again
Usually by now the subject is
Maybe if I slow down and explain myself
You’ll understand more:
So I got this spell to cast on you
But it’s not because I’m mad at you
It’s something I have had to do
For quite some time, so just don’t move
I seen you sleepin’ in the medicine chest
A puff of cotton for a pillow
And some silica gel like an electric blanket
Over you and I’m over you
And it’s depressing at best
So it’s ten years later and I’m still in my cell
But I’m feeling myself, yeah,
I’m brilliant as hell
Although I’m also a bit long overdue
A chance to show and prove that
I’m resilient as well
So hit me with your second or third best shot
I’ll show you how I’m everything
You’re just not and more importantly
I cower when you corner me
But glower when you order me to drop
‘Cause it doesn’t change
Play-by-play or face to face
It’s the same old same old
Day-to-day and page-for-page
Oh it’s just a stage
A point between two points on a plane
A joint between two joists on a frame
A waveform wavering out of phase
Or else it’s a spell you cast on me
Or just a swell analogy
Oh, love is hell! It has to be!
It destroys us, understandably,
But time will tell! You can’t fool me!
No matter how you sell your tragedy
No matter how you smell or laugh at me
It happens automatically
But it won’t happen to me
Track Name: The Passion
All the times I said I’d love you
More than I had ever lied
I lied! To save my mottled hide
So I’ll vomit up my swallowed pride
Seek. Question faith.
Guess who’ll be the next to break--Oh, me!
Wait--test the cake.
If it’s poison, lick the plate
The line forms here
Just around the corner lies the great beyond
You hide your fear behind a cyanide-soaked
Spear and magic wand
Poof! Just across the border
I am near. In this room.
I see anger, death, and doom
Ordinary flesh consumed
And I saw a man as clear as night and day
Two posts of light repeating motets out of time
And shrieking--oh the sight!
But see, he weren’t speakin’ English
It were gibberish
Or some Portugese-based pidgin
Or some of that old time religion
And it weren’t no vision!
The buck stops here.
Not two days ago, you had me by the ear
And dragged me clear across the thoroughfare
Oho! Ain’t it so typical!
Like everything, it’s political
One voice remains
And framing innocence
With passion’s flame
But you just play the game
So things stay the same
Maybe someday you’ll break the chain
We all make mistakes.
May I just say
You know I just go through the motions...
But hold up
You know how we blow through emotions
Like Nutella in the cupboard
It’s just who yells louder
And what for
Is this love?
Or some other emotion?
Track Name: These Things Are Nice...
Like cigarettes light ribbons
In the red light district
Where they intersect like rhythms
You look at life through a prism
Willing to split the difference,
If only for the right schism
Elegance takes percision
Catch flies with simple syrup,
Sacrifice pure vision
Truth is a nervous system
Balanced on the precipice
Of perfect wisdom
Who’s gonna marry me now?
Or carry me out?
Or stare me down?
Downstairs, the fair’s letting out
The affair’s getting out
Who cares? It’s just sound
Like innocence? Try prison.
Like you won’t take deliverance,
Whatever hole you find it in.
Violence is a given
From the other side of the fence,
It’s just like television
I’ll admit there’s been some dereliction.
I’ll seek forgiveness, you get the permissions.
Life’s a bit like a burn victim: we see its
Harsh reality, and yet we prefer fiction.
Like, this is nice.
But is it worth it?
Does it justify its price?
Does it serve its worthless purpose?
Will you heed your own advice?
If you want to make it work
It’s best to check everything twice
In lieu of two new sets of eyes,
Incentivize some passersby...
She feels no strings inside her stomach
But that doesn’t mean they're not there
Much less never were
And the audiences love it
Their expectations plummet
I bring to mind the things she’s signed but
She’s long since memorized her lines
And she’s terrified in public
Objectified by her subjects
“Who’s gonna marry me now?
Where are we now? You’re wearing me out.”
If you want ‘em to care ten years from now,
Then here’s how. Shout:
These things are nice, but it ain’t worth it
I been wasted half my life.
I been trained to thing I deserve it.
I’ve been dumb and deaf and blind.
This ain’t right.
I ain’t perfect. I ain’t trying to say...
Things are nice.
But it ain’t worth it.
It ain’t worth it.