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Iron Woman

It's hard to live in a basement
and not get carried away
when you're a caveman
on the pavement
in the U.S.A.
A light head in the headlights
staring temporarily stunned,
three whole weeks spent throwing
matchsticks at the sun.

Iron woman,
they're amazed
that we managed to stay afloat.
Iron woman,
seven days at the bow
of a wobbly boat
on the Northern Atlantic
sailing off for enemy shore.
We packed up our black axe
and our rucksacks
back in 794.
But once we conquered the mainland,
she made some
high society friends
I never heard one word
from my Viking girl again.

Iron woman,
fell in love with the General's shiny stars.
Iron woman,
what happened to the rhino I know?

Iron woman,
wrestle off all the rivets around your heart.
Iron woman,
I can still draw your picture in the dark.

When I Turn Ninety-Nine

Sakes alive I’m so confused.
I met the ghost of Everett Ruess
on the sidewalk yesterday. 
Well, he looked directly in my eyes,
saying “Surely it’s no big surprise
that you’re thinking
that you’ve lost your way.”
Everett, it’s not sound
when you’ve got greyhounds
living up inside your mind
running circles all the time.
Just a little
Just a little bit of
bad maintenance makes a mess.

Later that night I was face to face
with William Tell in outer space
as a unicycle wiggling on a wire
“Better watch out, Mr. Crazy Pants,
you’re riding in an ambulance
that isn't going to
make it to the fire!”
Just a little
Just al little bit of
Bad maintenance makes a mess.

I’m mourning
this morning,
Ms. Garland
my darling.
One evening,
three hours,
and the whole world
was ours,
from the hilltops
to the little
ball of molten rocks in the middle
Now how'm I
just supposed to
get you off my mind?
When you'll be up there when I turn ninety-nine.

Just a little
Just a little bit of
bad maintenance makes a mess.

Turtle and the Flightless Bird

Awake through the sound of the sad city sleeping,
I turned around to find out who was speaking
but there was no one there.
After a while I arrived at a pile of feathers
crying in all capital letters,
with a big white sling on her wing
and two geysers where her eyes were.

"We may not live up in the sky
where the air gets scared when the planes go by
but you can hop up on my shell
when we crawl across the highway"

We were two rocks when you strike them together.
I told her that I would like nothing better,
yeah, nothing in the world than to just lie around
'neath the blackberry towers,
we could keep talking on and on for hours
about how the wind goes "doo-doo-doo-to-doo"

We may not live up in the sky
where the air gets scared when the planes go by,
but you can hop up on my shell
when we crawl across the highway.
'Cause we might get flattened today
but at least we lived here long enough to say
"hey hey, you're the one for me"

The night you gave that kiss to me
I cracked the ancient mystery,
and on the day that you ran away
I touched the tail of the bumblebee.
Darlin' girl, now it's just not right,
drinking ourselves to sleep at night.
Won't you ever come back to me?
I haven't got what it takes to wait and see

"We may not live up in the sky
Where the air gets scared when the planes go by
But you can hop up on my shell
When we crawl across the highway"

Moon Over Shark City

I'm not moving a muscle
anywhere in my brain,
still it feels just as if
it were trying to lift
up a passenger train.

'Cause when your sweet candy hands
aren't a holdin' me tight,
it takes a sunrise just to make it
through the night
in Shark City.

Need a boost for my rocket
hurricane for my sail.
If I only owned a car
I would drive it so fast
that they'd throw me in jail.

Far away little lady knows
how to wrestle me right.
She keeps my bare feet
from dangling down over the side
in Shark City.

Cannons at the Courthouse

By the time we'd run another race around the sun
we were buried under blankets in the dark.
All night long I laid and listened to your song.
It didn't stop until the morning
when the rays from space took up marching on my face
and I was pulling covers up over my eyes.
Before I knew it I was in some other room
with a rope ladder dangling from the ceiling

when sliding down the rope came Willie Nelson
sayin' "son, let's find the party that never ends."
We smoked some reefer on the roof of the White House
Couldn't wait to get back on the road again,

where the Arctic Sea had melted up to Tennessee
and we were running from the searchlights on the shore
I paddled my canoe down the alley after you,
over the cannons at the courthouse.

It's three o'clock, the streets are empty.
Man, this looks like no other place I've ever been.
They leveled old Miss Miller's house and built a Walmart.
Man, I don't ever want to move back here again.

There's a Starbucks on top of Mount Everest now.
There's a plan to land two on the moon.
Each one fully equipped with some young artists hip to new paintings of Jesus in aerosol cheeses,
while hell might be frozen when I get my toes in
the diamond sparkling stream

that's airbrushed in the background
of your wildest dream.
A nameless extra in your wildest dream.                       A standby contestant on your wildest dream.
A stand-in for the sidekick on your wildest dream
that's buried in the backyard of your wildest dream.

Oh ma ma
Keep the mighty wheels beneath me
All the way to the rails in the sky

Transcendental Sports Anthem

Before you know it,
it starts coming back again,
just when you thought that you'd packed it in-
to the back of your mind.
So, worry free? "Not me!"
not when all it takes
is just some light pressure on the brakes
and you get hit from behind.

Look up there in the sky,
the flocks of boy bands flying by
headed down south to Orlando for the winter.
My oh my, can they sure play,
I saw a new one just today, hey,
singin' "we're the young generation,
and we've got nothing to say"

When you lose your screws
and you can't dig up any friends,
just go out past where the pavement ends
and start a band with the night.
But when that time comes
when you've gotta bolt,
just cut the rope on your catapult
and try the air for a while.

Look around, "h" is square
in the middle of "nowhere."
If you take all right turns the highway goes forever

Peel your eyes, "h" is there
in the middle of "nowhere.
If you take all right turns the highway goes forever.
Sell your shelves, buy some time.
Leave the Nightly Noose behind
at the "h" inside your mind.


Stepping up from the ghostly scene
by the manhole smoke machines,
waiting for the coast to clear.

Playin' a tune with a tiny tone
on her ribcage xylophone
in a key that no one else can hear.

Sandie, what's that face about?
You've got so many rounds yet to go,
and so many more nails to bend
before you reach the end
of the road.

Staring out through the window pane
at the pellets of pregnant rain
tapping out a drumroll down below.
Filling up all the cracks and dents
and high-fives in the hot cement
from the hands
you'll never get to know.

Oh, Sandie, what's that face about?
You've got so many rounds yet to go,
and so many more nails to bend
before you reach the end
of the road.

On a crystal night,
up on the canyon's side
I saw the western sky
turn to red, 
but it couldn't touch the flames
burning up your brains
that I saw through the frames
in your head.

Sandie, what's that face about?
You've got so many rounds yet to go,
and so many more nails to bend
before you reach the end
of the road.

Paratrooper With Amnesia

Oh, lately I've been gettin' this funny feelin.'
There's something wrong and I don't know what to do.
You see my legs look like two lampposts in an earthquake
whenever I get within a few feet from you.

And then I'm like a paratrooper with amnesia,
falling like an anchor through the sky.
Oh, I feel like I should be gettin' prepared for somethin'
but I could not tell you right now exactly why.

It began as a flash in the pan but I can't understand,
honey, why you want to go movin' away so soon,
when my head feels like a compass at the north pole
and my ribs are wrapped around a big balloon.

Oh, it's so hard to get my hands around the ripcord
with all this thin air pumpin' into my heart
Pumpin' up into my heart
Pumpin' up into my heart
Pumpin' up into my heart
Pumpin' up into my

Giant Spiders

There's a dirty sock in my hair
and I don't remember putting it there,
next to sweat silhouettes on the floor
that I'm not quite prepared to endorse.

I was having this dream
We were down in a deep ravine
with slimy slippery sides.
No, I won't sit still till I'm upside down
in the back of your eyes

We can take off into the breeze,
through the forest of family trees
and be a mutual sight for sore eyes.
We can ride off into the sunrise
and wake up in the afternoon,
back on the birthplace of the moon
till we're off to the too and fro
for some old man that we don't even know.
Only eight more hours to go!

Oh, the world feels colder today.
I don't care what the scientists say.
There's a campfire built in my heart
that even the sun couldn't start.

On our climb uphill
into the oil spill,
through the vast asbestos skies,
no, I won't sit still till I'm upside down
in the back of your eyes.

Never mind all the nuclear missiles.
Leave that up to important officials
who can manufacture the press and
keep the peasants on anti-depressants.
Should they send their rockets a flyin,'
that's one unique way to exit the world,
but if we're curled up into a little ball,
behind some thick lead walls,
we should be fine if we can survive
the giant spiders!!!

No, I won't sit still till I'm upside down
In the back of your eyes

Lonely people of the world, unite!

The Choir Invisible

Now the fields sit finally silent,
resting their cheeks on the evening's arms.
Tiny eyes on the sleepy horizon
arise to the chords as they soar through the dark

Keep on watching your movies
on the backs of your eyelids
that we shot on abandoned lots
that we found back when we were kids
carving stanzas on tree trunks in Kansas
before all of the grandfathers started the war
with the words that our ears hadn't heard,
that our mouths had never tried to perform before.

Keep on watching your movies
and I'll stand guard in my picture frame.
It doesn't make any sense
to wait like water for the world to end
on the night that we meet again.

Down, down down, down,
Leave us your best silhouettes on the ground.
Down, down down, down,
Leave us your best silhouettes on the ground.

Deserted Eyeland

The ship went down to lay on the ground
at the bottom of the sea.
I wound up on a deserted island
When the ancient lights held their dances in the sky,
well, they nearly got me thinking that I could stay,
but I had to get out right away.

At last my shoes dropped back in the grooves
of the city's slippery stairs,
I stepped out on a deserted eyeland
When the mirrors on the moon                                     shine down onto my lagoon,
they make me think a lot about a rental car
filled with half a tank of gas,
or what it would take to get me past
all the welcome signs they planted on the edge of town.
Man, I must surely be the luckiest guy around, 
spending all this time above the ground.

And the part that's right before the end
goes over and over again:
"We all live on a deserted eyeland."
And the part that's right before the end
Goes over and over again:
"We all live on a deserted eyeland."

On a deserted eyeland. 

When the Angels Lift Our Eyelids in the Morning

I saw the glint of gold on a wind-worn road.
I saw a twisted back bent beneath a heavy load.
Throw all your diamonds away,
they won't mean a thing,
when the angels lift our eyelids in the morning.

Oh this night might be the worst for the freezing birds,
waiting for the sun to come and warm the icy earth,
but they'll take their weary heads
out from underneath their wings
when the angels lift our eyelids in the morning.

The hunchbacks in their lonely towers
toll their bells at the witch's hours
and watch orange eyes ablaze
vanish into the alleyways
and snowstorms in our tv sets,
and black forests beneath our beds.
They lie in wait where no one hears
to play the drums inside our ears
when the bottoms of the clouds all start turning red.
There's a bird up on a branch, swaying wildly in my head
Just waiting for the sun
for another chance to sing,
when the angels lift our eyelids in the morning.
When the angels lift our eyelids in the morning.
When the angels lift our eyelids in the morning.

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From The Chicago Reader 


Dream Machine: Devin Davis on harnessing the power of your sleeping musical mind


Remember a little record called Lonely People of the World, Unite! from 2005? You know, the one that's quite possibly on your list of all-time favorite records? On the heels of its eighth anniversary, local musician and recording engineer (and, full disclosure, my "special friend") Devin Davis crawls out of the woodwork for a guest appearance on this episode of Band Life. Here's Devin on writing the songs of your dreams. Literally: (Andrea Bauer)


The greatest gift you can ever receive as a musician/songwriter is to hear a song of your own creation in a dream and then remember it after you wake up. It's like a winning lottery ticket that, having circled forever on an endless breeze, suddenly flutters down and sticks directly to your face. The phenomenon is, for lack of a better word, miraculous.

There have been many well-documented cases of major paradigm-shifting discoveries coming from dreams, from fields as far reaching as mechanical engineering and chemistry to theoretical physics. Two of them resulted in Nobel Prizes. Niels Bohr figured out the structure of the atom mid-snore, Elias Howe hatched the sewing machine under the covers, and Dmitri Mendeleev awoke to the periodic table (and perhaps a nocturnal tumescence); Albert Einstein, as the story goes, received the first nudge towards his theory of relativity via a sledding dream he had as a teenager.

The same goes for the arts.

Robert Louis Stevenson gave birth to both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in his bed. Handel was given the last movement of his monumental "Messiah" while drooling on his pillow, and the Italian baroque composer Guiseppe Tartini reportedly arrived at his Devil's Trill Sonata after a dream in which he tried enlisting the devil’s help in finishing a long labored-over piece. He handed his dream violin over to the Prince of Darkness and the rest, as they say, is history.

Charlie Daniels may have had a similar experience, though this remains wholly unsubstantiated.

Perhaps the most well known modern-day example of a musician receiving a tune whilst sawing lumber is Paul McCartney waking up in 1964 with the chord progression and melody to "Yesterday" stuck in his head. For a long time he thought it was someone else's song, and that he would inevitably turn on the radio one day and hear them singing it. He called it "Scrambled Eggs" while he waited to find evidence of his crime of unconsciousness forgery, all the while assembling some lyrics that fit. Eventually he decided that it was his creation, and the song went on to make history as the most covered of all time.

Back in the realm of the mere mortals, I, and many of my musically inclined friends, have had similar experiences. I once dreamt a fully realized song, minus lyrics, that sounded quite a bit like it could be a Village Green-era Kinks number. Every morning I still half-expect to hear it recorded however many years ago by God-knows-who on my clock radio as I'm waking up.

So far as I know, it's still mine.

The most intriguing example of dream music however, in my opinion, is the experience of hearing a favorite or popular musician or band either performing live or playing on a stereo.

Evidence seems to indicate that when a band plays in your sleeping brain, it's practically NEVER actually one of their songs. It's what your mind wants that Kinks song to be, what it wants Al Green to be playing at the beach party where you're hanging out with Dr. Dre. It's the song you wish Guided By Voices was playing through the boombox on the wooden skateboard roller coaster above the clouds (long story).

Such is the way of the dream radio station, and therein lies the true miraculous gift the phenomenon has to offer. As Paul would discover with much delight, it's actually all YOURS!

The key, however, to successfully cashing in your free lottery ticket sticking to your face is the act of snaring it for posterity. The period of waking is a tricky and potentially confusing time, and one must act fast! As we all know, the first instinct is to remain in the dream, but you have to make some attempt at writing or recording some reminder of the tune you dreamt immediately or it will quickly fade to nothing in a matter of seconds.

I can still clearly see the view from the stage that time I played guitar with Living Colour at the mysterious public park field house, but I cannot for the life of me remember what the song we played sounded like; nor will I ever, unfortunately.

Dreams are like vacations that you can only remember if you take pictures, and one must be extremely diligent to remember to bring a camera! I have owned several recording devices that I have placed on my nightstand throughout my life, and have filled countless cassette tapes and memory chips with various mumbled accounts of dream narratives and, on very special occasions, hummed melodies from songs I heard. You'll be surprised how little detail it will take you to remember them later.

Maybe this is something you are already in the practice of doing, but if not, open yourself up to a whole new world. They say that by the time we die we will have, on average, spent around six years of our lives dreaming. There are bound to be plenty of concerts in there for you to bootleg.

March 13, 2013