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the lines are open

by The Close Readers

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    it's a fold-out glossy thing with a beautiful Peter Black photo on the cover

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Barbara 05:07
BARBARA I’d like to celebrate the life Of Barbara Lillias Romaine My favourite naval wife The great novelist of pain And sinking and gasping And rising again Don’t want to do this by the dates She was born a couple of times The first might have been a mistake But what you live through you can Shine and revise and disguise And create again All the nice girls are in trouble Cos they’ve grown so impossibly tall They’ve forgotten to be humble As they run to the door And out into the world And not a single word can stop them now Let’s consider the mighty sea-horse Whom she first met at Portobello Finds some vertical growing seaweed To wrap its end around and say farewell Or see here I mean you - hello! All the nice girls are in trouble Cos they thought about their lives And they started sharing novels In their heads was a fire That burnt off all the lies Warmed them inside and left them steamy!
Ernie Abbott (free) 05:54
ERNIE ABBOTT It was a Monday that’s all March 27th 1984 Who’s left their suitcase in the middle of the floor? Some people got no idea at all Ernie Abbott liked a clean and uncluttered hall He walked the floor We were sixteen, my girlfriends and me Our typing course was in the building out the back Lunchtime we saw it sitting there temptingly Pale green case with a collapsible handle Who would notice if quietly we reached out and took it for a walk ‘77 Ernie made it into the paper Posed with a cauliflower protesting the rise in prices Vice President of the Caretakers and Cleaners And the government were shafting the workers again and again White rags were poking from the suitcase Was that what stopped us lifting it and lifting ourselves from this earth, like Ernie Abbott Hey Ernie I walk past there every day 27th March we celebrate my wife’s birthday Hey Ernie they’re still looking for the guy And in our hearts you are very much alive It was a Monday that’s all March 27th 1984 Who’s left their suitcase in the middle of the floor? Some people have no idea at all Ernie Abbott took pride in himself and wanted pride in this world
GOOD EVENING FAMILY! Take the green lift to the 7th floor Check out the window, enjoy the elevation Follow the green line on the shiny floor Nod at the nurses at their station Here’s the room it’s 29A The curtain’s closed so you wait For just a moment then you push on through (No one’s interested in you) You’re not interested in you Good evening family! Where did you spring from? It’s a lovely evening Just a little windy Don’t mind my blathering I’ll watch you sleeping And when you’re good and ready What say we all What say we all What say we all People say, Look at those tiny hands And look at those tiny feet They say she looks a lot like you And when does Dad get his feed? One of the other mothers leaves the room Hard to believe that’ll be us soon Hey I’ve cleaned the car for you (No one cares about the car) Time stopped and then it Good evening family Ba ba ba ba ba ba ga ga ga ga ga ga You’ve stolen my language It’s a lovely evening It’s a complete mystery Are you both warm enough? I feel like a furnace. What say we all What say we all What say we all go home go home go home
Kevin 03:28
Wolf 04:02
WOLF When we first met we were fifteen You came to our house to cook and clean My mother never left her room Bottles of Coke under her bed You did your work and never complained I said don't you sometimes wish you were dead You said, I'm not a real girl I'm a wolf inside Come on and smell my breath Come on and touch my fur Let's go to the woods and hide I'll find you by your scent And tell you where you went wrong You wheeled her out against her will It rained on the flowers, it rained on you You brought her home and cleaned her up She said I'm going to call you my buttercup You held her hand and rubbed her feet I said don’t you wish you were asleep You said, you’re not a real boy You’re a wolf inside I can smell your breath I can touch your fur Let's go to the woods and hide You'll find me by my scent And tell me where I went right We’re not real kids We are wolves inside They can't smell our breath And they can't touch our fur Let’s go to the woods and hide They won’t find us by our scent Or tell us where we went wrong!
ISSUE THE WOMEN Issue the women with pitchforks Tell them to meet outside the liquor store Tie the men’s arms by their sides Use the hoardings for a bonfire And show them the flames And read out the names That are carved on the door
THE BALLAD OF TARZAN PRESLEY Get up at 5am before the house begins put in two good hours breakfast and then a shower kiss the kids and promise your wife it’ll be all right Berlin’s beautiful and messy as the snow begins to melt and you’ve written Tarzan Presley soon the world will know The agent rings at night says don’t get too excited you say you understand but your feet are leaving the ground you’re on your way might happen today or tomorrow Pick out the Merc you want from the place on your way to work laugh with the jerk who says Hey’d you forget to shave? You’ve got a secret You can hardly keep it To yourself Berlin’s open and it’s sexy And the sun is almost there You’re toasting Tarzan Presley In a garden of German beer Then the emails stop They’ve put their hands in their pockets You’re trying hard not to panic Both sides of the Atlantic Maybe you won’t get that Merc You’ll have to work with that jerk Your son cries out in the night And you go to his side What is wrong? What is always wrong With this song? Berlin’s dark and it’s ugly And the tress drip down your neck But you’re the author of Tarzan Presley What else did you expect? Wake at 5am Start a new book then Cos they’re queuing up Fuckers don’t write themselves Kiss your kids And tell your wife She’s your life Berlin’s hazy and it’s distant Did you ever live there? In my copy of Tarzan Presley You wrote ‘Happy days and see you there’ Happy days and see you there Happy days and see you there
Hardcore 03:28
HARDCORE Husker Du’s so loud I can’t hear the engine failing Driving to your house Got a sense of trepidation You tell me Bob Mould’s gay You read it in the paper But you say it in such a way Trying to cause me aggravation I say I don’t care who he’s with Or if he does it upside down Zen Arcade’s still a gift it’s the record of our generation So put on some Little Red Rooster Get some words from Thus Spake Zarathustra We’ll make another killer tape loop Our group is good Our group is strong Our group’s the greatest Group to come along When you sat on the edge of my bed Leaned back against the wall Then you put your hand on my leg I said, Boy is that all? Boy, are you hard Are you really hardcore? Hardcore, hardcore, hardcore Let’s put on some Minutemen Cos we need a change of pace You like Mike Watt’s laugh, George Hurley’s hair And D. Boon’s surprising, lovely, D Boon’s inviting, lovely D Boon’s kind, inviting face
ASK ME ANYTHING I volunteer in an animal shelter I’m a qualified female welder I'm a deck-hand on a dredge in this river I’m in a line—for how long—for a brand new liver I’m an Amish that left my family I’m a hard-ass broken by the military I’m in a lab working with perfumes Tornado warning, will it come soon! You can ask me anything The lines are open You can ask me anything If you’re whole or you’re broken I am a radio tower technician I’m a bored young Norwegian I’m 18 with viral encephalitis I’m an ex-stripper, now work for private clients I went to high school in Thailand I dream of stairwells and unassisted flying I am a doorman, last leg of my shift I’m a pile of leaves if you get my drift You can ask me anything The lines are open You can ask me anything If you’re whole or you’re broken I’m a contractor in Afghanistan I have Polymorphous Light Eruption I am a face drawn on a hand I’m a line drawn in the sand You can ask me anything The lines are open You can ask me anything Cos I’m whole and I’m broken
Past 03:40
PAST Past caring past sharing past believing at all Past the church we were married which is now a mall Past the After-Hours we went to after your fall Past sulking past crying past calling your name Past the golf course sign: Develop Your Game! Past the House of Knives and the Fishing Hall of Fame Past lying past loving past spinning this top Past the stains on the library steps that look like blood Past the river and the sculptures made of mud Time’s a machine and we all got stamped Time’s a machine and we all got hammered Past grieving past stealing past the RSA Where they stroked your breast as you pulled beer Pass the bucket past participles in my head Past yearning past clinging past breathing a word As the Assembly of God all got cured And we retreated as they went forward Past returning past reliving past mining the seam Past the drive-in body-painting with icecream On your birthday hanging yourself at eighteen Time’s a machine and we all got stamped Time’s a machine and we all got hammered. But what was given, we can reject And what ruled us then, we can escape Let's all escape!


There's a chorus here which goes:

Time’s a machine and we all got stamped
Time’s a machine and we all got hammered

Then the song ends:

But what was given, we can reject
And what ruled us then, we can escape
Let's all escape!

But how? How do you get from the situations the song describes, or the ones you, dear reader/listener, might find yourself in, to that precious escape? Not sure. But then maybe this is one reason why I love making music. You can state a gap, an uncloseable gap, a gaping gap, and then invoke a sudden solution, shout it out or croon it, croak it, whatever, over the guitars, and if it's got a sense of style (ha!) and purpose (hey!), some rush of urgency, then somehow, possibly, for a moment, the gap is gone. Two of the heroes of this record, both fiction writers, managed to close that gap for longer than a moment: Barbara Anderson and Nigel Cox. In neither case did it look likely that they would end up with the lives they had—namely ones in which they got to make art. Let's all escape!


released November 12, 2014

The Close Readers:
Damien Wilkins: vocals, acoustic & electric guitar, keyboards
Luke Buda: electric & acoustic guitar, keyboards, backing vocals, & piano on ‘Good Evening Family’ & ‘The Ballad of Tarzan Presley’
Craig Terris: drums, percussion & backing vocals
Tom Callwood: bass on ‘Kevin’, ‘Ask Me Anything’, ‘Wolf’, ‘Tarzan Presley’, ‘Ernie Abbott’, ‘Past’
Andrew Bain: bass on ‘Barbara’, ‘Issue the Women’, ‘Hardcore’, ‘Good Evening Family!’

All songs are written by Damien Wilkins

‘Kevin’ is a poem by Bill Manhire. (Used with permission – thanks Bill!)
Thanks to Mike Corcoran for lead guitar on ‘Ask Me Anything’
‘Issue the Women’ adapts a line from an unpublished novel by Megan Doyle Corcoran. (Used without permission, then permission granted – thanks MDC!)
Gratitude again to Felix Bornholdt for the piano on ‘Kevin’
Love & thanks to Maree Brown for the surprise backing vocal on 'Ask Me Anything'

Recorded at The Surgery, Wellington. Engineered, mixed and mastered by Brett Stanton

Cover photograph by Peter Black from his book the grass is awfully green www.peterblackphotos.com



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The Close Readers Wellington, New Zealand

Formed in 2010, this band records the songs of New Zealand fiction writer Damien Wilkins.

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