Full Length Albums

Full Album Downloads & Extras

CELLAR DOOR

January 20, 2004
buy: cd/lp | iTunes

Lyrics

PALE HORSE

from the haunts of daily life
where is waged the daily strife
common wants and common cares
cuts the human heart with tears

rise like lions after a slumber
in greatly unknowable numbers

let the tyrants pour around
with apocalyptic sound
on the charge of iron wheels
and the crash of horse’s heels

rise like lions after a slumber
in greatly unknowable numbers
free the blood that must ensue
we are many and they are few

from the workhouse and the prison
pale as corpses newly risen
knives are drawn now let them see
standing tall that say they’re free

your strong and simple words
set to wound as sharpened swords
wide as targets let them be
with their shade to cover me

rise like lions after a slumber
in greatly unknowable numbers
free the blood that must ensue
we are many and they are few

UP ABOVE THE SEA

the sun came up
up above the sea
the streaming clouds
tore into my tranquility

out my window
I could see
a bird drop down
on the branches of my apple tree

everyday the bluebird comes down
and stares at me for hours
can’t figure out if he brings me luck
or if he’s trying to tear me down

I bought a rifle
with a bushnell scope
knowing the answer would be
to see if he’s calm or frightful

the sun rose up
over the sea
I staked out and waited
like so many gunmen before me

everyday the bluebird comes down
and stares at me for hours
can’t figure out if he brings me luck
or if he’s trying to tear me down

he saw my gun, he stared
right into my eyes, I fired
his body exploded
and feathers fell all over my lawn

WILD STRAWBERRIES

wholly and totally brave I swam
under dying filipino light
fighting and furious against the tide
‘cause I lost our keys in the sea
diving deep under coral reef

following treeline on the shore
I stumbled back to the road
left you on the hood of a rented ford
I looked back, it was the last time
I saw you alive

still light follows
the same rules that I do
reflecting off the water
never making it down to the bottom

THEY WON'T LET ME RUN

I was born
a couple miles from here
my family rented me this house
so my family keeps me near

from 1909
my family’s run the town
you step out of line, poor sap
family council will sit you down

one day I fell in love
and of course we fucked around
the morning she threw up
my options were all laid out

I followed through
and now I got two sons
no peace even when you come
‘cause they won’t let you run

I got dead drunk
and packed up the pickup truck
got way out of town, I thought
but sheriff tracked me down

they dragged me home
and the family sat me down
they kept me cuffed up and they roughed me up and said:
“we’ll never let you run.”

HEATED POOL AND BAR

my cousin is in columbia
hunting down the rebels
over fields of bright and shiny coca

over the jungle floor
one-handing a 32
he says: “bring her down low now, I’m ready to go.”

“I hunt kids in camouflage
rain down bullets in flight, white light,
barefoot boys run for your lives.”

but you can’t be nice
you put your gun to their head
and you pull back the pin
and you can’t be good

my friend is based in afghanistan
he goes from cave to cave and pulls the trigger
at the first sight of a man

it’s total anarchy
shooting tracer bullets at night
a high and holy patrol into poppy fields

but you can’t be good
you hold up the bloody knife
and let it shine in the sun
you gotta be everywhere

I’m a guard in guantanamo
I bring the prisoners in
the hoods come off and torture slowly begins

the screams I’ve overheard
it’d fuck up a weaker man
but I’m cold, I’m so untouchable

and you can’t be nice
I got a flak jacket
on my soul with me tonight
and you can’t be good

MY FAMILY TREE

dad, I watched you fall
and split your head on the dock
I couldn’t bear to see
a lion so meek
in the francis jay memorial wing
so I never came

my family tree is me

angela, sister near, once
stripper severe
your husband donnie
is pure fear
so I stay clear

my family tree is me

mother dear
your eyes are lost
gunpowder shot
gun tossed, there’s nothing left to brood
I lost you too

my family tree is me
now I’m set free

WHITE PLAINS

on the sunday after the mason dance
it’s the one day I can remember when
I felt so pure and really at peace with myself
I was in love, the sun sang down victorious

but the truth is I have no faith in happiness
it turns to fear, draws the devils near
so I jumped the fence
and went out west

abilene
got a sales job as a pharmaceutical rep
lived out of hotels, rental cars and a stowable bag
I drove all day – from hospital pacing and clinic sweats
I drove all night – I couldn’t ever sleep now anyway

I tried, but the old devils, they found me in my room
I hid under the covers and cried out as they tore off my sheets
so I went east

vietnam
I’m long gone
I’m up the river
way past mekong

but the old devils, they found me in my hut
they poured through the windows, they cornered me
and I cried out, to no one: “I give up.”

PROMISING ACTRESS

in the seconds between the safety unlocks and the shot,
the story is clear of distortions and tears and you’ll know why

we’re on mulholland drive
can you survive a look inside?

like a bomb in reverse, fragments of truth return:
the money’s been paid out, the key’s on the table
you’ve killed someone you used to love

yes I agree now, her story’s a hoax
recorded impulses laid, dubbed and cross faded,
it’s just light replayed

still I ended on mulholland drive
can you survive a look inside?

yes I can see now, they had nothing to do with a role refused
and sometimes a cowboy’s just a man in a cowboy suit

COMING AND GOING ON EASY TERMS

window seats on bullet trains
smear land into sky
fear and sorrow coalesce

now I’m trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster and faster

they asked for me to come
and identify my son
but my son is alive

the life that whispered in my ear
is gone gone gone
window seats, commuter trains
send me headlong

trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster and faster

they asked for me to come
and identify my son
but my son is alive
in maharishi oblivion

the love that counted back
from ten is gone gone gone
fear and sorrow coalesce

now I’m trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster

when I got down to the morgue
they pulled back the slab
it wasn’t my son
I wasn’t his dad

they covered him up
I smiled I smiled
the past is cities from a train

now I’m trying to find that quiet place
where living is breathing
not knowing is understanding
coming is going
but my heart just beats faster

LUNAR LANDSCAPES

run with me
we’ll ride over the great cliffs
into the sea

we won’t saddle up again
we won’t run the track again
no more shots or medicine

run with me
across gray lunar landscapes
into the sea

I’ll stroke your mane
as we fall through the sky
oh, broken horse, get ready to…

run with me
we’ll be such a beautiful sight
to the people on the beach

with a great running leap
over rocks, over sand
oh we may never land

WHEN IT HITS MY BLOOD

I stole from my mother
to hock her TV
she locked herself in the bathroom
she locked herself away from me

I’m not her son
when it hits my blood

I’ve never felt this good before,
I’ve never been at peace inside

my mother’s a pill fiend
my girlfriend cut the rope, burned the sail
step on it yourself, man
drive down to fla. and bail

when it hits my blood
I’m not her son
I’m the son of a flower that grows on afghani bluff

I’ve never felt this good before,
I’ve never been at peace inside

JUNE JULY

june july I went home to live with my mom
at night I sat out to watch cicadas on the lawn
june july, confusion tennessee
here sherman’s army leveled troops in 1863

now those battlefields are marked and paragraphed
and maintained by national park service trust

at night I walked through those fields
looking for proof of death, echoes of wounded soldier appeals
tonight the rain clouds are pressing down
hovering low, warning me to go back home

I saw lightning flicker in the clouds
one and two thousand, better turn around

light was focused down on me
white spike cracked and threw me to the ground

when I awoke the sun was streaming over the fields
warming the ground soaked with summer rain

& Credits

recorded at tiny telephone, 15th st, and OTR
engineered by scott solter and jv in sloppy hifi ™
mixed at tiny telephone by scott solter
mastered by bernie grundman

cellar door is a collaboration between jv and scott solter

all songs and lyrics by jv
except lyrics on pale horse, which was freely adapted from shelley’s the mask of anarchy
pale horse string arrangement by paul hoaglin

-------------------

1 pale horse
jv: spectrasonics acoustic guitars, singing
micha aceret: viola
claire bryant: cello
paul hoaglin: bass
christopher mcguire: drum set
alan molina: violin
scott solter: metal pipe
bill swan: trumpet

2 up above the sea
jv: moog source, moog prodigy, vibraphone, guitar, singing
paul hoaglin: flute
paul revelli: drum set
scott solter: timpani drums, cymbals and cutlery, moog bass, 70s phaser bass

3 wild strawberries
jv: moog source, singing
paul hoaglin: piano, rhodes 73
scott solter: tape effects, optigan, dusted hammond b3, tar drum

4 they won’t let me run
jv: electric guitars, moog source, delayed piano, arp odyssey, singing
micha aceret: viola
claire bryant: cello
paul hoaglin: electric piano
christopher mcguire: drum set
alan molina: violin
bill rousseau: electric 12 string guitars
scott solter: bass, ad202 piano

5 heated pool and bar
jv: distorted acoustic, electric guitars, arp odyssey, singing
paul hoaglin: bass
christopher mcguire: drum set
scott solter: flanged percussion

6 my family tree
jv: acoustic guitars, piano, mellotron strings, singing

7 white plains
jv: guitars, arp odyssey, piano
paul hoaglin: rhodes 73
jason mcgerr: drum set
alan molina: violin
scott solter: baritone guitars, bass, hammond b3, distorted piano, percussion
sam van loon: cello

8 promising actress
jv: acoustic guitars, pianos, hammond b3, seq circuits, chamberlin cello, singing
james kim: kick drum
scott solter: church bells, tar, baya and speaker drums, baritone guitar, tape effects bill swan: trumpet

9 coming and going on easy terms
jv: moog source, electric guitar, singing
wendy allen: singing
christopher mcguire: drum set, percussion
bill rousseau: electric guitar, percussion
charles rus: m.p. mollar organ, episcopal church of st john the evangelist
scott solter: bass, percussion, water glasses, tape effects

10 lunar landscapes
jv: piano, juno 60, autoharp, off speed vibraphone, sampling, singing
mark kozelek: portuguese guitars
scott solter: detuned fireplace

11 when it hits my blood
jv: guitars, singing
paul hoaglin: bass, distressed acoustic, singing
paul revelli: drum set
scott solter: underwater juno, triangle, tape effects
bill swan: trumpet
chris walla: varispeed guitars

12 june july
jv: acoustic guitars, mellotron flute and strings, reverse tambourine, vibraphone, singing
micha aceret: viola
claire bryant: cello
tom heyman: tape delayed pedal steel
christopher mcguire: drum set
alan molina: violin
scott solter: bass, gong

Download album art



  1.   1.Pale Horse[download]
  2.   2. Up Above The Sea
  3.   3. Wild Strawberries
  4.   4.They Won't Let Me Run[download]
  5.   5. Heated Pool And Bar
  6.   6. My Family Tree
  7.   7. White Plains
  8.   8. Promising Actress
  9.   9. Coming And Going On Easy Terms
  10. 10. Lunar Landscapes
  11. 11. When It Hits My Blood
  12. 12. June July

Newest Music

Dagger Beach

Out now! For sale in the JV Store.
CD + LP + DIGITAL
more info here

Join for infrequent email updates

John Vanderslice on Tumblr
John Vanderslice on Instagram

Live Shows

Spotlight Snapshot

Spotlight Video

more videos