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White Wilderness

January 25 2011


Lyrics &

Sea Salt

Sun shines on the Gaza Strip
Smiles on the back alleys of Madrid
Comes off the stone like a burning whip
But it's night here on the ridge
And the snowfall adds up inch by inch

I've wasted my days
Battered and ground down by wave upon wave
Of bitter envy and unremitting hate
But there's no one I hated more
Than the man that stands before you now

I was humbled just in time
No longer king in a skull-sized castle
Endless waves had ground me down to dust
For the first time I could take to air
I was free now, I could go anywhere

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

Convict Lake

At Convict Lake, we staked our tent
When the wind rose up, the willows bent
Their airborne spores were released to me
I opened my mouth and let them in

A small black X on the edge of the camp
I couldn't wait to fall off the map

And so I took another tab

A lost bobcat found himself in the camp
I held him close, I fed him by hand
And then I took another tab

My friends came down, way too soon
I stayed high, with the silvery moon

I awoke in a hospital bed
Bound down like Gulliver tied up in thread
You can't take back what you put in your head

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

White Wilderness

The sky was growing pale
So we held on to the twisted trail
The ground was getting cold
It was too far out to turn around and go home

The moon rose dim above
It was impossible to tell what time it was

The snow fell, lightly at first
It dusted the path, it frosted your hair
The snow fell, I stumbled you laughed
We hoped and we hoped the snow wouldn't last

The light was sure to fail
And our hold on that twisted trail
For we were unprepared

Our path had slowly disappeared

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

The Piano Lesson

It's 2 and 4
Which side are you on?
There are rules
When you strike the drum
When you sing along

Underneath the haze
Of white-out summer days
Two notes ring out:
One within, one without

Go ask anyone, I am my father's son
You'll find my mother near, ask her she'll set you clear

Rest your thumb
On the middle C
Run the scale
Hold the pedal down
Let it bleed

Underneath the gaze
Of white-out summer days
Two notes ring out:
One within, one without

Go ask anyone, I am my father's son
You'll find my mother near, ask her she'll set you clear

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

After It Ends

After it ends
Pack the cordite
Wrap the cords right
Clean the cupboards bare

After it ends
Cut the phone lines
Strike the klieg lights
Kick out the fire door

But leave the banner there

After it ends
A moment of silence
All we left behind in
California

After it ends
I'm so hungry
Like I was just born
I'm still aching for life

So leave the banner there

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

Overcoat

When I was young I was left to fend for myself
A latchkey leaves the door open to almost anyone else
I met the brothers out behind Montgomery Mall
Launching long florescent tubes against the brick wall

Take me there, take me there, take me anywhere
Let me be by your side, in revolt
Let me wear your overcoat

We fluttered through jr. high like a cloud
Got grounded in 10th against a chain link fence
They were sent away to trade school in Somerset
I got left once again to fend for myself

Take me there, take me anywhere
Let me be by your side, don't say no
Let me wear your overcoat

She rose olympic from of the pool
The pinking shears in her hands bright like a dagger
I stood before her in nothing but my overcoat
Held out my sleeves, torn and tattered

Take me there, take me anywhere
Let me be by your side, don't say no
Just let me keep my overcoat

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

The Alemany Gap

This town is a deceptively cold place

With the Alemany Gap darkening out your face
The tempered glass of the Oakland Hills
flashes the sun back in flames from the window sills

I could stay, I could stay, I could stay
I could stay here with you
Under the neon blue sky
Pink clouds humming by
Because I don't have anywhere else to be
There's no particular place for me

I could've ended up anywhere
I could've followed anyone
But we're standing here on this faded fishing pier
With nightfall threatening all afternoon

But I could stay, I could stay
I could stay here with you
Under the cyan sky
Anna's Birds humming by
Because I don't have anywhere else to be
There's no particular place for me

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

English Vines

Into the garden of our new house
Our neighbor's English vines
Tunneled under a retaining wall
Not equal to containing all
The debris of a cracked couple
Growing sicker and sicker.

By night our neighbors’ invading vines,
Rooted into my dreams from underground,
Twined their nooses around our lives,
Branching out manically,
They choked our sycamore
And grew thicker and thicker

And when I finally scaled their fence
To kill the source of this malevolence
Were my neighbors watching me
From their house I hacked away?
But vines like these root too deep to kill
We keep our blinds closed now forever

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

20k

In the hold, it was warm and close
We were packed skin to skin
I did my best to hold on to the window
As the captain called steady as she goes

Cold light under the sea
Dive slow, dive deep

A giant squid lunged at the submarine
As the sonar pinged and pinged
Four-zero fathoms I could see
There was a world hidden from me

Cold light under the sea
Dive slow, dive deep

From childish tropes in glass bottom boats
Cypress groves west of Jacksonville
We piled in my car and struck out for the coast
To drink the shine off the waves at Daytona

Credits

White Wilderness
Arranged and conducted by Minna Choi

John Vanderslice: vocals, acoustic guitar
Jason Slota: drums, percussion, vibraphone
Max Stoffregen: piano

Magik*Magik Orchestra:
Liana Berube - violin
Steph Bibbo - violin
Ivo Bokulic - viola
Max Butler - pedal steel
Evan Buttemer - viola
Sylvain Carton - saxophone, bass clarinet
Lucas Chen - cello
Richard Cheetham - trombone
Minna Choi - vocals
Youngeun Cho - violin
Matt Depasquale - trumpet
Jonathan Goldstein - percussion
Michelle Kwon - cello
Ravenna Lipchik - violin
Annie Phillips - clarinet
Amy Sedan - flute
Krisjana Thorsteinson - oboe
Wayne Van Lieu - french horn
Seth Ford-Young - bass

Produced and engineered by John Congleton
Second engineering by Jay and Ian Pellicci
Recorded live at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, April 17 + 18
Mixed at Tiny Telephone, San Francisco, April 19-24
Assisted by Jacob Winik and Alberto Hernandez

Mastered by Bernie Grundman

The lyrics of White Wilderness have been edited, expanded and otherwise improved upon by Amanda Yskamp

johnvanderslice.com & tinytelephone.com

For Isabelle Andrée Fix
Thanks Mom and Ray

Download album art



  1.   1.Sea Salt[download]
  2.   2. Convict Lake
  3.   3. White Wilderness
  4.   4. The Piano Lesson
  5.   5. After It Ends
  6.   6. Overcoat
  7.   7. Alemany Gap
  8.   8. English Vines
  9.   9. 20K

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