Blood & Sand

by Jade Sylvan

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about

Critically-acclaimed poet-turned-songwriter Jade Sylvan recorded her first album in her friends' attic just a few months after picking up a guitar and writing her first song.

When Sylvan began performing her songs out, the response from the Boston music community was immediate, and the album features guest appearances from many of the members of the local scene. As Sylvan says, "Blood & Sand is a true labor of love."

Released on Red Car Records (www.redcarrecords.com).

Visit Jade at www.jadesylvan.com.

credits

released April 5, 2011

All songs written and performed by Jade Sylvan and produced by Lee Wizda.

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about

Jade Sylvan Somerville, Massachusetts

Jade Sylvan is a poet-turned-songwriter living in Somerville, Massachusetts. She fled her native Indiana shortly after graduating college to pursue dreams of becoming a writer. After getting her first book of poetry published and touring the country in 2009, she came home and began writing songs, which garnered instant attention in the famed Cambridge folk scene for their lyrics and melodies. ... more

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Track Name: Before We're Born
I grew up in two rooms.
Never was a genial daughter.
Met an old woman when I turned thirteen.
She said you know you don’t have to sink in water.

So I left my house with its basketball net
and I set out for the ocean.
All the rocks had faces and the trees had hands
and the fields were screaming for devotion.

Is this seeing?
Is this growing?
Is this a circus show?
Is this a bad porno?
Is this a sweet plateau?
Do we ever really know?
Is this living
If we’re dead before we’re born?

I’d read once, “Listen to the river.
There’s constancy in its flow.”
So I asked it all my questions,
but it just babbled, then had to go.

Now, I never was raised religious
though I’ve long been searching for the call.
Once I asked the devil for forgiveness,
but he was busy staging the fall.

Is this seeing?
Is this growing?
Is this a circus show?
Is this a bad porno?
Is this a sweet plateau?
Do we ever really know?
Is this living
If we’re dead before we’re born?

By the time I turned twenty
my hair tumbled to my knees.
I could name the stars all backwards
I could drink the boiling seas.

I watched as swollen cities
were leveled to the ground
and I bathed inside that silence,
that holy lack of sound.
Track Name: Once My Heart
Once my heart was a fishing wire
unable to control what to acquire --
catching the jetsam and debris
invisible to the raging sea
invisible to the raging sea.

Once my heart was a mouthful of bees,
a hive hung high in the poplar trees --
a droning buzz, a battle cry
but once they sting, bees die
but once they sting, bees die

Once my heart was a cigarette,
a slow burn of the time I had left --
a token of some ill repute
an ember crushed beneath a dirty boot
an ember crushed beneath a dirty boot.

Once my heart was the sky and the ground,
the air and the water, the mundane and profound --
green flames and gasses and the splatter of stars
TVs and goat cheese and electric guitars
TVs and goat cheese and electric guitars.

Once my heart was a song,
but it didn’t last too long.

Once my heart was a married man,
an unmade bed and dishpan hands --
long walks at midnight in the heat of July
the words “I’m sorry,” and the word “goodbye.”
the words “I’m sorry,” and the word “goodbye.”

Once my heart was muscle and blood,
an organ pumping with a rhythmic thud --
the only reassuring constant sound
the only thing keeping me around
the only thing that kept me around.

Once my heart was a rain cloud,
lightening and thunder, frightning and loud --
it soaked and sullied the folks below
but they need rain to make things grow
they need rain for life to grow.
Track Name: Caleb's Song
You’re not very lucky.
Your first love died
just as you were being born.

One moment of eye-contact,
she learned your new name
and left you the blueprints for mourning in a storm.

No one called you.
No one wrote the kind of sad song
that cradles your heart safe in twine

She left you a camera
and the money to leave
that landlocked veranda behind you undefined.



When old skin grows ill-fitting
most people don’t know
it comes off clean as a dress

and new ones slip on sharply,
they follow the folds in your bones
and leave their impressions in your chest.

A heartfelt, deft pretender,
your faces shift swiftly
to riches you do not pursue.

The ocean has no gender
but it helps sometimes
to have some way to refer to him, it, her, you.



You’re not very lucky,
no keys to the kingdom
of answers to untie your tongue.

A life barren, a rough canvas
waiting to be stretched
and stapled to framework, strung, painted, and hung.

Your body hangs solely,
lonely enough for
viewing, touched only by light.

We can hold you with our gazes
and chase you with phrases
but none of them ever seems right. Not really. Not quite.
Track Name: Carbon to Carbon
You flew through the front door, the screen door came crashin
when I tried to follow you home.
You can’t remain whole if you mingle your ashes.
Each phoenix must burn up alone.

By the time I met you, you’d already died
a dozen or two times or so,
and I had grown tired of all that I’d tried
a hundred and two years ago

So I set your wing, and gave you a name
and dressed all your blisters and burns.
But I never followed you into the flame,
I just waited for you to return.

I told you how all the world’s primitive cultures
worshipped the sun as creator,
and I told of the stars’ churning furnances
how all of our matter was made there.

We followed the path, the feathery traces
like lines of a lyric poem.
It looped and we doubled back on our paces
till we found ourselves back home.

A phoenix should not be a low-flying bird
but sometimes you doubt your own wings.
The moon, you could make in a day and a third,
but the sun is a whole different thing.

By the time you left me, you’d already died
enough times for me to learn
that phoenixes, like the moon and the tide
move in circles, so I let you turn.

I told you how all the world’s primitive cultures
worshipped the sun as creator,
and I told of the stars’ churning furnances
how all of our matter is made there.

I’ll burn our image in one thousand fashions
till the sun takes us back in --
carbon to carbon and ashes to ashes,
we’ll be together again.
Track Name: Turning
They say distance makes the heart grow fonder
and goodbye hides the kindest kiss.
If you’re born with feet, then you’re born to wander,
just be grateful you’ve got something to miss.

There’s no standing still, the earth just keeps moving,
so sister, you may as well roam.
I’ve never held anything that wasn’t worth losing,
never stopped somewhere I didn’t call home.

Turning and turning around again.

In the old folks home, Rebecca is dying
so she calls for her family to see.
They travel and gather, her daughters are crying
as she laughs at the old stories.

She asks to hold her youngest great-grandson,
his eyes so blue and so wide.
She smiles at him and says “Howdy hansom,
you’re in for quite a wild ride.”

Turning and turning around again.

The director quit, and the orchestra’s tired
and the actors have all gone home.
The audience left, except for one child
alone in the second row.

He writes in his playbook about armies and kings,
about star-crossed love and faith,
and in the empty house, he stands up and sings,
one song stops and another fills the space.

Turning and turning around again.

Now, I’m no scholar, and I’m not much on lessons
but I taught myself to read,
and if you walk a path long enough, it’s my impression
that where you start is where it leads.

I don’t want to go now, my love, believe me
but I’ve got lots to see, and more to do,
and when I head down that road, I’ll know the reason I’m leaving
is so I might return to you.

Turning and turning around again
Track Name: Making History
Socrates stepped out in Athens,
toga flowing, teeth a-flashin.

The future was bleak for this gadfly.
Today was the day he was ordered to die.

The crowd all thought they saw him wink,
then he took the hemlock and started to drink.

Plato cried like a war widow,
but Socrates was no oracle.

He said, “Mine is not a life unexamined,
now let my history begin.”

Not another Ides of March had been so lovely.
The Senate met without pushing and shoving.

And though Antony tried to stop him at the pass,
Julius Caesar would be slain at last.

The daggers were sharp and they were swift.
No eye could follow where or when they hit.

But Caesar he did not shout.
He simply turned about.

He said, “Et tu, Brute?
We make history today.”

It was like any other April day
when the carpenter, Jesus, was taken away.

The kings would have their holy spoils
as the Son shuffled off bathed in oils.

He looked out on the sea of Gentile and Jew
and laughed, “Not a single one of them knows what they do.”

His mother, she wailed,
and his father had failed.

He said, “You’ve all forsaken me,
but hey, we’re making history.”
Track Name: If I Knew Now
back then we’d paint with sidewalk chalk
an MC Escher tabletop
invent dimensions with old blankets
brooms and pins all interlocked

if you don’t know we’ll find a way
oh we could ride bikes in the rain
and never fear, our skulls were made
from latex diamond marmalade

but table legs and chalk and bones will splinter all to dust
bruise the fruit of flesh and whisper bitter not to trust
the humble back, the hungry mouth, the figure breaking down
but tasks demand their undertaking now

but I guess that’s what you get by getting older

if I knew now what I knew then
I’d never break my back again.

we stormed the Kremlin in those days
with flags of red we parted ways
we stood outside in wind and hail
to take the stage and tell our tale

but all those things we knew were real
got left behind the steering wheels
of slick bandwagon gravy trains
and memories go numb with pain

now when we serve our guests with the expensive pottery
we speak of war and china and the bear economy,
the title deed, the law degree, the books upon the shelf,
till no ones more a stranger than ourselves.

but I guess that’s what you get by getting older

if I knew now what I knew then
I’d never cash a check again.

I remember when our hands would touch
and nothing seemed to matter much
and when I looked into your eyes
I saw all of our former lives

I loved you as a dandy-fop
as an old man in a barber shop
as a virgin on a mountain top
dance with me, we’ll never stop

though changes over lifetimes may be superficial gels
changes here from year to year detach, divorce, repel
I still remember sleeping with your chest to nest my head
now I nestle underneath the bed

but I guess that’s what you get by getting older

If I knew now what I knew then
I’d never fall in love again.
Track Name: Blood and Sand
A guitar shaped like a woman
is the instrument of man.
A woman is an instrument
of breath and blood and sand.

You run like an athlete
whose day just never came.
Now you drop the ball
in the last play of the game.

Come to me.
In the heavy dark
your touch is light

Fall over me.
Hold me close
and we’ll outsleep the night.

They call it entropy,
the tearing of all tethers,
we'll all move far apart
but at least we'll go together.

Each of us can trace
a pattern in the sky.
No one dies alone
cause we all die.

Come to me.
In the heavy dark
your touch is light

Fall over me.
Hold me close
and we’ll outsleep the night.

One day we realize
that we filter what we say
and all our tearful spectacles
are pantomimes we play.

They call it growing up,
that silken skin turns leather.
I will welcome it
if we can go together.

Come to me.
In the heavy dark
your touch is light.

Fall over me.
Hold me close
and we’ll outsleep the night.

I’ve seen your body
lying still upon the beach,
woken up calling out
when you’re out of reach.

When we’re tired
I’ll lie still upon your bones.
We’ll be naked underground
like Jean-Paul and Simone

Come to me.
In the heavy dark
your touch is light

Fall over me.
Hold me close
and we’ll outsleep the night.

You say I’m selfish
in everything I do,
but every single song
I’ve ever written is for you.

After every screaming fight
with everything at stake,
I still count as holy
each and every breath you take.

Come to me.
In the heavy dark
your touch is light.

Fall over me.
Hold me close
and we’ll outsleep the night.
Track Name: Tiny Broken Pieces
you called yourself my captain
and I found shelter in your hull,
but days at sea began to turn us madmen
and the rolling waves began to make us dull
when we crashed, the rocks bashed in my skull.

tiny broken pieces scattered
lead me to you, form a path
I’ll always know exactly where you’ve gone.
the tiny broken pieces lead me on.

we called these walls our kingdom.
this cracking plaster was our royal hall.
but sticks and stones were not meant for the ages
and every empire must at final, fall.
we fled with broken pieces of the wall.

tiny broken pieces scattered
lead me to you, form a path
I’ll always know exactly where you’ve gone.
the tiny broken pieces lead me on.

our songs were once recited nightly
in every opera house and concert hall.
but now no one remembers how to play them
and I can’t find the lyrics, or recall
how to tune our instruments at all.

tiny broken pieces scattered
lead me to you, form a path
I’ll always know exactly where you’ve gone.
the tiny broken pieces lead me on.

your face betrayed no angel
but I’m often fooled by words
and when your footsteps left behind had melted
I built a little temple from the dirt.
don’t ask me if the broken pieces hurt.

tiny broken pieces scattered
lead me to you, form a path
I’ll always know exactly where you’ve gone.
the tiny broken pieces lead me on.
Track Name: Nobody
Ain’t nobody gonna hold my hand
and walk me down the street.

Ain’t nobody gonna say my name
and whisper soft and sweet.

Ain’t nobody gonna win my heart
and keep in carefully.

Ain’t nobody gonna follow me
and open doors for me.

I got a type of intuition
that loves to push me around.
Keeps me fast, keeps me efficient.
It leaves no time for you to bring me down.

Ain’t nobody gonna ask me please
upon a bended knee.

Ain’t nobody gonna make my bed
in a room beside the sea.

Ain’t nobody gonna marry me
bells ringing in the trees.

Ain’t nobody gonna stay with me
change my bedpan when I pee.

I got this stubborn inclination --
ain’t gonna do a goddamn thing.
I got a heart built for starvation
and I ain’t gonna wear your fucking ring.

Ain’t nobody gonna follow me
and watch me while I sleep.

Ain’t nobody gonna lie to me
hold a knife behind their teeth.

Ain’t nobody gonna walk away
float away upon the breeze.

Ain’t nobody gonna have my heart
I’ve packed away the key.