Discrete Packets of Song: A Compilation

by Aaron J. Shay

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    A compilation of 20 songs recorded between 2011 and 2015, screen-printed by Ink Knife Press and designed in collaboration between Aaron J. Shay and Ink Knife Press.

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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Trust Song (Single), Tonight Will Be Different (Single), More Unfinished Sketches, Eldritch Forces (Single), Make It Through Tonight (A Benefit Single), Time Ghost EP, Apocalypse Songs LIVE, Abandoned Homes (Single), and 7 more. , and , .

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1.
Please don't leave me please don't leave me Please don't leave me behind Pushing ninety on the freeway My horse is covered in soot Its iron hooves churn the concrete It turns to gravel underfoot We maneuver between abandoned cars Completely eaten with rust, Their ghosts call me to hear their stories But I don't have time for their trust I am riding home I am riding home With my heart tight like a fist I am riding home I am riding home Praying that you still exist No, I am not a soldier I could never choose a side And I am not a cowboy Though on a steel horse I ride And you, you are not a damsel You not waiting to be won You are not waiting for me to save you And this journey is far from done I am riding home I am riding home To lay in our empty bed I am riding home I am riding home And my phone is nearly dead No good will come when I reach the city When I pass through that gate Only bad news and a troubled mind Await. But even so, the never-knowing Would weigh me down like a stone If your arms weren't waiting for me, I could never make it alone. I am riding home I am riding home To bad news and to you I am riding home I am riding home My only home is you. Please don't leave me please don't leave me Please don't leave me behind
2.
The water is calling, The waves are all crashing, just like drums of war! The naiads are dancing, To the beat of what lies in store for us! Oh, what lies in store for us? And when the time comes, These walls will fall with the tide! Call the Kraken, call Leviathan To the ritual, to the funeral Call the Kraken, call Leviathan We'll give this city a burial at sea! We'll give this city a burial at sea! The water is rising It offers no treaty and makes no demands! The fog is creeping in To swallow us in silver and cover the land we love! Oh, what land do we love? And when the time comes, These towers will fall with a splash! Call the Kraken, call Leviathan To the ritual, to the funeral Call the Kraken, call Leviathan We'll give this city a burial at sea! We'll give this city a burial at sea! Call the Kraken, call Leviathan To the ritual, to the funeral Call the Kraken, call Leviathan We'll give New Orleans a burial at sea! We'll give Los Angeles a burial at sea! We'll give New York City a burial at sea! We'll give your home a burial at sea!
3.
When we were young, our world was no bigger Than the foot prints that we made The years have gone by and now we call them "history," But still here you have stayed. And I'm sure you've got your reasons For watching the passing seasons As they all fall down, But you've got to leave your hometown. There was a time I thought I knew nearly everything That I could expect to know, But the further from home my poor feet have carried me The smaller I seem to grow. There's so much that I have seen, Some of it sacred and some obscene. Don't you let yourself down; You've gotta leave your hometown. Leave your hometown Leave your hometown Leave your hometown Leave your hometown You don't have to leave it for long Just leave it by far- Catch a ride on a passing ship, Follow someone else's star. Just a thousand miles away… Pack a bag, let's leave today, Leave your hometown! You gotta leave your hometown. If you come with me, we'll find ourselves a place where Nobody knows our names You and I will learn a few new ways to choose family And kindle a couple of flames We'll attend many grand occasions, And meet strangers of all persuasions Wearing suits and gowns, Who all left their hometowns. Leave your hometown Leave your hometown Leave your hometown Leave your hometown You don't have to leave it for long Just leave it by far- Catch a ride on a passing ship, Follow someone else's star. Just a thousand miles away… Pack a bag, let's leave today, Leave your hometown! You gotta leave your hometown. And then someday, when you've had your fill You will finally return To the streets you wore so thin with walking, to the Good things that you've earned. Maybe nothing will look the same… And maybe this ain't the place you came From, but nothing's torn down: You left your hometown.
4.
You and I will never eat at that one restaurant You and I will never visit that one place You and I will never get drunk watching Doctor Who again You and I will never explore outer space The morning sky and I are blue 'Cause I'm thinking about the things we'll never do. You and I will never become passive aggressive Or any more aggressively passive than we already are You and I will never get there late 'cause someone forgot the tickets Nor argue about where you parked the goddamn car No, I don't have a single clue Why I'm thinking about the things we'll never do. We will never compromise each other's opportunities You and I will never have to bear that load And you will never have to feel resentful Of the people I'll be meeting on the road. Oh, take me to that open road! Put me in front of a thousand strangers but I'm Not the man they'll see! They'll only see some lonely hipster Playing ukulele! Oh, give me clowns And paper towns And the contra bass And the thrilling chase And the inner spark And the streets gone dark And the dancers leaping through the park Make my life a zoo! So I won't have time to remember the things we'll never do. You and I will never raise a bunch of chickens You and I will never argue all night long You and I will never have make-up sex (Or at least, not for a very long time) You and I may never know what we did wrong. In spite of what we will go through, We will always have the things we'll never do.
5.
6.
I'm on my fourth stage of the night And I ain't nearly done yet My mind is writing all of the songs, While my body plays the set My eyes are moving back and forth, Measuring the space Searching the shadow of the crowd For an unmistakeable face Nobody can follow me Way down that darkened street I'm headed to the crossroads in my mind Where heaven and the devil meet If you want to save me, darling, If you want to save my soul Just keep me warm in bed and put A bit of sugar in my bowl I'M ON FIRE I AM STONE WIND AND WATER SHAKE AND MOAN
7.
I lost my pen in Istanbul It's writing without me Pictures, sketches, poetry That I will never see Beneath Galata tower, someone's Wrapped it in their hands Their fingers make it dance around While I'm in distant lands Sometimes, I wonder, traveling by bicycle and train Does my fountain pen ever miss These hands it used to stain? And can these hands miss the lines they'll never know? The alps are flying by my window, but My fountain pen will never know Black lines Drawn upon a page that once was white White lines Lightning paints upon the darkest night
8.
There's cities made of iron, Cities made of clay And I left a city made of fire This time yesterday And I broke some bones Skipping stones In a city made of glass But there ain't no city Nearly as pretty As the view of Deception Pass No, there ain't no city Nearly as pretty As the view of Deception Pass I've traveled with the Sirens, Learned their lonesome song And the longest train I ever did see Was a million boxcars long And I had my way And spent my pay With many a beautiful lass But there ain't no beauty From Mazama to Missouri Like the view of Deception Pass No, there ain't no beauty From Mazama to Missouri Like the view of Deception Pass If you're feeling tired, If you're feeling weak, The rumbling of the water Is the company you seek. Oh, the sun and the rain Will dull the pain As you lay down in the grass… 'Cause there ain't no city Nearly as pretty And there ain't no beauty From Mazama to Missouri And there ain't no place 'Tween the earth and space Like the view of Deception Pass No, there ain't no place Between the earth and space Like the view of Deception Pass
9.
Goodnight, stranger, The night is creaking beneath our feet Goodnight, stranger, The last dance has skipped a beat You're lovely fire to dance beside But now it's time to run and hide Call your taxi, Pay me no mind. Goodnight, stranger, The childish things have all been done Goodnight, stranger, Another year has fallen around the sun The lovely things have all been spent Now it's time to pay my rent But I'm not ready, And you're not willing. If you really wanted me You could really take me You could really take me to the end To the end of the world Where there is a light. And if you really wanted me You could really take me. Instead, good night. Goodnight, city, Take my stranger back to safety's den Goodnight, city, And where I sleep, don't dare to speak her name When the flood decides to finally come, Like when she spoke and stopped my tongue, Don't try to wake me; There's nothing to wake. And if you really wanted me, You could really take me You could really take me to the end To the end of the world Where there is a light. And if you really wanted me, You could really take me, You could really take me to the end To the end of the void To the end of the night And if you really wanted me, You could really take me. You could really take me to the end, To the end of the line, And take my sight. But instead, You never said good night.
10.
Past the point of no escape, The point of no return, I'm idling in space Near where a star once used to burn, And nobody will come for me, They'll never hear my cry! No sound nor light escapes this place, There's nowhere left to fly. I'm the first, I'm the first, I'm the first Sailor to cross the horizon line! But I'm cursed, But I'm cursed, I'm cursed That no one will know That so lonesome an honor is mine. My father was a tailor, My mother was a queen. And I'm a star-born sailor, This whole galaxy, I've seen. And I don't regret a lightyear That I've traveled since my birth, Though my feet will cross the threshold Having never known the Earth. I'm the first, I'm the first, I'm the first Sailor to cross the horizon line! But I'm cursed, But I'm cursed, I'm cursed That no one will know That so lonesome an honor is mine. Cradled in the tendrils Of a singularity- Eternal is its hunger, Which is my delivery! For even time can not escape The darkness' embrace, So eternity have I to dream Of my true lover's face. I'm the first, I'm the first, I'm the first Sailor to cross the horizon line! But I'm cursed, But I'm cursed, I'm cursed That no one will know That so lonesome an honor is mine. No one will know that So lonesome an honor is mine.
11.
You and I will never eat at that one restaurant You and I will never visit that one place You and I will never get drunk watching Doctor Who again You and I will never explore outer space The morning sky and I are blue 'Cause I'm thinking about the things we'll never do. You and I will never become passive aggressive Or any more aggressively passive than we already are You and I will never get there late 'cause someone forgot the tickets Nor argue about where you parked the goddamn car No, I don't have a single clue Why I'm thinking about the things we'll never do. We will never compromise each other's opportunities You and I will never have to bear that load And you will never have to feel resentful Of the people I'll be meeting on the road. Oh, take me to that open road! Put me in front of a thousand strangers but I'm Not the man they'll see! They'll only see some lonely hipster Playing ukulele! Oh, give me clowns And paper towns And the contra bass And the thrilling chase And the inner spark And the streets gone dark And the dancers leaping through the park Make my life a zoo! So I won't have time to remember the things we'll never do. You and I will never raise a bunch of chickens You and I will never argue all night long You and I will never have make-up sex (Or at least, not for a very long time) You and I may never know what we did wrong. In spite of what we will go through, We will always have the things we'll never do.
12.
Delicate fingers and uncanny hands They can't lift the burden from your shoulders Oh, the distance is getting further While your tendons are growing colder And the sky yawns black every night All toothy and full of wonder But your night terrors, your aches and your pains They're gonna pull you under. You, just you, your delicate fingers, your uncanny hands They're not even strong enough to pluck out your eyes And no one's gonna pity you 'til you're blind But they've never heard the way you cry Out in your sleep, when there's no place to hide You're so low, There's nowhere to go But up.
13.
Your savior isn't coming! He isn't riding a white horse. He cannot stop this ship from sinking, Your savior cannot change the course. If it's darkness that you're looking for, It's darkness that you're always gonna find. Whether you hide yourself in shadows or you stare into the sun You will go blind. Your savior isn't coming! He cannot break your iron chains. He cannot stop this plague from spreading, He can't revive your cold remains. All your wishing and your waiting, well, I haven't seen it fix a goddamn thing. Talking loud and doing nothing's left you poor And kept your tormentor a king. But it's not all lost, No, it's not all lost. 'Cause you got eyes and you got toes And you got hands and a heart that glows And a mind sharp as a tack And ideas, they never lack But you gotta pull your body out Out of terror, out of doubt 'Cause you got a power all your own In the marrow of your bones You got a power all your own You got a power all your own Your savior isn't coming! I guess you'll have to save yourself.
14.
Arms! Encircle me, try to slow me down, Try to keep momentum from taking me downtown Towards the future, towards what nobody knows but everybody could Eyes! Undress me, cut me down to size, Try to keep me mortal, though you know that I will rise And when I rise, I will get higher (way higher) than any mortal should And that day will be the day Love comes home for good. Lips! Come taste of me, hang me out to dry, Fill me to the brim with your sweet by and by, Let me drink your stranger flavors every now and then. Hands! Unfold me, unleash what I may hide These monsters and martyrs, let 'em flow just like the tide You won't find me in the gutter trying to teach 'em the ways of men 'Cause that day will be the day Love comes home again. Legs! Wrap around me, take me deep inside! And cheeks, may you flush, may you shine where you once cried! Conscience, don't go crying about all the krakens we loosed. Hair, keep on growing, you'll find a new abode. Feet, keep on walking, don't worry 'bout the road Put some distance here between you and me to help keep this truce. And the day that debt is paid, Love comes home to roost. Momentum, take me higher! Momentum, take me higher and higher and higher! Love comes home today.
15.
The temperature is dropping The temperature is dropping And the ground is going to frost. The sun is hiding The sun, he is hiding And the ground is slowly tempest-tossed. The glacier is coming The glacier is coming And when she comes, she will change everything. And when she comes, And when she comes You just might hear me sing That everything's transforming all the time From the waters we swim to the hills we climb Everything's transforming all the time, time The snow is falling The snow is falling Gonna wrap this city in its long white coat The sea is receding The sea is receding And the ground is rushing up to meet my boat The glacier is coming The glacier is coming Her hands will move the dirt beneath my skin And when she comes And when she comes She will change every place I've ever been And everything's transforming all the time From the waters we swim to the hills we climb Everything's transforming all the time, time She's coming!
16.
O, Death! 03:07
O, Death! O, Death! Won't you spare me over 'til another year? Well what is this that I can't see, With ice cold hands taking hold of me? Well I am death none can excel! I'll open the door to heaven or hell. O, Death! Somebody might pray- Please come and take me another day. The children sang the preacher preached- Time and mercy is out of your reach. I'll fix your feet 'til you can't walk, I'll lock your jaw 'til you can't talk, I'll close your eyes so you can't see, This very hour come and go with me. O, Death! O, Death! Won't you spare me over 'til another year? My mother came to my bed, She placed a cold towel upon my head. My head is warm my feet are cold, Death, you're moving upon my soul! O, Death, how you're treating me! You close my eyes so I can't see! Well you're hurting my body you make me cold, You run my life right out of my soul! O, Death, please consider my age! Please don't take me at this stage. All my wealth is at your command If you'll remove your burning hands! O, the young the rich or poor, You're all the same to me, you know! All your wealth, your silver, your gold, Nothing satisfies me but your soul. O, Death! O, Death! Won't you spare me over 'til another year? Won't you spare me over 'til another year? Won't you spare me over 'til another year?
17.
I can not live with your ghost in this house, So don't go dying on me! Don't go skipping to the next world, my friend: It won't come easily! I can not live with your ghost in this town, That empty place on our stage, The harmony you used to sing in our song, The paragraph you wrote on my page. Don't go dying on me. Don't go dying on me. I can not live with your ghost in my kitchen, Telling stories that I will never hear. The goddess calling you has turned into my devil, Sharpening her tongue into a spear. She wears the costume of a lord and savior But look what she holds in her teeth:
A dagger painted red just like a rose, And what a heart she carries underneath! Go ahead and look what's underneath. Look what's underneath. I can not live with your ghost in this house, So don't go dying on me! The next world won't unfold like a flower; There will be years of misery. You strike the match and you strike up a song, Burning bridges that I build. I can not live with your ghost in this house 'Cause it's me you have killed. And I won't be the last one that you kill.
18.
We've got no magic blueprint But we've got our share of idle hands With a bit of sweat we're gonna Make some kind of monument that stands And we'll have a better year The wind has blown the bricks away But they're not hard to find We'll make them come to us And keep us true to what we designed. We're just shoring up the levy We are building better walls We are sharpening our eyes We're gonna make a few more calls Because nothing is ruined. It just needs a little time. We'll keep our knives in cupboards And we'll paper the walls with our songs We'll build ourselves into the framework So the beams know right from wrong. We'll have a better year. Oh, my fingers in the windowpane Your feet buried underground We'll build a home from ou r bodies Inch by inch, and pound by pound. We're just shoring up the levy We are building better walls We are sharpening our eyes We're gonna make a few more calls Because nothing is ruined. It just needs a little time. Nothing is ruined. So we're gonna take our time.
19.
There are no love songs on the radio But there's music in the street And there's nothing left to know And everything is now complete The ice-cream never melts Until you are satisfied The internet is free to use Until your brain is fried. And on Friday night the library stays open until dawn Serving drinks in silence 'til the whiskey has all gone Is this the end or the beginning? Nobody's really keeping track. This is my kind of ouroboros Where the tail fights back! Betelgeuse's supernova Has turned night into day But nobody is freaking out They've all come out to play Because everybody understands Basic astrophysics And all the incongruities In apocalypse logistics And on Friday night the library stays open until dawn Serving drinks in silence 'til the whiskey has all gone Is this the end or the beginning? Nobody's really keeping track. This is my kind of Ragnorok Where the tail fights back! And very few of us have found What we are looking for But we're on the road to get there So nobody's keeping score So raise your glasses high As we ring in this New Age And maybe this time, all of us Will earn a living wage!
20.
There'll be a choir of birds in the trees There'll be an aching joy in your knees When you wake up, when you wake up There'll be a heart of gold on your sleeve And not a single reason to grieve When you wake up, when you wake up Oh, the wind will blow Your hair will grow And the water knows That you'll never say "no" To me Oh, your bed is soft but it's cold And the promises that you've been told Will not appear, will not appear. No, your eyes will see what your heart wants to see And your body won't know, no, your body won't know That it's free, you've been set free. And the street lights' glow Is the only halo That we will ever know That we will ever know And the clouds will rain on the hill Where your body no longer feels When you wake up, when you wake up Oh, we look out over the skyline And we leave our stones Yeah we leave our stones behind For when you wake up. Wake up!

about

Dear reader,

Writing out these liner notes has been a trip back. This album represents three (and a half) EPs I’ve created over the last five years, from my first foray into DIY recording, to the latest. It’s been interesting, looking through all of these histories and remembering each song’s evolution. Many choices I would not have made, if I worked on these projects now. I’m not who I was then, but who I am couldn’t exist any other time but now.

Discrete Packets of Song is presented in reverse order by EP; that is to say, the first song is the newest, followed by the previous EP in its original order, then the one before that, then the one before that. I wanted to maintain the musical dynamic of each little album, but at the same time, I didn’t want to start with my earliest recordings. I wanted to start at the present, and then work my way back. Retrace my steps, and show you how I arrived at my present style of songwriting and production.

Special thanks are due to my parents, Bob and Marilyn, for being eternally supportive; to my sisters Esti and Sarah; to my friends Jesse and Elise, for their wonderful gift; to Strangely, for believing in me and pushing me towards ever more ambitious and exciting projects; to the many artistic peers who have inspired me to keep creating; and to my humble cadre of fans, who funded this little project, and who support the continuation of my work.

Make art every damn day,
Aaron

credits

released December 12, 2016

Steve Baz: Drums (track 1)
Zoe Boekbinder: Vocals (track 20)
Sean Bulkley: Drums (tracks 11, 12, 14, 15)
Kaia Chessen: Cello (track 15)
Strangely T. Doesburg: Accordion and vocals (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4)
Oliver Franklin: Guitar (tracks 5, 9, 14), vocals (track 9)
Faith Grossnicklaus: Violin (track 3)
Stephen Hebert: Trumpet (track 20)
Nathaniel Johnstone: Bass (track 1)
Luke Koval: Trombone (track 20)
Andy Lowe: Bass (tracks 8 and 14)
Vincent Milay: Harmonica (track 6)
Jeremy Morton: Cello (track 18)
Mai Li Pittard: Violin (track 17)
Colin Pulkrabek: Digital production (track 7)
Rachel Erin Robinson: Violin (track 8)
Sean Michael Robinson: Drums (track 20)
Sarah Shay: Washboard and vocals (tracks 1, 3, 4, 6)

Crowd vocals/percussion: Ben Bauman, Sean Bulkley, Brandon Bunche, Lou Daprile, Strangely T. Doesburg, Corbin Fox, Brandi Hair, Tanayle Haga, Lisha Joy, Karen Kunkel, K. Dogwood McKnight, Vincent Milay, Jack Perry, Sarah Shay, McLean Sloughter, Danielle Soffer, Bethany Stackhouse, James Sutter, Tekla Waterfield, and Jason Webley.

All other parts performed by Aaron J. Shay (probably, unless I missed someone, in which case I am sorry). All songs written by Aaron J. Shay, except for Track 7 (written by Meredith Scheff & Aaron J. Shay) and Track 16 (traditional).

All songs mastered by Myles Boisen. Track 1 mixed by Nathan Johnstone. Tracks 2, 3 and 4 recorded at Stormy Muffin Studios by Ben Trimpe and Joe Wasson. CD photo by Lou Daprile. Album artwork by Aaron J. Shay and M. R. Dellinger of Ink Knife Press.

Track 20 is dedicated to my late grandfather, Shay Suckerman. Rest in peace, Pops.

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Aaron J. Shay Seattle, Washington

He/him.
Sci-fi storyteller and banjo balladeer. I believe in the good kind of apocalypse.

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