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Album Of The Year

by The Good Life

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The first time that I met her I was throwing up in the ladies room stall. She asked me if I needed anything; I said, "I think I spilled my drink". And that's how it started (or so I'd like to believe)... She took me to her mother's house outside of town where the stars hang down. She said she'd never seen someone so lost, I said I'd never felt so found - and then I kissed her on the cheek... and so she kissed me on the mouth. The spring was poppin' daisies up 'round rusted trucks and busted lawn chairs. We moved into a studio in Council Bluffs to save a couple bucks - where the mice came out at night, neighbors were screaming all the time. We'd make love in the afternoons to Chelsea Girls and Bachelor No. 2. I'd play for her some songs I wrote, she'd joke and say I'm shooting through the roof. I'd say, "They're all for you, dear. I'll write the album of the year." And I know she loved me then, I swear to God she did. It was the way she'd bite my lower lip and push her hips against my hips and dig her nails so deep into my skin. The first time that I met her I was convinced I had finally found the one. She was convinced I was under the influence of all those drunken romantics - I was reading Fante at the time - I had Bukowski on the mind. She got a job at Jacob's serving cocktails to the local drunks. Against her will, I fit the bill: I perched down at the end of the bar. She said, "Space is not just a place for stars - I gave you an inch, you want a house with a yard." And I know she loved me once, but those days are done. She used to call me everyday from a pay phone on her break for lunch - just to say she can't wait to come home. The last time that I saw her she was picking through which records were hers. Her clothes were packed in boxes, with some pots and pans and books and a toaster. Just then a mouse scurried across the floor... we started laughing 'til it didn't hurt.
I know a girl with cuts on her legs. I think that she hates the way she was made, but we never spoke of why they were there. I just squeezed them and kissed them 'til we both felt a bit better. And now I've returned to the town where she dwells; that cold lonely cabin her grandfather built. I suppose that's where she's imprisoned herself, to write all those words she's too scared to tell - those sad, short stories of a girl curled up in her shell. Night and day she tends to her bar. She pours the drinks, they pour out their hearts. All that sorrow and alcohol weighs hard on her thoughts, so she writes them down... she loves them all. - And when we'd make love she'd stare in my eyes... I swore we had met a thousand times. Thousands of lives, thousands of nights... she'd written of it a thousand lines. Night and day she tends to her bar. She pours me a drink for my parched heart. All my sorrow's in alcohol... she holds up the cup to my cracked lips for a kiss.
You look at me like you've been saved from another one that got away. So I'm your latest cup of tea to keep your cold hands company, and I will warm you. I will calm you down until those waters are ready to be sailed upon. Under a honeymoon. You say you've never felt this way, at least not this early. We decide to hold nothing back - we'll act how we want to act. And so, eventually, we became really good actors. Acting and reacting and acting and reacting. Under a honeymoon. We know the sun is gonna rise, we tell ourselves to act surprised. We're comforted in our denial that dark love can be reconciled. Oh please, oh please... reconcile me from all these bad actors, all these bad endings. Under a honeymoon; we want what we're not and we don't want to stop 'cause it feels right - or at least it's feeling good. least it feels good... I always fall in love too soon, caught beneath the glow of a honeymoon.
Is he out with your cousin again? You don't know where your cousin's been... I heard he's running with a prostitute. Oh, your aunt's so upset - and your man is keeping secrets... Your sister's telling you to cut him off, but your sister - she should talk. She's been married to the same chain gang - oh, your sisters are all the same, and their husbands will play their games... but you're no fool. I saw your lover at the Venice Inn having dinner with his ex-girlfriend. I asked your cousin if your man's alright, he said, "He's not so bad, and he's all that she has... so why fight?" Oh, but you're no fool. You know... you know... you're no fool.
Drunk at the bar at last, last call - my baby's home on her night off. So I'm involved in a serious talk with a girl I had known growing up. So we buy a six; we decide to split - she has a downtown apartment. She opens the door, falls to the floor, says, "I'm bitter sick of sweet and pure, take me now, I'm yours." Notes in his pockets, rumors in the mill. Phone calls after the bars close - unlisted numbers. If she only knew, then he'd be through - but who knows which parts are true. She hates how it looks, but what can she do? The girls all talk behind her back, they say she's being used. At Sullivan's, drinking with Justin, he says he's seen my ex-girlfriend. She's back in town - and what's worse - he knows where and when she works. So we head over to the Underwood; she's trading shots with regulars. She gives me a hug 'til our hips are flush, says, "Boy, we've hardly kept in touch - it's time for catching up." Notes in his pockets, rumors in the mill. Phone calls after the bars close - unlisted numbers. Still, he insists on his innocence; says those girls are all gossips. She's gotta drop the axe - catch him in the act - with his shame around his ankles, chain the guilt around his neck.
You're trying to remember why you cut all your hair. Were you trying to be someone you weren't? You don't hang around the old haunts anymore, no, all of those bridges are burned. He doesn't like to share you - he likes your hair short. You're not you, you're not you anymore. So, take off that necklace he stole from his mother, it doesn't mean what it meant before. Pack up your pictures and gather all your clothes, but leave that lingerie that he bought you on the floor. It made you so awkward, you felt like a whore... you're not you, you're not you anymore. Girl, you need to be patient - the days gonna come - you'll leave your old baggage behind. No more excuses, no more denial; you're tired and you're drawing the line. You're nobody's lapdog - you're closing that door. You're not you, you're not you anymore.
I stumbled in at three a.m., but you didn't want to. I tried again at half past ten - you still didn't want to. Your hips have this way of saying no way; an impenetrable barricade. Something I said? Something I did? What's made you so defensive? Something you heard? Something you learned? The season's changing, it's for the worse. You used to call me on your break, but you've been so busy. You used to bring me tomato soup, but you keep forgetting. As the groundskeeper rakes up the October leaves, it occurs to me: trees can't hide anything... Something I said? Something I did? You've been acting so distant... something you heard? Something you learned? The trees are barren, the leaves have turned. The days when we made it the world was green; now Autumn has fallen - everything's changed. October leaves. I woke up this morning, you were off to work. No kisses, no coffee... no morning paper.
I swear to speak the whole truth, nothing but the truth, oh, so help me God, I wasn't cheating on you. Yeah, I've got a spotty record, but I've been renewed. If you can't believe me - then what's to believe? Once you lose the trust you lose sincerity. I'm sick and tired of acting sincere to your accusing eyes and ears. Oh, lovers need lawyers; all that I'm screaming's being held against me. You're judge and jury, so hang me or take me for all I am worth, better or worse. Yeah, I was drinking. Yeah, she was drinking too, and, yeah, we made a connection - she came from the same neighborhood. But, surely, you can't charge me for that, that's merely fact -merely coincidence. So, there we were, outlasting last call. We took a cab to Iowa for more alcohol. Yeah, we crossed the river alone; I also went home alone. Oh, lovers need lawyers. We're talking in circles, but missing the meaning of why we're fighting: you just want to make the best me that you can. All I am - take me for all I am worth. Take me for all I am. I could never take another's hand... it's to you I'm condemned.
Inmates 09:39
When you said you loved me, did you really love me or did the words just spill out like drool on my pillow. 'Cause I was naked when you said those words, but I felt covered in your whispered worship. And as you passed out fast on my shoulder, I imagined a child waiting so sad and still for his mom to arrive. Did she leave you, an orphan, in that big, brown leather chair? Said, "Don't you move a muscle, kid, I'll be back in twenty years." You were scared, you were lonely, but you must've been aware; life is a series of calluses, this is just another layer. So, build 'em up, tough it out, yeah, that's your skin - don't let anyone under there. When you said you needed me, did you really need me or was it just someone - oh, you'd take anything. Am I first on that list of yours, or am I second or third? So, who's that ahead of me, some harlot from Pittsburgh? Or Detroit, Santa Fe, or San Diego? I know you're so alone, but how much affection does one guy really need? Did you date a lot in high school? Were you always chasing girls? Couldn't you find some young valentine to steal your heart for good? Were you content, or contemptible? Are your memories pleasant, or is it a string of endless flings - of bitter resentment. Seems that what you want and what you need doesn't mean a thing, we're just here for the taking. When you said you'd hurt me, did you think you'd hurt me? Are you really that cocky? Oh, what a heartbreaker! Well, I've got my armor - yeah, I've been through some battles before - and I met your old girlfriend, she said, "Baby, don't bother." She told me you told her you'd hurt her... funny, how familiar. So, how much of this relationship was rehearsed? Did you act out as a child? Were you always crying wolf? Attention-starved, you tried too hard just to get someone to look. Now you're the wolf in second-hand clothing; I'm the sheep in a pleated skirt. It's an awkward form of payback, but if it works for you - it works. It's that I recognize your off-white lies, still, I lie beside you - and that's what really hurts. When you said you'd leave me... well, why haven't you left me? What are we still doing here, so desperate for company? There's a Greyhound on Jackson Street, there's an airport in Council Bluffs... hell, there's a car in the driveway - fifty ways to get lost. But as I hold you and listen to you sleeping, I'm starting to wonder if you really believe that you'd ever really leave. Would you leave me, an orphan, in that big, brown leather chair? The one you've lugged around from town to town for all these years. It's the trophy of your childhood, like a shark's tooth or gator skin boots - but this one holds you prisoner - it holds me prisoner too. What we need to set us free is to let go of each other - let go of everything. When I said I loved you, it was because I loved you. When I said I needed you, well, I really need you. Yeah, I guess you hurt me, for once you're a man of your words. Well, guess what - I'm leaving - I can't be your prisoner. I won't.
Needy 03:52
You never fell for me, you fell for how it felt. You fell for being held. So, who's gonna fill in now my arms refuse to bend? Who's gonna fill in... And who's gonna fill the days with me, with Canadian Club and old movies... we don't know what we want, but we're both needy. But what do we need, really? I never follow through, I fall into the groove - the boy and girl routine. So, who's gonna fill in now the suspect fled the scene? Who's gonna fill in... And who's gonna spend the nights with you once the bars close down and the city sleeps... we don't know what we want, but we're both needy. But what do we need, really? And lately I've been living on my own... and I've fucked up so many times I'm better off alone.
A New Friend 03:29
A Valentine's Day party, I didn't think you'd show. You don't like making entrances alone; you've got a new friend... likes to go to movies, likes to drink red wine. Sounds familiar, better hold on tight - a film school drunk can be so hard to find. You've got a new friend, and the two of you don't ever seem to part... now I'm the odd man gone. You've got a new friend, and your mom's got you convinced that he's the one - he's all you need, so forget me - marry him at once. But if you ever change your mind... I could still buy that box of wine. I still have your copy of Harold and Maude. But you've got a new friend.
It's been two years this month since the last time we spoke, and it's starting to seem that the only thing everlasting is this vow of silence. Well, I guess that's the vow that we took - but not at first. At first I was screaming, those songs you heard two years ago on that night we last spoke.


released August 10, 2004

2004 Saddle Creek

The Good Life:
Album of the Year
By Stefanie Drootin, Ryan Fox, Tim Kasher and Roger Lewis

Recorded by A.J. Mogis at Presto! in Lincoln, Nebraska,
December 2003 and January 2004
Produced and mixed by Mike Mogis at Presto!, March, 2004
Mastered by Doug Van Sloun at Studio B in Omaha, Nebraska

Artwork by Tim with the assistance of Roger, Ryan,
Andrea Petrovich and Craig Korth
Photos taken by Bryce Bridges
Layout by Jadon Ulrich

We'd like to thank A.J. and Mike for taking such care in the project,
Jiha for showing up on a minutes notice and working so hard,
Seth for doing the same, Kerri Kirscheimer and Alance Ward
for their early contributions and advice on percussion, and Jenny, Dan,
Tiffany, Michael, Nate and Amy for taking interest and contributing
such nice parts


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The Good Life Omaha, Nebraska

The Good Life is drummer Roger L. Lewis’s love of classic rock, multi-instrumentalist Ryan Fox’s chaotic approach to melody, Stefanie Drootin-Senseney’s propulsive yet tuneful bass parts, and Tim Kasher’s deft, complementary song writing.

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