Canary in a Coal Mine

by Anna Vogelzang

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03:47
2.
04:11
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03:23
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02:40
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03:02
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03:00
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04:06
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04:02
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03:34

credits

released 28 February 2012

Performed by
Anna Vogelzang : Various
Joseph Arnold : Fiddle
Emilyn Brodsky : Vocals
Anthony da Costa : Guitars, Vocals
James Frazee : Percussion, Drums
Peter Hess : Clarinet
Franz Nicolay : Accordion
Emily Hope Price : Cello, Vocals
Alicia Rau : Horns
Todd Sickafoose : Bass
Brian Viglione : Drums, Percussion

Mixed and engineered by James Frazee,
assisted by Frank Lopez.
Recorded and mixed at Hobo Sound in Weehawken, NJ.
Additional recording at Water Music in Hoboken, NJ.
Assisted at Water Music by Sean Kelly.
Mastered by Warren Russell-Smith
in the Blue Room at the Magic Shop.

Cello ensemble arrangement for 'Texas' by Emily Hope Price.
Horn arrangements by Anna Vogelzang.
Additional upright composition by Andrew Young.
Additional cello composition by Liz Davis Maxfield.
Photography by Shervin Lainez (shervinfoto.com)
Artwork by Brooke Weeber (brookeweeber.com)

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Track Name: Undertow
inside the land mine inside my heart
you slide the safety, shoulder the charge
so I can breathe

I disarm wildly, you fire sweet
beastly, these outbursts of almighty heat
that light the stars

& you, come hell or high water

I come home broken, bruised like a peach
you make a fruit pie & two whiskeys neat
like summertime

you make a promise, I'll make a vow
each cup of coffee, each eyelash down
an offering

this house will crumble, this dock will cave
weak from the pressure but dauntless,
we'll brave the undertow

& you, come hell or high water
Track Name: Die Trying
I said, 'I keep you around to keep me honest, around to keep me clean, shining fluorescent.'
you said, 'as long as you feel ok, as long as you're getting out of bed each day, as long as you're doing your best.'

but what if this is not my best?

I said, 'you hold this isthmus in your hands. it's the only place I can land - I am a prop airplane.'
you said, 'as long as you're showing up on time, as long as they believe that you're really smiling. as long as you're doing your best.'

but what if this is not my best? what if I could do better

you said, 'I wanted just to hear your voice' I said, 'I wanted just to feel you up against me - see baby, I had forgotten.'
you said, 'the birds have been building nests around our porch & in the mornings they keep me up. good god, I wish you were here.'

and we lie on our backs and to roof starts to spin and it's all I can do to keep it inside; and we lie on our backs and the roof starts to spin and it's all I can do not to start crying

I said, 'it must be my foreign blood, I mean, I'm Dutch, I think that they are known for bad behavior, and I just get so low.'
you said, 'as long as your eyes are wide,' you said, 'as long as your throat is open, as long as you're doing your best.'

but what if this is not my best? well I'm gonna die trying.
Track Name: Heart Beat Faster
could you make me something metal?
could you build it so I’m strong?
but please be sure that it is functional
for when this all starts going wrong

I suppose it could be a pedestal
for the weak rhythm of my heart
please weld it better, write me love letters
for when the doctors say you’ve gone

but I can feel the phantom beating
of your heartbeat while I'm asleep
& will is not the same as follow through,
it takes brute force & sometimes surgery
heart, beat faster / heart, beat faster
make me stronger, I'm six feet under
heart, beat faster

my fuse is itching to run out
is there machinery you could bring?
see I was born into this broken mess
not even miles seem to fix

with every day a little death
and I hope that trip is beautiful
but maybe the gears that grind against your wheels
could spark a kickstart to my chest

but I can feel the phantom beating
of your heartbeat while I'm asleep
& will is not the same as follow through,
it takes brute force & sometimes surgery
and my defenses have been waning
but I have promises to keep
& tried is not the same as being true,
it takes brute force & sometimes honesty
heart, beat faster / heart, beat faster
make me stronger, I'm six feet under
heart -

oh July, you seem so far away
your heat parades by threatening fallouts
you're just a ghost through my walls
you're such a strange charade
wrap your sucker punches up in scrap metal
oh baby, you make me blush

now I will become lion-hearted
& stand up brave with arms outstretched
and wave my keys in these electric storms
till I have out-tempted this test

it's just a picture, just a song
it's just a secret bound in chicken wire
keep it, a keepsake for when I have gone
the time of reckoning has come

but I can feel the phantom beating
of your heartbeat while I'm asleep
& will is not the same as follow through,
it takes brute force & sometimes surgery
and my defenses have been waning
but I have promises to keep
& tried is not the same as being true,
it takes brute force & sometimes honesty
heart, beat faster / heart, beat faster
make me stronger, I'm six feet under
heart, beat faster
Track Name: Canary
hey kid, you're lightning in a bottle
you're sinking to the bottom of the bottom of my arms
if only I could dig you up from the belly of Manhattan
drag you to the sea

then would you say that you were sorry?
would you say that we'll be fine?
would you sing out like a canary in a coal mine?
would you call this a long time coming,
would you call me the next in line?
I've seen the signs & my dear child,
I will try to unhinge your cage this time

hey kid, my ancestors were smugglers,
I'm brilliant at discovering a place besides this place
watch this, I'll build you an escape route
a trail made out of hero capes & pillow case t-shirts

then would you say the coast is clear now?
would you say the water's fine?
would you sing out like a canary in a coal mine?
could you keep your head above water,
would you need me to throw the line?
I've seen the signs & my dear child,
I will try to unhinge your cage this time

if you follow me down tonight we'll stow you safe below
oh, if you bring all your warning signs, we'll feed them to the whales...
and sail on
Track Name: One & Only
it's so hard to come clean
it's so hard to name all your wishes out loud
it's so hard reckoning
still my full heart sings you are my one & only

it's so hard to wake up
it's so hard to replace your face with morning
it's so hard, I'm burning up
still my full heart sings you are my one & only

it's so hard, hard to sleep
it's so hard in the heat, sheets twist like summer
it's so hard just to keep it clean
when my full heart's singing you are my one & only

it's so hard to pull yourself back up, baby
it's so hard when the moon is all you're after
it's so hard but kid it's overdue, time to buck up
cause you know your heart sings you are my one & only

you, you're my one & only
Track Name: So Long
carve my songs into your chest
my name into your knuckles
my address to your palms

carve your mantra in your muscles
your ethics in your wrist with all the secrets
you have kept there for so long
so long, so long

but no, I never asked you for that

steady your grip as continents divide
as mountains mighty tumble
as thunder rolls in slow

uptight, uptight
poor boy, a little gumption
the gods you've disappointed have been planning
this redemption for so long
so long, so long

the tumult is coming for you
no matter how fast you run
oh it's boiling in your blood
& I can see through you
believe me, chaos will quickly ensue
each second that you stay
oh this path is a wicked way
but I do wish you would stay, please stay

burn your temples to the ground
your parsonage in shambles
cathedrals up in flames

turn on your tears
and weep for your destruction
the damsels you've left lovesick
will be loud in celebration for so long
when you have gone
oh, when you have gone

but no, I never asked you for that
Track Name: Volcanoes
are you ok?
I can't see your face from here
I said, are you ok
or have you gone dark again?

a ship inside a bottle
if your body is the bottle
and the storms must come from somewhere
but you keep trying to drown the sorrow

you know that thing that people say
about how volcanoes make the most fertile soil
like every time your heart might break
the heat could create something bountiful

it is Sunday
I am Mary
it is Sunday
oh we are so far from grace

toy ship inside a wood stove
trimmed in Christmas lights
I thought of you that night
a sigh where a fire should be

you know that thing that people say
about how one swallow doesn't make a summer
like making two or three mistakes
well that's just heartache
people still adore you

I shatter into water
when you whisper
we each live with a shadow
but yours will not get me
Track Name: Texas
write a story of forgetting,
cause every angel is terrifying

or are you a white knight?
cause I am a princess,
I'm locked up
I'm drunk on red wine

you were drowning pale as concrete
me, your yellow bird

burn this memory
start a family
crawl out of this curse

& there's a hole the size of Texas in my chest

I would love you fierce like water
like monsters, like memory

spill your sugar
watch your valor
cause everybody leaves

please, let me go hard and fully
when it's my time I will be smiling

skip a heartbeat,
lose your breath
you are untethered,
I am the storm

& there’s a hole the size of Texas in my chest
Track Name: Oregon Trailed
countless photographs of people I have never met
are dragging my heart out west
if I packed the car,
would you have faith?
drop everything, make our escape
from the din to the shore?
leave these beat down bars ...
Track Name: Whiskey Drawn
light the paper, let it burn
shake it up now, make it churn
stick with me

you knew better, I was smart
sent smoke signals in the dark
don't close your heart

hey whiskey drawn, whiskey drawn
you won't get your way this time, dear whiskey drawn
goodbye, so long, spit in my palm
cause you can't miss what you can't have, get gone

sell me stories, pony up
cause cowboys don't run out of luck
they don't cry

but you will never own the stars
sad moonshine eyes in every bar
so keep drinkin

hey whiskey drawn, whiskey drawn
oh your face looks so familiar whiskey drawn...
goodbye, so long, spit in my palm
cause you can't miss what you can't have, get gone

when my cards have all been played
our secret handshake will remain
I'll be here

so goodbye shadow, goodbye, fear
I'm heading home now worse for wear
don't miss me

hey whiskey drawn, whiskey drawn
I am learning to grow up, I think you should be moving on
goodbye, so long, spit in my palm
cause you won’t miss what you can’t have
you will not miss what you won't have
you cannot miss what can't have, get gone
Track Name: Wishbone
you will not fade for me
you will not swim
how do you ask a bird
to meet you at the ocean's floor

down to the core of me
I thought I was safe sleeping here under the ground
but now what can I do

I'm sorry that you are drinking again
I'm sorry you can't see inside my chest
wishbone crack it open
watch me struggle against the truth lodged in my lungs
as we circumvent our circumstance

it's just a dodge
it's just a cheat
no matter how close
I hold my cards to my chest

you'll still be here
with x-ray glasses on
dealing the hands
so now what can I do

there's a secret cedar room locked between my ribs
it houses all the guilt packed away in cardboard boxes
but two hummingbirds still live there in their rusted birdcages
they buzz against the walls
they beat against the walls
oh, my heart against these walls

please take this flame from me
it's burning my throat
I don't need this harm
when all I've got's a thin armor of skin

someday I'll want what I've got
and you'll get what you want
scales level out but
for now what can I do

I'm sorry that you are drinking again
I'm sorry you can't see inside my chest
wishbone crack it open
watch me struggle against the truth lodged in my lungs
as we I outrun our circumstance
Track Name: When You Go
there's a shadow
growing in your oldest bones
ripping through the mends you've sewn
and it'll kill you

so put your claws on,
gather up your armor
you were built with superpowers
it gets better

where will you go
where will you go
with all your bravery,
with endless space to roam
where will you go
where will you go
just get away from the din, child
trace it back to the source

there's a journey
of leaving between here and there
you'll pass through a couple county fairs
and it might cost you

but go to the water,
drive until the road ends
bow down to the altar
of this hallowed, sacred mess

where will you go
where will you go
with all your bravery,
with endless space to roam
where will you go
where will you go
just get away from the din, child
trace it back to the source

I will love you
no matter how far the lands you've crossed
no matter how many battles lost
you are eternal

you brave the silence
and I will shed this shame and fear
but just before you disappear
remember who you belong to

where will you go
where will you go
with all your bravery,
with endless space to roam
where will you go
where will you go
when you go
when you go
Track Name: Birdfeeders
so we do not lose heart
we do not catch fire
we disarm our flintlock rifles
lay them on the sailors' graves

up in your hot air balloon
each roof sings a photograph
mapped out into perfect paths
of suburban woven streets

songs out of bee stung palms,
songs out of symphonies,
songs stuck like pins & needles
and your above ground pool

songs like Rachmaninoff
songs like I've heard enough,
please cut loose the sandbags
holding me down to the ground

we do not lose heart
we do not catch fire
we fill up the bird feeder
until the birds come back again

rust colored lungs that I will leave
in the mailbox of your house
on your porch inside a wicker bassinet

hollow a space out of my chest
if your mailbox is your heart
if your porch anchored this chaos family

hearts will run out
lungs will collapse
bodies will fall so frail when they come up against love

we do not lose heart
we do not catch fire
we fill up the bird feeders
until the birds come back again