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Archive for the ‘Songs – Serious’ Category

RAIN ON THE BORDERLINE

©1986 David Lefkowitz

It’s a customary thing
When the rain begins to sing
And the thunder’s like a drummer beating steady with the wind
And your mind just crawls away from you
While your conscience throws grenades
Exploding into memories of mistakes that you have made

And you’d like to leave yourself behind
And find a life that you can call your own
But you’re locked inside a border town
A resting place, a middle ground
You call this place your home

And there’ll be sun on one side
There’ll be sun on the other side
But there’ll be rain on the borderline

I went gambling with a friend
On a game that had no end
With a suitcase full of wishes and a whole lifetime to spend
Well, they broke us at the wheel
Sent us begging in the streets
Acid dripping from the sky
Rain was sticking to our feet

And I don’t know what became of
Or even recall the name of him and anyway,
It’s out of my hands
He might be moving steady
Or they might have dug his grave already
I don’t know
I try to understand

That there’ll be sun on one side
There’ll be sun on the other side
But there’ll be rain falling down on the borderline.

I don’t know what I want right now
I’m just spinning my wheels in the dirt
Running over the past somehow
I convince myself I never got hurt

I turned water into wine
I turned ashes into gold
But ain’t nothing gonna warm you
When the atmosphere turns cold

And we act so debonair
And we play the part just right
But screws are bound to come lose
When you wrap something to tight

They say life is just a party
Well, I guess for the majority, that holds true
If the lampshade’s on your head
Or if you’re home alone in bed, just remember
There’s nothing you can do

Yeah, there’ll be fun on one side
There’ll be fun on the other side
But there’ll be pain on the borderline.

I don’t mean to be mean all the time
I’m just fighting like a dog on a string
They say the fog’ll be lifting soon
But I still can’t see anything

Well, there’s ice on all the rainbows
Clouds are huddled in the sky
It’s a lonely time to live
It’s a rotten time to die
Any minute’ll be raining
On the living and the dead
Don’t waste your time complaining
Just cover your head

And I don’t mean to depress you
If you’re happy, then God bless you
And keep walking, walking on that line.
But me, I take up empty space
I hate this life, I hate this place
I tell people I’m fine

And there’ll be sun on one side
There’ll be sun on the other side
But there’ll be rain on the borderline
Down on the borderline.

******************
NOTES & BACKSTORY:
I was in my Springsteen-meets-Zevon songwriting mode on this one, with a nod to no less than a James Joyce short story in the last verse. It’s glum and a little too poetic in spots, but I still buy into the feelings, and I love the “empty space” verse.

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NOTHING IN THIS WORLD

©1985 David Lefkowitz

 

John hops on the bus every morning at eight
Smiling at the other sardines
He’s still half asleep
A half hour late
Running memos through the Xerox machine

Can’t wait to socialize
With the rest of the guys in a bar on the block
Blesses each glass he raises
With the pithiest phrases from the smallest of talk

Nothing in this world is worth the time you spend on it
Depend on it, it’s a drag
`Cause there’s always another snag
And there’s always someone to drag you down
Till you fall.

 

Sarah’s still active
And rather attractive for a woman who stays so much at home
Her two lovely children
Sometimes she could kill them
She never gets a moment alone

Just got the car inspected
Billy’s finger’s infected
Madeline needs a dress
Routine agreeably numbing
When there’s company coming and the house is a mess

Nothing in this world is worth the pain you put into it
When you’ve been through it, you’ll understand
That you’ll never marry superman
And there is no master plan at all.

 

Survivors know you get used to things
If you take `em slow.

 

Richard’s uptight
Waits tables at night
And does a little acting on the side
He’s “the tap-dancing bee in that ad on TV”
He will tell you as he swallows his pride.

He flew down to L.A., but they sent him away
He was not the right type
He took it fairly well,
“You can all go to hell,” he said. “You and your hype.”

Nothing in this world is worth your while
But you’re stuck with it
So put up with it till it’s gone
`Cause it never gets better than this
And there’s always someone to kiss you off
And there’s always someone to piss you off
Till there really is no one there anymore
And the worst of it is, you don’t care anymore
And it really doesn’t matter anyway
`Cause tomorrow’s just a future yesterday
And there’s always another one
There’s always another one
There’s always another one.

********************
NOTES & BACKSTORY:
One of my glum, serious songs, but I still like a lot of it—notably the numbing/coming couplet and the tale of poor Richard, which I’m sure resonates with every actor who never made it past a “Law & Order” or two.

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NOT A FRIEND

©1985 David Lefkowitz

Well anyway we both get off at five today
And since we get along so well
I was wondering if you could tell
That I think you’re kind of sweet
And you’ve got a pretty face
And I’d like to take you out to eat
You can name the time and place

But what’s that I hear you say
You don’t like me in that way
You don’t want to hurt my feelings
But you don’t know with whom you’re dealing
You try and make amends
By telling me that we can be friends

 

Well, here’s a story guaranteed to make you laugh
I was seeing this girl for about a year and a half
But we were really up the creek
After about the sixth or seventh week
And we both stood our ground, I guess,
`cause there was no one else around, yes,
We’d fight a lot and cry a lot
And call each other names
I’d get nasty and sarcastic
And she’d play her little games
So when we finally put an end to this ridiculous charade
You wouldn’t believe what that little masochist
Turned around and said. She said,

“Baby, if we keep doing what we’re doing,
I’ll end up hating you, and you’ll make my life a ruin
So many times we’ve tried so hard to stay together
But if we say goodbye,
It doesn’t mean goodbye forever
We’ll write each other letters
And telephone now and then
Well, just because we split the scene
Doesn’t mean we can’t be friends
I’d like to stay friends. Just friends.”

Well, when you’re living on the run
You have to find someone to hang
But when the rope burns your fingers
It’s time to let the memories linger
While you move on

 

Well, I like you
And I hope that you like me
So let me pick you up tonight
And we’ll see what we’ll see
If you want, we’ll catch a movie
I don’t even know what’s playing
Did I just hear the word “boyfriend”
In the sentence you were saying?
Well, what’s his name? Uh huh.
Five foot eight. Blonde hair. No kidding?
No, really, he sounds great.
And I know that you’re flattered
That I tried to ask you out
But if that was all that mattered
Then what’s this all about?
No, my ego isn’t shattered
And I’m not riddled with doubt

And if you believe that
There’s a bridge I want to sell you
As a matter of fact,
There’s something else I want to tell you:
Then my hands freeze over and my heartbeat skips
And I can’t believe the words
That are passing through my lips
She says, “Don’t be upset.”
I say, “Well, that depends
On whether or not we can forget this travesty
And be friends. I’d like to be friends.”

 

Well, I haven’t heard from you in such a long time
And you call me on the phone to unburden your mind
So you finally broke up
With that bastard you were seeing
What do you mean you can’t get over
How bitter I’m being?
You tell me your sob story, and I listen patiently
But before I start my crying, you listen to me

Well, baby, I don’t wanna know who’s in your bed
And I don’t wanna know the way he’s messing up your head
Yes, I’m your little armchair, your friendly confidant
Well, it may suit your needs, but that’s not what I want
I want your soul, mind and body
The whole can of worms
I’m sorry, I can’t think of things in platonic terms
`cause one friend to me is just like any other
Call me when you need a lover
Not a friend.

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MONSTERS OF THE WORLD

©1985 David Lefkowitz

Well, they’re marching to the Capitol
With handmade cardboard signs
They spray their shadows on the ground
As symbols of decline

And they smile for the cameras
They cry for the press
And they blame the folks in power
Who got them in this mess.

And a statesman reads from Plato
He recites the 23rd Psalm
“We’ve got to disarm now!” he says,
“We’ve got to ban the bomb.”

And the story makes the papers on page 23
And the letters to the editor all basically agree
But there’s a headline in the Pravda
`Bout how the protest went
And they see it as another sign
Of western world descent.

So they keep stockpiling missiles
To make sure they have the most
And they point them at our cities
All along the Cuban coast

So we fly over the nations
To remind them of our power
To make sure their violations
Aren’t any worse than ours

But they’re marching to the Capitol
And they scream in black and white
And they think if we lay down our arms
It will all be all right

And they tell me there’s a marketplace
Somewhere in Japan
Where they’re banging on this bell
As sadly as they can
To mark the anniversary of the day we lost control
Of a world we used to feast on
But now swallows us whole

Now, once there was a city
And once there was a war
It only took a second, and the city was no more

And they’re marching to the Capitol
To make us feel ashamed
We’re the monsters of the world, they say,
And we’re the ones to blame.

Lemme tell you `bout a friend of mine
A most unhappy man
Who lost the use of both his legs
While marching to Bataan

He says, “I don’t feel guilty `bout what the allies done.
I wish there’d been a bomb to drop in 1941.
`Cause we didn’t start that war, but we finished it real quick.
Now they’re calling us the bad guys,
Dear God, it makes me sick.
But they’re marching to the Capitol
And cursing what we did
They say that there’s no reason
To kill women and kids.

But I wish they could have been there to see what we endured.
When you only see one side of things, it’s easy to be sure.”

Now, all of us are living beneath a mushroom cloud
The only thing that we can do is raise our voices loud

And although it makes us feel good
To get it off our chests
We can scream until our voices crack
We’re really powerless.

We’re speeding in a rented car
We’ve taken out the brakes
We’ve all gone broke at poker
But we keep raising the stakes.

But they’re marching to the Capitol
And I guess I wish them well.
It’s nice to know there are innocent souls
Who still think they can air condition hell.

********************
NOTES & BACKSTORY:
When it comes to charting ambivalence in song, I’m not exactly Sondheim, but I gave it a shot in this serious number. As I’m writing this (in late summer 2017), the U.S. is considering military action in North Korea, so plus ça change . . .

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FLOWERS (Weren’t Meant to Last)

©1985 David Lefkowitz
(Chords: F, Eb, Gm, F7, Bb, G, Cm)

What a nice crowd,
Did you get here all right?
Hello, New York
It’s great to be here tonight

Got my guitar
And you’ve got your bottles of beer
Any requests?
What would you people like to hear?

Well, come on, folks!
This ain’t “remember when”
Don’t make me play those chords again
New songs are written every day
You don’t wanna hear, “Sugar Mountain”
Any more than I wanna play it.

How are your drinks?
Are the waitresses nice?
It’s not my fault that everything’s overpriced
Food is cold, bland and nothing new.
Do you want your music that way, too?

Maybe I’m right
I could be wrong
I think you wanna hear a new song
Pre-electric Dylan is passé
And those jingle-jangle Sixties are so far away
Don’t believe in yesterday

Try and give a listen to something less well-known
You can play your old folk records when you get home
Dylan and The Beatles and The Kinks and The Rolling Stones
I got some words and music of my own.

That’s about all that I’ve got to say
Hope you’re all with me and planning to stay
And maybe someday if you hear me again
You can point to me, say, “I saw him when.”

Days of rage have all blown over
Twenty years, we’re stone-cold sober
Can’t go on living in the past
Where have all the flowers gone?
I don’t care
Flowers weren’t meant to last.

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SONG: Dead Air

DEAD AIR

©1985 David Lefkowitz & Scott Rodolitz

(Chords: G, F, C, D, E, Am, Em, Dm)

You may not look like Madonna
But I don’t like sleazy material girls
And I may not sing like Stevie Wonder
And I don’t give a damn to feed the world.

Me and you ain’t characters
In a song by old Bruce Springsteen
Born to run around highways all night long
No DJ could ever spin
The life that me and you been in
Some things just won’t fit in a three-minute song.

You may not sing like Cyndi Lauper
But I don’t just wanna have fun
And I may not dance like Michael Jackson
Won’t set myself on fire for no one.

Ain’t no room for me and you
In the world of Mick Jagger
You’re not dead
And I’m not under your thumb.

Never heard our situation
Spun on no Top-40 station
I’ll bet you that’s true about everyone

Singing FM, AM in the car
No one’s writing songs
About the way things really are
Singing hey now, everybody know
Normal people never make it on the radio.

You may not look like Stevie Nicks
One look in the mirror makes that clear
And I may not pose like David Bowie
I never fell to earth; I was always here.

When was the last time you found yourself thinking,
“Prince wrote that song about me!”?
I guess we just don’t belong
In painless pop-for-profit songs
We know just how empty they can be.

Singing FM, AM all the time
Playing all the hits
Just guaranteed to numb our minds.
Singing hey now, everybody know
Normal people never make it on the radio.

Sometimes I wish there were a knob
That I could twist, my love,
And turn us off forever
But every time I turn the dial
All I see is your sad smile, so

We may not sing like the Beatles
And we may not sting like the Stones
Though we may be off-key just a little
I guess we’ve got a style all our own.

We don’t need to smash guitars
And jump through hoops of fire
Or synchronize our voices through machines
We lay down our own impressions
Finding our own chord progressions
And along the way we might just find our dreams.

Singing FM, AM on the air
Endless repetition until no one even cares
Singing hey now, everybody know
Normal people never make it on the radio.

But every time I catch your eye
Gotta crank that volume high, so

You may not look like Madonna
Well, I don’t care, I never went for sluts
And you may not stretch like Jane Fonda
But at least you know when to keep your mouth shut.

Me and you ain’t lovers in a song by Paul McCartney
No one’s reached that state of perfection.
If that’s the kind of bag you’re in
Then drop another quarter in
But don’t expect to find something real in that collection.

Singing FM, AM just the same
Rock and roll has lost its soul
And hangs its head in shame
Singing hey now, everybody know
Normal people never make it on the radio
Normal people never make it on the radio.

***********************

NOTES & BACKSTORY:

The idea, first verse, and opening melody of the song began with co-author Scott Rodolitz. I think he saw the tune more as an off-center love song, extolling the virtues of a simple girl who didn’t want to emulate what was, at the time, MTV’s idea of a whore next door. The rest of the song is pretty much mine, and for better or worse, I turned it into something more earnest and also an excoriation of the state of radio back then. Not that radio’s gotten any better since . . .

 

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SONG: Oh, My Love

OH, MY LOVE (fka M***’s song)

©1984 David Lefkowitz
(chords: E, Abm, A, C#m, E7, F#, F#m, B, F#7)

When I see the beauty in your face
How can I not feel slightly out of place, held at bay?
Please don’t let me frighten you or chase you away
See the clown’s pretenses crumbling like clay
Dropping his defenses long enough to say
Oh, my love, I’m scared
Oh, my love, I care for you

If I said that I can’t be touched
And if I said it hurts me too much, don’t be sad
Even my clichés can be true sometimes
Still, I hope I told you you are all I know
Every time I hold you I cannot let go
Things are not so bad
Oh, my love, I’m glad you’re mine.

When you walk onstage today
Which role do you think you’ll play?
Sad-eyed Sara, Sweet Marie
Each one suits you perfectly.

Oh my little girl who lived next door
Guess we’re not in Kansas anymore
Whoever you grow up to be
Try not to grow away from me.

Your blue eyes – well, maybe they’re green
Either way, they’re a kind I’ve never seen before
We could touch the future with our hands we swore

See the joker frowning
Angry little man
Oh, my love, I’m drowning
Catch me if you can.
Help me reach the shore
Oh, my love, my heart is yours.


***********************
NOTES & BACKSTORY:
No relation here to the John Lennon song. In fact, the original title of “Oh My Love” was a girl’s first name, and every time you see “oh my love” in the lyrics, they are replacing that muse’s moniker. I omitted her name, not out of spite (even though my ardent attentions remained unrequited) but simply to avoid nagging questions from other, later women who were not said muse. I guess the tune’s a little precious, even for a love song, but so are most of my serious numbers, and this one was more from-the-heart than most.

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