No Time To Be Tender

by Ian Fitzgerald

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about

"Fitzgerald is a polished songsmith who is high atop a field of great artists breaking through to festival and folk concerts throughout the States...He is a tender songwriter who composes with a flair and golden heart, seeking out faith over all obstacles and the burning flame of hope; his songs really take you on a journey." -Shawn M. Haney, Performer Magazine

"The entire 10 song work is one incredible song after another." - Red Line Roots Blog

"The songs here are so good it will take many well spent hours listening to them just to figure out how good. One of our favorites of the year so far!" - The Alternate Root

credits

released 26 February 2013

Eric Lichter - archtop acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, pedal steel guitar, accordion, drums
Brian Battles - upright bass, electric bass
Courtney Gallagher - harmony vocal
Ian Fitzgerald - acoustic guitar, vocal

produced by Eric Lichter at Dirt Floor Studio
mastered by Michael Burke at Specialized Mastering

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about

Ian Fitzgerald Massachusetts

Though perhaps technically a singer-songwriter, Ian Fitzgerald prefers the term 'folk singer,' as it more accurately describes the tradition in which his music is rooted. From early twentieth century field recordings through Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, Gillian Welch, and hundreds of artists in between, Ian has been influenced by one of the sturdiest strains of American music. ... more

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Track Name: Something To Remember Me By
The fences that you mended that you meant to keep me out with are now pens that you are holding me in
I was just empty, when your shoulder bent you asked as if I should have seen it coming, "Where have we been?"
The lines I walk are dead but they've been propped up 'til I cross them; I've been lost on just so many different paths
You sent word from Leroy Street that your best friend was face-down and kicking at the hardwood from your hip bath
Someone dry this pavement while my name is still here
The street feels like it's shifting; I don't want to disappear
I can't tell you, honey, where I'll be in a year
Here's something to remember me by

Her lidless eyes the sun to blind stared down the dusk approaching but the darkest hour succeeds the brightest day
The starry night is muted by the city's screaming streetlights while the wheat fields wave a million miles away
Though I never danced, my footprints span the sands like evidence; heavy hangs the moonlight bearing down
Her name engraved on hand's palms that reached out to embrace her 'til I heard the voices singing from the ground
Someone dry this pavement while my name is still here
The street feels like it's shifting; I don't want to disappear
I can't tell you, honey, where I'll be in a year
Here's something to remember me by

While the carousel keeps spinning through its brass-ring-circled searchlight, the stowaways in gilded carriage ride
I've seen too many rivers to believe this one won't flood
This mountain is too muddy not to slide

The scars that you left on my chest when you lifted your head from its rest haven't faded
Your bottle was broken it cut fog and floated; the message was wet but it made it
Someone dry this pavement while my name is still here
The street feels like it's shifting; I don't want to disappear
I can't tell you, honey, where I'll be in a year
Here's something to remember me by
Here's something to remember me by
here's something to remember me
Who'd want to remember me?
Here's something to remember me by
Track Name: Let's Go Down To Memphis
The full moon hardly looked at peace but for the halo 'round its head
But ain't it just like southern thunder to try to rain over the dead
When the sun comes, let it bakes us so one warm wind could blow us down
But they'll discover our hands holding on a hundred years from now
So let's go down to Memphis and we'll kiss like golden masks
And replace the turquoise stolen from my eyes
With the reflection of you standing under clear blue skies

I have seen unallied armies conquer greater men than me
And then cast them like Calypso to the center of the sea
Even in lost ladies' dens, the end is just as deeply felt
When they see through glass but darkly their reflections start to melt
So let's go down to Corinth where we'll tear those columns down
'Til the twinkling belles sing homespun lullabies
And the red dawn that surrounds you becomes clear blue skies

Or we could stay right here and let the sun sink low enough
To make our shadows long enough to reach the city lines
But if we wait too long, the night can just erase us
And there's no way to escape that but with time

The sand flowed just like gold dust through our fingers and our toes
You could almost feel that burning wheel from where the highway rose
If you see the rooftops glowing, it's just palaces downstream
It's not worth the curse, whirlwinds, or worse to kiss that kind of queen
So let's go down to Sardis and we'll drink the river dry
But let its bed rest like its own grave where it lies
Pointing either to the sea or to the clear blue sky
Track Name: Galveston
In the dim light of day when the whole room turns grey
And the afternoon's heavy with pale heat
She turns the clock on its side so the six is a nine
And it's a matter of time 'til she fails me
She lifts up her head from the blanketless bed
Says, "I hope you know what a pal you've been"
Like love was a handshake or worse, a mistake
And she wished she'd never left Galveston
You can wait and wonder why we don't get a second try
I've been gone and back again, but I ain't been to Galveston

I sweep at the dust I've allowed to build up
With my hand as I sit on the cool floor
If it don't pull me under, it can't hurt to wonder
Sometimes how long I've been a fool for
But since my mind drifts, I'd as soon wonder if
Light is brighter where the silver spins
Or if the cloud that just flew was dust from her boots
That traveled here from Galveston
You can wait and wonder why we don't get a second try
I've been gone and back again, but I ain't been to Galveston

When her hand reaches for me, I try to ignore it
The dark's an excuse good as any
Then from memory, things that she's said to me
I repeated and asked if she meant them
She eased my ear to her lips, whispered, "You've learned my tricks.
Hocus pocus and Sim sala bim."
Then she rolled over gently, the whole room felt empty
She could have been in Galveston
You can wait and wonder why we don't get a second try
I've been gone and back again, but I ain't been to Galveston
I've been gone and back again, but I ain't been to Galveston
Track Name: Melinda Down The Line
I've been weary since I woke, saw the light and smelled the smoke
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
There's a woman 'neath my window; I don't wanna let her in, though
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
Gonna meet her down the line where good fortune meets design
Where the benefits you pray for meet the penitence you pay for
And a dollar ain't worth nothing 'cause it can't buy any time
Gonna make sure that Melinda's doing fine

I have held her body quaking every time she's been forsaken
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
Even if I held the gun, it would be straight to me she'd run
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
Gonna meet her down the line where good fortune meets design
Where the benefits you pray for meet the penitence you pay for
And a dollar ain't worth nothing 'cause it can't buy any time
Gonna make sure that Melinda's doing fine

In her home behind the mine shaft, she could hear it when the boys laughed
Or when one would drop his ax and pass the cards
Not a single bird in sight; she imagined they took flight
'Cause there's work to be had here but it's hard
Got to scrub the pots and pans if you want to watch her dance
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
You can beg forevermore, but she'll never take the floor
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
Gonna meet her down the line where good fortune meets design
Where the benefits you pray for meet the penitence you pay for
And a dollar ain't worth nothing 'cause it can't buy any time
Gonna make sure that Melinda's doing fine

There's the gentle dark of night and the dark you just can't fight
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
Hold her hand and sign the deed: satisfaction guaranteed
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line

Sweat that started on her brow wound up buried by the plow
In the soil being swept to either side
But rocks aren't fit to plant in; some folks work so they can't sin
And some so they can say 'at least we tried'

There are foxes in the yard 'til the morning standing guard
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
I would comfort, but I can't: planned my last words in advance
I'm gonna meet Melinda down the line
Gonna meet her down the line where good fortune meets design
Where the benefits you pray for meet the penitence you pay for
And a dollar ain't worth nothing 'cause it can't buy any time
Gonna make sure that Melinda's doing fine
Track Name: Walks Like Tussaud
In the back of the museum where they used to keep the brooms
For fans of random history, there's a perfect little room
There's an Austrian dictator and a star of radio
And a dozen other people that nobody seems to know
Like President Buchanan, unpopular as in his day,
Who is facing Mary Pickford, less than seven feet away
"My heart would bleed like Kansas if they'd shaped one out of wax
If only I could reach you, I would teach you to relax
You could be my best girl, all my secrets I could tell
'Cause I know that you don't say much but the silence suits you well
I want the rings on your hands to leave corresponding marks
In the valleys of my fingers from holding on too long and hard
All the coquettes' kisses carved in stone like monuments
Could last half a lifetime for a dozen other gents
But I'm no face in a frieze in the space above a door
I may not make a motion, but I deserve a little more."
By then he thought his thoughts were clouding and his train had jumped the tracks
But it was smoke in the room rising as if straight from the stack
He would have turned his gaze to Mary if it wasn't fixed that way
And he looked for something calming but with urgency to say
Instead he started leaning though he never had before
As the heat was quickly rising, radiating from the floor
Just as rapidly, he realized with his right arm fully stretched
That he might finally touch his love: a touch that no good man forgets
When he noticed the gap closing faster than he could have planned,
He realized she was reaching, too, with softly folded hands
"Mary, though you might as well have been another world away,
I knew that you were thinking of me; you just couldn't say."
Then as if he needed one more thing he'd never seen before
The curls of Mary's hair began to dive like sparrows to the floor
Her grey eyes started sliding toward the bottom of her face
And instead of moving towards him, she was settling in place
Despite it all, he reached for her with still strong-standing hope
But even his own sliding eyes could recognize the scope
"Oh Mary, I'm afraid the sun is sinking on us both
But you have never looked so lovely; you have never looked so close."
He felt his reach grow shorter as he lost his fingertips
And he prayed a flood would come to end death by a thousand drips
He fixed his gaze on her until his eyes could no more swim
Though her face had puddled on the floor, he swore she winked at him
"Oh Mary, Mary
Icarus ain't got nothin' on me
Mary, Mary
Icarus ain't got nothin' on me."

They managed to save Elvis; nearly half of JFK;
And Marilyn Monroe, though it looked like her dying day;
A headless Hiawatha; Babe Ruth without his bat;
And the past claimed Cleopatra but the present spared her cats
The back room was a massacre though it went untouched by flames
They couldn't ID any body by their empty frames
There wasn't any crime scene, just an overloaded fuse
And a race at least to save materials to be reused
'Cause from wax we are created and to wax we shall return
The president and Mary into barrels were interred
Until new life is breathed into their fleshless metal ribs
He felt what once was Mary's hand on the wax that once was his
Oh Mary, Mary
Icarus ain't got nothin' on me
Mary, Mary
Icarus ain't got nothin' on me
Track Name: A Place For You To Sleep
I've been moving since I met you but I'm starting to lose speed
I could show you with an empty hand how much of this I need
I've been learning lessons that you didn't mean to teach
While you've been learning how to put your interests out of reach
You say you're 'fraid of falling but you haven't left your feet
While I've been tying tightropes sixty stories 'bove the street
You say you've seen it all, but how much have you really seen?
Your lids are hanging heavy with the weight of your dreams

Any threat's a better bet than breaking your belief
I've been standing sideways letting you in like a thief
Shut your mouth and don't give me that look before you leap
You should have known not every bed's a place for you to sleep
One warm wind could do you in like seeds of cotton grass
How can a man know where he stands if the last word doesn't last?
You say you've seen it all, but how much have you really seen?
Your lids are hanging heavy with the weight of your dreams

Sweep out all the ashes, there's a fire to be lit
There's no place for the present when the past is in the pit
You can hand your heart to heroes like the mistress of a myth
But the truth will turn against you, it won't matter who you're with

You begged for more than mercy but you waited much too late
I couldn't tell if you were trying to tempt me or fate
We can't meet in the middle if there's no first step you'll take
And I'm not gonna be here when the bridge begins to break
It couldn't get much darker here, if you've got any bright ideas
You'd better spit them out instead of swallowing your tears
You say you've seen it all, but how much have you really seen?
Your lids are hanging heavy with the weight of your dreams
Track Name: When Nellie Fell
When snow finally fell on Nellie's fire red hair
The flakes were gone before their shapes could be compared
The dark rings 'round her eyes could have been drawn by silver smoke clouds
That from flames escaped and into which she stared
If the river rose she could have swum like John the Baptist
Or Mary as a mermaid of the sea
Staring proudly at the sunset through the surface like a garden
That her baby grew before she set him free
Her silence was one more wish in the well
When snow finally fell
Be still my heart
Let what's happened to us catch up with what will
Be still my heart
Be still

When Nellie closed her eyes, she almost felt the water racing
And her red hair matted wet against her skin
Stretched before her, nearly endless numbers counted how long
when this fire goes out will it take to start again
Her silence left the answer where it lies
When Nellie closed her eyes
Be still my heart
Let what's happened to us catch up with what will
Be still my heart
Be still

She found the force to whisper even if it wasn't true
"What if there's no ghost to give up? What if it gives up on you?"
The echo whispered back, "There's nothing you can do."

When Nellie finally fell, the frozen river swelled in silence
And then waited for the cracks the melting brings
Her red hair wrapped around her like the ivy up a spire
And tight to her tired body warmly clings
Her silence became gold she couldn't sell
When Nellie finally fell
Be still my heart
Let what's happened to us catch up with what will
Be still my heart
Be still
Track Name: The One On The Black Horse
The afternoon arrows, the sanctified sermons both cut through the dust on Main Street
But neither's a match for the passionless, passing-less, oh-God-please-bring-the-rain heat
There's a man here who's sure he's a conquistador but his horse doesn't look quite convinced
The one on the black horse rode straight to the source and nobody's questioned him since
Angela's gown had grown brown at the hem from too much chasing down 'round the fire
It wasn't her wedding day, anyway she'd just made three wishes worth of desire
If horses were beggars, we'd wish they were wordless then ride them right into the valley
The one on the black horse grows lines on his face like lines carved in the wall to keep tally
Oh, oh
There were flowers on the floor

The conquistador drew his sword from its sheath where another man might hold a gun
It's more just for show or at least so we know that he's gentle but bows to no one
Wrapped 'round its handle, a blue field of stars from a flag that he watched them retire
The one on the black horse knows light shines for years after stars have extinguished their fire
The clock tower ticks like the morning doves flapping their wings in the dirt but not flying
Angela's gown had grown grey like the shade of their feathers from measuring time
You can follow the wind and not get home again; their are gusts that you can't trust or trace
The one on the black horse trusts neither the breeze at his back nor the sun on his face
Oh, oh
There were flowers on the floor

The conquistador tossed his hat on the floor by the mantel where Angela stood
Behind it, he entered and offered to cleanse her as only the pure-at-heart could
Wrapped 'round her wrist was a rose in the place of a bracelet that slipped from her arm
Just as she stood at the mantel pretending the ashes were keeping her warm
The conquistador pulled his sword from his side and dissected from elbow to wrist
And holding her close as he possibly could, painted red lines on Angela's dress
"Oh my dear, you are saved," as his blue banner waved and his sight like the night sky grew dark
"Will you visit my grave? Will you whisper my name?" "No. In fact, I'll make sure it's unmarked"
The conquistador would have died in her arms if she'd held him for one moment more
Instead he collapsed and gasped last on his back by his hat in the ash on the floor
The the sanctified sermons, afternoon arrows can't cut through whatever is left
The one on the black horse rides into the sunset away from his moment of rest
Oh, oh
There were flowers on the floor
Track Name: When The Pendulum Swings
I want her nearer to me than the cold air in December that cuts through all my warmest winter clothes
That fire couldn't fend off and in fact was altogether rendered useless when the final embers froze
When the pendulum swings from my door to hers
I hope the weather hasn't worn me worse

The violet lines that frame her veins fade softly out of vision like the edges of a canvas unresolved
Somewhere out of picture, her heart beats a broken rhythm that I've thought about for days but haven't solved
When the pendulum swings, it keeps perfect time
So her heart can match beat-for-beat with mine

I have seen the wilderness reach roots into the city like its walls were nothing more than minor foes
And angels on the hillside scared to scale the depths of pity shedding tears that spread the seed of what she knows
When the pendulum swings from Calvary to Olivet
We'll share scars that guarantee we won't forget

Her eyelids map the night sky, stars align and dot the darkness
I'm earthbound but I can stare off into space
But while I search for signs that heavenly home is more than just the heart's myth
My gaze has made its way around her face
When the pendulum swings from night into day
Her eyes open and I cannot look away

The tables were turned upright and the doves placed in their cages to join the ashes of my albatross
When she said, "You sure are restless," I could feel the rock of ages tied to the rope and ready to be tossed
When the pendulum swings and change is a curse
I hope that I can keep my hands on hers
Track Name: The Devil You Know
I can hear the humming of whatever power's running
Through the walls of such a perfectly dark room
The clock keeps ticking gently but it's not enough to tell me
If it's striking midnight now or noon
My memories are smoke-rings, perfect circles like the real thing
But one move false or true and they disperse
Sometimes I can't remember how many notes I've sent her
But forgetting's just a symptom, not the curse
Sing me an old tune to make the time slow
'Cause nobody told you where the time goes
And nobody holds you like the devil you know

I've tried harder just to give up than I ever did to live up
To the standards set by those who thought me blessed
'Cause all that envy empties when the fine folks who defend me
Find me faltering as badly as the next
But I still hear the humming, and it seems to me that something else
Has joined the sound of electricity
It's too dark to see a ghost and I imagine most spirits
Have better things to do than visit me
Sing me an old tune to make the time slow
'Cause nobody told you where the time goes
And nobody holds you like the devil you know

My door is always open, though I'm just as often hoping
That the wind will blow it closed and turn the lock
'Cause outside here is empty and there's no point playing friendly
In the end, it's just a different shade of dark
If I could go back where I came from, I'd tell you to do the same
But I don't know if I have the heart to try
I don't care if our courses are controlled by greater forces
I'm afraid that force is weak and so am I
Sing me an old tune to make the time slow
'Cause nobody told you where the time goes
And nobody holds you like the devil you know