Someone Else's Blues

by Sam Steffen

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released April 2, 2014

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Track Name: All I Want (Is To Sing The Blues)
All I Want (Is To Sing the Blues) copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

I don’t want to say I’m sorry
I don’t want to make it better
I don’t want to tell you I was wrong
I don’t want to be a grown-up
I don’t want to write no letter
I don’t want to show you I can be strong
All I want is to be left alone
For to lick my wounds and nurse my bruise
To get old quickly and remain unknown
But to sing—the blues

I don’t want to listen to ya
I don’t want to be there for ya
I don’t want to reach out no helpin hand
I don’t want to hear what you think
I don’t want to owe you nothing
I don’t want no one to understand
All I want is to be sent on home
For my behavior to remain unexcused
To reap far less than what I have sewn
But to sing—the blues

I don’t want to keep my voice down
I don’t want to hold my head up
I don’t want to play the game no more
I don’t want to hold my tears in
I don’t want to keep from hurting
I don’t want it to go on like before
All I want is to roll my stone
To know my fate ain’t mine to choose
To lose my joy along with all I own
But to sing—the blues
Track Name: Jericho
Jericho copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

From inside the walls through the chambers and halls every call falls in deafening echo
Back onto the ears of the ones still in here whom the system condemned from the get-go
Hear tell of a place where no man has a face on account of his case was mishandled
Its called Jericho it’s the old status quo it was left long ago undismantled

But the day soon shall come when each voice raised as one
Will erupt from the crowd in a shattering sound
And the trumpets will blow and the warden will know
That the walls of Jericho must come down

They step off the trains and they’re put into chains and their names’re all changed into numbers
It’s all an attempt to make someone exempt from recognizing himself in another
The one who presides presumes to decide that who lives and who dies is up to him
Its based on the facts but the conclusions, they lack all the feelings they used to get to em

But the day soon shall come without lifting a gun
Every voice will the edge of the city surround
And the trumpets will blow and the judges will know
That the walls of Jericho must come down

They’re poor to begin they’re taught they can’t win when they’re brought in it aint to bear witness
They’re deemed by a judge unfit to be much, call it justice but its just a business
The prisons’re run by the corporations so your freedom’s the price of a profit
And no one’s to blame cause to them it’s a game, trying to fill in a bottomless pocket

But the day soon shall come where by ceasing to run
We’ll not be turned back nor told to turn round
And the trumpets will blow, and the lawyers will know
That the walls of Jericho must come down

They’re brought into here to do what it ain’t clear to where no one can say what he’s seeing
They’re hated and scorned and their cries are ignored and they won’t hear the words human being
The cycle won’t break it accounts for mistakes and it knows that you’ll make and repeat em
But the killers ain’t killed so long as they’re killed and the prisons’re as filled as they need em

But the day soon shall come when the songs that we’ve sung
Will within every breast alight and resound
And the trumpets will blow and the hangman will know
That the walls of Jericho must come down

The fence is so high now it blocks out the sky and it blackens the ground with its shadow
The birds can’t get out there’s nothing to doubt and the horses have fled from the meadow
Hear tell of a spot where a man is forgot spite of whether or not they convict him
Its called Jericho it’s the place that you go from the criminal into the victim

But the day soon shall come where by beating the drum
Every voice from the silence shall again be unwound
And the trumpets will blow and all you will know
Is that the walls of Jericho have come down
Track Name: Someone Else's Blues
Someone Else’s Blues copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

Last time we talked we didn’t say too much I don’t guess
Something about how maybe we were finally getting to be a little bit too old for this
There was a little bit of time yet then wrapped around your wrist
The end of the autumn in a November evening mist
But you should’ve seen your face that day it was the color of the gentle rose you wore in your lapel
While the captain raised a clamour and the widow clanged that old church-bell
They say lightning never strikes the same place twice
And I’m standing here thinking if it struck anywhere, just once would be more than nice
If I were not me, and you were not you
And we did not both know what we’ve both been through
I guess then I’d just be in someone else’s shoes
I guess I’d be singing someone else’s blues

Your eyes once in a fleeting car moved past, and I swear I only caught the briefest glimpse
You did not see my standing on that street-corner to which by the way I have not been back since
I used to go out wandering from drug- to department-store thinking maybe that I was the one who’s not who he sposed to be anymore
But it’s not an easy thing I don’t guess, to know you were not born alone and when
You can still go anywhere but you can’t go home again
They say lightning never twice the same place strikes
They say there’s no difference at all between some look alikes
If I were not me, and you were not you
What would there be left for us to misconstrue
Two vacant seats now in that old church pew
For someone else to sit with someone else’s blues

Tomorrow we’re gone, at least today we’re still here
And you can still see the sun in that mud-puddle of yours that you call a mirror
Remember the time we got so turned around and ended up in some old playhouse?
And before the last act we both left to let the midnight river serenade us?
Come out, come out, wherever you are, the children scream
The games they play reminding us that this is not just some crazy dream
They say lightning never twice strikes the same place
As though when you try to repeat, all you do is erase
If I were not me, and you were not you
And we had not drifted the older we grew
I guess then I wouldn’t be here trying to choose
Now between mine and someone else’s blues

Those were the days of the wind and the rain
The only difference is that now, well, they’re exactly the same
I sent you a letter a while back just to see how you are
And can you still play piano on that old worn out guitar
But you should’ve seen your face that day it looked not a thing like mine
Why’s it always the common sense that says it’s alright to just be yourself sometimes
Lightning never strikes the same place twice, they say
But even if it did they might not believe that anyway
If I were not me, and you were not you
Not I would not want not to not be not you
The hardest part about lovin you
Is that it has never been that hard to do
Track Name: That Girl I Was Tellin You Bout
27. That Girl I Was Tellin You Bout copyright 2014 sam steffen

You will know her by her eyes that will see right through your disguise
You will know by the way that the room falls away
After she walks through the door
That for all that you’ve said about love’s being dead
You’re not sure you believe anymore
And should you decide that not to have tried
Would afterwards only upset you inside
Don’t come crying to me, wanting to see, as if there could be any doubt
Whether that was the girl I was telling you bout

You will know her by her voice that will ask but will leave you no choice
You will know by the wish that she beckons you with
By the way she says please to your lighter
That even if she says no, that she don’t want to go
She don’t want you not to invite her
And should you admit it’d’ve been much better to quit
Before you went and got yourself all mixed up with it
I won’t say I was right, and I won’t pick no fight, but you know that I might have to shout
That that was the girl I was telling you bout

You will know her by her hands that not even she understands
You will know by the length of time that it takes
To collect yourself after she’s left you
That you gave up too much in exchange for a touch
That never consoled or caressed you
And if now and then you think you might do it again
If only this time to be prepared for the end
Well I guess that’s too bad you can’t want what you have but you know that I’m glad you found out
That that was the girl I was telling you bout
Track Name: Mr. Wait-&-See
Mr. Wait-&-See copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

Met a lady at a party she was hardly my type
But she invited me closer and I said, alright
Underscored me, ignored me, and she bored me to tears
But of all gazes hers was the gentlest

Had me over got me sober even gave me a key
As she pulled the rug out from under me
Tried to sit up tried to get up to pick up the debris
But the odds they were stacked up against us

Well you know me, Mr. Wait-and-see,
Mr. Cant-you-please-be-somewhat-kinder
As I’ll know by the sun when the morning has come
I will know my true love when I find her

I been put up, I been stood up, been let up and let down
I been told to pick up and get out of town
Rejected, disrespected, and neglected so oft
I can’t tell anymore if you know me

At the station congregations destinations unknown
Either tell me you love me or leave me alone
Among maestros in her plainclothes while the train pulls away
She says you don’t have to pay what you owe me

Well you know me, Mr. wait-and-see
Mr. there-is-no-joy-separate-from-sorrow
And just like I would trade every heart for a spade
For yesterday I’d give all my tomorrows

Well it’s lonely having only your memory to keep
As though I’d awakened to find that I was asleep
In the darkness cold and heartless will you part with your half
Whose hands were the words that you whispered with

Was I dreaming, am I reading too much meaning into it?
Did you intend what you offered before you withdrew it
Do you miss me? Dismiss me? Would you kiss that mouth now
Whose words were the hands that I begged you with?

Well you know me, Mr. Wait-and-see
Mr. upright-with-impeccable-posture
As you’ll not know the word for the thing you’ve endured
You’ll not know your true love til you’ve lost her
Track Name: Where Are You, Matthew Searfass?
Where Are You, Matthew Searfass? Copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

Matthew he’s a friend of mine, used to put him up from time to time
Used to lend him nickles, quarters, dimes and dollars
Never had too much to say, went step by step and day by day
But soon every man must stray from what he fallers

He always did alright in school never made the team but he played it cool
Each exception only breaks the rule it learns on
One day he got the thought to leave, shoved all his tricks in up his sleeve
He told them all one day they’d see he’d be gone

Matthew, where are you?
Matthew, where are you?
Matthew, where are you?
Where are you?

Can’t be sure but last I heard he was in a psychiatric ward
And he’d only sent home word so he could blame ya
Return address said San Marcos, letter said he was headed for the coast
Anywhere, he said, that’s nowhere close to Pennsylvania

I’d know him now no more than you, couldn’t find him if I wanted to
I tried it once, without a clue to guide me
Just followed in his footsteps some, tried to get behind the sun
But just got lost without someone beside me

Chorus

You left your home and left no trace for supper they still set your place
Fold their hands and all say grace without you
Your father still sits up to dawn in his bathrobe with his porchlight on
And folks they say he carries on and on about you

And LeeAnn she still thinks of you, wonders what you’ve been up to
Says I only wish I knew that he was breathin
And your mother she’s still sleeping sound six feet underneath the ground
And once a year they all gather round a grievin

Chorus

Matthew, do you still recall comin here with me when we were small
You wrote your name up on the wall in marker
Matthew won’t you please come home or try to find a telephone
Cause the days are getting shorter now, and darker

Matthew, are you cold tonight, can you find your way without the light
Do you see the star that’s shining right above you?
Matthew, can you keep em shut, your ears from hearing you know what
They know you’ll never need it but they love you,
I know you’ll never want it but I do, too

Chorus
Track Name: Never Again Would Be Too Soon
Never Again Would Be Too Soon Copyright 2014 sam steffen

My mother was a shadow, or so I’ve heard the story told
My father rode the saddle, he never came in from out the cold
And I was born one hazy midnight, into a blanket I was rolled
Left upon a stranger’s doorstep when I was fifteen minutes old
Folks think that if I could find em now, I’d want to see em, they presume
Well as far as I’m concerned, I say,

Never again would be too soon
Never again would be too soon
Never again would be too soon

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve had to go and leave my home
Whether on account of cause I always was, or else cause I was never left alone
Seems like every town I come to now is like every other town I’ve known
I come just long enough to learn of one more thing I’ll never own
And somewhere tween the sweepin floors and getting beaten with the broom
I say if I come back here anymore,

Chorus

Well I loved a girl in New Orleans, although her name I don’t recall
She was kind and good to me, I was no good to her at all
I remember one night we’d just come back in from a ball
She had taken my possessions and locked them in the hall
I asked my girl how long it’d be for she’d let me back into her room
Well as far as I’m concerned, she said,

Chorus

Well I found me a friendly Christian, said I could stay with him for cheap
Said there was only one condition under which that contract he would keep
Said I had to start to livin clean, said he’d test me every week
Told him not to worry tho, I could do it in my sleep
Things were fine til they got hard again, and he found my needle and my spoon
I asked him when he’d let me back, he said,

Chorus

I killed a man in Kansas, I killed one in Tennessee
Both times I was as sorry as a man could ever be
Somewhere on the highway the law apprehended me
For one I got life in prison, for the other the death penalty
I asked the Lord if when I died he meant to raise me from my tomb
And something in the silence said,

Chorus

Well I don’t know who I’m talkin to, I gues it doesn’t matter now
Anyone with ears’ll do, if the timin will allow
I’m only trine to figure out if there’s some way out of this somehow
If I never asked for help before, well, I’m sorry, but I’m askin now
The warden says my time’s been moved, so now I’m due to die at noon,
So if you’re wondering when to pray for me

Chorus
Track Name: In No Hurry Now
In No Hurry Now copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

Loved a girl once with all my heart
I told her so right from the start
Eager to unite, we fell right apart
I should’ve seen it coming

Tried again though, the second time was worse
The world’s a stage, but you can’t rehearse
Goin forward’s the same as in reverse
With maybe one exception— that

I am in no hurry now
I am in no hurry now
I am in no hurry now
I am in no hurry now

Had a hometown where I grew up tall
It had commercial industry and basketball
Public school and a shopping mall
I ran away so often

Left home early so as to beat the rush
My bike broke down, I had to catch the bus
It went the wrong way, I should’ve known as much
But since then I’ve been riding—for

Chorus

Had a car, I drove it fast
I had appointments to keep, I gave it gas
I had a best friend, he had a crash
Since then things have slowed some

Thought I knew what all my time was for
My life seemed finished, I was twenty-four
I went out looking for what was here before
Turns out the whole world’s fast and lonesome—but

Chorus

Chorus
Track Name: A Series of Failed Attempts At Getting Over Loving You
A Series of Failed Attempts At Getting Over Loving You copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

Lately I’ve been visiting a stranger, he says that he’s a doctor of a psychiatric nature
He asks me all about you, he says I need a hobby, says it will make me happy to keep busy for a while
He only asks me things I know, he says that it’s important, though
I wish instead of asking he would tell me what to do
He’s so encouraging, as if he thought I could make anything
Besides another failed attempt at getting over loving you

Lately I’ve been looking at the stars, trying to learn the constellations, making observations
I know Orion by now, and Cassiopeia, and I’ve a pretty good idea where the Big and Little Dippers are
But astronomy is not for me, as anyone with eyes can see
I could watch that sky until the midnight turned to blue
And even if I knew the myths, what would they all leave me with
But another failed attempt at getting over loving you?

Lately I’ve been smoking long cigars, I imported them from Cuba, from Barbados and Bermuda
I’m not sure I like the taste of them, the sticky burning flavor, tho I’m quite fond of the paper that they wrap them in
But who am I trying to kid? I don’t like smoking and I never did
And I don’t give one good Goddamn about where my tobacco grew
And even if I smoked incessantly, what would it only ever be
But another failed attempt at getting over loving you?

Lately I’ve been reading Russian novels from the latter nineteenth century, mainly Tolstoy and Dostoevsky
Sometimes I think I feel the same way as the characters they mention, who love in violent passion and dismay
Who always seem to know what’s best, who get what they want and then get depressed
Who suffer, bleed, and fight and die in search of something true
But every time I reach the end, I realize all my reading’s been
Is another failed attempt at getting over loving you

Lately I’ve been seeking some vocation, I need a new bad habit, I’m afraid I still don’t have it yet
I’ve tried coin- and stamp collecting, chocolate and wine tasting, bicycle and horse-racing
But I bet the coins on a losing horse, the stamps I sent to you, of course
Along with all my letters and every chocolate that I knew
And the wine that used to fill my shelf, I drank it quickly by myself
In another failed attempt at getting over loving you

Lately I’ve been listening to music, I’m learning the piano, I’m really not that good, tho
I can play a couple major chords, a few scales in the minor, I find the latter kinder to me
But what is all my practice for? I’m not improving, of that I’m sure
And I don’t know the song to play that has my kind of blues
And even if I found it out, what would I have to sing about
But another failed attempt at getting over loving you?
Track Name: A Talkin Man's Talkin Technology Blues
A Talkin Man’s Talkin Technology Blues
copyright 2014 Sam Steffen

Other day I got a phone call from a friend of mine,
Friend I ain’t seen in the longest time
Said he’s passin through town, like to pay me a visit
He says, you’re not busy, Sam, it’s not inconvenient is it?
I said, Busy? Boy it has been a while
I ain’t been busy since the late 1990s

I said when’ll you be here, he says, One day or the next
Says, how bout when I’m close I shoot you a text
I said, What? He says, I’ll send a text-message
I said, And what’s that, exactly?—Sounds impressive
He says don’t tell me you don’t get text messages
I said, of course I do—post man brings em all the time

He says, What’ve you been doing man, where’ve you been
Don’t you know what year it is? It’s 2014!
Now I don’t mean to startle you, but I’ll make no apology
But there’s a thing we’ve got now it’s called modern technology
I tell him I’ve heard of that—science fiction and whatnot
Gene splicing—animal cloning—drone strikes

He says Not all of it’s bad for your information
Some of it’s improved our communication
I say, And how’s that?—he says, Well, for instance
Like you and me here, we’re talkin long distance
I asked him where he was calling me from
He said he’s sittin on the toilet in an airplane
Flying over the Atlantic ocean at a cruising altitude of 22,000 feet

He says cell phones make it easier to keep in touch
With friends you don’t see or hear from much
Then he accuses me of being a reclusive-type
Then he says, Hang on a minute, I’ve got to wipe
I wonder at what point does information
Become too much information

A minute later he comes back on
Picks right back up with the thread he’s been on
Says it’s also made working a breeze
I can talk to whomever wherever whenever I please
I made the mistake of asking him what line of work he was in nowadays
He says he’s a telemarkerter for Verizon Wireless
Cell phone salesman—spokesperson

Well at no promptin of mine he starts to striking a deal
Lays it on me, goes into his spiel
He says, Do you ever find that your signal’s weak
And you’re getting cut off every time you try to speak?
I said what signal? I’m talking to you on a landline
Rotary telephone, circa 1948

He says, Now hold the phone—let me get this straight,
You don’t even have a cell phone, am I hearing you right?
I’m about to respond when he says, Hold the line
I’m getting a call on the other line
Talk about getting cut off—
seems sometimes good reception’s not about where you’re talkin
but who you’re talkin to

I tell him to call me back, he asks for my number
I said You’re the one who called me, remember?
I asked him how he found me after all this time
He says he looked me up in the phone book—online
I said man, I remember when the yellowpages were actually yellow
And actually pages, too!

Well I hang up and wait for him to call me back
And I’m waiting a while, a whole month, in fact
One day the phone rings, it’s my old pal
He says, Sorry about that, I been tied up a while
Talking to friends, relatives, callin up strangers
Makin sales

First thing he asks me is did I get his parcel
I’m about to say no when I hear the doorbell
Sure enough it’s the postman right on time,
He’s got a package for me, shows me where to sign
And it’s a cell phone, complete with phone, charger, instruction manual,
Service guide, return policy, insurance policy, etcetera…

I said what’s all this, he says No need to thank me,
But welcome, at last, to the twentyfirst century
He says now I don’t have to sit at home
Whenever I want to use my telephone
He says you’re a free man, liberated from the cord
Welcome to the world of wireless

I ask him how much am I gonna have to pay
To live like him in the technology age?
He says it varies but it’s likely to cost
Anywhere between thirty and a hundred bucks
That’s per month, though, he says—but just think of the benefits!
Unlimited minutes, roaming, plus texting

I open the box, remove the packaging foam
There’s nothing inside even looks like a phone
Just a slab of metal the size of a bar of soap
I said, You are kidding me, right, I hope
Where do you aim your mouth on this thing?
Which end is the listening end? Durn thing doesn’t even have buttons on it!

Well he explains to me how to turn it off and on
Gets into an explanation that’s a little overdrawn
All about how its not just a telephone
Its also a camera, a computer, a thousand things in one
You can record a video and send it in an email with a message attached
And you don’t even have to get out of bed—talk about shared experience

Well I tell him I appreciate everything he’s sayin,
But I just can’t buy in to this game he’s playin
And I certainly don’t understand the attraction
To a device that can only cause you more distraction
Make you a rude theater-goer, an even worse driver
Pretty clumsy pedestrian, too

I tell him, don’t get me wrong, I’m not ungrateful
I guess there’s a couple ways this could be useful
I tell him I got a door in here that’s always swingin open
I been meaning for a while to prop it open with something
This looks like it’d be just about the right size
Make a good paper-weight, too