What the Boat Gave the River

by Mark Berube

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credits

released September 18, 2008

Mark Berube - piano, voice, accordion, glockenspiel, banjo, prepared piano, electric guitar.
Jesson Moen - bass, acoustic guitar, voice
Marie-Michelle - cello, voice
Patrick Dugas - drums, percussion, voice

All songs written and composed by Mark Berube.
Produced by David A. Sturton and Mark Berube.
Engineered by Kevin Gault and Lucas Fowles.
Arrangements by the Patriotic Few (and extra help from Matthew Rogers on "Say It Ain't So" and "Yesterday's Halo")
String arrangements for Alarms Pt 2 and Minus 17 by Matthew Rogers.
Horn arrangements for Til the Morning by Matthew Rogers.
Mixed by David A. Sturton and Kevin Gault.
Mastering by Ryan Morey.
Album cover design and layout by Robbie Roberts.
Recorded at DNA Studios. Montreal, QC. March-June 2008.
This album is dedicated to Lloyd Wesley Hanna (1923-2007)

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Mark Berube Montréal, Québec

Montreal based singer/songwriter. Band includes Kristina Koropecki (Cello/Autoharp/Voice)

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Track Name: Looking for Another
Now, we put our good feet in the boat
then, we try to cross the border tonight
we're looking for another... place to go
now, the waves start to give us roll and rock
then, we start to tear up our passports
'cause we want to start
looking for another... place to go
now, we're ducking in the shadows of a hungry coast guard's spotlight
then we make it clear
then we make it clear
oh, we're looking for another... place to go
don't think just row...
I can see a little place over there in the distance
it might not be the type of place that we expected
we left the ashes on the fire back home to burn out
but brought the matches our doubt couldn't steal from us
and we know and we know...
that we're looking for another... ya ya ya ya ya
Track Name: Say It Ain't So
I hear raindrops on the roof tops
looks like the clouds have learned to swim
I hear my neighbours heating spoons
with the hate they feed to their blood
they're looking for drug lord saviours
but all they find are jesus band-aids
now the mayor talks to microphones
with a smile glued to his face
he says he's really quite sorry, but
say it ain't so...

so yeah, some people move as they please
and some move naturally
now my neighbours live in graveyards
and that mayor lives in a minor key
but I've been across this country
and every graveyard looks the same
the roses just lose their colours
but they never lose their names
and I hear the ghosts whisper
say it ain't so...

and yeah, it's easy to forget
the sound of plastic violins
those songs that move up on the charts
sounding like teenage masturbation
there you might find the gods of denial
some use to hone their discipline
like priests that chain their loins
to innocent little propositions
as the congregation pleads
say it ain't so...

childhood's for hitch-hiking
among the trees and under the sun
where the dawn never breaks too early
and the days never feel too long
I remember a choir one Sunday morning
singing songs about joy and peace
the policemen put their guns down that day
as Nelson Mandela was released
but I heard the racists
say it ain't so...
Track Name: We Go Down
We take the train downtown
from the suburbs
we get off at the central
station where the squeegee kids
question our apologies
we go down
where do we go?

we go where strobe lights play
and our eyes start to hunt
for smiles and good teeth
and we do our best
to create apologies
we go down
where do we go

we go down... down below
we don't wanna think about... tomorrow
then our eyes get weak
and we feel like
a tall Napoleon
and we do our best
to avoid apologies
as we go down
where do we go

we go down... down below
we don't wanna think about... tomorrow
bap bap da da da da... down below
Track Name: Yesterday's Halo
It's cold on the streets tonight
as we walk from place to place
the blue halo of TV screens
hit the sidewalk and the side of your face
you say this used to be the capital
now it's just a town of neon signs
you say innocence is for those who believe
that the guilty just didn't pay at the door

and you say "where, did it go
my hometown's halo"
so you look under the soles of your shoes
and say "yes yes yesterday's got nothing to lose"

taxi driver's making conversation
says he was a doctor in Lebanon
now he's got four kids and an accent
and Montreal in February
then he drops us off at the corner
says "may god be with us always,
everyone has a price to pay
but you don't realize how much some of us have to pay"

I say "where, did it go
my country's halo"
so I look under the soles of my shoes
and say "yes yes yesterday's got nothing to lose"

yes we've read the bible
it's one of the best stories I've read
a good story's like a shaman
that can make us believe in anything
but every shaman has a twin
the kind that leaves families broken
where one tries to hold up a light
the other claims that there's was stolen

they say "where, did it go
my father's halo"
so they look under the soles of their shoes
and say "yes yes yesterday's got nothing to lose"
Track Name: Caulfield Line
Tie me down to the Caulfield line
you won't have to hold me down
just tie me down to the Caulfield line
'cause that train's gotta be stopped somehow

This ain't no time for waiting now
this ain't no time to pray
'cause the train that comes down the Caulfield line
once took the Romans away

tie me down
and strap the chords
and take my hand
yes tie me down

I feel the train in the cold rails now
morse code on my skin
my bones on stones, my eyes are closed
and I hear the call of the
Caulfield Line

One hand holds a photograph
the other holds a flame
and the cling and clang
of steel and love and wood and man
on the Caulfield Line

tie me down
and strap the chords
and take my hand
yes tie me down

Yes, tie me down to the Caulfield Line
you won't have to hold me down
just tie me down on the Caulfield Line
'cause that train's gotta be stopped someon

tie me down

tie me down
and strap the chords
yes tie me down
Track Name: Alarms Pt. 2
Now it's been three days
since I stole mom from the hospital
I know there's some that won't forgive me
but it's what mom couldn't ask you to do

her life was tubes and medication
that only helped her hold off the pain
before I took her in the night
I went to buy her lots of morphine

and now I hold her hand
as I try to help her go clear

But I can't do this alone
the needles shake in my hands
I need you here to hold me steady
as she leaves us now but won't disappear

and now she holds my hand
as I try to help her go clear

now she lays her body down
her lashes sweep her eye lids closed
and unleash my mother's ghost
her wrinkles leave one at a time
like the pain that lead to a crime
that I was asked to commit

mama it's okay....
Track Name: Til the Morning
Downtown Toronto
14 shows from home
the bar is looking empty
there's no pay phone I can find

the microphone's been beaten
the stage is carpet red
it's raining on Young Street
and there's puddles in my head

I'm thinking about your face
and how I'd hold you on the corner
and steal you in some doorway
of a store that'll be closed

til the morning

looking down the highway
my focus window-framed
the signs just change their colours
and the towns just change their names
the streets have been beaten
I'm given beer and bread
it's raining on Young Street
and there's puddles in my head

I'm thinking about your face
and how I'd hold you on the corner
and steal you in some doorway
of a store that will be closed

til the morning

these bars are full of pictures
papparazzi pictures
framing all the fruits
of tragedies
cocaine and a bombshell
winking at the camera
as the night falls
I wait til the morning

downtown Toronto
14 shows from home
the bar is looking empty
and there's no pay phone I can find
Track Name: Flowers on the Stones
I see you standing on the street
you don't have anywhere to be
you're looking at the billboard
and you're playing with your hair
and you're reading all those lines and you believe

they say
stand up
don't put your hands up
and never shut up
and plant your flowers on the stones

now you're standing in the square
policeman tells you to beware
there might be devils lurking, people cheating
posers weeping
but you really really just don't care

never thought you'd see New York
now you never can ignore
all the footsteps walking, people talking
crows cawing, knocking at your front door

they say
stand up
don't put your hands up
and never shut up
and plant your flowers on the stones

if you make a man your saviour
you'll start digging his grave
if you make a man your prophet
then you pay him with your problems
you'll just make him your own slave

we're cooking things up on the stove
we hoist the rags up on the poles
we're feeling young we're feeling blunt
we're know we're not the only ones
that's planting flowers on the stones (aware of grammar problem)

so stand up
don't put your hands up
and never shut up
and plant your flowers on the stones
Track Name: Minus 17
Oh it's, minus 17 below and falling
I can feel the ice in the air
oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
I saw it, coming in the way that the wind was
throwing all the garbage cans around
and spilling all our dirty laundry in the street

now I just don't think that I could ever go back
to when the neighbourhood was clean and in a coma

Now the shadows, we've been keeping locked away in closets
are running all naked down the street
oh oh oh oh oh oh oh
the cold brings a little bit of life to our cheek bones
and snow laughs under our feet
as we trip on all of our dirty laundry

I just don't think that I could ever go back
to where our closets were full and noisy

there's no way that love can hide forever beneath human scars
Track Name: Shiny Plastic Bags/Barber Shop Pt. 2
we're counting all the windows

that line our city streets

we're counting all the cracked ones

and the dream catchers there

we're writing all the letters

that will never be returned

we're lighting all the dreamers

that forget how to burn



tonight, we open our front doors

tonight, we step out on to the prison's dance floor

tonight, we pull down all the flags

and wrap up our innocence in shiny plastic bags



you spread out your curtsy

before my drunken eye

you pull up on your skate board

and say "can I give you hand"

that day was important

that day I won't ignore

when you opened up your window

but you shut your front door

and I put you in my pocket

and you fall to the street

and you say you like the devil

but we're the nicest guys you'll meet



Tonight, we open our front doors

tonight, we step out on to the prison's dance floor

tonight, we pull down all the flags

and wrap up our innocence in shiny plastic bags



....



Barber Shop Part 2



"I've never seen the pyramids"

This is what I told Sara, my companion

I'd picked her up as a hitch-hiker approximately

3 years, 7 months, 21 days, and 9 hours

approximately

Her response was,

"go buy a postcard of those triangles in the sand

and send it to yourself with a message reading

"wish you were here"



It's been three years since we left the place

where we'd already paid

that moment when the jump of your heart

is equal to the weight of your body

on the ribcage of another



One day, she told me that her mother was born on May 8th, 1945

the day the radio turned drawn cheeks into arched smiles

the news cascading through the crowds and fields

as the european guns were dropped

and diplomatic pens covered in dried blood

tried once again to share ink



she says our kids will look at those two world wars

like those of Alexander, Napoleon, or even Shakespeare

the victors as rockstars

held on the stages of our imagination like armed marionettes

wading through the glory of stardom and the poison of nostalgia



We were driving on the outskirts of some small Canadian town

the kind of town that's cradled by the CBC and tough like an abandoned teenager



she turned on the radio

some faint music sorted its way through the static and confusion

of Alzeihmer speakers

but the melodies stopped short of selling us courage

so she turned it off



Instead

she put in a different album

she explained it was a collection of the songs of a man

who when his hands had been broken by soldiers

after a September 11th military coup in his country in the 1970's

he mustered a song that sang

like spit-in-their-faces glory

before they riddled his ribcage with 44 bullets

and tossed his body into the street

the jump of his heart fading in the cadence of smoke



our tires carried us through that small Canadian pre-alarm clock town

the doors were locked, from the liquor store to the barber shop

the windows blinded to the passing lights

and his voice came through the speakers

like broken glass throwing its shards at fear

as the oncoming headlights swept across the dashboard

like unknown flags blowing in the wind



--- the barber shop is closed ---



I think often about New York

and the effect pop songs have on small villages in Northern India

and how that day in Times Square a few years ago

dumpsters orchestrated a horror movie in my head

as protectors of the peace scared the courage out of us

and blanketed us with the possibilities and maybes of violence

but did stop something from happening



now my great great aunt was diagnosed with Tuberculosis

before the cure had been found

now her reality had nothing to do with the probability of maybe

she was quarantined to the grainery on the family farm

and her father moved the family piano so she could play it

when she played her Irish dancehall, classical exercise

the sound resonated up through the wooden walls

as her family listened in from the outside

until one day the hammers no longer hit the strings



I grew up knowing this story

and I remember as a kid imagining her on the floor of that grainery

she inspired the idea that

scales are the teeth of beauty

and that sometimes a song can help you accept the grave

or make you feel

like you were born on May 8th, 1945



so I asked Sara again

if she could explain to me

what is the story of what the river gave the boat

she said don't worry,

some things float and some things don't

and the ones that don't,

well, they're kind of like a glory

that doesn't have the grace you'll find in a small town

that knows it will never be abandoned

then she rolled the window down to the let the morning in



I sat beside her

the music coming out of the speakers

became quarantined to my ears

like the sounds of sara's hallelujah

on my ribcage

at her moment of glory









.....





we're looking for that woman

we're looking for that man

we don't believe in music

that needs a hospital

we're looking for your jesus

we're looking for your allah

we're looking for the gandhi version

of the holy fatwa

we're looking for pinocchio

at least he stands out in a crowd

we're looking for the dreamers

that can sing this fucking loud



tonight, we open our front doors

tonight, we step out on to the prison's dance floor

tonight, we pull down all the flags

and wrap up our innocence in shiny plastic bags