FEAR NOT (NOV. 17)

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DIGITAL & STREAM

PHYSICAL

 

Fear Not

Oh the stars they look like pinholes in the sky
Threading light into the black veil of the night
Where Orion kneels on bended knee and the Magi feel eternity
When the withered hand and the clenching teeth are opened

We are broken for the need of light to shine
We are broken for that sacred gift inside
We are broken for the honeymoon
Broken for the inner room
We are broken for that open wound to bind

Fear not
Fear not
Fear not
For I am with thee

Fear not
Fear not
Fear not
For I am with thee and you are mine

Did you see me when I hid behind my shame?
Did you see me when the garden was inflamed?
Did you see me slipping through your hands?
Did you see me leave the promise land?
Did you see me when it got carried away?

You were brave today to walk out in your skin
You were brave today to find the strength within
You were brave to do the askin’
You were brave to turn your mask in
You were brave to stay and take it on the chin

It is not without some pain that we are born
It is not without some cracks that we are torn
It is not without some feeling
It is not without some healing
It is not without some beauty we’re adored

Fear not (you are opened for the need of light to shine)
Fear not
Fear not (you are opened for the sacred gift inside)
For I am with thee

Fear not (you are opened for the honeymoon)
Fear not (opened for the inner room)
Fear not (you are opened for that open wound to bind)
For I am with thee and you are mine

Cameron Blake: piano
Gene Hahn and Christopher Martin: violins
Barbara Corbato: viola
Jeremy Crosmer: cello
Gerald Torres: upright bass
Rockford High School Chamber Singers
String arrangement by Zachary Kolkman
Choral arrangement by Jennifer Fortosis

 

After Sally

The fog has lifted and the sky is blue
The river’s swollen
The almanac’s confused
Will the flowers be dressed in their Easter time best for you?

Spring is late but our love is strong
Old lazy river moves the ice along
It’s too real to accept when no words can express
What we’ve gone through

Big black sky is filling up with stars
A chimney’s puffing like a cold cigar
We hung together under the pressure
And someone told me that’s the hardest part

We took the road with all the bends
We buckle down until the highway ends
We took the road with all the bends

And something’s gotta give
Something’s gotta give
Something’s gotta give me wings

The river’s itchin’ from the fall of man
Kitchen tap is runnin’ black again
A garage radio blares
It’s been blowing hot air in my ears

My soul is restless
I’m lookin’ old and grey
Blue blood midwestern, I was born and raised
There are things that just take time
And there are other things we just don’t say

Sometimes I wake up and I’m gripped with fear
Did I pay the bills? Did I leave the ashtray filled?
My mind’s a warehouse of worry when my heart’s in disrepair

This Sunday morning I felt the body and blood
Heard the children singing, “Gloria”
I’d just been thinking ‘bout how Sally
Would have held her head and sung along

The healing begins its slow methodical work
Crawling under my skin like a fisherman’s hook
Oh Lord, I’ve been lookin’ down the barrel
At a chamber of the human heart

We took the road with all the bends
We buckle down until the highway ends
We took the road with all the bends

And something’s gotta give
Something’s gotta give
Something’s gotta give me wings to fly

Cameron Blake: acoustic guitar
Jennifer Fortosis: backing vocals
Olin Clark: electric guitar
Joe Vasquez: upright bass
Nick Bracewell: drums
Gene Hahn and Christopher Martin: violins
Barbara Corbato: viola
Jeremy Crosmer: cello
String arrangement by Zachary Kolkman and Cameron Blake

 

The Only Diamond

I swam the oceans of her eyes
And ran her rivers through my hands
I don’t deny my sin

There are things about a man
That you will never understand
Buried deep within

The night was never made to be a hideaway for pain
It’s just a thinner skin
I can barely see the arrows on the weather vane
Pirouetting in the wind

Hopped a train on its way to Panama City
Hopped a train on its way through the border line
Hopped a train on its way with that love of mine
The only diamond I could find

The sugar of the valley’s under hammer and steel
Down in the hearts of men
With families that are livin’ for their next meal
This day our daily bread

Via Dolorosa on the outpost sign
Out on the mountain’s edge
Forty years of clocking in and clocking out on time
Lie sleeping on this bed

Hopped a train on its way to Panama City
Hopped a train on its way through the border line
Hopped a train on its way with that love of mine
The only diamond I could find

I surrender to the voices that I can’t turn off
A distant oil pump, a bucket wheel, an engine cough
With solemn face they wait impatient for the Eucharist
Cross themselves, say, “Let’s get on with it!”
Then nail their hammers to the wall

Hopped a train on its way to Panama City
Hopped a train on its way through the great divide
Hopped a train on its way with that love of mine
The only diamond I could find

Cameron Blake: acoustic guitar and piano
Olin Clark: electric guitar
Joe Vasquez: bass
Nick Bracewell: drums

 

Fool’s Gold

We flew a kite. We watched it soar
It dug our heels into the floor
I knew the moon would wane when you filled my heart again
I’ve always loved how dark you are

We took our time to say “adieu”
Was it a crime or punishment for you?
But mining fool’s gold is still an art
You know I’ve always loved how dark you are

Send a little light for the nightingale
Grace notes swingin’ ‘til they find a place to land

We closed the show. In the final act
You dug those poles into the monster’s back
You say, “It’s life or death for the matador”
And yet I’ve always loved how dark you are
Yes, I’ve always loved how dark you are

We were a pair that had to fold
I was a fool to fall for fool’s gold

Cameron Blake: piano
Michael Schaeffer: accordion
Olin Clark: electric guitar
Joe Vasquez: upright bass
Nick Bracewell: drums
Gene Hahn and Christopher Martin: violins
Barbara Corbato: viola
Jeremy Crosmer: cello
String arrangement by Zachary Kolkman

 

Queen Bee

I was a stranger in a stranger’s land
In no position to leave
I was a stranger in a stranger’s land
And then the queen bee sent a message to me

She said, “I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up as far as eyes can see
Yes, I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up if you start workin’ for me”

I have been makin’ takin’ honey to her
I have been workin’ for free
I’ve been a makin’ takin’ honey to her
And then the queen bee sent a message to me

She said, “I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up as far as eyes can see
Yes, I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up if you’ll do favors for me”

You see that Maggie Magpie hangin’ around
You see her scratchin’ our tree
You see that Maggie Magpie hangin’ around
Well, will you send her to the gates of St. Pete?

She said, “I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up as far as eyes can see
Yeah, I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up if you’ll be loyal to me”

Oh I’m climbing, climbing up the ladder
And the bottom is a long way down

I’ve never met her but I’ve seen her stripes
From Colonel to Commander in Chief
I’ve never met her but I hope she’s nice
Because I heard that she’s a killer bee

She said, “I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up as far as eyes can see
Yeah, I’ll move you up my darlin’
I’ll move you up to lead the colony”

Oh, I’m climbing, climbing up the ladder
And the bottom is a long way down
The bottom is a long way down
The queen will see you now!

Olin Clark: electric guitar
Martin Spence: piano
Joe Vasquez: upright bass
Nick Bracewell: drums
Debra Perry and Majestic Praise
Choral arrangement by Jennifer Fortosis

 

Tiananmen Square

A little Asian flare on your tea set there
Placemat made of bamboo
Sake cups hang from elephant tusks
And a helmet from World War II

He never came home last Monday
His dinner’s still sittin’ there
She shuts the blinds when the sun don’t shine
And she carries his things upstairs

He held her close that morning
Never one for goodbyes
At the grocery he asked if they could fill up his flask
With the strongest stuff money could buy

Then he swallowed an army
And the whole world was there
Yes, he swallowed that army
After he held them in the palm of his hand in Tiananmen Square

Is there anyone who will take up his calling?
Split the good fortune in two?
You see China has changed since they opened exchange
And the stock market went through the roof

They tore off his mask like a camera lens cap
And marched him into the room
Heard he stood tall before the firing squad
Heard he cried out to the Mandarin moon

Then he swallowed an army
And the whole world was there
Yes, he swallowed that army
After he held them in the palm of his hand in Tiananmen Square

I knew you
I knew you
I knew you then

When you swallowed that army
And the whole world was there
Yes, you swallowed that army
When you held them in the palm of your hand

The mind is soft. The mind is weak
The untrained mind’s such a frightful thing
It could fall asleep with the enemy
Was I born for this?

1989 in the prime of spring
We were flyin’ high on Democracy
Then those hounds came blazin’ down the Beijing streets

Was I born for this?
I was born for this
Was I born for this?

I was born to swallow an army
Now the whole world is here
Yes, I’ll swallow this army
After I hold them in the palm in my hand in Tiananmen Square

Cameron Blake: acoustic guitar
Martin Spence: piano
Olin Clark: electric guitar
Joe Vasquez: upright bass
Nick Bracewell: drums
Erich Peterson: French horn
Gene Hahn and Christopher Martin: violins
Barbara Corbato: viola
Jeremy Crosmer: cello
Zachary Kolkman: additional instrumentation
Rockford High School Chamber Singers
String and brass arrangements by Zachary Kolkman
Choral arrangement by Cameron Blake and Zachary Kolkman

 

Old Red Barn

Old red barn
Outside my window
Bearded buffalo in the stockyard
Stretched out on the green
Where a flag is in rags humbly hung for some dark hour
The neighbor’s baby’s crying louder
And my nerves are snapping like a twig

We’ve never lived outside these ten square miles
Never seen the Golden Gate or the Eiffel of Paris
We’d joke that farm girls never go out of style
Say, “I heard that’s in the Bible from that preacher on TV”

The stillness wilts
The mayflies flee
There’s a grandfather face in the trunk of the tree
“Pick the rows before you pickle the beans”
I’m hounded by these memories

Of an old red barn in Henderson county
Where the Derby horses grow their manes
And dream about the sea.

Social worker split us up because my mother is a fish
My father’s just been driftin’ in her wild, rocky stream
I had no choice but to turn to religion
Or at least go out fishin’ for the truth to set me free

Water bug on stilts skatin’ by my feet
Crayfish breakin’ in the hatchery
Knew that woman was wasted when she stood up to leave
She took her sunhat off and blew a kiss to me

In this old red barn in Henderson county
Where the Derby horses grow their manes
And dream about the sea

Cameron Blake: piano
Brad Fritcher: trumpet
Ed Clifford: clarinet
Kyle Tilstra: trombone
Olin Clark: acoustic guitar
Joe Vasquez: upright bass
Nick Bracewell: drums

 

Moonlight On A String

Full moon scares away the shadows
My dull flashlight on a string
I recall firefly light in mason jars
The night I held you in my arms

I fell in love with you
Still shy of thirty
I held my heart out like a king

Please stay awhile with me
While we are walking
Behind this moonlight on a string

Please stay awhile with me
While we are walking
Behind this moonlight on a string
Our little moonlight on a string

Cameron Blake: acoustic guitar
Michael Schaeffer: accordion
Jill Collier Warne: ccllo
Nick Bracewell: drums
Choral arrangement by Zachary Kolkman
Rockford High School Chamber Singers

 

Wailing Wall

The breakroom’s finally empty
Put your feet up and get some rest
Let your hair down slow and gently
Feel it fall upon your chest
For you’ve tried on every uniform
For the one that fits the best
And you don’t recognize yourself at all

You don’t know how to cry yourself to sleep my love
You don’t know how to stand when you are weak
And you can’t pretend the loneliness is gone
So you take a seat beneath your wailing wall

Everybody seems so happy
And I hope that it is true
‘Cause when the world starts lookin’ ugly
I’ll need a different point of view
My daughter’s on my shoulders
I’ve got so much more to lose
So I keep workin’ hard so I don’t drop the ball

I don’t know how to cry myself to sleep my love
I don’t know how to stand when I am weak
And I take no comfort in this place at all
So I take a seat beneath my wailing wall

Wailing wall
Wailing wall
Where God and man can speak about the weight of it all
Brick by brick and stone by stone
You build your private altars
When you can’t seem to make it on your own

I don’t know how to call another’s bluff my love
I don’t know how to play when it gets rough
And I can’t pretend the loneliness is gone
So I take a seat beneath my wailing wall

Wailing wall
Wailing wall
Where God and man can speak about the weight of it all
Brick by brick and stone by stone
You build your private altars
When you can’t seem to make it on your own

Zachary Kolkman: piano
Nick Bracewell: drums
Gene Hahn and Christopher Martin: violins
Barbara Corbato: viola
Jeremy Crosmer and Jill Collier Warne: cellos
Gerald Torres: upright bass
Rockford High School Chamber Singers
String arrangement by Zachary Kolkman
Choral arrangement by Jennifer Fortosis

 

Philip Seymour Hoffman

I was a young man once
Stronger than my enemies
I was handsome
I was reckless
I was made to live alone

Sent off to boarding school
Fought my dependencies
My Socialist mother still calls me from a pay phone

Knew the liturgy
Like an English nursery rhyme
Everything seems innocent until a thumb is stuck into the pie
And with these feelings I’m not sure I’m even making sense
Or if I even knew you at all

Tired of pretty faces
I’m tired of these kinds of places
I’m tired of silver lining each degree of separation
I take my kids to school, pick up the living room
Walking down Fifth Avenue I swore I heard the voice of God

Cameron Blake: piano
Zachary Kolkman: electric guitar and processing
Joe Vasquez: bass
Olin Clark: additional electric guitar

 

Sandtown

I saw the cameras. I saw the handcuffs. I saw the crime tape. I saw the newsbreak.
I saw the fire. I saw the tear gas. I saw the tires. I saw the projects.

I saw the manhunt. I saw the bloodhound. I saw the standoff. I saw the bleed out.
I saw the papers. I saw the headlines. When I saw that picture I saw myself.

These days are strangers
I have never seen stranger days

I saw the crack pipe. I saw the white flight. I saw the blind eye. I saw the cheap high.
I saw the glass break. I saw the heartache. I saw the jailbait. I saw the heat wave.

I saw the dealers. I saw the corner. I saw Miranda. I saw her torn up.
I saw the mug shot. I saw the cell lock. When I saw that young cop I saw myself.

These days are strangers
I have never seen stranger days

They pull the curtains down
Pull the curtains down
They pull the curtains down in Sandtown

When the police are hangin’ round
Police are hangin’ round
The police are always hangin’ round in Sandtown

Now, they’re boardin’ up the house
Boardin’ up the house
Boardin’ up our Sandtown

And we ain’t never gettin’ out
Ain’t never getting’ out
We ain’t never getting out of Sandtown
We ain’t never getting out of Sandtown

These days are strangers
I have never seen stranger days

I saw tha’ Jim Crow. I saw the blackface. I saw the crossbones. I saw the KKK.
I saw the mountain. I saw the caged bird.

When I see my neighbor
I see myself

Brad Fritcher: trumpet
Olin Clark: electric guitar
Martin Spence: piano
Joe Vasquez: upright bass
Nick Bracewell: drums

 

Monterey Bay

Our Father who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
The lily robes itself with splendor
The candlewick martyrs itself to the flame

Will my quiet prayers be loud enough to hear?
Will that brass fanfare fall on deafened ears?
There must be something in the air
Tilt-a-whirl’s at the county fair
Or the moon is slipping into Monterey Bay

Two strangers
Taking cover
Next to each other on the train
Had their tickets kept them together
They’d be lovers had Cupid narrowed his aim

Wish that satellite was a lazy shootin’ star
Wish old Lyra played a Delta blues guitar
There must be something in the air
Call me sentimental I don’t care
The moon is slipping into Monterey Bay

Night terrors it’s a feeling
Like you’re needing a little rain
We are dancing the tarantella
With a gypsy tambourine

Go to sleep
Go to sleep

Will you hold me close until I fall asleep?
Will you wipe the tears that fall down on my cheek?
There must be something in the air
A heartache stirring under there
Or the moon is slipping into Monterey Bay

Cameron Blake: piano
Olin Clark: electric guitar
Joe Vasquez: upright bass
Nick Bracewell: drums
Erich Peterson: French horn
Gene Hahn and Christopher Martin: violins
Barbara Corbato: viola
Jeremy Crosmer: cello
Zachary Kolkman: additional instrumentation
String and brass arrangements by Zachary Kolkman

Music and lyrics by Cameron Blake (BMI)
Produced by Josh Kaufman, Peter Fox and Cameron Blake
Engineered by Josh Kaufman and Peter Fox
Mixed by Peter Fox and Josh Kaufman
Recorded at Stone House Recording, Grand Rapids, MI
String recording at Hope College, Holland, MI with the kind assistance of Drew Elliot
Mastered by Bill Wolf at Bill Wolf Productions, Inc., Arlington, VA
Album Design by Sean Zuidgeest
Album cover painting by Michael Schaeffer
Album photography by Eric Bouwens

Rockford High School Chamber Singers: Mandy Scott (Dir.), Sarah Brzyski (Dir.), Maddy Bursley, Avery DiCocco, Kiana Dufendach, Lauren Hyink, Ryan Jamgotch, Noah Parker, Anna Kurtz, Samantha Lund, Olivia Marvin, Gretchen Parker, Haley Riccobono, Gabby Rauch, Madiey Twyman, Trevor Williams

Debra Perry and Majestic Praise: Debra Perry (Dir.), Carolyn Allen, Vanessa Allen, Avalon Cutts Jones, Robert Kelly, Marie Matthews.

Thank you to all of the musicians and artists who made this project a reality. What a team! A very special thank you to Martin Spence, Zachary Kolkman, Peter Fox, Josh Kaufman, Jennifer Fortosis, Brad Fritcher, Olin Clark, Joe Vasquez and Nick Bracewell for helping me put my feelings to sound, sound to ink and sound to tape. You made these songs come alive in special ways.

A very special thank you to the many album supporters whose great generosity enabled me to make this album, particularly Jim and Patti Kenyon, Dave and Kelly Tuit, Ralph and Shea Koscheka, Jim and Connie Winter-Troutwine, Eric and Alice Bouwens, Tim and Mary Beth Mead, Mike and Tedi Collier and Mike and Brenda Warne.

For Jill, Genevieve and Florence,
the joys of my heart.