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It's the Ones Who've Cracked That the Light Shines Through (2003)

by Jeffrey Lewis

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with Jack Lewis & Anders Griffen

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released June 1, 2003

Jeffrey Lewis, LightningLewis Music ASCAP

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Jeffrey Lewis New York, New York

Native New Yorker Jeffrey Lewis is a comic book writer/artist and a musician.  Jeffrey Lewis and his band tour the world, mixing folk with noise and sharing stages with the likes of Stephen Malkmus, The Mountain Goats, and more. Jeffrey has had albums on Rough Trade since 2001, his comic Fuff has been running since 2004, and he's been featured by NPR, The History Channel, The NY Times and more. ... more

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Track Name: Back When I Was 4
Back when I was 4 and I knew the name of every dinosaur
I knew how to read ROM comic books
My babysitter said I was really smart
When the lights went out everything changed
The radio music made me feel strange
And I had a real bad dream about a gorilla in the bathroom

Back when I was 6 and I took some things real serious
And I thought that every song that came on the radio
Was referring to strange sexual acts
Because they thought I wouldn't know the facts
And being small is hard and no one ever tells you how

And back when I was 8 I would sit outside on an old milk crate
And look out at the world from the stoop across the street
The boomboxes and the hot concrete
And every Halloween they hung
A million rubber skeletons across ninth street.

And back when I was 12 or so I swear to god I never felt so low
Everyone but me was making out and eating cookies
I had more than my brain could stand
I threw my life in a garbage can
I felt so weird
I had to disappear
In crying suicide disease.

At 15 getting stoned felt good and it sent me back to childhood
And nothing ever mattered to me more than that.
But then 16 became eclipse
My brain became apocalypse
I was lost and found and I've never been the same.

And back when I was 22 I left the best thing that I knew
and I gave it up for fortune and for fame
I played like I didn't know how
I shocked the world
I wowed the crowd
But I deserved more than what they gave

Back when I was 27 still nothing had been forgiven
Clay turns into rock and rock just sits
So sitting on a crowded beach
I'd pretend I was a leech
And I'd stick to things here and there for a little bit

And back when I was 31 I knew I'd become what I'd become
Nothing left to reveal
And there was nowhere else to turn
So shocked and withered dumb and bitter
And in need of a babysitter
I'd gladly let my hand fall off and burn burn burn

Back when I turned the big 4-0 I realized just how much there was to go
And I started to think that being alone forever
Wasn't where it was at
So I took my head out of the window
And I taught myself how to love real fast
I started talking about painting
With a woman in the laundromat

And back when I was 50 and my first wife had just left me
I felt okay and I sang my daughter
Funny little songs
And just when I thought the best was past
I fell in love for real at last
And it didn't even matter that it had taken me so long

And back when I was 63 the public rediscovered me
My comic books and albums had all become rare cult-collector items
And both my parents were deceased
So they didn't see my records get re-released
And I got a dog for the first time in my life

And back when I was 74 my dog died and I got two more
I still felt really good about my daughter
And also about my girlfriend
And I would sing and draw a little bit
But mostly I'd just wake up early and sit
And hang out with the puppies and wish that I could live forever

And back when I was 87 and my grandson had just turned eleven
My woman was dead
And my dogs were getting pretty old
My body didn't work quite like it should
But overall things were pretty good
I was getting decent royalties from the reissued comic books and records

And back when I was 106
My only friend
Was one goldfish
Everyone I ever knew was dead and gone
And the goldfish never had a name
And the neighbors thought I was insane
And I flushed it down the toilet when I saw it floating upside down

And back when I was 128 I'd sit outside on an old milk crate
And look out at the world from the stoop across the street
The boomboxes and the hot concrete
And every Halloween they hung
A million rubber skeletons across ninth street
Every Halloween they hung
A million rubber skeletons
Every Halloween they hung
A million rubber skeletons
Every Halloween they hung
A million rubber skeletons
Track Name: Alphabet
late at night cloudy white will creep over my old house
and the chair where I once sat
someone new is there and he'll stare at that wall
and we're all parts of an alphabet
we spell new words in new spots we're at
and the big, round, blue boat drifts around in the dark
when you feel like a jerk does it make you confused
like how could you become as awesome as you are
and still feel like a loser
when you feel ugly and petty
awkward and unsteady
just try not to forget there's so many people who've liked you
and I hope that the art school enjoys your big drawing of ruin
we've all got good things to do and it's good when we do them
from Austin to Brooklyn
they're all smart and good-looking
we're all parts of an alphabet
spell new words with new folks we met
and the big, round, blue boat drifts around in the dark
and the big, round, blue boat drifts around in the dark
and they say that we'll drift for awhile until we die
and the sun hits a spiral
it's a combination lock
and I'm just hoping that I'll get it open
and that these joys and frustrations are just turns in the combination
Track Name: No LSD Tonight
My album's out, I played some shows
Some strange things happened i'll have you know
(Hey you're Jeff Lewis, you like acid, right?)
Some people hear my acid song and seem to take it kind of wrong
(Yeah, you're Jeff Lewis. You're the guy that likes acid)
Well making druggie mentions has gotten druggie attention
But getting you to give me some was not my intention

We don't want no LSD tonight

I played a show in Chapel Hill some dude dressed like a daffodil came backstage
(Hey you want some acid? I got some decent acid)
I played a show in Williamsburgh some dude dressed like a giant bird came backstage
(Yeah, i got some decent acid, you looking?)
We got a lot stuff to do and a long way to drive
Thank you for the offer man, maybe some other time

We don't want no LSD tonight

Well being drunk is fun i guess but being stoned makes me depressed
I can't do it
(The last time i did acid i went insane, it was awesome!)
I did try ecstasy one time and one night i drank some codeine cough syrup
(Hey i thought you were into psychedelic music, man)
But i'm just a tender thing i can't handle too much stress
I start to fall apart after a couple of cigarettes

So we don't want no LSD tonight

But everybody says
Don't you panic, don't you panic
Give it one more try
Don't you panic, don't you panic
Give it one more try
Don't you panic, don't you panic
Give it one more try

But did you hear that song i played about the time i went insane? I hate acid
(Oh yeah, that was a good song, man. Do you know where i can get some acid?)
I played it till my fingers bled ,you didn't listen to a word I said, I guess
(Yeah, that was a funny song. You want some acid?)
It made me moan it made me groan it made me lose my mind
I do not like that stuff my friend and so I must decline
I do not want a little drop, I do not want a gallon
Did you see those words right on the cover of my album?
I know it can be cool and fun I'm just a bad example
So just to set the record straight I've got to say it simple:

We don't want no LSD tonight
(I think in the right environment you'd be fine.)
No.

But everybody says
Don't you panic, don't you panic
Give it one more try
Don't you panic, don't you panic
Give it one more try
Don't you panic, don't you panic
Give it one more try

No, not for me.
Thanks but no thanks.
Track Name: Don't Let The Record Label Take You Out To Lunch
Don't let the record label take you out to lunch,
you're the one that's got to pay at the end of the day.
And try not to want people to like you too much,
you'll just need more and more flattery to recharge your batteries.
And don't let showmanship become more important than honesty,
if you don't want to be so many singers you see.
You don't have to act crazy to do something amazing,
you can be just like you should and still do something really good.

And even when you know there's nobody listening,
say it to yourself because it's good to your health.
I know nothing makes sense if you think too much,
religion, a pigeon, radios and television.
Though it takes so much strength just not to suck,
and not to be a cynic looking for another gimmick.
But you are distraught at the thought of losing everything again,
and they say it's not the way you play the game but if you win.

But don't let the record label take you out to lunch,
because every sip of soup is going to get recouped.
And you get a good review and then you get a bad review,
but don't get suckered either way 'cause none of them know you.

But don't let the record label take you out to lunch,
because they'll call you a cab and put it on your tab.
I'm leaving town for a while but I'll be in touch,
one thing that I know is true is that I got a lot to do.
And that it takes big heart to make great great art,
and I'm just a little dot in the great big pot.
But now that I have started and it's hard to stop,
I'm wondering at night about the wrong and right.
And is somebody your savior if you owe them back a favor,
no they are not, so there's only one choice that you got.

Don't let the record label take you out to lunch,
though the fishes look delicious someone's got to do the dishes.
People might say you're insane or just looking to complain.
And you need them more than they need you,
so don't bite the hand that feeds you.
Everyone has been fair and nice and you consider them a friend,
but everything still has a price and you don't want to overspend.
Because it's your wallet and your soul when the check comes in the end,
no matter what the situation, art, love, occupation,
I'll hold off on the hors d'oeuvres, it is not what I'm in it for,
I only want what I deserve, I want no less, I want no more.
Track Name: Texas
A silver lining
Take my building
Take my pizza
There's cloud
I feel so threatened
It's a dustbowl
Is there hope?
A cloud of dust
A blue horizon
Go to Texas
Back to New York
Where's my pizza?
Where's my building?
Where's my brother?
How's the pizza?
Fucking awful
Now it's raining
How's the people?
Fucking boring
Bowl of mud
I get confused
Disoriented
Where am I?
Back in New York
It's a desert
Made of mud
Dusty blood
Soggy crud
Now it's raining
Where's my lining?
Good for it
Silver lining
Leave the dustbowl
Where's my building?
Leave the building
Where's my building?
Where's my brother?
How's the pizza?
How's the weather?
It's a desert
Home to New York
Go to Maine
I'm in Maine
Stay in Maine
Back to New York
Good to see you
Good to see you
For a minute
Wanna seed
Gotta sow
Wanna flower
Gotta grow
Where's the tower?
Don't you know?
Where's the other?
Had to go
Awful secret desert pizza brother people building Texas tower tower boring burning
How's the? how's the? how's the? how's the?
Track Name: Sea Song
When you’re at sea,
Please be careful
Of the storms and the sharks
And the whales and the dark
Watch out for wrecks
Swab the decks
Steady at starboard
And hard to port
While a hand made of water picks you up and puts you down.

When you’re at sea
With your hands on the wheel
Keep it under control
Looking through your port hole
And a giant turtle on the back of another
It’s the oceans grandmother on the back of the turtle
With the head of a bird
And this tower of turtles
Is eternal immortal
Right outside of your port hole
And the ocean so deep
Gently rocks you to sleep

When you’re at sea
Tucked into your bunk bed
Put a shell to your ear
And the sound that you hear
Is all the thoughts inside your head
Upside down and backwards
So it turns into one word

When you’re at sea
All alone in your cabin
Watching the waves blow
And reading a book
Sing a sea song
Write some lines in your log
Patch all the cracks
Check all the maps
And the north star will stay
Just as far, far away
And a hand made of water picks you up and puts you down again
And the ocean so deep gently rocks you to sleep
Track Name: Arrow
Time flies like an arrow baby in a wheelbarrow swaying where the wind blows static on the radio now,
Bats eat fireflies look at how the time flies baby in a wheelbarrow static on the radio now,
Stayed up all night looking at the moonlight,
saw another bat fly and a firefly die,
no more grapes left, no more tapes left,
no more time left no more space left,
I think that the DJ left his booth,
I'm staring at the roof and there's static on the radio now,

Time flies like an arrow, I will be a man tomorrow the world is quiet there's a rainbow on the TV now,
I will stay awake the tooth fairy wont take all my teeth away a rainbow on the TV now.
Take my teeth to the cemetery,
don't walk up the spiral stairway,
monkeys & babies are scary,
my mom is not the tooth fairy,
I think that the DJ left his booth,
I'm staring at the roof and there's static on the radio now.

There are rainbows, There are daisies,
sweet old ladies, bats and babies,
There are no babes in wheelbarrows, no tooth fairies, no tomorrows,
Where's my past and where's my future?
When did the DJ leave his booth?
When did the wheelbarrow fall off the roof?
and where did the tooth fairy put my tooth?
Time flies like an arrow, I will be a man tomorrow, world is quiet and theres static on the radio,
I will stay awake the tooth won't take all my teeth away static on the radio,
I think the DJ left his booth I'm staring at the roof and there's static on the radio now,

And I don't fall asleep, I ascend to it.
Track Name: If You Shoot The Head, You Kill The Ghoul
This is the state of national emergency
Mind-blowing massacre at the cemetery
When the groundskeeper came to check out the place
They knocked him down and they ate his face
Little Billy Baker said he saw it first
A thousand rotten carcasses
Climbed out of the earth
Now we're holding a crisis information meeting at the high school
And we say if you shoot the head you kill the ghoul
If you shoot the head you kill the ghoul

Come on, this is the state of national emergency
It's happening in Texas and in Idaho and in Tennessee
Hideous hordes of crumbling undead men
Are slaughtering and eating the population
We've just received word from Washington DC
It's every man for himself against the zombies
They say a high-powered, short-range weapon is a man's best tool
And they say if you shoot the head you kill the ghoul

Shoot, shoot, shoot, shoot,
Kill, kill, kill, kill, kill, kill,
Aahhhhhh....This is a state of national emergency
Why is this happening? What are the dead returning?
Have we gone too far, do we deserve this fate?
Is Hell too full, have they opened up the gate?
It's earth last stand against our final death
They'll eat and eat till there's no one left
We don't know if it's radiation or if it's something biblical
But we know if you shoot the head you kill the ghoul
If you shoot the head you kill the ghoul
Track Name: I Saw A Hippie Girl on 8th Ave
I saw a hippy girl on 8th avenue
She barely looked at me for a second or two
And I suddenly realized I no longer looked much like a hippy
mmmmm

She had a long thin dress and rainbow clothes
Not long ago I wore one of those
But now-a-days I guess I don't dress very much like anything
mmmmm

I had a great pair of bellbottoms, I had two
My friend borrowed one and the other I outgrew
And now to the eye I'm turning into another non-descript guy

But I still travel light and my hair is still long
I still hate deoderant and I still sing songs
But over the years I've noticed I'm not dressing as colourfully and psychedelic as I used to

'Cause I wore my tye-dyes until they rotted to shreds
And I can no longer follow The Greatful Dead
And it's gotten to the point where I don't even identify with most Phish fans anymore

And someday soon I'll probably cut my hair
And a week after that I know I won't even care
Is that what it comes to all along
Everything that you feel will one day feel wrong

I was talking to my friend Eric
Just to see what he thunk
And he said "Jeff, it's weird
But I no longer look like a punk
I guess we don't need our clothes for an identity crutch"
And we looked at each other and we didn't look like much
And we looked out at the world like a movie theatre
At all the hippies and the punks and the skinheads and the skaters
And someday or other maybe sooner or later they'll come to the realization
That what's important is whether you can carry on a human conversation
It's not what you wear on the outside
It's how you think and feel on the inside.
Track Name: Graveyard
well there's blackbirds on the turnpike
in the midnight sun
there's roosters on the railroad
look out, here they come!
the sun went down three days ago
& it don't look like it's coming up too soon
but i'm walking like a werefolf &
i've got my compass pointed at the moon
when my daddy was a-dyin'
on his death bed he said "son
don't you never choose to chew
no voodoo flavored bubble gum"
but i chawed myself a jawful
& i blew a bubble shaped just like a skull
it laughed & bit the head off of a baby before flyin' off to hell
oh dolly mae
i'm sad & i can't understand the way
that these birds pass before my eye
they look like water in the sky
if they ask, just tell 'em i'm living in the graveyard
well the moon became a mirror
& it fell down from the sky
it melted through my vison
& it landed in my eye
i went to see the shaman
& he turned my head into the face of an old man
i went to see the shaman
& he smashed my face to dust with his bare hand
i fell down off the mountain
i got stung by a snake
i ate a moldy cobweb
i puked into the lake
tied my shoes with tadpoles
& i climbed the weirdest tree that i could find
& i sat there for a hundred million years
without a darn thing on my mind
oh dolly mae
i am sad & i can't understand the way
that these birds pass before my eye
they look like water in the sky
if they ask, just tell'em i'm livin' in the graveyard
there's wolves the size of raindrops
& they smash out thru your face
spiders big as horses runnin' all over the place
i wanna build a barn to put my momma
in to keep her out of sight
put a padlock on the graveyard &
go swimming in the black lagoon tonight
well now i hear a knocking,
knocking on my old back door
there's a dead dog in the basement,
fire on the second floor
the refrigerator's full of blood
& this'll be the last you hear from me
cuz by this time tomorrow
i'll be hitch-hikin' down route infinty.
Track Name: You Don't Have to Be a Scientist to Do Experiments on Your Own Heart
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
On your own heart

I had no place to put myself
But I had lots of time
I had no place to put myself
But I had lots of time
I had no place to put myself
But I had lots of time
So I threw out some past
And made room for more future

Now I'm standing in the seam
Between my memories and dreams
Balanced on the seam
Between my memories and dreams
Floating down the stream
Between my memories and dreams
And I see a better person
Waiting his turn to be me

And you don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
On your own heart

Now I'm running down the runway
In between gigantic numbers
I'm running down the runway
In between gigantic numbers
I'm running down the runway
In between gigantic numbers
With my knapsack
And a zero for a halo

And my halo's got a hole in it
So it don't keep me dry
My halo's got a hole in it
So it don't keep me dry
My halo's got a hole in it
So it don't keep me dry
But it's ok 'cause
My brain is my heart's umbrella

You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
On your own heart

I had a girl I had to leave
But I saw her face upon my sleeve
I had a girl I had to leave
But I saw her face upon my sleeve
I had a girl I had to leave
But I saw her face upon my sleeve
It kept talking
So I put it in the laundry

And as it spun and spun
It tried to ask me what I'd done
And as it spun and spun
It tried to ask me what I'd done
And as it spun and spun
It tried to ask me what I'd done
But I was gone
On down the road out to the wind

'Cause you think patience is a virtue
And what you don't know can't hurt you
And that events can change and shape us
More than we can change ourselves
And that conscious attempt at growth is stupid
And I should just relax and be myself
And you even think it's arrogant to try

But you don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
You don't have to be a scientist
To do experiments
On your own heart