Chris Bonner (bass, drums, guitars, loops, samples)
Russell Farhang (violin)
Curtis Hasselbring (trombone)
Molly Hickok (vocals)
Cynthia Hopkins (accordion, guitar, saw, vocals)
Tom Hopkins (guitar, vocals)
Wayne Kasserman (violin)
Oscar Noriega (bass clarinet)
Cuong Vu (trumpet)
Recorded and Mixed by Chris Bonner, NYC


1. overture

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2. this dreary life (lost and not knowing anything)

lost on the journey of this dreary life,
how long have I to tread the path of dreams?
how long have I to not know anything at all?
what lies behind? what lies ahead?
the days pass by like wind and I’m the same: lost and not knowing anything
so I have left it all behind
yes I have kissed my home goodbye
I’m setting out to find out why I am alive
I’ll sleep in fields and ditches,
I’ll live on half-forgotten dreams and I won’t rest until I know that I have arrived
how can it be I’ve grown so old with nothing more to show for it?
there’s nothing else to do but start again and not to end until I know…
and now it seems I left moments ago
and I’m already far beyond my home
how can it be I’ve come so far and still remain unchanged?
what lies behind? what lies ahead?
the miles have passed like wind and so it seems I know one thing: that I have arrived
(now I shall set out to know the truth
now I’ll sleep awhile and dream…
I will lay my head down and I’ll allow Heaven to speak to me
and in that place between sleeping and waking
when the formless takes on form
and form becomes formless I’ll try not to be frightened
and return to what I know
I will try and let the dreams take over
I will try and let the dreams take over me
I will try and let the dreams take over me…)

3. this is a love song

I sit for hours on end and listen to your love songs
and I imagine they’re for me
I am a fan folded up and locked, and your music holds the key
I bend my head low and bow down, I hush my voice down low
I almost cannot bear to listen,
but to close my ears would be to sow the seeds of my own death
this is a love song, no matter what, here is a love song, take it please
my heart is heavy with this love song, so let it go free upon the breeze
and take it away from me
I will silence my footsteps so that you can sleep
and after I’m dead my crumbling bones will grow the tree that shelters your grave
I will muffle my playing and stifle my cries
because I am a fan folded up and locked, and your music holds the key

4. ballad of the cherry blossoms

I made a new song of an old song, and this is how the old song went:
it told the story of a woman so lovely she made enemies everywhere she went
and one of these was her student, called Ritaro, who prized his teacher
more than what she taught
so he devised a plan to get what he desired whether she desired it or not
there was a festival in springtime to see the cherry trees in bloom
Ritaro took advantage of this great occasion to make his feelings known
I put a petal in my pocket, to remind myself of spring
so that even when it’s over, in my mind it will remain a wondrous thing
Ritaro saw only one thing in his way now: Shunkin’s guide, Sasuke, by her side
led her from tree to tree dutifully aiding her to feel what she could not see
but Ritaro had a plan to lull him–he plied him with liquor all day long
and by the evening, he’d been filled with so much drink
Sasuke laid down drunk and bleary-eyed
it was then that Ritaro led poor Shunkin out beneath the cherry trees
he said “I’ll be your guide now, I will be your tree,
and you can have your way with me”
but Shunkin shrank back from his violent hands, his leering voice and heavy sighs
and trembling on the ground, she cried out for Sasuke
but he was nowhere to be found
when Sasuke woke from poisoned dreams, he found Shunkin beneath the cherry trees
she said “I’ve saved a cherry blossom so that I’ll recall the spring even after it’s dead”
now when I heard this little story, I was so enchanted by its sound
I tore the notes apart and rearranged them until they became a brand new song
so if you want to make a new thing, here is one thing you can do:
just take apart a thing and rearrange the pieces until it becomes a brand new thing
I’ll make a new song of an old song, to remind myself of spring
so that even when it’s over, in my mind it will remain a wondrous thing

5. song for the servants

says the lovely maid the lovely maid the lovely maid of Mayako:
“mussels and clams won’t you buy my clams?
large fish and small fish and mussels and clams
oh, the sun does set, and once it’s down, the light is gone;
so let us drink, and keep on drinking, until the day breaks the night so long”
says the lovely maid the lovely maid the lovely maid of Mayako
“scarlet and gold won’t you buy my gold?
brocades and damasks and scarlet and gold
I dreamed I was on a hell-bound train, surrounded by sinners all trussed up in chains; and at the helm in a fury of fire, the Devil himself held the reigns”
says the lovely maid the lovely maid the lovely maid of Mayako

6. really, sasuke?

how close can I get to you, I’ve got to get inside your skin
so I put on a blindfold, I locked myself inside a dark room
but I still didn’t feel what you feel, I didn’t know what you know
so I took the next logical step, I got blood in my eyes for you
how close is close enough, do I have to pierce the skin?
do I have to cut you open to really become your friend?
how close can you get with words or with a touch?
well it’s never close enough, so I got blood in my eyes for you
Sasuke sings:
I saw you from the outside looking in
and it broke my heart to feel a distance from you
without and within–
so I turned the inside out and I brought the outside in
I shed my skin, and I got blood in my eyes for you
Shunkin sings:
really, Sasuke?
is it really true?
then your world
is now my world
and we’re one

well I read the books you read I played what you played I said what you said
I did the things you did I let my body be a mantle for your head
but the breach was still too much for this disease they call love
so I shut the gap between us, I got blood in my eyes for you

7. for your music

you need not put it into words
I’ll train myself to guess correctly
what it is you may require
I don’t care how long it takes
I’ve got the patience of a saint, without the wisdom
my love’s immune from your denial
faith is blind or not at all
so I will devote myself
you can never know what God may hold in store for you
so you’ll forgive my struggling? have some patience?
because here is how it is:
everything I thought was good and right’s been shattered
by your devious mysterious unusual beautiful heartwrenching unbearable graceful wonderful dazzling impossible music
so although when I hear it
it tears my heart to pieces
when I don’t, all I do is miss it
I live in an emptiness that can only be filled by your music
even the branches of trees are grateful
they sway in time to your music
as it wafts out through the window
and the air is softened to tears, it knows it can’t compare
it’s a gray day with death in the air
yet I’m reeling with joy
because the world is all aglow with the fire
of your glorious spectacular maddening superior brilliant startling magical magnificent delightfully impossible music
and I’m on fire for your music

8. shunkin's bitter confession

Gray sky. A rooster crows.
Bitter, I look out on thickets and folds.
I haven’t shaken grief’s rattle, yet it clatters.
I haven’t rung sorrow’s bell, yet it tolls.
Their noise only drags me down, angry
with a fate that says I’m much too bold.
Men of talent, learned men, where are you?
Am I supposed to walk as if stooped and old?

9. the deeper the secret

tonight I am coming to visit you in your dreams
no one will know I’ve been there, be sure to leave your door unlocked
no one will ever hear the love songs I’m singing for you
what lies between us will remain a deep dark secret
deeper than half-forgotten dreams, and darker than night-time
in the shadows my love is, in the darkness a mystery lives
I will keep my love a secret from what can be seen
I know your steady hand, I’ve chosen your patience
for it’s only behind layers of curtains, behind screen after screen, door after door
layer upon layer of clothing and skin
behind what appears to be there you will find me, waiting
will you be my helpless victim? will you crawl into my arms, trembling?

10. gone as though they had not been

gone as though they never had been
the years passed in a flash
what were their voices
are now wind through the pines
I had stood in the falling rain hoping I would attain some kind of wisdom
I had an eye on the one above who might shower on me some kind of explanation
but now I see that it’s here, this wisdom:
on my pillow, in my hands, right in front of me
I turn around the years have passed
as though they were a dream
all my glories have turned to ashes
that scatter in the breeze
I had thought that the day would dawn, I thought that night would fall all over me
I had thought that it all would be something that I could keep, like a trophy
but now I see that it’s here, that it’s now
it’s a gift, and it’s wonderful: a wondrous mystery
so what is gone let’s not regret
let’s long for what is here
they say you were a beautiful dancer
when you were a child
I would like to have known you then, when your eyes were just opening
to the wonders of this world
when you were without pride or fear, when you were like a lamb my dear, somewhat empty
but now I see that regret is a myth
don’t forget, it’s a gift: a wondrous mystery

11. and which is better?

there is the woman and then there is your impression of her
there is her face and then there is your memory of it
and which is better? art or nature?
truth or fiction? honesty or sweet pretty lies?
there is music, and then there is your careful study of it
there is your love and then there is your love poetry
and which is better? truth or fiction?
science or religion? honesty or sweet pretty lies?
I’ll restore your pride through my humility
I’ll restore your beauty through my blindness
I’ll grant you authority through my obedience
it doesn’t matter who you are
because what is in my mind is stronger than what is
there is what happens and then there are history books
there are events and then there is the nightly news
and which is better? myth or confusion?
fact or invention? reality or sweet pretty lies?
there is the woman and then there is her biography
there are her actions and then there are her charming stories
and which is better? faith or despair?
heros or disappointments? the sad truth or the uplifting mythology?
your picture’s faded, your grave untended
I can’t recall your voice or what you said
yet your sainthood increases the longer you’re dead
it doesn’t matter what you’ve done
my invention of you will last longer than your flaws
the subject of this portrait has quit the scene
this account is third-hand, based on a book
by a narrator who can’t be trusted
so then what do we believe?
when the truth is as elusive as it is irrelevant?

12. a singing nightingale alights in the hills

there is a time when in the hills the snow begins to melt
and swollen mountain streams begin to flow
and soughing pines sway in the breeze
and mists moving over hills and fields
and clouds of cherry trees in bloom
all heave a sigh of joy
because they know it’s time
for the nightingale to sing again