The Democracy of Sleep

by The Bonaduces

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credits

released December 4, 1998

Doug McLean - vocals/guitar
Michael Koop - guitar/vocals
Bob Somers - bass/vocals
Chris Hiebert - drums

with:

Allison Shevernoha - vocals on tracks 11 and 13
John Samson - vocals on track 13
Lloyd Peterson - piano on track 13, Hammond organ on tracks 11 and 12

Recorded and mixed by John Sutton at Private Ear, July/August 1998
Assistance provided by Paul Furgale, Lloyd Peterson and Neil Cameron
Mastered by Al Hunnie
thebonaduces@gmail.com

Originally released on Endearing Records, 1998

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The Bonaduces Winnipeg, Manitoba

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Track Name: A Seperate Lid Behind Closed Eyes
Here’s the hard part: when there are no plugs to pull, visitors are ushered back to their vehicles, and an endless crescendo of unvoiced cries manipulate the silence of hospitals at night. And indistinct wishes made on my behalf are rationed and assigned to specific tasks, like staving off nightmares, dismissing random pains or petitioning disaster to increase its pace. I’ve found a space between consciousness and dream to invent a life inside. A stack of photos; a handmade shelf: mysterious and foreign relics of health. Wilted flowers strain to scent the room. I don’t need flowers. I just need you. I’ve found a space between consciousness and dream to invent a life inside. I feel the building pulling up its roots, seceding from the world I knew…and a separate lid behind closed eyes reacts to this and opens wide. Staff pours out from stiffening walls, their clipboards ripe with protocol for static hearts and absent sounds. The script is all in pencil now, so take me home. Burst through these doors. I’m uninsured and I’m sure…I’m sure I can’t stay anymore.
Track Name: The Second Annual National Depression Awareness Day Sleepover Party
At the table you played along, like when Angela explains how she shows up drunk to therapy. But at my turn you disappeared. I guess you didn’t want to hear the new face among all the rest assimilate to your pretense. Or maybe you’re a lot like me; you dress your pain in irony just to make it through each day. Oh…I’d love to sit and talk it out, but the words go stale in my mouth. This is all for show, because everyone here knows we need our friends for more than just cheap jokes. And when the drinks have run dry, what comes next? Do we read aloud from Syvvie Plath? Pin-the-tail on Diane Arbus photographs? Is this my fate? To watch you all degenerate…to scoop up your doodles of me for your posthumous auction at Christie’s? Chorus. So when the sun settles to sleep and our seritonin is in retreat, we could put the drunks to bed and confront our real fears instead. Or…well, then…maybe next year…
Track Name: Sara's Black Pyjamas
Sara made her first attempt to go out since the incident and all our vigilance had been relaxed by time. She shifted keys from hand to hand while she was straightening a straight watchband. Then she seemed to ask permission, so we complied. Candles burning down. The clocks are all exhausted now from the weight of being watched. And all those prior scenes, the stomach pumps, the bleached-out sleeves, weren’t as far away as we thought. And we were failing to acknowledge what’s so obvious, all the signs we’ve seen before…like Sara’s black pyjamas peeking out from clothes that she plucked off of the bathroom floor. Suicide can be this subtle thing that keeps burrowing through your routine, until you’re not eating and phones just ring themselves to sleep. And now it’s all becoming clear that any victory we claimed this year was just us redefining death for our relief. Candles burning down. The clocks are all embarrassed now, by the weight they’ve been assigned. Like when you made a tool of a turtle-shaped wading pool and stripped all innocence from our lives. Chorus. And I’ve called up every place that she would go, and nobody is picking up the phone. But in the early morning hours when ours starts to ring, it hits me what they might not want to know.
Track Name: Carmen
Here we are, servicing these dogs and plants, house-sitting in the valley for your aunt. We’re laughing because this is the last place we should be. We search the shelves. There is nothing we can eat. And all of these shampoos are animal-tested, too. There goes our dream of perfumed heads to compliment these pristine beds. Carmen…I never thought that this would be so hard. I mean, we both came from these luxuries. But, Carmen, you were right. This is our life. The rice has all gone cold and the record stopped an hour ago. And late at night, when the coffee’s cured our sleep, and the borders between skin and night are breached, we’ll make a fort from toppled furniture and lie in the dark, peering up at summer sky…to the gentle hum of appliances left on. We’ll slip off the clothes we always wear. The dogs are staring; let them stare. Chorus.
Track Name: Bee-Sting Necklace
If I take too long to deal with what’s been said, it’s just that I have taken it to conclusions in my head. When every kid in class has found the guts to ask what they can do to help you through, I guess I must look pretty cold: your best friend standing silent, choked by fear. And if we’re back outside and I’m overcome with stress…we’re ten feet from a hive, and you’re barefoot, in a sleeveless dress. If you were only wrapped in a flak jacket and welder’s mask I could relax, but that’s so stupid to expect. So…I made this to protect in other ways. Three pills in a locket around your neck. So: if I make amends; if I cease to be a rusty-mouthed companion to this new mortality…we’re only 12 years old. It’s hard to be so bold about these things. But I’m listening. So tell me what you need from me and I will boost my bravery to match your own. Chorus.
Track Name: Understudy to Abby Grey
If I take too long to deal with what’s been said, it’s just that I have taken it to conclusions in my head. When every kid in class has found the guts to ask what they can do to help you through, I guess I must look pretty cold: your best friend standing silent, choked by fear. And if we’re back outside and I’m overcome with stress…we’re ten feet from a hive, and you’re barefoot, in a sleeveless dress. If you were only wrapped in a flak jacket and welder’s mask I could relax, but that’s so stupid to expect. So…I made this to protect in other ways. Three pills in a locket around your neck. So: if I make amends; if I cease to be a rusty-mouthed companion to this new mortality…we’re only 12 years old. It’s hard to be so bold about these things. But I’m listening. So tell me what you need from me and I will boost my bravery to match your own. Chorus.
Track Name: Lectern Made of Seashells
The plan was that we would take a final trip, so that we could see the coastal strip where we used to beg for change. Our shoes then were more duct tape than they were shoes, full of sand and coated with glue. Hm, I guess they’re still that way. I can’t add days to your life, but I could add life to your days. Face down on a beach, both trying to speak…words bubble and they swell at a lectern made of seashells. Flattened rocks that we’d engrave with Spanish words we still retained. We’d skip them south to Mexico, then watch as the mist turned into rain, while the Doppler effect of trains would embellish the night with drowsy notes. Chorus.
Track Name: Bomb Threat at Montgomery High
Dark news arrives on the announcements, and narcoleptic bodies strewn everywhere vaguely stir at the chilling news before they retreat to the fog of the smoker’s stairs. They play it safe while the cameras are spinning; the next day security goes straight to work, injudiciously jamming their hands into the marsupial pocket of my hooded shirt. I sharpened my tears to prick their precious smiles while a shadow of fear still hangs across their eyes. Reduced to this, and what do you know? Heart keeps ticking and it’s ready to blow. 3, 2, 1, building up inside: bomb threat at Montgomery High. Days pass and it gets so scary. The perpetrators sitting in their same seats, still, while Billie and her mom move back to Salisbury and Helen gets a spot at Harvey Milk. But I take solace in imagining you walking…your blunt brown bangs bouncing as I look through the taped-up English class window. They’re talking about writing about films about books. Chorus.
Track Name: Eyes as Black as Blueberries
All the changes that I’ve made don’t amount to much in a room so small that the corners of everything touch. A little breeze past the window; a little light appears. It’s not enough to open your eyes after years and years of this. And you know that I’ll want to try until these markers run dry, but there’s no way to get around what is lost and won’t be found. And if we don’t see another winter; if we don’t see another day, and all the words that really matter all get lost or locked away. When the colours all start fading, I pray that one last time I’ll see your hair as red as oranges and eyes as black as blueberries. And all the changes that I’ve made in the hours I keep, as I hold my breath just to hear if you still breathe. Going out, robbing parking meters, just to get prescriptions filled. Pay the rent in quarters and tossing hospital bills. And you know that I’ll want to try, and that this heart won’t run dry. But there’s no way to get around what is lost and won’t be found. Chorus. And these cats just won’t keep quiet while I cut knots out of your hair. They’re indifferent to your dying, though they can smell it everywhere.
Track Name: I Nominate My Kitten For the King of the Dead
I found some diaries from when I was thirteen, and they’re filled with half-invented stories, boring dreams and little drawings from classroom windows where tetherballs rattle, limp, on their poles. I was surprised that there was nothing really in them about me that was remotely real, until I saw volume three changed completely about twelve pages in; then, tragedy kissed me full on the lips. When I re-read what I wrote, I get a lump in my throat, and it lingers in whatever I say. Cradling what was left of a beloved pet unraveled years and years of burying pain. It’s essential that this is taken to hart, because these lessons have been tested by all the losses we’ve suffered so far. So I nominate my kitten for the King of the Dead. Seven years have passed, and now I’m back to this: distant, dogmatic, the words flow from my lips, like in these pages of false history dragged from attic to attic with me. So, Sara, listen close: I want you here alive. And, Gail: I reserve a spot at your bedside. Carla, I’ve been through all of this with you, and I know you remember it, too. That ceremony was the last thing that we ever did in that time zone again. The origins of hope, wrapped in shoebox and rope, dragging us from our world of pretend. Chorus.
Track Name: Days Between the Stations
Hey…I guess that you’re asleep, but let me tell you about my dream. In it, we’re somewhere in Alaska, and sunlight settles like a stain onto the world’s slowest train to mark its slackened passage. But we leave our cameras in our backpacks until our hospital haircuts grow back in. And in the days between the stations, we are drowning in sobriety. And all the weight of isolation has lost its grip and tumbled off of me. After months in a state of isolation, you find your place in these one-way conversations as we ride for days between the stations. The staff comes in to provide all the food we’ve been denied, while I survey others seated. And as their faces start to creep into the democracy of sleep, we learn to treasure waiting. And we zip our sleeping bags together. You rest your bad arm across my knees. Chorus. And I’ll keep looking at the time; the sun is never setting now. I’ll stop looking for something to drag us down. Chorus.
Track Name: The Songs We Knew Best
We dressed and went outside, my sister and me, so we could go watch the moon lie across the belly of the sun. And she held me close; she knew I freaked out in the dark. But I remained composed this time. Though…I thought it was the end. My ideas of the cosmos were not quite Copernican. All I knew was mashed potatoes, Crayolas and dolls. So, here, among the red leaves of a Massachusetts fall, I was resigned. In dark days, scrunching up my wings until brilliant rays came in from the strangest place. And this light crept in from the margins fully dressed, and it’s singing the songs we knew best. I never knew that she smoked, but I assumed it made her happy. I hung my head down low and moved in close to smell its stink hang on the chilled air. I loved you then; I wish I had told you, I wish I had said that I wasn’t scared at your side. And I find it strange that in the face of dying, it’s small things that hold their shape and qualify my presence here amongst you five, who have taken up the burden of legitimizing my time in this life. Chorus. Rose, you were right: there’s nothing present in the dark that isn’t in the light.
Track Name: Damage Deposit
Isn’t it strange to see these walls bare? The smell of cats bleached out with Hi-Test that we stole for Gail’s hair, while she was stuck inside, bed-ridden, but trying to stay positive. While our hearts were breaking every second. Lugging our trash from back yard to front. The cuffs of our pants soak up the dew from grass that’s never been cut. The lifeline we’ve refined for years and years, dismantled to its component gears; broken down to these five remaining faces. And even after all we’ve been through, we’re still not sure what we should do. I can’t believe the cost assigned to what’s been lost, but maybe when the cheque comes in, there’ll be no illusions left and we can sort through the mess; find a way to assess the damage done. All of Gail’s things boxed up in the loft. There are no relatives to send them to, and we’ve kept the things we’d want: the stupid songs that she would sing all wrong; her short-cuts that took twice as long; her eyes, reflecting back the morning. So goodbye, I guess, to the things that can’t last. Goodbye, house, where we all talked away the abuses of our pasts. Where our poverty could not undo the love I have for all of you who are here, and the one that left us early. Chorus. Hold my hand one last time; whisper things to remind me of the way you’d whisper things to me.