The Martyr and the Magician

by Michael Howard

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Susan Teel
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Susan Teel The philosopher and poet John O'Donohue said that the outer landscape of the land that we live in is reflected in our inner landscape of the soul and then reflected back out in the life of the music from a region. Michael Howard's music is the shape of the Alaskan landscape. I hear and feel the places of land and soul in his music. Favorite track: Child Come Home.
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about

"You feel its greatness, it feels important...it’s so difficult to write words to qualify how good, how vital this record is." (AmericanaUK album review, July 2015)

credits

released January 9, 2015

All songs written by Michael Howard © 2015

www.mhowardmusic.com

Tracks 1-3 produced by Jacob Winik at Tiny Telephone Studios in San Francisco, CA. Tracks 4-10 produced by James Glaves at Arkansas Studios in Anchorage, AK. Mastered by Jason Ward at Chicago Mastering Service.

Musicians on this album include: Michael Howard (acoustic guitar and vocals), James Glaves (percussion, electric guitars, synths), Kate McVey (violin, viola), Bryan Daste (pedal steel), Kevin Worrell (upright bass), Marty Severin (electric bass), Michael Onorato (piano) Evan Phillips (backing vocals), Eve Van Dommelen (accordion)

Thank you to all Kickstarter backers with a special thank you to Tim Nixon, Natalie Elisabeth Morgan, and Dirk Sisson & Barb Hood for their strong support for music in Alaska.

Album art by Kori Blakely

Lettering by Matt Huynh (www.matthuynh.com)

Graphic layout by Hawkins Wright

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Michael Howard Alaska

"A Five-Star Folk CD..." - NoDepression bit.ly/2d3xXMs

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Track Name: Better Than the Last
I was lost inside the bottle
My heart was stuck in place like the little ship within
Till she peered in through the foggy glass
Now we're caught up and this ship is going down again
And this time's so much better than the last

We were lost inside the city
Where the mayor was an elephant and the preacher was a clown
Till we got up and we got out
And we lit fire to that crooked circus of a town
And this time's so much better than the last

And we weren't long in San Francisco
Till a smoking chinaman made an offer for my songs
We shook hands, I could not refuse
And I sang and danced but he took my money till it was gone
And this time's so much better than the last

So we carried on through the middle states
And from the only frequency came a voice that said "Repent!"
Well I left that dial in it's place
And by the end of Kansas I was accidentally born again
And this time's so much better than the last

Then came the words of the presidents
They say they know best even though there's nothing left to win
So rock me darlin' tenderly
Because the world's at war again and this time will surely be the end
And this time's so much better than the last
Track Name: The Tallest Man in Idaho
I came into my own in silence
I am lucky not to know how it is to loose everything
And though the time that we shared was somewhat trying
I think there's more to things that what our eyes can see

I saw the hound's tongue choke the bullrush out
Under a mackerel sky of angry, bitter clouds
I heard the valley filled with rye whisper,
"Boy, this is the last time you'll be coming through"

I took my mother's wrists and their pain
I took my fathers mind and I'm as stubborn a man can be
You took the benefit of your name
And we are only justified in the end to go our way

Idaho is both kind and mean and the truth
Is that I don't feel much of anything
I look back and time moves slow, I look up
And there is nowhere for me to run to
No I don't care where I am running to

I was the tallest one to come crashing down
With golden fingers and golden crowns
There are children green growing where I lay
Where the tallest man in Idaho is rotten away
Where the tallest man in Idaho is rotten
And the truth is that I don't feel much of anything
Track Name: Child Come Home
When was the moment that you sat down?
What did you seek that was not found?
And was it buried so deep that you lost everything?
When was the moment that you sat down?

When was the moment that you sat down?
Did the voices inside speak to you out loud?
Did they tell you some things you did not want to hear?
When was the moment that you sat down?

When was the moment that you sat down?
Were your demons strong and got their hands around?
Did they hold on tight and drag you down through the dust and the ash and bones?
When was the moment that you sat down?

When was the moment that you sat down?
Did your closest kin leave you full of doubt?
Did they cut you down and did they shut you out?
When was the moment that you sat down?

When was the moment that you sat down?
Were your bridges tall before they burned to the ground?
Was your fire fierce and did it lick and consume 'till it came to this?
When was the moment that you sat down?

When was the moment that you sat down?
And when the trumpets call will you hear the sound?
When you close your eyes do you hear the rustle of a thousand wings?
When was the moment that you sat down?

Child come home
Child come home
Child come home
Child come home
Track Name: Brutal Heart
That night the sky was hanging upside down, when she headed south to a different town
Far away from me and far away from every little thing that held her down
Now all my flowers have turned to seed, my pieces lifted by the breeze
I’m not rooted down in the rocky ground that used to nurture me

If I don’t make it far, at least I got there gracefully
And if you’re all that I need, I wish I knew what was good for me
It was written from the start, a brutal heart needs space to roam
And if we’re all made of stars, then let those northern winds carry me back home

Now Washington’s the widest drive from top to bottom from every side
We’re back on our own and I’m going down to the riverside
There’s a brand new lover waiting there for me, this heart is restless like the sea
Her eyes are dark like the Portland sky and wet like the rain

If I don’t make it far, at least I got there gracefully
And if you’re all that I need, I wish I knew what was good for me
It was written from the start, a brutal heart needs space to roam
And if we’re all made of stars
And our bodies are the dust
Then let those northern winds carry me back home
Track Name: Bury a Mountain
This town came and this town went just like the summer
We fell right in, and we fell back out again
Now these frost heaves are moving grey pavement like waves and so it seems
That this road is just the water that flows from this town that we're in
From this town that we're in

So long Alaska, so long as the river runs deep
It rolls on forever, but even those come to end in the sea
Now we're long gone, caught in that avalanche cloud
You can bury a mountain, cause there just ain't no stopping loose ground
You can bury a mountain, because there just ain't no stopping loose ground

With the oil came houses, with the houses came a town with no feeling
With Susitna we wait for old lovers to come back some day
But a house is no home, a house is much more like that mountain
Even mountains don't stay, even what seems forever can wander away
It can wander away

So long Alaska, so long as the river runs deep
It rolls on forever, but even those come to end in the sea
Now we're long gone, caught in that avalanche cloud
You can bury a mountain, cause there just ain't no stopping loose ground
You can bury a mountain, because there just ain't no stopping loose ground

So love is the wind, and we are the flame of the fire
It comes over us, and that's when we glow a bit brighter
Then after it's gone, we'll still burn on
But the mountain is gone, and appeared in a song about how nothing
Can go on forever

It was a landslide, everything that we had
So wild so beautiful, all the way down
Now we're long gone, caught in that avalanche cloud
You can bury a mountain, cause there just ain't no stopping loose ground
You can bury a mountain, because there just ain't no stopping loose ground
You can bury a mountain, because there just ain't no stopping loose ground
Track Name: Raven King
Your eyes tell me everything out loud
How you fell far from the angel's grace and crashed down
Cooking spoons and your body is high past the clouds
Past Saturn's face
Now you're spinning in space a dark and distant moon

And there's a tired soul behind those eyes
Your stacking stones from another life
And you'll bear them
Until the other side

Your mother sits beside the door to your old room
Her tiny boy from the dresser drawer took too soon
A shortcut to god on a stolen pair of raven wings
You cheated life
Now you can't come back from what you've seen

And there's a tired soul behind those eyes
Your stacking stones from another life
And you'll bear them
Until the other side

'Till you come back as the raven king
And your song gives shape to every living thing
You'll spread your wings and you'll follow me
Up the mountain side,
Oh, imagine what we will see!

It's a beautiful world
It's a beautiful world
Track Name: Tiny Birch Basket
I met a child, she was a witch in disguise
She floats in the bay in a tiny birch basket
I saw through her eyes, I asked if the tide
Was coming in or the land was going out to sea

We were not real until we stood beside the ocean
We could not feel until we swallowed the sea
Then we'd understand where every river will end
We were not real until we stood by the ocean

The women pass by with thin painted eyes
Searching to find what painted eyes cannot see
They're missing the stars, the city so bright
It burned off the night and turned to headlights on cars
It burned off the night and turned to headlights on cars

We were not real until we stood beside the ocean
We could not feel until we swallowed the sea
Then we'd understand where every river will end
We were not real until we stood by the ocean

That sun sank behind those thin power lines
It slipped down inside to drown itself in the sea
In every octopus arm, eight ways to be enlightened
Little pieces of sun in the fish and in me

There's no difference between that child and me
We float in the bay in a tiny birch basket
We'll all float away in a tiny birch basket
We'll all float away in a tiny birch basket

(Music video here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=efG6G4t5PT4)
Track Name: Limelight
When I was a young man
It was to move to the city
Far from familiar places
I would join the races
Oh, the women with their painted eyes!
The brokers on the money lines
We had the power
We had the long nights
Under the limelight

I need a pick me up
I need to come back down
Need you to show me how you're living the sweet life
Where did you find those things that made your cheeks pink?
What did I somehow miss along the busy road
To where I thought I wanted to be?

While my soul grew weary
You went to walk with the spirits
They gave you fruit and honey
Your sacred health and beauty
Oh, I'm coming for a simple time!
Where I am yours and you are mine
Where you're my lover
We'll have the long nights
Under the limelight

I need a pick me up
I need to come back down
Need you to show me how you're living the sweet life
Where did you find those things that made your cheeks pink?
What did I somehow miss along the busy road
To where I thought I wanted to be?

I need to come down
I need to come down
I need to come down
I need to come down
Track Name: A Town With No River (For Angelene)
Come hither oh brother! Come down from the falls
You’re the boy, you’re the water, you run swift and tall
A stone bridge sews together this town like a thread
Because a town with no river, is a town good as dead

The wheat that grew purple no one could explain
It was the sound of the horses that we hoped we could save
The old barn fell to pieces and it went up in flames
With your town, with your river, the town with your name

We buried our memories in the years without rain
I found you in the river, it met us in the plains
Where the land and the water make one in the same
A town with no river is a town with no name

The saints cast their blessings and at last thunder came
A decade of silence, we were all cast away
There are tales in the silos, their stores hold the pain
Of the towns with no rivers, we forgot all their names

There’s a space under Jordan where the wretched are saved
How sweet the sound of amazing grace
Like John and the Baptists found hope in his name
This whole town came to Jesus, when we swam in the waves

We’re naming our sons after currents in waters
And training our daughters in the ways of their mothers
And we’ll always remember that we came from the water
Because a town with no river, is a town with no name

We buried our memories in the years without rain
I found you in the river, it met us in the plains
Where the land and the water make one in the same
A town with no river is a town with no name
Track Name: The Girl from the Dogwood Forest
It was a little ways off the spur road, off the main road, to the town
It was the kind of place that dies every winter when the railcar stops coming around
I saw here there with her auburn hair in that someplace in between
I said, “This road shouldn’t be here and neither should you.”
“What are you missing? And are you finding what you need?”

The girl from the dogwood forest working in the cinnamon store
Why did she run so far from Virginia? What did she come here lookin’ for?
May she gather strength from the mountain and put her roots deep in the ground
And set her spirit free among the dogwood trees, may peace in her heart be found

It was a little bit like a postcard, the Shenandoah and fertile ground
She told me about a lover, his crimson color and his feathered crown
How he took a part of her fragile heart, and now she’s searchin’ for that piece
But girl don’t you know you’re already whole?
There’s nothing missing, you’ve got everything you need

The girl from the dogwood forest working in the cinnamon store
Why did she run so far from Virginia? What did she come here lookin’ for?
May she gather strength from the mountain and put her roots deep in the ground
And set her spirit free among the dogwood trees, may peace in her heart be found

We are sons of the northern mountains, we are daughters of dogwood trees
We are waves of wildflowers, and we wander to be free
There’s a love as deep as the ocean, and it’s moving, and it’s infinite
It’s calling to you and me, we’re all just a little bit…

The girl from the dogwood forest working in the cinnamon store
Why did you run so far from Virginia? What did you come here lookin’ for?
May you gather strength from the mountain and put your roots deep in the ground
And set your spirit free among the dogwood trees, may peace in your heart be found
May peace in our hearts be found