The Dark Side of Red

by Shandy Lawson

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1.
I had mischief in my eye I had weight to throw around I had the perfect line For every point in space and time Nowhere to go but down, down, down I was Napoleon I was Captain Bligh I was really something I was strong But I was always wrong I was really something I was the apple of Mama’s eye Always the brightest light in town Now even I can see The epitaph they’ll write for me Nowhere to go but down, down, down I was Napoleon I was Dr. Frankenstein I was really something I was strong Until it all went wrong I was really something
2.
The first thing I heard was the hum of the lights overhead And in the next bed was a girl With hair on the dark side of red She said, “Buddy, you ought to be dead— Buddy, you ought to be dead.” I felt around and I found a tube in my arm And the beat of my heart sounded out An insistent, hypnotic chirp And I couldn’t speak a word I couldn’t speak a word I reached back deep in my brain on how I got there And way back there somewhere was the answer Afraid to come out of the dark And I couldn’t draw a spark I couldn’t draw a spark But oh—I remember love in her eyes But that was before, Back in some other life Some other life I fell in love with the girl in the next bed Her hair on the dark side of red, she reached out To me and offered her hand She said, “Baby, you know who I am. “Baby, you know who I am.”
3.
Sisyphus 01:58
Where were you when the clouds broke open Where were you when we shouted your name Where were you when the water rose On up the sidewalk And into the kitchen And took everything we owned And in the light of a Delta sunset The silhouette of a city unchanged Dawn comes to crush the illusion Over and over Like Sisyphus rolls his boulder up the hill I’ll be stronger for my troubles I’ll see my way without your light Where were you—you said you’d be there We looked to the sky And combed through the mud Waiting for you to come
4.
When I’m king I’ll make friends with everybody when I’m king I won’t throw bombs on everyone When I’m king I’ll have all the biggest parties My guests will be impressed by the artwork on my walls And all the trophies I have won When I’m king All my records will go platinum when I’m king I’ll win Grammys don’t you know When I’m king I’ll be a sellout at the garden Every song in my catalog In mandatory rotation on everybody’s radio When I’m king I’ll eat gold-plated Snickers when I’m king Off a gold plated plate When I’m king It’ll be a crime against humanity And a capital offense To show anything but love for king Shandy the Great Bow down All you peasants in my shadow Feel the power and the mercy of your king Lest I strike you with my power And smite you with my mercy Let my kindness shine on everyone and everything When I’m king I’ll be a soothing voice of reason when I’m king In this world of doubt and disarray When I’m king You’ll look to me as a father Dispensing wise words of wisdom With significance and charisma in everything I say When I’m king
5.
As It Began 01:37
If I sit here long enough Like a tractor in the mud The rust will cover me up And in the end, as in the start I won’t be more than just a spot of ink On some hospital chart Days that shine, days that rain Days that bust and days that bang All begin the same And in the end, as it began I am no more or less Than what she believes I am
6.
It’s quietest just before curtain The house lights soften to black A guy in the last row stifles a cough The director gives me a wink And I give a wink back And this moment is mine As if caught in a jar While I find the heart While I find the heart of Tom Wingfield My eyes, fixed on the footlights My feet carry me off to my mark As I alight from the shelter of the wings My lines slither and soar Into the dark And this moment is mine As if caught in a jar While I find the heart While I find the heart of Tom Wingfield
7.
Detroit 02:43
For a while, I was a boxer Back when I got around I once fought Joe Louis Joe Louis knocked me down And I learned that it’s not how your battles are won It’s who’s on the mat when the fighting is done I spent a lifetime In Assembly at Ford Putting gaskets ‘round windshields And latches on doors And I learned how to put your whole life in a car And an honest day’s pay only gets you so far
8.
Aces & Kings 03:28
I sit on the steps, looking out at the street There’s clouds overhead and a beer at my feet And there’s too much time to think Got too much time to think What will be left of me— When the poetry’s gone and the story is weak When the first line is dumb, and the second just stinks Will I know when to call it a day? Will I sit there at home with my devils and my crows And hum to the drum in my head? Will I follow the muses down to the bitter end? There’s always a way to dodge a cliché But you play the hand you’re dealt So far it seems it’s been aces and kings Aces and kings for me I’ll write lots of letters, and talk about fishing Read paperback westerns in the large print edition Play chess in the park with icy precision And retire with a cup of Earl Grey And I know that someday I’ll become the cliché But you play the hand you’re dealt So far it seems it’s been aces and kings Aces and kings for me
9.
Mary casts a smile Out the kitchen window With cheerful, aimless singing She whiles away here time She finishes the night’s dishes And rinses out the sink “That’s clean enough, I think—” she says Mary throws aside The beaded white lace curtain And shoos away the cat She’s certain scares away her birds She smiles at Danny’s picture On the refrigerator “I will call him later,” she says Mary calls me simple But says it in a sweet way She just means to say I’m easy to amuse She calls me from the garden When the first raindrops are felt “You don’t want to melt,” she laughs Mary likes to say I’m the lightning to her thunder Still I often wonder Why she keeps me around I must be such a burden For one woman to carry But that’s why I love Mary That’s why I love my Mary so
10.
When the ending is impending When the angel’s at my door I will answer without question What I have to answer for Every choice I’ve made, Right and wrong A thousand times and more I will answer without question What I have to answer for ‘Cause I’m happy just to be here In the company of friends Got no time to worry where it ends When the days tumble from the sky like hail And fall too fast to count I will stand in silent wonder And watch ‘em hit the ground Each day’s another drop of rain In a monsoon coming down I will stand in silent wonder And watch ‘em hit the ground ‘Cause I’m happy just to be here Where now and then connect Got no time to worry what comes next So when the ending is impending When the angel’s at my door I will answer without question What I have to answer for

credits

released January 1, 2008

Written and performed by SL except drums on "King Shandy" by Tom Schroeder and Strings on "Mary" by Eric & Bruna Dahlin, arranged by SL.

Recorded at Media Park, Farmington, CT November 2007 - February 2008

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Shandy Lawson New Haven, Connecticut

Formerly of Los Angeles, Tampa, and NYC, Shandy is a New Haven, CT-based performing songwriter. But really, he'll play pretty much anywhere.

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