Honest

by Ordinary Elephant

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1.
03:58
Eggshell white Paint in your hair Dirt beneath your nails Years on the back of your hands Some things can wash clean And some, will stick around Blades of St. Augustine Scattered across the driveway It still feels like Sunday When I hear a cajun band Every chamber of my heart, bears the mark Of what I come from Sometimes our world falls apart But I guess that’s what it takes To find the part that cannot break Wooden table on a concrete slab The fish were red and the crabs were blue Every five gallon bucket Carries a piece of you Some things can wash clean And some, will stick around Spilt beer and a deck of cards An old bed sheet for a tablecloth Some of those days are lost But most I still come across Every chamber of my heart, bears the mark Of what I come from Sometimes our world falls apart But I guess that’s what it takes To find the part that cannot break I come from hard work I come from never giving up I come from you I built cities from sidewalk chalk Sailed the world in a cardboard boat I hope I always dream that big I put the whole damn kitchen In every pot of cold mud soup I hope I always put everything I got Into what I do Some things can wash clean And some, will stick around Every chamber of my heart, bears the mark Of what I come from Sometimes our world falls apart But I guess that’s what it takes To find the part that cannot break We cannot break
2.
Excuses are easy When everything’s on the line These Montana magpies With their black and their white Feathers sitting Side by side Bring an unknown offering Of something we should try Was he a monster or a martyr It depends on who you ask But once it’s done You can’t take it back How can I keep my mind open If my eyes are closed It’s hard to hide the hate When there is no love to show How can I nail a man up For the color of his skin Knock him down, make him pay For my father’s sin I am starting to see We are all the color of the scars we keep “I’ll show you when you’re older” My father always said But he never did Get old enough for that Every sunday afternoon Denim shirt, cowboy hat Out in the sun Throwing shadows and an axe There’s a tool for every job And a job for every man Be careful What you put in your hands How can I keep my mind open If my eyes are closed It’s hard to hide the hate When there is no love to show How can I nail a man up For the color of his skin Knock him down, make him pay For my father’s sin I am starting to see We are all the color of the scars we keep These times are hard And it’s harder to heal When where you were born Decides what you fear It’s time to be a brother Not my father’s son I was born to be a bigot But that don’t mean that I am one I put my boots on just the same And when the day is done I pray For you, my son How can I keep my mind open If my eyes are closed It’s hard to hide the hate When there is no love to show How can I nail a man up For the color of his skin Knock him down, make him pay For my father’s sin I am starting to see We are all the color of the scars we keep
3.
03:47
I don’t smell your bourbon today Just car exhaust and a drizzle on the dirt Waiting on the city bus At Constitution and 21st A kid sits down with his face to his phone If you were here I can just hear what you’d say “Try being 19 in ‘69 boy” Spitting Sunny Brook right in his face You shot ‘em down in ‘73 The war was all but over Took a month to make it home And 6 more before you could hold her Somewhere on these city streets You lost your will and your composure The war is anything but over You’d take me once a week to walk that wall That does not bear your name Relive the war, relive the return To the girl who never took your name As far as I can tell That was the only thing she didn’t take The girl and the war always left me Not knowing what to say You shot ‘em down in ‘73 The war was all but over Took a month to make it home And 6 more before you could hold her Somewhere on these city streets You lost your will and your composure The war is anything but over Haven’t seen you around in a spell I hear you’re drying out, and raising hell A friend locked you in at the Stardust Poor man’s rehab is a cheap motel Sometimes an outsider knows what you need Better than anyone you’ve ever tried to be No one picks a fight they think they would lose But some battles you don’t get to choose You shot ‘em down in ‘73 The war was all but over Took a month to make it home And 6 more before you could hold her Somewhere on these city streets You lost your will and your composure The war is anything but over
4.
03:43
There’s a pizza crust in the parking lot And a black bird with a new batch of friends The engine’s off, my seatbelt’s still on Gathering up the energy to go in There’s a shopping cart, in the 4 o’clock sun Telling the light where to land Fingers back and forth between the steering wheel and the seat I wish that cart could talk to my hands I know where to go, I don’t know how I am just a shadow trying to get off the ground Grocery store greeter, bright yellow vest so you can see her Waiting to be hospitable I do my best to reciprocate and fake a frugal smile I’m not sure who’s more uncomfortable The produce is impossible, can’t make decisions on a good day What am I supposed to do now All these artificial people, in this artificial light Hell I don’t feel like myself anyhow I know where to go, I don’t know how I am just a shadow trying to get off the ground I see myself, in the freezer door glass I see myself in what’s behind it Suspended on a shelf, waiting to expire Or be brought back to life There’s a tap on my shoulder, a concerned voice in my ear “Is there something I can help you find?” I guess I look confused, or a little bit lost Or maybe it’s just how I look in this light I know where to go, I don’t know how I am just a shadow trying to get off the ground
5.
Jenny was a good woman James was a gentleman They pushed hard against the pushback They loved liked porcelain It was a work of art That got stronger under fire Got judged for being what it was It was worth the fight Don’t forget what you come from Don’t forget what you come from Jenny showed up at sixteen James was born right down the street To a name that told him Who he should be There were things you didn’t do And people you didn’t talk to But Jenny and James They didn’t care who knew Don’t forget what you come from Don’t forget what you come from Jenny kept a diary James just kept it in Everybody’s got their own way Of dealing with where they’ve been They left before you got here But she left her words to read And I’ll give you her name to remind you Of who you can be Don’t forget what you come from Don’t forget what you come from
6.
03:06
In the days when horses rode And man made the wind The north became our leader When the west turned its back on the sun again We moved like whittled water Sped by narrowed stone In the days when horses rode Our feet squeezed their barrel chests Their feet barreled through the dirt No line between man and beast And we were one with the earth Down narrow mountain passes You’d never make it through alone In the days when horses rode Oh my sweet Harriet She turned like a rhyme That you hear and can’t forget Faster than your last drink goes dry Fast enough to save your life Unbroken spirits carried home Broken men & broken bones Hooves and heroes gathered In the middle of the main road Breaking the news we’d known for weeks To women and children with tear-stained cheeks In the days when horses rode Oh my sweet Harriet She turned like a rhyme That you hear and can’t forget Faster than your last drink goes dry Fast enough to save your life Me and my mare went back to work Tending the farm and the pasture Till she walked alone past the boundary line I knew not to follow after There were things that were hard to believe And things that you had to In the days when horses rode Oh my sweet Harriet She turned like a rhyme That you hear and can’t forget Faster than your last drink goes dry Fast enough to save your life
7.
04:39
I’m alright My bones have served their time I’m alright It’s you who’s on my mind Kettle whistle has the harmony You’re singing the melody “Keeps you ever gentle on my mind” You pour the water, pull it together I know it’s getting harder To see me where I am I’m alright My bones have served their time I’m alright It’s you who’s on my mind Clock ticking on the kitchen wall Faucet dripping like a wake up call To every second falling away You talk us down, turn up the music But I worry about you getting used to it The radio can only go so loud I’m alright My bones have served their time I’m alright It’s you who’s on my mind Doorbell ringing, third time today I hear you whisper “it’s OK She could use some company” I see both your faces face the truth Of who you love becoming who you lose I think you could use some company too I’m alright My bones have served their time I’m alright It’s you who’s on my mind
8.
The window and the wood frame your frame Thinking things only a kid can You’re six years old, but someday You’ll be standing where I am More of a man More you won’t understand You will wonder if it’s worth the weight The worry that wears you down Half your life spent figuring out How to make the other half count And you can count, on asking yourself If what you’re doing is enough If you’re anything like me When you grow up Scattered puzzle on the table Big picture starting to take shape Every piece has a place to fall But you’ve got mistakes to make You’re green enough to bend Pure enough to break You will wonder if it’s worth the weight The worry that wears you down Half your life spent figuring out How to make the other half count And you can count, on asking yourself If what you’re doing is enough If you’re anything like me When you grow up You will question the fight And how it is won You will fight the question Of whether it can be done But keep kind all that rises From your chest to your tongue Don’t ever let your words Undo the work you’ve done Sunlight through the kitchen window Your shadow stands up taller than you I’m 36 years old, but someday I will stand up taller too If all the talk I talk Is something I can live up to I still wonder if it’s worth the weight The worry that wears me down I’m still figuring out How to make it all count And I can count, on asking myself If what I’m doing is too much To let you be who you want to be When you grow up
9.
There’s an old yellow house sitting on my dash In a picture I took, sunlight for a flash The whole family out front ‘Cause that’s what you do Sitting on concrete steps I grew up climbing I take ‘em two at a time now But I still reach for the rail ‘Cause that’s what you do There’s a comfort in keeping and keeping to a path Doing what I know and knowing what I have The safety of a rail gives my hands something to do But one day this rail is gonna rust right through One day it’s gonna rust right through There are places to go and milestones to meet Each one that I reach says something about me It’s what they want to hear ‘Cause that’s what I do I’ve kept my head down, kept my mouth shut Anything to keep me from screwing up Holding on to their version of me ‘Cause that’s what I do There’s a comfort in keeping and keeping to a path Doing what I know and knowing what I have The safety of a rail gives my hands something to do But one day this rail is gonna rust right through One day it’s gonna rust right through Middle of this highway, same old drive In what might be, the middle of my life I’m where I am supposed to be That’s what they say When I doubt that what I have to say could ever count for much Giving in to what I really need feels like giving up But I’m done giving up on myself Holding on to what they say There’s a comfort in keeping and keeping to a path Doing what I know and knowing what I have The safety of a rail gives my hands something to do But one day this rail is gonna rust right through One day it’s gonna rust right through
10.
You said “Is someone gonna come to my school? Will I have to hide underneath my desk?” You shouldn’t have this kind of weight To get off your tiny chest I don’t have all the answers Even though you’ve come to think I do And if I am being honest I just don’t want to lie to you TV screen is screaming In colored pictures telling a story in black and white You say “Why would they do that to him? He isn’t even putting up a fight.” I don’t have all the answers Even though you’ve come to think I do And if I am being honest I just don’t want to lie to you Do I hide you from the headlines Do I hide you from our past Do I show you often enough That you have every right to ask You’re all tucked in, and I’m reaching for the light You say “I don’t want to sleep by myself What if you can’t hear me and I need you to save me?” I look at you and wonder who will save us from ourselves I don’t have all the answers Even though you’ve come to think I do And if I am being honest I just don’t want to lie to you
11.
Alarm clock on her bedside table Bright red numbers bigger than your head She couldn’t see ‘em otherwise She said she might never go to bed She’s got her teeth tucked in a tumbler Bright white smile floating in the night She couldn’t flash that grin otherwise But you’d still see it in her eyes I hope to be that happy I hope to be that happy When the E on the eye chart gets blurry And I turn in my keys When there is more behind Than in front of me She once was a dancing girl New York City chorus line Then she went on down to Texas He told her that’s where the stars really shine Black and white wedding day picture Hung proudly in a frame of gold She doesn’t cry when she speaks of him She makes you laugh telling stories that he told I hope to be that happy I hope to be that happy When the E on the eye chart gets blurry And I turn in my keys When there is more behind Than in front of me Here I am in New York City I told her I should make my way down She said “I’ll take you out dancing Out at the old Horseshoe Lounge” At the end of our Sunday night phone call She said “Thank you for talking to me There are no telephones in heaven But I heard there might be TV” I hope to be that happy I hope to be that happy To leave behind every place I’ve been For all the places I can be When there is more behind Than in front of me I hope I will know All that matters Is right in front of me

about

“Keep kind all that rises from your chest to your tongue. Don’t ever let your words undo the work you’ve done,” sings Crystal Damore on “Worth the Weight,” a song that beats at the heart of Ordinary Elephant's potent new album, Honest. In the song, it's a two-line enjoinder from an adult to a kid. In life, though, it's a mission statement for ourselves as much as for others. And the work that Crystal, along with her husband Pete, has done on Honest is both filled with kindness and worthy of praise. With her on acoustic guitar/lead vocals and him on clawhammer banjo/harmony vocals, Honest is worth so much more than its weight, and Ordinary Elephant makes every kind word count as it rises from their chests to their tongues.

credits

released May 3, 2019

Crystal Hariu-Damore - Vocals, Guitar
Pete Damore - Vocals, Banjo, Octave Mandolin

Will Kimbrough - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Mandola, Organ
Michael Rinne - Bass
Neilson Hubbard - Piano, Percussion

Produced by Neilson Hubbard
Engineered & Mixed by Dylan Alldredge at Skinny Elephant Recording
Mastered by Jim DeMain at Yes Master Studios

©2019 Ordinary Elephant. All rights reserved.
All songs written by Ordinary Elephant (©2019 Bean Sown Music/ASCAP) except Jenny & James Written by Ordinary Elephant (©2019 Bean Sown Music/ASCAP) and Wes Collins (©2019 Whoompleytunes/ASCAP).

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Ordinary Elephant

International Folk Music Awards 2017 Artist of the Year Ordinary Elephant captivates audiences with their emotionally powerful and vulnerable songs, letting the listener know that they are not alone in this world. "Two become one, in song...hand-in-glove harmonies surprise the listener with focused intensity and musical mastery," says Mary Gauthier. ... more

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