Crooked Earth

by Ben Smith

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1.
(free) 02:57
The stone the angels rolled away the rocks that lined its pathway it rolls into the city street it's pressed and set into concrete and that's the road you travel on on your way to Babylon follow on the yellow line Find out if this soul is mine The rocks your ship was dashed upon are glowing in the rosy dawn covered in a mossy skin Cooled off by the trade-winds and that's the sea you travel on on your way to Babylon follow all the stars that shine Find out if this soul is mine The stone that grows out of the ground from the valley to the icy crown the echoes barely amplify they calm the birds and pacify that's the sky you fly upon on your way to Babylon follow clouds that pass on by find out if this soul is mine.
2.
(free) 03:57
Take a nail from a shipwreck that sank outside your home Find the biggest stone And take the last lines of all the books you've ever read let them tumble from your head and falling to the ground, there they're stuck and they are set like paper bayonets and wait for night to come take the tears of your father and your mother's wedding dress take the papers from the desk the ribbons in the cutting room and the paints beneath the steps take everything that's left and wait for night to come Stand along the edge this chance won't come again not for one hundred years Close yours eyes and breathe you've got what you need it's like you're born again Love potion #10 Take the needle, take the thread cut the springs out from the bed forget everything you've said pull the bullets from the gun and use your steady hand draw a line down in the sand and as it draws up on the shore it settles like an ink now it's good enough to drink just wait for night to come Chorus one and two, just me and you out of the dust and then three and four, open the door sharpen the sword and then five and six, picking up sticks starting a fire and seven and eight, there's nothing to wait for there's nothing more and nine and ten, you're back at the end all of the planets align
3.
I've only got one stone but I've got two birds to kill I've only got one song but I've got two hearts to fill I've only got one breath but I've got two lungs to fill I've only got one voice but I've got two truths to tell I've only got myself but I'm a hard man to sell Though I've got one stone two birds were killed Though I've got one stone two birds were killed
4.
You've gone west, young man cause the east can't expand and the south's caught in the past and the north is falling fast You know what you've become? you are what you're running from and she's running the other way she keeps the wolves at bay the heart knows how to bend each break it suspends but for now you're just friends from out of state Girl, look what you've taken on all the lines that you've drawn can't hope to hold their shape against this landscape You know what you've become? you are what you're running from and he's running the other way faster every day the heart knows how to bend each break it suspends but for now you're just friends from out of state If prayers could intermix if their words could transfix This space between the coasts might mark your first approach You know what you've become? you're what you're running from and you're running the other way don't waste another day the heart knows how to bend each break it suspends but for now you're just friends from out of state
5.
Wine, women, song you pull me along I can't resist you taste good on the lips and you're everything I'll ever need Wine, women, song don't make me pick just one when you combine you get better each time and there's nothing I can't wish away but one, one will leave you after a while and one, one will get out running free and wild Wine, women, song don't leave me all alone I'm not myself I'm losing my health when you find someone else to admire and one, one will leave you gasping for breath and one, one will take what what you've got left Wine, women, song please stay, the night is long I can't imagine no other compassion so I promise my love every day
6.
I won't close my eyes again just because it's night hearts should fear their lonely men and the candlelight There's a war on crime, baby so I hope you understand that loving's just like fighting it's always hand to hand you fight to keep your record clean until someone turns you in and you love like there's a chance that you'll get struck You learn a lot about somebody when you're on the lam You might think you know me now You might love me as I am But a public enemy needs his partner in crime so I'll wait till your porch light flickers on Leave the moon behind and your candlelight Love don't mean nothing unless you're putting up a fight Cause there's nothing unrequited when you're running from the law There's no hero in this story, just a tragic flaw So I'm going to the mattresses and I hope that it's with you I'm going to the mattresses for you Well, they got us cornered, baby So it's time to get away I know a little safehouse where the both of us can stay Every promise is a ransom cut from the big black book so I hope you've settled all of your affairs We can hole up for a while a keep our voices down We can pray a little maybe and hardly make a sound Not every second coming deserves a second chance Isn't it time you put it all out on the line? Leave the moon behind and your candlelight Love don't mean nothing unless you're putting up a fight Cause there's nothing unrequited when you're running from the law There's no hero in this story, just a tragic flaw So I'm going to the mattresses and I hope that it's with you I'm going to the mattresses for you When there's nowhere left to run and the rain falls on the roof sometimes a hail of bullets can be the messenger of truth There's a price paid by the innocent, at least that's what they say But I've never in my life met one of them So we'll hold each other close in the corner of the room There's no regretting now how you could've settled for the moon But that's not real love baby, it's just the reflection of the sun So we'll close our eyes and hope we're part of something.
7.
(free) 03:27
I used to stare at every empty room and empty chair I used to stand out on the doorstep just to be with the air I'd concede every evening to somebody else Got used to me just as myself but now I'm not lonesome tonight I'm not lonesome tonight I'm not lonesome tonight cause I got you I used to drive around all night with the radio off I used to threaten Armageddon with my every thought I'd pull off of the road and light a signal flare Thought I was lost, thought the devil may care I used to walk into the woods when you weren't around I used to see the trees fall but not make a sound
8.
You're just a rumor now wandering the streets you can't feel your feet below you or every other heartbeat Forgiveness is a promise that's impossible to keep You can try to outrun sorrow but the road is always steep You can't straighten out this crooked earth this crooked earth has you nailed to the ground You can't make it out of this crooked earth this crooked earth is hell-bent, heaven-bound but you can hold your head up high you can practice every lie you can buy yourself some time but the earth knows every trick it never panics it opens up and swallows all the answers Your breath's just a faint whisper when the smoke gets in your lungs Your words are borrowed loosely now you're speaking in tongues Forgetting is a bargain and it's priced-to-move You can trade something for it when you can't find the truth You can't straighten out this crooked earth this crooked earth has you nailed to the ground You can't make it out of this crooked earth this crooked earth is hell-bent, heaven-bound but you can hold your head up high you can practice every lie you can buy yourself some time but the earth knows every trick it never panics it opens up and swallows all the answers and it's burning in its core it's warming on the shore and it opens up and swallows all us with it
9.
Would you stare straight at the sun if you thought that it would make us one? I would stare until a blinded state Let's tempt fate We can't leave it up to chance our love is not a circumstance we should ignore every great debate Let's tempt fate We should cross every line and seduce this grand design We can offer ourselves as bait Let's tempt fate When there's lightening and it's striking and we're standing under a tree now how bad can that be? the ground's shaking separating no escaping but we've got each other and we've seen it rougher than this We never question it to hold on tight you must lose your grip and even after checkmate Let's tempt fate
10.
04:07
She was seventeen years old aware of all her rights Planning interventions for all the quiet types parked beside the highway drawing circles in the dust the sun is hardly moving it's confusing dawn for dusk but you're on your way out no reasonable doubt and no shadow summer is a dream and you are still asleep falling for a boy who might just pray your soul to keep You can rest assured the days are longer than the nights but back inside your bedroom and he's turning out the lights Chorus horizon stretching up not out everywhere you turn around and surprised to find such space in such a crowded underground Don't they know there's nothing they could offer you to stay now you've cut your hair like it's some Roman Holiday
11.
Along the northern border for mile after mile I built a wall to guard you and save you from the wild I watched its line round every turn from orbits up above sometimes protection is another kind of love I built a city in stone cast into a cliff so every eastern shadow would harbor you from risk I built it in a basin a shelter from the storm The dust settles closely and takes another form Well I'd build it all again if I thought it would bring back you Every wise and foolish builder knows his work is never through Never losing faith, well it's the least that I can do And way up on the mountain reaching from the peak I built a peaceful man who gives comfort to the meek Open arms of soapstone like a lightening rod I made it to remind you of all the acts of God And not too far from there on another cloudy hill hidden under jungle a city we could fill We can watch the shadows fall and line up on the ground We can hide along the ridges We can keep from being found Or a little further north right beside a well I built a little platform where we can cast our spells Every single eagle knows the sacrifice Every drop of blood gets you paradise In the center of the city so everyone can see I built a place to watch it all though nothing is for free Every single seat has its own view but I've only built them all so they would please you But I never planned to build a place you'd never leave a dome that housed your body wandering round like Eve And even with this marble and every minaret and moon I never thought I’d build a palace for a tomb But still there's something permanent these memories in stone Strange how something cold and old cures the fear of being alone So even when they crumble and the dust begins to swirl every memory left from you beats every wonder in the world
12.
I've embarrassed the piano again I swore I'd learn new chords and find new words to make pretend But I'm afraid I've embarrassed the piano again I don't know a single opera I have no candles for candleabras I waste my time Writing songs that have to rhyme And I'm afraid I've embarrassed the piano again. maybe now you'll finally hear but sweet nothings don't launch careers I've even tried to plagiarize beyond my size But I'm afraid I've embarrassed the piano again. I've learned what I've learned for you it comes from all that we've been through Every verse is a charm and it's a curse And I'm afraid I've embarrassed the piano again.

about

Crooked Earth was recorded from December 2010 to June 2011 at Milkboy Studios in Ardmore, PA.

credits

released September 6, 2011

All songs by Ben Smith
Produced by Matt Magarahan
Engineered and mixed by Joel Metzler
Except "(Not) Lonesome Tonight"
mixed by Tommy Joyner
Additional Engineering by Karl Petersen
Mastered by Tommy Joyner at Milkboy Studios
String arrangements by Krista Umile

Recorded, Mixed, and Mastered (soup to nuts) at Milkboy Studios in Ardmore, PA.

This album is the result of the friendship and brotherhood offered me by my long-time collaborator, Matt Magarahan. If there is a singable guitar lick, a poignant pause, or a tasteful touch that you like, it is most likely one of Matt's suggestions or performances. He and and I shared most of the music making: I sang and played piano, organ, and acoustic guitar and Matt played the drums, electric guitars, some bass and replaced my acoustic guitar tracks whenever they needed more plums.

Our most sincere thanks goes to Joel Metzler who put in so many hours in this project. We are grateful to his tireless devotion, his expertise, and his calm, easy-going manner. We were all just hanging out making music--and eating sherbet and drinking tonic water. More thanks goes to Tommy Joyner and Jamie Lokoff and all of the interns at Milkboy (but mostly Karl).

Krista Umile's cello graces many of the tracks on this album. Her string arrangements included Dana Weiderhold on violin. Marc Umile, Krista's husband, played electric bass on five songs and Tim Celfo came in and played upright on four more. Eliza Hardy Jones' beautiful voice provided backups wherever you hear bell-like perfection. Aaron Weiss squeezed his squeezebox during "Your Way to Babylon." Mark Kitson drove only a few blocks to lay down pedal steel on "Going to the Mattresses," "Let's Tempt Fate," and "Your Way to Babylon." Tim Sonnefeld ripped through a guitar solo in "(Not) Lonesome Tonight" while his dad waited patiently. Nate Skiles added much needed trumpet to both "(Not) Lonesome Tonight" and "Let's Tempt Fate." Karl Petersen, a former student of mine, makes all of the wonderful guitar noise at the end of "One Stone/Two Birds," despite being restricted by skinny jeans and disintegrating loafers.

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Ben Smith West Chester, Pennsylvania

West Chester, PA songwriter Ben Smith's songs sound good in both your front parlor and your back barroom---all Tin Pan Alley piano and a fading choirboy voice.

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