Darkland Express part one

by Greg Segal

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1.
2.
Home Again 06:57
You take the tracks down through industry plains about 30 miles or so At the end of the line you'll find my town, Where the down and the dead people go The tracks lead straight to a red brick wall, about 75 feet square The back sides of buildings to either side, Looks like a dead end but don't despair See that light shining through the haze from the alley to the right Down the alley you've got to go, Don't be afraid, it'll be all right Home again To a place that only seems to be Home again A place I visit in my dreams They used to call it Hooverville when it finally got a name Fifty years on it was Reaganville, but it all seemed to look the same Population's grown from times unknown and places seldom seen Every color and pride bought a one way ride To industrial hell and the western dream Home again To a place that only seems to be Home again A place I visit in my dreams Well I've got my own favorite places here, Friends' back street apartments and flats The boulevard backshops and booklands Or uptown where the Chateau and the legacy stands And sometimes I'm back in school again From grade school through to college And I never know what I'm doing there And I feel like I'm crazy and I have to pretend I'm all right...It's all right... Everything is all right But I'm full of shit, don't you know it I'm scared and don't know what to do There's community here but I don't belong An impostor they laugh with and refuse to see through So I'm Home again To a place that only seems to be Home again A place I'll visit in my dreams In a place so ugly and full of despair For all of us rogues there's still something there Adventure and the force of life, Air of damp electrical autumn nights Ivy hills in the suburbs by the grey morning light 10 a.m. and the schedule has been thrown out of sight The boulevard waits and the scenes portend I'm out of the structure and into the cracks once again Meet me there When all is said and done I hope to be as free As when I'm on the run Free to haunt the odd places I love best Meet me there We'll put things to the test And we'll be Home again To a place that only seems to be Home again A place I'll visit in your dreams... G.S., 6/2/91
3.
Apartments 03:30
Apartments Places to stay All familiar None of them home Places have spirits Though most can't feel them Contacts made on planes unknown A place has a presence Something like a person Abstract yet somehow Direct and pure Stains left behind by those who've passed through Intent of design shows even more Who were they built for These cubicle patterns Resembling but never embodying home The children of Wotan A nation of strangers Living only to work And then moving on Apartments I've lived in too many to count Each one's left a stain on my soul Anonymous places Rented lives Move in when it's fresh and Move out when it gets old The past is a landmark condemned and torn down Leaving photos and memories as testament Apartments and people Existing alone Strangers thrown together Making the best of it G.S., 7/3/91
4.
Legacy 01:33
It was morning And down the streets In endless numbered rows The time worn shops of spectral merchants stood open. Inviting you to buy their wares Come and buy Here where the lost souls shop In search of that special something That can bring the magic back to their lost lives. The morning doors are open..... The spectral shops call..... Come and buy your life away..... Spend your life today..... G.S., '86
5.
Life in a vacuum goes flowing, smoothly Unbroken by friendship, or light, or loving the darkness and isolation find substance; And into the vacuum cold hatred is born. False evidences of difference are conjured; Fear of one's kind turns to mistrust and rage. The crowd turns away from innocents they have injured And celebrate deadly myths of their age. Life in a vacuum shows no replacement The road to take was chosen for you And all the signs pointing other places Are buried in waste and tears and ash; Changing bodies make you weaker Lots of cracks still in your armor As each one finds the other's weakness We will be there to inject our plans. As if a father beat his son when he was weak The boy might not forget and turn the other cheek Instead he grows up scared and beats his only son Look beyond the parable, This nightmare's just begun.... Life in a vacuum goes flowing smoothly As lies civilized always end up as fact And no one who sees the game that we're playing Can turn his eyes away from the act As we have been so shall we be To fade out on a sour note Like cats caught in a burning tree No way to chase the hand that wrote. G.S., 11/10/81 (v. 1 &2) and 10/15-16/85 (remainder)
6.
Honor 03:19
What can you own When you refuse to own yourself What are you worth When you live your life for wealth Who do you fool When you live life as a lie Where is self respect When you live your life to die What becomes of life When security is your god Broken by the world As a tractor breaks the sod Everything you do Revolves around the cash Everything you've dreamed Has been thrown out with the trash Honor How can you live without, live without Honor Where you draw the line Freedom lies dying My world is not your world We are like strangers in the street Perhaps the day will finally come When you and I can finally meet Until that day I own myself Even if your fear owns you I play the game to buy my shelter But you've been purchased through and through Honor How can you live without Live without Honor Where you draw the line Freedom lies dying G.S., late '85 or early '86
7.
The alarm clock rings Time to get up again Your life's the same as it's always been Time is torn by the clock hands for somebody else Now you work for the money And not for yourself It got old years ago This whole thing got old years ago Remember back in school How you felt the same way The same old feeling at the start of the day 'Cause you learned what they taught you and not what you sought Had to play all their games so you wouldn't get caught It got old years ago This whole thing got old years ago You get to work Take the same old crap Necessity's got you caught in it's trap Can't look for a job if you have to work Necessity makes you feel like a jerk Going home the traffic gets you down So many people, such a big town Not one would care if you turned up drowned They're just like you and me... Your door is armed with many locks Your dinner comes from a cardboard box The same old pain The same old blues The same old deaths on the evening news It got old years ago This whole thing got old years ago G.S., mid '85
8.
9.
The Bust 03:36
The black and white rolls up the road You feel so very far from home There's no way out, the law's the law Don't you know KID? See, they just don't care what you do, Since it ain't really up to you The orders come and orders never lie, KID. They can't look at themselves So they point straight at you They've seen your type before You're just another kid stoned and breaking the law And you rob And you steal Or you kill Or you deal...it's all the same to them. The cuffs are on The club comes down They kick you as you hit the ground That's OK, you gave 'em shit, Don't you know, kid? They take their anger to the streets They've got nobody else to beat Your rights are just a fallacy, Don't you know kid? G.S., early '82
10.
Deadlines 01:41
11.
Battleground 04:21
Long nights spent alone in shadow The days roll into one Here on this battleground, I can't tell when another day's begun But I really don't mind, it's a haze not unkind There's no way to unwind anyway No I really don't mind, it's a haze not unkind There's no way to unwind anyway When I started out on this journey Oh it seems like a long time ago Emotion was easy, to touch was to live Our eyes locked in silence, to love was to give Seems like once I had more to say Seems like once I had less to feel Seems like once when I was young Things were somehow much more real An end to dependence on this concrete lie, The earth grows tired of dying I just sit here and watch the world go by Sometimes I grow tired of trying Just more nights spent in shadow And days spent on coals In search of more nights and more days and more goals But I really don't mind, it's a haze not unkind There's no way to unwind anyway No I really don't mind, it's a haze not unkind There's no way to unwind anyway The t.v. flickers blue in the heart of night And casts patterns on my sweat-drenched skin My muscles knot, all cramped and taught In a box of a room that's cramped and hot You know the battle never stops Just another day Just another night Just another day Just another night Just another day Just another night Just another day Just another Long night spent alone in shadow The days still roll into one With a battleground mentality the battle's never won Until we're in the ground and safe and sound And our children are left to pick up our weapons Trapped on the battlefield we have chosen to leave them on Fight on brave soldiers The dawn is coming And with it Another night Day and night Dissolve to one Dissolve Dissolve Dissolve..... G.S., summer '82
12.
Climb Out 04:04
Sitting in my car on the freeway Five p.m. Congested knots of traffic Poison spouting metal phlegm And freedom looks so far away And the sky so very blue does say: .....Climb out...Climb out..... Sitting in my car on the freeway Five p.m. This life just don't sit right with me So my life I will condemn My heart beats fast My knees are shaking Palms are sweating Bladder aching as I Climb out. Climb out. Outside of my car on the freeway Five p.m. The cars roll past Their horns they blast I don't care I laugh at them Suddenly I feel like flying Body breaks and I am dying so I Climb out Climb out G.S., 12/22/81
13.
I'm OK 00:35
14.
Hell hound in my heart Tearing me apart Wants to write your name In blood on the ground Hell hound in my heart Raging down at anything Anything that moves Or makes a sound Look at me wrong and you're dead Can I stop this Before I take my world to hell Or will it take some silver force And death to break the spell Don't look at me Don't talk to me You strangers all around It wants your blood to feed the ground The hell hound in my heart Look at me wrong and you're dead G.S., 3/31/91
15.
When I was a child, I was told As soon as they could, they'd make me old And give me a cart to push around In circles For the rest of my life. I asked if there was an option; They laughed and soon I was old. I was given a cart to push around like everyone before me. I cannot get my hands free; if I let go, the cart will run over me. So they took my hands away But they could not take my eyes. Now I sit and watch everyone push their cart While the rivers and oceans die While the air gets harder to breathe 'Til the earth no longer bears food While people sell their eyes I must stand by and watch As the children are trained for their pushcarts, The fools build on a top-heavy world Still I must push my cart And I must fight the urge to be blind Everything's falling down Still I push the cart Now they say we've got less than a lifetime left And everyone still pushes their carts Without hands Without eyes Though a few still remember how to cry I watch without a sound As the sun goes down. G.S., 11/12/86
16.
Hey, There's a battle tonight on the streets Fighting the cold and the heat Looking for somewhere to sleep Hey, It could happen to you or to me Doesn't matter who you claim to be Sometimes fate takes you down, don't you see? I know this old man whose son will not allow him to stay "My father died some time ago" is all that he will say Hey, Now he sleeps in the rain and the cold It's too late to speak words left untold Won't be long 'til he's gathering mold Hey, Wonder what his young grandson would say To know grandfather's passing away Somewhere out in the slums of L.A. Turning on, the world turns darker every single day People falling from the order into the decay Hey, I can't handle a job or a strain Seems I'm constantly going insane With no options how am I to blame? Hey, Wasn't lazy, just differently strung Thought I'd wait but I waited too long Shut me out and my chances were gone Folks back home and friends I've known won't bother with me now Can't say that I blame them, nonetheless I'm going down Hey, Stand for living or sit down for death Mumble uselessly under your breath That the rest of the world has gone deaf Hey, We've been treated like trash to be thrown Don't leave us out here alone But there's nobody listening at home G.S., 12/30/91 (with substantial revision of "Shelter", 1/13/92)
17.
What gives you the right To take my life and throw it on the fire Drown individuality in seas of mass stupidity Again Following after Following each other like the cattle to the slaughter ing machines of your hypocrisy minds dulled by false tranquility Cycles repeating Just remember that you've seen it all before. All your problems weren't solved by the end of one war. You're looking on but your minds are a decade past. Can't remember why but you know you've gotta hold on fast G.S., early '80
18.

about

This is actually Disc One of what would have been a two disc set. Disc two can be found here:
gregsegal.bandcamp.com/album/darkland-express-part-two
The confusion will be remedied by putting them both together on one page, but for now....

"Darkland Express" is my big, snarling "fuck you" to life growing up in the latter half of the 20th century. Why so negative? Well, I suppose in the scheme of things, I did have it good. One can always refer to the "ear on the pillow" joke for the reverse of that argument* But here's the thing. We had everything we needed as a species to make the earth a good place for all of us. How about just the U.S., where I grew up? All the resources were certainly there for us to have taken a saner approach to life. Material resources, that is. Internal resources- that's where we, and on this I do again include the world, come up short. Instead of providing for people, and creating an environment where helping each other constituted "the good", we kept on fostering an adverserial, hoarding way of life, and insisting it was not just the best but the only way to go. Lip service to other methods was paid only as frequently as necessary to either garner greater public approval, or convince ourselves we were not taking the road which we were in fact hurtling down at top speed, with no brakes.

When I wrote this, whether at the beginning or end of the process, I was actively engaged both in trying to navigate my way into a settled an active role in the scheme of things, and in trying to find a way, any way, to get the hell out of something that every fiber of me disagreed with. It seemed as though success in either direction might kill me, but so would inertia. As you may guess, this produced quite a bit of anxiety. Much of that surfaces here in the lyrics. Some people may find the results heavy handed. If you do, that's your right. You should probably listen to something else then. Ditto for those who find the lyrical content lacking in mature perspective. It was written between the ages of 16 and 29. If you don't feel that an immature perspective has any place in being voiced, again, please move along. Because while I may not feel the same as I did when many of these pieces were written, a young perspective is valid as long as young people who may feel that way exist; and also, for as long as their concerns must be addressed with platitudes and double talk, as a means of getting them to get on with things, shut up and go away.

There are other things going on here as well. One of the results of such an alienated lifestyle is a lack of connection, and in many cases, a turning inward. The mind is a multifaceted dynamo of survival techniques. I think we connect with each other whether we like it or not. The mechanism which I believe may be responsible for taking us out of ourselves, and into the minds and likes of others, works best when we sleep, through dreams. These then get clothed in our personal symbols erasing many of the original details which might otherwise serve as proof of an external connection. More simply put, we dream each others' lives. This is what is referred to in the "host eyes" concept of "Shadow Books". But in fact many of the little stories on this album and on "Water From The Moon" originate in this concept. If it's not clear how this might relate back to the political side of the album, I'll tell you: we're socialist whether we like it or not. We're linked whether we like it or not. We cannot actually escape each other. In fact, I believe it goes even farther; but as I'm already pushing forward something most people would find foolish or questionable, I will leave it where it is, and hope that one day I have the guts to discuss it in depth. I'm not there yet.

If you are interested in back stories, read on. I will give details about each song, technical and personal, as we go.

Dedication for the 2016 release: This one is for everyone who thinks I "make that weird music 'cause I can't do anything else".

*The "ear on the pillow" joke: A couple have a baby with one leg shorter than the other. They tell the doctor how sad this makes them, and the doctor proceeds to assure them there are many children who have it worse. They can't imagine it. He takes them on a tour of the "casualties" section of the maternity ward. Each one is worse than the next, missing various body parts, until they get towards the end. They see a baby who is only a head on a pillow. The couple think they've seen the worst they can see, but the doctor takes them to the last bed. There is nothing on the pillow but an ear. "An ear, oh doctor, yes this is terrible, as bad as it can get!" The doctor shakes his head. "No, it's even worse than you imagine. You see, that ear is deaf."

Original "Darkland Express" notes (from gregsegal.com, 1999, and cassette release, 1996):

Darkland Express is the big bad sequel to "Water From the Moon". While recording was done between 1991 and 1993, some of the material goes back all the way before I played an instrument. Old songs are mixed with new songs but none were previously recorded. I think somehow I was just waiting for the right time to bring it all together, because when I went to record, all of these seemingly disparate pieces fit perfectly.

Like Water From the Moon, many of the songs were based on dreams. Both albums share a common approach and theme: basically, the dark side of modern life, seen through dreams (and the events and internal pressures they reflect). It's about being trapped at every turn and how people deal with that. They escape through apathy and numbness; they escape through depression; they escape through madness, violence and suicide; they escape through dropping out and living at the bottom of the world- or being forced into that. Or they take vacations, play hooky from school or work. Otherwise, they go about their affairs like they're awake when actually they are in a sort of half-sleep brought about by ignorance, programming and routine. Most of the elements of their lives are unquestioned. And they pressure each other, subtly or otherwise, not to question things and start making life difficult. It becomes something like a totalitarian state: we are all expected to live that way, that is the way of the world, shut your mouth and keep going; a blindered, frightened, grinding push to nowhere. And so, though the people of the world cannot or will not see it, except in dreams or out of the corners of their eyes- the world goes about its business in darkness.

It is also, then, an album about life in the cracks between worlds, a tour of hidden realities; the interplay of the symbolic and the physical. Dream life and waking life blend and reflect each other, comment on each other, perhaps giving insight. Past and present merge. Dream cities are revisited, recurring like real places, with known streets and alleys and shops. It is possible that they are more than symbols or distortions of waking life. Like dream people , they may or may not be real: in telepathic dreams, strangers can share each other's hidden moments, even though they may be widely seperated by geography and even by time. These dreams may give a sense of deep connection; but that is washed away by the alarm clock. A haunting sense of lost contact lingers for the rest of the day, or longer.

Meanwhile, in the waking world, pressure escalates and real escape is nowhere; until, from the darkness invisible to human eyes, symbolic reality rises up to overshadow the physical- and at times, to obliterate it.

Dedication: for my family.

Disclaimers:

1. Some people manage to find work they love or can love the work they find. Good for them. We should all be so lucky.

2. Not all cops are evil rotten bastards. But the ones who inspired "The Bust" were.

credits

released April 29, 2016

All songs written and performed by GS.
Instruments: 6, 12 string and fretless electric guitars; acoustic guitar; 4 and 8-string basses; acoustic and electric drums/percussion; organ; vocals, breathing and whistling; tapes; bowed device; keyboards; piano.

Written 1980- 1992. Recorded at Phantom Airships 2 & 3, and at McKeever Manor with the Airship mobile, 6/91-10/92. Additional overdubs 1996 at Phantom Airship 4, and 4/16 at Phantom Airship 7.

Remixed and remastered, April 2016.

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