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Spirit Level

by TJ Eckleberg

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1.
Clementine tree Was a time I was caught in the lights, on the road behind me the silence yawned forward the river flowed I blinked and turned I ran fast enough but I started a long way behind I’m still catching up I started a long way behind I’m still catching up Moving slowly, in a darkroom she smells of fixer and developer and wool a grainy photo, a focus pull My arms around her wrapped and hesitant the rain on the loft roof whispers unrelenting, unrepentant I blinked and turned I ran fast enough but I started a long way behind I’m still catching up I blinked and turned I ran fast enough but I started a long way behind I’m still catching up you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s run away you don’t know what you’ve said til you don’t have the words to say you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone and you don’t know that it’s gone but it’s gone until it’s gone, gone, gone baby gone Something moving in the trees in the dark you tell me what it is you see church key in your pocket and in your hand the fruit of the Clementine tree the red light flickers off the timer stops I started a long way behind, I’m still catching up and I’m still catching up and I’m still catching up And I’m still
2.
The Morning waits The morning waits with red eyes like a coal-hauling train There’s no surprise it’s not running late it always moves at the same speed Train goes by, whistle and moan leaves me standing here alone Morning sun rises and groans Leaves me standing here alone The morning moves like a freight train down the track
it reminds me of the day you left it tells me you’re not coming back Train goes by, whistle and moan leaves me standing here alone Morning sun rises and groans Leaves me standing here alone The day you left me was a cold and lonely breeze and the wind and the rain shook the trees the day you left me, I fell down on my knees crying, please The day you left me was a cold and lonely breeze and the wind and the rain shook the trees on the day you left me, I fell down on my knees crying, please
3.
Eagle 04:23
4.
Grey Berlin 05:21
Grey Berlin They tell me that’s where the light gets in Comes in through the cracks baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back You don’t wanna know the things I’ve seen I’ve been out of the blue and into the black baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back All the way through grey Berlin Your beautiful sad brown eyes were the soundtrack baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back The rain fell down like asbestos dust the day I sold the Nissan Hatchback baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back I ran underneath the railway bridge I was jumping so you’d see me nearly gave me a heart attack baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back I thought that you were coming back I thought that you were coming back I wrote down every tear you cried I put the date beside like I was keeping an almanac baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back And maybe my love for you was nothing but the pages from a cheap paperback baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back If I could write it all down I’d write it in the deepest darkest carbon black Through it all I loved you blind You were always on my mind Now I walk the grey streets and the cobblestones up past the yard and the smokestack baby where you going? baby where you been? I thought that you were coming back I thought that you were coming back
5.
Margaret on the Corner Hey Margaret on the corner I see you standing with your hands in your pockets and your baby’s got a smile and you’ve got a smile does nothing ever get you down? Hey Margaret on the corner I see you standing and I know there’s nobody else around even when the rain comes does nothing ever get you down? Down, down Down, down Down, down Down, down
6.
Wheelwright 04:15
Wheelwright I adjust my glasses I take a new line I set a timer so I finish on time From the window I See her coming through the park red shirt, silver shoes dark hair in a bob The early summer heat falls across my skin like jasmine musk We’re walking through the park and the palm trees sway and fuss I try to think like a wheelwright talking to the duke I explain to myself again what fine words and clever books won’t do what fine words and clever books can’t do The spring rains are falling through the open door the sunset sky is red and amber she is shaking her head and laughing at me with no umbrella I’m happy now but I won’t always be I wake up at 3am relieved to find her next to me sleeping peacefully The winter winds are blowing the snow comes through the open window the iron clouds are grim but tonight the closed door holds the heat in The autumn leaves drift down from the black branches of the trees in the park it’s almost evening but there’s still time to hold your hand and make it home before dark and make it home before dark Ten minutes to the station five minutes to the park church steeple in the sunrise red sky at sunset don’t forget don’t forget
7.
Bird by bird 03:21
I wake up in the morning I go through it bird by bird on a good day I go slow on a good day I don’t know on a good day On a good day things unfold with a sense of substance and certainty On a good day with you near my eyes become wider my eyes become clear And this one thing a bird hovering in the breeze above the river On a good day I walk up to the swimming pool On a good day I make my way through the rain When I slow it all down I can find the time to think about about beginnings and endings and what it means to begin again You turned to me why don’t the dolphins jump when I look? I’m scanning the horizon but I can’t find them I turned to you Why’d you let me take the things I took? I keep hoping to find a way to repay the kindness This one thing a bird hovering in the breeze above the river This one thing this one thing
8.
Snow 04:51
Snow I'm half awake walking down the staircase And outside Where the snow is falling on the streetlights And the cars I'm steady on my feet though the snow is slippery I wonder if you are still asleep While all around me the world has changed And this strange world by the river has become more strange The stillness of the river in the distance I'm alone here for a minute Frost on my breath It's early morning and I'm sleepless You're in another city I'm here in the snow I wish that you were here with me I wish I had a way to let you know I go back upstairs and drink a whiskey Sit in the dull yellow light and listen to In Rainbows Perfect for a night of white snow In a city Where I have nowhere to go You're in another city I'm here in the snow I wish that you were back with me I wish I had a way to let you know Turn the light on, sing a gentle song That song you sung so long ago When you were a kid Do you still remember it? Sing as if you did Sing as if you did Sing as if you did Turn the light out, sing a gentle song A song you sung so long ago When you were a kid Do you still remember? Sing as if you did Sing as if you did Sing as if you did That was in another city Standing in a car park, in the cold Wishing I was not so alone Wishing I had nowhere to go Wishing I had nowhere to go
9.
The Details 04:00
The anxious glance the biting your nails the invitation to the school dance the career in economics you forsook the chances and the choices you took the ladle you break the one you forsake the wind that drops out of your sails the devil’s in the details the devil’s in the details the rush that you chase the victory you taste the trophy you lift the trip off the cliff the cross that you bear the slogan you wear the chair you recline the place where you dine what you read in the entrails the devil’s in the details the devil’s in the details the devil’s in the details I’m heading up to the mountains I’m heading up to the spring I got the car window down I got the radio dialled in I’m heading up to the mountains I’m driving up that steep hill I’m heading up to the mountains come what will
10.
Menagerie 05:31
Menagerie I am walking with the wistful and the weary Walking with the uninspired I am walking with the formerly elegant and the wired I am walking with the ones who can’t carry themselves The ones who said too much at dinner I am walking with the losers who wish they were winners I am walking like a marionette I am walking like I can’t let go and won’t forget I am walking like I’ve been walking for a very long time Walking like I was out of sight and out of mind When you come back let me know The morning girl is bleary, the twilight boy has lost his socks The old lady with the serene scarf Is doing her best not to worry and not to get cross And we are all the meek and mild And we are all the desperate and the wild And aren’t we all the baby child? When you come back let me know We thought the rain would stop until the waters came up higher We thought to trust our shelters and stay closer to the fire And weren’t all surprised to realise the little we had was not nearly enough And aren’t we all nervous and hopeful That the rain won’t keep on falling and the waves won’t be too rough? And aren’t we all the broken and the broken hearted? And aren’t we all the nearly and the dearly departed? And aren’t we all just trying to find a safe way home? And the howling of the wolves reminds us Not all will be dry, not all will be warm And the howling of the wolves reminds us There will be another storm
11.
Surprised by love We talk about the loaves we talk about the fish we talk about the moon She leans back in her chair says I think it’ll be raining soon raining The lights wrap around the treetops the trees put their arms around the house a breeze is blowing gently from the south And this is not what I thought it was and I find myself surprised by love surprised by love The dogs bark lazily at the birds but not so loud as to scare them away she sits in the middle of the porch looking out at a beautiful pink and purple sky And this is not what I thought it was and I find myself surprised by love surprised by love
12.
Watch 04:38
Watch It’s not time Tomorrow we’ll take the boat out Fill it full of fish Haul in bags of potatoes From the grocer on the roadside With the crooked teeth And the good potatoes I can’t speak ill of the saints Or criticise their handwriting Some notions never come undone Some races are never won The hummingbird hums The bees buzz And time does what it does Ask Ariel Durant or Helmut Thielecke Ask them exactly what it means to me Theology, history, intimacy Rations and respect Hard work, stern words and kindness And kindness Walk the line stagger one last time Across the road arm in arm With that gentle Japanese girl Your bravery, your beauty And all the things you mean to me All that you mean It’s not time Tomorrow we’ll take the boat out Fill it full of fish Haul in bags of potatoes From the grocer on the roadside With the crooked teeth And the good potatoes Don’t walk, drive slow, keep both eyes on the road Don’t walk, drive slow, keep both eyes on the road Don’t walk, drive slow, keep both eyes on the road Don’t blink - read the letters in the eye chart Don’t blink - see the scrawl on the kitchen wall Don’t blink- don’t eat the pie in the pie chart Repeat and hand to me a bag of cheap Unworn Chinese watches Each of them unwinding And crying It’s not time yet

credits

released September 15, 2021

Written, performed and produced by TJ Eckleberg

Mastered by William Bowden at King Willy Sound NYC
Spike Mason: Additional arrangement & vocals, Saxophone
- Margaret on the corner & Watch; additional bass - Watch;
Additional vocals - The Morning waits

Design: TJ Eckleberg

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tjeckleberg Sydney, Australia

TJ Eckleberg is an Australian alternative singer / songwriter, producer and guitar player. 'Black & amber' is his seventh independent album. Originally a regular on the Sydney alternative scene, he lived in Berlin from 2010-13, and currently lives in Kyoto, Japan. ... more

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