Ordinary Eternal Machinery

by Nathan Leigh

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about

Recorded between February 2014 and June 2016 in Cape Cod, Brooklyn, Boston, Kalamazoo, Columbus, and New Orleans. It's an album about getting lost and finding your way again.


Every Friday we donate the proceeds from download sales of the album to a different social justice organization, and include new original art by designer Alma Sheppard-Matsuo.

credits

released January 20, 2017

Nathan Leigh - Vocals, Guitars, Banjo, Bass, Drums, Piano, Clarinet
Rikki Bates - Drums (#2, #9)
Cherno Biko - Vocals (#12)
Jason Brunet - Washboard (#6, #15)
Anthony Cekay - Tenor Sax
John Cooperider - Organ, Bass (#15)
Deb Douglas - Bass Clarinet
Joel Esher - Piano (#2, #8, #10, #18)
Ris Gumpert - Percussion, Backing Vocals (#3, #8 #17)
James Ikeda - Vocals (#15)
Sol Israel - Drums (#3, #17)
Aline Kovacs - Sewing Machine (#2)
Tom Liedenfrost - Accordion
Joe McDonough - Trombone
Phil Murphy - Bassoon, Flute
Ellen Osuna - Djembe
Victor Pachas - Lead guitar (#3), Drums (#2, #17)
Alicia Rau - Trumpet
Ethan Rubin - Violin
Dennis Shafer - Bari Sax, Alto Sax, Flute
Drew Vanderburg - Clarinet (#8, #10, #18)
Chelsea Wolf - Vocals (#4, #9, #16, #17, #18)
Vishnu - Various Chicken Noises
Steve Yankou - Cello

Vocal Ensemble:
James Barry
Alan Bounville
CJ Holm
Morgan Jenness
Jon Kovach
Nicole Orabona
Christopher Timson

Additional vocal samples from AFROPUNK interview with Bill Withers (Sept 2015)

All songs written and produced by Nathan Leigh
Mastered by Ted Gabbard at Ted's Friends
Artwork by Alma Sheppard-Matsuo

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Nathan Leigh Brooklyn, New York

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Track Name: Never Be Normal
we were dancing on a saturday
it was a fine weekend to celebrate
we’d made it through the winter
without any place to stay
salute one finger to the boys in blue
shoulda known what they were gonna do:
shoulda seen that long arm coming down
to split normalcy in two

now i know i will never be normal

we shout FTP, ACAB
i found myself a wheezing banshee
howling obscenities towards an enemy
i couldn’t even see
and each night i’m dreaming of the first
with each rehearsal it gets worse
now i barely sleep at all
ain’t got no charm to break the curse

now i know i will never be normal

let’s drop the metaphors
the open talk of war
unsettled scores
some scars are simply real
and i’ve got 3 or 4
one on my back, two on my side
one busted lung and battered pride
and i won’t hide it for decorum’s sake
no i’m not ashamed i tried
you’ll find me dancing every saturday
until they take my life away

even though i know i will never be normal
Track Name: The Slumlord's Kids
i have spent my last 5 dollars more times than i can even count
and half the time those last 5 dollars were wasted on another round
that’s not to say i’ve got a problem, in fact i think i’m doing fine
i just don’t wanna be myself tonight

well it used to be if you wanted to kill someone, you had to look them in the eye
that’s a weird thing to be nostalgic for i guess, i don’t know why
and the paint’s been peeling off the wall since summer 1929
every slum is someone’s home and every slumlord’s kids will probably be just fine

the landlord gave us 10 days notice, got 2 weeks from the one before
the fact that they can’t do that’s something we’re expected to ignore
in 2 years i lived 13 places, spent lots of nights inside my car
you always said you thought that i’d go far

but it used to be if you wanted to kill someone, you had to look them in the eye
that’s a weird thing to be nostalgic for i guess, i don’t know why
and the paint’s been peeling off the wall since summer 1979
every slum is someone’s home and every slumlord’s kids will probably be just fine

then you respond to black lives matter with a question of their worth
well what entitled you to the privilege you were handed out at birth
don’t quote MLK when you spit your hate for Assata Shakur
i’m sure you’re just doing your best
but you know no-one’s all that impressed

it used to be if you wanted to kill someone, you had to look them in the eye
that’s a weird thing to be nostalgic for i guess, i don’t know why
and the paint’s been slowly peeling off the wall since summer 1999
every slum is someone’s home and every slumlord’s kids will probably be just fine
Track Name: Dear George RR Martin, Please Don't Kill Arya Stark, Love Nathan
i sold my soul for some comic books and a box of old cassettes
i got a tape deck in my minivan so i got no regrets
and jews don’t believe in heaven and we don’t believe in hell
so i’ll be fine
so if you’ve got the goods then i’ve got the gumption
i think we’ll commit the perfect crime

and i drove out west and i drove back east and i drove myself insane
cause i can’t do nothing about california, no i can’t make it rain
and i’m pretty good at fixing stuff
but there are some things i can never fix
so i’ve narrowed down my list to 20 things i’d wish for
if i had one wish

they say everything falls apart before it fits back together again

stars explode and planets die almost every single day
just a flash of light in the summer sky a billion miles away
and billion’s such a massive number
that i can’t comprehend the loss of life
instead i get upset each time
they kill someone on game of thrones i like

but everything falls apart before it fits back together again

i resign my post in the folk singer’s club
cause i like minor threat more than mumford and sons
and i was raised in comfort and plenty
not in appalachia in the 20’s
but it’s so much more romantic to sing about closing the mill
than being shitcanned from the walmart

they say everything falls apart before it fits back together again
Track Name: The Things That We Do
she waits for a change, a change in the weather
next year i swear i’ll be somebody better
i got ideas, i got ambitions
just gotta get through the week

oh, the things that we do to survive

now mike’s got a kid, jane’s got a habit
he shoots, she scores anything just to manage
and i got some pills, don’t call it a problem
just something to deal with the pain

oh, the things that we do to survive
oh, the things that we do to stay high

it’s 3 months till june, 6 till september
this time next year i’ll be somebody better
cause i’ve got ideas, i got ambitions
i just gotta get through the day

oh, the things that we do to survive
oh, the things that we do to stay high
Track Name: The Fragment On Machines
people try to put us down
the economy's burned to the ground
my car is broke and i am too
i hope i die before my loans come due

“Hence the workers' struggle against the machinery. What was the living worker's activity becomes the activity of the machine. Thus the appropriation of labour by capital confronts the worker in a coarsely sensuous orm; capital absorbs labour into itself 'as though its body were by love possessed.'” - The Grundrisse, Karl Marx
Track Name: Thanks For Nothing, Emmet Brown
now we are young, we can be anything
anything at all
four years of school
majored in alcohol
when the loans come due
what are we to do?
I don’t know

<chorus>

so thanks for nothing, emmet brown
we were promised homes up in the stars
so thanks for nothing, emmet brown
we were promised robots and flying cars
this future was supposed to be all ours

</chorus>

now we’re in love, let’s build ourselves a home
a little place to call our own
it won’t cost too much
and what’s another loan?
when the rain breaks through
what are we to do?
i don’t know

<chorus>

our house
is a very very very fine house
with flooding in the yard
oh no-one said it’d be this hard
our house
is a very very very fine house
got a mortgage from the bank
don’t own the oil in the tank
when the bills come due
how will we make it through?

<chorus>
Track Name: Learning To Wait
i was a young man and impatient
i wouldn’t wait
i wanted to hold the whole world in the palm of my hand
i couldn’t wait
all i was handed, i took for granted
i wouldn’t wait
nothing ever lived up to the life that i’d planned
i couldn’t wait

<chorus>

i had the world in the palm of my hand
i let it slip through my fingers
nothing goes how you plan so i figure
i’ll learn to wait

</chorus>

now i’m older but no wiser
i still don’t wait
no i don’t take my time, and i won’t compromise
i won’t wait
all my friends and all my family
well they can wait
they seem happy and i know i can be
if i just wait

<chorus>

so i’m lost now, but i know somehow
if i wait
i’ve always survived, and i’ve always been found
so i’ll wait
cause i’ve known darkness and i’ve known sickness
i know i can wait
oh i’ll wait for redemption and i’ll wait for forgiveness
i’ll wait

<chorus>
Track Name: Beaches In Winter
it's a long road
between where i am and where i wanna be
and i don't know
if i'll ever make it
so keep your eyes closed
do you see the man that you wanna see?
if you still don't
maybe i can fake it

<chorus>

i am the mess in this mirror
i am this frozen landscape
i am my doubt and my fear
but someday i swear i'll escape this place

</chorus>

let slip our anchors
let the ocean carry us away from here
where it don't hurt
and where we're not haunted
and it's my curse
my lot is wanderlust and fear
and it's all yours
honey if you want it

<chorus>

i am the salt in this water
i am foundations of sand
i am the beaches in winter
but i'm doing the best that i can
i am the lighthouse in the harbor
i have no keeper or purpose
but i am the ice frozen river
there's life just beneath the surface

<chorus>
Track Name: BFA In Technical Theatre
dear mom and dad
i hope you're glad
you paid for me to study theatre
are you impressed with how much shakespeare i can quote?
and no i still can't change a tire
but i was grateful to be required
to read every word that chekov ever wrote

so let's take a bow
all that i know how
is to lie like an actor
and fake through a disaster

<chorus>

we are a generation lost in space
i hope we're not a hopeless case
no matter what the papers say
we are a revolution biding time
waiting till the time is right
but i know we can ignite

</chorus>

there was a time
i was inclined
to see myself as something special
i was pretty sure that i would make a change
but my songs of revolution
end in fade outs and confusion
turns out i never really had that much to say

so let's join the march
and don't take to heart
when they tell you it's useless
they just wish that they could do this

<chorus>

to all my friends
i can't pretend
that i have always been the best one
i know i have been a ghost from time to time
i won't make up some excuse
consider this my iou
i've got your backs i know that you've always had mine

and if looking back
all i ever had
are the people that surround me
i'll be grateful you all found me

<chorus>
Track Name: Kol Nidrei
i was 26 when i realized that i didn’t have a clue
where the hell i was going or what i was gonna do
cause i know we’re all one body
i wanna be the most useful part
but i can’t decide between the head, the hands, the lungs and heart
so i choose nothing
i always choose nothing

they say you can’t take nothing with you when you go
so i won’t take nothing with me anymore

so i drove around new brunswick
on a tuesday afternoon
searching for a basement
that i think that i once knew
i don’t remember what it looked like
i just remember how it felt
wishing that this too too sullied flesh
somehow could melt
and i still wish that
half the time

they say you can’t take nothing with you when you go
so i won’t take nothing with me anymore

and the words got stuck in the back of my throat
i was hoping somebody else would know
the things i wanted to say
so i wouldn’t have to speak myself
cause they say there’s a time to speak and a time to listen
there are times to fight and a time to give in
there are times i think i’ve got it together
and times i think that i might live forever
then there’s times that there’s a pain in my chest
screaming “don’t kid yourself kid, you’ve gotta rest”
for that the nypd ain’t got nothing on you honey

and the last great modern romance
ends with a whimper, not a bang
and the feeling it was never quite as great
as i once sang
i don’t think of you that often
but when i do i start to weep
for the 15 years i wasted
trying to be who you want me to be
but i forgive you
and i forgive me
i don’t care if you forgive me

they say you can’t take nothing with you when you go
so i won’t take nothing with me anymore

כָּל נִדְרֵי,
וֶאֱסָרֵי, וּשְבוּעֵי, וַחֲרָמֵי, וְקוֹנָמֵי, וְקִנוּסֵי, וְכִנוּיֵי,
דִנְדַרְנָא, וּדְאִשְתַּבַּעְנָא, וּדְאַחֲרִמְנָא וּדְאָסָרְנָא עַל נַפְשָׁתָנָא.
(מִיוֹם כִּפּוּרִים שֶׁעָבַר עַד יוֹם כִּפּוּרִים זֶה, וּ)
מִיוֹם כִּפּוּרִם זֶה עַד יוֹם כִּפּוּרִים הַבָּא עָלֵינוּ לְטוֹבָה.
בְּכֻלְהוֹן אִחֲרַטְנָא בְהוֹן. כֻּלְהוֹן יְהוֹן שָׁרָן,
שְׁבִיקין, שְׁבִיתִין, בְּטֵלִן וּמְבֻטָלִין, לָא שְׁרִירִין, וְלָא קַיָמִין,
נִדְרָנָא לָא נִדְרֵי, וֶאֱסָרָנָא לָא אֱסָרֵי,
וּשְׁבוּעָתָנָא לָא שְׁבוּעוֹת.
Track Name: Isaac Lacquedem
it's a long day
you’re waiting for a phone call that you know will never come
you're a freeway
they're the sun
play it off cool
like everything is turning out exactly how you planned
make your own rules
don't give a damn what they say

<chorus>

you're waiting for an answer
to a question that you asked when you were young and fearless
you're a poet and a dancer
you're a statue you are grace
and so you wait

</chorus>

it's a hard game
it’s like everyone except for you has memorized the rules
and you don't play
the way they do
so you watch, wait,
and try to make yourself a puzzle piece to fit inside the hole
but you’re the wrong shape
and you know what they'll say

<chorus>

oh everybody knows
something that you don't
and everything is wrong
cause you still don't belong

here
so you try to find a place where you can simply just exist
where the sky's clear
and you'll be missed
but you're a nomad
and the ground beneath your feet’s the only comfort you will know
until you look past
the open road and hold fast

<chorus>

you're waiting for a sign somehow
to finally settle down
and so you wait
you're waiting for the day to come
when you won't try to run
and so you wait
Track Name: A Prayer To Whoever's Listening (ft. Cherno Biko)
the problem is that we all think we know just what the problem is
if you go and look for answers, the first thing you find’s bound to look like it
and eli, eli i wish for once
that you could just exist
right now i don’t think i believe in much of anything

there we were waiting for the rain to come, but none of us could see that we were the rain

and i was choking back my tears in hopes that nobody would see that i was crying
while you were watching all that spectacle you didn’t notice people dying
and i pray st. audre lorde
that your words won’t be ignored
there’s barely room upon this altar
for the names of all the martyred

there we were waiting for the rain to come, but none of us could see that we were the rain

it was the summer of my discontent
and i don’t know where it went
it’s just it was the first year that i didn’t see the mountains
and i’d like to think that in the end
we did more than just pretend
but all those things we did, well i have my doubts about them

there we were waiting for the rain to come, but none of us could see that we were the rain
Track Name: Carl Sagan
i can't help but wonder
if the stars we're hanging under
are full of life as lost as you and i
is our sun part of some constellation
does it guide them to their destinations
does it tell the story of gods and days gone by?

god bless you carl sagan
or whatever you have faith in
you're the only one of us who'll never die
there's a golden record
getting further every second
a requiem for apes who learned to fly

who will write?
Track Name: Plymouth County
is this a prison or hospital?
they don't seem concerned with recovery
i don't think i'll ever make it home
been here so long i don't recall
the window view from old plymouth county
is the only sight i feel like i've ever known
just don't let them forget my name
while i'm away

<chorus>

i'll be here when sun turns to winter
i'll be here when years dry the rivers
i'll be here when gates turn to rust
ash to ash and dust turns to dust
when there's no-one left who remembers
bring my bones to the land of my fathers
lay me down in the ground where i'm from
and i won't regret that i've come
and don't forget my name
while i'm away

</chorus>

tell my family i'm doing fine
i'm so busy i got no time to write
america has been so good to me
when i'm well again i'll send a line
to let them know i'm really all right
just keep this lie alive until i'm free

and don't let them forget my name
while i'm away

<chorus>

dear nurse, dear warden please let me go
i can't sleep at all from the coughing
send me somewhere far away from here
dear nurse, dear warden please send me home
i don't understand what you're saying
no-one wants to die and disappear

don't let them forget my name
while i'm away

<chorus>
Track Name: Most of My Heroes Are Pretty Damn Problematic
let’s fade out on the great man myth of history
the carefully constructed biographies
the fashionably redacted sympathies
and the fantasy that they’re everything we can’t be
cause i’ll never forget the time that i realized
that lots of the things in my history textbooks are wrong
and i’ll never forget the time that i realized
there’s more than a little hypocrisy in beatles songs

<chorus>

cause john lennon beat his wife
and woody guthrie was a racist
and public enemy don’t care much at all for jews
and i don’t know what’s right
can i defend their work as artists?
and if i had to, i don’t know how i’d choose
cause most of my heroes are pretty damn problematic

</chorus>

i like to pretend bowie never was obsessed with nazis
cause there aren’t many male bi role models
and we need more male bi role models
and i even forgive him for tin machine being lazy
and he says he regrets the things that he said back in 76
and man cocaine’s one hell of a drug
and i don’t know if that’s a good enough fix
but i know i’m complicit in sweeping it under the rug

<chorus>

when jefferson said all men were created equal
he owned other men as property
his whole fortune was built on slavery
so let’s not pretend our history’s all that simple
cause few of us live up to the things that we stand for
even ian mackaye said some pretty dumb shit as a kid
and if he can’t live up to the things that he stands for
does that invalidate all of the good things that fugazi did?

<chorus>
Track Name: Ordinary Eternal Machinery
i drove 20,000 miles just to find my way back home
and the only thing i’ve learned is to admit what i don’t know
and for every single place i’ve been there’s still a million left to go

so let me go to the places that i’ve never been before
just let me go, i don’t know who i am or what i’m fighting for
let me go, when i’ve got no place to rest my head
i’ll remember what the ghost said

i spent money i don’t have
on shit that i don’t need
to prove to people i don’t like
that i’m who they think i should be
there must be something more to life
at least there must be more to me

so let me go to the places that i’ve never been before
just let me go, i don’t know who i am or what i’m fighting for
let me go, when i’ve got no place to rest my head
i’ll remember what the ghost said
i’ll remember what she said
she said nothing will ever be as bad as it seems when your skies turn grey
nothing will ever be as good as it seems on your best day

all these rituals and habits
these daily routines
just the flesh in this ordinary eternal machine
we are dust, we are stars
and we are everything in between

so let me go to the places that i’ve never been before
just let me go, i don’t know who i am or what i’m fighting for
let me go, when i’ve got no place to rest my head
i’ll remember what the ghost said
i’ll remember what she said
she said nothing will ever be as bad as it seems when your skies turn grey
nothing will ever be as good as it seems on your best day
Track Name: Atom Smasher
welcome to the chain reaction
the choices that we make
and this is just the same attraction
our molecules create

and then you’re standing on the interstate
flagging down a tow truck
thinking my god must’ve hit a spot of bad luck
how did i get here?
how do i walk away?
it’s the atom smasher

sometimes i am ashamed for thinking
that nothing really changes here
except the names and faces
and what we’re told to fear

and then i’m digging in my pockets
i’m searching for a few bucks
to bail me out of this mess
and buy myself some good luck
how did i get here?
i wish i could walk away
from the atom smasher

i didn’t mean to be born here
it just kinda happened
i didn’t mean to be broken
it’s just how it was
i didn’t mean to get stuck here
it just kinda happened
someday i swear i’ll escape this place

it’s a long road
between where i am and where i wanna be
and i don’t know if i’ll ever make it
it’s the atom smasher
Track Name: Ghost Stories III (Finale)
the ghosts are screaming in the attic
and i ignore it out of habit
it doesn't mean that they're not there
and i am hoping you don’t hear it
i'm hoping you will think i'm fearless
it doesn't mean that i'm not scared
and i can't say for sure
that i won't be haunted anymore

fill in the black marks on the x-ray
with all things i think i should say
it doesn't mean i'm gonna say it
so come on talk a little louder
drown out the silence and the doubt
it doesn't mean it goes away
and i can't say for sure
that i won't be haunted anymore

and all the outlines that we've drawn out on the sidewalk
filled in with our failed attempts at small talk
"i'm doing fine" comes out automatic
the ghosts are screaming in the attic

but no, i'm gonna pick myself up off the floor
i won't be haunted anymore