Love Amidst Collapse

by Aaron Semer

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about

Artist’s Statement:

A campfire at the end of the world.

I kept that image in my head while conceptualizing and making this album: Society as we know it has utterly collapsed, and a few buddies and me are sitting around a campfire under the stars surrounded by the rubble of what was. We are tranced-out, playing some heavy tunes. It is cathartic. Beautiful. Necessary. We are creating the stories and music that will be handed down to whomever, whatever, comes next. Shakers, handclaps, tambourines, acoustic guitars, and voices cry out to the deadened world around us. Also, there is this one guy who has rigged up a car battery to an old guitar amp, and he shreds a mean solo every once in awhile.

I thought about this both literally and figuratively. In a roundabout way, the constant interconnectivity and unlimited access of our time has driven us back to the days before recorded music, when anyone who wanted to could simply go out and write a song, with virtually no barrier to entry and little concern for marketability. Now, rather than sitting around the campfire listening to Peepaw pluck his banjo, we’ve made our own little virtual campfires. If everything is a niche market, and no artist can be universally popular any more, is that really a bad thing? Everyone is invited to create and participate, and that’s what art and music should be. Art is for all of us. By tying art to commerce, we had lost much of that spirit. But this is all the result of modern technology, and that could go away in a flash…

The songs and concepts on this album were heavily influenced by the Dark Mountain Project’s manifesto, Uncivilization. Uncivilization proposes that the way of life we all know is dying, soon to be history, and that we should embrace the collapse rather than attempt to save what will inevitably fail. The overwhelming and multiple crises of our day are not a set of “problems” that can be “solved.” Uncivilization is against the myth of progress and the myth of human centrality, and proposes we create new art and storytelling rooted in the elemental rather than in theory and ideology. The primary question being, when you give up on the failing stories you have been telling yourselves as a society, what replaces them?

Now that’s some heavy shit. I don’t know that I fully buy into the Dark Mountain manifesto, but I will say that nothing I’ve read in recent memory has gotten my attention quite like Uncivilization. I see evidence of what it is saying all around me, every day. I will also say that as a concept on which to base my album, it is wonderful. A lot of similar ideas had been swimming around in my head and in my songs for years, and this provided the missing framework I needed. In my song The End of the World Dance, I sing, “We’ve got to learn how to find love amidst collapse.” Regardless of what our future truly holds, I am confident that is the only thing that matters.

This album is dedicated to the First People.
– Aaron Semer, 2015

credits

released December 10, 2015

Produced by Aaron Semer & Colin J. Nelson
Recorded & Mixed at Her Car by Colin J. Nelson, Seattle, WA
Mastered at Saff Mastering, Chicago, IL

Performers:
Aaron Semer - Vocals, Martin 00-DB, percussion & hand claps
Michael Wohl - Martin 000-15S, Gibson Les Paul through a Magnatone 280, Magick Fuzz Pedal, harmonica, percussion & hand claps
Colin J. Nelson - Tambourine master

(c) 2015 Aaron Semer, BMI
All songs and lyrics by Aaron Semer,
Except "Always Lift Him Up" by Blind Alfred Reed (1927), arrangement by Aaron Semer.
All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication is a violation of applicable laws.

www.aaronsemer.com
www.knickknackrecords.com

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about

Aaron Semer Seattle, Washington

Aaron Semer was born and raised in rural NW Ohio and steeped in American Roots music and Rock n' Roll from birth. He has made Seattle his home for the past 18 years. Semer works to keep the tradition of American folk music alive in its truest sense by staying relevant to the issues and stories of today, as well as the rhythms and melodies of today. Songs are stories, stories are life. ... more

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Track Name: Son of the Morning Star
Son of the Morning Star,
You're coming down

You built all the highways
You planted the land
You still were the victor
After your last stand

You left us on the Rez's
Left us for dead
Left us in the ghettos
Re-tooled our heads

Son of the Morning Star,
You're coming down

Skyscrapers and temples
Grew out of the land
Burning oil and fire
Did yourselves in

You left us in the ghettos
Left us in the red
Our power has slumbered
We rise from the dead

Son of the Morning Star,
You're coming down
Track Name: Marriage (As Viewed Through a Porthole Under the Sea)
They got married on a dare
So they still had sex with other people.
But they lived in a world at the bottom of the sea
So all their affairs couldn’t be more transparent.
In fact, at times they were ludicrously obvious.
So the boy said to the girl, “I’d feel much better
If I knew that every night you were sleeping by my side.”
And the girl said to the boy, “I’d feel much better
If we just shut the fuck up and pretended not to know.”
So he hopped in his escape pod and jetted out to sea.
She watched his shape disappear through the porthole.
She knew he’d be back once the liquor stopped flowin’
But neither of them knew in which bunk he’d be sleepin’.

About 3 AM the decompression chamber sounded
And there stood her Captain with a tear in his eye.
He said, “Honey I’m sorry, but he ain’t coming home.
Deep in the chasm there was a terrible accident.
They say he didn’t even see the Octopus coming,
And it crushed him like a bug in the hands of a giant.
Left his remains to scatter in the currents.
His blood spread like a blanket tucking in all the sea creatures
Much like the way he must have curled-up next to you.
Much like the way he must have curled-up next to you.”

She said, “Sir, I'm sorry, but you’re quite mistaken.
You see, we haven’t slept together in quite some time.
And I suppose right now what I’m supposed to be feeling
Is intense longing and deep regret.
But you see, our marriage was something quite different.
It was less about love and more like a bet.
So now that he’s gone I’m not entirely sorry,
But I sure will miss him as a friend.
I sure will miss him as a friend.
I just might miss him as a friend.”
Track Name: Anything I Could Do
If there's ever anything I could do
to redeem myself with you
just let me know what it is
If there's ever anything we could start
that wouldn't just fall apart
just let me know what it is
Let me know what it is
Oo-oo-oo-oo
Let me know what it is

If there's ever anything I could say
to take this pain away
just let me know what it is
If there's ever anything I could sing
to retune our heart strings
just let me know what it is
Let me know what it is
Oo-oo-oo-oo
Let me know what it is

'Cause I've been tryin'
for so long
And I've been dyin'
with every song
Let me know what it is
Oo-oo-oo-oo
Just let me know what it is

If there's ever anything I could do
to redeem myself with you
just let me know what it is
If there's ever anything we could start
that wouldn't just fall apart
just let me know what it is
Let me know what it is
Oo-oo-oo-oo
Let me know what it is
Track Name: Bored is the King of Israel
I'm sick of all you people afraid to live and love
'cause you might be called a sinner.
Acting as if life is a game;
play right and you'll be crowned a winner.
I wish that you would focus on good deeds
instead of living in fear of hell.
Oh, bored is the King of Israel.

Job would be ashamed to hear you complain
that nothing good is on TV.
Jacob would rather see you wrestle with God
than worry about your security.
Bathsheba would to tell you to make love
like it was your last day on Earth.
And David would tell you to take out all the giants
before you end up in a hearse.

Moses didn't come down from the mountain
to teach you how to pan for gold.
Elijah didn't dry up all the rain
so you could sit around your house just gettin' old.
Lucifer didn't teach you how to think
so you could ring your own death knell.
Oh, bored is the King of Israel

The bankers in their Ivory towers
just counting up your property and your tender.
When Jesus saw what was happening in the temple
he flipped the tables of the money lenders.
He didn't post on Facebook from his armchair
that he was mad as hell.
Oh, bored is the King of Israel.
Track Name: Black Hills, SD
Black Hills, South Dakota
Rushmore didn't mean much to me
It's an impressive human feat
A determination I'll never see
Lord knows I've tried with you
but it seems like I'm too late

Black Hills, South Dakota
1998
Crazy Horse is still under construction
Looks like it's gonna stay that way
We try to fix the history
of a world that's been mis-taught

Sioux Falls, South Dakota
You've sure seen better days
Flickered in my mind like a dying Las Vegas
Can't hold up your own weight
You're just another stopping point
for travellers on their way

to Black Hills, South Dakota
Drive in another nail
to a coffin sealed by fate
The repairman arrived to late
Black like fingernails on a carpenter's hand
who's missed the nail one too many times

Black Hills, South Dakota
I've missed that nail one too many times
Track Name: Pasts Like Circles
Somethin’s gotta break sometime
On a Midwestern skyline,
Where relentless horizons
Send minds wandering,
From coasts and skyways
To hi-ways and by-ways,
Your-ways and my-ways
We’ve traveled these paths before.

We ride,
Like gods in chariots
To predestined futures
And pasts like circles.

The parallel lines of wires
Like maps across blue skies
Drawing a straight line
Between two points, like a guide.
Generations have lived and died here
But we’ll be the first to leave here,
If only we can sever the ties that bind.

We stand,
Like monuments and headstones
Bloodlines mixed with bones
And pasts like circles.

We send our kids to die
Long before their time
The cause is lost, families torn,
And bodies sent home to mourn.
From coasts and skyways
To hi-ways and by-ways,
Your-ways and my-ways
We’ve traveled these paths before.

We ride,
Like gods in chariots
To predestined futures
And pasts like circles.
We stand,
Like monuments and headstones
Bloodlines mixed with bones
And pasts like circles.
Track Name: The Fall
We're standing naked in this garden and baby we've got everything we need
We've got fruits and trees and animals as far as our eyes can see
But I'm looking at you naked and I'm thinking things that I oughtn't be
Girl, I see that you got buttons won't you come to me and show me what they mean
He said don't eat those apples but the snake's been saying different things to you and me
Ah, I know he said don't 'em but I say 'fuck him!' let's find out what they mean

Now we're living in a castle and we got slaves and we got horses in teams
We've got weapons made of metal, we've fortified ourselves against our enemies
We've conquered those around us, we've extended the bloody hand of Christianity
You'd think the peasants would be happy but they're raging and they're violent and they're mean!
The Good Book says I shouldn't kill but the Church says they'll stand behind me
I know the Good Book says I shouldn't kill but it's the only solution I can see

Now we're living in skyscrapers looking out onto the mountains and the seas
We've got cars and we've got factories creating and providing all our needs
We've stabilized our borders we've found peace through massive weaponry
All I have to do is push a button, babe, and your entire civilization is history!
Science says I shouldn't detonate a bomb using nuclear energy
I know science says I shouldn't but it's the only way that I can keep the peace

Now we're floating up above the Earth in a spacecraft free from gravity
They say you shouldn't try to touch the hand of God but it's been calling out to me
Just look at all these buttons! I don't even know what any of them mean!
Seems like all these buttons haven't made anything any clearer to me
Maybe somewhere out here we'll find a little garden just for you and me
Yeah, maybe somewhere out here we'll find a little garden just for you and me
Track Name: The Heart is Stupid but the Heart is True
When our hearts are free to roam
Traveling down that lonesome road
Often they will cling to scraps
Meaningless flings that turn into traps
Once those traps are set in stone
The heart again will yearn to roam
It pulls at us with all its might
Until we disappear into the night

The heart is stupid but the heart is true
And it’s inside of me and it’s inside of you
The heart is stupid but the heart is true
Oh the things it’s made me do

Some will try to pass the buck
To an omnipresent god that doesn’t give a fuck
Sitting high upon his throne
He’d as soon have your heart removed
But even in the most ardent believer
There beats a little brain deceiver
Deep beneath our ribs and lungs
There’s a bleeding heart that controls our tongues

The heart is stupid but the heart is true
And it’s inside of me and it’s inside of you
The heart is stupid but the heart is strong
The heart has never been known to be wrong
The heart is stupid but the heart doesn’t lie
Even though we might make it try
The heart is stupid but the heart is true
Oh the things it’s made me do…
Oh the things it’s made me do
Track Name: Always Lift Him Up
(G) When a fellow has the blues and feels discouraged
And there's (C) nothing else but trouble all his (G) life
When he's always grumbled at and never happy
Living with a scolding, aggravating (D) wife
If he's (G) sick and tired of life and takes to drinking
Do not pass him by, don't greet him with a (C) frown
Do not fail to lend a hand and try to (G) help him
Always lift him up and (D) never knock him (C) down (G)

If he stays out late at night because he's worried
And because his home is not what it should be
Have a smile for him whenever you should meet him
It would help him just the right way, don't you see
If he gambles when he's in the town or city
Tell him what he ought to do to gain the crown
Lend a hand and do not fail to show him pity
Always lift him up and never knock him down

If he cannot pay his debts and feels disgusted
If he's blue and doesn't have a word to say
Let him know you are his friend who can be trusted
It would cheer this lonely fellow on his way
If he finds it hard for him to keep his family
Let a kind word greet his ear when he's around
Don't say anything at all to make against him
Always lift him up and never knock him down

If he has no friends and everyone's against him
If he's failed at everything that he has tried
Try to lift his load, to help to bear his burden
Let him know that you are walking by his side
And if he feels that all is lost, and he is falling
Try to place that poor man's feet on solid ground
Just remember he's some mother's precious darling
Always lift him up and never knock him down
Track Name: You Never Let Me Believe
I feel everything that you tell me to,
I write your words on the walls.
And they let me be, they let all the kids see
A glimpse of hope and relief.

You never let me believe
You never let me believe
You never let me believe
That I was free.

The girls with their clothes, the boys with their “fronts”
Standing on opposite walls.
The taste of desire like blood on their lips
The TV said love is for real,
And we all should feel…

You never let me believe
You never let me believe
You never let me believe
That I was free.

Most of us will fall right into place
A square peg through a square hole.
But some of those kids, with blood on their faces,
Will fight until death do they part.

You never let me believe
You never let me believe
You never let me believe
That I was free.
Track Name: End of the World Dance
Son, you better just forget that degree
It never meant nothin' to me
'Cause it's all over now
You've got to give up fighting
You might as well hook up the mule and plow
Work the land with your hands
'Cause nobody wants to deal with a fighter

I wish I could have lived out on the plains
amongst the buffalo grass
And slept underneath the stars
in a shamanic trance
But instead we get to do...

The End of the World Dance!
The End of the World Dance!
We get to find love amidst collapse!
It's The End of the World Dance!

Son, you better just forget your beliefs
All it ever did was put you on your knees
'Cause that's all behind us now
You gotta give up prayin'
You might as well burn all your scriptures and creeds
Read the land with your hands
'Cause nobody wants to hear a believer

I wish I could have seen
the Golden Age of Timbuktu
Peking, Angkor, Tikal
and Venice too
But instead we get to do...

The End of the World Dance!
The End of the World Dance!
We get to find love amidst collapse!
It's The End of the World Dance!

We've got to learn how to find
Love, Amidst Collapse