Liner notes for the Olden Street Recordings
Recorded mostly in 1995 in the attic of our off-campus house on Olden Street in Princeton, NJ. Michael and I often performed in a small café on campus which was also home to “progressive dinners” which brought together students from a wide variety of backgrounds to eat together and discuss issues of current social and political concern. Around the same time, my friend Michael Berkowitz and I started a folksinging group that gathered every Sunday evening in front of the library with instruments, song books, and candle lanterns.
Down & Out in Rome: Michael and I played guitar together in Europe on a trip with our friend Jeff Richter. One afternoon, we played outside the Vatican and I ended up writing this that night.
Just outside the gate she waits for thoughts of companionship to pass away / try to get a little extra maybe a cigarette or two, and she’ll think about tomorrow when today is through
Maria di Maletzie was her name, but the corner that was home to her was called just the same / it’s where she came from / where she claimed her fame from
Don’t cross the paths that promise stars, and let the marble warm your bones / well George was down and out in Paris / now see the down and out in Rome
The Vatican walls are trimmed in gold / Maria’s never been inside she doesn’t want to go / but she’s seen the people bowing, being blessed and told what’s true / and they say when in Rome do as the Romans do
I wondered has she hopes and dreams, but Maria knows better than to play along what seems to be so preachable, yet so unreachable
Maria knows the man across the road / sharing Di Maletzie, a beggar he’s been told / and Maria knows his blindness lets him see through each new day, ‘cause she knows that all she sees she’ll never get the chance to say
There must be more she would not say, but then she turned around / she said be on your way, and then she closed up / Maria held her nose up
Browns and the Blues: Lyrics adapted from the following poem by Leonor Fernandez.
Bring me your rhythm and your dappled touch / let us share hunger, pulses and trust / bring me some morning trails studded with roots / rocks guiding currents through mountains and tunes and slivers of time
The browns and the blues / caught in your eyes, they’re riddled with you / you bring the rhythm, I’ll bring the hues / in fire and fall, our flowers they bloom
Vagabond: Recorded in a music studio on Kibbutz Yotvata in Israel in 1983. During the recording, a few women happened to walk by the studio and the engineer grabbed them and asked them to sing on the chorus! Vangelis’ music for the movie Chariots of Fire had been out for a while and you can probably catch the influence at the end of the recording
Romantic Friendship: Fun fact — That’s not reverb on the vocals. One night at 1am, we broke into a centuries-old tower on campus, hauled in 180 pounds of recording equipment, set up a mic, stand, mixer, amp, headphones, etc and recorded the vocal track inside the tower. One take. All before security came to kick us out. There’s a slam/crash sound somewhere in the middle. “Tiger’s Eye” videographer Lou Hawthorne (“Tiger Eye Video”) momentarily tripped over one of the cords. I have no idea who has the video but I sure would like to see it. Lou is a brilliant videographer.
Do you see the distance grow along with time / Can you feel the warmth survive / And the time is changing, distraction from a call / And it’s all happening as the snow falls
Don’t ask me questions that you would not ask a friend / You know we always can pretend / Absent from knowing, let the finer folk stand tall / Don’t cross the barrier and the snow falls
Call it romantic friendship / Don’t look too hard or deep or long / Carry on my friends, you’ll fool them in the end / If you sing louder than this song
Once touch slipped, but the weakness threatened sin / It’s a kindness grown estranged / Don’t extend yourself or you’ll find your shield may stall / Don’t cross the barrier and the snow falls
Let’s just stand still, it’s a space we will not fill / So long we both see all the rules / We can freeze time’s call (well that’s not true at all) / Just look outside and you’ll see the snow fall
Spring: Piano improvisation