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Clocktower Broke

by Cheap City

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credits

released September 7, 2018

BRENDAN BLENDELL - bass, trombone
CODY GAGEN - drums, vocals
GREG NAHABEDIAN - keys, vocals
PAUL SCHMELZ - guitar, vocals, saxophone

Art by Jeff Bartell

Recorded by Dan Thorn at Pink Noise Studios in Somerville (make a record here!)
Additional recording and mixing by Cheap City
Mastered by Tyler Bisson at Audio Geography (master a record here!)

*Actual Air* is the title of a book by David Berman and it uses lyrics from the Frank Zappa track "Outside Now"
*Nervous Ashers* is the title of a poem also by David Berman

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Cheap City Holyoke, Massachusetts

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Track Name: Wet Wood
To all the stupid things I did from April of 2008 to July of ‘16 I release you
To all the stupid things that made me feel alive, made me feel alive, that kept the light inside

Keep me alive

In the fading hours of the night
Where I am dying in a dream
I am trying not to wake her up
And I am trying not to scream
And I am trying to stay awake
At the thirteenth hour of the day
I am trying not to wake her up
And I am trying not to scream

To carrying the wet wood through the yard into the fireplace
And then driving past my limits.
I’ll dry it off all day.
To broken dreams of rock star schemes
That pushed me out of hell towards wedding bells:
I am happy where the rats play
Track Name: Clocktower Broke
When the clock tower broke and the clearing house spoke.
Smoke.
Track Name: What Time Was It Again?
What time was it again? I know you already said.
All I can recall is broken glass and bending walls

And the hands of the clock snapped, snapped, snapped, cracked in half
Left us out in the street sifting through these fields of trash

What time was it again? I think I fell asleep again.
I think I’m in a dream again. I think I might be lost again.

What time was it again? I heard the cables snap again.
I can’t stop coughing again. What time was it again?

And then it’s sweet. Sweet.
Sweet. Sweet.
You think that you’re asleep again.
You think that you’re asleep again.
It’s sweet. Sweet.
Sweet. Sweet.
You think that you’re asleep again.
You think that you’re asleep again.
It’s sleet. Sleet.
Sleet. Sleet.
You think you might be sick again.
You think you might be lost again.
And sleet. Sleet.
Sleet. Sleet.
What time was it again?

Blue turns to gray turns to brown turns to black
We’re working on a clock or we’re working on a heart attack
What time was it again?
Ashers got a ten speed and glued feathers to the spokes
Rode it down broadway when the clock tower broke.
What time was it again?

What time was it again? What time was it again?
Haven’t seen you in years my fragile little gem
But when you were here you were here and we saw it plain and clear.
I think I might be lost again.

And then it’s sweet. Sweet.
Sweet. Sweet.
You swim until it’s deep and it feels like you’re here
Still it’s sweet. Sweet.
Sweet. Sweet.
You swim until I think you’re here
But you’re not here
It’s sleet. Sleet.
Sleet. Sleet.
I think you might be sick again.
I think you might be lost again.
And sleet. Sleet.
Sleet. Sleet.
What time was it again?

Blue turns to gray turns to brown turns to black
We’re working on a clock or we’re working on a heart attack
What time was it again?
Ashers got a ten speed and she glued feathers to the spokes
Rode it down broadway when the clock tower broke.
What time was it again?

In the exact geographic center of Cheap City stood a clock tower. It was put there by the clock factory, originally set up in the 2nd district but later moved to the 10th. There was a time when everyone worked at the clock factory. They made everything from wristwatches and pocket watches to grandfather clocks and eventually they specialized in the software that tells a computer what time it is even if it’s turned off.

Fragile gem
Fell asleep at work again
Delicate men
I’m resting in your arms again
Track Name: Cheap City Escape Plan
Clocked in.
Clocked out.
Turn off the timer
And rip out my mouth

Coked up.
Strung out.
Turn off the timer
And rip out my mouth.

You fragile gem
Asleep at your desk again

Clocked in.
Clocked out.
Turn off the timer
And rip out my mouth

There’s a pool out back where we can go
And if we slip out quietly no one will know
Count the minutes swimming ‘neath smoggy skies
Dry off with a newspaper swarming with flies

Let’s “call out sick” – so to speak
Let’s take off today and tomorrow and next week

The clock tower wasn’t there just to remind everyone what time it was. It was a reminder.

You fragile gem
Asleep at your desk again

Clocked in.
Clocked out.
Turn off the timer
And rip out my mouth

Unbolt the doors and unhinge the shears
I’m crippled with fears
But we can get out of here
Track Name: Actual Air
Stale
Air
Electricity
Moves through me
Pale
Air
I’ll dwindle off in the twilight realm
Of my own secret thoughts

Stale
Air
Electricity
Moves through me
Open a door. Break a lock
Then I won’t have to live in this ugly fucking room
I can’t wait to see what it’s like

Outside now
Or inside then
Dreams in secret melodies
Outside now
In actual air

It was a reminder that Cheap City was built to serve and thus it’s citizens should dutifully serve and build. But came the day when Nervous Asher threw his pocket watch sized tools down and instead picked up a rock. And the perfectly calibrated gears of the clock tower became twisted metal screeching to a halt as the mechanisms broke forever. And when the clock came down and we all walked outside it sounded like this:

Outside now
Or inside then
Dreams in secret melodies
Outside now
In actual air
Outside now
In actual air
Outside now
In actual air
Track Name: Nervous Ashers
Nervous ashers on the street corner
Timidly lights up and when the blues drive by
Crushes it under foot
Started with ashers on the corner
But it wasn’t the ash it was the corner
And soon it was the green and soon it was the white

And soon it was the boy with the diamond earrings
Kicking your ass after school.
Collecting a debt for his dad
Wasting away in a basement next to the skateboard shop
Surrounded by clocks
Counting the seconds
Minutes
Hours
Days
Weeks
Months
Years

Until someone ripped the earrings out to sell the diamonds at a pawn shop downtown
Collecting a debt for his friend
Wasting away in a bedroom somewhere in the suburbs
Surrounded by clocks
Listen to the clocks
Listen to the clocks
Listen to the drums
Drums
Drums
Drums
Track Name: Witch in the Alley
She had a trash can for a cauldron
A mop handle for a wand
She was born in the scum of
A dirty old pond
In the 42nd district on the south side of town
She wears a dishrag on her mouth to keep the vomit down
Let me tell you about the whole story
I swear that it’s the truth, not an allegory
This witch that I knew back in the big city
Living in the trash. What a pity.

My soul feels invaded. Turned inside out.
My memory has faded.
Watch out.

She’s mixing up banana peels in the pale blue moonlight
There’s a witch in the alley
Witch. Witch in the alley
Don’t take any shortcuts home tonight
There’s a witch in the alley
Witch. Witch in the alley

Let me tell you about the whole tale
Instead of crows to guard her lair she had a fleet of snails
She’s out there turning little boys into rotten moldy food
Stay away from the alley before she gets you too

They call this part the dance of the trash witch
You know the alley? In the southwest corner of the northern quadrant in cheap city?
Stay away from that alley. That’s where she’s made her lair.
She made a wig of old spaghetti to replace her witchy hair.
She’s cooking up old chicken bones from the diner next door.

My soul feels invaded. Turned inside out.
My memory has faded.
Watch out.

Two egg shell cartons and the blood from a dog fight
There’s a witch in the alley
Witch. Witch in the alley
Don’t take any shortcuts home tonight
There’s a witch in the alley
Witch. Witch in the alley
Track Name: You, Me, and a Rock in the Gear
Fragile gem
Fell asleep at work again
Delicate men
Resting in your arms again

Work your fingers to the bone til a quarter to three
Work your body. Work your body. Work it for me.
I’m a broken timepiece. You’re a grandfather clock
Looking at the sky like you’re ready to pop

Until you break like the thunder

Fragile gem
Working on the line again
Gray turns to black until you’re stagnant with fear
And then you plus me makes a rock in the gear

Sink down down down
In the filthy filthy ground
Until you find the place where the landfill stops
Where the soda cans get replaced with rocks
Sink down down down
In the filthy filthy ground
down down down

After the clock tower broke it was something more than an event to keep the newspapers busy. It was a new set of rules for a group of people who didn’t have to think about time anymore. We realized that the burden of time brought us to a place where we froze everything and the trash filled the streets and everything got cheap.

Dancing in the break room at a quarter to three
I’ve never seen you feel so free
I’m a broken timepiece. You’re a grandfather clock
Looking at the sky like you’re ready to pop

Until you break like the thunder

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