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CD Friendly Skies 2008


 
Click on a track title to see lyrics and notes further down the page.
kite / calling home

the same in blue

wine bar bombers

i guess i was wrong

love is a stranger here

getting going, getting gone

sidecar (instrumental)
  8  the old frontier

  9  a corner of the sky

10  man who wasn't there

11  slo-mo

12  when the kennedys ride again

13  the complex art
All songs by Hugh Featherstone

You can order this CD

at blutopia.networks

www.blutopia.net

Hugh Featherstone's long-awaited new solo album Friendly Skies has finally been released.

Read the exclusive pre-release review below.
Hugh's release notes

Text in this rather fetching blue-green is by Hugh.

Propos:

It was 1960, and I was nine, an age when all one really wants to believe is the unbelievable. I chanced to read, in a schoolboy annual, the abridged memoirs of a World War II fighter pilot. I particularly remember the way his account ended, in the first mad euphoria of peacetime, with himself and a friend taking their planes, strictly against standing orders, up for a jaunt. Despite having fought aerial battles flooded with adrenalin, for once they were able to simply enjoy the ecstasy of flight as they rolled and looped in those friendly skies like otters in a pool, unthreatened and free.

Several years later, Bob Dylan was to memorably ask: “Are birds free from the chains of the sky?” My childhood vision clarified into a new realization. All freedoms are subject to gravity. All liberties are freighted with obligations. Thus, in the same way that my 1995 album “Negotiations and Lovesongs” explored the tension between fidelity and integrity, so this one explores the dynamic that must exist between commitment and freedom ... music for grownups? Maybe.


Hugh Featherstone, August 2006.

Production:

That two of these songs have already appeared on “Live at the Chapel” is probably due to a fault in the space-time continuum, for which I advise the red pill. The versions here are in fact the originals. The basic tracks were laid down at the “Tone Zone”, Hauset, Belgium, in the autumn of 2003, with additional recording and all engineering, mixing etc. at “while-others-sleep” Göttingen, Germany between April 2004 and April 2006.

Produced for blutopia.networks and DTMCI by
Frank-Stefan Kimmel at while-others-sleep.de.

“Friendly Skies” reaches your ears courtesy of Brauner microphones, Millennia pre-amps, Furukawa cables and Pauler Acoustics mastering tools.

The ideal way to enjoy this album is through a truly fine sound system (with all the irritating gizmos and filters switched “off”), while curled up round a mug of cocoa in your favourite sofa or “comfy Eames chair” after a long walk in the rain. A compressed, frequency-mutilated MP3 through a pair of cereal boxes or plastic bottle tops will never equal the real thing, but feel free to try.


Personnel:

Drums and percussion – Christian Archontidis
Bass – Grischka Zepf
Occasional keyboards and synth-bass – FSK
String arrangement on “The Kennedys” – Hans Kaul
(violins – Henning Vater, viola – Franziska Buttkus, cello – Lucile Chaubard)
Harmony vocals – Kim Bastian, Julia Hansen, FSK and HF
Lead vocals, all acoustic and electric guitars and various subliminal stuff – HF.


Packaging:

All sleeve art, 3-D modelling and layout by PhilBY at nemodreaming.com
Booklet photos by davidjohnberlin.de


Publishing:

Copyright in all songs, words and music: Hugh Featherstone and DTMCI. For more background, go to hughfeatherstone.com and turn left at the pub.

Patrons: thanks to the Colonerus brothers at DTMCI for enabling us to finish this project. Thanks to David for services above and beyond. Thanks to the divine Miss Hansen for bringing her skills to “The old frontier” and “The Kennedys”. Thanks to Walter Kraushaar for creating the Stageplayer “Hugh Featherstone” acoustic 6-string and Stageplayer “HF Custom II” acoustic/electric baritone guitars. Thanks to Tom Launhardt and Karsten Kobs for building a masterpiece I am proud to own and hope one day to be worthy of. Thanks to all the musicians who worked on this album and to “A Panel of Experts” who will have the task of bringing it alive on stage. Respect to Uli, Steve, Kai, Rollo, Big Murph and the Hammer Brothers for the trucks. Thanks, as always, to FSK for sound advice, good company and great cappuccino.
 

Friendly Skies front cover
designed by nemodreaming.com



Friendly Skies front cover (detail)

nemodreaming's collage depicts a fantastic cosmography with the earth surrounded by a paper moon, cotton wool clouds, gold foil stars, a tin-can spaceship, a hand-drawn asteroid and two mysterious spirals. The background firmament has the colour and texture of aged parchment or handmade paper.

The earh itself also appears to be made of brown paper or felt, built up in layers and resembling both an egg-box compartment and a stylized volcano crater seen from above. Nestled in the crater's hollow a foetus wound in a spiral umbilical chord floats in a golden pool. The end of the umbilical chord is connected to mother earth.

This fresh, naive work is reminscent on one hand of a child's drawing and on the other of ancient cosmographies replete with symbolic portent. Who or what is this golden child waiting to be born, and what could it mean for our planet?

While this cosmic collage does not directly illustrate any of the songs on this album, it reflects in a delightful way the belief in renaissance and renewal of civilization which underlies much of Hugh's music and poetry.
back to discography to top of page www.featherstone.co.nr website design Ursa Major

Waiting for friendly skies

A pre-release review of Hugh Featherstone's solo album "Friendly Skies"

by David John for  www.my-favourite-planet.com
Hook, line and solo  
One night a songwriter wakes up with a new song in his head. The song calls to him so urgently that he is forced out of bed to find paper and pen. With the dawn, he finds the scrawled results of his nocturnal labours. So it wasn't just a dream then. As he reads, he realizes that this isn't half bad and reaches for his guitar to try out the chords.

Later, in the rehearsal studio, he plays the new song to his fellow musicians. "You know," says the drummer, "that isn't half bad." "Let's do it," says the bassist. And they do it. It seems to go down well at the next couple of gigs, and the lighting guy says his sister says it's her favourite and wants to know if she can get it on Napster.

Not all songs come that easy. Many have a long and painful birth, conceived on hard and humbling lessons. But the muses decide to smile on our scribe, and at last he has enough songs, the right crew of musicians and the financial wherewithal to get into a recording studio.

Each stage of the production, from first takes, through mixing to mastering, demands tough decisions: what to leave in, what to cut out; what to tweak and what to leave well alone; where is the balance and what is the order?

Somehow the album is finally finished. And despite the inevitable compromises, the wee gems that got lost in the cut, the backing singer's flu, our songwriter is quite justifiably proud of the final product. Look: even the cover design shimmers delightfully before your eyes.

Now all he has to do is pray that enough people buy it. How many lighting guys' sisters are out there anyhow?

To get people to listen to a whole album, there has to be at least one song with something which bridges their attention span, hits a nerve and either releases the endorphins or the paper hankies. It could be a hook, a line, a nifty guitar solo or a crafty chorus. And will they want to keep hearing it? Is it catchy enough to go straight to their heart like a velvet bullet, and stay there? As Carol King once wrote: "Tonight you're mine completely... But will you still love me tomorrow?"
 
Dante goes to Düsseldorf
Hugh Featherstone's new album "Friendly Skies" has more than a couple of catchy numbers, at least two of which are deeply moving. Which of the 13 songs will become your favourite is up to you, but I've already decided on mine.

Once again the Belgian-based bard presents us with a collection of songs which are strung loosely on a theme. In his sleeve notes he writes:

"All freedoms are subject to gravity. All liberties are freighted with obligations. Thus, in the same way that my 1995 album "Negotiations & Lovesongs" explored the tension between fidelity and integrity, so this one explores the dynamic that must exist between commitment and freedom."

If that sounds serious, it is, and most of the songs deal with the serious business of loss: lost love, lost opportunities, lost horizons. Like a modern day Dante, Featherstone reports from beyond the gates of the purgatory into which his protagonists have been cast. But nowhere does he abandon hope. In "when the Kennedys ride again", a song which explores the dreams kindled by the social and political changes of the early 1960s, the promise of a shining future still awaits us, if we are brave enough to reach out for it.

But we're on a curve, my friend
It'll work out in the end
There'll be courageous decisions
There'll be no more divisions
They'll be dancing in the Plaza rain
 
Watch me shoot myself in the foot
And not all is doom and gloom in the Friendly Skies universe. The tragi-comic "slo-mo" comprises the confessions - both tongue-in-cheek and foot-in-mouth - of someone who always unwittingly sabotages his own chances of happiness. A 21st century Jerry Lewis. I mean, you just have to laugh, don't you?

I trip right over my shoes in confusion
Mistake a dream for the news, my delusion
When opportunity knocks
I fall right out of my socks
and slip sideways & twisting & turning, diving into blue
This force of attraction that fuzzes up my view
When all that I needed & all I had to do
Was love you
 
Where the medium is the message
As is the case in many Featherstone songs, love is the solution, the salvation, or as he puts it in "love is a stranger here":

Love is the revelator
Love, the illuminator

A pretty big claim for such a small word. But watch out, this is the force which holds atoms together, keeps the universe spinning and can lift us out of the hell we've let ourselves fall into. This is the card that gets you out of jail. More than just a romantic notion, this is Hugh's credo, and this song could well be a manifesto. In a world far below the press of dense grey clouds we are fed on a diet of baubles, TV commercials and junk headlines. But how to lift ourselves above the dross, beyond the clouds, into that wide blue yonder - aloft among friendly skies? Listen to this song and find out.

"Love is a stranger here" is the strongest song Hugh has put on disc for some time, perhaps his finest yet, and without a doubt the best song I have heard anywhere for years. And let me assure you, it has some pretty tough competition.

Despite its negative-sounding title, the general thrust is upwards. Like it's subject, the whole song seems to lift up and soar into clear space. Quite a feat, achieved largely by the structure of the lyrics and musical arrangement as well as Hugh's sensitive vocal delivery. The fine poetic language provides the feathers to the wings of Featherstone's voice as it glides effortlessly above the light mesh of instrumentation.

I first heard Hugh perform "love is a stranger here" at one of his solo concerts and was immediately smitten by it. Having waited impatiently to hear it again, I have to admit preferring the guitar-only version. A version with an open string/keyboard accompaniment should help the song fly even higher. However, while listening on a medium-fi system, I found the drumming too busy and intrusive in some places, which almost distracted this Icarus from his aerial navigation and threatened to topple him out of heaven.

This is presumably one reason why the album's sleeve notes advise us to listen "through a truly fine sound system (with all the irritating gizmos & filters switched "off")". Quite right too.
 
Calling me, calling you
Everywhere else on this album the drumming and percussion are spot on, most especially on "calling home" where it's just perfick. A pacey, uplifting number in which the instantaneousness of modern international communications serves as a metaphor for world unity. I'm not sure how the Martians got in there, but a lot of people like Martians, so why not?

The backing vocals have a small but vital role on this track, and have surprised me into delighted laughter every time they first appear. The contributions of harmony singers Kim Bastian and Julia Hansen are a joy throughout; Kim Bastian having the lighter ethereal voice, while Ms Hanson's has a delicate trace of sensuality. On "the old frontier" the latter reminds me of the young Cleo Laine.

"The old frontier" is a wierdly warped science fiction yarn. A tattered temponaut returns from a failed mission to change history and is greeted by his controller(s) in a way which makes me think of a spider welcoming a fly. The chorus "Rely on us; we're on your side" sounds like a slogan for a corporation you wouldn't want to mess with. Pretty spooky.
 
Introducing the slightly distorted guitar
"Sidecar", meanwhile, is a driving instrumental with a hard-edged rhythmic heart and gloriously fuzzy edges (provided by Hugh's distorted Stratocaster guitar), and one of the stand-out tracks of this album.

This should be the theme tune for an offbeat TV series about an unlucky-in-love but sharp-as-Occam's-razor detective. The opening sequence would show the searchlight headlamps of the justice-hungry hero's car piercing a murky metropolitan fog. Suggested locations: Istanbul, San Fransisco, Saint Petersburg, Shangai, Budapest. (Send me a ticket and I'll start scouting locations right away.) On the other hand, you could just pack a picnic in the trunk and listen to this as as you glide through a summer afternoon. Either way, a fine piece with incisive drumming by Christian Archontidis, Grischka Zepf's voluptuous bass and some deeply satisfying acoustic and electric guitar by Hugh.

Variously distorted guitar sounds feature frequently on this collection. It's like it's something Hugh has always wanted to do, and only now feels free enough to let rip. About time. This is what the man confided to this reporter:

'The distorted but very linear guitars on "sidecar" are a doff of the cap to Rick Derringer whose trademark role with Steely Dan it was to provide such occasional nifty parallel riffs. All the electric guitar work on the album was done with my Stratocaster over a Petersburg 100 tube amp which we then compressed either a little, just enough to get it crunchy ("getting going, getting gone"), or a hell of a lot to get it to sound like funky toothpaste ("sidecar", "slo-mo"), only opening up the top end for a bit more gloss and expense ("kennedys").'

So now you know. But don't tell anybody I told you. It's no secret though that Hugh is a great admirer of Steely Dan's slim but substantial body of work, and "when the kennedys ride again" shares the same kind of wry nostalgia for aspects of 1960s culture which obsess Donald Fagan, especially the futuristic visions which were then the stuff of boyhood dreams. But where Fagan seems to bathe innocently in these dreams, Hugh can't resist lifting up the brightly painted stones to show what dark forms crawl beneath. Not for the squeamish.
 
Of refugees and aural architects
The overall technical excellence of this album is due in no small part to the talents of producer Frank Stefan Kimmel, who shares with Hugh a keen ear and painstaking attention to detail. Having worked with Hugh on several productions now, he has also acquired a deeper understanding of his work and expectations. Watching the two work together at La Chapelle studios last year, it was evident that they can achieve maximum results with minimum fuss. Hand in glove. Like an aural architect, Kimmel creates sonic worlds and spaces that are worth listening to very, very carefully.

Refugees are not excluded from this album's asylum. A new citizen has become so comfortable in his adoptive land that he forgets he was once himself a refugee. He joins his voice to those who would draw the ladder up after them and bar the gates of their paradise to other supplicants. When he meets the "man who wasn't there", he sees a mirror which confronts him with his own hypocrisy. As ever Hugh Featherstone is willing to evince sympathy for someone whose erroneous attitudes are born of ignorance or a lack of imagination. The song also brings a new twist to an old tale with his adaptation of a witty nonsense rhyme by the legendary and prolific author A. Nonymous.

Yesterday upon the stair
You met a man who wasn't there
He wasn't there again today
You wish that he would go away

"man who wasn't there" takes it place in the canon of Hugh Featherstone's hymns to social consciousness, along with "Union Dan", "solid state", "the hiring man", "statistic", "candlelight" and others. Some of them continue the traditions of the protest song. They do not address the powerful, who for the most part have immured themselves from such fleabites, but certainly are a wake up call for us down here to take responsibility for our planet and each other. This also puts this song thematically at the heart of this album, even though it's not that easy to sing along to, except for the lines "Longing to be, longing to be, Longing to belong", which are quite catchy. However, You would definitely feel a proper Charlie if you found yourself repeating that on the bus.
 
The bridge of skies
A few songs on "friendly skies" would fit stylistically well on Hugh's previous albums, and seem to cover older Featherstone territory, especially as they have taken a while to reach the light of a CD laser head. Indeed, this CD has been three years in the making. In the meantime, he has completely let loose with his songwriting to produce completely unexpected and often outrageous numbers like "no regrets", "Boxcar City", "blue-sky science" and "moving to Berlin". These appeared on his 2005 album "live at the chapel", somewhat upsetting the temporal balance of things (maybe we could send some temponauts off to fix this little problem). Whether they herald a whole new direction in his creative development or just a short detour, time and future recordings will tell.

For now though, this album could be seen as a bridge between lyrical latitudes. When you come to it, the strength and grace of its architecture, the fine curve of its arches and the brilliant glow of its illuminations make it well worth crossing.

David John

www.my-favourite-planet.com
 


1  kite / calling home

2  the same in blue

3  wine bar bombers

4  i guess i was wrong

5  love is a stranger here

6  getting going, getting gone

7  sidecar

8  the old frontier

9  a corner of the sky

10  man who wasn't there

11  slo-mo

12  when the kennedys ride again

13  the complex art

All songs by Hugh Featherstone

back to discography to top of page www.featherstone.co.nr website design Ursa Major
CD Friendly Skies 2008


 
Click on a track title to see the lyrics and notes below.
kite / calling home

the same in blue

wine bar bombers

i guess i was wrong

love is a stranger here

getting going, getting gone

sidecar (instrumental)
  8  the old frontier

  9  a corner of the sky

10  man who wasn't there

11  slo-mo

12  when the kennedys ride again

13  the complex art
All songs by Hugh Featherstone

You can order this CD

at blutopia.networks

www.blutopia.net

lyrics and notes

All Hugh's CD album sleeves contain lyrics and notes, so the best way to enjoy
them is to read as you listen. But for those of you who can't wait, here they are.

More info about this CD at the top of this page

All text in this rather fetching blue-green by Hugh Featherstone.
Friendly Skies kite / calling home track 1

kite

Written late in the production as an introduction to “calling home”,
I see that the 1930s custom of writing slow intros for up-tempo
tunes seems to be staging a modest comeback. Does this make me
cutting edge?


Sometimes I lie awake at night
& watch the stars turn round
But I know which one is yours all right
It’s already homeward bound

& I don’t need a navigation light
As your fingers start to twine
‘cause you wind me like a paper kite
Once you get me on your line

calling home

This little number about aliens tapping our cell-phones linked Rangoon
and Oslo even before the Nobel committee did. From “calling Rio”, it
turned into a roster of cities, which we later cut.
Sorry if yours got edited.


Calling Rio, calling Rome
Calling London, calling home
From New York City to Amsterdam
It’s one nation. It's one land
Calling DC from Taipei
& Mogadishu from LA

Don’t need to pack your bags to travel there
Don’t need a visa or a plane
Before you've even left you’re right back home again

Calling Tokyo from Saigon
We’ve got the whole world logging on
Calling Memphis from Kathmandu
Don’t call Elvis till he calls you

Don’t need to pack your bags to travel
Don’t need a ticket for a train
We’ll beam you anywhere you want & back again

Calling Oslo from Rangoon
They’re all humming that freedom tune
Calling Moscow from the moon
There’ll be Martians calling soon
Friendly Skies the same in blue track 2

Out of an innocent question: “Do you have the same in blue?”
grew a song about dealing with grief. Friends may avoid you
because they can’t handle another’s pain, yet you’re still the
same person … the blue version.


They tell me that you've lost someone special
They tell me that you really got hurt
Well, everybody goes through that sometime
You wake up with your face in the dirt
& turn to look around you
From this novel point of view
The ground came up to bruise you
But life goes on as usual
It’s just the same, in blue

You know you got a lot left to live for
You know you got a future out there
You know that there'll be friends you can count on
You know that there'll be moments to share
It’s time to turn the corner
Come back & join the crew
Walk that extra mile
Flash that winning smile
You’re just the same, in blue

Maybe all you need is some medicine
That won't make you feel worse
Maybe all you need is a doctor
Just like I need a nurse

I'm not so very different, & I've been down there too
Yes, I'm another one, but I refused to run
I'm just the same, in blue
No, I'm not really different, & I could be good for you
Catch you when you fall, be the one you call
I'm just the same, in blue
Try me on for size, you know I match your eyes
I’m just the same, in blue
Friendly Skies wine bar bombers track 3

Sandro and Carmen are middle-class kids trying to live a normal
life in a nightmare of civil implosion, deeply in denial for the mess
their class of people have got the country into.
The only thing worth dying for is life.


There are urban guerrillas among us
Another agenda from work and sleep and play
And a little church
They’re immunized against reason
Reason it was that stole their land away
Left them in the lurch
Now they've moved into town
Go driving around in their stolen cars
Leaving parcels for narks and real-estate sharks
In wine bars

They set off a bomb in the main square
If this is the face of peace, I preferred the war
At least you knew where it was
Somewhere out in the jungle hills
Somewhere out in the shacks and the coffee fields
They were angry with us
Now they've moved into town
Go sneaking around in their denim suits
With their Maoist ideas and their Internet fears
And their cheap cheroots

I'm too cool for this (do I have to care?)
I'm too cool for this (and I don’t want to die)
I'm too cool for this (do I have to care?)
I'm too cool for this, go take your slogans elsewhere

Borrow a scooter from Niño
Carmen and me are going to head for Ecuador
Live on the beach
She's going to drop out of law school
Won't be a poster child for their dirty war
Stay out of kidnapping reach
We'll camp far from town
Watch the sun going down over Pasado
With the waves crashing round
While her light skin turns brown as an Indio

The only thing worth dying for
The only thing worth dying for
The only thing worth dying for is life
Friendly Skies i guess i was wrong track 4

Recorded late on a rainy night with the big rigs rumbling over
the border just outside our studio door, this very smple downer
about hearts in transit was nearly scrapped before Christian
and Grischka came along to rescue it.


It's not intentional; no one's to blame
Accidents happen all the same
No one's accountable; it's not your fault
If love hit a side road & ground to a halt
I guess I believed that what we had was strong
A thing with a future, well, I guess I was wrong

It's not a tragedy, nobody died
Nobody cheated on anyone & nobody lied
It’s not dramatic; I shouldn't make a big deal
But I can't help feeling the things you don't feel
I guess I reckoned that where we belong
Is in each other's arms, well, I guess I was wrong

It's not unusual
I know it happens each day
Someone picks up the phone to hear love slip away

No one's responsible, the buck stops nowhere
But there's a dent in the pillow now that smells of your hair
Nothing’s been broken here, if you don't count my heart
But try as I might, I can't get it to start
I guess I was dreaming my life in a song
In which somebody loved me
Well I guess I was wrong
There I was dreaming my life in a song
In which somebody loved me
Well, I guess I was wrong
Friendly Skies love is a stranger here track 5

Almost everyone is ready to believe that their dreams
would be easier to realize elsewhere. Yet the things
we really need to change tend to travel with us
wherever we go. I’d like to patent this chord sequence.


Where the medium is the message
Surplus, surface, the glitter's never gold
Where the tedium fills the front page
Oblation, sensation, the bitter & the bold
Love is the infiltrator
Love is the instigator
But love is a stranger here

Where the advertisers haunt you
It’s out there, somewhere, calling out your name
Where the game show prizes taunt you
To reach you, teach you, you'll never be the same
Love, the communicator
Love is your respirator
But love is a stranger here

Time trickles through your fingers
A heart sleeping while you linger here

So, you take a plane one morning
A one way motion, never to return
Below, familiar skyline dawning
A runway emotion, you smile & watch it burn
Love is the revelator
Love, the illuminator
But love was a stranger here
Love, the communicator
Love is the infiltrator
But love is a stranger here
Friendly Skies getting going, getting gone track 6

written 2000

A live version of this song appears on Hugh's 2005 CD live at the Chapel.

This is one of those songs that I can easily imagine being done much better by someone else: in this case, a deeply FM, West-coast style of production, with Steve Tyler's voice.

We had a good love, had something strong
But now it's faded, it all feels wrong
When I look into the past I see it bathed in light
But when I look into the future it's as black as night
I'm getting going, I'm getting gone

I reach to hold you, can't hold you long
It's like you freeze me, won't keep me warm
Lately you just look at me like someone lost
Another burning bridge you have to run across
I'm getting going, I'm getting gone

It's like I'm standing alone at a crossroads
Not a single sign I know
Time for heading off-road
Don’t matter where I go

Now I'm running down this dusty by-way
With the sunset in my eyes
There's good times coming my way
Out of clear and friendly skies

No use in playing your favourite song
No use in asking what track I'm on
Now the only thing in common is the colour blue
And it always was impossible to talk to you
I'm getting going, I'm getting gone
Now the only thing in common is the colour blue
And it always was impossible to talk to you
I'm getting going, I'm getting gone,
I'm getting gone
I'm getting going ...
... I'm getting gone
Friendly Skies sidecar track 7

guitar instrumental

I still miss the ritual of turning over a vinyl record: the hiss at the end of the last track, the clonk of the arm disengaging. Get up, turn it over, wipe it, replace the arm, hiss, crackle . music. This is intended to bring a touch of A/B to CD. The title refers to an interview with Jimi Hendrix, in which he described himself, an overgrown kid in grade school, feeling like the doomed gunner in a Wehrmacht motorcycle-sidecar combination, his long legs cramped under the arch of a tiny desk beneath his teacher's basilisk stare.
Friendly Skies the old frontier track 8

Inspired by Terry Gilliam’s brilliant “Army of Twelve Monkeys”.
A multitude of possible futures may mean a multitude of possible pasts.
So which one do you change when trying to engineer the present?


Welcome back to the 21st Century
To the old frontier
Yes, of course we kept your hard-disc
Plug in over here, over here

Welcome back to the 21st Century
On a normal day
Meet the New Team, been a few changes
Since you went away

Welcome back to the 21st Century
(Would you repeat that please?)
You’d better share with Winston and the Rainman
They’ve got the same disease

Rely on us; we’re on your side
Rely on us; you must have had a nasty,
Must have had a nasty ride

Welcome back to the 21st Century
We’ve had to change the codes
None of you got Hitler or the Inquisition
There were too many roads

Welcome back to the 21st Century
Now go and join the queue
They ask the same things, have the same problems
and they all look like you

Rely on us; we're on your side
Rely on us; you must have had a nasty,
Must have had a nasty ride
Friendly Skies a corner of the sky track 9

Written just after the euphemistic “events of” September 11th.
Birds fly over the rainbow, clouds cross borders. So why do we
make life so complex, and will religion ever become the solution
instead of being the problem?


Thinking about the day that we first met
Thinking about the things I can't forget
Thinking about the diamonds in your eyes
Thinking about a corner of the sky

Thinking about an old eternal dream
Thinking about a love that might have been
Thinking how a man's not meant to cry
Thinking about a corner of the sky

Thinking about a taste left in my mouth
Thinking about the swallows heading south
Thinking how these borders are a lie
Thinking about a corner of the sky

Thinking about the airwaves full of hate
Thinking about the war within our gates
Thinking how we sleep while bombers fly
Thinking about a corner of the sky

Thinking about the way the earth is round
Thinking there's no refuge to be found
Thinking about the satellites that pry
Into every detail of our lives

Thinking about a cloud that's passing by
Headed for your corner of the sky
Friendly Skies man who wasn't there track 10

My friend Dale is angry about his country’s policy towards asylum seekers.
He says a nation founded by the deported and the destitute should be
more generous to people in the same situation today.


On the margins of the world
Where the fringes start to curl
You till your piece of bitter earth
And eat your heart for what it’s worth
You’re a refugee

And every night you ride that train
Through your personal domain
Freighted with your dreams and fears
Your mind goes surfing through the years
You’re a refugee from an ancient wrong
Longing to be, longing to be
Longing to belong

In a brighter, better world
Where the flag is now unfurled
You build a bigger, fatter life
The house, the car, the kids, the wife
You were a refugee from an ancient wrong
Now you’ve somewhere, somewhere to be
Somewhere to belong

Yesterday upon the stair
You met a man who wasn’t there
He wasn’t there again today
You wish that he would go away *
He’s a refugee. It’s the same old song
Longing to be, longing to be, longing to belong
Longing to be, longing to be, longing to belonging to be
Longing to be, longing to belong

* freely misquoted from an anonymous “nonsense rhyme” original
Friendly Skies slo-mo track 11

written 2002

A live version of this song appears on Hugh's 2005 CD live at the Chapel.

We are frequently our own heffalumps, tumbling with slapstick predictability
into the traps we dig for others. This character is incapable of accepting
good luck at face value, preferring to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.


Watch me shoot myself in the foot, in slow motion
I'd make it worse if I could, this implosion
There's no one here to pretend
That these are things I can mend

I trip right over my shoes in confusion
Mistake a dream for the news, my delusion
When opportunity knocks
I fall right out of my socks
And slip sideways and twisting and turning, diving into blue
This force of attraction that fuzzes up my view
When all that I needed and all I had to do
Was love you

When someone throws me a line, out of kindness
I get completely entwined. It's mindless
I flounder out of my depth
And tread the water to death
And slip sideways, twisting and turning, diving into blue
This force of attraction that fuzzes up my view
When all that I needed and all I had to do
Was love you

Lo and behold, what do I see below me
The mermaids are rising and one seems to know me

You walked right into my heart, Miss-Terious
and now it's come to the part where it's serious
I'm not equipped for success
That's why my life is a mess
I slip sideways and twisting and turning, diving into blue
This force of attraction that fuzzes up my view
When all that I needed and all I had to do
Was love you, was love you, was love you

It's dumb enough; it’s soppy stuff,
It's Ike 'n' Tina's puppy love
It's cookie time; it's nursery rhyme
I could be playing mastermind
I'm tossing a coin again; yes I'm tossing a coin again
I'm tossing a coin again; it's going to be tails ...

... Watch me shoot myself in the foot, in slow motion
Friendly Skies when the Kennedys ride again track 12

JFK’s “Camelot” will live as long as the ideal of service fires the imagination
of young Americans. But today’s shredded documents are tomorrow’s confetti,
and idealism is losing ground fast in the post-Enron world.


High life, low light
It’s what you wanted to be
Art Kane, Coltrane
And big white spaces between
Blue skies, wide eyes
Heroes died at the wheel
Fast track, the Rat Pack
Moved down to Hollywood to learn how to feel

But we’re on a curve, my friend
It’ll work out in the end
With a new sense of mission
And persistence of vision
We’ll be smiling on the news at ten
When the Kennedys ride again

Want more on the top floor?
Ask what your country can do
Payoff or layoff, before they do it to you
Lights out, you walk about
Things begin to get real
Feel numb, you did the sums
Who needs Harvard just to learn how to steal?

But we’re on a curve, my friend
It’ll work out in the end
There’ll be courageous decisions
There’ll be no more divisions
They’ll be dancing in the Plaza rain
When the Kennedys ride again

Same suits with new boots
Skimmed off all of the cream
On the last page of the Space Age
Whatever happened to Bobby’s dream?

We’ll be nuclear fission
We’ll be stars in collision
We’ll be everything we were back then
With a new sense of mission
and persistence of vision
You’ll see us smiling on the news at ten
When the Kennedys ride again
Friendly Skies the complex art track 13

Along with certain papers that were left in one of my boxes of lyrics and doodles, was a sketch for this song about assuming responsibility for one’s emotional errors. Is this really goodbye? I rather think not.

Along with certain papers that were left uptown
Some other things went missing and were never found
and part of the complex art of sinning
Was kidding ourselves that we were winning
and though it was you who fed the flame
I’m taking all the blame, 'cause
I don't want to hold you; I don't want to hold you
I don't want to hold you responsible for this

Among the secret places where we nursed the pain
Some were desecrated by a thirst for gain
Yet we had hours filled with laughter
and dreamed a happy-ever-after
But though we built our house on sand
I’ll go ahead as planned, 'cause
I don't want to call you; I don't want to call you
I don't want to call you names again

‘cause someday I might turn around and ask; where the hell are you?
and you'll ask; where the hell am I?
and the answer’s clear as an open sky

and that's why, that's why, that's why
I don't want to kiss you; I don't want to kiss you
I don't want to kiss you goodbye
 

Hugh Featherstone plays Kraushaar Guitars
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