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Above Covered Skies

by Axel Quinlan

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a) Overture (instrumental) b) The Dreamer I am a dreamer There’s not much else to be Not a farmer like my father a barren life I cannot lead Yes, I am a dreamer dreaming someday not to be... When the seeds that we have planted have pushed up through the soil and the stems have sprouted leaves When the eggshell painted blue has cracked and split in two and the robin has left the sheltering wing I am a dreamer ‘cause there’s so much more to see Not the acres of my father flattened fields devoid of trees I am a dreamer dreaming of what I’ll come to be
Leaving Ohio 03:22
I’m leaving home now that I’m 20 My eyes are filled with wanderlust I took everything I had put it in a burlap bag and I’m headed out to see the earth I am eastbound for Pittsburgh to make my money forging steel When my pockets have been filled and my poverty’s been killed I’ll head out whichever way I feel I’ve got an uncle on the Atlantic He owns a trawler up in Maine Well there’s a job for me fishing on the sea working for a boss who shares my name I’ve heard tales of California where the sky is never grey and the crops will always grow and the winter brings no snow and honest work earns honest pay But first I’ve gotta leave Ohio.
Red River 01:14
I am saying goodbye to my family I am biding my friends all adieu I am leaving my home I was born in in search of something that’s new
a) Morning Star My eyes now slowly open The room is perfect black I fumble for the light switch Young pupils now contract And upon the oaken bureau by the jeans I didn’t pack some cash to get me out of here but none to bring me back. Because maps and miles can’t explain how far I am going with the morning star. There’s some bread upon the table to break the nocturne’s fast It’s all I have ‘til Pittsburgh so I’ll have to make it last My mother left it for me with a simple cursive note: I love you and I’ll miss you and don’t forget to take your coat Because maps and miles can’t explain how far you are going with the morning star. I can hear the dawn a-comin’ but she is not here yet The air is cool with slumber the grass is soft and wet One last look back down the driveway and the salt constricts my legs But, before it petrifies my heart I turn my head away And a silver shining moonbeam illuminates the road A simply stated gesture to tell me that she knows and that she’ll be coming with me, so I won’t be alone She will be following wherever I may go Well the driver pulls a lever and a stairway now appears It’s time to take my giant leap time to leave behind my fears Well, maps and measured miles just can’t explain how far I am going with the morning star. b) Bus Ride into the Sunrise (instrumental)
The city is sprawling like fog in a valley that covers the freshly plowed ground And from the foundation grows man and his metal with all of the lights and the sounds And I can see I can see: the smoke that billows like riverboat steam is turning the wheel of industry. Working is easy if you’re okay with working hard and I’m invincible and unafraid Well, I’m not educated and I have no skills to trade but I can move a mountain if I’m paid And I can see I can see: that it’s the hands and the hearts of people like me that are turning the wheels of industry.
Give me a drink that’s strong and black to wake these old bones up Chase the demons away from my bed with the bitter brew in my cup There’s hours of work that have got to be done so I need to stay on my toes ‘Cause if you fall asleep while the furnace is on you’ll set fire to all your clothes Coffee in the morning Whiskey in the evening Gets me through the hours Gets me through the week Coffee in the morning, Whiskey in the evening, Gets me through the work day, Keeps me on my feet. Give me a drink that’s hard and cruel to warm up these old bones Chase the demons away from my head and burn down their old homes My hands are tired, my feet are tired my heart is tired, too So come sweet spirit and lead me home so I can sleep with you
The Stranger 03:29
I went walking through the town on a Friday evening stroll I saw a face that matched a name heard so many years ago I said “Hey, it’s Tom from central high maybe you might recall?” But the awkward movements of her eyes clearly said it all: that I am a stranger With my face still red I walked ahead and ducked into a bar My request for beer was met by a sneer: “can I see your ID card?” I opened my wallet and surrendered my license which she held up to the light I didn’t bother to mention that I’d been a patron for 25 consecutive nights because I am a stranger Well, beer did what beer does so I decided to take a stand I looked the clock straight in the face and issued my demands But, time had stumbled past me now as the bells rang a pair of tones General Grant was invited to stay but I was told to go home because I am a stranger
The Kiln 02:28
From the kiln they have borne me tempered and forged me into the right size They polished my faces and hardened my edges as the blueprint specifies They say, “how does it feel, son? to be part of something so triumphantly big?” Well, helical gears mesh so smooth and so quiet they don’t shake the machine. So what do I do with my hands now that I’ve sold them for an hourly wage Yes, I am the one who’s been building the bars to enclose my cage.
Iron is red, and coal dust is black I surrender these hours I’ll never get back I’ll trade my right hand for rent my left hand for bread. Coal dust is black, and Iron is red The mid-morning sun is hidden in smoke choked like a criminal wearing a rope that circles the neck and from high gallows is hung Smoke hides the face of the mid-morning sun But I wish I could fly above covered skies to celestial shores And I’m building my wings because I want to go soon to meet with the stars to consult with the moon Evening comes crawling to the end of the day like a mistreated animal lead to the hay that lowers its head and lets its eyes close Evening comes crawling defeated and slow But I wish I could fly
Track Ten 00:40
Night Train 03:42
Last night, while I lay dreaming I caught a passing train The conductor took my ticket and then he took my name I asked our destination and he simply smiled at me So, I turned to face the window and watch that moonlit plain When the warden found me missing he sounded his alarm and sent out all his coppers and called the national guard Well they followed the midnight railway off into the west But, when the track split at the junction they couldn’t tell which way I went So, we rolled into a valley with a thousand shades of green The track followed the shoreline of a virgin mountain spring So, I jumped out of the window and was caught by fertile ground But before the water kissed me I was woken by a sound
a) Stars For long I’ve wished to see the stars that watch the skies above at night And though they’re held in high regard I have not recent seen their light For when I gaze, I meet dull clouds and heaven’s eyes cannot be found So I must wait upon the wind to sweep off nature’s lonely shroud. At night lay, my mind awake with the past day’s troubles in my head And if ever those thoughts I finally shake what’s yet to come haunts me instead. Well, I heard both bears call me by name but regretfully I then explained that the morning's light brings the bosses call so I cannot come be with you all b) Night Rain Last night, while I lay dreaming I tried to run away as the pounding rain and thunder masked the sound of my escape But the concrete walls stayed sturdy and the bars refused to move So, I fell back to my mattress and cried out to the moon: shine on through.
The Flood 03:39
The rivers are high and soon I’ll be floating The docks, once secure are now drifting wood And the pillars that I stood on have swept from the bottom The knots have untied and the anchor is gone. So roll on, Allegheny. Carry my vessel safely forth For I have no paddle to steer my raft with and no line to tie to shore Old man Noah sailed through a rainstorm the sky kept on falling for forty straight days And when the ark finally landed on the outskirts of Johnstown he petitioned the Lord for overtime pay So roll on, Monongahela. Carry my vessel safely forth For I have no paddle to steer my raft with and no line to tie to shore. Boats were designed for traversing waters They flow with the current or they fight it with oars But in even the sturdy you will be thrown out if your feet are on the deck but your hands reach for shore So roll on, Ohio. Carry my vessel safely forth For I have no paddle to steer my raft with and no line to tie to shore
Moonsong 02:33
Night Plane 03:31
Last night, while I lay dreaming I flew a freighter plane But, the cargo bay was empty and the cockpit was the same The jet engines were screaming the ascent seemed far too steep But instead of stalling out I climbed above 90,000 feet From up there in the heavens I could see no one below I could see no banks or markets and I could see no homes No flashing of the marquee or the red lights hollow glow No churches and no graveyards and no unburied bones Well, I saw the vast ocean whose blue was unfailing I saw the white mountains who reached out to touch me I saw the brown and the green of the plains and the forest And all was so small that once seemed enormous Then looking above, unhindered by rafters the old great bear reached to pull me up faster She fed me with song, she quenched me with laughter then took me away to meet with her master
Epilogue 04:22
When the roar stopped the tide retreated revealing treasures from under the waves A sonic wake of newfound silence And all that was hidden became found When the glow stopped the stars got brighter and old Greek heroes came out to dance A light display of newfound brilliance And all that was hidden became found When the smoke stopped the wind swept it clear and brought back the perfume of meadows forgotten The needles of pine and the apple blossom And all that was hidden became found, again


A story of the American Dream


released September 1, 2016

All songs written by A. Quinlan*
Recorded by A. Quinlan in the old Kalamazoo Gibson building
Mixed and mastered by Mike Schuur at Sun Spot Recording
Album art by Trevor Grabill at Flat Mountain Press
Portrait by VAGUE photography

I would like to thank my family and my friends for their constant support and encouragement.
This album is dedicated to Tim Klueter and Casey Snyder

*Traditional and classical songs referenced on Tracks 1a, 3, 4b, 11, 12a, 15




Axel Quinlan Kalamazoo, Michigan

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