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The Question

by Anna Tivel

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credits

released April 19, 2019

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Anna Tivel Portland, Oregon

Anna Tivel's wide-eyed celestial folk songs belong in a similar
ballpark with Anais Mitchell, Gregory Alan Isakov and Laura
Veirs, where gentle picking plucks among occasionally
unconventional sounds and a gorgeous voice tells stories of
life in a world of natural wonders. The resulting music is
incredibly honest, lyric-driven, and deeply affecting.
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Track Name: The Question
In my dream you were beautiful, backlit, noble
In the lowlight of the window, you were leaning on the edge
The high rises and billboards, for perfume and call girls
The steam above the dark road, the smoke around your head

I knew you by description, the tall tales, the pictures
Your short hair and your lipstick, the smell of coming rain
I wanted to remain there, a voyeur, a stranger
Below you in the night air, waiting to be changed

Eyeliner and nylons, the calm upon your face drawn
Revealing next to nothing, a deal you don’t believe
The bible in a locked drawer, the truth you gave it up for
The hymnal and the comfort for the chance at living free

And lined up with the laundry, your slacks and all those stockings
Suit jacket and the soft things you dance in when you dream
The neighbors never mention, the woman they see leaving
Is the man who works the morning shift selling gasoline

In my dream you were stone still, shadowed, half built
A masterpiece of pure will, just waiting on the world
To gaze upon your body, a razor on a rough cheek
The blaze of burning beauty, the saved and the worth saving
A hallelujah waiting to raise the heavy curtains
A play with no good ending, a prayer that never mentioned
The glory of the question and the answer is the same
Track Name: Fenceline
Alone in the dark at the edge of the border
A coyote calling the moon from the sky
The bright shining eye of a circling vulture
And holes in the old fence line

Traveling far from the land of my father
The red cactus flower and the weight of a crime
The faraway barking of dogs by the water
And holes in the old fence line

Oh angels look away
Unbar the pearly gate, unblock the road
Cause down here at the border, the dogs are getting close

All of my dreaming, a house by a river
A small bit of land for my beautiful wife
Something to show for a lifetime of labor
And holes in the old fence line

I crawl in the dirt, to the edge of a country
My hammering heart and the dust in my eyes
I traded the night for the last of my money
And holes in the old fence line

Oh angels look away
Unbar the pearly gate, unblock the road
Cause down here at the border, i’m just an animal

Alone in the dark at the edge of the border
A coyote calling the moon from the sky
The bright shining eye of a circling vulture
And holes in the old fenceline
Track Name: Shadowland
I came to see the flower stands, the vegetables, the cigarettes
the subway station bucket man, the headphones and the heat
I thought that I might try again, the living and the breathing
but the living and the breathing don't come easy

I used to be a waste of time, an empty bottle lying down
a trap door with the latches gone, hanging by a hinge
Now I guess I'm something else, a raven on an overpass
a wanderer, a silver ghost, a beacon

Before, I saw it everywhere, in car windows, the guarded stare
the hollow eyes, the hunted fear, I had to look away
I thought that I might lose my breath, the living and the coming death
the living and the aftermath, the fade

I used to be a waste of time, a burning match lit underground
a figure in the shadowland , a feather in a cage
Now I hope I’m something else, a blinding flash, a fragment spell
a bird released from some old bell, escaping
Track Name: Figure It Out
The night comes to find you, a flickering bulb
The streetlight behind you, a breathing shadow
And i never wanted to hold something close until now

A siren, a cat fight, a thin clarinet
The neighbors reflecting the blue tv set
And you got a way of believing the rest will work out

I’m sorry I said what I said, I don’t mean it
The darkness it scares me to death, but I’ll figure it out, I’ll figure it out

A car horn, a backfire, a bottle of wine
Somebody laughing and closing the blinds
And I never wanted to get something right until now

A heavy door closing, a dog in the yard
Chain link and wood rot and rusty old parts
And you got a way of convincing my heart to lie down

I’m sorry I said what I said, I don’t mean it
The darkness it scares me to death, but I’ll figure it out, I’ll figure it out

You’re walking back home now, I’m watching you go
The slope of your shoulders, your breathing shadow
And I got a feeling so high I might never come down

The night slips behind you, a lit cigarette
A junky arranging the leaves for a bed
And you got a way of forgiving the trouble I found

I’m sorry I said what I said, I don’t mean it
The darkness it scares me to death, but I’ll figure it out, I’ll figure it out
I’ll figure it out, I’ll figure it out, I’ll figure it out, I’ll figure it out
Track Name: Minneapolis
Turn out the light, let’s be still for awhile
Let the wind blow in with the rain
A change in the season, a tangle of sheets
And the heat pipe half broken again

I watch you watching, the headlights, you’re lost in
A country i cannot find
They pass on the ceiling, a strobe in slow motion
Alive in the cracks of the blinds

Maybe it’s time we left, Minneapolis
A cloud of dust, and we could just be gone
Something lost and something won

Try to remember, the heat of the summer
The salt and the steam on the road
Driving for hours to sit at the water
Make love on a pile of our clothes

But something has shifted, a wind in the branches
The cold coming in like a drug
Curled like two questions, a couple of dancers
Alone in our separate thoughts

Maybe it’s time we left, Minneapolis
A cloud of dust, and we could just be gone
Something lost and something won
Something lost and something won

Maybe it’s time we left, Minneapolis
A cloud of dust, and we could just be gone
Something lost and something won
Something lost and something won
Something lost and something won
Disappearing, now we’re gone
Track Name: Worthless
Two quarters in my hand, nothing else in my pocket
I’m a wild horse pawing at the cracked dead earth
The stoplight turning and a long white lincoln
Goes screaming by, the bass line lingers

It’s hot as the devil, the rubber and the metal
Black smell of something burning
I never did wrong, i never did gamble
Til the day you called me worthless

Two quarters in my hand, nothing else in my pocket
I’m a fuse box sparking in the summer grass
I’m a hooded figure, a crazy killer
I’m a dead man walking on the overpass

It’s hot as the devil, the asphalt melting
The sweat wet smell of danger
I never did wrong, i never was tempted
Til the day you named my anger

Two quarters in my hand, nothing else in my pocket
I’m a count-down rocket in a cloud of smoke
My fists are clenched, my whole body tense
My mouth screwed up, my eyes half closed

It’s hot as the devil, a screaming kettle
The bassline slowly burning
I never did wrong, I was kind and careful
Til the day you called me worthless
Track Name: Anthony
The building was burning, the plaster was crumbling
I lost my sense and I ran back inside
The groan of the floorboards, and heat spreading under them
Billowing smoke, in my throat and my eyes

The kitchen ablaze and the wallpaper curling
The table where you and I figured it out
At two in the morning, alive and uncertain
Just talking in circles, dreaming aloud

Anthony I’m afraid, alone in the building, the billowing flame
And I lost my mind I guess
I thought i knew what forever meant

A crash in the hallway, the photographs falling
The shattering glass, like rain coming down
The one of you standing, your hands in your pockets
The look on your face, obscured by the sun

Anthony I’m afraid, alone in the building, the billowing flame
And I lost my mind I guess
I thought I knew what forever meant

The heat and the hunger, the smoke in the sky
The feeling of losing, and something on fire

And up in the bedroom, the curtains all blackened
The bed where I loved you beginning to burn
I opened the window where I used to call you
Below in the garden you’re already gone

Anthony I’m afraid, alone in the building, the billowing flame
And I lost my mind I guess
I thought I knew what forever meant
I thought I knew what forever meant
Track Name: Homeless Child
Wake up it’s a new day, the old day is done
You can cry about it if you want
The rain in the river, the baby in your arms
Proud mother, you try so hard

Jesus christ, it don’t take much
To fall asleep beneath the burning sky
Oh my god, homeless child
The world will leave you breathless every time

Wake up it’s a new day, the old day forgot
You can start it over if you want
Clean and sober, a year coming up
Tiny daughter, unborn son

Jesus christ, it don’t take much
To lose the luck you been living on til now
Oh my god, homeless child
The world will leave you sleeping on the ground

Nothing but a string of broken chances
Strangers look away and walk on by
Nothing but a world without answers
Just another list, another endless line

Jesus christ, it don’t take much
To go from just enough to nothing in the end
Oh my god, homeless child
The world will leave you hanging by a thread
Track Name: Velvet Curtain
I swept up the garbage, the cups and the wrappers
The theater was empty, the crowd had gone home
A circle of dust in the light from the rafters
The wooden broom handle, a microphone

And i sang to the dark rows, all velvet and empty
The curtain majestic, in folds to the floor
I sang so the angels would never forget me
The rush of their robes as they rose up for more

The night circled in like a dog in the alley
All matted and skinny, and face full of hurt
The theater still ringing, with lost dreams of glory
The echoing voices of some brighter world

And i sang to the mezzanine, the gold-painted ceiling
The orchestra spinning, the bright chandelier
I sang so the angels would feel what i’m feeling
An empty so deep, i’m afraid i’m not here

The last note it lingered, the dust settled round me
A silence so heavy, it cut to the bone
And deep in the shadows, the rustle of clapping
I rushed to the back row, still holding the broom

And a man who had crept in, all haggard and dirty
A bag of belongings, and tears in his eyes
I’ll never forget this, he said as he left me
I needed to hear someone singing tonight
Track Name: Two Strangers
The first time that I saw you, you were waiting for the train
Your body like a shadow slipped away
A bright display of color, and the tunnel swept me under
And the last thing I remember was your face

I hoped you would appear, in some old movie theater chair
Some old vinyl back-booth diner way downtown
I watched for you in windows, sprayed your name across cement walls
In parking lots when no one was around

The city lights, they shine like silver, the city lights, they shine like gold
I’m holding out, for something better, what it is, I don’t know

The second time I saw you, you were running in the rain
Ducked back into a chinese restaurant
I drove around the block, cursed the light, double parked
Found only an old scarf that you forgot

I wore it that whole winter, hoped you’d see me in the street
Your eye would catch and suddenly you’d know
A glance inside the subway, the central station bustling
And two strangers locking eyes above it all

The city lights, they shine like silver, the city lights, they shine like gold
I’m holding out, for something better, what it is, I don’t know

I’m alright, if you’re asking, I’m just tired, and I’m just stoned
And the city lights, are a constellation, and your upturned face is, what I’m looking for

I came around the corner on a bitter saturday
A flower stand and trash cans on the curb
I bought a cup of coffee from a man who never saw me
Turned around and raised it up and there you were

My heart escaped my body, flew right up and disappeared
I thought that I might lose you in the crowd
But you crossed the street and suddenly your voice was in my ear
Saying don’t i know your face from somewhere else

The city lights, they shine like silver, the city lights, they shine like gold
I’m holding out, for something better, what it is, I don’t know
I’m holding out, for something better, what it is, I don’t know

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