Detroit

by Jason Kutchma

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about

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"The Detroit Fire Company was instructed to let abandoned houses burn. There was no money to save them."

-EKR
2012

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Anxious to get started on the follow-up to Pastoral, I had a group of songs about people at the end of the line, all wondering where to go from where they were.

My friend Wes Wolfe offered to record the demos. We talked about recording them in some unconventional places around Durham, NC. We ultimately decided to produce them in a house built at the turn-of-the-century for workers at a local textile complex.

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When Brodie L. Duke established the Pearl Cotton Mills at the end of the 19th century, he chose an undeveloped tract of land outside of Durham's town limits as the site for his industrial complex. This parcel lay at the southern edge of the middle portion of his vast real estate holdings that wrapped around the western and northern edges of Durham. The industrial site, situated just a short distance from his home, had an irregular boundary dictated by a creek and ravine. It was the only textile manufacturing complex in northwestern Durham and its out-skirts.

from Open Durham
2008

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For decades, workers lived in the company home and walked to work at a cotton mill just a few blocks away. Mill houses like these were always occupied by people looking for the kind of work to just get by or get going up or down the coast, transient workers guided by the turning Earth and the men who paid them to turn it.

The mechanization of The Cotton Industry contributed to the Mill closing in the 1950’s. By then the Automobile and Steel Industries up north were on their way to peaking, needing more skilled labor to keep them at that crest. With the availability of the automobile to the low and middle classes, workers from the south moved on, moved up north, moved to Detroit, moved to Pittsburgh, moved to Johnstown.

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“I know that homes burn and that you should think what to save before they start to. Not because, in the heat of it, everything looks as valuable as everything else. But, because nothing looks worth the bother, not even your life.”

-Amy Hempel
The Collected Stories

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The Erwin Cotton Mills continued to manage the Pearl operation until the 1950s. At that time, the Erwin Cotton Mills sold the houses to private individuals. After standing vacant for several years, the factory, with the exception of its smokestack and four-story tower, was razed to make room for the Duke Tower Apartments around 1971. Although all of the houses along Foster St. have been destroyed, vestiges of the mill village survive on N. Duke St., Harper PI. and Orient and Washington streets as isolated pockets of identical forms that belie their industrial origin. In spite of numerous cosmetic alterations, all of the dwellings constructed by the mill along Washington and Orient streets survive with their original character intact.

-Durham Architectural and Historic Inventory
1980

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After the house went through an intense seven months of rehabilitation, Beth & I moved in. One of our friends from across the street dropped by. He had been in the neighborhood for about ten years. ‘This house, I mean, I can't believe the change. It looks fantastic now but I have to be honest, it was an awful, awful place for years. This was the drug house. There was a green light on the front porch. Some days it was on, some days off. Then it was a different color for a while. They’d mix it up, some kind of code with what they had in stock. The house next door had a red light on the porch that I’m sure we all know the significance. You can’t imagine the terrible sounds coming out of there on a weekend night. Awful. Can’t forget them. There was always a rodeo of police cars on the street in front of both of these houses’.

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Sometime during the summer after we moved in, Wes arrived at my house with his gear: Tascam 424 MKIII, Universal Audio 710 Twin-finity pre-amp, Shure 57 microphone, Blue Dragonfly microphone, two Advantone CK1 microphones. We finished recording in about six hours.

The order of the songs is in the order they were recorded that day.

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'Construed as turf, home just seems a provisional claim, a designation you make upon a place, not one it makes on you. A certain set of buildings, a glimpsed, smudged window-view across a schoolyard, a musty aroma sniffed behind a garage when you were a child, all of which come crowding in upon your latter-day senses -- those are pungent things and vivid, even consoling. But to me they are also inert and nostalgic and unlikely to connect you to the real, to that essence art can sometimes achieve, which is permanence.'

-Richard Ford

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Theses recordings were given to the Five Fifths for the album Sundown, USA available here:

jkutchma.bandcamp.com/album/sundown-usa

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“I've crossed some kind of invisible line. I feel as if I've come to a place I never thought I'd have to come to. And I don't know how I got here. It's a strange place. It's a place where a little harmless dreaming and then some sleepy, early-morning talk has led me into considerations of death and annihilation.”

- Raymond Carver
Where I'm Calling From

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credits

released May 30, 2013

Jason Kutchma: guitar, vocal, harmonica

Engineered, mixed and mastered by Wesley Wolfe

tags

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all rights reserved
Track Name: February Is My Finish Line
Besides the pills and bills and my belly ills I really can’t complain
Though back when it was good it really wasn’t great
But I got less calls from these assholes
Who're ringing me twenty times a day
Saying there’s some other damn thing that I got to pay

Mister, you got the wrong number
No one here no no one knows that guy
Hey Mister Governor
Believe me yes believe me I’m really gonna try
But in January I’m just gonna squeak on by

Well I must admit the heart tugs a bit at your semi-friendly voice
As you talk and talk and talk and yakkity yak
Like I got a Rolls Royce

I give the wife a kiss and I go to the crib and I grab my girl and boy
We say into the phone no no one’s home
But please sir don’t be annoyed

Mister, you got the wrong number
We think you confused your fours and fives
Hey Mister Governor
You think maybe just once in my life
February can be my finish line?
Track Name: I Believe Everything's Gonna Be Alright
I believe that I’m this month’s centerfold in How-To-Be-Down-And-Out
I believe I got no certainties except for this I got no doubt
There aint' no greater hurt on the heartless earth
Than when you lose the ability to dream
But I believe I’m gonna be alright

I scratched and crawled I cried and bawled I was shamed cause I believed
That somehow this, the way it is, ain’t how it’s supposed to be
How I love every one of my poor failed dreams
And the failed friends they'd always bring
But their lies, their heathen lies, got me sad and low
So sad and low

So sad and low
Do you hear me?
I said sad and low!
And although I’ve lost complete control
I'm gonna have every one of you know
I’m gonna be there standing tall
Oh yes when tomorrow comes
Side by side with my poor battered dreams oh yes
in spite of none of them dreams have ever been appeased
By no small amount of my blood
I believe I’m going to be alright
Track Name: I'll Move No More
Oh I did yes I did get the hell out of the way
And I did yes I did left when you said don’t stay
Whatever you wanted I’d walk or I’d run
To always wind up back at square one
I moved when you yes you said so
I moved when you yes you said I got to gotta go
Then I bawled when called coward times two three and four
But I meant what I said I’m a coward no more

My time has come
My time has come
Push me or pull me or knock me to the floor
I meant what I said and I’ll move no more

Poked and prodded then knocked to the ground
I bowed and allowed you to keep me down
Until you yes you you make your amends
I will not break and I will not bend
You fooled me once and you fooled me twice
But I am the fool for being fooled all my life
Why is this space yours? Why yours and not mine?
You should be the one to move along this is occupied

My time has come
My time has come
Push me or pull me or knock me to the floor
I meant what I said and I’ll move no more

Not one step will I take not one bone will I move
I’ve made up my mind and I’m tired of being used
Used for your joys then used for your gains
You used me till almost nothing remained
I will not hide and I will not run
I am not through and I am not done
Don’t tell me to go don’t tell me to leave
I will move when I damn well please

My time has come
My time has come
Push me or pull me or knock me to the floor
I meant what I said and I’ll move no more
Track Name: Nowhere In the World I'd Rather Be
There's nothing I’d rather see right now than your eyes
Nothing I’d rather see right now than your eyes
Oh to see and think oh Boy I really hope those are tears of joy
No, nothing I’d rather see right now than your eyes

There's nothing I’d rather have right now than your kiss
Nothing I’d rather have right now than your kiss
However you got them soft or strong
Baby just make them last all night long
There's nothing I’d rather have right now than your kiss

There's nowhere I’d rather be than in your arms
Nowhere in the world I’d rather be than in your arms
You make feel all loosey goosey
Like .38 Special singing ‘Hang on, Lucy!’
There's nowhere in the world I’d rather be than in your arms

There's nowhere in the world I’d rather be than home with you
Nowhere in the world I’d rather be than home with you
We’d roll around them covers till noon
Then order us some of that Chinese food
Nowhere in the world I’d rather be than home with you

There's nothing I’d rather have right now than your touch
No, nothing I’d rather have right now than your touch
I’d travel East to West and I’d make it fast
Just to get you baby whatever you ask
Just don’t ever ask me for too much cause I’m broke

There's nothing I’d rather do right now than sing you a lullaby
Nope, nothing I’d rather do right now than sing you a lullaby
But I got me problems called Time and Space
Einstein says it's all bullshit anyways
Though that don’t really help me out one bit right now

I just want to lay my head on your shoulder
Just want to lay my head on your shoulder
And you'll put your little hand in mine
We’d thumb wrestle best out of nine
And I’d be happy just to watch you get older
Track Name: Something Got in the Way
How many days had I alone
Just like this with no lights on
Thinking how many more ahead me lie?

Some light downtown burning bright
And some dumb kid looks up to the sky
He says nothing’s gonna stand in my way

It’s going to come soon enough
I hope you’re strong I hope you were raised tough
I hope your Momma never cut you no slack

Almost, almost, you’ll be so close
But this was not how it was supposed to go
Cause something'll get in your way

Everybody’s says that you’ll be fine
But it’s just what they ay not what’s on their minds

Put away your photographs
Take away those things from the past
Take them away
Erase them from your mind

Everybody says that you’ll be fine
But it’s just what they ay not what’s on their minds
Everybody says that I’ll be fine
I must look unsure cause they say it all the time
Track Name: Sundown, USA
At the end of every day I make a sun set
I fade it down on another town where Luck’s a better bet
While I’m living in an old city’s ribcage long since dead

This is a town that’s one first last stand
This is a town that’s one last first chance
All my blood and my sweat that never scrubs out
Holes in my wallet remind me what I’m all about
And all of them fellas all out getting stoned
Paying workingman’s money just to fade
Maybe forget about
Their workingman’s home

Watch them drink maybe buy them one more
Lift that glass with soiled fingers and they'll be stumbling to that door
Ask if Luck made that gash? Did it make lights dim?
Did it bloat that body and will what’s sunk ever swim in Sundown

Some say the road out of here it never ends
Kinda fades across this country just to come round and begin again
Somewhere on that highway there may be a change
But I bet the only difference will be a porch and new paint

I look ahead again at that faraway town and see a sun’s final rays
I see a home in weakening light then I catch an old man’s gaze
Looking back into darkness to faint light of fading stars
Still so sure Luck will rearrange the lie of a gypsy’s cards
Is there a limit to our luck like there is to our time and belief?
Then what did he run out of if he believed such things every sundown?

There was a time when I hated here
I only wanted Sundown in the rearview mirror
In dreams I’d drive as far as I could
But in life Sundown sets at the front of my hood
Oh that sun it’ll rise and it’ll fall
But will Luck have its way with you all
Like Love a power we can’t create
Or is it one we do like Fear and Hate
And if I were on this Earth its only soul
On Life would Luck have it's way and its hold
Or would I say it's jsut the way life goes sometimes

I have so many secrets so much I keep to myself
But up on the hill for the ninety ninth time
This one I think I can tell
With Luck but not with Chance
If you don’t pretend it fraud
If no fortune’s ever had
Don’t blame Luck
Blame the Odds
Don't say I never said
It's not the fault of Sundown

At the end of every day I make a sun set
Track Name: The Carolers at 3AM
Hear the siren, the wail of the law
It think Honey they’re playing our song
The carolers at 3 AM

Blue and red lights black and white sing
To the right of the wrong frequency
Then the strings of the strays join in

One day I'll find way
I’ll be sure, I will know
One day I'll find my way
I’ll be sure, I will know
My way back home

The sing from the depths of the deep of their chest
And only stop to catch their breath
So badly they want to say

With howls and bays that this will end
With a major to minor bend
Or rather say descend

One day I'll find way
I’ll be sure I will know
One day I'll find my way
I’ll be sure I will know
My way back home
Track Name: The Moment When the Full Moon'll Rise
Hey yo
Hey yo hey yo
You need a friend tonight
I’ll look over there
You can look me anywhere
Except in the eye
We can sit here
Side by side
Watch the moonbeam
Paper punched moonbeam
On a black paper night

And though the world may no more turn
And all these cars gonna fucking burn
Me and my graffiti eyes
Are going to sit and wait for the full moon to rise

You think he’ll just stay there
Huh? Just gonna stay there
Stay there all night?
So big and full
Baby you’re so beautiful
Motor City sky
You got any more of that
Huh? You got any more of that
My mouth’s so dry
You can look all around
Just don’t you look down
And tonight’s all right

And though the world may no more turn
And all these cars gonna fucking burn
Me and my graffiti eyes
Are going to sit and wait for the full moon to rise

Hey yo
Hey yo hey yo
You need a friend tonight
I’ll look over there
You can look me anywhere
Except in the eye
We can sit here
Side by side
Watch the moonbeam
Paper punched moonbeam
On a black paper night

And though the world may no more turn
And all these cars gonna fucking burn
Me and my graffiti eyes
Are going to sit and wait for the full moon to rise
Track Name: Then We'll Take the Moon
Can we take the moon?
One day we’ll be able to
Can we just get out of here?
That would be alright with me dear
Get a house on the shore?
And a cabin in the woods for when we get bored
Then we’ll take the moon?
Yes, then we’ll take the moon

Can we take the sun? It’s just right there on the horizon
It don’t look too far away betcha we make it in half a day
Oh I did that once, I went around the world just chasing suns
You get close but they go down
So let’s just stick with the moon for now

We’ll call it home
Just like that?
Yes, call it home
And all alone?
No more knocks on the door, no more calls on the phone
Just me and you?
Just like that, one day soon we’re gonna take the moon

You think up in them stars we’ll be better than where we are?
I think up in that sky we’ll be better yes, you and I
We’ll smile when we look back down
And I’ll ask does my baby feel better now
And you’ll say yes oh I do
Oh I do oh baby yes I do

But what will we do you and I
When that moon looks like a lemon slice?
Looks like that don’t you think?
Like the kind they put in them fancy drinks?
We’ll do what we do now
When we walk on the corner of someway and somehow
And hope they don’t disappear
Oh how I hope they don’t disa...

Just like home, just like what we call home
All alone with all of our shit on the side of the road
Along with me and you. Just like that