Detroit

by Jason Kutchma

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1.
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?
2.
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
3.
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
4.
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
5.
6.
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
7.
Sundown, USA 05:43
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
8.
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
9.
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
10.
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

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

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