Serpentine

by Gillian Grassie

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04:06

about

This is Gillian's debut album, written, recorded, and released while she was a student at Bryn Mawr College in 2007.

credits

released October 30, 2007

all songs written by Gillian Grassie
produced by Tim Sonnefeld and Gillian Grassie
engineered by Tim Sonnefeld & assistant Engineer Joel Metzler
recorded at Milky Recording in Ardmore, PA
Mastered by Dave McNair at Scott Hull Mastering
CD illustrations and design by Tom Kennedy

Gillian Grassie - harp & vocals
Tim Sonnefeld - drums, guitar, banjo, melatrone, rhodes (except "Silken String"), synths, bass (except "The Train")
Luke Brandon - trumpet ("Sweet Metallic")
Earnest Stuart - trombone ("Sweet Metallic")
Chris Coyle - bass ("The Train")
Jon Coyle - rhodes ("Silken String")
Rob Bell - cello ("No Answer", "So Funny", and "The Train")
Debby Messick - viola ("No Answer", "So Funny", and "The Train")
Inez Suhardjo - violin ("No Answer", "So Funny", and "The Train")

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all rights reserved

about

Gillian Grassie Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Gillian Grassie is an American singer-songwriter and harpist who splits her time between Philadelphia and Berlin.

"It’s rare to hear a young singer with such control and understated soulfulness, and even more rare to hear a harp provide such a deep percussive groove. I was immediately captivated by her sound.” - Grammy-winner Marc Cohn
... more

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Track Name: No Answer
There it is -
that hollow sound
no footsteps falling on the ground
no rainstorm, no thunderclouds
nothing to write home about

sometimes silence is all there is
it's just difficult to sit with
no answer is an answer, it's just

not the one you were waiting for
oh the weight of those three small words
and the echo still heavier
silence in return

waiting by the telephone
got much easier since cellular, still
comes a time you've got to
draw the line
I think I'm giving up tonight

sometimes silence is all there is
it's just difficult to sit with
no answer is an answer, it's just

not the one you were waiting for
oh the weight of those three small words
and the echo still heavier
silence in return

it's a classic scenario
standing here with the gameshow doors
open one and the rest stay closed
their secrets left untold
so much you just can't know

it's not the one you were waiting for
oh the weight of those three small words
and the echo still heavier
silence in return
no answer
Track Name: Silken String
There was a man
he was a tall man
but he never stood up tall
and he hid thick books
behind the cash register at work
to make the time pass better

and the bells clattered
when I opened the door
and he picked up his head
as I walked in the store
I could see the sweat falling
down his face in the heat
like beads on a silken string

I was waiting for a ride
so we chose to pass the time
sharing words and coffee
and as he told me his story
I could feel something funny
like my reason was deserting me

Oh I'm in love with a man
from the North country
He's got hair like a bear
it grows wild and free
I can feel myself slipping
like a kid with new skis
like beads on a silken string

Nobody knows
where the time it goes
so I hope you'll follow me
Nobody knows
when love will show
inconveniently

My friend drove up
in a black Ford truck
and said, "C'mon - I'm sorry"
So I turned and said, "Goodbye, sir,"
and "Thank you for your time, sir,"
he said, "I'll be seeing you later."

oh I'm in love with a man
from the North country
he's got hair like a bear
it grows wild and free
I can feel myself slipping
like a bird on the breeze
like beads on a silken string
Track Name: Sweet Metallic
Fear tastes like rust sucked inside your mouth
a sweet metallic you can't spit out
You just can't plan for this kind of thing
but what were we expecting?
We can't stay, can't leave, can't force the peace
we can't make our gods do anything

Men stand like tall white stones
lined in a thousand tidy rows
see we dwell in a house of cedar
no fear here, no love either
But there's a woman sitting there
on a hard kitchen chair
scared to death of the knock on her doorway
"Don't let him be gone
I can't do this alone
we've got three kids, got a family"

You know this used to be our home
it wasn't much but it was our own
but the waters kept on rising up
and no one came to save us
We heard, "Bye, Bye, Blackbird"
from the edge of a stern
that was pulling away
see, we've built ourselves on unity
and a land of opportunity
and shame, shame, shame

Fear tastes like rust sucked inside your mouth
a sweet metallic you can't spit out
Track Name: A Thousand 'I Love You's
Nothing tastes quite the same
as relationships gone stale
Nothing lies as heavy on the tongue
as empty smiles and words

A thousand 'I love you's
paper-winged and set to soar
reduced to habit and course
nothing feels so bored

And where are all the answers?
The things that we should know
of one another?
Bared so much
shared so much
stared so starry-eyed so much
we're losing touch
why do we even bother?

A thousand 'I love you's
words written down in ink
weathered and feathering

A thousand 'I love you's
a thousand but not enough
to make the pigeon
more a dove

A thousand 'I love you's
breathed heavy and soft and sweet
catch and choke
and prick at throats
behind the eyes too
they don't ring true
Track Name: Tell Me
There was that time I got nauseous at a party
when the wine didn't mix with my medication
and I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air
and my sister brought me a piece of bread
and before I could eat it I was throwing up
and she held my hair
while I wiped my mouth with that spongey crust
and she got a bucket to wash it all up

Tell me, tell me, tell me
why'd you do that to yourself?
Seemed as good a thing to do as anything else

You were maybe six and trying to quit sucking your thumb
so you'd painted your fingers with that bitter stuff
We were lying on the bottom bunk
and you said you couldn't sleep and would I lend you one?
so I reached over my hand and I gave you my thumb
you said it didn't taste as good but it got the job done

Tell me, tell me, tell me
why'd you smash that old guitar?
Sometimes you just can't feel your art
'till it's laying on the ground in shards

I remember the years when we had nothing to prove
we went running around in our birthday suits

When I was a child and I'd lash out in fits
and my mom would make me sit on the stairs in time-out
and I'd cry and cry and say it wasn't my fault
there was this dragon inside making me do wrong
and I look back now to see what has changed
and remark instead at all that's stayed the same
we sit high on our horses and hold tight the reins
praying a bit in the mouth's what makes the beast tame

Tell me, tell me, tell me
why'd you do that to yourself?
Seemed as good a thing to do as anything else
Tell me, tell me, tell me
how'd you let it go so far?
Sometimes you just can't feel your heart
'till it's laying on the ground in shards
Track Name: Pulse
They say, "Watch out for the new, you
never know what it might do to you."
But I find it's this old home of mine I'm
having trouble getting used to

Every time I open my mouth my words
fall just a little too north or south
don't know when or what to eat I am
living the life of a syncopated beat

I can't find the pulse of this town
is it in the car horns or
the feet falling down on the ground?
I don't know what to do anymore
well it's one thing to leave
and another to try and return

Feel as though I'm going 'round stoned
and the whole world knows it
question is, "Well if the shoe fits..."
oh but what if it doesn't?
I can't shake this feeling inside that I've
left a part of me behind
Hour for five-sixty miles, I can't
reconcile the distance and the time

I can't find the pulse of this town
is it in the car horns or
the feet falling down on the ground?
I don't know what to do anymore
well it's one thing to leave
and another to try and return

I dropped a cup -
it should have broken
when it crashed down to the floor
thing's ain't behaving like they're s'posed to
glass ain't fragile anymore

Oh my love, I am the sin that is
swollen thick with good intentions
oh I know the trouble I'm in I keep
filling my napsack with rocks and Bombay gin

I can't find the pulse of this town
is it in the car horns or
the feet falling down on the ground?
I don't know what to do anymore
well it's one thing to leave
and another, another
I can't find the pulse of this town
I can't find the pulse
Track Name: So Funny
If you don't love me
you should just go on and leave -
I'll find someone who can
I don't know why you think your just
hanging around here is making you
anything more of a man

I guess I could see why you'd
think it'd be noble, yeah
my daddy, he left too
I just think we should give some
long hard thoughts 'bout
what it is we're trying to prove

'cause you only ever think of me
in terms of what I'm not
I'm sick and tired of being measured up
by the things that I ain't got

It's so funny, you know
being with you is just like being alone
it's so funny, oh it makes me weep
it's so funny I can hardly speak

I don't know what it was I was looking for
when I came up to your door
but I know it sure as hell wasn't so I could
sit around here being ignored

'cause you only ever think of me
in terms of what I'm not
I'm sick and tired of being measured up
by the things that I ain't got

It's so funny, you know
being with you is just like being alone
it's so funny, oh it makes me weep
it's so funny I can hardly speak

You were always telling me to
try harder and see more of the humor
well, how's this for a laugh for you
mon vieux cheri amour?

It's so funny, you know
being with you is just like being alone
it's so funny, oh it makes me weak
it's so funny I can hardly speak
Track Name: Better or Worse
Momma, Papa, please come quickly
there's something in my room
It's creeping in all four corners
and I'm too afraid to move

Now it's you who've got me quaking
my lord this house is shaking
and I don't fit under my bed

Is it better or worse to know it's been like this
since we first left that garden of Eden?
I don't blame the woman or the fruit or the serpent
they are gifts and tools and we need them

My parents they never made much sense
as a married couple they were pretty ridiculous
they jumped off the deep end and they held their breath
and they hoped for the best
Well I've had a partner or two
and I've learned like you
it can be harder than hell to hack it
we open our mouths
we sigh love, we cry foul
and we can't always seem to back it

Oh is it better or worse to know it's been like this
since we first left that garden of Eden?
I don't blame the woman who took fruit from the serpent
they are gifts and tools and we need them

Of all of nature's laws, you know
inertia is the worst
'cause once you've chosen to
start in motion you can't
stop alone or reverse
and sometimes in my dreams I follow
the length of an outstretched arm
and see the gloss of a shiny red apple
yet unbitten in the palm

Oh is it better or worse to know it's been like this
since we first left that garden of Eden?
I don't blame the woman or the fruit or the serpent
they are gifts and tools and we need them
Track Name: Tamlin
I hate this Halloween party
with its posh freaks and zombies
can't find your face in the parade
I know I don't really belong
but last night you scared me on the phone
and so I came

My swollen tongue is flopping 'round
the inside of my mouth
I hear the clumsy words it's spitting out
I am a chignon come undone
I am a silken stocking run and
I am drunk

You said, "Do you ever get that feeling
of being infinite and small? Like you're
everything and nothing at all?"

I could dress you up in white try
to lend you some kind of grace
but the shadows only gather in the
hollows of your face
something 'bout the black light or
the fog machine
maybe it's just the gin but
you look like you're shape-shifting

Do you ever get that feeling
of being infinite and small?
Like you're everything and nothing at all?
My love has become a burning coal
I am not sure I can hold

I'm losing you to that bitch, Queen Mab
I don't know how to save you
I'm not sure that I can
Here, take my coat, you know
it's cold outside
I want to go home, c'mon
let's call it a night

You turn and walk into the bathroom
brushing off your nose
when you don't come out
I follow
You're lying there on the hard tiles
I call your name and you don't answer

Do you ever get that feeling
of being infinite and small?
Like you're everything and nothing at all?
My love has become a burning coal
I am not sure I can hold
My love, he's become a glowing coal
and he burns me
and I hold
Track Name: The Train
My lies are as transparent as
a white T-shirt in the rain
and I blush with the revealing
all my intentions made plain
and I could run for cover
or I could stand my ground
or take just three steps forward
and have a look around

If I ran my fingers
down the length of your spine
would you shudder, quiver, then
go all still and kind?
Would you lay there open
for me to read just like a book?
Or would you exhale slowly
and sink me with a hook

The train roles by my window
I smile at the sound
of all that heavy cargo
being pulled from town to town
are we transient in nature
or are we of firmer stuff?
or what?

How can I stop this spinning?
Is it only the red wine?
Or am I simply feeling
some cosmic-scaled design?