FILTERS ALBUM SONG DESCRIPTION & LYRICS 

Tangled

(Randel)

This is the only track on the album recorded with a 4-piece rock band: Joe Musolino on guitar, Dave Clark on bass and harmony, Brian Kolins on drums, and me on lead vocal and keyboards. The original demo version by Spot The Cat (with Dan Bryle) will soon be released on an EP. It's also been done by Monolith at Summer Jams and a great solo acoustic version was performed live by Anthony Vincent Dominello not long after I wrote it. 

LYRICS

When she begged me baby please say something
I just blankly stared
Feel like my heart's inside a ball of string
The answer's bound to be there
Between her words' illusion and my own confusion
Is the whole truth, more or less
A white web weaver or the great deceiver
It's anybody's guess

I'm tangled in everything she said
I'm tangled sheets on an unmade bed
Like we're riding down a highway, top down
Wind whipping our hair from every angle
I am so tangled

Across the table at the coffee shop
Milk swirls into her cup
I said it's funny how the colors blend
Like the truth in what's made up
Nothing's ever what it seems
Betrayal hides in a kiss
If I could crack the code of any cipher
I could not unravel this

I'm tangled in everything she said
I'm tangled sheets on an unmade bed
Like we're riding down a highway, top down
Wind whipping our hair from every angle
I am so tangled

Once our love was so naive
Then we slowly interweaved
Now I feel I'm all at loose ends
Because she wants to make a knot
And it takes all that I've got
Just to keep the tie from binding me in

Common sense won't do a thing for you
When you're in a labyrinth
You turn each corner there's another wall
And no one will give you hints
And when you're sure you feel secure
That you found the real way out
You look behind and it spins your mind
Till you're all tied up in doubt

I'm tangled in everything she said
I'm tangled sheets on an unmade bed
Like we're riding down a highway, top down
Wind whipping our hair from every angle

I am so tangled in everything she said
I'm tangled sheets on an unmade bed
Like we're riding down a highway, top down
Wind whipping our hair from every angle
Oh, I am so tangled

I am so tangled

Sound Wave Rider

(Randel)

In over 100 years since Marconi's time, humans have been intentionally and inadvertently sending radio waves into space. I was fascinated by the idea that broadcasts can travel as far as 100 light years from Earth, so I wrote this about a radio show flying beyond the planet. To replicate the journey musically, the recording begins earthbound with a piano and a string trio, then a synth theme and electronic sounds representing radio waves enter, and by the second verse, the vocals take on a spacey, movie-alien sound. The bridge returns to Earth with a piano and unprocessed vocals representing the announcer’s voice in the mind of the singer, and the song ends with a fantastic solo by Joe Musolino. Before he recorded it, I warned him that I was thinking of changing it from 4/4 to 7/4. He said that if I was looking for someone to talk me out of having him play in an unusual time signature, he was the last person to go to. And of course, he more than rose to the occasion. 

LYRICS

My lover's voice was radioed across a thousand years
On a frequency for future ears to hear
She's mechanized to modulate, cross galaxies for light years
As the spirit of Marconi disappears
Sound wave rider

When the signal clears the stratosphere
Beyond the reach of eyes
Free from earth and wire
She keeps climbing higher
Till at last you find you're left behind
Waiting on the ground
You can scan the sky to see her fly
But she's only there in sound

She'll live throughout the ages on-the-air in airless space
On a never-ending journey through the stars
She's solarized, technologized above the human race
She's the resonating ring of harmonic grace
Sound wave rider

When the signal clears the stratosphere
Beyond the reach of eyes
Free from earth and wire
She keeps climbing higher
Till at last you find you're left behind
Waiting on the ground
You can scan the sky to see her fly
But she's only there in sound

And when I close my eyes at night, I hear her voice
Rising from the noise inside my brain
She comes to me from the farthest star and ages past
Until it's almost like she's home again

When the signal clears the stratosphere
Beyond the reach of eyes
You may think that she'll soon tire
But she keeps climbing higher
Till at last you find you're left behind
Waiting on the ground
You can scan the sky to see her fly
But you'll never bring her down

Day for Night

(Randel)

The title and concept of this song was inspired by a technique described in François Truffaut’s film of the same name, in which a filter is put over a camera lens so that scenes shot during the day appear to take place at night. The lyrics are about the need to rely on faith alone when things aren’t what they appear to be, and the inclination to decide what’s real based on what we want to see – make the filters force the light to compromise.

I’ve played this song with bands but opted to record it with the original acoustic arrangement with just me on vocals and instruments. 

LYRI S

Do I believe in you
You never stay the same
You're like a film-still-life-emotion-picture
You fake it frame by frame
Disbelief's held in suspension
Then slips away devil-may-care
And I must take it on faith
Because what I see is not always what's there

I reach out to you as the dark covers the blue
A trick of light
Day for night
The obvious lies
When you're looking through a camera's eye
I can't trust in sight
Day for night
Can't trust insight
Day for night

And will my angel grieve
When the creed starts showing cracks
Caught in the act of the apostles leaving
In Nicene fades to black
Am I seeing you
Or seeing you reflecting me
Do I see your love
Or an image of what I want you to be

I reach out to you as the dark covers the blue
A trick of light
Day for night
The obvious lies
When you're looking through a camera's eye
I can't trust in sight
Day for night
Can't trust insight
Day for night

And if the dawn we're focused on is too bright for our eyes
Then the filters force the light to compromise

And when I fall it's you I call
Though I'm not convinced you hear
When I'm facing the unknown
When I'm alone I want you near
And though the daylight rises
On the darkest part of night
I can't tell dusk from dawn
Just focus on what feels most right

I reach out to you as the dark covers the blue
A trick of light
Day for night
The obvious lies
When you're looking through a camera's eye
I can't trust in sight
Day for night
Can't trust insight
Day for night

Lucinda

(Randel)

Having loved Beach Boys’ songs about sun and the Pacific Ocean when I was growing up, I wanted to give equal time to its east coast opposites. Sitting on the shore looking at the moon over the Atlantic, I wrote this song about an imaginary lover whose name is derived from the Latin word for light. The instrumentation on the recording is intentionally basic to allow focus on the multitracked vocal harmonies. 

LYRICS

Lucinda
Like the moon you call to me
Like the sea I answer
Balance like an arabesque
I will be your dancer

You're a glow of white in my space black night
You overpower every star
Though it's so slow
You're moving I know
I can feel it

Lucinda
Light years pass between us
Still you draw me to you
Lift me from this gravity
To sail the sky like you do

You're an unseen force behind clouded doors
Tugging at me even when you've gone
Make me high or low
But everywhere I go
I feel you in the darkness or the dawn

Lucinda

When frustrations roar like waves upon the shore
I slowly drift to thoughts of you
When I'm dark you shine
The part of you that's mine radiates

Lucinda
Like the moon you call to me
Like the sea I answer
Push me till I acquiesce
Pull me to you

Stardancer

(Tom Rapp)

Before embarking on his solo career, Tom Rapp was the leader of the band Pearls Before Swine. I met him years ago when I took part in interviewing him on the radio, and he was every bit as gentle and personable as his music indicated. I particularly loved his song Stardancer, and for years, I performed it in much the same way he did, with an acoustic guitar. Ten years ago, my wife sent him an email. She told him I'd sung Stardancer for her and she thought it was one of the finest expressions [she’d] heard in popular music of a loss transformed into resurrection and redemption for the one who has died, and acceptance by the one who lives. In his reply, Tom said,

“Thank you for writing and your kind words about the song. When I wrote it (in the middle of the night, of course) I could feel a knot untie. My father and I had a hard relationship in my teenage years, and, in a way, I worked past that in the song. Only now, some 30 years after his death, am I coming to see him in the larger context of his own life.”

He also included lyrics to an earlier song he’d written about his father, Rocket Man, the title of which had inspired Bernie Taupin to write a song with the same name for Elton John.

When I arranged my version of Stardancer for the album, I took a different approach musically, adding more instruments and an electronic element to represent the aspect of being alone in the vastness of space. I considered sending Tom a demo of the song, but I decided to wait and send him the finished version. Sadly, he died in 2018, years before I released the recording. I’m sorry he never heard it. I hope he would have liked it. Please listen on one of the services below and let me know what you think. If you enjoy it, I'd appreciate it if you'd like or subscribe to it on that platform. Thanks.

LYRICS

When my father went to space
I woke up one morning and he was gone
And I would lie out in the yard
And try to see a falling star
That I could wish upon, something to wish upon

And out there on the edge of things
He would be freelancing
In the midnight-sprinkled sky
He would open up his hands and go stardancing, stardancing

And it's falling, always falling
And I would watch it all
To see me a stardancer
And watch my father fall

Sometimes I'd watch a star
It would break loose from the sky
A tongue of fire in the air
When a star falls home to die, home to die
I always felt my father touched them
And if the sky were torn
Somewhere beyond his hand, another one was born, 
another one was born

And it's falling, always falling
And I would watch it all
To see me a stardancer
And watch my father fall

When my father went to space
I woke up one morning and he was gone
And I would lie out in the yard
And try to see a falling star I could wish upon
When stars go burning through the night
You can never touch them all
On the razor edge of space
Stardancers sometimes fall

Stardancer

Farewell Aldebaran

(Judy Henske)

For years, I wanted to cover this song, which Judy Henske wrote and recorded with The Lovin’ Spoonful’s Jerry Yester in 1969. I always loved the music and the message that even stars don’t exist forever. This arrangement combines new ideas with concepts from the original, starting with a brief, spacy introduction that leads to a distinctly non-electronic first verse featuring a string quartet reminiscent of the one George Martin wrote for Eleanor Rigby. The vocals gradually morph from intimate to electronic and the instruments follow suit, with tribute to Bernie Kraus’s Moog lines and then a recreation of the original’s synthesized vocals. I wanted to end it with a rock guitar solo, but Joe Musolino was working on four other songs for the album at that time, so I decided to take a stab at it myself. Joe nevertheless contributed by making an invaluable suggestion about my guitar phrasing. 

LYRICS

See, she is descending now
Starting the slide
The comets cling to her
The fiery bride
She is the mother of
The mark and the prize
The glaze of paradise
Is in her eyes
Her mouth is torn with stars
And bruised with wings

She cannot call to us
She does not sing
Abandoned and bright
Out from Andromeda
Into the night
Out from Andromeda
Flaming she falls

Farewell Aldebaran
Alpha Crucis
Lift me up
Alpha Centauri
It is too far
To come to die
Too far to die

St. Jude Street

(Randel)

This is the only track on the album that I recorded essentially as it was written, with a single vocal and a fingerpicked acoustic guitar. I only added a subtle bass part to fill out the bottom end and a woodwind trio playing counterpoint in the solo section and in unison briefly at the end. Lyrically, it’s a composite of several breakups I’ve observed over the years, melded into a single story. Extra credit if you get the significance of the street name. 

LYRICS

There's a deep blue sadness
At the house on St. Jude Street
It hangs in the air
And makes it difficult to breathe
You can feel it when you walk inside
As if the walls themselves confide
About the deep blue sadness
At the house on St. Jude Street

There's an empty closet
An aging dog to feed
And a big front lawn
That's filled with uncut grass and weeds
A man has left his home
A woman's on her own
In the deep blue sadness
At the house on St. Jude Street

Sometimes she thinks she felt more alone
When he was lying in their bed
Space around her like a chasm
That he widened in his head
But denial told her love was there
Beyond all reason and all doubt
Until the day he sat her down
And said he'd be moving out

Soon a U-Haul truck
Pulled into the sloping drive
And when he backed it out
The house to her seemed twice its size
Now through her fog and a tear-damp sheet
Acceptance mingles with defeat
And the deep blue sadness
At the house on St. Jude Street

He's got a bachelor apartment way downtown
And a midlife crisis car
And he worries about alimony
And splitting bank accounts apart
When her anger finally fills her up
Tearful late-night calls will cease
Then they'll find a way to get away
From the lives they used to lead

As their lawyers fight
They each look for someone who
They can count on to start the cycle in anew
Someone's loss is someone's gain
Someone will paint over the pain
Of the deep blue sadness
At the house on St. Jude Street
The deep blue sadness
At the house on St. Jude Street

Factory Town

(Randel)

I wrote this song about places like my hometown of Troy NY, which thrived during the Industrial Revolution, deteriorated in the years that followed, and ultimately reinvented itself. Some of the lyrics are autobiographical (e.g., members of my family did work in shirt factories, and I used to avoid telling people where I was born) but not all. I used generic references like north and south rather than proper names so it could be applicable to towns anywhere. I originally performed it just on an acoustic like an Irish folk song, but when I recorded it, I decided to arrange it for more players. Joe Musolino played the beautiful acoustic guitar intro, as well as the electric guitars in the body of the song. 

LYRICS

Oh I was born in the ash-gray north
In a factory town
When March winds would blow over coal-black snow
And toss litter all around
After decades of a dark decline
Drove its glory to the ground
There was nowhere else to go but down
Factory town

My father worked the graveyard shift
With my mother at the mill
But she died when I was only five
And he was a young man still
The cemetery on the hill
Had the best view to be found
There was nowhere else to go but down
Factory town

My granddad came from miles away
To find a better life
And he fell in love with an Irish girl
And she became his wife
But life in that town was short and sour
Not what they'd hoped to be
And here I stand before you now
Their only legacy

So one June day I said goodbye
To that factory town
Left buildings once so grand and strong
To be leveled to the ground
Fled the murky river and the smokestack smell
I was free and southward bound
There was nowhere else to go but down
Factory town

For years if life was less than good
I assigned that town the blame
And if someone asked where I was from
I would not say its name
Some nights I'd wake from dreams in fear
That I'd die up there alone
Yet a part of me still held it dear
Like it was my one true home

So one rainy morn I headed north
To that less than hallowed ground
All the factories had gone
And the workers moved on
To where new jobs could be found
I pitied the shell that in me raised such hell
And the other way around
And I leaned on a wall
Said a prayer for us all
Factory town

I knelt down, then I stood
And I wished only good for that factory town

It gave us its best
And we laid it to rest
This was my factory town

Heartstrings

(Clark/Randel)

This song about lost love was co-written with Dave Clark, who I played with in Pookie and Spot The Cat in New York and at various Monolith Summer Jams. The original Spot The Cat recording was performed as a ballad with Dave singing lead, and an updated/remastered recording of that version will be released as a single soon. I arranged this version as an uptempo pop song with a ‘60s feel. Joe Musolino does his best Roger McGuinn on the solo and playing a Rickenbacker 12 string throughout. 

LYRICS

There are things in my life
I never will forget
The first song that I ever wrote
The day when we first met
Now descending lines suspend my time
And take me where you are
'cause you've left our world and passed into
Heartstrings of my guitar

Rusted leaves of autumn (September to November)
Heady scent of spring (December to May)
Memories of December nights (Every night remembered)
Blurred in remembering (When I start to play)
And if I ache the wood vibrates
In my arms to soothe the scars
And I feel you're with me once again
Heartstrings of my guitar

Maybe if we'd said the word goodbye
I'd have an easier time with this
But when I wake each day to my surprise
You're not here
But I still feel you near
Too deep in me to ever die

Maybe if we'd said the word goodbye
I'd have an easier time with this
But when I wake each day to my surprise
You're not here
But I still feel you near
Too deep in me to ever die

I've learned to live without you
I've let go of the past
But I keep a part of you where it will always last
Our conversations, my declarations
Now silent as the stars
But the feeling lives within the sound
Heartstrings of my guitar

I see those days slip away
But they won't go that far
'Cause you're here with me in harmony
Heartstrings of my guitar