THE BOTTLENECK and other stories

by Micah Sommersmith

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credits

released April 18, 2017

Composed, performed, and produced by Micah Sommersmith
Recorded 2016-2017 in Princeton, Wisconsin.

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Track Name: The bottleneck
Oh, will I make it through, will I make it through
Through the bottle neck
And out the other side

This is a trying time, right?
Time to stop and try to get my mind right.
I may think I'm in the prime of my life,
But when I look back in hindsight
I’ll find I was lying, right?

Feels like I'm in a bottle neck:
It was apparent that my parents went and stacked the deck,
But now I'm the one holding the cards,
I'm the house, and I've found out - hey man, dealing is hard!

I gotta tell you, it feels weird.
I pay rent, I got a job, I grew a real beard.
I got a wife, and we run our own life,
It’s like, it’s like I’ve become what I most feared.

No, I fear what I haven’t become.
I still feel confused and useless and dumb:
A silly little sucker sitting sucking his thumb,
Like how did I get here and where did I come from?
And where am I going and am I blowing it and is my insecurity showing?
Are people noticing this?
I’m serious, am I delirious, or are my bleary-eyed failing immaterial?
I’m curious: see, if I had to deal with me, I’d be furious.

Then I realize: we’re all stuck in that bottle neck,
Trying to squeeze through, no one knowing what the heck
Is waiting on the other side, scared, tired, going for it,
Hoping we end up just with something to show for it,
Thinking maybe we can do this, maybe we’ll get through this,
At the very least, maybe we’ll get used to this,
Maybe it’s a phase, maybe things change,
Maybe we just learn to be okay with things being strange,
Maybe our parents didn’t know how things would go,
Just putting on a show while they watched us grow,
Hoping we’d figure out what they never could,
Hoping maybe we’d do great where they did good,
Well they did what they could and now we will too,
We’ll pull ourselves together and we’ll squeeze through.

Oh, will I make it through, will I make it through
Through the bottle neck
And out the other side
I guess I’m gonna try
Track Name: Shaped like Ohio
The shoreline of Lake Erie traces a gentle curve to the north.
Down south, our namesake river meanders its wandering course.
Some bureaucrat with a ruler and map drew lines to the west and the east.
Altogether it traces that elegant shape that appears to me still in my dreams.

And I can’t escape my home,
Because no matter where I go
I see things that are shaped like Ohio.

I see those yellow school crossing signs and imagine them upside-down;
I open a book and at just the right angle, the sight can erase any frown;
A fat letter V, a basswood leaf, the United States entire,
And the cut-out shape in construction paper on a homemade valentine.

No I can’t escape my home,
Because no matter where I go
I see things that are shaped like Ohio.

And Michigan can keep its mittens,
Oklahoma its pans and its pots,
Square Colorado’s a very pale shadow;
Ohio’s got something they’ve not.

And it’s like I never left,
Because right here in my chest
My heart is still shaped like Ohio.
Track Name: Glue
You and me, baby me and you
Oh my darling can’t you see
That we’re stuck like glue

Lucky me, oh and lucky you
Don’t you know that life is sweet
When you’re stuck like glue

Like glue

Eighteen when we first met, two shy freshmen on a wilderness trip, a sure bet.
Eight kids in four canoes, they tried to make us rotate but we paired off soon.
Gliding through the waters of Ontario, singing show tunes in stereo, top of our voices,
Annoyed the other kids, but did we care? No. There you go, it just goes to show:

We traded hearts there in that canoe
Baby from the very start
We were stuck like glue

Like glue

Four years in our liberal arts bubble,
Saw our friends couple, uncouple, and recouple,
At the first sign of trouble they go and decouple,
Not us, when the dust settled, we were the couple.

Did we gross people out? I imagine so.
It came natural, see the passion flow.
So adorable, make them uncomfortable.
Should feel horrible; I feel wonderful.

That’s right, we went and made it through
Now for our whole dang lives
We’ll be stuck like glue

Like glue

We’ve got a lifetime ahead of us.
I hope Father Time is generous,
But when death eventually gets the better of us,
I know the world will remember us, because

Our bond was so strong for so long.
We knew how to hold on,
So whenever things go wrong, slow down,
Reach out, hold my hand and we’ll sing this song:

You and me, baby me and you
Oh my darling can’t you see
That we’re stuck like glue

Lucky me, oh and lucky you
Don’t you know that life is sweet
When you’re stuck like glue

Like
Track Name: A little too much
I've had some bad luck through the years,
Just enough to appreciate the good.
And all the laughs have outnumbered the tears,
Yeah I've gotten more than I know I should.

I've hit the jackpot once or twice;
I wouldn't call it coincidentally.
Call me a crackpot, I don't mind,
But I believe there's someone watching over me.

So I say thank you, thank you, so very kind,
Thank you, thank you, it's such a nice touch,
Thank you, thank you, but if you don't mind,
It all seems like a little too much.

If there's a reason I've come this far,
It's everyone who's pushing me along.
So to all of you, no mater where you are,
Guess it's for you that I wrote this song.

So I say thank you, thank you, so very kind,
Thank you, thank you, it's such a nice touch,
Thank you, thank you, but if you don't mind,
It all seems like a little too much.

What did I do, what did I do
To deserve any of this?
And what can I say, what can I say
To express my gratefulness?

Just thank you, thank you, so very kind,
Thank you, thank you, it's such a nice touch,
Thank you, thank you, but if you don't mind,
It all seems like a little too much.

Oh thank you, thank you, so very kind,
Thank you, thank you, it's such a nice touch,
Thank you, thank you, but if you don't mind,
It all seems like a little too much.
Track Name: I just want to play in your band
Watching you up on that stage, the world is under your command;
In this bar, that old guitar's a silver siren in your hands.
Like Odysseus up on the mast, I'm drawn towards you in a trance,
One four-minute moment is the moment that I understand

That right there by your side is where I want to stand.
No, no, I don't want to take you home, and I don't want to be your man:
I just want to play in your band.
Track Name: You are a guest
I flew to California to see someone I love
And I looked down on the Rockies from forty thousand feet above,
Saw the staggering geometry of ridges, peaks, and bluffs;
I drank it in with greedy eyes, I couldn’t get enough.

Then I thought, it’s only due to human cleverness, it seems,
That I can see these wonders from this chariot of dreams.
We’ve only had this view for, what, a century?
And then I heard a tiny voice that seemed to say to me:

Everything you see, this whole majestic view,
These mountains and these canyons, they were not made for you.
It all came long before, and it will last far longer too.
No this is not your home, so while you’re passing through,
Be gracious, and be courteous, and whatever you do,
Clean up after yourself:
You are a guest.

Way back in the beginning, when Yahweh looked around
At his creation: the forests and the sea and sky and land,
He saw that it was good, and so he gave himself a hand,
But Yahweh still was lonely, so he made himself a friend.

Formed up from the dust, and filled with holy breath,
Yahweh thought, I think that this one here might be the best,
But his new friend looked around with eyes as greedy as death,
So Yahweh looked into those eyes, and this is what he said:

Everything you see, this whole majestic view,
This Paradise, this Eden place, it was not made for you.
It all came long before, and it will last far longer too.
No this is not your home, so while you’re passing through,
Be gracious, and be courteous, and whatever you do,
Clean up after yourself:
You are a guest.
Track Name: Where does a tree come from?
Somebody once said to me
While holding a small acorn seed,
“Hiding inside is a mighty oak tree,
Waiting to grow, even though we can’t see,
One day standing as tall as can be,
For a tree, it comes from a seed.”

Then somebody else said to me,
“No, no, it doesn’t just come from a seed.
A tree’s roots gather nutrients up from the deep,
Which get stitched into branches, and flowers, and leaves.
So a tree doesn’t come from a seed;
It comes from the earth underneath.”

Then yet another someone said to me,
“No, no, no, not from the earth underneath.
Moisture, my boy, is the thing a tree needs:
Rain from the clouds, and the clouds from the sea.
So a tree doesn’t come from beneath,
It’s plain that it comes from the sea.”

Then one last good friend said to me,
“Micah, the truth is as strange as can be.
The air that is carried around on the breeze,
The very same air we exhale when we breathe:
It’s our breath that makes up a tree.
A tree comes from you and from me.
Yes, it’s our breath that makes up a tree.
A tree comes from you and from me.”
Track Name: Righting reflex
My cat’s got a righting reflex,
When she finds herself falling,
When she finds herself falling,
When she finds herself falling,
Falling, falling, falling through space.

She rights herself up with a twist of her spine,
Lands with a plop on her feet and she’s fine,
However she falls, she finds herself upright before you can blink.

She rights herself up when she’s falling through space,
Lands with that nonchalant look on her face,
Like her gyroscopic gymnastic display was the easiest thing.

And I’ve got a writing reflex,
When I find myself falling,
When I find myself falling,
When I find myself falling,
Falling, falling, falling apart.

I write myself down in this notebook I found
That I carry around when I walk around town.
I write myself down and I find myself downright mysterious and strange.

I write myself down when I’m falling apart,
Doesn’t put me together, but hey, it’s a start.
When I’m down on the page and not stuck in my head, at least I can think.

My cat’s got a righting reflex,
When she finds herself falling,
When she finds herself falling,
When she finds herself falling,
Falling, falling, falling through space.
And I’ve got a writing reflex,
When I find myself falling,
When I find myself falling,
When I find myself falling,
Falling, falling, falling apart.

She rights herself up with a twist of her spine,
Lands with a plop on her feet and she’s fine,
However she falls, she finds herself upright before you can blink.

I write myself down in this notebook I found
When I walk around town.
I write myself down and I find myself downright mysterious and strange.

I write myself down when I’m falling apart,
Doesn’t put me together, but hey, it’s a start.
When I’m down on the page and not stuck in my head, at least I can think.

She rights herself up when she’s falling through space,
With that look on her face,
Like her gyroscopic gymnastic display was the easiest thing.

She rights herself up and I write myself down,
We spin round in circles then land on the ground.
She lands on her feet and I land into trouble more often than not.

She lands with such grace and such poise on the floor,
I land on my face, mixing my metaphors.
We turn and we turn and we turn, and then somehow we turn out alright.
Track Name: Oh my soul
Oh my soul, oh my soul,
Will we find the missing piece that’s going to make you whole?

Mr. Clever, huh? Greatest ever, huh?
Could have moved the world with the right lever, huh?
Was always now or never, now I guess it’s never, huh?
Missed your shot at entering the 27 Club.
Missed your shot at greatness, it was not amazing,
You cannot replace the chances that you failed to take.
You played it safe, made small mistakes,
Took tiny risks, shook your tiny fists,
Now you sit unsated at your empty plate,
Can’t quit if you don’t play the game, hey.

Oh my soul, oh my soul,
Can we try for just a little bit of self-control?
Oh my soul, oh my soul,
Did you think that you were really going to play that role?

I know, I understand:
Count your blessings, bird in the hand,
But I can’t be thankful on command:
I’m not a saint, I’m just a man.
And I thought my life would be bigger than this,
Thought glory might come quicker than this,
Get a little bit pissed when I think about it
So maybe it’s best to forget about it
And just live the life that’s been given to me,
Never be no captain of industry,
Never see my face staring back at me
From a thousand shining TV screens.

Oh my soul, oh my soul,
Did you think that you were really going to play that role?
Oh my soul, oh my soul,
Will we find the missing piece that’s going to make you whole?
Track Name: Incandescent
The sonogram technician leads us to a darkened room,
Your mother sits herself upon the throne,
And specialized machinery shines sound waves through her womb
To dive into the deep and dark unknown.

We’ve heard your muffled heartbeat, she might have felt you move,
But you’ve been buried deep inside so long.
We’ve got compelling evidence, but now we need the proof;
What if we were crazy, we were wrong?

So we train our eyes upon that grainy view.
We wait for you to make your big debut.

And there’s your spine -
And I am yours, my child, and you are mine.
And there’s your brain -
And in this world of suffering and pain,
And there’s your arm -
I will shelter you from any harm,
And there’s your hand -
I promise for as long as I can.

And there’s your heart,
And here’s my heart.
And there’s your heart,
And here’s my heart.

And on that screen, from that cold robotic crescent,
There shines a light no shade could ever lessen,
And it’s always present,
And it’s luminescent,
And it’s incandescent.
And it’s incandescent.
Track Name: Safe harbor
My love, my darling, my child,
When you’re lost on a limitless ocean,
And the winds are relentless and wild,
And you haven’t the ghost of a notion

Of where you have come from, or where you are headed,
Or whether you’ll ever spy land,
Through all the doldrums, through whatever weather,
Just reach out and I’ll take your hand.

And I’ll sail with you on any tide
To the horizon and farther.
Wherever we’re carried, I’ll be by your side
Until we reach safe harbor.

My child, my darling, my love,
There’s such a wide world to discover,
And no threats from below or above
Can harm us while we have each other,

So hoist up the anchor and unfurl the sails
Have courage, there’s nothing to fear.
We’ll face the dangers, the storms and the gales,
Whenever you need me, I’m here.

And I’ll sail with you on any tide
To the horizon and farther.
Wherever we’re carried, I’ll be by your side
Until we reach safe harbor.

Yes I’ll sail with you on any tide
To the horizon and farther.
Wherever we’re carried, I’ll be by your side
Until we reach safe harbor.