Everything has Changed

by Hemlock Smith

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about

Dear Listener,

These songs were mostly recorded at home, over a period of 4 days, almost as live as it gets. If you were nasty, you could argue that they’re sketches and if you were really mean, you could say that they are demos… It wouldn’t be totally accurate though, because the songs were carefully thought out; it’s just that they were not really rehearsed and if they lack sonic perfection and any kind of super-professional production, they seem to contain a good deal of spontaneity, emotion and genuine weirdness.
A lot of my favourite albums are actually far from perfect; they were recorded under difficult conditions but you can feel the urgency, the stress and the exhilaration. For instance, what makes Robert Johnson’s songs so great is the fact that they were recorded only once, EVER! And it was in someone’s living room, with one microphone.
So, my hope would be that these sentiments transpire somewhat in the music presented here, at least because my living room was used as well!

What happened was this; in early 2011, in my 45th year, an idea suddenly popped up in a brain cell of mine (one of the rare surviving ones, I should add). I had often wondered about making a different album than the previous one (the Hillsboro one, my most elaborate yet), a quiet one, something low-budget and modest, recorded in my basement, with friends and noises from the life going on above.
Would I be able to play the piano myself just once, even with my limited skills? Because, you know, there was this muted sound I heard in my head that no-one ever seemed to be able to grasp when I talked about it! And then, there was the thing with the string quartet; would I be able to carry some tunes only supported by violin and cello?
I sure don’t know but you’ll certainly have the answer!

The title of the record itself is quietly ironical. The world has changed very much in 2011 and a lot of things around me have too. But way inside, I’m still the same person, trying to learn from my mistakes, or at least avoid making the same one twice. The songs are different but, for those who know me, they’ll recognize elements that have been there before…
So, this record is “hybrid” in more than one way; two different sets of songs (one with a trio, the other with the string quartet), a sonically humble proposition with a larger view, an record that looks back to the sounds that impressed me as a kid but also stares wide-eyed into the future. It’s a record about some serious subjects but, it seems to me at least, it contains a fair bit of humour, and some parts are actually quite funny!
Here it is then; you could say it summarizes every sonic experiment I’ve tried out in the past years, with a few new ones for good measure.

credits

released September 5, 2012

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Hemlock Smith Lausanne, Switzerland

Hemlock Smith come from Lausanne (Switzerland). Since 2002, they’ve released 6 regular albums with intelligent pop, as well as 2 soundtracks for silent film and 2 collaborations with Noise duo Les Poissons Autistes. Fronted by singer-songwriter Michael Frei, Hemlock Smith's distinctive voice is complemented by the ambient guitar playing of Fred Merk and the delicate piano work of Emilie Roulet. ... more

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Track Name: Everything has Changed
Everything has Changed

I guess the fog will soon be lifting, finally
And clear the streets, our common maze
But my soul, it keeps on drifting
Out through the windshield, into the day

And as I turn, there, at the streetlight
I notice everything has changed
Everything has changed

I guess that poetry’s uplifting, actually
It frees our hearts, our common gaze
But my soul, it keeps on shifting
Forever different, in a haze

And as I turn, there, at the crossroads
I notice everything has changed -

Oh when she closed the door
I felt sad in a way I’d never been before
Sad in a way like never before

‘Cos everything had changed.

I guess the town will soon be roaring, endlessly
And shroud my silence, like a grave
My body’s cold, and still, it’s soaring
Has it been our last embrace ?

And as I turn, there, at the corner
I notice everything has changed
Everything has changed

Everything has changed
Track Name: Not Amused
Not Amused

Did I outstay my welcome
Did I linger for too long
Did I instill some boredom
Too many verses for a song ?

Yet I don’t know what to do
‘Cause I still long for you…

Was I pushy and obsessive
And you were not amused
Was I fishing for incentives -
My long eluding muse ?

Yet I don’t know what to do
‘Cause I still long for you -
Long for you…

Did I outstay my welcome
Did I linger for too long
Never grasped our elders’ wisdom
To leave you the hell alone ?

Yet I don’t know what to do
I’m still bound to long for you…

You left me frantic, torn and used
You were no fun – a burning fuse
And I am not
Amused.

(maybe I’m just confused…)
Track Name: Death ain't got no Mercy
Death ain’t got no Mercy

Death ain’t got no Mercy in this land
Death ain’t got the Heart to understand
And I don’t know what the Truth is but it sure lies close at hand
Death ain’t got no Mercy in this land

Surely our Trials will be in vain
Surely our Trials will cause us pain
We’ll carry the Load and for certain we’ll carry the blame, yeah
Surely our Trials will be in vain

Life has only Misery to bestow
Life has only Heartache in its tow
And I’ll shoulder my Burden till my Lord says it’s time to go, go, go
Life has only Misery to bestow

Death ain’t got no Mercy in this land
Death ain’t got the Heart to understand
And I sure know the outcome when it comes to leave its Brand, yeah, yeah
Death ain’t got no Mercy, Mercy, Mercy in this land

Death ain’t got no Mercy in this land
Death ain’t got no Mercy in this land
Death ain’t got no Mercy in this land
Death ain’t got no Mercy in this land
(Mercy, Mercy…)
Track Name: The Leper Dogs of May
The Leper Dogs of May

The Leper Dogs of May
Came crawling to my doorstep
Most certainly astray
The Leper Dogs of May
Came sleeping on my sofa
And peeing in my loafers
Forever they will stay.

They said we’re bringing joy
Joy
To every girl and boy
Girl and boy

The Leprechauns of June
Came waltzing through the chimney
Chanting all the runes
The Leprechauns of June
They licked my sugar bowl
Took my remote control
They won’t be leaving soon.

They said we’re bringing joy
Joy ?
To every girl and boy
Girl and boy

And I apprehend the fall
When all things will be dying
And colors fade to grey
Yes, I apprehend the fall
On this cliff I may be leaning
Without hope ; without meaning
Let the storm take me away ; the Storm…

Because you’re gone…
Because you’re gone…
Because you’re gone…

The Leper Dogs of May
Are sleeping on my doorstep
Forever licking foam
Should they be amused to stay
Start drinking all my wine
Let them be so inclined
They’re the guardians of my bones.
Track Name: Let it Rain
Let it Rain

Roaming dogs always run backwards
Searching for knowledge, or for time they owned
Travelling fools always turn awkward
Seeds always die on a highway road

Let it Rain
Let it Rain

Hopeless eyes always turn inward
When there’s nothing at all but our own jokes to quote
Sailing on, through my own backyard
Mare Silentium – and mine’s the only boat

Let it Rain
Let it Rain
Let it Rain down on me oh my, oh my Lord

Let it Rain
Let it Rain
Let it Rain down on me, oh why … ?

Silent skies never turn crowded
Seems I’ve been waiting on the wrong side of dawn
I try not to cry but I can’t fight it
See all those rockets crash on my starless lawn

Let it Rain
Let it Rain
Let it Rain
Let it Rain
Let it Rain down on me oh my, oh my Lord

Let it Rain
Rain down on me
Let it Rain
Let it Rain
Rain Rain Rain Rain Rain Rain
Down on me…
Let it Rain
Track Name: The Story of Cpt. Death
The Story of Cpt. Death


Gather ‘round, little children, gather ‘round…

Today, I’m going to tell you the true story of the scariest man I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet; his name was Cpt. Death.

Cpt. Death was a pirate, you see, a cruel and vicious fella, by any modern standards. He cruised around on his mighty battleship, and he pillaged and he plundered, and he killed and he maimed, and he raped the girls and he cut the young men’s throats and he threw the babies overboard, and all of this with a superior grin on his very, very ugly face.

But, children, the scariest thing about him really was his laugh. It came out of his foul and rotten mouth like the howl of the werewolf on Halloween or the growl of a very pissed off grizzly bear on any given Monday morning…
Oh! How you could hear him roar when he struck his sword onto a poor man’s neck…does anyone want to play football with the rolling head?
Just for fun or, as he liked to put it, because it happened to be his job.


Well, he did all of this for a certain time but in the end, the Devil noticed that there was something going on. He checked his notebook and decided it was time to take Cpt. Death to other shores. He put on his most distinguished black hood and, one very cold and windy polar night, he appeared in the Captain’s cabin and informed him in no uncertain terms that it was time to go.

Cpt. Death listened closely, while looking quite bored by his strange visitor. Finally, he gave a manly push to his dining table and all the plates, glasses, knives and forks went waltzing through the room like dukes and baronets on a spring day in Vienna. He then bolted out of his chair like a maniac, with his gigantic sword pointed directly towards his opponent, and shouted:
“I am Cpt. Death and I’m not going anywhere! I’ve got a job to do and I will not rest until it is completed! Now, get out, you miserable, hooded prick!”


The Devil smiled and answered politely:
“Indeed, I must admit that your job approval ratings are very high and, by all means, it is certain that you are very good at what you do. In that case, I shall go and leave you to it. But first, let me give you a present.”

“That’s more like it”, said the captain and slowly put his sword away. When he looked up, he noticed a big, shiny black box standing in the corner of his cabin. This, certainly, hadn’t been there before…

“What is it?”, he asked.
“I offered you a TV”, the Devil said. “It is a very recent model and you will be quite pleased with it. It will serve you well and will only have one single power over you. My esteemed friend, it will make you stay home.”
Having said this, the Devil bowed and quietly disappeared into thin air.

And so it came that, from this day on, Cpt. Death stayed home.

He stayed home and watched TV 24 hours a day, soap operas and reality shows, weird stuff about superstars and wannabe’s, not forgetting weird animals and even weirder sports.
He liked all of it and almost couldn’t bear to leave his set for a while, even to take a piss or get a beer.
Once a week, he would be forced out of his den, to buy groceries and the TV program. There he would stumble through the streets like a bearded ghost, oblivious to the cool sea breeze or the warmth of the southern winds. Every once in a while, he would vaguely remember that there had been something he had been doing before, before TV. But he would shrug it off nervously and quickly return to his gloomy and darkened place. You see, children, he didn’t want to miss anything…


Well, it seems that Hell really can take any shape or form and, listen closely now, if there is a moral to this story, it must be that the Devil always, always succeeds in offering us things we don’t really want.

Oh, isn’t he the clever one…
Track Name: Je n'ai Paris
Je n’ai Paris

Je n’ai Paris
Je n’ai Bordeaux
Et New Delhi
Autant qu’ Tokyo
Je n’ai Paris
Pas Chicago
Et il fait trop gris
A Toronto

Je n’ai pas ri, car tu n’es pas restée
Je n’ai pas ri, car j’ai pleuré
Je n’ai Paris, car je n’ai plus rien
Que mon dépit, et l’amour de mon chien
Je n’ai pas ri, Paris m’a avalé
Tout nu – Tout cru
Et m’a recraché
Je n’ai Bordeaux
J’suis en morceaux
Tu n’es pas ici, donc
Je n’ai Paris.

Je n’ai Paris
Je n’ai Bordeaux
Et pas Berlin
Ni Bilbao
Je n’ai pas plus Paris
Que Bamako
Et il fait trop nuit
Du côté d’Oslo

Je n’ai pas ri, car tu n’es pas restée
Je n’ai pas ri, car j’ai pleuré
Ce n’est pas gai, Paris, même pas en canoë
N’en ai cure du Louvre, j’n’en ai pas la clé
Je hais Paris, Paris m’a avalé
Tout nu – Tout cru
Et m’a recraché
Je n’ai Poitiers
Je suis cassé
Tu n’es pas ici, donc
Je n’ai Paris.
Track Name: Heathrow
Heathrow

Well I used to be some Heathcliff
Now I’m here in Heathrow, waiting for a plane
Well I used to say I’m sorry ; never meant it, don’t you worry
May have caused some pain
Oh well ; alone again—

CHa - Oh the photographs we keep are just a lie
And Solitude, our king, we must abide
We must abide.

Well I used to be a hot shot
Now I’m Delta Tango Foxtrot
Running from myself
Don’t bother, this is useless ; but it’s all those fake excuses
We make up for ourselves
That fuel this empty shell—

CHb - And the photographs we keep are just a lie
We won’t hold on to a thing until the day we die
The day we die

Bridge : Through tainted glass, even the sun is blue
And I don’t know, I don’t know
What to do…

Well I used to be some Heathcliff
Now I’m here in Heathrow, got delayed again
I used to be so restless ; now I’m lost and rather clueless
Kinda self-detained
Guess I’m alone again

CHc - Oh the photographs we keep are just a lie
And Solitude, our king, we must abide
Oh the loneliness inside may well survive
Another crash, another bombing, another flight
Another life.

Another life
Another lie
Another lie.
Track Name: Caterpillar
Caterpillar

Oh Caterpillar
Got lost today
Over the hills and
Far away
Oh Caterpillar
Oh Caterpillar

Oh Caterpillar
Got lost today
The snow returned, unexpectedly
Oh Traitor, May
Oh Caterpillar
Oh Caterpillar

Oh Caterpillar
Died today
And old Father Miller
Took it home to be displayed
Oh Caterpillar
Isn’t it cold, so cold
This endless wait ?

No sweet cocoon’s release
No warm summer breeze
Oh caterpillar, friend oh friend my friend
It seems that spring
It seems that spring
Oh spring

Was yesterday
Was yesterday
Was yesterday
Track Name: Train Song
Train Song

I guess the train’s a-coming
I guess the train’s a-coming
I see the smoke there in the sky but I hear no sound
Although I press my ear right down, down to the ground

I feel the train a-coming
I feel the train a-coming
Will my lover be on time, will she be there ?
Or is it over and my days bound to despair ?

Oh – I’m waiting for the 9 :55…
Oh – I’m waiting for the 9 :55…

I hear the train a-coming
I hear the train a-coming
The shuffle of its beat works like a charm
I know she races towards me, into my arms

I see the train a-coming
I see the engine running
But all windows of the wagon remain closed
I guess it must not be the right train, I suppose…

Oh – I’m waiting for the 9 :55…
Oh – I’m waiting for the 9 :55…

As I wait another day, the cold wind blows
As I wait another day, the cold wind blows
Track Name: The Noisemaker
The Noisemaker (Le Bourget, May 21st, 1927)


We’ve got no flowers for you, Mr. Lindbergh
There’ll be no bouquet for you in Paris
We have a deep respect for the ocean
We won’t cross it, to any degree

Please leave
Please go

We’ll have none of that in the old world
The noise you make fills us with glee
You’re not welcome here at « Le Bourget »
We’ll keep our own « Saint Louis »

Please leave
Please go

You’re so full of it ! Pizzazz and theories
You want to break the wall of sound
But consider ; even Galileo
Couldn’t make the world go ‘round

Please go
Please leave
Track Name: Invisible Man
Invisible Man

I wish I were no absent friend
Playing second bill
I wish I were no empty shell
Dying to be filled -
Dying to be filled -

I suffer being smaller print
Craving to be bold
I wish I were no mummy (dear)
Trying to unfold
Young, but somehow old -

CH
Don’t you leave without a trace
Don’t you vanish like a tan
Don’t you smile without a face
Don’t you disappear – just because you can
Invisible man …
Invisible man …

I wish I were a better man
And handed better deals
I wish I were no open wound
Desperate to heal -
Desperate to heal -

I wish I were no lonely moon
With a cold and distant beam
I wish I had a remedy
For everything – it seems…
I wish I had a dream -

CH
Don’t you leave without a trace
In a slow-departing van
Don’t you smile without a face
Don’t you disappear – just because you can
Invisible man …
Invisible man …

My invisible man …

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