You Can See Everything From Up Here

by The Werewolverine

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The summer birds have come back. There's a hundred blackbirds in the ash, shouting their songs about warm southern lands. The weather is still shitty here. The summer birds look pissed. They flew thousands of miles just to miss all of this. There's a slight Spanish accent in the sound of their songs. They've been listening to those corridos down in Mexico. Do they sing another song in the winter in Oaxaca? About a fox on a hill outside Lake Delton, Wisconsin? Of course, the winter birds never left us. They are our true companions. They will never alight in a mango or a banyan. Spring can't seem to get sprung. We're all desperate for some sunshine. The winter birds know you gotta take it one day at a time. I put out a few feeders, trying to help some winter birds stay alive, but they've been doing this for a while now. They probably would have survived either way. Do the winter birds get jealous? Do they feel envy when the summer birds show up just as the lean times are ending?
You wonder why I always want you to stay up late with me. I like to see you in the light. Walking dogs up on the hill, your cheeks pink in the cold wind, the sunset shows the red in your hair. I like to see you in the light. Making breakfast together, kitchen window, morning sun, your eyes shine like little moons. I like to see you in the light. Wearing my shirt on the couch, reading under golden lampglow, look up and smile at me like that. I like to see you in the light. Of course I love what we do at night. But I like to see you in the light.
Horse Song 04:50
He said, "Don't worry, they're not real horses. I just keep them around because horses make easy metaphors. They can say whatever you want." We were standing in his kitchen. He hooked his bootheel on the bottom fencerail. We were standing in his kitchen, squinting against the blowing dust. He said, "You see that filly on the hill? The one that's black as a negative sun? I've never touched anything that beautiful. I don't think I even could. She's narcissistic and she can't be bridled. Her eyes burn with bad poetry. She's the most useless thing in the world. Beauty is only useful to itself." "Now this foal here in the corral." He pointed as he spit through his teeth. He said, "His sire ran in fixed races, and his dam gives rides to birthday girls. He's as fragile as a lightbulb. His map could be drawn at any moment. This moment is that moment. Every moment is that moment." "Now, the old gray leaned against the barn," he said, "his back is as bent as his shoes." He said, " All he cares about is pulling the plow and eating his oats at the end of the day." He said, "I hate him. He's so damn predictable. Everyone always knows just what he means. He's just a flea-bitten memoir by a man who's not worth remembering." He said, "And if I had a way with words, I might have a few more horses." He said, "And if I had a way with words, I'd have something more than just horses."
Squirrel feels a chill wind. Picks a couple chestnuts. Hides them by the garden, to someday dig up. Bloody bit of rabbit fur on the side of the hill. Sharp tooth and claw have had their fill. Early October, early morning, frost on the green grass at the dawning. Winter sends its early warning, early October morning. Now it's apple time. Now it's squash time. It's chopping wood time, stocking up for wintertime. I've got a good gal. She bakes my bread. We keep each other warm in a big feather bed. Early October, early morning, frost on the green grass at the dawning. Winter sends its early warning, early October morning.
On the day of the first real snow of the year I walked up to the clearing at the top of the small hill where the raspberries grow 'round the dead standing oak tree. Our younger dog chased after mice in the tall grass. I saw two crows doing battle with a hawk right above me. They flew over the old windmill, spinning and screeching, across the road, over the gas station. Our younger dog chased after mice in the tall grass on the day of the first real snow of the year.
Woman, do not tell me to go to sleep. Yes, I know that I am sick, but sleep itself is a disease. If my eyes are closed I might miss something that I think is important. You ask what could that possibly be in this godforsaken town at this ungodly hour? Woman, there's only one way to find out. If what you really want is for your body to be close to my body, then I will lay with you for a little while because I am not cruel. I don't want to spend an hour lying awake in a pool of my own fearful thoughts, only to fall asleep and wake up startled by the morning's garbage trucks, with the fear from the nightmare still in me but no memory of the nightmare still within me. In this life we only get one life, and I would like to be awake for mine. So woman, do not tell me to got to sleep.
I feel ghosts here. I feel ghosts here. I'm not scared of them. There's an old man in the barn all night. It's calving time. There's always trouble. It's calving time. No one sleeps. Three old women 'round this table, drinking coffee, playing cards. Drinking coffee, talking grandkids. Four small children with mud on their feet. They've been playing in the creek. Now it's time to wash for supper. Five hundred bison in the driveway, in grass up to their chests. The wolves are crouching low. I see Blackhawk on top of the hill. He's watching for soldiers. The soldiers, they are coming.


Ryan Lansing - vocals, acoustic guitar, stick dulcimer
Laura Detert - viola, vocals
John Hitchcock - acoustic lap steel, electric lap steel, electric guitar
Matt Crane - drums
Anneliese Valdes - bass, vocals

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Brian Knapp using Dan Probst's exquisite handmade recording gear.

Recorded October-December 2013 at
Elmwood Acres Farm, Lake Delton, WI
Brian's house, Madison, WI
Anneliese's house, Cambridge, WI

Songs by Ryan Lansing
Cover art by John Hitchcock


released April 8, 2014


all rights reserved



The Werewolverine Wisconsin

Three things happened that made Ryan start writing songs: He and his wife moved to a weird beautiful old farm. He made a dulcimer out of a cigar box. A very heavy thing fell on his head and messed him up pretty bad for a while. Then another thing happened: He met Laura, John, Matt, and Anneliese. They liked playing music together so they started playing shows. Now they've made a record, too. ... more

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