Windjammer

by Carl Hauck

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about

Named after and recorded on the street where he grew up, Carl Hauck’s fourth album, Windjammer, is in many ways a reconciliation with adolescence. Hauck penned the songs at college, where all too often he’d find himself sitting at a coffee-stained desk as term paper deadlines approached, unwittingly soaking up the muffled cries of late night drunks, the melodies of waking birds, and the distant crashes of early morning dustcarts. After years of performing the songs in raucous bars and foreign living rooms, it only felt right to record them back home. Yet he wasn’t there for long before he found himself buried in a different set of deadlines, one that he himself had created for his students as a beginning high school teacher. The challenge arose for Hauck to thoughtfully explore, through music, his anxieties surrounding ambition and failure, the selflessness of love, the exploitative nature of personal comfort, and the meaning of home – all while putting on a confident front about the same issues when they surfaced within the context of classroom literature. As this challenge became both more demanding and more engrossing, Windjammer transformed from a labor of love into a labor of necessity.

The resulting sound is that of a man assembling a dream in place of sleep, an effort made more worthwhile by contributions from a talented ensemble of friends. There’s a genuine sense of beauty in that sound, an honest sparseness about it, adorned by richly-deserved moments of cathartic splendor. Whether it’s the triumphant horns in “Martial Riesling,” the wistful strings in the title track, or the delicate interplay of the electric guitar in “Rooster,” each and every note that rises beyond Hauck’s traditional acoustic fare is intended to complement the poignant lyricism for which he has become known. Hauck doesn’t claim that the songs on Windjammer are universal or even widely accessible; in fact, some of them are irrevocably personal. Yet there are still treasures within them for those who share a desire to go beyond the obligatory motions of everyday life, those more interested in anchoring down to create something than in sailing on with the current.

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released November 9, 2010

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Track Name: Martial Riesling
My fingertips are tapping on a hefty stack of papers sitting
Stamped and sorted carefully, all ready to be sent
Sonnets, prose, and charming odes to ennui-laden scribbles so
Affected by the rain or lack thereof that fell today

I'm waiting patiently for June
I recall the sunlight waltzing in and giving way to halogen
Moons about the room, until the candles hit the switch
We were buzzed on martial Riesling and an ever-growing feeling
That we possibly were on to something worth another glass

So we poured it, and drank the bottle dry
And as the paid programming flickered, so did time

Blank checks made out to certainty, the memos bursting at the seams
With issues better left unspoken of and never seen
Almanacs with pencil marks on golden bands and travels far
To cities where our melodies can find a place to park

And we'll settle down for a day
Then we'll pack our things and be on our way
Even though we'd love to stay

Well if dreams are tiny trinkets on the dustiest of shelves
Where only youthful fingers ever stand a chance
I will raise you on my shoulders, lead you under, guide you over
'Til you get a hold that's firm enough for me to let you go

You'll struggle, and it might sting
But you know, my dear, what hurt can bring
While the critics sleep at night, we'll sing

Well I've got dreams too
But I'm not gonna share 'em with you
Track Name: Windjammer
Summer bells at the crossroad
Charcoal smells in the air
Children scuttle with their claws stretched
Empty pockets, cluttered mouths

Restless limbs of an ash tree
Swatting every crab apple aimed for the street
Where a scrawny traffic dodger springs
Darting nimbly, dropping leaks

Cinder crackles from the rock bed
As splinters burrow in a hasty step
Coupled drudges in the shade of a pine
Heaving mallets at railroad ties

A search at dusk for a shoestring
Or a finger poking out
Cautious whispers from a vantage
In the witch's battered hedge

Sterile comfort in the wood fort
Earth and scarlet painted joints
Linen spirits in the closet door
Imagined trappings of a boy

Eyes wide, night light on
Blinds and curtains drawn

It's a thieves' dream
Track Name: Wrong About Distance
Boring stage in the bark that I've built up
The vermin parade with the rain
Stones afoot, it's a twin city toss
I'm wilting with guilt but I'm safe

Dormant chalk and smoldering daylight
Bring fantasy getaways
Seaward trips where I cast out my deadlines
Drop the pole and forget about the bait

Anchored down while you're sailing away
I love you but won't ask you to stay
Some they wishin' for boots of native leather
But I'm just wishing that you'll help me stay sane

The future calls but it's hearing lift music
While I'm chopping down telephone poles
I'm pulling cords like a born-again Luddite
And waiting for a natural hello
Hope they was wrong about distance
But we'll see how far hope goes
I'm clearing airways and paving the streets
So you can feel free to come home

Anchored down while you're sailing away
I love you but won't ask you to stay
Some they wishin' for boots of native leather
But I'm just wishing that you'll help me stay sane

Anchored down while you're sailing away
I love you but won't ask you to stay
Track Name: Coming Away
I'll curse you with the same mouth that loved you
And admittedly I'll feel a little strange
Time and time again it's the same, it's the same
A welcome mat with letters gone gray

Drawin' borders after you've crossed them
A coward's way of taking a stand
Catch the late crew change on the South-bound freight
And before you know, you're in another land

Coming away and going home
Where the roof, it fades from black to blue to gold

I dropped my scapular when I felt that I was ready
When I knew I had to do things on my own
Send your bullets my way, dig your concrete graves
And if I'm saved, the credit's mine and mine alone

Blue noses, carnal poses
A useless lampshade too
The more you think, the more you hate
So let us just appreciate this time we have, please stop thinking, babe
Track Name: Nevers
Ain't it getting a little late for your roundabout ways
I've worn the prints from my hands
Drips become drops, and drops become stains
If you don't clean 'em up, clean 'em up right away

In the living room corner thinking, oh Lord
It's been over seventeen months
And now I'm grazing the doorknob, tasting lost meals on
The tip of her, the tip of her tongue

Thinking, honey, I've changed
It just ain't apparent

The sidewalk is watching, hidden under stale leaves that
Tear with each sigh of the wind
You were never one to blindly believe
In anything, in anyone but me

And it's a hell of a shame
That you had to bear it

You'd come running out, running out, without your mother's scars in my dreams
You'd come running out, running out, without your Southern scent in my dreams
You'd come running out, running out, without your sullen brow in my dreams
You'd come running out, running out, only to miss me, dear, mmhmm

Say what you want
Maybe tact's overrated
Track Name: Coffee on the Rocks
A voice you used to love that you've grown to hate
Breaks dawn's silence with its cheery strain
The rising steam carries heavy dreams away
As sweat and tears flow softly down the drain
They'll be back tonight in the same place

Amongst a maze of cubicles you see
The ebb and flow of worker bees
With name and rank written on their sleeves
The bulletins and answering machines
Just spew out syllables endlessly

Phantom collar soaked in rain
Strident tweeter whistling more of the same
A crescent lamp above an empty lane
Put the heartless clock and chopping block away
They don't let you breathe the same, or so they say

Off with corks and caps and tabs and tops
Bottoms up, drink till you drop
The neon glows as the busboy mops
Up the ghostly remnants of earlier today
But the marks you left are here, here to stay
Track Name: Rooster
The haze of coffin nails and the scent of liquid nerve
Swirl through the vacant garden rows
The verb coils warm as the check, check, checker
Reigns in his ersatz troubadour clothes

The ivory is stale as the company
Chestnut roots and fifths bled dry
The tired minstrel turns out uninspired words
Of hope and change and other statist lies

Cue the garbled sketch of an overpass arena
Where Rooster croons for an audience of two
Passing pairs of headlights make for transient marquees
And the stars guide his fingers in those rusty twelve-bar blues

They start with pilfered wives, then slide to maudlin sighs
For his only son who married a machine
He flails his head about as his voice grows loud
But nothing comes to mind for the turnaround

So he says whoa whoa whoa whoa, don't wanna settle down

Left with the slurred advice "don't depend on anyone,"
I slowly nod, but purge it from my brain,
Assure myself that it's too late, it's too late for that
And hope to all that's holy that won't change
Track Name: Terms of Endearment
I shuffle each day past the greensward peasants
Molding somebody's earth
The helmsman directs from the bed of the crate
And fingers his pockets for all that they're worth

Bootstraps were made to be broken
By a wealth of invisible hands
Dignity force-fed, then stolen
And packaged by the choicest of brands

They surface as soon as the workers are gone
And kiss on the edge of their fertilized lawn
And he says, "Dear, I love you"
And she says, "God, I love you"

They watch the sun set on the boys in the street playing God with a magnifying lens
With a hand on her stomach, she whispers to him, "I hope we have children like them"
Track Name: Warren
Pure shapes race around the house
Green thumbs left behind
There's glee between the cherry tree chops
At night while the master dines

We lie awake
'Til the humor runs dry

Tiptoe to the high dive
Climb for what seems like a mile
Make like a pencil and fasten my eyes
Feel the air rush by

Under the splash
I reach for the side

A puzzle within a puzzle
The cardboard casts do nothing
But pass the time and fill the lines
That hold the empty space

We roll the dice
Leave ourselves to chance

The clock moves a little bit slower
As we count through the garland of roses
We hold back our laughter 'cause it's not a joke
And wonder how long we'll burn

Oh, we'll burn
My teacher told me so

The blue boy's horn goes quiet
The snuff box rests unwound
The fortune wheel and ill-timed meals
Get lost on the auction block

Going once
Sold, sold, sold