The County Primaries

by Kevin Brown

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1.
The windows glow from the TV sets The kids around the internet Little campfires unattended. There's a gust of wind, a knock at the door The Sheriff says you'd best be out by morning Or it might be too late. Move away from the light, move away from the light Things are not as bright as they appear. Move away from the light, move away from the light Now's the time to move away from here. Time was, it was the best of times, You used to walk those woods in a state of wonder While the whole world went whirling by. But now it's up in the morning, a shot of caffeine, You blow some smoke in front of a screen, And let the dominoes deal with the reckoning. Move away from the light So where do you go, and what will you do? And what are you going to take with you? And how much can you stand to lose? You grab your suitcase, some shirts and ties A cardboard box of manila files And some keepsakes that you never use. And that sliver of moon slides into the smokey haze Like a goodbye to the good old days And you check your phone while the radio whines Some crazy kind of John the Baptist line About the coming fire. Move away from the light, move away from the light Things are not as bright as they appear. Move away from the light, move away from the light Now's the time Now's the time To move away from here.
2.
On the Line 03:07
Cast your questions just a little farther Hold a little tension in your line The rainbows rise like whispers on the water Rippling cross the shadows of the pines Bending like a willow towards the morning Out before the sun begins to shine Suddenly it strikes without a warning You know you've got some heaven on the line On the line, sometimes it seems you find You've got a little heaven on the line. Being that it all begins with water I'm leaving all these dusty roads behind I don't know the stillness like I want to I need a little heaven on the line. On the line... Jesus loved that Galilean Water He walked up on it, he turned it into wine Fishermen and hookers and curious onlookers They knew they had some heaven on the line. On the line...
3.
Fallow 04:18
There's no harvest, and there's no yield There's no profit in a fallow field, Just hitchhiker seeds in the blowing dust Weeds growing inside the tractor ruts The good intentions are all used up I'm out standing in my field. And I'm trying to make it rain Trying to find my time again I lost it somewhere in between The shovel and the hill of beans In the shadow of these big machines I'm trying to make it rain. Fallow, the fields are fallow The roots stop shallow The well runs deep Down below the plow and the harrow The bone and the marrow Hallowed be... There are bones beneath this soil Down below the sweat and toil And they just might up and dance I'm told Walk real tall on streets of gold Ain't no grave will ever hold The soul beneath these bones. So turn it over, lay it by Cover it with winter rye Time will ease the furrowed brow While you fix the tines upon the plow The time to hesitate is now Just let it lie.
4.
As quiet as Grace As simple as silence As gentle as water As steady as rain As crazy as loving For as long as it takes This world waits for something As quiet as Grace. Angel of mercy Mother of praise Sister of brothers Who've squandered their ways She don't say a word As she washes your face In Living Water As quiet as Grace. Look for her shadow To fall 'cross your face She'll be there waiting You'll know the place Down by the river Where sins are erased I've never seen nothing As quiet as Grace.
5.
September left late this morning With a half-hearted chilly breeze It went shuffling southward on down the lane Just killing time by degrees And October comes on like a woman Dressed in some old flannel gown These last days of Indian summer They sure like hanging around. The leaves are all restless to let go The winter wheat sprouts in the fields The sunflowers quietly bow down their heads And that blue sky just don't look real The oak tree stands in her glory She's the backyard homecoming queen The last days of Indian summer They don't always say what they mean. Tamarack burns in the woodstove It's keeping me warm while I wait Seems like she was just starting school Tonight's her very first date Lord I know the passing of seasons I hope she'll be coming home soon These last days of Indian summer Play some kind of bittersweet tune. It's the last days of Indian Summer And winter's coming on soon.
6.
Medicine Bow 05:17
He came from Wyoming, he was a man of few words He'd seen the last of the buffalo herds Laramie Dan, yeah he moved kinda slow Because of what happened in the Medicine Bow He said the winter of 45, Lord it was hell Four feet of snow turned to ice where it fell And the Indians tell how the buffalo cried Their legs all tore up, bloody and broke, and they died. Four hundred carcasses lay there to rest But the Indians say that when the storm passed: Twenty huge buffalo, whiter than snow Were heading up into the Medicine Bow. I belong to the sky The wind on the prairie it blows such a terrible cry So I'm going high in the Medicine Bow when I die Well the West opened up and the railroad came Slashed up the belly of the Midwestern Plains Cold iron rails and cold iron guns Dead buffalo, and dead Indians Now four million carcasses lay there to rest Worn like a medal on the white man's chest. Ain't nothing so awful in this world below As the death song sung by the White Buffalo I belong to the sky... Laramie Dan says that not long ago He was up high in the Medicine Bow He found him a couple old buffalo skulls Bigger than any that he'd ever known And you may not believe it, but he swears that it's true He slept there and dreamed 'neath a cold pale moon Of a hole in the sky, and when he awoke His legs were all tore up, and bloody and broke I belong to the sky...
7.
It Was You 04:58
While the cotton sleeves of New Years Eve, 1982 Wore their tattered hearts out on the frozen avenues Another year departed like a drunk man in the mist And the barmaid at the 219 was not the one I kissed It was you, it was you Long before I opened up my eyes I knew that it was you. In the morning all the poets were lined up outside my door Trying to have a word about this girl that I adored I was in my notebook, trying not to be outdone, no one knows Just how young a man is at twenty one but you It was you, declining all my offers of the moon, it was you. There were Miles and Miles of Texas in a crowded old saloon I took you by the hand and I spun you 'round the room Tied up in your French braids and tangled in your smile I thought I knew the angles, but I guess it took awhile with you It was you, and I was dizzy with the motion and the music and the moment with you Boys are bound to wander from the comfort of the nest From that awkward first encounter with a bottle or a breast We tumble to the pavement just like marbles from a bag And roll around like nothing, as we shoot and piss and brag And it was you, it was you Receding in the distance like a road sign in my mirror, that was you. The swings were mostly empty, the slide was long and slow I don't know why I picked a playground as the place to let you go Just the ghostly grip of something from adolescent years We stood there on the green grass fighting back the tears And it was me, it was me Striking my best tragic pose... but I suppose you knew that wasn't me. Last night I dreamed about you, we were dancing close and slow Just like that winter's night so many years ago When I woke up the moon was in your salt & pepper hair I guess I'm just the guy who's always had a prayer and it was you Me and you Long before I opened up my eyes I knew that it was you And it is you Half a life together and the kisses just get better with you.
8.
The Big RED Barn rose into view Right out of the upturned sod Like a cherry on top, or the world's biggest apple, Or the nose on the face of God Scarlet O'Hara's probably waiting inside With a jug full of strawberry wine She'll blush when I kiss her on her big ruby lips And I'll show her one red hot time. The Big YELLOW Bus on the side of the road In the hot June afternoon sun It broke down, overheated, like a big stick of butter It's a lemon and it just won't run. The pretty young teacher in the sunflower dress With her little chicks all in a row They stand there squirming in the dandelions Yellin', cuz they gotta go. Well the world turns nice and slow Out ere at the end of a county road And Mister, what you think you know We heard it four years ago Can't tell my left hand from my right So I'm going back outside These colors hold the light A whole lot better than your black and white. The Big BLUE Sky is a cartoon sky It's funny how it's in her eyes When they laugh, when they cry, when I'm swimming inside 'em Like a blueberry swimming in a pie. If I stand on my head I might fall up to heaven Lord, wouldn't that be a sight. I think about this when I'm feeling kinda blue And then I know everything's alright.
9.
Upstairs 03:06
What with the wind and the cold, Well, I just don't know, I can't find my car keys And you don't like parties, and anyways, You heard what the weatherman said So honey let's stay home, and go upstairs instead. The moon is abreast of the new fallen snow The sky is a dress that is cut very low The stereo sings to us soft and low Let's go upstairs (let's go) Newlyweds in an old picture That hangs at the top of the stairs Turn left down the hall As the night softly falls Time dissolves when sweet love calls... For nine thousand days I've known your kisses I got lucky when I met my missus It must have been my farm-boy savoir fair. So what do you say we go upstairs? Your ears and your nose, your neck and those ocean blue eyes up close when I kiss you It's all so familiar and fine... Who's that in that old picture That hangs at the top of the stairs? Turn left down the hall As the night softly falls And time dissolves when sweet love calls.
10.
Maybe the mountains are moved by the mornings And brought to their knees every night Inclined by the days to the high lonely places Where they tremble with earthly delight. Maybe the first men that moved to the mountains And the canyons of New Mexico Opened their eyes when they realized the size of the Things that we'll just never know. I've been courted by canyons, stricken by stones I've heard them call out my name In the tongues of old lovers dressed in fiery colors Wet with the southwestern rain. I was not fully grown when I set off alone Through the valley of bones in the rain Looking for God in the canyon beyond I was cocksure that I knew the way. The thunderheads grew and the desert winds blew Through the sage and the juniper trees When the lightning bolt hit, I had to admit That the journey begins on your knees. I've been courted by canyons... Whence comes the day, when it crumbles away And the canyons lay down in the dirt? And the rocks that have dwelled with things privately held Split open and spill out their hearts? Baptize me now if the water allows me to Marry myself to the mud As the red water flows in the banks of arroyos I'll know I've been washed by the blood. I've been courted by canyons...
11.
A murder of ravens waits in the wings Folded like napkins, their black eyes are watching The deer in the headlights, the screech of the brakes The presence of prey, the absence of grace. A murder of ravens, a roadside game A murder that doesn't quite live up to it's name They wait on the side, but they won't do the deed. They're watching the wounded as they bleed. A murder of ravens, a jury of peers All of God's creatures are living in fear Of the mind of the mob, the rule of the road Of being picked clean down to the bones. It's a game of survival without any rules Scavengers starved for the stumbling of fools They're only there to lighten your load And leave the carcass by the side of the road A murder of ravens slowly withdraws Into the night with probable cause It's a question that only nature reveals: Are one man's misfortunes another man's meal?
12.
Julian 04:26
The evening sings with swallow's wings The morning brings the rain All things shall be well again So says Julian Those ancient, wise and weary eyes That watched the world above That walked the marbled midnight skies And'd thirst for heaven's love. Oh, oh oh When will we ever know All things shall be well The heart believes in mysteries The mind believes in none The eyes that see, o blessed be! The light outshines the sun! Ten thousand tired fugitives Lonesome, on the run With no less days to find our ways Than when we've first begun Oh, oh oh... I cannot see the angels' wings No matter how I try Julian, she takes her hand And peels back the sky Oh, oh oh In a little while we will know All things shall be well

about

"The County Primaries is easily one of the best debut albums of 2010 and it reveals Brown as a singer-songwriter with an eye for detail, an ear for melody, and the perfect voice to tie it together. Brown has a great talent as a performer and his songwriting skills are unmatched among the new breed of singer-songwriters to emerge over the past few years. Yet neither of those things are what really keeps me coming back to this album. That can only be accomplished by sincerity and heart, two things Brown and his album have plenty of."

- Adam Sheets, No Depression

credits

released October 1, 2010

Ivan Rosenberg (dobro, banjo, harmonies, producer), Eugene Jablonsky (bass), Caridwin Irvine-Spatz (fiddle), David Keenan (guitar/percussion), Burke Carroll (pedal steel), Laurie Byers (harmony vocals), Jans Ingber (percussion)

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Kevin Brown Spokane, Washington

Singer-songwriter Kevin Brown makes his home in rural Northeastern Washington state, not too far from the farms where two sets of great-grandparents settled a century ago. The rich natural surroundings serve as a metaphor for exploring the landscapes of the heart and soul -- faith, family, love, the passage of time, and the interwoven fabric of earth and humanity. ... more

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