Songs for Grownups

by Jay Ackley

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1.
Hollerbox 02:46
I honestly couldn’t tell you what I’m trying to accomplish here Maybe nobody will boo me, maybe somebody will buy me a beer But I’ve got my hollerbox, and I have got my voice And I’ve got lots of real good friends and we like to cut loose and make noise So I will sing you this song, and I hope you like it Because I saw John Darnielle, and I was totally disappointed I thought, he’s no Jeffrey Lewis, fuck it man, I could do it better I could totally do this. Now I don’t have the bone structure, to be a proper lead singer I’ve got a round Finnish face, and an overly-friendly demeanor But I’ve got the will to write, and the narcissism to be heard, I wish I had a righteous fight, I’d have so many more words, so many more words Still I will sing you this song, and I hope you like it Because my wife saw Ani DiFranco, and she was totally disappointed She said she’s no Kimya Dawson, Remember that night? That night was totally awesome. Well I will sing you this song, and I hope you like it, Cuz my dad saw Bob Dylan, and he was totally disappointed, He said he’s no James Brown, Anybody could do it better, somebody better take his crown.
2.
I hate capitalism, often but not categorically I hate myself, much less than I used to And I left my home when I was too young to know better That you can’t go back, no you can’t go back. God is a concept, that sobers people up Ask Elijah Mohammed, you can ask my friend Tom If you wanna get loose, go ahead, get loose But you don’t need booze, no you don’t need booze. I don’t want your money, no music shouldn’t be about money, I might already have more money than you, I don’t need your money And if I went on strike, said no more songs ‘til I get more money Then I’d hate to hell every scab that got my money. I miss my friends, even though some live quite close to me, I miss the way it used to seem to come so effortlessly, Well maybe love is just an aspect of naivete Well you can’t go back, no you can’t go back I hate capitalism, often but not categorically I hate myself much less than I used to, And I left my home when I was too young to know better That you can’t go back, no you can’t go back.
3.
Live Forever 02:59
I met an old man in a bar once, he wasn’t what he appeared, He said come over kid I got something to tell you, and bring a couple of beers You know I fought in the war once, yeah the terrible one There were so many times that I should have died, I couldn’t believe that I’d survived You know they got me in front of a firing squad, and what do you know every barrel clogged And I thought… I’m gonna live forever, eternal life is mine No force on earth can kill me I’ll withstand the test of time. If you accept the many-worlds hypothesis, and that everything that could possibly happen somewhere truly does but as consciousness we can only exist in those worlds where we don’t cease to live then however improbable, infinite survival is inevitable it’s like schroedinger’s cat, but you’re in the box I said you’re drunk, he said so what, then he said it again he said I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna watch the last sun set I’m gonna take for granted things that you can’t fathom yet. And you might not believe me, but you just wait and see, There’s a not-so-subtle downside to de facto immortality Because it’s up to you to develop the mental fortitude to make it through the aeons of eternity Without your friends or family and in some far-off century I know some day you’ll think of me – Then abruptly, and to my alarm, he died right there in my arms. And in that moment I realized: I’m gonna live forever, me and all my friends, My soul will flow perpetual, I’m gonna watch the universe end. I’m gonna live forever, it’s gonna be a horrible ordeal I’ll face unending nothing on time’s unforgiving wheel. I’m gonna live forever, and I think that you might too Better try and keep your on straight, keep your socks inside your shoes. I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna live forever, I’m gonna live forever.
4.
Here’s a band-aid for your severed arm I couldn’t find a tourniquet, you still haven’t said thank you yet You’re bleeding, all on my brand-new shoes I’ll take them to the dry cleaner and have them send the invoice straight to you. And yes you’re welcome for the privilege Of seeing my new kickass sword, and all the tricks I almost learned It’s your fault, when you think of it, I told you not to move an inch but then I think you kind of flinched And that’s what broke my concentration, leading to this laceration Now your arm is lifeless on the ground. And yes I’m sorry, that you feel this way, In excruciating pain, I guess it’s not your lucky day Now you’re woozy, yes you’re feeling faint, I’d take you to the hospital but I’ve got other plans and I can’t flake. Mr. Policeman, it’s a crying shame My friend here wasn’t being safe with martial arts or sharpened blades I’m feeling, just a twinge of guilt, But only in an abstract way, if you lean close it’s plain as day His fingerprints are clearly on the hilt.
5.
I went down to the Local Do-Gooders Society I submitted my resume I said I want to help people, I want to do what I can, I want to make a difference in this day and age They said we’re happy to have you, there’s a terrible need, Many boot-straps to pull up on, yes many mouths to feed. We need young bright professionals, to sit at computers And send e-mails, literally thousands of e-mails To community stakeholders, who tell us we’re great, Our impact studies show, this is our most impactful year-to-date Your skills with the microsoft office productivity suite Are an asset in the modern war on poverty. You know Jay, I really think you’re going to ‘excel’ here. We have generous funders, who enjoy our fundraisers, Deliverables laid out in a stunning display We’re a mission-driven organization, with unwavering dedication To do whatever our generous funders say, And oh yeah, it pays $85k I thought “Hell, it beats getting high every day.”
6.
You’ve never been so dear to me as when you said so tearfully God dammit Jay it’s killing me the way you let me down There’s so much more that I can’t say, please have a listen anyway I’ll never speak my shame away I can’t think straight in this town. And I know you think I drink too much, I felt it in the way you clutched When I longed for your gentle touch to soothe my furied brain Now I’m waking up with my regrets of all the shitty things I said, Echoing inside my head to you it must seem plain That being close is a commitment so I know you must resent it Wasn’t quite what you expected, I would fuck it up. Do you remember yesteryear, back before I knew you dear When we wandered unaware the best was yet to come? And though it seems we’ve come so far I hang my wishes on a star That someday we’ll know who we are and leave this dirty town. You’ve never been so dear to me as when you said so tearfully God dammit Jay it’s killing me, god dammit jay it’s killing me. If only for the moment let’s remember what we had Let us revel in the memories all mixed up good and bad And though you look much different now you smile just the same If only for a couple days, let us share this bitter pain. Because it hurt me when you left me and it hurt when I left you And the ways in which I needed you I hardly ever knew I tried hard to replace you and I thought I came quite near To see your face again now makes the others disappear Because there’s so much I need to tell you and so much I need to hear And our time is oh so fleeting and I’m filling up with fear I’m afraid of losing contact, I’m afraid of losing touch I’m afraid that when I’m not around you don’t think of me much But I have faith in friendship, and I have faith in love And even on the lonely nights we share the sky above If only for the moment let’s remember what we had Let us revel in the memories all mixed up good and bad
7.
We live in a culture that sees alcohol abuse as non-problematic Binge-drinking recreationally should never be a regular habit Yeah I’m a party guy but this party guy’s just about had it With a culture that sees alcohol abuse as non-problematic. Every year that goes by it seems like I know more alcoholics Or I guess they were the year before too, but at least now they know what to call it And that same liquid devil keeps taking dollars out of my wallet Every year that goes by it feels like I know more alcoholics. If I sober up it won’t be because I bottomed out Yeah when I sober up it won’t be because I bottomed out I know it’ll be from the friends that I’ve seen Take control of their lives without losing what makes them unique. When I drink as much as I did as a kid I regret it I don’t remember the fun I’m ostensibly having and I feel pathetic I said something cruel to somebody I love I don’t know why I said it When I drink as much as I did as a kid I regret it. When I sober up it won’t be because I bottomed out Yeah if I sober up it won’t be because I bottomed out When my wife goes to Al-Anon and I think of my life and I think of anon And I’m wondering about the path that I’m on And I think, I think hey maybe I should tone it down a little.
8.
Oh come all ye secular the season doth approach The sun hangs lowly in the sky the cold air doth encroach And soon you’ll take a plane back to the place where you came from And we’ll binge on tobacco and rum, tobacco and rum And we’ll binge on tobacco and rum. Get stoned with all your high school friends and have panic attacks The board games with your relatives will be a shouting match And the room that you grew up in well tonight it feels all wrong Let us purge this with laughter and song, laughter and song Let us purge this with laughter and song. God rest ye merry gentlemen and ladies of good cheer The house is quiet as a mouse there’s time for one more beer And a week in your hometown is both too much and not enough Let us burn down this season of love, season of love Let us burn down this season of love.
9.
Grouptext 03:10
I’m on a twelve-person grouptext and I can’t tell If anybody on this thread likes each other that well Because we haven’t all hung out for a couple of years And if I remember right that night ended in tears Now we’re trying to plan a party and it ain’t looking great Because we’re full of resentment and we can’t find a date But if you show up I’ll be happy you did You know deep down inside I’m really still just that kid Who loves his friends. I love my friends. I got my stars read by a lady in black She said that thing you think you had ain’t ever coming back And the more you try to force it, the further it goes Then she took my thirty dollars and she laughed at my clothes And I wept then but the stars didn’t care so Since then I’ve been sticking to tarot Where I shuffle the faces and deal again You know I don’t like the future but I love my friends. I love my friends.
10.
I guess I’m a grownup now it’s time to write songs for grownups No more novelty hit singles about depressive robots Cuz what could a human adult have to learn from Some tin-foil automaton? How to sit still, how to think fast, how to recall any obscure fact How to calmly persevere when all you hold dear is falling apart around I guess I’m a grownup now. But I don’t want to do just what I’m told I like to pretend I’m in control I like to imagine that my soul alone Can save us in this situation. Oh shit it’s the apocalypse I guess we should have seen it coming C’mon quick upload your consciousness it’s come down to that or nothing I thought it was all supposed to be okay somehow I guess I’m a robot now. But oh what a glorious surprise, a new fantastic form of life Beyond our conception, expanded perception, the divine reflection Like a burning bird, born from certain doom. I guess I’m a robot now, it’s time to write songs for robots An epic ballad in a single tone, a eulogy for meat and bone I hope things get better soon, Until then we muddle through. Now I sit still, now I think fast, now I live behind a frozen mask You know I swapped my parts out one by one ‘til there was nothing left from when I’d begun And still I can carry on. I guess I’m a robot now, it’s time to fulfill my function My actions are increasingly absurd in the face of all this disjunction Maybe it still might be okay somehow I don’t mind, I’m a grownup now.

about

A selection of songs written by Jay between 2013 and 2018. Recorded in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

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released April 29, 2019

Jay Ackley: vocals, acoustic guitar, bass, drums

Hollerbox features Berny Ackley on lead guitar
I Hate Capitalism features Mike Pfeiffer on lead guitar
Live Forever features Kristen Tivey on saxophone
I'm Sorry (TYFTW) features David Beasley on mandolin
Local Do-Gooders Society features Jen Overstreet on violin
A Drinking Song features Debe Dalton on Banjo
All Ye Secular features additional vocals by Katie Skare
Grouptext features Dylan Roth on piano
Song for Grownups features Ryan Lang on microkorg and space sax

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Jay Ackley Brooklyn, New York

Minnesotan in Brooklyn by way of London; having a sing-song through the dystopia.

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