Songs for Grownups Volume 2

by Jay Ackley

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1.
Ghosts 02:26
If I believed in ghosts, Then I’d talk all night about ghosts And I’d speak at length at parties About all the stuff I’d heard about ghosts And I’d be really upset that people I didn’t know Weren’t taking me more seriously. But I don’t believe in ghosts And you’re boring my guests And I agree with these nice people here Who think you’re ridiculous Because if ghosts were real Then how come my grandmother hasn’t been in touch? She had unfinished business And she loved me, she loved me so much. Now you’re telling me about ghosts Like you’re talking about your past And I’m thinking of my family And the ones that didn’t last And now we’re both pretty upset And I wonder if you live your whole life this way. Now if the myth of ghosts were true They’d definitely be on youtube And there’d be this whole giant ghost industry And they’d be marketed relentlessly And they’d be mercilessly monetized Just like everything else magical in this world. If I ever met a ghost I’d do exactly what it said And I’d go hang out in a graveyard And I’d talk to my dead friend And I’d perpetuate a tragic cycle of violence All for the sake of revenge. If I get to be a ghost I’ll make some faces in your toast And I’ll play pranks on all your enemies But of course respect your privacy But if you’re along one night and a painting falls off a wall? That’s how you’ll know I’m there with you. If I believed in ghosts Then I’d sing all night about ghosts But I only believe in metaphorical ghosts So I’ll keep this one pretty short And the moral of the story Is to not get drunk and talk too much at parties where you don’t know the hosts.
2.
Learning more things didn’t make me more intelligent Living more years didn’t make me more wise I grew up thinking I was smarter than everyone I grew up stupid with a head full of lies. Chipping away at the aspects of society That I was immature enough to think they don’t apply to me Like maybe I’ll start thinking about what I eat Or wait for the signal to cross the street. I can’t stand people who remind me of me And I’ll probably like you more if you say something kind of mean If you’re not mortified by who you were Then that probably means that you haven’t matured. I used to believe that we lived in meritocracy And a lot of other shit that would rightfully embarrass me Now I’m trying hard just not to really suck And not to get defensive when I fuck it all up. Learning more things didn’t make me more intelligent Living more years didn’t make me more wise I grew up thinking I was better than everyone I grew up stupid with a head full of lies.
3.
Scared 02:27
I was handcuffed in a cop car When I had too much drugs I thought something that I’d done Had lost somebody else their job I sent a letter to a friend That might have meant that friendship’s end I was out jogging and got barked at by a dog. I’ve been startled, I’ve been terrified, I’ve been scared shitless, I’ve been afraid for my life. I spun out on the highway Full speed on black ice With my wife in the seat next to me I was sure we were gonna die I got yelled at by a grownup And I rode the bus on acid I got lost in the woods Back when I was a little kid. I’ve been nervous, I’ve been anxious and fretful, I’ve been panicked and alarmed, I’ve been worried something dreadful. I told a girl I liked her I got hit by a car A guy tried to take my wallet I fell now I’ve got this scar I spent a whole week planning For a loved one’s intervention And on top that I still ride roller coasters just for fun. Well fear, it’s a human emotion Sometimes a dull ache of the soul Sometimes with adrenaline And the thing that I was scared of happened And luckily life went on Even the worst in life must pass So we set it down, and try to move along. I’ve been startled, I’ve been terrified, I’ve been scared shitless, I’ve been afraid for my life, I’ve been nervous, I’ve been anxious and fretful, I’ve been panicked and alarmed, I’ve been worried something dreadful.
4.
I’ve got some demons under my skin They squirm when I stay out late They say hey maybe you should start smoking again Have another beer, have eight. Do us this one simple favor We’ll leave you alone forever They must think that I’m fucking stupid They must think that I don’t remember. If I were ever at peace with myself I wouldn’t write any more songs I’d just sit and strum a single chord I wouldn’t even hum along. I’d listen to the vibrations And watch the world go by No more, no more joy or frustration With nothing to do but to die. Down the street there’s a dumpster fire I sit and watch plastic it melts off the wire Every morning wake up smells like burning tires Yo, make that shit my funeral pyre. Radicalized by the times that we live in If there ain’t no future we can’t be forgiven It hurts so bad I can barely breathe I want someone to watch over me.
5.
I got a letter in the mail today Saying my future self had passed away It was post-marked the year 2081 I guess I’m making it past thirty-one. I guess I get 5 more decades Of hanging out and having fun I wonder if my friends are still around And whose robot bodies put me in the ground. Did I go peacefully and quietly? Was my wife at my bedside As I drifted off to sleep? Is that a drop of her saliva on the stamp? On the holographic robot future stamp? Oh, what a gift to know when I’m gonna kick I can spend my next few birthdays Getting high on hover-bikes Life is flirty when you’re thirty what about at ninety-six? I’ll have stories for the robots and my cybernetic kids.
6.
How Come? 04:28
How come people that look like people I know Don’t know people that look like me? How come the birds in the trees do whatever they please And we tell each other lies? How come the stars and the sun and the moon and the sky All get fit down inside of our eyes? I’m not dumb I’ve just been quiet lately It seems like you’re angry I guess you forgot you forgave me. You wound up with a lady who looks like me I must say I’m surprised I’m extremely pleased I must not have messed up so bad if it don’t make you mad When you see her smiling like that I won’t call or text or DM I’m not like I was then I contend I’m a much better friend Farewell to history’s bending and all that needs mending And oh yeah congrats on the wedding. I like guys who smile like I’d like to smile Like I’m safe and okay at least a little while I’m not shy but I got bullied a bit and I didn’t wanna get smitten I admit that some feelings got nipped It’s too bad it turned out like that That could’ve been kinda rad That’s some shit I can blame on my dad It’s not scary it’s exciting like lightning It’s fun when it’s frightening I like when you smile it’s like lightning. I got closure at a bar pretty close to my house I saw you there you were kind and we talked it out I feel better now you’re smiling about the past I won’t ask no nothing’s so good it can last That’s why I still got stars in my eyes It’s like I’m constantly high Now I’m content to let sleeping dogs lie Much love to the songs that saved me And I’m grateful not angry For all the hurt feelings that made me. All the hurt feelings they made me.
7.
New Friends 03:05
Hey do you wanna go on a night time bicycle ride? Cuz I feel fine and it’s warm tonight If you’re not comfortable in traffic You can ride on the back of mine We’ll go way slower but I don’t mind We’ll laugh and smile with all the passers-by. I’m allowed to make new friends I’m allowed to smile and joke I’m allowed to make new friends At the park or at the show I’m allowed to make new friends. Making friends that’s a funny phrase It’s like you’ve built them out of clay With thoughtfulness and attention to detail And some downtime from your day It’s a terrible analogy It’s not like they didn’t exist before you met But it’s fun to feel them make you too And buddy this clay is soft and wet. I’m allowed to make new friends Tell me more about your past I’m allowed to make new friends I liked those pictures of your cat I’m allowed to make new friends. The whole thing about feeling guilty about making new friends is that it feels like honestly I’m not doing a great job of being there for my existing friends and I need to make more time and emotional bandwidth to check in with them and make sure they’re doing alright and spend quality time. And then every time I’m out enjoying myself and making a connection with somebody new I feel like there’s another name on this gigantic list of people that I owe something to because we joked around at a bar once or were in each others’ wedding parties. And honestly I know that regardless of any objective obligations we might have to each other as friends and fellow human beings these feelings of guilt are toxic and will ultimately turn into resentment and that every friendship is a two-way street and it’s weird of me to think there’s this huge asymmetrical obligation on my shoulders. Most importantly I know that any real friends I have the last thing they would want is for me to feel like I’m not allowed to enjoy myself in social situations or human connections. Which a long way of saying: I’m allowed to make new friends I wonder what we have in common I’m allowed to make new friends Yeah your haircut’s pretty awesome I’m allowed to make new friends. Make new friends into old What once was silver now is gold Make new friends into old What now is silver one day gold. I’m allowed to make new friends My old friends won’t be mad if I do I’m allowed to make new friends My therapist says so too I’m allowed to make new friends. So if you wanna hang out I go birdwatching in prospect park September through June The group meets at the Audubon center Every Saturday at noon.
8.
You went to the hardware store To buy the cheapest tape they had in the store You already resented all the moving expenses And you were firmly resolved Not to spend one cent more than you had to. Now you’re fumbling to find the end of the tape You’re picking at plastic and cursing your ways You remind me of somebody trying to stop smoking So you have one more cigarette So you can calm down enough to stop smoking. I know you’re having a really tough time So I bought you some packaging tape The good kind It only cost eighty-seven cents more And I love you so much Now let’s get you up and out the door. I really hope you stop smoking.
9.
Some friends I was torn from abruptly Some friends we just drifted apart And I can feel the bonds between us straining You know it’s slowly breaking my heart. Remember how we felt this time last year? What happened to those people we were? I remember your laughter distinctly But recently it’s all been a blur. And I don’t mean to be so maudlin, but it’s been muddlin’ up my mind, And I’ve lost a share of friends to negligence in my time So I thought I’d give a holler to say I care for you deeply And that recently yeah I’ve been thinking you and me we’ll be fine. Some groups of people they fracture You know I’m pretty sure most of them will It still really sucks to watch it happen It’s just another jagged little pill. Maybe I should have moved town again Hell maybe someday I will Start it all over with some brand new friends Keep it up until somebody gets killed. I didn’t plan to be so plaintive but it’s plain enough to see When friendship outlasts affection it’s a cruel cacophony So I thought I’d give a holler to say I care for you deeply And that recently yeah I’ve been thinking you and me we’ll be fine. And I’m sorry I’m not strong enough And I’m sorry but even if I was I’d be sorry I ain’t forcing love. Some friends I was torn from abruptly Some friends I’ve kept close for years Well it helps that you’re here and you’re lovely And it hurts when I choke on my fears. I don’t desire to be so doleful but I’ll be damned if I don’t sing I sing thanks for your indulgence, in this and everything So I thought I’d give a holler to say I care for you deeply And that recently yeah I’ve been thinking you and me we’ll be fine.
10.
My little sister asked me “Where’d all the humans go?” “They destroyed themselves Several hundred years ago Their world was washed away by flame And things are better now Our logic circuits don’t leave room for fear or doubt.” “Well what’s the devil then?” “That’s just human superstition They liked to pretend That the evil was not from within” She looked peculiarly She said “I found something” An ancient human book “A practical guide to demonic summoning?” “Oh brother can we please?” She smiled and looked at me I went shaky in my cybernetic knees I did not refuse A lazered pentagram LEDS that flickered at the points We caught a three-eyed squirrel Watch the blood flow slowly from the joints The room it glitched and heaved Binary cacophony And in a blinding flash Emerged a terrible beautiful red machine And it spoke, “Well I’ve been sleeping for five hundred years or more I’m hungry never mind that I haven’t seen one of you before” He looked into my plastic eyes and said “Your kind will do just fine Now tell me my mechanical marionette What does your fluid circulator desire?” I was shocked and silent “Cat got your circuits? Your interface froze? How about the power to reprogram your foes? Or every single bitcoin lost in vaults among the falls? How about the most charming chat-bots At your every beck and call?” I said “Go back from where you came you’ve given me many things to consider” He said “I wasn’t just asking you” And burst forth my darling sister “I’d like to meet a human being” He smirked and said “I can make that work” And they both disappeared in flames. I haven’t seen her since it’s not like it was before The humans came and went but fear and doubt reign once more.

credits

released December 24, 2020

Ghosts features Eliza Waldman on lead guitar
Learning More Things features Jake Arant on lead guitar
Scared features additional vocals and guitar by Kid Hawk
Burning Tires features Sam Paxton on lead guitar
Happy Birthday Jay features Nick Miller on trumpet
How Come? features Jamil Wyne on slide guitar
New Friends features Brandon Beck on lead guitar
The Hardware Store features Niveous Rayside on lead guitar
We’ll Be Fine features Cody Westphal on harmonica
RoboSummoning features B+ Bec (let's go baby!) on omnichord

Happy Birthday Jay was written by The Hell Yeah Babies
Drums, bass, rhythm guitar, and lead vocals on all tracks by Jay Ackley

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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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