To the Trees

by Christian Williams

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about

"To the Trees" is about the journey from one place to the next - how nature carves our path, how fear and trust determine our direction, and how acknowledging our blindness can help us see much clearer.

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"True there are tales of sadness, death and deception, but, like the late, lamented Johnny Cash, Christian Williams does not want us to wallow or revel in the dark side of life. He wants us to listen and learn form the cautionary tales he tells, he wants us to succeed in our attempts at redemption. He is a moral troubadour baring his soul on the vastness of the American prairie." - Sepiachord.com

credits

released 01 May 2008

All words and music composed, performed and produced by Christian Williams except "Troubadour" which features Kristi Henderson on flute.

Album cover art by Christopher Stewart.

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about

Christian Williams Lawrence

Christian Williams is a self-taught musician, experimental composer, and visual artist. His passion for creative expression has led him to dabble in a wide variety of music styles, ranging from dark acoustic folk music inspired by the American prairie (his early work), to abstract sound art utilizing acoustic loops and field recordings (his most recent work). ... more

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Track Name: Judas
You’ll find me at the right hand of Satan, standing at the left hand of God. They say I sold my soul for silver, but all I know is thy will be done, yeah all I know is thy will be done.

Without a thunderstorm there’d be no flowers. Without the sun you’d never find the shade. One person’s battle is another’s balance. You can’t be saved until you’ve been betrayed, Lord no - you can’t be saved until you’ve been betrayed.

You’ll find me when you look along the edges of the fences that you use to separate. Right and wrong and black and white sound simple but the world’s a complicated shade of gray, oh the world’s a complicated shade of gray.
Track Name: Bison Jump
Instrumental
Track Name: Out of Line
One by one they shuffle their way past me. I watch the sun as its path lights the way. They think they know the road but stagger blindly and trust their souls to strangers just the same.

They ask me why I’ve chosen not to follow when all signs point to happiness ahead. I said, “I tried but find their promise hollow when they say to drown the doubts inside my head.”

The line is long and you can’t see the leader but no one wants to ask who it might be. It’s easier to put your faith in rumors when the truth is something you’re afraid to see.
Track Name: Troubadour
It’s usually not easy to use words to show your feelings, but some folks still appreciate the try. And some words bear repeating even if they’ve lost their meaning, like “thanks,” “I love you” and “goodbye.” I’ve sharpened some like knives and used some to sympathize, but I’ve never learned to keep them to myself. Maybe one day I’ll decide that they’re better left inside, but I’m not one to piss in my own well.

I’ve been spared the desire to walk these roads until I’m tired, but I’m a homebody with a rambling soul. Deep within me there’s a fire to find the truth and burn the liars and my mind is always moving, truth be told. Most folks don’t know who I am in accordance with my plans but I aim to be remembered when I’m gone. But it’s all out of my hands - I guess I’m leaving it all to chance that when I die my words keep living on.
Track Name: The Trail
It’s been seven days since we left the last town, and God and the sun keep my heavy head bowed. What’s left of the water is sweat on my brow.

My wife hasn’t spoke since our little one died. She sits by his body and swats at the flies, and I keep the wheels moving with dust in my eyes.

These ruts hold the wagon but my will is worn, and the horses keep plodding though my mind is torn. The dreams that we left with aren’t much anymore.

But we’re too close to give up to far to go back. I’m banking what’s left of our hope on that fact, so we follow the sunset through tall prairie grass.

The men are all moaning, the women they wail. The buzzards above us wait for us to fail. If heaven’s our homestead, then hell is this trail.
Track Name: The Recluse Anna Brown
The sun outside is shining, the air outside is warm, but inside lonesome Anna’s head worry brews a storm. “The sun will turn my fair skin red; the air might make me sneeze. I’d rather breath alone at home than outside with a wheeze.”

Poor, lonesome Anna living on the hill, watching life pass her by from her windowsill.

The blades of grass are waiting to tickle Anna’s feet; the water’s moving slow for her to wade in Miller’s creek. She said, “A danger lurks below the water and the glade: rusty nails to stop your step and lock your jaw in place.”

Poor, lonesome Anna living on the hill, watching life pass her by from her windowsill.

Your beauty lures a suitor whose love won’t be denied. He sings beneath the windowsill, “Won’t you come out tonight?” “I fear that man’s the devil, I see it in his eyes. He plans to make me drunk and drag me off to my demise.”

Poor, lonesome Anna, living on the hill watching life pass her by from her windowsill.

Soon the summer ended, then ten and twenty more, and Anna spent each one of them afraid of the outdoors. To sunshine, air, nails or men she thought she’d lose her life. So it came as a shock when she succumbed to spider bite.

Poor, lonesome Anna lived up on the hill; watched as life passed her by from her windowsill.
Track Name: Too Late
“Daddy come quick!” he heard him cry. “I see death when I close my eyes. The wind blows cold ‘neath darkened skies and I’m standing all alone.”

“Rest easy my son, you need not fear. It’s only a dream – the end is not here. The moon’s shining bright and I am here, so lay back down on your pillow.”

“No!” he shouted, “this dream was real – I saw it when I was awake. My hands were big but I could not feel, and I knew that it was too late. I knew that it was too late.”

“Tell me my son, did you see more? Have you seen these things in your dreams before? Sometimes you’re scared by the creeks in the floor and it’s all your imagination.”

“Daddy I’ve seen many people in pain. I’ve seen the results of torment and hate. I’ve seen the future and witnessed our fate – its total devastation.”

“No!” he shouted, “these dreams can’t be real – the horror is too much to take. So many believe that we will prevail – believe that it’s never too late, son. Believe that it’s never too late.”
Track Name: Flood
Grab my hand push through the door, we don’t live here anymore. Take the pictures, take the cat but run away and don’t look back. The sky is angry don’t you see, it knows when things need balancing. It hears the rivers and the lakes cry out aloud, “For heaven’s sake! Who will save us from the sun who shines all day to dry us up?”

Flood doesn’t discriminate; it took our shack and your estate. There’s nothing left for us to do but lose it all and start anew. We watched our homes turn into boats that barely helped us stay afloat. We tried buckets, we tried sands, we tried praying to the land. But land is weak, it holds no sway – water always gets its way.
Track Name: When the Smoke Clears
I open my eyes, and then I look up as I tilt back this bottle of sun-baked rotgut. And my clothes are still wet from the dew on the grass, but here at the bottom we don’t give a damn. The wood is still burning from yesterday’s fire, our home turned to ashes on a funeral pyre because I lit the match and I watched the flame as I tried to erase my mind of your name but I still see your face in the clouds, and I still smell your hair in the flowers, and I still hear your voice in the sounds at night, and all I can do is lay here and cry.

Now I close my eyes and dream about us, how I felt when I knew it was you that I loved. How I always struggled with words hard to find, how you smiled, held my hand and told me to be quiet. And I realize what I need to lose is the fear of a future alone without you so I pick up the bottle and shatter the glass that made me believe you belonged in my past and I still see your face in clouds, and I still smell your hair in the flowers, and I still hear your voice in the sounds at night, and I know that you’ll always be by my side.
Track Name: 30 Minutes
I hear the angels’ voices singing this refrain, competing with the demons screaming out the same: “You’ve got 30 minutes to get to heaven before the devil knows your dead.”

Though my life is over, the race has just begun. I listen to the warnings and I begin to run. I see the gates of heaven, closer by the step. I think I have a moment to stop and catch my breath.

But then a world of wonder as far as I can see of all my dreams and wishes becomes reality. I see that I am barefoot and 12 years old again. I hear the long lost voices of all my childhood friends.

I hear familiar laughter; it’s louder over there so off the path I wander though there’s no time to spare. I finally find them dancing, I laugh and call their names. But they’re not friends they’re demons keeping me from heaven’s gate.

The angels part the forest to help me find the path. I’m trying to run faster than the demon’s on my back. The world of wonder crumbles behind my frantic steps and I can feel the devil and his breath upon my neck.

And all at once it’s over and all I see is white. I made it into heaven and I was right on time.
Track Name: Back in the Morning
“So,” she said, “you heard me crying, but I won’t cry no more. You’re hard to love and I’m tired of trying – I can’t fight this war. Look at all the time I wasted, what was it all for? The years have passed like the lonely steps that trail me through your door.

But maybe I’ll be back in the morning, and maybe I’ll regret what I just said. At least this life we’ve got is never boring; I guess I’ll stick with you until I’m dead.”

“No,” she said, “I ain’t lying you push me to the brink. Your smart remarks get my blood boiling every time you speak. My friends all say you’re good looking and that just makes me think: I’ll have them clean and do your cooking while I go out to drink.

But maybe I’ll be back in the morning, and maybe I’ll regret what I just said. At least this life we’ve got is never boring; I guess I’ll stick with you until I’m dead.”
Track Name: Let's Step Outside
Instrumental.
Track Name: Lake Effect
I remember blue skies and the sun over you. Saw my face in your eyes swirled in orange and blue. I remember the breeze pick up quick from the east, and the waves showed the anger that bubbled beneath.

Clear skies can quickly give way to grey – don’t count on the weather down by the lake.

You’ve seen deep within me and you know I’m not cold, but there’s times when my feelings are hard to control. I said I was tired but I’ll still take the blame for saying whatever bent you out of shape.

We both learned the lessons of innocence lost – that snowflakes can quickly become snowballs.

It grew to confrontation with each passing word and we made it our mission to yell and be heard. But discussion is futile when you use words to fight, like the wind and seagull at battle in flight.

Clear skies can quickly give way to grey – don’t count on the weather down by the lake.

Though feelings were hurt, pain began to subside when we both saw each other with tears in our eyes. And the anger soon melted like the snow in the sun that burned through the storm clouds retreating above.

We both learned the lessons of innocence lost – that snowflakes can quickly become snow balls; that clear skies can quickly give way to grey – don’t count on the weather down by the lake.
Track Name: To the Trees
I used my hands to part the earth, pushed the seed into the dirt and called out for the rain. The sky above soon answered back, festered up and turned to black and hallelujahs rang.

I watched the soil turn into mud, the seed beneath then opened up and knew which way to reach. It met the sun and broke the ground, the leaves turned green, the bark turned brown; I claimed its shade for sleep.

I felt the bitter chill of fall, heard the winds of winter call and saw the branches naked. The cold and snow both took their toll, I knew my time to pass was close. I went outside and waited.

I woke to feel the warmth of spring and heard the birds begin to sing while perched along my arms.