Mix Until Absurd

by Phil Mills

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1.
It's a robot dance, a robot hop. We move together like we'll never stop. The human race is a long time gone. They weren't too tough; they weren't too bright But they knew how to move on a Saturday night And they left us here with their music and songs. Chorus: They had a thing called love and a thing called lust, Heartbreak too -- it was as bad as rust But the ancient disks don't seem to say Whether girls and boys ever felt this way. I see you standing with your friends in line; Your chrome is polished and your lenses shine. In human terms, what I am is 'shy'. I'd give a sensor to touch your wheels But we were never made to say the things that we feel. If I could today, I'd want to ask them why. [Chorus] By the night's end, I've had too much oil; I'm in the parking lot for one quick roll, Then go on home where you can't see. Imagine humans who gave their hearts; Imagine what it feels like to trade spare parts. Bet you'd like that too, only never with me. [Chorus x 2]
2.
A bar on some backwater world, with time and space to rest I could be inclined to get my trouble off my chest. Across the room you're laughing with a rich man, someone new. When you talk to strangers, is it easier for you? Chorus: I talk to strangers, don't worry what they think of me. I talk to strangers, care little of the man they see But I wonder 'bout your hopes and dreams, the ones you'd have come true. I talk to strangers; I never talk to you. Two who stand on watch may speak of home as they prepare, Of family remembered and of loves forgot, then swear The only sound they heard, if both should make it until light, Was something wild and hopeless out there, howling at the night. [Chorus] There's men who'd shoot me dead on sight, I've told about my fears For I can lie to strangers, say what they want to hear. With two of us together, cramped inside this cozy spot, I try to be professional while hoping that you're...not. I feel some kind of comfort acting gruff; You and I weren't strangers long enough. [Chorus] But I wonder 'bout your hopes and dreams, what you'd do if you were free And I notice, sometimes strangers talk to me.
3.
She thinks, now, very seldom of a time before the garden, Since Queen of Flowers took her there to learn: That moment when she saw a changing sky within the blossoms As colour filled the petals, each in turn. Too soon a day arrived when, frail and wan, the Queen confided The final secret: that of crimson rose. Although the heavens give their varied hues to other flowers These only flourish when a Queen's blood flows. Chorus: She bleeds for roses; It makes a perfect red, But who will bleed for the roses when she's dead? Sky at noon gives blue to gentians, clouds set white in daisies, Golden sun to those that share its name. The morning light brings flush of pink to early spring magnolia And twilight purple, irises became. And when, at last, the time had come to paint the reddest petals, Late sunset was the donor that she chose. But sunset only loved the sleep and dreams that came from poppies, Refused to lend its shading to the rose. [Chorus] Now in the years since that Queen died and passed to her the mantle From youth to aging woman, she has grown. Her scars on arms and face are testament to roses' glory; Her body is reduced to skin and bone. She clutches close a razor as she walks among the bushes, The piercing thorns, too slow and cruel, she finds. She tells the child who follows, "Make your bargains with the daylight And never trust a sunset to be kind." [Chorus]
4.
Turned thirteen, so I'd learned the rules And a sharp disdain for dreaming fools Who thought that they'd escape the streets and go To live in the city where immortals reign, Where a human life is a moment's pain And the lords in their towers ignore the crowd below. I wondered... Chorus: How do they live on the other side of the river, With no one to say who dies or who should survive? Who'd want a home on the other side of the river? They don't even teach their children to fight for their lives. I saw guards on the bridge to keep Kids like me off the rich folk's streets And I knew how much it cost to turn their eyes: Sometimes a share of a good night's take Or a tip when their bosses had a case to break Or a pretty child who hadn't yet got wise. I wondered... [Chorus] Seven years since I was that thief And I feel old fear when I'm in the fief. The marks I wear say I'm still owned By those I hate and those unknown But I've earned the right; I'm free to walk With the Lion, Dragon, Wolf, and Hawk. Now I ask... How do they live on that other side of the river, With someone who says who dies and who may survive? Who'd want a home on that other side of the river, Where children teach other children to fight for their lives? Children teach other children to fight for their lives?
5.
BBW Blues 03:05
There's poison in the meat and traps by the creek, Bullets and barbed wire too. There's a bounty on my ears and payment for my pelt Or a cage waiting at a zoo. But I tell you it's better than the fantasy life I knew. Chorus: 'Cause I can still hear that boy, calling my name Over and over, though I'm not to blame. Nothing in my story is quite what is claimed. He cried, "Wolf!" You've heard about the pigs and the scam at their house? Simply an insurance cheat, With a pile of broken sticks and bushels full of straw And a dupe who could take the heat. So the one who paid the price was the unlucky chimney sweep. [Chorus] I'm almost ninety pounds when I'm soaking wet, Never swallowed people whole! One minute I'm in bed with the hunter and Gran, Then they're chasing me out the door. Now the kid's wearing red clothes on the street when she goes to score. [Chorus] Now if you think it can't be as bad as I say -- Plainly I must have survived -- That isn't quite they point for anywhere you are Life's more than just, "Stay alive!" And for all that's wrong here I never feel the plot's so contrived. [Chorus] There's poison in the meat and traps by the creek, Bullets and barbed wire too. There's a bounty on my ears and payment for my pelt Or a cage waiting at a zoo. But I tell you it's better than the fantasy life I knew.
6.
I remember nineteen sixty-eight...like it was yesterday. Sadly, each time I return from there a bit more fades away. I hate that feeling that I've seen it all before; There's something hopeless about knowing what's in store. I didn't ask to be a time traveller, with Wind and sands along time's road swirling me around. I don't want to be a time traveller. Can't I pause and live this life that I have found? I've hitchhiked history. Time's wheels will pick up any stranger. While others danced upon a breeze or bobbed on tides as sailors. I've built a slide show like a tourist of the years; Postcards from the past are mixed with damaged souvenirs. [Chorus] No matter how tightly I hold on Something comes along And takes me spinning to another year. I never planned on being here. Twenty-ten's not a real date, but a far-off placeholder. We weren't meant to roam so far, to feel this much older. Though future's freeway speeds you here, you'll find I've gone Searching the back roads for a time where I belong. [Chorus] Can't I pause and live this life that I have found?
7.
A comet hit an unknown world, Life beginning in its sea, With the power of a million million Tons of T-N-T. The flame, in height, reached 20 times Our own Earth's atmosphere But you never know, life might come back; Check in sixty million years Chorus: It takes twenty-two digits to count all stars That, from Earth, we could possibly see. If you want to number potential planets, You'll have to use twenty-three. Whether supernovas or meteor strikes Or angry, petulant gods, If somebody's world ended yesterday, It's not against the odds. Old Hitler has many analogues So do Stalin and Pol Pot Throughout societies in space And some were never stopped. There a world destroyed, there a world enslaved, Here one communal grave. We can only imagine there were stories told Of the silent or the brave. [Chorus] Down the street, at the end of the block, There, a man stands on his lawn. Twelve hours ago the police cars left; And the ambulance is long gone. The broken doll, on the edge of the road Has the only wounds that show. Somebody's world ended yesterday And I thought you ought to know. [Chorus] If somebody's world ended yesterday, It's not against the odds.
8.
He's chained to the ground in sight of the gallows, His wings folded over his head. And his talons have torn the raw earth into furrows; His tail whips an oak's bark to shreds. The trapdoor has fallen and, with it, has taken One half of one body and mind. He clings to the thought, how they touched clouds, together, Of two lives so closely entwined. Chorus: You've taken his sky, Alive but with no will to fly. If something as easy as death pays for treason, What crime could serve as a reason For stealing the sky? Once free of my shell, I chose my own captain To carry, obey and defend And if you should kill him, I'd tear down your cities As sure as it meant my own end. No rules could dissuade me for, like mutilation, That pain would endure 'til I died, So I can't believe that some other lost dragon Would feel that much different than I. [Chorus] Our first choice is simple but holds us forever: Live wild or live part of a pair And choosing that bond defines an existence, To us, as important as air. Tomorrow, we'll rise when you call us to battle, To carry your weapons and fight. For now, explanations are worth less than silence; No dragon forgives you tonight [Chorus x 2]
9.
Nettles by the roadside, Burdock in the ditch. For love and looks and sweet dreams It's "Go and ask the witch". Night must give her magic For she whiles away her days, Sitting on a stone pile, Watching cattle as they graze. Chorus: Call it knowledge; call it power, Kinship with each beast and flower. Call it pulse of stars and ocean, Mystery or foolish notion, Call it what you like... Don't call it magic. Morgan Lock will lie dead When first snow comes down. With all Meg's red-haired children, The next one will have brown. Prophecy is magic For she has no way to know, Lazing in the town square, Watching people come and go. [Chorus] Magic forces changes. Magic seeks control. Magic bends the universe, dominion as its goal. But touch the flow of nature, strength that lives within A leaf that feels the current, a cloud that sees the wind. [Chorus] Call it what you like; don't call it magic.
10.
Like many, I believed he was a hero, The war he ended, peace he brought, are facts all children know, But legends grow in strength when fed with mystery: Without a past, he sprang to life a thousand years ago. This morning I received an ancient letter. Astonished, as I read, I felt the ripples in time's flow For no one sane would dare believe its message Unless he knew the hand that wrote a thousand years ago. But I have enemies today And I have armies who obey. I've marked a path, I've cleared a way. I know these things must matter. But I have friends to carry on And, if I've built both true and strong, They will succeed -- because I'm gone -- And therein lies the answer. When I leave my life behind it feels like dying, My present for a future is the trade I make, and so I tell my friends, "I'll miss you, but I'm choosing To do what I have always done a thousand years ago."
11.
May I Be 03:19
I'm the one who shares your face And walks the streets without the grace to hide it. I'm the one who knows your mind, The taunting fragments that you find inside it. My life is yours; your passing, mine. I'd like to be more than a warning sign. May I be? The time you've known's the world to me And curious how carelessly you'd leave it. Time goes on, our paths divide; One whisper that I'm free and I'd believe it. I cut my hair; I change my clothes. I'd like to be someone who learns and grows. May I be? Chorus: Fated, yes, and fatal, though deserving of no blame, First I promise sweetness then deliver flame. Don't know if it's a question or a name: "May I be". If I should love while in this shape, Is that enough to part the fates that mingle? If you should bleed 'til blood has drained, Could I exist, then, unconstrained and single? I wish no ill but understand The best life I can hope for's second-hand. May I be? [Chorus] May I be?
12.
The scales along the trailing edge of my wings Vibrate with the passing of the breeze And the song they play's heard faintly in the valley Where all claim it's caused by the cliffs and some of them believe. Today, my flight is slow, the music softer, For dancing on the air would make a din. No voice of choir ever breathed so solemn As I, the watcher in the skies and instrument of wind. There's drumming from the horse hooves far below me Pulling a black carriage past the plain Where once upon a time I seized a maiden And where, to test the strength of love, I brought her home again. Though long the years that passed by common counting, Each seemed a fleeting note to such as I. A creature of the earth, she would but seldom Stand entranced and swaying to the music of the sky. Back on that day she'd found herself set free, What sounded like the pipes of war was me. I set, before I let the maid depart, A challenge to the one who held her heart: What I demand, what I take as your vow, Is: you love her life-long as you claim that you do now. To the one who hears a dirge and nothing sweeter: Your adversary honours where it's due. Take comfort in the knowledge, you were chosen; Take pride in knowing that your judge decrees that you were true. The only thought remaining for the coda Of wing-song as I climb to search for kin: She lived her life inside a tangled love song Serenaded always by an instrument of wind.
13.
I met a priestess from the cult of survival At a white light, all-night, mystic revival. My future turned blind but my present could see While she laid it all out as a lesson for me: Isn't it a funny preoccupation To be chasing, hastening, obliteration. Gather your spells, teach your ghost what to say To impress any gods you might meet on your way. Chorus: If you're betting on eternity, that priestess, she said, Make your preparations with the book of the dead But, if you've had enough of that hereafter jive, Try the book of the truly alive. She hands out amulets in aid of illusion, As a defence against real-world intrusions. She'll alter your senses; you'll gain a few more And find that you've awakened on a motel floor. [Chorus] Near-life experience gives a suggestion Of the all-time, sublime cosmic-sized question: Risk everything on the promise of dust Or show some respect for indulgence and lust? [Chorus] The book of the truly alive. The book of the truly alive.
14.
Chorus: What am I bid for this box of shadows? Out in the alley, you'll find ev'ry lad knows It's worth more than a silver mine, A box of shadows this fine. I'll sell 'em single or I'll sell the lot So you can fill your own golden pot From your friends and neighbours 'cause they'll want what you've got If they're even a little like you. [Chorus] One from a captain or one from a king Can make you lord over anything Put a song in your voice, give your step a new spring Like you own the streets of the town. [Chorus] You want a woman but don't have the knack, I've got your cure; it's this shade you lack Well, she ain't seen the like, it's so big and black Not that pale imitation of yours. [Chorus] Where do I get 'em...bet you'd like to know? A knife at dusk by an open door Then the marks that I find add their own to my store And I've no fear they're gonna complain. [Chorus] It's worth more than a silver mine, A box of shadows this fine.
15.
There was a boy who looked like me In my personal alternate history. He had a bottle as his closest friend. Led him out to where the wild things run, Where there's flirting and fighting and they call it fun. Ahhh... true pals to the end. Chorus: But I'm... so glad I found you in time And for all the times we've seen. I'm... so glad I found you this time Out of all the times there've been. Who's the man with computer eyes, And his briefcase logic built from dollar signs? What's his name? Nobody seems to know. Birthday party he turned twenty-two, The one time he met someone who might have been you Ahhh... many years ago. [Chorus] That old couple with their bitter screams, Share their mutually-broken artificial dreams, Surprising how much they can take. Different faces, different skin and bone And they wouldn't be together but their hearts alone. Ahhh... choices that we make. [Chorus x 2] I'm... so glad I found you in time I'm... so glad I found you in time I'm... so glad I found you in time
16.
West Nirvana 03:46
"No, this isn't quite Nirvana. That's nine miles further on," She says, "Past the next two exits, then south of 401." She has worked the bakery counter, so she's learned to read the gaze In eyes like honey doughnuts, sickly sweet and over-glazed. Mostly they buy coffee, use the restrooms down the hall Because once they reach Nirvana they'll feel no urge at all. She throws cold coffee down the drain, me a smile as I walk by 'er; I'm the one who gave an answer when she asked, "What's your desire?" Chorus: Some may have done better, If there's nothing more they need. I'm glad, I guess, they've rid their lives Of passion, doubt, and greed, But I'm content with eighteen wheels, My waitress wife: dear Donna, And the home we've built ourselves In West Nirvana. My first time in this diner, I had an emptiness inside She filled it up with bacon, karma, eggs, and apple pie. Perfect peace may be the goal of real ambitious men But I'm OK with almost happy every now and then. [Chorus x 2] We could move those few miles down the road, but neither of us wanna; We'd rather live and die, and live, and die, and live in West Nirvana.
17.
Solitaire 03:59
A life pod gives faint comfort when your en-gines overload, At best, a place to watch stars fade as ship fuel cells explode. Three days' life support, a signal rescuers could hear, Assuming there was anybody near. The pod has one computer. It's a chance to stay alive, Controlling atmosphere, communications, impulse drive, And games computers all have had since nineteen-eighty-nine. Nothing I can do but pass the time. Chorus: I'd like to hold a deck of cards, To feel them smooth and sliding through my fingers. Red for fire, black for space The king can't move; it blocks an ace. Deal another hand of solitaire. I wish I knew the rules to more than Klondike and Free Cell, But 'Help' commands cause program hangs and system faults as well. It's hard to see the cursor now; the screen turned green and white About the time the pod lost all its light. [Chorus] I don't know when the view went dark. I must have closed my eyes, Dreaming, placed card images on neatly sorted piles. If I concentrate, a layout forms for me to play Until the final diamonds turn to gray. [Chorus] Deal another hand of solitaire.
18.
Believe 03:03
Hey, over here! I can help you escape; I know a spot where reality's... hollow. I won't claim it's... safe but this street is much worse. I've a path your hunters can't follow. I've been watching and I see that Luck's hand Has delivered an instinctual being. You've got questions? Of course, I'll explain. You'd like to know what you're seeing. I'm the first tale ever told about a centaur Or the shadow you saw last night 'neath the trees. I'm the wolf with human skin, That moody beast within. I'm your need to, I'm your yearning to, believe. Me, and my kind, we're the views you accept. Your deference makes us each stronger. If you sum us together it's... how the world works, Changing by whoever's most honoured. I'm the first tale ever told about a centaur Or the shadow you saw last night 'neath the trees. I'm the dragon of the Nile, A chunky crocodile. I'm your need to, I'm your yearning to, believe. We had... an accident, some say a coup, But either way, Technology is history. Faith's too old to lead and Magic older still. Which power stands to gain is a mystery. I'm the first tale ever told about a centaur Or the shadow you saw last night 'neath the trees. Take a lion and a bird, And mix until absurd. I'm your need to, I'm your yearning to, believe. I'm but one stitch in the weave of what's real, Accepting scraps from Fear and Fiction. I could use an... ally who sees essence, not guise, Someone who can make that distinction. I'm the first tale ever told about a centaur Or the shadow you saw last night 'neath the trees. I'm the basilisk from books Who kills you with one look. I'm your need to, I'm your yearning to, believe. I'm your need to, I'm your yearning to, believe.
19.
Tweedledee 03:02
All my life, I've studied, worked, and lived to "run the race" Though, running at my fastest, my best mark was second place. I'm sure I'd be depressed if I could force myself to feel, But all the crying in the world would never make me real. You may remember me I'm Tweedledee. Although my taste was poetry, ill chance constrained my choice: I only spoke in echoes of a foolish person's voice. When the loud black wings descend and fill my aching thought I understand how meaningless, a life lived and forgot. You should remember me I'm Tweedledee. First I killed the carpenter and shot the walrus next, The seven maids, the oysters, and the pawns set out for chess. I fired, a white one died, then another and another. The soldiers found me, smiling, and took away my brother. Summer now has gone to sleep, I stand out in the snow With thirty pounds of gelignite and watch the woods below. I don't suppose there'll be a tree left standing when I'm done, Nor King, nor Queen, nor royal court, nor any other one. You must remember me I'm Tweedledee. You must remember me I'm Tweedledee.
20.
I saw his flying saucer light suburban skies last night, Watched him land and cloak it as a common garden shed, Nodded while he stretched and changed into my next-door neighbour. It's just as I suspected, so I settled into bed. The news said, down on Main Street, one young woman lost control. People saw her turn bright blue and flow like molten rock, Just one more reversion added to a growing number. The gang around the water cooler showed no trace of shock. Chorus: Under that plump, pink disguise You may be green, with eight red eyes, Look, in fact, exactly like my brother. We're aliens all watching one another, Living in these artificial shapes, Mimicking those few we think are apes. If you misunderstood the document'ry called "3rd Rock", Found the body snatchers or V's lizards insincere, If you doubt the jellyfish who plays nightclub piano, Maybe you've gone native and forgot why you are here. [Chorus] Been on Earth awhile myself, sometimes it slips my mind, Once I had a mission and a secret to protect. Sure I'm bored, but then I think, for some, life's so much rougher: That one in seven billion that the rest want to dissect. [Chorus] We're aliens all watching one another, Living in these artificial shapes, Mimicking those few we think are apes.
21.
I was sitting on my front porch, petting the cat When Death popped in -- just like that. It put me in a mood for contemplation. If I'm leaving in a moment, who tends the farm? Kitty reached out and smacked my arm, Objecting to my loss of concentration. Chorus: I said: I've always known I was going to die But... you come back in a little while. Though it's no surprise and I ain't skittish, I hate to leave things... half-finished. So I called up my neighbour, made him a deal: Take care of my stuff, I'll buy you a meal, Then we headed to town as an affirmation. They had served us the entree at the restaurant When, down the street, came that same old haunt And I stabbed my waiting sirloin with frustration. [Chorus] It's later in the evening; I'm having a drink If my time on earth's about gone, I think, I should open the good stuff as celebration. Well, who shows up with his cloak and scythe, Looking upset that I'm still alive? I tell you, this boy has a work fixation. [Chorus] Now my thinking on this matter, my bottom line, Is all things end in their own good time But the 'goodness' part takes calculation. While there's booze and food, and cats to pet, Tell Death, life's not finished yet, Why, a hundred years is barely preparation. [Chorus] (Maybe I'll just play a while. He can wait.)

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released July 1, 2014

Thanks for tracks performed and/or recorded by:
Jane Garthson
Sue Jeffers
Tom Jeffers
Ken Lalonde
Deborah Linden
Karen Linsley
Amy McNally
Devin Melanson
Bill Roper
Peggi Warner-Lalonde

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Phil Mills Toronto, Ontario

Phil Mills writes songs of science fiction and fantasy fandom: filk.

He released the CD "Rain on the Sand" in 2009, containing all original material, mixing funny and serious treatments. That approach has continued, as does his writing.

He has become an avid promoter of the FAWM and 50/90 online song-writing communities, using those as inspiration sources for yet more songs.
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