Bones of the Tree

by Jonathan Burks

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    Jonathan Burks sings, Sometimes you gotta fall apart at the seams / to know what youre stuffed with. The line is a good summation of his thinking: losing your mind can be an opportunity to find out what youre made of. Burks' flat tones and sharp philosophy are well-represented on the 12-song CD Bones of the Tree, recorded in Milwaukee and produced by Palace Records veteran Colin Gagon, who backs Burks sparse acoustic approach with inspired touches of instrumentation.

    Bones of the Tree collects six years worth of introspective tongue twisters and frictionless diction, in songs that catalogue the highs, lows and in-betweens of a realistically hopeful hippie-hop folkster jokester. Listening to Burks candid, companionable contemplations offers much to think about and much to drink about, if you should happen to find yourself lost on the long walk home. -Nick Frank
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produced and engineered by Colin Gagon


released January 1, 2006

Jonathan Burks, Colin Gagon, Marc Luther Paul, Elis O'Herlihy

recorded, mixed and produced by Colin Gagon at Herzog

mastered by Trevor Sadler at Mastermind

art and design by Seth Duckens




Jonathan Burks Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Hi there. You can sign up for my mailing list here:

I post a song once a week on Tuesdays. If I've just finished a song I'll record a rough demo and put it up. Sometimes its live recordings or weird electro collages. I also make a video most weeks using public domain footage. Check it out!

Thanks for taking the time to check out my music!

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Track Name: Big Bad Bodhisattva
Big Bad Bodhisattva

lying in your bed
i dumped out my head and you
filled it up with pieces of me i never knew
existed when i spilled my guts you
scooped 'em right up and
put 'em back all

your a big bad bodhisattva
a true blue guru Hoochie Mamma
angle and a devil through and through
Jesus can't bear enough cross to know ya
Shiva aint got enough arms to hold ya
I know that you aint mine but baby I like you

you got yourself a whole lot of sin
little miss mother Mary Magdalin
i just don't know what to make of you
you're sweet and gentle, kind and patient
then you bitch slap me with your cruel salvation
i know that you aint mine but baby i like you

Track Name: Hope Springs Temperamental
once the words came to me now I'm chasing around
all these lame and useless verbs and nouns
I might be lost, I might be found
I'm a square, the earth is round

over around the bend good lord it never ends
they say hope springs eternal but she always been
my fair weathered friend

I had it all and threw it away
not just once but over and over again
I must be lost, I must be found
the sky was so soft, hard is the ground

all this syn tax ing my brain
all in all I aint got nothing to say
I might be lost but not too lost to find
a melody and some bull to ride
Track Name: I Like You
as I travel down this path alone
memories I keep stitched into the pockets of my soul
like whiskey on a winters night making warm the cold
I take a pull and think on good people that I've known

I like you like I like having fun
I like you like I like making love
you are the sunshine in the darkness of my soul
you are the goodness, the rock to my roll...home

I've known women in my life
who showed me how to live
when all I know how to do was die
I've lived long enough to learn
to appreciate precious things
if your cups overflowing
go ahead and take a drink

I like you like i like having fun
I like you like i like making love
you are the sunshine in the darkness of my soul
you are the goodness, the rock to my roll...home
Track Name: Night Advances
once upon a time, sailing on a big ship
watching the waves strip the moon from the sky
a young man was sitting on a moon beam
sipping from a blue dream, killing time
a million starry eyed revelations
were twitching nervous like a neon sign
the night advances

standing on a pale dim doorstep
sleeping on porches, summertime
a desperate and lonely hilltop
a southern truckstop, hitching rides
the sound of a baby rabbit screaming
crow feeds its wings as day turns to night
the night advances

searching for a halo and a moonbeam
following a hollow dripping, thick and low
seeking out God's sick revelations
mental patients, a pack of smokes
the beauty and the sorrow
pale tomorrows come and go
Track Name: Rock and Roll
your heart is always restless
your feet they never touch the ground
the truth is what you're avoiding
your lost and you don't want to be found

it's one, one for the money
and two, two for the show
your heart is good and golden
but your soul is all rock n' roll

resting in the arms of a woman
who wept for forty days and forty nights
but aint no flood or mad amounts of love
gonna get you clean tonight

all your bridges are burning
you sail upon a funeral pyre
sure as your still moving
your bound to be spreading fire
Track Name: Bones of the Tree
it's true what you said baby
'patterns repeat'
and that old dirty fractal been swallowing me
for so long now baby, I don't blame you none for bailing
out of this old ship into a fresh sea
this old salty seaman been tossing and heaving
confusing white whales for personal demons
I hit dry land but couldn't see the beach for the sand
gotta learn to reach before you grab

blue as can be shaking the trunk of the tree
making believe gravity couldn't touch or phase me
truth was there for the facing
but it's so hard when fate's placing
the sweetest of fruit on your plate for the tasting
skin stretched out thin
juice dripping from my chin
chewed through to the root of not-so-original sin
the sum of the fall times seven is ten
all dogs go to heaven in the end

mistakes are for making and time is for taking
I'm making my mistakes and taking my time
after all they've made me who I am
hell I'm thanking my lucky stars
for the hard luck and heartbreaks they gave me
into the hills I make my retreat
I've met my match, I claim my defeat
I been burning blubber in the belly of the beast
mistaking fleshy walls for the bones of the tree

it's all good, it's gravy
knock on wood, maybe I just might learn to live
before I'm pushing up daisies
moving through this maze grazing
on the hedges and edges that cage me
till I'm tasting the eggs and bacon
of a new morning breaking
seems like I always been watching the show
while the fearless and foolish walk the tight rope
the sum of the fall times seven is ten
all dogs go to heaven in the end
Track Name: Garbage Picking Man
I'm a garbage picking man
I do it every chance i can
I love to dumpster dive no doubt about it
and I never ever feel ashamed
in fact I think it's kinda brave
making use of what people waste and proud of it

found a pair of Nike tennis shoes
and a jacket from Sacs 5th Avenue
found a pair of handmade leather sandals made in Brazil
found a box of Mac n' Cheese
and a pot to cook it in
i even found a stove to heat it with

cooked a pumpkin we found and had a feast
we even toasted the seeds
burned some candles
and listened to an album that we also found
now this one you wont believe
it was my favorite find of the season
found a 12 pack of Fosters beer
and down the alley I was drinking

it's not that hard to do
put on a pair of walking shoes
plug your nose and swallow your pride
and you'll find something of use
I don't do my shopping at the mall
or even over the internet
I go where the prices are right
in the alleys of the East Side
Track Name: Burs
am I happy?
well, no not really
does make me sad?
not necessarily
you see, when I'm sad it makes me kinda happy
to feel so much of something
and when I'm happy it makes me kinda sad
to know that life don't last
life is full of in betweens
broken bottles and busted dreams
sometimes you gotta fall apart at the seams
to know what you're stuffed with

life is like walking through a meadow
and I got some burs in my pants today

if something's too sweet it will rot your teeth
so I chew the dirt that surrounds my feet
spit out the stones and swallow what I must
sometimes it gets you clean to roll around in the dust
I aint bitter or especially depressed
just giving form to these lumps in my chest
it aint pretty, in fact it's a mess
but you gotta work with what you're stuck with

sometimes a darkness settles on my heart
keeps me separate, keeps me apart
from all the little things in life I see other people enjoying
but it keeps me grounded and keeps me sane
keeps me from getting carried away
by all the little things in life that really aint that important
Track Name: Ped Xing
get out of my face with them gasoline fumes
got a real bad case of them walking blues
walk to work, walk most everywhere I go
don't mind it none, but all them cars got to go away
they keep getting in my way
honking their horns, spewing their fumes in my face
didn't nobody else take drivers ed in the 11th grade?
they said pedestrians have right of way

I don't care if its a big mac truck
or a fancy car worth a million bucks
if see me coming don't you get in my way
pedestrians have right of way

where you gotta be that you wanna run me down
you've got the stereo on and the car's nice and warm
you've got that steel encased frame
to keep you safe from harm
and personalized plates that say 'I'm da bomb'
you got 4 wheels I got 2 feet
don't need to be a rocket scientist to see
you're going to get where you're going
much faster than me

once I got a ticket for j walking
had to bite my tongue to keep me from talking back
oh mr. officer how sweet, looking out for me
would you like to hold my hand while i cross the street?
I don't need a crossing guard to cross the street
I look both ways from left to right
and then I step off the curb
like I know who's got the right
Track Name: Water Sign
aint got no money lord, I got no girl
got no place in this world
feel like I'm stuck with my head in the mud
can't find no place in this world
just got back from vacation
ten days of sun, sun and inspiration
I miss the water, I miss the ocean

and I sure do miss the girl I met
she's still swimming in my head
bet I'll never see her again
it's a shame to think of what might have been
but I guess that's just the way it goes
just the way it goes
I miss the water, I miss the ocean

Southern Comfort sweetheart
yup, I remember you
I knew you were a scorpio
I could tell by your tattoo
and I could tell you had something sweet
way down deep in your soul
I miss the water, I miss the ocean

aint got no money lord, I got no girl
got no place in this world
feel like I'm stuck with my head in the mud
can't find no place in this world
I think I need a vacation
ten days of sun, sun and inspiration
I miss the water, I miss the ocean
Track Name: It Aint Much
home sweet home is where I roam
turn the ringer off the phone and
strum three chords maybe four
don't need too much more from this life
pacify my mind with rhythm and rhyme
a melody to ease the passing of time

it aint much but it's enough

sitting on a front porch smoking with strangers
quietly soaking up the friendly faces and conversation
such a fine and simple thing
the common ground on the bottoms of our feet

it aint much but it's enough

go to work and I pay my bills
keep a roof over my head and the refrigerator filled
I've seen better days but I cant complain
living alone is still living, hey hey hey
we all do the best we can
on gold and gravel path

it aint much but it's enough

and we get by...
Track Name: Stuck With Being Me
I wish I could see the things that I cant
look boldly into the face of my weaknesses
but there's some chains you cant see till they break
how can you be something you aint

well it's hard sometimes to live you must die
and to die first you must live
well I'm figuring it out and forgiving myself
I'm stuck with being me

I try not to cause nobody not pain
sometimes that's all you can do anyway
the darkness gets thick and I can't find my way
tears rolling down my baby's face

say what you feel and do what you do
if you can't hear what I'm saying I aint talking to you
one life to live and one life to die
one life to fail and one life to try