How to Dance

by Jonathan Burks

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    These songs were recorded at Howl Street in the fall of 2008, on my thirty-third birthday. I booked a couple of hours to feel out some songs that hadn't yet found homes; a hodge-podge of old stuff, really old stuff, and new songs that stood up, but just barely. Shane set me up with a couple of mics and I played through the set in no particular order, taking a break about halfway through, tracking 19 songs in total.

    At the time, I didn't feel it went well. I set the session up for fun, something cool to do on my birthday, a no-pressure-type-thing; still I hoped, in my obsessive heart of hearts, that I would lay down these amazing takes and you know, sing real real good. And be super awesome at guitar. A bit chagrined these talents didn't manifest themselves to an extent of my liking, I forwarded the hopeful songs to the band, workshoped the ones that needed work, shelved the rest and moved on.

    After the recording Shane started sending me the occasional text or phone call asking me if it was alright if he played the songs we did for a band or friend that was in the studio, who he thought would be interested. I hadn't listened to the tracks since then, and couldn't understand why anyone else would want to, but who am I to judge? Eventually these interactions started to ebb away at my anti-release-stance (which wasn't so much of a stance, just something I hadn't considered, or considered considering) and I gave it another listen. I respect Shane and his opinion so I took what he said seriously; even if I didn't get it, I could tell his interest was genuine, no smoke. His unwavering, albeit low-key and subtle enthusiasm put me onto a different perspective and I started to dig it. A couple of years and a dozen or so random pep-talkish conversations later, I'm ready to listen to him. Beast or butterfly, warts and all...

    Thanks Shane. And thanks all of YOU. Your interest helps me know I'm on the right track, busted as it may be...

    It takes two to tango. Hope this finds you in a dancing mood.


    Jonathan Evan Burks
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1.
when this wet rag is rung and dried out when my soul is spotless clean I'm gonna shrug off the dirt and dust spots and fly on off to heaven free as it stands I'm sitting in a cow pile steeped in this earthly stink we all gonna bloom like flowers when we fly on up to heaven free I'm walking on my good and my bad foot I'm crawling on my bended knee I aint begging I know I'm forgiven when I fly on up to heaven free when my grandma when she was dying these here words she said to me 'my dear grandson know that when I'm gone I'll be flying up to heaven free' when this wet rag is rung and dried out when my soul is spotless clean I'm going to shrug off the dirt and dust spots and I'll fly on up to heaven free
2.
down at the crossroad, one foot in a pothole empty pocket burning with dues yet to earn I was taunting the dark one like, 'bitch come and get some' play with fire you bound to get served I made my decision, it aint no kind of living least I got some time to reflect anyhow that's all I ever wanted, some space to walk in around this town and clear my head I can't be where I wanna be here I take my stand kissing the fingertips of the moment at hand erased and blacked out, my face became a hell mouth a portal spewing sewage into heaven I couldn't feel the blows and welts I verbally dealt out I was knee deep in the waters of Lethe I loved you so much baby but love could not save me from the hurt I hadn't yet learned to face it's all around me know in a dark electric cloud light stabbing me like cold shards of rain I can't be where I wanna be here I take my stand kissing the fingertips of the moment at hand it's always a crossroad, every step as it unfolds there aint no mystical intersection blind hungry feet stroll the high and the low road toes can't trace no pure blameless method I can't make no retractions or justify my actions life aint like that suppose I'm getting good and grown, rolling on my own and I aint looking back I can't be where I wanna be here I take my stand kissing the fingertips of the moment at hand
3.
Theatre Buff 01:55
you're a firecracker in a darkened sky shedding white hot sharp shards of light I got a thing for ya, wanna put my match to your flame and make light of these heavy heavy phoenix wings to be utterly blunt your muff is a part I wanna play wanna put myself into your theatrical ways let's write something and put in on the stage we'll thumb our sexy noses at whatever the critics have to say what do they know about art anyway all the good stuff I've seen happens below the stage in the small rooms of big hearts where there's ample room to play and try on for size whatever kind of face I don't mean no disrespect you're to wild to hold and I aint into nets any way I just want to mess around I don't want to be let down I don't trust me or you still I think that you're pretty damn cool and I'm pretty cool too maybe even as cool as you
4.
God Talk 02:36
I don't want no god talk at my funeral Jesus is alright but he aint my main man it's all of ya'll whom I love so dearly it's you alone who made me what I am god is good but god made me faulty it's you alone who made me so good send me off in flames hot and rowdy don’t burry me in no box of wood I don't want no sad songs at my funeral I sing em now but I wont need em then sing about them pastures of plenty sing about how that circle never ends I don't want no crying at my funeral but if you must, fill a cup up with wine take a drink for every drop that falls and know that you are a friend of mine I don't want no god talk at my funeral if you must read something, quote some Tortilla Flat let all my fucked up friends know I'm so thankful it's you alone who made me what good I am
5.
Holes 03:16
feeling wet and washed up on the shores of ho-hum bound for glory bound and gaged my tongues a butter knife it seems these days it aint cutting nothing but wonder bread wondering how I can muster some bread to get me the means to spread myself where I choose and please sew my oats like a wool-knit sweater to keep me warm in this cold cold weather 'spose by now I should know better things tend to unravel in windy weather the bag I’m in brown and damp is wearing thin exposing glass fist shaped muscle forged from sand filling up the empty hand that's reaching out to grab the stubborn edges of the looking glass flowers bloom with every shard plucked from fingers and guitars the healing scent of feelings wrenched from a vague sense of lonliness gaps and flaws in character and script paint the terrain of who we is the holes are where the light gets in light is framed by night and sin lord won't you forgive me please for living this life you gave to me sailing on a ragged wind fueled by breath of three A.M. we squirm and pray and play and fight heaving on the shores of life gnawing on the serpents tail pennies get laid upon the rail wishes spread thin with hot heat of motion leaving nothing but a blurry notion in the flush face of drunken dance we kiss the lips of circumstance rosy cheeks ripe with the night receive the fruit dark and divine stars cut open the sky letting in the finish line gaps and flaws in character and script turn the pages of where we been the holes are where the light gets in light is framed by night and sin lord won't you forgive me please for living this life you gave to me
6.
Katie come over, come over today let's sing some folk songs and ride our bikes in the rain and when we dry off we'll fill up our plates with spaghetti and veg sauce that together we made Katie come over let's go on a date we can rent a paddle boat and go out on the lake let's go fly a kite get totally lame let's make like a tandem bicycle and cornball away, away! I know I don't know you that well and you don't know me there's only one way to tell only one way to see Katie come over come over today let's write a folk song and ride our bikes in the rain I just wanna see ya just wanna hang Katie come over Katie today
7.
my hand is a starfish my fist a conch shell I hold it to my ear and hear the ocean swell bliss would get boring after awhile still send me to heaven I’ll give it a try reincarnate me whip me again strap me in chains cage me in flesh I’ll be a good boy walk the straight line drink gin with Jesus till we both bleed wine life it gets lonely trees loose their leaves skeletons get naked and dance in the breeze a trout is a good fish in river or lake a wish is a light kiss on the side of her face lovers are nice to have and to hold guitars they're alright but a body gets cold pain it aint nothing when it's moving along it's just when it's stuck that you can't move at all
8.
all my ex-girlfriends are getting married or about to, least so it seems I can honestly say I'm happy for them and I'm glad that they aint marrying me all of my friends are making babies and some day lord I hope the same for me parenthood must be truly awe inspiring a gift form heave that aint yet meant for me all of my friends are making babies putting down roots, growing the family tree I can honesty say I'm happy for them and someday lord I hope the same for me it's a long low lonesome sidewalk I find my toes stepping upon I'm growing on the sides and in the cracks of it towards the light lord, up thru the floor stage is my home, road is my oxygen song is the atom that constructs my world if I'm on the wrong path, I don't intend to get off of it I'm gonna see how that horizon unfurls it's a long low lonesome sidewalk I find my toes stepping upon I'm growing on the sides and in the cracks of it towards the light lord, up thru the floor
9.
Walls 03:06
when your heart is dumb and broken and there's no words that can spoke the wheels of thought spinning round your mind there's a hollow ache that takes the place of feeling anything at all except the wall in-between you and me I've made mistakes before, lord knows my bed is made upon the floor I've never known any other way to sleep I pray someday I'll learn to lay no more upon bales of hay sheltered by this wall around me yes I miss ya, I'll never kiss you again not ever in this life you would think that I'd get used to this shade of deep blue but it just keeps getting darker every night a chance was took and it got got that yellow dog had to be shot I know it but still I can't stop these tears my only fear is that I'll never grow thumbs to climb, breath to blow down this wall around me I suppose the sun it does tend to shine another love will light my sky if I'm blessed to see another day them cosmic gears they grunt and grind what is just is, I'll get by aint no roof on the walls inside me

credits

released February 1, 2011

all songs written and performed by Jonathan Burks

recorded at Howl Street by Shane Hotchstetler

mastered at Mystery Room by Justin Perkins

Photo by Patrick Weishampel
Image by Seth Duckens


c and p Jonathan Burks, Brew City Music 2011

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Jonathan Burks Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"

here's some pro tips:

1) Keep a scream journal. Scream into a camera or microphone at least once a day. Any word or sound will work. "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK" seems to work for me.

2) Dance for 5 minutes daily. Dance on the way to the bathroom or kitchen. Dance as ugly as you can.

3) Make funny faces. Sit in front of a mirror and get strange.
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