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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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




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: Free and Clean
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
Track Name: The Devil Don't Win (When You Know How to Dance)
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
Track Name: Theatre Buff
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
Track Name: God Talk
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
Track Name: Holes
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
Track Name: Katie Come Over
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
Track Name: Vitruvian Man
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
Track Name: Up Through the Floor
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
Track Name: Walls
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