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The Devil Don't Win (When You Know How to Dance)

from How to Dance by Jonathan Burks



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...


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


from How to Dance, track released February 1, 2011




Jonathan Burks Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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