The Dissolving Room

by Shearwater

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    The remaining copies of our first album.

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The Dissolving Room, Shearwater's first recording, was made in about 3 days in 1999 in Jeff Hoskins' makeshift studio in a cavernous building in downtown Austin that's now a parking lot. It was a weird place. There was a Blondie cover band rehearsing down the hall, and the roof leaked; when it rained, it rained in the back of the tracking room. Kim and I had only known Will for a few weeks, and we couldn't get a show anywhere in town besides open mics—partly because no one knew us, and partly because we weren't very impressive; these were some of our very first songs.

But we had heart, and we were breathlessly excited about music in the way you are when you're 22, and thrilled at the idea that 500 copies of this were going to be pressed on CD by our friend Brad Murph, who ran a record label called Grey Flat Records. A record label! These also the last days before the Internet, when record stores were places of mystery and wonder, and we were in the early stages of raiding them for inspiration. I cringe at these songs now, of course, like you do you at your high school picture. I can hear myself trying to learn to write songs, trying to learn to sing, and trying to make something that someone else might want to hear. I still am.



released November 1, 1999

Jonathan Meiburg, Will Sheff, Kim Burke: vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, string bass, piano, banjo, accordion, dobro, keyboard, glockenspiel, harmonica, tambourine, windchimes.

Scott Blesener: violin
Michael Dow: accordion on "Ella", electric bass, sticks
Bo Griffin: floor tom
Jeff Hoskins: drums, maracas
Gary Newcomb: pedal steel
Tony Rogers: cello

All songs © 1999 by Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff
Published by Polyborus Music (ASCAP)/Joundsongs (ASCAP)


all rights reserved


Track Name: Mulholland
Georgeanna, the berylline hummingbirds are back from California. We've been frozen here in Dakota, and I'm thinking the sun could warm you. And I've been talked to, and I've been talking, too...You stopped coughing. You lay in my lap while the headlights lit the almond trees of some state park. You lay there so still, I was afraid I might have lost you. And I've been talking to you. I wish you'd talk, too. Mulholland, each little light's a soul outside of Bakersfield. You shut your saltwater eyes while the radio played soft and clear. And I was talking to you, I was talking to you.
Track Name: Ella Is the First Rider
Ella is the first rider. Margaret is the last. The night is as black as a miner. Stars are spun like glass. Elephants and birds, tattooed beneath her shirt. Relics from her time in Asia Minor. Ella is the first rider, cold and pale as chalk. The bones of her face are aligning underneath the oaks. She sees men as skin and bones, with hearts in the shape of stones, perpetrators of some terrible vision. Ella is the first rider. Her mouth is so severe. The fierce little jaws of a lizard are dangling from her ear. And her every freezing breath is drawn from the mouth of death. And her every little whisper is a murder.
Track Name: Grey Lining
This house is so clean; glass tables spread with new magazines. Can I stay for a week? You can kick me out when I break something. From the guest room I see your garden stretch out, it's like oceans of green. The maid calls me for tea and the tiles depict Mediterranean scenes. And it's all been added up, laid so a life can lean on it, so please don't bring that up. No one wants to hear that shit. Every night in my dreams I lift glass figurines from a shelf in the hall. Each delicate piece, when I pick it up it just can't help but fall. I can't hold anything, all machines, clothes and cars they just crumble and break when they touch my hand, cause I feel like I'm holding the hand that made them that way. But this house is beautiful you could live long lives in it. Please don't be so dutiful. No one wants to hear that shit.
Track Name: Angelina
Oh Angelina, aren't we lucky to live in this odd little world? Aren't we lucky to stand in this funeral line? And if we marry, I'll kiss every tear from her eyes, if we marry, I'll love every word from her lovely young mouth, and we'll drive past the violent blooms of the opulent south...We walked past the cathedrals, and the lampposts all humming, and I told her that though I can't bend back the barbs of these wires, aren't we lucky to live in this world full of fire, and I told her about how you would sing for your life as a child, and I showed her azaleas and books of pressed flowers you pulled wild, and I told her how lucky was all that I ever have been, and will you marry me, Kimberly Anne?
Track Name: Sung Into the Street
Good morning to the frozen street: I'm like a dresser full of leaves, my eyes as dry as dust. There is a curtain in my mouth, it opens and a song comes out. I've sung the loneliest words into your listening stones. Moss curled and songs have twirled their tunes around your bones. Good morning Uncle with your pen, the furniture was born again at night while you slept in. The room it wrapped around your body, double pillows held your head. I watched your shrinking skin, and all the lines that fill your face in were falling into space. There is a light that is so dim and a hand that pulls you in when you can't swim anymore. The freezing water fills your lungs, the weight of waves surrounds your skin, and the outside comes all the way in. Your heart is held inside this box and we've got to turn it off, so please don't be afraid. The love you gave us will go on, we'll hold your memory when you're gone, your self just can't be saved. So shut your eyes and I'll switch off your heart. Watch the sick room fall apart. Watch this machine's counter restart. Uncle, if I could hold your open, never-broken heart, I would have held it from the start.
Track Name: Little Locket
He's got a little locket picture of the maids' commission. With bees blowing through the bushes, he makes the first incision, and these dolls race through the garden. A chef on boneless roses opens the bandages, and this empty house discloses what the guest's dreams are hiding, as he rests above the arbor with little flowers crying for all their heads he's harbored. And the then midnight market stalls fill with up chloroform, the face within his locket mouths "take off your uniform." They kiss him before parting, then melt into his pockets. He's trampling through the garden and he's got a little locket.
Track Name: Military Clothes
The river runs swollen with the spring rains. How will you pay for it? In your tinfoil armor, coming up singing as you were born again. Washed in muddy water, will you recover from the stain when they call you by that unfamiliar name? In the flat land of west Texas, telephone poles and the evening train. I saw you at the station, waiting for the slow release again. Washed my hands of diesel, but it burns my eyes like smoke to see you standing in your military clothes.
Track Name: The Left Side
A pretty one-eyed girl from the state of Maine can't see the church: it's on the left side of her brain. But it's clothed in browning leaves and it wants to take her in, and there's a Parson's robe inside that wants to feel her skin. And the sleeves of warm, black cloth are hungry for her wrists, and the pages of the Holy Book are hungry for her kiss. She'll go home all alone on the right hand of the interstate and the church upon the hill it will sit in crumbling leaves and it will wait for her, wait to be together. But she won't want it, ever. It's like a dream I had: this girl I went to see (and I can't sing her name, she might be listening to me), in a room of missing tiles we felt ourselves entwine, and she bit my tongue and shouted as I crawled into her mind. It was full of singing mouths and apples in the air, a soft, warm little room that was surrounded by her hair. And, alone, when we awoke, we stretched our legs and spoke to the people we were sleeping with in voices not our own, in the cool of our beds with the words just dissipating in the empty air ahead, and this other world just waiting until we're dead.
Track Name: Not Tonight
Hurts so bad that you know it's not sinning. The funny thing is it's just beginning to feel good. And downstairs all your friends are waiting, They're talking low and filling their stories with angels, and they imagine intervening in true crime photos and placing meaning within them. From blue to red to black-and-white. Don't look too long, you'll be up all night among them, the sudden dead. The last thing he said was, "You should have been here before the camera arrived, Maybe I wouldn't have to die. But just live out this long life jangling, And as old men you could watch my hand dangling, cold and white."

Baby, don't worry tonight; I know it's too ugly to hold yourself upright. So fill a clean glass, cold and smooth. Take the reds, then take the blues. Away, you can hear a voice that's singing, "angels could come but you wouldn't believe them, and those that believe still can't see them anyway." And The Suicide slides out of his skin and he climbs inside of the bed you're in and touches your face.

He says "what right had I to die when all these little cells just tried to keep me alive? What right had I to leave the human race behind? Do you really think you're better, with your shotgun and your suicide letter? Do you think you're right? Well baby, don't worry tonight, I know it's too ugly to hold yourself upright. There's a light from the front room as it's filling with all of your friends. It doesn't get much better than this, and then it ends."
Track Name: If You Stay Sober
If you stay sober, I'll put the kettle on. And you can come over, drink tea, and watch the lawn, and I'll lay you down. I'll lay you down as the lights come on in town when day is over. I wanted to die for two days in '95. I stood by the lakeside and waited for the mood to be right. With leaves all turning brown, I listened to the sounds starting to announce October. I'll lay you down, you can empty out your mouth, and I'll arrange the room again when everything is over.
Track Name: Long Ride
Amy Jeanne, you're in my dream.
Your eyes they seem like stars
And all this seems like scaffolding
To lift up who you are.

The hospital, the long ride home,
Your hands as new as snow.
You lie asleep in the backseat
And I can feel you glow
Track Name: This Confiscated House
This is the film of my death. I am the only one left. Let it all come down. Let it all come down. I'm stumbling over the blocks in this confiscated house, my associates. Let this be my testament. Carry the work we have done. Carry the plans we have laid. I tried my best, but there's so little left...Someday the crows will couple in our ruins. Someday the milkweed will bloom in profusion. Please forgive what you can and remember the rest. When I'm slept with the clover and tarragon, slumbering under the lawn, in one world less, in one world less.

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