4 Characters

by Men With Day Jobs

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about

These songs were written from 2005 to 2010, first planned as a short suite of 3 or 4 Mah Jongg-inspired songs for our previous CD Dreams & Tinsel. But the idea soon outgrew that, and we held the songs and started writing more for a whole CD.

We’ve played Mah Jongg since we were kids and loved its colourful words and phrases. It was a great starting point for musings not so much about the game as what it symbolises: the game of life. The songs are our usual eclectic mix of disparate influences – from pop to rock, folk, blues, funk, country, bluegrass, soul, jazz, 1930s swing, Buddhist chanting and surf music! We’re incurable dabblers and hey, why fight it?

Rod, Stafford and Paul recorded the first demos at Paul’s basement in Sydney. When he moved to Tassie in 2008 we pondered how to complete the album and came up with the idea of converging midway – at the Melbourne studio of Ken, our old friend and ex-bandmate from 30 years ago. He keenly (some would say foolishly) sprang in with multi-instrumental gusto, playing a huge role in the songs’ further development, recording and production. We were also graced by the golden voices of Jo and “HJ” Stephenson and Julianne Jessop.

We hope you enjoy listening to the result as much as we enjoyed making it. Thanks to Ken for being excellent, Jo, HJ & Julianne for singing like angels, Charlie for her pics and positive input, and all our friends and families. Bless the lot of ‘em for tolerating and even sporadically encouraging our obsessive desire to make this music… while keeping the Day Jobs.

All songs written and produced by R.Crundwell / P.Fenton / S.Sanders / K.Stephenson © 2010

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released March 31, 2011

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Track Name: Out On The Tiles
You… you were a character - you played to the limit, we were two of a kind
But this game… can change in a moment - you’re taking the honours, then you’re crushed from behind.
I’m mixin’ in the circles, fixin’ on the smiles,
puttin’ you behind me - out on the tiles

Life… can deal you a dead hand - coins turn to bones,
see the blind curve too late
But I know… nothing’s impossible when luck bursts open the gate
So I stake another bet, stackin’ up the piles,
puttin’ you behind me – out on the tiles

But I know… nothing’s impossible when luck bursts open the gate
I’m lookin’ to the East, rackin’ up the odds,
fishin’ for a feast, trustin’ to the gods
I'm callin' out your name, to help me in my trials,
I face another game - out on the tiles…
Track Name: Gates Of Heaven
Here we stand in the sunset, at the business end of the night
Licking wounds from our battles, limping slowly home in the fading light
So here I am in your doorway, too shell-shocked and weary to fight

Take me to the gates of heaven, lay me down by your shining sea
Lead me to the gates of heaven, take me in… and shelter me

Here we stand at the crossroads, while all around, the fires rage
Weasel words of fiddling tyrants trickle their final tears down history’s page
Surrounded by snake oil salesmen who use all the world as their stage

Take me to the gates of heaven, lay me down by your shining sea
Lead me to the gates of heaven, take me in… and set me…

Free – from the empires, the pressures and the load
Free from toil and trouble, and the madness of the road
Free to find the simple self, and let the world explode
- shelter me, shelter me…

You have always been my haven - I need some surrender tonight
Take me to the gates of heaven… Shelter me…
Lead me up, lead me up, lead me up, to the gates of heaven
Take me in, take me in, take me in, to the gates of heaven
Track Name: Ruby Jade
Ruby Jade had me on a string, she was everything to me
But I could not see that it was not to be… so young and fancy free
In innocence we played, and all the plans I made included Ruby Jade

Ruby Jade had me in her spell, I thought wedding bells would chime
Ev’ry mountain we would climb… but we ran out of time,
her light has gone and I’m Left counting in the shade,
the price that I have paid, for lovin’ Ruby Jade

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring, I sit alone and sadly sing,
my love will never fade for Ruby Jade
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday,
Sunday I been hangin’ out my heart for Ruby Jade

Ruby Jade, though we’re far apart, you’re still in my heart today
I got to find a way to get you back to stay - I know it’s mad, but hey!
I never was afraid to call a spade a spade… still love ya, Ruby Jade

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring… Ruby Jade…
Hangin’ out my heart for Ruby Jade
Track Name: Characters
5.36 on the outbound express, the strap-hangers heading for home
When a man with big eyes and a gently crazed voice
strikes up a tune on his paper and comb
It breaks the monotony, lightens the mood,
the world seems so shiny and new
And I’d love to join in with a song and a grin…
but I’ve got my crossword to do

All the world loves a character - without them, how dull would life be?
So do what you do, never let them stop you…
but please don’t sit right next to me

Time for lunch at the fountain-side park - a peaceful and placid pursuit
Until this old dear in a large floral hat lights up our lives with her banter and cat
As she makes a big beeline for my quiet bench, I whip my bag up on the seat - Creative expression is all very well… but I need some calm when I eat

All the world loves a character…

There’s the man who trains pigeons to tango,
the woman who thinks she’s a ghost
And the old bloke who drags a big trolley around
- and inside it, just a spare wheel can be found
Eccentrics are all right in theory at least -
but not when they’re right in your face
‘Cause my space is all mine, I know it takes all kinds…
but kindly take off and sit some other place!

All the world loves a character…
Track Name: Hitler's Blunder
I’m going out tonight, my jackboots laced up tight
Brown shirt with SS trim - I wanna be just like him
He wanted strong firm rule, gave us pure blood and thunder
He just went round the bend, a bit towards the end
- that was Hitler’s blunder

This modern democracy is such a poisoned chalice
Give me autocracy - with HQ right here at the Palace
Those days will rise again - no Mr Nice Guy then
You can be sure that I’m not holding back this time
- that was Hitler’s blunder
Track Name: Wriggly Snake
Foot down, to the floor… he comes snakin’ round your front door
He’s got the power, he’s got the speed… big mates and a big fat need
So mind where you stand, watch every word you say
Or you’ll feel his bite, you’ll get the pain… whenever you stand in his way

You can’t escape the Wriggly Snake
He will surround you, snakin’ all around you, chokin’ off your will to fight
You can’t escape the Wriggly Snake
He’s got connections, in all directions, eatin’ everything in sight
When there’s a hole in the sky, and you start to bake
Time to recognise, you have made a big mistake (too late!)
- you can’t escape the Wriggly Snake

Smell the smoke, hear the noise… he’s got the action with the big boys’ toys He’s cost-defective, loser pays… he’s tolled us off on his motorways
And just when you think you’re safe, here he comes again
His eyes on the prize, fangs in the flesh He’s got you at the stroke of a pen

You can’t escape the Wriggly Snake
He’ll override you, sneakin’ up beside you, strikin’ when you glance away
You can’t escape the Wriggly Snake
He’ll hynotise you, coil up and surprise you, it’s your death dance today
When he’s squeezed you dry, taken all he can take
Time to recognise, you have made a big mistake (too late!)
- you can’t escape the Wriggly Snake
When there’s a hole in the sky…
Track Name: Greta's Garden
If your heart is troubled, bad health got you on your knees
Said if you’re feeling troubled, bad health got you on your knees
Go down to Greta’s Garden - get some natural remedies
She’s got cures for every ill, she can get your mojo startin’
Said she’s got cures for every ill, gonna get your mojo startin’
No need for the needle, point for the pill - get down to Greta’s Garden

She’s got sage advice, you’ll be in clover…
don’t you be ginger, look her rose hips over
If you chamomile, she’ll give you some thyme…
make yourself comfrey, and she’ll blow your mind
Marjoram – mar – mar, mar – marjoram… gonna earn her celery
Get down to Greta’s Garden - get that natural remedy
Track Name: Circles
Circles of straw surround me, in this house of dust where I lie
wasting away, so far from healing waters,
ever flowing, growing with life
Always coursing, swirling round in …

Circles of light, on pools left humming with the swarms of your
invasion of gold… skin pale, eyes bright, entranced with treasures coldly glowing with greed… no sense, no thought, no need,
racing round in circles

Don’t understand your apology, can’t comprehend your thanks
No farewells to another time, somewhere beyond the banks of swirling…

Circles of eyes surround me, voices so polite but still
invading my space, my dreams, stirring,
seeking prizes in confusion of worlds, mis-translations,
talking round in circles…
Track Name: Buried Treasure
I have this program, wide applications,
great expectations that I can take it far
If I could just win that big contract,
I could be a late-blooming star
I have this novel, deep inside me
- I tried surgery, but it could not be removed*
If they would only sense my genius,
think of how all their lives could be improved

All I need is buried treasure, all I crave is on the ocean floor
All I seek is a great adventure, on some far-flung shore
- what am I waiting for?

I’ve got problems, can’t crack the system,
big competition from bigger fish than me
Need more investment, need more commitment
- into the headwinds, and away out to sea

All I need is buried treasure, all I crave is on the ocean floor
All I seek is a ship to take me, to that far-flung shore
- what are they waiting for?

All we crave is some understanding,
some forgiveness for our crimes
All we know is, we’re no angels
- only creatures of our times

See, I have this lover, I have these children,
I have this family mean all the world to me
If I should lose them, I’d be drowning… all alone on the wide blue sea

So we dream of buried treasure, leave our fantasies on the ocean floor
What we do is, keep our hands on the things we treasure more
- that’s what we’re staying for!

* acknowledgment to Leunig for the line about the novel
Track Name: Year Of The Dragon
Seaside in the Lucky Country, 1952:
a couple’s fourth production gives the Baby Boom its due
He breathes in the sunshine, feels the ocean spray,
swims toward the bright light of this luminous day

It’s the Year of the Dragon, and there’s laughter on the sand
He opens his eyes to the bluest of skies and the kindest of hands
He will be powerful and lucky, in keeping with the sign
This is his time, this is his time:
the Year of the Dragon

A dozen years later, other side of the world:
a young English family greets its second baby girl
Mersey beats overshadowed by exuberant noise
She will outsmart the Sisters and run faster than the boys

It’s the Year of the Dragon, and change is in the air
Pendulum swings, and bright silver wings will carry her who knows where
She will be powerful and lucky, with a fierce will to survive
She has arrived, she has arrived
- in the Year of the Dragon

Fast forward to a city office, Bicentennial Year :
of all the places she could have gone, she turns up here
He is warm and determined, she is fiery and bold
Shakes him out of his downtime, and it’s on for young and old

In the Year of the Dragon, celebrations in the air
Taking each day, picking their way on a journey they can share
They are powerful and lucky, as dragons always are
They will go far, they will go far
- in the Year of the Dragon

The turn of the century, Y2K: once more the dunes echo
with the laughter of children at play
It’s been a time of great changes, battles lost and won,
magical adventures, lives lost and begun

It’s the Year of the Dragon, and there’s fire in the sky
In this puzzling nation, a new generation is learning to swim and fly
Will we be powerful and lucky? Stare into the glass and see
Where will we be, where will we be
- next Year of the Dragon?
Track Name: Exposed
Light… came shining sharp into my secret hide
Seeking out the darkened corners trapped inside
these trappings of a man

Bright… eyes burning through the layers and the lies
You’ve stripped away the shreds of my disguise and
seen me as I am

I am exposed, I am laid bare
Standing naked as a newborn, showing stark emotions,
never thought I’d feel - all is revealed
No dark delusion masking me, you’ve shown me what it means
to feel this way

Light… so light that I could click my heels and rise
Swimming slowly to the surface of your eyes, so free and so alive
I am exposed…
No dark delusion masking me, you’ve shown me what it means to be…

Exposed - to your close examination -
every fault, every folly on display
No escape from my salvation -
crying torrents, all defences blown away

I am exposed… You’ve shown me how surrender truly feels,
I am revealed I will answer all you ask of me
… I’ve waited all my life to be exposed
Track Name: Don't Let The Devils In
We’re gonna build a wall, we’re gonna build it high,
put it out in the sun and stack it up to the sky
We’re gonna make it tough, we’re gonna make it hard
We’ve got more than enough in our own backyard

We gotta stop them dead, we gotta stop them cold
We gotta break ‘em and shake ‘em and take ‘em out…
We’ll build the home of the gods
in the land of the purest skin - don’t let the devils in (don’t let ‘em in)

We got the razor wire, we got electric fence
we got billions and billions and billions
tied up in coastal defence
We got the finger on the pulse, got the eye on the polls
We’ve sold everything off except border controls
We’re gonna beat them off, we’re gonna shut them out
We’re gonna rock ‘em and sock ‘em and lock ‘em up…
We’re gonna play the race card in a game we’ll play to win
- don’t let the devils in (hear those devils!)

We got the hand on the heart, got the talk jocks’ ear
We don’t care where they been, we don’t want them here
Another nail in the cask, another brick in the wall,
we’re gonna nail ‘em and jail ‘em and sail ‘em off…

We’ll build the home of the gods… We’re gonna play the race card…
Track Name: Picking The Moon (from the bottom of the sea)
I could have been nowhere, I have never been strong
Things could have been different, gone so wrong
But now, beautiful fortune smiles all around me
I am picking the moon from the bottom of the sea, lucky me

You, you have your troubles, life laying you low
I know what you’re feeling, believe me, I know
But see, there in the distance - look, where you could be
One day, picking the moon from the bottom of the sea
- wait and see…

You could be catching the bird in the bamboo tree…
plucking the fruit from the balcony…
Picking the moon from the bottom of the sea, like me - lucky me!
Track Name: Flowers And Seasons
We’ve been a long time on the dance floor, but now the writing’s on the wall
It seems our show will soon be over - that’s all
We can’t dispute the final notice, no more encores for us now
Let’s end the number with a high kick, and take a bow

We’ve had our share of flowers and seasons,
we could linger on for thousands of reasons
But you and I always did what we did with style
- so let’s go out with a smile

The crowds are heading for the exits, the band is packing up to go
Let’s take a last spin round the dance floor… real slow
We’ve hit the heights, we’ve held the spotlight,
but never stayed onstage too long
Let’s have no anticlimax ending to our song

We’ve had our share of flowers and seasons,
we have survived all their trials and their treasons
But you and I always did what we did with style
- so let’s go out with a smile

We’ve had our share of flowers and seasons,
we could linger on for thousands of reasons
But now it’s time to trip down that golden aisle
- so let’s go out with a smile