Doubting Thomas

by T. Hallenbeck

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1.
I was wandering down the street one night when an angel appeared in a sickly light. He was covered in garbage, and filth, and grease, and he spoke of a thousand years of peace. He said all armies will drop their weapons, he said all cars will turn into lemons. He said all brands of beer will fall flat, he said all dogs will turn into cats. War, war, war looms on our bleak horizon - take it from me. Yeah, but peace! Peace! Peace and a meteorite will come. War, war, war looms on our bleak horizon - take it from me. Yeah, but peace! Peace! Peace and a meteorite will come. So I put up my hands and said I'd had enough, and I told him I didn't believe in that stuff about the end of the world, the Apocalypse, the Horsemen, the trumpets, and the silver ships. But he kept blathering on about the Flood, about the fire and brimstone, the rats and the mud, the day when all springloaded devices unwind, the blind become lame, and the lame become blind. War, war, war looms on our bleak horizon - it's always the same. Yeah, but peace! Peace! Peace and a meteorite will come. War, war, war looms on our bleak horizon - our leaders are fools. Yeah, but peace! Peace! Peace and a meteorite will come.
2.
I got pictures on the wall, got an old broom in the hall, got a little amber ball with a bug stuck in it. I got a mailbox painted red, got some fruit bats in the shed, got some houseplants that are dead, and a thumb with no green in it. chorus: The road to my Damascus was a roller-coaster ride though Hell, and somewhere on the road not taken is another me running as fast as he can. The road to my Damascus was a roller-coaster ride though Hell, and deep within the life not lived is another me laughing as loud as he can. I got a toaster minus fuse, a suitcase I've never used, a big box marked 'REFUSED' with a blue stamp on it. I got some violets in the yard, a life-size cutout of Picard, and an old front page, unmarred by time, with Dick Nixon on it. (chorus)
3.
White sun beats on dusty floors - I've got a few more things to take care of. Smudged windows show sky, half-open doors reveal quiet worlds I'm half-aware of. The radio squawks, left alone in the kitchen, paint dries on old blank walls. On a windswept Sunday, under my worn boots, floorboards creak in empty halls. chorus: I need a shower, I should eat something soon, but I found a station that plays James Brown all afternoon. I don't sing along, I get zoned when I work, hearing soft voices of spirits that lurk in the states of imagination and pure mind, in the sun-drenched spans of the inbetween times. Dried stems in waterless vases - what did they leave behind? The folks who stayed here? How did they cope with this gun-gray city's grind? Photographs left in dusty corners hold grainy, faded faces: doors to the worlds gone with them, their haunted lives and secret places. (chorus)
4.
We're not leavin' - we're gonna stay 'Till the jack-booted bucketheads drag us away. I see the Four Horsemen, I hear the bells - There's a special place for landlords in Hell. Noises in the attic, rats chew my toes, The place is a dump, and the landlord knows. While he stays in his basement, and plays with his trains, We wear ponchos in the living room every time it rains. chorus: We're the scourge of the neighborhood! We're the slum! We are the reminder of the dirt and the scum That collect when a certain party doesn't do his job - When your landlord's an irresponsible slob! The view's fantastic, the weather can't be beat, But the water smells like turnips and we don't have any heat. So we work all month to find the money for the rent, Then we work even harder to remember where it went. (chorus) We're not leavin' - we're gonna stay 'Till the jack-booted bucketheads drag us away. I see the Four Horsemen, I hear the bells - There's a special place for landlords in Hell.
5.
Crazy John 02:55
You've got the wrong black hat on. Come back, crazy John. You're wearin' the wrong shoes, you're walkin' the wrong road - won't you come back, crazy John? You've got the wrong gold watch on. Come back, crazy John. You're readin' the wrong signs. You're tellin' the wrong time - won't you come back, crazy John? You thought we wouldn't see your lava-lamp core. You thought we'd go away when you slammed the door. You thought we wouldn't recognize you with your Nixon mask on, didn't you, crazy John? You stay up all night and you give us all gas. Sometimes you really are a royal pain in the ass, But no one else will ever wear the bag of bones you have on - don't you know that, crazy John? Don't you know that, crazy John? You've got the wrong leisure suit on. Come back, crazy John. You're readin' the wrong map, you're walkin' the wrong road - won't you come back, crazy John? The world as we know it is a hoax and a sham. You order green eggs, they give you normal-looking ham. But life can really be a trip if you keep your night goggles on - believe it, crazy John. You thought we wouldn't see your lava-lamp core. You thought we'd go away when you slammed the door. You thought we wouldn't recognize you with your Nixon mask on, didn't you, crazy John? Didn't you, crazy John?
6.
Since my promotion, I take things in stride. The sky is too empty, and the sea is too wide to drive the crew crazy with old wives' tales of the Flying Dutchman, and the places he's sailed. Since taking command, I have let it be known that I'm a man of my word, strong, but not made of stone. Still, I don't speak of the treasures, or the burial mounds, that the Flying Dutchman has already found. Some of the crew thought that I was too green for a captain's stripes, but the things that I've seen on a ship that chased pirates, gray ghosts, and white whales, with a death-silent Captain, big guns, and black sails, and the things that did that condemned all our souls, and the secrets we buried at fogged island shoals - those things make me the most likely choice for the helm of a boat that departs soon for the uncharted realms, to track down the lost ship and its time-hardened crew, to seek out the Captain, and learn what he knew. To seek out the Dutchman, and learn what he knew. Since my promotion, I take things in stride. The sky is too empty, and the sea is too wide to drive the crew crazy with stories I've heard of the Flying Dutchman, and the sentence he serves.
7.
There are only two reasons why I stare at the sky: el corazon y la luna. One's low down and the other's up high: el corazon y la luna. There are only two reasons why I stay out all night: el corazon y la luna. One's pitch black and the other is bright: el corazon y la luna. There are only two reasons why I gaze in wonder: el corazon y la luna. Only two reasons why I stumble and blunder: el corazon y la luna. There are only two reasons why I stare at the sky: el corazon y la luna. One's low down and the other's up high: el corazon y la luna.
8.
He left at three a.m. She turned the TV on. The screen was bright as snow. In the pitch dark, it made her head hurt. She turned the TV off and thought, "I'm tired of him - so tired of all his sulks." In the pitch dark, she could not sleep. chorus: "And It's all in my mind, leaky faucets, the grind of the city at night, falling water. And it's all in my head, yes it is," she said, out loud in the dark. "Falling water." She fell asleep at four and dreamed about a place where people never speak, and she woke, snowblind. She turned on her side, and thought, "This is mine - everything I see - an empty room on the ground floor." (chorus)
9.
Dr. Moreau 03:14
Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not kill! Otherwise do what thou will, but Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not maim. Thou shalt not maim! I've learned to be civilized and tame, yes - Thou shalt not maim. The one who raised me up is safe - I would never turn on my master. I help his daughter with household chores, And she smiles as I walk past her. Sometimes it's fun To drop on all fours and run I've learned to stand straight in noonday sun, but Sometimes it's fun. Thou shalt not maim. Thou shalt not maim! I've learned to be civilized and tame, but Thou shalt not maim. The one who raised me up is safe - I would never turn on my creator. His daughter has a clean handsome man, But I could never hate her. Sometimes it's fun To drop on all fours and run I've learned to stand straight in noonday sun, but Sometimes it's fun. Thou shalt not maim. Thou shalt not maim! I've learned to be civilized and tame, yes - Thou shalt not maim. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not kill! Otherwise do what thou will, but Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not kill!
10.
Dog & Bird 01:08
Now as at all times, the dog part of me roots through garbage, the bird part flies to anywhere, because today, I live here alone. Here as in all places, there is so much for dog to bury, so much for bird to sing about, because for now, I live here alone. Today of all days is a dog's heaven of bones and rodents, a bird's paradise of clear bright skies, because I've always lived here alone.
11.
Waking 03:39
I know what goes on down there - seen the light around the back door. I've been outside shootin' tin cans, deaf in one ear and my shoulder's all sore. I know some things about my neighbor's ways, chances are they're a little bit like me - seen some things they're not supposed to... caught a glimpse, and they want some more. Funny how the past grows faint, like a dream that gurgles away at waking. Funny how you ring up old friends, talk for awhile, and you know they're faking. Funny how I shut them all out, when I know they're a little bit like me - seen some things they're not supposed to... caught a glimpse and they want some more. I've always been a good boy, faithful and true. I've always been a good boy. Now I know what goes on down there - seen the light around the back door. I've been outside shootin' tin cans - I've run across these things before. But I've never noticed until now: my neighbors are very much like me - seen some things they're not supposed to... caught a glimpse, and they want some more.

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Recorded in Emeryville CA, 2003

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released October 1, 2003

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T. Hallenbeck Oakland, California

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