How Good We Had It

by Goner

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released October 1, 2004



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Goner Raleigh, North Carolina

Goner crafts great songs, combining a poetic eye for detail, a cinematic sense of place and character, and an encyclopedic love of rocks both classic and indie.

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Track Name: Whatever Day It Is
7:25 digital red, wash that nostalgia right out of my head. Freeze-dried coffee and morning prayer, Clarity chorus, I’m halfway there. Clock in with sodas and claps on the back, dirty chord progressions and laughs. You work with knives. You might cut yourself. It’s never a crime to ask for help. Ask for help. Welcome to whatever day it is, arrows and slings, fruit punch and piss. Welcome to a plan you didn’t make. Congratulations, you’re awake.
Track Name: Laura's Conversion (Heat + Light)
Laura’s father’s her alarm and automatic sprinklers on the lawn. She picks out a studded belt and logo tee. In the mirror, she checks her body’s asymmetry for a sign. Mother said time is the Lord’s design. Mine, she thinks, mine. Café rats blind with cinematography and mute with cloves and poetry, gamers and half-grads with script delays. Laura stepped into the frame of their gaze and ah… Calculations begun. It’s as old as song. It won’t take long. And I could be the best angel/guard she ever had, but my demon designs are just as bad. I’m just another rat. Give me half a chance, I’ll do you just as bad. Now she gets wine-fuelled sonnets most everyday, refills and rides and sweet envy. She supposes she’s arrived. Where? she wonders as she steps outside. Stops her stride. Feels their eyes. Smiles wide, palms the sky. Feels right, heat and light.
Track Name: Lake Geneva IL
So you ran your rug down to threads in a matter of hours. You got voicemails and machines all over town. The bottle, the bag, the pack down the street, you can taste it ten minutes away. And you’re terrified to step outside but it’s out of your hands. Shuddering cold, pray to the road, you drive to Geneva. You’ve been hiding for years, determined to steer, so afraid to leave it. The healing words, they’re what you deserve but it’s hard to believe it. You’re driving alone. You’re almost home. You drive to Geneva. Fluorescent wards and churches’ basement floors, stiff chairs, bad coffee and, finally, insanity just like yours. It’s the weakness that binds us and all of this time you’ve been playing the permanent stranger. Cause you’re used to sick and it’s scary getting well. I know, but an angel rides passenger side. Are you ready to leave it? The healing words, you know you deserve. Why can’t you believe it? You’re not driving alone. You’re already home. It’s time to receive it.
Track Name: Letters to Cal
Remember clocking out laughing, howling in the streets, trouble in the reds of our eyes? We were gonna kiss every lo-fi Tennessee girl. Lazy Star legends, you and I. It’s still a five-mile town, Cal. It’s just how you left it, Rocky kids clogging the strand. The tips are still decent and the drinks are still cheap, but all these country bands are damned. Don’t come back, you hear? Remember that stanza you wrote on the back of that oak for the girl sweeping smokes off the curb? Now the Johnny Rockers orbit her with double shots. She just ducks down and drinks without a word. I saw her last night in the ballpark stands, empty High Life at her feet and her head in her hands. Still clearing those tables, still taking those pills. Sweetheart, stay up late as you can, but you can’t go back. Cal, you know how it is when customers spit cross the counter and you clean up the crumbs. And just to forget the sneers and the sweat you swallow ’em back ’til you’re numb. We could’ve sung ’em all down. We could’ve beaten this town if you’d just hung on another rotten year. I don’t hate you for leaving. But sometimes, Cal, I can hate myself for staying here. Tonight I’m sending you 16 bible belt angels. They’ll protect you from the sidewalk cracks. I hope that cold city is giving you hell. I’m sure you’re giving it back. The lights’ll come up and I’ll stumble home fast, like something dark is following me. I’ll smoke on the porch and I’ll pray to the crickets. Maybe tonight I won’t dream. When are you coming back here?
Track Name: Jessica's Song
You were your father’s blood and he covered you in fingerprints, called you stupid and plain, caressing all the same. You’d smell the Jim Beam as he’d lean at the side of your bed, tickling your sleeve. You were living just to leave. You kept your eyes on your sticker stars, glowing in the dark. You would’ve wished on them, if only they’d been real. 21 and bellying up a couple of states away, them angel tattoos you got sure can cover up an awful lot. But you’re showing so much of the flesh you’ve been taught to hate, and as the crowd swells and thins, you toss a Romeo a grin. And with voices sweet as nicotine, you talk and he says, “Yeah, I know what you mean.” A year’s worth of 2AMs ending the same way. Let’s dim the lights and hit play, touch and sway. Classic rock radio alarms. Someone slips out of someone’s arms. Head like a heart, beating thick and slow, barely time to sort out all those clothes. He’s gonna call, I know. Jessica, you know that playground a couple of blocks away? Grab a wrench, a bat and a knife. Meet your friends out there tonight. We’ll tear the monkey bars down, crack the benches, rip the swings to shreds. We’ll derail the merry-go-round. We can cry as it goes down. Splintered hands will pass around the wine, pretty rubble in the blue moonshine. Come 2AM, you’ll leave your father’s blood behind. Leave it all behind.
Track Name: Black Coffee Red Wine
Laura shakes amaretto and gives up a smile, glitter on her collar bones. Is it enough to get a café rat all riled? Her mother always told her, “Every flower’s got to bloom sometime.” And every counter offers concessions, black coffee, red wine. Todd sucks in his stomach and tried not to stare too much at her mouth. Black Chucks squeaking, pleading, speak, man. But nothing’s coming out. His father always said, “A decent poker face will get any boy through life. And only girls hate their bodies, so stand up straight.” Black coffee, red wine. You run the register tape ’til the sun sets and all you’ll wanna do is tear out your eyes. Ride the median out past the multiplex and feel about as ugly as a silicone sky. Every exit ramp’s littered with counter girls, sucked-in boys, bad advice. Let’s belly up and swallow down a river of black coffee and red wine.
Track Name: Me & Billy (Kidding Ourselves)
God of thunder and rock ‘n’ roll was on his knees behind her, all systems go. He asked her how she wanted it and she said, “Anything but soft and slow.” So he pulled the belt out of the loops and, well, you know. And I think we’ve crossed a line here. The manuscripts are still undone. But the Glenwood lights keep calling us. Let’s be young. Let’s have fun and get caught up in the swell. But we’ve been kidding ourselves. We’re kidding ourselves. We can finish our respective fifths in the purple pre-dawn light. We can brag about the bruises we left on girls last night. We can chase down every Delia, every anklet and every throat. But 30’s coming for me, Billy. 30’s gonna get us both. And I know I’ve crossed a line here. Don’t you wanna see your manuscript done? It was satin while it lasted, a perfume-drunk unprecedented run. And I’ll always remember it well. But we were kidding ourselves.
Track Name: Townies
I was hot on the heels of nothing yesterday, talking to girl, smell of honeysuckle and dirt. I said, “Between Brooklyn and the Peace Corps, I haven’t got a friend left.” I said that every time I see a red Honda, I miss her. And, just like that, the kidding was over, like the flash of a rush hour windshield passing by. Sucking on a candy pacifier, she walked out of the Cobalt, smiling and breaking the heart of the clear blue sky. It’s been a summer full of bad news and tired eyes, big spaces in the hallway where she used to pass. Strand of her hair in my suit coat weeks after the fact, and it’s just too much to ask. But it was good to see you out last night, man. It’s been a while. Back in the neighborhood, scraping up a couple of laughs, toasting the forgotten bands. God bless the barmaid’s hands. We’re townies now, close by and built to last. But now I’ve got to open up the store, Windex around, put the chairs back on the floor. Turn the open sign on. See the regulars mumbling. And now I’ve got to go and let ’em in. And I don’t want to let ’em in. But I guess I got to let ’em in.