Greetings From Tokyo

by The Wind Woods

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about

It wasn’t so much an accident as an instinct.

We’d been playing songs all night — Joe’s songs, other people’s songs — and to be honest, things were getting fuzzy and the hour was getting late. The cats had long since gone off to bed, and we’d fondly recalled Greg Alexander’s spectacular chair gymnastics at least three times, belly laughs and all. The conversation moved toward the door, and as I pulled on my boots, Joe gestured towards a CD on the coffee table. Beneath the jewel case was a recent edition of USA Today, with a headline that read, “…or the terrorists win.” The tenth anniversary of the September 11th attacks was a week away, we were reminded. Joe was in the midst of planning and recording not one but two albums of original music to debut in the fall, and suddenly a third project began to take form in the wee hours of a Friday night. He would make an album of all original material in a week. No, we would make this album. Seven days or the terrorists win, we mused (albeit darkly). We agreed to rendez-vous in the coming nights, same time same place, and sealed the deal with a high five.

Over the next week, something interesting happened. Call it a muse, call it a catalyst, blame it on the approaching autumnal equinox — songs were brought forth ‘round the kitchen table. Joe leaned back in his chair, eyes closed, vamping a yearning chord progression; I scribbled and then whispered and then wailed a phrase about a voice coming from nowhere. There it was: Will, the first song.

“Name a place you’ve never been,” I said to Joe.
“Tokyo.”
Enter song number two.

A few nights earlier, while we were jamming on some Leonard Cohen (or possibly Tom Waits or The Rolling Stones), a downstairs neighbor had knocked on the door to inquire whether Joe had a rockin’ chair that was causing the constant thumping above his head. It was really my boot, tapping in rhythm, but that’s neither here nor there. The “Rockin’ Chair Incident,” as it shall go down in history, was yet another source of belly laughs and inspiration. Joe wrote a sassy, bluesy little ditty about the whole thing, and I sprinkled some soulful harmonies onto the fire.

That first night, we recorded demos of three new songs.

The next day, it rained. It was cold. So, I was eating pie and drinking coffee at Muddy Waters, reading a book I’d picked up at the used bookstore. Not a biography or musical critique, but rather one woman’s attempt to sort through all the Billie Holidays that history and society have created from myth and mystery and get back to the woman herself. Who was Billie, to me? Besides the sad voice crying from my mother’s cassettes, how do I know Lady Day? I put down my fork and scratched in my notebook, “Billie pins a flower in her hair.” There, a glimpse. Later, Joe strummed a deep mellow phrase and the rest of Billie’s story poured out of me, scene by scene. There she was, and now I know.

In July 2010, Joe took a trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to see the treasures and trappings of Bruce Springsteen. While others flocked to marvel at the clothes of the man who sang Born to Run, Joe was drawn to a glass case set back and apart from the rest. He was pulled to her side like a magnet: Honey. He had just spent what felt like forever learning and performing a cover of Springsteen’s classic Nebraska, and to see the humble, delicate instrument behind it all felt like a homecoming. He gazed at her lines and her curves, enraptured by the same power that swayed Springsteen and yet unable to touch her. So that day he wrote her a love letter, Honey, not to resurface until this September.

Windward is my letter to 100 Windward Road, my grandparents’ 18th century farmhouse in Wilmington, Delaware. Change in the Air and A Quick Reveal come from periods of transition in Joe’s life, moments when he found himself on the cusp.

So here it is and there you have it. At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of this crazy journey, we release this plain and simple, singer-songwriter collection. Joe uses words like “heartbreak” and “honesty,” and I like to think of it as the blues with a heart of gold. Anyway, the cats seem to have made their peace with it.

credits

released September 20, 2011

Produced & recorded by Joe Adler. Lyrics & Music composed by Emily Rozanski & Joe Adler (noted on individual tracks). Written (except Change In The Air & A Quick Reveal) & recorded (with love) in September 2011 on N. Williams St, Burlington, Vermont.

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about

Joe Adler Burlington

Burlington, Vermont based singer/songwriter who draws on influences that range from the blues, folk, and experimental tendencies of Tom Waits, to the poetic leanings of Leonard Cohen. Adler has collaborated on stage live with such notables as Brad Barr (The Slip), Russ Lawton (Trey Anastasio), Marco Benevento, Yah Yah Abdel-Majid (Sun Ra Arkestra), Craig Myers (Barika), and Dave Dreiwitz (Ween). ... more

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Track Name: Rockin' Chair
Rockin’ Chair
- 9/10/11, 9/12

Woke up this evening, was pretty run down,
Run myself downtown, into a wall.

And now this evening, my hearts a beating,
My bloods a steaming, I’m heeding the call.

And over yonder, I start to saunter.
Take a deep breath, and then you got to let it go.

And tell me one time, over a glass of wine,
What is the thing that really blows your mind?

(And) Don’t tell me lies. Don’t disguise
Just let it go, and let me know.

And simply speaking, my floors are creaking.
Must sound like a rockin’ chair, down below.

And on that subject, let me just interject,
That was the funniest thing, I’d heard in a while.

So let me feel now, what makes you real now.
What sparks your engine, takes you over the line?

And crystal caverns, and all the patterns.
Familiar faces, settle down for a while.

(And) Don’t tell me lies. Don’t disguise
Just let it go, and let me know.

What is this heartache? Was that an earthquake?
I felt some kind of shake, deep into my bones.

But timely tremors, serve to remind us,
Of bigger matters, that are out of control.

Who travels onward, in a direction,
Into the heartland, will be better than those,

Who travel backwards, into the wasteland,
Back to the past land, leaving futures unknown.

(And) Don’t tell me lies. Don’t disguise
Just let it go, and let me know.
Track Name: Will
Will

They say winning is half the war
But I’m here to even the score
They say God will see you through
But I’m here, and I’m looking at you

Who will call again
To the souls of lonely men
A voice in the shadow
Can you hear
Can you hear

When does a heart break
At the start or at the end
When the last piece is turned over
Or when it gives way to the bend

Who will call again
To the souls of lonely men
A voice in the shadow
Can you hear
Can you hear

Your hands are tired
Your eyes are sad
It’s all on fire now
It’s all on fire…

Who will call again
To the souls of lonely men
A voice in the shadow
Can you hear
Can you hear
Track Name: Honey
Honey
- July 25th 2010

Honey I had heard and seen you many times,
But you caught me off guard when we met.
Your delicate dandelion beauty,
Your faint quiet smile.

Honey, you’re about as sweet as they come.
Forget about that mansion on the hill,
Let’s go out and have some fun.
And all of those places, you’ve yet to see.
And all of those people, you’ve yet to be.

I wished to hold you in my arms,
I wished to taste your fine nectar.
But all I could do was stand there,
All I could do was imagine him holding you in his arms.

Honey, you’re about as sweet as they come.
Forget about that mansion on the hill,
Let’s go out and have some fun.
And all of those places, you’ve yet to see.
And all of those people, you’ve yet to be.

Some of your most famous moments emitted from his bedroom,
Tales of bonds of blood and found love.
From you he told of pure emotion,
From you came undeniable magic.

Honey, you’re about as sweet as they come.
Forget about that mansion on the hill,
Let’s go out and have some fun.
And all of those places, you’ve yet to see.
And all of those people, you’ve yet to be.

Today housed in your tower, I could feel it,
Unassuming almost anonymous, almost.
After you, I saw the ghost of Johnny Cash,
Peaceful in his home away from home.

Honey, you’re about as sweet as they come.
Forget about that mansion on the hill,
Let’s go out and have some fun.
And all of those places, you’ve yet to see.
And all of those people, you’ve yet to be.

I wished to hold you in my arms…
Track Name: Tokyo
Tokyo

I’ve never been to Tokyo
But if you want to take me
I’ll let you
I’ll let you
I’ve heard the sunset’s pinker over there

A rowboat we built just for two
We’ll get there in the afternoon
Don’t worry
Don’t worry
We can see the city lights from our hotel

And ooh…we’re gonna get lost at midnight
We’re gonna drink too much
We’re gonna run this town
Until the trains are all empty

I’ll serve you tea for breakfast
And you’ll kiss me on the corner
Mid-morning
Mid-morning
The traffic rushes by us just the same

I’ll race you to the arcade
Where we’ll spend our change on pinball
One more game
One more game
I’ll let you win to see your silly smile

And ooh…you can share my umbrella
I bought a brand new hat
From that cheap boutique
And I hope that you like it…
Track Name: Billie
Billie

Billie pins a flower in her hair
There’s a note on the table
Billie hums a song that no one’s heard
And laughs

Billie has a wrinkle in her dress
Where her palms were sweaty
Billie has a secret that she tells
On Sundays

Sing Billie sing
Keep your eyes open
Keep your eyes open
Cry Billie cry
It’s time to go

The gentle music fades into the dark
The last door closes
The autumn breeze blows summer down the street
Now it’s cold

Billie has an old bottle of gin
She keeps for when it’s raining
Billie has a blanket that she made
Big enough for one

Cry Billie cry
Keep your eyes open
Keep your eyes open
Sing Billie sing
It’s time to go

Billie knows he isn’t coming home
On Sunday
Track Name: Change In The Air
Change In The Air

There’s change, change, change in the air
Hey check it out, it’s over there

There’s change, change, change in the air
Hey check it out, it’s over there

Mother, mother, mother have mercy on me
I’m on the land, I’m out at sea

Mother, mother, mother have mercy on me
I’m on the land, I’m out at sea

Take this dollar, take this penny from me
That’s all I got man, now I am free

Take this dollar, take this penny from me
That’s all I got man, now I am free

Well there’s change, change, change in the air
Check it out, it’s over there

There’s change, change, change in the air
Hey check it out, it’s over there
Track Name: A Quick Reveal
A Quick Reveal
- words 9/13/09

I am awake,
I sit and think of your passion and beauty.
Why did I run,
why did I turn.

A fruit so sweet
falls rare,
a fall complete,
a stare.

I wait now, for time more full and sure.
I wait now, for a love,
a love so pure. I look inside,
a quick reveal.

A turning wine,
a bitter deal.
And all for yours,
oh universe of love.

For if not love, then, what.
A value gained?
A soul stained.
Embrace me, fully...
Track Name: Windward
Windward

Old stone wall
Old stone wall
Tell me when you’re gonna fall
Tell me then you’ll turn to dust
Tell me softly if you must

Railroad track
Railroad track
Westbound train’s gonna break your back
Rolling steady down the line
Last train wasn’t mine

Big white house
Upon the hill
Roses ‘round the old windmill
Can you see across the pasture
What your children are marching after?

Big white house
Upon the hill
Roses ‘round the old windmill
Can you see across the pasture
What your children are marching after?