Dual City Records Presents: Benefit Singles, Vol I: April​-​September 2020

by Duncan Adams and Jonathan Vassar

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1.
Flashback to a week ago. I was wearing this same shirt. Remember, this is all from memory, But i’m pretty sure. I was listening to a song about a girl and a movie starring Gregory Peck, and how fame will always haunt you Like a sign on your back. And I was reminded of something you said: “No rest for the famous.” I asked you what you meant -- you said “It’s good enough to be the best” I don’t remember who we were talking about, Maybe it was Ida Lupino? You can remember for the both of us, And I’ll just know that you know. i think about the first time you went out with me. I still love how you said it, you said: “I only cry at the movies, And always stay to watch the credits.” I was listening to a song about a girl and a movie starring Gregory Peck, and how fame will always haunt you Like a sign on your back.
2.
..... just as soon as you get to georgia i’ll be on my way. on borrowed time, another fly-by-night headed down the interstate. buildings break up the sky into crooked lines. goddamn. i get so turned around every time anything gets changed. lord only knows if i knew what was good for me i would never have my way. i’d just be, and go along with everything. way back in the back of my mind i pray that you lead me on just long enough to make something for the two of us. i believe that as long as i can keep up, and i can dodge the bullet long enough, it's do or die, or bust. .....
3.
Open up. Establishing shot A small town in the summer In the middle of the night, And cut. Pan the camera slow across an empty lot, Barely lit through maple leaves By rosey street lights, And cut. Close up honeysuckle on a butcher block In our kitchen. The screen door Letting light in from the porch, And cut. High angle. I’m tilted in a chair legs crossed Playing various positions, Thinking of misplaced intentions, And cut. I was going to say goodbye but you're already gone Zoom in. Close up. There it is. It’s hard, And cut. POV out the window at the empty lot. Blinking fireflies rising up into the sky, And cut.
4.
When I wake up Sunday morning I’m going to write you a letter. I’ve been putting it off. I’ll tell you about my daughter. How i think you’d love her. How she has your blue eyes, And about the way she looks at me. Do you know our garden is just like your garden. From what i can remember Way back in Fayetteville. When I wake up Sunday morning I’m going to write you a letter. I’ve been putting it off. I’ll include some pictures Of my last trip to Charlotte. Just like how we used to go In the summer as a family. Y’know, I still go the same way. Windows down on the highway. Singing along to Sandy. A midway stop in Rockingham. When I wake up Sunday morning I’m going to write you a letter. I’ve been putting it off. I remember you’d call me “starling.” Last time I must have been five years old. When you’d call me into dinner from out playing in the gravel road. I wish that i could see you. I wish that you could be here. I wish that i knew where to send your letter to, when I wake up Sunday morning
5.
the first of july. the day stonewall came down the sky opened up like a flash flood. witness to a day we thought would never come. the first of July. the day stonewall came down there was chanting. chanting for change. A chance to change. The day stonewall came down in richmond, virginia, lost cause capital of the south, the first baptist bell rang out; ringing for change. the day stonewall came down.
6.
i step out of the dodge and walk the long way around the house, to buy time to decide whether to stay or else turnaround. i straighten my best shirt and comb my hair back until i’m sure. it’s hard to make a good impression knocking on the back door. i know if I walk back in that house i might not be walking back out. sometimes somethings get in the way you can’t walk around. As i’m working up to walk in i can see you smile. In the back of my mind you just suffer me for the child. i knew things would change for the better when we had a kid. i guess i knew a lot less than i thought i knew back then. it used to be just you and me and saratoga springs. i lift up on the brake the car wheels begin to roll from the house and the home and the family that i love. sometimes somethings get in the way you can’t rise above.
7.
Get out of the car at Rockfish Gap Don’t think twice just take what you have and go. A Swiss army knife and fishing line. A tarp and some matches. A flashlight and a coil of rope. Retreat to Wilderness To try to find a way out of distress. Into the Wilderness. Stay dry, stay warm and watch your step. You’re in the Wilderness. There is no fate, but what you make.+ This is the Wilderness. Take care, make peace and leave no trace.# Start out south toward Cedar Cliffs, At Punchbowl Mountain make a wish and throw a stone. Below Thunder Ridge head out west. You’re off the trail now, just do your best on your own. It’s getting dark with miles to go. The way is hard with no trail blazes or mileposts. Remember shadows run west to east There are still miles to go before you sleep. Miles to go.*
8.
Spring brings blue lights and sirens. The 3rd precinct’s on fire, A signal flare, a funeral pyre. Let it warm the winter that's been sleeping in our bones. This fire blazes and rages on. Lit on memorial day, so let’s remember those gone. Bring out the dead. See them face to face. Honor their lives, And say their names. Spring brings blue lights and sirens. Released in the smoke, generations of ghosts of black lives lost. Let us keep them in our thoughts As we forge in the fire What justice requires. This fire blazes and rages on. Lit on memorial day, So let’s remember those gone. Bring out the dead. See them face to face. Honor their lives, And say their names. Spring brings blue lights and sirens. The system’s on fire, A signal flare, a funeral pyre. Let’s remember the dead. Let it burn for them. Let it burn.
9.
It was winner take all and I almost won. Now I'm down and out. Maybe i should give it up. I stood what i could, and I stand what I can. You think that I should know better, but you don’t understand. I’ve got a soldier’s heart. It’s my inheritance. I am what I am and it is what it is. So what, if I got hit hard, what’s the difference? It serves me right, now that I have nothing to lose, I’m still losing. It makes me wonder what’s the use. I might exaggerate, but it’s right next to the truth. When you're right you're right, it’s nothing new. I just take it. All there is to give, until there’s nothing left.
10.
A pair of old grey shoes And my lost dog's collar On the laundry porch Right next to the door Reminds me of mornings we'd walk together. She's been gone now a month or so. The hardest part is the letting go. My father says it's practice for getting older When Loved ones leave us Before we know. For all of the sadness that we shoulder And try not to let it weigh down our soul. The hardest part is the letting go.
11.
Across from the Key Bridge, where M St. turns into Canal NW, I find myself again. I can’t count how many times I’ve been through this From the lot the steps lead up to Prospect: narrow, steep pitched stone. The night pressed dark against me, and my thoughts like iron rusted through. I can’t remember what it meant, and why he did what he did. But I can still picture it, and can’t get it out of my head. I climb the flight, the falls hollow; resounding loudly like a drum. The night pressed dark against me, and my thoughts like iron rusted through. I can hear the wind coming down from 36th. Just when I start to feel it, I start to slip. Thank god for the rail and my companion, for my steady hand and for my post. The night pressed dark against me and my thoughts like iron rusted through.
12.
Music by Duncan Adams Lyrics by Jonathan Vassar Walking back from the river I take my time I look over my shoulder It’s nothing but the night. A far off noise Like a lonesome cry Like the echo of a voice But it’s nothing but the night. I turn to go back To see what i can find But beyond my lantern It’s nothing but the night Nothing but the night I make out something I almost recognize Like a vague memory But it’s nothing but the night I can’t hope to capture Something i can’t define No kind of answer. Nothing but the night.

about

These singles were written and recorded between April and September, 2020. The proceeds from each song go to a different charity.

Music by Duncan Adams // Lyrics by Jonathan Vassar
Except: Do or Die (or Bust), The Difference, Saratoga Springs, Doggone, and Film for a Song: Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Vassar.

credits

released September 24, 2020

Duncan Adams: Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Prayer Bell, Vocals
Zach Banister: Keys, Electric Guitar
Evan Lytton: Drums
Jonathan Vassar: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Harmonica

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Jonathan Vassar Richmond, Virginia

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