True Places Never Are

by Jonathan Vassar

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.
    Purchasable with gift card

      name your price




released July 17, 2019

Music & Lyrics by Jonathan Vassar
Songs recorded on a GE 3-5015 // Slim AC/DC Cassette Tape Player & Recorder.

Instax Photograph by PJ Sykes:

For Rosalita Marie


all rights reserved



Jonathan Vassar Richmond, Virginia

contact / help

Contact Jonathan Vassar

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Track Name: Blackwater Falls
In the Allegheny Mountains of Tucker County
The Blackwater River flows through Canaan Valley
into Blackwater Canyon and Blackwater Falls
Where the river takes a 60 foot drop.

The tannin and rust of red spruce and hemlock
Darken the water and give the river its name.

My family visited once when I was fourteen.
We all hiked to the falls during the day.

But what I remember best is the sky at night.
You can see thousands of stars when you’re up that high.
We lay on our backs in hopes to find
the North Star so we could try
to trace the little dipper with our flashlights.
Track Name: Kerr Lake
Under a virginia pine
I gather dry needles
Into a welcome mat
outside my tent

The fragrance sharp and sweet
It reminds me
of summers growing up.
family camping
at Kerr lake.

A sandy Beach
and pine trees.
Once it stormed so hard
we had to sleep in the car.
6 year old me, scared in my mother's arms.
Track Name: Big Meadow
My picture of you changes whenever you’re around.
Now in your favorite blue blouse.
Which reminds me of how when we were walking through big meadow at sundown, the pink and yellow sky was perfectly offset.
There i was and here i am, to simply reflect what you project
Here you are doing what you do best.
And knowing you it's nothing short of a revelation; revealing so little standing between us in relation to everyone else.
Track Name: The Sinclair Reunion, 1987
In 1987 my family drove out West.
3 weeks out on the road
through Kansas and South Dakota ending up in Colorado.
We camped in a pop-up trailer
that should never have been hitched to our car.
The destination: the Sinclair family reunion
in the Black Hills national park.
My sister was twelve and may have resented that I was just seven years old
We fought about as much as you’d expect,
Dad had Graceland on the stereo

Layered rock formations, steep canyons and prairies,
Beds of fossils from forever ago.
The beauty and heat of the badlands impressed me,
plus Pine Ridge Reservation was close.
The youth group from our church would go there in the summer
on mission trips to build homes.

Mount Rushmore was ok, I guess it was impressive,
great faces great places, they say
But I expected it to look real big, instead it felt kind of far away.

In Deadwood I got a book and a lot of ideas about
Wild Bill and Wyatt Earp,
A revolver with caps, some leather fringed chaps, and an honest to god whip
--all good things to aggravate my big sister with.

We broke down in Custer
On the way up a mountain,
My Mom yelled “We’re all going to die.”
So much for our transmission,
So much for Yellowstone,
I thought : So much for being alive.
We spent most of the day at the body shop,
where I practiced cracking my whip.
I remember the whole family fought
And that’s when i began to feel sick.

In Rapid City, the city of presidents, the gateway to the black hills.
We stayed with the Scotts, watched King Kong and enjoyed some home cooked meals. They gave me a hand me down Rambo with a belt of bullets and a sub machine.
We went to a restaurant with a high dive show--or maybe that last part was a dream, I don’t know. On second thought, it was Denver Colorado

I don’t remember much about the Sinclair reunion,
except I got sick at a Dairy Queen. We went out driving with our moms cousin Gary, and i got sick in the jeep.

Our last stop was Fort Collins, Colorado, to visit my mom's brother Mark.
He was a runner sponsored by Nike, and had a parrot named Brutus that talked.
Aunt Wendy took us for a drive in the rockies. We came to an overlook,
where we got out and walked up a ridge. The higher we went, the more concentration it took just to breathe.
At least that’s my memory.

On the trip back
all I recall is that
I made my sister sick.
And that It seemed a lot shorter for us to get home--
How it does on that kind of trip.
In 1987 my family drove out west.