All for a Song

by Kevin Closs

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released April 1, 2014

1) New Man. Written in 1988 in Manitowaning the morning after a nasty bout with the flu. I recorded this once before but felt it needed a reboot. I’m sure I knew who this was about when I wrote it. Now I just like it because it’s jangly!

2) Spirit Song. The lyrics are based on an Ojibwe prayer I learned from a poster on the wall of the N’Swakamok Native Friendship Centre in Sudbury. I don’t really pray much anymore but when I do, this is the one I use.

3) Four Letters. It’s easy to write a song about a relationship that’s lost its way. Writing about one that’s found its feet again was a tremendous challenge. I believe that love blooms both at the beginning and at the “end of all things”.

4) Poor Ron. Like the song says, “Be careful what you’re wishing for if you don’t know what you’ve got.”

5) Over You. For anyone who ever gave someone everything and got a knife in the back for their trouble.

6) New Jesus. Inspired by the novel Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor. I’ve never understood how someone could be both a Christian and a lover of money. This song is my attempt to describe the kind of messiah that sort of believer might be looking for.

7) Jesus Shoes. One of John Newlands' most beautiful and mysterious songs. John’s lyrics always seem to bring you close to the truth without giving too much away. It took some work to find a way to sing this so it felt like mine.

8) Christmas is a Start. I find it depressing that, of all holidays, Christmas has become a celebration of consumption and waste. There’s a valuable message at the heart of the Christmas story whether you’re religious or not.

9) Julia B Merrill. Aengus Finnan wrote this song about the true story of a schooner that was burned for the amusement of a CNE crowd in 1931. This is why everyone should get involved in local politics; to be the person at the meeting who points out the stupidity of ideas like that.

10) The Longest Day. Written the day after the 2008 US election. I don’t know why the end of the “W” era felt like freedom but it did. Although, now it seems like the more things change, the more they stay the same.

11) All for a Song. I once heard a person say that he “had no use for music”. This offended me so deeply that I wrote this song as an answer. In the end, what’s left but a song?

Peter Cliche played bass and slide guitar on “All for a Song” and mandolin on “Julia B Merrill”.

Ken Kanwisher played upright bass, accordion, electric piano and cello on “Christmas is a Start”.

Jay Lamothe arranged and played the strings, piano and organ on “Four Letters” and “The Longest Day”. He also played the organ on “All for a Song”.

Joey Fiorino played and recorded his own drums on "New Jesus".

All the other instruments were played by me.

I produced this myself with the help of Peter, Ken and Jay.

Dave Ferri mixed "New Jesus" at Orchard Studios.

I recorded all of my tracks at home using Cubase. Peter, Ken and Jay recorded their tracks in their own studios. We used Dropbox to share files.

Except for "New Jesus" I mixed and mastered the CD at home using cheap home stereo equipment.

All the vocals, guitars, drums, etc were recorded using either an SM58 or a cheap knockoff I had lying around. I plugged the microphones into a Mackie mixer then directly into an M-Audio breakout box. I didn’t use any outboard gear and the reverb plugin was designed by Glaceverb.

Thanks to: Frontline, the Nobs, Danny Shamess, Emmett Turkington, Rod Bazinet and Theatre Cambrian for bringing me out of retirement, Northern Lights Festival Boreal for not forgetting about me, my brothers for always being there.

To everyone who pre-ordered the CD, you made this CD possible. A shout out to Jim Chapman and Jackson Peters for super-sizing their order!

As always, a big thanks to Martha, Linus, Maia, Eamon and Niamh for putting up with me.

Special thanks to Aengus Finnan for the friendship through some hard times and for the unwavering support.

To Peter, Ken and Jay, I couldn’t have pulled this off without your contributions. I will be forever grateful.

To all the musicians I’ve played with over the years this CD is dedicated with love.


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Kevin Closs Greater Sudbury, Ontario

Kevin Closs is a singer/songwriter from Manitoulin Island.

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Track Name: New Man
New man, new man, what have you done?
What are you learning"
New man, new man, where will you go?
Your bridges are burning

New man, you walk in the night
Sore afraid of the light
The world is soon to be born
For you, its people will mourn

New man, new man, what is it worth,
All of your treasures?
New man, new man, when will you see?
Your life is a desert

New man, you're killing yourself
Just you and nobody else
It's just a matter of time
You'll reach the end of the line

New man, you walk in the night
Sore afraid of the light
The world is coming of age
New man, I'm turning the page without you
Track Name: Spirit Song
Great spirit, you whose voice I hear upon the wind
Here me spirit, you whose breath gives life to everyone
Grant strength and wisdom
Teach me to walk in beauty's eyes

Great spirit, help my hands respect what you have made
Make my ears sharp so I may always hear your voice
Grant strength and wisdom
Show me the glory of your world

Great spirit, make me ever humble in your eyes
Help me to love my broither always as myself
Grant strength and wisom, both hand and eye
To come before you without shame
Track Name: Four Letters
In the corner of some farmer's field
Endless sky above
Two small hands, two sun-browned arms
Two lives undreamed of
He pulls a jack-knife from his shirt
And tucks away his Pez
An "A" then "J" plus "N" and "V"
"Two and two is one," she says

But no stone marks its passing
No faded, plastic rose
No painted cross for the love they've lost
Just four letters on an old fence post

Another sky, another time
Fields for fence and yard
Lives that pass for living
Dreams fallen short by far
But now and then they hear the call
Of something left behind
It wakes them in the early hours
And the summer skies remind

That no stone marks its passing
No faded, plastic rose
No painted cross for the love they've lost
Just four letters on an old fence post

And what of time? What does it take?
A bit of breath, a bit of light
A little bend, a little break

And no stone marks its passing
No faded, plastic rose
No painted cross for the love they've lost

In the corner of some farmer's field
So much the same as then
Two soft hands, two grey heads
Two and two is one again
Track Name: Poor Ron
It was a little piece of heaven "bout a mile from Terrace Bay
In a 24 foot mobile home with a baby on the way
They had a little dog named Roachclip, half Rottie, halfe Maltese
He's tending bar down at The Pump and she's part time at Marie's
And their favourite food was pizza and their favourite show was Friends
No car no phone no Internet and a Kwik Mart 'round the bend
Yeah, but one day trouble found them as you know it often does
When a 649 with encore put ten grand in their paws

Well Sydney called her sister then and her sister told her, "Syd,
Get yourself an RESP and start savin' for the kid.
Yeah, but Ron had other notions and he really like the sound
Of a 52 inch Samsung with 5.1 Surround
Well, they got into a fight then and they couldn't sort it out
So Ron went down to Future Shop and left Sydney home to pout
So she packed up her old suitcase and she bid the dog farewell
Bought a one-way Greyhound ticket to her mother's in Nobel

Well Ron he got the big-screen, yeah, but it's still in the box
He watches Friends with Roachclip now on their old Maganvox
And the moral of the story, and it ain't to hard to spot
Be careful what you're wishing for if you don't know what you've got
Track Name: Over You
Don't try to tell me that nobody's to blame
You crossed a line and it'll never be the same
I tried to understand but you kept me in the dark
And left me lost without a clue
Well nothing's new but
I think I'm getting over you

Don't try to say that I've no reason to be hurt
You're shining like brand new, I'm down here in the dirt
I'm finding out now what everybody knew
And I guess they're saying I'm a fool
That may be true but
I know I'm getting over you

So put away your pity, put away your fake concern
I might be dumb but I know when I've been burned
You just keep believing all the lies you tell yourself
Don't let me bore you with the truth, but I've news, yeah
I'm busy getting over you
I may be stupid but I've learned a thing or two
I'm sure I'm getting over you
Track Name: New Jesus
Gimme a Jesus born of a man
Chip on his shoulder, foot on the floor
One hand on the wheel and something to prove
Gimme a new Jesus

Gimme a Jesus who's getting around
Eyes on the prize, an ear that's tuned
To the sound of a sinner with nothing to loose
Gimme and new, gimme a new Jesus

Gimme a Jesus who knows how to live
Making a noise, raising some Hell
Maybe giving the devil a little more than his due
Gimme a new, gimme a new

One without pity or mercy or grace
Black hearted hater with no blood to waste
Hot for the kill or the thrill of the chase

Gimme a Jesus who's playing to win
Taking what's his not taking the fall
For the sins of the many, crimes of the few
Gimme a new Jesus

Gimme a Jesus who knows when he's beat
Down on his knees, turning his tail
In the heat of the battle, the moment of truth
Giimme a new, gimme a new Jesus
Track Name: Jesus Shoes
I must apologize for all this chaos
I swear I’ll make things better for us
Packing a pencil and a big eraser
Find out how each word sounds surrounded
Find out how each word sounds surrounded
There’s an air raid siren in my town
Near where the creek flows under the boulevard
I’m just connecting the dots
I’m just connecting the dots

I must apologize for all this chaos
The bright lights and bass drums are getting to me
I’d like the future suit but not the facelift
And I could sing these words surrounded
And I could sing these words surrounded
There’s a lottery winner in my town
He makes the news without a story to tell
I’m just connecting the dots
I’m just connecting the dots

I tried to get lost in the woods
But my compass was too good

There’s an air raid siren in my town
Near where the creek flows under the boulevard
I’m just connecting the dots
I’m just connecting the dots
I’m just connecting the dots
I’m just connecting

When I’m walking in my Jesus shoes
I pray I’ll never have to choose
Between the Devil and the deep blue sea
Mountain over me

When I’m walking in my Jesus shoes
I pray I’ll never have to choose
Between the Devil and the deep blue sea
Mountain over me
Track Name: Christmas is a Start
This season always gets me down and it seems like every year
That it's longer on the hard sell and shorter on the cheer.
'cause it's all about the money now and everybody's got his price,
'til it's just another gimmick to move some merchandise.

But it used to mean a little more, used to lead us to that night,
To a poor girl and her baby boy underneath that one star's light.
And I suppose it's out of fashion and I know that it ain't cool,
But I'm not above a little faith or looking like a fool.

It's gonna take a miracle to put a bigger love into our hearts,
But a bigger love is what we need tonight,
A little Christmas is a start.

Now they say the times are changing and they say that times are hard,
But when you turn away from love you turn away from who you are.
'cause underneath this false bravado, the button down facade,
We're all babies in the arms of love waiting for the grace of God.


So let's put aside our pride tonight and find a hand to hold,
'cause only open hands and open hearts can keep away the cold.
And if it's feeling unfamiliar or the journey seems to far,
We'll take this little step together and put our hopes upon a star.

Track Name: All for a Song
You've got a house on the hill and a sign on the lawn
Going for a song, all for a song
You had it all figured out but you still coudn't tell
A right from a wrong, blame it all on a song

And she was everything you'd ever dreamed about
But now she's gone, gone for a song
You thought you had it all 'til it all went wrong
Nothing left but a song, nothing but a song

You need a song to carry you over the hard times to come
When the night comes down and you're on your own
A little song to hold you up when all the love is gone
And you're not strong

And so you see the world but you still don't know
Where you belong and where is your song

You need a song to make you smile and maybe shed a tear
Make a little sense in crazy world
A simple song to call your own and help you face the fear
Of being alone

And when the battle's over and the lines are drawn
What's left but a song, what but a song?
'cause when the body's old but the heart's still young
That's when you need a song, we all need a song
Trade it all for a song, all for a song
Track Name: The Longest Day
At last the good night falls
And settles like a sigh
You try a smile that all the years betray
Then close the book upon the longest day

But should your sleep bring dreams
And dreams awake old fears
The tears that rise apace will wash away
The bitterness of this, the longest day

One Sun does draw us forth
And as one we confess
The desperate hope we saved against this day
But lest we soon forget the price we paid
To mark its place, a song,
"Adieu, O Longest Day"

Good night, good night, good night
Good night, good night, good night

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