Picture Him Happy

by Ben Sidran

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about

PICTURE HIM HAPPY is a response to the saying that our music is made by and for people who have chosen to feel good in spite of conditions: you often can’t affect what happens but you can determine how you respond to it. It’s a record that’s right on time.

The central image is that of Sisyphus, the mythical man doomed to push the same rock up the same hill for eternity. French philosopher Albert Camus suggested that given the similarity between the life of Sisyphus and our lives today, the only reasonable response is to try to imagine him happy – hence the title of this project. We live in hard, frustrating times – perhaps we always have – and now more than ever, we need to turn to the music to make this hill we climb bearable.

With logic like that, we give you ANOTHER OLD BULL, a song about Trump and all the other little trumps out there. The antidote to their cynicism and self regard is found in the prescient music of the late Mose Allison, whose personal wisdom and wise words are recounted in TOO MUCH TOO LATE as well as in one of the first songs he wrote, BIG BROTHER, and one of his last, WAS. Mose was a shining light of reason in a world of dark dissemblance.
The song I COULD BE WRONG recounts what we’ve lost and the song EVERYBODY’S FAKING IT explains how we lost it. And for levity, there’s a love song to the New York subway that brings the hipsters in and out of Brooklyn, THANK GOD FOR THE F TRAIN, and a jaundiced look back at our communal COLLEGE experience.

All together, twelve songs, recorded in a hot three days in a Park Slope studio with Will Lee on bass, Will Bernard on guitar, John Ellis on saxophone, Leo Sidran on drums and the inimitable Moses Patrou and Trixie Waterbed.

If music is not only a reflection of our lives but a way to understand it, this album, once again, establishes Ben Sidran—in the words of DownBeat magazine—as “the voice of his generation”.

credits

released January 17, 2017

Ben Sidran: Wurlitzer, voice
Leo Sidran: drums, backing vocal
Will Lee: bass, backing vocal
Will Bernard: guitar
John Ellis: saxophone
Moses Patrou: percussion
Trixie Waterbed: backing vocal

Recorded by Leo Sidran & Tomek Miernowski at Electric Poodle Studio, Brooklyn

Mixed by Leo Sidran
Mastered by UE Nastasi at Sterling Sound

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Track Name: College
College, college, that’s the place that I went wrong
Knowledge, knowledge, I thought I’d find it in my song
Standing on the corner and trying to score
Just shoeing up some horses and here comes Henry Ford
College, college, that’s the place that I went wrong

College, college, that’s the place that I went wrong
Knowledge, knowledge, I thought I’d find it in my song
I wish I had bothered to open a book
I wish I could remember all the shit that I took
Back in college, college, that’s the place that I went wrong

College, college, that’s the place that I went wrong
Knowledge, knowledge, I thought I’d find it in my song
Laying in the weeds smoking up the grass
Talking real hip, checking out her ass
College, college, that’s the place that I went wrong
Track Name: Picture Him Happy
A man and a rock and a real steep hill
Sun so hot even the shadows can kill
He keeps right on pushing try to get to the top
But the forces of nature try make a man drop
He’s down on his knees in a world full of pain
But time after time, he gets back up again
You got the picture
You got to picture him happy

The sun is the truth and there’s no place to hide
The rock is time passing and time will abide
The hill is the shape of all things to come
The man he’s just suffering in the heat and the sun
Tryin' to find some meaning in a world that don’t care
But the rock won’t talk and the hill don’t share
You got the picture
You got to picture him happy
Picture him happy

It aint what you do it’s the way that you do it
It aint where you go its the way that you go through it
Desperate times call for desperate actions
Desperate minds need desperate distractions

The sun is so hot that you can’t breath the air
It’s an eye for an eye and everything is fair
Try to find a reason in a world where there’s none
There’s just this rock and this hill and this god awful sun
Now there’s change for a dollar and change for a dime
You wanna change your world you gotta change your mind
(2X) But when he gets near the top there’s a terrible thrill
He sees another man and another rock going up another hill
You got the picture
You got to picture him happy
Track Name: I Might Be Wrong
I might be wrong but it sure seems to me
The past ain’t what it was
And the future ain’t what it used to be
Everywhere I go I hear people say
Man, you should have been here yesterday

You should have been here before the fall
Now it’s the price of everything and
The value of nothing at all
I might be wrong but
I think those days are gone
The past aint what it was
And the future won’t be here long

We are all just the sons of the Dharma Bums
Wading in the water of the infinite flow
And every time you look
You find another dead guy in your address book
(2 X: Every time you turn the page another actor leaves the stage)
Where have all the good ones gone
Why did they leave us here to carry on

I might be wrong but everywhere I go
Them that knows don’t talk
And them that talks don’t know
If silence is the answer
What could the question be?
I may be wrong
But that’s how it seems to me
Track Name: Too Much Too Late (What Mose Said)
We’re riding in a car through the streets of New Orleans
It’s pouring down rain, the roads are nothing but streams
He’s looking out the window and he turns to me and says,
“Welcome to the quagmire son” and then he shakes his head
And says something at the time I didn’t really understand
Cause it came right out of nowhere and the man is so offhand,
But any time he wants to he can cut you like a knife.
He said, “It all comes down to someone’s money versus someone else’s life.”

In a bar in Soho, it’s winter, and it’s dark
We’re eating some spaghetti at this jazz club by the park
He’s laughing about a time way back in the past
At this little joint in Tippo where folks would stop for gas
Put a nickel in the juke box and make some music play
Have a cold co-cola hear what T-Bone had to say
And then he asked me, “Man, you ever hear about the bo-hog grind?”
I said, “No,” He said, “Me neither, man, but that’s what I’m trying to find.”

He said, “I don’t worry about a thing because nothing’s gonna be alright”
He said, “I might be nobody this morning but I was somebody last night”
He said, “I’m not talking ‘cause it just don’t pay”
He said, “Just trying to swing a little in my way.”

We’re in a recording studio in Manhattan, Paul Motian’s at the drums
We’re taking a slow five when up this story comes
About Brew Moore fell down the steps at Tivoli and dies.
He’s kind of laughing but he got that sad look in his eyes
And he says, “You know that man was never on the cover of a magazine, and he just inherited a million bucks and this was his parting scene.”
There was a moment of silence in respect for man’s fate
And then he said, “if I ever write my book I’m gonna call it ...
too much too late..”

SOLO


BRIDGE:

He said: “If you live, your time will come”
“Your mind is on vacation but your mouth is working overtime”
“I don’t have no trouble living, it’s just dyin’ that bothers me”
“Everybody’s cryin’ mercy but they don’t know the meaning of the word

VAMP OUT

“Foolkiller coming; think he’s got his eye on me and you.”.”
“Look here, whatcha think you’re gonna be doin’ next year?”
“Ever since the world ended, I don’t get out as much.”
“Money ain’t the answer cause it can’t buy cancer.”
“That grey haired geezer you think you see – that ain’t me”
“I’m just a lucky so and so.”
“Just mixing up the boogie and the do – si – do”
“Thank god for self love”
Track Name: Faking It
Everybody here is just faking
Everybody here is a fraud
Everybody knows they’re mistaken
And everybody's praying that
They won't get caught
Just like me and like you
Everybody's faking it too

Everybody here is just lyin’
No one here is telling the truth
Everybody’s out here denying
Trying to make you think
They got the proof
Just like me and like you
Everybody’s fakin’ it too

Don't be afraid if you feel like fake
I got some good news for you
Take a look and you'll see just like you and like me
Everybody's faking it
Everybody's faking it

Everybody’s out here just acting
Everybody’s wearing disguise
People are busy distracting
Hoping you don't notice that it's all improvised
Just like me and like you
Everybody’s faking it too

Everybody out here is posing
Everybody’s using a front
Nobody out here’s disclosing
Somebody somewhere is baring the brunt
Just like me and like you
Everybody’s faking it -- like me and like you
Ain’t no mistaking it -- like me and like you
Godforsaking it -- like me and like you
We’re all give and taking it -- like me and like you, record breaking it
Everybody’s faking it too
Track Name: Thank God For The F Train
When you’re dying on the platform from the heat and the smoke
And the skinny girl from Teaneck thinks it’s all some kinda joke
Waiting on the “G” train and the AC is broke
But thank god for the F train (x2)

Some people ride to work some people ride to war
Some people got no idea what they’re riding for
Some people get on board just because they shut the door
But thank god for the F train (x2)

It might be raining on the surface, coming down in sheets
Forget the car service, nothing’s moving on the streets
You gotta get to mid town and there’s no service on your phone?
Well get yourself a ticket and join the underground

There’s a drummer down in Chelsea trying to get to union hall
There’s a real estate broker trying to make that conference call
There’s a guy sellin’ umbrellas before the prices fall
They all thank god for the F train (x2)

There’s a politician out hustling up some votes
There’s a statistician counting up some goats
Me, I’m wondering what those girls are hiding in their coats
And here comes the river, you think this baby floats?

You can thank old Ronald Reagan for screwing up the skies
And you can thank the boys at NORML for tryin’ to decriminalize
And you can thank that place in Redhook for those fine key-lime pies
But thank god for the F train (x2)
Track Name: Another Old Bull
He got one shoe off got the other shoe ready to drop
He’s gonna rip the place up if you don’t let him cop
You got to feed the beast and the beast never stop.
He’s just another old bull peepin’ in a new china shop

Now he’s up on the stage got himself in a rage so what’s new
This ain’t his first rodeo, this ain’t his final review
You got to feed the beast and the beast never stop
He’s just another old bull peepin’ in a new china shop

Another rich kid with nothing to lose
A silver spoon gangster with the million dollar blues
A finger on the trigger, a match to the fuse
When the beast wants to eat, then the beast gets to choose

If self-love was criminal he’d lead the life of crime
It ain’t nothing subliminal – he is what’s on his mind
You got to feed the beast and the beast never stop
He’s just another old bull peepin’ in a new china shop
Track Name: Big Brother
Just let me give you some good advice
Don’t get caught in the same trap twice
Every little thing you do
Big brother is watching you

Don’t put your business on the telephone
Don’t go out and get too well known
It could be your Waterloo
Big brother is watching you

Don’t tell people that you having fun
Easy, walk don’t run
Careful who you’re talking to
Big brother is watching you

Don’t say nothing bad about a CEO
When the money whistles do-si-do
I only tell you ‘cause it’s true
Big brother is watching you
Track Name: Who Are You
I’m the voice in your head
Can you hear me?
You hear me
You still aint dead
I am the voice in your ear
can you hear me?
You know me
Nothing to fear
When you got to decide
I’m the one who will choose
When you’re losing your mind
I’m the mind that you lose
(Now) tell me if you have a clue
Who am I talking to?
Who are you?
Who are you?

I am the voice in your mind
Can you hear me?
You keep searching for me
But I’m so hard to find
I am the voice in your dream
Can you hear me?
Try to remember
I’m not what I seem
My words are like birds
On a telephone wire
Spread ‘em on out,
Watch ‘em dance your desire
But tell me if you have a clue
Who am I talking to?
Who are you?
Who are you?
Who am I talking to?


(Who Are You p. 2)


Do I know right from wrong,
Do I know all the words to your
Favorite song?
When you’re out on the town
When you’re running it down
When you howl at the moon
Who do you think is calling that tune?
Who am I talking to?
Who Are You
Who Are You

SOLO

I’m your deepest desire
Your unspoken fear
When you’re lighting the fire
My hand is near
This landscape is littered
With your little answers
Like the discarded skirts
Of old hula dancers
So tell me if you have a clue
Who am I talking to?
Who are you?
Who are you?
Track Name: Was
When I become was
And we become were
Will there be any sign or a trace
Of the lovely contour of your face?
And will there be someone around
With essentially my kind of sound

When am turns to was
And now is back when
Will someone have moments like this
Moments of unspoken bliss
And will there be heroes and saints
Or just a dark new age of complaints

When I become was
And we become were
Will there be any Susans or Ralphs
Looking at old photographs
And wondering aloud to a friend
What was it like to be then