Stephen J. Davies Rolls His Own!

by Stephen J. Davies

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about

The elusive South Philly songwriter makes his stereo debut with “Rolls His Own!”, a riveting collection of songs from one of America’s great unheard voices.

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released January 7, 2016

All songs written, performed, and recorded by Stephen J. Davies (except The Pantomime Song, featuring lyrics by Thomas Pynchon)
Artwork by Stephen J. Davies

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Stephen J. Davies Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

A songwriter for the age of the infinite.

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Track Name: Just Another Blues
Well it’s just another bluesman
kicking his can at the door.
Just another boogie-woogie beat,
nothing you ain’t heard before.
Just one drifter with a broken guitar
and his eyes down on the floor.
Just one heart in a big, big world
that ain’t gonna love anymore.

Some of them lost their money.
Others of them lost their wives.
Some don’t know what losing is;
they never won a day in their life.
Some got tied up on a yo-yo string
and they swing around with nothing to show.
They all look down
in their glass and they see
faces they don’t hardly know.

Well come on, children.
The air’s just right.
The sidewalks are singing that music tonight.
Bet you never seen a bluesman swing that beat.
Bet you never seen a young girl jive.
Bet you never lit a fire out in the street.
Bet you never seen a grown man cry.

So pass me another bottle
just to get me through the walk.
I’ll have one more when I get home and
the shadows start to talk.
Yeah, there’ll always be another bluesman
singing at the end of the day.
The rest of us got the whiskey
to keep our songs away.
Track Name: Lullaby
If you see a light this evening
and it’s screaming ‘cross the sky,
grab your best umbrella,
spread it out, and hold it high.
Lord, it ain’t no Haley’s Comet
or the light out in the North.
It’s the tail-end of a rocket
never meant to leave the earth.
And those stars you see above you, child,
they ain’t no lights in space.
They’re fires lit by tiny men;
bombs that fall from planes.

When I was just as young as you
I’d wish on falling stars.
For the gold beyond the rainbow
and the dreams of flying cars.
'Til those dreams became my every day,
and the wishes turned to prayers,
and the sky became a battleground
between men, and god, and air.
So wish upon that rocket
as it paints the midnight red,
and send the lord a big ol' prayer
it ain’t pointed at your head.
Track Name: Death of an Entertainer
It’s plain to see it’s hopeless.
All the professionals agree.
They say every dog will have it’s day;
I guess this one’s for me.

And did you mean the things you said,
standing on that stage?
Was it all just entertainment?
All just words upon a page?

They’ll tell you I was an artist,
but I never could decide
just how much I did for art,
and how much I did for pride.

And did you mean the things you said,
standing on that stage?
Was it all just entertainment?
All just words upon a page?

Some boys are born to spend their lives
fighting their fathers’ crusades.
Some boys are born with nothing but
the history that they’ve made.
And me, I was born with everything
but the comfort to live in my skin.
I learned too late, all my fear and hate
came from nowhere but within.

And did you mean the things you said,
standing on that stage?
Was it all just entertainment?
All just words upon a page?
Track Name: Love Hides Her Eyes
Sometimes, I wish that I could be so heartless
that I could break your heart in two,
and make you spill your darkest thoughts
before you had the chance to wonder what they’d make me think of you.
‘Cause when we’re walking in the street together
I find it funny, in its way,
how carefully we tread our feet;
afraid that either one of us would give too much away.

Love hides her eyes
behind a veil of romance:
her lips keep all her secrets safe,
and her kiss keeps your questions unasked.

Nights go by when I think I’ll be smothered
beneath the weight of things unsaid;
repressed with each goodbye we share,
left to bounce around between the walls inside my head.
Do you wonder what it is that keeps us
here together in this bed?
A childish dream of love redeemed?
Or grown-up fears of losing things on which we both depend?

Love hides her eyes
behind a veil of romance:
her lips keep all her secrets safe,
and her kiss keeps your questions unasked.

I’ll bet someday when all of this is over
(because we both know it won’t last)
we’ll lay beside our newfound friends
and try to laugh away the love we buried in the past.
You’ll drink yourself clean and
I’ll write a song to sing.
We’ll pretend we’re different than when it began.
But people never really change
and nothing ever lasts, sure as nothing ever ends.

Love hides her eyes
behind a veil of romance:
her lips keep all her secrets safe,
and her kiss keeps your questions unasked.
Track Name: Punchline
Gather the rich men’s sons to make their wagers
upon this man who thought he could be free.
The poor man can play king to all his neighbors,
but the king will always rule him in his frailty.

I spent my life seeking protection
from things that i could not forget.
Seeking some direction
towards something that I would not regret.
When I thought I found a companion
I spilled myself over their floor.
When I knew that they could not repair me
I swept myself out of their door.

In the end, it just seems funny.
It plays out like some cosmic joke.
And what else should be the punchline
but a cold and lonely end?
No meaning to give us any comfort,
and no one to guide our hand.

So I couldn’t stop the sunrise.
So I couldn’t stop the new day.
So I couldn’t stop the new year.
So I couldn’t find a new way.
So if I don’t stop, this will kill me?
Oh, doctor, do not be so naive.
I can’t see any problem with dying now.
I’ve been dying since I learned to breath.

Reach your hand beneath a hammer,
cry, “I love you!” as it smashes your fist.
Degrade yourself to please the payer
for the payment that will prove you exist.
Spend your days on the last rung,
where they kick you as they leave,
and you’ll see what life and love is worth.
What tomorrow is worth to me.
Track Name: The Murder Plan
I’ve got a pinewood box
we can shape into a car.
And from the right incline
it could take us very far.

And if you’ll steal the cash for gas
I’ll quite my job tonight.
We can hit the neighboring township
‘fore the cops turn on their lights.

But if you stay home tonight,
what will I do?
There’s no alone for me no more.
There’s only you.

I’ve got a red knapsack,
and a train, and a track, and
in the right direction
it could take us far away.

Away from the helicopters,
and forgotten curfews, mornings after,
and all defenses standing in our way.

And if it all sounds crazy, well,
I haven’t slept in days.
For fear I’d miss your message in the morning.
And if it never comes, where will I go?
At home I have a residence,
with you I have a home.

So maybe I can’t drive the getaway car.
Maybe far away is just too far.
But with our hearts aligned,
and bodies near,
we’ll make our move together here.
And the morning dew will wash us clean.

And I’ve got nothing to say
to tell you what I feel.
Beside you, all my words just seem empty
and unreal.
And when it’s midnight at the ball,
and the carriage pulls away,
it’ll take all that I’ve got not to beg of you to stay.

But if you sleep a “see you soon”
‘neath the slamming of the door,
well, I can ride if with a smile
in the hope of one day more.
Track Name: From a Town in West Virginia
I first heard the news in a paper I delivered.
Said, “Anderson Mine Closes Down”.
I knew by the light of the sun o’er the mountains
your daddy’d have you packed for another town.
And it took me back to closing night
at the August carnival.
Where we passed out ‘neath a ferris wheel’s light
and watched the people spin out of control.

When we awoke, all the tents and concessions
had stood up, and blown away.
All the grass was dead. And the sky was grey.
And we stumbled, hungover, back home.

I wouldn’t say I knew, but I had a certain feeling,
you’d be here where the river meets the shadow of the trees.
Where many years ago, we’d come here, and we’d the throw
the stones on which we placed our dreams.
I guess our arms weren’t strong enough,
‘cause the stones never reached the shore.
And our dreams must have sunk ‘neath our good lord’s gaze.
‘Cause they’re dreams now, and never will be more.

Remember the day that your ma left town
for the great A.A. meeting in the sky?
We promised each other we never would promise
things that we knew we could not provide.
So don’t say, "we’ll meet again”, if you can’t say when,
and I won’t say "I’ll love you ’til I die".
I promise not to beg ya if you promise not to cry.
Throw a stone and say goodbye.
Track Name: Kentucky
I hate your letters.
They always come pre-opened.
Like something in them was hoping
to get away before it reached me.

And when you kiss me
you always hold your breath.
As if a cool, quick death would certainly be
preferable to me.

But all that’s going to change when I hit Kentucky.
Just as fast as my divorce paper airplane can fly.
There’s a girl named liquor and her sister, Marie.
We’ll be one big lonesome family.
And we’ll ride the 3:18 all the way back home.

When I met you,
you were the only person
who made me feel like a human,
and you knew it.

But nowadays you keep me crippled and empty.
Without a hope of defending my own pride,
it’s a one-way suicide.

But all that’s going to change when I hit Kentucky.
Just as fast as my divorce paper airplane can fly.
There’s a girl named liquor and her sister, Marie.
We’ll be one big lonesome family.
And we’ll ride the 3:18 all the way back home.
Track Name: The Pantomime Song
Oh, don't let it get you,
It will if they let you, but there's
Something I'll bet you can't see--
It's big and it's nasty and it's right over there,
It's waiting to get its sticky claws in your hair!
Oh, the greengrocer's wishing on a rainbow today,
And the dustman is tying his tie...
And it all goes along to the same jolly song,
With a peppermint face in the sky!

With a peppermint face in the sky-y,
And a withered old dream in your heart,
You'll get hit with a piece of the pie-ie,
With the pantomime ready to start!
Oh, the Tommy is sleeping in a snowbank tonight,
And the Jerries are learning to fly--
We can fly to the moon, we'll be higher than noon,
In our polythene home in the sky...

Pretty polythene home in the sky,
Pretty platinum pins in your hand--
Oh your mother's a big fat machine gun,
And your father's a dreary young man....
(Whispered and staccato):
Oh, the, man-a-ger's suck-ing on a corn-cob, pipe,
And the bankers are, eat-ing their, wives,
All the world's in a daze, while the orchestra plays,
So turn your pockets and get your surprise--

Turn your pockets and get-your surpri-ise,
There was nobody there after all!
And the lamps up the stairway are dying,
It's the season just after the ball...
Oh the palm-trees whisper on the beach somewhere,
And the lifesaver's heaving a sigh,
And those voices you hear, Boy and Girl of the Year,
Are of children who are learning to die...

––Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, pages 177-178