Suck it Up, Cupcake

by Dan Johnson

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It was the July of 2014. I had spent the weekend in the hot dusty fields of the Greyfox bluegrass festival, picking lots and sleeping little. I had a gig that Sunday at a barbecue festival in Troy, NY. It was a hot morning, and the sun was beating down on the stage. A few friends and some family had trickled in, but the morning was still early so there weren’t too many folks in the amphitheatre. I was still getting soundchecked when a couple dressed in eighties chic – jean vests, bandanas, aviators – found a place front and center where they set down their twelve pack of Busch and made themselves at home. A couple songs in they began offering a steady stream of comments and suggestions. At one point I mentioned how hot it was, to which the woman offered, “Suck it up, cupcake!” And so began this record you now hold in your hands. Actually this album probably began a long time before that, but most of these songs have been written since last summer. A few are ones I’ve been kicking around for a while, but they all reflect the new experiences I’ve had this year as a musician and as a person. I hope you hear something that resonates with you. I hope the moment when you open the album, and put it in your CD player, is a special moment. I hope your experience is enhanced by the patterns and ideas on this disc. I hope this helps you feel like you can be more yourself, and not less. Feel free to share it around to friends. It’s yours, now. Suck it up, cupcake. – Dan Johnson (April 4, 2015, Richmond, VT)


released May 1, 2015

All parts recorded by Dan at home in Richmond, using Garageband, a XENYX Berhinger USB mixer, Shure SM58 and SM57 mics, a Martin guitar, K & K Pure Mini pick up. All songs mixed and mastered by Dan in Garageband.


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Dan Johnson Burlington, Vermont

low key folk music - five studio recordings, a few years worth of weird gigs, guitar bass pedal steel accordion and banjo... no pressure y'all...

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Track Name: Chicken and Potatoes
Standing on the corner of a cul-de-sac
Business out front party out back
Clock keeps turning in four dimensions
And the old ladies taking up a collection
Out on the edge of the middle of the sea
Thinking about you you were thinking about me
The scissors in the alley want to cut out the fat
And the dog in the garbage wants to cut out the cat
Makeup artist and a shotgun shell
Whistle in the dark on the road to hell
My wig ain’t ready and my hands are tied
And the chicken and potatoes with the gravy on the side
Well the junkyard television don't matter so much
It ain’t the kind of thing nobody wants to touch
You’ve got your Sunday best you got your liverwurst
And the second is the best and the third comes in first
Goes around comes back around
Touch the sun you got to hit the ground
You go through the door with your piece of paper
Like a cheese sandwich in a big skyscraper
You must believe in the holy ghost
I love you dear but god loves you most
It’s a dirt road romance in the sea of dreams
I always wanted red white and blue jeans
The sun shining on the hill of graves
They're gonna chase you people right out of your caves
Middle of the night in the bright sunshine
What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine
Say you might be your own best friend
It’s your friends gonna get you in the end
Long way around the bend
It’s okay to dream but lets not pretend
I don't mind a long lunch line
But when you get your dinner could you let me get mine
I like chickens that come free range
And I like the people that act real strange
Track Name: Tonight
No reasons to stay in this city
Interstate gonna play my redeemer
Why was I born if not to ride free
Let’s get out of here tonight
What could be gained by playing it safe
Hiding out here in plain sight
I need some shelter from all these reactions
Let’s get out of here tonight
It's 800 miles to the edge of Montana
I think we can make it if we take it slow
Two hundred dollars and a sleeping bag
Let’s get out of here tonight
There’s the desert owl in her moonlight flight
She’s looking for something just like you and me
But we all find just as we seek
Let’s get out of town tonight
Moon shining on the bitterroot
The stars gather all around my mind
Feel so small under this big sky
Let’s get out of town tonight
There’s roads out there straight as an arrow
They just stretch out in the desert night
Won’t see a soul except the lonely coyote
Let’s get out of town tonight
Track Name: Being Free
It’s hard to win it’s hard to lose
It’s hard to pick and it’s hard to choose
Don’t make it any harder than it already is
It’s hard to go it’s hard to stay
Hard to hear and it’s hard to say
But after all you only get what you give
Love is hard and love is soft
It’s expensive but you’ll pay the cost
You can’t afford the price of pride
Lovers come and lovers go
Some move fast and some move slow
I know you really tried
It’s hard to lose it’s hard to win
Hard to end and hard to begin
It’s always harder than it has to be
It’s hard to stay and it’s hard to go
It’s hard to see and it’s hard to know
Hard to think about being free
Track Name: Suck it Up, Cupcake
Swimming against the current just trying to get upstream
Banging your head against a television screen
Candles on your birthday umbrella when it rains
Answers to the questions that no one understands
Suck it up cupcake the world is strange
Riding you dreams to a home on the range
There’s a big moon rising in the valleys of my heart
Suck it up cupcake here comes the good part
You sing Bobbie Dylan when the showers on
Always say you’ll to get up in time to see the dawn
But you sleep until noon I kiss you on your lips
Then you open your eyes and my little heart skips
Suck it up cupcake ain’t life grand
We never do nothing just make big plans
Then we cook our own meals in our own little place
Suck it up cupcake why don't you have a taste
We travel this world in time and space
Every where I go I can see your face
You smile from the corners of the edges of my mind
Love is everywhere its easy to find
Suck it up cupcake the moon rise slow
Everywhere we go there's the people we know
We dance on the banks of the river that flows
Suck it up cupcake it comes and goes
Now we’re laying down on a pillow of stars
Listen to the busses and the people and the cars
Our hearts are full of wishes and whispers and dreams
The sky is full of spirits don't you wonder what it means
Suck it up cupcake get it while you can
No matter what they say you can take a stand
I know you got it in you I can see it in your eyes
Suck it up cupcake you won the first prize
Track Name: Pilgrims
It wasn't difficult we never trembled
And whether it was your courage or mine we never mentioned
We were both stranded before we knew it
Lost on the backroads looking for the ocean
What happened to the boy
The one with the rosy cheeks
It doesn't matter that we didn't know the truth
It still has no appeal to me anyways
I wasn't looking for the truth I was looking for the world
And the world is wrapped in mystery anyways
Pilgrims lost in the footsteps of god
Seeking answers by moving farther from all we knew
It was almost certain we would lose our way
So we abandoned ourselves to the desert
Scallop shell tied carelessly around his neck
St. Christopher’s medallion picked up from some basement
In Edinburgh after the road broke us apart
Love struck us down like dolls made of rag
So I sing a song
Have you seen the boy
Has anyone seen the boy
I'd pay a thousand dollars
If they could bring me to him tonight
Just to hug him around his neck
And tell him everything has always been all right
In spite of me
Track Name: Grandma Pierre
Plastic owl in my backyard
Sitting up on a metal pole
Plastic wings and plastic ears
Plastic heart and plastic soul
Collect call from grandma Pierre
Collect call from grandma Pierre
I go out on a Saturday night
I can’t recall who I was looking for
Who was it once told me
You can’t open every door
So now I’m standing in the living room
I can’t recall what I came here to do
It’s not something that will keep me awake
I’ll find something when I get through
Track Name: The Bottoms
Getting used to the bottoms
They’re changing all the time
Getting used to the changes
Accomplice to the crimes
Been staring into the dark
Looking for a crack in the endless night
I’ll be waiting in the doorway
When you come into the light
I remember the summer
You flew in on a plane
I was so disorganized
I guess you felt the same
The statues of the past
Guard the altar where the poets pray
In the burned out whiskey morning
I watched you walk away
Now I ride this train
On an elevated line
Not so high above the city
That I can't see her design
Now and then
Someone talks to me
I hear them whisper the truth
But I'm down in the bottoms
So there really ain’t no use
I was dreaming of that fateful day
When we would find control
The illusion of power
Can poison the artists soul
Now and then if I’m lucky
I might find some beautiful line
And I let the beauty carry me
Over the bottoms in my mind
Track Name: Seattle Southbound Blues
I come out west on a twelve car freight
My work boots upon my feet
I played my guitar in many old bars
I sang my song out on the street
I loved a girl her name was Roseanne
Her eyes were like two diamonds green and blue
I told her all the lines that I could drag from my mind
I sang her every folk song I knew
We lay with each in that little tiny bed
We couldn't run out of things to say
Our hearts were open though they'd both been broken
In the safety of our promise there we lay
She spoke to my soul, I listened to her mind
We made such pretty harmony it seemed
We wove ourselves together like silk and leather
It became impossible to find the seam

I played for my supper every day
On the corner near the mission and the park
I'd sing and I'd holler I'd collect a couple dollars
I'd bring it all home to her when it got dark
We never really fought but one day she was gone
I guess she never really had been mine
She left me one last letter said she wished she'd loved me better
But she had to find herself on down the line
If I had a hundred dollars I'd leave right now
I'd ride that evening train to LA
I'd find Roseanne and put a ring on her hand
And then all of these blues would go away
I’m sitting here at this old train station
Just finishing this bottle of booze
My pockets are full of old love letters
I’ve got them Seattle southbound blues
Track Name: On My Gravestone
It’s a Monday night and we’re drinking some ice cold beer
Sitting in the kitchen watching some rabbit ears
I wasn’t hurting nobody wasn’t committing no kind of sin
And I was sitting in the kitchen when they kicked the front door in
Now the doors full of holes and we’re watching some tv show
It’s a Tuesday night and the dark is sinking low
A bottle of gin and a couple six packs of beer
I wish to the lord I could get away from here

I want troublemaker on my gravestone
That’s the name that I got when I was born
This world ain’t going to hell I’m pretty sure that it’s already there
It’s a world of trouble and lord I have had my share

I’m a cooking up a batch in the back of my daddy’s shack
Way down at the end of a one lane track
I’ve got a feeling that I just can’t lose
But lord these lonesome woods will give a man the blues
There’s something in my mind that won’t lay down
I can put it to bed but it comes back around
The devil on my shoulder is digging holes in my heart
I’d tell you the truth but I wouldn’t know where to start
Track Name: Back to the Drawing Board
I’ve been drawing my life in second hand lines
Picking up things that I can't find
I try to walk in my own kind of way
but I feel like there’s something I’m forgetting to say
I want to be real I want to be bold
I want to create things that can’t be sold
My ink may run down the page
But there’s something left after all I gave
Going back to the drawing board
This tiny old pencil is my mighty sword
And with it I may kill the beast
Or draw it out at the very least
I turn my eyes from the naked form
I've forgotten the way it felt to be born
Pretend I know my way around
But there’s something wrong with every sound
Going back to the drawing board
See if I can find some pretty chord
And add a couple words that rhyme
And if they don't well that’s all right
I trace the lines I think I feel
And through these dreams comes something real
And if you don't understand
Then this song is for another man
Going back to the drawing board
I watch the waves land on the shore
It’s a place maybe you go too
And if you do I'll look for you

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