your own true man

by Dan Johnson

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about

The latest outing from veteran songwriter Dan Johnson shows an experienced pen and unadorned guitar work which could be compared to John Prine. This work demonstrates a new willingness to take a journalistic approach to his songwriting, like Woody Guthrie might have. He explores topics like love, family, and the journey of self-exploration, as well as violence in our society and the loneliness of illness. Fans of straight ahead folk songs and hard hitting songs for hard hit people won’t be disappointed.

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Recorded at home on a MacBook in Logic through an M-Audio M-Track 2x2m, using AKG Perception 400 (vox) and CAD small diaphragm (guitar).

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released June 1, 2018

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about

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: how will i know where i am
if i cant see the milky way
when i step out of my door at night
if i cant see those stars shining
their ancient alien light
if I cant smell the woodsmoke floating in on the winter wind
and i cant hear an owl singing to his lonesome friend
and i cant taste the spark that lit the first fire
and i cant pick a tune because my back is tired

how will i know where i am
how will i know where i am
if im standing in the universe
in this ever expanding moment
on the crest of a mighty wave
how will i know where i am

i found out that my telephone
cant take a picture of a star
and a bunch of 1s and 0s
cant really say where you are
because if you keep walking
and you walk far enough
pretty soon youll realize
you brought too much stuff
then you get down to it you try to leave it all behind
thats when you realize that you been walking inside your mind

when i was a little boy
i fell out of a boat
into a mighty ocean
then i learned to float
then i learned to swim
and i learned how dive
and i learned i didnt need to breath
just to keep myself alive
then i began to fly way up into the air
and i woke up in my memories curled up on the stairs
Track Name: i call it me
in the paisley night sky i saw a neon zodiac
in the mystic ocean of truth i saw a train track
the words don’t hate yourself were written in the mirror
every step i walk away I’m getting nearer and nearer
all these reasons don’t add up anyways
i’m lost out on the prairie you’re lost here in this maze
i don’t want to get your hopes up i don’t want to bring you down
i just want to quit this broken record that keeps spinning me around
all the people inside want to tell me to move along
but i’m standing outside i been standing since dawn
yes i’ve wondered who i was and thought i wasn’t on the list
i never thought we could live like this
yes i’ve wondered who i was and thought i wasn’t on the list
i never thought we could live like this
yes i’ve wondered who i was and thought i didn’t exist
i never thought we could live like this

i wish i could find a cause for all of these reasons
i wish i could find a handle on all of these feelings
i’ve been working day to day since i was sixteen
found out there aint nothing but birth and death and the line in between

all the things in this world are coming my way
the stars at night and the sunlight in the day
there’s nothing i want nowhere that i got to be
call it lonesome
call it sad
i call it me

i get high and get low but i don’t have to smoke or drink
i just sit in the yard and look at things and think
i know im smart enough to get out and get the job done
i’m a working people and im not the only one

ive got feelings that you can’t see with your eye
ive had thoughts that flew up like a rocket in the sky
i stopped worrying bout the things that were troubling my mind
i been minding my business of living for a long long time
Track Name: even rainbows get the blues
blue cotton shirt
red wool hat
yellow lighter
next to a burning cigarette

last nights makeup
yesterdays news
hair of the dog
even rainbows get the blues

mommas jewels
daddys coat
you never even read
that poem that he wrote

painted floors
exposed beams
howd you get so careless
about other peoples dreams

needlepoint eyes
in an ocean of tears
let em fall
like those forgotten years

a book of poems
with uncut pages
the tea's gone cold
it seems like ages

that little room
where we sat and cried
looking out the window
at the rainbow outside

waiting for each other
to make a move
honey even rainbows
sometimes get the blues
Track Name: the sands of time
the sands of time are gonna make us perfect
gonna make us perfect gonna make us perfect
the sands of time are gonna make us perfect
but we aint there yet
we aint there yet

i changed your name
you changed my life
my pretty little wife
my pretty little wife
you are a diamond
on the deep blue sea
i see you swimming
swimming back to me

i can hear your heart
beat like the music
i see you dancing
under the starlight
there’s a cajun band
and a string of lights
you got your pretty dress on
you got your pretty dress on

one day at a time
were raising our daughter
in this crazy world
you flow like a river
you flow like water
in this crazy world
raising our daughter
in this crazy world

you smile like the moon
you laugh like the wind
smile like the moon
laugh like the wind
ill be home soon
just look within
in the light of the moon
in the cool night wind
Track Name: the gift
it didnt come in a box
it didnt come wrapped up
it came to me in my dream
and it filled my cup

just when i thought there was nothing for me
i turned around and what do i see

some gifts are hard to find
some gifts are hard to see
some gifts cost money
but this gift was free

you hid it right there out in the open
it was more than id been hoping

some gifts just keep on giving
some take everything you own
but this gift is living
and i cant use it all alone

got a gift and im gonna give it all away
i got more than i could spend in a million days

it didnt come in a box
it didnt come wrapped up
came to me when i was sleeping
and it filled my cup
Track Name: dont change your ways on my account
you watch the world burn without batting an eye
you dont care who lives or dies
as long as the check is written for the right amount
i can feel your eyes and your icy calm
i can’t shake your words they’re like burning napalm
don’t change your ways on my account

you laugh to yourself say everything dies
you lie to yourself you say everyone lies
really your whole life is in doubt
you slam the door saying lets be friends
as the story begins so the story ends
but dont change your ways on my account

going to bed with you is like going to war
your lovers dying you look bored
your lovers screaming and you cant hear a sound
its you against the world in the heavyweight ring
but you never fought for a goddamn thing
but dont change your ways on my account

you dissect your love with a boxcutter brain
looking in your eyes is like staring down a train
youre the rainmaker walking through the land of drought
you cant see all the pain you cause
because you’re listening for the studio applause
but dont change your ways on my account

a spider in a web with a venom heart
i guess we all have to play our part
you enter the stage and the knives come out
your footprints are made out of blood
you can crush a man like he was made out of mud
dont change your ways on my account

you talk about illusion buddhism and truth
i say youre a killer and you ask me for proof
the judge is trying to decide what youre really about
time is a prison but you were born inside
youre trapped inside a mirror where youre pretending to hide
dont change your ways on my account
Track Name: i will be here for you
i could have been standing on the top of a mountain
with the wild wind blowing free
and the stars all telling a story
about the time in eternity

i could have been a sailor
with my compass right in my hand
just watching the waves roll by
as i travel to some distant land

but i will be here for you
i will be here for you

i could have been an artist
my name in a magazine
could have been somebody famous
back when i was nineteen

i could have been an outlaw
because i know what my time is worth
i could have been a judge
and i still don’t know which is worse

maybe i could be your husband
maybe we could both be true
and i hope that you could love me
because i know that i love you

maybe we could raise some babies
and watch them grow up tall
and as we walk through this life
we will catch them when they fall
Track Name: tiny boxes
apartment buildings on the river banks
all shot up with bullet holes
theres craters in the playgrounds
the hospitals have fallen down
and the people were put in boxes
and laid underneath the dirt
little boxes tiny boxes
all made out of cut down trees

tiny boxes on the hillside
wood and plastic siding
no match for the gunships
that prowl the air
you need concrete
you need iron
to survive the shelling
and the snipers on the rooftops
with bullets from americay

tiny boxes full of bullets
shipped around the continents
and missiles oh missiles
underneath the green waves
boxes tiny boxes
were gonna need more tiny boxes
they wont rest until they put us
all in tiny boxes

yes its sad that your parents
made you go to college
they didnt let you become
the person you were meant to be
but it aint so bad
after all
you get to run the big war machine
making boxes tiny boxes
all full of tiny moneys

boxes tiny boxes
all filled up with dollar bills
you can bury them
with you parents all over the hills
and when our children
cry for freedom
and complain about the boxes
just tell them what ive told you
and all will be okay
Track Name: what happened to my friend
say what you will
i will say what i can
when a police kills an unarmed man
sometimes i wonder what it means
other times its clear as day
im not passing any judgment
ill just tell my story and be on my way

it was a thursday like every thursday
we all love thursday its a chance to be alive
my friend was selling cigarettes selling cigarettes out on the street
im not passing any judgment on him or the police

i heard later that they choked my friend
they threw him on the ground its hard to understand
why did they need to choke my friend
and throw him on the ground
im not passing any judgment
its probably as bad as it sounds

i figure it just got out of hand sometimes that happens you know
its hard to imagine what its like out on patrol
day in day out the police are all that protects us in the end
im not passing any judgments
im just telling you what happened to my friend

he died on the street with his face on the concrete
they were doing their job he died at their feet
it looks bad i guess and i cant tell you what i think in the end
im not passing any judgment
im just telling you what happened to my friend
Track Name: forget it
hidden inside these shiny buildings
where no one has to look at how we feel
were waiting to be seen by the doctors
with their needles and blades of stainless steel

forget it forget about the tests
probably better if i go home and get some rest
forget it i know this hasn’t gone as planned
i just need someone to hold my hand

none of us say a word at all
we just watch the television on the wall
then the doctor will tell us what we’ve got
then we’ll leave from another door into a parking lot

forget it i guess nobody minds
if i just slip out the door someone can take my place in line
i don’t want to take a pill to help the fear
no one will know that i’m not here
Track Name: even keel
dont rock the boat
dont spill the milk
dont cry when the road
isnt smoother than silk

bumps on a log
bumps in the road
im bound to travel
dont you wanna go

an even keel
a satisfied mind
if you want to keep moving
got to leave something behind
you keep on changing
doing what you feel
when the storms on the ocean
you keep an even keel

you sail the seas
might hit the rock
but ships werent made
to tie up at a dock

winds might change
you can too
but that dont change who you are
its just the things youre going through

look out the window
look out the door
when you cant stand looking
at yourself anymore

go take a walk
take it in stride
aint nowhere you cant go
aint nowhere you can hide
Track Name: shadows in the mirror
i woke up in the hospital the lights were coming clear
there were people standing round me voices only i could hear
and then someone leaned over and whispered in my ear
you can be free if you can let go of your fear
its written on your face the things you think you’ve buried deep
but those secrets that you’re hiding weren’t never yours to keep
honey when you look back i hope you aint losing sleep
those wolves are always hungry but there aint nothing there to eat

shadows in the mirror
always run into the light
they say we’ll never make it
but i like to think we might

if i don’t break the law i wont go to jail
in a world of lies we hope the truth will prevail
but it’s hard to get my head straight and walk a righteous trail
when hearts and minds are up for grabs and bodies are for sale
i got to find a solid rock in this ocean deep and wide
someplace to catch my breath before I’m drowning in the tide
theres blood in the water theres sharks on every side
maybe if i stop fighting the good lord will provide

it’s always been my way to want to keep it to myself
but now i find that my self is bad for my health
so I’m gonna let it go and try to trust somebody else
the light shines the wick burns the wax melts
and i will spend this paper dollar as i wander through this land
like a sparrow who eats the crumbs from a beggars shaky hand
i will cross this open ocean and sleep at night on the sand
in the freedom of this moment without regret and without plan

my eyes are blinded in the reflections and my ears so full of wax
my hands are wrapped up in prayers my feet are tripping in the tracks
my fingertips are dancing on the shard edge of an ax
if i could just calm down i might be able to relax
my mind is wrapped up in thinking my heart is pumping hot red blood
but there’s a part of me thats free from this kingdom of mud
it’s like a rainbow when i see it as im drowning in the flood
must be my spirit flying free on the wings of a dove
Track Name: your own true man
punch a clock punch it out when you get to end of the day
then you get into your old beat up car and then you drive away
and then you go down to the bar stare at the mirror there
and you wonder what you're doing here and then you breath the air
i aint no hero i aint got no master plan
I'm gone to kansas city i will call you if i can

it dont seem much to you but my problems are my own
you can't take away my dignity because id rather be alone
im looking at these pictures that i took on my telephone
back when we were kids and we were so sure we were grown
i aint got no job but im bound to be the boss
the crowd all went home so wont you get down off the cross

conversations smoke rings trying to break these empty chains
take away the bodies and lets see the remains
like the pyramids of my ego the mountains of my needs
piled in the resurrections of my most mundane deeds
made a fool out of everyone trying to prove I aint born to die
even gods own children got to fly into the sky
so don't ask why
im trying to tell you something thats been burning in my mind
but the opinions you insinuate make the truth too hard to find
pretend you're not so complicated maybe you'd find liberation
until then you're just a prisoner to your vain imagination
honey i wont lie about my reasons for being here
its just you seem attached to thinking must be some kind of fear
so it appears

punch a clock punch it out when you get to end of the day
then you get into your old beat up car and then you drive away
and then you go down to the bar stare at the mirror there
and you wonder what you're doing here and then you breath the air
i aint no hero i aint got no master plan
I'm gone to kansas city i will call you if i can
your own true man

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