The Heart Collector

by Adam Levy

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credits

released February 14, 2011

Produced by Mark Orton & Adam Levy
Recorded and mixed by Mark Orton at Camp Watertown Studios, Portland, OR
Additional recording at Dead Aunt Thelma’s, Portland, OR
Mastered by George Marino at Sterling Sound, New York, NY
Executive Producer — Daniel Picard

voice and guitars — Adam Levy

with
Dobro, pump organ, bass harmonica, Marxophone, string arrangements — Mark Orton
vibraphone, accordion — Rob Burger

and
The Real Vocal String Quartet
violin — Irene Sazer
violin — Alisa Rose
viola — Dina Maccabee
cello — Jessica Ivry

Art direction by Alphabet Arm
Photo by Andy Hess

Adam thanks: all 174 of his Kickstarter backers, without whom this project would have been impossible; Mark Orton, whose vision and expertise helped shape this recording in countless ways; and Mia Jarlov (1976–2009) for a long season of miracles. Life is beautiful — thank you!

“I Wish I Could Change Your Mind” by Adam Levy, Neill Maccoll, and Natalia Sheppard, published by Lost Wax Music/UMPG (ASCAP)/Barking Green (PRS/MCPS).
“There’s a Light” by Adam Levy and Geoff Martyn, published by Lost Wax Music/UMPG (ASACP)/Copyright Control (PRS/MCPS). All other songs written by Adam Levy, published by Lost Wax Music/UMPG (ASACP).

©2011 Lost Wax Records

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Track Name: I Wish I Could Change Your Mind
I can't change the course of a wandering stream
I can't tell the stars not to shine
I can't stop the world from spinning around
But I wish I could change your mind

I can't stop the swallows returning in springtime
Or the train on the Wichita line
I can't stop the lightning from striking the ground
But I wish I could change your mind

Once upon a time, you said you would be mine
As long as the sky hung above
It's still there just the same
So, darling, please explain
What has become of our love

I can't the church bells from chiming on Sunday
I can't change the water to water to wine
And, no, I can't stop these teardrops that fall from my eyes
But I wish I could change your mind
And I can't stop these teardrops that fall from my eyes
But I wish I could change your mind
Track Name: A Promise to California
I was a pioneer panning for gold
I was a young man, twenty-five years old
I left my family back in Texas
And I headed for the West
I never knew what fortune was before

As soon as I crossed that state line
Heard the harmony that never ends
In the echoes of the canyon
In the Santa Ana wind
In the crash of the Pacific
In the calling of the birds
I made a promise to California
And I never break my word

I made some new friends, jokers and thieves
We fought like brothers, yeah you'd never believe
But once we hit the motherlode
There was no turning back
I never knew what fortune was before

As soon as I crossed that state line
Heard the harmony that never ends
In the echoes of the canyon
In the Santa Ana wind
In the crash of the Pacific
In the calling of the birds
I made a promise to California
And I never break my word

Well, so so many people never leave their own home town
No, they'll never see the sign up in the hills
They will never know the sunset melting through the haze
Of another picture-perfect postcard day

So I found a bottle, empty inside
I filled it with sun and wind, and the moon and the tide
And I always keep it with me
As I wander this weary world
I spill a little of that spirit everywhere I go
They may never get there, but they'll know...

As soon as I crossed that state line
Heard the harmony that never ends
In the echoes of the canyon
In the Santa Ana wind
In the crash of the Pacific
In the calling of the birds
I made a promise to California
And I never break my word
I made a promise to California
And I never break my word
I made a promise to California

And I never break my word
Track Name: This Is the Sound
Thinking back on when I first discovered what I had in me
Like finding a babe in a manger, or a pot of gold up in a tree
Drunk at a party, truth or dare, it was the dare that set me free
Opened my mouth and there it was
Kid Caruso they all called me

I learned to make each song my own, and then I learned work the crowd
I could murmur in undertone, or I could sing it loud and proud
I traveled round the whole world twice, and then I did it in reverse
It's a hell of a way to live, just keep 'em smiling and pass the purse
(Pass the purse)

Days and nights add up to weeks, and then the months turn into years
By the time I stopped to take a breath, hair was sprouting from my ears
Singing is a young man's game, any crooner could tell you that
A man my age should be in a boat on a lake, fishing lures and a floppy hat

Sure enough it all went south, when I expected it the least
Hullabaloo, I opened my mouth to sing a chorus of "Basin Street"
There was nothing but dust and stillness like you'd find underneath a chair
Went to the well for a taste of water, and I found a desert there
(Ain't nothin' but a desert there)
Track Name: The Heart Collector
Here comes the Heart Collector
Looking for specimens of every kind
He's never seen one like yours before
Better look over your shoulder, better lock your door

There was a girl so fair and ginger
She used to work the picture show
Until the night she stayed too late there
And all the regulars went home
She was getting high in the projection room
Watching Betty Grable, 'Down Argentine Way'
Candy by the handful with her eyes half-closed
Milk Duds hit the floor when he lowered the boom

Here comes the Heart Collector
Looking for specimens of every kind
He's never seen one like yours before
Better look over your shoulder, better lock your door

A midnight stroll that started sweetly
Carrola and her friends made four
The moon was full, the stars were many
Above the caves as Lake Lenore
So sure of the way she wandered off alone
Carrie never liked to follow trails or maps
Looking to the constellations—leading lights
Then all the stars went out and she was good as gone

Here comes the Heart Collector
Looking for specimens of every kind
He's never seen one like yours before
Better look over your shoulder, better lock your door
[x2]

They'd string him up if they could find him
But such a man is hard to trace
Like a cloak, he draws the darkness round him
No living soul has seen his face
If I knew his whereabouts, I'd never say
The better part of valor is discretion
He may be an average man just like me
Another cardiophile trying to outdo his own collection

Here comes the Heart Collector
Looking for specimens of every kind
He's never seen one like yours before
Better look over your shoulder, better lock your door
[x2]
Track Name: Before Dinner Begins
[instrumental]
Track Name: There's a Light
Never gonna learn my lesson now
Never gonna turn this life around, I know, I know
Never gonna work for steady pay
Never gonna work the live-long day, I know, I know
There's a light that shines for me

Never gonna call this house a home
Never gonna need a telephone, I know, I know
Never going back to my hometown
Never gonna put my anchor down, I know, I know
There's a light that shines for me
There's a light that shines

And when I lose myself at the point of no return
I find a way to laugh at the bridges I have burned
I have burned

Never gonna buy a diamond ring
Never gonna promise anything, I know, I know
Never gonna tell me I belong
Everything I have is in this song, I know, I know
There's a light that shines for me
There's a light that shines for me
There's a light that shines—for me
Track Name: No Dancing
I heard a clock strike thirteen times
The streets were paved with crooked lines
My teardrops tasted like plum wine
The day the dancing stopped
The words fell out of all the books
The jailhouse turned out all the crooks
And Miss Gibraltar lost her looks
The ay the dancing stopped

No Watusi, no more Cuban slide
No more shang-a-lang, hips swaying side to side
Hang your shoes up on the wall, tell your lover not to call
Throw a blanket on the floor, 'cause they're ain't no dancing no more

A watermelon with no rind
A dictionary redefined
A staring contest for the blind
The day the dancing stopped
The laws of physics overturned
Rome fiddled while old Nero burned
And all the lessons got unlearned
The day the dancing stopped

No Watusi, no more Cuban slide
No more shang-a-lang, hips swaying side to side
Hang your shoes up on the wall, tell your lover not to call
Throw a blanket on the floor, 'cause they're ain't no dancing no more

I saw my shadow in the shade
Honeybees made lemonade
Uranus was in retrograde
The day the dancing stopped
Chicken Little kissed the sky
A knock-knock joke done made me cry
And no one knew the reason why
The day the dancing stopped

No Watusi, no more Cuban slide
No more shang-a-lang, hips swaying side to side
Hang your shoes up on the wall, tell your lover not to call
Throw a blanket on the floor, 'cause they're ain't no dancing no more

Hang your shoes up on the wall, tell your lover not to call
Throw a blanket on the floor, 'cause they're ain't no dancing no more
No, there ain't no dancing no more
Ain't no dancing
No dancing
No dancing
No
[and so on...]
Track Name: Would It Really Be a Sin
Would it really be a sin
To write God's holy name on the head of a pin
If I'm playing a game I never can win
Would it really be a sin

Would it really be a wrong
If I walk in a garden where I don't belong
If I hide all of my fear in the verse of a song
Would it really be a wrong

Who makes the law, who holds the gavel
Who says the man with the ball can't travel
Who says we can't eat the cake before dinner begins

Would it really be a crime
If I still need a drink after closing time
If I empty the piggy of his last dime
Would it really be a crime

Who makes the rules, who runs the lockup
Heaven is waiting, one day I'll walk up
Right to the gate, take a bite, is it made out of tin

Would it really be a sin
If I dance with the devil's identical twin
Now I'm playing a game I never can win
Would it really be a sin
Would it really be a sin
Would it really be a sin
Track Name: This Is the Sound (Coda)
There ain't no moral to my story
No lesson waiting to be learned
Remember Icarus, flew too close to the sun
A clever boy but he got burned
That ain't me, I'm just a singer
I never rattled heaven's gate
Please listen close before I'm finished—
This is the sound I used to make
This is the sound
This is the sound I used to make
I can't make it no more
I can't make it no more
Track Name: Promised Land
I still remember my best days as a boy
We'd race our bikes along the railroad tracks
A cardboard box could be a fortress or a sled
Conquering the big hill when the summer sun dried all the grass
But there was one joy that trumped the thrills and spills
Trav'ling west to visit Grandma Jenny
She had the biggest ears and such fantastic hands
She would play piano, singing songs she knew—oh so many

Music filled the air both day and night
I was mesmerized, glued to my seat
Brother and sister fussed, they'd rather be back home
But Grandma's house, to me, was like the Promised Land

I couldn't tell you how many years gone by
I went away to school across the state
I met a girl, we fell in love, she had a child
So wrapped up in our lives that we took for granted Grandma's fate
I still remember the phone call from my dad
He never was the kind to sugar-coat
"Sweet Jenny's gone," he said, "she's in a better place."
I could not imagine any better place than grandma's house

Jenny's gone unto the Promised Land
All her worldly days were fin'ly done
I hope they have a grand piano just for her
With angels singing harmony and clapping hands

She lived a good life, and never did complain
Although she made her way by modest means
There were few treasures left, no pot of gold remained
Her clothes went to the church and a few dollars went to children
But there was one thing she wanted to be known
Her grand piano would be mine to keep
Can you imagine how I felt the day I brought it home, and
Lifted up the cover, laid my hands where Jenny's hands once played

I beheld the vista black and white
Territory rich with hope and dreams
Calling for my daughter, "Come, sit here by my side."
Our hands like pilgrims dancing in the Promised Land
Our hands like pilgrims dancing in the Promised Land
Track Name: Painting by Numbers
Well, I made up the bed the way that she likes it
And I polished the floor 'til it shines so bright
Then I oiled the gears in the grandfather clock
And I put on my best suit of blue and green

Well, I bought her a pair of pearl earrings
She sat by the mirror for half of the night
Then she went into town to meet up with an old friend
If she ever said "thank you," it wasn’t to me

They'd all call my name from the sidewalk café
"There goes the Rembrandt of Sullivan Street."
Then I lost my touch and I miss it so much
It haunts me in my slumber
Look all around me from floor to ceiling
The work that I've done, it can speak for itself
It’s the work of a man with a master's hand
But tonight I'm just painting by numbers

You can put all your eggs in one basket
You can hope for the light to hit them just right
But the light can play tricks on the eyes of a lover
Who only sees what he wants to see

They'd all call my name from the sidewalk café
"There goes the Rembrandt of Sullivan Street."
Then I lost my touch and I miss it so much
It haunts me in my slumber
Look all around me from floor to ceiling
The work that I've done, it can speak for itself
It’s the work of a man with a master's hand
But tonight I'm just painting by numbers
Yeah, tonight I'm just painting by numbers
Track Name: Let These Stories Sleep
Take the guitar off of your knee and settle up your keep
There's no more need to hide behind a box of wood and silver twine
Close the case and shut the light and let these stories sleep

Happy endings, tear-jerk tales, dredged up from the deep
You raised them with your calloused hands, then wrung them dry before the band
Now close the case and shut the light and let these stories sleep

You’re the shepherd of the flock, tender are the sheep
They'll never know how they got here—plucked from dreams and soaked in beer
Now close the case and shut the light and let these stories sleep
Close the case and shut the light and let these stories sleep