When The Saints Go (2008)

by Jim Clements

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1.
I walked into the cathedral Saw the minister’s machine I heard the gears ringing in my ears But what was made I could not see. I buried my possessions And I marked the spot with stones And I waited for what my teachers saw When they emptied out their homes I lit a match beneath me To burn off what I don’t need I had to drench the pyre when my eyes caught fire I’ll guess I’ll try again… My dreams are all like razors Hidden in the soap And when I bleed, my cuts are cleaned And in the stinging is the hope. The piano is an oak tree And the strings are garden vines Perhaps some day I’ll learn how to play But for now I’ll just keep time. And perhaps when I am ancient When my old bones start to bend, I’ll find the words for what I have heard And that will be my end.
2.
04:15
It’s not beauty that’s a curse; It’s finding out that you can’t sell it. That’s the moral of your tale, At least the way I tell it. With your smoker’s cough and your stockings off Your black helmet on, and your husband gone Here in old Berlin, turning blue with sin As you hold your breath in the dance of death Y’know, sex ain’t a crime, a way to pass the time Waiting for a call from the bosses’ halls. You say you learned to dance from watching the tramp But the tramp don’t move on those cloven hooves They said whenever you appeared They raged like in a menagerie When meat appears before the cage But you were not afraid. I got a backstage pass from some drunken ass Who made filthy leer, grabbed my arm and sneered, ‘Behind each actor’s door is a washed out whore, This one’s the same,’ he said, ‘she just better read.’ We met after the show, you dressed as a pierrot Ten black fingerprints on your snow-white wrists. You said, ‘Don’t stare, my love,’ as you pulled on your gloves. When I apologized you took my hand and sighed, ‘Every contract that I sign, comes With ropes that tie and chains that bind. From this I’m sure I can’t be saved, But they’ll get in back in spades.’ I was at your bedside on the day you died I’d watched you die before, late night on channel four Old Jack took your life with a kitchen knife But this was harder still, and I wept until you said, ‘I’ve done my best to do my bit, But trouble came like flies to shit. Behind all of my lovers’ eyes were Wood blocks full of sharpened knives. ‘It’s the same for all pretty girls, it’s true. But worse for me, because I knew. But I’ll take that knowledge any day, Over that sick and twisted naiveté.’
3.
Don’t blink an eye, I look a mess, but there’s nothing wrong. I was just strangely struck by a stupid line in a stupid song. Don’t cut me down to count my rings. These ladybird spots. I’ve sewn patches on all the clothes I’ve ever owned. I’ve darned my socks, and put new holes in my old belt. Don’t cut me down to count my rings. These ladybird spots. This afternoon, I found some coins I must have dropped. It’s great what you find when you spend all day on your hands and knees. Don’t cut me down to count my rings. These ladybird spots.
4.
When your tank’s on empty, I’m that extra mile. I’m that light that quits flashing when you flick the dial. I gave the Lord himself a lift when he was just a child. I’m bridges and I’m highways, I’m motorbikes and trains. I’m that first glimpse of the Rockies after the Alberta plains. I’m dark glasses in the sun, windscreen wipers in the rain. I used to be a saint, man, but I got tossed, But I carried the Lord before he carried that cross. I used to be a saint, man, but I got tossed. So who are you gonna pray to when you get lost? When your eyes are feelin’ heavy, I’m that dirty motel six. Or if there ain’t no time for sleeping, I’m that late night caffeine fix. I do it for the Lord, man, I ain’t in it for the kicks. I’m the mix-tapes in the glovebox, when the conversation wanes. I’m the drumming on the steering wheel, the hook in the refrain. I’m ‘Back in Black,’ and ‘Radar Love,’ I’m ‘Like a Hurricane.’ I’m the breath in your airbag, I’m the belt across your chest. I’m the voice that tells you when it’s time to take a rest. But I ain’t no speed camera, sure ain’t no breathalyzer test. I used to be saint, you know, but they called it a mistake. Those bpys in Rome said there ain’t no giants in no lakes. But they’ll damn well miss me when there’s no fluid in their brakes.
5.
I see you walking, girl, on that path down by the river, With a black garbage bag clenched in your pretty fists. It’s such a heavy load for such a little lady. We love your kind down here, my love, we love your kind down here. You’re kicking off your shoes and taking off your dress now. One step into the lake and your gooseflesh starts to show. And then, in a flash, you and that bag go under. We love your kind down here, my love, we love your kind down here. I’ve never known someone to hold their breath for half an hour. Just us bottom feeders know exactly what you did down there. And then like a toad, you spring out of the water. We love your kind down here, my love, we love your kind down here. You look much happier now that your load is lifted. A big grin on your face, and a new spring in your step. But wasn’t it your husband’s turn to take out the garbage? We love your kind down here, my love, we love your kind down here.
6.
I caught your eye across a crowded dance floor. Or at least I thought I did, I wasn’t sure. I couldn’t say hello. I needed to be certain. So I double-checked, a dozen times or more. And it’s not like I planned it, I’ve never done this before. And you saw I went quietly when your husband showed me the door. Oh and love, oh, love makes creeps of us all. I went to your house to make myself feel better, And because I knew that there was no-one home. Your door was unlocked, so I thought I’d leave my letter On the kitchen table, and then I’d turn and go. And it’s not like I planned it, I’ve never done this before. But you came home to find me sleeping on your bedroom floor. Oh and love, oh, love makes creeps of us all. Oh my Lord, let me out of my thoughts. Help me believe in the better parts of me. And let me love move in but one direction, Because I become more trapped the more I struggle to be free. Oh and love, oh, love makes creeps of us all. Oh and love, oh, love makes creeps of us all.
7.
One, when I saw you, and I could see nothing else. And I spoke before there was time to act more like myself. They say this won’t count, but I’m counting on this Two, when you kissed me, and dark room disappeared. And the breath that you gave me was the first I took in years. They say this won’t count, but I’m counting on this Three, when you left me. You left me in one piece. I was shocked to find I could stand, and it brought me to my knees. They say this won’t count, but I’m counting on this Oh, my love, these are miracles to me. And three makes a saint of you, and a believer out of me. They say this won’t count, but I’m counting on this
8.
You say you’re holy,, I said, yeah, like a sieve, Who are you trying to kid? You can’t find God where you live. I’ve read all His books,, been to see Him in Rome, (The place sure had nice ceilings, but there was nobody home.) But I’m sure that if He was to reveal Himself, It’d be to someone like me with the good book on his shelf. It seems like you’re jealous that He’s talking to me, I sent no invitations, but He came anyway. I was just at the office, compiling errata, I looked down at my hands, and I had the stigmata. And ever since that day, I’ve seen God everywhere, In each leaf that trembles, and when I’m washing my hair. How can that be the case? It doesn’t seem fair. I’m the one with the relics, and a shirt made of hair. I don’t know what to tell you. It isn’t that grand, How can I lie on the beach when he’s in each grain of sand? And I keep having visions, and I can’t get to sleep Seeing the blood of the lamb makes it hard to count sheep. I know that I’m fickle. It’s from my mother’s side, Here’s what she told me on the day that she died: She said, ‘There’s this world and that one, and this one’s more fun, Eternity’s lovely, but it tends to run on. ‘So if you see an angel, or a burning bush, Stick your nose in your book, dear, and try not to look.’
9.
04:25
There are people frozen here. A busy day sometimes ends this way. These empty veins, these tunnels, and these trains. As for me, I'll stay inside. I’ll push my voice through all this blue-white noise. These black-white keys, they’ve been so good to me. Did you know I sank back when I was small? I ate before I swam, and came to life here on the grand. As the sea turned red, music filled my head. And white birds began to fall from the sky. And I kept my grip on your thin neck I beat my sticks against your skin. I was selfish, dear, but I let you listen in. So, I sing this broken hymn I spilt my voice and it broke like bone. Mary cries when she hears This burnt prayer made from black sand, string and sea. So I offer it to St. Jude, who’s not too holy to help me.
10.
When St. Kevin was praying, an egg fell into his hands, And he knew that if he flinched, it’d be dashed across the sand, So he stayed in that position for twenty days and nights, Until the little egg broken open, and the little bird took flight. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, Asking for a favour, wishing for some luck. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, But the best ones pray to keep someone else up. St. Nick knew a lady, beautiful and sweet, Who couldn’t feed her kids and was forced to work the streets, So Nick cleaned out his savings, took a stroll down to her place, Dropped the money down her chimney, and left without a trace. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, Asking for a favour, wishing for some luck. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, But the best ones pray to keep someone else up. St. Kathy loved her Lord so much that, when she was killed, From the hole were her head once was, she bled a stream of milk. Uncumber loved her Lord too, but her fiancé she feared, So, to turn him off, she prayed to God, and proudly grew a beard. And Dunstan took his pliers and pinched the devil’s nose, And flung him down to Hades, where the ground promptly froze. And Ronnie wiped the Lord’s tears; he left an imprint of his face, Now she hangs in her living room, above the fireplace. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, Asking for a favour, wishing for some luck. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, But the best ones pray to keep someone else up. Something’s off in this city, something’s dying in this town. There’s too many dark faces in these tunnels underground. And we’re losing our best people, a dozen every day, And all our days are numbered if the saints go on their way. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, Asking for a favour, wishing for some luck. Some folks pray to fill their own cup, But the best ones pray to keep someone else up.
11.
03:40
I’ve shouted twice today already, And my throat’s raw, and red. But only now do your legions of perfection March my way My infection from the scratching At the itch that wasn’t there Has left me doubting on my blond hair And on your blue eyes. It’s an act of such bravery, Or so I’ve been told To just give up the house you built For one you built just down the road. So lights out, mayfly, Because I’m going home.

credits

released June 30, 2011

Maya Ahuja - Violin
Jim Clements - Singing and Guitar
Richard Clements - Drums
Dave Gooblar - Bass
Lucy Jordan - Keys and Singing

Additional Musicians:
Dean Drouillard - Slide Guitar
Gene Hardy - Singing Saw

All Songs by Jim Clements
Except 'On The Grand' by Jim Clements & Richard Clements

Cover Illustration by Kate St. Claire

Recorded in Andover, UK, August 10-12th 2007
Produced and Mixed by Chris D'Adda at Aztec Studios
Mastered by Simon Handley at One Life Productions

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Jim Clements London, UK

Every five years or so, Jim Clements emerges to drop a collection of literate, witty, surreal, gut-wrenching songs, before disappearing again into the shadows. A songwriter’s songwriter in the tradition of Leonard Cohen, Townes Van Zandt, and Nick Cave, his songs have earned him critical acclaim and a devoted following over his fifteen-year career. ... more

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