Minimum Country

by Paul Kerschen

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1.
I got no reason to be satisfied I treat my baby like a time bomb four days and twenty since I been outside bolt down the cellar for the cyclone it's just like Valens said to Valentine he said it's gonna be a long road who got a reason to be satisfied? who got the common sense to phone home? I got a call from city homicide they run the numbers on some type O I know they're gonna make the water wine they're gonna drill it like a sinkhole it's just like Valens said to Valentine he said you can't depend on people out on the border with the simple minds it takes a score to change a light bulb it's just like Valens said to Valentine he said it's gonna be a long road and would you not feel so all alone if everybody would just get stoned? said would you not feel so all alone if everybody must get stoned? oh would you not feel so all alone if everybody must get stoned? said would you not feel so all alone down in the cellar with the cyclone? dropped my pack in the armored car lost my papers along the way thought my god was a foreign war how could thoughts ever get that way? lost my head in a foreign war how could thoughts ever get that way?
2.
it's not an animal you take to market it don't communicate to what you want it's not a cannonball take out a target it don't orient to what you want it got no common cause with what you want not a stunt it's not a chemical you can't enlarge it push it out the spillway it won't come back for counting till the creek runs dry it's not electrical it's off the grid hit it I call the wendigo out on the carpet it goes subcritical recalibrate the needle till the steam runs dry and if you're clinical you're off the list hit it get those dirty hands off the ship of state that's the kind of work made our nation great I got signatures for figures at the margin rate so just who the fuck are you to make the nation wait? I said get your dirtypaws off the ship of state cause that's the kind of work made our nation great I got vouchers for the figures at the margin rate tell me who the fuck are you to make the nation wait? I said who the fuck are you to make the nation wait? gloria
3.
04:53
I don't know why the rich girls go to the country what you sell to a rich girl you reap tenfold spend a day at the flicks get a night at the vineyard but I don't know why, I don't know why see those laugh lines on their faces they're getting older buying sandals though the season's getting colder cause you don't know what they been through you buy them drinks, they tell you true what they need and what they'll do just to get it right I don't know why your daddy wants to live in the country selling dope to the rich kids good as gold dumped his shares at the right time bought him a Cessna but I don't know why, I don't know why cause he won't get me at the counter to make his coffee no he won't get me in the corner to write his copy yeah you can tell him that we're through I'll buy you drinks, you tell me true what you need and what you'll do just to get it didn't want to live in the city now you want to go to the country didn't want to live in the city why you want to go?
4.
saint Michael and the outland devil in a border fight south north and the land kept coming saint Michael was a full-blood angel had his orders right but he needed some advice we said you're gonna find not a track on the way cause snakes can walk without legs they chew their words with their fangs don't you let the devil start talking saint Michael wouldn't let no rebel up the mountainside barbed wire on the left Rottweiler on the right snake burrows in the dead saguaros and the crystal spines but he couldn't take advice no he couldn't see the price of that guard on his grace he pulled the visor on his face he watched the stars roll out in space that's when the devil started talking about fulfillment he said this is fulfillment about fulfillment witness its fulfillment and if this is fulfillment then before the night is over you'll have to take positions you'll have to choose a platform oh you'll have to take positions you'll have to make a statement and it might be remembered and it might be recorded and if it is remembered it might be used against you it might be used for leverage it might be used for profit can I get a witness
5.
05:45
these keys don't fit the locks the locks don't fit the doors the doors don't keep anything out who's got an eye on the kids? that back step is a deathtrap can't be responsible I was carrying on like I owned the place they'll send you a form for that I got nothing against the neighbors guess it takes all kinds to till the earth and tune the engines never judged a man by his creed what'd you bring from the war? a handshake and a nightmare he said I saw black rocks on fire it was the other side of things hollow and cold the devil is a word but the devil's a state of soul and there's no sleep at night and there's no rent for June and there's no pills in the bottle and there's no sleep at home and there's no work at the agency for love or money no love and there's no sleep on earth and there's no sleep in heaven no there's no sleep on earth so let me tell you something I think we're down to minimum twenty years to pay off a roof and a water line you show me the minimum connection between what they said and what they had you sign force is a shepherd the path of least effort hammerheads in the tank working out the minimum compulsion to man a rifle on a riverbank no less no more
6.
I lacked the courage to put up a storefront and now I've lost my heart they'll strip your curls and sell them by the troy ounce if you step inside that car tell me is it hard? yeah I guess it's hard it must be pretty hard cause you got no pull and you're beautiful but you got no pull so I guess it's hard shit forum where the best lack all conviction cause they starved to death in school I guess a presidential election is just too blunt a tool when the future's dark do you think it's dark? I think it's pretty dark cause they got no soul and they're beautiful but they got no soul so I guess it's dark but baby don't you go to the Wannsee and don't you take nobody down to the Wannsee the world is wide I lacked the courage of my own convictions and now I've lost my heart well I guess it's hard cause I lost my heart
7.
hey little terror no one's gonna feed you until your man comes home and if he don't have a head for numbers guess you're on your own this time hey little horror no one's gonna buy that inky mind to earn your bread black coffee cloves and manifestos leave you good as dead you said the train was going forwards but I can see it moving backwards so I think you must be cowards when the train is going backwards don't you tell me that it's forwards my baby got me a night job at the weekly but I couldn't get no higher so when the district cut my gas and power I set the place on fire they had me quarter time reviewing movies but I couldn't get no higher and then the district cut my gas and power I set the place on fire no one's gonna feed you
8.
house on fire someone spilled the bottle with the daylight I'm so tired I couldn't find the words for the goodnight I don't require anything but you when I feel right no I don't require anything but coffee on the stove the planets hanging low outside and if I stepped out of this service would you sigh? and if I never broke the surface would you mind? smell for smoke well if you're nervous that's the curse we used to get on like a house on fire someone broke the bottle with the moonlight god I'm tired I couldn't take the hours up to midnight I'd be a liar to tell you that it's ever gonna feel right yeah only a liar could keep up with the questions at the door the answers and the warning signs and if you hang it in suspension one more time I'm gonna shake those bad intentions off their vine you gotta choose what's worth defending if it's ending - it'll go up like a
9.
05:14
two dark pigeons came into my room one was the sun was the other the moon I left my home just a week before cause I never seen it snowing in the street before it was pouring down dollars and a dollar’s shape is an S for a serpent climbing up a fire escape Wall Street shadow grabbed my coat and said didn’t you never see a fitted suit without a head said brother can you spare that Spanish sun cause every brother needs a brother now that mother night is come well I asked those pigeons have you seen my tomb in my tail said the sun, in my throat said the moon ay corazón mi corazón
10.
jefe Jephthah sold his daughter got a permit for grazing a lock on water gonna raise an oil rig up to the sky gonna buy more land up than God on high pennies an acre / get it? said I earned everything that I bargained for I built my holy self up from nothing you'll never see a dime while you trust in people don't you get it? and when they plant my feet in the desert floor I won't take the train out forgotten the vultures and the mice will be at my table they'll be laughing at my table man what'd you bring home from the slaughter? a busted antenna a stick of solder well didn't nobody tell you whom the gods destroy first they print your face up on all the coins bait for the ravens / get it? said I earned everything that I bargained for I built my holy self up from nothing you'll never see a dime while you trust in people don't you get it? and when they plant my heart in the desert floor I won't take the train out forgotten the vultures and the mice will be at my table they'll be laughing at my table

about

I had the title in mind early, and meant it both as a description of my homeland and as a program for genre. I thought there might be a kind of minimalism placed halfway between Woody Guthrie and Gang of Four, that would speak to the time as they spoke to theirs. The results don't sound much like either, but are perhaps more intelligible against those starting points.

The record was made on a laptop, the oldest computer in the house, that could barely play back the mixes in real time. It was the only machine able to run the still older audio software that I'd kept around from a time when software was still traded on CD-Rs.

Making it took just over four years. Everything except the noisy parts was done late at night, in hours stolen from trying to meet the minimum in other areas. One attempt at austerity was to leave out the keyboards. Everything's a guitar aside from cello here and there, and the horn samples on "Wannsee."

Whatever the value of the record, I'm happy to remember it as an act of enormous stubbornness.

Berkeley—Palo Alto—El Cerrito, 2009-2013.

credits

released December 15, 2013

Written, performed and engineered by P. Kerschen.

Artwork by Matthew Besinger.

Thanks to C. Hales for a borrowed amp, and to J. Ferguson and R. Kerschen for time.

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Paul Kerschen Berkeley, California

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