Joanna Newsom's lyrics
Written by Newsom (except track 11)
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1.  Bridges and Balloons

We sailed away on a winter's day
with fate as malleable as clay;
but ships are fallible, I say,
and the nautical, like all things, fades

And I can recall our caravel:
a little wicker beetle shell
with four fine maste and lateen sails,
its bearings on Cair Paravel

O my love,
O it was a funny little thing
to be the ones to've seen.

The sight of bridges and balloons
makes calm canaries irritable;
they caw and claw all afternoon:
"Catenaries and dirigibles
brace and buoy the living-room --
a loom of metal, warp - woof - wimble."
And a thimbles worth of milky moon
can touch hearts larger than a thimble.

O my love,
O is was a funny little thing
to be the ones to've seen


2.  Sprout and the Bean

I slept all day
awoke with distaste
and I railed,
and I raved

That the difference between
the sprout and the bean
is a golden ring,
it is a twisted string.
And you can ask the counselor;
you can ask the king;
and they'll say the same thing;
and it's a funny thing:

Should we go outside?
Should we go outside?
Should we break some bread?
Are y'interested?

And as I said,
I slept as though dead
dreaming seamless dreams of lead.

When you go away,
I am big-boned and fey
in the dust of the day,
in the dirt of the day.

and Danger! Danger! Drawing near them was a white coat,
and Danger! Danger! drawing near them was a broad boat,
And the water! water! running clear beneath a white throat,
and the hollow chatter of the talking of the Tadpoles,

who know th'outside!
Should we go outside?
Should we break some bread?
Are y'interested?


3.  The book of Right ~ on

We should shine a light on, a light on.
And the book of right-on is right on, it was right on,

I killed my dinner with karate -
kick 'em in the face, taste the body;
shallow work is the work that I do.

Do you want to sit at my table?
My fighting fame is fabled
and fortune finds me fit and able.

And you do say
that you do pray
and you do say
that you're okay.

Do you want to run with my pack?
Do you want to ride on my back?
Pray that what you lack does not distract.

And even when you ruin through my mind
something else is in front; you're behind.
And I don't have to remind you
to stick with your kind

And you do say (...)

And even when you touch my face
you know your place.

We should shine a light on, a light on. (...)


4.  Sadie

Sadie, white coat,
carry me home.
Bury this bone,
take this pinecone.

Bury this bone
to gnaw on it later; gnaw on the telephone.
'Till then, we pray & suspend
the notion that these lives do never end.

And all day long we talk about mercy:
lead me to water lord, I sure am thirsty.
Down in the ditch where I nearly served you,
up in the clouds where he almost heard you

And all that we built,
and all that we breathed,
and all that we spilt, or pulled up like weeds
is piled up in back;
it burns irrevocably.
(we spoke up in turns,
'till the silence crept over me)

Bless you
and I deeply do
no longer resolute
and I call to you

But the water go so cold,
and you do lose
what you don't hold.

This is an old song,
these are old blues.
This is not my tune,
but it's mine to use.
And the seabirds
where the fear once grew
will flock with a fury,
and they will bury what'd come for you

Down where I darn with the milk-eyed mender
you and I, and a love so tender,
is stretched-on the hoop where I stitch-this adage:
"Bless this house and its heart so savage."

And all that I want, and all that I need
and all that I've got is scattered like seed.
And all that I knew is moving away from me.
(and all that I know is blowing
like tumbleweed)

And the mealy worms
in the brine will burn
in a salty pyre,
among the fauns and ferns.

And the love we hold,
and the love we spurn,
will never grow cold
only taciturn.

And I'll tell you tomorrow.
Sadie, go on home now.
Bless those who've sickened below;
bless us who've chosen so.

And all that I've got
and all that I need
I tie in a knot
that I lay at your feet.
I have not forgot,
but a silence crept over me.
(So dig up your bone,
exhume your pinecone, my sadie)


5.  Inflammatory Writ

Oh, where is your inflammatory writ?
Your text that would incite a light,
"Be lit"?
Our music deserving devotion unswerving -
cry "Do I deserve her?" with unflagging fervor.
(Well, no you do not, if you cannot get over it)

And what's it mean when suddenly we're spent?
Ambition came and reared its head, and went.
Even mollusks have weddings, though solemn and leaden
but you dirge for the dead, take no jam on your bread
- just a supper of salt and a waltz through your empty bed.

And all at once it came to me,
and i wrote and hunched 'till four-thirty
But that vestal light, it burns out with the night
in spite of all the time that we spent on it:
one bedraggled ghost of a sonnet!
While outside, the wild boars root
without bending a bough underfoot-
O it breaks my heart; I don't know how they do't.

And as for my inflammatory writ?
Well, I wrote it and I was not inflamed one bit.
Advice from the master derailed that disaster;
he said "Hand that pen over to ME, poetaster!"
While across the great plains, keening lovely & awful,
ululate the last Great American Novels -
An unlawful lot, left to stutter and freeze, floodlit.
(But at least they didn't run, to their undying credit.)


6.  This Side of the Blue

Svetlana sucks lemons across from me,
and I am progressing abominably.
And I do not know my own way to the sea
but the saltiest sea knows its own way to me.

The city that turns, turns protracted and slow
and I find myself toeing th'embarcadero
and I find myself knowing the things that I knew
which is all that you can know on this side of the blue

And Jaime has eyes black and shiny as boots
and they march at you, two-by-two (re - loo - re - loo);
when she looks at you, you know she's nowhere near through:
it's the hardest heart beating this side of the blue.

And the signifieds butt heads with the signifiers,
and we all fall down slack-jawed to marvel at words!
While across the sky sheet the impossible birds,
in a steady, illiterate movement homewards.

And Gabriel stands beneath forest and moon.
See them rattle & boo, see them shake, see them loom.
See him fashion a cap from a page of Camus;
see him navigate deftly this side of the blue.

And the rest of our lives will the moments accrue
when the shape of their goneness will flare up anew.
hen we do what we have to do (re - loo - re -loo),
which is all you can do on this side of the blue.


7.  "En Gallop"

This place is damp and ghostly
I am already gone.
And the halls were lined with the disembodied
and dustly wings, which fell from flesh
gasplessly.

And I go where the trees go,
and I walk from a higher education
(for now, for hire)

And it beats me, but I do not know.

Palaces and stormclouds
the rough, straggly sage, and the smoke
and the way it will all come together
(in quietness, in time)

And you laws of property
you free economy
you unending afterthoughts,
you could've told me before -

Never get so attached to a poem
you forget truth that lacks lyricism;
never draw so close to the heat
that you forget that you must eat.


8.  Cassiopeia

Feel the mattress tense beneath me
like the muscle of nonsleepy;
Feathers flexing will defeat me,
and it vexes me completely.

And the hexes heat covertly
like a slow low-flying turkey
like a Texan drying jerky
but his meaty mitts can't hurt me

With my steely will compounded
in a mighty mound that's hounded
by the SNAP my steel string sounded,
just before your snores unwound it.

And in store are dreams so daring
that the night can't stop from staring.
I'll swim sweetly as a herring
through the ether, not despairing.

Go to sleep, you stunning sky;
gently creep cunning by:
A quiet hum is amplified
by your thumb, that you suck dry.

Hundred raging waters snare the lonely sigh.
Hold your breath and clasp at Cassiopiea.


9.  Peach, Plum, Pear

We speak in the store
I'm a sensitive bore
and you're markedly more
and I'm oozing surprise

But it's late in the day
and you're well on your way
what was golden went gray
and I'm suddenly shy

And the gathering floozies
afford to be choosy
and all sneezing darkly
in the dimming divide

I have read the right books
to interpret your looks
you were knocking me down
with the palm of your eye

This was unlike the story
it was written to be
I was riding its back
when it used to ride me

We were galloping manic
to the mouth of the source
we were swallowing panic
in the face of its force

I was blue and unwell,
made me belt like a horse.

Now it's done.
Watch it go.
You've changed some.
Water ruin from the snow.

Am I so dear?
Do I run rare?
You've changed some:
peach, plum, pear.


10.  Swamsea

If you want to come on down,
down with your bones so white,
And watch the freight trains pound
into the wild, wild night

How I would love to gnaw,
gnaw on your bones so white,
and watch as the freight trains paw,
paw at the wild, wild night.

All these ghost towns, wreathed in old loam
(Assateague knee-deep in seafoam)-
Ho Swansea! Buttonwillow!
Lagunitas! Ho Calico!

And all these beastly bungalows
stare, distend, like endless toads -
endlessly hop down the road.
Borne by wind, we southward blow.

While yonder, wild and blue,
the wild blue yonder looms.
'Till we are wracked with rheum,
by roads, by songs entombed.

And all we want to do
is chew, and chew, and chew!
Dear one, drive on,
when all we want to do
is chew, and chew, and chew.

And if you want to come on down (...)


11.  Three Little Babies (Trad.)

There was a knight, and a lady bright
and three little babes had she.
She sent them away, to a far country,
to learn their grammerie.

They hadn't been gone but a very short time,
about three months and a day,
when the lark spread o'er this whole wide world
and taken those babes away.

It was on a cold, cold Christmas night
when everything was still
ahe saw her three little babes come running,
come running down the hill.

She spread them a table of bread and wine,
that they might drink and eat;
she spread them a bed of winding sheet,
that they might sleep so sweet.

"Take it off, take it off," cried the eldest one;
"take it off, take it off," cried she,
"for I shan't stay here, in this wicked world
when there's a better one for me."

"Cold clods, cold clods, inside my bed,
cold clods, down at my feet -
the tears my dear mother shed for me
would wet my winding sheet."


12.  Clam, Crab, cockle, Cowrie

That means no
where I come from.
I am cold, out waiting for the day to come.

I chew my lips, and I scratch my nose
feels so good to be a rose.

Oh don't, don't you life me up
like I'm that shy, no no no no no, just five it up -
There are bats all dissolving in a row
into the wishy-washy dark that can't let go.
I cannot let go,
so I thank the lord,
and I thank his sword!
'tho it be mincing up the morning, slightly bored.

O, morning without warning like a hole,
and I watch you go.
There are some mornings when the sky looks like a road.
There are some dragons who were built to have and hold.
And some machines are dropped from great heights lovingly.
and some bellies ache with many bumblebees.
(and they sting so terribly).

I do as I please.
Now I'm on my knees.
Your skin is something that I stir into my tea.
And I am watching you
and you are starry, starry, starry
and I'm tumbling down, and I check a frown.
Well, just look around.  It's why I love this town:
just see me serenaded hourly!  celebrated sourly!
dedicated dourly; waltzing with the open sea -
clam, crab, cockle, cowrie : will you just look at me?