Spirit Animal

by Real Live Tigers

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1.
Woodsmoke 01:54
Woodsmoke and wet wool blankets, cold floors and warm sleeping bags. Sleep until the rain lets up. The trucks shift down and the ruts get worn, year after year. I wonder who I will become when I'm not here. Borrowed clothes and broken shoes, dirty hair and a small grey bruise. The lives they choose are beautiful and what I set my course upon. This road is long, but it's the one I'm traveling on.
2.
Back then I tore and burned the leaves for proof of power in my body, but it was in my choice. It's good to have a voice in something, like I was something to hear. For now I always act this helpless, the fire brought into your forest. But could you still love me if I was a lady or something? If I was someone you could love. Sometimes you stare back so strongly. Sometimes you make me so lonely. And it stems from my longing that somehow keeps me songing for something I doubt anybody else wants.
3.
New fire 05:56
Now that I'm strong again. Now that I love my fellow man. Now at winter's end in a small town in the south. New fire in my throat and new songs in my bones. See them flutter out like sparrows from the grove. How soon until you become the person you dreamed up when you were still young enough to be impressed with fire?
4.
One more song about moving on down the highway, And I sure do hope this road don't come to own me. A gas station life scraped across the desert floor, still searching for open hearts and listening eyes, the right body to lie beside. And still, still, still was the night. And still, still, still was my life easy. Viking Moses, what have we become? Creatures of habit, I suppose. Or rare desert birds now living in the open. But remind me, remind me to be simple as a sparrow, to not be afraid to bathe in the dust, to not be afraid to eat their crumbs. And still, still, still I know where you were. And still, still, still I waited for you to call me near. And now that I'm here will we be as brave as we feared we'd be? Or will we be as tame as we've always been?
5.
Tusks 03:17
On land that was never ours. In a country we refused to touch. Create the words that mean no thing (enemy combatant). Men become animals become nothing. Steel shacks, steel traps, shackled beneath black hoods, orange jumpsuits. Far from Geneva, close to shame, does your mother know how you spend your days? Does she know how easy it is to simulate drowning for the hundredth time? Does she know you dream about it now? Does she know you dream about it every night? If you lock a man in a room for six years will he emerge a man? Will he ever learn how to forgive? Will he ever learn how to live again? And O Guantanamo Bay. Life is a game we play. Everyone has a dark side, but not everyone wins.
6.
Acquainted with the night, my brothers of the light and my scarecrows friends. We sing these songs in code, still everybody knows exactly what we said. We drew maps of our sadness, desperate atlases, directions on how to find our hearts, bus schedules in the form of scars. Tell me exactly where you are and I will meet you there tomorrow night, and I will be brave and bright and new. Still everybody showed at those bad house shows, where the party came early and the songs got surly. The amps got turned up, our throats got tore up. We wanted everyone to know how honestly we'd lived. And if I gave up now like I wanted to so many times before I'd be letting the undeserving in, I'd be letting mediocrity win. How many secrets did we give away just hoping that somehow the right ones were listening? Come back into the light. If only the right ones were listening.
7.
Elk's blood 03:51
A whole nation can rape an heiress before the poorest can leave their city of water. And her father walks in, all covered in elk's blood. He says one got stuck in the fence. His sawtooth is broken. His one good leg is broken. But you can't talk to a man with blood on his hands. He will slander and speak of the promised land, draw crosses in the air and lines in the sand. There is a restlessness, a hungriness, a storm that sleeps inside us. They say the wicked never sleep. Neither do we, but I still believe in something. Like the church bells on the way back home, where my roommate, she is crying. The most beautiful film she's ever seen, that gauzy shimmering.
8.
Slow hunter 04:24
Slow hunter, your patient hunger amazes me. Your watchful waiting engages me. Eat until you get your fill. I am a lion. I am a ghost. I am the life left after you go. I am a tiger, what don't you know? I am the eyetooth inside your skull.
9.
Floodplains 02:36
And all that I wanted to hold was washed away in a flood that bit and stung our young legs like dogs too savage to beg. And we watched as that brown water churned and angrily took what we'd earned. Our wet eyes, our stomachs did turn, as we felt how this world does learn us. O, take us away from these floodplains. O, take us away, out of harm's way.
10.
Sister K 04:24
How to say this right, you are my sister true. Your desert dreams find me here on this roof, where a blue tarp is forever flapping at my feet, like a single wave returning to the shore. I want to see you happy. I want to see you whole. I want to see you untangled from everything that stole from you. We both found the light from so many false moons. Let them now be conquered, let the light pass through. Sister K, I've seen you fall. I've been your guard dog. And I have failed you a number of times. Apothecary songs to sing to the desert night, this worn-down body, my burnt-out mind. We both share a belief in magic, the power of poetry, in love to heal all things. They don't make ones like us anymore.
11.
Riverbeds 05:49
The tigers cried themselves to sleep and their stripes fell to their feet, and they fall asleep so easily, their fur still wet in the mornings. They're not like the rest of us, such hungry lions with no remorse. No, we have open hearts and open minds. We are here to sleep in riverbeds and make new friends, to sing these old folk songs and drink on porches all summer long. I don't know what words to say that will make you fall in love with me for the rest of our lives, but I hope and 'pray' that one day we'll all have peace, but mostly that my friends will be happy and I know there is a song, it hasn't been written, but we'll sing along when it does. I don't know what to do on days when it feels like my heart could either break or burst. Open hearts and open minds. And I promise you that all we have got is all we after, I swear.

credits

released June 2, 2011

Tracks 3, 6, 8, 9 recorded at Listen Lab, Fayetteville, Arkansas in April 2010 by Dwight Chalmers.

Tracks 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 10, 11 and overdubs on tracks 3, 6, 8, 9 recorded at East Hall, Fayetteville, Arkansas in February and April 2011 by Chris Moore.

Mixed and mastered by Chris Moore.

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Real Live Tigers Austin, Texas

Letters read aloud over AM radio, quiet guitar through motel room walls, loud electric guitar in summer basements, gravel parking lots in the rain, train sounds.

Real Live Tigers has had many line-ups since 2004. The project was started by Tony Presley and is often him solo, either on classical guitar or electric, but has been as many as 8 people crammed together on a tiny stage.
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