Up Against Goodbye

by Rocket Park

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about

After 1999's "Teenage Folklore" and 2000's "The Effects of Eating Too Much Television", a third album was surely right around the corner for Rocket Park, right? Well, after cranking out two full length albums in two years at our expense while still working day jobs, we needed a breather. So we spent 2001 gigging, recording demos and tracks for various artists compilations, and responding to some indie label overtures. When 2002 rolled around and we were no closer to being signed, we thought about all we'd learned from Mike Martin (engineer and co-producer of the previous albums), bought our own recording gear and decided we would paint our own masterpiece. Little did we know the final brushstrokes wouldn't be in place for another seven years.

The actual recording of the album wasn't that problematic, aside from the occasional arguments that always emerge from a shared artistic endeavor. It's everything that followed that got sticky - a ridiculously protracted mixing process taking place in another city, personnel changes, a lack of effective leadership resulting from a debilitating divorce (mine), indecision, self-destructive perfectionism and, eventually, the demise of the band itself. Our friend Lauren warned us that putting the word "goodbye" in the title of our album would curse us. I can only counter that we were probably already doomed and were just reflecting that!

It's all a damn shame, really, because it really would've been (and, I guess, is, now that it's floating around) our best album. The material is stronger, the arrangements are more sophisticated, the performances are more assured. It's more of a band effort (and less naive) than "Folklore", more consistent (and less openly derivative) than "Television", and I think the engineering compares favorably to both albums. Eric Moore pounds the drums better than ever (the fill at the end of "Tell It to Samantha" may be one of his finest moments) and Dave Harris' bass lines always find that happy medium between rhythmic simplicity and melodic adventure. And, uh, I like the stuff I did, too.

Steve Minnis handled all of the guitar solos during the original sessions, and while there's no questioning the brilliance of the work that made it to the finished product, we were less convinced by a few of his efforts and used his departure from the band as an excuse to have Brian Henneman of the Bottle Rockets replace them. Thus we have his solos on "Fade to Grey" and "Tell It to Samantha" and a credible imitation of a meowing cat on, uh, "Stray Cat". And speaking of "Fade to Grey", Steve's short-lived replacement Scott Swartz played pedal steel and our old friend Mark Stephens of The Highway Matrons sang the lead vocal.

In closing, all I can say is - sorry it took so long! I would also like to dedicate "Tell It to Samantha" to the memory of Scott Edwards, who I learned had passed away a few years ago. He was an excellent bassist and harmony vocalist who provided the riff that ended up becoming central to that song. Our collaboration in Not Actual Size (1991-1992) was short and turbulent and it's a shame we never got to try it again without the impediment of youth. Rock on, brother.

credits

released December 31, 2003

Brian Andrew Marek - lead and harmony vocals, keyboards, guitars, loops, glockenspiel and percussion
Eric Moore - drums and percussion
Dave Harris - bass guitar, harmony vocals and percussion
Steve Minnis - rhythm and lead guitars, harmony vocals and percussion

with

Brian Henneman - lead guitar on "Fade to Grey" and "Tell It to Samantha", e-bow kitten on "Stray Cat"
Scott Swartz - pedal steel on "Fade to Grey"
Mark Stephens - lead vocals on "Fade to Grey"
Lauren Banis - additional harmony vocals and handclaps on "Gurl de Luxe"

produced and engineered by Rocket Park at (subliminal banana) studios, Richmond Heights, MO in 2002
some overdubs recorded by Adam Schmitt at Parasol Studios, Urbana, IL in 2003
mixed by Adam Schmitt and Rocket Park

all songs written by Brian Andrew Marek except
"Fade to Grey" and "Stray Cat" (Harris/Marek)
"Menthol" and "Canada" (Marek/Moore/Thompson/Harris)
"Tell It to Samantha" (Marek/Edwards)
"Gone Away" (Marek/Shirley)

Brian Henneman appears through the courtesy of The Bottle Rockets
"Tell It to Samantha" is dedicated to the memory of Scott Edwards

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about

Brian Andrew Marek St Louis, Missouri

Brian Andrew Marek has been playing and singing his way in and out of a variety of bands (including Angus Tweed, Not Actual Size, Lemonade, Popcorn, Rocket Park, Bargain Basement and The Vertigo Swirl) for over 25 years and has, in recent years, carved out a low-key, low-fidelity niche with his Bargain Basement recording studio and Rubberstamp Records label. ... more

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Track Name: Full Stop
Thought I had the answers, I could not have been more wrong
Every time I face the world I find I’m not so strong
And still I sit here waiting, it gets so damn frustrating
Living on borrowed time and dying on my own

Thought I had survival skills, the character to cope
That was just a fantasy, a momentary hope
And still I sit here waiting, it gets so damn frustrating
Living on borrowed time and dying on my own

I was stable in my station and I thought I had it made
Was it worth the price they offered, was it worth the price I paid
When I woke up in the morning begging five more minutes’ sleep
When I tried to extricate myself and found that I was in too deep

They would tell me what to do and I would do as I was told
While I took their coins of silver for the time that I had sold
And I’ll be the first to tell you that it’s no one else’s fault
But the time has come at last for me to bring it to a grinding halt

Thought I had adapted, learned to play this wicked game
Looking in the mirror, I could see I was the same
And still I sit here waiting, it gets so damn frustrating
Living on borrowed time and dying on my own
Track Name: Spinning Around
I wasted all my time waiting for some happy news
I thought that I could shake off these existential blues
My head keeps spinning around in the dark
My head keeps spinning around over you

I wasted all my cash trying to buy some peace of mind
My strangulation fears vilified the ties that bind
My head keeps spinning around in the dark
My head keeps spinning around over you

Pining, whining, running around
Such a foolish lad
Drinking, stinking, hugging the ground
Happy to be sad

I wasted all my tears on a less deserving type
When I remain composed, please accept without a gripe
My head keeps spinning around in the dark
My head keeps spinning around over you
Track Name: Cling Too Closely
Call me Phantom, it’s a good name
It describes me perfectly
I’m your problem and solution
Won’t you take a chance on me
But don’t you cling too closely

Slipping down suburban sidewalks
Clad in black and so unreal
Stealing hearts is just my way
Of showing what it means to feel
So don’t you cling too closely
Track Name: Fade to Grey
I'm going away, leaving forever
you led me on, you let me down, you made it clear
that when I'm away
my name and face are soon forgotten
I fade to grey and disappear

I'm setting a course for the horizon
and as I go, say not a word, shed not a tear
it won't take me long
to step outside your field of vision
I fade to grey and disappear

awkward in my second skin
and unaccustomed to the gravity
memories just fly away
it's all too much, I tried to touch eternity
Track Name: Here Comes the Backlash
big fish in a little pond gets nibbled by the school
once it has exceeded the parameters of cool
big fish in a little pond gets nibbled bit by bit
once the bottom feeders have grown weary of the shit

and here comes the backlash
here comes the testament of fools
you didn't read the footnotes
to the old unwritten rules
and here comes the backlash
here comes another kind of mess
they love you when you're down and out
but not as a success

little minds in little towns have nothing much to say
damn you if you're moving on and damn you if you stay
little minds in little towns grow smaller all the time
in these parts ambition is regarded as a crime

don't you let them push you 'round
and tell you what to be
if you're okay with yourself
then you're okay by me
Track Name: Menthol
She sets the scene - absurd, obscene
She’s smoking menthols with a friend
She takes the cake, she shimmy-shake
She’s smoking menthols, end to end

She’s out to lunch, exploring Mars
In nitro-burning funny cars
She’s smoking menthols, yes she is

She crucifies with x-ray eyes
She’s smoking menthols out in back
She raids your tombs, she bulk-consumes
She’s smoking menthols, pack by pack

She leaps and bounds, obscures the sounds
She’s smoking menthols for the buzz
She psycho-glance, she pretzel-dance
She’s smoking menthols just because
Track Name: Up Against Goodbye
there's no need to explain, no need to tell me why
I know the reasons for goodbye-bye-bye
just 'cos I understand don't mean that I won't cry
when I am up against goodbye-bye-bye

make your decision never to decide
this isn't life or death, it's just my pride
and I have no desire to be your cross to bear
just go about your day, don't mind me standing there

put limitations on what I may feel
and I'll remind you that this isn't real
regardless of the little flashes deep inside
regardless of the little secrets we can't hide

a brand new venture is awaiting you
far be it from me to obscure your view
make no excuses for the crime of living well
our lives are separate but strangely parallel
Track Name: Tell It to Samantha
dig in deep or cruise the shallows
lock the door and man the gallows
flaunt the token symbols of your shame
weight loss project, new sensations
wardrobe habit alteration
everybody turns out just the same

tell it to Samantha and she's hanging by a thread
baby, she's as good as dead

drink you will and drink you'd better
drain your glass you'll forget her
see the cost of freedom through a haze
be it Adam's rib or liquor
vice will surely kill you quicker
but who needs more frustrated, sober days

tell it to Samantha and she's hanging by a thread
baby, she's as good as dead
cast aside assumptions that she'd rather not be told
when her best friends say
she's cold as ice and twice as slippery
proud of weak mystique and frippery
just last night she replied as follows
"go to Hell, farewell, I'm rid of you
if you think I stink, remember to spare the hints!"
and I haven't seen her since
Track Name: Canada
We never ran away to Canada
The way we said we would
It's too late now; it always was
My plans were set in motion
Couldn't jump for fear of injury
It may be just or just because

Maybe there's another world, another planet
Where the panacea pans out in the end
Maybe I'm your lover man, maybe a stranger
Or perhaps I am a better sort of friend

We had our wires crossed
Each conflict was an aphrodisiac
And what we felt, we felt too much
You spoke of second thoughts
But I could always kill them with a kiss
A knowing look, a careful touch

Do you remember what was said
That fear of making new mistakes
Burned by the "grass is greener" vibe
I never did pull up my stakes
Track Name: You Meet Such Interesting People (In This Line of Work)
do what you do or do what you're able
even if you're a little unstable
join the Air Force, sign up for the Navy
do as you're told and bring home the gravy

you meet such interesting people
in this line of work

go see the world, expand on your knowledge
learn a new skill, earn money for college
hand to hand combat in foreign nations
keeps the world safe for oil corporations

your tour of duty's nearly completed
one final chance to fight where you're needed
go catch a bullet in your breadbasket
fly back home with a flag on your casket
Track Name: Gurl de Luxe
I've got myself a true romance
No one-night-stand flash in the pants
No textbook male commitment fears
No knock-down, drag-out fighting tears
A gorgeous body, lovely face
And not a hair is out of place
It's like she's putting on a show
She's got that healthy airbrushed glow

I'm feeling like a million bucks
Now that I've got my gurl de luxe

I used to lie about and pine
Mourn losses I could not define
My rust belt life before the rust
Clean-shaven virtue, crew-cut trust
A red meat and potatoes meal
A turquoise kitchen kind of feel
And orderly and quiet life
Two point six children and a wife

She has no ego to reject
She has no body to infect
A goddess from another age
A lover printed on a page
The questions echo in my head
Is she alive or is she dead
If she's alive she's how old now
It doesn't matter anyhow
Track Name: Stray Cat
stray cat comes up to me in the street
asks me, “who took you in?
did they neuter you, have you declawed?
where the hell have you been?”

in this world of pleasures bought and sold
am I growing up or growing old?

stray cat throws back his head with a laugh
says, “old partner in crime,
we’ve been saving a space just for you,
welcome back anytime.”

in this world of red hot and ice cold
am I growing up or growing old?

stray cat rears back and shows me his teeth
and he hisses my name
saying, “you were cool, back in the day
but you’re just not the same”

in this world of gathering moss and mold
am I growing up or growing old?