Where I've Been, Where I'm Going
Anna Walk This World
Bittersweet Australian Dream
The Maura Song
Lexington Queen
Wiffleball Days
You Carry Me

(click on title to download the MP3)

Words and music © 2004 by Eric Hsu, except "You Carry Me" words and non-coda music by Chris Mitra. "Lexington Queen" title by John Byrd. Songs recorded in July 2004 on Garageband. Many thanks for musical inspiration from Ellen and the Hungry Hungry Hippos (Chris, John, Kerwin). Photo by Cliff Gromer.

Comments welcome at cranky@owlmelon.com.

Where I've Been, Where I'm Going was written in a hotel in Antigua Guatemala which used to be a convent. Every hour bells would chime in big fat E's, so I wrote a song that went with that sound. Anna was written in honor of Ellen's mother who died when she was young. Maura Tierney starred on Newsradio. I'm forever grateful to that show; it helped me to recover from a relationship after a painful break-up (also inspiring Bittersweet). The Lisa character had some qualities that I found attractive, and I wasn't sure that was healthy. The show played re-runs every night on UPN44, so I saw most of the shows and felt a lot of affection for that bunch. After I had seen all of the first four seasons and had moved to another city and a new partner, I finally saw "Bill Moves On", which was their farewell to Phil Hartman after he died. It was so moving, so real and so sad. But it also felt like that was the perfect way to close the book on a very painful time. Lexington Queen is the title of a poem John Byrd wrote. I liked it enough to steal it for this song, which itself is a rewrite of "She's Unbearable Spy" from the old Lassa Fever/Pearls Before Swine Flu tape. Wiffleball Days is completely factual. I grew up on Roosevelt Island in NYC, which is a little island in the East River under the Queensboro Bridge. The tramway that gets trashed in Spiderman is real, and it was the main connection from the island to Manhattan for my childhood. The island is sloped so that if any round toy gets rolling towards the river's edge, you have to sprint to keep it from going in the murky waters. In a small place like this, we played a lot of wiffleball in odd nooks of buildings, like against the wall of our schoolhouse. I really liked that game. Lots of wasted summers. You Carry Me was written by Chris Mitra, a great song I'm sure the Hippos would have played if we had continued to exist. So I'm covering it here instead. I helped out with the end of the song. Rainmaker is the name of a play that John was in. I started a little project to write a song for each of the characters, and this is Starbuck's song. Have I mentioned how fantastic Garageband is?

Where I've Been, Where I'm Going

The place I've been was 29 years of resentment
The place was beautiful when you're right and resent it
But even though it felt so true I had to let it go

The place I'm going renounces contempt
cause I'd rather be loved than beautiful in the place where I'm going
It's clear and true. There's room for you. I hope you'll find it soon.

Anna Walk This World

Pack up beneath the jet-trail skies,
you're not supposed to go but you leave New Mexico behind,
you're not supposed to go so far from home
East Coast lights, smile for the cameras, how you glow,
you're not supposed to but you send weekly letters, rain or snow,
all you're discovering so far from home

Oh Marianna, walk this world barefoot in dreams and memory
oh Anna sparks beneath your feet, sparks in your eyes

You love a good but low-class man you're not supposed to
and your sad mama vetoes all your plans.
You're not supposed to but you say "I Do"
And you give birth, a daughter just like you,
She's not supposed to but she jumps round in dresses, rocket-fueled
and every time she says "Forgive me," you say "I Do!"

Then cancer came and bled you dry,
your family shattered when you died,
and your daughter put her arms around herself
she can't let go for twenty years
she has friends but no one gets too near
she put her arms round herself

That's where the story starts for me
I'm putting faith in her and I think she's starting to believe
We can go farther when we walk side by side
thanks for the spark you left with her
and I hope I'm going to be all she deserves
when your spirit's here, let's walk side by side

Bittersweet Australian Dream

Here's where we started, hopeful-hearted
a courthouse by the lakeside
friends and plastic flowers
Now I'm returning, guts all churning
I've brought and signed the papers
to nullify those vows
but I've got so much to do, before I wake up

All the same window, it seems so simple
Births and deaths and marriage
Across the great divide
I wish you could see me, I'm almost healthy
I look at our old letters
They even make me smile
But I've got so much to do, before I wake up

Before I wake up from this bittersweet Australian dream

I'm back where we started, hopeful-hearted
a courthouse by the lakeside

The Maura Song

I've too much to lose to stare like a fool at you
I feel like a kid when you're looking my way
If we could go sideways out of the lives we lead
I'd swallow my pride and here's what I'd say

Maura, I'm a fool
Maura, I'm confused
Maura, Maura, you're everything I lost and never knew

You're holding him close, do you ever think of me?
I'm kissing her thighs, are your curves so pale?
Are you salty and dark or bitter and almondy?
Would you shiver in quiet or tremble and wail?

I daydream that you uncover the life I lead
I'm secret, amazing, thrilling your heart
I'm playing with plans for getting you close to me
But even in dreams it all falls apart

Lexington Queen

She keeps the keys to her old front door with her private things
She keeps pictures of her high school sweetheart with her mother's rings
She had a daydream, she had a daydream
But she’s got a grip on it now
She knows that we’re never going back

Oh, she’s my Lexington Queen

I had a pocket of sure-fire leads but they’re drying up
I’m getting tired of interviews about deficiencies
I had a dream, I had a dream
But she’s got a grip on me now
She says we’re never going back

She says “Breathe”, she says “Breathe”
“All that I left so far away,
you make it up to me every single day”
She says "Dream"

Wiffleball Days

Sunday's gloomy and we get no sleep
Since our wiffleball went in the deep
Little white ball won't come back
Float away down to Hackensack

Snap tight on a plastic ball
throw your curve, i'll smack it off the wall
spray grounders on a concrete field
then dive hard cause your cuts (bones, face) will heal

(ooh lazy sunday)

(Who's got the ball?
Who's got next?
Don't need a glove
just walls and an arm to flex)

Glen saw one on the schoolhouse roof
They fixed the fence but we know what to do
Keep lookout while we swing him round
hold tight and he won't hit the ground
we got it

why do people love the days of young?
life sucks and you're helpless and dumb
you're not people yet, you cheat and pretend
only wiffleball is keeping you friends


On this dusty road, the world looks cracked
God has shot his load, and turned his back
Lives are dead and dried, straw and bone
Stories turned to sighs

Well a little bit of faith makes you hope a little
and a little bit of hope makes you pray
and a little bit of prayer makes a holy rain
come down thundering

Everywhere I go, you lost your spark
Drought and ill winds blow, but don't lose heart
Write the secret lines, your hidden name
Find the darkened light

You Carry Me

Can I hold on just a little more
Can I hold you hold you maybe just like before, and
When I go, When I go,
My dreams return to me, and
When I go, When I go,
I see you there under me, oh

Can I tell you just a little more
Can I make it clear, just like days that came before, 'cause
Where I go, Where I go,
You carry me, you carry me, and
Where I go, Where I go,
You keep me fighting gravity

Year goes by, this winter seems its colder,
But I get by somehow, even satellites up on my shoulder

Can I call you everyday so strong
Can you keep me going, even on a night this long, 'cause
Where I go, Where I go,
You carry me, you carry me