Bow and Be Simple

by Matt Harlan & The Sentimentals

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about

This music comes to you from someplace between the corner of Welch and Waugh (Houston) and the island of Mon (Denmark), born under a windmill as summer turned into fall in 2011...It practically made itself - pulling inspiration from mud, jetlag, DADGAD and a cargo van...The songs we knew were fed on hospitality and whipped into shape one night in Sweden...We faked the others because we could...Eventually, it was all pieced together with catchphrases and rye bread cake...We hope you like it...Where do you want it?

credits

released March 20, 2012

The Players:
Jacob Chano - Drums / Percussion
Rachel Jones - Vox
MC Hansen - Acoustic guitars / Electric Guitar / Harmonica (#8)/ Lap Steel
Matt Harlan - Acoustic guitar / Electric Guitar / Harmonica (#7 & #9) / Vox
Nikolaj Wolf - Bass

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about

Matt Harlan Houston, Texas

Matt Harlan is a troubadour of the first degree, bringing songs of bus-stops, coffee-shops and lives overlooked to stages across his home-state of Texas, the USA and Europe. His expressive vocals recall Chris Smither and Chris Knight, shading his poignant songs with soaring heart and aching grit. ... more

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Track Name: Bow and Be Simple
I will bow and be simple
And try as I can
To suffer the children
And walk like a man.
Through high times and low, lord,
With luck wearing thin
I will bow and be simple
The best that I can.

I walk humble and patient
Along down the road
And I search for the truth
In the stories I’m told
I try, but I find
I still don’t understand
So I’ll bow and be simple
‘Til I take it all in.

I will hope the notes linger
When I’m dead and gone
And tell those behind
To keep traveling on.
I might be adrift
Like a leaf on the wind
If it’s dirt or redemption
I’ll be born again.

But I will come to you later
And tell you in song
If it’s angels or acrobats
That carry us home.
And I’ll whisper my words
In the wind as it blows.
I will bow and be simple
‘Cause it’s all that I know.
Track Name: Too Much Going On
I was looking out the window, wishing it would rain,
Thinking about a thousand things I could've done today,
I know, I know, the nights are just as long.
Aw, but these days it seems, there's just too much going on.

She said the miles will turn to memories and the reaper's on the fence,
I'm just trying to solve the problems of the past and present tense.
I know, I know, it's darkest 'fore the dawn.
Aw, but these days it seems, there's just too much going on.

I keep running round these questions, and there's things that I don't need
A phone that won't stop ringing and a heartbreaking machine.
I know, I know, I can break it on my own.
Aw, but these days it seems, there's just too much going on.

It's a subtle disconnection, but it's one I've always known,
Just because you're lonesome doesn't mean you're all alone.
I know, I know, it sounds better in a song.
Aw, but these days it seems, there's just too much going on.
Track Name: Darker Shade of Grey
It’s good to be back here, don’t know why I stayed so long,
But I’ve heard sirens in my ear, seen the midnight turn to dawn.
Some say the world revolves around the slow pull of the sun
But I’m learning it’s the darker things that get the moving done.

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t thought to call,
But I’ve had burglaries and mysteries that take too long to solve.
I wish that I could tell you of the fortune and the fame
But there’s a high cost of admission to the game we’re trying to play.

It’s the sin along the sidelines, the straight and narrow way...
Is longer and it’s tougher than they ever said it’d be.
It’s the palette of the headlines, the color of the rain...
Real life hangs in shadows and the darker shade of grey

It’s like 200 million dollars up there on that highway sign
And you’re blinded like the shoreline to the hurricane’s disguise
If you think that you can take it home for a pocketful of change
That’s dumber than the actor that believes the world’s a stage.

And there’s a thimbleful of stories that I can’t quite talk about
But I know one day they’ll lay me down and it’ll all just roll out.
Some say the world revolves around the slow pull of the sun
But I’m learning it’s the darker things that get the moving done.

It’s the secrets of the boardroom, the hands that turn the page...
It’s outside of your orbit, like the satellite display.
It’s like flowers or like fireworks, they dazzle and they fade,
And you’re left with empty pockets and a darker shade of grey.
‘Cause real life hangs in shadows and the darker shade of grey
Track Name: Simple Song
I tried to write a simple song - Something closer to the truth -
Three chords and a couple drops of rain.
But I ended up just ramblin’ on, the way I always do.
Ain’t nothing changed...nothing’s changed.

Started out with rags and wishes and a few dreams on the shelf.
It could have been a million different days
From where I am and who I was, when I lost and how I won
What stayed the same? What stayed the same?

I’m still riding these long hours and talking to myself
Trying to keep the wheels between the lines.
‘Cause all my life it’s been the same
Changing courses and changing lanes
Take the low road just as often as the high
‘Cause you know life is just a million roads to drive.

I was born in this old city, I moved back here late one year.
Started out by losing my damn mind.
All my friends they said they knew, what too much city’s bound to do.
I guess I’ll find that out in my sweet time.

I’m still riding these long hours and talking to myself
Trying to keep the wheels between the lines.
‘Cause all my life it’s been the same
Changing courses and changing lanes
Take the low road just as often as the high
‘Cause you know life is just a million roads to drive.

I tried to write a simple song - Something closer to the truth -
Three chords and a couple drops of rain.
But I ended up just ramblin’ on, the way I always do.
Ain’t nothing changed...nothing’s changed.
Track Name: The Ring
“It’s cold outside tonight babe, better wear your coat you know we can’t afford no doctor bills.”
She might as well have told him, “Jack you ain’t good for nothin’”
‘Cause he answered with his hand and left her lying still.

She married up a mean one, he don’t take no direction.
His temper leads him where he needs to go.
He has a funny way of showing his affection
And by now you might think that she might know.

The ring around her eye – all the colors in the sky
In the quiet, twilight minutes ‘fore the dawn.
Purple, black and blue with a light creeping through,
And the shadow of five fingers round her arm.

Everybody has one, you never see ’em coming,
Those unfamiliar points of no return.
Suzanne passed hers last winter, some midnight in December
One lonely hour it showed itself to her.

She was cleaning up the kitchen,
The mess she made for dinner,
Trying hard to calm her trembling hands.
It was drowning in the dishes, beneath her own reflection
A spot that won’t come clean, in a silver frying pan.

The ring around her eye – all the colors in the sky
In the quiet, twilight minutes ‘fore the dawn.
Purple, black and blue with a light creeping through,
And the shadow of five fingers round her arm.

The sirens they came blazing early that next morning.
They came because she called for them to come.
They found Jack in the bedroom, right where she said they’d find him.
Suzanne was in the kitchen having coffee with a gun.

The ring around her eye – all the colors in the sky
In the quiet, twilight minutes ‘fore the dawn.
Purple, black and blue with a light creeping through,
And the shadow of five fingers round her arm.
Track Name: Elevator Ride
Whores are changing in the alley, pebbles in their shoes.
All the people on the corner with their mortgages and blues.
I’m screaming through the traffic lights, emptying my mind.
Ready for tomorrow morning’s elevator ride.

Wake up with the trash collectors clanging in my head.
I switch off the alarm as I try to leave my bed.
Rushing through the coffee and the early morning news.
The streets are filled with zombies and lawyers make the rules –
Empty-headed zombies leading children to the moon.

Headed to the office on the 32nd floor,
You know my head is getting dizzy, I stumble through the door.
All day I’m chasing money like the cure for some disease,
Just living that old story ‘bout the forest and the trees.
Starving in the forest and hiding ‘neath the trees.

Home about eleven, like the night and night before.
My baby’s in the bed so I’m sleeping on the floor.
Beat out like a carpet as I crawl into the night.
Ready for tomorrow morning’s elevator ride.
Ready for tomorrow morning’s elevator ride.
Track Name: Baby Blue
Is anybody out there?
Do you hear my song?
Is anybody out there keeping on?
Is anybody out there or down below?
Would you trade the life that you have had for one that you don’t know?

Is anybody out there?
Do you understand?
Or will I have to teach you how to hold my hand?
I’ll do what I have to for us to meet.
And when we do I promise you I’ll be discreet.

I bet the stars look like stars in your city too
I bet the rain looks like rain from your point of view
I’ll take the time I haven’t spent and save that time for you
Baby Blue

I’ve met all kinds of people
They’re all the same...
A series of decisions and a name.
I wonder what your name is and if you will
Like the house we live in up on Cherry Hill.

I bet the stars look like stars in your city too
I bet the rain looks like rain from your point of view
I’ll take the time I haven’t spent and save that time for you
Baby Blue

There’s a dead skunk on the highway outside San Antone.
He never had a family and he died all alone.
Maybe he didn’t want one...maybe he didn’t try....
Or maybe they’re all waiting for him in the by-and-by.

I bet the stars look like stars in your city too
I bet the rain looks like rain from your point of view
I’ll take the time I haven’t spent and save that time for you
Baby Blue
Track Name: The Easy Road
Folks are falling out along the interstate,
Mining the hard scrabble of this old decade.
Cans and empty packs of cigarettes are gently placed all around the room.

Jimmy couldn’t stand the thought of living off the land.
Went looking for a job in public transit
Now he spends his days in bars and at night he’s driving borrowed cars.
And he says the world don’t work quite like he planned.

He says the easy road has taken us for granted
Seems as though we’ve taken it the same.
Looking for a change – and the unspeakable –
Left ourselves in chains.

And Rita she’s just crashing in her living room of choice...
Out looking for a job when she’s not stoned.
But the phone it just won’t ring, so she’s drifting off to better things
Than trying to scrape that meat right off the bone.

She says the easy road has taken us for granted
Seems as though we’ve taken it the same.
Looking for a change – and the unspeakable –
Left ourselves in chains.

Katie’s waiting tables, with her liberal arts degree.
(Serving) French fries with her poetry and prose.
And she’s paying down her loans and wishing she could move back home
At least ‘til she works off all that she owes.

She says the easy road has taken us for granted
Seems as though we’ve taken it the same.
Looking for a change – and the unspeakable –
Left ourselves in chains.

Folks are falling out along the interstate,
Mining the hard scrabble of this new decade.
Cans and empty packs of cigarettes are gently placed all around the room.
Track Name: Long Ride Home
You’re the picture of a woman like I’ve never seen
On any model or a memory of a magazine.
I swear I see your face in every moonlight ride -
Slipping around me like the falling night.

You’re a memory collector for my empty head,
Digging in the ditches of a graveyard bed.
You’re the fire in my belly when I can’t complain,
Picking up the words that I forgot to say.

You’re the traces that I leave in every place I’ve gone.
A candle in the window when the lights are on.
You’re a ghost in every room that I sleep alone,
Smiling at the end of every long ride home.

You’re the truth the Revelator said would set me free
And the worry that I never thought would let me be.
Humming underneath the static of the radio.
Smiling right beside me on the long ride home.

And you’re talking to the people when I don’t know how,
Tossing minutes out the window just to count the hours.
You’re a candle when there isn’t any light around --
Rocking like a cradle ‘til the storm dies down.