Promises

About this track

“Promises” is one of my oldest songs, written sometime in 1987. If the lyrics strike you as somewhat juvenile, well that’s because they were written by a juvenile. I was 17 back then and channeling a lot of Duran Duran. I wanted to write as cryptically and enigmatically as the singers I listened to at the time. I still write around a subject than writing about it.

But it’s pretty clear this song is about broken promises and dashed expectations. Nothing terribly illuminating. The final verse originally used much stronger language, but a friend of mine who sang vocals on a lost demo didn’t think it fit. Years later, I figured she was right.

Although I started writing this song in 1987, I didn’t get around to recording a first draft till 1991, and by then, I didn’t really like the original chorus. Sting’s “Lazarus Heart” and John Zorn’s Naked City album were on the back of my mind, so I decided to shift the emphasis on the beat with time signature changes — 12/16, 6/8 and 4/4. The freaked-out middle section is my puny attempt to emulate Naked City.

This song would probably make a pretty good single if it weren’t for that middle section.

On my earliest demo tapes, this song would also be the first track, because it just has that album opener feel. And so, it opens Imprint.

Lyrics

Out of nowhere, from the subway
White steam rises in the night
Without a hint of contradiction
Honesty is just a word

Daylight dies, the night surrenders
To a place of darkened shame
In this town, quiet whispers
Tell the truth, say the name

Just like a broken dream or a nightmare
Listening thieves on the wall stop and stare

Oh it's just a promise
No it's just a deal

Secrets show who's the guilty
Whom among us Judas lives
Burning bush, Ten Commandments
Covenants, what do they say?

Just like a crucifix on a Buddhist wall
Listening theives in the rain hear my call

Oh it's just a promise
No it's just a deal

Friends they go, enemies stay
Kiss your arse, stab your back
Promise you another deal
Silent bells break deep, cold cracks

A friend in need, a friend indeed
To break your heart and screw your brain

[Imprint]

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  • Label: Observant
  • Release date: September 24, 2013

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