Serpentine

Gillian’s first full-length effort. Co-produced with Tim Sonnefeld and independently released at MilkBoy in October 2007. Singles: No Answer, Silken String (2nd prize winner of the 2008 New York Songwriters Circle Competition), and Sweet Metallic (featured on NBC 10).

  1. No Answer
  2. Silken String
  3. Sweet Metallic
  4. A Thousand “I Love You”s
  5. Tell Me
  6. Pulse
  7. So Funny
  8. Better or Worse
  9. Tamlin
  10. The Train

No Answer

There it is, that hollow sound,
No footsteps falling on the ground
No rainstorm, no thunderclouds
Nothing to write home about

Sometimes silence is all there is
It’s just difficult to sit with
No answer is an answer
It’s just not the one you were waiting for
Oh, the weight of those three small words
And the echo still heavier
Silence in return

Waiting by the telephone
Got much easier since cellular, still
There comes a time you’ve got to draw the line
I think I’m giving up tonight

Sometimes silence is all there is
It’s just difficult to sit with
No answer is an answer
It’s just not the one you were waiting for
Oh, the weight of those three small words
And the echo still heavier
Silence in return

It’s a classic scenario
Standing here with the game-show doors
Open one and the rest stay closed
Their secrets left untold
So much you just can’t know

It’s not the one you were waiting for
Oh, the weight of those three small words
And the echo still heavier
Silence in return
No answer

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Silken String

There was a man
He was a tall man
But he never stood up tall
And he hid thick books
Behind the cash register at work
To make the time pass better

And the bells clattered when I opened the door
And he picked up his head as I walked in the store
I could see the sweat falling down his face in the heat
Like beads on a silken string

I was waiting for a ride
So we chose to pass the time
Sharing words and coffee
And as he told me his story
I could feel something funny
Like my reason was deserting me

Oh, I’m in love with a man from the North Country
He’s got hair like a bear, it grows wild and free
I can feel myself slipping like a kid with new skis
Like beads on a silken string

Nobody knows where the time it goes
So I hope you’ll follow me
Nobody knows when love will show
Inconveniently

My friend drove up
In a black Ford truck
And said, “C’mon, I’m sorry,”
So I turned and said, “Goodbye, sir,”
And “Thank you for your time, sir,”
He said, “I’ll be seeing you later,”

Oh, I’m in love with a man from the North Country
He’s got hair like a bear, it grows wild and free
I can feel myself slipping like a bird on the breeze
Like beads on a silken string

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Sweet Metallic

Fear tastes like rust sucked inside your mouth
A sweet metallic you can’t spit out
You just can’t plan for this kind of thing
But what were we expecting?

We can’t stay, can’t leave, can’t force the peace
We can’t make our gods do anything

Men stand like tall white stones
Lined in a thousand tidy rows
See, we dwell in a house of cedar
No fear here, no love either

But there’s a woman sitting there
On a hard kitchen chair
Scared to death of the knock on her doorway
Don’t let him be gone, I can’t do this alone
We’ve got three kids, got a family

What am I but a single girl?
Armed with just five senses
In a senseless world
Everybody wants their answers
But getting the question right’s what really matters

You know this used to be our home
It wasn’t much but it was our own
But the waters kept on rising up
And no one came to save us

We heard, “Bye Bye Blackbird”
From the edge of a stern
That was pulling away
Yeah, we’ve built ourselves on unity
And a land of opportunity
And shame, shame, shame

Fear tastes like rust sucked inside your mouth
A sweet metallic you can’t spit out

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A Thousand “I Love You”s

Nothing tastes quite the same
As relationships gone stale
Nothing lies as heavy on the tongue
As empty smiles and words

A thousand “I love you”s
Paper-winged and set to soar
Reduced to habit and course
Nothing feels so bored

And where are all the answers?
The things that we should know of one another
Bared so much
Shared so much
Stared so starry-eyed so much
We’re loosing touch
Why do we bother?

A thousand “I love you”s
Words written down in ink
Weathered and feathering

A thousand “I love you”s
A thousand but not enough
To make the pigeon more a dove

A thousand “I love you”s
Breathed heavy and soft and sweet
Catch and choke and prick at throats
Behind the eyes too
They don’t ring true

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Tell Me

There was that time I got nauseous at a party
When the wine didn’t mix with my medication
And I stepped outside for a breath of fresh air
And my sister brought me a piece of bread
And before I could eat it I was throwing up
And she held my hair
While I wiped my mouth with that spongy crust
And she got a bucket to wash it all up

Tell me, tell me, tell me
Why’d you do that to yourself?
Seemed as good a thing to do as anything else

You were maybe six and trying to quit sucking your thumb
So you’d painted your fingers with that bitter stuff
We were lying on the bottom bunk
And you said you couldn’t sleep and would I lend you one?
So I reached over my hand and I gave you my thumb
You said it didn’t taste as good but it got the job done

Tell me, tell me, tell me
Why’d you smash that old guitar?
Sometimes you just can’t feel your art
‘till it’s lying on the ground in shards

I remember the years when we had nothing to prove
We went running around in our birthday suits

When I was a child and I’d lash out in fits
And my mom would make me sit on the stairs in timeout
And I’d cry and cry and say it wasn’t my fault
There was this dragon inside making me do wrong
And I look back now to see what has changed
And remark instead at all that’s stayed the same
We sit high on our horses and hold tight the reins
Praying a bit in the mouth’s what makes the beast tame

Tell me, tell me, tell me
Why’d you do that to yourself?
Seemed as good a thing to do as anything else
Tell me, tell me, tell me
How’d you let it go so far?
Sometimes you just can’t feel your heart
‘till it’s lying on the ground in shards

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Pulse

They say, “Watch out for the new
You never know what it might do to you,”
I find it’s this old home of mine
I’m having trouble getting used to

Every time I open my mouth
My words fall just a little too North or South
Don’t know when or what to eat
I am living the life of a syncopated beat

I can’t find the pulse of this town
Is it in the car horns or the feet falling down on the ground?
I don’t know what to do anymore
Well, it’s one thing to leave and another to try and return

Feel as though I’m going ‘round stoned
And the whole world knows it
Question is, “well, if the shoe fits…”
Oh, but what if it doesn’t?

I can’t shake this feeling inside
That I’ve left a part of me behind
Hour for 560 miles
I can’t reconcile the distance and the time

Chorus

I dropped a cup it should have broken
When it crashed down to the floor
Things ain’t behaving like their s’posed to
Glass ain’t fragile anymore

Oh my love, I am the sin
That is swollen thick with good intentions
Oh I know the trouble I’m in
I keep filling my knapsack with rocks and Bombay gin

Chorus

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So Funny

If you don’t love me you should just go on and leave
I’ll find someone who can
I don’t know why you think you’re just hanging around here
Is making you anything more of a man

‘cause you only ever think of me in terms of what I’m not
I’m sick and tired of being measured up by the things that I ain’t got

It’s so funny, you know
Being with you is just like being alone
It’s so funny, oh, it makes me weep
It’s so funny I can hardly speak

I don’t know what it was I was looking for
When I came up to your door
But I know it sure as hell wasn’t so I could sit around here
Being ignored

‘cause you only ever think of me in terms of what I’m not
I’m sick and tired of being measured up by the things that I ain’t got

Chorus

You were always telling me to try harder
And see more of the humor
Well, how’s this for a laugh for you?
Mon vieux cheri amour

Chorus

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Better or Worse

Momma, Papa, please come quickly
There’s something in my room
It’s creeping in all four corners
And I’m too afraid to move
And now it’s you who’ve got me quaking
My lord this house is shaking
And I don’t fit under my bed

Is it better or worse to know it’s been like this
Since we first left that Garden of Eden
I don’t blame the woman who took fruit from the serpent
They are gifts and tools and we need them

My parents they never made much sense
As a married couple they were pretty ridiculous
They jumped off the deep end and they held their breath
And they hoped for the best
Well, I’ve had a partner or two and I’ve learned like you
It can be harder than hell to hack it
We open our mouths, we sigh love, we cry foul
And we can’t always seem to back it

CHORUS

Of all of nature’s laws, you know,
Inertia is the worst
‘cause once you’ve chosen to start in motion
You can’t stop alone or reverse
And sometimes in my dreams
I follow the length of an outstretched arm
To see the gloss of a shiny, red apple
Yet unbitten in the palm

CHORUS

‘Cause when I think of you
in this moment, in this bedroom
and the hurt that stains our hands
I will look, I will listen
I will strive for forgiveness
For what I cannot understand

Is it better or worse to know?

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Tamlin

I hate this Halloween party
With its posh freaks and zombies
Can’t find your face in the parade
I know I don’t really belong
But last night you scared me on the phone
And so I came

My swollen tongue is flopping ‘round
The inside of my mouth
I hear the clumsy words it’s spitting out
I am a chignon come undone
I am a silken stocking run
I am drunk

You said:

Do you ever get that feeling?
Of being infinite and small
Like you’re everything and nothing at all?

I could dress you up in white
Try to lend you some kind of grace
But the shadows only gather in the hollows of your face
Something ‘bout the blacklight or the fog machine
Maybe it’s just the gin
But you look like you’re shape-shifting

Do you ever get that feeling?
Of being infinite and small
Like you’re everything and nothing at all
My love has become a glowing coal
I am not sure I can hold

I’m loosing you to that bitch, Queen Mab
I don’t know how to save you
I’m not sure that I can
Here, take my coat
You know, it’s cold outside
I want to go home
Come on, let’s call it a night

You turn and walk into the bathroom
Brushing off your nose
When you don’t come out I follow
You’re lying there on the hard tiles
I call your name and you don’t answer

Do you ever get that feeling?
Of being infinite and small
Like you’re everything and nothing at all
My love has become a burning coal
I am not sure I can hold

My love he’s become a glowing coal
And he burns me
And I hold

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The Train

My lies are as transparent as a white T-shirt in the rain
And I blush with the revealing, all my intentions made plain
And I could run for cover or I could stand my ground
Or take just three steps forward and have a look around

If I ran my finger down the length of your spine
Would you shudder, quiver, then go all still and kind?
Would you lay there open for me to read just like a book?
Or would you exhale slowly and sink me with a hook?

The train rolls by my window
I smile at the sound
Of all that heavy cargo being pulled from town to town
Are we transient in nature or are we of firmer stuff
Or what?

How can I stop this spinning?
Is it only the red wine?
Or am I simply feeling
Some cosmic-scaled design?

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  • travestie