The Harvest Month

by Meridian

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about

In September 2013, I decided to write and record one song every day.

Each song was recorded with just an acoustic guitar and my vocals running into a Tascam iM2 except the first one, which was very professionally recorded directly into my phone.

I tried to adhere to a set schedule of finishing work for the day, writing a song, recording it and calling it a night, which worked for about two days. What I ended up with was a collection of songs that were all recorded at different times of the day/night at various levels of inspiration, energy and sobriety.

None of these songs have been edited at all. They're all at different volumes. A few of them are recordings of my first attempt at playing the song in full. Some of them came very naturally and others felt like I was scraping my brain out with a spoon. For better or worse, they all exist right here.

Select subjects: fireworks, truck drivers, childhood homes, skateboard accidents, horoscopes, ghosts, etc.

Click each individual song for lyrics and an explanation. Look for studio versions of a few of these songs on a forthcoming record.

- max

P.S. Here are my favorites:

1 - "New Ways / Old Days"
2 - "My Starting Point"
5 - "Storm In A Bottle"
9 - "Give Off A Glow"
13 - "Young, Professional"
14 - "The Right One"
17 - "Shutter Finger"
22 - "The Other One"
28 - "Back To The Glow"
30 - "The Harvest Month"

credits

released 01 October 2013

Max Stern - vocals, lyrics, acoustic guitar, cover design
Jake Stern - guitar on "My Starting Point"

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Track Name: New Ways / Old Days
Count down the days, dear, until I fall into place here. I will be upstairs til then, looking for new ways to process the old days. Gift wraps and papers. I wish I could stay here. Call off the search on me now. You know where I'll be found. Darling, just look down.

I knew I'd find you here, in a first-floor apartment on the near west side with the traffic ringing clear across the bridge into your room. Yeah, I know you had to go but I didn't think it'd be so soon.

Count down the days, dear, until I fall into place here.
Track Name: My Starting Point
My CB radio scans the airwaves for soft-spoken syllables, a prime directive or forgotten frequencies. A service station light would serve to serve me for some sustenance tonight.

What I want most for you is to miss me when I'm gone. I know it's selfish, but I can't seem to move on. So while we grapple with the physical disjoint, I'll stretch back equally towards my starting point.

Oh, precious cargo, I can always count on you to show me something that's worth navigating to. Obsessed with distance and romanticizing space. Not so much "lost" as I am "comfortably displaced."

So fill me up with stories, anecdotes on love. Soon I'll be on my way to the life I've spoken of. Press hands to steering wheel. Watch breath condense on glass. Add up those mile markers. All good things must pass.
Track Name: See You Soon
It was grey the day you left but I tried my best to put a bright face on it. And at the airport, they were tearing up the parking lot so we just dropped you off with a sad, "I'll see you soon."

And I feel a chill I haven't felt since last fall. I feel a chill I haven't known in so long.

It cleared up on the drive home but I'm still feeling so heavy and slow. When the air starts feeling like flannel and birthday cards...oh, I know it's hard but I still wish you so well.

And I keep having this dream where everyone I love is all in the same place and it's huge and overwhelming and I step out for a moment cause I need space. But this house, it emanates warmth and it feels like something that I've only known when we were home.

And I feel a chill I haven't felt since last fall. I feel a chill I haven't known in so long.
Track Name: Yellowing
Dust off these pages. You know acceptance comes in stages. It's not a wave, it is a stream that trickles up your spine and branches out between your chest that's caving and all the anger you've been saving. Today I am a canvas going in your hallway going yellow in the sun. And when you're done with me, set me out to dry on your apartment balcony and I'll coagulate and you'll watch colors crack on fabric and you'll love what you create and you'll know right then that you're capable of good.
Track Name: Storm In A Bottle
I found a map you drew me of your hometown with all the streets I had to take to get to you drawn on the back of a set list from your father's band with covers and the classics bleeding through. I can't recall if you're an alto or soprano but I'm sure that you found a role to fill. But wagon wheels* stall and hearts of gold** are prone to fall when the weight*** is that much greater than the will.

I was sure that we were pure until I learned that there is more to love than just staying still and sleeping in. Now I don't know where to begin.

I got my own place. I guess I'm doing fine these days and that's much better than I thought I'd be by now. And I still find souvenirs from time to time and I set them aside or throw them out. But I've kept a few - I'll never cleanse myself of you. Although I've wanted to, you're etched into my bones. I covered up but it was never warm enough, so I gave up and found a comfort in the cold.

I was sure that we were pure until I learned that there is more to love than just locking eyes and holding hands****. I think I halfway understand.

I guess it's been about a year since you took off and I've learned more than I ever learned in school: on how to live, how to fight through every day. Maybe back then I was a fool, but I was your fool. Yeah, that was me, but I found something else to be and while I cannot quite define it, here I stand. Work in progress. A bottled storm. Collected mess, more or less, I guess. A semi-hollow man.

I was sure that we were pure, but now I know that there is more to love than just simply hoping it goes well. For now, it's just too soon to tell.
Track Name: 2258
What does it take to make a house a home? To give life to inanimate walls? The tile and paint, the furniture ain't as important as what fills its halls.

A welcoming grin, please stay for a minute or two or whatever you please. The place I think of is furnished with love and the hope that you'll remember me.

I am complete here underneath your roof. Sheltering soul. You know how to make me feel whole.
Track Name: Constant Whirr
Bleach-stained fingers clamp down on familiar chords while downstairs TVs broadcast out to empty rooms. I'll miss the constant whirr of life in action here, but I recognize it's time for me to leave.

Old familiar floorboards creak, growing quiet as the weeks drag on. I'm going, going, gone. Seal me up and send me out and move along.

Chip the paint right off the walls. Line your demons up and laugh as each one falls. As the weeks drag on, I'm going, going, gone. Save me a space in that old place where I belong. Going, going, gone.
Track Name: Fireworks, House Party, June 2006
I've got drawers to fill and I've got time to kill. And I've got a whole mess of questions left for you. You've got wandering and you swear they're justified. And you say it's cause you're a water sign but I think horoscopes are bullshit.

We're not written in the stars. We can make up who we are. And reinvent ourselves in dim fluorescent light of crowded bars. You know who you are.

i've got gaps to bridge, and when I lie, you don't flinch. And we present edited versions of ourselves on backlit screens with dying batteries.

So if we are the words we choose, make me a gasoline-soaked fuse. I will burn bright and I'll explode into the night and you'll watch safely from the comfort of your room. And when that smoke spells out my name, you'll know exactly who to blame when you see me sprinkle down and settle on your bedroom windowpane.
Track Name: Give Off A Glow
Kicking the clothes that line my bedroom floor. Stretching the ties that bind me here. Shaking the dust off September so far. A mental health day that spans a year. I scribble down false prophecies, cardinal sins and deadbeat dreams. You give off a glow now. I know you're looking out for me. Stellar and spaced out: the only way that I know how to be. Calling old friends just to make sure they're real. Stealing some lines from my favorite songs. If good artists borrow but the great ones steal, have I been doing this all wrong? I illustrate my indolence. A past that prowls in the present tense. A soft-edged light. A slender frame. Apparitions whisper my name.
Track Name: My First Night Away
On my first night away
I honestly thought I'd have much more to say
Than the same old selfish refrain
I've been repeating since I learned my name.

And what do I have to do
But soldier on and prove to you
That a life can be lived in spite
Of the ghosts that rent rooms in my brain every night?

And I'll throw them out
But they make their way back the next day
With the looming doubt
I'll be fine on my first night away
Track Name: Duality
There is a duality that exists in the people that we all become. We're loving and honest, we're open and free. We're shallow and selfish, fickle and dumb.

And I am a textbook case of collision of idealized love and harsh reality. I can be all of the things you envision. I can be such a bastard, can be such a thief.

I want the unfiltered version of you. For the words that you say not to be ones you choose. For syllables to spill into simmering song. For you to acknowledge what I've known all along.

So search through the store aisles and find me in school supplies. Always wanted to know so much more than I do. And the more we keep talking, the more that you'll realize that I am a simple refraction of you.

Built on revision. Built on relief. Sung to the station that plays in our teeth*.
Track Name: 58mm
Woke up sick today. High ceilings and hangover sway. Bandaged shoulders and bloody palms. Remembered sometimes that reality comes in the form of a sidewalk segment raised a solid two inches above the pavement. It'll serve to stop your smiling and momentum. That shit'll throw you off.

So put your shoulder to the corner. Hey, don't it feel good? Welcome to the neighborhood. We like it just fine. You will in due time. Just give it one year. You could belong here.

Got sidetracked today. Chat windows and rain delays. Left you a note on the kitchen table. Said "I'll be out for a while." If I'm able to fill a van up with most of what I own, drop it off somewhere and call it my new home, I can probably handle getting through the traffic. At least you'd think I could.

So put your shoulder to the corner. Hey, don't it feel good? Welcome to the neighborhood. We like it just fine. You will in due time. Just give it one year. You could belong here.
Track Name: Young, Professional
It was on a roof in June 2009 where I found you stripped of all your sobriety but in tune with it all. Was what that goddamn line I used to make you think I was worth it?

These days I get stoned by the sunrise & I get blacked out on both eyes. I float in symmetrical repeating patterns. You don't answer, and that's fine. So while I'm hugging the coastline, you'll be brushing me off like you always do.

Appalachian girl, I wonder just what will become of you. You see the world through a lens that blocks out everyone you knew. And I know that it's different for everyone but you. I don't even recognize your reflection now.

I dwell in attics and basements. You'll show up and leave with those kids that you came with. I'll be inside, tracking dirty shoes through your new home. I hope you find somewhere else, dear, and I hope even more that it's far away from here. You'll be lingering in my head like you always do.

So illustrate my name in antique picture frame.
Dress me up to be something I can stand to see.

It's not romantic at all, no. It's just a blow to the ego. You are an excommunication professional. I guess I won't hear from you now until you figure it out. Sit tight. You know what they say about objects in motion, well, they stay in motion.
Track Name: The Right One
I trickled back from work to a bar I'd never been to lined with floral summer dresses and t-shirts. Put an order in. Hoped the charge on my phone could hold a full night's worth of self-reflective questioning. Called you once or twice, but with a couple drinks I watched that number climb to three to four to five. It's Wednesday June the 6th and I drive home drunk and prepare myself for a 7am shift. And now you're bringing me to my knees again.

Let me fall through. I'll be where you want me to.

Now I don't turn my head when I pass the house that we used to call ours. You're probably in bed reading up on what's hot for the summer. Darling, we loved one another. Would you care to explain how the distance got so big? Cause memories retain the form and the shape, the curve and the weight; the hollow, haunted space where I now lay. So while you're scratching out my name from the coffee cups in the cabinet above the sink, do you ever think about letting the right one in again?

Let me fall through. I'll be where you want me to.

And now you're bringing me to my knees again. Soaking up my serotonin. Letting those waves of light begin. Scraping off all my skin.

Now I'm calling back up my confidence. Cursing our callow confluence. Guess I blocked out how hard it is letting the right one in.
Track Name: Like A River
Heart rate is increasing. Shaking hands and shallow breathing. Flashing forward to a world to which I swore I'd not return. The wrinkles on my hands are signs of age beginning to show and I wonder how much weight these bones can take. I am so stuck in my ways.

I am like a river. I cannot just change direction. I will carry my convictions downstream and out to sea.

The temperature is dropping and I run for fear of stopping, and they say things go in cycles so I yearn to deviate. I could use some outside insight. Someone new to take up my time. But it's weighing on my my mind and I can barely concentrate. I am so stuck in my ways.

Settle my stomach. Wipe the sweat from my palms. You can feel anything that you want to. Dust off these old bones. Put muscles to use. You're only stagnant when you believe you can't move.
Track Name: Time Is A Current
Winter came and I got spit back out into a world where I should not have stayed. Now, you're changing faster than I can comprehend. We all wish that we could rearrange the past, but I doubt that I'll become the kind of person who could ever live like that.

I stood alone in the last spot that we spoke, thinking about how time's a current and the past is just a hole to fall into. I don't know if I can rearrange my life, but I do wish I could rearrange the words that I used with you that night.

Slowly sinking sun, shake this ground I'm on. I will be the one to think about you when you're gone. Slowly sinking sun, I just can't go on. I will be the one to think about you when you're gone.

Daunted for days. I don't think I'll ever change. Stuck in my ways, swimming in a figure 8.
Track Name: Shutter Finger
Find me in Humboldt Park, dressed in a trash bag I bought on the street from a seven-year-old girl and her father selling comfort to the festival-goers. And as I searched for you in shoes soaked through, I wondered what I wouldn't have been able to do without your voice and your willingness to relate from any one of the lower 48.

Find you in the driver's seat with a wry half-smile tattooed on your teeth. I don't know how you live this way but you seem alright and I wanted to say that I'm proud it's you I know. Eyes on the highway. Queen of the road. So make me a frame that sticks every time that your shutter finger clicks.

You might be gone for now, but you're not gone for good. Let wet Chicago ground swallow you where you stood. And when it engulfs you, you will return renewed. I know some way we will remain connected still.
Track Name: Midwest Heart
I got a midwest heart and a New York brain.
I got my mother's eyes, my great-grandfather's name.
I got my hopes so high I can't see through the clouds.
I got dirt on my face from always lookin' down.

I can be your solution. I can be your relief.
I can be such a bastard. I can be such a thief.

And of all the colors in your narrow view
I am the palest shade, I am the deepest hue.
I am the slightest silhouette reflected back into
That great sky glowing orange and the lake screaming blue.

I can be your companion, let you make my heart your home
With wild and reckless abandon, sitting still as a stone.

So calculate my confusion. Weigh out the risk and reward.
There can be no true conclusion drawn from a life unexplored.
So I'll be gone for a while. I swear I'll see you soon.
Never had much of a style, always just sorta knew

That I'll be fine if I stay here and I'll be fine if you go.
Remember there is a difference between "lonely" and "alone".
Track Name: Delusions 1
Sometimes I wonder if there's a version of me living in every single major U.S. city. Maybe I would have been better as a banker in Boston. I'd have a regular sleep schedule and I'd call you back more often. Maybe I coulda been a real good politician in D.C. I could lie with the best of 'em and trick you into loving me cause I'd use all those big words you wouldn't understand and my rhetoric would combat all those daunting daily demands. A copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. You lost me.
Track Name: Count Your Curses
I caught the lingering scent of flowers and booze on your breath. Feather tattoo and a piercing that shows through your shirt. Maybe it's trouble, I know. The trouble is letting you go when you're dug so deep I can't seem to make anything work.

Cause I wrote you this song before. I showed you my hand and you showed me the door. Count my blessings and count your curses too. So spin out, settle and stay. It's better if you keep away from my fingers entwined in this tangled web that we weave.

I've got some offerings here. Set beneath this jaded veneer, there's a solid and somber soul stretched out over this state. We've been through things on our own; some likely better left unknown, but it's you that my mind returns to at the end of the day.
Track Name: A Different Wealth
Light pollution glows above the trees across the highway where the dealers are all starting their shifts. From my perch I can observe the students crossing their fingers in hopes the find someone to go home with.

This routine is as old as time itself, and all my screaming and complaining doesn't help. I guess all their confidence is a different kind of wealth.

Love is a luxury and heartbreak is a privilege, and it's easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission, so don't you blame me for falling the way that I do. We should be so fortunate to feel something so deeply, and don't we all deserve someone to love us so completely incorrectly? Yeah, somehow we'll make it work. Somehow we'll all get what we deserve.

But for the life of me I cannot tell why we minimize our problems and hope that it goes well. I guess all that confidence is a different kind of wealth.
Track Name: The Other One
We do this dance every night
Just can't get the timing right
Trade our words but don't make plans
Put the best spin on we can

All I wanted was to make a connection
We missed each other at the erstwhile intersection
Of fortune and timing.

Tell me all about your brother
And how you worry where he'll go
How you hope that he'll discover
Something better than what he knows

And all our parents in their empty households
Will spend their summers wondering how it got so damn cold
In the houses they built for us.

Our brains send signals and we act on every impulse.
Say we're sorry but it's never quite that simple.
Even thoughts have consequences felt for days.
What makes you different? No one leaves this place unscathed.

We long to be our lovers' best
Special and separate from the rest
And all their suitors, many or few
They will not pay attention to

But I saw your eyes swelling up outside my apartment
And in that moment I knew I should have not started.
I won't be the other one.
Track Name: Set In Stone
Catalogued a few things that I love. Sleeping late and reckless emotion. Ballpoint pens and long drives through the night. Familiar smiles, true and tried.

I stay up late breathing September air and shake the thoughts of wasting another year. If time's an illusion, I fell for it. Now I'm counting down, afraid to make a sound.

No, it's not so. Why does everything have to be so polarizing? No, it's not so. Why does everything have to be so set in stone.

So I try to just have faith in what I do and learn to trust my footing when I move. Hope my hands can retain what they grasp. It's all just questions I'll always be afraid to ask.
Track Name: Sharing A Frame
We started off a brand-new year with our cell phones ringing in each others' ears. Spinning backwards through the days with an overlay in bold italic print: "Why did it happen that way?"

I found a polaroid of you in the pages of my composition book. You were stuck between two. And by yourself you looked the same, but the two of us just couldn't share the space inside the frame.

And I want out.
You're fading now.
You're sun-bleached bare and barely there.

We haven't changed that much, but it's enough to let what has been haunting us fuck it all up.
Track Name: St. Patrick's Day
You smoked cigarettes on St. Patrick's Day. I said "I hate this time of year," and you said "I think that's okay." You told me all about Spain and the Irish boy that you fell for and I tried to relate, but there were parts I could not ignore.

The northeast winter fostered a cold in you and your bed was like a hole I fell into. And I'd emerge in my early-morning shame. A simple, selfish man refusing any blame.

So are you missing your home state? I know I would if I were you. I'd hide out and recuperate and let home heal me through and through.
Track Name: Soul Cleaner
Held out half my heart for you. I kept the rest safe and stashed it out of view in a glass cage on a dark stage. Doors closed. Don't let anyone in until it's time to give it back, to spill it all and hope that somehow I connect. Josh said "leave it all out there." Well, I want to, man, but the truth is that I'm scared. Because I'm comfortable as-is. And why put pressure on a force so well known for not forgiving? Do the ends justify the means? If I air it all, does it really make my soul any more clean?
Track Name: Hexagon
Hexagon, I can't stand to linger on any longer than I have to anymore.
Catalog all the signs that I should recognize the next time that you show up at my door.

Cause I don't know what I might get. I won't be something you regret. We come together in the dark, sharing some sadistic spark.

Hexagon, you swore it would not take long before we fit together just the way we did. Analog signals shooting out from your eyes that lure me towards the floor you call your bed.

Now I don't know what I might be. A kind of crooked company? A toy that's employed to distract when caustic chemicals react.

Sequences of silhouettes, they dance around my brain.
Focus in on one six-sided unfamiliar shape.
Soaking through those lies I use to separate from sin.
Wait for me, I'm half asleep inside what might have been.
Track Name: Back To The Glow
You will never be as young as you are right now. Praying you can live alright. Did you forget how? I refuse to live a life that ends one minute at a time. Send me back into the glow and squint cause it's so bright.

I got good at falling in love because I already knew just how to fall. And that great light that hovers above, it will eventually consume us all.

The sweet taste that comes with growing older is saccharine and finds me running to the house that I grew up in. Breathing heavily as ever, I stare straight down, thinking "maybe there was something I left on the ground."

And I got good at speaking for others because everyone stays quiet all the time. Drowning out those sounds from my brothers. How could their words be as important as mine? It's fucking selfish and it's so easy that it scares me sometimes.
Track Name: Delusions 2
Sometimes I think that there's a version of me living in the woods outside the limits of the city. Done with the devices that stay glued to my hands and free of all the facts that I don't need to understand. Maybe we'd build fires and live just outside the grid and regress to the simplicity we knew when we were kids. They'd see how we were doing and our family and friends would drop whatever they were up to and we'd just ride it out to the end. A copy of a copy of a copy of a copy. You lost me.
Track Name: The Harvest Month
Tile on my kitchen floor
Fake hardwood in the hallway
What will be under my feet
To hold me up as I walk away?

When my harvest month began
I was sick of listening.
Catalogued cathartic cries
One month's worth of songs to sing.

Exploring new neighborhoods
Brought my city back to life
And my midwestern misery
Mixed with hopeful lullabies.

Patchwork paint on bare new walls
Greeted me as I moved in
When my harvest month ended
I had covered all of them.