The Best of​.​.​.​.​.​.​.​Singer​/​Songwriter

by Walter Ehresman

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about

2017 marks 30 years of recording his songs for release out into the world and, to celebrate this milestone, Walter Ehresman is releasing a series of "Best of......" compilations throughout the year, organized by style and mood. They draw from the over 200 songs he has written and released, across 16 solo and four band albums, between 1987 and 2017. No song will be repeated across any of the collections.

As those of you familiar with his prodigious output know, Ehresman tends to jump genres on pretty much every song on any given release. As he said in February of 2017, "....This is because I take the musical inspiration as it comes, and also have just never wanted to release an entire album of songs all in the same genre, with the exception of 2007’s experimental dark ambient album “The A.D.G. Project” (www.cdbaby.com/cd/ehresman6, written for use with a large art installation at Burning Man that year).......Like many musicians, I rarely think of genre at all when I write and record.....I just pursue the idea wherever it leads, and in the end it 'is what it is,' as they say.

"I never have a good answer when asked by people: 'Oh, you’re a songwriter…..what kind of songs do you write?'....... Some songs are in recognizable styles, and some I frankly don’t what genre you’d put them in. But given all that, I think all my songs can be sorted out into a few general categories that have as much to do with mood as with a recognizable genre."

Nine compilations are planned, and this first one covers the singer/songwriter type of material that Ehresman has included in his releases from Day One. As with most of his songs, Ehresman largely handles all the vocals and instruments himself, but some very talented Austin, Texas players and singers appear from time to time to sweeten the pot.

--cover photo: Ronald Van Dyke
--album compiled and produced by Walter Ehresman.

Snipe Bog Records
All recordings p. 2017 Walter Ehresman
All rights reserved. © as indicated at each work.

credits

released February 5, 2017

Discography
--solo albums: "Honor in the Swine?" ('89); "In the Path of the Cat Chasers" ('90); "Split Brain Theory" ('91); "The Blue Shoat Special" ('96); the spoken-word "The Rants" ('97); "Handwedge from the Trap" ('99); “Le Cafard“ (’01); "The Feral Rugby Team Must GO!" ('03); "No Unifying Theme" ('04); "March, Scream or Cry" ('07); "The ADG Project" ('07); "Monkey Paw Situation" ('09); “Well…..Let‘s Look at Your Track Record, Shall We?” (’10); “Life Outside the Tent“ (’12); “Blue-Eyed Devils” (’14); “Pinches Topes” (’16); and "The Best of.......Singer/Songwriter" ('17).

--with Snipe Hunt: "We'll Be Right Back!" ('99); "Dirty Ditties and Cover Tunes" ('00); and "I Saw the Future (But the Damn Train Hit Me Just the Same)" ('02).

--with Los Platos: “Oh, No” EP (’08).

--with Delphi Rising: “For Granted” (‘10)

--compilations (various artists):
(with Swine Patrol) “The Austin Cassette Compendium” (‘86)
(solo) "Monkey Boy Sampler" ('01, '05); and "Several Famous Orchestras" ('03).

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about

Walter Ehresman San Miguel De Allende, Mexico

Called "the quintessential Austin DIY artist" by famed local disc jockey Charlie Martin , Walter Ehresman was an eccentric presence in the Austin music scene from the '80s until his 2015 move to Mexico. A prolific songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and recording artist...and a restless musical spirit, always looking for something new, expressed with fearlessly honest lyric-writing. ... more

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Track Name: Holding Pattern
Holding Pattern
(© 2012 Walter Ehresman)

Circling, tenuous;
Failing to progress;
My dreams are a loop,
sleeping under the medicine ball;
And I crawl..........learning to walk again.
Uncharted mapspace,
I don’t know this place,
“Here be monsters” they say,
with a fanciful artifice.
I’ll make my way–
piercing this spider-silk wall;
I’ll be ok–
southward from Tammany Hall.


Waiting and garrulous,
I must confess that
the call of tomorrow
can surely bewitch and enthrall;
And I crawl..........learning to walk again.
Update the mandate
and slow down the pace;
Try that social reset,
and a new point of view, and then
I’ll make my way–
piercing this spider-silk wall;
I’ll be ok–
southward from Tammany Hall.

--written when I decided to move out of the US for good, but knew I had to wait two years to make it happen.
Track Name: Don't Speak of Nude Emperors
Don't Speak of Nude Emperors
(© 2005 Walter Ehresman)

In better circles, they don't talk about such things;
Polite society won't stand for the observed
when what's in front of you might call for thoughts unpleasant;
When what's in front of you might call for deeper vision;
When what's in front of you might tarnish your fine neighbor;
When what's in front of you might make you avoid mirrors;
Don't speak of nude emperors, or they will salt your pillar.

They've demonized the truth, made the obvious impolite;
The greatest sins will not disrupt our garden party
when all your guests are those who profit from the season;
When all your guests are those who donate to the rapers;
When all your guests are getting favors from the rapers;
When all your guests are symptoms of a deeper problem;
Don't speak of nude emperors, or they'll treat you like a Moslem.

When the ad men function with the deepest coffers,
any notion can be sold to those who hunger
for any construct that will offer easy answers;
For any system that will blame those on the outside;
For any house of cards that acts as a diversion;
For any bullshit that will keep the masses servile;
Don't speak of nude emperors, or you will be in exile.
Track Name: Oh, Anuhea
Oh, Anuhea
(© 2009 Walter Ehresman)

Sometimes I feel like it’s my lucky day,
and everything, it rolls my way;
You are the reason all my numbers start to pay,
and my horses run without delay.

[chorus]
You got the shimmy that gets me freaky;
You are the mojo in my tiki;
You are my cool island mountain breeze;
I’m standing in the surf, yelling “please, please, please!”

Oh, Anuhea, you make me dizzy;
My knees get week, and my heart gets fizzy;
Oh, my girl, I love you so.

[chorus]

Oh, Anuhea, you make me dizzy;
My knees get week, and my heart gets fizzy;
Oh, my girl, I love you so.
Track Name: Now What?
Now What?
(© 2013 Walter Ehresman)

If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing,
then what happens when you peek behind the curtain?
If all your questions about The Hand of Man
are now answered, are you glad to be certain?
It tore me apart from the time I was small—
wonderin’ why people do what they do;
But with dots all connected and motives sussed out,
I feel prisoned in the face of what’s true.

[chorus]
Now what do we do when our hope bows and bends like the camel with that last piece of straw?
When a lifetime of seein’ how the pieces all fit to form a picture of tooth and of claw?
I just want to be happy, but I don’t want to be blind;
It’s so hard to dance forward with this weight on my mind.

Well, you see them old movies with detectives that drink,
and right now I know just how they feel;
‘cause when look under stones and you dig up old graves,
you best be ready when the scenes get too real.
It tore me apart from the time I was small—
wonderin’ why people do what they do;
But with dots all connected and motives sussed out,
I feel prisoned in the face of what’s true.

[chorus]
Track Name: Marianas (requiem for America)
Marianas (Requiem for America)
(© 2004 Walter Ehresman)

An icy wind is blowing ‘cross the amber waves of grain; there’s a dimming of the sun;
And I pull my collar tighter, and walk down the hill again–feeling blank and numb.
And the handle of the burden seems a hundred miles away;
My hands are weak, my back is raw and sore.
Down here in Marianas, I will let the surface be, and pull the darkness tight around my soul;
around my soul.

The country that I come from thrashes in the final throes of an end it cannot see;
And I watch reflection leaving and all kinder notions go down the drain of cupidity.
All thoughts of common union go the way of weaker things, as the powers of denial scream for more.
Down here in Marianas, I will not swim with that tide–I’ll leave that to the animals ashore.

[break]

November would seem funny if it weren’t so awful sad–logic under the gun;
And the ancient sleight-of-hand wrapped in the terms of Goliad–the slaughter has begun.
Disheartened in the knowing that our people blindly flow to a trailer park magician’s every wave.
Down here in Marianas, I see where the three cups go, but there’s no one I can save;
no one I can save.

Corruption is the fashion, and malfeasance is the game–your leaders squared away;
Self-interest without limit, and all power without shame–“We the people” are Delay-d.
A corporation’s treason stains the hands of government....a failure drenched in blood of you and me.
Down here in Marianas, I can feel the hook sink in, even exiled at the bottom of the sea;
bottom of the sea.

[break]


–written following Bush’s presidential re-election in 2004. The Marianas Trench is the deepest spot in the oceans.
Track Name: Sprinting Nowhere Through the Air
Sprinting Nowhere Through the Air
(© 2008 Walter Ehresman)

She turned her back on all those things and walked into the sea;
And the people that had loved her wondered why it had to be;
But the eyes will see what they will see, and it will not be undone;
And the heart grows cold as silence and the soul, it just grows numb.

He filled his black hole daily, slept, then gathered more pain in;
And he stands before the faces, waving lists of mortal sin;
And he speaks like Johnny Appleseed but the words no longer burn
when empathy becomes routine and passion is mere form.

[chorus]
And they diverge like a flower when it opens to the sun;
And they head for each horizon sure they are the only one;
In solitude, they crystallize, as awareness trips the snare;
And they churn the fog up deeper, sprinting nowhere through the air.

Now she finds her peace in simple things, with formula and chart;
She’s protected now from damage in those matters of the heart.
In the fauna that should own this world, she’s learned a softer way
to forget her own humanity and get through another day.

He wrote those letters to himself when he was still naïve;
And he opens them from time to time, in case he might believe;
And he feels the pull of violence and surrender to the fray—
with a hill too steep to climb alone, from the bottom each new day.
Track Name: Echo Down the Years
Echo Down the Years
(© 2009 Walter Ehresman)

[intro]
In a time, so far from now, they'll look back on us here
and wonder how a love could grow in such a fallow ground;
But from those dusty pages, there's a light that shines so clear--
that legendary love we found.

Starlight twinkles overhead long after the star is gone;
Ripples cross the ocean to a distant shore at dawn;
Messages in bottles drift off to eyes not yet born--
So our love will echo down the years.

From that time of turmoil, in a land so in decline--
scholars sift through remnants and they try to read the signs;
Looking for some spark to show a moment so sublime--
So our love will echo down the years.

[chorus]
Memories may fade
of ordinary things;
Men and their fortunes fall to ruin.
But your eyes of blue still shine a way to better days,
and prove the best things, in the end, endure.

In that fragile future, for the people that remain,
hope for inspiration is the treasure sought to gain;
Rekindling those hearts to find the strength to start again--
So our love will echo down the years.

[solo over verse]
[chorus]

[outro]
In that time, so far from now, they'll look back on us here
and wonder how a love could grow in such a fallow ground;
But from those dusty pages, there's a light that shines so clear--
that legendary love we found.
Track Name: Shadow of a Love
Shadow of a Love
(© 1997 Walter Ehresman)

He keeps it in that special place,
'cause he can't bear to see her face;
He opens it up anyway,
At least 100 times a day, and
all the years that brought him here just
fall away when she appears;
He folds it back up, turns away,
he's got a few more miles today to go--
it's just the shadow of a love we'll never know.

It's hard when you feel things so strong, but
every time you speak it's wrong--
the words they tangle up inside,
you've got to show what you must hide; and
she rode that string as best she could, much
longer than he thought she would, and
in the end, when things went bad,
she raged about what they might've had, but no--
it's just the shadow of a love we'll never know.

[chorus]
He's remembering a feeling
that for most of us will never come at all;
Just four aces in the dealin'; so if you get that hand...
you better take it all.

He checks into a cheap motel;
The dingy sheets, the musty smell;
The snow it flickers on the screen--
white noise drowning silent screams, and
he thinks about a thing so rare;
He turns to look but she's not there.
He pulls the picture out again,
it's faded now, but not to him--it glows;
It's just the shadow of a love we'll never know.

[chorus]
Track Name: Flood the Empty Quarter
Flood the Empty Quarter
(© 2010 Walter Ehresman)

They say the best laid plans are subject to the law of Murphy,
and that countin' chickens early leads to havin' none at all.
So be careful what you wish for, or your hopes will all be emptied,
and I would not wish this feelin' on a man too proud to fall.

I could see no signs of fault lines; I could feel no earthly tremors;
To me, our love's foundation seemed so solid all way down;
And just because we stumble doesn't mean our legs are broken,
but the California earthquake brought the whole thing to the ground.

[chorus]
If I had one speck of silver for each moment that your hurt me,
they would find me buried under a shining mountain to the sky;
Just one tiny drop of water for each time you made me cry--
I could flood the Empty Quarter, and my river won't run dry.

I had visions of us walking hand in hand through life's duration;
I would wake to see love sparkle from the depths of your blue eyes;
But your feeling for me faded like a sun-bleached sign in Pecos,
and the day you chose to tell me was the day you said goodbye.

[chorus
Track Name: 10 Cent Patriots
10 Cent Patriots
(© 2014 Walter Ehresman)

He screams to “Save the Babies!”, but he’s brutal with his kids;
He hangs those teabags from his hat, and tightens up his fists;
And he doesn’t think of details, when his eyes roll back to red --and his life is fits of rage.

She proudly walks two steps behind, just like the pastor said;
She pulls the lever to the right; lies passive in the bed;
And she wave the flag-stained package deal, with all the family --and her life is fields unsown.

[chorus]
Won’t you tell me what all this means to you,
when you strip away the volume and the sneer?
Are there words there in your Bible about “love your fellow man”?
Are there words down in your logic about corporate greed and fear?
Are there notions in your pride about you being such a sucker for those think tank boys downtown?
Please turn around.

[break]
One-stop hateful “isms” are so easy to digest, with all the
kids home soon from practice, and the house in such a mess;
and with the herd all going one way out there in the neighborhood,
and when every force upon your life just wants you to be good --if by “good” you mean “the same.”

They’ve fallen in there way too deep to ask these questions now;
They’ll ride this string out to the end and then they’ll wonder how
that they’ve ended up out on the street for all the world to see --with no net to catch their fall.

[chorus #2]
Won’t you tell me what all this means to you,
when you strip away the volume and the sneer?
Are there words there in your Bible about “love your fellow man”?
Are there words down in your logic about corporate greed and fear?
Are there notions in your pride about you being such a sucker for those think tank boys downtown? for those PR flacks downtown?
Please turn around.
Track Name: No Redemption
No Redemption
(© 2002 Walter Ehresman)

I saw this guy at the stoplight today
who I know just can't be redeemed;
A snarling creature full of poison and bile,
and I know that you know what I mean.

I saw a man on the TV today,
in a blue suit so holy and clean;
And his voice it shook as he quoted the book,
calling half of our people obscene.

I saw a blond woman with a book of her own,
and a truth that need never be seen;
With a glint in her eye, she will vomit the lies--
and it funds all her hedonist dreams.

And I saw a whole nation take some kind of pride
in the living with shallow veneer;
As the cars circle back, they will wait for the crash,
with their hats facing backwards and beer.


--written about the GOP-led dumbing down of America, fanning the flames of the worst human instincts with creatures like Ann Coulter, etc.
Track Name: I've Been In This Line
I've Been In This Line
(© 1998 Walter Ehresman)

My toenails have grown through the tips of my shoes;
My back is getting bent and my teeth are loose.
I couldn't even utter a sound,
and my smell could knock a bird down--
I've been in this line for so long.

I think I had some friends once upon a time;
My wife and dog done left poor me behind.
I'd find a way to shoot off a flare,
if I thought there's anybody who'd care--
I've been in this line for so long.

Goin' (goin' goin') where the water tastes like wine--
a dream I had standing here just the other day.
Waitin', hopin', prayin' that my life won't end this way,
but if I leave right now, it'll all have been a waste of time.

I guess I ought to give them just an hour or two--
"you see that guy up there, you know I think he moved!"
This place has the reek of a tomb,
and my armpits are growing mushrooms--
I've been in this line, I've been in this line,
I've been in this goddamn line for so long!
(ugggh)
Track Name: HWY 149
HWY 149
(© 2002 Walter Ehresman)

Heading south from Gunnison, on Highway 149;
Hoping that the pass don't freeze 'fore I get to the other side;
Lake City ain't so small as it once used to be,
But it might just far enough to refuel my sanity.

These ain't times for thinking--you can see it on TV,
in the paper, on the movie screen; this ain't no time to be
asking questions of a kind where the answers slow you down,
and fill your mind with X-ray eyes every time you look around.

[chorus]
Our lives are managed by
bloodless accountants,
amoral climbers,
silk suit assassins,
and teflon bureaucrats.
Climbing through the aspens--
soft breezes blowin',
doesn't stop the knowin'
that all of this is goin' soon
just to keep some bastard fat.

I remember as a child, climbing through these silver trees;
Poking through forgotten mines; tossing lines into the stream;
And when I scrambled to the top, raised my head to look back down--
there was no sign Man's blighted hand ever touched that virgin ground.

There's something 'bout the mountains; there's something 'bout the air;
When the tenth lie of the day is heard, I find my memories wander there.
So I packed the truck, shut off the lights, put on Willie for the ride,
and I cleared my mind of sadder truths out on Highway 149.

[chorus]
Track Name: Ain't No Use
Ain’t No Use
(©1997 Walter Ehresman)

Frozen in my tracks, but was I going anywhere?
Can’t put a foot forward, can’t work up the bile to care.
Energy drained from me, can’t remember when I was strong.
My edge is sinking deeper--ain’t no use in goin’ on.

I feel just like a boxer--hears the countin’ through the haze;
He’s got just enough snap left to know that he’s sure seen better days.
You look into the mists of time to find the reasons for what you’ve done;
Would I know ‘em if I saw ‘em?; Ain’t no use in goin’ on.

I want to find those people who, in my life, I’ve wronged;
But, then again, I know it would add too many verses to this song.
If I could, I’d give my reasons--ask them if it seems I’ve grown;
But they sure don’t owe no answers; Ain’t no use in goin’ on.

My history, it crowds me, and I can’t escape the scenes.
I’d like to talk about redemption, but I don’t know what it means.
When you know there’s no “Hereafter,” and that when you’re gone, you’re gone--
who in this world can forgive you?; Ain’t no use in goin’ on.

[solo]

I feel I’ve got some more to say, but I cannot lift my hand;
Don’t know if the path would change if I tried to make a stand.
Is the good fight good enough when the battles can’t be won?
It’s a tougher sell these days; Ain’t no use in goin’ on.
Track Name: A Soul Called Desolation
A Soul Called Desolation
(© 2001 Walter Ehresman)

They say when folks get married, there’s a role each must fulfill--
he’s hoping that the girl won’t change, and she’s gambling that he will.
I’d heard that old saw often, but of course we’re not like them--
we’ll be the first in history with no secret fires to tend.

So the ring, it was delivered, and the veil, it dropped away;
And the things I thought you valued are the things you scoff today;
And I never did become that man your hidden heart did seek,
and resentment snuffed the candle out, and that love is history.

[chorus]
The time for anger and the time for tears has passed us by;
And as the red and blue clouds part, I can glimpse the reason why,
with so many things I thought were true now long since blown away,
that we got and stayed together for seven years instead of days:
We were born with a soul called desolation, we just see the world that way.

It’s funny how the years roll past, and things just stay the same;
And money’s spent, and plans are made, like everything’s OK;
And my friends have all stopped asking why I’ve come again alone;
And my skin, it just feels hollow, and I’m just this far from gone.

[chorus]
Track Name: Goodbye, My Love
Goodbye, My Love
(© 2006 Walter Ehresman)
--dedicated to Kathleen Overstreet, 1977-2006


You know I wasn’t looking, when you sat and spoke to me–
I’d just returned, a wounded man, from the wars of intimacy;
And though the planets were not aligned, and the oracles all sad,
I felt a timeless harmony when you reached to hold my hand.

And it took me time to dive right in, ‘til I ran my fears to ground;
I loved the person that you were enough to stare your demons down.
And in the blindness of my heart, I joined the battle, too–
I didn’t understand back then....those dragons were reserved for you.

[chorus]
Goodbye, my love, goodbye;
I see you standing there......
in faded jeans and gimme cap,
the sun shines off your hair.
And then you flash that smile to me,
and I sense that time stood still;
I only wish it had, you know,
and I curse it never will.

They say some things you’re born with, and some things you just take on;
I had to think that you could stop, or else our future’s gone–
the three of us together in a happy family,
our beating hearts too strong by far to let the wolves go free.

And I know I said “try harder,” and I know I said “you can”;
And I know I was too tough sometimes, and I know I didn’t understand.
And I know that it was foolish to think it’s something I could repair,
but you know I’d walk through fire for you if I could slay your demons there.

So now I sit alone at home, and try to find a way
to see your beauty in my mind, and not that terrible day;
And I feel this hole that once was filled by the goodness that was you–
how you always stood for what was right, and you always spoke it true.

[chorus]