Fables For Fighters

by Chris Velan

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    Released in 2011, Fables was produced and mixed by Iestyn Polson. Everything was tracked live over a feverish three days at Dreamland Studios in West Hurley, NY and then did the overdubs in Brooklyn. It was the hottest July on record. Man, that was sweaty. Here it is for you in this nifty, 4-panel eco-digipak. Squirrel costume photo by Alex McKinnon. Design by Dan Ledwell.

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1.
ANY NUMBER OF WAYS Winding down the end of time We drank thirteen bottles of wine Wrapped in furs and feeling bold We walked out into the cold Gathered ‘round the ancient fire Singing like a bloodshot choir And through the flames I recognized Something different in your eyes This could happen in any number of ways I’ll close my eyes and not wake up for days Then we jumped in the river but the river was hard Frozen like a midnight boulevard The dogs showed up in an angry pack They howled at us and we howled back Then I was sick upon the snow Bathed in a pale moonlight glow From what came out I could gleam Parts of me that I’d never seen This could happen in any number of ways I’ll buy tomorrow with all of my yesterdays Just then to my great surprise I grew two hundred times my size I stepped over the forest wide And crossed the valley in one stride Brushing stars and full of joy I made it clear to Illinois When the dawn brought to my mind All that I had left behind This could happen in any number of ways I’ll bribe tomorrow with all of my yesterdays By the time that I returned Smoke rose where the fire had burned And all around were silent souls Staring into ash and coals The sun rose and we sat awhile I kissed your sad, sad smile Before I could say the words You turned into a flock of birds Feathered fury beating away This could happen in any number of ways I’ll close my eyes and not wake up for days Yeah this could happen in any number of ways I’ll bribe tomorrow with all of my yesterdays Yesterdays
2.
Oceans Ago 03:20
OCEANS AGO We were made of stars We were dying in cars That was oceans ago And I’m sure you were there With the sun in your hair That was oceans ago And I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it We thought it was good just because it seemed it I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it We believed it was true We would know what to do That was oceans ago We wouldn’t get caught We could never be bought That was oceans ago And I think that it happened but I could have dreamed it I think that it happened but I could have dreamed it We though it was good just because it seemed it I think that happened but I could have dreamed it I’ve got a deep misgiving That someone else has been living my whole life There were promises made we already betrayed That was oceans ago, oceans ago, oceans ago And the tide went out Leaving shadows and doubt In those oceans ago Then the tide came in With a way to begin In those oceans ago In the oceans ago And I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it I think that it happened but I could have dreamed it We thought it was good just because it seemed it I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it And I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it I think that it happened but I could have dreamed We thought it was good just because it seemed it I think that it happened but I might have dreamed it Oceans ago Oceans ago We were made of stars We dying in cars That was oceans ago
3.
INTERROGATE ME You’re pretty good With your kung fu You’re a secret double agent You should know that I’m one too You don’t fight With the safety on I’m sure you’ve got your reasons The traps are set the lines are drawn I’ll tell you what I told them I’ll tell you what I told them Interrogate me ‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside Inside out Interrogate me I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy Interrogate me I can bring you down from the inside Inside out Interrogate me I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy, hey, hey Insurgent heart They got a file on you I’m going undercover I won’t up until I’m through The microfilm Is in my throat Since we’re trading secrets Tell me where’s the antidote I’ll tell you what I told them I’ll tell you what I told them Interrogate me ‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside Inside out Interrogate me I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy Interrogate me I can bring you down from the inside Inside out Interrogate me I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy, hey, hey The code is broken Password’s sold This revolution’s getting old The safe house is overcrowded Everyone’s coming in from the cold Truth serum is wearing off Make me your Kalichnikov I’ve said too much already Where’s that pill, where that’s pill I’ll tell you what I told them I’ll tell you what I told them Interrogate me ‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside Inside out Interrogate me I can link your daddy to the Cosa Nostra Interrogate me ‘Cause I can bring you down from the inside Inside out Interrogate me I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy Interrogate me I can take you down from the inside Inside out Interrogate me I can link your daddy to the old conspiracy I can take you down I can take you down I can bring you down I will take you down I will bring you down I will take you down
4.
YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE ASKING ME You wanted me to bend So I bent like a tree To become the man that you wanted me to me I leaned so hard That I though I would break I leaned so hard And that was my mistake You don’t know What you’re asking of me You don’t know What you’re asking of me To prove my love You set out three tests Three reasons for your unhappiness And I passed them all For you I prevailed I passed them all But I still failed You don’t know What you’re asking of me You don’t know What you’re asking of me Is it harder than you thought Being cruel and free And you don’t know What you’re asking of me Now you call me up When you’re mind’s in doubt To weigh the cost And to feel me out But the answer was carved On the stone you cast The answer’s fading In the past You don’t know What you’re asking of me You don’t know What you’re asking of me Is it harder than you thought Being cruel and free You don’t know What you’re asking of me No, you don’t know What you’re asking of me You don’t know What you’re asking of me No, you don’t know what you’re asking of me
5.
HURTING YOU KIND You’ve been stung Come undone Heart left on the road Heart left on the road Things you knew You thought were true They walked out on you They walked out on you But I think you’re going to find That I’m not the walking out kind Yes I think you’re going to find I’m not the walking out kind Changed your name Lost your flame You gave yourself away You gave yourself away So you said He played with your head ‘Till it hurt to stay ‘Till it hurt to stay But please leave the past behind Cause I’m not the hurting you kind Won’t you leave the past behind Cause I’m not the hurting you kind Can’t move time To prove that I’m I am a man apart I’m a man apart You don’t trust My words aren’t just There to fool your heart There to fool your heart But I’d wish you’d ease your mind Cause I’m not the fooling you kind Please won’t you ease your mind ‘Cause I’m not the fooling you kind
6.
THERE GOES SARA She comes from a mermaid clan In a faraway loch, in a faraway land And when she starts to rock She takes a windmill stand And blows them all away The people come to hear her sing She loves to name most everything And she will mend Your broken wing To help you fly away (there she goes again) Chorus There goes Sara, there goes Sara There goes Sara, there goes Sara There goes Sara, there goes Sara again She doesn’t need to pass your test The keeps it all close to her chest She always does her very best To what she says she will She told me once she can’t allow Anyone to tell her how And I loved her then As I love her now As I will love her still (there she goes again) There goes Sara, there goes Sara There goes Sara, there goes Sara There goes Sara, there goes Sara again Don’t you cross her, man She’ll leave you bleeding at the bar Horses can kill her But she loves them from afar She loves them from afar Yeah, she loves them from afar Raised by wolves she’s got the saddest eyes Oh, she will cut you down to size She’s got a thing for Italian guys But says she prefers me She’s a daughter of the Maritimes Yeah, she can solve the hardest crimes Though I have found a thousand times That she’s the mystery (there she goes again) Chorus
7.
Scatterbrain 03:54
SCATTERBRAIN Serious moment, serious hair Serious table, serious chair Serious clothes covering me I may shake that serious hand It feels like it’s already planned And I’m so tired seriously You weren’t kidding when you wrote It’s not even worth a note If you can’t lose it all Maybe I’m a scatterbrain Maybe I’m a scatterbrain But I can’t afford to be I can’t afford to be There it’s said Serious building, serious hours Serious people with serious powers I would rather be with you I get into to serious trouble When I burst my serious bubble And I don’t know what to do You weren’t kidding when you cried If you want to take the ride You need both feet inside Maybe I’m a scatterbrain Maybe I’m a scatterbrain But I can’t afford to be I can’t afford to be There it’s said Oh, let it go Oh, make it so Oh, never mind Oh, you’ll always find Maybe I’m a scatterbrain Maybe I’m a scatterbrain But I can’t afford to be I can’t afford to be There it’s said
8.
YOU OWE NOTHING Time to prepare for the great surrender Been so long that you can’t remember How it feels to fill your lungs with Air Unclench your fists you’re the last one standing The armies that you’ve been commanding Vanish as if they were never there And just like that You forgot what you were fighting for You owe nothing anymore The weight hanging ‘round your neck’s been lifted The winds beating down your door have shifted The oath you swore you’d keep has been laid to rest The wounds that you wore that gave you purpose Close as you swim up towards the surface And what will you do now that you’ve passed the test ‘Cause who you are is not who you were before You owe nothing anymore You owe nothing anymore Step back from the edge Stop growing colder You don’t have to look Over your shoulder The phantoms haunting you Are now your friends And the truth that you hoped would set you free Is not what you thought That it would be But it’s enough to let you make amends Your debts are paid There is no one keeping score You owe nothing anymore You owe nothing anymore You owe nothing anymore
9.
Same Clothes 04:24
Same Clothes On the day that I was born They say I came out wearing these same clothes Since then I’ve been trying to find out Where I got these same clothes I went to every store asked every tailor there could be Wondering if somebody had the same clothes as me It took a while but I’ve learned There’s nobody with these same clothes When I wake this morning I’ll get up, put on these same clothes Step into the sunlight And start walking in these same clothes When the air turns cold and the clouds bring the rain These clothes they will protect me ‘till the skies clear up again And against the wind I will button up The collar on these same clothes When we first met, I’m sure that I was Showing off these same clothes And when I gave my heart to you I did so in these same clothes Before we made love you peeled off each one from my skin ‘Till there was nothing left to keep you from coming in And you saw who I am In the absence of these same clothes When they get dirty I wash them with care, oh these same clothes And when they lose a button or they tear I mend these same clothes On those days when I dwell not on what is but what is not I look at other people and I want the clothes they’ve got Until I realize I could have nothing But these same clothes And our children will know what it means To have a loving home But there are things they’ll have to figure out on their own I promise I won’t ever try To make them where these same clothes When I leave this world Please separate me from these same clothes Burn them into ash No one can ever wear these same clothes If you knew me well you’ll know how much I cherished you Remember that I wore these clothes The only way I knew And I was happy And I was blessed And how I loved to wear these same clothes Yes, I was happy And I was blessed And how I loved to wear these same clothes I was happy And I was blessed And how I loved to wear these same clothes
10.
YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN NOW You are a child of the stars, you are an orphan of fate You are a child of the stars , you are an orphan of fate You’re a bullet locked in the chamber You were born too late Morning comes like a dog to steal your spirit away Morning comes like a dog to steal your spirit away The night swallows the sun and devours the day And you You’re on your own now Yeah you You’re on your own now You were left to a world where love’s a memory You were left to a world where love’s a memory You stare alone into the face of misery No one to keep you from harm, no one to hear you cry No one to keep you from harm, no one to hear you cry And no one to notice if you live or if you die And you You’re on your own now Yeah you You’re on your own now Scrape and beg for your bread you have to fight everyday Scrape and beg for your bread you have to fight everyday The hawks forever circling you like prey You are the last hope of a man, you are the conscience of shame You’re the last hope of a man, you are the conscience of shame If you don’t live ‘till tomorrow who is there to blame If you don’t live ‘till tomorrow who is there to blame And you You’re on your own now Yeah you You’re on your own now
11.
FAR FROM HERE I’m suddenly aware Of the lateness Of everything around me The chairs are on the table The lights are up They’re asking us to leave You should know I care I really care how ‘bout How you came and found me It gives me reason to believe And the miles have been collecting Since I left my lady in the springtime I hardly can remember The rooms I’ve played The places I have been Like beads upon a necklace The days string on together ‘Till I can’t find Where they end and they begin So I’m thankful For all of your kindness It feels good to have you near As I’m washed upon your shores Tonight I will be yours But tomorrow I’ll be far from here I’ve been taken like a sucker I’ve got coked-up truckers trying to drive right through me Cheap motels and rest stops Waking up in the shape Of my dreams I float through dying cities A lonely ghost Who wishes someone knew me Barely holding at the seams So I’m thankful For all of your kindness It feels good to have you near As I’m washed upon your shores Tonight I will be yours But tomorrow I’ll be far from here I wish I could stay longer But I feel I may be Headed towards disaster Got some dollars in my pocket Got eyes lit up Like rockets in the night It’s crazy but I’m thinking If I keep moving just a little faster I may catch up to the light While searching for the chorus I almost crashed the van in Amarillo Been caught between the verses Gone days without uttering a word Your offer of a bed A place to lay my head upon a pillow Is the best thing that I’ve heard So I’m thankful For all of your kindness It feels good to have you near As I’m washed upon your shores Tonight I will be yours But tomorrow I’ll be far from here Yeah, tomorrow I’ll be far from here

about

Montreal-based singer-songwriter, Chris Velan, has learned over time that by scrutinizing his own world, he has a fighting chance of understanding the world around him.

“I have two lenses,” he admits. “The small one is focused internally, learning about myself. The large one point’s outward, observing how the world works in its complexity. I try to find my own truths on both those levels of inquiry.”

Searching for these truths since first picking up a guitar at the age of nine, Velan’s journey to un- derstand how he and the world itself operates has taken him down two distinct paths: law and mu- sic. In his early 20s, Velan was determined to make sense of humanity’s struggles through a career in law, only to realize - after collaborating on the Si- erra Leone’s Refugee All Stars’ documentary - that he could make as great an impact through music by its simple yet profound ability to connect people.

Velan’s journey to make that connection culminates in his fourth full-length effort, Fables For Fighters (NewSong Recordings/Fontana North). Motivated by a range of influences spanning 70s’ singer- songwriters, blues, rock, 80s alternative, West Af- rican music and reggae, Fables For Fighters finds Velan at his most poetically versatile. Written while touring in support of his previous effort Solidago (2009), Fables For Fighters furthers Velan’s goal to carve out his own path, directly inspired by the loneliness, searching, exhilaration and exhaustion of a nomadic musical lifestyle.

“This album emerges from a distinct time-frame in my life. I’m inspired by the life I want - or don’t want - to live and see things differently from people with a rigid daily life. It can sometimes feel like a weird state of suspended animation,” he says. “A lot of the songs were written from the fringes of my emotions. Even when I hear the album now, the space and emotion of these songs and moments come back to me.”

To ensure that Fables For Fighters conveyed the rawness of the material, Velan and renowned producer, Iestyn Polson (David Gray, Patti Smith, David Bowie), tracked the songs live in-studio before squirreling away for a month to subsequently create the album’s sonic atmosphere through additional instrumentation.

“Iestyn was adamant from the start that we needed live takes to capture whatever it is that’s true and real about these songs. We spent the whole month of July – the hottest on record - rehearsing the songs over and over again in a stone sub-basement in Brooklyn to get the arrangement and feel just right. We sweated like fiends. The whole city was like a clay oven, radiating heat. But with all that slow-cooking we went through, we were able to bang out eleven tracks in three days, live off the floor. It was exhausting but very rewarding.”

Polson and Velan spent the following month locked down in a small project studio, searching like mad scientists for the right kinds of overdub sounds to compliment the takes.

“The room was strewn with analog synths, omnich- ords and percussion instruments from all corners of the world,” he says. “Even the building itself was an instrument with the wood shop machines below us vibrating through the old floors.”

Broadened by Polson’s experience and divergent methods, Velan takes greater personal risks than ever with Fables For Fighters, turning in an impeccably balanced album, uniting unforgettable rhythms and melodies with unhindered sentiment and subtle delivery. The resulting album is one of contrasts. Sonically, it has a quality to it that is both timeless and new, intimate and cinematic, open and claustrophobic, haunting and reassuring. Thematically, the songs strive to balance the pains of struggle with the hope of transformation; the very personal search for one’s place in the world.

“With a couple of albums and a lot traveled miles now under my belt, I feel like I’ve arrived at a place where I better understand who I am as an artist and a songwriter. It’s a foothold that I’ve worked hard to find. I wanted the album to reflect that hard- worn growth by being as honest and intuitive in its recording as it could be,” says Velan. “I ended up putting a lot of its direction in Iestyn’s hands, who pushed me to capture the emotion and raw energy of my live shows. It was liberating.”

Ultimately, Velan’s efforts result in a beautifully intricate juxtaposition of music, creative process and life.

Going back to those who inspired him creatively years before, Velan had the opportunity to reunite with this friends, Sierra Leone’s Refugee All Stars, to record his stand-alone single,“Iñez,” released in December 2010, in advance of Fables For Fighters.

“These are the guys who, by their example, recon- nected me to my own music and need to create. Recording “Iñez” with them as I headed into the release of this new album served as a perfect re- minder of why I choose to make music.”

credits

released April 15, 2011

Produced and Mixed by Iestyn Polson
All songs by Chris Velan
Chris Velan/Getaway Van, SOCAN/ASCAP
Executive Producer: Gar Ragland

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Chris Velan Montréal, Québec

Montreal singer-songwriter and producer, Chris Velan, has always been crossing borders with his brand of world music- influenced, singer-songwriter pop. Drawing comparisons to the smart, genre-mixing writing of Neil Finn, Nick Lowe and Paul Simon, Velan's
latest album, “Amateur Hour”, will be released September 14th with touring to follow.
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