Colder Than Mars

by Maiden Name

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Gregory Walker
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Gregory Walker Killer musicianship and vulnerable yet entertaining lyricism. The kind of record that makes you appreciate/savor another human's earnest processing and idiosyncratic living of life. I look forward to hearing more from this artist. Favorite track: Funeral.
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about

Maiden Name's debut release

credits

released March 29, 2016

Thanks to Ryan Lane for mastering & help with album art, Danielle for being supportive over this three-year process, Anders Lundberg for getting me started on the process, and all my friends who have given feedback along the way.

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Maiden Name Portland, Oregon

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Track Name: Top of the World
top of the world
bourgeois at least
it’s clear it’s engineered
for folks like me
top of my game, I mean top of the game
but then again from my end I didn’t really have to compete

white, straight, master’s degree
cards lined up in hand, so it’s guaranteed
that this world will work for me, was built for me
my demographics is my skeleton key,

at least this system runs
so let’s tweak it gently
yeah, when the Kingdom comes,
let’s, let’s change things gently

power isn’t a problem
gotta get it in the right hands
fingers in front of me are fit enough
just watch, I’ve got compassionate plans

let’s raise wages just enough
don’t raise the prices
and don’t lower my salary
or take away any of my write-offs

we’ve basically arrived, right?
seems like it from where I stand
at the top the game, it’s good
offer the less fortunate a helping hand

justice vs. compassion, take the latter every time
it feels better to give than to pay a proper dime

let’s raise the valleys
without tearing the mountains down
I want justice to roll down like river
but I’m afraid I might drown

I’m opposed to violence
and I’m opposed to not feeling safe
and when those two come head to head
I’m still not sure which choice I would make
and I used to avoid paying war-taxes
by keeping my income low enough
but with both of us working
can’t bring myself to donate the surplus
and my neighbors next door
yeah, they’re on the run from war
while I’ve been sitting on my sofa
writing theology behind closed doors
yeah, I’m safe and I’m secure,
even in my neighborhood
they say it’s the hood, hood
but I know that I don’t look like you’ll think I’m up to no good

so I walk down dark streets
and I don’t look over my shoulder,
and if there’s no one I have to meet
then I’ll walk a little slower
without a worry or a care
I take my walks without falter
maybe that’s the reason why never had
any use for the Psalter

chorus

question: can I ever be saved?
you know my face looks enraged
but I have slave trade chocolate
silently running through my veins
before we give these valleys a raise, let’s wait
cause I’ve escaped the curse at the cost
of inequality’s iron rod
of others being crushed by the weight
of a system I did not create
but I’ve bought into it in a literal way
my money for products at a low wage
my vote working in what I pay
my heart in exchange for what I gain
my soul in exchange for what I save
I’ve never worked the ground from which I was made
-can I ever be saved?

Up on a mountain looking down
you only see loss
so when the Kingdom comes
I know it will come with a cost
I know it cost someone like me a lot

I want to justice to roll on like a river
its current to flow strong and mighty
but I want to keep my feet dry
and from what I hear that’s just not likely

what did I go out into the desert to see?
a wind-swayed reed?
did I hope to stay as I am?
or did I hope to be redeemed?
Track Name: Ecumenical Anarchist
I’m an ecumeneical anarchist until he comes and fixes this
as long as the system’s broken, I’ll have one foot out the door
loyal to a community, not a Sunday service
always in the back of my head, asking “what good is this for”

yes, the temple was ordained
and it was still full of snakes
why do we think that things have changed
just ‘cause the structure’s been rearranged

they say “don’t give up hope, the church is being redeemed”
but that’s used as a trump card like you wouldn’t believe, yeah
when it doesn’t sit well, don’t you think you should say something
without a wrench in the gears, they’ll just keep that machine running

you call it God’s house, but he’s been evicted
you know he made a break for it, the day when the curtain ripped

yeah, I know where Jesus is
no songs to invite him in
he’s just hanging out in
the neighborhood that you never got around to visitin’

this new wine won’t fit in old wine skins, no
let’s burn it down to the ground
no stone left on another, no

so why polish the brass of a sinking ship?
and put new coat of gloss on your house of worship?

it’s a nice event, all those smiling faces
but I keep thinkin’ who would so feel out place here
invisible fences, race and income sets ‘em
your sign might say welcome
but does mean that you meant it?

watch the show, go with the flow
a worship so synthetic
take good notes, so you know
how white men have always read it

who knows what goes on behind the scenes?
not you or me, no, they’re so discrete
head filled with stories that I can’t repeat
delusions of legacy, manifest-destiny
whose Kingdom are you really trying bring?

pissed off at white men, but rather scoff at system
profits off of congregations by [limiting] participation
all the attendants watch a few folks in “ministry”
while the rest of us sit passively, taking it all in, disengaged,
none of you should be called a teacher,
none of you should be called a leader
let’s roll on down and take an axe to that old cedar, yeah
none of you should be called a teacher
none of you should be called a leader
false dichotomy between the fed and the feeders

I try to give church folks second chances
logs in my eyes I could easily build a cabin with
but when it comes to pickin’ apart a system
I won’t stop critiquing until we stop and listen
Track Name: Colder Than Mars
we go to malls when it snows and we don’t buy a thing
and hold keys to cars we don’t own on our rings
and when we lie down, I can feel the oxytocin flow
like the Missippi...runs in the spring
if we’d stuck to applied sciences,
we might have ended up with better appliances
but anthills pop up through the carpet, yeah
our apartment’s kind of an armpit, yeah
no pork at our parties, chicken is safest,
and in mini-apple, sambusas are the greatest
orange fanta, sans-ice, goat, basta, injeera, rice

I haven’t mastered that Minnesota accent
cuz nearly no one in my neighborhood has it
its the new minnesota and that’s just fine,
that’s the minnesota that I have on my mind

we shop at the co-op, pick up supplements at the foodshelf
we buy what we can from the farmers,
and then get what we can where we can wherever else.
pita or pancake ? why is everyone snacking on my sidewalk?
spiced with ginger and mandrake!
I’m not gonna pick it up, and ingest it quick
we drink what it see, drain it down, even up to the dregs
let it sit deep within us, like fruit juices in giraffe’s legs

what if to submerge is like the Abyss? I mean the film from 1989
that I watched in 7th grade, with horror, as that rat’s eyes met mine
he shrieked and tried not to drown,
but he couldn’t resist, such a struggle in the brine
his lungs filled with water and he survived with clenched fists

its colder than mars here, and we import snow by the pounds
and doors are locked and closed,
from the first snow til the thaw of the ground
we’re all gonna die of loneliness, cozy with just ourselves,
only ourselves and a bottle of vodka taken down off the shelf
across the hall, paper thin walls, our salvation is bound up together
it’s not what we saw, but we heard the falls,
as we waited day and night through the weather
and if the sun ever comes out to greet us, we’ll beat it with a brick
and threaten, if you ever try to defect again, it’s over
we’ll finish the job, and this time we mean it.
Track Name: Roots
in the fullness, this old amygdala will finally get fixed
and some theocratic regulation will find its way into the mix
I won’t be flying high on endorphins, brain producing dope
just oxytocin my D.O.C., as you and I draw close

I used to be a jetsetter. China. Thailand. Minneapolis. L.A.
this generativity vs. stagnation stage has got me stayed
got me lying on the floor, hoping for a reprieve in my young age
from the drivenness that’s got me sore,
from the motivation that’s got me plagued

I went out for the protest / but I didn’t pause to confess
our march diverse and immersed among a variety of hues
but despite my goodwill, I’m still sitting in homogeneous pews

I want to disolve into some dough....like a pinch of yeast
minister behind a curtain….like a levite priest
feast my eyes on the trees growing out of my own street
smiling and crying with my neighbors until my eyes are creased

we were once a dry sponge put to the grunge of a rusty old door
our good-intentioned and ill-will expunged only by the Lord
we had hoped to be wrung out...and then somewhat adored
we had hoped to have been cleaned ourselves by the corroded pores

but now I’m ready for some roots
and I’m ready to be fifty
to sink into some saggy skin that will finally fit me.
to look down at the ground, and find that I still have feet
to look down at the ground and find that its holy

to sit at your feet, instead of setting the table
Jesus, I am weak, I can only wave sabals
take me across the border, you’re the good coyote
through the desert, against the law, to the land that I wanna be

cuz the feistiness of self-righteousness isn’t all that becoming
I’ll be the quietest quietest to make up for all this gunning
to be the brightest little light at the start of the day
who’s gonna wear that starry crown? Oh Lord, show us the way
Track Name: Funeral
No need for masked metaphor now and similes have no purpose
I saw you at grandma’s funeral service
and I was a little surprised to see how I’d surfaced
it still took a whole lot of courage
even though you were balding and I was bearded,
quite a contrast to years ago, when you drew close as I grew nervous
and I’ve tried and tried again to let it all go

that day I really wanted to give you a shiner,
but pacifist’s a pacifist’s a pacifist
so I did my best to hold back my desires
besides, it would’ve been against grammy’s wishes

we walk into the church, you hold the door for me,
you smile broadly and reply in a british accent
and I can’t for a second find it funny,
but I think about stabbing you with chopsticks, like I dreamt
and your wife is there, and you’re talking to young children
I want to shout aloud, “do not trust him”
you take the podium, and try to draw our tears
but the family’s eyes roll, like we have been for years

as you drew close, and I grew nervous
the smell of sleeping bags still makes me feel so worthless

by the time we drive our cars out to the stone
and all mutter hymns in the wind
despite my diagnosis of your syndromes
I’m feverish and my fervor’s gone dim
we talk of grammy, most stories funny and brief
and I pray for an unadulterated grief
but my ire sparks like a forest fire
posing for pictures, I smile with my teeth

my ears pop and my forehead grows warm
and the snow can’t begin to cover the swarm
of thoughts rising, like my chest is cracking
someone’s ripped it open, through it my heart is leaking

chorus

yet for a moment, I saw you as my brother
not by relation, but by creation
and wondered at the possibility, the sneaking possibility
of forgiveness
the thought twisted my insides out and my outsides in
and it passed like a plastic bag in the wind
who knows, it may come around again
until then, I’m stuck carrying your sin
until then, it turns out, you continue to win
I run for my life, and you lassoe me in
like Whitaker said: love and hate are strangely akin
they lurk deep in your heart like a siamese twin

and until I stop hating you for what you did
I’ll keep the wound you began when I was a kid
Jesus, teach me to love the enemy who knows exactly what he did
Track Name: Hygiene
Toothpaste isn’t what it used to be
crushed bones, oyster shells, dragon’s blood, lobster teeth
we kept our new bathroom scale in the kitchen for weeks
out of laziness? most-likely
is it something subconscious? maybe
we took it from the packaging and left it on the faux beech
never thought it might seem like a pathology
between our skin and the sea
never think too much about those things

the vineyard will be trampled and left in ruins.
I heard the heart of Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin
was mistreating the wayfaring alien
I once saw Isaiah 6 posted in
an air-force chapel by an air force chaplain
both the plaque and the place were incredibly troubling

serving spiced coleslaw to the mid-to-lower bourgeois
folks at a shared table, try to not go after kinfolk folks if I am able
but those vintage bowls would be worth their age in gold
if you poured them out to the poor,
if they could tear down walls and open doors
what can I say,
but John the baptist didn’t go into the food desert because he was bored

I can’t escape the system, but at least I can curse it
I need to be forgiven, that is one thing that this certain
against my best wishes, I’ll eat taco bell this week
where the chicken is caged and the labor is cheap

I’ve never killed a man, but my cold blood can
never needed to, already got a game plan
fit for duty, one-hundred-and-twenty thousand
I mean, one-hundred-and-twenty million, that’s no straw man.
Track Name: Foxes
death has been stalking the neighborhood
in such uncreative ways
but the Kingdom’s here, taquis and art
and children’s play are footprints in its wake
and you don’t have to squint, you don’t have to break pace,
to see resurrection every day
and looking around at the signs , there are hints here,
of some bit of yeast working away

there are foxes stalking the neighborhood
making more tracks than is strictly needed
minute details jotted into our palms and
hearts weaving them through like string
sprouts shout out, coming up from the ground,
so lets get that old oak out of the way
lets cut it down, and mulch it up,
and spread it through the garden in hope of what will grow in its place

We’re watering this garden with our tears,
but the salt helps it grow up from bulbs and sprout ears
and one day, we will know where those aquifers go
how they drained and filled us both

I walked on a wall, took a chance for a glance
and I balked and I crawled, before I stepped into the dance
I worried about the safety of this place
and so ashamed, I confess, my own racism shows it face
I’m just glad to get out of the sprawl
and remind myself its in Jerusalem where they kill the prophets
after all

Don't you think it's time
to give up on being safe in hope of being saved

Put your hand in mine
we'll put roots down in the place, trusting we'll see his face