the art of swimming

by leo crandall

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released June 20, 2017



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leo crandall Syracuse, New York

I am a singer/songwriter/composer. I play the requinto, cello and guitar. I have toured Africa sponsored by the State Dept., nominated for Australia’s Bluestar Award, charted #14 nationally in Roots and Blues, received a Meet the Composer Grant. I have composed film scores, dance scores, theater music and ambient sound for installations. My music has been heard all over the world. ... more

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Track Name: station girl
Station Girl

He loved his Burlington girl
Strawberry blond she smoked on the rail

In bed she was the dark of the sea
And when she laughed it was dogs running free

He stayed, the heavens above unmoved
She left, her world always turned so blue

From a window I saw what he did get through
And after all that I know I want a station girl too

In a ribbon of smoke
Over gravel and oil
He walked on the rail with me.
We gathered the air, the air we released
So briefly held on these haunting streets

These moths inside my house too long
So frail in my hand tonight gave me this song
Track Name: the whisperin' duke
The Whisperin’ Duke

My father’s maple out back
Down among the roots I buried my dog Jack
I’m a duke in exile brother far from me
Through my kitchen window this is what I see
Under the branches crawl the shadows

First I’ll close your eyes then I’ll close mine
Weary I’ll lay down, this body of mine
This body of mine
I lofted my banner … rode full bore
On all of the sleepwalkers in this bar
I declare war, I declare war, I declare war.

I’ve got a shovel gonna work it with my back
And dig another hole next to my dog Jack
I’ll give a name to all my living hurt
Speak it to the ground from my lips unto the earth.
I’ll whisper in that hole and fill it, fill it up with dirt


My work is done; I’m finished with beneath
Gonna lean that shovel up against the tree
I’ll walk away exile on my back
Leave my father’s maple: I’m never coming back
Under the branches crawl the shadows
Under the shadows crawl the roots reaching out
My sport is war
Track Name: gretchen watch it burn
Gretchen Watch it Burn

She told me when I got to town
Don’t put your suitcase on the ground
Her voice was so low it never let go
When I got to town

Murdering our albatrosses
We broke our oaths and cut our losses
Though we stammered around the path remained sound

Gretchen watch it burn all night stand outside the firelight
We loiter undone by the night’s iron tongue
Gretchen watch it burn

Watermarked we sat beside a road up north under the sky
Your head in my chest Oh my palimpsest

Long ago out on my porch you welded us, beloved torch
It’s been the longest goodbye
I believe we started to die-
That night so long ago
Track Name: the dynamiter
The Dynamiter

It wasn’t really blue,
Out on the Vienna
You led me to the edge
Of the lower Susquehanna
We floated golden hope
Beyond where we could see
It left a nothing, sweet and clean,
And nothing felt so good
Inside you and me

Like a London dynamiter
I did all I could do
To blow up those guitar shops
That made me think of you
I couldn’t ask for better:
In all that wreckage I was saved
From the gut strung music
Inside me and you
That never would get played

Let this vassal find some peace
Let me finally be still
If God can just stop scrambling, once again
Let the night do what it will
All the nothing that I did
All the nothing we went through

Seemed like such a waste of precious time
Except it was with you

Seemed like such a waste of precious time
Except it was with you
Track Name: calamities of lovers
Calamities of Lovers

Broken hearted writers you may hear them sing:
(A cri de coeur, a wailing at the sun)
“Every piece of paper I ever stained with ink
Couldn’t keep my only one”

“No one cares for me No one cares to get out of my way And let me be”

All the lovesick draftsmen you may hear them sing
Schematize the hearts of broken men
“All this engineering, my cautious ink
Couldn’t bring her back again”

All the lovesick samurai you may hear them sing
Fighting for their lovers who have gone
Kneeling in the morning at the rising sun
Committing seppuku at dawn

Broken hearted seamstresses you may hear them sing
Stitching all their pain into their clothes
Mending what is riven, mending what is torn
And there is much for them to sew

Broken hearted lovers you may hear them sing
At the ocean pleading with the tide
“From time to time my lover shows up in my dreams”
Then she’s mine all mine

“No one cares for me No one cares to get out of my way Not even me”
Track Name: i, boxer
I, Boxer

Rising. Rising. The sky is a sieve above this hill
Morning star is rising.  I cannot hold it still

I am a passenger on the loneliest highway ever paved
I am the hardest look Christ ever gave.

I don’t see it but I feel it, I feel it all around,
That force out in the dark, I only know it by its mark

The canvas is a Kansas field, its rich and its deep and its wide
Things that I don’t know I need it is waiting to provide

He turns away, drops his robe. Virgin Mary tattooed on his back
I am chosen, he readies his attack


I can hold on, but I can’t hold together what wants to fall apart
Hesperus is rising, rising

The richest peat upon this earth, I shall be a dark and heavy cloth
I’ll put my fist upon his lips, upon his lips of moss

They file into my heart, the decimating angels
They shoulder out the dark and leave light in its stead

I know, know that love is gathering, love is gathering near
I know it by its mark. I will know it by its mark
Track Name: saint sebastian
Saint Sebastian

When the arrow pierces you the arrow pierces me
I will stand behind you like St. Sebastian's tree

Its ancient planet wandering, a long unbroken vow
I will stand behind you…at least for now.

The river rolls around your foot and flows out to the sea
the sun's a little thing laying at your knee


You fall down on the floor I lean against the wall
A black pool opens up you begin your fall
I look across the alley put my hand upon your head
Awake you touch the sleeper…asleep you touch the dead
Track Name: the hospice car
The Hospice Car

When the low winds blow
She goes out
Knows it’s time, paints her name
Where loss is found
On this car of mine

She was a sailor
Oh tall, tall girl come shining now
Come shining

It must be written
This chronicle on the car I race
Around, around, around
This iron memoir

There had to be a witness west out to the speedway
Gonna drag her painted name across the line
Then turn from home and leave all this behind

When the moonlight trails
I’ll whisper
Better yet won’t speak at all
About her

The sky above us, forsaken ones that loved us
They both reach down

I’m gonna drag my weary heart across the line
Then turn from home and leave all this behind
Leave it all behind

When the low winds blow
When the moonlight trails
When the long rains fall
When the long rains fall
Track Name: new river
New River

I’m gonna burn like a desert
I’m gonna hold the rock I’m gonna hold the sand
I’m gonna burn like a desert
I’m gonna hold this sweat, a river in my hand

Then I’m gonna shine like a river
And put aside the things of darkness and light
I’m gonna shine like a river
And keep on winding til the day is bright

Oh I’m gonna fall like a sunset
I’m gonna lay me down when the day is long
I’m gonna fall like a sunset
And hold my light ‘til the morning song

Then I’m gonna find the New River
New River roll hot and mean
Gonna lay me down in that river
New River take me down stream
Lay me down in that river
New River set me free
Track Name: drawn to the wheel
Drawn to the Wheel

I am drawn to the wheel
Drawn to the sound of the evening bell
I am drawn to the wheel
Drawn to the sound of the evening bell
Everything that’s underneath this old brown shoe
It’s just of the roof of hell