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Dallas Green

11/30/15

Now I’ve been given the gift of persistence
But it’s become a curse
Unraveling backward
In the distance I heard a dirge
I can see a man
On his face there’s no trace of time
There’s a strange and mad idea I must find

If I try to change direction
I might not find what I’m looking for
But this bitter disposition
Well now must surely run its course

~Mizzy C
City and Colour, If I Should Go Before You

Timing is a blessing sometimes, in the sense that you happen to click with an album two days prior to hearing its headlining tour. No surprise that it is from City and Colour, in the cleanest and smooth and almost jazzy-ish we’ve heard from them yet.

Dallas Green’s voice is as fragile yet shimmering with a confidence as always. There’s an extra boldness, maybe coming from the extra back-up of a full band composing these songs together. I love the emphasis on guitar solos, plugged-in ones on full, retro Gibsons.

This coming from a listener who is still wowed by “The Hurry and the Harm” all the time. I’m so so excited to see him perform for the first time at a great venue Wednesday night….and even more excited to find I may be able to make it to an in-studio live session tomorrow!! Private!! My heart may literally may explode,and I couldn’t be any happier to see fireworks.

I’m looking for a way out
For a place that no one knows
Please take me away now
Somewhere it don’t feel so cold

Troubles on my mind
Troubles on my mind
For the rest of the days I’ve cried
For the rest of the days I’ve cried

I’m searching for a paradise
That I just can’t seem to find
I’m searching for a paradise
For the time of my life

I’m searching for a paradise
That I just can’t seem to find
I’m searching for a paradise
Gonna go where the spirit guides

~Paradise

City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm

2/15/15

So, it’s easy to hate on Valentine’s Day, or any celebration of any sort, really, in the name of being jaded or cynical or merely above the commercialization of it all –  but is there anything so wrong with telling someone you love them, on any day? No. What’s so wrong, then, about a day exclusively devoted to that?

I guess, in the perfect relationship, such a day would be every day. 
But that’s not how it goes. 
Most relationships aren’t perfect. Most are fractured and complicated. So many fall apart under the weight of personalities and realities and the heavy, constant weight of expectation. The best, I think, rise above and heal the harm, like skin over scars. I think that’s what this song is about. About trying through the hardest times to stay optimistic, to be hopeful, to believe. About counting down the days til the open wounds are closed.
Show me Dallas Green songs and I will show you how to wear your heart on your sleeve. His voice on this track is nothing short of stunning – an incredible, inspired performance – and his playing, solo acoustic spotlit like the rest of this brilliant little record, are captivating in a deep and feeling kind of way, one just right for lonely mornings and even better for the solitude of a cold, dark night. 

“So there goes my life
Passing by with every exit sign
It’s been so long
Sometimes I wonder how I will stay strong
No sleep tonight
I’ll keep on driving these dark highway lines
And as the moon fades
One more night gone, only twenty more days

But I will see you again
I will see you again a long time from now

And there goes my life
Passing by with every departing flight
And its been so hard
So much time so far apart
And she walks the night
How many hearts will die tonight

And will things have changed?
I guess I’ll find out in seventeen days.

But I will see you again
I will see you again a long time from now

My body aches,
and it hurts to sing,
and no one is moving
And I wish that I weren’t here tonight,
but this is my life.

And I will see you again
I will see you again a long time from now

And I will see you again
I will see you again a long time from now.”

~Hello, I’m in Delaware
City and Colour, Sometimes

1/28/15

How long the nights can feel when you are alone, how grey the skies can look in the morning when you feel as empty as the day before.
How suffocating the world can be, with all its petty problems and daily difficulties compounding the very real, often exhilarating, occasionally traumatic exercise of existing.
But these times are temporary ones. These struggles will pass, just as they did before, and all that’s around you will look new again, tinted by love. The sweet sounds of morning birds will ring in your ears, the sparkle of sun will fill your eyes, and on that day, you will live like you never have before. That day is coming. It could even be tomorrow, if you let it.

“I heard the church bells from afar,
But we found each other in the dark.
And when the smoke does finally pass
We will rise above all the ash.

Cause we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live

At last.

So bright, the flames burned in our hearts,
That we found each other in the dark.
Like beasts out in the wilderness
We are fighting to survive and convalesce.

But we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
We’re gonna live, we’re gonna live, we’re gonna live
Like the rest.

Through the black starless water,
And the cold lonely air.
On the rock restless seas,
The vessel in deep disrepair.
And I swore they started singing,
But then oh, rejoice!
I can still hear your voice.

Then I heard the church bells from afar
But we found each other in the dark.”

~We Found Each Other in the Dark 
City and Colour, Little Hell

2/21/14

“What if I did not love you?
Where would that leave me
Would I wander through the avenues
Under a pall of misery

Would I be face down in the gutter
With cheap whiskey on my breath
The lonely life of a writer
Whose words could not pay his debts

Singin’ please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I’ve been blinded completely
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I am pleading for your mercy

What if we became strangers?
Would you notice my face in a crowd?
And you could you hear the sorrow in my voice?
Helplessly crying your name out loud

Would I be searching for a savior?
Burned and burning with regret

The lonely life of a writer
Only if one last desperate request

Singin’ please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I’ve been blinded completely
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I am pleading for your mercy

I’ve been on the lam
Being hunted, somethin’ fierce
They say time and tide, it waits for no man
But I was just hopin’
These storm filled skies would clear

Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
Please don’t, please don’t pass me by
I am alive, oh can’t you see?
That I am pleading for your mercy”
~This Lonely Life
City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm

I read a quote once, which said something along the lines of “when you smile alone, you really mean it.” I think about that quote most times I find myself content with solitude, when whatever the night brings is seemingly worth indulging when, when the quiet moments inspire gratitude.

Most times, that happens when I’m listening to a song, no matter how sad or sorrowful it may be.

Dallas Green writes some soulful melodies, and oh, are they a joy to sing, even when they sing of desperation.  He captures it in every note, though his style has always been one of restraint and reserve. No matter how much feeling there is, he doesn’t resort to harsh tones or gimmicks to portray turmoil and confusion. Instead he opts for elegant phrasing and classic verbiage for a high-minded appeal to match the direct and dire feelings he projects, finding the right balance of emotion and perspective.

City and Colour’s latest LP, “The Hurry and the Harm,” has been a constant fallback in my catalog of late, full of interesting lyrical concepts and satisfying melodies ripe for deconstruction. My favorite track, “The Lonely Life,” is a prime example: with a standard pop song format and tasteful, driving instrumentation, lyrical longing is matched with movement. Sure, it’s a song coming from a place of discontent conceptually (it is City and Colour, after all) but the walking bass lines, spotlit percussion and melismatic chorus form a steady foundation that’s far from hopeless. Rather, it’s one of wisdom.

“And so sudden the winds change
And so sudden you lose your faith
I will provide you
With a reason to believe

Cause you are a single grain
A mere molecule
Mistaken for a king
You’re only a simple fool

So take, better care
Of yourself, my friend
Take better care
Of yourself, my friend

~Take Care,
City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm
Throughout the record, the backing instrumentation is incredibly satisfying: everyone knows Dallas Green can play guitar, but can he set a song?  Yes. Green writes incredibly satisyfing vocal lines and I’ve found I love singing along, even if there’s no way my fumbling amateur fingers can pull off those chords. His voice and message, throughout the years, has been a  constant one, and his most recent works say to me he’s learned how to refine his strengths of melody, rhyme and resolve.

Tonight I find myself listening to this album while playing out some boring, modern role of adulthood, the kind that involves sorting through institutional obligations while drinking cheap Cabernet. I find myself, as more often than not, most nights, desperate for creativity. I hold onto the influences and inspirations that spark reaction, I grab onto whatever I hear or read that provides some semblance of sense, and I let that prove to me my own reasons for creating such material might not be as futile as I write them off to be. After all, you have to start somewhere, and that may as well be the place where it feels right feeling like yourself.

“I don’t wanna be revolutionary
No, I’m just looking for the sweetest melody
If I overstayed my welcome
I would take my things and leave
‘Cause I’m not trying to be revolutionary

What gave you the impression
That your opinion means anything to anyone?
What gave you the right
To bear arms against me, against us?

You’re nothing but a bunch of amateur commentators
Who live your lives hiding behind a wall of insecurities

I don’t wanna be revolutionary
No, I’m just looking for the sweetest melody
If I overstayed my welcome
I would take my things and leave
‘Cause I’m not trying to be revolutionary”

~Commentators
City and Colour, The Hurry and the Harm

7/23/13

“I can hear my train comin’…it’s a lonesome and distant cry..”

Had this stuck in my head all day, sat down to try to learn it. Thirty minutes later and a tab or two later, I had the main chords figured out but absolutely no technical ability to pull of the playing, the picking or the chord changes. Mostly because I am no guitar player but also because Dallas Green is a man of incredible skill and talent. He plays the way some people write, dynamics and rhythm so perfect and fluid because they are innate. It’s nothing that can be taught – refined, maybe, but some are just born with it.

And his words. Simple and telling, effortless rhymes. If this song doesn’t make your blood run a little slower, make your thoughts a little darker, and somehow still you for a second, I’m not sure if you understand powerful songwriting the same way I do. Because damn. He gets the feeling so right on, he doesn’t even need to say it.

“I can hear my train comin’
It’s a lonesome and distant cry
I can hear my train comin’
Now I’m runnin’ for my life
What makes a man walk away from his mind?
I think I know
I think I might know

I can feel the wind blowin’
It’s sending shivers down my spine
I can feel the wind blowin’
It shakes the trees and the power lines

What makes a man spend his whole life in disguise?
I think I know
I think I might know

I think I might know
I think I might know, oh oh

I can see the sun settin’
It’s casting shadows on the sea
I can see the sun, it’s setting
It’s getting colder, starting to freeze
What makes a man want to break a heart with ease?
I think I know
I think I might know

I think I might know
I think I might know, oh oh

Well I can hear my train comin’
Looks like time is not on my side
Well I can hear my train comin’
I’m still runnin’ for my life
What makes a man pray, when he’s about to die?
I think I know

I think I might know”

~What Makes a Man
City and Colour, Bring Me Your Love

5/13/13

If I was a producer and wanted to lock a pair of singer-songwriters in a room together to write soundtrack of my life today, I’d have to say Elena Tonra and Dallas Green. Soft songs with a lot of heart – I guess that’s how I’m feeling today.


I am a recent fan of Daughter, she’s pretty amazing and stands out among the bazillion indie Brits or indie wanna-be brits flooded the “hipster” scene and primetime female-led drama soundtracks. Daughter is different, there’s a lot of real musicianship in her songwriter. Here, for example — it’s a bold move to go with such stripped down instrumentals in a whole verse or two, that sotto voce while soft acoustics chime gradually in and out, before swelling into something more full.

Torna’s song lyrics are quite dark, as such I think they almost require that kind of delicacy…feelings and messages so bold and visceral they are better delivered by a light touch.

“Throw me in the landfill
Don’t think about the consequences
Throw me in the dirt pit
Don’t think about the choices that you make
Throw me in the water
Don’t think about the splash I will create
Leave me at the altar
Knowing all the things you just escaped

Push me out to sea
On the little boat that you made
Out of the evergreen
That you helped your father cut away
Leave me on the tracks
To wait until the morning train arrives
Don’t you dare look back
Walk away, catch up with the sunrise

‘Cause this is torturous
Electricity between both of us
And this is dangerous

 ’cause I want you so much
But I hate your guts”

~Landfill
Daughter,  His Young Heart

I also can’t get enough of City and Colour lately, inspired by the supreme fandom of recently made friends. I’ve always appreciated Dallas Green, even from back in the Alexisonfire days when I thought was I hardcore because I had checkered Vans and long bangs, or something. I remember listening to “Save Your Scissors” a lot when I was about 18.

Lately, though, on this side of college and real relationships and indulging in all the highs and lows young adulthood can offer, his heartfelt sincerity for love and affection is perfectly sweet,simply just right. He has some serious perspective, on life and despair and dreams and love….it’s the last one though, where he really drives it home. Lyrically,  Green equally captures the fragile and the strong sides of sentimentality, never pandering to either. Seriously don’t know of any other modern songwriter who can write this many love songs that are so beautiful without being incredibly cheesy or poppy or forced. You have to click here to see what I’m talking about because of YouTube rules.

Green’s voice is ethereal, his melodies are enchanting, and when he gets the choir-like backup vocals and tambourine going, I cannot help but feel lighter, making no matter of my automatic default to remain knee-deep in melancholy. I suppose it’s not the worst thing to find yourself smiling alone.

“You’re the Northern Wind
Sending shivers down my spine.
You’re like fallen leaves
In an autumn night.

You’re the lullaby,
Singing me to sleep.
You are the other half
You’re like a missing piece

Oh my love…
Oh my love ,
Oh my love,
You don’t know,
What you’re doing to me

You are all four seasons
Rolled into one,
You’re like the cold December snow,
In the warm July sun.

I’m the jet black sky,
Just before the rain,
Like the mighty current,
Pulling you under the waves
Oh my love,
Oh my love,
Oh my love,

You must be tired of me,
Of me…

I’m the darkest hour,
Just before the dawn,
I’m slowly sinking

Into the slough of despond

Like an old guitar
Worn out and left behind
I have stories still to tell
Of the healing kind

Oh my love,
Oh my love,
Oh my love,
If I could just find you tonight,
If I could just find you tonight…
Oh my love…”

~Northern Lights
City and Colour, Little Hell

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