A Thing So Real

by Sandy Cash

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1.
There’s a house up on a hillside I’ve approached it many times Up beyond a lonesome path Through a stand of forest pine They’ve got a wide veranda And a wood two-seater swing The bell beside the front door Echoes sweetly when it rings I climb along the pathway And I see them come and go Hear the chattering of the children And the old folks speaking low Some nights a man and woman Take their place out on that swing All alone among the shadows I listen as they sing This love is only for you Forever and onward Our whole lives through Let the forest burn down I’ll still know that it’s true This love is only for you It’s a song I’ve known forever But it draws me all the same With a vision that I cling to Of a joy I dare not name Just to give my heart to someone And to be loved in return Still I’m standing on this pathway Still I listen, still I burn
2.
You warm me from the inside out Like light upon the water We’ve never met, but still the same You are my son… or daughter A mystery, a part of me A secret world I cannot see With joy and sorrow, hope and fear I wait for you out here Saving all my dreams for you If you’ll take the gifts I’m giving Will I recognize your face? Will you change this life I’m living? Serenity and harmony Beyond the laws of gravity Your every move a dancer’s code That points me down an unknown road Growing from without and in Racing toward where life begins Wondering just who will win And how we’ll live without the other Strangers with one heart, the child and mother
3.
The Ghost 04:28
She’s looking out the window At the rolling clouds below A solid gray expanse that cuts her off From what she knows From the infinite horizon To the in-flight movie guide She will find something, somehow To get her through this ride The flight attendants coming through To gather up the cups She puts away her earphones Folds the tray table up She feels the weather changing As the plane starts heading down And slips into a snowstorm On the outskirts her town And it’s just three hours from her life to this town It’s half a lifetime trying to get away Now she’s haunted by the ghost of lost potential I disappoint, therefore I am, that’s what she’d say Crazy, but it’s true, that’s what she’d say This old town had always been A sort of show and tell With diplomas and distinctions And receipts for doing well Each one held up to the light Of prizes won before To her it was so obvious - She should be doing more So she roared into the city And she blazed herself a trail With boys and boardrooms battled for With skin and tooth and nail It took six years to get that Corner office with the view Like the townhouse that she rented It had room for two And her nose was to the grindstone And her back was to the wall In the shadow of each victory Was the specter of the fall And it’s just three hours from her life to this town Where constant movement keeps the fear at bay Still, she’s haunted by the ghost of lost potential I’m doing all I can, that’s what she’d say After all these years, that’s what she’d say The taxi driver leaves her On the sidewalk in the snow The evening chill grows deeper But her legs can’t seem to go The porch light stretches toward her Like a carpet on the lawn Her memory running, hot and cold She’s frightened and she’s drawn And she stands outside the light now Though it’s what she needs the most This visit has potential If she’d just give up the ghost And it’s just three hours from her life to this town But closing the real gap is touch and go She blames it on the ghost of lost potential But she’s the one out standing in the snow She’s the one out standing in the snow
4.
The boy next door’s got that gleam in his eye He never says please, he never asks why To tell you the truth this guy’s stinking with sin But at the end of every day My good intentions sizzle away And I lift my voice and pray that he’ll come in You may think it’s his squeaky voice Or maybe it’s his hair Or maybe it’s his attitude of Devil may care You may think it’s his backpack Or the way he parks his bike But of all his many features Here’s the one I really like I’ve got a bunch of little kids (aged seven, five and four) And when that boy comes calling Every one heads out the door They follow him like puppies From half past three till five That little break is all it takes To keep this mom alive The Boy Next Door, the Boy Next Door My children may survive Thanks to the Boy Next Door He’s taught ‘em how to sass me He’s taught ‘em how to spit If he teaches them to shoplift Hell, I may get over it So what if he’s a devil? Who cares if he’s a louse? I’ll trade my better judgment For some quiet in my house Cause while he’s out making trouble For the neighbor’s dog and cat I pour myself a drink And phone my girlfriend for a chat I complete entire sentences Even a paragraph or two Let loose with all the "cuss" words I’ve held in all afternoon The boy next door’s a terror I should be steering clear But he’s like life insurance for those Kids I hold so dear He helps me find my temper And to make it through the day Don’t call me irresponsible The alternative’s impossible This stage of life is crossable Thanks to the boy next door I’ll be OK.
5.
Every year, the end of August There’s a cry across the nation A collective "omigod" As all the shrinks go on vacation How could they leave us hanging After all that we’ve been through? How could they dare suggest They might have better things to do? I traditionally fall victim To this end of year distress But after years with the same therapist She knows me well, I guess And because she knows how hard It sometimes is for me to cope In ending our last session She gave me an envelope She said, "Here is an exercise I’d like you to complete I’ve prepared it for the session that We’ll miss this coming week So at our regularly scheduled hour If your thoughts have got you down This hopefully will help you feel Just like I’m still in town." So half past three on Sunday I sat down beside my desk Read through the words she’d written And tried filling in the rest: An adjective thing happened to me In name of a place When my family member, past-tense verb And said, right to my face Exclamation, said family member You are really adjective I stood there verb, in "ing" form For the best response to give It was difficult to know Whether to verb or let it pass When everything inside me Said to verb him in the body part It brought out all the feeling I’d experienced as a noun But I handled it adverb Doc I know you’d be so proud Here’s a visualization To help me verb the noun away I am at name of a place On a bright, adjective day Male celebrity is with me We share an adjective gaze Now I’ll hold that feeling with me ‘Till you’re back in number days I worked through this assignment Crossing "T"s and dotting "I"s When a realization surfaced And it caught me by surprise This is more than just a method To survive my shrink’s vacation It’s a Madlib – getting mad’s A form of psychic liberation! So I flipped that paper over And I let my feelings flow Even though you’re on vacation, Doc, There’s something you should know You’re probably verb, in "ing" form On the name of cruise ship line Or gazing at the plural noun As you sip some price range wine But that Madlib verb in past tense To some feelings deep and true So I say verb it, time to give Some noun where noun is due That exercise in noun Was a professional disgrace If the AMA found out You’d have cooked food upon your face I know you have a noun from Third-class junior college State Is this what made you think That you are worth your hourly rate? If there’s one thing that I’ve learned Over the course of therapy It’s that my problems stem From unexpressed hostility So dig out malpractice policy By which you are insured But don’t wait for me on Sunday – After this, I think I’m cured.
6.
Before Charles Darwin dipped his pen To write the Species’ Origin Man’s stewardship of the cosmos was unshaken Then the theory of evolution Stirred up quite a revolution By putting Man’s Descent before Creation It was Natural Selection, he said Not divine election That determined who survival would elude And the one that would prevail And would live to tell the tale Was the one with access to sufficient food If I may venture an opinion On theories Darwinian They seem to give the modern woman hope For if Chuck’s right the supermodels And the women thin as rods’ll Soon be sliding down the evolutionary slope For when bodies that are real Are compared to the ideal It can hit a woman in her sense of worth But with Darwin as our guide We will no more be denied And those who eat shall, in the end, control the Earth I don’t mean to be "elitist" But survival of the fittest Comes from grabbing what’s created as our due It’s all based on adaptations From amphibians to crustaceans C’mon girls, if crabs can do it, we can too Yes, the woman of tomorrow Will evolve beyond the sorrow Of selecting fruit cup from the pastry cart And improvement of her vision Will add to the precision With which she locates milk duds in the dark Adapting to the challenges Of how the species scavenges For foodstuffs at the local shopping mall The flow of her adrenaline Will serve her very well when Racing for the shortest check out line of all The power of her fist and flexibility of wrist Will easily twist off the tightest lids And her suppleness of shoulder And extended reach will hold her When she raids the treats She’s hidden from the kids Yet before we can progress There’s an issue to address The same one Darwin knew the finches faced Selection, when effectual Is both natural and sexual So is subject to guys’ unenlightened taste Still, before we get downhearted Let’s remember how we started When the first amoebas oozed out of the slime From our prehistoric past We’ve reached low-heeled shoes at last And the men may evolve too, just give ‘em time!
7.
Hang your coat up on the hook Toss the new moon one last look Then shut the door and lock it tight Switch off the stars flip on the light Check your mail and scan the news Weigh the contacts you can use Then set them on the windowsill Till morning comes, as morning will Beyond these walls a crescent moon’s suspended in the sky Harvesting a field of stars did you ever wonder why On the cutting edge of solitude you shine so hard and bright When there’s more than one way to light up the night By light of day you move so strong March in step and sing that song Things to do and worlds to win Too bright to let the shadows in I once was blinded by the glow Of the part of you you let me know The rest of you you shut away I wish you might I wish you may Come out and see the crescent moon suspended in the sky Harvesting a field of stars did you ever wonder why On the cutting edge of solitude you shine so hard and bright When there’s more than one way to light up the night. I will stand here by your window ‘Till the night resolves to day Reflecting on your sadness Will you turn your face my way I’ll watch through all your phases And keep sight of all the stars ‘Till you join me for the harvest Of the fullness that you are Beyond these walls a crescent moon is rising in the sky Harvesting a field of stars did you ever wonder why On the cutting edge of solitude you shine so hard and bright When there’s more than one way to light up the night
8.
Italy was far behind me even if I could be warned Just a hot-head would-be soldier underage And half-informed I’d signed up for Franco’s army In the Spanish Civil War Mussolini’s thundering speeches Like an anvil to my sword But by the time I’d crawled home Old enough to have some doubts Il Duce took my native land And sold it to the Krauts The whole north of the country Gone to pay the Devil’s due I took a job in Budapest to see the Blue Danube They had gathered at the river When into this place I came From Giorgio to Jorge I’d never be the same Raised to rally to the truth I could not well deny The death-defying logic found in living out a lie There weren’t many free states left in 1942 The work was hard but legal And thank God I was no Jew But when the country’s jack-boot-licking Leaders came for me I dodged the labor camps Inside the Spanish embassy His Excellency took me in with little left to lose He’d made himself a nuisance With his sympathy for Jews They’d seen him at the brickworks And beside the eastbound trains With freshly-printed papers Showing family links to Spain But just before the gendarmes Strung him up for what he did He vanished from the city And resurfaced in Madrid Forgotten in my hiding place I haunted the halls through Echoes of the rifles rising up from the Danube They had chased them to the river When into this place I came From Giorgio to Jorge I’d never be the same Raised to rally to the truth I could not well deny The death-defying logic found in living out a lie An oaken desk a golden pen And stamps that bore his name The phone rang for a morning Then fell silent once again They’d laid their stores in well - It would be a week or two Before I had to weigh the risk To starve or make a move The shots along the riverbank More frequent day by day As I sat and watched his mirrors Turn my olive skin to grey They say that if the shoe fits It should certainly be worn The clothes he left all fit me As if to the manner born The day I stepped outside my thoughts Went drifting back to Spain A stranger in that fight Now it was time to fight again Distributing the papers that would save them from the war I signed each one: Jorge Perlasca, Spanish Ambassador They had left them in the river When into this place I came And those along the riverbanks Would never be the same Raised to rally to the truth I could not well deny The death-defying logic found in living out a lie This story should be told until the Blue Danube runs dry Of how Giorgio Perlasca dared to question: Why?
9.
I remember when it happened, I was feeling pretty down I thought I’d lift my spirits with some shopping in the town The lights the noise the musak and the crush of humankind Would all unite to drive the day’s disasters from my mind To get the full effect I chose a huge department store The kind with festive banners and a glass revolving door An outstretched hand, a clockwise push that’s all it took for me To join the teeming masses for some retail therapy. I searched through all the clothing, the jewelry and the rest But every purchase option seemed to get me more depressed No matter where I turned and looked the offerings seemed to be Designed for someone younger, thinner, wealthier than me So I gave up, admitted to myself that I’d been beat But the soda machine called to me as I turned toward the street A jolt of caffeine, saccharine, and caramel coloring And hey, the sign assured me that it was the Real Thing My coins clinked to the bottom, the drink shot down to the hole But the can slipped through my grasp and on the floor began to roll I reached out — suddenly I felt I’d slipped into a dream Because that can of Coke — I swear — chugged off on its own steam It zipped through ladies’ lingerie and down the housewares aisle It hopped the escalator with me following all the while Although I feared I’d lost my mind I held tight to the trail As it rolled down a darkened hall beyond a years’ end sale I took a look around just to make sure the coast was clear Then followed down the corridor my heart pounding with fear Down at the end a mirrored wall gleamed dimly in the light I stared and saw the can roll through that mirror, out of sight I walked up to the mirror and I reached out with my hand My fingers slipped right through like Alice’s in Wonderland I gulped, then squeezed my whole self through to see what I would find I found a store, but nothing like the one I’d left behind The shelves were lined with presents, all in shining paper wrapped But as I reached for one, I felt my shoulder being tapped "This one’s for you" the salesman said, "We’re really glad you came" He handed me a box and on the card was my own name "I’m not quite sure I get it," I said, a little lost What exactly is this gift and how much does it cost?" "It’s not for sale," the man replied, it’s meant for you alone. Besides, it makes no sense to buy what you already own." "But what’s inside?" I asked the man. He said, "It’s hard to tell. You could be a stranger to this gift or know it very well. But if you want to use the gift there’s really just one way Don’t take it home – but leave it here to always give away." He pointed out an empty space upon a nearby shelf I hesitated, hoping I could keep it for myself "But surely you have something I can take home from the store? Without something in hand I’ll never know what this was for." The salesman smiled and said to me, "Now here’s the tricky part. You don’t need things in hand when you can hold them in your heart. And if you feel you’re missing something, well, that may in fact be true. But that empty space feels fuller when you give the gift of you." I smiled and thanked the man and left my box there in the store And suddenly I found myself in the real world once more I pushed through that revolving door and strode off through the night But not before I stopped by that machine and bought a Sprite.
10.
How brave my brothers How righteous our cause How sweet the war snatched from The peacemaker’s jaws In the children’s brigade ahead of them all We march to the dangerous beat Of our countrymen’s call And the fight makes us strong And it conquers our fears Redefining us more than Our ten or twelve years And the loss of our mission Would leave us undone Our battle a birthright passed down From father to son Drink while you may from the fountain of youth An eye for an eye and a heart for the truth How dazzling our fallen, how fabled their names How they beckon us forward to join in the game We are knights of the newscast The lords of the land As chiseled and hard as the rocks In the palms of our hands And our teachers prepare us And our parents consent And our leaders make sure All the money’s well spent In the eyes of our people to brighten the blaze A fire that burns to the soul Of the children they raise Drink if you dare from the fountain of youth A eye for an eye and a life for the truth And who will repay the loss of our youth?
11.
Taking the step Taking a stand Slipping my soul into your hand Holding my breath Looking at you Waiting to see what you will do Breaking the rules Crossing a line Seeing beyond what’s merely mine Willing to want Daring to care Knowing I might not find you there But if there ever was a reason to hide my love away It’s time to step into the light today Playing for keeps Playing with fire Walking the tightrope of desire So far to go So far to fall Finding the balance after all What will you say? How will you feel? Can we survive a thing so real? Hope for the now Fear from the then Longing for love since who knows when But if there ever was a reason to hide my love away It’s time to step into the light today

about

from the tug of war between independence and intimacy, to the joy and chaos of parenthood, to modern consumer culture.

Roberta Schwartz, writing for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange (FAME) had this to say about the album:

“Like some of the best performers in the musical theater, she moves easily from the classic torch song to a comedic song and everything in between. She has the kind of voice – an alto with a lovely upper range – that is so easy to listen to that you won’t want to remove her CD from your player even after it’s ended. But more importantly, she writes great songs – both those that come from the heart and those that tell a story.”

credits

released January 11, 2003

All songs written by Sandy Cash © 2003 Bud-Man Music (BMI), except "Into the
Light" music © 2003 by Mitch Clyman (ACUM) and Sandy Cash, lyrics by Sandy Cash

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Sandy Cash Israel

From the Midwest to the Middle East, American-born singer-songwriter Sandy Cash is a musical storyteller whose thoughtful – and theatrical – performance style is rooted in the songs on which she grew up back in her native Detroit.

Sandy draws on history and present-day politics, while exploring themes such as the sustaining love of family, a commitment to community, and a healthy sense of humor.
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