Peace in the Middle West

by Box Set Authentic

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released October 1, 2011

Produced by Steve Zimmers and Rick Karr for Box Set Authentic; additional production by Matthew Neill Sharp

Mastered by Robert Weston, Chicago Mastering Service

Arranged by Box Set Authentic

Engineered by Steve Zimmers, Stephen F. Wolf, Matthew Neill Sharp, Mike Sankowski, Rick Karr, Guy Crundwell, and Jeff Boyd

Recorded at Stroppy, Chicago; No Joke Studio Chicago; No Joke New York; MNSLab Research Facilities, Cupertino and San Francisco, CA and Raleigh, NC; Guy and Hope’s Place, New Britain, CT; and Dr. Steve and Heather’s Place, Terre Haute, IN

Mixed by Steve Zimmers and Rick Karr (1 - 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 16); Steve Zimmers, Mike Sankowski, and Rick Karr (15); Matthew Neill Sharp (5, 10, 12, 14, 17); and Matthew Neill Sharp, Steve Zimmers, and Rick Karr (8)

Mixed at No Joke Studio Chicago and MNSLab Research Facilities. Preproduced and edited at No Joke NY

Bass on ‘Anhedonia’ by Stephen F. Wolf (Terre Haute, IN)

Cover photo depicts a corner of Highland, IN in the mid-1960s; photographer unknown, courtesy Highland Historical Society. Flood photo by Sandy Zimmers. Band photos by the band • Layout by neuUNIT(U.S)

Thanks to Hope, Hugh, Nigel, Ginger, Denis, Lucie, Birgit, Nicole, Mick, Chance, Ameeta, Dawn, Bill, Danny, Siobhan, the Victoria Lucas, and former members of Shovel Choir, Tart, and the Velmas, plus too many other people to list here.

David Servoss gave us the title Peace in the Middle West

Music and lyrics © 2011, the songwriters


Some rights reserved. Please refer to individual track pages for license info.



Box Set Authentic Brooklyn, New York

Box Set Authentic is a loose-knit group of eight friends and longtime musical collaborators who really like one another’s songs. Most of us played in and around Chicago in the bands Shovel Choir, Tart, and the Velmas. We've recorded in Chicago, the Bay Area, and New York and played live in LA, NYC and Portland. The collective's currently at work on a second release, tentatively titled Mixtape. ... more

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Track Name: Bloomsday (Chorus)
I don’t wanna ba a nobody watching colors brightly burn and never get my turn. I wanna explode or at least maintain the hope that I might someday. When is Bloomsday, anyway?
Track Name: Pretty
You droop your head and you think you’re dead
You follow news with dread
You don’t have to act pretty
to be wack and all that

Although I poke and smoke and ego-stroke
and knock them back with dumb jokes
I still think that you’re pretty
and wack and all that

Because everyone’s the same.
Everyone’s the same.
And you still drive me insane,
yeah you still drive me insane
‘cause I see all this pretty.

I know things don’t turn out the way you want. It’s like having a birthday after a major holiday. And I hope we can find some time together. Or at least just tell me what to say.

Because everyone’s the same.
Everyone’s the same.
But you still drive me insane,
yeah you still drive me insane
‘cause I see all this pretty.
Track Name: Marilyn
Marilyn, Queen of the DMV, reserves the vanity plates for all the high society but she doesn’t do it for free. Marilyn, I don’t mind. I’ll take my place in line behind you. Now I may be stupid but I’m not dumb. I may go through epicycles to orbit ‘round your sun, but I’m not the only one. So you never need to worry; I’ll be home in a hurry for you. She’s really the most, my jam and toast, the smartest cookie in the jar. Bridge, chorus, and verse, she’s my universe, but she let me buy this lead guitar. I got it at Weast. I play it, at least. Some notes aren’t in tune, but most are. You better let me ‘cause I know how. I know you got a husband, but tell me: Where is he right now with his sneering middlebrow? He was still circling, too. She’s really the most (etc.) (‘Cause she’s the Queen of the DMV...)
Track Name: Kitty Hawk
The first time I saw you fly through a water-colored sky there was nothing but my breathing in the night. Then the traffic faded in; it was just a place I’d been, like when people say, yeah, once I was in China. Floating by the Summer Palace. Kites on Tiananmen Square. I got it down, I got it captive: There goes that bird again. There goes that bird again. And I’ve seen how wing meets side, so I’ve got it quantified: mass of body and velocity of glide. But tonight your heavy sighs and sad gorilla eyes seem to say we’ll never get it off the ground. What’s that sound? Almost snared us in the steeple, shaking throttle in my hand. Look at all the tiny people! And all I’m thinking is: When are we gonna have to land? See, I still can’t let it go, and you still don’t even know. You just raise your oval hands and take flight. And there’s nothing but my breathing in the night.
Track Name: not cool, trumfio
When I saw you at Ida Wells, and I knew I belonged there, I was only thinking good things ‘bout Ida Wells. And I saw you at Ida Wells, and you tried not to notice, I was always thinking good things ‘bout Ida Wells.
Track Name: Draw
Draw, draw, draw your dying breath with me so near. Close your eyes; I will disappear. You said you need me to help you steer, but you’ve closed your eyes at me. I bribe my de-mons every day. They’re kept at bay, but now they’ve met you. Draw, draw, draw your last breath with me right here, then close your eyes. I’ll just disappear. Everything’s reflecting you. But reality ruins it again and again. You peered in at the top of the well, your voice echoing downward, mixing up all the words. I rushed home to think about it, but reality ruined it. And so did you. Draw, draw, draw your dying breath with me so near. Close your eyes. I will disappear.
Track Name: Cracked Glasses
(Your memory kills me, sleepless nights.) Time heals all wounds, they say. I’ve not found things to be that way. Brown eyes taint passing thoughts. Dream it so, makes it not. Your memory kills me on sleepless nights. Glasses cracked, she’s not home. Tried other smiles, still alone. Morning room light reminds me of morning fun time when we made love. Your memory kills me on sleepless nights. I recollect a trip to Santa Cruz: moonlight, pier, drunk on local booze. Wave crashed around you, I explode inside your head. Concrete abuttment, you could have left me for dead. My memory kills me on sleepless nights. Time heals all wounds, they say. I’ve not found things to be that way. Brown eyes taint passing thoughts. Dream it so, makes it not. Your memory kills me on sleepless nights.
Track Name: Family Law
Odds are so long, what to do? Either the whole world’s wrong or it’s you. But when you think about all the right things I might say to you but probably won’t just to give you security like family law in California. I need you, but only in emergencies. Just promise me you’ll always be okay. With the Travelodge, one Eastern bullet we can’t dodge. Brainiac, you are not missed. I know it’s good to be back on everyone’s list. Did you think I’d be waiting right here all this time for you? I probably could, but I can always count on New Math to bring colder comfort. I need you, but only in emergencies. Just promise me you’ll always be okay. With the Travelodge, one Eastern bullet we can’t dodge
Track Name: L.A.-Ex
(Wake up, new file, save as exile. Merge left, yield right, drive on all night.) It’s in the circuitry. Yeah, I know that guy, you know. We were a thing for a while once, about a million years ago, before the big hit movie. What was the name of it again? Yeah, yeah, that’s the one – the one where the train and the girl and the boy and the sea and the sky collide. And the girlfriend walks away from the smoking wreck as the credits roll. That’s the part he got from me. That’s the part he wrote for me. (Baby, Baby, Baby, Baby I love you, love you, love you. Oh Baby, Baby, Honey, I’m so sorry, sorry Baby.) I saw him at a party. He had a plate with three different kinds of meat and a thing with three of the women there, so we didn’t get to talk much. I told him I’m back in school now ‘cause I still hadn’t figured it out yet. He said, that’s great!  No. I envy you. I don’t read half what I’d like to. Then across a great divide I got up and walked away. That’s the part I wrote for me. That’s the part I wrote for me. (Merge left, yield right, all night, all right.)
Track Name: Custard's Last Stand
Woe is me! I didn’t stop to state a point of view. Woe is me! I guess that comes as no surprise to you. Woe is me! Apologies are not my strongest suit. Woe is me! I guess this will have to do.
Track Name: Anhedonia
Well you know, I read about your big show. I thought it must be a typo – you know how that is. But take your time, just have a look around you whenever the blues surround you nearly every day. You can do it, Gingie! Come right through it, Gingie! Anhedonia. I know a girl. She can’t hear me through the static. She only drives automatic but she’s got no regrets. She says, let it go. You’re better off without that heavy load, so long as your superego doesn’t know you’re awake. I can dream about you, but what does it mean without you? Anhedonia. Before you turn me loose, don’t be so obtuse. Baby, what’s the use? Anhedonia.
Track Name: Verloren
Sure that I said – weren’t you here then? I’m always talking; you’re never here. When it’s dust mites in sunbeams, the smell of fresh showers, satellites drifting on harlequin legs – these are yours. H-17, end of the concourse. The ride out had offered us nothing by way of the grand revelation, so you leave, and I leave, and nothing has changed ‘til the gear are retracted. Can I learn to lose the knowledge so I earn the bliss of learning you again? Highway was hell and home was a wreck, the smell of you fading but never quite gone. Back to the line, to the task of forgetting. You with your coffee, returning to simple things. We learn to lose the knowledge so we earn the joy of building us again. These inelegant days. I’d be wistful all day. We’d spend hours in bed, in the Cross Keys, counting diamonds we’d mined. Sure that I said – aren’t you back yet? Nothing to do but the waiting and reading and watching the time ‘til the Jetway door opens and nothing has changed but the arc drawn by gravity.
Track Name: Rocket Ship
I remember the rocket streak. It’s a part of me you can’t take away. Nothin’ left here to guide me. Not medicine, no book to read. I heard there is another way out there to get out of here, but I can’t leave. Just a stone’s throw from Idaho. Remember this when it all fades away. And I will live until... It’s a long way to outer space on a rocket ship, but you get there. (Way up high, outer space.) I could meet you for dinner, but I’m leavin’ on a rocket ship. (It’s all right. Sorry man.) Can you feel the energy? Can you feel it? It’s a time warp. (Speed of light, far away.) When I live for a thousand years, that’s another way I will beat them. (It’s my right – live today.) And I will live until...
Track Name: Blue Bag
Baby, you know we both fight, and that’s normal. Now I’m taking out the trash, and the ar-rangement of the garbage in the dumpster strikes an aesthetic pose. It’s like how our arguments go: lopsided, disjointed, recycled, and pointless. But if we can find some beauty in this weakness – we could practice by getting pissed off at people we don’t even know, then quickly letting it go. From Bukowski to Monk, alleys to drunks, city streets alone. Ugliness is sometimes beautiful.

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