Augusta

by Kurt Swinghammer

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about

For close to thirteen years I lived in a wonderful old house on Augusta Avenue in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Many of these songs were written there, and the inside cover photograph was shot in the backyard. When faced with the prospect of moving to a new location, I thought it would be nice to commemorate my beloved pad with this CD.

Over the years I’ve explored different styles of music, but always return to writing songs on an acoustic guitar. Although I often perform solo, Augusta is the first release that documents this bare bones approach. There were no punch in’s, edits, or auto-tune, and most of the ambience is from the room itself.

Glenn Gould Studio is a remarkable modern recording facility designed as a live concert hall. Microphones are placed throughout the room to capture different balances of the natural reverb. In the final mix of this material only a smidgeon of digital delay was utilized as an irresistable sonic detail on one tune.

The project was initiated by producer/engineer Ron Skinner, who invited me to do a live solo taping for the CBC show Bandwith. There was no audience present, which honestly explains why there isn’t wild applause after each track.

Three of these songs were included on the broadcast, but none have been available on disc before. Some however, have been around for quite some time and are favorites to play at gigs.

I was truly honored to record at a room with such incredible audio standards, and I’d sincerely like to thank Ron, Bill Stunt, and CBC Radio for the wonderful opportunity. Thanks to Al Beardsell for building me an inspiring new guitar that made it’s recording debut here (Wind In The Sails uses the same guitar but was prepared with a piece of paper woven between the strings). Thanks also to Meryn Cadell for telling me that 315 Augusta was available way back in the fall of 91.

Kurt Swinghammer, April 2004

credits

released January 1, 2004

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

All music and lyrics written by Kurt Swinghammer

Produced by Ron Skinner

Kurt Swinghammer - vocals and acoustic guitar

Recorded live at the CBC's Glenn Gould Studio, Toronto
by Ron Skinner
August 2002

Mastered by Ron Skinner at Heading North

Cover art by Kurt Swinghammer
Photo by Graham Powell
Cover assembly by Dan Bryk

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Track Name: Rose Of Montrose
Rose Of Montrose

She lived with her Mom
In the old part of town
A one bedroom house
So tired and run down
Life was pretty hard
But they managed to cope
In the backyard
She planted all the hopes and dreams
Of all the things she loved

Rose of Montrose
The strongest of all
They say it grows
When snow starts to fall

I heard the jamboree
When I walked past
Knocked on the door
With a guitar and some grass
All the songs we sang
Were love songs to her
Next day when I rang
I was too ashamed to tell her
What my hopes and dreams were of

Her Mom passed away
The house was torn down
Condos were raisedi
In the old part of town
They saved a few trees
And the little bush was spared
Every Christmas sees
The miracle
That tells them all
what hopes and dreams are of

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Kensington
Kensington

I open my door to A Day In The Life
As sung by the hippy across the street
On an abysmal acoustic guitar
With a bad bongo beat

And the Portuguese men are staring again
As they do every day from the billiard hall
Don’t they have anything better to do
With their lives?

At the One Dollar, Two Dollar, Three Dollar Store
They’ve just run out of Roach Motels
And Bruce Cockburn’s photograph is no longer on the wall
At the Pizza joint around the corner

Is it my imagination or have things settled down
Since the Bunchoffucking Goofs got kicked out of the fort
And the cops cracked down on the crack house on Kensington

I close my door to Hotel California
As played by the hippy across the street
On an abysmal acoustic guitar
With a bad bongo beat

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Augusta
Augusta

Augusta is haunted
By the ghost
A broken skeleton
Of a 10 speed chained to a street post

A rusty shipwreck
With it's mast
Plastered in posters
Of rock shows from weeks past

The grinning skull
The devil in flames
The high contrast pouting face
The buxom pin up dames

An old man curses
In a foreign tongue
Rips them to pieces
And just leaves them on the ground

A thousand staples
Corrode away
Voodoo pins in the burial pole
The stolen bicycle grave

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Pale Green Glow
Pale Green Glow

To make a long tale short
There was a storm, there was a port
He said "do you have a lighthouse?"
She said "Do you mean a light?"
He said "I don't even smoke"
She said "You might after tonight"
High overhead the sky appeared red
In the pale green glow of the stereo

She wore something from a war
She found in an army surplus store
He said "Christian soldier or Christian Dior?"
She looked as if she'd never heard a joke before
He said "Excuse me if it sounds a little tacky
But let's make ca-ca, and not khaki
In the pale green glow of the stereo

The smokey all night D.J.
Was calling the play by play
They let Donna Summer do the talking
And say the things they could never bring themselves to say

He stared at her tattoo
A fuzzy dolphin in permanent blue
And like a drunken sailor
Lloyd Cole or Norman Mailor
He said that mammal saved me
And led me straight to you
She put back on her bra
It was the last time that he ever saw
Just the pale green glow of the stereo

High overhead the sky appeared red
In the pale green glow of the stereo

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Theory Of Relativity
Theory Of Relativity

The leaves are relatively green
The sky is relatively blue
The water looks relatively clean
But that can't possibly be true
According to the Theory of Relativity
As explained to me in my dictionary

If two systems are in relative motion
With uniform linear velocity
It's impossible
By observation or measurement
Of phenomena in the other
To learn more about the motion
Than the fact that it is relative motion
And that measurement of the velocity of light
In either system
Regardless of the position of the source of light
Always gives the same numerical value
Always gives the same numerical value

I am just my mother's son
The sun is just another star
The stars are just gas and dust
And dust to dust is all we are
We're not in Kansas anymore
But when Dusty Springfield sings
The look of love....
I see the theory of relativity
As explained to me in my dictionary

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Green Face
Green Face

I feel like a frog
God knows I sound like one
But gee you are so riveting
I'd wag my tail if I had one
You summon and arouse
A million tadpoles
All safe in a rubber raft
Riding the rapids to Niagara Falls
The honeymoon capital of the world
You're the seventh wonder, girl
Princess kiss this green face

We spent our salad days
Acting like carnivores
Now it's dog eat dog out there
Kind of the same behind closed doors
Where you summon and arouse
A brand new trick
Although I'm amphibian
Instinct tells me take a sniff and lick
Biggest wax museum in the world
Couldn't hold a candle to you girl
Princess kiss this green face

Big beautiful fish
Dismal tourist pond
Grant me my wish
I'll turn into James Bond
And I'll summon and arouse
Under cover
Go ahead blow my disguise
My heart shaped whirlpool bathtub lover
The honeymoon capital of the world
You're the seventh wonder, girl
Princess kiss this green face

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: The Most Beautiful Girl At The Fair
The Most Beautiful Girl At The Fair

The most beautiful girl at the fair
I first fell in love when I first saw her there
So long ago, long ago

I can just picture her, pretty as a picture
The picture I have of her by the photographer
Somehow he captured her better than me
The portrait remains, I couldn't stop her from being free

Not the most beautiful girl at the fair
I first fell in love when I first saw her there
So long ago, long ago

I used to dream of her long before I knew
We'd become dreamers just like a dream come true
One day she woke up, I knew she had to leave
I still have dreams of her and in my heart I still believe

She's the most beautiful girl at the fair
I first fell in love when I first saw her there
So long ago, long ago

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Wind In The Sail
Wind In The Sail

Eyes so young
Look, look around
Say goodbye to I's a bye the sailor
I's be moving on
Though the ship's direction isn't known to me
I believe it just can't fail
There's wind in the sail

Crow's nest, crow's feet
Coffee and croissant
The sentimental sea-side memories
Those nostalgic needs and wants
Love lost is an albatross
Always right behind you on the trail
With wind in the sail

Look ahead the sky is red so sailor you be warned
You know what she said "Any port in storm"
Come tonight the crimson sight will soothe the ocean's scorn
You'll see the light of day and sail away

From XOX
To SOS
I keep looking for your semaphore
But it's for the best I guess
So it's wave a flag or flag a wave
Whether the toss is heads or tails
There's wind in the sails

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: One More Time
One More Time

Prophets, economists and freaks
Lord knows where we're heading
The stock market and the faith is weak
How do you spell Armageddon
If it's the end of the world
I wouldn't mind
Just as long as I can see you
One more time

I'll never forget the day
I said my tearful goodbye
And as that bus pulled away
I felt a part of my spirit die
But it's coming back to me
And it's going to shine
When I get to see you
One more time

You wanted to have a child
So I acted like one
When I wanted to reconcile
You said there could be none

It might be up in heaven
Or someplace further away
Or a motel in Burlington
I only wish it was here today
If it's the end of the world
I wouldn't mind
Just as long as I can see you
One more time

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Empty Sky
Empty Sky

I am an empty sky
You are a UFO
So high you fly
Then suddenly go
No one believes you were there
All they perceive is thin air
What can I do
When I'm a blue empty sky

So many stellar nights
Wonderful coloured lights
Came crashing down
You couldn't be found
Now I don't know for sure
Just who you really were
Why did you leave me
A cold and lonely empty sky

Where are the birds when you need them
Why do the seasons lead them away
When I long to hear their song
On a blue empty day

Rain clouds come on in
Darken the world again
I'd rather it pour
Now that you've gone away for good
No longer am I
A blue empty sky

© Kurt Swinghammer
Track Name: Short and Sweet Goodbye
The Short And Sweet Goodbye

It was so economical
Didn't waste a breath
Time flies when love is comical
Till laughter's all that's left

Isn't it funny how
Six feet tall feels so small now
Each time you bow your head to cry
Over the short and sweet goodbye

Suddenly sadness came to me
To excavate my heart
No more valentines, no more ventricles
Just an empty space in the dark

Isn't it funny how
Six feet down sounds comforting now
Each time you bow your head to cry
Over the short and sweet goodbye
Take care
Take away my only answered prayer

Isn't it funny how
Six feet tall feels so small now
Each time you bow your head to cry
Over the short and sweet goodbye

© Kurt Swinghammer