“Stay in Your Spaceship” Live at Rose Street

Here’s the second song I played at Rose Street Artists’ Cooperative and Gallery Coffeehouse on July 6th of this year. It’s called “Stay in Your Spaceship”:

If I’m willing to share a song with you, that means I’m proud enough of it to take the risk of criticism, hostility, or, God forbid, indifference. But some songs mean a little more to me than the rest, and “Stay in Your Spaceship” is in that company.

“Spaceship” started its life in second person: it was all about “you”. (“You catch a ride…You have your airlock shut…”) It suffered accordingly. I never heard the criticism, but I started imagining a listener coming back with, “Oh, I know, I’ll just sit here and hear this song where the dude tells me what an awful person I am.”

Changing the person changed everything, and I found I could now sing it with more sincerity, even if, like any work of fiction, the first-person narrator is not the literal experience of the author. (Which reminds me, I have another song I’ll be rolling out in a few weeks that’ll test this statement strongly…) But it’s still taken me a few years to perform it without lapsing into “you” instead of “I”, and careful listening will turn up a few of these mistakes. So you should definitely go back and listen to it again, like, 14 times…

I think the lyrics speak for themselves. And the spaceship? A metaphor. Someday, if we last long enough to be able to make space flight routine…I’ll have to come up with something else. That would be a wonderful problem to have.

Stay in Your Spaceship

I catch a ride through all the crises of my legendary generation
I have my airlock shut so tightly when the frightened news begins to scream

   Are you afraid to see the face of your enemy,
   And are you breaking every mirror as a remedy?
   When every family on the planet’s in flames
   You won’t wait inside
   Don’t say that you’ll pay for that ride
   Don’t stay in your spaceship and hide

And every need demands a needle, every habit wants its satisfaction
But what I’ve got won’t get me stopped in any clinic or a twelve-step scene

   Are you afraid to see the face of your enemy,
   And are you breaking every mirror as a remedy?
   When every family on the planet’s in flames
   You won’t wait inside
   Don’t say that you’ll pay for that ride
   Don’t stay in your spaceship and hide

Can’t hear the ranting of my neighborhood’s incendiary random madmen
Can’t see the pistols or the prisons when I’m passing through the stratosphere

This is the instant I awaken like an infant to the revelation
I am surrounded in this land of stranded astronauts
All strapped in cockpits,
Lost and desperate
In a space-age dream

   Are you afraid to see the face of your enemy,
   And are you breaking every mirror as a remedy?
   When every family on the planet’s in flames
   You won’t wait inside
   Don’t say that you’ll pay for that ride
   Don’t stay in your spaceship and hide

© Copyright 2012 Nate Orshan

Notes:

  • The white noise you hear in the video’s background is the fans the Coop had set up to mitigate the heat, and, unfortunately, the camera’s mic picked them up as well. Ditto the kids in the audience, which is how you know it was really recorded at Rose Street Coop!
  • In case you didn’t catch it the first time around, I dedicated the song to Itai, my brother across the waves. But it’s not about him, any more than about any of us.

“Luiza” Live at Rose Street

Last Friday, July 6, I was lucky enough to play at the Rose Street Artists’ Cooperative and Gallery Coffeehouse. I was actually doubly* lucky in that I was able to record my set on video, so I can start to share some more live songs! This week’s edition: The first song of the set, “Luiza”:

The inspiration for “Luiza” was my penchant at that time for chronic tardiness, a source of understandable friction with Kit, my then-girlfriend (now-wife). As she’s happy to remind me in front of anyone, I showed up late to our first date…and had brought along a couple of copies of Wired magazine to read just in case she had turned out to be the late one. Smoooooooth. Luckily, she saw fit to forgive, and, years later, here we are.

The song came about a few months after that first date. It actually started life as “Priscilla”, but the name wasn’t quite sing-songy enough for the melody I had (no offense to all the Priscillas out there), so I asked Kit to join me for an impromptu brainstorming session of three-syllable women’s names. In short order, she suggested “Louisa”, and it was like Cinderella and her prince’s slipper: A fit so good, it was destiny at work…Except I preferred the name’s Spanish equivalent, “Luiza”, which I thought looked a lot cooler (no offense to all the Louisas out there). I changed the name to “Luiza”, and a hyperbolic list song was born.

A word about Rose Street Artists’ Cooperative and Gallery: Around since the late ’90s, this combination living and studio space has a mission to “combine creative expression with the commitment to community involvement“. My friends Winnie and Ted Looby have run a sporadic open mic for years and are now starting it back up on a monthly basis. The difference between their coffeehouse and others around town is that this is a purely non-commercial affair. Also, the acoustics are wonderful. (In the case of this video, a little too wonderful: The hissing noise you can hear in the background is the multiple fans deployed around the room in an attempt to cool down some of the early July heat. You can probably also hear child noises, too. Kids are always part of the mix at Rose Street!) The architecture firm Duncan Wisniewski has more about this old bakery converted into an apartment complex in Burlington’s Old North End.

Quick word about lyrics: I wrote this song a couple of years before 9/11. If I were writing it now, I’d probably pick some exemplar of evil other than the “smart interrogator”. It’s supposed to be a fun(ny) song, not evoke visions of Guantanamo and Dick Cheney. So don’t go there. In any sense.

Luiza

Well they threw me in a padded cell,
Fed me poison so I’d never tell,
But you know I never ate so well,
     Unless you count grade school

And I woke up in a burning plane
In a nose dive for the coast of Maine,
And Jesus, is this happening again?
     I’m missing our dinner

Luiza, are you still mine?
Are you still mine?

A smart interrogator leaves no trace
So I couldn’t get a look at his face
Will this evil ever be erased?
     I’ll give it a weekend

I was stranded in a savage land
With a pride of lions close at hand
In a dream it seemed that we’d made plans
     My memory escapes me

Luiza, are you still mine?
Are you still mine?

And through all of the trauma
I heard your name
They foreclosed on my sanity
Just the same
Going once, going twice,
Sold to the high bidder
Here’s a piece of advice:
Pay the nice baby sitter

When I think of my supreme ordeal,
Living hell would have a nicer feel
Can you doubt that what I say is real,
     Not revisionist history?

Give me liberty or give me death
Put this freedom to an even test
Then I see you in that slinky dress
     Let’s not be too hasty

Luiza, are you still mine?
Are you still mine?

© Copyright 1999-2012 Nate Orshan

* “Dubly” jokes, anyone?

“The Star-Spangled Banner”

Happy 236th Birthday, America!

Per our Declaration of Independence:

…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

May the day soon come when the world once again looks to the United States as a model of freedom, rationality, and democracy untouched by corruption.

Here’s wishing a Joyous Independence Day to Americans all over the world.