Into the Grey

by Brian McGrath

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1.
Through the storm, a lone lantern shone Lit kerosene on an autumn dawn Where you’re from ain’t always where you belong We were born to roam and never be found No parting words, nor lullaby To soothe as we pass on from this life Just sullen faces and eyes cast down Another lost soul returns to ground For all the plans we never keep For all we talk we rarely speak And what we are, hell we’ve always been No true redemption without the sin What binds us close, our bone and blood And a lingering sadness we just can’t shrug High above and down below Side by side, still alone The sea-storm night hangs heavy still In time she’ll break you, impose her will But through the storm, a lone lantern shone Lit kerosene on an autumn dawn
2.
Nightfall, a Midwest town All the lights gone down The ghosts of the radio The only voices he'll allow As he says, "Don't you dare make a move!" Far away, a passing light Broken through the trees Down the barrel of a six-gun She feels the air become diseased He says, "I'll do what I please, what I please! Oh, you'll never leave… No, no you'll never leave…ever leave" He says, "Look me in the eyes, put up a fight!" But her mind numbs, she pleads and cowers A twisted mess, a crooked smile Oh, come the lateness of the hour A hand raised high above Her head hangs low His sweat drawn from every pore As her blood stains floor boards below And God's forgotten son is born anew He says, "See what I've done? See what I've done for you? All for you..." That, once born pure, in time, abused And all the sweetness turned to sour A lonely cry, old sins to soothe Oh, come the lateness of the hour And a light’s gone out A light’s gone out in her tonight A light’s gone out A light’s gone out in her tonight Somewhere a blood moon stalks The wind howls and moans Lost souls, a deathly march For a peace that never comes A peace that will never, ever come She whispers last goodbyes Her eyes fixed down the barrel of the gun A fever dream in emerald eyes And a devil's soul that pain empowers A twisted mess, a crooked smile Oh, come the lateness of the hour
3.
Young love Wrought iron and weeds Two shadow ghosts, two broken souls Out on the city streets All things must come to pass The afterglow of fevered love It just can't last Lord, help I've gone astray! Oh, maybe it's better off this way And she says, "Wish I could stay darling, you know I have to go" "I'll see you somewhere there someday...in the afterglow" We've been waiting For this night to come Two wounded lovers wandering lost With no way back home She said "Free, oh it ain't ever really free" "And no matter at the end of the day you know someone's got to bleed" Lord, help me I have sinned! Is this the beginning or some end? She said, "Nothing to say darling, I just don't know" "We'll make it back again some day...in the afterglow" Afterglow Afterglow Two shadow ghosts, two broken souls In the afterglow In the afterglow
4.
Pretty young, I was raised All this good and all this rage A tiny island, yet she still hunts me down Sweet, Sweet Marengo, yeah she takes me down But I'm a fool, ‘cause I did it to myself Yeah I'm a fool in love, ‘cause I did it to myself And so it goes, man, give me one more beer It's just never enough She's calling up my phone Yeah she's calling all the time She's showing up at my door Telling me “This is mine!” Yeah she hunts me down And she takes my pride Calling me a rogue, yeah I’m outta my mind Sitting at the bar, I find myself explaining Hell no one's home, no love, but I can't let her go Sweet, Sweet Marengo, God say I have sinned! And so it goes, man, give me one more beer It's just never enough Past midnight, an angry wife She locks me out in the crossfire light Sure as hell don't want to go, but I just can't stay I just can't stay She hunts me down, She wants to make me pay now Help! Anyone? ‘Cause I can't, I can’t let her go! Will I shine on ma? God say I have sinned! And so it goes, man, give me one more beer It's just never enough Pretty young, I was raised All this good, and all this rage A tiny island, yet she still hunts me down Sweet, Sweet Marengo, she still haunts me now Still I'm a fool, ‘cause I did it to myself I'm a fool in love, ‘cause I did it to myself
5.
You crossed that line Drawn somewhere in my mind Show me, show me, I want to see ‘til I go blind Too many faces Too many places to be Searching, searching for a hand Reached out to me I've worn that mask, darling I lived that lie Know all the lines by heart I try my best to try my best, it does not last Everything just falls apart Oh, it must mean something It must mean something It must mean something Oh, it’s gotta mean something Climb to the top, realize You're at the bottom I lost my patience, lost my mind I still have not found them Out on St. James, walking shame Eyes behind the shades Signals lost, wires crossed None of this is gonna save me People smiling, those drooling fools Hiding their true disdain A copy of a copy of a stolen joke no one made Oh, it’s gotta mean something It must mean something It must mean something It’s gotta mean something I see your face in every window up and down my street In every puddle, every dream, every happy thing I think you think I think you're in control of every scene But the strings that you've been pulling aren't connected to anything Your past is crying out No needs been met Fated to die a slow death Lord, load up the chamber, time to change, change, change...oh no! Oh, it's gonna mean something! It's gonna be something! It's must mean something! It’s gotta mean something!
6.
Love among the weeds Wrought-iron streets Soon you’ll be gone Fast asleep Painted pictures fly Oh it cuts so deep Dreaming of a life That never does come I’ve been waiting for this night to come around Wounded lovers trying to find a way back home But where is home? You say I’ve got it together I’ve got the world on a string But no, that just ain’t me babe At least never again Well we wanted what we wanted It was just never the same Things get bruised, they get broken We’re both to blame I’ve been waiting for this night to come around Wounded lovers trying to find a way back home But where is home? The forest for the trees Oh Lord, you took me out at the knees One of us is wrought iron, and the other the weeds Wild wind won’t you take me? I just can’t stay Things get bruised, they get broken People change I once sang that I keep losing the things I love the most I can’t shake this terrible feeling that I’m in love with a ghost I’ve been waiting for this night to come around Wounded lovers trying to find a way back home But where is home? Where is home?
7.
I see you every night A raven with green eyes A stranger once my wife From another life You sing a somber song But you know not what you've done From two to one to none Away you fly So long ago Into the grey, alone Two lost souls against the storm A dreary summer morn The ocean’s grey sea storm You look to be reborn Beneath the waves For a moment you let go And leave me all alone A body with no soul Lifeless and cold So long ago Into the grey, alone Two lost souls against the storm You used to lean right up against me When you were no longer strong But when I needed you to save me You just stood and watched me drown I still see you every night In dark corners of my mind Your shadow moves In every song I write A broken man, I bleed As I stand before the sea And wonder just how deep Before it stings So long ago Into the grey alone Two lost souls against the storm
8.
In your eyes A sea-storm calling me In need A change in scenery I've been gone Far from home It’s what you want So just let me go Under the waves I've been wrong I've been holding on Bittersweet The sea sings sad songs Shine a light, shine a light On this broken, wounded night There’s no time For your little lies Under the waves Your hand slipped from mine With time comes change Under the waves Cold, cold water, cover me, cover me Wash my sins and set me free Free No way home No, don't throw a line I guess we'll see If I can swim this time This time
9.
Past midnight In a fading lantern light A broken ghost, you appear Forever wandering back to me It’s much too late There’s no way back, love And now we brace for the storm Into the grey we go, alone So long my love I can’t keep holding on Two lost souls against the storm

about

“The sea-storm night hangs heavy, still. In time she’ll break you, impose her will”


"Into the Grey" was born into this world over the last ten months, conceived during a particularly heavy October rainstorm, while I sat on the limestone along the Lake Michigan shoreline in my hometown, Chicago. I was less than a year removed from the end of a fourteen year relationship with my soul mate, and six years into what had been an extraordinary run of bad luck, including major health issues that put an unholy strain on both of us. I was absolutely exhausted…spent physically, mentally and spiritually to a degree I hadn’t known prior. It all felt more like death, a passing; like a widower grieving over the loss of wife, a life together, and everything that goes with it. I was profoundly lost, utterly broken. The state of shock I was in came with an inability to write; for the first time I was at a complete loss for words…I acutely felt the turbulence, but I couldn’t do anything productive or artful with it. It was an abrupt and complete stop in my life.

Looking out over Lake Michigan that day - the dark, choppy waves reflecting a violent sky - emptiness began to overtake the anger, grief and confusion. I thought back to old stories I had read about people at the end of their rope walking out into the sea...one last attempt to find dignity in their troubled lives. There was a poetry in that I thought, certainly twisted, but I understood that it represented a final grasp at peace and control. I let my mind wander, imagining how it would feel. I pictured the first few yards where the water was waist deep and I could still walk; the struggle to swim as the waters got deeper; a losing battle for breath; the panic as strength left my body and the current swept me away, lost and gone. Such beauty, such violence. It was an apt metaphor for my life at that moment...the helplessness of being at the mercy of greater forces, feeling so battered and exhausted, always at the edge of drowning. I felt a peace wash over me in that moment. I began writing.

"Into the Grey" is my attempt to capture some of these emotions and craft something beautiful from them. The album is by no means a record of the entire experience; I see it more as an impressionist sketch, the blurry waves of disorienting emotion one feels when life changes so dramatically, so quickly, so thoroughly. There is a sea/storm theme that runs through the album, meant to symbolize the greater forces that pull us apart from each other, pull us under, and break our will. There is no lesson to be learned here, no great moral to be drawn, nor grandiose statement on grief, loss, or pain. Awful things sometimes happen for no good reason and without some greater purpose. Life, like the sea, is indifferent. Sometimes you just get caught in rough waters and it forever leaves its mark.


“No way home, no don’t throw a line. I guess we’ll see if I can swim this time…this time.”


-Brian McGrath, 08/16/2018

credits

released August 17, 2018

Words, Music, Performance by Brian McGrath.
Recorded, Mixed and Mastered by Brian McGrath.
©2018 Brian McGrath

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Brian McGrath Chicago, Illinois

Brian McGrath is an Americana and Folk Songwriter in Chicago.

With an intense, honest conviction tempered by Chicago sensibility and grit, the big man with a big voice tells tales of broken characters, desolate landscapes, and fleeting redemption all along the road connecting Chicago and the Northwoods. ... more

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