Into the Grey

by Brian McGrath

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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 a Folk & Americana singer-songwriter and Chicago native.

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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Track Name: Through the Storm
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
Track Name: The Lateness of the Hour
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
Track Name: The Afterglow
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
Track Name: Sweet, Sweet Marengo
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
Track Name: St. James Asylum
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!
Track Name: Weeds & Wrought Iron
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?
Track Name: Into the Grey
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
Track Name: Under the Waves
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
Track Name: Lost Souls & the Lantern Light
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