SST
About The Packaging

The Making of Slow Set of Track

Only 500 copies of this release were made. The first 300 copies come packed in a commemorative wall hanging. Each album & wall hanging were made by hand. To see a video overview of the project & a step by step documentary have a look at the video below. If the video does not display below, you can find it here.





About The Album

The Album

Detached, suspended, & truly lost in the standstill motion of transit; that is in essence what my train trip around the country was about & what led to the making of Slow Set of Track. A few different things converged & came to a head in my life the year following my pop's death, and the change that needed to be addressed seemed best done on a train. My heart had grown cold & my head loud, & a lifetime of bad posture had caught up with me in the form of a frozen right shoulder. For a long time prior to this happening my days were spent either hunched over a guitar, in front of a computer clicking away on a mouse, or at the ballpark throwing a baseball. When my shoulder froze up & my body shut down my physical therapist (after teaching me how to stand erect, sit proper, & trade in the mouse for a roller-ball) told me I needed to take a few months off from my normal routine. Not an easy task since I'm not one to sit still too long, but the timing was good since I was in need of getting out of town to air out my head & heart. I bought a rail pass on Amtrak & set out to visit what friends & family I have scattered across the states. Obviously it would keep me away from a guitar, computer, & baseball, but it would also force me to sit still, catch my breath, & center myself. The trip was only supposed to last two months but at the end of it I would find myself back in Tucson during a hot, muggy monsoon August - living in my friend Dan's garage.

Opting to avoid that scenario I put word out to my friends in Seattle that I was looking for work & lodging to get me through to Fall. Lady Luck blew kindly on my dice & I rolled into a part-time job at a screen print shop, & a bed in a buddies guest house. I got to share the guest house with a Gibson Dove acoustic guitar & after nearly 3 months of not playing, a few thousand miles of newly cleared out space in my head & heart, & some new perspective, songs started to fall out of me. I was spending my weekends hanging out over at my friend Graig Markel's studio where I had recorded 'In Seed' with him a few years earlier. He kept at me to get back in front of the mics while I was there waiting out the summer, & it just seemed like a no-brainer. A good friend & an amazing producer wants to throw some time my way? Um...okay!

Working with Graig is great. He's very talented & thorough, has great ideas, & keeps the mood light & things moving along by not letting you get hung up on yourself. I was also fortunate to have some other friends lend their talents to the album as well. Terri Moeller played some drums & did some singing. Carolyn Wennblom lent her voice to a few songs. Mara Cifronti translated & recited the story on Slow Set of Track in Italian. Jon Hyde took the album to a whole other level with his pedal steel & dobro playing. Even my good friend & bandmate from Tucson - Vannessa Lundon - made a trip up to sing on a couple of songs.

To me, making albums has always been about documenting a moment in time & expressing gratitude. Never has that sentiment been more realized for me than on this album.

Credits

Slow Set of Track ©2014 Heathen Call

Executive Producer: Michael John Serpe
Produced by: Graig Markel
Recorded, Mixed & Mastered by Graig Markel at The Recovery Room

All Songs Written by Michael John Serpe except West of the Tucson Mountains & The Old Guardian of Gates Pass, written by Michael John Serpe & Graig Markel

Album design, layout & packaging by Michael John Serpe ©2014 Heathen Call

Insert Photo: Daniel Hawley

Sample at the end of Dead A Long Time recorded in Mandaree, North Dakota; home to the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, during its annual Pow-Wow.

Thank you

Michael & Melinda Hallett - Nick Baker & Mapleleaf Screen Printing- LoLo Craft - Cookie - Graig Markel - Jeremy Michael Cashman - Dan Twelker - Don Jennings - Dani Hawley - The Mighty Joel Ford - Michael P. - Brian Field - Dave Norwood - Hana Kasm & Chris Sand - Vannessa Lundon - Georgia Brown - Mark & Mel Mason - Kris Kerry & Cathy Rivers - KXCI - Everyone who helped me along during my trip - Everyone who played on the album - And everyone who took an interest....ever.




About The Songs

The Lyrics

DEEP EDDY-
Pops gone, how long?
I'm here, how long?
Spinning around the sun, how long?
Let time tell just how long..
Are we there? Well there is here.
So now you're home, are you gonna stay?

TURN FALLOW-
Watching you writhe alone in bed - my hand on your chest as death sets in - your soul was itching to leave.
Death doesn't hide in shadows with a cold hand to touch you fallow.
It's not a he & it don't steal a damn thing from you.
Death is you alone in bed - jump from them bones, crawl from that skin - your soul was itching to leave.
Death doesn't hide in shadows with a cold hand to touch you fallow.
It's the bill you pay at the end of the life you lead... One day we go. One day we go alone.
Saw you out of bed. Sitting in disguise. Showered, shaved & clothed but to look in your eyes; you were tired & then some. Was it in that shower with nurses by your side, under heavy hands of giving that you felt the compromise of life to just living to being done?

SLOW SET OF TRACK-
Georgia you sure are a sight for sore eyes, though I can't tell what's blind from what's seeing.
I fell asleep on this train, stopped dead on it's tracks, under a sky with no moon.
Where I woke up & saw you there. Out through a window that held my reflection & the way that I hung there in you; like a skiff on the night, took the weight from this body, adrift in a sky with no moon.

WEST OF THE TUCSON MOUNTAINS- Instrumental

SLEEPY FOOT- Instumental

WRONGED NUMBER-
Stumbling around the Puget Sound, cell phones make it too easy man - I'm drunk, I'm mad - I gotta call to hear you.
I don't miss you, I barely knew you.. but the missing part of me came through you. I need a pulse, I'm drunk & I'm calling to hear you.
"Is paul there?"
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid you have the wrong number.."
"I'm sorry..."
"That's alright, have yourself a good night."

Is paul there? What's wrong with me? I'd hardly say there's no problem... but I need a pulse, I'm drunk & I'm calling to hear you.
The funny thing about certain towns & the body memory that keeps us bound to a time & place when we were young & burned there.
Everything has changed, some stuffs torn down, a new batch of youth has come around.
I'm old, I'm cold,, standing in their summer.
I don't miss you, I barely knew you but the missing part of me came through you.
I need a pulse, I'm drunk & I'm calling to hear you.

SNEAKY SUE-
Sneaky Sue you snuck up on me.
The way you threw your curls at me.
Slowly curling around your neck,
softly bouncing down your back...Sneaky Sue you snuck up on me.
Sneaky Sue you snuck up on me.
Threw that warm cool smile at me. Added to the list on my sleeve...
Sneaky Sue was good to me, I'd say professional as I proceeded to be the lonely fool on a bar stool who goes flinging woo.
Sneaky Sue snuck out the back, left my tab to be settled by some waiter jack...
Sneaky Sue snuck out on me.

THE OLD GUARDIAN OF GATES PASS- Instrumental

DEAD A LONG TIME-
Lifes done got me spinning in my head.
Lost my breath trying to get ahead.
Paying no mind or respect to my own rhyme. I don't buy that heading out early is an early too soon.. but have a little fun because your dead a long time.
So life keep spinning, I'm thinking i'll wait.
Pass through thinking to a thoughtless state. Go inside & get in rhythm with my own rhyme.
Let time fly & have a little fun because you're dead a long time.

About The Songs

Earth’s orbit freaks me out. Spinning around the sun on this planet of granite – the bloodlines that ties us to it & the physical & emotional gravity of both of those things – has always weighed heavy on me. Deep Eddy is a swim hole in Austin, TX – & where I relearned the importance of being simple. We all have our own internal rhythm, & home to me is in the moments I can be suspended & still in my own.

Held between my hand & a hospice bed, my pop inconspicuously left the earth. On watch for the exact moment of this grand final transformation, I stood alongside my brother & his girlfriend, where I saw disease grossly overtake a body under the beauty of late April morning light. I heard a preacher’s last rites, a nurse’s condolence, & the scorn of a son protesting "deaths theft". I smelled the clashing mix of mucus, sweat, & morning eggs. It was somewhere in all of that, that my pop silently squared his debts & cashed out. Snuck out right from under our noses. We Turn Fallow the fields that brought us life & when we go we go alone – for death is a private vision & belief is everything.

Waking up on a train late at night while traveling coach is usually very disorienting; one such night found me finally out of Florida & somewhere in Georgia. I didn't know why the train was stopped, & for a minute there I forgot I was on a train at all. I squinted through the window & into the dark silhouettes of a still & dense Georgia landscape. A slight reflection of my face in the window superimposed me over a moonless sky, where I floated away from myself, up through a dark sky while sitting on a Slow Set of Track.

Of the five mountain ranges that surround Tucson, the Tucson Mountains have a distinct, otherworldly look & feel all of their own. Being in the foreground of every beautiful Tucson sunset, they draw across the landscape a lumpy wall that suggests that this is not just where the sun sets, but where earth & time end. Still mostly unscarred by the mold-like plague that is Arizona’s developers, West of the Tucson Mountains is a mostly barren land, rich in the essence of all days past.

My pop passed from COPD, a lung condition that slowly ends up drowning you in a bed. My pop never spoke with self-pity about his disease, he actually hardly ever spoke of it at all but I do remember asking him once what the most frustrating thing about his condition was; his answer was the pain of basically being under house arrest & tethered to an oxygen machine. He told me that in his mind he could easily just get up & walk across the room, but it felt as if his body had a mind of its own, like having your leg fall asleep & trying to walk on it. The first time I remembered that story after he had passed was while I was on my train trip. I awoke one night, totally disoriented & got up to use the bathroom. Not realizing I had a Sleepy Foot, I went down like a load of bricks right there in the aisle. The only other person awake was an old man, & as I lay there on the floor rubbing my foot awake he just held my gaze – silently but almost mournfully – as if I wasn't even really a person there at all, but a fallen thought from his remembered past. It made me think of age, circumstance, the things that fall into slumber inside us never to awaken, & the slow death of artistic ambition.

People rarely do anything to us that we don't allow to happen. It's a thin line that separates being wronged from allowing others the power over our own happiness. A good part of our youth & early adulthood is dictated by emotion & a greater part of our late adulthood & old age is dictated by making peace with that past. Some actions set into motion cause currents that can set us adrift for a lifetime. I carry with me a Wronged Number, 10 digits through a distorted past to an ever clearer future.

Sneaky Sue is my nickname for a beautiful girl; seriously, just a lovely person & an excellent waitress who taught me a valuable lesson...DON'T hit on the help.

Most of us will go through this life without ever being truly tested. Sure, we will all have our share of ups & downs, loves & losses, but being truly tested is for the purest of heart, those who meet their days head-on & own them. My brother Jeremy is of such stock. Should you ever be driving over Gates Pass, hiking through the Tucson Mountains, or get a chance to breathe the air high upon Wasson Peak & see THE OLD GUARDIAN OF GATES PASS, don't be timid to embrace him. His soul is old & fractured yet familiar & warm, & the dust he breathes is from the bed of a million beautiful desert wildflowers.

I'm not a god fearing man. The moral compass I travel through my days by is for the love of this earth & my time on it, to better understand people and engage with them, & to basically leave things better than I found them. But please, don't get me wrong when I say that I'm ready to testify. Don't get me wrong when I tell you that the love I have for my part in days is strong but that I am ready to leave – it's not from a gloomy place, I assure you. My Auntie Blue was a great woman – strong, fiery, & wise as she was beautiful. Once at a family function at a banquet hall she was sitting at the table talking with my cousin Theresa, when a waiter came around with a dessert tray offering cannolies. To the offer Theresa modestly declined with an, "Oh, I really shouldn't..." Auntie Blue touched her gently on the arm & said, "Theresa, you're Dead A Long Time...have a cannolie & enjoy." Words to live by, right? Life is for the living so while you are, do!

About The Charity

hospice



There really isn't anything worse than losing a loved one. My pop was sick for a long time & even though we had plenty of time to prepare for what was coming, the final days were awful. I can not come near to describing just how thankful I am for what hospice did for my pop, my brother, & myself. They took so much out of our hands, letting us just focus on saying goodbye. They got my pop cleaned up & put in a nice, private room; allowing him to die with dignity. The services they provide are the embodiment of what it means to be humane, bar none.

For each album sold 20% of the proceeds will go to Hospice of the Valley.