Glitter Lung

by Jesse R. Berlin

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about

TOUR DATES!!!
3/31/17 - Sunnyside House, Jamaica Plain, MA w/ Citrusphere
4/13/17 - Flywheel, Easthampton, MA w/ Honeyfitz
4/19/17 - Slime Time Live, Philadelphia, PA w/ Sun Hat
4/21/17 - Kaiju, Louisville, KY w/ Howell Dawdy, Shadowpact
4/22/17 - Bossy Grrl's Pinup Joint, Columbus, OH w/ Steven King, The Up All Nights
4/23/17 - The Burlington, Chicago, IL w/ Darcy Lynn, Steven Gilpin, Ted Gordon
4/26/17 - Test Pattern, Winston-Salem, NC w/ Mauve Angeles, Sext Message
4/27/17 - Trevor's Barn, Asheville, NC w/ Anawan
4/28/17 - Charlie's American Cafe, Norfolk, VA w/ Hydra, Sekengard
4/30/17 - Electric Maid, Washington, DC
5/13/17 - "The Jesse R. Berlin Talk Show," Fort Briscoe, Brooklyn, NY
6/10/17 - "The Jesse R. Berlin Talk Show," Fort Briscoe, Brooklyn, NY
6/18/17 - Ham & Eggs Tavern, Los Angeles, CA w/ Avi Buffalo, Rachel Mason, Alice TM
7/8/17 - "The Jesse R. Berlin Talk Show," Fort Briscoe, Brooklyn, NY

Jesse R. Berlin cut his teeth in the vibrant Tex-Mex Blues scene of 1980s Houston, TX. Nicknamed “Tireman” for his involvement in an off-the-books chop shop (mostly Nissans), Berlin’s first, fledgling bands practiced in his brother Gerry's auto body garage after-hours (the siblings also worked on early iterations of Laser Tag equipment). After a tedious quasi-hazing ritual that included drinking a mixture of Gatorade and milk, Berlin eventually settled on Tommy DeLiorno and Shep “Jamie” Chance on bass and drums, respectively. With a rhythm section secured, the group—originally called Dip Stick and quickly changed to Steel Wheels—took up residency in “Mama” Rich Daniels’ notorious Devil May Car bar, doing three to five sets a week.

Word of mouth spread and the Wheels soon curated a strong east-Texas following. Armadillo Records took notice and In 1983, Steel was released, credited to Jesse R. Berlin and Steel Wheels. The album peaked at 103 on Billboard and set the stage for 1985’s Wheels Go Round, the group's second and most popular record, featuring the single “Baby Get Along (Just Don’t Get)” which charted in the high-60s. Hoping to capitalize on the band’s growing buzz—and mainstream breakthroughs by kindred peers like KD Lang and Stevie Ray Vaughan—the hastily issued double-live effort, 1988’s Rollin’ Through Minneapolis (Wheels Don’t Fail My Now) didn’t make much of an impact. By the time the band's contractually obligated fourth and final release saw the light of day—the redundant, poorly-selling Filling Station: The Very Best of Jesse R. Berlin and Steel Wheels (1989)—tensions had already driven the group apart. DeLiorno joined Bruce Cockburn’s touring band and Chance stuck with Berlin for his first three solo releases, 1990’s Berlin Wall, 1991’s Tireman, and the tepid, predictable covers collection Still Behind the Wheels (1993).

Berlin then went fully solo in an odd and, frankly, embarrassing foray into electronica. Playing solidly against his strengths, 1996’s MachineME (credited to JRB-1) featured no guitar and distant, heavily processed vocals. In hindsight, Berlin’s supreme ignorance of beat-making technology (and complete lack of experience as a producer) leant the music an unintentionally paranoid, ambient, and decidedly minimalist feel, predating Chillwave by at least a decade; at the time, however, it was seen as a colossal misstep. All but ignored by critics and fans, addicted to Excedrin, and profoundly in debt, Berlin took another left turn with 1998’s Reflections. Released simply under the name JESSE, the album was a somewhat confusing stab at Contemporary Christian music. While bringing back the guitar (albeit incredibly sparingly) was a step in the right direction, the record’s insipid lyrics and half-baked religious themes—most prominent on “Learning from Him (Learning from Me)” and the nine-minute groaner “Elijah”—left anyone still following Berlin’s twists and turns scratching their heads.

Surprisingly, Still Searching, a second JESSE album in the CCM vein, was issued in 2001. It sold even more dismally than Reflections and seemed like the final and long-overdue nail in the coffin; indeed, it would be seven years until Berlin resurfaced. "Worth the wait" might be generous, but 2008’s Rotating the Tires, credited to Jesse R. Berlin feat. Steel Wheels (with both DeLiorno and Chance back in the fold, along with new keyboardist Grant Pierce) was certainly a back-to-basics return to form. The band toured North America twice and was featured on the second stage at the Chattanooga Blues Festival in 2009. Old fans tacitly agreed to block out the JRB-1 and JESSE era, critics favorably reappraised Berlin Wall (which Capitol remastered, for the first time on vinyl, no less), and the band even scored some new, young fans thanks to an irreverent but endearing animated television spot for the NBA.

Sadly, what seemed too good to be true—this second life for a hardworking blues band that never quite got their due—ended up being just that. Unable (or unwilling) to get comfortable playing by the numbers, Berlin disbanded the group just as they were on the cusp of reestablishing themselves (demos from the shelved Wheelies showed substantial promise) and isolated himself in his San Marcos studio for three years, writing and recording the bizarre, essentially unlistenable Glitter Lung (2015).

credits

released August 14, 2015

Written, performed, produced and recorded by Jesse R. Berlin. Vocals and additional overdubs recorded by Jeff Berner at Galuminumfoil Studios, Brooklyn, NY. Mixed by Jeff Berner at Galuminumfoil Studios. Mastered by Alan Douches at West West Side Audio, New Windsor, NY.

with:
Jeff Berner - space echo & additional noise on #8
Gabriel Birnbaum - saxophone on #8
Giancarlo Sutton - harmonica on #2 & #8
Trevor Wilson - wurlitzer on #2 & #3

Cover photography and layout by Bryan Bruchman.

Thanks: Gaby Moss, Taylor Pavlik, Ben Apatoff, Jason Anderson, Angela Phillips, Spencer Scanlon, Jeff, Bryan, Gabe, Carlo, Trevor, Dan Lester, Chris Alspach, Chris Roush, Steve Spinella, and my family.

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about

Jesse R. Berlin Brooklyn, New York

Entertainer, artist, thinker, negativity connoisseur, merchandiser, provocateur, poet, ex-con (NOT felon), genius, and superstar.

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Track Name: Wash Your Boat!
Cold ash on your hot red lips.
We start to dance and then the record skips.
(Stay alert! Wash your boat! Be ready!)

When the working day is done,
can you recall where we hid our favorite gun?
(Stay alert! Keep afloat! It's time!)

But your face is just a leather mask of someone else's face -
stapled and stained,
distorted and drained.
An echo of an echo of an echo of a place,
aroused and restrained,
unwound and unnamed.

What if a house is on fire right now?
What if a building's burning down?
Over here, over beer, would we hear the sound
when the whole thing hits the ground?

Spill salt on your birthday cake.
We can still fuck if your friends all flake.
(Stay alert! Wash your boat! Be ready!)

Best for last is still the worst.
It's hard to get hard when you're so rehearsed.
(Stay alert! Keep afloat! It's time!)

But your dark is just a photograph of someone else's dark -
too easy too afford,
too recent to reward.
To sell you into slavery's like walking in the park!
Adopted and adored,
get paid for being bored.

What if a house is on fire right now?
What if a building's burning down?
Over here, over beer, would we hear the sound
when the whole thing hits the ground?
Track Name: How Did You Sleep Lady Kite
Waiting up all night again,
there's a message coming down and I'm running after the sound again.
It's turning 'round again and again and again.
And waiting's such a light defense,
it won't feel right and it won't make sense 'til it's found again.
It's turning brown again again and ruby red.
We're out of bed again and we're rushing towards the endless thing,
but all anybody says is, "Don't be wrong!
Don't be wrong, I tell you, or it's curtain time!"
And oh, I'm certain, I, I said, I don't belong,
and life is long enough to leave and still be crowned again.
The lights go down and then we fall into the song,
but I don't feel strong and I don't look well,
and there's the gong,
and there's the bell,
again
again
again
again.

I'll be around tonight
chasing the fading light.
Wait 'til the dream is gone,
wait 'til the timing's right.
And when you're too weak to run
and I'm too tired to fight,
we'll drown, drown in only love.
I've waited for the gun
to watch the sky go white.
Track Name: I've Really Never Been Prepared For You
Your ghost was in the water,
I saw her from the shore.
I wondered what you taught her?
She was beautiful before.
And who's been kept a captive?
And who's been keeping score?
Our hate becomes a flower,
our dream becomes a chore.

I tell you I'm not scared, but I'm frightened through and through.
I've really never been prepared for you.

You come to me in crisis,
I come to you in rage.
We'll pay each other's prices
and waltz across the stage,
and if you don't pull my mask off
I won't say your age.
Are we already beyond saving?
It gets hard for me to gauge.

I tell you I'm not scared, but I'm frightened through and through.
I've really never been prepared for you.

I could call myself defeated,
but it would not matter much.
You were all I thought I needed
'til I was trampled by your touch.
And if I'm not fit to find you,
maybe I'd be better off
than to walk one step behind you
and to come each time you cough.

I tell you I'm not scared, but I'm frightened through and through.
I've really never been prepared for you.
Track Name: Levana
Saw you in a movie,
there was something on your face.
It was not supposed to be there,
it was from another place.

And weak in the red light,
watch it thread through the lanes of night.
And there, after sleep comes,
I will find you, glowing white.

Look back and it's gone,
catch debts and regrets in the nets of dawn.

Sandpaper problems
in our pockets. The things we hate
will wait around to rob us.
Purple rockets and silver skates.

"Oh, I could settle down
and be doing fine
until I hear that old train
coming down the line."

Look back and it's gone,
catch debts and regrets in the nets of dawn.

Things will get worse before they get better
if they even get better before they get worse.
"We all know who owns the hiss in the phones,"
the passengers groan from the back of the hearse.

Things will get worse before they get better
if they even get better before they get worse.
"We all know who sees through hyacinth trees."
The passengers sneeze and diamonds disperse.
Track Name: Tallulah
If you have to go home then I'll drive you.
Or if you don't have a home to arrive to, well, that's fine too.

Oh!
Places and names will fall away,
you let 'em out like watery doves.

Oh!
Demons and pains you shed and shave
and boil down to a buttery love.

Everybody knows that they're going away.
Everybody knows that there's nothing to say.
We can let it all go grey.

If you tell me her name, then I'll hide you.
And if you're taking your aim, then I'll guide you.
I know why we came.

Oh!
Places and names will fall away,
you let 'em out like watery doves.

Oh!
Demons and pains you shed and shave
and boil down to a buttery love.

Everybody knows that they're going away.
Everybody knows that there's nothing to say.
We can let it all go grey.
Track Name: On The Beach
Paralyzed every night,
eyes go tight and fade to clear.
I'll wait all year.
You step aside and let the daylight interfere.

"I will rise, ocean-size,
to wake and watch the waves appear,
but you won't hear."
So slow she sighs, and then she flies off of the pier.

Let it start, boring heart.
The curtains part, the play begins,
and we won't win.
The camera clicks, the water licks against our skin.
Track Name: It Don't Mean A Thing (If You Don't Call Me King)
Failure feels like a mother's tit in your teeth,
but I'm getting to old to wrestle those breasts for relief.
It was the sweetest flesh our regression fed,
and I'll admit I bit that shit until the milk turned red.

When I was only a kid, they made me leave my town.
I tried to shut the lid and let the leaves turn brown,
but by the time I grew, I couldn't look at you,
I couldn't bear to be a person other people knew.

They'd see me on the street and try to snatch my crown.
I used to lie awake and count the ways I'd let them down,
but now the light leaks in a hundred little dots,
and I see in shining white the things our darkness rots:

I see a banner raised. I see a golden wreath.
I see a ruby eye. I spy a flash of teeth.
I feel it in my feet. I feel it in my head.
I feel it in my lungs. It feels like molten lead.

Then all I see is the same red light keeps flashing over me
every night. It's the same dream that I've had since I was three.
And I should know by now exactly how to hold it down and see,
but then it's dawn, the dream is gone, and I'm the same as I'll always be.

Success feels like a lover's fist in your face.
You start to miss the delicate kiss of disgrace.
You start to risk the rook to protect the pawn.
You start to ask where everyone you've ever known has gone:

I haven't heard from Jim, but we weren't really friends.
Michael's having a kid, I'll never see him again.
When Nick got sick it freaked me out so much I just went numb.
Bill and Ben, you knew me when. What have we now become?

And what did we build with all these beautiful brains?
In the late night spotlight, another white kid complains.
He howls and attacks, he's got a loose grip on facts,
and you love that kind of crap, so sit back and relax.

Then all I see is the same red light keeps flashing over me
every night. It's the same dream that I've had since I was three.
And I should know by now exactly how to hold it down and see,
but then it's dawn, the dream is gone, and I'm the same as I'll always be.

"Go, go change your mind."
No, no, don't change your mind!
"Go, go change your mind."
No, no, don't change your mind!
Track Name: Spiders
Every day I try to turn my eye away:
spiders in the kitchen, lights out in the mansion,
a friend I've kept at bay.

Every day I try to turn my eye away:
spiders in the kitchen, lights out in the mansion,
a debt I won't repay.