When You Were A Man

by David Creese

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    Gatefold all-cardboard CD cover. Photography by Leisa Clements, design by Leisa Clements and David Creese.

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    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of Visits from My Brother, NARRATIONS, Old Days, Blessings In Disguise, Dry Land, I Dreamed That You Visited Me, and When You Were A Man. , and , .

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Recorded between Dec 2009 and April 2010 by Tim Cole at Enormodome Studio, Melbourne, Australia


released October 25, 2010

David Creese: vocal, acoustic guitar, percussion
Timothy Deane: piano, hammond, rhodes, mandolin, accordion
Marita Dyson: violin, vocal, melodion
Stuart Flanagan: electric guitar

Video by Jason Tovey for "When You Were A Man" at:


Published by Sony ATV Music



all rights reserved


David Creese England, UK

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Track Name: the wedding party
Everybody is well dressed for the occasion
sunlight dapples the garden and brightens the paths
I watch you laughing with a group of friends
and we're all waiting for the lovers
to come out from the house.

As I watch you move and listen for your voice
the young and the old pass between us
the day is bright and the leaves are hushed
and we're all waiting for the bride and groom
to come out from the house.

Everyone gathers for a photograph
sometime in the day I'll get close to you
sometime in the day I'll get close to you.

We listen for a word
we prepare for the flash
now we're waiting, waiting
for something else.
Track Name: rachel and sarah
Beneath the waters of the reservoir
was a village -
farmhouses, a hall and a church.

They gathered all their possessions
and carried their burdens across the road.

To Lydia and Henry twins were born
who hardly saw a day on this earth.

Their bodies were exhumed from the graveyard
and carried to their new home.

Bright days and grim days they shared together
now the walls are swaying with green
submerged as if in a dream.

Carry the babies home
carry the babies home.
Track Name: a birth
This is the house where he was conceived
the front room was painted black
to hide the rising damp.

His father, solitary, sat smoking in an armchair
under the light from the lamp.

It was warm inside the little house
but rain poured down outside
like nails of light under the streetlamp's glow.

His mother stayed in bed, the movement of her hand
smoothing the blanket was melancholy and slow.

They moved to the house where he was later born
the field across the road was home
to an old brown horse.

The new house was brighter and the parents to be
seemed happy as the pregnancy took its course.

The child was born on a watery, blood-coloured
autumn morning
it feebly screamed and pushed its little fists
toward the sky.

His father smoked in the hospital corridor
his eyes were scratchy and his throat was dry.

His mother lay like ripe fruit
burst open on the ground
the water, cord, blood and placenta
had all been cleaned away.

After 269 nights in the womb
he squinted in the light of his first day.

And the cigarettes burned down
and the horse slowly moved through the field
and the rain soaked into the ground
and the scar on his belly healed
and the sun rose ten thousand times
and he went on his way.
Track Name: all the wounded animals
All the wounded animals
have fled into the undergrowth
into the night
down the basement stairs.

Running from the family
to a hiding place
running from those they'd run with
if they had the strength.

Down in the basement
eyes like broken glass
reflecting back the torchlight
wild and bright with fear.

Hands cupped around the fire
burning in the flesh
guarding like an heirloom
the naked bloody mess.

All the wounded animals
one for every shadow.
Track Name: the younger boy
At the end of the night the hall light goes on
and father calls his sons from their sleep.

When greenish light first leaks into the river
and the few fish know to keep away from shore
silently they drive to the usual spot
and set the gear down on the hard grey banks
where the water looks old and dark and sickly
like a million men have pissed and shat in it.

The boys imitate the movements of their old man
throw a hook and line into the sludge
and set the fishing rods upon found sticks
and pour the instant coffee into plastic cups.

Now quietly they sit with their own thoughts
like three strangers waiting for a bus.

The eldest boy lifts a fish from the water
flapping in the dirt its mouth gropes for life
they'll take this wide-eyed creature home to mother
as a token of the men's togetherness.

And all this time the sun has been rising
hazy and white, hidden behind the clouds
and beyond the bridge
and the mouth of the poisoned river
the sea gently whispers
to the younger boy.

They put away the tackle, empty out the thermos
and drive their tired eyes back home.
Along the way the boy is lost in contemplation
imagining the joy that mother's delight would bring.

And beyond the bridge
and the mouth of the poisoned river
the sea gently whispers
the sea gently whispers
the sea gently whispers
Track Name: a rain of ash
a rain of ash gently falls in the rooms of his dreams
in the dark his arm is hanging from the bed
while droning voices vibrate in his skull
like whispered screams.

standing before his mother's lipsticks
eye shadows and creams
he wonders if the mirror holds the dead
and a rain of ash gently falls in the rooms of his dreams.

his father teaches vaguely
that God punishes and redeems
he feels His eye upon him in his bed
while droning voices vibrate in his skull
like whispered screams.

so he assumes that God is onto all his
nasty little schemes
as insects fall beneath his careless tread
and a rain of ash gently falls in the rooms of his dreams.

he looks toward the bright sky
and his eyes squint as he beams
his father rests a hand on his head
and a rain of ash gently falls in the rooms of his dreams
while droning voices vibrate in his skull
like whispered screams.
Track Name: when you were a man
And then he landed on my shoulder
having borrowed the form of a large black bird.
I saw him on the road
in the heat of the afternoon
scrounging with his beak for a scrap to eat.

I rolled a heel of bread toward him
then turned and kept on walking.
He lifted his beak from the road
and let go with that laugh
that knows the sorrow and the fate of all life.

I continued along the footpath
into the full sun.
Then I felt his claws through my shirt
the hard flesh of his black feet
but my heart didn't miss a beat.

That's when I knew it was him
my brother on borrowed wings.
He looked at me and I looked at him
then he plunged his beak in
and flew off with my left eye.

When you were a man I failed
to see you with both of my eyes.
You'll be the best man for my wedding vows
and whenever you call to me now
I will lift my face to the sky
for your greeting and your goodbye.
Track Name: nostalgic for a war
All souls cower in the basement
grappling for a candle in the dark
news comes in, another family blown apart
children lie broken in the rubble.

Hope flickers and seems to disappear
everyone is frightened to the core
because someone who holds the power
went and got nostalgic for a war.

Part of me is dead, part of me is in exile
part of me is hiding underground
while you my love are out there somewhere
in the night that once was ours.

Not long ago I could not imagine
the peace we had would be no more
but you and your restless hands
went and got nostalgic for a war.

All it takes is a freedom-preaching liar
to know where there is wood to start a fire
no-one wants to claim this madness as their own
but we all have some evil we'd like to disown.

There's nothing left to destroy now
both sides claim victory
we've dressed the enemy in our darkness
now we can pretend to be free.

Tell me again what you've won this time
tell the dead and broken what it was for
tell them freedom, make it glorious...
Track Name: the old dancer
Remember that place we went for dinner
with your sister and a couple of our friends
a bouzouki band played in the corner
and a drunk old fellow danced around the floor,

and as I watched he crumpled like paper
the old dancer fell over.

The food was good the wine was rich
the warmth went straight to my head
the old man was escorted to the footpath
and the flower girl began to do her rounds.

We stood and put our coats on
when the evening was over
how was I to know something really fine
had come to an end?

Wine gives its friendship at night
then takes it away in the morning
the curve of your hips makes me homesick
I'm so far away from intimacy.

So I comfort myself
with futile imaginings
of the loving arms
of your gentle sister,

and the flower continues each night
from table to table
and each night the old man dances
until he is standing no longer.
Track Name: everyone goes through that door
Everyone goes through that door
the gods on my mountain must be angry
another life has been laid to rest
but the sun still comes up in the morning.

I gave you my thoughts before you were born
I don't know if you received them
I listened for a reply
my constant, my absent companion.

A fly bangs itself against the window
through the grass I can see the hillside
we have more in common than I thought
we are both trying for something brighter.

The driver handed me a ticket
printed with a thought for the day
I take comfort in my bus ticket wisdom
sometimes you must be broken
before you can be fixed.

One day I'll go through that door
like you and your father before you
leaving behind an empty room
still echoing with the last sound it held.
Track Name: mouse
A memory came back to me
on a morning bright and still
the table held a square of light
spilling from the windowsill.

In a restaurant where I worked some years ago
one morning I was sweeping out the store
when I found a lifeless mouse in a patch
of sunlight on the floor.

Looking closer I could see
something moving beneath the fur
I leaned on my broom and watched
as nature worked on her.

Lying in the dust and sun
casting a shadow on the floor
I swept around that little corpse
then left and closed the door.

Why did that come back to me
a dusty downstairs memory
steam from my cup rising in the light
that slowly edges toward me.
Track Name: was it cruel
Oh brother, was it cruel for you
to be left alone with your thoughts
no-one could divine your secret self
laughing to hide your distress.

He washed his hands of your innocence
and left you to cradle the guilt
the language of trouble that you got into
only hardened the righteousness they'd built.

Oh sister, did you turn away
from the world of light
a hollow cry in a moonlit field
resounding for all time in the air.

We will let each other down no more
and now that it is too late
I have forgiven you everything
but there is no way of knowing
if you had forgiven me
you won't be coming this way again.

And while you lived
you each tried to no avail
to quell the anguish in your soul
the paths to glory are overgrown
the ash in the fireplace is cold.