Under the Covers - The Songs of Tom Flannery

by Assorted Artists

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about

a Pennsylvania treasure….Flannery has the soul of an Irish poet and the detail-capturing eye of a seasoned journalist…In “Under the Covers ” 14 noted artists take on some of Tom’s strongest compositions. Stripped down to their acoustic hearts, the music is direct and accessible…picture a baker’s dozen outstanding acoustic performers sitting on your front porch, playing some of the best songs you’ve ever heard.
–Jim Colbert, The Folk Show, WPSUfm

14 intensely intimate interpretations…”Under the Covers” showcases a songwriting talent on par with anyone at the highest levels of their craft..
— WRKC Radio

a very cool record….ambitious….it comes off as low key without pretense…A diverse collection of songs that showcases Tom Flannery’s talents as a songwriter.
— Music on the Menu, 105 The River

Tom Flannery has done it again, this time with a little help from his friends. The result is magical and truly captures Flannery’s brilliance as a songwriter.
— Vinyl Voyage

a master at the art of storytelling and songwriting. This effort is truly exceptional.
— The V-Spot

So….some backstory.

Most of these are new songs. I planned on recording them myself. Then I changed my mind.

I was sick of my own voice. These songs were different. They had more space in them, notes I couldn’t hit…or didn’t dare try to. They were more open to interpretation. I considered them some of the best I’d ever written….but the more I sang them myself, the more I heard the other voices in my head.

What other voices?

I had no idea. But I wanted to find out.

I had the song “In Lieu of You”. I recorded a demo of it on my Iphone. There was something about it….something I liked. But I was only scratching the surface. John Canjar is a friend of mine. An incredibly gifted guitar player and singer. He lives down the road. I sent him the demo and asked if he had any ideas. He did. He came up to the house. I rolled tape and that’s how it all started. There was no way I was gonna touch what he put down. I decided then and there that I’d ask others to sing these songs for me. Sounds like an ego trip. I wish it was. The truth is I don’t have enough ego. If I did I would have borrowed/stolen all these arrangements and recorded them myself.

Asialena Bonitz is 17 years old. “12 O’Clock Whistle” is a weary song…..a song for old people. A song about what happens when dreams aren’t just put aside…but are obliterated….by the responsibilities that are supposed to subside but so often do not. How the hell was a high school kid gonna get this across? Why was I asking a high school kid to get this across?

Because I knew this kid. I’d heard what she could do. A voice like hers comes along….well…once?

She came over and did 2 takes. That’s it. I played and she sang. She laughed about her belly rumbling on the tape, and then sang like an old lady ripping out her own heart.

Lies in the bedroom / frames on the mantle the faces can’t know / what the creases may tell love letters buried / like secrets carried with the dawn ringing / from a rusty church bell

When it was over she just said “was that ok?” I’m not sure what I said. I may not have said anything. I’m still not sure what to say. I hope thank you will suffice. And maybe “remember my sorry ass when everybody else figures out what I already know and you are at the top of the world where you belong.”

And it went on from there. Songs I co-wrote with Neil Luckett (I sent Neil the lyrics to “MIA” and he did the rest from his home in England. Neil plays guitar like he’s got an extra hand….with 9 fingers on each) and Josh Pratt….who I consider to be Pennsylvania’s finest songwriter. I wrote “Auctioneer” and Josh said….”well…who is this Auctioneer?” When I stuttered and said….”um….some dude trying to pick up chicks I guess”….Josh picked up his pen and re-wrote most of the lyrics. Thankfully. In 3 minutes he completed a screenplay. I asked him for the lyrics yesterday and he sheepishly admitted to never writing them down. Josh is odd that way.

Kris and Julie Kehr made me cry with “Fool For You Again”, a song that picked at so many scabs I wasn’t sure I could ever sing it. Me and Kris aren’t related….but if I have a mirror musical image his is the face looking back at me (And any man who marries someone with a voice like Julie’s is gonna die happy).

George Wesley knocked the shit out of me even though I knew he was going to knock the shit out of me. I shouldn’t have been surprised at all, but that’s the way George rolls. “Leaving Home” just ignited. And that’s why I love him like a brother. Lorne Clarke rescued “The Show” from the scrapheap (something he’ll remind me about forever, incidentally….Canadians are like that)…for which I’m eternally grateful. Michael Jerling sang “Mickey Mantle”, a song about my own father, and turned it into something universal….fathers and sons….what we hope to be vs. what we really are. Jerling is a folk artist….and there ain’t many like him. Shannon Marsyada put up with my telling her how special she is…and then went and proved it. Thanks Irish. Tim McGurl came to visit and we both felt something special in the air….something we dared not mess with. His version of “Don’t Kill My Heart” kills mine for sure….and the song feels more like his gift to me than anything else. Van Wagner turned a 2013 ballad into a Dust Bowl Ballad…but made it sound new at the same time. Try that sometime.

Bret Alexander and Lisa Moscatiello should both be household names. Few are called. Fewer still are chosen. And you can count on one hand the ones who deserve the accolades. “Miner Boy was written in 1996….and I still sing the song at gigs…although not at Lisa’s level, because…well…because that’s impossible. There may be a better female vocalist in America…but they’d have to pass Lisa before reaching the finish line. Good luck with that ladies. And Bret took a simple song that I could never get right and nailed it, making it sound simple above the cacophony of whispered resignation and despair…which is what the best always do. Bret is special.

A final shout out to my soul brother number One, Joe Wegleski….a fellow Shillelagh and a man I trust above all others. Listen to his guitar work on “I’m Still Me”…….a master’s class in not overplaying….serving the song for the sake of the song. All the more remarkable because we were making it up as we went along. I will say that spontaneity is way more charming when you have a player like Wiggy in the room.

It’s quite a line-up here….and I’m sitting here tonight feeling like the kid in the proverbial candy store. The fact that I can call these people friends means as much to me as the music they’re helping me share.

Sweet dreams.

— Tom Flannery

credits

released June 28, 2014

All songs written by Tom Flannery except “Auctioneer” written by Tom Flannery and Josh Pratt and “MIA” written by Tom Flannery and Neil Luckett tracks 2,3,4,6,9,10,12,15

recorded at the Home Office in Archbald, PA others recorded all over the place…from London, England to Saratoga Springs, New York “Miner Boy” recorded at WVIA-FM Studios for the “Homegrown Music” program, with George Graham producing

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about

Tom Flannery Scranton, Pennsylvania

"One of the most gifted songwriters to emerge at the turn of the century"
-- The All Music Guide

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Track Name: Kris and Julie Kehr - Fool For You Again
So hard to tell when you're through with me
you keep making your way back home
spots where you fall the only ones you see
when you find yourself alone

I look to you when my eyes grow bleary
my head gets weary
from words astray
frozen sheets and lame excuses
when there's no proof of
the night's decay
I don't want to be a fool for you again
wanna be a fool for you again

Outside it's cold...the wind united
it's blowing us to and fro
we're growing old like a landscape blighted
whispering "even though..."

Rivers rise and the coal keeps burning
young kids are learning to see things through
easy lies and cruel indifference
like an old barbed wire fence
torn in two
I don't want to be a fool for you again
wanna be a fool for you again

I look to you when my eyes grow bleary
my head gets weary
from words astray
frozen sheets and lame excuses
when there's no proof of
the night's decay
I don't want to be a fool for you again
wanna be a fool for you again
Track Name: John Canjar - In Lieu of You
To burn your heart in effigy
that's what I'd like to do
and warm my hands besides all...
the embers still untrue
abandoning the roof for sky
and your silver for gold
clock in my back pocket
to keep from getting old

that's what I should do
in lieu of you

Maybe I'll be like a train
and just follow these tracks
that lay down before me
with no thoughts of getting back
the rhythm of the trestles
the whistle in the night
keeping everybody guessing
if things will turn out right

that's what I should do
in lieu of you

In lieu of you
In lieu of you

No more worries about tomorrow
or waking up alone
justifying blue sky
on the telephone
gonna get myself a bottle
drink myself dry
wake up sick and laughing
to no woman no cry

that's what I should do
in lieu of you

In lieu of you
In lieu of you
Track Name: George Wesley - Leaving Home
What is this place
where have you taken me
don't smell what I like
don't see what I see
give me my coat
don't forget my hat
there's a chill in the air
have to deal with that

You can tie me to a flatback chair
lock me in a jail
take away my eyes
and the sailboat's sail
steal my memories
lose me when I roam
but nothing can compare
to leaving home

Get me on a bus
get me on a plane
put me in your car
or we can hop a train
dance the way we used to
fumbling in the dark
maybe they won't find us
the lonely on their marks

You can tie me to a flatback chair
lock me in a jail
take away my eyes
and the sailboat's sail
steal my memories
lose me when I roam
but nothing can compare
to leaving home

A man grows younger
and simpler with the time
I see what's yours
but I want what's mine
familiar faces and
a warm feather bed
arms all around me
and nothing in my head

Streets that I grew up on
voices that I know
that yesterday's were better
is what they show
newspapers on the backporch
and pictures on the wall
hands to pick me up
on the day I learn to fall
Track Name: Asialena - 12 O'Clock Whistle
She cries in the kitchen
lives with her mother
does all her living
through that old console screen
Mom is forgetting
calling her Suzie
even though they named her
Rosalee

chorus:
12 O'clock whistle whines
sounds different all the time
clothes hanging on the line
with the rain closing in
life's lead behind closed doors
young lovers pace the floor
always wanting more
than the places they've been

Not sure how it happened
years come creeping
like the color fading
from a radio flyer
promises made
promises broken
like rollin' and tumblin'
from an old circus wire

chorus

Lies in the bedroom
frames on the mantle
the faces can't know
what the creases may tell
love letters buried
like secrets carried
with the dawn ringing
from a rusty church bell

chorus
Track Name: Bret Alexander - When the Circus Comes to Town
The tents have all been packed up
with the carny's and the con
gone to find another town
to pull one over on
home might be a state of mind
but a man still needs a bed
to share a human touch
and the dreams left in his head

So I'm leaving what I used to be
and all the things I know
the sins and sinners standing still
to put on one more show
maybe she got the best of me
and the rest of me can't tell
but what if she remembers
and doesn't take it well

But that's just nerves talking
coming up from the ground
ready to take over
when the circus comes to town

So yea I've made some mistakes
and did some hurting to
I sure done a lot of things
that I wasn't supposed to do
but still when I make up my mind
no one can turn me 'round
from scratching out a new roof
from this dirty piece of ground

Blow all of my money baby
in the drunk tank to drown
but what the hell is money for
when the circus comes to town

bridge
Without a net they're flying baby
tip of the big top
long gone lovers lying baby
they ain't ever gonna drop

The tents have all been packed up
with the carny's and the con
gone to find another town
to pull one over on
home might be a state of mine
but a man still needs a bed
to share a human touch
and the dreams left in his head

But that's just nerves talking
coming up from the ground
ready to take over
when the circus comes to town
Track Name: Lorne Clarke - The Show
Can't lift my arm to comb my hair
just one more game to get back up there
fastball dragging some at 85
slept in ice the entire 12 hour drive
we come overnight from Omaha
with that hanging curve sticking in my craw
out in front he ripped it down the line
and for me it was miller time

The kids they all call me old man
I try to help 'em when I can
sometimes I catch 'em when they stare
they're thinking what the hell were you doing up there?
about the show this much is clear
it's better up there than it is down here
went into Wrigley and I mowed 'em down
and I was the talk of Houston town

just one more day in the show
to savor when I go
if you let me grow old I'll do it gracefully
paint the corners black just wait and see
down here time moves so slow
just one more day in the show

I could make that radar gun dance
going every 4th day without a backward glance
6 and 2 by the end of May
everyone lining up to hear what I had to say
in Philly I landed funny off the mound
that's where I heard the popping sound
now it was cortisone and daily mass
with a fastball that couldn't break glass

Lost 7 of 9 throwing mostly junk
mopped up a few when my sinker sunk
then they sent me down hoping for the best
5 years on I still can't rest
I go Thursday night in Abeliene
with a lot of phone calls in between
my little girl says daddy when you coming home
I tell her sweetheart I just don't know

just one more day in the show
to savor when I go
if you let me grow old I'll do it gracefully
paint the corners black just wait and see
down here time moves so slow
just one more day in the show
Track Name: Neil Luckett - MIA
She went to the cupboard but the cupboard was bare
so she went and cut off her long flowing hair
she laid down between the ground and the sky
looked straight ahead and never asked why
expected little and received even less
her mini-skirt came from cutting her dress
frayed at the edges and torn at the seams
desperation leads to extremes

Discarded bottles a railroad track
fighting that monkey on her back
the conductor smiles then he shakes his head
'cause she left her ticket back under the bed
back where her man's boots used to be
caked with the sod of another shrill plea
she rolled towards him one night and instead hit the floor
and now she forgets what she needed him for

But what does it matter when you get down to it
a place to lay down, and a soft spot to sit
she tells herself this, then she cries like a child
who's been left in the dark, scorned and reviled
So take this all down, so the record is clear
the coast might be too...but it may not be near
love's a sharp backhand across the mouth
as it rolls on away...to points due south

Is she just a collection of assorted loose parts
out of warranty....out of broken hearts
a beat down jalopy...just another used car
always destined to not get very far
this world's a place that can swallow you whole
scorned for the capture...not for what you stole
tell me what's she supposed to say
when she gets the news....that he's MIA

Is she just a collection of assorted loose parts
out of warranty....out of broken hearts
a beat down jalopy...just another used car
always destined to not get very far
this world's a place that can swallow you whole
scorned for the capture...not for what you stole
tell me what's she supposed to say
when she gets the news....that he's MIA
Track Name: Michael Jerling - Mickey Mantle
I wish I'd seen Mickey Mantle
but I was born too late
in moving pictures I'd see him limp
to either side of the plate
now I'm a child of colors
but Mickey he was all black and white
I wish there was something that I could do
to make everything alright
I wish I was....

I wish that we could share a night
to open and close the bar
prayers and genuflections
that never go too far
my father would be young again
the fear gone from his eyes
he could drag us around the city
with no thought of goodbyes
I wish I was...

What do you want
what do you see
when you look at yourself
and you find me
I've got you deep down inside
It's all we can do
to run and hide
Just like Mickey did...

I'd give Mickey him my liver
I'd give Mickey my knees
if he'd just take me back
and make the time freeze
back to the top of the world
back to the end of the line
we'd soak it in together
just one more time
I wish I was...
Just like Mickey did...
Forever as a kid
tears of a clown
from letting others down
I wish I was....

What do you want
what do you see
when you look at yourself
and you find me
I've got you deep down inside
It's all we can do
to run and hide
Just like Mickey did…
Track Name: Tim McGurl - Don't Kill My Heart
Don't go away don't leave me here
with all your ghosts who reappear
all dressed to kill with bedsheet eyes
or whispering cold goodbyes

Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart

Get up so fast we all slow
only to find nowhere to go
the neon lights of corner bars
littered backseats of stolen cars

Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart

I still got love to give
tied to the memories I re-live
down in the hole
with the sinners who never stole
with the sinners who never stole
from me

Oh the stories we could tell
right now I'm high and don't feel well
got the shivers...got the shakes
I got the gives you got the takes

Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart

I still got love to give
tied to the memories I re-live
down in the hole
with the sinners who never stole
with the sinners who never stole
from me

Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Don't kill my heart
Track Name: Joe "Wiggy" Wegleski - I'm Still Me
Mamma she found Jesus
Daddy he found God
with blood at the table
outsiders got the nod
Jesus always short of money
God 140 proof
nothing worse than growin' up
under a stranger's roof

I think I'm still me
I think I'm still me
trying hard to make you see
I think I'm still me

Preachers and empty bottles
overdrawn and overheard
bill collectors and the backhands
all shaken and stirred
self loathing self inflicted
battle or a truce
another promise made
tearing itself loose

I think I'm still me
I think I'm still me
trying hard to make you see
I think I'm still me

Some get the wrong idea
others not at all
most just look through me
passing in the hall
another stranger with no name
face just blending in
trying to learn the difference
between sinners and sin

I think I'm still me
I think I'm still me
trying hard to make you see
I think I'm still me
Track Name: Shannon Marsyada - Can You Hide Me
It's getting late
even the drunks have gone home
ran out of backstreets
and alleys to roam
the whores have all
bedded down for the night
while the cops catch their breath
and they turn out the lights

Now I'm pacing the floor
with an old picture frame
cursing out loud
while whispering your name
booze and pills
they take too long
so on this guitar
I'll write you a song

Can you hide me
from these sad goodbyes
can you hide me
from the nights that make me cry
Can you hide me
from these sad goodbyes
can you hide me
from the nights that make me cry

I wanna dump it all
on the side of the road
wanna strike a match
and watch it explode
suck the pain
out of the air
feel the breeze
blow back your hair

Can you hide me
from these sad goodbyes
can you hide me
from the nights that make me cry

Moon and the tide
what if they lost their way
and could no longer hear
what the other might say
what if I shake
in the middle of the night
would you cool my brow
would you hold me tight

Can you hide me
from these sad goodbyes
can you hide me
from the nights that make me cry

What if I showed you
the end of the world
with mouths hung open
and flags unfurled
would you believe in love
just one last time
be a fool from me
and take what's mine

Can you hide me
from these sad goodbyes
can you hide me
from the nights that make me cry
Can you hide me
from these sad goodbyes
can you hide me
from the nights that make me cry
Track Name: Van Wagner - Bridges
I remember that night it's stuck in my head
rolled up in a flag they thought I was dead
cop kicked me awake said "move along son"
with pepper spray and the butt of a gun
I find a bridge in every town
leads me to water so I can drown

Wind chill had frozen the words in my mouth
ain't got enough money to make it south
even I forget my time in the war
trying to stay fed...find a spot on the floor
I find a bridge in every town
leads me to water so I can drown

Bridges up...they don't come down
they tell no secrets....they're honor bound...that way

I read all about them names on the wall
one night I carved mine in a bathroom stall
boots on the ground....head in the sand
oh there I was...here I am
there I was here I am

Got a few more pills some cheap red wine
a hacking cough with me all the time
picture of my girls tattoed on my chest
another life sentence just like the rest
I find a bridge in every town
leads me to water so I can drown

Bridges up...they don't come down
they tell no secrets....they're honor bound...that way
Track Name: Lisa Moscatiello - Miner Boy
I heard his whistling fading away like sleep into dreams
instead of ‘I Love You’ he’d say ‘You know what I mean’
I’d watch the sun he’d rarely see put red on the cheeks of a child
disappear like his white skin with eyes shining wild

chorus:
I’m in love with a miner boy
I’m in love with a miner boy
I’m in love with a miner boy
I’m in love with a miner boy

Everyday that lonesome whistle blows
everyday this helpless feeling grows

I do dead work all day long and on Sunday bow my head
I know the Lord’s to busy for me so I pray for the coal instead
Breaker roar might wake up some but I sleep with eyes on the door
and love will only lay me down when I hear boots on the floor

(chorus)
Track Name: Tom Flannery - Mud Run
I don't want to remember
the things that I saw there
but when I close my eyes
I still smell her singed hair
she said "stay with me sir..
just until I die...
promise you'll hold your lover close
in the bed where you lie.."

That small band playing
"Nearer My God to Thee"
but even the Lord missed the signal
and the world fell in on me
Did you ever see a scalding
did you ever hear a fire
did you ever sense a train
or live through a funeral pyre

At Mud Run...I never heard of it before
twisted track was my ceiling
the roof was my floor
at Mud Run
it was something like a war
it was something like a war

It's old bones I've become
a ghost trapped in time
tried to drive it away
by drinking away what's mine
now I got these tremors
like rumblin' down a track
passing the point of no return
and always looking back

At Mud Run...I never heard of it before
twisted track was my ceiling
the roof was my floor
at Mud Run
it was something like a war
it was something like a war