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The Rose Gardener

by Bellows

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about

The Rose Gardener" is the fourth album by Bellows. It was written and recorded in a home studio in Woodstock, NY in early 2018.

A lot of the album is about the idea of judgment: why we’re compelled to judge each other, hate our peers, bring competitiveness to art-making, compare ourselves to others, destroy beautiful things for an ego-boost or a feeling of political purity. The album was written in a period of intense frustration with the world of music and the dumb infighting that dominates it. Especially after the election in 2016, I found myself more and more demoralized with the state of the world. As America sunk deeply into quasi-fascism and normalized day-to-day violence, I began to wonder why our counter-cultures were paralyzed and unable to respond, so wrapped up in the narcissism of small differences that they forgot to fight the actual bad guys. 



Somehow the idea of judgment felt crucial to understanding the moment we’re living in. Everyone in society the judge, the rockstar, the lead of his own private TV show, privately declaring judgment and dismissal to anyone standing in his way. I began to feel the loneliness of this moment in history. That although we’re supposedly more connected than we’ve ever been, we’ve become further and further factionalized until each person stands completely alone, unable to forge real connections or bonds, isolated within the internet booth of judgment and narcissistic self-righteousness.

I think the loneliness I see in this moment became the metaphor of The Rose Gardener — a gardener trying to tend to a single rosebush in the dead of winter. I imagined this character and his practice of tending to a rose that seems destined to perish in ice, who recognizes the futility of the work but nevertheless goes out every day to tend to the dying plant. The loneliness of this character felt akin to the feeling of trying to make art in such a loaded and violent moment. How could one possibly try to speak softly in a world filled with such deafening shouting from all sides? But rather than giving up gardening, the Rose Gardener persists — he sticks his hands into the thorny rose bush and tries to see through to what might still lie on the other side: real life.

credits

released February 22, 2019

Oliver Kalb wrote all the music and lyrics, and worked with several musical collaborators including Jonnie Baker (Florist), Ian Cory (Lamniformes, Sharpless), James Wilcox, Henry Crawford, Gabrielle Smith & Felix Walworth. The album was mixed by Jack Greenleaf, Gabrielle Smith & Oliver Kalb. It was mastered by Paul Gold. All artwork by Oliver Kalb. So much time and effort was put in by Richard Gin to organize and help fashion the art to be presentable, thank you Richard!

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about

Bellows Brooklyn, New York

Bellows is the bedroom recording project of songwriter and producer Oliver Kalb.

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other questions / my actual email: bellows.mail@gmail.com
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Track Name: Housekeeping
Before you leave the house today

In your paltry New York way

Would you close your eyes and think
‘How’d I get here?
Through a trillion human lives
To this very body in which I’m alive?’

And I love and i love and i love and i love and i love this body

And I love and i love and i love and i love and i love this body
And I love and i love and i love and i love and i love this body
Even when it hurts
I’m leaping from a window

And I clear my life away
All the superficial things
Everyone I meet I have no connection in the basic human way
I gotta clean up the space

Til I love til i love til i love til i love til i love its corners
Til my life til my life til my life til my life til my life is over
And I love and i love and i love and i love and i love this body
Even when it hurts
I’m leaping from a window
Track Name: Accidents Happen
I wanna live real life
Even if its unkind
I wanna live real life
Tossed up in the real

What was the meaning of your struggle if not to be growing stronger?

I know accidents happen
I get up and give it another try
Every platitude I tell you I was believing something other
I was dreaming that your crashed your car
Flying from the seat and broke your arm

Through all of this trouble we were near each other
We were near each other’s hearts
But through all of this we never touched
“I know you’re a faker, I know who you hurt to get here”
You’ll remember those words from time to time
When you’re totally alone and wondering why

Crucible, seen between cracks in the moon, like
Refractions of the moonlight
Like a dog
Sneaking in the dead of night
Eating up scraps of the feast like
True zero, primping in the mirror like a queen bee
Narcissus at the water, do you see me like a dog?
Sniffing for a scrap bone
Indifferent to the jeers, to the thrown stones

I wanna look into your eyes and feel your presence again
Feel your tension grip and loosen here again
Here’s a pacifying edict to your friend here again
Here is them here again, here is them here again


I wanna look into your eyes and feel your presence again

Feel your tension grip and loosen here again
Here’s a pacifying edict to your friend here again
Here is them here again, here is them here again

True zero

Looked out the window here this morning
It was dark and raining
I was folding up this paper and walking it to the post office

And I think back you and wonder
where you’d go with all your anger
If by chance we’d never met at all
If our two paths had never crossed
Track Name: In Silence
I must ask you to proceed from here in complete silence…


Can you tell who has the loudest voice here?

Do you notice who here isn’t speaking?

Through the smallest movement of your eyelids
There’s a secret only I can see and

I tried to gather up this weight to hold you
But I couldn’t find the words to match it
They rage on you with the loudest voice here
I don’t even summon up a whisper

I tried to lift this weight in silence
Tried to walk this road in silence
Tried to shout so loud in silence
But no one could hear the thought I held to you

I wrote a song to honor your trial
and another about the season’s passing
But I never wrote a song that cut through
To the silence at the center of it

Such a perfect form I perceived in silence
Such a beauty i could not describe it
Such a weight I had no words to fight it
And you will not hear the way it holds me

Oh, in silence
Oh, in silence
Oh, in silence

Your enemy plays the game of virtue
He rages with the loudest voice too
In public squares he seeks to shame you
But he cannot penetrate the part of you
That will break his hold in silence
That will stay this breach in silence
That will hold the castle longer
Til no one can hear the way we loved her
Track Name: Rosebush
And I wanna come with you rosebush
The bleeding nose, we tore our clothes on it
I won’t be arriving soon
But you know I’m coming from the way I write to you

I wanna come with you rosebush
In thorns enclosed was the deepest source of it
Hold onto your sores and come
With the thorny rosebush, the thorny fact of it

And I wanna come with you horseman

The speeding horse, we spent our lives on it
I wont be arriving soon
But you know I’m coming from the way I speak of you

I wanna come with you rosebush
He’s fooled each time but again it surprises him
Holds onto the sores and comes
With a sour face til the very end of it

Trouble just follows you around
You burn your world down, I want no part in it
But I cannot ignore it’s in me
I want violet, crimson, existence in binary

And I wanna come with you rosebush
The bleeding nose, we tore our clothes on it
LIke a child I need these roses
Though thorns enclose them
I reach out my hand and try to hold
Track Name: Stupidest Thing
Thunderstorm, how it breaks on the beach
So clean
My friend — what was that you said?



It might’ve been the stupidest thing
To get so mad
So I wanted to ask you
How you keep in the middle?
As we walk through a thunder storm
Compromise and settle
With a boiling kettle
Just a 3D movie
Where I thought you would be

The truth sinks in slow
But the proof’s everywhere you go
They smile at your face now
But they treat you like zero
And I’m back where I was before
It took eight long years though
Stripping off that ego
Every fake fuck music bro
Count em down to zero

Ah, I won’t bow to your anger
I want to let go of all this aching

Come on arise in me

And I let go of all this hope

Come on arise in me

And I let it all go, and I let it all go

Come on arise in me
Track Name: Innocent in Ignorance
A Georgia plate with Jesus fish
Innocent in ignorance
You say it like it’s some kind of joke
For a moment I’m emotional

Or maybe I’m not so complex
If you’re open I’ll be open back
And if you’re kind to me I bet
I’ll be kinder, send the effort back

For some time now I’ve hated him
To anger I have given in
So sure the world exists for him
Contains only what he sees in it

That life has no appeal for me
That refusal of intensity
But I keep it all inside my chest
And he’s innocent in ignorance

On the interstate we see a deer
Its body barely staying together
Its blood spread thirty feet ahead
It stains the highway overpass

I avert my eyes to see such horror
Its like a thing I’m not supposed to know
But that was the same tour we saw this line of ducklings
Getting trampled trying to cross the street

Their blood collects in little pools
Around their feathers, like some fucked up eggs
They shot the gorilla in that Ohio zoo
Because a little boy had gotten into his cage
And to this day I still don’t get it
Who was innocent in ignorance?
And to this day I still can’t see
Why the judgment is escaping me
Who was innocent in ignorance?
Innocent in ignorance
Innocent in ignorance
Innocent in ignorance
Track Name: Denouement
Though I laughed at our denouement
I was trying so hard to not
It just played out in circles, went on and on
Ended abruptly, was gone

And I hated how we’d quickly rewind
Dry as a passage of Wilde
Jack’s in the backseat, withdrawn
No one paid attention, made fun


And he cries out all alone



When we’d smoke outside, you could be warm
But it poisoned your thoughts as time went on
It’s no insult to you, we’ll carry this cross all of our lives

You imparted this lie
And I wanted to remind you I’m alive
Knock on my door, say it’s your fault
"I’m so sorry, it was just
It was just the whole time
I was so jealous I wanted to destroy your life"

Fire inside the yard, there is a fire inside the yard

So you must come quickly

Give me your hand
There is a fire inside the yard
Track Name: What Can I Tell You About the World?
What can I tell you about the world?
Nothing I could tell you in a word
The time I cut my hair so it would look like yours

What can I tell you about my love?
Something we both knew before we touched
I tried to make this space apart from everyone
Feel no urge to discuss

What can I tell you about disgust?
No way I could speak to you enough
Though casually you mention it your face burns up
And you hide it from everyone

What can I tell you about the world?
Nothing I could tell you in a word
The time I cut my hair so it would look like yours
Track Name: Gather Ye Rosebuds
Gather ye rosebuds
While you can

I wanna see them in your arms
Track Name: The Rose Gardener
In the garden grows a bed of roses
Though all the other plots have froze
Like how if I wasn’t made for you, I choose to be by your side

At first there was a reckless hoping
A blossom bloom, a garden’s growing
But now there is a silence here, I’ve chosen it for myself

Each day he puts his hat and coat on
He bundles up against the cold
And he tests the strength, how the prickles branch
He waters the leaves and trunk

I note their growth in spiral notebooks
Awaiting buds in the spring and summer
Though creeping frost took the other plants
I’m keeping this rose alive
In the garden grows a bed of roses
and just one grows though others froze
like how if I wasn’t made for you, I choose to be by your side

Real life
Indifference of real life
Real house
Real car
There’s indifference where you are
I hike, I climb
I am moving all the time
Lean close, I dip my toes
Then I stretch out my hands and dive to the bottom, bottom, bottom

I laid a plot and the garden grew
Separated out a plot for you
I need something more than the thought of you
Nothing else I could do

Tried to sneak in the neighbor’s yard
They fight all the time and they chase you out
If they stop by and they ask for you
Nothing will happen if I’m with you
It’s true, my friend
Nothing will happen if I’m with you
It’s true, my dude
Nothing will happen if I’m with you
It’s cool, it’s cool, it’s cool, it’s cool
Track Name: Judgment
Save a little judgment a while more
I wasn’t that kind of person years ago
I held it in my hand a while, let it go
I wasn’t that kind of person years ago

You were beautiful and fourteen
You were mean
Led Zeppelin on your t-shirt, boots and jeans
Dismissed my love so proudly
Bummed a smoke
Tagged your name behind the school and threw your clip into the snow

Save a little judgment a while more
I wasn’t that kind of person years ago
You beckon me to come in
Invite me from the cold
I wasn’t that kind of person years ago

You play, you play, you play, you play
You play, you play, you play, you play…
You played the game like everyone then
A fake punk
Nonchalant like the complicity would vanish on your tongue
But it shows up in your movements
In your speech
You can tour around the country but they’ll know in every city

Save a little judgment, a while more
I wasn’t that kind of person years ago
Deliver it in silence, clear and slow
That you weren’t this kind of person years ago

You sign off like a contract, like a nurse
Something there receding, something nervous in your voice
I know what comes between us but I don’t know how to solve
What layers upon layers of our history has brought

Save a little judgment a while more
I wasn’t that kind of person years ago
I held it in my hand a while, let it go
I wasn’t that kind of person years ago
Track Name: The Tower
I haven’t heard that song in a while
We used to sing it every evening
Feels strange now to hear it again

"at our toes, dewy and gross..."

It used to mean so many things to me
But a new one appeared this evening
So wordless in all its speaking:

I will not back down

I will not back down
I will not back down, so simple and proud
How beautiful could a sentence sound?

I will not back down

I haven’t felt alive in a while
The formation of geese became like vultures
Preying upon our corpses

I used to dream so many ways
Now I only dream of persisting
Of day after day existence

I will not back down
I will not back down
I will not back down, so simple and proud
How beautiful could a sentence sound?
I will not back down

Deep in the stars, or wherever you are
I need to find, I need to find you
Deep in the stars, or wherever you are
No need for alarm, my own, my heart
Though I can’t find the words to express it in turn
My lonely nerves bring no comfort
Deep in the stars, or wherever you are
Please pull me up
I need your arm
Track Name: Count 'Em Down
Life goes on
After the thing you thought was life has gone
I’m so surprised to wake up
With a human face still
When in the back of my mind, I feel I’ve left something behind

And time moves along, yes
After the thing you spent your time on is in the past
Becomes a memory one day
Of a happy birthday
You turned 25, feeling panic deep inside

But you hike, you are climbing and struggling and losing ground
And climbing, and scrambling and falling and getting up
And shedding this darkness, material accumulation march
I need so much

Oooh
I count em down to zero
Oooh
I count em down to zero
I retain no friendship, no feigned connection
Every single tie that I hold

I count em down to zero

Down to zero

So what gives?
At the end of all of it, I acknowledge no failure
No cap to end it with

I say, no
I can’t let the yearning go
I still want that rose
I thought I held it years before

You hike, you are climbing and struggling and losing ground
And climbing and scrambling and falling and getting up
And bursting this glutton, this power accumulation feast
You were told you need
Oooh
I count em down to zero
Oooh
I count em down to zero
I retain no friendship, no feigned connection
Every single tie that I hold
I count em down to zero

You came for it, you worked for it
without it what’s your life for?
You came for it, you worked for it
without it what’s your life for?
You came for it, you worked for it
without it what’s your life for?
You came for it, you worked for it
Without it, what are you for?

Bad dream, dark rot
Half true, half not
I was only half mistaken when I looked into that hole
Saw what the shadow holds…

He was only half mistaken, he was only five years old
He was a little boy
Didn’t mean to hurt anyone…

Cleaned up in there
Packed up the bedroom and I got myself out of here
And I think back and I don’t care
I still don’t know how to talk to you when anyone else is there

You can’t see yourself reflected, you’re gonna need to let it go
Won’t you let it go?
If you still cannot respect it you’re gonna need to let it go
Won’t you let it go?

Every animal and baby knows what not to do
Innocent in ignorance, they don’t look at the world like you
And I’m backed up in a corner
I got no more moves
But the guilt I felt was deeper down, it had nothing to do with you


When you see that light reflected you’re gonna need to let it go
Won’t you let it go?
And though every day you try to get back on that horse and go
The horse is old
It doesn’t serve you people
And when you fear that part within you, you’re gonna need to let it go
Won’t you let it go?
Count it down to zero
When you see that light reflected you’re gonna need to let it go
Won’t you let it go?

Count it down to zero

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