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The Rose Gardener

by Bellows

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1.
Housekeeping 02:06
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
2.
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
3.
In Silence 02:30
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
4.
Rosebush 02:58 video
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
5.
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
6.
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
7.
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
8.
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
9.
Gather ye rosebuds While you can
 I wanna see them in your arms
10.
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
11.
Judgment 03:44
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
12.
The Tower 04:20
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
13.
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

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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Bellows Brooklyn, New York

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

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