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It Was a Privilege to Know You When You Were Shorter

by Jonathan Townley

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1.
Dear Jack 03:07
Dear Jack: Why didn’t you come to my birthday? It was a really good time. I saw you with Jill on the bleachers. Which I guess is fine. I even made pink invitations. I sent one to you in the mail. Maybe you lost your invitation. Maybe I’m not as cool as Jill. Dear Jack, I wrote you this letter. I know you better than your own mother. We’ve been friends since the 1st grade. Seems like every day, you’re getting farther and farther. I thought we had it made. I saw you kiss Jill in the dugout. I wish so badly that were me. Now I better use my white out. I don’t want that to be seen. Dear Jack, I wish you would have told me you couldn’t make it this weekend. Then I wouldn’t have wasted recess writing this letter that I’ll never send. And If you and I were older I think I’d know exactly how this would end. But since I don’t want to waste your favorite blue ink, Signed: sincerely, -Your friend
2.
Walking Slow 03:10
Walking slowly Smell the Lily If you know me You know Feeling Lonely Eyes for you only Talking softly And slow You’re talking to me Like I’m your best friend Your windows start to fog The night is getting thin And we’re talking slow We head back to your house We disrobe and de-louse On the Sidewalk there’s snow Quiet as a mouse Don’t wanna get your roommates out We’re talking softly And slow You’re talking to me Like I’m your best friend Your windows start to fog The night is getting thin No! I say. Don’t bring the dawn of day I Don’t want April to step on into May I Hold your gaze, I won’t let you go If Only you and I had known And I had known We like talking slow I met you on the swing-set I guess it hasn’t hit me yet I thought I’d lost you in the glow You ask if we can get Walking towards our betterment I ask where you’d like to go And we’re walking slow
3.
Year and a Day: Oh, I wish that you were here so you could see the people cheer, So you could know that you were loved for a year and a day. But he shot you through the brain with his heart full of pain. ‘Cause you rattled his chain, he took your memories away I wish I knew what to say You always knew how to pray and who to pray to Oh, I know that I could write a better poem tonight, one that captures the beauty and the pain. But I’m running out of time cause they're killing me at nine. They won’t let me live my life. They think I took yours away. I wish I knew what to say You always knew how to pray and who to pray to Oh, and why can I cry those big elephant tears, those big silvery tears to the moon. “Don't worry love,” says your voice from above. “You'll be with me soon you'll be with me soon.” You always knew what to say I wish I knew how to pray and who to pray to
4.
Barn Song 01:19
Music and lyrics: Jonathan Townley Sound engineer: Neil Harvey
5.
Silent Spring: When crocus broke the earth this year, they knew something was wrong. The people who had gawked at them were hiding or gone. I myself had shut myself right where I belonged. Caring for my Grandfather who lived 80 years long. In the silent spring Silent Spring In the Silent Spring When loved ones give the call, we always hear the ring. Each year the weather turns the wood from brown to green to gold. My grandpa farm the berries to grow just as their told. Each year he’d water prune and harvest, but when his bones grew old. He’d sit and talk with all his heart, his stories filled the cold. In the Silent Spring In the Silent Spring In the Silent Spring When loved ones call to us, we always hear the ring. In all your years of ministry you touched so many people. You’d gather loved ones to your heart underneath steeple. And so for 7 days this spring as you lay weak and feeble, We feared that you might pass without a service of your people. In the Silent Spring In the Silent Spring In Silent Spring When loved ones call to us, we always hear the ring. On the morning of your death we gathered round in prayer. Your brothers filled the driveway wind swept through their hair. We drove you through the blueberries you always loved it there. We passed the church lot full of cars. Your people really cared. In the Silent Spring In the Silent Spring In Silent Spring When loved ones call to us, we always hear the ring. When loved ones call to us, compassion we will bring.
6.
Seven Days 03:30
Seven Days: I don’t know if I can tell him maybe it’s the antebellum Furniture by the door. It’s too late a wicked snake Has made me make my first mistake I’ll be lowered by drapes to the floor. A perfect world A perfect paradise Made in seven days It melts away like ice. But You might not know my wrongs You never hit that gong You always said that I belonged to you So as the bell of judgement rings Ill tie fast with little strings The angel wings you sat and set so true A perfect world A perfect paradise Made in seven days It melts away like ice. I’m running out of time I’m running out of time I wasted all my time I wasted, wasted all of mine I’m running out of time I’m running out of time I wasted all my time I wasted, wasted all of mine Don’t forget you didn’t waste Every touch and every taste You’re not too late it doesn’t end today As we get into the car we wave goodbye it feels bazar The peaks of joy are never meant to stay A perfect world the perfect paradise Made in seven days It melts away like ice. You never had to know I always knew you’d understand I don’t know, no I know But I catch myself in love and grief I don’t know, no I know But I hold your hand your memory
7.
Sunset Song 03:34
Sunset Song: When I die, I hope that I can see the sunset one more time Can see the colors melt and fade away When I die, I hope that I can see the moon rise one more time Can see can see that friendly face on its way One more chance to feel done One more night has begun One more starry sky above To see with the ones I love One more setting of the sun When I die, I hope that I can see a shooting star one time Just like me a flash then fade away When I die, I hope that I can see the water still one time A broken branch before it’s blown away One more chance to feel done One more night has begun One more starry sky above To see with the ones I love One more setting of the sun But most of all. when I die, I know that you’ll be by my side Even if you’re somehow far away Most of all, when I die, I know that you’ll be by my side You’ll be there to see me on my way One more chance to feel done One more night begun One more starry sky above To see with the ones I love One more setting of the sun
8.
Ruined Canoe 04:08
Ruined Canoe: I’ve been thinking about when you taught me how to paddle I’ve been thinking about heading down that stream I’ve been thinking about how it’s an uphill battle I’ve been thinking about opening that seam It will be me It will be you We will be free In my ruined canoe There’s so many ways they tell us we are different There’s so many ways that we are just the same There’s so many lies packed inside that shipment There’s so many eyes that watched you as you came We feel our suffering We feel our glee There is such thing as buffering There’s no such thing as purity On the lake Water’s still You reach out I reach out It will be me It will be you We will be free In my ruined canoe
9.

about

My Grandfather passed away in April, 2020; just as the world was told to stay home and stay safe. I wrote songs with a passion this spring as a way to process his life, death, and the feelings of isolation surrounding his passing.
I do not always follow tempo in this album. This is intentional. Taking the time that I need is important.
Growing up a queer man in a family of Methodist ministers, my Grandfather showed me an example of unconditional love that overcame the homophobic doctrines of the church.
This album is for you Grandpa, who always made us feel like angels. May the wings that you gave us now carry you.

credits

released October 23, 2020

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Jonathan Townley Kalamazoo, Michigan

Jonathan is a journalist and songwriter.He blends storytelling and gentle acoustic guitar with a casual performance style. Check out his Instagram @jonathan.townley for more music updates.

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