The Knowledge of Good and Evil

by Earnest Matthew

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04:31

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released October 31, 2013

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Earnest Matthew Dallas, Texas

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Track Name: Anthem
brother, i’m reluctant now to bleed these songs
sister, i’ve been careless with my pen
lover, i’ve been wrong to let you lie alone and burn so long
and it appears that mere sincerity is anemic in the end

so here i am as empty
as i love to be again
with nothing to distract me
from the wages of my sin
but at the window pane’s a raging flame
a clear and coursing wind
a solid sort of prajna
the kind that one can live within

so sing with me
a simple song of peace
written an eternity ago
and let your worries be
we shall be released
by losing to the love
that will not let us go

speak to me of others who have sought the light
only to find their eyes behind their hands
then elucidate to me the grace that burns the shutter from the face
leaving piles of ashes in the place of best laid plans

now the conqueror would kill the truth
he claims to seek with glee
while the diplomat may try to hide
the burning light from me
and the politician will fill our hands
and swear to god we’re free
as neither the orphan, nor the wealthy man
find a god in which they can believe

so sing with me
a simple song of peace
written an eternity ago
and let your worries be
we shall be released
by losing to the love
that will not let us go

so god grant us the grace to give without reclaiming
to love without withholding anything
and may our lifetimes prove to be mere canvas for the painting
bearing nothing more than the brushstrokes we’re carrying

so sing with me
a simple song of peace
written an eternity ago
and let your worries be
we shall be released
by losing to the love
that will not let us go
Track Name: The Places We're Likeliest to Fall
when my daddy drives
on the highway
it looks like the car ahead is towing him
and though lord knows i’ve tried
to remind her
my sweet mother never buckles in
it’s a miracle
i’m even here at all

all my best friends can throw back
a good seven pints a day
and half the time you can bet that i’ll join in
but i never
seem to regret it
cause i sure love the time i spend with them
but it’s a miracle
we’re even here at all

so lead us
ageless jesus
to the places we’re likeliest to fall
cause it’s a miracle
we’re even here at all

oh my lover
well, she takes her chances
by choosing a man who loses when he wins
but the warmth of summer
somehow always dances
in her eyes as she forgives again
again and yet again
oh it’s a miracle
we’re even here at all

how i long to
write the songs of ages
but every worthwhile thing i could sing’s been sung before
so i’m left here
just seeking out the sages
sketching scenes of freedom on these well-worn prison doors
well it’s a miracle
i’m even here at all

so lead us
ageless jesus
to the places we’re likeliest to fall
so lead us
ageless jesus
to the places we’re likeliest to fall
cause it’s a miracle
it’s a miracle
it’s a miracle
we’re even here at all
Track Name: High on Being Right
so i’ve noticed that you’re talking like you know something
like i could learn a thing or two from you
and i’m happy to listen
i’m prepared to be enlightened
always in the mood for a little truth

but the words you say
they don’t resonate
like smoke rings in the night they fly away

so i’ve noticed that you’re pleased by your own expertise
like it’s my privilege to be sitting here with you
and i wonder what it would take
to make you stop and take a break
to make you see what you’re putting people through

cause the words you say
they don’t resonate
like smoke rings in the night they fly away

and while you’ve won some kind of battle
brother, you’re losing this fight
taking hits off your bible
getting high on being right

have you noticed that i agree
or are you too busy
to recognize the brother in front of you?
guess i’ll sit here and i’ll wait
for you to pass that joint my way
something i’m somehow sure you ain’t gonna do

cause the words you say
they don’t resonate
like smoke rings in the night they fly away

and while you’ve won some kind of battle
brother, you’re losing this fight
taking hits off your bible
getting high on being right

and the words you say
they don’t resonate
like smoke rings in the night they fly away

like smoke rings in the night they fly away
Track Name: The Lesson
“hark,” he said, “someone approaches!”
as he leaned his aged ear into the wind
and i, being young, so young and so reckless
i turned my head and disregarded him

what are you gonna say
to a young man who’s gonna have his way
when the only plan he has is just to fake it?
and what are you gonna do
when his telegram comes through
and he finds that he ain’t man enough to take it?

for while pride may disagree
the truth is gonna set you free
but you gotta let it

“see,” said I, “there’s no-one beside us -
there are countless things a man can never truly know”
i turned to find my old guide lying lifeless
and i never saw the blow that laid me low

how do you warn the damned
in terms that they can understand
that the end is nigh, but might yet be averted?
and how do we see the flame
caring only that we know it’s name
must we burn to learn we should be disconcerted?

for while pride may disagree
the truth is gonna set you free
but you gotta let it

must the body turn to dust
before a mortal soul learns how to trust
must my mirror always be my own blood glistening
for face-down in the fertile ground
is where my first taste of grace was found
where i finally learned that life is for the listening

for while pride may disagree
oh the truth is gonna set you free
but you gotta let it
Track Name: Momma, Your Baby's on the Roof
momma, your baby’s on the roof
momma, your baby’s on the roof
momma, your baby’s on the roof
and the wind’s a pickin’ up out there
a storm’s a comin’ soon

jailer, your captive’s on the loose
jailer, your captive’s on the loose
jailer, your captive’s on the loose
and you’d best be after him
before your master’s after you

i am
the rug beneath your feet
i am
prophet, priest, and king
i am
the comfort of the least of these
but i am nothing to you
if not everything you need

lender, your greed’s a growin’ teeth
lender, your greed’s a growin’ teeth
lender, your greed’s a growin’ teeth
and you’d best release it soon
or you may never be released

libertine, your freedom ain’t for real
libertine, your freedom ain’t for real
libertine, your freedom ain’t for real
for after every good time you find
you find it harder yet to feel

i am
the rug beneath your feet
i am
prophet, priest, and king
i am
the comfort of the least of these
but i am nothing to you
if not everything you need

shepherd, your flock is standing still
shepherd, your flock is standing still
shepherd, your flock is standing still
why you in the wilderness
when there’s a pasture o’er the hill?
Track Name: Blood Upon the Ladder
i try to get a grip on the marble wall
hardly a couple of feet to fall
i can’t see the top at all
not even sure it matters
voices above claim to know what’s best
that i’ve no choice but to hound the rest
my heart burns, churns inside my chest
will to live in tatters

mister, please don’t make me go
it’s just a dog and pony show
everyone sees but no-one knows
that there’s blood upon the ladder

i fall from the wall and come undone
in shame and despair to the ladder run
i lay a broken foot on the bottom-most rung
and listen awhile to the chatter
i found that whores hate all that love that they make
that identity’s found in the treasure you take
strength is weighed by the pledges you break
and your friends are the ones you flatter

mister, please don’t make me go
there’s a world of souls who’ve gotta know
that there’s more to them than all they own
and there’s blood upon the ladder

impact muffled by the masses din
another body, another limb
plummets and breaks, no-one noticing
as the failure strikes and splatters
or if they see, they simply shrug
give the bleeding heel above a tug
as they pop another prescription drug
and fuss about feeling fatter

mister, please don’t make me go
never once have i wanted to live in rome
but it seems to have followed us all the way home
and there’s blood upon the ladder

fumes of our fealty fill the air
we’re straining to breath as our wing-and-a-prayer
lifestyles curb our grand affairs
with acid pitter-patter
and it looks like a maudlin totem pole
like a host of ants in a sugar bowl
as we devour the poor, the weak, the old
whose bones at the base lie scattered

mister, please don’t make me go
would you damn the last free brook to flow
we’ll burn till we’re bone dry below
cause there’s blood upon the ladder

hoarsely i cry, can none of you see?
you’re damned if you climb, damned if you flee
but i’ll be damned, love, if i’m not free
before we see the end of the matter
so pass me the pixie dust and the wine
the pain’s gonna teach me to fly in time
the holy ghost has sworn to renew my mind
to make a dancer of the cadaver

mister, please don’t make me go
the rage of your slaves’ll be the least of your woes
as a river of righteous wrath overflows
cause god knows you know
that there’s blood upon the ladder
Track Name: The Ember
i am
a desecrated man
i ought to know
cause i was the one who chose to be
and i’ve walked
oh lord knows i’ve talked
in circles
oh these circles gonna be the death of me

so i look up and down the bar
for a sympathetic tune
ain’t a soul around
but the old barkeep and me and you
i slide from my seat
and go down singing

is there an ember
that won’t burn out?
does it whisper
through years of pain, and unrequited doubt?
is the burning flame you fled the same
that you can’t do without?
are you haunted by the ember
that won’t burn out?

i’ve tried
to let life pass me by
killing time
like it don’t mean a thing to me
but i’ve found
that for all my fallow ground
the seeds i’d sown
all those years ago ain’t through with me

so i roam from town to town
just trying to lose my place
claiming that i’m searching
for just one honest face
then i find one
and i flee, singing

is there an ember
that won’t burn out?
does it whisper
through years of pain, and unrequited doubt?
is the burning flame you fled the same
that you can’t do without?
are you haunted by the ember
that won’t burn out?
Track Name: Suchness
i think i’ve found a reason
to build my life upon
i say it fast, like famous last words
turn around, and the life i’d found is gone

so the world is what i say it is
until i turn out wrong

and scattered in the wreckage
as it’s been a thousand times before
are the pieces i’d so carefully assembled
multiplied, and polarized once more

so the world is what i say it is
a game of wits
it seems to which
i’ll never know the score

so i cry into the darkness
as the scattered fragments of my mind
oh they wheel above my consciousness
just like birds of prey
crying oh my god, how dare you strike me blind

so the world is what i say it is
i’m a thinking man
and i’ll be damned
if i’ll be undermined

but wait
the dawn is breaking
without the aid of words
and the grace
of ages
will go on burning up the sky
whether or not i am heard

whether or not i am heard
Track Name: Ain't Gonna Let No Stone
well i’ve kicked against convention
till i’ve bled right through my shoes
shook my fist against tradition
like i ain’t got a thing to lose
and i’ve made believe i’m jesus christ
made believe i’m damned
and i’ve made those near and dearest think
i’m stronger than i am

but i ain’t gonna let no stone
ain’t gonna let no stone
ain’t gonna let no stone
cry out in my place

well i’ve seen the wicked worship
and i’ve seen the righteous fall
seen the mighty crumble
from the struggle of it all

oh but i’ve seen the slave delivered
and i’ve felt them mountains move
and i’ve seen the nations tremble
when just one man lives the truth

but i ain’t gonna let no stone
ain’t gonna let no stone
ain’t gonna let no stone
cry out in my place

some say you’re a tyrant
some would swear you’re dead
some say every lie they speak
are words that you once said

though i know better now than to listen
oh lord, sometimes i do
oh but i’m a dead man walking
if i don’t walk with you

so i ain’t gonna let no stone
ain’t gonna let no stone
ain’t gonna let no stone
cry out in my place
Track Name: Elegy
we started out in mayberry
just to wind up reading pravda
and we cannot seem to trace the link between the two
in a love affair with maybelline
and machines that live on gasoline
and every great or foolish thing
that famous people do

could it be we’ve lost ourselves
could it be we’re only shells
of everything
we ever dreamed we’d be
could our means become our end
when there’s nothing left to spend
on everything
we were never meant to be

oh my god, it’s gone too far
somebody just killed the color guard
and painted all them white stripes red and blue
there ain’t room for the truth no more
look left and right, you’ll find one door
just one road, and it leads to war
what’s a man of peace to do

could it be we’ve lost ourselves
could it be we’re only shells
of everything
we ever dreamed we’d be
could our means become our end
when there’s nothing left to spend
on everything
we were never meant to be

i’m in love with all that radiates
of grace, and all that hesitates
when called upon to live in hate
of my fellow human being
cause all men live in cages
whether iron bars or wages
but the wisdom of the ages
is that freedom lives within

could it be we’ve lost ourselves
could it be we’re only shells
of everything
we ever dreamed we’d be
could our means become our end
when there’s nothing left to spend
on everything
we were never meant to be

everything we were never meant to be