When the Lights Come On

by Dan Vaillancourt

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about

About the Album:
This album is a collection of songs written and recorded in February 2013 as part of FAWM (February Album Writing Month). Dan plays all of the instruments on the album, even the ones that he doesn't really know how to play. Stylistically, the album weaves and bobs in and out of many genres. Lyrically, the songs cover diverse topics, including love, death, infomercials, gardening, the music industry and fatherhood.

Dan's Thoughts on Writing and Recording This Collection of Songs:
I was recently thinking about what connects much of the music that I've enjoyed throughout my life from The Beatles and Bob Dylan to Ben Harper and Paul Simon to Bela Fleck and Chris Thile. It begins with a good song, but I was pondering why I like certain recordings. Most of my favorite music has one or both of these characteristics: 1. A person (or people) playing music live in a room so that the recordings have a feeling of spontaneity and interaction and 2. Parts of songs or instrumentation being written in the studio or improvised.

There was a time, not long ago, when recording an album began as soon as the lights came on and the tape began rolling. During such sessions, something real happens in the room, real people creating and playing music. In that same spirit, all of the lead vocals on this album were recorded live, while the main instrument in the song was being played. The editing on each song has been very minimal. All of the songs and accompaniment were recorded in February and mixed in March 2013.

There is a certain excitement, immediacy and spontaneity that I feel when I first play through a song that I write. The versions of the songs recorded for this album are often one of the first times that I played through each song. These songs will continue to change and evolve as time goes on, but this is a record of what happens when the lights come on.

I feel that different instruments have different stories to tell, especially old instruments. Several of the instruments that I used for these recordings are over twice as old as I am and many have been glued back together, repaired and/or set-up by B's Music in Mount Pleasant, MI. Only three of these songs were written on a standard flattop acoustic guitar. For the rest, I opted for various other guitars (classical guitar, electric, archtop, 4-string tenor guitar, square-neck slide guitar, etc.) as well as a banjo and mandolin.

I've always had a love affair with recording music. It started in the mid-90s when I began recording songs on handheld and 4-track cassette recorders. I have been lucky enough to get to record at a handful of professional studios with engineers who I've been able to watch and learn from. In 2004, I built my first recording computer and borrowed a decent microphone. I have continued to upgrade my recording gear and have recorded hundreds of demos as well as a good portion of the instruments/vocals on my studio albums and albums for a couple of other bands. This album is the first album for which I have recorded and mixed all of the songs.

Thanks for listening. I hope you enjoy the songs.

- Dan

[Many thanks to all of the FAWMers and 50/90ers! You are the best songwriting community, ever.]

credits

released November 5, 2013

Dan is responsible for all of intentional and accidental sounds on this recording, including vocals, guitars (electric, classical, tenor, bass and acoustic), banjo, mandolin, harmonica, washboard, glockenspiel, hand claps, theremin, foot stomps, chair squeaks and laughs.

All songs written, performed and recorded by Daniel L. Vaillancourt in February 2013 and mixed in March 2013.
Mastered by David Laney at Channel Fuse Media in Memphis, TN.
ⒸⓅ 2013 Daniel L. Vaillancourt (ASCAP). All Rights Reserved.

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about

Dan Vaillancourt Midland, Michigan

Michigan-based singer-songwriter Dan Vaillancourt has performed nearly a thousand concerts in 40 states, has been heard on the radio in all 50 states and many other things that sound impressive, but his friends will tell you that he is a dork.

"...Truly one of the eclectic original and iconic wordsmiths writing songs today." - Bob Gottlieb, Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange
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Track Name: A Million Lullabies
A Million Lullabies - February 1, 2013

Thunder sounds, January
Rain like sheets on your window
In your bed I hold you tight
We sing every song you know

CHORUS:
Fell asleep and dreamt
Floodwaters to my neck
But I'll hold you safe over my head
Cross my heart
Hope not to die
I'll love you 'til the end of my time

Jolt awake, howling wind
Get out of bed, tuck you in
Protect you from all things scary
The wind blows straight to February

BRIDGE:
Brush those tears straight from your eyes
I'll sing a million lullabies
Just go back to sleep
Track Name: The Gospel of Late Night TV
The Gospel of Late Night TV - February 24, 2013

If you ain't got money
And you want a piece of the pie
If you want the remedy
Send me your last dime

CHORUS:
I wish I could believe
In the gospel, of late night TV
I'd be healthy, wealthy, sexy and saved
For a series of small payments
Plus shipping and handling

If you ain't got salvation
Just look into my eyes
I have all the answers
Send me your last dime

You ain't got abs like mine
If you ain't got time
Put down those chicken wings
Send me your last dime

Money can buy a lot of things
A fact I won't deny
Buy yourself a TV slot
And make the other suckers buy

ALTERNATE CHORUS:
Make them believe
In your gospel on late night TV
Say words like healthy, wealthy and saved
Throw in a some worthless junk
And add a few hidden fees
Track Name: Brains, Brawn and The Four String Revue
Brains, Brawn and The Four String Revue - January 17, 2013

You got a 4-string guitar
I got this old mic
You got a car
And rack for my bike

You bring the money
I'll just bring me
You be my sugar mama
I'll be your honey bee

Bring your pretty dress
I'll bring my suit
I'll go barefoot
You wear your sexy boots

You bring the brains
I'll bring the brawn
I'll carry all the heavy stuff
Before we go on

You play your tenor
I'll sing baritone
We take the show in the road
And never come home
Track Name: Binary Code
Binary Code

I miss the days of record stores
Do you remember what record stores were for?
Stand in line on the Tuesday
That your favorite records dropped
Talk to people next to you that
Love all the same bands you do

Now, I record albums
Well not LPs
But Mp3s
and CDs
Sent to DJs
Who actually breath
Which is somewhat rare these days
When radio's decisions
are primarily binary
code, monetarily controlled

I still care about
Liner notes
And to see you perform
The songs you wrote
Sing to the lines I love
Breathe the same air you breathe
After the show, stick around for drinks
Talk to the people instead of
Updating your Twitter feed

Even though I've never smoked
There something about a digital glow
That will never replace the flames
of 1000 lighters
Turn off your phone
Or leave it at home
Keep your hands free to hold and dance
the one that asks you
Comments
Track Name: Eyes Like Wildfire
Eyes like Wildfire - February 9, 2013


She has eyes like wildfire
Darting around the place
The most contagious smile
Plastered on her face

She can hold her own with whiskey
She drinks full-bodied beer
They say you are what you drink
Which is apparent to everyone here

CHORUS:
Everybody knows she is trouble
But nobody stays away
Even though she burns all of her bridges
And cuts every single tie
It must be the way she looks at you
She's got fire in here eyes
Let it burn...

She is a shark with a pool cue
And the men, they stand in line
Regardless of the outcome
She wins free drinks every time

She sits on the jukebox
Despite the forbidden sign
She likes to feel the music inside of her
Bartender never pays her any mind
-
She had a penchant for breaking hearts
And break your heart she will
Men always out to hit on her
She is always dressed to kill

Ending:
And you're bound to get burned.
Track Name: Ragged
Ragged

Well, I feel ragged
Like a tree that's lost it's leaves
You don't need to say anything to me

It's not hopeless
But the storm waters are getting deep
And I can't save everything

CHORUS
There you are with your light up on my shore
There you are with your foot holding my door
Your hand pulling me up
To make sure that I never drown
Inside my own mind

-
My windows shattered
There is a hole straight to my chest
Don't be surprised by what you see

I am restless
I can't get no sleep
Without you next to me
-
The highway calls me
But not as loud as it did before
But it still knows my name

Easier to be broken
Than to let you fix the broken parts
With twine, glue and open arms
Track Name: Easiest Thing To Do
Easiest Thing to Do - February 23, 2013

You're drinking wine in the morning
You've been up all night
Guess I needn't ask if you've been doing fine

Your eyes wide
Like your on amphetamines
You've got the cleanest house, I've ever seen

I'll pass on the wine
But I'll have a cup of tea
I think it is time that you are honest with me

CHORUS:
I've know you for so long
We both know that it is true
I've know you for too long
That I can't give up on you
Even though sometimes
That'd be the easiest thing to do

Let's go for a walk
I think the sun will do you good
Ain't nothing like a little hike through our old neighborhood

Remember back in grade school
We were 9 or 10
Nothing was real, everything was pretend

Tomorrow will be today
Is it is never the same
You have got to find your own path, learn your own name

ENDING:
It is hard to know
What you should really do
It is hard to know
What is really true
I'd be lying if i said
It was an easy thing to do
Track Name: The Way It Has Always Been
The Way it has Always Been - February 15, 2013

Her hair laid into the garden
Feels this twitching from within
The earth is growing inside of her
Just the way it has always been

She lifts the dirt on her hands
Feels the earth with her feet
She wears dresses like she always wears
She can grow anything

CHORUS
For thousands of years
Twirling and she spins
Mother Earth, May I have this dance?

-
May, June, July
Flowers in the Spring
A summer romance
Through the sun and rain we dance

Colors brush the canvas of Autumn
The fruits of our love
Flourish, nourish
Throw our bodies to the ground

-
With Winter comes death
With a promise of rebirth
She cuts off all of her hair
Slowly closes her eyes

Lay her hair into her garden
With spring comes twitching from within
The earth is growing inside of her
Just the way it has always been
Track Name: When the Lights Come On
When the Lights Come On - February 18, 2013

Imagined that it would be bright and sparkly
Just like it always is on TV
It was always that way in your dreams and mine

Sometimes it is (k)nights, lights and a perfect dress
But the rest of us will solidly confess
Televisions lie, it is always dingier and darker in real life

CHORUS:
When the lights come on, you have to be honest with yourself
When the lights go out, you gotta be able ...........to sleep through the night

---
Thrill and adoration is what draws you in
All bright eyed and smiling
Not saying it is a trap, just watch your back for the attack

To every adoration is an opposite reaction
To say "equal" would be relative
Because it is the negative words that sting and linger

----
I keep my dignity as my lucky charm
I keep it close to my chest
All through the night, through the darkness, clutched tight

----Ending-----
Be honest with me, how do you sleep?
With a pillow full of lies and covers full of your spiteful ink
Track Name: In the Meantime
In the Meantime - February 8, 2013

She wears slight wrinkles in the corners of her eyes
Like yesterday's top fashion
You would never doubt that it was beautiful
You could read that in everyone's reaction
But it was just that it wasn't quite timeless
And none of us are.

CHORUS:
I know....
I can feel it in my bones
I know...
We all will get old
I know...
We are born and then we die
In the meantime...
There is me... and there is you.

The simplest equation, 1 + 1
Why do we complicate things?
Contemplate the details, would you change everything
If you knew then what you now do
It just didn't pan out the way I thought it would be
I guess it never does

BRIDGE:
I guess it isn't true
Facts and history we learned in school
The things we see on T.V.
Corrupt the way we think about love
The magazines we read
Distort our sense of beauty

ENDING:
I know...
Things don't always turn out how we plan
I know...
The mirror reminds me of time past
I know...
Life is to live before you die
And in the meantime...
There is me and you.
Track Name: Wood and Kerosene
Wood & Kerosine

My hands are cracked and bloodied like I got into a fight
With the cold Michigan winds and her brutal appetite
It is tearing at my flesh
It is tearing at my flesh
And I, try to run from the attack

CHORUS:
Keep the fire burning with wood and kerosine
Wide-eyed with terror from the things that I have seen

They say that a poet holds secrets in his hands
All I have is this pencil, but it is good medicine
Just to write it all down
Just to write it all down
Because my, mind is like an over-wound clock

Like a half-wild dog, it is always coming back....
When it gets cold, this time it brought the whole pack
Now they've tasted blood
Now they've tasted blood
Oh my, I'm losing ground fast
Track Name: Devils and Angels
Devils and Angels - Feb 5, 2013

Devils and angels, can't tell what is true
Devils and angels, can't tell what is true
Demons deep inside of me, demons inside of you

Pray the heavens open up, feel I am walking through hell
Pray the heavens open up, feel I am walking through hell
My throat is parched, but there is poison in the well

Walk towards the light, but I got hellhounds on my trail
I walk towards the light, but I got hellhounds on my trail
I built my own coffin, Satan hammered in the nails

Glory, Hallelujah, lay your your hands upon me
Glory, Hallelujah, lay your your hands upon me
Peacherman says, throw your coins in the coffer, he could heal me

When I'm dead and gone, light a candle for me
When I'm dead and gone, light a candle for me
It will take a hell of a lot of saints, just to save me
Track Name: Kiss Me Once Before You Go
Guess we both know that it's time
Guess we both know that it's time
Guess we both know that it's time
Kiss me once before you go

Time we both be movin' on
Time we both be movin' on
Time we both be movin' on
Kiss me once before you go

On the first of March you'll be gone
On the first of March you'll be gone
On the first of March you'll be gone
Kiss me once before you go

Gone before the morning light
Gone before the morning light
Gone before the morning light
Kiss me once before you go

Don't kiss me twice, I might make you stay
Don't kiss me twice, I might make you stay
Don't kiss me twice, I might make you stay
Kiss me once before you go

Kiss me once before you go
Kiss me once before you go
Kiss me once before you go
Kiss me once before you go