General Demos

by David Stevenson

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released January 1, 2014

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David Stevenson Houston, Texas

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Track Name: Destroyed [new take]
I look all around me and see every inch of the horizon
It's mocking but it's friendly because it's distant but it's empty
and I admit that I resent it because it reminds me of the day
when something far more beautiful stood in its way

It was a little walled enclosure with a garden in the middle
I built it with my own two hands. I guess you helped a little
you set the angles right and kept the walls shut tight
but you ignored the cracks forming in the steps
and now it's all fallen down, there's nothing left

but the dirt between my fingers and my thumbs
the dissonance of my beating heart between my empty lungs
I'm standing in the wreckage of the love that you destroyed
I'm standing in the wreckage of the love that you destroyed

I still remember all the Kerouac quotes I scribbled on the floor
You said he was kinda like Bukowski if Bukowski'd had a soul
but now all this verse and prose hangs heavy 'round my throat
like the million phrases ringing in my ears
like the few short words with which you made it all disappear

except the dirt between my fingers and my thumbs
the dissonance of my beating heart between my empty lungs
I'm standing in the wreckage of the love that you destroyed
I'm standing in the wreckage of the love that you destroyed

it was so hard to put together and so easy to break
like warm November weather
like a smile on your face
and now the sunset carves a ridgeline in the west
because it's all fallen down, there's nothing left

but the dirt between my fingers and my thumbs
the dissonance of my beating heart between my empty lungs
I'm standing in the wreckage of the love that you destroyed
I'm standing in the wreckage of the love that you destroyed
I'm standing in the wreckage of the love that you destroyed
Track Name: Bright Eyes [October '13]
somewhere in the sound of the afternoon
the mufflers whistling out their tunes
in the causeway of our old familiar place
you broke ground into something new
the party gowns, the heart balloons
and the invitation written on your face
it's been so long, I've been stuck beneath
these stagnant fears, these crippling doubts
you've stripped away all the mystery
it's all become so clear to me now

I want to break apart the neon
casting its glowing shadow over this town
I want to put away the moonlight only for a moment
we don't need it right now
just you and me tonight
we'll dance by the light of your bright eyes

there's no red flags or butterflies
no carelessness to romanticize
just a happy coincidence or two
and no stars need to align
no heartbeats need to synchronize. no
none of that seems real enough for you
we don't need to work the crowds on second street
to dredge up who we used to be
we can put out the fire they need to see
it's all become so clear to me now

I want to break apart the neon
casting its glowing shadow over this town
I want to put away the moonlight only for a moment
we don't need it right now
just you and me tonight
we'll dance by the light of your bright eyes

bright eyes, lighting up my sky
you don't need no help, girl we don't got nobody else
but it's all that much more magical
when you shine all by yourself

so why don't we break apart the neon
casting its glowing shadow over this town
why don't we put away the moonlight only for a moment
we don't need it right now
just you and me tonight
we're dancing by the light
oh, just you and me tonight
we're dancing by the light
oh, just you and me tonight
it's all become so clear to me now
Track Name: Ounces [day-of]
I met you in a nightclub in Knoxville
a couple months ago when I visited Tennessee
and clearly I remember you
but I wouldn't be surprised if you didn't remember me
you went on about Van Gogh and Elvis and Hemingway
and how all the greatest artists were dead
and I watched the words flow out
I resolved to get inside your head
but you

you measured your thoughts in seconds
as a thousand years slipped by
you wouldn't stop until you passed a thousand more

you leaned in close and raised your voice
and said you didn't have much of a tolerance
for top 40 or techno or pop
you all but got down on your hands and knees
to beg the DJ to make the wretched music stop
so we got ourselves a table in a quieter room
far away from the raucous horde
and we bought a few bottles of the very best death
that both of us could afford
and we

we measured the evening in ounces
as we drank the ocean dry
praying only that we'd wake up on the shore

and in all the little lulls and breaks
in conversation I decided it was my place
to imagine our future together
if we ever escaped the bar-to-bedroom masquerade
and we could trade in all our fantasies
for the beauty of reality
that we'd spent our whole lives pushing away

and our dreams wouldn't have to be comets
disappearing across the sky
I believe we can bring them down to Earth somehow

and maybe we'd measure our love in inches
as we march across enemy lines
no sense in turning back now

we measured the evening in ounces
we measured the evening in ounces
we drank the ocean dry
we drank the ocean dry
a thousand years slipped by
we marched across enemy lines
we disappeared across the sky
we measured the evening in ounces
we measured the evening in ounces
Track Name: It's All Greek To Me [September '12]
here you come, a mirage of what you used to be
plastic smiles, vacant eyes, you know it's all Greek to me
but that's what you want, that's what you've told yourself you need
that's what you are, and it's all you're ever going to be

but when you cross that finish line we all get to see the other side
oh how you'll start to cave with all that empty space
but all you really care about is how you place

there you go, a fraction of the girl I used to love
you used to be so down to Earth,
now you just talk about how cool it is up above
and now you've run the calculations
and you're coming out a little bit ahead
because you sold your soul for something fake
but at least it wasn't something that I said

'cause to you my words are just air
I'm just a smile and a stare
I'm just a cog in your machine
and all I can ask is that you keep your engine clean

so here you are, a ghost of who you used to be
plastic pride, you've got it all
vacant minds, you know it's all Greek to me
but that's what you want, that's what you've told yourself you need
that's what you are
and it's all you're ever going to be
Track Name: Orange Plates [July '13, clean]
I'm scared stiff almost every night that the dream is still alive
you always left without much of a fight
with those sober eyes, they never learned to cry
but there's pins and needles in the back of your brain
and they won't go away
you can't shake from your luxury cage
with those orange plates from the Sunshine State

'cause you're a long way from home
a thousand miles from the way of life you know

There's free parking at the enemy gates if you don't tip your valet
he probably took it for a good old spin
'cause he's a bachelor pinned between love and sin
but the wind whispers through the cracks in the plates
that the fault is not to blame
you've heard plenty about that today
when your vision shakes in the Golden State

'cause you're a long way from home
a thousand miles from the way of life you know
you're a long way from home
driving back toward paradise alone

water's thicker that whatever you're drinking
and it don't cost a thing
it's my contempt for the way that you think
that keeps your ears ringing when the boys are singing
and sooner or later it'll get to your brain
and it won't go away
and you'll thank all the love that you made
for your lucky breaks
and your plastic face
and your custom plates
from your new-found State

'cause you're a long way from home
a thousand miles from the way of life you know
you're a long way from home
driving back toward paradise alone
Track Name: Thoughts Like These [new recording]
High-school kids hold shoulders at arms' length
Now hold gazes at the same, hearts drenched
in blood hotter and faster than before
And they're channeling this undulated beat
like burning coals heaped beneath their feet
as they juggle their nervous bodies across the floor

But isn't that what youth is supposed to do?
Crash down like heavy waves on top of you
kick you to the sand, and leave you gasping for air
The beach doesn't bear the simile
no, it just pours its useless words into me
Until I can't help but wish that I was there
On an island in the West Indies
the cell reception is kinda spotty
and I can't quite get a call to go through
It's thoughts like these that always remind me of you
and I'd bring them all to life
if I thought that you wanted me to

The sun sets on the summer trees
and you imagine them as their fallen leaves
like a fortune that you didn't want to tell
And the only thing you think to do
to fight back the demons inside of you
is scream loud enough to send them back to hell

But that never made much sense to me
seems like a waste of such great energy
though I admit that it's a trick I've never tried
But isn't that what youth is supposed to do?
Crash down like the atmosphere on top of you
Heaven coming down to Earth from its fixture in the sky
But you're hesitant to approach the gates
'cause old Peter thinks that you're no saint
and you can't quite prove that it's not true
It's thoughts like these that always remind me of you
and I'd bring them all to life
if I thought that you wanted me to
yes I would

All alone in this beautiful world
except for careful selections of reckless verse
it's an end only a fool would pursue
and yet it's thoughts like these that always remind me of you
it's thoughts like these that always remind me of you
and I guess that I'd bring them all to life
if I thought that you wanted me to
Track Name: Numb [older song]
it's so cold
I stayed up all night waiting for my heart to beat
it's getting old
but I'm sure I'll soften up eventually
don't know how I'm supposed to feel while I'm waiting for your call
what if I don't feel anything at all?

I know there's problems in the world much worse than mine
sometimes I wonder if it's even worth my energy to try
but sure enough I''m standing here, mourning for my pride
churning out a desperate lullaby

I don't care
and that's where all this shame is coming from
'cause it's not fair
you don't deserve to love someone this numb
I'm afraid to disappoint you
I'm afraid to say goodbye
but is that enough to keep this thing alive

it's all I've got, it's all I've got
and if I lose it I'll be lost
so why can't I laugh
why can't I cry
why can't I do anything, anything at all
I've hung up on too many wake-up calls

because I don't care
and that must be where all this fear is coming from
'cause it's not fair
you don't deserve to love someone this numb
guess I'm afraid to lose you
I'm afraid to say goodbye
but is that enough to keep a love alive
that we don't want it to die
Track Name: Darksiding [February '14]
drowning in the desert
nobody will believe me
when they see what I've succumbed to
and hear what I claim to believe
and the days are numbered
but who's really counting?
that just means I gotta be a little quicker on my feet

it's a failed conceit, a quick relief
shaking in my sober hands
it's my libidinous jest, it's my spent cigarettes
it's a portrait of a better man

spending every night
eyes mostly open
entertaining demons in the moonlight
waiting for the sky to fade to black
and it's going fine
I wouldn't say I'm lonely
getting high off the skin of your naked back

but who will be there to comfort me
when everybody else is gone?
it's my libidinous jest, it's my spent cigarettes
it's all that I could ever want

so when He parts the clouds
just like He parted the waters
I'll try to keep my evening open
I'll do my best to make it there on time
but as for now
I'll take a double whiskey
and I'll meet you on the dark side of the line

but the easy road we've grown to know
it don't run toward the sky
it's my libidinous jest, it's my spent cigarettes
it's more than a soul can buy
Track Name: Victimless Crime [old song]
the trees won't fall to your fire, to the whirlwinds you inspire
they stand too tall on the ground you can't shake with your careless mistakes. and it's not your game anymore, I'm not playing, I'm not saying you're wrong. and it's not about the shame anymore. if we're crying we're just trying to be strong.

the rats won't run where you send 'em, they won't succumb to your venom and see that sun that you never could move, you've got nothing to prove. and we won't have to hide from the rain, if it drowns us we'll be found one last time. and we may seem sullen and slain, but the grass at our feet and the people we meet and the dogs in the street can find us completely together as we trudge through this weather

but I guess I'll never know what was going to happen
and I guess I'll never show who I'm trying to be at any given point in time
and I guess I'll never know what was destined to happen
so when you fold your arms and they've taken our memories away
won't it seem a victimless crime

the boys won't buy what you sell 'em as you wrap them in velvet and vellum and see you drip with pride that you never could face and you'll never erase, cause it's not about your time anymore, I'm not staying I'm not waiting in line cause it's not my knock on your door that'll get you to open your mind

but I guess I'll never know what was going to happen
and I guess I'll never show who I'm trying to be at any given point in time
and I guess I'll never know what was destined to happen
so when you fold your arms and they've taken our memories away
won't it seem a victimless crime

so when you close your eyes like this vision won't help us today
like when you cross your legs like we're losing this game that we play
like when you clutch your heart like you don't want these feelings to stay
like when you fold your arms and they've taken our memories away
won't it seem a victimless crime
Track Name: Working on a Person [July '13]
you were pretty far ahead when I stopped to catch my breath
I was following in your footsteps down the hall
I wouldn't call it an exercise in futility, that's just me
you were running late and the lines etched on your face
said that today was not exactly as you planned
I'm just a man, you see. There's only so much perfection I can be

but I'm working on a person that I might like to be
I imagine he'd be somebody that you would like to meet
but I've heard it said that this kind of thing takes a couple years or so
so give me time, and I'll turn this indignation into gold

when you gave me space I was stuck running in place
and I etched all of our memories in the ground
then a beautiful sound pulled me to my feet and drove me to the street
so I'm getting right, get a little closer ever night
'cause it's been years and I'm so tired of being wrong
now my silly love songs don't seem so distant anymore
they're much more honest than before

and I'm working on a person that I might like to be
I imagine he'd be somebody that you would like to meet
but I've lost my way so many times on this long and winding road
so give me time, and I'll know exactly where I'm supposed to go

it was all a dream, just mirrors lights and steam
it made me everything I feared and more
what I hoped for just took me farther from the truth
just took me farther away from you
so I'm back here, cashing in my tears
because I can't survive on blood and sweat alone
finally I know exactly where I'm supposed to start
you see, I'm working on my heart

yeah I'm working on a person that I would like to be
I imagine he'd be somebody that you might like to meet
so here I stand, a meager man, just late enough to bloom
but give me time, and we'll see how quickly I catch up to you
I'm catching up to you
it might take a lap or two
but I'm catching up to you

and there may be clouds there might be rain
there might be trials there might be pain
but the sun is shining through
and I'm catching up to you

but you were pretty far ahead
Track Name: The Drowning Song [April '12]
I'm staring at the eyes of a painting on the wall
and I feel like they're looking back at me
and I doubt that someone's in there, but you never know for sure
because it doesn't take eyes to see
that one in a million is better than nothing
and winning a little is better than running

I've seen you skipping on the sidewalk with feathers in your hair
in a trance too flexible to be broken
like you're trying to tell the universe that you never really cared
to let the doors of your sanity swing open
because if it's not the wind then it's probably nothing
and if it's not worth walking, it's not worth running

well it doesn't make much sense for me to try and follow you
to those heights that I can't bear to reach
to climb the treacherous highways and ritzy avenues
and interrupt your affair with the beach
because it it's not love then it's probably nothing
and if it's not worth driving, it's not worth running

and if the ground keeps shaking you might have to leave LA
and come back to where somebody cares
and I can play you my new songs and you can show me your ballet
dance with a flower in your perfect hair
and our lives might intersect again before next summer
and the waves that wash over us will pull us under
because if it's not the waves then it's probably nothing
and if it's not worth walking
it's not worth driving
it's not worth drowning
then it's not worth running
Track Name: The Only True Color of the Rainbow [second take]
There was a river in the road
So the story goes
One day it ran dry
and Someday so will I

So many beautiful panes of water have been broken for the Lord
Like when Menno Simons drowned
everything that made him human
in a bathtub before you were born
But somehow there remained all his righteous anger and shame
And it formed a thick, shiny film across his eyes
It was the one spectacular failure he couldn't hide

I imagined you as a celebrity at the peak of her career;
I approached you with all the proper reservation,
all the hesitation and fear
You flaunted your winsome face
all across the contiguous United States
and you smiled and waved on national TV
I let myself believe it was for me

One day I found out that the imaginary statue
I'd built of you had fallen down
So I cried myself a river in front of everyone in town
It kind of looked like rain
with the blue sky conveniently out of frame
and the only true color of the rainbow reared its head
We painted the town everything but red

I never really felt the same again
but I came pretty close one time
in a luxury suite in Luxembourg
with the cover of July
she covered her beautiful chest
with the top half of a little black satin dress
and she painted perfect little pieces of her face blue
I swear to God, it almost looked like you
Track Name: Was [day-of]
it's hard to start a song without
reminding you why I'm singing
but I'm sure you'll get the message
if you try at all to listen
but let's be clear that this is no apology
I know you've seen the most unpleasant side of me
but I don't think it even bears remembering
just how insufferable I was

my mind it feels the void
from all the words I tried
to pack into your letters
and I hope that they'll come back
so I can string them all together
but nobody in Texas reads much anyway
and tomorrow just flows seamlessly from yesterday
but I really thought that I had something nice to say
I just can't remember what it was

I never got to say goodbye
because goodbye was never appropriate
you know, back when we still talked
because every time that we talked
I thought the worst was all behind us
maybe it's still not, yeah
maybe in a couple years we'll figure out
that we lost things with each other
that cannot be found
and I talk about our friendship
in the past tense now
how brief and beautiful it was
Track Name: Taylor Swift Will Never, Ever Know What It Really Feels Like To Be Twenty-Two [second take]
I just hit that age where I've started to notice
the numbers in commercials for cars
and I admit I even know a couple of the key terms
like qualified lessee and low APR
but I don't want this knowledge, I don't want this power,
I want to stay blissfully foolish forever
and my youth will protect me from grim realizations
of just how insignificant we all are

I just hit that age where I've started to ask questions
that nobody around me can adequately answer
and I've realized that grown-ups don't really know anything
they've just gotten much better at shrugging it all off
careening through life like a car stuck in gear
and kids, we couldn't afford good insurance this year
so it takes every ounce of our will to fight back the fact
that everything could very soon and very suddenly go wrong

But it's usually dumb questions like
what if I say I don't want to be raptured
I want to stay chained to this doomed old planet
and walk around shackled for the few painful years
until its ultimate reckoning arrives
because all of these trite, sanctimonious platitudes
of love and salvation don't quite stack up
to the comfortable old familiar feeling of feet
pressed tight to the unyielding, unholy ground

But I'm still at that age where I can't find a single thing
to put on that almighty piece of paper
that tells everybody exactly what I've spent
my whole lifetime trying to be
because all of my beautiful words and ideas
don't quite overshadow my relative lack of actions
and I'm finally at that age
where that's really starting to bother me
really starting to bother me
maybe it'll all be gone by 23
Track Name: Fourbanger [Day-of]
we parked along the beach
somewhere far away
from all the frankly foolish things we did
in San Clemente earlier that day
I found some thing to tell you
I don't remember what it was
but somehow it was plenty good enough
to remind you how it feels to be in love

we didn't have much room to move around
couldn't even look up at the stars
I figured out the hard way what you wanted when I saw
the beach tattooed in color on your arm
and there was nothing I could do to save you
nothing I could say to change your fate
the narrative of your future, it had already been written
the ink had already been set in place

and I admit it's beautiful
no sense in arguing with that
but you say I can't write a happy ending anymore
not all of my songs are quite this sad

we both know how this story's gonna end
I won't make it too hard to say goodbye
before you brave the wilderness of your favorite place on earth
I need you just to keep one thing in mind
no matter what it is you really want
no matter who it is you really are
life will never be again as easy as it was
in the back of my old four-cylinder car
Track Name: The Last Song I Ever Wrote About Melissa [day-of]
the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
I admit it wasn't one of my best
it was pretty poorly written, it seemed a little forced
much less genuine than all the rest

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
did exactly what it was supposed to do
it was a resolute goodbye to you
and it apportioned blame where it objectively belongs
though I admit I could have said it all better if I hadn't tried to force it into a song

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
didn't even make feel better about the way things ended
the song was far more conclusive than the situation itself
and it kind of just left me feeling empty

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
made me nostalgic in the worst possible way
it made me resent my present circumstances
as they stood today

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
will never make it to a CD, it was only just for me
and that's probably the best way to make sure
it never sees the light of day

I always told myself that the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
would be the best one ever, it would say all the things
that I never got to say and it would fill me with the words
that I never got to hear from her
but life's kinda funny in that it just hands you an ending
that you didn't expect, not even a happy surprise
just something you don't really know what to do with
so you lock yourself in a closet and you don't let yourself out
until you've got a good 4 minutes of emotions on tape
set to half-decent music

I always thought I would write something about the sharpness of her features, but honestly it's kind of a blur
In retrospect it was always me I was thinking about, never her

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
was the product of a dare that I once made with myself
that I would force my life into some oddly poetic form
and it would look like I hadn't tried to do it that way

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
was sadder than all the songs that were supposed to be sad
and it was longer than all the songs
that were supposed to be long
and it was surprisingly harder to write

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
keeps getting stuck in the back of my throat
I can't get it out
and it's the first thing in a while that wields the weight of the past
in a way that makes it hard not to choke

but maybe it'll all be over soon
my joints are locking up
and oh, my skin is turning blue
the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
kinda reminds me of you

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
was the worst one that I've ever written

the last song I ever wrote about Melissa
was the worst one, the last one, the best one, oh
the worst one that I've ever written