Sylvia

by Joel Edwards

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04:05
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03:57
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03:36
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about

for Jenny.

Sylvia Marie Likens died on October 26, 1965 after being brutally tortured for three months by Gertrude Baniszewski, Baniszewski's children, and other young children from their neighborhood. Sylvia and her sister Jenny had been left in Baniszewski's care in exchange for $20 a week by her parents. When I first read this story, Sylvia's face and death haunted me for months. These songs are a record of that haunting. They are songs of lament, songs of anger, songs of doubt, songs of faith.

credits

released October 26, 2015

all songs written, performed, recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered by Joel Edwards

EXCEPT

"Carnival"
words by Joel Edwards
music by Peter Warner & Joel Edwards

"Sylvia"
words by Clinton Scollard
music by Oley Speaks
Public Domain

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license

all rights reserved

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Joel Edwards Detroit

This is good rock 'n' roll, uh, music.

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Track Name: Lebanon
the damned ones
raise good sons
and daughters
follow their fathers

here you are
burning stars
hoping for
anything at all

there they go
throwing stones
into a
bucket of sorrows

only time
passes by
with you here
i can see clearer now

all that i’d ever want
and all that i’d ever need
is taken from her hands
and laid down in a scene
and all that we ever are

in this space
shadows trace
a feeling
without any meaning

surely now
you have found
the colors
to show to your mother

even still
darkness spills
but you hold it
into your stomach

they burned you
they spurned you
they killed you
and nothing is clearer now

all that we’d ever want
and all that we’d ever need
is lost inside the grave
is rolled up in your sleeve
and all that we cry out for
is beaten and it’s taken away
it’s lost inside a thought
before the dawning day
and all that they took from you
your goodness and your innocent grace
they pushed you on the floor
they spat upon your face
and all that you ever saw
was a god that only knows how to break
they put away your soul
i want to sing your name
Track Name: Carnival
gloria
i sing unto your name
through every pain
it’s all the same

holy one
i fear i’ve been disgraced
by platitudes
so commonplace

she appears
alive and well i fear
and she says
she has no room for tears
and time goes on
it’s nothing when you’re young and gone
and all your song is sung

come in peace
you come and lay me down
without a sound
the love i’ve found

rivers cross
a place where i have been
wallowing
in all my sin

crucified
she took the time to die
mystified
she breathed out her own life
hallelujah
praise his name for all he’s done
gloria
Track Name: 16
i go out to walk at night
i’ve never been afraid
of seeing ghosts of future lives
i never have betrayed
it’s not like painting pictures
of stories you have read

it’s a lot like chasing horses
it’s a lot like holding hands
it’s a lot like recognition
for a face you had not planned
to appear

you go out to walk at night
in a place that’s in your dreams
burning candles guide your sight
a strength beneath the beams
it’s not like you have wanted
for anything but love

it’s a lot like glowing torches
it’s a lot like stinging sands
it’s a lot like premonitions
of a holy distant land
to appear

stand still for now
you can always tell a loved one
who has never loved at all
and now a story’s ended
i crawl

i can never walk at night
i always hear the sounds
of little children laughing like
they’ve figured living out
Track Name: Not All Here
people asking questions
and it’s never ending
what am i to say to them?
i have no easy answers
have no easy plans for
anything that’s happening

i think it’s in disguise
the words i’m meant to find
but i cannot realize

i feel it overtake me
anger and i’m angry
and no one else gives a damn
i feel it in the bastards
happily ever after
living like they’ve had a plan

it’s too easy to despise
any other life
but i think i’m doing fine

now i hear so clear in the clouds full of sound
that show all the time and i know where i’m found
but i see nobody else

i can tell a story
paint all of the boring
thoughts that i will think all day
but it will never help me
find the everlasting
peace for what i want to say

i look into those eyes
and i wonder what it’s like
to ever be denied
Track Name: Get Me Out of Here and I'll Tell You Everything
every night
my name reveals it’s story
it walks around
and then it goes to bed

but in a sense
i cannot see it wholly
and still i try
and fail it once again

it’s not like i’m feeling bad
for the good times that i’ve had
it’s not like i’m feeling low again, again
it’s not like i’m feeling low again

sylvia
i speak your name discreetly
i see your pain
but cannot comprehend

all this life
is fleeting floating embers
i see the words
engraved upon your skin

it’s not like i’m feeling bad
for the good times that i’ve had
it’s not like i’m feeling low again, again
it’s not like i’m feeling low again

Jesus Christ
a name i hold most dearly
you call me in
i’ve been led to believe

but is there room
for children of creation
who have not lived
and have so much to do

it’s not like i’m feeling bad
for the good times that i’ve had
it’s not like i’m feeling low again, again
it’s not like i’m feeling low again
Track Name: Damn Old Gertrude
everyday it’s getting closer
but i just sit waiting for the end
i told someone that i’d be over
but i can’t work the will up to pretend
i feel inside of me
a different kind of grief
no one else is gonna be your friend

can you hear a preacher preaching
he’s preaching on the sermon on the mount
he says blessed are the weak ones
cause everything for them has just gone south
i wonder if the Lord
will give me room and board
no one else is gonna be your friend

damn old Gertrude’s in the basement
she’s feeding on the arrogance of time
dirty bottles, drugs, and visions
provide a way to take away a life
she has no reason why
but she’ll make sure you will die
no one else is gonna be your friend

Indiana you are calling
for sinners in the habits of their sins
where no one really has a hobby
but setting up our loved ones from within
it’s in this lonely town
and it’s woven all around
no one else is gonna be your friend

next time i am in the church house
i’ll light a candle, then i’ll blow it out
for every homesick daughter waiting
for weak ones to come teach her how to shout
but until that day
i have nothing to say
no one else is gonna be your friend
Track Name: Our Darling Daughter
the autumn turned the sunlight grey
it’s not always going to be this way
but i’m always alone when you’re not here

the children play another game
it’s not easy to just say your name
but there’s always a lie to keep me sane

there’s nothing more to do
than burn up all your shoes
remember how to pray
there’s nothing more to say
they kill you every day
and say god is in this place
there’s nothing more to say

the lepers call the saints a sin
we all have a light within
but the trouble becomes who lets it out

if history is to bear the truth
we’re found wanting for a lack of proof
and there’s no one around to hear my prayer

there’s nothing more to do
than burn up all your shoes
remember how to pray
there’s nothing more to say
they kill you every day
and say god is in this place
there’s nothing more to say
Track Name: Insanity Defense
do you want to be afraid
of death
like i have been afraid

cause you can only live so long
before
you are dead and gone
it’s true

now there is a window wide
fixed unto
a burning countryside

it seems like no one’s picked it up
our need
for lilac buttercups

to heed our call
and jump through waterfalls
to drag us down
to where we can’t be found
at all

it creeps up on me soullessly
and it flows
like an unholy stream

that exorcises deep beneath
a path
of unrequited dreams
unseen

before misleading miscreants
malaise
foreboding malcontents

so i will never be relieved
of this death
that lives inside of me

it grows and grows
and takes over my home
it speaks to me
words i cannot breathe

and it goes:
I AM NOT MY OWN
I AM NOT MY OWN
THIS IS NOT MY HOME
I AM NOT ALONE
I AM NOT MY OWN
I AM NOT MY OWN
Track Name: Sylvia
Sylvia's hair is like the night,
Touched with glancing starry beams;
Such a face as drifts thro' dreams,
This is Sylvia to the sight.
And the touch of Sylvia's hand
Is as light as milkweed down,
When the meads are golden brown
And the autumn fills the land
Silvia just the echoing
Of her voice brings back to me,
From the depths of memory,
All the loveliness of spring
Sylvia! Sylvia!
Such a face as drifts thro' dreams,
This is Sylvia to the sight.
Track Name: I'm a Prostitute and Proud of It
if i go outside
will you be alright

if i know my name
will you stay the same

if you had one wish
would it be for this

if you still had time
would you ever be fine

oh i wanted
to be better
than whatever
i’ve seen

when they burned your skin
did you feel again

cause i’ve read the words
an unholy thirst
Track Name: Trauma from Torture
raise up
our hearts
raise up
our souls
raise up
her life
raise up
her death