Where the Light Won't Lie

by Brendan Little

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about

The essay below accompanies this album:
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When people do not reckon with the painful parts of their pasts, they can find themselves lost, repeating destructive cycles over and over again. Even if they overcome these painful patterns, they can still find themselves cycled back to similar situations, but in the role of mentor/teacher for someone else who is lost in the way that they once were. Healing often requires that people re-live their worst days in some way. It is important to bring the recovered parts of themselves back to heal the parts that are still frozen in time. Most of us experience multiple deaths and rebirths throughout our lifetimes and, in some sense, time itself ceases to be a straight line, and can be better understood as a series of cycles.

For me, this idea has a very concrete application. When I was 14-years-old I spent a year in court-ordered detention and rehabilitative institutions, mostly to treat my substance abuse addiction. In December of that year, I was ordered to a rehab called Otter Brook Center, located in the remote woods of Keene, NH. My time there was equally horrifying and enlightening; it almost ended my life. It was the longest time I ever spent alone, far away from friends and family. It was also when listening to/writing music became my critical life support, and the primary way through which I processed the world. I used to lie on the floor of Otter Brook’s main building, staring into the tree-lined mountains that surrounded the facility (alien terrain for a city kid), listening to my favorite albums over and over again on my headphones. It helped me feel a little less lost.

I eventually transitioned home in my mid-teens and, in the subsequent decade-and-a-half, life got better in some ways and harder in other ways. Struggles with addiction (pre and post sobriety), personal traumas, and the deaths of many loved ones froze me in a troubling state. In many ways, it was impossible to fully feel anything, good or bad. Recovery from this paralysis required that I begin reckoning with parts of my past that I tried, unsuccessfully, to forget.

The most fruitful years of my recovery have taken place recently, in the last two years, which is also when “Where the Light Won’t Lie” ("WTLWL") was written and recorded. During this time, I did a lot of intense work on myself. I also mentored young people that were going through difficult issues, some similar to what I experienced as a youth. I often found myself giving them advice that was also resonating within the parts of me that I had not been able to fully access. As "WTLWL" began to take shape, an important conversation began: The resilient parts of me that made it safely through the hardest parts of life began connecting with the parts that were stuck, frozen in the past. My own recovery efforts, and the process of writing/recording "WTLWL", became the means through which I was reckoning with my past. So, again, music became the primary way through which I processed life.

"WTLWL" musically interprets this cyclical concept in its substance and its form. Specific lyrics, imagery, and musical themes are consistently repeated and returned to. The first and last songs even share the same chords, circling the album back upon itself by the end like a loop. I tried to emphasize the notion that reckoning the past can be a kind of time travel. I also tried to musically translate the emotional chaos that so often goes hand-in-hand with recovery.

"WTLWL" is also about the importance of place. “Otter Brook (Intro)”, the album’s instrumental introduction, was recorded on an old piano at my former rehab, Otter Brook Center, which is currently long out of operation, abandoned, and falling into disrepair. I traveled there on New Year's Day 2016, and was amazed to find a dusty piano in the room that I spent most of my time in. Recordings of the brook, for which the facility is named, and sound from the road in front of the facility are also incorporated into the intro.

Finally, the last song on "WTLWL" fades out on a recording of the heartbeat of my unborn child, heard in the womb through a fetal Doppler machine. To me, this represents the closing of a loop: now at the end of one stage of recovery work (I emphasize ONE stage, as the work of recovery never ends), I feel more complete as a man, and ready to embrace a new life. While the heartbeat is literally the sound of a new life, to me, it also represents the new sense of life that is achieved through processing loss, trauma, and addiction.

I don’t usually explain my musical writing process so exhaustively/ostentatiously, but it felt important to do so in this case. "WTLWL" is my most personal body of work. I feel like I have been trying to make this kind of album for over a decade, but I was not ready to do so until now. It’s more musically ambitious, diverse, and experimental than anything I’ve done previously. I ask that listeners approach it with an open mind, and listen to it in its entirety (preferably on headphones).

Writing & recording "WTLWL" helped me out of a dark place, but my ultimate hope is that this album helps at least one other lost person somewhere – preferably a young person, far away from home, surrounded by alien terrain, desperately trying to make sense of the world through their headphones. This album is for them.

Sincerely,

Brendan Little
March 3rd, 2016

PS: This album is also dedicated to: Emily (always), my unborn child (I can't wait to meet you), my immediate family (I love you all), Alex B (you've added immensely to my life and I'm so grateful for you), the Cheevers family (I love you all - you are my family; thanks for all the quinoa and sweet potato), Daniel S & Brion R (this album wouldn't exist without you...or maybe it's Shake Shack I'm thinking about), Tom J (mr. peanut), Daniel H (guz! he's a nice boy...), Emily S (powerwash the chicken), Jason C (glad you're no longer sleeping at the top of the stairs), George S, Heidi T (thanks for the walks and talks at OBC), Mr. Mayo (thanks for...too much to list), Glenn K, Jessica P, "Pablo", Lindsay F, Marybeth R, Kristina S, Ashley L, Andrea G, my triplet bro's & "Alex's", Father Hicks, MPM, thúy, Nick F, and Roland.

And for the lost: My sister Jennifer, Jesse & Dave (from Otter Brook), Greg H, Nance P, Mr. Sposato, Siobhan K, Hasani A, Yvelt V, and Darryl D.

credits

released March 3, 2016

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ALBUM CREDITS:

All songs written, performed*, engineered, and produced by Brendan Little in Boston MA, Wellfleet MA, and Keene NH.

Post-production, mixing, and mastering by Daniel Stone, Brion Regan, and Brendan Little. This album would not exist without Daniel and Brion's talent, patience, wisdom, and lending of equipment.

*Daniel Stone programmed/co-performed analog synthesizers on "Keene, NH".

Album design by PJ Decoteau, cover photo by Karin Goodfellow, additional art by Natalie Cheevers.

Website: brendanlittle.bandcamp.com
Contact: blittle86@gmail.com

Copyright 2016.

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Brendan Little Boston, Massachusetts

Brendan Little is a Boston based singer-songwriter & producer.
Contact him at blittle86@gmail.com with any inquiries or thoughts.

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Track Name: Otter Brook (Intro)
(Instrumental)
Track Name: Keene, NH
Here we are again and I'm looking up your sleeve
You could mean anything but you're just mean to me
Under the mirror where the light won't lie (4X)
Trees are leaning in and I'm opening my arms
The smell of red calls the spirits in to calm
Under the mirror where the light won't lie (4X)

Now that I mention it
Where did you go?
Coming up empty
Go it alone
If I could just interrupt
A lifetime ago
Coming up empty
A compass home

Looking out the back of the ambulance
Siren light and bandages
Think about the time you picked me up
Trooper said, "Kid, why you do that for?"
Trooper said, "Kid, what you do that for?"
Nurse said, "Kid, what you do that for?"
Betadine brown, itchy stitch
If you were here now would you hold my hand?
"What's your blood type?"
"What you do that for?"
Red stained white around the floor
"Live free or die."
"What you do that for?"
If you were here now would you hold my hand?
Under the mirror where the light won't lie (3X)
If you were here now would you hold my hand?
Think about the time you picked me up
Siren light and bandages
Siren light and bandages
If you were here now would you hold my hand?
Under the mirror where the light won't lie (3X)
"Live free or die."
"What you do that for?"

I know you're here (4X)

You were always enough
Track Name: Indebted
Love you so bad and it won't go away
Lend me your light, lend me your light
Indebted or wedded or betted, I'll pay
Lend me your light, lend me you light
One is a mountain, one is a man
Lend me your light, lend me your light
I will fall down to your feet when I land

Sleep with one eye shut
Open your window
I don't need anything more
Keeping the light out
Where do the years go?
I don't need anything more

Now is the time, you know me so well
Coal in the mine, the belly of hell
Buried in song, winterlong
I always come home when it hurts enough
I won't mind if you don't mind too

Sleep with one eye shut
Open your window
I don't need anything more
Keeping the light out
Where do the years go?
I don't need anything more

Lend me your light, lend me your light

Indebted or wedded or betted, I'll pay (8X)
Track Name: Bombs Away
You are never far enough away
I got mad and emptied out your plate

Bombs away. bombs away

In the time when everything was free
All that empty silence let us be

Bombs away. bombs away

Such a shame, don't you let me go
Such a shame, don't you let me go
Such a shame

When everything you love goes to the birds
Don't tear through the pages for the words

They're just bombs away. bombs away

Such a shame, don't you let me go
Such a shame, don't you let me go
Such a shame

Bombs away
Track Name: White Horse
They'll come again next time with armies
I swore I felt your breath behind me

All my money is on the white horse
One day, one day
All my money is on the white horse
One day, one day

I saw her running through the smoke
Shards of moonlight on the lake
We share a strange kind of hope
One day, one day

All my money is on the white horse
One day, one day
All my money is on the white horse
One day, one day

And it's your light through which I pass
You left your ghost here
And you're a beast I'll never catch
One day, one day
Track Name: Samsara
(Instrumental)
Track Name: For the Left
And you're another war to fight
Is there any left to the left? To the left
Is there an ending somewhere?
You're in the wrongs I never right
When there's an anvil falling
You move a little left, to the left, to the left

The legends were lying
Never gonna be ignored
The tyranny of silence
Never gonna be ignored
Swear to God I'm trying
Never gonna be ignored
When the ceiling is your horizon
When the ceiling is your horizon, blink

Consider your nerve, to come to my bed
Pity you, I pity you, I pity your eyes
Hollow and thin, low oxygen
Pity you, I pity you, I pity your eyes
Pity you, I pity you, I pity your eyes
Pity you, I pity you, goodbye

When the ceiling's your horizon
When the ceiling's your horizon, blink

For the left (8X)
Track Name: People Starve
People starve, mind open wide

Everyone is around and you're selling by the pound
Yeah, you're shrinking by the pound

People starve, mind open wide

Crumbling to the ground, you vanish by the pound
Yeah, you leave me by the pound

People starve, mind open wide
Track Name: Fire, the Bully
By yourself, by yourself

A body kissing me
We're double lines apart
Fire the bully
It's a burning old, but modern
Red coal in my gut
Fire the bully

Fire the bully, fire the bully

The "me" they're looking for is somewhere out at sea
Under the ocean
What's a miracle to me?
I haven't even showered and it's nearly evening

Fire the bully (guide us home) fire the bully (guide us home)
Under the ocean
Fire the bully (guide us home) fire the bully (guide us home)
Under the ocean

By yourself, by yourself
Under the ocean
By yourself, by yourself

You goddamn kids don't know what you're missing (12X)
Track Name: For the Love of God
I define God as the face of a child
But you'd leave your eyes when you were out there wild
Even then, you were a deity

You scratch and you pull and you float around,
But I'll be right here when you come back down
I'd be lying if I said I knew the way

Cry for the love of God
And don't ask why, for the love of God

Always a veil I could never lift
Though I got you everything on your Christmas list
Colored lights come back to me now

Pick up the phone for the love of God
Come back home for the love of God

The world the weight of everything, I hear you in that hollow ring
Bear the weight of everything, I hear you in that hollow ring
This is how we end up fine, your blood is always mine
On my shoulders sitting tall, there you will not fall

I define God as an old-soul girl
That I brought into a darkened world
But you're my light, you'll always be my light

Shine for the love of God
You're always mine, for the love of God
Sleep, for the love of God
Weep, for the love of God
Sleep, sleep
Track Name: Always Enough
You were always enough
You were always enough
Come back down here
You were always enough
You are home to me
You are home to me
You are home to me
Whether you like it or not (2x)

I would say nothing if you want to stay
Either running on empty
Or you're running away
In your doubt an inventory
In your dominance a loss
Running and you're running
Never learn what you're not (2x)

You were always enough
You were always enough
Come back down here
You were always enough
You are home to me
You are home to me
You are home to me
Whether you like it or not

You were always enough
You were always enough
Come find me down here
You were always enough
You are home to me
You are home to me
You are home to me
Whether you like it or not

I would say nothing if you want to stay
Either running on empty
Or you're running away
In my doubt an invitation
In my arms I hold proof
It wasn't an illusion
I bled for you (2X)

I would say nothing if you want to stay
I would say nothing if you want to stay