No Straight Lines

by Private Eleanor

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released August 30, 2005

Performed by Private Eleanor (in order of appearance):
Austin Stahl: voice, acoustic & electric guitars, percussion, drums, chord organ, accordion, bells, electronic devices
Marian April Glebes: voice, percussion, bells
Isaac Gurfinchel: guitars, voice
Bruce Sailer: bass guitar, clarinet
Drew Stevens: piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond organ, melodica, bells, accordion, Wurlitzer, clavinet, RMI, synthesizer
Chris Merriam: drums, cymbals, percussion, banjo, guitar, voice
with contributions from: Sine Jensen: violin; Adam Kivisaari: electric guitar, electric piano, Wurlitzer; Michael Nestor: voice; Chris Ehrich: voice; Joylene Dalia: voice.

Recorded by Austin Stahl at the Buena Vista house in Baltimore, MD, and by Frank Marchand at Waterford Digital in Pasadena, MD, during May and June 2005. Additional recording assisted by Adam Kivisaari at his house in Baltimore, and by the band in various Maryland basements and living rooms.

Mastered by Chad Clark at Silver Sonya in Arlington, VA, July 2005.

Written by Austin Stahl and arranged by Private Eleanor. Words and music ©2003–2005 Austin Stahl.

Art made by Marian. Design by Austin.



all rights reserved


Private Eleanor Baltimore, Maryland

Private Eleanor was a band from Baltimore, 2001–2007.

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Track Name: We know better
Start again, once we’ve begun. Start again. Forget what we’ve done. We feel better now. We know better now.
Track Name: Seventeen
On a two-lane blacktop that runs southeast to an ocean we can’t see, you are waiting for me to flip the tape, to play a song to keep you awake. But there are no love songs; when it’s right, you know. Don’t need no song to tell you, and you don’t need me to tell you.

It looks like four in the morning, but we’re forgetting that your clock’s an hour slow. Cigarettes on the dashboard – and I give up, switch on the radio. I can’t remember where we were. I can’t remember who said it first. I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I guess here’s my love song. If it’s right, you’ll know. Don’t need no song to tell me, but you might need me to tell you, every now and then. I’ll try my best.
Track Name: Richmond
The road I'm bearing down seems fraught with holes and unseen hands. The bottom’s falling out. It’s hard when you can’t see which way you’ll land. So I need your help to fight every urge to leave behind the things I love.

I’m playing for paintings now, and these walls echo back my heart, but they’ve drained the colors out. And I pause, and set the dials back to start. On this kind of summer night, I mourn for the thousand lives I missed. Go ask the butterfly: Am I wrong to want to turn my back on this?
Track Name: Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth died on a Monday in August. Made the front page for the first time in years. That was the paper my daddy read in the waiting room the day I got here. He knew that he’d be in those pages too someday.

When Babe retired, there wasn’t a speech, and no long goodbye – more like a retreat. He was beaten but proud. Lost at the races but bet on himself. He knew that he’d manage somehow. Oh no, it was not to be. Had nowhere to go but down.

I have this time to live like I’m almost gone. I have lost, but I know I’ve not been wrong to love. And some nights, I look in the mirror, and memories, from origins unknown, decide to appear. I look in that mirror and watch a man that I haven’t noticed in years. He looks a little like me, and more than a little like you.
Track Name: Bed of nails
What’s one more night on this bed of nails, all made for you? You’ve done all you can do. Aren’t you all right, living afternoon to afternoon under a solid roof? Lie down, close your eyes. Lights out now. Goodnight. Dream those pleasant dreams for me.

I know it might not be comfortable to speak the truth. Tosses and turns can bruise. But don’t you sleep tight, having dreams that someday might come true? And waking up at noon? I know you’re tired, but here’s how the whole thing goes: The pressure’s distributed so every nail’s load is light. So what’s one more night?

What’s one more night on this bed of nails, all made for you? We’ve done all we can do. Relax, don’t fight. We can lie here all we want to, and it cannot pierce us through.
Track Name: Estimated distance
There's a path that we have burned, straight from your door to mine. Just a couple easy turns. It takes hardly any time. Say you will. Though I know there’s no way you could hope to ever save me, would you hold me?

I can make it worth the drive. You know it isn’t very far. So wipe the sleep from your eyes, and grab some records for the car. You can’t get to sleep alone. The nearest I can be is a voice inside the phone. Tomorrow you can take me down to the place where we were born. We wouldn’t recognize it now, ‘cause no one lives there anymore.
Track Name: My sentences
And you finish my sentences, but not the way I would. Maybe you see something in me that I should. I’m my favorite record, so predictable: You hear the same sound every time you set down the needle. And you know how stubborn I can be. Some misunderstanding might be what I need.
Track Name: Everything you'd heard about
Was it all you could do, when she called out to you? Was it everything you’d heard about? With the dawn’s light dancing on a borrowed bedsheet, on the day you nearly drowned?

So you’d taken to flight, and it took you all night, but you found what you were looking for. And the older you get, the more you see it – just how young you really are. And if you want, I’ll drive you all the way home tonight. Or maybe you might stay with me?

I’ve learned from your love, and all I’m sure of is there’s no such thing as certainty. No fate, no straight lines – we are given this time to do with as we please.
Track Name: On our side
Say one more prayer and hit the lights. It’s gonna be a long and lonely night. But we won’t be afraid; we’ve been guided toward this day. Tomorrow we’ll arrive in paradise, ‘cause God is on our side.

My fellow citizens, we’ll fight. Evil can run, but it can’t hide. And may God condemn their souls when we smoke ‘em from their holes. Moral authority is mine, ‘cause God is on our side.

We’re sure our war is just in Jesus’ eyes. Five hundred dead but we don’t mind. We’re paying to rebuild what we paid to destroy, but if that’s His will, then we’ll abide, ‘cause God is on our side.
Track Name: Flowers might die
Don't you think it's time we talked? You don’t really think I’d let you off the hook? You always said day by day was how you took your love. Aren’t you afraid some morning your love won’t come? Flowers might die tonight on the nightstand. We’ll wake to find your gift to me was not what I had planned.

So please give me some warning if you can. Just a week or two before I’m alone again. Flowers might die tonight, as we sleep in our sweltering room, entwined together beneath the sheets. You always said day by day was how you took your love. One thing I never said: I just wanted you to be the thing I’d figured out. I just wanted you to be the one thing I’d figured out, for once in my life.
Track Name: I'd have been a sign painter
When you grow up, what do you want to be? I’ll tell you if you tell me. I was never sure if I’d be an honest man, or if I’d do the best I can. You were alone, wondering where to stop. There’s a song I should have played you. And there are mornings when you don’t know who you are. You only exist in your art.

My darling, I’m not cut out for this life, and all these modern ways to die. But what else would I have done with an irrational love so pure? How I’d love to be so sure. Driving through the hills of West Virginia, there were signs that led us on, which we tried to document, but the details streaked like stars from the backseat of a car. And I knew I’d have been a sign painter had we been born years ago.

I’m going to try not to let my roots grow too deep. I’m going to try to get my grasp within my reach. I’m going to follow my own lead, because I know this is all I’ll ever be.
Track Name: Forever's not a word I use
You should know by now, we’ve got time. It’s not enough for you. You should know by now, I’ve got telescopes for eyes, but forever’s not a word that I use. And if the stars will fall in line, you’ll map our hearts and chart the skies. But never mind how long they’ll shine. Just say you’re mine.

I’ve been wrong before, and when you’re blind, you don’t pretend to see. I’ve been wrong before, but with the starlight in your eyes, I’d never deny what I see there.