Only Passing Through

by Dale Wicks

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"Only Passing Through" has its roots a 2012 songwriting challenge, in which I successfully wrote 40 songs in one year. 10 of the album's 12 songs come from that project. I've changed a lot between then and now; I finished and released an album (2013's "Someone Else's Songs), changed careers from office work to full-time musician, began and ended a four-year relationship, and moved 4 times.

While the writing was completed early in the project, I hear myself growing older and my perspective changing in the way the arrangements and recorded performances grew around the initial seeds of each song. I performed nearly all of the album myself, with Nelson Wood reprising his role as steel guitarist on 5 songs and Eric Boyea playing slide on 1.

I'm very proud of the lyrics of "Only Passing Through", to the extent that I spent a little extra to have them printed in the booklet. I had a friend describe it as a "sad" album, but I'm not sure that's accurate (apart from "Ship In a Bottle". That one's pretty sad). I think the lyrical tone is more hopeful and reflective, like an attempt to understand and make peace with my place in a world that will exist long after I'm gone.

A good part of the 3 years I spent recording the album was mastering the difficult world of computer-based recording. "Someone Else's Songs" was a digital effort, but decidedly more low-fi. I brought in Michael Crittenden to mix and master the finished album, a process that started rough but ended wonderfully. It's difficult to bring someone else in so late in the project, but Michael was very understanding about my goals and put in extra effort to deliver the final product I'd wanted.


released October 23, 2016

All instruments performed and recorded by Dale Wicks, except where noted.
Pedal Steel Guitar and Dobro by Nelson Wood
Slide Guitar by Eric "Boo-ya!" Boyea
Mixed & Mastered by Michael Crittenden
Photography by Marcella Herington
All songs written by Dale Wicks


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Dale Wicks Grand Rapids, Michigan

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Track Name: Lunatic Lullabye

They call the moon "La Luna," but that isn't her name
If you stay up nights and talk to her, they'll think you are insane
The night-time is for dreaming; don't do it when you're awake
You might as well stare at the sun or sleep through all the day

Goodnight to all the lunatics; lost in the moonlight
Sick on all the dreams that never had a chance to come true
Good morning to the travelers of the skies
You look up at her big, blue eyes and realize
You're only passing through

The times I think I'm crazy are the times that I can't sleep
Everyone's resting for their day; everyone but me
So I stare out through my window, and I'm bathed in her light
And so I sing to her alone, every single night

There's a little prayer I tell myself when I feel alone
"Your mind's a beautiful machine; you've made the moon your home"

I'm only passing through...
Track Name: I Made a Ship In a Bottle
I made a ship in a bottle when I struck this deal with you
I had something to prove to you; you had nothing left to lose
Having lost it all before; you may have even lost your mind
You couldn't stand to be confined, but that wasn't what I would've done to you

The bottle broke, the shards went crashing to the ground
The pieces of the ship we made scattered all around
Now a bottle's in my hand every time I see the sea
I see an empty sunset where our bottle-laden ship will never be

I played at dice with the devil and I met my match with you
Perhaps I've always been a fool, but every word I say is always true
And I thought that you'd believe me and I fell so hard this time
You roll the dice and you pay the price, but that wasn't what I had in mind for us

The deal is off, all my plans are blown apart
The snake-eyes on the diceface are reflected in my heart
Now I couldn't win for losing, even when I close my eyes
I dream about the coldness in the empty space by my side

I made a ship in a bottle when I struck this deal with you
Track Name: Cruel
Happy birthday to the girl who taught me to be cruel
A valuable lesson I could certainly do without
I don't believe in anger and I don't believe in right
But when that girl was angry, all that she could do was fight

I'd refuse to take the bait and go
Which only would enrage her, so she'd give me more
Until I'd reach my breaking point and snap at her
And she'd start to cry
That girl was never happy without teardrops in her eyes

She could spot my insecurities
And use them in her insults so sarcastically
I know now I'm not bald or old
And how I spend my time
Or what I weigh or who I'm with
Is nobody's business but mine

Being on the receiving end of all this
Taught me to turn it around on her, and this I do regret
Her birthday's coming brought all this up, and that is where it will end
For I also learned how to not be cruel, and never will again.
Track Name: Incorporated
I got incorporated. On my own, I couldn't make it
I got incorporated. You first bend over, then you take it

I've never been a business, but at government insistence
I'll account for all my time
I'd rather be sustainable than pine for unattainable
And watch it all go by

I got incorporated. I'm learning to appreciate it
I got incorporated. A youthful fire has dissipated

Once somebody told me that the old me's bleeding heart
Just made it suffer more and more
Being a slave to one's ideals only steals the chance to implement them
And leaves you poor

I got incorporated. It was preordained; I had to face it
I got incorporated. But actually, I kinda hate it

It goes for everyone that all their seasons in the sun
Are not as sunny as they seem
And underneath you find something that lets you know the simple life
Is nothing but a dream
Track Name: Stand Like Charlie's Angels
Dial in the sound, raise the lights
Cue the crowd to applaud on sight
Sometimes you feel just like the tools of the trade
But work is work and life is life
If it went in wrong, it won't come out right
Now my back's never to the wall and you're to blame

'Cause we're a little less unaware
And a lot more understanding
Danger's waiting there
Your back is worth defending
We could stand like Charlie's Angels
So nothing can surprise us
And that is all we need for now

Click the clapboard on scene two
Camera one points right at you
Sometimes I'm better scenery than seen
But life is life and we are us
And on my own, I'd self-destruct
But together we could be things I'll never be

When everything's a mess and your hair's left soaking wet
I'll be the one to tell you you look like a model
Playing "Sketches of Spain" or jumping puddles in the rain
I'll be ready to go with you, full throttle
Track Name: Sweetheart Calico
Now, flesh and blood, we are connected
Clad in sweetheart calico
How could I ever have expected
That I would ever love you so?

I found a lover and I made her stay
But found I couldn't really love that way
The pattern of our love is fading into grey

I can't tie you down forever

I thought my lover really loved me
Untied my sweetheart calico
But she was never thinking of me
And how quickly she did go

The draw together and the break apart
The leaving lover and the broken heart
Was I ever really making love or was I making art?

I can't tie you down forever

So draw your patterns and watch your "seems"
Be careful not to fall in love with dreams
And every time you love, remember what it means
Track Name: House On Fire
I realize I called you and asked for a ride
And I know we made plans to go out tonight
But I can't leave my guitar when I feel the spark
So I've got to light a candle and not curse the dark

Being late to get you wasn't part of the plan
And I'm sorry that we didn't see the opening band
But the spark caught a fire and it started a blaze
And it would burn me to ashes if I walked away

And I can't stop now, even with the house on fire

I never said I'd be an easy man to love
I spend time on my music, come push or come shove
I can't sit and hold hands when I've got things to write
And sometimes I get in a little late at night

But I love the way you realize it's not about you
I could never love a woman who made me choose
And that's why I can smile when I look at your face
Ever since I was a boy, it's been this way

And I can't stop now, even with the house on fire

This fire, it can burn you
I've got to tell you so you don't waste your time
'Cause this fire is a passion
And when it happens, you'll be mine tonight

And I can't stop now, even with the house on fire
Track Name: Treasure
Some men keep their treasure hid in faraway lands
Lands I've never seen
Some men keep their treasure in the books that they read
Though they never know what they mean
But I've got some treasure that I keep with me
I treasure it every day
It hides in the notes and the melodies
Of the music that I play

Simple truths are not for everyone
But I've got a bone to pick with the skeletons in my closet

The richest man I ever knew never worked a day
He barely had a dime
But he'd surround himself with music and with all of his friends
Played the guitar every night
I wonder what's the use of all this stuff I got
I can't keep it when I die
I've squirreled away some money to live comfortably
But it can never buy me time

I love art, but I hate suffering for it
So I'm a pot set on slow-boil, balancing my work and my toil

I guess that I'm a poor man, 'cause my treasure is scarce
I toil to earn my pay
Because happiness is wrapped up in a few other things
That I didn't list today
I earn my treasure with the sweat of my brow
So I don't have it for very long
But I've got some treasure that I'll share with you
Right here in this song
Track Name: To The Water
Sarah went down to the well with a pitcher in her hand
She wasn't much concerned or impressed with the things
That her life had planned
She had a song in her head, she had honey in her heart
And they mixed in her voice
She was called to the water

Now I'm in the desert where I've been for the past twenty years
Baked in the sun and held fast
By the weight of all my fears
I've got a dollar in my pocket and a hole in my heart
And it's ruined all my dreams
I've lost my way to the water

Won't you hear an old man, young man or young girl, and go
While the world is your oyster, before it snaps shut on your soul
And won't let you go
Your heart knows where it ought to be
So follow
Follow your heart to the water
Track Name: Let's Stand Up Together
Let's stand up together by the old oak tree
With just a pastor and some witnesses, then only you and me
Some say that we're dreamers, though we know we're not asleep
We keep direction in our lives with the promises we keep

When the darkness comes, you'll never see me running
We'll stick together, and it won't ever see us coming
Let's stand up together

And we'll laugh at the dangers, wherever they appear
We'll surround ourselves in love 'til it's coming out our ears
'Cause we know better than to let our demons in
If you let them set the table, they will poison you in sing

When I see you girl, a smile is my umbrella
And I know I'd be God's favorite fella
If we stand up together

So let's stand up together and not waste another day
We're not impatient, but the love we're sharing makes it seem that way
It's so important to do the right things right
And you'll be the most important thing when I see you tonight

What we join today, let no man sever
I hold you now, and I'll hold you forever
Let's stand up together
Track Name: Murder Ballads
Little Laura Chase went a-walking down the lane
To the deep, dark woods as the dusklight fell, to visit her father's grave
The townsfolk whispered to themselves in vain
She shouldn't be seen on a night like this, or ever be seen again

When the air is heavy with dirt and ditch
In the time of the season of the witch
The hour gets late and your blood gets cold
And the night gets still again
The time I fear; when murder ballads all get put to pen

Big Billy Suggs was asleep in a ditch by the road
A highwayman of some reknown and a viscious one, I'm told
Opened one yellow eye and he saw Miss Laura go
Opened two yellow eyes and his blood ran hot
Although his heart was cold

He followed her down to the woods as the sky went dark
She never raised her head or strayed from her path 'til she reached the old graveyard
Big Billy laughed when her journey reached its mark
The grave of a man and his daughter he'd killed while practicing his art

And he stepped from the wood into the glade
And he walked right up to Miss Laura Chase
And loomed over her as she knelt by the grave
And he said "your time has come, girl"
And he licked his lips and he drew his knife
For to have some fun and take a life
He picked her up and he spun her around and much to his dismay,
Big Billy learned there comes a time the piper must be paid

He stared into a skeletal face and a pair of blood-red eyes
And the rustles and the moans that he heard from the wood made ice of his insides
A legion of Hell had come to claim its prize
And poor Big Billy had come alone, so no one heard his tortured cries

Laura and her father are safe in heaven
Billy's seen his end
Track Name: Renaissance
This time I want to get away from myself
I want to look at the same thing and see it like something else
I built a prison for myself in deciding who I was
Always falling short because a man's not just what he does

So I'm going to think about the things I do
Going to think about why I do them and who I do them to
See if I can see the world clearer just sitting on my own
'Cause I need something to own, and this I guarantee
What I want's a renaissance in me

And anyone who hears this song can share it
See the soul inside your soul and let him out
We need less escape and more expression
And equal parts self-reliance and self-doubt

So this time I'm going to have nothing to prove
'Cause you will never make your point when you've got something to lose
By questioning your answers, you will answer for yourself
And not parrot someone else
And I'm sure you'll see it's true
What you've got's a renaissance in you

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