Ship in a Bottle, Part IV: From Stern to Stem

Coming December 2022

Ship in a Bottle, a concept album split into four parts, tells the story of twelve co-conspirators who steal a ship to escape life on shore. (Read more about the entire concept as outlined in Part I.)

Part IV: From Stern to Stem closes the album with three final archetypes:

Sovereign (“No Atlas”)
Sage (“Back of Beyond”)
Hero (“Hero”)

Closing Part IV and the entire album is The Final Passageway: “Siren”.

Lyrics

No Atlas (Sovereign)

Horns, fanfare, exulting throng
The king was returning with a new dawn
The names on the map had all withdrawn
It all belonged to him, to them, to no one

Garlands, songs, dance, cheer
Feasts, revelry now that fear
Was banished deep inside that mirror
Where divergent countenances no longer appear

The king rose before them all
A hush rose throughout the hall
He said: “No atlas is needed now
All lines with walls must fall”

The advisers cried, commanders rolled their eyes
The jester sized the king for his cap and bells
They said: “Do tell us, has your well of reason gone dry?
Peace is a deceitful child, cloaked in robes docile
All the while the hidden knife is restive
And your breast is where it will paint its smile”

The king offered a smile of his own
As he pointed toward the throne
Saying: “This hallowed hunk of wood once stood
A tree taller than any in this city – now look
And we may choose to cling to that chair
But why not instead sing of a castle in the air?
You fear the axe that would cut you down
While you’re ground ‘neath the weight of my crown
So down with the walls, lift the defenses
For fearing the assassin is quite senseless
When the gentlest among us
One day might very well hunt us”

So they shrugged and complied, gates were opened wide
And aside, swords and shields were laid
But sure enough one day the page, he cried: “Sire, take a look outside!
Like a rising tide, see the armies stride
And in their eyes is no compromise
They still have an atlas, bring ours back lest
There’s no last line left to draw behind”

Wheel of fire, tempest in a jar
And a rope of sand disintegrating at both ends
And mortal coil twists and roils our caravan
As it wends its way from womb to grave

Atlas in hand, the subjects stormed the hall
And implored the king to save them all
He pointed to the wall where hung a mural
With dragon unfurling his wings

And the king said: “You can bring me that atlas
But the fact is, the lines bursting there
Aren’t the ones that now scare you to your knees
Your unease is just an appeasement of the dreams sent by your demons
Your freedom can only come if you receive them”

The walls they shook
And the atlas book
Fell to the floor
As a soft knock came upon the door

And they were struck dumb
When the king said: “Come”
And the door slowly swung open

Wheel of fire, tempest in a jar
And a rope of sand disintegrating at both ends
And mortal coil twists and roils our caravan
As it wends its way from womb to grave
What do you hope to save?
What will you save?

Horns, fanfare, exulting throng
From inside the dungeon
The king listened and yawned

Back of Beyond (Sage)

There was a man who lived back of beyond
He was fond of the quiet and a mind let free to roam
His home was a tower with no clocks
The hour was always at hand
To span the divide that clove wrong from right
To find the gate where he could…

See with more than two eyes open
Hear the sun in the breeze
Smell the tide turn the ocean
Taste where mind and sky meet
Touch the freedom of ambiguities

And that man who lived back of beyond
Had a pond he’d fish in, sometimes he’d slip in
And let himself sink on down
When he would return, he found he’d unlearned
The reasons for seasoning
His mind with proofs to flavor stale truths
Whose use kept him from…

Seeing with more than two eyes wide open
Hearing the sun in the breeze
Smelling the tide turn the ocean
Tasting where mind and sky meet
Touching the freedom of ambiguities

Easy does it, you can shovel away, but the puzzle remains
There’s a truth that can fit any part that you wish to play
We can rise above it, but those four winds will still have their say
And the day is waning and I’m no longer feigning
That I’ve found a sound to crown all these notions that I expound

Away, away, I’ll meet you halfway
‘Tween our devils and the deep blue sea
Come see, come see all the debris
Left behind by steadfast belief

And I grieve, I grieve ’cause it seems to me
All we try to achieve is so misguided
I can’t hide it…
Can no longer hide it…
Back of beyond

Hero (Hero)

You there, with the vague stare
Nod if you can hear me
I won’t claim I’ve been there
And I don’t really care
If it was bad luck or error
That’s led you here…

Where you’re trapped on a bridge
‘Tween clans riot clowns
Pushed to the ledge, looking down
Behind, ahead, all around
For a hero to come

But now hanging off a cliff
Shoved by your nemesis
Below’s a snake pit
And they’re pissed
Hey, who writes this shit?
And tell me why is no hero coming to the rescue
To rescue…

You, you’ll just have to do
If we’re gonna pull on through
It’s cruel, true, when you have no mask or cape
And escape has always, it’s been your play
To slink away

But now tied to the tracks, you see the smoke plume
Train coming fast – hello, Doom
You hear the horn blast
“Stop!” you say, “let’s resume when the hero comes”

But now walking the plank, cutlass at your back
Over a shark tank, and they just snacked
On your hero who sank like a stack of bricks
I hate this script
Now who’ll come to the rescue?
Who’s gonna rescue…

You, you’ll just have to do
If we’re gonna pull on through
It’s cruel, true, when you got no super powers
And the hour has come when all depends on you
And it’s sad but true that…

You are no more precious
Than anyone else is in this boat
With this truth you will have to wrestle
If you’re to help keep this vessel afloat

And reluctant was the way
So many great ones felt when called
And luck may grant you no favor
But brave or not, look, you are holding the ball

You’re small, I know
You’re small, hey, so what
One’s still more than zero
And you are and we are
And you are and we are
And you are and we are the only heroes

Who can…
Who can turn around this thing
But then again…
But then again maybe we should…
Maybe we should just take wing

Siren (Final Passageway)

And here at last, the swan song
And I left the final helmsman
Twelve sailors – should I say jailers? Failures?
None could guide this craft home and
How on Earth did I lose the sea?
When it was right there under me

And through this song, this spyglass
What do I hope to see?
A beach that I might reach?
A paradise that’s my prize?
For slogging through this whole journey

And as I’m tossed by this storm of my own design
Through the moaning wind comes the hint of a note that’s not mine
And within listens my third ear
And it steers me t’ward that voice… that cryin’ of a…

Siren
Has it always been?
There luring me?
Toward these shoals, where a soul
Trades all for the ecstasy
Found in song and I listen
I ride waves of bliss and
Float on eternity
‘Til I run aground and then drown
Pleading Time for mercy

And this sweet torment, that’s bent me ’til I’ve spent
The crux of my days lost in this haze
And with the ruins of my time
Should I build a raft and climb aboard?
And try for another shore?

Oh, but why should I try to break free?
This isle isn’t such a bad way to go
It’s not such a bad place to be

And in the end, I do believe the siren
In fact, it really is just me
A seashell left whispering
The dreams of the sea