How It Is Nowadays (2003)

by Mailbox

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about

This is the first Mailbox album featuring the 2001-2005 Vermont band. It's a much better album for having all those extra hands in the pot. Jeff, Chris and Jay all helped in the arrangement and development of these tunes. I'm also especially proud of the lyrics I wrote for How It Is Nowadays and how I managed to tell the same story ten times from ten unique perspectives. Yes, it is a concept album but I purposely was never explicit about the common thread at the time.

The lyrics were written during periods when I was young and obsessive and addicted to coffee. Tunnel vision takes over most of the time except for the fleeting moments of clarity when we can look at our past and see all the madness that lead us to our present ... and watch that madness play out all over again.

I've always touched on these themes in my music and lyrics and I think I nailed it with this album. This is perhaps why this was the last Mailbox album that I would classify as geek rock. After a handful of albums I finally perfected my message and it was time to move on. I have a whole new set of neuroses and ideas to explore now.

credits

released October 31, 2003

Adam Rabin - lead vocals, keyboards, guitar / Jeff Margolis - bass guitar, vocals / Jay Ekis - guitar, vocals / Chris Johnston - drums
with Larry Grodeska, Duncan Pflaster, Sara Rabin, Alen Cileli and Greg Skillman
Album cover by Martha Hull

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about

Mailbox Burlington

Mailbox is Vermont songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Adam Rabin and whomever he can rope into sharing in his unique musical vision.

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Track Name: Tales of the Weird and Fantastic
I'll never have to leave the house again
I'll watch through a periscope in my den
The pigeons and crows think it's Pearl Harbor

And now the girls don't change their maiden name
and all the boys' in-laws and folks are the same
I swear, the kids these days with their "fast" and their "Microwave"

It's not my fault I refuse to take the blame
It wouldn't matter if it all went half insane

Mr. Stout has married a mannequin
Mr. Cutler is chasing the cat again
Then their kids gun down Moadel's boy with red spray paint

Old maid Morten still sunbathes nude
The village idiot sneak a view
The pigeons and crows think it's Pearl Harbor

I don't see the light, I don't read walls
I try not to use my eyes at all
It's not my fault I refuse to take the blame
It doesn't matter when it's all just a game

I could tell you tales of the weird and fantastic
But unless you live in a hole
It'll be nothing drastic

My memory ain't what it used to be
At least not what I remember it to be
So now although I'm old everything is news to me.

I don't see the light, I don't read walls
I try not to use my eyes at all
It's not my fault I refuse to take the blame
It doesn't matter when it's all just a game

When I was young
and life was good
We never spied upon the those in our neighborhood

Now times have changed
It's not just me
I can see a stranger life where nicer times have stood

The future ain't what it used to be
And all good things must come to an end
So remember the way we humor our friends.

I could tell you tales of the weird and fantastic
But unless you live in a hole
It'll be nothing drastic
The end of time is always drawing near
So could someone point me the way out of here?
Track Name: The Lies We Tell Grandma
Here comes Grandma, let's smile for show
Don't tell her something she won't need to know
Everything's fine so just plug up the drain
The lies we tell grandma will keep her sane

We told her the pills were for my hair
Either she bought it or just doesn't care
The lies we tell grandma are nothing new
Grandmother told them to her mother, too
And greatgrandma told them to her mother, too

The lies we tell grandma will never die
Long after she has we'll always lie
This is one thing we know is true
for delusions make us feel better, too
delusions make us feel better, too
Track Name: What You Think
You like my little lies
You like my skinny ties
You like my electric car
Even though it don't go very far

I like your...
I like your...
hmmm.

You like my copied cassettes
You like my Raisenettes
You like my Robotron score
Stick around and I'll kill even more

Don't just sit there warming your hands
Sooner or later gotta take a chance

I know what you think
You're always thinking
I know what you think
'Cause I'm always on your mind

You like my magazine
You like my GOSUB routine
You like my 12-sided die
Even though you're always wondering why

You're playing it quiet like it's some kind of game
You got a lot to learn including my name

CHORUS

You like my chess club pin
You like my tinsel grin
You like my see-through watch
Time is running out better step it up a notch

Don't forget to open your parachute pants
Or you might mess up your only chance

CHORUS
Track Name: Trauma
Once when I was 5 years old
My mom took me for shoes
It's not that that's what she thought I was
We went to shop and peruse

She saw a pair of bobos
One of the better buys
They'd probably get me killed
But at least they were size

Is there a room in the back
Where I can try on those
She said just change right here
So I took off all my clothes

Why do I replay the drama?
Why do I relive the trauma, huh?
Am I hanging on to something too long?

A week or sometime later
We laid my mother to rest
I put on my new shoes
And my itchy Sunday best

All the family came
Friends of the family, too
We all hadn't seen each other
Since I was pushing 2

My cousin had a camera
My aunts were shedding tears
I wanted to lift their spirits
So I gave them rabbit ears

Why do I replay the drama?
Why do I relive the trauma, huh?
Am I hanging on to something too long?

I wonder if they're still laughing at me
I wonder if they've wondered if I've let it be
For all the times that I worry or fret
They probably don't remember but I'll never forget
Track Name: Hey Miss Gypsy
Hey Ms. Gypsy
How do you do?
I'm just in town
for a day or two
Ain't seen you for
quite a while
Gee, it's nice to
see you smile

Hey Ms. Gypsy
How do you do?
I can only stay
for a week or two
Hey, Ms. Gypsy
Dance with me
Spend the weekend
By the sea

Hey Ms. Gypsy
How do you do?
I can only stay
for a month or two
Oh yeah, Gypsy,
Kiss me like that
You make me forget
Where I'm at

Hey Ms. Gypsy
How do you do?
I can only stay
a year or two
Over and over I
try to leave
But you look like
you don't believe

Hey Ms. Gypsy
How do you do?
I just may have
to marry you
Oh Ms. Gypsy,
Ain't you clever?
Now I have to stay forever
Track Name: I'm Jitter Boy
I've lost so much sleep over you
I sold my pillow, Sold it to a man who said
He just wanted to sleep all the time
he had no worries, He had nothing on his mind
And he said, "Thank you for the pillow, Jitter boy"

I can't drink my coffee anymore
It's too damn mellow,
Slows me down and makes me feel
I'm stuck in a tub full of grinds
I'm on top of everything,
I've even left the future behind singing,
"Get thee from my sight, I'm jitter boy."

Hits a nerve and shakes my head
Speed of lightning rising
Now I'm welded to the bolt
'lectric sizing measuring the jolt
I'm screaming, "Bring on the juice! I'm Jitter Boy!"

I speak so low, my running mouth,
my sweeping points, my higher ground,
What I know I will speak aloud
Mandible joints echo the sound
and I waited so long until the thing that never came - never came

Jitter Boy wanna know what da jitter and
da pitter patter of love is all about
Jitter Boy wanna know why
da twitter-pated spitter of wit got jitters too

All you need is patience and trust
All you need is patience and trust
Just wait for time to dissolve


My talk could fill magic books with oral scent and I?d
never take a whif into my scent even if death
sat right down behind me and tried and tried and tried
and I'd float right though its hood
just like a slinky buddah should
and I'd remain unclassified until this very day...
day or night: which light could make me take in a stray...
a stray of light, or ray of light, or any given beams,
I take the darkness out myself and then I say to thee

Don't need no stinkin light, got my own damn stinkin light
Don't need no stinkin light,
got my own damn stinkin light
I got my own damn light

Nervousness is Godliness, in fact
It's clear and hollow
Finds a place and sets its sights
Between every point in the grid
Drives like Fittapaldi
And I'm hanging on the tail pipe
yelling, "Look Ma ma, no hands, I'm Jitter Boy."
Track Name: Dr. Eckstein
I suppose, like me,
you wonder what on Earth I'm doing here.
I'll fix your bones, cure your stones,
and be home in time for beer.
I need a long vacation,
I'm still living at home
I'll take a paid sick day,
Tijuana on the phone

Paging Dr. Eckstein - Tijuana on the phone
Tourist information - Listen for the tone (ping!)

Embarassed by the p.a.
Good thing no one's listening
My overpaid secretary always seems to be missing
Mrs. Cronin's moanin' like a dog bit by a hare
I'll bet her mouth is foaming
and I'll bet that I don't care

I don't want to die here - Don't want to be here
Just want to fly
I got to disappear - Won't wait 'til next year
Tijuana time

Dassa what I'm a-gonna do

Gonna take a Coffee break ...
siesta ...

Again I'm in my office, hmm.
When did I get back here?
Last I knew, oceans blue and I'm drinking yellow beer
Pamphlets on my mesa with photos of cerveza
Served by pretty ladies and
I'm stuck here in my Hades

Paging Dr. Eckstein - Tijuana on the phone
Tourist information - Another chance is blown

Old man Arnold Lipschitz, I think he died again
I think I sewed my scalpel up next to my favorite pen.
The muzak rips my soul like an old infected cactus
I'll show up to my wake
wearing a black suit of malpractice

I don't want to die here - Don't want to be here
Just want to fly
I got to disappear - Won't wait 'til next year
Tijuana time

Dassa what I'm a-gonna do

Gonna take a Coffee break ...
siesta ...

I don't remember med school.
I don't where I live.
I know that I'm just passing time
that's passing through a sieve.
I've been here in the break room for an hour
maybe three.
I'm thinking that I'll stay here
just pretending that I'm free.

Yeah, dassa what I'm a-gonna do
Track Name: She's Coming (I'm Drinking)
She's coming here this weekend
She's coming here but she won't be here for long
She won't hear me sing her song

She's coming here to see me
She's coming here but I'm gonna fake her out
I'll be at the pub no doubt...

Drinking
She'll want my love but I'll be
Drinking
She'll want my love but I'll be
Drinking
Maybe she'll be upset
But I won't have one regret at all

This wouldn't be the first time
This won't be the last time I have to sprint
Maybe she'll get the hint

There are other girls out there
There are other girls who would not put up with me
Still, I would rather be...

Drinking
that's just my thing 'cuz I'll be
Drinking
my phone'll ring but I'll be
Drinking
I can't be responsible
If I'm not available at all.

She's coming here this weekend
She's coming here but she won't be here for long
She won't hear me sing her song

Drinking
She'll want my love but I'll be
Drinking
She'll want my love but I'll be
Drinking
Maybe she'll be upset
But I won't have one regret at all

I guess i's no surprise
I'm lonely
I guess it's no surprise
I'm lonely
There never was a girl,
I'm lonely now
Track Name: Happy Birthday, Freak of Science
The lamp is rusty
and the light's getting dimmer
The book is further
and his glasses get thicker
His little girl is in some high dudgeon
She's got it in for the old curmudgeon

Father Time slept through his greatest defiance
Happy Birthday, Freak of Science


The kitchen table has a checkered pattern
Now he's planned another trip to Manhattan
She's been thinking
that she may as well be barren
But the stove top's cooking
and she's not sharing

Mother Nature used a household appliance
Happy Birthday, Freak of Science

He hums a ditty
as he shuffles the broom
She's screaming murder
in the other room
He's in the city somewhere
in his dreams
As another voice has joined the choir of screams

And now it wonders
if it should know these giants
Happy Birthday, Freak of Science

Whether you could believe
this is what she conceived,
this is what you are made of.
This is what you will be.
Track Name: Garden Gnome
Off into the grown-up world I went
I was once a little innocent
Now it's just another memory
Fading hints at what I used to be

I used to be oblivious to pain
Slept without a worry in my brain

I wish I had the map
I dreamed of in a nap
to find my way

Would they ever know
If I went back home?
No one lives there now
Except my little garden gnome

Once there was a little girl I knew
She grew up to miss her childhood too
So she wrote to me in purple ink
Is it possible? What do you think?

Could we really find our way back to the time
When all the world was yours and it was mine?
I'll take a little nap
and try to find the map
to find our way

Would they ever know
If I went back home?
No one lives there now
Except the little garden gnome

Garden Gnome is waiting for us
He's sending out a line
Garden Gnome is calling for us
He's putting up the sign

Welcome Back Class of Way Back
The map was in your head
The dotted lines
The hidden signs
And there I was in bed


A hundred years ago, give or take
There was a little boy who'd stay awake
So he'd never lose sight of it
Still, he aged but never grew a bit

Now every year on the 4th of June
He sends the signal bouncing off the moon
So big boys and girls
Lost in their grown-up world
Can get home soon