Trigger Warnings & Sunshine

by Derek Brink

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1.
One of these days I’m going to have to face that I just might have some problems. One of these days I’m going to have to face that I don’t know how to solve them. I’ll work it out. Find my own way out. Don’t shut me out. Lay my burden down where I can pick it up. Hold on to the hurt. Holding out for love. But I can’t let it go. I must let it go. This is who I am and I feel so alone. If I could find some hope then I’d hang on to anything. One of these days I’m going to have to face The source of all my problems. And on that day I’d like to have a faith that could move a mountain. Lift me up. Oh, hold me up. Just pick me up. Break my anger down. I want to give it up. To let go of the hurt and reach out for love. It’s hard to let it go. I have to let it go. This is who I am. I’m tired of being alone. I’ll hold on to the hope that life can still mean anything… In the presence of my enemies. In the presence of my friends. In the presence of a stranger. In the presence of a savior. Lay my burden down. Lay my burden down.
2.
I know what it’s like to find yourself in your 30s, with a head full of worries and a heart full of pain. And nobody around can even stand the sound of you trying to explain how sometimes being alone can either feel like home or feel like running away. And the only out that you see is something you couldn’t be without being ashamed. I’ve got faith and doubt in equal store. God is an optimist. But me, I’m not so sure. You might say I’ve passed the cross before, And each time I wanted more. But when God opens a window, That just means he closed the door. This is what it’s like to find yourself in your 30s, with a head full of worries and a heart full of pain. And nobody around can even stand the sound of you trying to explain how sometimes being alone can either feel like home or feel like running away. And the only out that you see is something you couldn’t be without being ashamed. I’m tired of rolling down this holy hill. God’s timing is perfect as long as there’s time to kill. With a voice that’s small and still and an emptiness to fill… I know that God is able, but does that mean he has the will? This is what it’s like to find yourself in your 30s, with a head full of worries and a heart full of pain. And nobody around can even stand the sound of you trying to explain how sometimes being alone can either feel like home or feel like running away. And the only out that you see is something you couldn’t be without being ashamed.
3.
Never thought I’d think of that as the best time in my life, but now that it’s gone, I’m starting to realize… Everything good came from you… In the time of my mourning… In the time of my remorse… In the time of my longing… I lost you. Never thought that I could miss what I never really had. My fingers are sore from it slipping through, but that doesn’t change it. Everything good came from you. In the time of my longing… In the time of my remorse… In the time of my wandering… I lost you. Empty bottle, empty promise, empty head. Such an empty little mind. Empty secrets, empty gestures, empty words. Such an empty little mind. Everything good came from you. In the time of my mourning… In the time of my remorse… In the time of my wandering… I lost you.
4.
I collect short stories of lost loves and past glories. Some of them are too long to pass the time. Some of them cost more than they're worth. Some of them just hurt. Sometimes a chapter sticks in my mind. But sometimes you say goodbye for all the right reasons. Sometimes you say goodbye, and you don’t even feel it. I had a friend I never figured out. He’s a devil down in Georgia now. A string of unknown kids and pissed off ex-wives. I haven’t heard his voice in 15 years. And that’s music to my ears. I’d just as soon he never be on my mind. Cause sometimes you say goodbye for all the right reasons. Sometimes you say goodbye and you don’t even feel it. I’ve got a long list of regrets, quite a few of which I haven’t lived yet. The worst ones, I play out almost every night. I’d have probably run from me too, if I’d been in your shoes. I can’t blame you for giving up the fight. Cause sometimes you say goodbye for all the right reasons. Sometimes you say goodbye and you don’t even feel it.
5.
Hindsight 03:22
Fell in love too young. You thought he was a keeper. Nice hair, nice smile, and the passion of a preacher. He prayed for you, you thought that you had found yourself the man of your dreams. But prayer’s just another way of stating your opinion; thinking out loud with everybody listening… You might have known he’d change his tone, but sex is just as good as it seems. Love is an obstacle. Love is a chore. Love is a carnival as long as you’re sure. And you can always crawl back for more until you get it right. Life is a miracle. Life is a dream. But sometimes living it makes you want to scream. And it’s never as clear as it seems until you get it in hindsight. A couple years went by and you had yourselves a baby. Had his daddy’s eyes, but his daddy liked the ladies. He slept around until you found out And you sent him away. Another few years and several dates that went nowhere. Changed jobs, changed cities, raised your boy, and cut your long hair then grew it back—just the facts… Got tired of people calling you brave. Taking a risk can tear you apart. But you know that it’s worth it when you look in your heart. And you can always have another start until you get it right. Time is an enemy. Time is a snake. Time is a contract that you can’t break. And you never know how much time it will take until you get it in hindsight. Don’t let go until you can say, “I told you so.” You’re stronger than you know. Some people hate you. Some people judge you. Some people like you. Some people love you. You know the ones, have your fun, find someone and go out and play. You can’t look back if you’re looking to tomorrow. You can’t have joy until you let go of the sorrow. You’re laughing now. Have no doubt. Sometimes things work out okay.
6.
I was wrong about most of what I said about love last time I spoke to you. What’s a boy to do? I’d been kicked around by some girl who got me down almost on bended knee. She took the best of me. And I started taking it out on you. That was the wrong thing to do, and I see that now. Got it figured out. If I could find the words to say, I probably wouldn’t say them anyway. I contradict myself… But I mean it well. It’s been a couple of years… Lots of laughs, lots of tears, but life’s turning out okay. At least that’s how I feel today. I’ve been thinking a lot and the best advise I’ve got is you can never give up; no matter what. After all we’ve been through and with all I owe to you, I would do anything. I’d pull any string. If I could, I’d move the whole world for you. All you’d have to do is ask for me to. You’re not perfect. But you’re worth it. If you only hear one thing from me, it should be that life is bittersweet, but there’s sweetness still, if you have the will… Hey, Sweetness, get your fill.
7.
I’m tired of dealing with trigger warnings, restless nights and empty mornings. This day’s turning out just like the rest. I’m tired of praying, tired of wishing, acting like there’s nothing missing, talking to someone I’m not sure is listening, at best. I’m getting used to letting go. Please don’t let go of me. I’m not getting better, I’m just getting old. Talking to myself again, instead of my invisible friend. Followed through to the logical end, I would be dead by now. Pleading for another case of logic confounded by grace. I could use another about-face of hope inside the doubt. I’m getting used to letting go. Please don’t let go of me. It’s letting you in that scares me the most. Sometimes in my darkest hour, I see a room that’s filled with flowers, and my name is written on the cards. I know my friends and family love me. I know that there’s a God above me, but there’s a man in my mirror who makes trusting in that hard. I’m getting used to letting go. Please don’t let go of me. I’m not over the edge, I’ve just crept up close.
8.
Not Okay 03:42
I’m not okay, but I’ll get okay. I’m not okay, but I’ll get there. I’m not okay, but I’ll get okay. I’ve been learning to survive and it’s taking a long time. I’m just trying to make it out alive. I want to be alone, I want to hold you close. I want to laugh till I cry. I don’t know how to win, but I know how to fight. I’m not okay...etc… Try to whistle a happy tune. Open up the same old wounds. Another verse to just GET through… I want to sleep all day. I want to go out and play. Whatever’s least opportune. I’ve got a problem with change and I hope that changes soon. I’m not okay...etc… I want to be happy. Who wouldn’t want to be happy. So I’ve been working on happy. I’m not okay...etc...
9.
Church Girls 04:21
You know what they say about church girls. Well, yeah, I guess they say a couple of things. But you know the one I’m talking about. Seems like a pretty good deal with you’re 16 and you’re looking for a reason to repent. I’d like to think I know better by now. Every guy who’s got a friend in Jesus Christ started talking to him for the wrong reasons. I used to go on all the right weekend trips. Used to blame it on the Eucharist. Used to listen to all the right demons. Cause you know what they say about church girls. Used to play the guitar in the church band. At least my hands were kept busy playing. But your hands can get pretty full when things get ecumenical. Sometimes it can even feel like praying. Cause you know what they say about church girls. You know what they say about church girls. Well, yeah, I guess I've seen a couple of things, but I don’t know what I’m talking about. You can sin anywhere if you try hard enough. And I’m thinking I should probably repent. Cause I think I’ve had enough of that now. I’m just trying to figure some stuff out.
10.
I’m tired of writing songs about suicide but I had to write another, cause another friend died. He put on a black suit but left off the tie so he’d have a little room to slip the noose in. He was a good man, He was sweet and he was kind. Wasn’t made for this world and its cold, judging eyes. When we met, he was still trying to hide his gay pride. Cause he’d been beaten up a little too often. His mom had to buy him a coffin. Those bullies said they were Christian. No point trying to explain. I’d like to say he seemed happy and I didn’t see it coming. But I knew he’d been hurt and felt like nobody love him. You’d ask him what was wrong And he’d say that it was nothing. All I could say was, “Man you’re gonna get through this.” Then one night, I got the call and realized I was wrong. He didn’t get through it. He wasn’t that strong. So here I am singing another sad song. And if you’re listening, please try to get through this. No one should ever feel useless. Don’t ever think that it’s hopeless. You can’t give in to the pain. There’s a growing list of people that I miss pretty bad. I feel robbed of all the days we were supposed to have. I know it can get dark when you’re alone. I’ve been there, too. But the person you are inside shouldn’t ever try to kill you. You might think you’d be ending the pain. But you’ll only reframe it. A picture that hangs on my wall. I’m tired of writing songs about suicide. I’m tired of writing songs that make my friends cry. I’m tired of wishing people hadn’t kept it inside. If you need to talk, I can probably listen. I’m tired of writing songs about suicide.
11.
Standing in the cold searching for something. It could be anything. The smell of mildew and her cheap perfume. This could be everything. Found a locket. Put it in a pocket. Let’s keep looking. I’m always looking. And where we’re going, I don’t care for knowing. Open me up. I am nothing. Beautiful… Beautiful disaster… A train-wreck at the station. Here it comes. Walking empty streets. I think I found it. Imagine that. The taste of her skin, warm… Vanilla, sweat, and nicotine… Cold beer and regret. This might work or it might hurt. This could all be a brilliant mistake. Michael Penn, Pink Floyd, and Townshend have the perfect words for if my heart should break. Beautiful… Beautiful disaster… A shipwreck on still water. Here we go… But I want her. Of course I want her. I want the image that I see in my head. And that’s not fair, because that’s not her and it wouldn’t be the woman in my bed. But I’ve got high hopes here at the end of my rope that’s wrapped around my throat waiting for a fall. I’m a misanthrope, but I’ve learned to cope, and I know that you just can’t lose them all. Beautiful… Beautiful… Whatever happens… Beautiful… Etc.
12.
I know it feels so endless. I know you feel so friendless. I know it’s hard to care. I know it all feels hopeless. I can’t tell you what hope is. Just hold out hope that it’s out there. The grass is always greener when you’re stuck in the dirt. The cost is always greater once you know what it’s worth. And this is everything. The heart can feel so homeless and I know you can’t control it. I know it feels like you’re bleeding through. You may feel isolated, abandoned, cold, and frustrated. Look for the hands reaching out for you. The night is always darkest before you start to dream. The doubt is always deeper before it leads to belief. Hold on to anything. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

about

The album is called "Trigger Warnings & Sunshine" because half of the songs will probably bum you out and the other half will give you a smile. I get as dark as I've ever gotten on "Man in the Mirror" and just about as hopeful as I can get on "You Are Not Alone," while planting my tongue in my cheek as hard as I could on "Church Girls." It's a bipolar listen, for sure. The title seemed to wrap that up.

Everything I write is to some extent autobiographical. With the exception of "Everything Good" and "Church Girls," everything here is new and was written after "Something to Look Forward to..." was released. (The two exceptions have been looking for a home for a couple years. Although "Church Girls" did get almost a complete lyrical re-write before this recording.) Sometimes things got scary. Sometimes they got happy. This is the end-result. And, hey...look at that...I didn't use even one swear word on this album.

I hope you like hearing it. I liked making it.
-Derek, December 2015; Revised February 2016

credits

released March 11, 2016

Front cover and back of CD case photos by Tara Black, during the “Ink-Stained Fingers” sessions.
The rest are my own.

All electric guitar tracks were recorded on a Rickenbacker 360, except the lead parts in "Everything Good" and “You Are Not Alone,” which were played on an American Strat. All of the acoustics were played on a Parkwood acoustic/electric. The drums were a hodgepodge. The bass was my Ibanez Soundgear (Ol' Greeny). The keyboard used was a Casio of some kind, but I can’t remember the model and it’s downstairs. I’m not getting up to look. The vocal parts, for my sins, are my own.

While my usual influences (The Who, Drive-By Truckers, etc) remain constant, during recording and production, I was deeply immersed in the music of Brian Wilson/The Beach Boys, The Replacements/Paul Westerberg, Lou Reed, Big Star, The Bottle Rockets, The Hold Steady, David Bowie, The National, REM, Mumford & Sons, Pearl Jam, Slobberbone, Michael Penn, Bob Mould, Elvis Costello, The Beatles, and a good deal of Motorhead.

I also read quite a bit, including: Sylvia Plath - “The Bell Jar,” Fredrik Backman - “A Man Called Ove,” Tana French - “The Secret Place,” and Nick Hornby - “Funny Girl.”

Watched a lot of TV and movies too, including: Love & Mercy, Birdman, Big Eyes, Skeleton Twins, The Hobbit, Broadchurch, a fair amount of SCTV, The Joy of Painting, Doctor Who, Frasier, Sherlock, & House. During mastering, I watched the whole of Red Dwarf.

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Derek Brink St Louis, Missouri

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