Live At The Prism Coffeehouse (1999)

by Danny Schmidt



For you completists out there, this is Danny's first album (now out of print). It was recorded live at the venerable Prism Coffeehouse in Charlottesville, VA in 1999, the year Danny began performing. It's raw, but real, and contains some early songs of Danny's that don't exist anywhere else.


released April 25, 1999


all rights reserved



Danny Schmidt Austin, Texas

Named to the Chicago Tribune's "50 Most Significant Songwriters in the Last 50 Years," Austin, TX-based singer/songwriter Danny Schmidt is considered a preeminent writer, an artist whose earthy poetry manages to somehow conjure magic from the mundane, with lyrical depth drawing comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Townes Van Zandt. ... more

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Track Name: Cliff Song
A part of her lives in a room in her head
And a part of her lives wild in the woods
I wanted to make love to both parts at once
But a part of me knew that I never could

But Cosima says we're too close to the edge
I can't help but be scared when she's scared
But she also agrees it's a beautiful scene
Life's valley through the mist and the fears

I showed her her name engraved on my heart
She said there must be some mistake
I tried to invite myself into her room
But there were things that she was scared I would break


We sang our song softly together
She swayed to the guitar I'd strum
But she was scared that her life might go dancing away
If three hearts all started to drum


Well fear ain't nothing -- it's falling that's real
And to let the fear rule you's a shame
Cause dreams and memories can't warm me at night
And hugging pillows just ain't the same

Track Name: The Donut Song
My baby likes donuts for breakfast
My baby likes donuts for lunch
My baby likes donuts for dinner
My baby likes donuts a bunch

My baby ain't always happy
My baby ain't always sad
My baby ain't always good to me
But my baby ain't always bad

Sometimes my baby acts crazy
Sometimes she's off the wall
Sometimes she talks like she hates living
Sometimes she don't talk at all

Oh won't you take this from me...
Crazy love

She don't like me playing the fool, Lord
Thinkin "There he goes again..."
My baby's got to learn to be patient
My baby's just learnin 'bout men

She thinks men are simple and hopeless
I think she just mostly don't care
Kick my ass if she caught me calling her Baby
But what's fun ain't always fair

I keep my baby from doing her business
Oh let me count the ways
And when she lays her head to rest, Lord
She dreams of thirty-two hour days

Don't help her get up in the morning
And I can't stop talking at night
Seems I don't make nothin easy
But, Lord, my heart is right


My baby likes thinkin of killing
My baby likes bearin her teeth
Makes me smile when she's actin hard, Lord
Cause I've seen what's underneath

She lives a rough and a dangerous high life
Sees a view uncommon rare
How the hell can the face of an angel
Look down with such despair

Some days I'm just trying to help her
Help with her troubled ways
Come home and make love in the evening
Cause she's perfect in crazy ways


My baby's a kiss upon waking
She's the space between the stars
She's an artist like the sun at sunset
She's the key to the prison bars

Snugglin in the poorman's vineyards
Gulpin good cheap dry red wine
Lookin over the moon and the garden
And damn ain't everything so fine

Take this cause it's all I can give you
Crazy love and kind mistakes
I love you still all roughshod and tangled
Cause fairy tales don't always take

Track Name: Three Chords & A Cloud Of Dust
Three chords and a bucket of trouble
Three chords and I'll have no fear
Three chords and I'm still standing
Three chords with an ice cold beer

Three chords and a grey picket fence
Three chords and a kickback porch
Three chords and a stormshow theater
Three chords and a cat-tail torch

Three chords and the leaves are turning
Three chords and the air is crisp
Three chords and the football's flying
Three chords through the autumn bliss

Hey you -- where'd you come from
Hey you -- you better leave me be
Hey you -- you keep pullin my grip loose
As I'm holding to the simpletree

Three chords like moon shine kissing
Three chords that rub my head
Three chords and wake up in bluejeans
Three chords in a feather bed

Three chords and a junksale treasure
Three chords and a hat that fits
Three chords and a dog that listens
Three chords and sometimes sits

Three chords and a friend who walks slow
Three chords and an easy laugh
Three chords who'll float down the river
Three chords and'll float you back


Three chords and a naked baby
Three chords who's chewin on leaves
Three chords and the line gets fuzzy
Between your friends and family

Three chords and the kids are crazy
Three chords in their hopelost songs
Three chords and I remember
Three chords that carry on

Three chords and songs for singin
Three chords and a fire to feed
Three chords and the coals match the sunrise
Three chords that's all I need

Track Name: Waiting On Sassafras
We've been waiting since Thursday
We're waiting today
We'll be waiting tomorrow
Well it sure feels that way

You're taking your sweet time
You're taking it slow
I see you're a wise one
You know what you know

Weaving you this gentle welcome mat
Waiting on the baby Sassafras

There's love that is blinded
That mama knows best
And you'll drink of it deeply
As you're held to her breast

And you'll carry it with you
In your stomache so round
When you're lost in the forest
Food will always be found


There'll be blood on the surface
But a heart that's born clean
Cause the love you were made from
I'm proud to have seen

There's a sharp-edged division
In an unfeeling world
Stay soft and stay open
I hope you're a girl


Free's outside and drumming
He don't know what else to do
He's pounding the rhythm
Of the long overdue

There's a full moon that's rising
There's no failure in fate
Well it's your life to live for
But I can't hardly wait

This song's partly a blessing
And it's partly a toast
And a trail marker left from
One who's partly across

Track Name: Anarchy For A Night Rag
Kings lose, princes fall, and queens lose their heads
And the paupers laugh cause they're better off than dead

Cakes are empty, castles cold, and wine’s thick with lead
But the beans are soaked and the piñata's full of bread

Bells ring, angels sing -- their harmonies in ninths
The honky-tonk witches punch makes children of the night

Paper trade, promenade, the bear swings its claws
Cause when you dance on air you're bound to fall

Guns don't argue and the badge don't lie, the man knows no bounds
But now the hunter's hunted -- set loose the hounds

Priests and rabbis fight to see who'll play the host
While the Goddess dances with fathers, sons, and ghosts


Streets grow wrinkled, buildings bend -- outlived their good
But the blood's still flowing back to the woods

The crowd's gathering, come make your way -- just read the trees
But come empty-handed -- this party's free


Come make your way. Come set the stage --

Where the filthy rich and the filthy poor
Can dance upon a level floor
And spin like children been released
'Til all that's left is dust

Where the power ties and the petty crooks
Can turn back all the ledger books
And all the locks fall away to rust
Track Name: Chapter Thirteen
My story begins at a rest stop
On the way from Houston to home
Well accidents happen in road weary fashion
When you're parked on the side of the road
Especially parked on the side of the road

Chapter Two was set in my first home
Big brother was knocking me 'round
I grabbed a big stick you know, a lesson learned quick you know
And drove his ass into the ground
I never helped him up off of the ground

Chapter Three I was called to the torah
Singing prayers to a god I don't know
Being stretched to a man in phonetical clamor
Thirteen but not ready to grow

Chapter Four reads much like a whirlwind
Imagination which uprooted trees
I was taught to respect my mind's hurricane depth
And shown words could blow soft like the breeze
And that expression was calming release

Chapter Five began it was wartime
It was Dad that old fascist 'gainst me
I fought with a passion sincere and irrational
Didn't know it was work to be free
I'm not sure I deserved to be free

Chapter Six began with a soft kiss
Scared to death my young manhood might show
Not knowing where hands went or where exactly my brain went
And feeling my will weren't my own

Chapter Seven was eighteen years coming
Five friends, an oasis of joy
Free easy starts and a junk sculpture garden
Life's bounty turned loose to enjoy

Chapter Eight diverged in a dark woods
The road less traveled was mine
Hoping for better than school and the ladder
And dreaming I could live just for time
With no other signposts but time

Chapter Nine was a bird with gold feathers
Wrapped me up in her wings as we flew
She showed me the charts and a place in my heart
Where the flowers are always in bloom
I could always go see them in bloom

Chapter Ten was a hard lesson learning
That the heart and the mind ain't the same
That the same flames that light you can reach up and bite you
If you haven't the skills of the game
I'm still learning the skills of the game

Chapter Eleven is owning my shadow
Who creeps with me there on the floor
As cold as it felt to me in the mirror that love held to me
As I ran in a chill from my core
From the cracks and the fears in my core

Chapter Twelve is starting tomorrow
I don't know but the pages go on
There's no use in thinkin' cause Destiny's ink pen
Always falls where it seems to belong
Track Name: Lucky
I woke up this morning and I realized
That I owned everything -- I owned everything
I owned all the air in the world
And all the house too
And all the TVs and Landrovers
And all of Jupiter's moons
Well that's a lot to be owning

So I shared it all -- I shared it with everyone
I'm a good sharer you know -- I guess I learned that young
Shared some land over here, and some food over there
I divvied it all away, tried my best to be fair
Inevitably though, there were inequities though
I mean that certain folks got to use more of my stuff
lots more of my stuff...
Mostly rich people

Yeah I woke up this morning and I realized
That I owned everything -- everything
Ain't it funny how sometimes you just wake
Up in the morning and find that everything's changed

Like going to sleep after a really big fight
And wakin' up in the morning scared to open your eyes
But you look over there -- there she is over there
And oh my god, what the hell, something you dreamed
must've been kinda funny to her cause she's grinning
She's just grinning at you

Or like when Kafka woke up -- woke up in the morning
And all of a sudden, without any warning
He looked in the mirror, saw his worst morning fears
Yeah Kafka -- he was a cockroach... a giant one...
a giant Czechoslovakian allegorical yucky-ass sorta
cockroach.. that must have really sucked for him

Kinda makes you scared to wake up
Wake up in the morning
When things have been going OK
And you've gotten no warning
But it all goes to show
That there's just one thing you know
You just never know

But when you wake up in the morning
And she grinning at you
And you're not a giant cockroach even
And you own everything
Don't it make you feel
Yeah don't it make you feel
Kinda lucky.
Track Name: Last Night
Deep night, there's no cover
The moon's finding what the sunlight hides
He's all alone, it's what he's chosen
Cause every person is some clothes removed
He hides away

But there's voices there, they wait patient
They know he's coming home, they know where he lives
They're demon songs, they sing softly
Sweet lullabies in a voice like his
He's swept away

His body's still, but his cells are dancing
His sheets are soaked and his blood's too loud
There's no more blankets -- he blames his body
Like an unplanned baby with endless needs
He burns away

Morning comes, shines through the window
Rays of glory strike an empty bed
But don't look -- you'll get taken
Sometimes paths of truth should be left untread
He's gone away
Track Name: Sad Songs Walking
This morning I woke up to dark clouds
Stretched as far as my poor eyes could see
Well why, dear God, are horizons so close
But always ahead of me

Cold words hit sharp like the raindrops
And collect in a dammed-up hole
Well the day has come when the dam is bust open
With a force drowning men can't control

Tonight I'm gonna grab me a bottle
And go walking and drinking alone
Tonight I'm singing all the sad songs I know
Until I can't find my way home

Time just wanders on aimless
Like a tired and stubborn old man
Who's always thinking that things
will be different next time
When he comes across kinder land

And Jesus done built his own cross
Lord, looks like I'm building mine
But Jesus Christ had connections in heaven
I'll have to wait in line


When I'm walking I feel like I'm going somewhere
And you know whiskey will always agree
And behind every sad song a poor man is crying
Softly with his arm around me

Track Name: Belief?
Jesus is my savior
Buddha is my guide
And Moses brought the law from Sinai
By my blood I'm to abide

Krishna leads my dances
Vishnu holds my many hands
And Darwin helps me off my pedestal
And makes this monkey stand

Dylan wrote my bible
And taught me not to read
The New Age sings the songs of healing
As they watch their fingers bleed

I've got the same clues I've always had
I search therefore I am
There always was beginning
And there always will be end

If I believed in sinning
I'd be a sinner true
Cause if something's wrong it's something still
And I'd live with what I knew

If I believed in Salvation
In grace I would be saved
If I believed that roads led places
I'd have laid mine straight and paved

If I believed in people
In the virtue of the climb
And that knowledge transcends stomaches
Then I might believe in mine

If I believed in loneliness
I'd throw a party for myself
I'd throw out all my trophies
And I'd live with empty shelves

If I believed in connections
To full embrace another soul
Well love and friendship's touch is warm
But it does not fill this hole

If I believed in believing
I'd close the doors and draw the shades
And forget I was just passing through
But it seems to late to stay

Well I believe in believing
It answers its own doubts
Why, how come, what for -- shut up
That's not what it's about
Track Name: McCreary's Pipes
Mary read it on the rider's face
The boys were heading to a far-off place
He said, "Fetch McCreary and fetch the pipes
And say your prayers to God tonight"
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
Down to Keller to oust the bums
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
Down to Keller to do what must be done

McCreary led them down through misty hills
His pipes were singing there'd be blood to spill
But the same drone that turns a man to ghost
Does wail back home to those love most
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
Strike a pitch and start the run
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
And chase the devil back where he belongs

McCreary and the boys attacked
While Mary kept the weeds fought back
And left the table set for eight
And watched the sunsets count her wait
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
Flour ground and axes swung
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
Bones and branches torn from where they'd hung

The boys came home Mary fell and cried
Six had left her now she counted five
Cried "I worked too hard to bear those lives
McCreary you chose those pipes or I"
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
Back home when the fighting's done
Ride Ride with pipes and drums
The farm's quiet and McCreary's pipes are gone
Track Name: Heaven
Well in those hills of Ozark County
There's backwards folks with forward minds
And money don't grow in fertile soil
And folks find life in what they know is real

Oh, in heaven I roam. Oh, in heaven I roam. (x2)

Well storms of tears and sunshine laughter
And flowers bloom, then fall to seed
Well I'm just sitting here watching all the trees grow
And feeling that they're smiling down on me


I thought to know, you had to ask the questions
A million answers, I just stopped asking why
Cause when you're living right there ain't nothing
so sweet as living
Gonna eat my fill long before I die


Well in these hills of the Blue Ridge of Virginia
You woke me up from a sleep of many years
With one soft kiss and the smell of bleeding maples
When I'm with you the air itself does breathe

Track Name: Canyon Walls
Every song's a stone
Thrown off the back as the truck keeps going
Marks my way back to yesterday, Lord
But who's going there?
Maybe 'fore I die
I'm gonna make my way up high
And see the patterns of the stones
That mark the long and winding curves
The long and winding curves

Every song flows past
Like a river through the canyon pass
Carves its love in the stones above, Lord
And whispers on along
As time has flowed away
I can hear the chords she plays
And let the song of the river still echo high
That there's truth in the canyon walls
Truth in the canyon walls

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