Standard Deviation

by Danny Schmidt

supported by
Marco Saucedo
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Marco Saucedo I was lucky enough to be able to attend the release celebration for this album. Like all his work, it's amazing, full of all sorts of emotion. Never before has a song been able to move me to tears so consistently. Favorite track: Bones Of Emotion.
feralobsidian
feralobsidian thumbnail
feralobsidian The words we use to describe the world around us and the lives we live are important. They impact us in ways we aren't often aware of, and have consequences we don't always know how to name. Danny's lyrics bring those consequences to light in the most heartfelt ways. Favorite track: We Need A Better Word.
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about

Standard Deviation is Danny Schmidt’s tenth studio record, and the second independent release since leaving venerable Americana roots label, Red House Records. These new songs have the same sort of lyrical complexity and poetry that has distinguished Schmidt’s earlier work, but this time they’re draped in the lush ear-candy production of strings and steel guitars and ethereal girl harmonies.

Standard Deviation tackles some difficult themes and subjects, from gentrification to infertility, radical honesty to quantum entanglement. But more than any other, the themes of fatherhood and family emerge on this record, as Schmidt recently became a first time father, sparking powerful meditations on human connectedness, and on the transformation of identity into the role of Papa. And on the blinding love released by that process.

credits

released March 8, 2019

MUSICIANS:

Danny Schmidt - Acoustic Guitar & Vocals
Carrie Elkin - Harmony Vocals
Mira Stanley Costa - Harmony Vocals
Cara May Gorman - Harmony Vocals
Chuck E Costa - Harmony Vocals
Colin Agnew - Drums & Percussion
Will Robertson - Bass, Piano, Keyboards, Harmony Vocals
Fats Kaplin - Pedal Steel, Violin, Viola, Banjo, Mandolin
Southpaw Jones - Harmonica


TECHNICIANS:

Produced by Will Robertson

Recorded and Mixed by Will Robertson at Gallop Studios in Atlanta, GA
Assistant recording engineer - Spencer Poole

Mastered by Nick Landis at Terra Nova Digital Audio in Austin, TX

Amazing Album Art Embroidery by Michelle Kingdom

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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: Just Wait Til They See You
LYRICS TO "JUST WAIT TIL THEY SEE YOU"

It’s mid-September but it smells like spring
It smells like spring, yes it smells like spring
It’s mid-September but it smells like spring
Like the ink is hardly dry

The world stops spinning while the baby sleeps
The baby sleeps, while the baby sleeps
The world stops spinning while the baby sleeps
And the angels knit their wings

Her lips keep moving but she makes no sound
She makes no sound, no she makes no sound
Her lips keep moving but she makes no sound
She’s got so much left to say

She holds my finger like I hold my tongue
I hold my tongue, like I hold my tongue
She’s holds my finger like I hold my tongue
As if we don’t have to share

I’ve seen the redwoods and the northern lights
The northern lights, yes the northern lights
I’ve seen the redwoods and the northern lights
Well just wait til they see you
Just wait til they see you
Track Name: Words Are Hooks
LYRICS TO "WORDS ARE HOOKS"

Don’t look back, they’re right behind you
Sent to find you, bring you home
But words are hooks in hearts and minds
So you can’t close your eyes and hide
And just hope they’ll go away

Careful that the words don’t choose you
Tell your tongue to step where you do
Cause when the wolves doubt come growling
And confusion sets your mind to howling
Your mouth just runs away

Don’t you cry you’re only human
All consumed and all too proud
But now’s the time while wounds are open
To go and mend the bones you’ve broken
And the messes that you’ve made

Letters have a way of spilling
Ink stains from a cloud of feelings
Kneel before the fount of reason
Say a prayer for one clear season
While the goddess screams amen

Every step’s as light as feathers
Every crumb’s a clue
And every word might last forever
Best they all be true

Don’t despair, they’re there to guide you
Fireflies that dare to light you
Words are hooks in hearts and minds
They’re the hoof prints through the sands of time
As they lead you by the ears
Track Name: Standard Deviation
LYRICS TO "STANDARD DEVIATION"

A chalkboard full of secrets, it was like some kind of code
To tell the stars and planets how to fall and how to glow
But when she turned to face the classroom there was chalk upon her nose
Like the ghost of Madame Curie or a clown in women’s clothes
And the boys dismissed the work so quick, they laughed at her instead
As just a girl who spilled some numbers from her head

Late night in the library in the basement by herself
Alone amongst the books again, at home between the shelves
She was searching for some answers when she stumbled in the dark
On a girl with colored pencils and black eyes like question marks
They said hello in stereo, then they both just stood and stared
As a normal sort of silence filled the air

The girl asked her what she studied, what she read so late at night
The thoughts that filled her notebooks and the stars that filled her eyes
But she said she couldn’t tell her, she said she’d just get bored
It was story told in numbers not a story told in words
But the girl just laughed and leaned right back, said “Try me if you dare
A story’s when there’s something more to share”

Bridge:
So she shrugged and her hands began to speak
A dance of differentials and of poetry in Greek
She solved for new dimensions and vibrations of the strings
From a single derivation all the worlds could rise to being
And she drew concentric circles with her finger in the air
And they glowed where there were nodes along the manifold they shared
To be in perfect symmetry, joined in all degrees
They touched in ways that no one else could see

The girl’s eyes lit with fire, like milk and kerosene
It was the smartest thing she’d ever heard and the hottest thing she’d seen
So she grabbed her by the brainstem and she threw her to the floor
And they kissed like their equations had never balanced quite before

Cause every lonesome thesis just describes the unobserved
There’s always one who’ll fall upon the tail of every curve
There’s so many locks, so many doors, so many twisted keys
Within the standard deviation from the mean
Track Name: Blue-Eyed Hole In Time
LYRICS TO "BLUE-EYED HOLE IN TIME"

You were a flower in the weeds
When your blue eyes opened up to me
You wouldn’t turn away
Until my courage rose to meet your gaze
Then I fell right in

There’s a hole in time
There’s a hole in time
There’s a hole in time
And we’ve fallen through
We’ve fallen through
We’ve fallen

That’s when I fell in love with you
It was all my stolen heart could do
But I didn’t stand a chance
When you asked my swollen heart to dance
I fell right in

There’s a hole in time
There’s a hole in time
There’s a hole in time
And we’ve fallen through
We’ve fallen through
We’ve fallen

There’s just no way I could explain
How it is that stardust breathes again
But you answered without words
That you’ve always been and always were
I fell right in

There’s a hole in time
There’s a hole in time
There’s a hole in time
And we’ve fallen through
We’ve fallen through
We’ve fallen
Track Name: Newport '65
LYRICS TO "NEWPORT '65"

You danced with the bar girls and sang with the band
And you poured every round through the holes in your hands
Til their cups runneth over with the blood of the man
On the lips of the faithful and mean
With a love that was fierce and obscene

You were the shepherd and they were the sheep
And they marched in a line with their backs to the beat
Til you taught them to follow the souls of their feet
Then they trampled your words in the grass
With a mighty wind thick at their backs

The path of the prophet is crooked and cruel
When every false turn means a fall from the truth
And every new road’s a betrayal of proof
They'll scream and they'll squeeze you for more
Of the visions you showed them before

Come gather round people wherever you roam
And admit that you've stripped your own god to the bone
And accept it that soon you'll be praying alone
Like you never had listened at all
As if you never had listened at all

So you asked them, at last, if they’d lend you a hand
And of course they would give you their last grain of sand
So you begged them to kneel at the sins of their friends
And they fell and they wept for their loss
As you climbed them and stepped to the cross
Track Name: Agents Of Change
LYRICS TO "AGENTS OF CHANGE"

The neighbor's house is burning
With flames that rise so fast and mean
The white folks run with empty buckets
And tears of gasoline
I hang my head and blame the others
With a match stick in my teeth

The neighborhood is flooded
Still every day the stakes just rise
But if I could I'd dam the waters
And curse the open skies
I'd drain the lakes and streams of credit
And I'd watch those ink stains dry

I never thought that as the streets got shined
The money and the time could change the course
When better's for the worst
When better's for the worst

But now I fear for a tiny slice of pie
I became that guy, I became that guy, that guy, that guy
That's just the way, the glory and the shame
The agents of the change

Now there's a wall around the courtyard
So tall no gypsy thieves might climb
But what's the point of castle towers
With all your friends outside
So fill the mote with beer and pretzels
I’m climbing down tonight
Track Name: Last Man Standing
LYRICS TO "LAST MAN STANDING"

Brand new bottle but the same old cup
I’ll be the last man standing when the sun comes up
With a brand new promise to the same old gal
I’ll be the last man dancing when the sun goes down
I’d pray the lord my soul to keep
But my soul don’t need much sleep

Brand new shovel but the same old hole
I’ll be the last man digging when the boys go home
With a brand new blister but the same old hands
I’ll be the last man begging when the work day ends
I’d pray the lord my soul to save
But the lord’s out saving face

Brand new fingers but the same old pie
I’ll be the last man kneeling when the king rides by
With a brand new banner but the same old crown
I’ll be the last man laughing when the axe comes down
I’d pray the lord my soul to bring
But the lord can kiss my ring

One good woman, one good night
And one soft place to fall
One good reason or one good lie
To raise my head . . .
To raise my head at all

Brand new bottom but the same way down
Ain’t no good sorrow that a man can drown
Brand new wagon but the same old ride
Ain’t no good beating that a man can hide
I’d pray the lord my soul to take
But I’ll take my own . . .
I’ll make my own . . .
I’ll claim my own mistakes

Brand new bottle but the same old cup
I’ll be the last man standing when the sun comes up
Track Name: The Longest Way
LYRICS FOR "THE LONGEST WAY"

I’m here to say that if you take the longest way
You might just find that eventually’s just fine
Making scenes and taking postcards in between
It’s quite the day when you can take the longest way

Old dirty cars, they used to shine like lucky stars
And they still might if they catch your eye just right
And if they do they’ll surely whistle back at you
It’s quite the day when you can take the longest way

It’s like sittin’ down to Mama’s cooking
Gathered round by Daddy’s side
All it takes is stop and lookin’
All it takes is one loooooong drive

Rolling south, where she’ll kiss you on the mouth
Sweet New Orleans, she’s just as easy as she seems
From pines to palms, beware the southern charms
It’s quite the day when you can take the longest way

Then head back north, where she’ll pay you what you’re worth
Sweet Manitobe, she’s cuddly when she’s cold
From palms to pines, beware the simple signs
It’s quite the day when you can take the longest way

It’s like sittin’ down to Mama’s cooking
Gathered round by Daddy’s side
All it takes is stop and lookin’
All it takes is one loooooong drive

An empty town is like a girl in grandma’s gown
Cause in their times, they’re both beauties in their primes
Still today, it just takes a certain gaze
It’s quite the day when you can take the longest way

Now roads are straight, now they’re so fast you miss your fate
Give me bends and give me miles and miles of friends
Give me curves and the secrets they preserve
It’s quite the day when you can take the longest way

It’s like sittin’ down to Mama’s cooking
Gathered round by Daddy’s side
All it takes is stop and lookin’
All it takes is one loooooong drive
Track Name: Bones Of Emotion
LYRICS TO "BONES OF EMOTION"

It was the day after Christmas and all through the house
The kids were hung over from toys
Her husband was happy but still running his mouth
Just the biggest of all of the boys

She sipped at her coffee and studied the scene
As her family emerged to the couch from the sea
The tears filled her eyes and they ran down her cheek
Like a string of lights from the tree

Love and devotion, desire and dreams
The bones of emotion sometimes we can’t see
Til we wrap them in lights and we light them again
And behold that this is only the skin

Henry was seven, Vanessa was four
They were making up stories in bed
She ‘d draw the pictures while he’d write the words
“The Adventures of Hiccup The Bear”

She listened in wonder and she wondered in awe
How their streams and their rivers ran nowhere at all
Like the whips of the snow in the globes of their brains
It’s a wonder we’re all not insane

Love and devotion, desire and dreams
The bones of emotion sometimes we can’t see
Til they’re covered in pixie dust, stories and songs
To be fair they were there all along

Football was ugly, her husband was loud
He was cheering for both teams to lose
Cause the Aggies are cheats and the Irish too proud
And they both try to buy our recruits

Cursing and crying and carrying on
Teaching the children the right teams from wrong
And that they are the Texans that the eyes are upon
Til they faded away in his arms

Love and devotion, desire and dreams
The bones of emotion sometimes we can’t see
Til they’re wrapped in our arms, they’re sealed with a kiss
And for now this is all that exists
Track Name: We Need A Better Word
LYRICS TO "WE NEED A BETTER WORD"

It seems to me we need a better word
To fill the gap between the facts of what we say and what we’ve learned
When absolutely damn near every mother that I’ve known
Has miscarried and lost a baby a time or time before
It seems to me we need a better word

It seems to me that someone needs to say
As simple and as open and as obvious and plain
Cause the shame is in the secret and the secret is the shame
When absolutely damn near every mother that I’ve known
Has miscarried and lost a baby and held herself to blame
It seems to me that someone needs to say

It’s just a word, as if she dropped it on the floor
It’s just a word, as if it’s something she did wrong

It seems to me our bodies know what’s right
An ancient meditation on the chemistry of life
A thousand generations casting blessings in disguise
When absolutely damn near every mother that I’ve known
Has lost a baby and felt it carried off into the light
It seems to me our bodies know what’s right

It’s just a word, as if she dropped it on the floor
It’s just a word, as if it’s something she did wrong

Seems to me we’ve all defied the odds
Cause to lie among the living is to fly among the gods
To share the mother’s heartbeat and to pass the mother’s blood
And absolutely every single time a baby’s born
It chose to be and knows to be the holiest of forms
Seems to me we’ve all defied the odds

It’s just a word, as if she dropped it on the floor
It’s just a word, as if it’s something she did wrong

It seems to me we need a better word

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