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The 2020 Singles (EP)

by Danny Schmidt

A PRAYER FOR THE SANE (lyrics) Tear the world in half The haves from have-not halves They built a fire between us And hoped like hell to raise the Phoenix Tear the world in two The truths from the half-the-truths The lies and the bad disguises From the facts and Nobel prizes These were once good lands Of good neighbors and good friends We used to fight like dancers One call with different answers These were open lands And strangers were our future friends But fences make for consequences We’re prisoners of our own defenses Now our heart’s been broken Lost our way but found it stolen Hidden in a storm of nothing A hurricane of newsmen blushing Now our eyes are bleeding Tears of the loss of reason A pool of our own objections Honest men with no reflections Here’s the choice my sister Gentle warrior, fierce resistor Fill the sky like blackbirds Or sit and watch the world spin backwards Here’s the choice my brother Old soldier, different drummer March hard to break the borders Or stand guard the old world orders Here’s the choice my child Raise your hands and reconcile While the king kneels down before us It’s time for you to rise in chorus It’s time to set our anger free It’s time for facts to shade beliefs It’s time to name the new north star It’s time for flames to skewer the dark It’s time to shake the voting booth It’s time for us to scream the truth Now’s it’s time my friends Time to make us whole again Just as the world revolves Let’s get these broken days resolved
2020 Vision 04:45
2020 VISION (lyrics): There’s a face in the distance, they’re all distant now She’s holding her breath and she’s hiding her mouth We’re walking on opposite sides of the lonely divide The closer we came the further it felt Until I crossed the road and then she crossed herself I waved as we passed and she smiled with the bags of her eyes Chorus: Oh 2020, you’re fading away Your weeks into months and your months into days As they all blur together like tears on the page As if the angels were writing it down A party’s a cocktail we drink all alone Our friends are a movie we watch on our phone Our parents are teenagers sneaking around in the night Our children are monkeys that are tied to our wrists Our houses are wrecking balls tied to a list A plan is a guess where the jester insists that he’s right Chorus The shelves are as empty as people are scared Our hands are as clean as the fear in the air Our trust is as blind as the packages left on the porch We’re lucky if somehow we still have some work Where all that’s required is wearing a shirt We’re so nonessential, at last we can laugh til it hurts Chorus I think of my grandparents’ time in the war That it’s never the same as the same was before If they bomb your cathedral, forever the treasure is gone At night I hear sirens and songs in the dark And the roar of propellers like heaves of dry coughs In the heart of the city, there’s a hole where John Prine still belongs
Black & Blue 03:51
BLACK & BLUE (lyrics) He was black and they were blue The colors of a bruise The colors of another brother Who's choking on the truth And so tonight the street’s on fire Cause that’s the candlelight required That’s the holy cost of tape and chalk That’s the crying of the choir Tell me why, there’s another Tell me why, in all this time We’re still defined by color Tell me why Tell me when, can the humble hearts of men bend Bend and bow And vow to disavow Well tell me how, then tell me when He was black and they were white A cost without a price A senseless flood of black men’s blood Now it’s time to shed some light And so tonight the streets are red Marking every crooked bend One by one the march goes on Delivering the dead Refrain Cause I don’t believe that victims go to heaven when they die They're stuck here as reflections in our eyes And of all the false confessions swearing that we’ve tried They’re the voice of silence asking when, and the voice that answers why He was black and they were blue The colors of abuse The colors of another mother Who’s choked up on the news And so we fight for streets of gold Like we were promised and were told To crown thy good with brotherhood From soul to shining soul. Tell me why.
MIDSUMMER HAIL STORM (lyrics): 110 in the sunshine, 112 in the shade The slide is a skillet of bacon and eggs The kids are all scrambled, the dads are all fried While the butter halves have melted away A brother, a sister, a cousin or two Lying dead on their towels and dreaming of school Like homesick gorillas asleep at the zoo Or like cannonballs that all missed the pool Long days, slow played Someone unbuttoned your blouse Wet wipes and short nights Peach juice that runs down your mouth Ice in the wine, frozen in time Asleep til the sun slinks back south The neighborhood children, the dogs, and the bugs They’re eating our burgers and drinking our blood Is a midsummer hail storm a sign from above Or the laughter of beer that got warm Praying for football and pining for hoops There’s nothing to cheer for but gin and vermouth Baseball’s been dead since they traded Babe Ruth And the summer’s the curse that we pay Reprise The translucent gringos and porcelain dolls Slathered in sunscreen and cooked til they’re raw Shiny white lighthouses lost in the fog Or like snow angels burned in the sand There’s sweat on the melons and sweat on the seeds There’s sweat in the shade and there’s sweat on the breeze My belly’s is a river, my butt is the sea And the delta is fertile and green Reprise


In this most challenging and peculiar year, I decided to release several singles literally within days of writing the songs and recording them at home, in quarantine. I thought they made the most sense if they were heard within the same cultural context in which they'd been written.

"A Prayer For The Sane" deals with our divided country and our split reality. and the opportunity with the election to begin a reunification hopefully. "2020 Vision" deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, and is a set of images from life in quarantine. And "Black & Blue" deals with racial justice and the advancement of Black Lives Matter. "Midsummer Hail Storm" was tossed in as a bonus track, just a celebration that we've survived another summer in Texas.

Now that 2020 is nearing conclusion, I thought these songs would make the most sense grouped together into a cohesive EP . . . a narrative arc for the year 2020, in three points.

Please click the individual song titles for commentary on each song.


released December 14, 2020


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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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