Songs from the Partially Examined Life

by Mark Lint

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Brainy, melodic, snarky songs that bounce from folk to power pop to alt-country. Reflections on love, death, self-motivation, and existential theater. These songs originally appeared on The Partially Examined Life philosophy podcast.


released December 4, 2015

Performed, engineered, and mixed by ML except as follows.

Thanks very much to these folks that graciously volunteered to play on these songs: Daniel Gustaffson (keys 1; keys & guit 5,13), Eric Schumann (keys 3,5,7,9), Steve Petrinko (drum 1,7,11), Rei Tangko (violin 2,14; keys 11), Geoff Esty (guit 1, 4), Dave Roof (guit 7,11), Ken Keeley (bass 1), Peter Kiel (guit 2), Matt Ackerman (guit & back vox 3), Chris Wellner (acoust guit & back vox 3), Mike Laemmrich (drum 3), Ben Kelly (guit 8), Wilson (guit solo 5), Chris Chamis (drum 8), John Jughead Pierson (guit 9), Shawn Saul (bass 9), Brett Segal (drum 9), Terry Bacon (keys 11), Sam Ray (bass 11), Monica Serra (back vox 11), Maxx Bartko (end keys 13), Mina Linsenmayer (end vox 13), Dave Hamilton (drum 17). Special thanks to Lucy Lawless (vox 7).

Most of these folks recorded their parts at their homes without ML present. Eric recorded Mike. Terry recorded Monica. Brett recorded Shawn. Lucy’s friend Jason recorded her. ML recorded Rei, Ken, Chris W. and Mina.

All tracks mastered (and 3 was mixed) by Jake Johnson at Paradyme in Madison, WI. Cover art by Diana Szabo, photo by Kim Linsenmayer, layout by Josh Casey.

Mastering/packaging funded by the Partially Examined Life LLC (thanks Seth, Dylan and Wes!). Thanks to PEL Citizens and friends, New People and Camper van Beethoven. Love to Kim, Abe, and Mina. And also to Poppo & Mary Anne, the Colmans, and the Caseys. In memoriam Sheryl Linsenmayer (1937-2011). Also, Stoobie is in the sky.

Parental Warning: 8 has lots of swearing. 2,3,10,12,15,17 have some.


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Mark Lint Madison, Wisconsin

Catchy, homespun tunes ranging in style from power pop to folk ballads to alt country, laced with a sense of the absurd.

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Track Name: I Insist
In place of a soul, I’ve got tendency
Got a leaning, I’ve got energy
I push headlong into a tumbling whirl
Of my own, of my own, well, I don’t know what
I am driving, I am pressing the keys
I am losing what’s left of my periphery
I am forward essentially
I am motion and force, and something too fast to see

And my eyes focus out to a point and refract
And I will pierce every door; nothing fails to react
And I will overcome all the crap that I drag
I am not asking the world, I am not asking the world

I demand it, I insist
If I must give a reason, well, consider this fist
I demand it, I require
You mistake what I make, and all the love I inspire

In place of a soul, I've got irony
In the space of a conscience a rock
In this peace my belief is a 15-ton truck
If I hold out my hand, you will shiver, will shiver
I am driving, I am pressing it down
If I fly at this speed, I will be sleeping around
I am forward, I am all the way
I'm a mistake of the future we'll all be some day

Don’t be put out or fooled, or cover yourself in drool
I’m a person, a person, and not a force of nature
Don’t be one of those guys who puts feet in his mouth
I am lonely and done, I won’t save you, won’t save you

And my eyes focus out to a point and refract
And retract and turn black and go back and attack
And relax and distract and react and react and react…
Track Name: Double Negative Theology
If there is a God, God is not not one
But don't try to say what he is
'Cause it does not not annoy him a bit

If there is a God, I would not not be wrong
I don't think there's a God who would not not be strong
Enough to fix this shit if he wanted to
To make things fit; this is not not not not new

If there is a God, God is not not through
He puts down his fist (but not really) and pounds us to not not goo

But don't wait, and don't worry
'Cause you're not going to hear his voice
Calling you out for your worst mistakes
Which you can chock up to your free choice

If there is a God, God is not not good
And you'll never know if you're not not understood
And I hate to be so negative
It's not not not what I would
Track Name: We Who Have Escaped
We who have escaped, we will come back for you
Don’t you lose the thought of lucking out
We who have escaped are keeping track of you
All your desperate thoughts are leaking out

Betcha they’re soft, betcha they’re dull
Betcha they’ve got a common center
I betcha they’re bought
I betcha they’re not really of you
I betcha you’re stuck, I betcha you’re fucked
I betcha you’ve got a lot more coming to you and from
Betcha feel dumb, though not always

We who have escaped, we will come back for you
You are not forgotten in these parts
You, the sad remains of Western barbeque
Bought and sold and chewed up in your hearts

Bectha they’re good, betcha they're kind
Betcha you've got a soul worth singing
Betcha you've got a hundred novels piling up in your cells
Betcha you're smart, more than you think
Bet you could stretch and reach the stars or just the sink
If your cube had one and not just the smell

Of decay, decay, of wasted day, of time you've lost forever
In that god-forsaken office where your soul is left to simmer
Oh, dismay! Dismay! A grief soufflé is all you get for dinner
Though you're getting paid, it’s you who's made
A bad bargain with the winner

Those who rule your life, they will not mourn for you
When your husk is brought out for its seeds and hay
All you ever wanted can come back to you
But you've got to cut them out

And not just make them pay you slightly more
Betcha feel poor, betcha you’re normal like your father
Betcha he soldiered on regardless because that’s what they expect
Betcha you're next, betcha you barely feel your calling
Betcha you're all bunched up and balling
In a knot of rage and decay

'Cause you want to be the winner
Wanna be fast and young and thinner
And maybe it will happen if you pay
Track Name: Jesus Noise
Jesus needs a dressing down, sacrificing stuff around
But he cannot make a single sound for you
Jesus made a big mistake, promises too big to fake
He couldn’t get the earth to shake for you

Everybody's getting down all over this holy town
I get weary of the sound, I do

Glory in the highest wail; it's how they pray
I got good at blocking it out in my younger days

Jesus left a mustard seed, grew into an ugly tree
Multiplying forth to feed on you
Final days that came and went barely even made a dent
Only what you might invent is true

Glory in a high-pitched wail that wafts away
I got good at blocking it out in my stronger days

Glory to the highest fail to come our way
I got good at blocking it out in my clearer days
Hard the herald angels singing as they fall, and what the hey?
May we all grow out of this now here in better days, wiser days
Track Name: Reason Enough
No, not in this world would unlucky I stand a chance with this girl
No, it could not be, I could not deserve this good life, this family

And I said if we should waste four walls, then that's reason enough
Well, it's reason enough to go on
If we should waste our all, is it reason enough? Is it reason enough?
Is it reason enough? It's enough, now it's gone away

I, lost in some lie that you could be standing it standing so still
I won't even try, watching my life slip to coals through the grill

Just a little insecurity blowing harder
Just my fatalism pissing me off this wall
I see the future, and it's really not so downhearted
But optimism is vague, and I can be a plague
Please don't let me drive you away

No, not in a day could something so precious be frittered away
No, not my last hope, plenty more mornings to wake up the pope

Yes, it's reason enough, it's enough, now it's gone away, yeah
Track Name: The Past Is Not Real
The past is not the past is not the past is not real
I don’t remember, I wasn’t there, it was nothing, I couldn’t care
The past is not the past is not the past is not real... oh, God

Just keep telling yourself
The past is not the past is not the past is not real
The past is not the past is not the way it makes you feel
We're all here now, jsut in the present, except...

Oh, God, what the hell happened?
Accept these things, these facts
Take them as given, as persistent, done but here with interest
To someone who once thought of you as good

I don't remember, I've no idea, you cannot hate me, I won't appear
In a long, cold chapter of a fictional drawing
Of a year-long winter wilting all the last straw

The past is not the past is not the past is not, it’s not real
The past is not the past is not the past is not not
Really something to hold you, not really something at all

It's not real, not real unless you let yourself feel
Maybe start to deal and try to heal or at least be surreal

I guess that’s why I’ve been sleeping for 16 hours
For each of the last fifteen days or so
thinking that maybe when I wake up next
It’ll be someone else for once
Which should happen, according to the law of averages
Track Name: Things We Should Do
Don’t have a bucket list
What the hell does that mean, anyway?
You can't collect experience, it just flows on through
But yes, I'd like to travel
And sure, I'd take a class with you
I think I've got a life's worth of time saved up, let's do it, do it

Are there some things we should do before we die?
Things we should say and show or at least try

I don't want to think about it
I don't like to talk about it
I don't like to measure out my life, because it's overflowing
Don't want to live without you
Don't want to die at all
You know I hate clichés, and love and death are the biggest ones of all

But there are things we should do before we die.
Things we should get around to before we die

Of course you know I love you
Although there’s always some regret
That language always fails us
But it’s enough, I guess
Can I ever really show you
That you own me heart and soul
You are my inspiration, you’ve got me through and through

Things we should say and do before we die
Things that we've got to prove or at least try

Part of being wide awake is dealing with God’s big mistake
And trying to take in everything we can together
But it’s never never near enough, whatever we may do
However hard we chew on life, I know I will lose you

Keep at the things we should do before we die, my oh my.
Even if dwelling upon them makes you cry, my oh my
These are some things we should do before we die, why oh why
Things we should say and show or at least try

Thank you, dear, for listening, and being all my bliss
We’ll deal with the inevitable, and try to be okay with this

These are the things we should do before we die, my oh my
These are some things we should do before we die, my oh my
Track Name: The Default Relation
I think in order to understand you I 'd have to shed my skin
I think in order to really know you I'd have to fit in the space you're in
Reactions only make sense in light of what's been done to you
What that was I can't imagine all that you've been through

Communication's broken down, there's nothing left to do
So fuck off, so fuck off: the default relation tween you and me
Oh fuck off, and your mama too, and all the shit she did to you

We don't like the same damned things, I think it's safe to say
We barely live in the same world; I wish you'd stay the hell away
The things you choose to eat and vote for, do you even care?
What you want I can't imagine are you even a person under there?

It’s not on point to think of you as someone
That I could be in another life
Why would you point to humanity as a common bond?
‘Cause it’s a bond that’s chafing me

Well, harmony has long left town, but one note still rings true

So fuck off, so fuck off: the default position for society
To rub off, its cakey shit, into our eyes so we can’t see
So fuck off, and keep on fuckin’ off, never can fuck off far enough
Keep fuckin’ on, and all that stuff
I signed no contract, I can’t stand you ‘round here
Track Name: Sense of Beauty
Well you can take, all that you can make
You can burn it to the ground
And you can break everything that’s fake
You can seize and shake and pound
And why not?

You can preserve most of what you have
Or you can blow the wad in five
You can deserve it when your wife is mad
Or you can buckle and survive

Well, it’s not too late to untwist your fate
But don’t lose your sense of beauty

You can debate everything you hate
You can even help keep score
You can berate all the clouds you skate
You can taunt yourself some more
And why not?

You can forget everything you’ve set
Your plans and schemes and goals
You can regret everything you’ve bet
Your love and rock and roll

But it’s not too late to untwist your fate
Just don’t lose your sense of beauty

Run like a dog, run like a dog on your feet
Run like a dog, spring like a dog on your meat
No one’s holding a grudge, they won’t see you coming
Take aim and be judged and just don’t stop running

'Cause it's not too late to untwist your fate
Just don't lose your sense of beauty
And it's not too late to refuse the hate
Just don't lose your sense of beauty
It's not too long to admit you were wrong
And use your sense of beauty
Track Name: Antigone (Choragos Speaks)
Antigone, you got to do what you gotta do
But why did you do it twice?
You got away, you sprinkled dust on your brother yeah
But why return to the scene of the crime?

Wouldn't the gods have been satisfied
Without your getting yourself caught?
Why couldn't you just apologize?
Why couldn't you just be distraught?

Isn’t it hard enough having your dad be brother
Wasn’t it bad enough when your bros killed each other?
And your mom slash grandma, she did some bad decidin’
Can’t we just stop all this fate-driven suicidin’?

Antigone, Creon is just a puffed up ass
He could be putty in your hands
You know, I think he's got a thing for you
Just go along with his petty demands

Antigone, think of your sister and boyfriend too
And just hunker down for the blast
Antigone, you got to know that we all love you
Please work the system, and all this will pass

Antigone, I know the gods got it out for you
But you brought this one on yourself.
Antigone, you've got to do what you got to do
But I don’t think I can help
Track Name: Stoobis in the Sky
I’ve phoned in my last day of work in this doghouse
I’ve flushed all my drugs and stripped down to the bone
I’m over, it’s ended, I can’t wait to fly
I’ll be petting my Stoobis in the sky

We roll up the maps and turn off the computers
Screw out the light bulbs from sockets and users
Unplug your brain and we’ll ship it on high
I’ll be petting my Stoobis in the sky

An age of amusement has passed on into nothing
A party we burned through, an amp that’s stopped humming
A long, lonely look at the place we will die
I’ll be petting my Stoobis in the sky

This old cold life! A wet, awful slice!
A ruddy tub, a ruddy tub, a whole lot of lice!
Oh, cruel God unshackle the locks on this guy!
I’ll be petting my Stoobis in the sky

It’s over, I’m ended I’m saying goodbye
I’ll be petting my Stoobis in the sky
Track Name: Falsifiable
My love is not fasifiable
My love ain’t clearly deniable
Whatever I’ve done, whatever I choose to do in the future

If I forget you (I forgot myself)
If I regret you (Then I loathe myself)
If I come home drunk, I was toasting your health
If I annoy you (it’s unintentional)
If I destroy you (it’s unavoidable)
If I lose my shit, I will get it back
I will locate my shit and obtain it, obtain it

My love is not falisifiable
My love is here, and it’s eyeable
Whatever I’ve done, I’ve done it all for you
(And me and others or no one)

Whatever I’ve done, whatever I choose to do in the future

If I neglect you (I’m just a little absorbed)
Fail to protect you (You’re just a little ignored)
But you know I love you, because I have told you
And to say is to do, it’s a performative

I’m a fat old creep (I’m your fat old creep)
I may bring home a sheep (well, you’re warm like a sheep)
If my fourteenth mistress gives you a call, just ignore her
You’re the one I adore, you know it

I’ve deduced away your tears
We’ll go on like this for years
Don't test me

My love is not fasifiable
My love ain’t clearly deniable
Whatever I’ve done, whatever I choose to do
Track Name: Point of Confusion
I just can’t think right now
Maybe if you were all here, I would have the space I need
And I’ve settled this fifteen times, right?
And I couldn’t have her if I wanted her
And why would I want her, and I’m not trying to convince myself
I wish my life would just shut up and stop trying to teach me things

I’ve reached the point of confusion now
Where my problems are all vague enough to avoid
Just a certain uneasiness sometimes
When I talk to myself in the shower at you and at her
And I don’t even know if I feel annoyed

I just can’t talk right now
Not to you, not how I want, ‘cause she might overhear
She’s not in this time zone either, but my loyalties are clear
I just want to scream at you for what you did to me
blaming me, for shaming me, for leaving me, for believing me
When I promised you I’d be OK
For trusting me, adjusting me, and pushing me away

Just admit that you loved me and I’ll let you go to hell
Then you can condemn me; you’ve been doing it so well
You might say you’re sorry, but you have no real regret
I was just an enemy that some day you’ll forget

I’d luncheon with your conscience and poison its iced tea
If I just knew where you’re at and what you ever felt for me
As long as I’m attempting to be helpful and mature
I’d love to take back every word and give them all to her
I’m sorry that I met you, and I’m sorry you’re alive
But I must admit I miss you and I wish that we were five
So that you’d be much too old for me and a creepy girl at that
And nothing I could do would make me worse than just a brat
And you’d be just irrelevant instead of all of me
She’d fill the space that would set me arguably free

I know I love her now
I knew I did before but, well, too much was obscure
But it’s settled fifteen times, right?
And I wouldn’t have you if you wanted me to
And that’s the end, at least for you
And there’s no need to convince myself
I think that I should just shut up and not over-think these things

I’ve reached the point of confusion now
Where my problems all fog up and dissipate
Leaving only a funky film here, an anonymous ring to contemplate
I’ve reached a point of confusion now, which is enough for me
Track Name: Adds Up to Nothing
You want what you want, and I want what I want
Your wants are your wants, but I want your wants
And it all adds up to nothing

You need what you need, and I need what you need
You want what you need, but I need a kind of need
That you wouldn’t believe in, if I spelled it out in blood
That you couldn't believe in, if it caused a flood

What makes people cling together, what makes people sing together
Is a whole knot of loneliness, and I think that we’re born to this
It takes different eyes to see that nothin’ makes us rise to be that
Whole for yourself, be enough for yourself
Because it all adds up to nothing

You want what you want, and I want what I want
Your wants don’t add up, but I’ve got to just shut up
Track Name: No Exit
So this is it, this is what it's like
It's not like we imagined back on the flip side
No torturers, no lake of flames
Just you and you and I with only ourselves to blame

Just sitting and sitting and thinking about
The living and what we will be doing without

There's no exit, no way out of here
Though their strategy is hazy the results are too clear
There's no exit, no escape from you
And hell is other people here with nothing to do

Re-letting, forgetting us back there on earth
We regretting and getting on each other’s nerves

You rub me wrong, I guess that’s the point.
I wish that you would both shut up or we a joint
We don’t belong together in this room
I don’t a ménage a trios will happen too soon

Not pretty, this pity, I’m feelin’ so deep
I don’t think I can sleep with you, ‘cause we never sleep

Eternal estrangement, this is our prize
The final arrangement, I look through your eyes
And see me: the product, of things that I’ve done
I know I deserve this, but shit, it’s no fun
Track Name: Thing in the World
Am I amusing you as I am musing over me
Am I a bitter tool? Well, what else could I be?
Am I a bit too used? Are my expressions too obscure?
I’ve been away too long to simply wait it out for her
I’m gonna speak my inner self or something if you don’t mind
It’s rather surprising to be who I am!

I see I’m too unguarded to withstand a real attack
Am I a bleeding fool to put a target on my back?
I try to toughen up, but my persona’s worn too thin
I try to shake my pain, but it’s tattooed on my skin
I’m gonna speak my inner self or somebody’s if you don’t mind
It’s rather surprising that this was my plan.

I’m just a thing in the world just a-layin’ around
Just a thing in the world driven into the ground
And I’m open, I’m offered, I’m here with no explanation

I’m just a thing in the world loaded up with regret
Just a thing in the world, and I try to forget
That I’ve owned, and I’ve authored and caused my whole situation.

Are you receiving me? Am I the enemy or what?
Will you cherish me, or will you kick me in the butt?
Do I have a shot with you, or am I aiming much too high?
Or am I just too late, and now the crush of fate is nigh?
I’m gonna put myself all in on auction if you don’t mind
I’m not gonna lose more than you’re gonna win

I’m just a thing in the world, just taking up space
Just a thing in the world, smashed all over the place
And I’m lonely and awful and feeling with no destination

I’m just a thing in the world, so absorbed with myself
A thing in the world; I’m obsessed with my health
And I’m hopeful and wanting and feel my whole situation

I’m just a thing in the world loaded up with regret
Just a thing in the world, and I try to forget
That I’m a thing in the world
Track Name: I Believe (Stalking George Burns)
Lord, I believe in subtlety
And in stating things with strict exactitude
And attention to the nuance of how dumb I feel
For instance, don’t say “ouch"
Say “I perceive a tension in my left chest there
And its proximate cause was when you ripped the hair out
Leaving me lopsided and mildly less bushy and spiritually gushy
And I’m not sure why you did it
Though I could list three hundred reasons, here goes: number one..."

No! I believe in subtlety
I believe in sounding off at nothing when it really didn’t matter
What exactly got me going in the first place
I believe in a few basic truths
None of which I could possibly do justice to now

Lord, I believe

Lord, I believe in long hard work
As long as it’s obsessive and completely self-invented and unwelcome
Like stalking George Burns or writing songs
I believe in bullshit, if bullshit is funny, which it is

I believe if you hate enough and vent enough
Then everyone you meet will just adore you
I believe if I’m loud enough and I’m hoarse enough
And I’m foul enough then I will

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