by Chris Michels

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Chris Michels - Vocals, Guitars, Basses, Keys, Drums, Artwork, Recording, Mixing & Mastering
Alex Riesenbeck - Plays Drums on Tracks 1, 5, 8 & 11

Jake Waite - Co-wrote Track 1
Jim Benson - Co-wrote Track 11
Cindy Oakerland - Wrote a lyric in track 6 though that's probably news to her
Recorded by Chris Michels August 25 - September 29, 2014 in Harbor Springs, MI

Song Histories

Knowledge Seeker
by Michels/Waite

This tune was written and performed in a very early version of SDHJ with Niq fronting the band, Matt on kit and myself on Bass. I can't remember much of writing the song, but I know Jake Waite came up with the opening guitar line which I always liked. After a good number of years on the shelf I recently began performing the song with my live groups and it found its way onto this release. Alex plays drums and I played the mono drawbar organ on my tablet device.


I wrote Rosewater this past winter (2013/14) while living in Ann Arbor. At the time I had gotten back from some extensive western U.S. living/traveling and a good number of songs came pouring out. I was remembering many childhood memories fondly and created a new conglomerative vision in my head of a commmunity gathering of loved ones, maybe an entire small village or something and I just let the pen go. While Tracking a half year later, this was a last minute addition to the album after cutting another song I wasnt getting anywhere with. The original version in my minds ear was more of a bluegrass thing, but I wanted the album to groove, so I put a big beat on it and lent some beatboxing. I also like the tune because there aren't many good harmony songs on the album. I can ownly really afford a limited version of my recording software, so I only have 8 tracks to work with per song, so the entire album is mixed in my own kind of way; I'm self taught. I think the Beatles used 4 or 8 tracks if I remember right.

Never A Bun

This song came about when I was living on a farm in central Oregon. If we, if the workers on the farm wanted wheat-based items such as bread or pasta we had to bake/make them ourselves from the flour that was milled there onsite, which was realy fun and I had a great time teaching myself bread baking. I came across a poem about some dough that had dried in the sun and had turned to stone and never became a bun. Looking back it was all that baking and the poem that inspired this song.
All the instruments on this track were recorded straight-to-loop-pedal a couple years ago for an online release I made entitled "Cathedral and Cave" (which is a lyric from the song). I considered doing an all new version but I liked the original drum machine version. I re-recorded the vocals though.

Cliffs Of Insanity

A lot of my time-out-west was spent rock climbing. Cliffs Of Insanity is the name of a particular area in Indian Creek south of Moab, Utah where I did some of my first climbing. The expansive red canyons, fragrant sage and beautiful people I encounted there felt very magical, though as the months turned to years of doing a lot of amazing things so far from home, I was longing for more music in my life, more musicians to play with which was very rare in SW UT. One morning our gang desided to go to The Cliffs Of Insanity and I had basically had my fill. I suddenly wasn't feeling it, you could say. I couldn't go climbing another day. I was done. I stayed at camp and I wrote two songs this is one of them. I was struggling with myself and was very low at the time. Living in the middle of nowhere in the desert had gotton to me and I needed to jam. This has a sister song, aside from the one written the same day, written a year earlier in the desert of Oregon called "Dust Devils" that was on "Cathedral And Cave" but did not end up on the disc you are listening to.


Another tune I wrote in Ann Arbor. Being in a new city can be hard. It's hard to find the people you realy jive with, and we gotta remind ourselves that we're ok. Kind of nerdy but I think "Shake the shadow" may be from Lord of the Rings I dont remember. I listened to 80000 hours of NPR that winter and if anything came from it it was some good fam time and a few tunes.

Alex Riesenbeck did some great drumming on this version that we tracked in his garage amongst an array of bikes, car parts, nick-nacs, pollywogs and 1980's speaker cabinets. On this same day we recorded some drum tracks for the upcoming Dede And The Dreamers album. I was discussing some recording technique earlier but I will take this opportunity to mention all the drums on the album were done with 2 mics. With my limited number of tracks (8-per-song) for the entire album I made the sacrifice mostly in the drum department but I think it turned out fine. I used 1 mic (same I used for all vocals) in front of the bass drum, but out about 2 or 3 feet out so it gets some of the right side of the kit ( from drummers perspective, which is how it's mixed). Then I use an overhead a few feet above the kit pointed at the snare drum. The only other mic on the entire album is a sm57 used for all electric guitar and nothing else. It isn't that I prefer these mics, its that I am more interested in the music itself, so I just use what I'm told will be good, and don't experiment much (in terms of gear). When it comes to recording technique however, I'm very experimental. I do try though, to remain simple and consistent.

Michigan Sand

Originally written for rock band much like this version, I wrote Michigan Sand in Highschool. It became a  Grass Monkey song (my bluegrass-esc band formed in Marquette, MI in 2007). Singer Jake Shea lent the vocals for most early versions of the song. I think I wanted it on this album because it's kind of like unfisnished busssines. I want to play this song live, and I want to play all the songs on this album live and I want people to know them and get exited when they start. It's all really just means to an end; that live show, so here it is. This song was going to be track 2, then moved later in the album for the physical CD, then I almost cut it all together and its back in its original spot in the album.

I Moved In Last Week

Though this song came about during the week I moved to Ann Arbor, I think it's a kind of a fictitious character that I'm singing about. I do mention things I was moving (novels, guitars) but I had no stands, paintings, shelves, or some other things i mention. I also didn't paint any walls. But my sister and her husband did have those things and painted some stuff so the song is from 2 perspectives maybe and the music too is contrasting between this beautiful yet complex melody and a tension filled melodic crescendo. Musically, this song is a great example of some wise words my guitar teacher told me "good musicians copy…..great musicians steal". Shocking yes but let me know if you figure out what 2 songs I took the chords from! But thats for Stu Ford to figure out.

Play Out

One settling feeling when living in Portland, Oregon was that things would play out. If i was patient, time would pass and my petty troubles would be ok, and that thought allowed me to smell the roses….I wrote it in The Pink House thanks Scott I love you bud! That guy saved me from drifting nowhere. It's on How The West Was Fon but that was with a fake drummer and I really like having Riesenbeck on drums! Also tracked in the garage.


Look this climb up online. It's in Wyoming. The words are about me not climbing it. It's also about love.

Song For Oceans

The first time I went to the Pacific Ocean I wrote two songs. One I got to play with Jimmy Olson and John Driscoll at blissfest 2012, the other was Song for Oceans. "Cause it fits without question into any space it's allowed and is bigger and anything pacifist endowed, theres a song for oceans in me but I'm a stranger, no birds eye view. Learn from the ocean, let the waves pass through." This was recorded in the same fashion and on the same day as Never A Bun. See Never A Bun

The Giants

This is another old song. The old songs on this album are Knowledge Seeker, Michigan Sand and this one which you may have already realized contains some other songs. I like live music and I like to be spontaneous and this studio track embodies that. The song plays out and is then followed by some improvised singing, some some poetry of sorts read over an alternate take of the same song, concluding with another song I wrote with Jim Benson in the same era. Don't ask me why I buried the track inside another song. I originally wanted it to sound loose (and it does!) I used 4 instruments on the recording which cost under 100 bucks a piece) and they aren't tuned well. So maybe thats why. But I had fun and its all for your pleasure…..and mine too!
When Jim and I wrote the song I didn't realize that it was about being born but yes thats what its about. It reminds me of many Grass Monkey shows and I look forward to enjoying the song live for a while in the rock band setting. Lets keep it loose people lets have a good time eh?
I also added an s to the end of the title just now. After 8 years…ha
Pick and Grin is an outtake I couldn't part with. It was also written by Jim Benson and I so it seemed fit to tag it at the end here.


released December 31, 2014

Recorded by Chris Michels August 25 - September 29, 2014 in Harbor Springs, MI

2014 Chris Michels.



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Chris Michels Michigan

I like to play in. I like to play out.

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Track Name: Knowledge Seeker
Knowledge Seeker - Michels/Waite

I've here seeking knowledge
I've wasted half my time
I hope that you're still with me
This happens in our lives
Track Name: Rose Water
Rose Water - Michels

taste of iron, taste of copper, skinned knee, cedar spruce
aroma from the bakery, the mix of several foods
faces, firmiliar faces, that i've mostly seen before
they've all come together come to gather one time more

a drink of rose water to ease yourself right
a nip of rosewater to synch you up tight
a drink of rose water a nip of rosewater oohhh

what makes you want things, its what your shown
its what you see, what you come to know
longings not living, thats where it ends
brush yourself off there and begin again

a drink of rose water to ease yourself right
a nip of rosewater to synch you up tight
a drink of rose water a nip of rosewater oohhh

theres a bottom theres a top, theres a knife and theres a mop
many things hidden in what you see and what you think
what you think's not always real. open up and cast your reel
what you catch is up the stream if you only dare to dream
Track Name: Never A Bun
Never A Bun - Michels

no permanence is ours
in cathedral or cave
as an ever-lasting guest
no field or plow is our

kneaded dough never sent to flame
drying in the sun, awaiting bake
stiffened there in the sun
dough to stone, never a bun

dreary faces glare the stone, rolling 'cross the land
(they) let it roll till its force is spent, (and it) vanish(es) into sand
into the sand it goes, into the great unknown
and then you prove whats next by tempting fate and kneading dough

no permanence is ours
no field or plow is our
Track Name: Cliffs Of Insanity
'Cliffs Of insanity' - Michels

here at the cliffs of insanity
we try not to jump off
onto a ledge is this insanity?
this is our stop

he summed it up in just two words
oh how it hurt to hear those words
my whols life in just one breathe
this monster never sleeps

here at the cliffs of insanity
we try not to jump off
onto a ledge is this insanity?
this is our stop
into another new millennium
we've seen one just the day before
onto the floor is this linoleum?
what are we hear for?
Track Name: Shadow
Shadow - Michels

shadows grow in us when we dont know what we have
we dont think we have it but we have just what we need
very clear signs but we deny everything in view
very clear sign but we refuse to make a move

shake the shadow, red to black and back again

shouting in my thoughts clutter in my head
coffee in my cup, butter on my bread
very clear signs but we deny everything in view
very clear sign but we refuse to make a move

shake the shadow, red to black and back again

shadows grow in us when we dont know what we have
shake the shadow
Track Name: Michigan Sand
Michigan Sand - Michels/Oakerland

take me to each time of night
cuz I intend to stay up right
instead i sleep before too long
the words she say drift me along
my eyes travel round as the spoke turns now
teach me a lesson 'bout my life

take me to each time of day
shes in the lake by the first of may
she handed me an ivory spoon
told me to build a sharp harpoon
my eyes travel round as the spoke turns now
teach me a lesson 'bout my life

going on our way in the sand each and every may
take it to the sky or the sand watch the willow sway
maybe it's the sky or the sand that makes me feel this way
i know i'll come back someday to that michigan sand
i' find way back to michigan sand

if you wanna play in texas, you gotta have a fiddle on the band.....
if you wanna play in michigan you gotta learn to dance on the sand
my eyes travel round as the spoke turns now
Track Name: I Moved In Last Week
I Moved In Last Week - Michels

i moved in last week, had stuff in boxes
moved stuff. stashed things. this here that there
i painted some walls, hung a photograph
shelves with novels, stands with guitars, lamps and blankets: all of my shit
i move everyday its not very hard. wasted, i feel its not my fault.
i have my reasons but i think they're mine. i know I'm here its a feeling. you can't prove me wrong. I'm block headed

dont let my things take me over
gunna know just who i am
who i am is a feeling inside
i can't describe it, i feel alive though
in the kitchen the clock is ticking
Track Name: Play Out
Play Out- Michels

got a lot to learn, a lot to learn
settles my doubt it'll all play out
play out

cooking rice, got a lot to do
not much to do, if i only knew
play out. play out.

written or not, it'll all play out

got a lot to to hear and a lot to know
if i'd never know, then i'd still go
play out

i will make a promise i won't break
Track Name: Wolf's Head
Wolf's Head - Michels

Wolf's Head seams scary, cold and grey, stone of silence
somber quake inside me yells, my heart speaks up
i dont want to do this, i just wanna give up
the earth still rests beneath my feet, supporting me
and the moon she shows her face sometimes to great me
the skys so wide i hope someday i'll find it
weathers coming in taking me over
and over and over into a red ball of yarn, soft and new it costs a nickel

court the earth. love the moon. wed the sky.
Track Name: Song For Oceans
Song For Oceans - Michels

'cuz it fits without question into any space its aloud
and it bigger than anything pacifist endowed

theres a song for oceans in me
but I'm a stranger, no birds-eye-view
learn from the ocean, let the waves pass through

deserts, sandy, rocky surf and turf reside
gate 'tween mainland and water, two worlds collide

theres a song for oceans in me
but I'm a stranger, no birds-eye-view
learn from the ocean, let the waves pass through
theres a lover screaming into the wind
learn from the ocean and start again

theres a long for oceans in me oceans in me
Track Name: Giants
Giants - Michels/Benson

the first time i used my eyes there were two giants standing over me
at first my heart began to race i didn't know what they might do to me
the blue one reached out his arm and pulled me out of my bed
he lifted me 10,000 feet and just kissed me on the head

the first time i used my ears a sound wave came through the air
a sound wave from an unknown source hit me like a running horse
the giant sang that song alive, a song about his lovely wife
and when the song came to an end the giant sang that song again

first time i used my ears, i heard the giant's song
first time i used my eyes, damn i felt alive

*This version of 'Giants' contains music and lyrics from 'Atoms Aren't Small' by Michels, 'Pick and Grin' written by Michels/Benson and the monologue from 'City Spirits' -also by Michels.