The Sixth Avenue Verses

by Michael Coughlan

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The debut solo album from singer-songwriter Michael Coughlan. 'The Sixth Avenue Verses' chronicles life in a dusty town in the heart of the northern badlands.


released April 9, 2014

Produced by Shannon Lyon. All songs written by Michael Coughlan.



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Michael Coughlan Medicine Hat, Alberta

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Track Name: Sad Sung Hero
Well it's funny how just when you're making ground how every wheel can find the ditch. All the news is sad and every friend you had whoever stood beside you quit. Hearing silent screams as all the death machines roll out and take society. Things can seem so bleak, the feeble and the meek - you watch them all fall to that beast. Still you move along with every heart worn song (the one reward is that you're free). So take your guitar man and tour across the land, it's going to set your mind at ease.

A sad sung hero, across the country you roam. A sad sung hero, you're so far from your home. A sad sung hero, you face the world all alone.

And as the sun goes down you're in another town to play those sad songs through the night. And every face you see, it's like they want to be the man on stage behind the mic. But after every show, the neon lights aglow, they file out the door in pairs. The happy couples go, and little do they know a singer's woeful thoughts and cares. Walk to the motel room under a quarter moon, get to the door and find the key, then have a beer or two (there's not much else to do), what tomorrow brings you'll see.

A sad sung hero, across the country you roam. A sad sung hero, you're so far from your home. A sad sung hero, you face the world all alone.

Well it's something how, just when you're leaving town, you've finally found your mind some peace. Every care you had, all the things gone bad, with every road sign find release. From the badlands now to the mountains how you've left your troubles to the east. Living clean and free but then you've always seemed to make the most of what was least. As the sun goes down you're driving westward bound putting freedom to the test. In the frame of mind you leave it all behind you're living one gig to the next.

A sad sung hero, across the country you roam. A sad sung hero with no direction home. A sad sung hero, you face the world all alone.
Track Name: The Sun is Sinking
The sun is sinking in the Okanagan Valley, headlight rivers wind their way through the hills. Morgan drives her Rubicon and puts the campus station on then pops another pair of coloured pills. Her shopping bags fall to the floor, spill pretty things from boutique stores (sweet dreams are made of this). She grabs the wheel and starts to feel it's pointless and there's nothing real there's something that she's missed. Her friends all think it's easy but the truth is so damn sleazy, man, you can't get harder than this.

Where do we go from here?

A million reasons why the season brings its sadness on the breezes, falling rain will cry for us all. When Morgan puts a new dress on she sheds a tear that falls upon the marble floor that leads to the hall. Her footsteps echo sadly as she walks and she would gladly skip the social scenester's trip for something tame, a little lame, less conscious with a solid aim for shooting from the hip. But bleeding hearts are prone to gushing red wine geysers now she's lushing - tilt the crystal and sip.

Where do we go from here?

She says "Kelowna's got it's box stores baby, restaurants too, the malls and maybe that's enough for you. But I've been going damn near crazy, spending money, being lazy - not much else to do." Her thoughts are contradictin' said she's moving to Penticton (tiny condo living down on the beach). 'Cause all she wants are wholesome thoughts, for once to let old habits rot in some small town out of reach from gossip talkin', fashion walkin', two-faced friends forever stalkin' high life values they preach.

How do I make it clear? Can I get out of here? Where do we go?
Track Name: Dead Air
The deejay from the radio hears a voice that's not his. And he walks now among us, you don't know who he is. The deejay from the radio hears a voice that's not his. The deejay from the radio who near lost his mind by being his self among folks who were blind. A purveyor of truth and he near lost his mind. He's gone now and saddened by fortune unkind. The deejay from the radio don't dress like we dress. He wears yellow sunglasses, his hair is a mess. And his peers they don't like it but he don't care he'll confess. The deejay from the radio don't dress like you dress. The deejay from the radio don't talk like you talk. The deejay from the radio don't drive - he just walks. He goes down to the river, when he gets there he stops...

...he's quiet and still as he sits on the rocks...
Track Name: Fifty Sad Songs
Farewell my brothers, farewell my sister, and farewell my mother the same. I'm out on the prairies now and I'm not so sure how I'll ever get back home again. It's a long way from Ontario, fifty sad songs by stereo, I counted them all on the way. Thirty-five by Saskatchewan, where I played another one, fourteen made the rest of the way. Tonight the moon's low down, a soft breeze flows through town, I stand on my front porch amazed. And downhill the river my dreams will deliver and a bridge for the crossing I made.

Well I'm all alone now and I never knew just how much all-aloneness could kill. I thought I was strong but when things get too wrong I can't count on the mindset or will. My thoughts problematic, the bells of St. Patrick's and morning time angels ring true. When Sunday comes callin' my night fears have fallen and doubt washes out with the dew. Without rhyme or reason it's my perfect season replacing a season in hell. If not for the distance, sequestered existence, I'm prone to state matters are well.
Track Name: Means Crossed with Ends
You've been on a lonely road for miles boy, you've been on a lonely road for miles. You've been on a lonely road, your heart, your soul are growing cold. You've been on a lonely road for miles. You've been travelling hard without no sleep now, you've been travelling hard without no sleep. You've been travelling hard now and your mind is tired, your body's weak, you've been travelling hard without no sleep. And if you knew you could you surely would boy, if you knew you could you surely would. If you knew you could stand on the rock that Moses stood, if you knew you could you surely would...

The night comes down I hang my head, I'm haunted by the things I said, I sometimes think my soul is dark and dead. The moon above this prairie town is brilliant white and shining down, I watch it through the window from my bed. It's arcing through the western sky, a sparkle in a lover's eye, a face I can't remember for the time. I think about that girl I met still hung on my last cigarette, and I can only wish that she was mine.

But the sun will send the moon upon its way again. And I will sing an old song with my friends. A future undecided is a blessing that's provided for a man who gets his means crossed with his ends.

I threatened once to leave this place, but I'm still in that same old space I've kept up on the southeast hill for years. Each morning it's the same routine - I force forget unpleasant dreams with whiskey in my coffee and some beer. And this old town it knows me now, the guitar man whose chips are down, but my songs still put a smile upon their face. And the tavern women take me home and save me from a night alone, come morning time I'm gone without a trace because...

The sun will send the moon upon it's way again. And I will sing an old song with my friends. A future undecided is a blessing that's provided for a man who gets his means crossed with his ends.
Track Name: The Schuler Song
I drove up to see you in Schuler. For days how you'd been on my mind. I don't think that I'm going back there no more 'cause you treated me so unkind. I brought you some flowers and candy. I cleaned up and wore my best suit. But you only chose to ignore me - yawning not giving a hoot. Your father said he didn't like me, 'a guitar man never makes due.' Your dog then proceeded to bite me - a plaything for canines to chew. Your mother pretended to help me. With iodine she cured my wounds. She poured out the rest of that bottle - and I jumped near as high as the moon. Well all the way home I was fuming. The smoke well it blew out my ears. I tried for awhile to forget you. But it ended up taking four years. I'm making my way in the city now. My guitar it's finally made due. I wonder if you're still in Schuler and whatever happened to you?
Track Name: Minnenaweh (in praise of Rawhide)
She come like earthquakes across the plain wielding lightning like a vengeful goddess. From dustbowls in the midwest rumbling herds announce her arrival. Her black hair grace the wind and flow freely like silk. Her piercing eyes see all. Her honeyed lips speak in riddles. Her suede skin smell of amber. She bring baskets lined with silver and filled with intention. She that which all men dream of. She take her place and roar, her flickering tongue whisper fiery tales under quarter moon halos and big dipper gulps of night sky. Tell me 'we must give up that which we value most.' She got coyote hemmed up in buckskin. She got mysterious powders in tiny sacks. Tonight we feast in her name and feast for her pleasure. Brightly blazing fires project our forms in silhouette. She want nothing but what you give - the natural light in your eyes, an equal trade of that what matters, some wise and meaningful words. She leave holes in hearts when she pass. She make no excuse for the time she take. She go quietly like birds over still lakes. She disappear like the moon at dawn and when she goes the spirits follow. Sure enough, the spirits follow.
Track Name: Medicine Hat Approximately
Four hours from the mountains nestled out among the badlands lies a town that they call Medicine Hat. The place is built on flames of hell and freight trains run the rails there, well, arriving I discovered that ...there's a lonely wind that blows around. I settled in without a sound content to start the job I'd found my place was at the top of a hill. The artist girl just two doors down named Shelby wore a satin gown that matched her green eyes what a thrill. I loved the way she smoked a cigarette. I knew exactly what to say the day she turned those eyes my way. She held me tight one fateful night atop that hill in pale moonlight her way just too much to resist. Our two souls weak and at all costs discretion, shame, and candour lost - we'd thrown it all down for a kiss. I heard a freight train blast its way through the night. So hand in hand across the moonlit Finlay Bridge to the old hotel on the dusty side of town for a drink. The sadness of the desperate drunks and tired barmaid who one by one poured her whiskey-spent days down a sink. But the band on stage just brought it home. They sang "ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh." That summer chapter fast in passing makes late labours everlasting hard to look back on the pain. The sadness of the quiet homes in rows I see as ghosts in kitchen windows watch me pass by in the rain. And in the rail yard all the switchmen are having a smoke. They're singing "ooh-ooh-ooh, ooh-ooh-ooh."