No Man Is an Island

by Samuel B. Lupowitz

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1.
A Dream 01:32
We all gotta love each other But there’s a sickness in the air Gotta sweat it out Get through to the other side To prove we really care It’s one thing to say “I love you” But something else to walk the walk Because in this eleventh plague They’re burning our neighbor’s house Their outlines scratched in chalk And those you call essential, I call sacrificial lambs You’re only scared of losing things that aren’t part of the plan Show me otherwise I believe in human beings Baby, I believe in you Believing ain’t enough Acting is, and I know it’s tough But we could make a dream come true
2.
3.
I met a man from Hamburg, Pennsylvania Who I had known from many years before Though his hair had greyed, his smile was familiar His words, however, warned of secret war I paused a moment, took his hand and asked him why And he said “Pull your head out of your ass “Why so hateful? “So ungrateful! “Maybe you should die! (ANTIFA!)” Whoa, we got a social disconnect When helping hands come second to delusions we protect Whoa, social disconnect The more we see, the more we can deflect I met a girl in Portland, out in Oregon She flew a flag saying we should back the Blue “Punks in the streets, they’re threatening our business “You gotta keep that scum away from you” Her next door neighbor that she’s worked beside five years Got shot standing on his lawn Called 911 Cop pulled a gun Now here come her tears Whoa, we got a social disconnect Deny responsibility, just let nature select Whoa, social disconnect The more we see, the more we can deflect We’ve all got problems We’re all clawing up for air From underneath the same gigantic pile of rubble And if we can’t see we all have that in common Instead of each a fragile, desperate bubble If we’d rather stand for silence than our neighbors Then I hate to tell you friends But we’re in big, big trouble I made a friend in overpriced Manhattan They came of age in the Recession near Detroit Remember there was poison in the water? And the boss said “too expensive, what’s the point?” They said “if all lives matter, lay that money down “No sense fighting for the crumbs “While they get ahead “You may wish us dead “But you don’t own our town” Whoa, we got a social disconnect With each of us means to the end: The riches they protect Whoa, social disconnect The more we know, the more we can correct We got a social disconnect Charge at an oncoming train, Surprise! Boy, you got wrecked Whoa, social disconnect When con men whisper in our ears Just hoping to infect Our only hope is if we can connect Don’t stab me in the back Then pull it out halfway and call it progress Don’t stab me in the back Then pull the whole thing out and say “okay?” Don’t look at me and say “I see you’re bleeding, but I’m not responsible” If we don’t heal the wound The pain isn’t going away "If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that's not progress. The progress is healing the wound that the blow made. They haven't even pulled the knife out, much less try and heal the wound; they won't even admit the knife is there." -Malcolm X
4.
That Was You 04:25
Heard her say you flew through time and space In a flash of light To say that you’re okay Just that night, you showed up in my dream Said that you’re alright You were gone the next day I don’t know if there’s an afterlife We stumble, then it’s over But if it’s possible to make it through... Well, that was you I wonder what you’d say about these times Bet you’d laugh at that, Knowing what you’d miss You got off one stop before the crash If I questioned “why” You shrugged, “because it is.” You always set your sights on outer space No lower, no mediocre And never settle for the bland untrue Yeah, that was you You believed There is good inside of everyone Just build it, we’ll see it Hey, my friend Can you see us from the other plane? Or are we gone? In this time where time stands stoney still Yet races, it still races What’s the voice that keeps me strong and true? “The why is the is.” -Dan Gaibel (1975 - 2019)
5.
Table Flip! 03:25
You got it all Everything I said I wanted And you got it faster Still looking cool and nonchalant And when I shouted out ten years ago I would take on the world and you Would I curse myself at thirty That the dream never came true? So flip the tables and curse the heavens Turn amplifiers up to eleven And oh, I got no right to complain I’m letting go of the pain That dream is over I made a vow Turned down notoriety And I am humble As much as an egotist can be But when I shouted out, at twenty-one, I would rise up high like a flame I should have known I’d have to swallow That you’ll never know my name So flip the tables and curse the heavens Turn amplifiers up to eleven And oh, I got no right to complain I’m letting go of the pain And Taylor, I said things that you’ll never hear But I hear them And I know I was wrong I blamed all your money, your privilege, your dad And maybe that’s true But hey, it worked out for you And look at all you could do I made you the villain And isn’t that funny Cuz god knows what men do For pussy and money And fame They break the whole damn game I found a home And the people here who make it I found a future Where I get to have it all And my life may be on a smaller scale Than I hoped when I was small But I know who I am and what I am And I’m having a fucking ball So flip the tables and curse the heavens Then crank the volume up to eleven And oh, it feels alright to complain I’m letting go of the pain I’m letting go of the pain That dream is over “When I was 25, not only would I not listen to music, I had to fuckin’ let you know . . . ‘The only reason Nickelback does that music is for money and pussy. That’s it!’ . . . Do you know what people do for money and pussy on this planet? They do horrific shit. . . . Now, the guys in Nickelback said, ‘I’d like that level of money and pussy in my life. Don’t know if I want to kill anybody. What if instead, we went LOOK AT THIS BOO-DA-BOO? Does that work instead?’ They went with that option. Which kind of makes them heroic when you think about it, you know! No one died. That should be their box set. Nickelback: It Ain’t Pol Pot!” -Patton Oswalt, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time
6.
What can I do? No other person could climb on through What can I say? Thought it was scream out or fade away But I broke a fragile mirror And I’m sweeping up the glass And now I understand the things that do and do not change That shit will kick you right in the ass And if I knew my brain was burning me Then I’d apologize And now that you’re done hiding I’ll tear off my sad disguise Locked inside where isolation wins Sinking down while I tried to climb This world‘s on fire, let‘s just hold on Until a better time Spinning my wheels I didn’t know you knew how it feels Enviously I wanted all that you couldn’t give me But I shook a trust I needed And I pushed when trying to cling And in the light of day there’s space between the needs and wants And I can feel the pendulum swing Chorus Inside my head I feel it squeezing and I’m losing my grip I misread Every cue but the one she gave you Now I feel that what’s true is slipping Clouding my view I tried to give, but I needed, too Passing my prime I thought that we’d have a better time Now I know where all the walls are And I know my own mistakes When somewhere deep inside you feel like you can’t make me stay You know I’ll do whatever it takes Chorus
7.
I’ve got friends trembling in their beds at night Each day a blinding swirl Of good and evil, black and white We all work to preserve The lives that we lead So much room for us all To have what we need But you say, “step back cucks, “I’ll decide who gets to make the grade!” I want to make you afraid You yearn for a Wild West wet dream Make us dance in the dirt for our milk While you skim off the cream You maintain a machine That deals every card And you’ve loaded the deck ‘Cause that gets you hard Then you go home to sleep Oh-so-comfy in the bed you’ve made I want to make you afraid You demand to speak your hate and lies But if I challenge a word you say All law and freedom dies And you stand with your gun By the polling place I load mine, you shout “extremist” In my face Spit on our safety Then cry out to big daddy for aid I wanna make you... We’re all inside a cage, the best money can buy You say “I know you are, but tell me what am I?” I know you want to be free to live the life you choose But why on earth do you feel you only win if I lose? I don’t think anyone should live in fear But watching you lot pound your chests One thing is now becoming clear If you boast and and you sneer Kick sand in a face You extort, and you kill Then say “stop making it about race” And excuse yourself No matter how deep in the muck you wade I wanna make you afraid You gotta reap what you sow You can dish it out, but can ya take it, baby? You know it doesn’t have to be this way Who do you think you are?
8.
“Who can tell us what’s to come?” You say as you open the door “One moment the sea is calm “And the next, storms cast you ashore” I came looking for advice And a riddle is all you gave But honey, you look so nice And you make me feel so brave You go in brilliant disguises A rose by any other name After all the journey’s surprises The more things change The more they stay the same Well, we’re dancing On the ocean floor Oh, we’re dancing Off this unfamiliar shore “No, I’ve got to get back home,” I say, and you laugh so hard You say, “You’ve been gone so long "I bet men are lining up in her yard “But one day maybe you’ll come clean "So tell me, how does that make you feel?” And I think, “home is so far off “But here, you feel so real” And deep in the dark of your bedroom The future is laid out, so clear Ensnared as a prisoner-bridegroom I can’t put my finger on what led me here But we’re dancing On the ocean floor Oh, we’re dancing Off this unfamiliar shore In years to come, will I think back on what we’ve done? When the journey’s done and you’re just a memory? Well, cheers to that, for now we’ll have our little fun I’d rather live to regret it than die free I won’t be back again Of course, I’ve said that before “Who can tell us what’s to come?” I grin as you shut your door The seeds of my self destruction In your bed, in your siren song Before the end of this stage production I guess I’ll take a chorus to sing along While we’re dancing On the ocean floor Oh, we’re dancing Off this unfamiliar shore "I stayed with Calypso seven years straight on end, and watered the good clothes she gave me with my tears during the whole time; but at last when the eighth year came round she bade me depart of her own free will, either because Zeus had told her she must, or because she had changed her mind.” -Odysseus, The Odyssey, by Homer
9.
No Sleep 04:33
Endless night Each time a star shines down to Bring us light We learn, we learn how deep the darkness Try as I might Can’t look to constellations to escape from here, no So batten down the hatches, stifle all your yawns No sleep until a new day dawns Heroes fall And then we learn they’re not such Heroes at all They fought, we fought, but who obeyed the Master’s call? One savior can’t defend our comfort from our doom, no Those bastards run the board, we’re sacrificed like pawns No sleep until a new day dawns No sleep for the wicked No sleep for the just No sleep ‘til it’s over Leaders rise And all they represent is Greed and lies They take, they take, while we are starving Money buys Their military guard dogs and their manor homes But no They’ll wake to find our legions screaming on their lawns No sleep until a new day dawns No sleep for the wicked No sleep for the just No sleep ‘til it’s over Though sleep we must
10.
One day this all will be behind us Though we must fight to see it through We may not live to see the promised land But I promise I’ll stand up next to you

about

Like many of the musical endeavors I’ve thrown myself headlong into over the past few years, I blame Harry Nichols for this album.

Back in the early stages of Covid quarantine in the spring of 2020, my friend and bandmate Harry mentioned that he had been enjoying listening back to my 2012 solo album, Songs to Make You Wealthier and More Attractive. I had also recently returned to Harry’s record from the same year, Love en Route, as a balm for my Coronavirus anxiety, and I made the casual but calculated suggestion that we write song-for-song responses to each other’s 2012 albums.

So I did. See? Totally Harry’s fault.

Harry’s deliciously catchy Love en Route is a loose concept album about “love in its varied forms ... stripped of all fairy tale misconceptions.” Romantic partners, inspirational figures, important places, ourselves. Harry was in his early 20s when he wrote those songs. Nearly a decade on, during such a tumultuous time in the United States and the world, I couldn’t help but think about how much more complicated the idea of love seems, even as I’d settled into marriage, career, and a general sense of self-actualization I’d chased for much of the previous ten years.

How do we show love in a time when one false move opens us up to sickness, oppression, or destruction? Is it enough to simply “love one another,” to be kind and generous as a general rule, or does truly caring for each other require a larger struggle, to protect ourselves from those who would dominate without consent?

These ideas weighed on me as I wrote this batch of personal and political songs. I recorded them holed up alone in my new home studio, calling in remote contributions from friends and artists I admired, only able to play in a room with other musicians toward the very end of the process, after the vaccines began to roll out. Throughout the album, I pay tribute to Harry’s songs thematically, often structurally, sometimes lyrically, and even (on at least one occasion) musically.

As the months of the pandemic rolled on, as I felt my hard-won sense of self tested by the loneliness and the uncertainty and the violence, I kept coming back to the paradox of the deeply isolating time we were all experiencing. No matter how alone we might feel — and no matter how much we may want to be strong, independent individuals — we are all connected. Through our shared communities, through the planet we live on, through the culture and history that shaped all of us, whether we understand it or even choose to acknowledge it... no one is an island.

And if you don’t like my thoughts on the matter, well, blame Harry Nichols.

Samuel B. Lupowitz
Ithaca, NY
July 2021

credits

released September 10, 2021

Music, lyrics, recording, and mixing by Samuel B. Lupowitz at home at Redwood Lane, Ithaca, NY
Mastering by Chris Ploss at Sunwood Recording, Trumansburg, NY

Additional home recording by Ryan Cirbus, Dan Collins, Andy Collopy, Jen Cork, J.P. Feenstra, Mark Hennessey, Erik Johanson, Joe Massa, Jill McCracken, Harry Nichols, Dan Pardo, Sergio Pedro, Will Shishmanian, Jackie Simons, Alec Staples, & Benjamin Tier
Art, photography, and design by J.P. Feenstra

Performers:

Samuel B. Lupowitz - vocals, drums, bass, piano, electric piano, organ, clavinet, Minimoog, talkbox, Seaboard, software synthesizers, harmonium, glockenspiel, tambourine, shaker, programming

Dan Collins - drums on 3, 7, 9; vocals on 4
Andy Collopy - vocals on 9
Jen Cork - vocals on 2, 3, 9
Mallory Evans - vocals on 8
Dan Gaibel - guitar & spoken vocals on 4
Will Gelder - slide guitar on 2, 3, 9
Joe Gibson - vocals on 4
Mandy Goldman - vocals on 8, 9, vocal arrangement on 8
Mark Hennessey - guitar & vocals on 5, 7; vocals on 9
J.P. Feenstra - percussion on 5
Erik Johanson - mandolin on 1, banjo & harmonica on 3, vocals on 9
Jessie Linden - vocals on 9
Amanda Massa - vocals on 8
Joe Massa - guitar on 2, 9
Jill McCracken - vocals on 9
Harry Nichols - vocals on 9, 10
Dan Pardo - vocals on 9
Sergio Pedro - guitar & vocals on 4
Will Shishmanian - guitar on 1, vocals on 9
Jackie Simons - vocals on 9
Alec Staples - saxophone on 2, 9
Mike Suave - vocals on 9
Benjamin Tier - vocals on 3, 5
Maddy Walsh - vocals on 9
Michael Wu - bass on 3, 7, 9

Special thanks to Josh Oxford for use of his Minimoog. You’re the man, Ox.

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Samuel B. Lupowitz Ithaca, New York

Piano-driven rock ’n’ soul for your thoughts, feelings, and theatrical leanings. Ben Folds backed by The Band.

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