The Envelope Pushes Back (2000)

by THUNDEREGG

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about

With upward of 150 homemade copies in circulation, this comeback album brought Thunderegg its first taste of critical and even international recognition. Quite possibly the most encouraging sign was that everyone seemed to have a different favorite song: Chris liked "Pardon Your French," Alicia liked "If I Went on a Diet," Tyler liked "Tomorrow I'll Change," Ken liked "In the Loft," and Aristides liked "The Second Coffer" while Patty liked "(Do) The Curfew." In addition, the rare B-side to "Diet," "What About (The Children)," is appended here, along with retooled versions of "What Was I Gonna Do?" and "Planetarium."

credits

released October 10, 2000

Songs 2, 4, 10, and 15 were recorded at 81 Cleveland Lane, Princeton, NJ, May and June 2000. Songs 5, 7–9, and 11–14 were recorded at 46 Pocomo Road, Nantucket, MA, September 2000. Songs 3, 6, and 16 were recorded at 510 West 110th Street, New York, NY, 1998. Song 1 was recorded at 357 Edgecombe Avenue, New York, NY, October 2000. “Again I Felt Rich” was previously released on "Powder to the People" (1998).

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Track Name: The Drapes Come Open, Revealing the Grand Ballroom
Hold on, hold on, hold on.
Track Name: In the Loft
She rattles off a clatter up the ladder as she writes electric letters to her mother about matters of disaster. When I ask her if she’s mad, she says she doesn’t have it in her. It’s just another Saturday in the cavern-cold arcade where the guests are always gusting, their requests are so disgusting. Why don’t you swirl the photos like leaves on an autumn day, I say. Swirl them on the carpet, before I can cart it away. In the loft, we never did consider the cost. When you get all that space, think of what you lost.

She’s still typing something frantic, no doubt about her antics. I know what you were doing the other side of the Atlantic. It was cheap, cheap, low, dirty, dirty, tap tap tap tap, does you mother sympathize? If she does, it’s no surprise. She has a right to fantasize no one should ever be denied. But not on my time, when you’re using my phone line—the computer’s also mine—while you disseminate the message that it’s tough, but you’ll be fine. You will not be mine, but you will not be fine. But I really can’t say why. I sat forever on that line. How can I say I don’t want you to be OK, and that I don’t agree that being kind is the best way? It’s just so sad I’m not invited. Go ahead and just keep writing. Tap tap tap drifting down to me below. Tell your mom I say hello from the loft. We never did consider the cost. When you get all that space, think of what you lost.
Track Name: If I Went on a Diet
If I went on a diet, then would you love me? Even if there were so much less of me than there used to be?

When I’m walking down the street I feel you pulling deepest reaches of my spirit, secrets keep no longer than a winter evening, then I find I’m telling you all I never wanted to. It’s inevitable truth and I hate it through and through. To tell you what I thought would go against all I was taught, but I was never a good student, constantly needed improvement. And the curse only got worse till the fool I am emerged, found myself standing on the curb shouting out my foolish words. And I saw you before the mirror with your hands over your ears so that both you and reflection wouldn’t ever have to hear. "I love you" won’t be seeping through to either of you soon, but I’ll never drop the dream I’m heard by someone in between. And if I wear down your defenses and you say you love me too, I’ll put a ring upon your finger just to stick those words to you. But that which slips does also glisten, light shines forth in glimmer soft, from golden rings that I did give, from soap you used to slip it off. And I’ll find that I’m back standing where I’d long ago once stood, except an aftermath equivalent can never feel as good. Before I watched what I was eating, thought I’d get in shape for you, now I couldn’t have a bite even if I wanted to.

If I went on a diet, then would you love me? Even if there were so much less of me than there used to be?
Track Name: This Is What I Saw
You spin the earth with your feet when you’re dancing on the ground. Loose bits of dirt kick out, break up the cliffs and tumble down. You sweep up dust and it spirals high, it blocks the moon and it blocks the tides, and the world is darkened and the waters rise. This is what I saw when you told me to look in your eyes.

You lit up a candle, you took it out into the yard. You raised it, compared it to the fire of the blazing stars. And you spun in circles on a floor of leaves, you lit the clouds and then you lit the trees, and you raised your arms as if to wave goodbye. This is what I saw when you told me to look in your eyes.

You sat up past midnight, you waited for the sound of my car. You walked down the driveway, you pulled me close into your arms. Then you took my hands and I held on tight, I said I loved you, we began to rise, then we soared forever through the invisible sky. This is what I saw when you told me to look in your eyes.
Track Name: What Was I Gonna Do?
Everyman knows everything and everyman’s a fool, but everyman’s got a whole new think coming for when he meets the likes of you. You defy all known statistics and what I pin on you. You’re an atheistic mystic, a sugar-free sweet tooth. What was I gonna do? You’re fading in the distance. You ran away, should I be chasing you? What was I gonna do?

If I had to buy you a present, I wonder what I’d choose, for I should give you nothing if I believed in the Golden Rule. I’m cutting tighter and tighter circles. When I drop over I come in twos. The rabbit and the turtle, I don’t know which one of us you refuse. What was I gonna do? You’re fading in the distance. You ran away, should I be chasing you? What was I gonna do?

Let’s go down to the seashore or to the Delaware Water Gap. Forget all that came before and what’s coming down the track. When I’m lying, I’ll tell you that I’m lying, so even lies will be true, and in the still of the night I’ll tell you that I’m dying, dying, dying, dying over you. What was I gonna do? You’re fading in the distance. You ran away, should I be chasing you? What was I gonna do?
Track Name: And Again I Felt Rich
And everyone is happier with everyone, and again, I felt rich. I had enough to leave me holding on, and again, I felt rich. When you’ve found a savior, how much should you save, and how much should you spend? When you’ve found a savior, aren’t you guaranteed favor and world without end? Again, I felt rich.
Track Name: The Envelope Pushes Back
We transferred in Stamford, anticipating our New Canaan. Excuse the interruption of your reveries, but the conductor’s been instructed to give this decree: The powers who deem profitability have asked for you to please display your pedigrees. And I will wake in profound confusion, and I will drink from the glass they give, and I will taste their proud infusion, and I will wonder whose life I should live. The envelope pushes back, sick and tired of being conspired against by all the hacks.

I like a world that is murder, and I find myself a willing right-hand man. Speaking low late at the hideout, laying down plans that I don’t quite understand. And the enmity that they send to me when they say that things will never, ever be, and the enmity that they send to me, have they considered that it’s gonna be the end of me? How many licks does it take to get to their core? How many licks can I take, and keep coming back for more? The envelope pushes back, sick and tired of being conspired against by all the hacks.
Track Name: The Second Coffer
It was the better bet to offer what was in the second coffer when it came down to it. The first one croaked just like a frogger and the third one had an odor that was easy to resist. But you reckoned that the second beckoned truer to the specs that were set down by the Prince. Your hope was when he opened it he’d be bowled over by the donor of such fabulous gifts.

They pulled the first one over, ripped it open with a crowbar and then they all looked in. Inside there was a bed of clover and a cricket on a stick just getting ready to sing. He rubbed his legs together and the most gorgeous music ever began to glimmer and ring. The porters carried the box off, the music faded, then it stopped, much to the Prince’s chagrin.

I’ll bet you wish you had selected presents equally delectable instead of the one that you picked. Surely the chest on the third gurney held something foul and far from pearly and your choice was the right fit. But when the lid unseized, it revealed arsenals of cheese selected from the continent. The texture and aroma were the finest ever known, and the Prince licked his lips.

But then that box was hustled off and you were left with your selection and a very hungry Prince. He was clearly disappointed with your choices to this point and said, "Let’s get this over with." They pulled the second coffer toward him, he slashed it open with a sword, and then he stared at what he did: The chest held a wedding dress and his sword tore through its breast and left it shredded to bits.

He slumped into his throne, resigned himself to this clear omen that he’d never have a queen. He’d never have a wedding dance and if he did, there was a chance one night he’d stab her in her sleep. And with no queen, there is no king, so his dream of conquering the world would never be reached. And you backed out of the hall knowing that you made the right call, and you were free to leave.
Track Name: Tomorrow I'll Change
I saw the first light shining off the buildings through the window while you were still reclining, and I saw you get up and I saw you deciding what to wear to your job that you should be resigning. I heard you make a pot of coffee cause I know that if you didn’t you’d be feeling pretty groggy. Then I felt you kiss me on the cheek, then the bolt turned over and I went back to sleep. And the evening and the morning were the first day, and today my name is Sorrow, but tomorrow I’ll change.

You called me a couple hours later as I drank the coffee that you left in the refrigerator. You were watching the clock till it was time for lunch and I had to confess I had no idea what time it was. I said that I was still in bed and you said that you wished that you could be with me instead. Then I said that I’d start working soon, then we hung up the phone and I napped the entire afternoon. And the evening and the morning were the first day, and today my name is Sorrow, but tomorrow I’ll change.

You came back a little after six and till seven you were telling me your boss is such a dick. Then till eight I complained that I can’t work when it rains, then till nine I confided I can’t work when the sun shines. At ten we got out of bed, took a walk around the block so that we could clear our heads. It was eleven when we switched off the light, as I dozed off I watched the clock as it came out at night. And the evening and the morning were the first day, and today my name is Sorrow, but tomorrow I’ll change.
Track Name: Ceiling Fan
Oh, let’s say you weren’t all the trouble that you are. Let’s pretend to forget the broken cars and totaled hearts. Let’s just say the pain was blameless and it was nobody’s fault. But then it’d be impossible to talk about you at all. You were felonious from loneliness but never got caught, and they won’t print wanted posters, not that that’s not what you want. And the ceiling fan keeps spinning up above the bed you made. If you look at it real quickly you can single out the blades. Oh, oh, oh you ran away from me, me, me, and didn’t say you’d be, be, be, be back again. But I thought I’d wait for the return of the blade.

Oh, I guess I owe you some more charity that that, especially when you stayed up with me when I passed out on the bathmat. You told me your life story and you offered your confession cause you knew that the next morning I would have no recollection. And I’ll bet you think I’m being just a little sentimental for someone who drives around in a Lincoln Continental, but I’m not the owner, it’s a loaner you can drive into the ground. I’ll just stay on the bed you made and watch the ceiling fan spin round and round. Oh, oh, oh you ran away from me, me, me, and didn’t say you’d be, be, be, be back again. You wrapped the grille around a tree, but you gave me back the keys.
Track Name: (Do) The Curfew
You’re late, for what I do not know, but I stayed up in the kitchen waiting for you to come home. On the garage and on the porch, the lights aglow, and the clock has rested its case upon the stove. Tonight in my robe I officially became old. There’s one dance a lot of kids do, with simple steps that lead right back to their rooms. No one can hurt you if you do the curfew.

Guess certain steps aren’t so easy to learn, guess certain bridges aren’t so easy to burn. A lot later pulls up a car I’d never seen before. Lingers in the driveway a while before you open the passenger door. When he drives away, there bursts the first light of the day. There’s one dance a lot of kids do, with simple steps that lead right back to their rooms. No one can hurt you if you do the curfew.

Spin your partners like they’ve never been. Then let them go and see whose arms they end up in.

You’re late, but you didn’t miss a lot. Or maybe I was early, and this is where we start. The sun’s bursting in through the windows of the kitchen. If you’ll look me in the eye, I promise I’ll listen. I made plenty of coffee. You still haven’t lost me. There’s one dance a lot of kids do, with simple steps that lead right back to their rooms. No one can hurt you if you do the curfew.
Track Name: The Terror Door
There’s a terror door to this room, letting in a cold, cold draft. Don’t go through it or we’re through. You ain’t never comin’ back. And we’ll fade away, fade away in time.

Just visualize the proof: I was driving too, too fast. You were telling me the truth. I was digging for the map. And we’ll fade away, fade away in time.

We stood upon a cake. We watched them draw the knife. We were pretty hard to break, but we let them draw our life. And we’ll fade away, fade away in time.
Track Name: Pardon Your French
I was laying candles on the mantel while you put on the negligee. There was no reason there should be a scandal if the injured party’s gone away. What was that sheen I seen, pictures of him? Thought you buried the evidence. I hope he’d understand that I could be any man and he’ll pardon your French. Yeah, it wasn’t just what you said. Hope he’ll pardon your French, and let it all come down on your head instead.

I’d be naive if I didn’t believe he had revenge fantasies up his sleeve. Seething on the streets of Paris, reading a sheet that leads back to my La Bohème seedy scene. I would lay the blame on your frame if I weren’t reaping the benevolence. I just hope he’d understand that I could be any man and he’ll pardon your French. Yeah, it wasn’t just what you said. Hope he’ll pardon your French, and let it all come down on your head instead.

I am not the threat. I just took what I could get. And I’m sorry he’s upset, but I’ve done nothing I will regret.

Because it was you and only you who made the mistake, and thanks to that same brand of confusion, I’ve got the same heartache. At least the two of you get to share the same continent. I hope he’d cut some slack for a Jacques who was just as jacked, and he’ll pardon your French. Yeah, it wasn’t just what you said. Hope he’ll pardon your French, and let it all come down on your pretty head instead.
Track Name: Planetarium, parts 1&2
You got lost on the way and wound up at the planetarium, paid five bucks for the headphones and buried yourself in their stereo. Now it’s dark and there are a billion stars in the sky. The planetarium’s a pretty good place to hide.

The stars up above us are the brightest, the astronomers all say, but where they are is darkness, and where you are is radiant day. So sue me if effect and cause are mixed up in my mind. The planetarium’s a pretty good place to hide.

If you ceased to shine your light on me, then surely I would die. My heart would freeze over and midnight would settle in my eyes. When I’m with you, heaven and earth collide. The planetarium’s a pretty good place to hide.

A lot of people wish that they were red alert, whoa. A lot of people wish that they were cheap as dirt, whoa. I’d like to thank you for your confidence, but I’m sure I’ll do all right all the same. So don’t chain me to your conflict. The revolution fights on anyway.

A lot of people call you hypocritical, whoa. I guess that’s why you are so irresistible, whoa. I’d like to thank you for the comforts that you have always provided for me. And I’m sorry that there’s something I still can’t bring myself to believe.

We boxed the Poo-joe and we wound up feeling pretty good, whoa. We bought the tickets after cruising round the neighborhood, whoa. But when the lights went down and the laser show started, we were still sitting side by side. There’s only so far that we ever could have parted and the planetarium’s a pretty good place to hide.
Track Name: Keep It with You
Baby, you’re not getting what you deserve, and it’s getting on my nerves that I’ve shown I can’t give a lot. Baby, I would give you everything to keep you here with me, but you are all that I have got. But I know I want to keep it where there isn’t so much certain truth. I just kept it too long as a secret, that I only want to keep it with you.

I’m sorry for ruining the party, for always saying sorry when I’m not sorry at all. I’m sorry I’m so cold. I feel so cold. I feel so cold. But I know I want to keep it where there isn’t so much certain truth. I just kept it too long as a secret, that I only want to keep it with you.
Track Name: What About (the Children)
What about the children? What choice do they have?