In Technicolor

by Miss Emily Brown

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04:26
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03:03
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about

One of the most precious objects on the bookshelf growing up was the journal that my late grandmother Leanora wrote during the Second World War. She was twenty-five years old, working as a stenographer with the Canadian Women’s Army Corps in London, England. Newly wed to my grandfather Eddie, an aircraft fitter in the north of England, she kept track of the letters they sent back and forth, as well as the events and experiences of her daily life between January and June of 1945.

Leanora’s journal is at the heart of this collection of songs. What began as an exploration of my grandmother’s life led to a wider study of femininity and independence during wartime and the effects of post-WWII modernization on the health of individuals, families and communities in Canada.

credits

released 30 January 2010
Produced by Miss Emily Brown
All songs written by Miss Emily Brown
Recorded, mixed & mastered by Corwin Fox at Transorbital Sound, Cumberland BC, Canada
Artwork & Design by Hanahlie Beise & Caleb Beyers (www.casteprojects.com)

Miss Emily Brown: voice, piano, organ, autoharp, guitar, flugelhorn, bass drum
Corwin Fox: drum machine, audio sculpting, snare drum, bass drum, organ bass
Hannah Epperson: fiddle (2,3,4,8)
Nikole Texidor: voice (5)

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about

Miss Emily Brown British Columbia

Canadian performing artist Miss Emily Brown weaves together words and sound with the precision of a knitting spider. Nominated for a 2010 Canadian Folk Music Award for Pushing the Boundaries, a CBC Radio 3 Bucky Award for Best New Artist and put forward for the 2010 Polaris Prize, Miss Brown impossibly combines found instruments with her unmistakable voice. ... more

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Track Name: Septuagesima
Septuagesima

Septuagesima
Seven weeks since I married you
Seven weeks ‘til Lent, another letter sent
Number thirty-eight, counting to a hundred

‘Til there’s flowers on the wallpaper and sugar in the cupboard

Septuagesima
Now it’s back to underground
Ninety ladies lined up at typewriters
Three thousand miniature hammers

And now you will report all the long and short
All the days events even if it makes no sense
Seven weeks ‘til Lent, another letter sent
Number thirty-eight, counting to a hundred

‘Til there’s flowers on the wallpaper and sugar in the cupboard

I’m the type to sleep with a stack of envelopes
tucked underneath my pillow
I’m the type to keep a lacy handkerchief
tucked inside my shirt-sleeve

‘Til there’s flowers on the wallpaper and sugar in the cupboard
Track Name: The Diary of Amy Briggs
The Diary of Amy Briggs

I never swore until this goddamned war
Twelve hour shifts and sirens all night long
I work a ten to ten alongside Iris
She tells me all about her escapades

Broad-minded lady, she had twins at twenty
She never married, she said two was plenty
She diagnosed me sexual starvation
Read all about it in mass observation

What you need now
Is a really good bad habit
Ask the war-sister
She’s an old hat at it

I never smoked until this goddamned war
Sit in the torch-light, hear the gun-fire
I work a six to six and home to the private
He’s got a week long leave, I don’t think I’ll survive it

He lights up into everything he sees
Me and our daughters sitting one, two, three
He burns his dinner and a week long ration
And this old waltz is going out of fashion

What you need now
Is a really good bad habit
Ask the war-sister
She’s an old hat at it

I never drank until this goddamned war
A pommia, the strongest drink I know to order
On my day off I do the wash and black lead
Today I take the girls to see a show instead

And in the darkness of the Odeon I let it go
I yelled and cried when President Wilson’s wife died
I reconcile to do the things I am accused of
Stop turning down every man like I am used to

What you need now
is a really good bad habit
Ask the war-sister
She’s an old hat at it
Track Name: Blackout
Blackout

Rope tie a rope from the barn to the farmhouse,
follow that rope through the blinding snow.
Rope tie a rope leave the bread by the road,
or the dark dark stranger will be knocking at the door.

Rope tie a rope from the F to the C#
D# G# - rope tie a rope.
Rope tie a rope from the silent picture
to the organ player who is sitting in the dark.

Blackout, dust-bowl, miles of nothing,
brand new theatre, armoury, parlour.
Blackout memory, children swimming,
fields are flooding, mother is singing.

Rope tie a rope from the youngest sibling
to the eldest living in the mother country.
Rope tie a rope - they are weeks on a boat,
God bless that ship, the Aquatania.

Rope tie a rope from the last word written
to the first word spoken on his safe return.
Rope tie a rope from yourself to your neighbour,
streetlight’s gone and the moon is waning.

Blackout bicycle, midnight riders,
your hands fixing Halifax bombers.
Blackout telegram, short-hand lovers,
stay indoors and stoke the home fires.
Track Name: In Technicolor
In Technicolor

So I slept through the whole hockey game
Saturday morning at Purleigh
Nothing is doing while Fern is away
She gets me out of this blast barricade

We saw Mrs. Parkington down at the Dominion
and Practically Yours at the Plaza
Can’t Help from Singing just takes me to dreaming
of making our home in Canada

You’re in technicolor, all these shows, it gets me out, I’m glad to go
In dreams you are the wizard all in emerald
You’re in technicolor, all these dreams, the barracks empty, rifles clean
In shows you are the young, distracted general

Sidney Simone put on a show
Saturday night with Carl Barriteau
We wore our gowns down to the floor
of Hammersmith Palais

I take a turn, always looking for suitors for Fern
though it don’t mean a thing to her
He was sunny and sweet but he had two left feet
It was nothing like dancing with you

You’re in technicolor, all these shows, it gets me out, I’m glad to go
In dreams you are the wizard all in emerald
You’re in technicolor, all these dreams, the barracks empty, rifles clean
In shows you are the young, distracted general
Track Name: To Make Love Stay
To Make Love Stay

_ _--- _ _---  
-- _ -- _ 
_ _ --- -----

Amberfire eyes     sleeping through sunrise
and open     each morning 
to same surprise

We are rooting down     like the lilac tree 
She’s pressed on     the window
petals to the pane

one way one way one way to make love stay
one way one way one way to make love stay

Swing the axe and wind up the golden key of the honeybee
Watering the weeds growing in the scratches 
of the record sleeves

Cycling in the rain     sweating in the heat
and smashing     the concrete 
into history, into mystery 

one way one way one way to make love stay
one way one way one way to make love stay

Moths in the candlelight strobe the radio 
dialing up the ash of a smoke signal
We have seen the wolves We have seen their kill
Had our bodies filled up with chemicals

Take the axe and wind down the racing heart
we breathe en  cyclo pedia 
drink the maple tree
memorize poetry

one way one way one way to make love stay
Track Name: Ten Years Older
Ten Years Older

Ten years older, ten years faster moving
You remember all the short-cuts through the bush
Ten years older, ten years warmer
Now the geese fly round in circles ‘cross the river

Go South, I cry to the big black swarm
Go South, I cry to the seasons
But they won’t go and they swarm along the banks of the river.

Ten years older, same old church is standing
between our two houses after all this time
Ten years older, same old families preying
on the others - all that money sure don’t give you class

Go South, I cry to their chemical storm
Go South, I cry to their mansions
But they won’t go and they swarm along the banks of the river.

Ten years older, ten years faster moving
No more natives in this valley, no more fishes swimming
Ten years older, ten years warmer
You remember waters rising, you remember elders crying

Go South, they cried to our wagons
Go South, they cried to our mothers
But we won’t go and we swarm along the banks of the river.
Track Name: Make & Mend Me
Make & Mend

Make me and mend me the letters you send
Your words are like sweet pastilles, orange and red
You button me in like a good MacIntosh
No failer, you tailor and mend me.

Make me and mend me the words that you write
Stick in my throat like an old valentine
To keep me a-counting the days ‘til we’re home
To keep me dreaming about the boat.

Under the wing of a broken down bird
The bicycle frame of my sister’s Schwinn I heard
You whistling Heart and Soul smooth as a pearl
No failer, you tailor and mend me
And make me your girl.
Track Name: World Traveller
World Traveller

I’m a world traveller, there’s nowhere I’ve been
I’ve seen brothers and sisters and kites in the wind
I’ve seen mittens on strings - what a good thing to do
because things can go missing, I’ve heard of a few.

So please never lose me like you lose your cool,
never leave me stranded up high on a telephone wire
from London is calling, a button is desperately hanging on

By a thread of a dream my great-grandmother wove
when she dreamed me and you up. She dreamed up our souls.
She went hard through the night against men with machines
against living and dying, what all of it means.

She taught us to travel, she taught us to dream
and here we are in great cities attempting great things
and all that we have is our will and our thoughts
when the strangest of feelings come up we feel crazy, we feel lost.

Never lose me like you lose your cool,
never leave me stranded up high on a telephone wire
from London is calling, my brother is desperately hanging on.

It’s like I said, I have travelled the world
and there’s no place that I’ve been that I never heard
the sound of my heart beating and seen my own face
like the face of a child hangs above a staircase.

Oh, please never hang me up like shoes on a wire
but wire me all of your fears and desires.
Mittens on strings are such fortunate things
like babies need mothers, like people need their friends to ring them up.

So please never lose me like you lose your cool,
never leave me stranded up high on a telephone wire
from London is calling, a button is desperately hanging on.