FOOTNOTES FOR DEPARTURE​/​WPA 19 (WPA Compilation volume 2) by Bill Mallonee & Muriah Rose

by Bill Mallonee



(Some thoughts on the verse, “Jesus wept.”)
by: bill mallonee

Ever since I was very young, maybe 5-6 years old, I have been obsessed with death. I sensed “it” early on. The notion of the cessation of Life and one’s personality was repulsive, cauterizing and harrowing. I don’t know how I “internalized” so much of it in my thoughts, impressions and nightmare-ish images, but I did.
Life was supposed to be Saturdays, no school…and freedom

Let’s face it: You get older, Health diminishes. Love seems to fail. Life sputters out, sometimes in horrific ways; It all adds to the helpless-ness and fear. Mortality, finitude, lack of permanence. Whatever one chooses to describe it with, one most days, it all seems bleak & relentless.

“Every thing dies, baby, that’s a fact…” ~ “Atlantic City”/Bruce Springsteen
I know the religious narratives, Biblical and otherwise. The stories we have, whether based in history or myth, are typically ones of beauty with beautiful endings.
Yes. They help one “stare it down.” For fleeting moments they bring some joy and assurance. But (on most days) my faith is weak if there at all. I still shudder at the prospect of death.
…but maybe a little less.
And here’s why…

“Jesus wept.” John 11: 35
It’s the shortest verse in the Bible.
I remember an Easter week story in the Bible. (I have Dr. Francis Schaeffer to thank for this insight.) The scene is the one where Jesus is brought word that his good friend Lazarus is very, very sick. Interestingly, even oddly, He waits a few days before heading out to visit Lazarus. He even informs his disciple/friends that Lazarus has died. But, he also tells them to have some faith. “Wait,” he basically says. “The ‘Last word’ on the subject hasn’t been spoken yet.”

Jesus arrives at the tomb. Lazarus has been dead for 4 days. He stares at the stone sealed over the entrance as was the practice in ancient times. He is oblivious to the murmurings and goading of his detractors who are also there. He is lost in memory, the loving memories of his friend.
Now, here’s the curious thing:
The Greek text says something that have been translated as “Jesus groaned in spirit,” that He was “troubled.”
But the explanation (exegesis) that I have heard says that He was angry.
It is a moment that draws one up short.
Groaning with anger.
Angry at death,
Angry at loss,
Angry at grief,
and all that it is robbed from his friend, from us.

Angry at all that is absurd.

To me, it was and still is, explosive.
Think about it: The Son of God. (Or whatever name you wish to ascribe to Him)…is angry.
Angry at death.
Angry at a universe that is brutish, cruel and without explanation

There is more to come here:
If all the claims about Him are true, what follows is the most pure, loving, & transparent gesture ever made by a human being on this earth.

The Bible says: “Jesus wept.”

The shortest verse.
And the one with loudest bombshell of Grace.

Got it? Has it registered?
The weeping Christ feels the same way about death…as you do.
No dressing it up.
No “dumbing it down.”
No minimizing the horror or futility of it.
This is something to weep bitter, angry tears over.
“Jesus wept.”
It is an overwhelming display of tenderness.

What does this mean?
What does it mean to have the Son of God weep at your graveside, at my graveside?

It, at the very least, means this:
You are not alone. You are not alone in your anger at death;
Not alone in your fear of death;
Not alone in your anger of all that goes lost, unfulfilled, unfinished when death shows up;
Not alone in your anger even at God for “allowing” such an atrocity/interruption/tragedy to happen.

“Maybe one day, baby, everything comes back…” ~ B. Springsteen

There is no glossing it over or prettifying this life.
Sermonize it, eulogize it, Oprah-ize it…
We all, one way or another, “leave the party” too soon.

Holy Week.
Is it symbolic for all of this journey we call Life?
If, so, here’s what you can bet on:
Take up your cross, so to speak. That cross of your human existence.
You can count on be your heart being broken…a million times.
You can count of your dreams being dashed;
You can count on your best intentions being ignored or, worse, misunderstood.
You can count on losing those who are nearest & dearest.
You can count on knowing loneliness on a first name basis.

But count on this as well:
You are not alone.
Something always seems to be “lurking” at the edges of our days, even the darkest of them.
A “last word,” perhaps?
I find this sort of “incongruity” a quiet witness to the truth of the faith.
The bad news comes first, before the “good news” makes sense.

The human-ness of Jesus.
So utterly perfect that He can grieve perfectly the loss of his dear friend, be angry about it…and still be Lord, God, Savior.
He doesn’t offer explanations as to why evil exists.
In tears and tenderness He just weeps at Lazarus’tomb.
And I suspect He weeps at every tomb.

So, how does this affect you and me in the here and now?
Easter is often offered to us in a sanitized, neutered version. Complete with bonnets, new dresses, colored eggs and bunnies. Nature rejoices. There’s a lot to be said and celebrated about the energy of God’s Love within the life force.
Still, I think, we are lulled into missing the point.

Easter, as the Bible tells it, is the grittiest of the Church’s remembrances.
The events of Holy Week are a crystallization & distillation of all that can “go wrong” in the world…and within our lives.

Holy Week’s pages are filled with accounts of friends who “pledge allegiance.”
Loud, self-inflated boasters who say they’ll follow a friend even unto death.
And then they don’t.
And when given their chance to be courageous arrives?
Their cowardice manifests itself from every word & deed…

Holy Week’s pages are peppered with feckless & conniving “climbers” who will sell a friend out just to save their own skin and possibly get ahead.

Easter’s sad pages are also filled with folks of good heart;
They haul bodies off of bloody instruments of torture and death. They try and bestow what little honor is left on a Body so disfigured by human hatred & violence that It’s hardly recognizable.

Good folks (or at least aspiring to be so) who heard the most astonishing words ever spoken to humankind.
Just like we do every Sunday morning.

In Scripture, Easter week is filled with “Good-Hearted,” “Nodding-In-Agreement,” “I’ll-never-sell-you-short, Jesus,” people who cut and run at the first sign of confrontation or challenge.

We do it all the time. It’s a big club.
We’ve made it an art form.
And so, one of Easter Week’s lessons is simply this:
Be not deceived.
You are not made of such stern stuff.

And because of that, Jesus wept, as well.

He has reason to weep.
He is weeping still.
Weeping at all of the vain glories we chase after.
Weeping at the 2 bit, cheap idols we “buy” and cling to.
Weeping at all the betrayals we’ll no doubt tally up as we live out our days.
Weeping anew at the war machines we create and surround with rhetoric like “patriotism,” “national interests,” and “Glory.”

All in the name of concepts that annihilate Life.

He’s weeping still at the harsh words, judgements and criticisms we thoughtless cut each other to pieces with, often in the name of His religion.
Weeping at the love & kindness & compassion we withhold from one another.

Jesus. Weeping. Endlessly weeping. Perpetually weeping

He weeps at every tomb, even now,
I suspect, in some way, He is weeping at our own tombs.
The ones we will one day enter.

The Lord of Life, The Son of God.
Closer than a Brother.
You, dear lost, lonely, sinful, scared traveler…are never alone.

Limitless in His mercy, grace and consolation.
Tears are one of those things, He has never run out of.

You will hear His voice, just as Lazarus did.
You’ll shake off the shroud of death, and perhaps, with stumbling steps, move into the light & towards that Voice.
New skin. Radiant as a new-born baby.
And, falling into His arms, you will recognize that voice of Tenderness & of Love Itself.

And you may find some of His blessed tears on your new suit of clothes, as well.


released January 28, 2016

Bill Mallonee: vocals, guitars, harmonica, bass, drums
Muriah Rose: vocals, piano, accordion



all rights reserved


Bill Mallonee

Bill Mallonee is an Americana artist w/ 75 plus albums over a 25 year career. Voted by Paste Music Magazine #65 in their "Top 100 Living Songwriters" poll. He was the
founding member of Vigilantes of Love. He has worked with Mark Heard, Buddy Miller, Emmylou Harris, & Peter Buck from REM.
His most recent work, "The Rags of Absence" released in Jan. 2017.
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Track Name: PILLOW OF STARS (full band version)
music/lyrics: bill mallonee

pass me that paper n’ pen
and shot to boot
let a dreamer preach a sermon
and a fool speak half-a heart full
and baby, when you love...
ya’ find out who you are
wherever you lay your head...
may there be a pillow of stars
and though fate and sad reversals
may slow your journey home
you’ll get there cause that deal was done...
a long, long time ago...

And what cha said with your eyes
was more n’ you wanted to speak
my how we use these stammerin’ tongues
to steady stumblin’ feet

I dunno why I rock this way
or why I roll with such an art
dunno why speak these words
to break my own heart
Otherwise Year: 2006 | Run Time: 4:38
Written by Bill Mallonee f
i guess i was expecting
better from myself
always this nagging feeling
i should be somewhere else
home well now there's the rub
mine could stand a shine

now there's a thousand miles between
some motel room and a back porch swing
of what used to be otherwise

i was living under the colored lights
they're now breaking monochrome
i fractured blessed images
i once made and then owned
and home i made a good one once
there was no disguise

now there's a thousand miles between
a heartbeat and a back porch swing
of what used to be otherwise
so i'll play you a certain card
every time my mind gets loud
but it'll never sweep the hand
when my heart's gone so far south
and i'll roll you a couple of dice
every time i'm dying to live
you can read it in the gambler's eyes
but it's speaking in his fingertips

i have this dream quite frequently
where i am blind and lame
stumbling through forgotten cities
looking for my name
and home well i became one once
under those clearer skies

now there's a thousand miles between
some motel room and a back porch swing
of what used to be otherwise

"I think 6/8 is the most mournful of time signatures... Ben Holst does the dobro, Muriah the perfect harmony vocal. I recorded this with an old, and I mean OLD early '60's hollow body Harmony Monterey... said "dust bowels" to me... I'd love to hear this one in a movie one day."
STRAND OF STARS (all Woven in Your Hair) words/music: bill mallonee

It all rolled in here...after the flood
brought in the drifters...brought in the drugs
brought in the dirt...left with the pure
brought in the hunger...without a cure
I thought I saw...
a strand of stars
all woven in your hair
I’m sure all I did was stare
I’m sure all I did was stare

everyone groaning...for some relief
everyone disbelief
a song of sadness...with a bridge of decay
One with a long slow...grandiose fade

brought in the dealers...brought in the fakers
brought in the greedy...promise breakers
then came the paper...the pen and the ink
then came the lawyers...and all that fine print

I need you near...I need you close
so the face in less of a ghost
Bring on the healing...seal the escapes
open a vein...on magnetic tape
(Alt-verse left out)
perilous times...too short a rope
to reach the shoreline...of tenuous hope
too deep the darkness...riotous weather
faith all fractured...cobbled together
Track Name: HERE COMES HEARTACHE by Muriah Rose
Here Comes Heartache by Bill Mallonee
one more lonely trail
one more busted guardrail
one more safety net shot to hell
you'd have thought after the last time
i'd have learned to read the road signs
maps they are of no use to the blind
your cab speeds away in the rain
but there's a guest that will soon be showing up again
i recognize her all-too-familiar face
here comes heartache

who knows how we got this far
a black leather jacket and a fast car
wasn't it always written in the stars
you'd have thought after such a common thing
the books and pills and the distractions
i'd have found a way back to the start

you delivered your goodbye with many a tear
academy awards await you dear
one for the best supporting fake
here comes heartache

it was your movie from the very start
you needed a lead so i tried out for the part
forgot all my lines so i gave you my heart
i got a review that you wrote
i keep it in the pocket of an old coat
what am i supposed to do with any of this

and the whole thing hits like a tidal wave
the pain the shame the fear and the rage
when that wall hits the beach and we break
here comes heartache
Pull With All Your Life Year: 2008 | Run Time: 3:33
Written by Bill Mallonee
there's a slot machine inside your skull
right beside a pretty girl
she says don't forget honey the drinks are all free

and there's a prayer you whisper 'fore you make your bed
it's the one you'll lie in with your sweetheart regret
yeah your sweetheart regret

there's a price you pay for taking a crack
just to stand up here but let's not talk about that
no no let's not talk about that
you grip the handle in the dark and move out of the light
pull with all of your heart pull with all of your might
hey kid pull with all of your life

it feels like a dream but they're starting to deal
and the backdrop's plastic and always surreal
Grave Reservations Year: 2006 | Run Time: 3:44
Written by Bill Mallonee

hand on the wheel're king of nothing son
and all your loyal subjects ...betrayed you every one
to these grave reservations...cut to the bone marrow sensations
you're like a compass with no true're blown away,way off course

underneath the engine hum
road noise delirium
since nothing showed her pretty face
it was nothing you embraced

hand to the plow's glory is fleeting
hand to your see if it's still beating
the breakdown wasn't's to a cell solitary
and in these veins of dust, kid, it's time that you do business

hand on the wheel again
sweet kingdom come
i'm all lost in the Christmas snow
and tired of going numb
Soliloquy Year: 2006 | Run Time: 3:58
Written by Bill Mallonee

one to get my tongue loose and
two for a broken heart
three for all of that wreckage
that we left in the dark so

one more yeah the neon's getting fuzzy
two hey pal can you help me find my keys
three if you could point me in the right direction
well i might get home again

Now, i'll tell you what i think about it
from this bully pulpit barstool
where everybody's nodding but nobody's listening
to to this fool

And I'm fumbling for
some loose pocket change
to spend at a pay phone in the rain
to say i'm sorry a thousand times again

yeah, your heart kid seem to be open
but 'round here tonight it's closing time
and that lame ass way you have of coping
and readin; between the lines

there is a very old saying
known by every boxer in the ring
you tell yourself when you're cut and bleeding
you don't feel a thing
Track Name: WARM & SAFE & DRY
Warm, Safe and Dry by Bill Mallonee

you spent years knocking on doors that never opened a bit
with your knuckles full of splinters and your clenched fist
thinking there was something something that you missed
you swung at everything you once embraced and kissed
and i wonder if i'll make it back to the circle of your eyes
to that room where it's all warm and safe and dry

could be some things you'll miss if you check out of here
symphonic falls and summer's colored fields
december's praying trees and bethlehem's bright stars
and all those ones who love you like you are

and i wonder if i'll make it back to the circle of your smile
to that room where it's all warm and safe and dry

there's a simple meal but it'll always be enough
and the wine of God's love fills your cup
when You got to my heart it's all wrecked and sad
i guess you could say it was pretty bad
High Beam (Fall Apart) Year: 2007 | Run Time: 4:17
Written by Bill Mallonee

well if you care to listen and even if you don't
well i got over needing you a long time ago
i took great care to know you and i gave you all my best
i was living to make you smile i was dying to impress

but all this getting born all these roses and the thorns
and the confusing (more less bloody) parts
i cobbled my life together with them
just to watch it fall apart

so i took it to the road yeah and i took it from my dreams
till i became invisible and lost in the high beam
the pen it never ran dry like a sword i learned to wield
i used my words to expose and i used them to conceal

what was heavy as hell and far too much to carry
i wrote my prayers and my S.O.S. on bar stationery
from where i stumbled last night staggering right back to the start
what you learn comes the hard way and will softly break your heart
Got Nowhere Year: 2006 | Run Time: 3:05
Written by Bill Mallonee
i got nowhere to lay my head
i got no home got no dreams got no bed
and i got no friends to speak of
and i got no message except love

got no band i got no deal
thank you joe and sara for the wheels
seems when you think can't get no worse
second chorus same as the first

love's the kind that wishes you well
comes with hammers comes with nails
it's pretty bloody so be forewarned
comes with no crown save of thorns

i found a pen and an old guitar
it was a prayer of sorts past the stars
sure you heard salvation songs
but it was mostly of barely holding ons

love's the kind that goes underground
after the body's been taken down
and after death has had her say
surprised when you get up and join the parade

i got nowhere to run tonight
and aren't we all just looking for the light
and a place to stay warm
words/music: bill mallonee

All i remember is that it was easy...easiest thing i ever done
i'd pick you up and the songs...they'd just come

had all these tapes spinning in my head
far too hard to ignore
but cha always helped me
string it through one day more

Still there's one thing about which
i'll likely always be confused:
Did you choose this?
or did it choose you?

you were the only the doctor i could rely on
the only prayer i ever prayed
the only Savior i could count on save

a 1000 songs, a million shows
to many, "yeah, kid, that one shoulda gone gold"
after the party died
you were all i could hold

Thanks for letting me hold you
more than real, real tight
i hope you will forgive me dear
for keeping you up late at night

life is cruel and a mystery
you gotta find you a reason to believe
like the ace tucked inside
your sleeve

All i remember is that it was hard
hardest thing i ever done
I'd picked you up...and the songs?
they'd just come...
they'd just come...
yeah, they'd just come...
yeah, they'd just come...
After All the Tellin' Gets Told Year: 2008, 4:38
Music/Lyrics: Bill Mallonee

why does it hurt why does it ache
all the stammering and the stumbling same old mistakes
building up lies breaking of hearts
in that shabby little side the one you never thought

till the curtains fall and credits all roll
there's big money to be made on the small story sold
all of the telling gets told

now with all of the twist and all of the turns
and all of the crash and all of the burns
and all of the heartache soon to be forgot
when it all comes together or maybe not

till the curtain falls and credits all roll
till all of your dross gets turned to gold
and all of the telling gets told

find yourself standing out there in the rain
with your own personal gold-plated ball and chain
the cameras they're all live they can tell you all
you're assembling the footage of your own rise and fall

and you hope that life wins out over death
sure it is your last prayer but you ain't holding your breath
you hope that goodness will one day shine bright
and you hope that justice gets a word in edgewise

through all of the storms and all of life's bad weather
now all of the i love yous dead and gone forever
before it all fades to black and they turn off the sound
forgive all that i gave up and all that i let down

till the curtains fall and credits all roll
the tears they're all dried and all the wounds are made whole
till all of the telling gets told
Music/lyrics: bill mallonee

Up here in this room
with these headphones on
to catch the whisper of your ghost....
long gone
shake off the dust
shake off the clay
stumblin’ in here
outta gutter and grave
it’s too early too leave
but it’s too late to stay
and the years....
that the river bears away

rolling the tune in on the dead
just as they leave...pegging the red
red like the dust
red like the clay
under your nails
inside your veins
horse wants to run
but he’s kept so at bay
there by the years...
that the river bears away

hung like a flag in your sad parade
hung like a thief with his ball and chain

shake off the dust
shake off the clay
stumblin’ in here
outta gutter and grave
too early too leave
too late to stay
and the years....
that the river bears away
Track Name: BRAND NEW SKIN (for Mary Alice Newman)
Brand New Skin (for Mary Alice Newman)
Year: 2008 | Run Time: 3:59
Written by Bill Mallonee

mother i remember you
all ringed with roses and laurel
thanks for teaching me those words
i couldn't save you from your sorrow
oh please close your eyes and wait to begin
you'll wake up in your brand new skin

show me out some different way
to slide through that tomorrow
if it vanishes like haze
your old life? well, it's just borrowed
oh to close your eyes and wait to begin
you'll wake up in your brand new skin
now whatever falls away...and whatever is dross
whatever fills the grave...and whatever gets lost

hold it all up to the light
when it's all wrecked and scarred
all that chrome touch-up paint
well it won't take you far
Written by Bill Mallonee

this is one of those nights a halo rings the moon
you venture out upon those hard streets of gloom
the moon shines so bright pinned to her curtain of blue
the only sound you hear is the shuffling of your shoes

this is one of those nights there's nowhere to hide
another neon happy hour fell a lifetime shy
your heart's a lonely ocean and your heart is just a tomb
and the only sound you hear is the shuffling of your shoes

i've told a million truths whispered a million lies
i learned to do it all looking dead into your eyes

keep it to the back roads yeah the underground's even better
you map the strange terrain with a different nomenclature
yeah this is one of those nights where God could show up soon
the only sound you hear is the shuffling of your shoes

This song was originally released via BillTunes in January of 2007. Of this one, Bill says, "More Woody Guthrie-esque nylon-string guitar... I rather like the simple pay-off line in it...."