SLOW TRAUMA (digital)

by Bill Mallonee (March/2016)

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norman shepherd
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norman shepherd The perfect record. Favorite track: IRONCLAD.
Craigory Bacon
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Craigory Bacon Since 2013's Dolorosa, Bill Mallonee has been perfecting his self-produced High Desert Album. While the themes and characters remain familiar, the arrangements, performances, and mixes on Slow Trauma take another mesa-sized leap forward. This is lush Americana that feels like you've hitch-hiked stretches of the Southwest that you've never even seen. There's a reason that No Depression magazine keeps hyping Mallonee's work, and this album wears that rationale on its sleeve. Favorite track: HIGH~BEAM.
Nick Green
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Nick Green Whatever is as hard as hell is what you shouldn't carry- fine advice from the great man for 2016 and beyond



SLOW TRAUMA~ A brief preface by Bill Mallonee
"Of Inspiration/Birth & Grieving"
Muriah & I have lived out here in the rural, high desert of New Mexico for the last 6 years. With a home studio that I feel increasingly comfortable in, I've hit a creative output that's unlike anything I've ever done previously. It's been a journey lyrically & musically.
I saw David Bowie in the Elephant Man. And a line he delivered will always move me to tears: "There are so many ideas in my head that sometimes I feel like it will explode."

There are 4 "high desert" albums, to my ears, standout, each with a particular view, role and "destination" in my life. Those albums are "Dolorosa,"Winnowing," "Lands & Peoples."
And now "Slow Trauma.
All have been born in the last 3 years. The "family" is growing! ;-)
(As a side: I consider Amber Waves & The Power & The Glory" to be Vigilantes of Love albums).

What to say? With each release there's grieving. I grieve mostly because each of the albums is a rending of the spirit to write, record and deliver. And yes, there's a lot of "sweat equity" in them as well.

Me? I hate and abhor the self-promo thing that artists have to do these days. It all feels hollow, insincere and stupid. "Let the Art speak and get out of the way," I say.
I have no idea how to move these musical "statements" into higher profile. Not being able to afford the price tags of PR entities and not willing to do the "shuck & jive" required to whore one's wares to Nashville, I tend to write, record, release them...and then make a certain uneasy peace with low numbers.

I need your word of mouth to make the records get up and walk, to find a new audience and to breathe their spirit in a bigger world;
SO: If you feel inclined to "share" a few songs with friends, talk it up and promote it a bit?
Well, I'm much obliged.
Grace & Courage,
~ Bill Mallonee
Liner Notes to Slow Trauma

“Oh, Death!”
In the “old days,” there were called liner notes; You know: Those written extrapolations an artist would offer about his or her new album.
Usually part of an LP's back cover or inner sleeve, they formed a major feature in an album's art work.

As a kid, drums were my first instrument. They were learned in a dusty basement with a stack of old LPs, my first real school-room;
And liner notes? (the ones complete with the who played what?)
I thought they were the coolest thing on earth.
I still do.

Many of you know, I like writing about what’s “behind the work;”
A peering through the cracked window into the collection of songs;
You know, the inspiration, the etcetera, etcetera…

I suppose in a day and age, where fewer and fewer people read, it’s all just a vain exercise now. Selfish perhaps.
For me? Maybe, it’s just my little way of scrawling out: “Kilroy was here.”
(A fascinating historical sidebar: Kilroy was presumably an American soldier in WWII, who inscribed his presence here and there across Europe on things like Church steeples or walls, as the Allies liberated Nazi held territories. Get this: No one knows where it originated or who he (or she) was.

C’est la Vie & so be it…

“Slow Trauma” is the name of the new one. It drops/releases on 3.15.16.
It’s getting close to something like album #80 for me…
Kilroy has been here a few times

Sure, it’s an Americana record. And an “honest-to-God” Rock & Roll record, too.
That’s what I do.
That’s the “genre” where I feel most comfortable in my “musical skin.”

It’s also, very much a record about Death.
Let me explain…

I always felt the world was “off axis.” Not “the thing it should be.”
I knew early on “I” was part of the problem, as well.
And of course, good people, friends, loved ones “leave the party too soon…”
(“How’s that again?”)

For me anyway, doctrines like “The Fall of Man” mattered a lot. I gravitated there in an effort to make sense of it all…
In a very existential way they mattered.
It matters not whether such concepts be rooted in ancient history or deeply accurate mythology; Such doctrines are our attempt to explain how “modern man” has gotten “from A to B;” You know: How we arrived (in our oh-so-enlightened modernity) at this point on the timeline.

Arrived. Arrived here. Arrived in the “now.”
Arrived confused, beleaguered & deviled;
Our spirits permeated with a kind of numbness, wrapped in a kind of spiritual lethargy, stunted; Arrived cold & weary.
Arrived as a race of people given to fear, greed, cruelty. Garnished with a lust for violence and domination.
Its been going on forever…For. Ever.
No, we’re not so very modern after all, really.

Death. Cessation.
A component of my interior world.
I feel like I’ve been staring it down in one form or another all of my life.
I’ve been “institutional material” once or twice.
It has certainly shaped my melancholy temperament and driven my art in noticeable ways.

I know some movements across the spectrum of human history have glorified it, romanticized it, even reveled in it…
Death. What’s to revel in?
Me? I don’t see it that way. At all.
I think it’s more like an aberration.
A blasphemy.
God, damn it. (That’s a prayer. Not an expletive.)

The idea of the cessation of life has haunted me ever since I was oh, 7 or 8 years old.
Too young to feel or sense guilt about anything, as far as I remember.
Later on, I did heavy-duty “homework” on the Christian Faith.
And yes. I converted. It was a few moments, days of indescribable joy & confidence…
And then it all vanished in the shame of failures. Maybe it was my complete unfamiliarity and naivete of what the spiritual life was all about.
One’s prayers feel like they hit the ceiling and fall to the floor.
Guilt makes one alone and silent.
A babe lost in the woods…

I studied the Life of Jesus, the Lord, the Savior; I still do.
Learned about the Church’s history, it’s beauty, it’s heinous failures, it’s claims, and promises.

For me, the question was: How does one reconcile that tension/fear of death with it’s visceral dynamic with the hope of Christ’s Resurrection and it’s promise of our own?
I don’t know.

But, this is all too esoteric, isn’t it…?
I’ll play my hand.
I was always “weighed & found wanting.”
The unequivocal mood of my interior life? Feelings of damnation.
Like some dark beast crouching in the corner of my consciousness, it was almost always “there.” Watching, waiting, unrelenting.
I spent years struggling with the deeper aspects of Mercy & Forgiveness, mostly because, from day one, I felt so unworthy of any of it…and because my own “holiness” has always been crap anyway. I struggle to “see myself” as even remotely redeemable.
No “gussying-up” any of this.
(Recently, I’m wondering if it’s the “raw data” of good songs…
Well, at least the kind of songs I like write.)

The state of my soul has always been one of disarray and doubt;
Grievous sin and inconsistency.
And, I mention this, because the state of one’s soul has always been irrevocably linked to death and the hereafter.
The solution, in Christianity, has always been the Cross of Christ and the defeat of Death itself in his Resurrection.
That’s the Creed’s declaration, you know?
My ability to grasp these beautiful truths by faith, to see oneself as a forgiven child of God, has always felt elusive.
Perhaps, i was/am still trying to “earn it.”

Still, the visible Church (it seems to me) often spends much of her time putting boundaries on just how far and to whom the Cross of Christ reaches; boundaries on just how far His Mercy reaches and how efficacious His Grace is.
No wonder eyes roll and hearts despair.

I must tell the whole truth, however:
On my “better days,” I have no doubts.
Well, fewer.
Love Wins,
Grace Triumphs
And that we’re all made Whole.
And I do mean “ALL.”
Every. One.
"He Is Risen," goes the Easter liturgy.
And you & I, the stumbling, wayward congregation of the spiritually poor, blind, sin-sick and lame respond:
"He Is Risen, Indeed!"
I'm there.

So: All of this interior turmoil & wrangling?
What of it?
Well, it’s the stuff of songs, I think.
It’s been just under the skin, or right out in the open of almost every song I’ve ever written; some 1500 in all, I think…
Cheap therapy, I say…

Slow Trauma. No, not all gloom & darkness…
I promise.
Sonically, i went for the elegant; layered guitars and rock & roll;
And yes, I think there are a few transcendent moments.

At some point (in the face of the all the “absurdity” that manifest in this thing we call Life) I think one has to say with Julian of Norwich, that great mystic who was so not a part of her century: “All shall be well and all manner of things shall be most well.”

Slow Trauma
Hope & Joy do come up in the “plus column.”
But, that’s AFTER the wrestling & wrangling.
Wrestling and wrangling. Through the feelings of hopelessness & damnation.
“That’s what faith is all about, Charlie Brown.” ~ St. Linus

There is so very much I have to rejoice in; so much to be thankful for.
The gift of writing songs, playing instruments is, making records is perhaps, my favorite.
And yes, I see all of it coming very much “from the hands of the Lord.”
He knew I needed this. And that is His Mercy, as well.

You make certain peace with the fact of your own mortality; and your own sad, stumbling, “lacking-in-courage-humanity” at some point.
(Why was I the last to know about my own “Judas skin” that I’m so comfortably living in?)
At some point, you’re not surprised at yourself anymore.

But, really now?
An album that explores some of that?
I dunno how you ‘sell” that, but that’s what it is.
Then again, I hardly sell any records anymore anyway.

I can bring You nothing. Never have, mostly likely never will.
But, sometimes, sometimes I have these “better angels of our nature” days…
I’m Yours, Jesus, if You’ll have me.

Slow Trauma.
Life beckons. You only get the day, one day at a time…
And the world? It is starving and hurting.
Best get about doing one’s part to lessen the grief.
Do your part, in your corner and among your friends, to kick at the darkness and at death itself.

That’s some of what this album is about…
“Kilroy was here.”

bill mallonee
Lent 2016


released March 15, 2016

Bill Mallonee: vocals, guitars of various shapes, sizes and dispositions, basses, drums, harps, string arrangements.
Muriah Rose: piano, organ, vocals


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: ONE & THE SAME (Slow Trauma prelude)
One & The Same words/music: bill mallonee

What you hold onto and what you let go of
and what you should give away
What's gonna save you and what makes you smile?
Sometimes, they are one and the same
Only Time Will Tell words & music: bill mallonee

Burlington/Northern; Old Santa Fe
Just an old brakeman; 3 dollars a day
Star-shine is my friend and the pulse of the rails
where it's all going? Only time will tell

All those company men and the plain curious
Seeking their fame & fortune opening up the West
Parcelling out the earth with the barbed wire & hard sell
Where it's all going? Only time will tell

You got your bonanza towns and turning up the soil
a kind of madness taking hold

Change is coming fast so I am told
Who knows if our heavy hearts could ever bear the load?
Flash of a coin and we go under the spell
Where it's all going? Only time will tell
Waiting For The Stone (To Be Rolled Away)
words & music: bill mallonee

There's a halogen glow cast from across the street
From the parking lot of the Holy Spirit Assembly
It's a beacon in the desert night until the break of day
Waiting the stone to be rolled away

I told Solomon, the shepherd of the flock
I've got none of the gifts that he's got
You see, you cannot speak in tongues, if you've got nothing to say
waiting the stone to be rolled away

Now, the brightest plastic flowers, I've ever found
Decorate the beds of the sleepers awaiting the trumpet sound
You know it's so hard to get clean and it's hard to stay that way
Waiting for the stone to be rolled away

Baby, gimme those keys, sit back & just watch me
Navigate this thing back home with considerable ease
Down these sad, back streets of doubt to a new & brighter day
Waiting for the stone to be rolled away
Track Name: HOUR GLASS/Only So Many Grains of Sand
Hour Glass (Only So Many Grains of Sand)
words & music: bill mallonee

Well, the heroes always died with just the right words on their tongues
In the arms of the most beautiful woman you ever laid your eyes on
He'd kiss her tenderly and then he'd breathed his last
Only so many grains of sand in the hour glass

They went down guns a-blazing; they went down with a prayer on their lips
They went down with swords a-flailing; they went down with sinking ships
Went down with flags a-waving, after the die was cast
Only so many grains of the hour glass

Now the woman? She would rise after the hero's bitter end.
She'd gaze off in the distance and here is where the strings come in
Maybe one day every flag is gonna have to fly at have mast
Only so many grains of the hour glass
Track Name: WPA /When I Get To Where They're Taking Us (a free download single)
WHEN I GET TO WHERE THEY'RE TAKING US words/music: bill mallonee

Say a "good~bye" to your small town
Say "hello" to your new life that's been drowning in the dust
Say "good~bye" to the family
I promise I'll write regularly when i get
to where they're taking us

Burlington/Northern...old Santa Fe
silver rails gleaming like a quarter and there's n'er a trace of rust
treat everyone fairly
I promise I'll write regularly
when i get to where they're taking us

tossing you a scrap...throwing you a crust
it's all ashes to ashes and dust to dust

Well, they say you can't ever miss
what was never yours to keep
i see you when i close my eyes, honey you're all i'll ever trust
Say "good~bye" to the family
I promise I'll write regularly
when i get to where they're taking us
Track Name: IRONCLAD
Ironclad words & music: bill mallonee

You can tell when the trains are crashing
It all plays out in such a sad fashion
And the things you chase just to set cha free
'Course there were never any ironclad guarantees.

Wind the tape back to the very start
And offer up another broken heart

Georgia never was a place i could call home
Too many paths to navigate with those on the throne
And it's good to know when to stay & when to flee
Every truth worth learning is right there on the streets

Things looking pretty dark & pretty cold
Every man has his price; every soul it's threshold
Something 'bout throwing caution to the wind
Something 'bout the flock being gathered in
Track Name: HIGH~BEAM
High~Beam words & music: bill mallonee

If ya' care to listen, ah but even if you don't
I got over needing you a long time ago
I took great pains to know you & I gave you all my best
I was living to make you smile. I was dying to impress

But, all this gettin' born...all these rose & thorns and the confusing parts
Well, I cobbled a life together with them just to watch it fall a part

Well, i took it to the road; these skeleton dreams
Wrapped 'em in an old suit, railroads & high~beams
My pen? It never went dry; This guitar could always woo
Till my soul was the color of box car rust & my heart was big sky blue

Whatever is heavy as hell is what you shouldn't carry
I wrote my prayers & S.O.S. on the bar stationary
From where i stumbled last night; staggerin' right back to the start
What you learn comes the hard way; and softly breaks your heart
Doldrums In Denver words & music: bill mallonee

No, it's not really a good time. No, it rarely is these days.
Loneliness she washes over you like a wave; And the snow is ever falling down

Doldrums in Denver...Doldrums in Denver
And it's time you leave this town...There ain't nothing for you now

Losing streaks? Their eyes will meet till you think the deck is stacked
Lady Luck? She grabbed her keys and she headed out the back
And the snow is ever falling down
The King's Highway (New Set of Wheels)
words & music: bill mallonee

Well, you didn't come with much and God? He only knows
You won't be leaving with a lot when you go
And go you surely will & if you're lucky you'll be missed
You can go with God or with a clenched fist

I remember clearly when I first pulled into town
There was something in the air, there was something in the ground
Something in the language all broken and fractured
Harsh & cold & always manufactured...

The Great Beyond is gonna have to wait another day
But, you'll get a new set of wheels on the King's Highway
A new set of wheels on the King's Highway

You're gonna have to speak up when talking to the deaf
I say a prayer while still holding my breath
Too many tears in this dry & barren land
Too many ghosts inside every man

Could be soon, could be far but that's not mine to say
You'll get a new set of wheels on the King's Highway
Just another road song for the radio to play
You'll get a new set of wheels on the King's Highway
THAT LAST HILL words/music: bill mallonee

You write such things when the last few grains of sand
fall through the slender neck of the hour glass
come what may
come what will
i just wanna see over
that last hill

It's funny how things can get so damn misplaced
where you bet the farm and where you put your faith
you know time is such a precious thing to kill
i just wanna see over
that last hill

will my highbeams flood the plain?
will the gatekeeper know my name
will there be someone to claim me for his own?

Well, you whisper to yourself when time runs low
Darling, I'll carry every smile we shared with me when i go
Lord, gather me unto Thyself when my wayward heart grows still
i just wanna see over
that last hill
i wanna see over
that last hill

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