Hope & Other Casualties

by Mark Erelli

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On Mark Erelli's 2006 album, Hope & Other Casualties, he raises the bar with an unapologetic and timeless collection of deeply personal and affecting songs. Effortlessly balancing songs of love and protest, resignation and redemption, Hope & Other Casualties is a brave and searingly honest tour de force which cements Erelli's reputation as one of today's best young singer/songwriters.

“Erelli addresses tough issues (war, development, love, post-9/11) with the grit of John Hiatt and the melancholy beauty of Ron Sexsmith.” --Washington Post


released March 7, 2006

Produced by Lorne Entress & Mark Erelli

Mark sings and plays acoustic, high-strung, National steel, baritone & electric guitars, harmonica, dulcimer, lap steel, mandolin, banjo, orchestra bells & celestaphone

Lorne sings and plays drums, percussion, bass, dulcimer, high-strung guitar, jaw harp, reed organ & keyboards

With very special guests:
Bruce Bears - Wurlitzer
Kris Delmhorst - vocals
Jeffrey Foucault - vocals
Paul Kochanski - upright & electric bass
Shane Koss - keyboards, drum loops
Lori McKenna - vocals
Jerry Miller - mandolin
Peter Mulvey - vocals
Johnny Sciascia - upright bass


all rights reserved



Mark Erelli Boston, Massachusetts

Mark Erelli completed a masters in evolutionary biology just after his self-titled debut was released in 1999. He has won several prestigious awards, and has 7 records to his name, including collections of western swing, lullabies and songs of stirring social conscience. In recent years, he has gained notoriety as a mulit-instrumentalist sideman with artists such as Lori McKenna and Josh Ritter. ... more


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Track Name: Here & Now
Cobblestone pillow
Newspaper sheets
Ten below zero
Sleeping on the street

Someday we all will have a home
A place to come in from the cold
Somewhere so high above the clouds
Why not here
Why not now

Pastures of plenty
For the tired and poor
Still too many hands empty
Behind the golden door


Someday we all will live the dream
There'll be no cracks to fall between
Somewhere where everyone will have enough
But here and now
It's up to us

Someday we all will be at peace
And all of our suffering will cease
There's more than enough to go around
Why not here
Why not now
Why not here
Why not now
Why not here
Why not now
Track Name: Imaginary Wars
Behind the house where I lived
Back when I was a kid
I played G.I. Joe beneath the tall pine trees
I'd fight imaginary wars
Til my mom called from our back porch
I'd come home covered in that pine pitch from my head down to my knees

Too big to wrap my arms around
Surely older than I could count
Must have been there since the Mayflower crossed the sea
They'd seen blizzards, hurricanes
Summer droughts and freezing rain
Those pines would live forever
Least that's how it seemed to me

Now what's become of the old pine woods
It's all gone and there's a brand new neighborhood
All for a buck they cut down all those trees
They subdivided all of my fondest memories

When those trucks came for my woods
I did everything I could
And I waged my war when school let out that June
I ripped down flags and pulled up stakes
But what difference can one boy make
Them pines still fell like thunder on a summer afternoon


I never became friends
With the families that moved in
They were different from us or so it seemed
I grew up and moved away
I just go home on holidays
But those tall and tangled pines they're still falling in my dreams

We all the want the greenest lawn
A country club where we belong
And an SUV to get us there in style
But we don't keep track of what's been lost
We can't calculate the cost
When there's no place left for a boy's imagination
to run wild

So what's become of the old pine woods
It's all gone and it's gone for good
All for a buck they cut down all those trees
They subdivided all of my fondest memories
Track Name: Snowed In
The weatherman warned me
Stay off the road tonight
If you know what's best
Mercury is falling
There's a storm rolling in
From the Midwest

He called for two feet of snow
So I turned off my radio
I'd heard enough
I'm gonna drive all night
To be snowed in with the woman I love

Forty miles an hour
From Connecticut to Maine
That's as fast as I can go
Hazard lights flashing
On the cars spinning out
By the side of the road

You might think I'm crazy
But if you ever met my baby
You'd know why I'm out here in this stuff
I'm gonna drive all night
To be snowed in with the woman I love

When we wake up in the morning
And they haven't cleared the streets
And everyone is digging out after the storm
Honey call in sick instead
Climb back in bed
I know a thing or two bound to keep us warm

I had a couple close calls
White knuckles on the wheel
And my nerves are frayed
But she's gonna throw her arms around me
Flash those baby blues
And all my worries are just gonna melt away

Now I'm pulling in the drive
I should be glad to be alive
But she is all I'm thinking of
You know I drove all night
You know I drove all night
You know I drove all night
To be snowed in with the woman I love
Track Name: The Only Way
I read the paper
I watch the news
It seems there's only pain and sufferin'
And there ain't nothing I can do
It's so senseless
I feel defenseless
So small

I could shut my windows
Bolt my doors
But if I don't feel safe enough
To speak my mind anymore
Then what's the use
I've nothing left to lose
No further to fall

So I'm gonna love
I'm gonna believe
I'm gonna dream
But I'm gonna roll up my sleeve
And give everything until there's nothing left to give
That's the only way that I know how to live

It was a nightmare
No tongue can tell
The streets of New York City
Looked just like the gates of Hell
In a flash
The smoke and the ash
Falling down like rain

But they circled wagons
They gathered round
As they bravely pulled our brothers
And our sisters from the ground
And I know
I owe them more
Than to be afraid


Why seek vengeance?
What comes of war?
I know freedom has a price
But it doesn't keep score
It's too much to swallow
It's left me hollow
After all this time
All this time

I won't tell you
What to believe
But I'm too young to be so cynical
And too old to be naive
Every action
Breeds a reaction
So let this be mine
Track Name: Evening's Curtain
It's written of in papers, books and magazines
For centuries, adventurers set sail
In schooners, clippers, sloops and brigs and barquentines
O'er the deep blue ocean to prevail

Believing their dominion of the great salt sea
They'd snare the fish and smite the mighty whale
But for every man who lived to boast his victory
A score or more were thwarted by the gale

As evening's curtain falls upon me like a shroud
I'm thinking of their cold, eternal sleep
Beneath the waves far too many souls to count
Lost out in the darkness on the deep

There always will be men who sail the ocean blue
But the romance is a thing of history
In these hard times a man just does what he has to
Providing for his wife and family

Not long ago just off the coast of Provincetown
They found a radio beacon bobbing in a field of debris
Three days they did search but they never found
The crew who worked aboard the Candy B
Track Name: Seeds Of Peace
The American flag is tied to a fence on an overpass
With a homemade sign written in red, white and blue
It reads "Welcome Home Jason Miller, Private First Class"
And I don't even know him but I'm grateful for any good news

What's become of my country torn by contradiction
The spirit of freedom propped up by a culture of fear
Where it's unpatriotic to protest or even to question
Have we learned nothing from history or the last couple years

And the rain pours down
On the fallow ground
And the fruited plain as barren as the sand
Is it not within our will
How long must we wait until
The seeds of peace find purchase in this land

He stood on the deck and he said we'd accomplished our mission
He twisted the facts 'til he knew it would pass for the truth
Vengeance can fill any fool with conviction
But he can't wash the blood of the fallen from his cowboy boots


I will not be shamed into silence by partisan thunder
I won't fall in line and march to the drums on the wind
How many more daughters and sons will we see plowed under
How much longer must we wait 'til the harvest comes in

When the sun shines down
On this hallowed ground
And the fruited plain so bountiful and grand
Is it not within our will
How long must we wait until
The seeds of peace find purchase in this land

Will the seeds of peace find purchase in this land?
Track Name: Undone
Trouble come falling from a pure blue sky
Went down to the well but the well was dry
Wasn't nothing but a bucket and a hole in the ground
I pitched myself like a penny thrown
But my wish just echoed off the cold grey stone
Wasn't even 'nough water left to drown

I'm too weary to believe
A change is gonna come
Shelter me or leave me here
To wither in the sun

I tried to give more than I took
I heard the word and I read the book
And I listened close for to hear my Saviour call
But as the lightning flashed and the thunder broke
I couldn't help but wonder if I missed the joke
Did you prop me up just to watch me fall


I'm too weary to believe
A change is gonna come
Shelter or forsake me here
Like your only son
Track Name: Seasons Pass
Daffodils and tulips
Now surely they're a sign
That lemonade and mint juleps
Can't be far behind

Love, there's a touch
Of sweet perfume on the wind
We made it through the winter once again

Love is just a simple seed
Underneath the snow
Come some sunny day we've all we need
To blossom and to grow

Love, open up
Feel the sun on your skin
We made it through the winter once again

There will be times when you feel so down
All your hopes and dreams seem to go underground
You look around and you don't see much to believe in
The winter always feels like it's gonna last
But the die is never cast
There is no rhyme or reason
Babe, it's just a season
And seasons pass

So let the winter shake the naked trees
Through every frigid gale
Baby, have some faith the summer breeze
Will come and fill our sails

Love, let's not dwell
On days that have been
We made it through the winter once
Those dark and dreary winter months
And we'll make it through the winter once again
Once again
Track Name: Hartfordtown 1944
It was a dry and dusty summer day
When that wagon train pulled in
Just three hours 'til the matinee
Was scheduled to begin
As the razorbacks unloaded the flats
A crowd did gather to see
The elephants tow the wagons back
To that empty lot on Barbour Street

And the canvasmen they dug right in
'Til on that spot where nothing had been
You could see the bigtop from miles around
When the circus came to Hartfordtown

The circus it was front page news
Back in 1944
Everyone was grateful for any excuse
To forget about the war
The sun beat down on the menagerie
In the cages the animals paced
There was orangeade and cotton candy
And a smile on every kid's face

Each mother and father, each boy and girl
They couldn't wait to see the greatest show in the world
You could barely hear the orchestra they cheered so loud
When the circus came to Hartfordtown

There were polar bears and panther cats
With great big fangs and claws
The lions did a balancing act
To jubilant applause
Then the spotlight played on a platform set
So high up in the air
That everybody held their breath
And prayed a silent prayer

All eyes were glued to the man on the wire
So nobody knew when the tent caught fire
Too slowly it dawned on the sold-out crowd
When the circus came to Hartfordtown

The fire drew air and began to climb
The audience leapt from their seats
There was a stampede for the exit sign
Some fainted from the heat
There were heroes who did their best to help
The children escape the flames
And the others who managed to save themselves
They survived but were never the same

Some still remember how the animals cried
But there weren't any animals inside
Over 100 people trapped when the tent burned down
When the circus came to Hartfordtown

As a boy I lived on Barbour Street
Four blocks from the circus show
I begged my parents, I got down on my knees
But they would not let me go
For they had grounded me for two weeks straight
Now I can't even remember why
But I know the first time that I ever prayed
Was when I saw that black smoke in the sky

And the war it was over in a year I guess
But the people in my town didn't cheer like the rest
It still breaks our hearts to remember now
When the circus came to Hartfordtown
Track Name: Passing Through
We are passing this world on to our kids
From the moment that they climb out of their cribs
We try to teach them well
Show them they are loved
But in the end all we can do is hope our best is good enough
For they'll witness how this life
Can be so beautiful and cruel
We can't shelter them forever
But if we show them all the tools
They might leave this place in a little better shape than me and you
We are only passing through

Passing through
Passing through
We are only passing through

We been watching this world from our living rooms
It's been near 40 years since we walked on the moon
This big blue ball is shrinking
and I don't know if that's good
But for better or for worse now this whole world's our neighborhood
There's no place left to run to
Where you can stay above the fray
We all need to learn to get along
And not just get our way
Not only for each other but for our children's children too
We are only passing through


I wonder sometimes what will I pass on
And how much can one voice do with just a song
Sometimes injustice and indifference
Are all that I can see
But I refuse to let my hope become the latest casualty
So I'll sing of love and truth
And try to practice all I preach
And If I can't change the world
I'll change the world within my reach
What better place to start than here and now with me and you
We are only passing through
Track Name: God Loves Everyone
God loves everyone
Like a mother loves her son
No strings at all
Never one to judge
Would never hold a grudge
'Bout what's been done
God loves everyone

There are no gates in heaven
Everyone gets in
Queer or straight
Souls of every faith
Hell is in our minds
Hell is in this life
But when it's gone
God takes everyon

Its love is like a womb
It's like the air from room to room
It surrounds us all
The living and the dead
May we never lose the thread
That bound us all

The killer in his cell
The atheist as well
The pure of heart
And the wild at heart
Are all worthy of its grace
It's written in the face
Of everyone
God loves everyone

There's no need to be saved
No need to be afraid
Cause when it's done
God takes everyone

God loves everyone

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