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Lay Your Darkness Down

by Mark Erelli

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Troubled minds can’t last forever Troubled times just got to give If we’re to survive it’ll be together Alone ain’t no way to live I’m gonna wait for a break in the clouds For the sun to come shining down Oh it’s hard to keep the faith but we’re bound for brighter days So I’m gonna wait for a break in the clouds I’ve got a friend lives out in Oregon Wish I could see him again Lately I’ve been thinking ‘bout what’s important and I’m headed west just as soon as I can (CHORUS) A patch of blue A flash of light Send me a sign It’s gonna be alright (CHORUS)
What was that Have I been here before In a past life I was exactly the same I’m pretty sure I’ve seen that chair read the books on the shelf In the next life maybe I’ll go easier on myself Can’t make a mistake disappear no matter how you try Don’t let go of your fear You can’t live in fear But you can use it as… Fuel for the fire Fuel for the fire My forever friend We never talk Called last night and it felt like we were taking a walk On these faithless streets wasted and torn We knew that we knew everything and we were ignored Can’t kill a dream when it’s meant to be no matter how you try Never mind what they say they’re gonna say it anyway Use it as… (CHORUS) I’m losing time and when I really think about it I’ve lost years I’m keeping all my secrets close gathering up my ghosts Gonna use ‘em as…
I don’t know where we were going but “Rosalita” was on the radio I was drumming on the dash and she was whistling to the saxophone We never promised each other But when you only have the summer it’s almost like September says… You’re gonna wanna remember this It flies by, it’s easy to miss Don’t blink, drink it in It happens once and it might not happen again The world’s gonna keep on turning That’s just the way it is, so you’re gonna wanna remember this Some old friends picked a weekend to head up north and get out on the lake Talk about the wives and kids and reminisce about the glory days Years fly by and days are numbered Now we’re old enough to wonder and just wise enough to know one thing (CHORUS) The last time don’t always feel like the last time So baby put your hand in mine and I promise tonight (CHORUS)
I could join the circus maybe hop a train Go someplace nobody knows me But there ain’t no point it all looks the same Everywhere is equally lonely Up against the night and it’s coming on strong Up against the night it always lasts too long And I wonder can I keep holding on? Up against the night waiting on the dawn Once I had this crazy dream my time was almost up and I would die before my work was accomplished Yeah it scared me awake so I woke you up too And we made love like it was my last wish (CHORUS) Am I only running to keep from falling apart a man could be forgiven for wondering But as long as I am here I will rage against the dark Hold on, babe, daylight’s coming (CHORUS)
You 04:36
You knew how to hang with the band Yeah you grabbed my arm before I asked to dance Oh I never really had a chance once I saw you Yeah you eyes like the bluest flame Yeah you never even took my name All I had to offer was a sad refrain for you Yeah you always say exactly what you mean You said I betrayed you once in a dream And I know sometimes you wonder if I’ve ever seen you Yeah you so tender underneath it all Do you remember what it was made you fall And I wonder if it’s a little too late to call and talk to you Will you meet me in the gathering dusk Will you walk beside me while there’s light enough ‘Cause I, oh babe I ain’t giving up on us
The Man I Am 04:42
They say no man is an island This world ain’t no place to be on your own I was set in my ways before I met you What made me think I could make it alone Like the river brings the mountain to the ocean Like the waves break the rock down into sand You loved me, loved me, you loved me into the man I am Like a sculpture trapped inside a stone Like a canvas awaiting its masterpiece Like a song that needs, needs to be written you came along, you set me free Now some say that a song can’t change the world but thanks to you I’m living proof that it can ‘Cause you loved me, loved me, you loved me into the man I am And I don’t pretend to understand it I’m just thankful for the way that it feels It’s a mystery what you did to me
But I know in my soul that it’s real As the dawn after the darkness As the stone that was rolled away Everyday feels like a new beginning one I don’t intend, I don’t intend to waste Now no longer will I wander in the wilderness Since you reached out and took hold of my hand and loved me, loved me, you loved me into the man I am
Giant squid and butterflies Creatures big and mighty, low and small We can only guess how many kinds with which we share this big, blue ball They say that we know less about the bottom of the ocean than we do about the surface of the moon So if you ever lose your sense of wonder honey, it’ll be too soon Every day a new frontier The backyard was a jungle green and wild But it gets harder to remember what came as second nature to a child You know the names of all the roads The lawn needs to be mowed There’s work to pay the bills and make the rent You might wake up one day and never wonder where your sense of wonder went Mysteries within mysteries like an endless set of Russian nesting dolls And if we could ever find it We’d find a question at the center of it all Why something ‘stead of nothing? Are we out here on our own or does someone or something catch us when we fall? Without a sense of wonder it begins to seem so tragic and so small But it ain’t all unicorns and rainbows surely you’ve suspected this by now Some days feel like a competition to find the biggest way to let each other down I don’t blame you if you’re worried Sometimes I worry too and don’t believe it when I say ‘it’ll all work out’ ’Cause it don’t seem to make no sense it’s no wonder sometimes we all have our doubts We are made of stardust Electrons dancing to a cosmic reel Light is particle and wave but even this cannot explain the way it feels So give all you got to give ‘cause at best it’s relative Love is how we pull each other through Hold onto your sense of wonder Keep yours for me and I’ll keep mine for you Neve lose your sense of wonder, babe Keep yours for me and I’ll keep mine for you
Is It Enough 04:03
Is it enough Enough to be loved What else do you need What more could you want The only thing left when everything is gone Is it enough Enough to be loved Give it away Free as a child It was only yours to hold for awhile Do you know what you have almost nobody does Is it enough Enough to be loved Throw your arms around me Never let me go I need to know where we stand If you really love me Honey, let it show Don’t make me wonder if you can The fire below The kingdom above An iron fist in a velvet glove Do we keep coming back or is it ashes to dust Is it enough Enough to be loved
Last night a storm blew through our town The power went out, the rain poured down For an hour or so, the wind blew fast and mean I walked around after the flood Piles of trash and pools of mud but up above, the prettiest sunset that I’ve seen I woke up to the news Fate ain’t something you can choose and them Harlem River blues are all too real I couldn’t even cry I was sad but not surprised That muddy water was always lapping at your heels Rest easy, brother, and travel light You had your mama’s eyes but you were your father’s son Lay your darkness down Shadows lie upon the ground to show us where the light is coming from Towns can be rebuilt but some holes just can’t be filled and hope is in the heart of the beholder So I’ll remember you I guess at your kindest, at your best and pray you shed the weight upon your shoulders
Some days you’re inching out on the ledge Some days you can’t get out of bed Sometimes you’re high as a kite on a string Sometimes you’re looking up at everything Hang in there, baby The whole world’s gone crazy Love wins in the long run Love wins in the long run No matter what you’ve done or where you come from Love wins in the long run You ain’t afraid of a little hard work Don’t wanna show it but I know you’re hurt You can’t cry and you don’t wanna laugh It’s getting harder to believe this too shall pass I know it’s crazy And it don’t seem like it lately (CHORUS) (Love wins) If you keep the faith (Love wins) with a little grace (Love wins) Maybe not today but it finds a way (CHORUS 2x)


NOTE: All orders of Lay Your Darkness Down will come with a Bandcamp-exclusive digital bonus track, a live solo, acoustic version of "You" recorded at Passim in Cambridge MA.

I remember fewer of my dreams than I once did, though I know I still have them. They are a weather system sparking with story—even when I can retain only threadbare and flickering impressions of them after the fact; like a movie I’ve essentially slept through, but that now everyone else, remarkably, seems to be talking about the next morning.

I’ve thought a lot about what it may mean to lose my access to this once florid and expansive world; and I reckon and wrestle with the truth that such potent life doesn’t stop but rather carries on without me. Listening to Mark Erelli’s striking new album, Lay Your Darkness Down, I hear a songwriter and singer courageously—soulfully and with an uncommon grace and generosity—engaging a startling world made no less vivid by the degenerative ocular condition that is diminishing his sight.

But this is not a record of resignation. Instead, it is a muscular and steel-eyed embrace of experiencing just what matters; of grief and the love that attends it; of an acceptance that, miraculously, is less constricting than it is ultimately empowering. Mark is not writing pointedly about potential blindness as much as demonstrating just how much all of our lives are shaped and played out in a waning light; and how rich and nuanced is that shadowed landscape once our eyes have both literally and psychically adjusted for it.

The songs themselves are laced throughout with images of dimming days and obscured vision; of things being other than they appear. They acknowledge our deep and collective longing to be, above all else, fully seen: by each other and by ourselves—for our lives are saved and sustained by just such recognition; and as well, that darkness exists only in alliance with its bright conspirator:

“Shadows lie upon the ground
to show us where the light is coming from”

By making us his witness, we are, as listeners, ushered onto Mark’s journey; but too, by extension, invited to contemplate all the ways our shared vision will need to be recalibrated as years tumble and the aforementioned weather rises and falls, carrying us all—if we are lucky—from luminous summer into the deep autumn of life’s frayed offering.

Yes, if we are lucky. These beautiful songs remind that there is real and rough weather ahead to endure, and for us all. And that this too, make no mistake, is its own vivid and wild gift.

Joe Henry
Harpswell, Maine


released February 3, 2023

Sung, played, engineered & produced at home by Mark Erelli

Dave Brophy - drums, percussion
Anthony da Costa - electric guitar on “Fuel For The Fire”
Zachariah Hickman - bass, Mellotron, Omnichord
Lori McKenna - vocal on “Lay Your Darkness Down”
Charlie Rose - pedal steel on “Love Wins In The Long Run”
The Three Mile Island Singers (Kristin Andreassen, Dinty Child, Rose Cousins, Kris Delmhorst, Dave Godowsky, Annie Lynch, Rose Polenzani, Charlie Rose, Dietrich Strause & Sean Staples) - vocals on “Love Wins In The Long Run”

All guest contributions recorded at home except for bass & drums, recorded at Revolution Sound, Charlestown MA by Pat DiCenso

Mixed by Pat DiCenso
Mastered by Kim Rosen at Knack Mastering
Photography by Joe Navas
Art direction & design by Mark Brautigam


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Mark Erelli Boston, Massachusetts

"You know those artists who release a great first record and then have enormous trouble following it up with anything as interesting? Yeah, that’s not Mark Erelli." -Red Line Roots


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