If One Of These Bottles Should Happen To Fall

by Tris McCall

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*If One Of These Bottles Should Happen To Fall* was produced and mixed by Scott Miller of Game Theory and the Loud Family. Some of the basics were tracked in New York, but most of the recording was done in his San Bruno, California living room. He was extremely generous with his time, his insight, and his guidance -- more generous than I deserved. It's been three years since he died. I still can't believe he's gone.

The album's subtitle is *Jersey Songs By Tris McCall*, and the original CD version came with a roll call of Jersey artists I respect and a two-page glossary of all the Garden State references I make in the lyrics. While the tone of the album is lighthearted, a few of the heavier themes that would later obsess me are apparent here: geography as destiny, gentrification, the pathos of the politician, capitalist activity as a glorified gambling addiction, distaste for drugs and alcohol, long looks askance at the big city across the Hudson.

I think it was Donald Fagen who once said that every artist only has one idea. The trick is to obscure that predicament by repackaging that idea in as many ways as possible. This album is probably the sweetest, most palatable version of the Tris McCall pill it's possible for you to swallow. For that, I think I've got Scott Miller to thank -- and the guitarist David Schreiber, who was my principal collaborator during these sessions, and who accompanied me on my trips to the Bay Area to make this record. (Couldn't get him to go to a Giants game, though.)

If you're new, try first: "A Girl With A Gun", "Hung By A Jury Of My Peers", "I Can't Get Up Out Of My Chair"


released December 9, 2015

Some of the musicians who helped make this album:

Drums: Jens Carstensen
Bass guitar: Martin Nienstedt and David Schreiber
Guitar: David Schreiber
Piano: Dan Madinabeitia
Singing: Rachel Fishman and Regan Solmo
Synthesizer, lead vox: Tris McCall




Tris McCall Jersey City, New Jersey

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Track Name: The New Jersey Department Of Public Works
Working together, insuring our future, embracing every day. We're planting trees and laying electric wire from Secaucus to Cape May. We'll all pull together to bring us our future. In everything that we do, the New Jersey Department Of Public Works is bringing New Jersey to you.

From the mighty rolling Delaware to the Hudson's graceful glide. We're planning the cities and raising the bridges that build New Jersey pride. Irrigation and mass transportation for each and every man. The New Jersey Department Of Public Works -- lending New Jersey a hand.

Who built the Trenton station or Newark's mighty port? For public works will long endure although our lives are short. A kind of immortality our cooperation bestows on the New Jersey people who build it together -- we'll let the whole nation know. The New Jersey Department Of Public Works: helping New Jersey grow.
Track Name: Janie Abstract
The grapefruit league is over
Janie closes the cache
Blind ride through West New York on liar's holiday.
A liar's lips are parting as these lying hands explain
Trace my name with your finger on the clouded windowpane

Do you paint me in a corner?
Still I trace your sweet smile through the screen
Janie knows what distance means

The network is the nausea
Plan a metropark like DC's
The road to hell is paved with cuties working on their theses
They're remodeling the Echo Queen into an e-café
The future's passed on 46 since Janie's been away

Do you paint me in a corner
Still I touch your shoulders through the screen
Janie knows what Abstract means
Do you paint me in a corner?
Press your body closer:

We clasp hands across the digital chasm
You and me
Janie's an illusion
Don't you see

Leafing through the baseball abstract
With a grin like Peter Tork
The wrecking ball will claim us all
And not just downtown Newark
Are you tiring of books and banks and what it all defines?
A liar's faith can melt these walls
A liar's on your side

Do you paint me in a corner?
Still I touch your shoulders through the screen
Janie knows what distance means
Do you paint me in a corner?
Still I sense your sweet smile through the wire
Janie learns to feel the liar
Track Name: Mad About Us
Well it's so good to be here at Bowery and Bleek
You all look so fine I can barely speak
This part of town must be tres chic
For cats like you to throw away your week-end

Mad about us/forget about us

Well the rain pours down on everyone
Pour out the puzzle pieces on Sam Nunn
Thy name is mud
Thy will be done
Because thou hast the freaking naked raygun

Mad about us/forget about us

Mad About You, that's my favorite show
With Helen Hunt, oh ho ho
That Paul Reiser, he's a dynamo
At my TV set a brick I will throw
I may be generally bored but I think I got the right
When it's the same damn bullshit I see night after night
There's a divine spark in each of us suffocated by words
So predictable it hurts
It's so predictable it hurts!

So when you see me after the show
Pour me out a drink
Come by my table and tell my what you think
Critique my glasses
Critique my mink
I care about your opinion
Nudge, nudge, wink, wink

Mad about us/forget about us
Mad about forget about what William Gaddis said about us!
Track Name: A Girl With A Gun
I like a girl with a gun
Liable to do anyone
She wants me dead or my hands above my head
A girl with a gun and a telephone voice
She can hold me up

Boom Boom

There might be no motive for this
But it's foolish to count on a miss
No chance to ask for the face behind the mask
I'll do whatever you want
Just don't hurt the kids
Because they're innocent

Boom Boom

She's so sure in her stride with the gun at her side
And lipstick darker than the kiss-end of her forty-five
Look how quick she react coming out of the flat
With a flurry of buckshot for the coppers who can't hang with that
Can I tag along just to show what I got?
I won't even mind if I get set up
Girl, give me a shot

Track Name: Dear Governor Kean
Dear Governor Kean
A book of knowledge
An amber flame
It's been a long time
But on the chief's watch
A silent vigil

And he looks like Emily's pose
No words, no flesh, his flag's done wove
Small boys love, big men hate
Please legislate

On Madison Ave.
They seek to hold mirrors to life
To ready the old infantryman

The vet's returned with ancient grace
A scar, a note to accept his fate
Small boy's love, big men hate
Please legislate
Track Name: Had Too Much Sugar
Hey get off my turf!
I'm a fuckin' waryer
Me and Papa Smurf
And my daddy's Lawryer
Cutting class all week
Scolded by the teacher
Tried to slap her cheek
But I couldn't reach her
She is much too tall
And I've not had my growth spurt
Running through the mall
With TCBYogurt
I'm a psychopath
All jacked up on pectin
I won't do my math
I only like dissectin'
Since I was a tyke
I've been smoking weed out
Rolling on my bike

The fun is getting out of hand
Wouldn't you say?
This magic marker makes no brand
Wouldn't you say
I'm gonna get a reprimand
Wouldn't you say?

Had too much sugar with my meal and now my jaw is vacuum sealed
Poured too much sugar on my tongue and now I'm screaming out a lung
Scooped too much sugar on my steak

The fun is getting out of hand
Wouldn't you say?
This magic marker leaves no brand
Wouldn't you say?
I'm going to get a reprimand
Wouldn't you say?

Poured too much sugar on my fries and now I yen to vandalize
Sucked too much sugar off these pills and now I'm feeling somewhat ill
Heaped too much sugar on my toast

Now you got me pissed
Struggle with the dentist
I won't put up with in loco parentis
Rolling on the bus
Picking on the retards
Nothing wrong with us we can't fix in the schoolyard
Yes I'm a little punk
Stealing from the Quick Chek
Pockets full of junk
Racing out at breakneck speed back to the den
With my box of Ring Dings
Nothing's on again?!?
Nothing's on again?!?
Nothing's on again?!?
Can't sit still!
Track Name: The View From New Jersey
Did you lose everything on your hard drive?
Did you come out to Hoboken sucking wind?
There's lots of kids commuting out to Wall Street here
They're all waiting for their real lives to begin

And you, you thought that they'd all find you special
Well, you're special, but nobody really cares
'Cause they'll confer degrees on anybody with the cash to blow
You decide yourself if that's unfair

Oh, you were pretty once
That ain't too hard to guess
Won't you unlatch that suit just in case there's something left?
That's the view from New Jersey

Practicing your pick-up lines on your own damn self
Another cheesy Washington Street bar
Too sedate to smash the state and too tremulous
That's where you be when you don't know who you are

But ask any partygoer, any nighttripper
Ask the kids lined up at Twilo or at Nell's
What's the good in ever looking fabulous
When the crowds are outside toasting David Wells?

If that make-a no sense to you
You can flip it in another tongue
One you knew when you were young
Though you lost your cutie pie-ness
That's the view from New Jersey

Surprised to find that you're glad you stayed
C'mon, let's take a walk on the palisade
Sure, there'll be times when you get your views dismissed
But only by those who don't know that such views exist
And getting rid of dead wood feels so good
And we call this the Casting-Off Place
Awake with the smell of rubber and burning paint
Better than feeling lost when you're feeling faint

That's the view
That's the view
That's just the view
Only the view
Not the hippest, I'm aware
But it's damned good that it's there
New Jersey

Trapped in the corner in your bumper car
It doesn't even help to turn the wheel
Everybody's gonna get their hits in now
Bear up in it and be thankful you still feel
Track Name: I Am The Law (In The Ointment)
Who counts the cops on Grove Street?
Track Name: Lite Radio Is My Kryptonite
Why work?
Why not fill your days with joy?
Spend more time with the ones you love
And then scramble your ass off for rent and 'lectricity
Temp when you have to
Relax when you don't
And try to ignore that nagging chest pain
Fib your way through your tax returns and spend the rest of your life in jail

Thy got you where they want you
And it's all downhill from here

Why work at all?
Why waste money on suits and ties?
When you can have comfy shoes and three-day-old scruff
And get typecast as a lazy slacker
See if you can convince them that you're qualified
For mental disability checks and unemployment
Chill in the atrium of the Galaxy Towers
And get welcomed to the world of private security

They got you where they want you
And it's all downhill from here

So now
If you're wondering where I've been
Choked by steam of my ship come in
And the ferry from Hoboken
Just know that this tangle of tickertape is the price for our Empire State
Unless, of course, you're just a reprobate
Like me and my mates!

They got you where they want you
And it's all downhill from here

Life is short
Too short to waste in a cubicle
Drop out of the rat race and feels superior
As you search for a buyer for your magnum opus
Burn your I.D. and declare yourself free
You'll feel real American until you get carded
Go off the grid like the militiamen did and get roasted alive by the Federal Government
Track Name: Missing You
Some couples deem it normal to keep things rather formal
And deny the seducer's art
And implying nothing stealthy
They say it's only healthy to spend a few days apart
But if you showed me information on great separate vacations
Well, I think that would break my heart
Because without you at all
I watch the clock on the wall
And I wait for the hands to start

I'll be missing you, my dear
From the moment that we kiss goodbye
And though I try to stay high and justify my desires
My world isn't bright enough unless I'm looking out through your eyes

I'll be missing you, my dear
From the moment that you leave my side
And it's two wanting you
And I'm keeping it true
I think nothing else would do
Hoping you do too
And I wonder who you're kissing while I'm missing you
Track Name: I Can't Get Up Out Of My Chair
I do try to be small and demure
And it's aesthetics that I'm doing it for
I'm so light and polite and I'd never harm a hare
In fact I can't get up out of my chair

There's a world of great causes to support
In fact there's so many that I feel a little short
Catch the word on the street (forty stories in the air)
And I can't get up out of my chair

My vacation days are gone
I feel I can't go on
Stimulation to the brain
What really did I gain?
Just a hundred thousand dollars down the drain

I've got no real complaints with this town
But its immensity can sure get you down
So many happening streets and there's music everywhere
And I can't get up out of my chair

Checking out my new exercise kit
With a big fat bowl of Alpha-Bits
Got the videotape on and my manly chest is bare
But I can't get up out of my chair

My vacation days are gone
I feel I can't go on
What my nation does for me
Protects my liberty
So I can pick up trashy channels on TV

Well, I wish I had more to confess
But the monsignor wouldn't take down my e-mail address
So trust me I'm deep
Now let me get some sleep
'Cause I can't get up out
I can't get up out
I can't get up out of my chair
Track Name: LOL
You really blew it, kid, you know you could have had me. I would have broken any vow to take your name. I walk in circles down the walls of your apartment. Who sunk the battleship? I'll take the blame.

Were you surprised to see my face there at the party? I'm in the bedroom and you're talking to the fan. But now it's winter and I'm staring in my coffee. Snuff the flame and begin again.

Hide something inside. You were hoping I was broken long before your arms could open wide. Deny feeling inside. You're all alone, you've got your house, you're by the fire and reading something dry. Desire -- laughing out loud is always impolite so now I'm crying out of spite. But when the spies come out to pry, I wish you'd tell them that we tried.
Track Name: He's A Sagittarius
He's a Sagittarius moon and so precarious
He loves to lead the ladies on but they all don't know where he is
His style is quite spectacular
He use the black vernacular
He never kiss a girl upon the cheek 'till he's attracted to her

Yes he's a real Lothario
Floats like Super Mario
Works on 42nd Street but lives out in the barrio
Loves to eat a petit four
Leaves the birds to Baltimore
Parties at the grocery store

We know foam follows function
So we learn to move with the utmost unction
The fault is not in our guitars but in ourselves
He's smooth as turpentine
He only likes the Firesign

He's a Sagittarius
Familiar with the various strategies for chatter but he only digs the scariest
A hundred years of solipsists
Got him chomping at the bit
He's the soul of brevity, if not exactly wit

We know foam follows function
So we learn to move with the utmost unction
The fault is not in our guitars but in ourselves
He's sweet as turpentine
So come, vamos a Bergenline

So before you go get plastered
Won't you spend some time with this conceited bastard?
Who sits around writing love songs to himself
He's smooth as Percodan
He always says "I think I can"
His Saturn is in Taurus
Which explains why he might bore us with his Libran didacticity
But check the electricity when jovial and saturnine combine in trines
To line up the Martial arts of the mind!
Track Name: Fire, Fire
Lo, here I Burn, I burn in such Defire
That all the Tearf that I can Straine
Out of mine Idle, Empty Braine
Cannot allaye this grinding Paine!
Come Trent, and Humber, and faire Thames
Come ocean waves with all thy Ftreams!
And if ye cannot quench my Fire --
O drown both me and my Desire

Fire, fire, fire, fire!
Fire, fire, fire, fire!

There is no hell, no hell to my Defire
For all ye Rivers backward Flye
And the ocean doth its Waves deny
For fear my Heate fhall drink them Drye!
Come heavenly Fhowers pouring downe
Come ye that Once this World did drowne
And if ye cannot quench my Fire --
O drown both me and my Desire
Track Name: The Popularity Contest
Well I can't wait
Can't wait to see
How the global markets did today
Got my S&P 500
Not a cloud in the sky
All alone out on Times Square
Watching the tape go by
And as those numbers keep on mounting to the stories above
It's not enough

Me and the boys from Jersey
We're gonna have a little fun
Got into Atlantic City around a quarter to one
I've been counting from a five-deck shoe
Damn, ain't that the shit!
Check the fine young ladies in the baccarat pit
Hey quit tugging on the jacket
No need to play rough
It's not enough

Bankroll Ayatollah drinking with the Son of Shem
In exile in New Babylon from New Jerusalem

Got a girl in the backseat
Got a girl on the Neve
Got a girl out in Montville with trouble up her sleeve
Got a girl at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
Got a girl on my spoon
Got a girl that don't like me much
But i'm-a handle that soon
And when they're blowing up my pager, asking "who do you love"?
It's not enough

Is that the north wind blowing, or are you just kissing me?
Damn, I feel like I've been cheating on the girl you used to be

Well, you're looking mighty freaky in that black silk dress
But where you got that stethoscope is anybody's guess
If you can't handle the stress, here's your chance to unwind
Stick your hand inside that grab bag, baby
See what you can find
Hey, wait a minute!
I don't mean to offend
And since I can't play stupid
I gotta play pretend
Take off that guayabera, man, I'm calling your bluff
It's not enough
It's not enough
Never, never enough
Track Name: It's Not The Money, It's The Principle
And to my man Tom Kean
You don't stop
And to my man Frank Hague
You don't stop
And to my Mayor Mayor Russo
You don't stop
And to my man Bernie Kenny
You don't stop

And to my J.J. Florio
You don't stop
And to my Bob Janiczewski
You don't stop
And to my Frank Marciano
You don't stop
Sharpe James
Nick Sacco
You don't stop

And to my Albio Sires
You don't stop
And to my Rudy Garcia
You don't stop
And to my Congressman Menendez
You don't stop
Richard Turner
Bret Schundler
You don't stop

Everybody in the state
You don't stop
You keep it on for Hudson County
You don't stop
And last, not least, on the sure shot
It's the _______