Way Upstate and the Crippled Summer, Pt. 2

by Frontier Ruckus



"Way Upstate & the Crippled Summer, pt. 2" is a conclusion to an important piece of symmetry in early Frontier Ruckus mythology. As "pt. 1" is found within "The Orion Songbook" deluxe double-vinyl, "pt. 2" lies therein that of "Deadmalls & Nightfalls". You might say this summery (and by an inherent antithetical nature, icily wintery) document provides denouement to that era marked by the childhood songs of Frontier Ruckus.


released November 1, 2011

all songs by Matthew Milia, Orion Songs (ASCAP)

Matthew Milia—songs, voice, guitar, pedal steel, harmonica
David Jones—banjo, voice
Zachary Nichols—brass, singing-saw, melodica
Ryan "Smalls" Etzcorn—drums, percussion

Anna Burch—voice
Ryan Hay—piano, Hammond organ
John Krohn—bass on 1, 2, 4
Brian Barnes—bass on 5

produced by Frontier Ruckus
recorded, engineered, mixed, mastered by Jim Roll at Backseat Productions in Ann Arbor, MI mostly in April 2009, finished in early 2011

artwork by Matthew Milia and Richard Maisano


all rights reserved


Track Name: Mona and Emmy
Mona’s buying milk and honey
From the summer bins in Milford Market
Outside the door at six
The green bulb clicks
I work nine to five around the hiss
Of the ice box compartment
When I punch out I want to set
The night to bitter flames a-lickin’
The town and all the passion stricken down

And Emmy’s twenty years removed now
From that morning in July
When her father held her in his arms
And dipped her freckled neck down ‘neath
The river water as flies
Were darkening the brightness
And all of the baptismal whiteness
But darling all those of our likeness
Were born so very ready to live
And to die

I know my way through the neighborhoods
From Mona’s house to the interstate
I know my way to the greatest things we got
Traveling acts, they leave their sounds
For railroad tracks in other towns
But I want to hold to something longer
Something meaner, something stronger
At eleven thirty the town’s alone, again

And Emmy used to say she loved me
Used to be oh so proud of me
When she saw her father in my eyes
When I dipped her golden head down ‘neath
The river water swimming
The pine shine all was dimming
The kitchen panes were pitch-dark within
I thought we were only kidding till
Your father cried

Mona, you’re my only friend
We could take the interstate
Though you know the interstate dead-ends
Will it lead us to the milk and honey
Is the Promised Land just a funny
Way to say the strangeness never ceases?
‘Cause Emmy, you have baptized me to pieces

© Matthew Milia
Track Name: Winter and the Preacher's Daughter
I know your blurry winter roads
Like the back of the hand that is Michigan
But the things they do to me
Is something I will never see
It’s something I will never understand

She will be standing there
‘Neath the frozen bluff
The moon’s legs will come skating
Down the hill intimidating
And I’ll be harmed by what I’ve farmed in my

Clothes do so very little
When the cold’s coming from the heart
Homes are in the middle
Of the years that are departed

In the horror, in the terror, in the helpless
Selfishness I found in me

She will be standing there
‘Neath the frozen bluff
The moon’s legs will come skating
Down the hill intimidating
And I’ll be harmed by what I’ve farmed in my

© Matthew Milia
Track Name: Weeds and Life Among Them
And I remember the song I used to sing
“I belong among the weeds
Amidst the overhanging trees,”
I would sing

And you should remember the song you used to sing
“I belong atop the road
Where the lapping seeds were sowed,”
You would sing for me

And I remember the storm was wet like birth
And the hail would lick the weeds
And the battling of trees
Above the earth

And you should remember the air grew calm and thick
We would lay among wet weeds
And the drops dripped from the trees
Onto our faces, sticking
Like the weeds

© Matthew Milia
Track Name: Ogallala
Take me to Ogallala
Where I’m still a new face
Where I have a good case
That I am sincere
Where that night is calling
Where the snow is thawing
Where I have no fear

I remember haunting the darkened landfills
The stars were smoke
But they spoke in short shrills
I held a firm hand
But she turned to lake sand, falling
The trees, the trees were tombstone markers
They kissed each other, blowing darker
In some childhood loss
Elastic chaos

Take me to Ogallala
Where everything real is reeling
Where the transience is healing
Where I stand on my own
Where the wood planks line the floor
And no one knows the horror
Of the truth I did disown

The moon can light those trees in many layers
The highway to Ogallala bears
Five-thousand lakeshores
Five-thousand new doors frozen
The towns I haunt, the world I’m needing
Is just Ogallala’s child bleeding
On that dark-shore gaze
Inside my doorways

The intensity, I know, comes in splatters
But the dreams I see
Are still all that matters
And oh, it’s a great thing to see my road exist
And when my intensity’s consistent
I’ll lead you down, I’ll take your wrist
To Ogallala

Our houses in the snow are filled with patters
But the homes I’ve known
Have been blown to tatters
But the homes I’ve known, they still exist
And when these nighttime lives escape me
I’ll see them there, the homes I’ve kissed
In Ogallala.

© Matthew Milia
Track Name: Epiphanies and Revelations
Epiphanies or revelations
Too tired to label
The fix to your situation
Ah, but you saw the sky
Today and tomorrow
You love me when I’m gone
But don’t you
Run off too far, though
It’s nice to
Have someone to miss

Surprise me once, show me you know me
If I was mistaken, I’m sorry

I ain’t looking to last
Where the sidewalk fixtures’
Shadows are cast
As rosebush songs paint me pictures
Such sterling mixtures of glory
I just want a love that will stay when I turn
My back to Saint Lawrence, to see what
Torrents I can burn
So my love will learn that I love her

At the bottom of Dollar Lake is an old truck
And the boards from the bar where my folks first got drunk
And all kinds of litter that flickered and then sunk
To the shallows of our town’s lagoon
Where I say
“How could you love me
When I am so frightened
By the phantoms of my mind and how they are tightened
Around all that I find in this world that’s brightened
By a magic so tragic each day?”
Aw, but love don’t exist neath the realest of coffins
And real ain’t a place that we’ll have to dwell often
Epiphanies will tumble and soften till
Love’s all that’s left to be found

It’s the epitomes of revelations
You’ll all choose the latter
But be so much gladder
With your salvation in the sand
And the fear of sincerity is a disgrace
The shadows of your mind should not take the place
When the turquoise that you find is the kind of trace
That binds to the skin
Inside and within
The light that shines behind your face

Our heads are dead in the dread of tomorrow
And when the sky clears our fears will be hollow
Your suburbs are seasons darkening and sullen
The harbors are fleeting, the waters are swollen
The theater’s erupting, the midway is caving
The streets all connect in a way that needs saving
The parking lot trees are bending and rotten
And so you are too for the love that you’ve gotten
And forgotten
You’ve forgotten

© Matthew Milia