How Low Can We Go?

by mike skliar

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Welcome to this page and my latest (as of this writing) music album. I've done several now and the writing and recording process has always been a fascinating journey.

This album, perhaps more then most, is rooted in a particular place (the US, and specifically New York City) and time (early Spring 2016) which seems to be an interesting time for many. I've always had a few political or topical references that crept in to my work, this one has more then most, though by no means is it entirely political or topical. It's probably a more focused collection then others, perhaps.

As always, the songwriting communities I've been a part of, especially "February Album Writing Month" have helped inspire and shape this album. Thanks to everyone at the site (fawm dot org, by the way) for their kind generous and insightful comments and thoughts.

Thanks especially to Nancy Rost, a big part of that community, and my co-writer on many songs I've done over the years, including '"Love is a River" from this album, which she sings and plays piano on as well.

Most of this album was written in February 2016 as part of "February Album Writing Month" with a few songs written for the 2015 '50 songs in 90 days' project.

Instruments I used on this album include acoustic guitar (Taylor on many songs, Guild D-35 on the DADGAD-tuned songs) a Flatiron mandolin, and old tenor banjo, hohner harmonicas, a bass that's a steinberger copy, a Mexican made Fender Stratocaster guitar, some drum stuff played live from thumbjam and/or garageband, percussion instruments from all over, and a National baritone resonator guitar on the title track.

Enjoy, and thanks for checking it out- please feel free to download (its a free or pay-what-you-want download)

Mike Skliar
end of March, 2016


released March 27, 2016

Mike Skliar- guitars (acoustic, electric, baritone and resonator), tenor banjo, harmonica, mandolin, bass, percussion, drum programming, vocals

on #5- add Nancy Rost- vocals and piano

All songs written by Mike Skliar
except #5 "Love is a River" written by Mike Skliar, Nancy Rost, and Aaron Nathans



all rights reserved
Track Name: The Political Abyss
The brilliance of the barking, at the carnival of lies
Cause the gullible to gather, and never question why
As the days turn into months, and the months turn into years
an endless flood of pandering to the river of fears

The genius of drivel, with the art of talking trash
He’s busy spreading lies like poison ivy spreads a rash
this maven of misstatement, of twisting every truth
Is catnip to the crowds, sugar to the sweet tooth

Is that really how it goes
a second rate reality show
Has it really come to this
Falling into the abyss

The end result of all this talk is not yet known
But the level of our discourse has been dropping like a stone
While the rest attempt to follow, like fools in search of gold
That sound you hear in the distance is integrity being sold

Is that really all there is
politics as show biz
Has it really come to this
Falling into the abyss

marketing vagueness and oversimplification
Generating press in every corner of the nation

The talking heads will talk, but only now to ask
Is there some sort of ceiling that he cannot get past?
Not a policy discussion, just a simple horse race
The only issue talked about is who is in first place

Is that really all there is
politics as show biz
Has it really come to this
Falling into the abyss

(c) M. Skliar 2016
Track Name: Ugly Out There
The good old days were not so great ....
They were filled with bile they were filled with hate
His opponents at the time called Lincoln a monkey

They called FDR a commie dictator
In fact most of the presidents had their haters
Political speech has always been funky

But damn, it’s ugly (3x)
its ugly out there

Is the difference now that the stakes are higher
Or is that the rabble rousing choir
From social media's now just higher volume

It's true in the last 30 years
This s...'s been worse than I have feared
Not seeming to get better anytime soon

and damn it's ugly
damn, its ugly
damn, its ugly out there

The level of corporate money is a new development
Subverting all the good things about our government
The gerrymandered House no longer the people like you and me
Is it the home of the timid and the land of the not so free?

Cause damn, it’s ugly…

(c) M. Skliar 2016
Track Name: Another Donald Trump Song
There you stand, with orange fur up on your head
Everyone’s so taken with the things you said
“The Mexicans:” they’re not sending you, they’re sending rapists”
That’s exhibit B in the proof this clown’s is a racist
Exhibit A’s that birther s... you’ve peddled for so long
Donald Trump here ya go, your own personal song

Your companies file for bankruptcy but you inherited so much cash
You leave your mark on things like a diaper leaves a rash
You rent your name on tacky stuff, make deals in back alleys
You incite violence at your campaign rallies
Most people’s hearts are filled with blood, yours is bile
Donald Trump, you are completely vile

You’re a demagogue who appeals to ignorant bigotry
Who only cares about getting his name up on the marquee
You tweeted global warming was a hoax by the Chinese
Whatever problem exists you think started overseas
Your magic bullet cure is to build a great big wall
To compensate for what you think must be too small

You’re leading the clown car in the polls can you believe?
Shows what a little bigotry and hatred can achieve
There’s an undercurrent in the GOP, runs dark and filled with fear
Where it will lead you guys is still unclear
You’ve been full of s... for a long long time
Donald Trump, you are a first class slime

You insult the Pope and John McCain and the masses all cheer
On the reality show circuit, you can manipulate them with fear
The media can’t quit you they say ‘how high’ when you say ‘jump’
The only two words I hear this election season are ‘Donald Trump’
Mussolini would be smiling if a tale he still could tell
Donald Trump, you’re a narcissistic demagogue from hell

(c) M. Skliar
Track Name: 56
I'm 56 and I'm slowly falling apart
To early for the end too late to get a fresh start

When I play this for too long I feel arthritis creeping into the fingers 2x
I go to rock 'n' roll shows and say damn I can't hear the singers

I'm not old enough on the subways for people to start offering me a seat
But there are some days I would just love to get off of my feet

My old rock 'n' roll people are slowly drifting away
Everyone I loved my 20s are either dead or bald or gray

I make references to old TV shows you probably don't remember
I may think that i'm April but I'm starting to sound more like November

(c) M. Skliar 2016
Track Name: Love is a River (with Nancy Rost)
At bill and sarah’s wedding
You got me by surprise
I almost walked right past you
But I always know those eyes

The usual catch up phrases
“hows the job” how’s the kids
We were good at small talk
We kept the real stuff hid

Love is a river that flows outside my door
Sometimes I jump in and swim to the other shore
Other times gaze longingly and watch it flow
And wonder where does it go?

Our little inside jokes
I still remember
digging out from the snowstorm
we had in September

winter came and went
and the snow disappeared
now you’re somewhere warm
and I’m still here

Love is a river that flows outside my door
Sometimes I jump in and swim to the other shore
Other times gaze longingly and watch it flow
And wonder where does it go?

I couldn't keep up You were much too fast
If it was just a passing fancy I still wait for it to pass

Love is a river that flows outside my door
Sometimes I jump in and swim to the other shore
Other times gaze longingly and watch it flow
And wonder where does it go?
Track Name: Be Yourself
when you don’t pay the piper, the piper gets peeved
when your get up and go, decides to leave
when your superman dreams are just christopher reeve
it’s a drag being yourself

when you put off till tomorrow, what you needed last year
and the finish is still far tho you’re cranked in high gear
you’re raging at the storm like a junior king lear
it’s a drag being yourself

you’re too close to yourself to be objective
the changes you need you can find with a different perspective

is there an answer in the tea leaves or horoscopes
does the list of things to do start to feel like a rope
does it feel like its getting too crazy to cope
it’s a drag being yourself

but if you’re not you, who else will do the job
there’s no one more qualified, not Jerry Phil or Bob
you still can do it better than any old slob
it’s a good fit to be yourself

So the piper will be paid sooner or later, you’ll see
And your get up and go doesn’t just get up and leave
So you’re not superman, you might be Christopher reeve
Its’ ok to be yourself

(c) M. Skliar
Track Name: Founding Fathers
Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison
Franklin, Hamilton and John Jay
They came to my door and walked inside
and this is what they all did say

we’ve had this gig, two hundred years
as founding fathers, way too long
we’ve heard our names used up in vain
for causes right and causes wrong

it’s a modern world and we can’t help you
with cybersecurity or with drones
what do we know, we rode horses!
go figure this stuff out on your own

when we had a problem we didn’t ask
what Henry the eighth did years before
we had some principles but we were pre-modern
we flew our own kites and fought our wars

what do we know about global climate change?
or fetal tissue stem cell work
go do the research and please take off
that three-cornered hat you look like a jerk

(c) M. Skliar 2016
Track Name: How Low Can We Go?
First we get addicted to our phones
Little screens begin to feel like home
Half-truths and exaggerations
Tailored to our expectations
We all feel we’re part of the show
How low can we go?

Back then we were thinking with our heads
Lately it’s a part best left unsaid
Float that thought that had been toxic
Till its just part of politics (infecting body politic)
On the lips of every barroom Joe
How low can we go?

Soon the little white lies start to get repeated
Why stand up for truth when you can just stay seated

Inside the transition it feels seamless
Glorifying everyday meanness
Hit the decks and toe the line
Nonfiction’s fiction all the time
It must be true because they said it’s so
How low can we go?

(c) M. Skliar
Track Name: Antonin Scalia
He was liked by many people with whom he still disagreed
One of his close friends they say was the notorious RBG
But I can never forgive his toxic poison bile
Even if he delivered it with such a smile
Antonin Scalia, you can rot you know where
Antonin Scalia we are better without you here

His mantra, he said, was the original intent of the framers
Of the constitution, but that’s a view that needs a lot of disclaimers
Corporations were not people in the Founding father’s vision
But he said they were in the ‘Citizens United’ decision
Antonin Scalia you can rot you know where
Antonin Scalia we are better without you here

Abortion’s wrong but the death penalty is fine, he declared
Even for a 15-year-old, or someone mentally impaired
He said that Miranda rights were not worth preserving
And that gays can’t get married ‘cause they are not really deserving
Antonin Scalia you can rot you know where
Antonin Scalia we are better without you here

Now the Republicans are saying they will not confirm
Any Obama pick at all for the year left in his term
There’s a Constitution that governs these things
A different tune those right wingers now want to sing
The Republican Senate leaders can rot you know where
And Antonin Scalia we are better without you here

(c) M. Skliar
Track Name: Winter Valentine
Walking in the winter as the freezing wind does blow
I still feel all warm inside she gives me a glow

Valentine’s day and its cold beyond belief
She takes all my sadness and she steals it like a thief

She can take the dead of winter and reanimate it
The two of us are meant to be you could say it’s fated

(c) M. Skliar
Track Name: A Shot Rang Out
A shot rang out the end begins
We’ll never know what might have been
A sudden turn , a different road
Too late to know where the first one would go

Alternative history, endless mystery
Mystery it seeds the imagination
Imagination, would we be a different nation
A nation that’s the same or in a different situation

A shot rang out, from the 6th floor
I sometimes wonder why it doesn’t happen more
But saying that, can tempt the fate
A regular day becomes an infamous date

Alternative history, endless mystery
Mystery it seeds the imagination
Imagination, would we be a different nation
A nation that’s the same or in a different situation

Pick an historical figure and do your own meditation

(c) M. Skliar 2016
Track Name: Republican Hotline
You’ve reached the republican candidates issues hotline.

Press 1 to hear xenophobic immigrant bashing
Press 2 to hear made-up supply-side economics nonsense
Press 3 to hear anti-gun control hysteria, fake ‘good guy with a gun’ myths, and misinterpretations about the second amendment
Press 4 to hear out and out racism
Press 5 to hear code words that don’t sound racist, but are, such as ‘all lives matter’. Or ‘but I support Ben Carson’
Press 6 to hear talking points by the oil industry that ignore the established facts of global warming
Press 7 to hear fake Hillary Clinton scandals and lurid tales of erased emails with bonus conspiracy theories
Press 8 to hear how Kim Davis is a hero and how there is a war on Christmas and how the gays are taking over the entire world.

Press the star key at any time to hear how the Koch brothers have already bought the election and no campaign contributions are needed at this time

Press the pound key to return to this menu at any time

Press the pound and star keys together to return to a fictional time when all was right with America, and you could lynch who you wanted, discriminate against anyone slightly different then you, pollute the air and water to your heart’s content, have children die of preventable childhood diseases, smoke and drink until you drop dead, and otherwise worship the God of your choice as long as it was the choice of everyone else in the same community, all in the name of Jesus, who never said anything about healing the sick, taking care of the poor, or any of that socialist commie crap, and who spoke English, was white and built a wall to keep other people out.

(c) M. Skliar 2015-16
Track Name: Best we can be
When I’m feeling down, I distract myself with junk food, and stay up too late
When America’s feeling down we distract ourselves, with political panderers preaching hate
Either way the result is the same, the next morning we’re bloated and guilty
Is this the best person or the best country, I or we can be?

How low will it take us, what will we ignore, and what mistakes will we make again
will other people and countries just reject us; will we alienate all who were friends
In the end will we see ourselves, as clearly as we needed to see?
Is this the best person or the best country, I or we can be?

Can we do it, can we rise above petty fears, and the gridlock of lethargy and legislatures?
Is there someplace within, where we’ve already been, to find the better angels of our nature?

Or is this as good as it gets, before the storm that sweeps us to extinction
Will we get a failing grade; will we just squeak by or will we pass with distinction
Stick around I guess we’ll find out, where the future will lead you and me
Is this the best person or the best country, I or we can be?

(c) M. Skliar 2016
Track Name: A Strange Nightmare
I had a nightmare the other night As bad as a nightmare could be
I dreamed that I died but was still walking the earth And nobody remembered me

Everywhere I went I saw the same thing, crowds so well -informed
But lacking any trace I had lived at all, the trail was not even warm

And this was not the worst part, seems whatever I had done had been erased
It was as if I had never lived, not even as a rat in the rat race

When I awoke I went to an old neighborhood, I hadn’t been to in years
The guy selling coffee he remembered me tho, the perfect antidote to my fears

And in a hundred years, we will all be forgotten, except maybe for Elvis or Shakespeare
Let whatever memories be good ones, for the limited time that we are here

And don’t worry about posterity, just tip well and hold a few doors
And learn well from your nightmares, maybe that’s what they are there for

(c) M. Skliar 2016