The Howling Tongue of Each Other

by Jon S. Patton

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more. Paying supporters also get unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app.

      name your price




My February Album Writing Month 2016 adventure. This was my fourth year completing the challenge. I wanted to do slightly more expansive recordings than last year, which was a real challenge under the time constraints.

This year's key words were "promenade" and "letter." Although they don't figure into every track, they were a jumping off point for several.

Though I do think that at times ability to research interesting subject matter suffered from spending more time on the production side of things (so there are fewer historical epics and story songs), I tried to remain fairly meticulous about the lyrics and tunes, and I ended up with some songs I'm really proud of. My picks are "(Caught Between) The Hammer and Nail," one of my best americana songs, and "Go Down, Oh Troubles," about the Syrian refugee crisis set to the (unexpected)_vehicle of a classic soul slow ballad, which I think is one of the best songs and performances I've ever recorded.

There's a lot of variety on the production side of things, basically whatever genre or style I felt like diving into (and thought I could pull off).

I was also much more meticulous about the mixes at the end of the year, and I'm reasonably happy with how they turned out this time around despite the greater complexity of the recordings; probably as good as I can get without paying for another set of ears.

Check out the individual tracks for production notes, or the blog posts on my site,


released March 11, 2016

All songs written by Jon S. Patton (2016 cc 4.0 share alike with attribution) EXCEPT "The Edges Where We Meet" written by Jon S. Patton and Joseph Scala.

Jon: Vocals, guitars, mandolin, banjo, bass, keyboards, violin, and drum programming

Rick Veader: harmonica, resonator, and harmony vocal on "You Gotta Walk Right" and banjo and harmony vocal on "Riddles (Summer Will Be Coming Soon)"

Mark Brine: Guitar on "You Gotta Walk Right"

Joe Scala: harmony vocal and harmonica on "(Caught Between) The Hammer and Nail" and harmony vocal and bass on "The Edges Where We Meet"

Lexa Hartman: group vocals, dying sounds, and battle programming in Age of Mythology




baltimericana Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimericana is a place for me (Jon Patton) to stash my solo projects and collaborations with friends. I'm a writer, musician, and (unfortunately) day job schlub from Baltimore and the founder of Baltimore-based folk rock band Midway Fair ( Be sure to also check out Joe Scala (, who produced the Baltimericana EP. ... more

contact / help

Contact baltimericana

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Track Name: Flock to Home
Here I can see over to the river
And the yearlings grazing in the heather
D G D Dinv
A late sunrise through the misty dawn
D Bm A D
It's morning and my love I must be gone

D G D F#m F#m7
Not to say you can't be on your own
D A Bm
Here there's no one to take measure of a man
D G A Bm
So feel the breeze which ever way it blows
D G Em7 D
But every night drive the flock to home

It's muddy boots and a dog as a companion
A little rain to keep your spirits damp
It's weary feet and the good green earth below ‘em
And when you're home a kettle on the stove

And sometimes when the storms are blowing
And I'm without a coat despite your ways of knowing
Then I will ponder my feet beside the fire
And I'll look to home whichever way it lies
Track Name: Odysseus's Letters Home
E | F#m7 | G#m7 | E
Dear Penny I am sending you this letter from the war
| E | F#m7
All the men I serve with say that I am (CLEVER!)
| E | G#m7
We believe we will succeed in our (ENDEAVOR!)
| E | F#m7
I've said we shouldn't fight with force we gave it good but got it worse
| G#m7 |E
So here we are now building them a horse.
|E |F#m | B - C# - E - F# - G# - F# - C# | E
(I'll explain at home in due and certain course!)

Dear Penny
Things haven't gone exactly as I planned
All the men on my ship think that (WE ARE LOST!)
And this sea is awfully rough to get (ACROSST!)
I think the sea is mad at me
But I've been in a storm or three
This hardship surely is my perigee.
Soon I will return Penelope!

¾ bridge:
| E | |C#m |
|G#m | |C#m7 |
|E | |G#m7 |
|A |Am |E |

Dear Penny
We've had another setback I'm afraid
I've heard you're sick of men who are (PROPOSING!)
And my son isn't becoming that (IMPOSING!)
I would bore you with my tales of woe
Like the sirens off the starboard bow)
But I've surely found way to reach you … sooooo
in the meantime please accept this billet-doux!

9/8 bridge
|E |C#7 |G#m7 | F#m7
|E |C#7 |G#m7 | A Am G#m7

|E |C#7 |G#m7 | F#m7
|C5 |D5 |C#5 | E

Dear Penny
Things aren't looking good back here at home
Looks like I have an awful mess to clean (RUN RUN!)
My spear will reinstate my home regime (AUUG!)
It's good to hold you once again
My journey's finally at an end
I've well and truly missed your company
I'm home forever now Penelope!
Track Name: The Abandonment and Rescue of Alexander Selkirk
There's a man on the sand with a bag in his hand
A Bm
As the sails fill and leave him behind
A Dinv A Dinv
You will never know rashness, and never know fear,
A D Bm
regret, or remorse of this kind
The son of a tanner and an unruly man
Not the kind that you'd want to admire
Cursed his captain, his god, and his best-laid plans
But mostly his own sense of pride

Bm D
Enough gunpowder to last him a year
A Bm
The bible and a good pair of shoes
D A Bm
Many fools fear the grave that they'll lie in
Many more fear the blood that they'll lose
A Bm

A cold sun on the sea and an empty horizon
And the taste of goat's getting old
And he's gnawed on by rats like the worm-eaten vessel
Scuttled on Columbia's coast
There's a rusting old musket in a pepperwood shack
It's all wearing down over time
Sings a psalm and the songs that he sang as a child
Whatever will give peace of mind
Enough skill to keep one man alive
A knife made from the hoops of a tun
Many fools mourn the fate that they're given
What's it matter when all's said and done?

And on a late summer morning in 1709
When he barely remembers his name
After four lonely years and four lonely months
Comes a ship with a flag of his home
On a boat rowed from shore by the ship's good physician
He leaves Mas a Tierra behind
To be a captain, corsair or a king's privateer
As long as his fate is his own
Enough gold to last him for life
His own ship to plunder the world
There are two threads of fate in each moment
And we are balanced on the edge of a sword
Track Name: Oh, Honey (Tell Me You'll Get Out of There)
C Em
Broken bottles
Am7 C
and a broken picture frame
It isn't much
But next time it might be you
C Am7
Oh honey
Dm7 G(sus4)7 C
Please tell me you'll get out of there

Petty quarrels
and love isn't always safe
It isn't fine
Just saying doesn't make it true

Oh honey
Please tell me you'll get out of there
Oh honey
Please tell me you'll get out of there

C Am
You say you're strong
Dm7 G7
I know you said
C Am
But we're never as strong as we are in our heads
Dm G
And if he ever laid a hand on you instead …

Oh honey
Please tell me you'll get out of there
Oh honey
Please tell me you'll get out of there

[end wankery is just the chorus on repeat]
Track Name: (Caught Between) The Hammer and Nail
Verse 1
There was a forest here in 1816
When my ancestors settled this town
Am7 /b C
Strong cedar grew on the ridgeline
G Em7 D
And a strong current to carry it down
My grandfathers cut and planed lumber by hand
and build cabins in the river basin
Am7 /b C
And they built a mill at the river's edge
Em(7) D7 G
And my family's owned this land ever since

Chorus 1
I know it was a hard life to live
All it took was one crop to fail
Em G D
An early frost, a drought, or a hail
Em C G
And you're caught between the hammer and nail

Verse 2
So my dad became a carpenter by trade
He fell into it just like his fathers did
Tried to teach me everything, what little he knew
but he raised one hell of an ungrateful kid
He and mom stayed up late when I was out
Almost every single night for a year
But one day he said we all have our limits
There's some advice that I want you to hear

Chorus 2
He said son one day you will find
Life don't have to be long to turn stale
The rest of your life spent chasing your tail
You'll be caught between the hammer and nail

Verse 3
And it's been ten years since they both passed away
Almost sold the house 'fore I got clean
Married a girl I bet I don't deserve
We've got a son of our own turning three
And though I once told her things would improve
I'm a carpenter now in my own way:
I can see my lies carved into Sarah's face
I take a little of her hope every day

Chorus 3
It's been an early winter this year
And the snow turns the cedars pale
It's a fact in this life that all loves will fail
When they're caught between the hammer and nail
Track Name: If Our Cities Became Piles of Rubble
If our cities became piles of rubble
because people couldn't learn to live in peace
when the soot descended and the sky opened
we'll stand in the street and blink in the sun
and see ourselves for the first time in weeks
If we're the sole survivors

And you and I would move to the mountains
We'd find the biggest oak you've ever seen
We'd cut it down with our bare hands
and build a better house than all those rich folks
whose bank accounts went south
when the world was broken and shattered
And you and I will face it together

And in the autumn when we get hungry
after the frost destroys our apple trees
We would change the course of a mountain stream
reshape the land and send it down to the sea
And stand in the delta and tell our stream to grow
until it became a mighty river

And when the salmon came to our river
We'd breed them as big as they were on Pangea
And the bears would come before they hibernate
and we'd tell the bears this is our river now
and you'll have to find a new one to fish in
And that's how we'd get through the winter

You and I will face it together

And when we finally encounter other people
We'll still speak English and still know how to write
But the words will have changed after all those years
Except names like California
So we'll draw alphabets in the dirt
And teach them to write and remember

And at night when the wolf packs howled
I'd become the moon's own silver light
I'd howl back at the wolves standing on the hills
And they'd look up at me and wonder
like people did once and we'd understand
The howling tongue of each other

And you and I will face it together

And one day we too will crumble
We'll bury each other and mark our own graves
And they'll be a sacred place for millennia
They'll tell stories as if we were gods
til one day they realize we were just people
like them
It seem nothing lasts forever

But as long as we face it together

Track Name: In an Iron Shell
I recall what it's like to be small
Gm Cm
As a boy in an iron shell
Eb Bb Bb7
And mother, laughing, would say her soldier was the best
Cm G7 Cm
I'd keep our Mother safe from the west

Bajkal when I was thirsty
Dm Am
Kalev when I did well
A kitchen pot for a helmet
Am E Am
I was a boy in an iron shell

But it's become a perplexing world
Our books teach us to reserve any hopes
The iron curtain is shrinking and soon will be down
And many drink as if hoping to drown

We are finished with 5-year plans
Perestroika might fail in its turn
Many friends as we lyingly called them for years
Leave in anger and never return

I am a man in an iron shell
And I fear my fellow man
Those who cannot see beyond themselves
I am a man in an iron shell

But one can stomach only so much debt
So when I came of age I took a pledge
And as imagined when a child I served in a tank
And such service gave me metals and a rank

Always a protector to my fault
I believed that's what others would want
But at Seimas no comrades nor countrymen would wait
Only barricade upon barricade

I am a man in an iron shell
Fearfully awaiting a command
I fear the darkness in my own soul
I am a man in an iron shell

Eb Bb7
I recall the oath that I once swore
Eb Bb7 Cm
But I know what it's like being poor
Eb Bb7
When you buy with a hundred what used to cost one
Eb G7 GmM#11
And secretly we know that we are done

Through the periscope they look so small
And I recall what it's like being small
Outside I hear songs over the radio's crackling
And we refused the command to attack

I'm a man in an iron shell
And I fear my fellow man
I fear others and I fear myself
I'm a man in an iron shell
Track Name: You Gotta Walk Right
Well you gotta talk right
That's what you tell me anyway
G7 C
Yes you gotta talk right
That's what you tell me anyway
But it don't strike me as polite
When you don't let me have my say

Well I ain't gonna quarrel
Man, I ain't gonna fight
I don't need you to tell me
What it means to [talk / think / walk] right

Verse 2
They say you gotta think right
But they don't care what you do
They say you gotta think right
But they don't care what you do
I got a good mind
To tell you what I think of you

Verse 3
Well you gotta walk right
That's what they used to say
Yes you gotta walk right
That's what they used to say
But I been walking in the light
And can clearly see my way
Track Name: Riddles (Summer Will Be Coming Soon)
A traveling hand in his boots and jeans
Came walking down on the railroad beams
And standing there in the mountain stream
C /b /g /a /b C
Was the fairest girl he'd ever seen
Her dress was white, held to her side
She washed her feet in the river's tide
He stepped up bold with a clear mind
And said my dear will you be mine?

Sorrow's old, and love is new
F (g) C
But Summer will be coming soon

Of many men from south and north
Mighty few could prove their worth
But if you prove keen and you prove wise
Then I will lie with you tonight
What runs its course but never sleeps?
And what has roots you cannot see?
And what can heal but also harm?
And pricks you worse than any thorn?

The river runs but never sleeps
A mountain's roots profoundly deep
And many say pain heals in time
But love could answer every line
She said you've answered well and true
And I will go along with you
They say that strength and beauty fades
But a clever mind lasts all your days
Track Name: Go Down, Oh Troubles
F > F/E > Dm > F/C | F > F/E > Dm > F/C | Bb
Go down, oh troubles, I can never get away
F/C F/E | A7
I am many miles from my home
| Bb | C7 |F
and you've followed all my days

F F/E | Dm |F
When the journey will be long
| Bb | F |
There are some things that you keep
|F | Dm | F
I can remember them if I want
| Bb C | F |
Though it might make me weep

There was a little street
And a shop where we worked
There was me and my little brother
Who's laid to rest in the dirt

Well the bombs were so loud
And the bullets came like rain
And you shout and you cry
Till you think you can't ever again

Bb | Am | Dm
[Search the] whole world around
Bb | Am | Dm
oh for how long we didn't know
Bb | Am | Dm
You just gotta put your feet down
Bb C | F | D7
Just keep searching for that home

Modulate to G for the final chorus

Last line repeat:
G /F# B7
C D7/C G
Track Name: The Edges Where We Meet
| Amsus2 |
I traced out your name At the edge of the page
| G6 | Amsus2
As the memory replayed I felt like a fake
| | G6 |
A lost and shape- less shadow on that day

| Fmaj7 (C-B-A-G) | C
At the edges where we meet That's where I
| Fmaj7 | C

Verse 2
Barely half awake
The one rite I know
how to make
I recall the complaints
That I'm just an empty page
Then you walked away

Chorus 2
| Fmaj7 (C-B-A-G) | Am
At the edges where we meet That's where I
| G | Am
| Fmaj7 (C-B-A-G) | C
At the edges where we meet That's where I
| Fmaj7 | C

BRIDGE (strong 1, C G Am FM7)
|C | G | Am |Fmaj7
|C | G | Am |Fmaj7
|C | G | Am |Fmaj7
|C | G | Am |Fmaj7
You want me a-
|C | G | Am |Fmaj7
wake Well now I am a-
|C | G | Am |Fmaj7
wake No words that I can
|C | G
say no step that I can take To bring you back to the
| Am |Fmaj7
frame we're on a different page and again I trace your
|C | G
name again I trace your name again I trace your name
| Am |Fmaj7
Track Name: (We're Gonna Have) A Real Good Time
Come on brother
let's go across the water
Go call your sister
Go tell your daughter
we're gonna have a real good time

I | vi7
get out your guitar
I | vi7
We'll break out the wine
I | vi7
Get out on the floor
I | V7
and have a real good time

Chorus (x4)
I | vi7 | ii7 | V7
We're gonna have a real good time

Don't tell me you're tired
Get those dancing shoes shined
We'll light that old fire
And have a real good time

Well tell all your aunts
I know they like to dance
And tell all your friends
Let's have a real good time
Track Name: Herring and Oak

A part
| Bm | G | A | D
| Bm | G | A | D :|

B part
| A | D | G | D
| A | Em | G | D :|