The Caribbean Winter

by Junior College

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about

Plano, Texas is a very special place, but in a much more real sense it's nothing special whatsoever. As the vibrancy and old money of Dallas continue to chase away the final vestiges of rural torpor in its once-agrarian suburb, citizens of Plano are just close enough to the action to taste it, yet removed enough to remain bristling at their suburban boredom. It was here that I spent my entire childhood, and I couldn't be more grateful to my hometown. After all, if my predominantly unremarkable surroundings hadn't forced me to get a hobby, I might have never picked up a guitar.
I started playing my dad's old guitar at age fifteen, and I was motivated largely out of jealousy that most of my friends played instruments and I didn't. Anytime they would jam after school, I would be the guy in the corner playing the tambourine, dancing like a middle-schooler, trying desperately to seem like a cohesive piece of an obviously dissonant whole. Usually people don't look back fondly on the times they gave in to peer pressure, but in this case it worked out for the best. I taught myself by watching YouTube covers of Iron & Wine songs, and my parents are truly a testament to the resilience of the human spirit for not throwing me out during those first few months before I'd learned to play either quietly or well. Eventually I got tired of playing covers, and luckily the timing of my interest in songwriting aligned well with the emergence of the concomitant identity crisis that's almost more characteristic of the high school experience than classes or books. So I wrote. I wrote in class and I wrote at home; on camping trips and road trips and field trips I wrote. At least three songs on this album were written while watching "Law and Order: SVU" marathons into the wee hours of the morning. I wrote out of boredom and I wrote out of passion, and I often found that it was when writing mindlessly that I could cajole sentiments from my subconscious that had been percolating, unarticulated, for longer than I'd realized.
Most of these songs were written when I was sixteen or seventeen, and for the entire time I was in high school the only people who even knew I wrote songs were the immediate circle of friends with whom I shared them. Eventually, however, as I gained the nerve to share with more people, I realized my extreme fortune in having known these people who had supported me when I didn't think I'd written anything worth playing beyond the setting of a convivial bedroom with friends passing a guitar back and forth. These same friends who convinced me to pick up music came to help make this record a reality, and it unquestionably could not have been done without them. So listen at your leisure and think about what you hear; there's nothing cooler in the world to me than the idea that these songs are helping someone somewhere the same way they helped me. These are songs for love, for rage, for fear, for apathy, for growing up, for getting old, for moving on, and for coming home. --Travis C Klein

credits

released April 21, 2015

Travis Colegrove Klein - acoustic guitar, lyrics, lead vocals, bells, group vocals
Mitchell Ross McDonough - bass, backup/group vocals
Richard Brown Welday - electric guitar, melodica
Michael Baldwin - trumpet, piano, backup/group vocals
Guy Ceretti - drums

Album artwork by the lovely and talented Sarah Shaffer

Recorded, mixed, and mastered at Civil Recording in Denton, TX by the paragon of patience himself, Michael Briggs

Additional thanks to my parents, my sister Sarah, Andrew, Mr. and Mrs. Welday, Hong, Bonnie, Denver, Alex Montenegro, Kyle Farley, Mrs. Fleming, Mrs. Lichty, and whoever it was at the USA Network who decided to make semiweekly marathons of SVU a thing.

And the biggest extra-huge thanks goes to Mitchell McDonough. Thank you for seeing something in those poorly sung, sloppily played phone demos even when I didn't, and being excited to hear whatever dumb song I'd written after another day of not knowing how to deal with things. It took me a while to work up the self-assurance to share these songs, and a lot of the reason I eventually did was that you were there to listen to me air my grievances and play the same tired chords and yet still called me a good songwriter. Any success I ever have at this is largely owed to you, and I really mean that. You're one of my favorite lyricists and you're better than me at tennis and you're a really really good friend.

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Junior College College Station, Texas

if I stay cool, silent and cynical, I can convince them all that I get it

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Track Name: Helium
alone I lay, another sleepless night
counting the stars but always losing my place
sifting through the static to decode some secret message
that if I left this minute, I’d be gone without a trace

I’ll pass through the day like a homeless guy on Wall Street
brushing shoulders with shareholders
having no stake of my own
drowning out surroundings when reality comes to haunt me
retreating to my mind, ‘cause I’m so scared my cover’s blown

‘cause I have nothing holding me here
no nothing I’d have to see again
I don’t care about any of my friends’ whereabouts
if I’d even call them friends

if I died tonight, there’d be no mail in my mailbox
they’d wonder who ever lived in the house I called my home
I’ll be God-knows-where, thrashing in the torrent
‘cause everything’s unbearable when you’re bearing it alone

I’d rather they burn an effigy
at least there’d be something left of me
but my body’s the only cord tying my memory to the ground
I’ll float away like I’m full of helium, and in that final delirium
I’ll have something to say, but there’ll be no one around

I could pass away any given day
frankly, I’d be relieved
‘cause it’s hard to balance the weight of the world
when you’re lighter than the air you breathe
Track Name: Deja Vu (Sleep)
I wanna lay here, lay here and sleep
I don’t wanna talk, nobody’s talking to me

I thought I’d braced myself; your words cut right through
nothing makes your head spin like a goddamn déjà vu

so I wanna lay here, lay here and sleep
all my friends are falling in love, but who the hell loves me?

I knew your words before the phone even rang
and at least I still have the old songs that I sang

so I wanna lay here, lay here and sleep
and maybe somewhere down the line
my friends will have time for me

nothing’s ever gone quite right, it’s not like in my mind
when everybody’s going places, leaving me behind

so I wanna lay here, lay here and sleep
I don’t wanna talk, who the hell wants to talk to me?

this year is just like the last, maybe even worse
whatever it was I had with you was a blessing and a curse
I wish that I could build something that I could keep
‘cause the bonds you forge in love cut twice as deep

so I wanna lay here, lay here and sleep
Track Name: Limescale and Rust
I used to have fun
I used to be outgoing
but now I can only tell old stories
but who will I become
with the seeds that I am sewing
one of those washed-up high-school losers in their forties

I used to have friends
I used to love them dearly
but now they’re only memories of a past life
but I’m a guy who tends
to take things too sincerely
I’m gonna die alone, like a junkie livin’ the fast life

and I feel like a snake’s molted, empty skin
that still looks the same, but has no life in it
maybe one day, my soul will come around
but ‘til then I’ll stay rotting on the ground

I used to have dreams
I used to keep a journal
but now I’m only looking at my feet
I can’t be sure, it seems
I’m dying in a circle
I’m a song of self-destruction on repeat

I used to go to sleep
and it was full and rich and deep
and I’d dream dreams I’d want to keep
but now it’s shallow and weak and cheap
and now I will stay up ‘til three
think on my insufficiency
and drown it in TV, caffeine, and anything mind-altering

so pour me a cup of something vile
it seems I’ll be up for quite a while
move on with your life; leave memories on the shelf
‘cause getting hung up on old times, you’ll only hang yourself

I used to go to sleep
and it was full and rich and deep
and I’d dream dreams I’d want to keep
but now it’s shallow and weak and cheap
and now I will stay up ‘til three
think on my insufficiency
and drown it in TV, caffeine, and anything mind-altering
Track Name: Postcards
with every sun that sets
I’m getting close to breaking but I don’t know when
with every moon that sets
I know I’ve got to face it again
I know you’re sorting some things out
you’re doing better, but who’s keeping score?
but I don’t think that I can use that same excuse anymore

so I’m giving up; I’ll be right here
where I’ve been for too long
we’ve had a good run, but I can just speak for myself
send me a postcard from the places you’re—

if history’s told by the victor
how can I relate all the battles I’ve lost?
I had big plans for the summer
but I dreamed without dreaming of paying the cost
I never wrote that album, I still can’t play the banjo
I still don’t feel any better
but was that ever really part of the plan?

so I’m giving up; I’ll be right here
where I’ve been for too long
we’ve had a good run, but I can just speak for myself
send me a postcard from the places you’re going

I’m tracing patterns in the carpet of my room
that’s what I call entertainment now
I’ve got a pile of things I know I have to do
but I’ve accepted the fact that I’m not going to do them
I’m tired ‘cause I stayed up late last night, but I don’t know why
not like I filled that time with anything productive
last time I saw you, I saw the worry in your eyes
maybe you saw something constructive

so I’m giving up; I’ll be right here
where I’ve been for too long
we’ve had a good run, but I can just speak for myself
send me a postcard from the places you’re going
I’m sure they’ll be so fantastic
Track Name: Ice On the Roads
frost on the windshield
and the engine groans in protest
when I rouse it from its slumber
put my foot down and insist I know best
I am aware
you’ve been changing your whole station, but
don’t leave me where
my feet no longer feel sensation

all the sleepless nights
all the dirty jokes and loaded pauses
all the stupid fights
and the pictures buried in your closet
back when I could make you laugh
the world was flawless for a fleeting moment
you don’t know the half
how I’ve spent my life just trying to hold it
now you’re in Bible study
now you’re making new friends
and you’re going to Europe
and you won’t call me
you’re so responsible
working on your résumé
I guess I’m a lemon
and you’re tired of making lemonade
I wanted to stay here
we were flawed and we were perfect
so even if I never go forward
I’ll look back and know it was worth it
I’d follow you to better days
but I’m clutching the past like a hand grenade
and I’d run until my heart explodes
but there’s lead on my feet and there’s ice on the roads tonight

I miss the days
when we were all that mattered
but that moment that I froze in time
I dropped it and it shattered
I wanted to be kids forever
dumb and young and free
but why’d you have to grow up
and grow out of me?
Track Name: Middle-Finger-Shaped Constellation
I’m gonna study every night, do pushups every day
I’m gonna take my status to the next level
I’m gonna have more friends than I could count in a week
I’m gonna tell them all that you’re the devil
I’m gonna have a to-do list longer than my arm
I’m gonna check off every single item
I’m gonna throw the party of the century
find all your new friends and invite them all
except you, except you, except you, except you

I’m gonna stay up all night, hunched over my guitar
playing pentatonic scales until my fingers bleed
I’m gonna get so good, I’ll be a hot commodity
every record label this side of the Mississippi needs
I’m gonna play my songs in stadiums
reducing nice young ladies into hopeless sluts
and I’m gonna win a Grammy
with a song saying how much I hate your guts

you suck, you suck
Dyson should start taking notes
famine and war would be no more
if society’d entirely forgo you
I’m gonna work, work, work my ass off
rig up my rocket and blast off
I’m gonna zoom through space and shove it in your face
I’ll show you, I’ll show you, I’ll show you

I’m gonna speak at political functions
shake a lotta hands, get lots of face time
I’m gonna give my name such gravity
that I threaten to cause a warp in space-time
I’m gonna call a presidential press conference
with all the major networks represented
and I’ll pay the FCC all the necessary fines
when I say my grand “FUCK YOU!” to you whom I’ve resented
all these years, all these years, all these years, all these years

you suck, you suck
from the negative space in your chest
my heart is hard and my psyche is scarred
from the odious load that is to know you
I’m gonna work, work, work my ass off
rig up my rocket and blast off
I’m gonna zoom through space and shove it in your face
I’ll show you, I’ll show you, I’ll show you
Track Name: Little Smiley Faces
I just wanna sit with you
and talk about stupid shit with you
think how well I fit with you

I like to say your name to you
and I like to feel the same as you
I like to play this game with you

and honestly, it's just absurd
how much I hang on every word
and everything I've ever heard
about you

you are the most fair I've seen
fire's cliche, you're kerosene
there's not a lot I like
but it's embarrassing how much I do

the way you send me little smiley faces

and the way you take me to all your favorite places

and the way you tell me things I really shouldn't know

and the way you'll let me follow you wherever you go
I'm gonna follow you wherever you go

stay awake, with me
and you can watch me make a fool of myself
I don't mind my dignity
I don't know what the hell it ever got me

I'd write a million songs for you
and they'd be cliche, but no less true
I don't have to think too hard
it's simple when I'm with you

you're Halley's Comet
you're a test, I still might bomb it
you're the reason I'm singin'
and nauseous

oh you smell like sonnets
or blooming bluebonnets
and I pray for you radar
and that i'm on it

old me would have sneered at me now
and said i'm selling out for some stupid girl
I'd laugh to myself, then punch him in the face
nobody calls you stupid.
Track Name: Your Birdsong
I see that you’re talking
but I don’t hear words
just a sort of humming
like a thousand tiny birds
I hear them when you’re lying
you’re so bad at lying
maybe someday they’ll fly away
one day when we’re both dying

you tell me you hit bottom
you tell me it’s all clear now
you tell me you’re so sorry
and you keep tellin’ me how
you’ve taken me for granted
and you’ve been so ungrateful
and that you hope I know you love me
‘cause you have been so hateful
the words you say are pretty
nice cadence and intonation
but your words and your actions
have zero correlation
I tell you, “that took a lot to say”
and “thanks for being so open”
but all your empty promises
with quantity get less potent

so I’ll listen to your birdsong
like pulling teeth or splinters
and maybe next time your heart is cold
they’ll migrate for the winter

so I’ll listen to your birdsong
like pulling teeth or splinters
and maybe next time your heart is cold
they’ll migrate for the winter
Track Name: Wool Socks
I wear my hoodie up
but I still don’t feel warm enough
that’s the heat you stole from me
the one I can’t replace
I got wool socks, but my feet are numb
studied all night, but I still feel dumb
I feel like a baby, suckin’ my thumb
helpless to my fate

I remember every word you spoke
in the car that smelled like tears and smoke
but I think too hard and I start to choke
remembering’s a bitch
my mouth tastes like gasoline
wanna burn it down, start over clean
forget everything, you especially
but that wouldn’t scratch my itch

it is cold in here?
or is it just me?
probably just me…

I bought the best winter clothes that money can buy
but this coat’s nothing like you at my side
and these gloves nothing like your hands in mine
I really gotta stop thinking ‘bout you
but I shouldn’t have such luck
these roots I’ve spread have got me stuck
and I wish that I didn’t give a fuck
but dammit, oh dammit, I do

it is cold in here?
or is it just me?
probably just me…


Track Name: Goodbye
if you put love into a calculator
it’d say you’re pretty pathetic
if I stay cool, silent and cynical
I can convince them all that I get it
you think it’s noble to be vulnerable
that loss is the cost of love in the end
well if heartbreak is growth, then I take my sacred oath
to never love nothing again
and when I reach the gates
they’ll ask my “what did you learn?”
and I’ll just shake my head and shrug
I never managed to catch my breath
in the time between world wars and group hugs
you silly humans, run your tiny races
build, destroy ‘til the buzzer blows
I’ll go find a cave somewhere
that will mold my heart into stone

goodbye

but maybe one day I’ll think of you
looking down from my ivory tower
‘cause time erodes even a heart of stone
though I’ll fight it with all of my power
we’re always gonna try again
and we’re always gonna get burned
but having the will to get back up
is the greatest skill I haven’t learned
I thought I was king on this great, big board
but it’s great to be a pawn
so as you run your race
look in the crowd to see my face
‘cause girl, I’ll be rootin’ you on

this ain’t goodbye
I’m just seeing how long I can hold my breath
this ain’t goodbye
you’ll be my air when I’ve got none left