Cheer Up Charlie Brown

from by Mumblin Deaf Ro

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about

The first line of Dictionary Crimes is:

I never sleep the night before work starts, so I flick through the pigs on the calendar bought as a joke gift for my wife, who’s asleep - exhausted by the children: our little boys and me.

And so we go into the gentle hum of domesticity and the brimming pond life of family.

Growing up, you call your Mam, Dad and brothers and sisters your family. When you get older, you think of your wife and kids as your family instead. This song is about getting used to that as well as the atmospheric pressure that comes with parenthood.

The line about 'catching cold through my feet' is an old wisdom that came from the grandmother of Conor (Rapple - bass player) which he said to me when we first got to know each other well. I think that to write you have to have a certain type of brain which can recognise, store and recall little fragments like that. For all the emotional depth that supposedly goes into writing, there is also what Graham Greene called the 'chip of ice in the heart of a writer' where you look like you're living life but you're really just recording it.

The second verse talks about one of my all-time heroes: routine. My life would be overwhelming if I didn’t have to be some place by some time doing some thing most days. In that way, incrementally, I keep myself forward-looking. Routine is also dehumanising. It is both a hand and a hold. Its indispensability can lead you to a life of patterns and momentum that leaves no room for reflection. Those unprocessed experiences accumulate over time – the song calls them the lees (or dregs) of your life that keep you awake on school nights. Being an atheist I sometimes wonder whether I think too much and reflect too little - the element of 'retreat' is missing.

The third verse refers to a picture of my Dad, which probably all my brothers and sisters would remember, where he is watering the flowers in his garden – at night by the looks of it, although it could be just a bad photo (or in this case a bad photo of a bad photo).

Originally I had quite a bland finishing line about the photo, which my wife spotted the first time she heard the song – she is a very good editor. I looked at the photo for a long time to work out what I wanted to say about it. Eventually it struck me that my dad worked six-and-a-half days a week (Sunday afternoons off – he died of a heart attack at the age of 47 and looks about 60 in this photo), then came home to eight children, but still had he enthusiasm to care for his flowers and plants long after we had gone to bed - ‘by nature a nurturing man’. In a gesture that still touches me to this day, after he died the annual trophy for the nicest garden in the estate where I grew up was christened the 'Gerald Hession Cup'.

lyrics

I never sleep the night before work starts
So I flick through the pigs on the calendar bought
As a joke gift for my wife who’s asleep
Exhausted by the children
Our little boys and me

I stand in our kitchen
Catching cold through my feet
And stare at the milk
In the fridge for ideas
Preoccupied with work
And the household depending on me

Cheer up Charlie Brown
Your family still loves you while you’re letting them down

It’s like long division
There’s a process to repeat
That’s how routine divides
The big things in life
And the remainders collect
As the lees of my school-night sleep

It takes emotional stamina
To match all these demands
And a reservoir of love in your life
As your debt grows in its sleep
And your mirror ages ‘round the eyes

Cheer up Charlie Brown
Your family still loves you while you’re letting them down

The house is asleep
The boys breathing easily
The universe creeps along cold but aligned
As I reread the opening page
All the Russians blend into
A confusing soup of names

But mostly I just sit here
With a picture of my Dad
And his leaky old watering can
Immersed in his garden
By nature a nurturing man

Cheer up Charlie Brown
Your family still loves you while you’re letting them down

credits

from Dictionary Crimes, released September 14, 2012

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about

Mumblin Deaf Ro Dublin, Ireland

Mumblin’ Deaf Ro is a Dublin-based songwriter who has released three albums to date. Ro's third album 'Dictionary Crimes' was released by Popical Island in September 2012. The album decsribes what it is like to be part of a family. It was selected as Irish album of the year by Nialler9 and the Irish Independent and was nominated for the Choice Music prize for album of the year. ... more

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