Sweet Sounds for Tired Eyes (Songs for My Father)

by Tom Campbell

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about

Though the letter below may not necessarily apply anymore, I think its sentiment still stands. Recording this album was a good process for me and my dad often spoke of how much it meant to him. It's nice to get a message every once in a while and see that people are still listening. As I said when I wrote the album, "I wanted to make it public so that I'd know that other people are thinking of my family and are thinking of him. I'll feel better knowing that."

Thank you for listening. It has meant and will mean a lot.


When the album was first released, it was accompanied by this letter:

Dear Listener,

In the fall of 2013, I learned that my father had been diagnosed with lung cancer. While I was home visiting, he mentioned in passing that he missed hearing me practice. With the help of a friend, I recorded a ten-track album as a gift to him. At his suggestion, that album has now been released publicly.

"Sweet Sounds for Tired Eyes" is by far the most intimate thing I have recorded. More so than any other material I've written, these songs served as a catharsis, a way for me to focus my energy into something creative when so much seemed beyond control. Not only that, but the recording process itself was simple and unpolished. All songs were recorded live. I just sat at Derek's table and played a set. I didn't want my dad to hear this and think, "So that's what my son sounds like with a full band and production." I wanted him to listen and think, "Yes, that's how it sounds when I sit on the porch, reading my book, and I hear him practicing." It is an album I felt like I had to write. I'm content to have it finished. My father is happy to hear it. Now, I hope that it can help someone else in the way that it helped us.

On the one hand, I decided to release this publicly so that I'd have the opportunity to continue this as a gift for my father. On the other hand, I wanted to make it public so that I'd know that other people are thinking of my family and are thinking of him. I'll feel better knowing that.

With that in mind, I will be happy to share any messages that are sent with my family and I appreciate you sending this along to people you think might enjoy it, or might get something out of hearing it.

Thank you for listening.

- Tom

credits

released April 10, 2014

All songs were written and performed by Tom Campbell.
"Sweet Sounds for Tired Eyes" was recorded and mixed by Derek DeBellis in his living room and kitchen.
Mastered by Derek DeBellis and Tom Campbell.
Thank you to Elias Klemperer for his drumming on "Short, Internal Rhythms."

Cover photo of Dennis and Patricia Campbell taken in June, 1974, on Cape Cod, by their friend, Mary. Cover design by Tom Campbell.

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about

Tom Campbell Burlington, Vermont

Tom Campbell is a singer/songwriter, currently living in Burlington, VT. He first began writing music on his parents' perpetually-out-of-tune upright because it was easier to write a song by ear than to read music. Since that time he has had the pleasure to perform with a number of lineups from choirs to psychedelic rock groups. "Sweet Sounds" is his most stripped-down and intimate record to date. ... more

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Track Name: Houses at Night
You tell me I'm into something. It doesn't look so good
and my skin's turning purple instead of the gold it should.
I thought I knew just how to finally get away
from all the things they taught me about a better place,
but that's a different story.

When I was just a child, I knew just who I'd be.
I'd get a job and some babies and wonder who was me.
I never thought I'd have to wonder what's inside
or the meaning of it all, when it's all for their lives,
but that's a different story.

You can't tell me what I've got on my mind,
or read the future in my palms when their lines
are disappearing from being too clean,
but try to read them. Tell me what do they mean.

Tell me I'll get something and I'll be feeling good.
When my hands aren't so empty, I'll be just like I should.
I'll go and pick some roses, maybe I'll try and pray,
or let myself get lost in a beautiful mistake,
but that's a different story.
Track Name: Silver Lake
It's been months now since I've seen you. It's all the same.
I play louder for our neighbors and their cocaine
that they throw to their damaged ceilings to meet the rain
and I hear them when they're asking for the refrain

from wondering whose side to say.
The ball fell into traffic either way.

I sit still so these old ants can still play their game
of catch in the vast fields of my large frame.
I remember all the trophies and all the pain
that we got for always claiming we weren't to blame.

When wondering whose side to say,
the ball fell into traffic either way.

I pack up all my empty feelings and then my brain
in hopes that maybe, when the spring comes, they won't be feigned.

When wondering whose side to say,
the ball fell into traffic either way.
Track Name: Stockholm Something
Those vacant dreams that hang inside my head
the moment that you lay me down to bed
and you make me list the people I have known
in a time when I couldn't stand to be alone,

but with no constraint on time
in those places in my mind,
I'll let myself get lost.

You can't accept that I've been around before.
You've labeled me your virgin and your whore
and the gift you gave to show your love for me
is tied too tight to sing, Calliope.

But with no constraint on time
in those places in my mind,
I'll let myself get lost.

Blaming me for things I haven't done
as if I were the only one,
I sit in silence. Will you say,
"We'll learn to move on someday?"

I let myself get lost.
I let myself get lost.
Track Name: Frozen Stones Behind
Locked inside for days of snow, I see your brochure on our table
for a place so warm, like in my dreams.
Your bags are packed up tight.
You say you'll leave tonight
if you can break the ice
that keeps our windows frozen shut.

You say, "Please,
meet me there."

I awake to smells of coffee. I guess you must have set our timer
and a note that says you'll see me soon,
but with all this frost
I can't see if I've lost
the chance to run outside
and try to finally change your mind.

You say, "Please,
meet me there."

The ice inside my lungs, like paying for something wrong,
until I find your warmth and our hands are frozen cold.

You say, "Please,
meet me there."
Track Name: The First Time She Ran Away
I thought you moved away for good
to your favorite spot inside the woods
to be friends with all the birds and fish
while I'm stuck inside a petri dish,

so don't come home. There's nothing left,
but wasted words and makeup sex.

Though you're a thousand miles away,
I can still hear your voice when you say
that you had such bigger plans for me
and the greatest thing I'd ever be,

so don't come home. There's nothing left,
but wasted words and makeup sex.

So don't come home. There's nothing left,
but wasted words and makeup sex.
Track Name: All That Dark, All That Cold
"No, darling, please don't go."
"I said, 'I left you in my heart months ago.'"

I worry you won't come back to stay,
so I wait in the shadows of the trees within our woods
only to see you on the day
when you'll fall to your knees at the place where we once stood.

"No, darling, please don't go."
"I said, 'I left you in my heart months ago.'"

I built a fire, so you'd find your way home,
but the snow just kept falling to the prints left by your feet
and the empty steps made me feel even more alone
'til I heard your voice and I knew we'd finally meet.

"No, darling, please don't go."
"I said, 'I left you in my heart months ago.'"
Track Name: Clinical Lullaby
When I wake up, it's the same.
The doctor doesn't know my name.
I freeze. Wish I were in bed with you,
but you sleep straight on through it all.
I close my eyes; I hug the wall
to see if I could get away.

But, no, I don't want someone new.
I'll get lost in all your charms.
I'll let you in 'til you're all mixed through
like the veins inside our arms
with you.

These window treatments never stop.
I want your touch, but my arms just drop
to your side (that place I'd like to lay
when I wake up from my bed check
with scratches running up my neck).
With no change, they offer up applause.

But, no, I don't want someone new.
I'll get lost in all your charms.
I'll let you in 'til you're all mixed through
like the veins inside our arms
with you.
Track Name: Eulogy for My Trust
But still, I thought I'd know I'm better off by far.

A phone call to a girl whose far away:
I wait to hear the lovely things she'll say.
Instead, she chooses not to speak a word.
I guess it's good enough. My voice was heard.
You're gone.

But still, I thought I'd know I'm better off by far.

And every breath she gave was filled with lies
I'll mourn until the day these tired eyes
will rest from weary work and I won't care
'cause she had someone else and you're not there.
You're gone.

But still, I thought I'd know I'm better off by far.

I'm sorry. I don't know what I said.
I'm sorry. I don't know what I did.

But still, I thought I'd know I'm better off by far.

I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I don't know what I said.
I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I don't know what I did.
Track Name: Blue-Eyed Son
"She tells me that she gets lost. She thinks of me daily.
Like that'd somehow change the way that she loves to break me
and the sad thing's that even in dreams, she always just lets me down
and I'd tell her my expectations, but she'd never be around."

Will you tell me that it's alright, I shouldn't worry
'cause, no matter what happens, I'll know that you'll never leave me?
I guess that I'd like that.

Will you say that I'm your boy, but let's go inside now?
Far away from the snow and the cold, we'll watch for the new plow.
Suddenly when I'm eighteen and she breaks my heart again,
will you tell me that "It's okay. Sometimes that's how these things end"?

Will you tell me that it's alright, I shouldn't worry
'cause, no matter what happens, I'll know that you'll never leave me?
I guess that I'd like that.

I guess that I'd like that.

I guess that I'd like that.