Archaic Memories And Past Lives

by The Grand Optimist

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06:24

about

Archaic Memories And Past Lives is an autobiographical album about preservation, forgiveness, and transparency. The latter being the catalyst for the detailed and personal nature of the songs. This record is an attempt to be as open as I can be out of some need I always feel to explain myself; to connect. I have a desire for people to understand me on my deepest level and I did my best to explain myself here.

My own personal identity kind of became in a crisis state after moving out of the house I'd lived in my whole life and this largely feels like a reaction to that, and a goodbye to the life I had gotten very used to. It seemed like the foundations of myself and many people close to me were being drastically changed and I spent a long time adjusting. But as much as the record is nostalgic it's also interested in not resisting the transitions of life that are bound to happen.
It's about myself, it's about my immediate and not so immediate family, it's about our origins that ultimately shape our identities, it's about the transient nature of our world, and it's about me tripping on some mushrooms.

There feels to me like a lot of appropriate risk taking that was necessary for me to explore these topics. I mean there’s a lot of sort of uncomfortable things on here and I’m often talking about things that a lot of people would see as having no business in a public setting, or unpleasant to face, but it was necessary for my growth as an individual to be as transparent as possible, and I mean no offense in creating this. I see it as a very kind and often optimistic record but I'm trying to very accurately capture life and to mask the negativity would be inaccurate as would denying the great times I've had; and I worked very hard to create what I saw as a balanced perspective.

credits

released May 3, 2016

Aaron Muller: Violin - 2, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11
Vocals- 4

Anna Andrade: Vocals - 2

Matt O'Donnell: Whistle - 1, 5

Brian Haywood: Saxophone - 5
Vocals - 4


Andrea Zuniga: Vocals - 11


Austin Longbine: Vocals - 4


Randy Jones: Vocals, Classical and Steel String Guitar, Mandolin, Piano, Banjo, Bass Guitar, Lap Steel, Musical Saw, Music Box, 1-11

Vocal Sampling: Jeff, Connie, Jeffrey, and Randy Jones


Mixed by Randy Jones and Austin Longbine

Mastered by Austin Longbine

Album Art: Jeff and Connie Jones

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about

The Grand Optimist Denton, Texas

Singer-songwriter from Denton, TX.
Documenting my reality and just trying to make whatever feels honest

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Track Name: Past Lives / Digging
Every summer we could go, we'd drive eleven hours up to Colorado to stay in my aunts mountain home. A cabin covered by the trees that seemed towering away from all the happenings, abandoned workweeks for traveling.

And much like the thick mountain mist, memories are obscured and I'm learning how much I can forget of the people I used to be and vacations we would take to escape the summer heat
But to my parents these are family highlights
and to me they only seem like distant past lives
ohh

Just a few steps from the back porch, a river raging beside us with a calming white noise, as my brother and I battle with wooden swords, with the altitude air thinner than my asthma could afford

And the smallest smells still trigger it, in the spring the pines connect me to that distant ancestor, who explored nearby caves and climbed up mountains of sand and that soft kid would sleep in heated blankets in bed.

But family photos can't capture who we were in one shot, I need a place to preserve my past lives who they were and were not
and stop all this obstruction by my newest thoughts
so I'll detail each memory until nothing's forgot.

Like when a moped came in a red wrapped bow on my brothers birthday and I nagged him all day to ride it until he finally caved
and on my first trip around the block I was run down by an elderly woman and totaled the only present that he had got. She hardly stepped out to see I was alive and just drove off

Or when the metal goal post fell on my nine year old head and I was bleeding so bad and my dad on the phone with 911
drove me to the hospital
and I got 18 staples to cover up the crack in my skull

But family photos cant capture who we were in one shot, I need a place to preserve my past lives who they were and were not
and stop all this obstruction by my newest thoughts
so I'll detail each memory until nothing's forgot

Digging

I need to stop treating life like it lives in a frame for me to critique
and rip out the borders
its not flat, there's no set path so stop self imposing corners
And I used to dream of turning into some ideal person
but the years keep adding these new layers of perversion
but I still look up and stick my arms out to reach
but they're getting tired of the miles in between
with this pursuit of perfection creating a hole in myself
why am I set on digging my own way to hell?
Track Name: Unyielding Kindness
California girl 'til the 70s
and you were adopted into a new family
so many fathers I'm confused by your family tree
and I wish these were the kinds of things you'd talk to me about
but you're always asking if I've eaten yet
as if I'm so thin I miss one meal and I'll be dead
and I always forget that you were married once before my dad
but he got into heavy drugs and you just wanted no part in that
Then at a party met your partner for eternity
gave birth to my brother and started this family

And you're the most selfless person in my life
but you hide in the background
as if you're every other american housewife
well I guess the selfless really do hide in plain sight

Malibu vacation to see your old house
we're driving fast along the coastline
when someone pulled out in front of us
with our car totaled stranded on the side of the street
and never getting to revisit what you drove thousands of miles to see
on to a hotel in the las Vegas strip
what starts out as a nice trip had to turn into this
when I ran out of the room once I saw the makings of a fist
and it's funny how my thoughts on a city can change in one instant
but this is where you rushed off to get married with my dad
and your parents were the only ones in the aisle
who had shown up to watch
but you were so humble and didn't need to do it up
I know the two of them just there to watch you was enough

and on your birthday this year with bloodshot eyes you said
that your dream in life was to raise kids
that turned out half as messed up as you did
and the only gift you wanted
was for me to say "you did the best you could"
in a place so reminiscent of hell sometimes
but I tend to dwell in our worst of moments
but somehow you still believe everything is fine
And its that unyielding kindness that keeps me in line

And it's well understood that you like your bottle of wine
but how much can I criticize after you just worked all day to provide
it's just you ramble nonsense on the theory of life
and I just wish you could tell me what you believe
when it's not coated in the smell of wine
Because I avoid you at all costs in that state
as it dampens my image of the mother who's kept my head on straight
and I know it's irrational that I try to separate the times
that us four interact to keep the peace and a healthy state of mind
it's not that I expect all parts to run perfectly year round
I'm just running from any situation that ends in a mental breakdown

but I understand it isn't getting any easier with your mother passing away last year or just feeling like your children don't need you
or old 'cause your husband is younger by seven years
but you will keep persisting
and I truly now do miss you outside of any necessity
and don't worry of age
if its brought the thoughtfulness to forgive us for the moments
that you're a household slave
though our workaholic nature will work us into our graves
this ethic you paved certainly has its place cause when
I stay busy I can feel you in me and its just one of the ways
I will keep you alive
long after you return to wherever we derive
I will keep you alive
Track Name: A Critique On Randy Jones
Wrapped up in passivity
just trying to be pleasant but the places he goes
all warp into horror scenes and illegal morbid dreams
actively trying to calm himself down from the stress of his demanding world view that's a destructive restlessness he cannot undo
and everything is in extremes
so it's easier for his brains system of bookkeeping
and if it's not filed away somewhere
he'll get away with white lie bullshitting
scared of traffic, and strangers, and cold hospital air,
or anything that's putting himself out there

and Randy you're becoming just who you never wanted to be
where it seems kindness becomes less important
than your personal priorities
and you've always had the image of the optimist you'd someday be
but a constant happiness just feels inaccurate
and so the artists name is said sarcastically

Creating a body of work as if somehow that could earn him worth and
jumping from self love to loathing to praising then scolding
every move he makes
standing beside himself as some mythical version
to hide how boring he is as a person
cause he shares his idea of a wild night out
with that of the puritans

And Randy you're becoming just who you never wanted to be
you do not handle well humility
and you're taking yourself too seriously
and these criticisms that come from all the
comparisons you make
create a senseless envy
the kind that is offered by the garden snake
and I know he too would eat what is forbidden in their place

and its the creative process he praises
to raise him from the dead feelings he sometimes has
but the process is both the revival as far as he knows
and what is making himself decompose
and it's this obsessive curse that creates his
best days alongside his worst

Randy you're becoming just who you never wanted to be
someone who always says no
and then hermits away
to the guarantees of safety
just to torture himself once he's all alone
over all of the things he does not't know
like an ankle bracelet that buzzes when he leaves his comfort zone And its this barrier he sets that holds him back
from any meaningful experience
Track Name: I'm Pulling You Out Of Your Ashes(Act I, Digging P2, Act II)
Act I

Your hope moves like the hair on your head
thinner so you're thinking of shaving it off
there's no answer of the time you've got left
just let the cancer do the rest
and when it won I went to your house
but I was only 10
and didn't get to know you the way you deserved, Uncle Kevin
but I loved the way you had wanted it then,
your favorite food and family with no funeral for damning
cause there's no worse way to celebrate a life
than the way we throw up grey skies and wear black and white

we all hung on and held our breath
until your final one came
and went

My aunt and her longtime boyfriend Greg
they'd been together several years now
on the surface seeming great
but as they were well into their middle age
they finally decided to get engaged.
but awhile before the wedding date
her now fiance was facing an unbearable weight
and just last year she was sleeping in bed
when a gunshot broke the window of their high rise apartment
and she crept around until she got to his office
and found him with all of the hurt that he has caused her
cause there's no worse way to work through your problems
then to think that removing yourself will solve them

and this is for the loss of Greg
you were only fifty three and no problems that big
that you couldn't have found another way out
I know you were losing your business
but you permanently damaged the person that you lived with

Digging II

And though you were both cremated
I know I'm digging some things up
from a painful place that people prefer best we leave untouched
but I'm just being honest with what I know
and I want my family to live on in a format that cannot decompose
I wont let you decompose

Act II

Even with its share of negativity
I won't let that become our family history
so I'm pulling you out of your ashes
up from your graves
and the truth will be plastered for all to see
as a document of true humanity
full of the highs and lows that define a family

and though sometimes it feels like its tearing at the seams
I wont let that become the perspective that we see
how easily we forget these subtle memories
to replace them with whatever is most damaging
so I'm shedding my past lives
dropping all the dead weight
because the self is the only one left to blame for negative traits
Track Name: Mushroom Trip #1 / Backseat Driver
When I was 17 I went to a friends house
We all took psilocybin mushrooms and I tried to kill myself
I walked downstairs to the kitchen
and watched my body move
as it grabbed two knives from the counter
and pressed them to my throat
pushing progressively harder now
but something had stopped me
and though I dropped the knives to the floor
the idea has always haunted me

and it's always been there but I had began taking it too seriously
And weeks before began drafting my final note to my family
And somehow with the state I was in
I tried to act on it in that kitchen

I went back up stairs and got in bed
to writhe around in the sheets
I thought I felt my body dying
so I stepped out to watch me
as my organs began failing
and I felt my own heart stop
It felt like I had lived millenniums of time
but I when looked at the clock on the bedside
a minute had gone by
And I began to convince myself
that this was the afterlife

And I felt all alone
trapped in an endless overwhelming fear
that never whispered any answers I was seeking in my ear
because I was far past the point of asking let alone to hear
only dragging up every deep seeded demon
I'd been hiding from for years

vision got so blurry until I had to close my eyes and I passed out
and woke up at 5 am with a clear head and all my demons out
so we drove to the only store that was open
and I loved everyone I saw
we watched the sun come up
and felt grateful for it all


Backseat Driver


I was only trying
to get the universe to reveal itself to me
But it was the one exploring
all the hidden parts of me normally unseen
and I feel like an open book
written in some foreign language.
trying to translate a truth
that could only be found while my mind was vacant
and it showed me that I'm a homebody
well its true I like to find my way out of plans
and reflect on all the happenings
that I don't want to forget
and that I'm a backseat driver
I'll sit out of view and just point out what you're doing wrong
But I only do this 'cause I wish I was brave enough
to put my own hands on the wheel
Track Name: To The Observable From The Room
I've always been reliant on my friends
they pull me out from viewing my life through this lens
that's too clouded, cracked, and self consumed
in demystifying universal truths
that only leaves me trapped in a view that insists
that the only truth is the glib glance of a pessimist

But I used to be so intrigued as a child
felt a wider range of emotions
and my brain wasn't compiled of
the horror stories of history from lives that came before and the
nature of my surroundings I'd yet to explore
because as I've grown the universe sure has grown up to
expanding with my bones to the observable from the room

and I can't keep staring at my phone
it gives me no time to process surroundings
I'm just avoiding being alone
cause I'll end up staring instead at some abyss
though maybe that is something I have to face
instead of continuing to dismiss
the far more captivating world
that lives outside of my immediate grip

but to their credit and one of my life's greatest gifts
the neighborhood I moved to outside were two kids
who since have become friends for what I know will be lifelong
and we've spent more time together than with anyone else
and how rare to form such a strong connection so early on
and though we're all in different states now
I know we're even more drawn to the days we had
of ringing doorbells and playing on lawns

but 'til I was nine my brother and I'd cling to only each other
and that'd be all that we need
just hours of him playing games and me sitting beside him watching
and I've always found it quite unique
our minimal arguing
but now you sleep the days away that I am awake
and I never get to see you on any normal calendar day
but its not just our schedules that are pulling us away
you've been receding from life at a glacial pace
finding dreams much more suiting than any reality to face.

And I have very little idea where you will end up
I spent all my grade school mornings being the one to wake you up
for a world and you seem so disinterested by its fronts
and only aiming for the simple pleasures to be enough
but I see now you're dissatisfied
and I know this must be tough
I've watched you let your heart of gold
sit outside collecting rust
because you're one of the purest people this world has ever met
but it's hard to say I even know you
or name one of your interests
both our values on introversion border selfishness
but I still know that there is a great deal
behind how much you're letting us in
Track Name: Archaic Memories
May 3rd, 1964
you were born and soon after moved to Illinois
but your parents got divorced and dad was never around
and mom had mentally checked out
but I never got to meet them they died before I was born
both of a stroke and I only know what I have been shown
in grainy pictures where I can make out their face
but I never got to meet them the dead are slowly being erased

but in their faces I see features I'd eventually get
how strange it is in subtle ways genes reviving the dead
once they were young and in perfect health as I am now
but like myself soon close to being forgotten about

And I feel bad for my time I've not been spending it with you
its just that we've developed such different interests and views
but we attempt a great relationship of our own
but I ruin the balance and indulge in being alone
but I see on the horizon a day where I wish I would've walked
down the stairs and poured out everything
but I'm too scared of facing where we might really be
or to find all we can relate to is archaic memories
but you're my greatest teacher and intentions are always good
just trapped in a situation that you think
compromises some manhood
but these outlashes are slowly becoming outliers
and I see you now as someone trying to put out their own house fire

'cause there is such a lighter side you selectively show
that's being covered by all these ways that you have no control
but anytime I see you with a smile or laughing to a joke
I want to clutch you and apologize for my years of quiet scorn
but I can name at least one more thing that will always be our crutch and that nothing in our life ever seems to be enough
no nothing in my life ever seems to be enough

and its really just a lack in ourselves we're turning back around
it's really just insecurities manifesting as a mirror
it's really just our entitlement weighing us down
it's really just the discontent of our ego's fear
so rip your mind out of the next few years
and just place it in the moment before it dissapears
Track Name: Waiting Out The Storm / I Am Both The Ark And The Titanic
And though it has since calmed down
don't deny the abuse that once filled this house
front yard fights and endless nights as the family therapist
and though sometimes I made it worse
I just wanted some basic civility
over all of this fucking hostility
how do you just throw out all affection so easily
and no matter how mad you are
there's a respect that should stop you from going that far

and much like a storm of violent clouds
I would hear my home torn apart
forced wait it out
and though its the source of my stress
I relinquish my anger but I will not forget
and as I am up to my neck
drowning in flash floods of flashbacks from back then
I know you wont believe me
but I forgive all the times family lost its meaning

I come home you'd thrown the remote through the tv
but that's nothing compared to some of the things that I have seen
that I will not speak about
I don't want to think about it
much less have to say it out loud
but lets just say
full of broken furniture so quickly replaced
and apologies that never really held any weight
as if this daily routine would never see another day
regardless of how you both blow up over the smallest of things
and then we throw in some impatience, bipolar, and abrasive nature caused by a flawed childhood you both had
but it's becoming a cyclical path that I run from
but as I step off I see what is to come
unless I express it in this healthier way
I will be damned to repeat these exact same mistakes
these mistakes from when

and much like a storm of violent clouds
I would hear my home torn apart
forced wait it out
and though its the source of my stress
I relinquish my anger but I will not forget
and as I am up to my neck
drowning in flash floods of flashbacks from back then
I know you wont believe me
but I forgive all the times family lost its meaning


I Am Both The Ark and The Titanic

and I am both the ark and the titanic
bulletproof smile to helplessly manic
but the last thing I'd want is for you two to panic
when it's always been my job to pull you
out of the Atlantic
Track Name: Petrichor
This logical loss brought on by alcohol bought
makes you both act like a horrible person
that I know you both are not
but its not something that you're willing to stop
and your own self destruction is coming at the cost of your son
but I know I should stop trying to fix
all these holes in a raft I perceive as the titanic
but I know you too well just to call it quits
and let you live a way I know you loathe to exist

And I still cry when I close my eyes
and I can hear you screaming still
but the house is silent
I had conjured some violence while no one was home
projected in my brain like it was the real thing
I hear your voices sometimes and I feel like I'm going insane
I fear that I've developed some mental illness with this irrational way
I create violence out of stillness

And petrichor
all the I smell is what's left of the storm
and I've watched my face change forms
too many times to recognize it anymore
but I'm becoming too attached to a life
and I know this too shall pass
but I cant continue keeping myself
from the time I won't get back

It's appearance is deceiving
open rooms and high ceilings
pouring light on the dark corners of awful feelings
but its not the walls that are peeling
but the family and feeling that the
foundation could collapse on any given weekend
that I come home to visit
I prefer you at a distance
where I can still retreat back to my quiet existence
and I can't even drink without seeing your visage
when my vision is blurred I mirror your image

And petrichor
all the I smell is what's left of the storm
and I've watched my face change forms
too many times to recognize it anymore
but I'm becoming too attached to a life
and I know this too shall pass
but I cant continue keeping myself
from the time I won't get back
Track Name: Restland
My parents left to look for a nice place to rest
to put a down payment on their final real estate investment
and now that their nest is emptying
they're downsizing from this two story home
and after they're gone they'll move out into an even smaller hole

And when they are finally lowered side by side
I will throw inside their grave
any resentment I have managed to hold inside
Cause after they're gone
all they become is whatever I say they were
and my brother and I prefer to toast a glass half full
when we remember

Because after everything was broken and shattered
all that was left was laughter
because the best talks I remember
came after the storm of a screaming family member

And for all the years I dreamed of moving out
finally I was packing my things
and as I open my car door to leave
my dad
he runs out crying harder than I have ever seen
and not just cause soon I'd be gone
but for the glow of escape I'm sure he saw on my face
but I'll still come down to visit and make sure you're fine
and we'll laugh as we try to be an average family at dinner time

but quickly
of the few things that I will never forget
you said "I promise to be a better grandfather
than dad if I'm not dead by then"

because after everything was broken and shattered
all that was left was laughter
because the best talks I remember
came after the storm of a screaming family member

And when they are finally lowered side by side
I will hold inside myself all of the love
they embodied throughout their lives
cause after they're gone all they become
is whatever I say they were
and my brother and I prefer
to toast a glass half full
when we remember