Ion Zelig Vol. III

by Workman Song

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Open Letter From Workman Song To You (All),
This Week’s Sermon:

“When you get older, you’ll be a soldier.”

I’m concerned about this because there are two soldiers in the world, the war one and the spirit one. These songs are not really for children but they’re addressed to a child, the one whom I hope you find in yourself.

I tried to create anticipation for this EP by releasing a video of myself dancing half-naked next to scrolling lyrics advising things like, “Your parents treat you like a child, they always will and then they’re gone so alright? Alright. Treat them good and treat them kind, take care of them, don’t send them off to some resort to die.” That’s a good thing to say out loud in thin air, you know. “Hold on tight and don’t give up, I hope you’ve been encouraged enough to believe in love and all the holy stuff and all the rights to live and the rights to truth.” I’d want to hear that. “You can never love enough, and I ain’t wrong.”

But I guess my belt was sticking out too much and looked like a penis, what with all the thrusting and dance moves. Even one of my closest friends felt he couldn’t share it with his audience because of the innocent youth in their numbers (I don’t hold it against you, Johhny boy). Only a few friends had the courage (not the only quality, just makes me feel better to say) to share it and the rest, as per usual, had difficulty getting past the length.

Of the song, I mean.

And the video quality was undesirable. And the audio quality is weird. And all these things. Standards, standards. I challenged myself, so I’m not surprised that I’m challenging other people. Stupid standards. The thing is, I am yet unable to produce a higher quality recording on my own. This is the best I can do right now. This is the proud peak!

…As of today. (Which day is it? The one that matters? Or the one that doesn’t? …Amen.)

But honestly, I still think it sounds better than all the shit out there that takes no risks. And I don’t claim that rhetoric for myself only. I feel I’m not the only one going underground with a shitty audio interface and cheap cables and whatever illegally downloaded recording software I can find on thepiratebay and trying to lay the hits down at my nine roommates’ convenience.

I’m pretty sure I actually broke laws making this EP. I know for a fact my living situation is probably illegal, for starters.

But how relevant is that shit anyway? There’s still a red button in an oval-shaped office that blows up a city somewhere. And sampling Paul McCartney without permission is a bad thing? (Please help me get in touch with him, I feel I owe him a flower.)

I’m not afraid of failure, I’m actually just half-petrified of it. Because if no one cares then maybe my work is shit and I deserve it, and I can deal with that. But I’m pretty damn sure that I’m trying hard to help people with this work, trying to put a message out there, in a pretty sonorous, tuneful, polite, and reasonable way (hip thrusts aside). And if that gets ignored, then I’m actually afraid for the world.

To be clear, I have been to date unable to remove one foot from the traditions of teaching and seeing that have regularly, throughout our human history, spotted a ridiculous spiritual climax on the horizon featuring a planetary awakening and mass-scale resurrection of the dead, etc. I have always thought the best safeguard against developing a messiah complex is to acknowledge the pre-existence of a messiah who is definitely not you. In my case, I’m too much of an optimist to take my attempts at this work too seriously because God. My wires are too crossed from years of esoteric study on the internet to make an elevator pitch that will convert anybody to one just faith or cause. Which I won’t, which I didn’t, which I don’t, because God. Lol

Which is why I make these weird songs, with weird lyrics, with weird lengths, with weird sounds. “Wrong, wrong, wrong.” I prefer to remain ten steps ahead but I will always be just a few degrees off anyway. That’s where you can really have a lot of power, but that’s just because you’re hidden in the periphery and retain some freedom in your obscurity.

I say all this in order to dedicate this music to you. I wish the world were a better place. The last EP, Lamb, was all about “all the things I wish I could see in the world.” This one is more about what I do see, “a thousand lamps — but there’s no light.” If I seem like am challenging you, I don’t step back from that. I hope you accept a challenge. There’s no movement for you to join that I’m leading or a part of, it’s just a feeling I hope we can share. A feeling, in the sense of the word implied by this statement from some Metropolitan in a Jacob Needleman book*, “Kill emotion. Cultivate feeling.”

This EP is something I had to do, kind of an impulsive purge of some feelings I captured, yet uncultivated, which I do not yet understand, something obscure which alludes to something greater but is not yet fully inspired to finish its transformation. Lamb was elegant, refined, this one’s more of a crack-up. I love the untoward amount of audio compression all these tracks are subjected to, not just because it’s the only way I could find to make them pump alright on shitty laptop speakers (that’s important to me), but because the feelings they contain are also in confinement. That’s how I feel in life, honestly. Confined to a time in which things are starting to make sense but the madness is still enthroned.

Or deeply entrenched, more likely.

And, by the way, this is how I believe we all feel. Or, shit, I’ll go the extra mile: ought to feel. At least enough to be in balance with a handful of other feelings we ought to have about, you know, the shit.

Well, enjoy “Soldier,” it’s bouncy, not dark, not light, just true-ish, for the kids. I recommend you study the lyrics of “Menorahs,” it’s a great introduction to secret histories of the world (probably false), esoteric extra-biblical exegesis, and it’s also pretty bouncy.

“When People Are Better Than You” and “Pockets” are the most important songs of this release.

I should have explained earlier that Ion Zelig is a character that comes to mind (whom, I guess, I inhabit) when I write experimental music, particularly electronic. He is probably half-robot, a Martian scientist, and all that. He is a bit spindly and weird, but benevolent. This, actually, really is the third volume of Ion Zelig experiments I’ve published, it’s not just a clever name. I can’t remember where the other two volumes are located. Somewhere on the internet. Probably listed under “Sean McMahon.”

Anyway, I meant to close.

Enjoy the sermon that is “Sophia Is Smiling.” That one will take me a long time to figure out, but it grows on me. Similarly, you will ask yourself at the end of this EP, “Why ‘Veronica’?” I’m there with you.

Sean McMahon
aka Workman Song
Brooklyn, NY

*Needleman, Jacob. Lost Christianity. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1980. Print. If not a quote, appropriate paraphrase.


released December 7, 2014

written performed produced mixed and mastered by workman song aka sean mcmahon



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Workman Song Northampton, Massachusetts

“...equal parts Rodriguez (Searching For Sugarman), Bruce, and the Dead...what Dylan would have sounded like on about six tabs of acid.” - Baeblemusic

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Track Name: Soldier
when you get older
you’ll be a soldier
you’ll be a soldier

expensive leases broken pieces you’ll be father to a son
looking forward new world order peace to everyone

when you get older
you’ll be a solider

dogs are walking people talking to each other’s walls
voices laughing wiretapping through my happy halls
if you were thinking all that shrinking in your heart is sound
maybe it will slap you when it whacks into the ground

taking in my life from an idiots hands
taking a risk a little bit square
you’ll be the only one who cares
Track Name: Menorahs
Jesus went to sodom
with moses and elijah
to sprinkle it with fire
to baptize old gomorrah

they frightened all the children
when they showed themselves among them
their games were far too similar
lighting their menorahs

the one who kept the vigil
stands now as a pillar
she casts shadows on the women
the profane of brick and mortar…

..relaxing in a heap deep in hell
their troubles in a tower that just fell
their secrets drowning deep in a well
their image unshackled from their shell…

when old jeremiah
brought the princess to ireland
the shoot that there they planted
grew into a scepter

the stone that was stolen
was once the rod of paupers
but come the new millennium
it was raped by its protectors

the loser and the champion
upon the throne together
at least for easter sunday
they got on well together…

…til one by one each dollar and silver coin
came to cost much more than the fruit of the loins
onward to the battle of the boyne
onward downward through the spiraling void…

jesus went to sodom
with moses and elijah
kind david spoke in tongues but
his bones are in a graveyard

the people of gomorrah
are people of the fire
king david spoke in tongues but
his bones can’t play the lyre
Track Name: When People Are Better Than You
there's people i know they won’t stop to listen less you got soul they’re my friends
was a miracle not an accident we winded up on the same block of the town that we’re in
and while we’re on the chopping block we have no arms or legs to cart us round round
it takes a little humility to remember what it means to be of sound mind

when people are better than you

I’m always tuned to the right station i got that divine radar on my side most the time
even if it isn’t easy you gotta practice making yourself smile to increase your quality of life
piece it together pull it apart claim its called a work of art it didn’t start because of you it better not end because of you too
hold on tight and don’t give up i hope you’ve been encouraged enough to believe in love and the holy stuff and the all the rights to live and the rights to truth

your parents treat you like a child they always will but then they’re gone so alright? alright
treat them good and treat them kind take care of them don’t send them off to some resort to die
grandma world and papa sky the apple tree the hidden eyes the conspiracy world-wide
a mechanism is holding you now do you really want it to i bet you didn’t so what you do is ignite

when people are better than you

and nobody is a criminal
when they are seated in the embassy
and jack was quick cause jack was nimble
leapt from the candlestick in ecstasy
a welcome guest in the churchyard
a neighborhood mainstay and a seldom-seen
a loving man is man who is free

right before you go to sleep tonight you’ll remember these words that i speak and rhyme henceforth
if you wanna live before you die be a happy camper pitch your tent don’t pay no rent nothing’s due but north
there’s an awful lot of talk bout how theres no god let the conversation flow on and on and on and on and on
there’s an awful lot of talk and talk I’m done with that I’ve talked enough you can never love enough and i aint wrong
Track Name: Sophia Is Smiling
it took a lot of trying
but now i’m jacked in
the power source is pulsing
my life force intact
the tree is now planted
the peak is surmounted
all i’ve encountered
all i’ve disassembled
is smiling
is smiling
is smiling
is smiling

i’m learning, we’re learning
the rain hits the awning
the tendrils wrap round us
the pleasure of abuse-bonding
the wounded were wounded prior
this is not advertised on flyers
but the peace is not secret
nor should we keep it secret
was not a madman who dreamed it
was the world who still needs it
was the filthy animal that cleaned it
was greece was egypt
was the beast that redeemed it
was the queen that couldn’t see it
was the son’s insurrection
was the bitch’s correction
is smiling
is smiling
is smiling
is smiling

were the world not so lovely
there’d be no one to love me
i’m breaking vows made of paper
and i burn the scraps later
but say to righteous
it shall be well with the righteous
for what he eats is delicious
since what he’s done was judicious
and if a man is called holy
then he is really just wholesome
and no religion is wholesome
if religion is wholesale
can’t wash the blood out the carpet
can’t purge the temple of the market
can’t break the tree at the branches
can’t be free in a plantation
so what the fuck are these mansions
so what the fuck are these clashes
a rash from thirty-nine lashes
that have still not been retracted
and maybe elvis left the building
but his ghost is returning
and i boast in his madness
while nero fiddles to the burning
the new world order keeps on turning
but i’m a man of much un-learning
i got the spirit to do my discerning
i got the spirit to keep on going
and with a word i can transmit it
and look out cause i just did it
if you didn’t hear it when i said it
then you ain’t alive enough to regret it anyway
so i say
switch off your ears if you don’t use em, power to you,
but you won’t hear the music when we singing hallelujah.
Track Name: Pockets
there are pockets i have lined
there are moments i have lied.
so to tell the tale more true,
let me first begin with you:
o my dearest, you the nearest, you have seen all that i do,
do not judge me, please just love me, for all i say and all i do.

there are whispers: are you still with us, in the wind, or in the signs?
weighed the ancients your weary patience, your love it weighed the hearts and minds.
you filled the pockets of the poor,
he who had you gave him more.

hallelujah by and by, the city sleeps by choice and dies.
the streets are filled with ignorance, no one sleeps without a smile.
but the simplest one is the witness, he can’t help but count the cost.
they lend at interest and trade in bitterness. much is gained, and much is lost.

let the sea split left from right.
thousand lamps but there’s no light.
Track Name: Veronica
with your ruby slippers and your dead man slung cross your back
with your ruined reserve and your willlingness to talk about it
with your skeleton key at the ceremony where the yellow brick road drops off and sleeps

with the deadline approaching and the dogs licking sweat off your back
with your precious routine that culminates on sundays alright
it’s a gruesome scene when you know what it means to pull the numbers every day

are lovely enough to fall down into an empty space
are you friendly enough to trail off and realize it’s play
do you love me? do you love me? do you love?

all the feelings i get when i feel your hands a-close around me
veronica dear do you have a heart between those two breasts?
if you skip to the loo then darling that will do cause your eyes are pretty enough to ride

are lovely enough to fall down into an empty space
are you friendly enough to trail off and realize it’s play
do you love me? do you love me? do you love? etc