The Glass Laughs Back

by Amy Kohn

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about

"Well-trained, self-inspired talent for the odd, up and down and all around, and out there." - The Village Voice.

A stark debut, recorded on a 1904 upright and accompanied by harmony saxophone, cello, and water-bottles, crashes together 20th/21st century atonality, pop and jazz. The liner notes, written by Pianist Michael Jefry Stevens read "Listening to the music of Amy Kohn is like entering a very private universe of sound - something very intimate, special and beautiful. Her music makes uncommon demands on the listener moving between several parallel musical worlds (20th Century Classical - the Broadway Musical - modern jazz and of course the perennial singer/songwriter performing her own music). One can hear the influences of Charles Ives, Erik Satie, Carla Bley, George Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, Laura Nyro and especially Kate Bush. These are quite eccentric influences yet somehow Amy is able to create from such a disparate palate her own exquisitely molded individual voice (as a pianist, singer and lyricist/songwriter). This is real music."

credits

released March 7, 2000

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about

Amy Kohn Brooklyn, New York

Amy Kohn is applauded by some of the top composer/producers in modern song: Van Dyke Parks says she’s “Brimming with such talent!” and the late, legendary Producer Arif Mardin dubbed her a “Musical Devil in a Red Dress." Amy always seeks sounds she’s never heard, and it comes through in the “oddly structured beauty” of her highly arranged, effervescent music. ... more

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Track Name: Muscles of Mine
in memory of Grandma Yetta

I have one
I have one
I have one memory

22, just married
Center of a room, kneeling
Grandmother on a chair above me
Her purple calves caressed in my hands

I have one
I have one
I have one memory

I press into her veins
Sliding with agile fingers
Moving through life-rings with violent circles
I push up and out these buried words:

"This is where the stories lie, in these muscles of mine
This is where the stories lie, in these muscles of mine"

Easily, she closes her eyes, and remembers
Oh, to remember Oh, to remember

88, now widowed
Underneath an old tree, feeling
chilled legs molding to my hands' shape
My statue hands, my hollow calves

I press into my veins
Sliding with crooked fingers
Moving through life-rings with violent circles
I push
I push
Track Name: In Between
I am here
in between
what you say
and what you mean

I know it's you
I can hear you voice
telling me
I know it's you
I can hear you voice
telling me
nothing

If I could see your eyes
I'd know
Which way I'd let myself go
Track Name: Baby
She's a fifth grader
Somebody made her
lose virginity

Only eleven
her Daughter's in Heaven
Nobody knows but she

Oh

Sitting in class
she adds and subtracts
Pretends nothing happened at all

But in the afternoon
she runs to her room
and rubs the forehead of her doll

Oh
Track Name: Lion Riding
The subway roars
In blazer and hose
I ride a lion

We move forward
but looking out the right way:
backward
Forward backward forward backward

I look at you
Eyes too deep to read
Exterior, shifting

We move forward
but looking out the right way:
backward
Forward backward forward backward

Your bag unzips
and the air is sucked
up by the people

We move forward
but looking out the right way:
backward
Forward backward forward backward

Hand digs inside
and pulls out a gun
No, an umbrella
No, an umbrella

It's raining outside
It's raining outside
Track Name: Red City
I can imagine walking down the Hudson right now.
I can imagine walking down the Hudson right now.

Sky becoming red
as I walk through the clouds that I make with my mouth.
Steps becoming sure
as the water brings me to a painted night.

I can imagine walking down the Hudson right now.
I can imagine walking down the Hudson right now.

I am looking down
and blue pushes blue.
I am looking up.
A red-tipped brush is coloring in the straight city lines.

I can imagine walking down the Hudson right now.
I can imagine walking down the Hudson right now.

I am looking down
and blue pushes blue.
I am looking up.
The city is gone. Red City.
Track Name: In The Skyscraper
in the skyscraper across the street
you are going through papers.

I see you reading them,
one by one,
as if they are important.

And the minutes circle my head like birds,
and hum of the outside chills me like a draft.

But then I look down at myself and see:
it is I who is going through papers.

I am reading them,
one by one,
as if they are important.

And the minutes circle my head like birds,
and hum of the outside chills me like a draft.
Track Name: Transplant
My small rose heart
barely beating,
My small rose heart
barely blooming,
will not be mine much more

First breath: last
First bliss: last
First blink: last
First twist: last
First touch: last
First kiss: last

"Oh my little life,
I'm sorry that I made you this way,
so sorry that I made you.."

But Mother, look what I can give
Mother, feel what I can give
Mother, feel what we can

And she touches my tender chest

Heart: last
Track Name: The Glass Laughs Back
Her desk, reflected in the pane of glass
about to blow in from the wind,
is covered with enough

She mouths a no in response to me
denying my humble query
and the glass laughs back

Ha Ha as it expands and contracts her
and I smile in an attempt to relax her
but as soon as my levity cracks her
the window flies in and attacks her
Track Name: Love
I love you.
Did you know that?

Bare
open
scared:
I'm a tree before spring,
shivering as the winter melts from my tough skin.
Breathing as traces of heat fill my veins.
Track Name: Noon
I'm walking on 14th Street
Too much sun in my eyes
I'm thinking about
I'm thinking about
you

The minutes blend together
Lost on a track of time
I look at my watch
I look at my watch
noon

Ah, what love I feel
Track Name: Dusk
I stand in my bedroom.
Crickets clicking legs outside
bringing me far away from the city.

But I curl the blinds aside:
Souls of trees
suffocated in cement,
tearing the sidewalk for air.

Then I pull myself inside:
my TV's
fabricating cricket legs,
and I'm
tearing its warm glare for air.
Track Name: Lumberjack
Lumberjack
How I want to grow
up to be
as tall as a tree

Every night
I'll mark my new height
on the wall
A ladder of ink

Purchasing
new flannels each week
Yellow plaid
In moments they shrink

Ax in hand
I'm tough as an oak
Redwood wide
I've got maple blood

Lumberjack
How I want to grow
up to be
as tall as a tree

Lumberjack
Holed up in my room
Won't come out
Lumberjack
I'm stuck in my room
Can't come out
Too tall for the door!

Cut myself down
Cut myself down
Cut myself down
Cut myself down
Track Name: Today
Today the sun shines beautifully in
And I am ready for everything