I loved working on this one. Not that I don’t almost always love working on them. And not that–like the rest of them–there weren’t moments where I was furious and shouting abusive insults at my laptop and/or self for not performing up to expectations. And not that my process was all that different from the usual thing I’ve always done. In many of the ways that are observable, this was a standard Derek Brink experience of making an album.

But I loved it.

I’ve been in a good place lately. That despite some bad things happening. There are bad things talked about on this album. Some sadness, guilt, fear, and so on… That kind of stuff will always creep into my work, the same way it creeps into my life. But in general, I’ve been a happier person lately, and I think it’s coming through in my songwriting. Even the hopeless songs have a little hope in them this time.

I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t like 90% because of adopting the cats. They kinda saved me.

So, the tone of this one is a little bit brighter just from a structural standpoint, but the performances and recordings are cleaner, too. And I’m playing better. I changed a little bit of my approach and tried to make things sound really clear and presentable…and I wanted you to be able to HEAR the bass. And everything else. No mud. No mess. I even tried to sing more from my diaphragm and take my vocal parts a little “easier.” Sometimes I did one and not the other. Sometimes I did both. It ended up working out. And I’m singing in different registers, that suit my voice a little better than the stuff I have to shout to hit. A lot is different this time.'

Getting all of that together was waves coming up the shore… Each time I tried something, I went back to the start and got a little farther than I did on the first wave. I reinvented songs when they weren’t working. And I’m happy with the result.

I also tried to SIMPLIFY. Especially in the lyrics. No need to cram in a million words where a few sentences will do the job–he said while writing his seventh paragraph in this introduction. I like songs where the singer has a chance to breathe and the audience has to do a little work to put the linking pieces in, between the big thoughts. I think it worked okay.

It’s called “Third Act Problems” because…hey…I’m in my 40s. Creatively, that’s getting into the third act. And it’s a theatre thing to go to a play and complain that the show was alright, but “it has third act problems.” It just means the ending needs work. And for me…it’s going pretty good…but that doesn’t mean I’m done working on the ending. There’s still a lot to do.

I drew the cover myself. It’s done mostly in pencil. The theatre on the front is largely meant to evoke the Tivoli in St. Louis–which is now mostly defunct but used to be a really cool movie venue before some church bought it and ruined it. I’m happy with how it turned out. I’m happy with how the whole thing turned out.

Primary Guitars/Basses Used:
Parkwood Acoustic
Fender Telecaster
Fender Stratocaster
Rickenbacker 360
Gretsch 12 String
Les Paul Studio
Rickenbacker 4003
Fender Geddy Lee Jazz

Lyrics and Song Summaries:

(Are you feeling better yet?)

In summary of the last several times we did this,
I’d been a little upset and nervous, 
but I think things are looking up.
A lot of stuff happened and it’s pretty hard to summarize.
Had a lot to accept and a lot I had to realize.
Long story short, I’ve remembered what I liked about love.

Walking around with joy in your heart
is something I’d forgotten.
Turns out sometimes the things you’d thought you’d lost
just need to be sought again.

In remembrance of the last several years, 
I’ve held on to several brand new fears, and
I’d be remiss if I said everything was perfect.
It got really bad, it got really fucking hard.
Had a weight on my back that I carried pretty far.
But coming out on the other side, I guess I think it was worth it.

‘Cause walking around with love in your heart
can make the past seem so small.
Turns out having something to smile about
makes you feel like you’ve got it all.
(‘Cause you’ve GOT it all.)


I don’t want to talk about the bad things.
I’ve done that enough; I want something new.
I just want to sing with you forever.
Forever’s not long enough to be with you.

I don’t want to hang around in darkness.
I’ve done that enough, it just won’t do.
I just want to hold your hand forever.
Forever’s not long enough to be with you.

I don’t want to spend my life in quicksand.
I’ve been stuck long enough, I’m breaking through.
I just want to drown in you forever.
Forever’s not long enough to be with you.

Forever’s not long enough to be with you.
Forever’s not long enough to be with you.

Well…it isn’t. What do you want me to say?

Seriously though…on a couple of my albums, I’ve felt the need to do “transitional” tracks as the opening song. (See “Something to Look Forward To,” “Third Act Problems” and “It Could Be Worse.”) They’re meant to be a little taste of what I was doing on the last album, in case you dove right in after hearing the last one, but also indicate that this isn’t going to be quite the same. And that’s sort of what this song is. My last two were released on the same day and are both pretty strong “breakup” albums. So this one starts with a kind of frantic love song.

Like most songs, there’s a little truth mixed in with some lies. Writing anything is just taking the truth and manipulating it until it’s interesting.

and you 
are all 
I want 
and you 
are all.

Hands raised, 
I surrender. 
you bid me enter.

You… (etc.)

I fall at your feet. 
You saw the worst of me 
and found the best in me.

I’ve been in this place before. 
I’m crawling back again. 
I know I’ve seen your face before. 
I know I’ve been your friend. 
Some things never end.

You… (etc.)

Now this one sets the tone for the REST of the album. I was interested in doing songs that seem simple, or are simply constructed, but that have a lot more going on if you listen a little closer. This one’s a good example of that. The lyrics are really just a few sentences long. The music arrangement isn’t too difficult. But there’s a lot of sound happening, and several of those sounds are contrary to the norm, or even to the key.

I’ve had the acoustic part around in one form or another for a very long time. The “chorus” parts are kind of a right-hand-picking warmup I do from time to time. I’ve been addicted to the sound it makes when I do it. So I’ve decided to share it with others. The bass is very simple. The lead guitar is pushed WAY to the back and is very Townshendy in nature… The strings are pretty much playing “One Vision” at one point–though legally distinct! And so on. There’s a lot to dig into on this one.

Lyrically, people are going to think this one is about God. I won’t dissuade you. A song should be important to you for whatever reason it speaks to you.

But that wasn’t what I had in mind at the time.

I’ll give you all my days.
I’ll give you all my days.
Whatever I may say. / Whatever else I say.
(I say a lot.)
I’ll give you all my days.

Took a while to get here, didn’t it?
There’s so much time we missed.
I’ll give you every last second I have left.
I’ll give you every kiss.

I’ll give you all my days. (Etc.)

Who could’ve guessed it?
Who could’ve planned?
But now that’s it happened–at long last–
I think I understand–I see the whole plan, so…

I’ll give you all my days… (Etc.)


I’ll give you all my days. (Etc)

I’ve been kicking this one around since about 2014. I’ve almost included it on a few different albums. I like it, it’s fun. I decided to finally give it a home here because I needed another fun rocker, and this fit the bill. It’s kind of Frank Black/Pixies-ish. Fun to play and sing. And short, even with a nonsense solo. Catchy, too.

And it’s another love song. Truth with lies, again.

We sit here 
finding things to laugh about. 
Friends and family–
all the people we can’t live without. 

Scratching off the numbers 
and missing you. 
Telling all the stories 
and missing you. 

The world outside is quiet. 
No one to ruin our day. 
“Treat everyone as you would want to be…” 
That’s such a you thing to say. 

Measuring reactions 
and missing you. 
Random acts of kindness 
and missing you. 

Tell the person behind me 
that this one’s on me. 
I know I’m not always wrong or right. 
I just see things how I see. 

And all I can see right now 
is that I’m missing you. 
I’ve got all these bits and pieces, 
but I’m missing you.

I’m missing you.

I like writing these song summaries. I hate writing THIS one. I don’t know what to say.

At the very end of 2021, my friend Jon had an accident at home and passed away suddenly. It broke my heart, and the heart of anyone who knew him. He was one of my dad’s best friends for about 60 years. Dad spoke at his celebration of life. I named my cat Jonco after him.

Some words Jon penned were passed around by his family in the days immediately following his death. I thought there was a song in them: “Find things to laugh about. Spend time with family and friends. Don’t let someone ruin your day. Treat people the way you want to be treated. How you react to things that happen in life is much more important than the things that happen. Practice random acts of kindness. Pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant drive-thru. Remember that you’re not always right and they’re not always wrong; people say things from their own perspective.”

After the Celebration of Life had ended, I went home and recorded 99% of this song, as I made it up. I tossed in some references to some stuff Jon’s brother Paul said, and also to a story Dad told of the tradition between him and Jon to exchange Lotto scratchers instead of prayer cards in times of loss. There’s too much space between verses. That’s on purpose. I wanted it to feel like something was missing.

It’s hard to write a tribute to someone you never imagined having to miss. I hope I did okay.

I just want to see you again.
I don’t know how to say that 
in a way that won’t sound like 
I’m in this thing farther 
than you, as I am, 
but I just want to see you again.

I sometimes think I should just call.
I get tired of the texting 
and pressing like on the walls 
where the words you write 
could be for me or for all...
Would you pick up the phone if I call?

I’m afraid that I’ll fall too fast.
I’m afraid of lessons 
I’ve learned from my past.
I’m afraid of the look 
I can imagine on your face.
I’m afraid you don’t want to be chased.

Would you like to meet up for a drink?
It doesn’t matter when
or where, I just think 
I’ll need to hold onto something 
everytime that you blink,
if you’d like to meet up for a drink.

Or would you like to come over sometime?
We could watch British comedies 
and talk about the way that we 
both seem to laugh 
at all the same punchlines,
if you’d like to come over sometime.

I’m afraid I’ve already fallen deep.
But I’m afraid to take the next leap.
So I’m afraid I might miss out 
on what was meant to be.
I’m afraid I might need 
you to be braver than me.

Would you like to show up in my songs?
I can only wait so long 
without coming on too strong 
and recording these words 
that keep coming out wrong, 
if you don’t want to be in my songs.

But I hope that you will sing with me.
What if the song is beautiful? 
What if the song is sweet? 
What if the song’s the song that we 
were both meant to sing?
Would you sing along with me?

A little hopeless Irish love song.

There are a couple of love songs on this album, huh? At least this one’s hopeless. That’s a little more Derek…

Yeah, I don’t know. I’m a wimp. I need the woman to be FAR more forward than I am or else nothing’s ever going to happen. So that’s this.

And I’m aware the tin whistle is somehow a little out of tune. Let’s all die mad about it.

You’re pretty damn weird
and that’s sorta what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
I think about you all the time.
And you’re pretty damn weird,
but that’s sorta what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
You’re really just my kind.

You come in and you leave.
No concept of time.
I miss you when you’re gone,
but when you’re here, it’s fine.

And you’re pretty damn weird,
but that’s sorta what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
I think about you all the time.
And you’re pretty damn weird,
but that’s kinda what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
You’re really just my kind.

I don’t know where you’re going,
but I know I have to stay.
And I know you’re coming home soon,
and everything will be okay.

But you’re pretty damn weird
and that’s sorta what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
I think about you all the time.
And you’re pretty damn weird,
but that’s sorta what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
So you’re really just my kind.

All I want is to be with you…
…to fall asleep resting in your arms.
All I want is to be with you…
…to be at your feet; 
you keep me safe from harm.
All I want is to be with you.

But you’re pretty damn weird
and that’s sorta what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
I think about you all the time.
And you’re pretty damn weird
but that’s sorta what I like.
You’re pretty damn weird.
That sorta makes you mine.

That sorta makes you mine.

Yep. Another love song. More truth…but fewer lies in this one. Some imagination, though. This is how I imagine my cats think of me. Or vice versa, in some parts. Whatever. “You’re pretty damn weird, but you’re really just my kind…” 

The guitar melody is from a love song I wrote for a girl in high school. It didn’t go great at the time. But I still like that chord progression. So now I’ve used it for a relationship that’s going to last.

It started out with wanting you.
It turned into needing you.
Pretty soon I was dreaming of you.
And here you are.
I’d been looking for you.
Started working for you.
Now I simply adore you.
‘Cause here you are.

Welcome home.

Infatuated with you,
I waited for you.
Even prayed over you.
And here you are.
I’d pay any cost for you;
to fall asleep beneath you.
Turns out my heart, it beats for you.
And here you are.

Welcome home.

Before you came, 
I was content to live alone.
Who rescued who?
You rescued me from all I’d known.
So when you see me smile at you,
I hope you know you are
forever home.

Just look at you!
Baby, just look at you!
Sweetheart, just look at you!
Here you are.
Soft but dangerous.
We were strangers, but,
now nothing can end this love.
‘Cause here you are.

Welcome home. 

Before you came, 
I was content to live alone.
Who rescued who?
You rescued me from all I’d known.
So when you see me smile at you,
I hope you know you are
forever home.

Welcome home.
You are my home.

This one is also for my cats. I put the cat songs together. For convenience. This one was written within about 2 weeks of them moving in. We refer to it as “finding a forever-home” when an animal gets adopted. They’re home. I’m theirs forever. That’s all this one’s about.

And y'know what? I really hated that phrase until I adopted these guys. (I still don't like when people spell it "fur-ever home.")

I really could’ve called more.
But maybe so could you.
I was looking for a reason.
But the reason should have been you.

So much for the high road.
It doesn’t mean a lot when someone’s gone.
So much for the high road.
In the end, it’s the journey that lives on.

I really should’ve stopped in.
But I wasn’t sure you were waiting for me.
I really should’ve found out.
I wonder if you’re still waiting for me.

So much for the high road… (etc.)

Being “right” doesn’t matter
when everything ends up feeling wrong.
Being wrong is what sticks with you
even if you were right all along.
I wish I could turn back the time.


So much for the high road… (etc.)

My grandma passed away in July of 2020. It was during the pandemic, but even prior to that, we didn’t see a lot of each other. We lived within driving distance, but it just worked out to be a mostly-holidays relationship. There are a lot of reasons why, but it mostly boils down to, “I should’ve called more.” 

On the other side of that, Grandma had a phone too, and wasn’t exactly blowing up my voicemail either. But, as any of those relationships go, it was really more my responsibility than hers. Saying otherwise is trying to take a non-existent highroad. In the end, I’m shy and quiet. I don’t like the phone, even when I’m talking to someone I love. And it cost me.

So this is about that. But it sounds happier than it is…sometimes that happens.

As you turn to leave here
and travel where you may,
don’t forget we’ll miss you
and we wanted you to stay.
Know that where you’re going,
you do not go alone.
Your sisters there will meet you.
The belles have all gone home.

As this era/journey/moment ends
and a new one begins,
we’ll try to make you proud | it will never be the same | we’ll try to do you right.
Though you disappear,
you’ll always be right here
as long as we’re around | we will speak you name | we will shine your light.

I’ll miss the games and joking 
and car rides into town.
I’ll miss the home and family.
May faith never let us down.

Dust returns to dust again.
That’s the way it has to be.
I will bear your witness
and someone else will bear mine after me.

There’s been a lot of loss in my life over the past year. (Or 20.) For my entire lifetime and a couple generations before, there’s been a family farm in Goobertown, AR inhabited by four sisters. It’s “the house.” Everybody knows where you mean when you say those two words…

Over the years, four became three became two became one… And the last of the sisters passed away in 2022. “The Belles of Goobertown have all gone home,” as my cousin Terry put it.

Stole that line. If this song ever makes any money, I owe you a Coke, Terry.

So this one is about family and how it never really dies as long as you keep being family. And remember. Even when the farm goes to auction–which will be happening right around the time this album is released.

On a happy note, at the time of writing I am awaiting delivery of the piano that sat in the house for my entire lifetime--and longer! As the auction approaches, some of the nicer items are finding homes still within the family, and the piano was offered to me. I wish I'd had it in time to play it on this song.

I said something stupid.
It wasn’t supposed to be stupid.
That’s how stupid things work.
Thought I was being funny 
but you weren’t laughing.
Sometimes stupid jokes hurt.

You only 
hurt the 
ones you love.

I said something thoughtless.
I should’ve thought about it.
I think about it all the time now.
I said something stupid, 
‘cause my mouth was open, 
and that’s just the sound that comes out.

You only 
hurt the 
ones you love.

It’s not that you heard it.
It’s that I said it.
You’ll forgive and forget it.
I won’t forget.
It’s not that you heard it.
It’s that I regret it.
I know you won’t let it 
but it could’ve torn us apart.

I said something stupid.
It wasn’t supposed to be stupid.
And it’s likely to happen again.
I won’t mean it
and I’ll live to regret it.
Heaven knows where or when.

You only 
hurt the 
ones you love.

This one kind of explains itself. Most of them probably do.

I say a lot of stuff thinking I’m being funny and sometimes the person on the receiving end doesn’t agree. Not because they “don’t get it” or because of a difference in taste…but because what I thought was “funny” was personal and ended up being hurtful. I’m working on it. I’ve been working on it forever. It just happens. I think it happens to all of us…but i hate it when it happens to me. I want to make people laugh.

You’ve got to time stuff right. You’ve got to have the right audience. And sometimes you need to play it through in your head and just realize “that’s a shitty thing to say” and shut up. When you slip up, all you can do is hope the other person is forgiving. Thankfully, I’ve been luckier than I haven’t.

Getting right to the fact, 
there’s a problem with the third act.
Too many people are firing a gun.
There’s something funny with the makeup.
The scenery’s all chewed up.
Let’s check-off a few things we haven’t done. 

This could be a great show
if we let a few subplots go.
There’s that whole thing with the funding.
The pocket’s full, but the hand is out.
This could have been perfect
but the fat cats made it worthless.
We lost the plot to the business.
Does anyone remember what it’s about?

Seeing right through the smoke
the cast doesn’t get the jokes.
They don’t know why the audience is laughing at them.
They got used to the same script.
They’ve forgotten why they read for it.
We should take this production back, my friends.

‘Cause this could be a great show
if we let a few darlings go.
There’s that whole thing with the funding.
The pocket’s full, but the hand is out.
This could have been perfect
but the fat cats made it worthless.
We lost the plot to the business.
Does anyone remember what it’s about?
Does anyone know what it’s all about?

To use a simpler metaphor,
America’s a broken door.
No one can get in or out alive.

The title of the album comes from this song. I’m using theatre terminology to talk about the gun-problem in America. Surprise, surprise, I’m anti-gun. Whodathunkit?

I thought it was common knowledge, but I’m finding people don’t seem to have heard of “Chekhov’s Gun.” It’s an old theatre/playwriting thing attributed to Anton Chekhov. Basically, the principle of “Chekhov’s Gun” is, “if there is a gun introduced in the first act, someone must fire it in the third.” America introduced a shitload of guns, they’re all getting fired, and the show’s almost over…

The politicians are actors. The gun manufacturers are the fat-cats. The audience is the American people. The show is the country. I assume you’re smart enough that you don’t need me to keep going. Mix that all up and you’ve got this song. My only real lyrical regret is that I couldn’t find a good way to work in “The Scottish Play.” Sometimes you have to let things go. (I referenced that in “Shit About Shakespeare” on the “Something to Look Forward to” album, anyway.)

I recorded the lead vocal track shortly after a school shooting took place in my beloved St. Louis…and a couple of days later a kid was arrested for trying to take a gun into my old high school.

It’s been a while
since we’ve done business.
It’s been a while.
Y’know I’ve kinda missed this.
When we last spoke,
it felt like a joke;
just waiting for you
to read the punchline.
When last we talked,
I said I’d walk
if you failed to meet 
my demands on time.

So how do we fix this now?
I’m waiting.
I hope you hear me.

‘Cause I’m tired…
I’m tired of fighting you.
I’m tired…
I’m tired of denying you.
I’d like to think
there’s indelible ink;
signed and sealed,
if not delivered.
I’d like to think
there’s fresh water still to drink
and you didn’t break me down to
leave me on this river for good.

So how do we fix this now?
I’m asking.
I hope you hear me.

If you open up the door,
I’m running through for sure.
It’d cost you almost nothing.
It’s always been your move,
but if it’s mine to choose,
I’d like to get back to simply loving you.

So how do we fix this now?
I’m listening.
I hope you hear me.

It’s difficult to know what to say about this one. My closing songs are often the most personal and hard to talk about.

“You and You Alone” isn’t about God. This one is.

This album came at the right time in my life. It's a good summary of what's happened since "Happy Now?" (which I consider the immediate successor to this one, even though "The Derek Brink Acoustic Show" happened in the middle there). It's also maybe a precursor of things to come. Since the time of recording, more stuff has happened. In fact, since the first draft of these notes, some more stuff has happened! Some of it great. Some not so great. All I know is I'm still writing. Maybe you'll get an EP or something later this year. Maybe not. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, I'm very proud of this one. There's a ton of my heart in it. I hope you enjoy hearing it.

-db 11/4/22; 11/14/22; 2/22/23–my departed mother’s 76th birthday

Thank You List:

Dad, Dave, Susan, Valerie, Tessa, Patterson, and Melody.

Bruce Lynn. Brandon and Kaylene Lynn (and their multitudes). Nancy Lynn. The Heacocks. Kim Carpenter. Jim Ousley. Michael Branson. Ethelyn Bruce. Josh Woodard. Colby Knight. Michael Feldman. Marc Schneider. Amanda Bergdorf. Kristen Little. Sara Johnston. Janet Anderson. Becky Outlaw. The Greshamports. Erik Marks. Steven Ford Witaker. Will Shriver. Dan Wilson. “Jules” whose last name I don’t know, and whose first name MIGHT be either Julia or Jen...but either way, she is regularly very nice to me on Twitter.

Everybody I work with. Tenth Life Cat Rescue. Euclid Records. Vintage Vinyl. Planet Score. Other cool record stores.

And of course to my sweet boys, Jonco and McGuire. You guys probably can’t read this because you’re cats, but I hope you know how much you changed my life for the best.

And thanks to anyone who presses “like” on pictures of my cats. And to you for giving these songs a chance, if your name isn’t already listed. Feel free to write it on this page. Or anywhere. Write it in a Taylor Swift cover, if you prefer. I don’t mind.

The cover of this album did not begin as a tribute to Wes Freed, but it definitely ended up there. Rest in peace, Wes.

The cover was hand-drawn using a combination of colored pencil, charcoal, and ink.

If you hear it, I either played, programmed, or sang it. Though there may be some accidental explosions in the background vocals for which I’m not responsible. My neighbors like fireworks. There also may be some meows here and there that I haven’t noticed.

The bass part in “Indelible” is a variation of a part I first played in the 1990s in a song called “The Letter” in my band union jack (yes, it’s supposed to be lowercase). Marc Schneider wrote that song and gave his approval for me to use the bass part in the new one. The songs are otherwise unrelated.

INFLUENCES (incomplete):

The Tragically Hip/Gord Downie, Rufus Wainwright, Paul Westerberg, The Beatles, The Who, Bowie, Aimee Mann, Jason Isbell. Mark Lanegan, Flogging Molly, U2, Queen, Leonard Cohen, DBT, Frank Black & the Catholics, Cheap Trick, Squeeze, Elvis Costello, Lou Reed/VU, James McMurtry, Led Zeppelin...and a dozen more.

Neil Gaiman (times a million), Celeste Ng, Liz Moore, Tatiana DeRosnay, Daphne DuMaurier, Tana French, George Saunders, Nick Hornby, and of course Kurt Vonnegut.

Yesterday, Ghostbusters Afterlife, The Good Place, Community, Star Trek (All of it; even the bad stuff.), The Sandman, Get Back, McCartney 321, WWE & AEW Wrestling, Boy Meets World, Game Grumps, Jacksepticeye, Miss Dixie’s Kitten Rescue, Veronica and the Baby Boo, Andertons, Jim Cornette (for my sins), The Office Ladies, Leighton Night with Brian Wecht, Quick Question with Soren and Daniel, Pod Meets World, Penn’s Sunday School, etc...