The Suffering Stage

by Joseph Huber

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released April 21, 2017

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Joseph Huber Milwaukee, Wisconsin

After 7 years of hard touring and playing banjo with the influential streetgrass group, .357 String Band, Joseph Huber has found an individual voice that covers a vast range of influence. Playing all the instruments, from fiddle to harmonica to banjo to tambourine (and as many as he can at once) he amazes and entertains, but also reveals substance. His songs are lyrical, but he knows a good hook. ... more

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Track Name: Playground/Battlefield
Hard times never quite seem to end,
Running down this road again
Singing "Oh, you don't know the shape I'm in"
As I'm heading outta town.

I'm out here clinging to the breeze again,
Waiting on a second wind,
But the wheels are shakin' and the money's thin
To go another round.

Fall on your knees, kick up your heels,
Sparks flying from a spinning wheel
Either hold to the light or to darkness yield
When your old playground turns a battlefield,
Your old playground turns a battlefield.

Did you hear that new law of the land?:
Every man 'gainst every man.
They say a piece of cold steel in every hand
Will help it settle down.

They'll get that trouble all in your mind,
Fear grows and a heart dies,
Start building walls and drawing lines
Waiting for the trumpet sound.

Fall on your knees, kick up your heels,
Sparks flying from a spinning wheel
Either hold to the light, or to darkness yield
When your old playground turns a battlefield,
Your old playground turns a battlefield.

Ain't no matter where, in every case
You find the workingest folks in the torndownest place,
Where the layers of a lie are peeled.
Well, you take a drink and take one too,
Wouldn't it be fine to think it true that
We ain't just players for the well-heeled,
And that their playground ain't your battlefield,
That your own hometown ain't a battlefield.

Ain't it all just a game,
A few lost and a few gained,
Dollars/lives, well, it's all the same
When you're so far off the ground.
While back here down on the earth,
Hands ache and feet hurt,
One takes the pain and one takes the perks
And dares to double-down.
Track Name: Sons Of The Wandering
Sorry friend, but I've got no answers for you.
Truth is I've never been sure about a thing,
But it seems this turning world can tempt you
Only to leave you with the same blue,
And a jeweled crown soon found a hollow ring.
And these hawks flying so high above the highway
Are suggesting higher courses for you and me,
But on their feathers dries the fair share
Of others blood it takes to get there,
So far beyond a distance we can see.

And as the center slowly breaks
They'll split the dice that heaven shakes
Into those who make and those who take;
Into those who lie, and those who'll pay for the sin.
And from a head without an ear, new rank and file appear;
Strange new pioneers; the sons of the wandering.

Well, the boys down at 139 are looking to deliver,
While the governor's out 'divide and conquering,'
One more arrow in the quiver to make a working man just shiver,
And leave a nation on the sidelines wondering,

"What's a soul left to do
When one or two with silver spoons, and a million gilded rooms
Point the finger at a million hanging on a string?"
Leading all their lives in flight; cloud by day and fire by night,
Won't you leave a light for the sons of the wandering?

The more money in the race, the more the mask becomes the face,
And truth can't hold pace with thundering,
But, me, I've long laid my claim where silence strikes a note of pain,
Here out in the rain with sons of the wandering.
The years have made my place singing to heal a dying race
And friend, how a well-worn spirit sings;
While the derby women sing hymns to lords of everything,
Me, I'll sing to the sons of the wandering.
I'll sing the songs of the sons of the wandering.
Track Name: Diminished Things
Running down the North Central Plains,
Shaky hands holding the reins,
Sunlight's implied, but dark solely remains,
Me, I'm headed south.

Blue and black stitch sky and sand,
Windswept heart in a windswept land,
Where the wheel's the only one to take my hand,
And carry me around
Holding all of that lonely down.

I got a letter from a friend,
It said I never let no one in,
Like a heart with a veteran sentry guarding it,
No, it never makes a sound
Holding all of that lonely down.

Well, I'll be alright I swear,
Just sometimes seems a lot to bear,
What, with all this rolling 'round
Holding all of that lonely down.

Strangers in a foreign land
Couldn't care, much less understand,
They just pass like grotesque masks in a second-hand.
Me, I keep my eyes to the ground.

I met a girl down in Hot Springs.
I said, "I don't do that kinda thing."
She said, "boy, don't confuse a friend with a fling.
We're both just new in town
Holding all that lonely down."

You'll be alright. Take care,
And hide it in a song to share.
Tomorrow's another town
Holding all that lonely down.

You can cry out if you want to;
You can make the midnight ring
From the hollows that haunt you,
You can find 'most anything,
Like the right words to sing
Under cold, diminished things
That feed on your heart
While your voice cuts through the dark
Letting all know that bound
Silence ain't the only sound
Of holding all of that lonely down.
Track Name: The Suffering Stage
The suffering stage
Oh, its a lonely play.
The scene is this beat-up, shut-down world,
And every soul's the main.
Every seat in the house is a vacant space,
But she's a whirlwind backstage
In your aching brain,
So in silence rage on the suffering stage.

On the suffering stage
All the leads takes their place,
Pain like a spotlight shines
And blinds you in and frames your cage.
The front doors are locked;
The whole house is dark,
And there's always plenty of space to park,
And the marquee lights display
Just reads, "Look the other way" from the suffering stage.

Well, all you needed was a hand to hold
Or an ear just to hear your cry,
But everywhere that you turn
Everybody's busy learning their own damn lines.
Like a man ain't nothing more than just a penny in the tray,
Take one or leave one, boy, you don't you know another will just
Take it's place among the fray
Who've all come of age on the suffering stage.

Some folks make their own plate,
Shape their own fate, hell, it worked out great.
While other folks under the yoke of a bad hand slave to their final page;
Some men with full pockets will sit around and comfortably gauge,
How there's nothing quite less flattering than a poor man's rage,
While the desperate cries rising from human stockades
Just yield cold-shoulder cries that stamp "It's too damn late"
On the face of a nation now covered in flies,
And a rooster crows, and a gambler lies,
And innocence suffers, and little children die,
With no one left to blame, no, hell, not even in the sky,
But what for whatever's grace, it could just as well be you or I
Right there in that helpless place, but just turn your face
And say, plain as the day, "What a shame, but better them than I,"
And a rooster crows and a gambler lies,
And innocence suffers and little children die
Upon the stage; Right there upon the stage
With little or no outrage, for 'death is the wage,' they say,
Here on the suffering stage.

The lights are all off now, but the dreams and the pain, they still remain;
Seeking one moment's triumph in ten thousand foolish and fruitless ways,
As if one grape was somehow found to be worth a field
Of naked barren branches all withered without yield
and in that solitary taste, hope to smile and pass away
Lest your heart falls prey and gets one more chance to say,
"One more day....oh, just one more day, Lord, here on the suffering stage."
Track Name: 16-10
Honey, we've been pushing, but no amount of time
Of this breaking even will win us a dime.
I'm always gambling, you're trying to deal
With my running tables and spinning wheels.

I don't wanna split this here queen and king
Trying to convince you of my side of things,
Well, the only losing, there ain't no doubt,
Is quitting early, or running out.

I see the world in black and red
And I dare to double down on things I've said,
I never surrender, but, honey, that was then.
Now, I'm holding 16, and you're showing 10.

Well, just like any good winning streak,
I played one too many, and I got beat,
Them cards were shufflin' just for me,
Now I'm left shufflin' all though the street.

I see the world in black and red
And I dare to double down on things I've said,
I never surrender, but, honey, that was then.
Now, I'm holding 16, and you're showing 10.

Now, I know the best way to lose a hand
On a betting table, or with a wedding band.
Know when to strike boy, know when to stand
Or you'll end a busted and broken man.

I see the world in black and red
And I dare to double down on things I've said,
I never surrender, but, honey, that was then.
Now, I'm holding 16, and you're showing 10.
Track Name: You Showed Me
Now your clothes they all lie scattered all around your floor.
Even then you never could pretend, your eyes, they gave the score.
What wonders waiting beneath those sheets
Wonders I had never seen...

'Til you showed me
Everything I asked for, and what you wanted me to see
And when I couldn't quite take that leap
Honey, you showed me.

No matter the time of night or day, you would darken my door
Looking like a house on fire in the middle of a downpour.
And I'd breathe that sweet relief
Looking straight for what's underneath

And you showed me
What I thought was something more, not just getting what you need.
And when I said, "You can never leave",
Honey, you showed me.

Oh, how many times I've seen you walk out that same door,
Somehow this time it just means a little more to me.

You showed me
Just when I thought I'd seen you be about as cruel as you could be
To a lonely man like me,
You let the curtain fall down on a dream
When you showed me.
Track Name: Sea Of Night
We both screamed our piece 'til we went blind,
And said more than we can stand behind
The things we meant; or the words in our heads;
None of them matter, just the one's that we said.

The sun tried to give us the time to solve it all,
But his eyes got too tired before too long
And bid's us goodbye,
Holding it's breath as it dives under the water for the night.

In that sea of night
Drifting out farther from the light
On a sea of night
Waves crashing harder,
Now it's getting harder and harder to fight.

I said that I love you more than anything,
But only the harshest words are sinking in,
A vessel unmanned; a dove let from your hand
Out over the water found no place to land.

In that sea of night
Drifting out farther from the light
On a sea of night
Waves crashing harder,
Now it's getting harder and harder to fight.

I still remember the first time that I left your shore,
No, it didn't work before, now I don't want to leave no more...
It's so easy to lose your sight...

In that sea of night
Drifting out farther from the light
On a sea of night
Waves crashing harder,
Now it's getting harder and harder to fight.
Track Name: Souls Without Maps
Tall corn, gravel road,
Stained glass on the window,
Wrapped in the ragged soul of an old gentle hymn;
Making deals with the clouds;
Dreaming of those final hours
When the thunder proudly bows to all whispering things.

But old ways how they fly
Like the earth from a tired eye;
Born again in a new life of flickering whims.
We met at those crossroads
Where losing's the only way to go,
You looked at me as if to say,
"Won't you show me another way, and..."

Take me to your hiding place,
Just a soul without a map that got lost 'long the way.
Worlds carved in stone, now somehow erased,
Souls without maps yet bound to fly away.

We kissed in the falling leaves;
Sang old time melodies;
Danced as our shifting feet turned stumbling.
We built our towers tall
Near a sea of shared tears fallen
And cursed the waves that eat the walls ever crumbling.

Tell me, can our lonely tears
Find their way through fixed years,
On into the circling spheres so far above us.
Honey, are you the one to fall
Together with me through it all?,
I'm waiting for you to say
That you're the one that can light my way, and...

Take me to your hiding place,
Just a soul without a map that got lost 'long the way.
Worlds carved in stone, now somehow erased,
Souls without maps yet bound to fly away.

Stones in the river thrown
Shimmering, sinking alone
Won't know how far flows their rippling rings,
So the words of a man grow
Washing over every soul
Though his bones will never know of the light it brings.
Track Name: *A Little Bit Like Walking Away (Bonus Track)
I wish they made a trash can big enough to fit today in,
I just went and said one of those damn things that I say
That she said I can go to right to hell for saying,
I stopped myself short of saying we both could use a vacation,
Seeing how it is we can't even barely afford
This little old run down house where we've been staying.

Well you asked me where we stood, what I was thinking,
Where do we go from here, honey, are we even okay?
Well, there's something bout staring right at a mountain
That leaves a man with not much to say,

She said you call that love, hell, I'll call a grave a nice bit of shade,
It looks a little bit more like walking away.
You always walk just a little ahead of me, I know your legs are longer;
A little stronger, but I can't help but think anyway,
It looks a little bit more like walking away.

I didn't dare look at the letters I got in the mail today,
I just threw 'em over on that growing stack of unopened bills
That I ain't got no way to pay.
She said, "How the hell can two grown people
Go on any longer living this way?"
I said, "I don't know how we do it,
But I'll be sure to look into it and get back to you right away,

And when I get to the bottom of it, maybe there I'll stay.
Don't that sound a little bit like walking away.
Sometimes you pay outta your pocket, sometimes you pay outta heart,
One's just cold, but the other one's just a little too hard for me to do today.
I feel a little bit more like walking away.

In the end don't worry babe, it just one of those days
Of what I need to do, but you know I'm always right here with you to stay.
Sometimes it feels just a little bit like walking away.