Between Light and Dark

by Penelope Swales

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1.
Doin’ the Right Thing © Penelope Swales 1993 Chorus: Well my life feels like a necklace breakin’ My days are slipping away like beads off a string Ohh-hoa, my mind’s eye, can’t see for the smoke o’ my bridges burnin’ Hope I’m doing the right thing, Yeah, well My friend said to me – oh, you’re so young! You’re just a baby. Your life has just begun Well maybe I was taking big steps at an age when she was just taking little ones, But sometime I’ve gotta wonder what I’ve done. Ho--ho Chorus The girls I went to school with, they’ll all be secretaries Or maybe at university, or unemployed, or married But if you ask me what the date is, the chance is I don’t know But when I lift my head I’m amazed at how fast the weeks go, ho-o-a-hoa, Chorus Yeah, I hope I’m doing the right thing Hope I’m doing the right thing Hope I’m doing the right thing Hope I’m doing the right thing Ooh – hoo… Chorus Oh, my friend said to me – you know it never goes away This old age barrier. I still get the same today She said I’m 35, 40 doesn’t even know that I’m alive And my days are drowned in a routine and I hope I’m doing the right thing, she said Chorus My life – ugh! Haa….. My mind’s eye can’t see for the smoke of my bridges burning under me Hope I’m doing the right thing Yeah, well my love, says all he wants is peace and tranquillity But you know he’ll never reach the end of the road, no Not while he’s travelling with me In my life.
2.
Mother Song 03:42
Come now, let us not be starry-eyed! If we look around us, we cannot pretend That mankind has never set its foot here But still – it is so beautiful There is peace and tranquility here Even with the ravages that we have made In this state forest, in this urban park, On this wind-swept beach, in this inner-city backyard Look how tolerant your mother is Look how far she can be pushed and yet provide See how well she covers her scars See how she hides her cancers and ulcers Look Child! Look and understand Because on her we all depend for our survival. I look at her back and her side as she bends I look at her and I cannot pretend That her man has never set his foot here But still, she is so beautiful There is love and acceptance here Even with the ravages that he has made In the doctor’s waiting room , in the supermarket shelves In the principal’s office, in her secret self Look how tolerant your mother is Look how far she can be pushed and yet provide See how well she covers her scars See how she hides her cancers and ulcers Look Child! Look and understand Because on her you will depend for your survival. For 10 years, the warning has been imminent The roof is dissolving over our heads It’s all been affected, it’s all going wrong And it will affect you before too much longer There’s nowhere to go there nowhere you can hide From the depths of the ocean to the deep blue sky It’s more than just poison, it’s more than just heat The ground is strangling under our feet But there’s still time to make ends meet Even with the ravages that we have made In this eroded pasture, in this urban sprawl In this beach-front sewer, in this inner-city backyard In this logged-out forest, in this choked city air In this sterile carpark, in your TV chair I beg of you Look how tolerant your mother is But how much further can we push and yet survive? See how well she covers her scars But we’re the ones, we’re the cancers, the ulcers Look Child! Look and understand Because on her we all depend for our survival.
3.
Lost and Found © Penelope Swales 1993 I must admit in hindsight that you took me by surprise I never thought I’d like you so much so fast And through the braids and makeup, heavy lids that hide your eyes I caught a glimpse of that old horror in your past In your past. I met you on the breadline, you were feeling pretty down Fighting off the deadline, I was new in town I made sure in the daytime that we ate and got around And in the night you took me to the lost and found The lost and found I find these places garish, there was a name band on the door Half the crowd were flying, the rest were out to score I was cool to be there so I allowed myself the time Ah, but you were in your element, hanging out, Hanging out to find a line. And hey, my little cocaine queen Where are you now? Did word that you were homeless get around? Did you take the last step backwards To the hammer-beaten track? Did you fly so high you’re never coming back? You seemed to be a regular, they all knew your face I’m not the sort of person that they’re used to in this place In your eyes, it’s a wonderland and you sure get around But to me it just looks like the lost and found The lost and found. Morning finds us sleeping till the afternoons is sweet Evening finds me singing for our supper in the street Nighttime finds us waiting for our chance to hang around In the early hours in the lost and found The lost and found. And although you didn’t seem to mind being accosted every day I could have spend all my time trying to keep the vultures at bay My protective and possessiveness was just my heart trying to say That I think I fell in love with you In a funny kind of way And hey, my little cocaine queen Where are you now? Did word that you were homeless get around? Did you take the last step backwards To the hammer-beaten track? Did you fall so low you’re never coming back? They said you looked just like a junkie in your leather and your black I felt just like a bodyguard trying to keep them off your back We did well surviving, as a team we had the knack Oh, yes, but one night in the Cross I turned around And found that I’d lost track Of you, I’d lost track Well it tried so hard to find you, but I couldn’t hang around You can stay here only so long before your senses start to drown But if come the weekend I’m still living in this town I’ll be looking for you in the lost and found The lost and found. And hey, my little cocaine queen Where are you now? Did word that you were homeless get around? Did you take the last step backwards To the hammer-beaten track? Did you go so far you’re never coming back Hey hey, my little cocaine queen Where are you now? Did word that you were homeless get around? If come the weekend I’m still living in this town I’ll be looking for you in the lost and found The lost and found.
4.
Promises 05:02
Promises © Penelope Swales 1993 What does it say When there’s cobwebs on my worktable? And if I ask you for a reason, can you blame me? Send out a lifeline, but don’t take to long Coz while I’m hanging on, there’s still time But I’m tired, so tired and the longer that you leave it The weaker I get, I’m not asking for a guarantee I just wanna know, that you’ll try to reassure me But I’ve got to the stage Where I don’t take too much notice what you say And if you’re leaving, or if you wanna stay I know you’ll get over it either way So don’t sing me a story of your promises Ah, promise me you’ll make me no more promises Coz just right now, I don’t have much faith in promises But never made, never broken Your story always changes But it always stays the same And oscillation is the only certainty Uncertainty the only rules of the game So run me off a list of all you promises Add just one more, that you’ll make me no more promises Coz just right now I don’t have much faith in promises But never made, never broken So don’t sing me a story of your promises I promise you, I’ll make you no more promises But don’t worry, oh, just coz I don’t believe in promises I might not stay, but I might not be going Never made, never broken Never made, never made, never made, never made Never made, never made, never made, never made
5.
Legacy 03:34
Legacy (1991 version) © Penelope Swales 1991 I wake into the morning, I find no joy in waking Coz with waking comes remembrance With remembrance, recognition Recognition, comprehension Comprehension, obligation in the frailness of the morning To find the strength to shift a nation, Ohh And what will be my legacy? One of the luckiest people in the world Young and free, young and healthy, Young and wealthy, young and white Our poorest are still among the affluent Running water, food and shelter Can be yours without a fight Living in the Lucky Country By some strange twist of fate The suffering of millions Is too big to get a grip on If defies all explanation It’s beyond our comprehension But I reflect on my mortality Reflect on its finality I have it on authority That my own death is a certainty, And What will have been my legacy? One of the few with the time to change the world Young and free, young and healthy, Young and wealthy, young and white Our poorest are still among the affluent While our brothers and our sisters shiver huddled in their tents Drinking water tainted with their excrement So I went into the street Yes we were voting with our feet Surprised to see how quickly It cost us all our respectability Being rough-housed by policemen Give you some indication Just a little comprehension Of life beneath oppression, and People on their lunchbreak say “What those wierdos bitching ‘bout today?” And the ask me “Just what do you think you’re doing with your life? You should straighten up and realise your potential Young and free, young and healthy, Young and wealthy, young and white You should be thinking of your future, my girl!” The machinery of nations Offers up no explanations About why its machinations Must be oiled with exploitation While politicians ramble, Words like security, economy Equality, leave it to me Stay meshed in your complacency, and What will have been our legacy? Riding bloated on the back of the great pacific bully While the Penan, Irian Jayan, Bouganvillian, Timorese Have their homes and lands destroyed to feed our factories Lose their culture, lose their courage And are beaten to their knees Silenced by fear for their families Young and healthy, young and wealthy, Young and free and young and white Our poorest are still among the affluent Running water, food and shelter Can be yours without a fight Living in the Lucky Country By some strange twist of fate While Palestinians, Panamanians South Africans, Burmese And out own home-grown oppressed, The Aborigines And the refugees of Kurdistan Lie huddled in their tents Drinking water tainted with our excrement
6.
Seacargo 03:35
Seacargo © Penelope Swales 1993 Driving through the early grey and grimy city streets Loving you with loving on my conscience Down through the dockyards, Through the mist and the anonymous cars With all these contradictions Dangling in the air Like my ratty hair hangs wet around my shoulders Like the tatters of my good intentions Ohhh When he let down his defences I didn’t trust my senses But still my craving drew me in When I dared to recognise The same compulsion in his eyes Was tightening the drawstring Well, I knew what light you’d see it in But how bloody stupid would you feel If you know the deal To have the chance and let it slip away? Ahhh Oh, Seacargo, won’t you take me with you when you go? Just one small container load – Ohh Don’t tell me you can lay the blame On who should hang their head in shame, And say my right to choose can’t be defended I know that you did your best Yeah, you know that I did the rest And stayed on when staying should have ended But how bloody stupid would you feel If you know the deal To have the chance and let it slip away? Ahhh Oh and anyway, makes no difference what you say Coz there’s no chance I could have stayed away So I’m driving through the early grey and grimy city streets Loving you with loving on my conscience Down through the dockyards, Through the mist and the anonymous cars With all these contradictions Dangling in the air Like my ratty hair hangs wet around my shoulders Like the tatters of my good intentions, ohhh Oh, Seacargo, won’t you take me with you when you go? Just one small container load – Ohh
7.
Black Carrie 07:41
Black Carrie © Penelope Swales 1993 When I first met Black Carrie I met her in passing, here and there And one day she turned and spoke to me With words that cut the air Her clothing was silk and purple And bought at a market stall And she sparkled at me darkly Small and ample Her eyes were black and bright Like a swallow Ohh… She said to me “I mourn every day Everywhere I go, in every way Everything I see speaks to me Of struggling and dying, silently And I mourn for the trees and for the sky I mourn for remnant grasslands and oceans wide I mourn because I fear I won’t survive And I mourn because I love my life I go along to these demonstrations Where the issue is frustrated and is lost By revolution-heads with chips on their shoulders And media vultures Too busy counting confrontation to count the cost And I mourn for the potential of the cause To reunite us and set us back on course I mourn for all of those who might have joined us If only they hadn’t thought That protesting was violent When I’m alone I hear the earth crying I hear it in my belly, deep and sore And that’s why I’ll avoid going up country sometimes Coz every time I go I hear it more And the cacophony of buses and of streets Deafens my ears to the keening and the pleas My senses are dulled by subtle poisons, In the subway, I’m not aware that I’m underground Coz there is no ground to see And every weed speaks out its life to me Every seagull’s sacred and profane Each Styrofoam container a blasphemy And sparrows, although feral, remind me That sparrows are And sparrows are not to blame for what they are And we’re like sparrows But sparrows are not to blame for what we are And I know that hope is crucial But hope sometimes deals me a strange hand So I must find this first rally in myself Make this first most fundamental stand So I smile for the springtime and the light Smile for the sunshine stirring life I try not to think too closely of the strife that’s pending And I smile because I love my life Mourn for the trees mourn for the sky I mourn before the onslaught of poisonous sunlight I mourn because this is the springtime of my life And coz so much has already died And I mourn because I love my life” Black Carrie Black Carrie loves her life And I love Black Carrie Oh, coz Black Carrie loves her life Fight for the trees, fight for the sky Fight for remnant grasslands and oceans wide Fight coz if you don’t, we won’t survive Fight, fight if you love Your life, fight if you love Your life.
8.
Corporation Lane © Penelope Swales 1993 Slippin’ through the shadows Straight down Corporation Lane I’m a-lookin’ for a job I’m tryin’ to find a way in I can get out of again Trying not to be lost forever in the mob Gotta get on my feet again I’m past caring But I know there’ll be a time when I’ll be daring To start out on my own again I’m tired, now it’s hard, But I can’t turn back now that I’ve come this far Now that I’ve come this far Hidin’ from the horror In the streets and in my mind Knowing things will never be the same Fighting off the emptiness your passing left behind I was fighting to track him down before it came Just to have warm arms to fall into Just to have warm life to cling to While the wave broke, while I wrangled With my grief and my despair Just to have somebody there, So not to be alone Hideously alone With the knowledge Of your passing and your pain What a time to have him let me down again I was cryin’ for him Coz you were gone Cryin’ I need help to carry on I was crying sore The death of a friend I’m crying or Was it the death of a friendship? I’m not sure Which I was crying for Which one I was crying for more Could I ever be content In Corporation Lane? Could I ever fit into the mould? I’m practising my special art of staying insane And I’m tryin’ to suss is out Before I get too old Gotta get on my feet again I’m past caring But I know there’ll be a time when I’ll be daring To start out on my own again I’m confused now, It’s unclear How could I be so far, When I thought I was so near? I thought I was so near Too tired to think straight About Corporation Lane Too tired to think straight About Corporation Lane Too tired to think straight About Corporation, Corporation, Corporation Lane------.
9.
Said So 04:49
Said So © Penelope Swales 1993 Underneath me I can feel The turning of the wheels In front of me these fields Open up to my eyes Inside my head I hear the words I never should have heard It all seems so absurd But it comes as no surprise He said – it’s best for you Can’t I decide that too? I don’t care if it’s true But y’know, y’know, he said so Y’know, y’know, he said so I guess it’s time for me to make a break You’re making a mistake But I’ll do what it takes I’m allowed no backward glance He’s given up the one who cares For the one who isn’t there Coz he won’t dare to take this simple chance Ohh – won’t you hold me Please don’t scold me If anyone else had told me I wouldn’t believe it but you said so And oh, because you said so I’ll go – oh-ho, goodbye! Oh, I never would have tried If you Hadn’t asked me to Coz right deep down inside I’ve always known it wasn’t right Ohhh----- Underneath me I did feel The capsizing of the keel The crashing of my wheels My ship of dreams and dread Hanging from my seatbelt, Hit the deck I nearly broke my neck And looking at the wreck I later wished that I’d been dead All washed around me Let nothing else astound me And when the police found me I only moved because they said so Mutely coz they said so Ah----- And still some nights, my dreams Are bursting at the seams With echoes of my screams And all the voices that said so All the voices said so I hate the fact that you still cross my mind Wish I could leave behind But one thing I did find, There’s no refuge in miles Be you near or be you far No matter where you are I still bear the scars Though I hide them well with smiles And suddenly I’m home And you’re talking on the phone I say, I’d rather be alone And you know, because I said so You know, because I said so You know, because I said so
10.
Letters to the Dead © 1993 Penelope Swales I sit here swimming in a sea of smoke I’m burnin’ candles, burnin’ incense I’m igniting my memories I’m looking at a lock of your hair hanging on the wall Death from a distance Is such a strange thing You always were a strange man Holding you was like hugging a hurricane I could have been sunburned by your smile Frostbitten by your eyes I’m writing letters to the dead And you would argue At the drop of a hat Argue ‘bout anything This way or that Yeah, argue with anyone Even with me The times I tried to avoid that But you’d always find a way And you’d go to bed At the drop of a hat On one condition, That no-one loved you and that was flat Oh, yeah almost with anyone Even with me At the time I had to avoid that I had other commitments, But now I wish I’d found a way And now I’m staring at a lock of that glorious mane I’m singin’ to your smile I’m holdin’ congress with the dead And now I’m staring at a lock of that glorious mane I’m singin’ to your smile I’m jammin’ solo with the dead Death from a distance Is such a strange thing You always were a strange man Your acquaintance with that side of things Made me feel naïve and I didn’t like that, now I’m Burnin’ candles, burnin’ incense, burnin’ other things Partaking with the dead (Burnin’ bridges, burning wildfire) I’m building a pyre of all of my memories (In the crematorium’s flames) I remember sharing Your first taste for a couple of years with you (Oooh…) And I remember thinking at the time That it wasn’t such a good move (You’re such an all-or-nothing character) I’m writin’ letters to the dead (Sunburned by your smile, frostbitten by your eyes) I’m holdin’ congress with the dead (Staring at a lock of that glorious mane, I’m singin’ to your smile) I’m burnin’ letters to the dead.
11.
Strange Hands © Penelope Swales 1993 Don’t take me on your journey If you’re not gonna travel If you’re only taking a day-trip If you’re not gonna unravel Oh, the mystery Of what is you and what is me Don’t let me feel it If you’re gonna take it back Coz I don’t wanna move in circles on Yet another lover’s well-worn track You gotta let those strange hands touch you Ohh, you gotta let them break the concrete away And they take you from your casing All soft and pink and new Oh, you gotta let those strange hands run all over you You’re not alive if the sensation’s not unbearable And you say you wanna stay But a window isn’t good enough You’d have to break free Of the prison of your play You want to visit, but you can’t live there Has it crossed your mind that you’re being unfair? You want to pretend that it’s all flowing through you And then go back to your complacency And you want me to go back there, too And you want me to go back there, too And though you seem to think That everything is as it should Somewhere here, one of us Has been misunderstood You gotta let those strange hands touch you Ohh, you gotta let them break the concrete away As they take you from your casing All soft and pink and new Oh, won’t you let these strange hands run all over you? You’re not alive if the sensation’s not unbearable And you know I wanna stay But a window isn’t good enough You’d have to break free Of the prison of your play And y’know, I can’t go through it again I’m not prepared to pay let’s pretend And I know it seems like the easy way out But my dial is on another setting And we both know how that came about And maybe I’m the poorer Maybe you’re right now, Maybe I’m the poorer For not taking what I can But don’t you see, I’m livin’ On the other side of deadpan Coz I let those strange hands touch me Ohh, and the concrete’s slowly breaking away As I stand here in my nakedness All soft and pink and new Oh, won’t you let your strange hands run all over me I know I’m alive coz the sensation’s almost unbearable And you say you wanna stay But a window isn’t good enough You’d have to break free Of the prison of your play You gotta let those strange hands touch you Ohh, You gotta let those strange hands touch you
12.
Footprints in your Flesh © Penelope Swales 1993 Wurunjeri people Do you hear me callin’? Do you hear me talkin’? Can you feel me walkin’? In this land This land is your land My feet are on foreign soil and I feel it In my bones and on my pale, pale skin Wurundjeri people Can you hear me talkin’? Can you feel me walkin’? Do my footprints leave their imprint on your flesh? Is that your breath I can feel on my skin? Or is it just the wind? But isn’t that the same thing I’m standing In the valley Beside the river And arcing above me is the aching sky Before me I can see the city See its towers rising from its maze See it nestled in the haze Of Melbourne’s temperature inversion days Koori I can see the city Spread out before me But what I see Is not what I find in my memory Koori, Please believe me Many gentle people of my race have died In this mad, mad scramble for empires Sumerian, Acadian Babylonian, Median Chaldean, Darien Alexandrian Ptolemaic, Roman Byzantine Sassanid, Charlemagne Holy Roman, Napoleonic And now, ladies and gentlemen of Gondwanaland Ladies and gentlemen of the great Southern land We proudly present In conjunction with the East India Company Will you welcome please The British Empire! Rule Britannia, Britannia rule the waves Britons never, never, never Will be slaves…. Wurundjeri people Do you hear me callin’? Do you feel me walkin’? Do my footprints leave their imprint on your flesh?
13.
Back to Me 05:21
Back to Me  1992 Penelope Swales Word got back to me Gives me some indication of what you thought of my request Well, It got me thinkin’ Find it’s much what I expected though always hoping for the best This suite of songs This spate of songs dedicated to one I love Well, they’ve got me thinkin’ Hasn’t done me too much good Maybe I should dedicate one to myself This song is dedicated to my capacity to survive This song is dedicated to my love of being alive It’s dedicated to other hearts like mine I know there’s other hearts like mine And other hearts like thine Passion is a curse You may fly higher but you fall lower And noone ever knows what you’re talking about Satisfaction Satisfaction will flee before you just like leaves before the wind Gratification – whoo! Forget it! You may scream and cry and shout And they’ll never know what you’re talking about Compensation Learn the read the signs and take in stride and take some pride and learn to shout This song is dedicated to my capacity to survive This song is dedicated to my love of being alive It’s dedicated to other hearts like mine I know there’s other hearts like mine Lovin’ other hearts like thine Word got back to me Somethin’ someone said about somethin’ that you had somethin’ to say about People question me Wanting simple answers watin to betold just what to think about it Some of themtesting me, teasing me What’s this I hear ‘bout da-de-da-de-da-de-da-de-da-da-da” Whoa – the complexity Is beyond a loving heart so why should I pander to that spite This process is frustrating, but I have the capacity to survive This pain is compensated by my love of being alive It’s compensated by other hearts like mine By having the love of other heart like mine So, if word gets back to you If you feel you’re implicated in any of the songs I write Well – no, it isn’t true On this occasion, something else was on my mind This song is dedicated to my capacity to survive This song is dedicated to my love of being alive It’s dedicated to other hearts like mine And if you’ve got a heart like mine This song is dedicated to your capacity to survive This song is dedicated to your love of being alive It’s dedicated to other hearts like mine I’m dedicated to other hearts like mine

about

Originally released independently, Between Light and Dark was one of the first independent albums in Australia to be released on the new CD format. Later re-released by Black Market Music.

credits

released September 11, 1993

Tracks 5,6,8 & 12 recorded by Dynamic Recorders at Radio 3CR, Melbourne.
Engineered by Trish Anderson
Produced by Penelope Swales

All other tracks recorded by Rabbit Recording
Engineered by Robert Russell
Produced by Penelope Swales
Rhythm tracks for no's 1,2,13 recorded at the Brunswick Mechanics Institute.

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Penelope Swales Emerald, Australia

Penelope Swales has been articulating the human condition with passion and humour for 30+ years. She sings about politics, love, friendship, the unbreakable bond between us and dogs and the impact of the Internet on society. She won the 2019 Alistair Hulett Songs for Social Justice Award with “Cambridge Analytica”. “The Ides of March in Christchurch" was short-listed for the same award in 2020. ... more

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