Skin: Deep

by Penelope Swales

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1.
Getting Back On © Penelope Swales There comes a time And maybe that time is always now Where you have to follow your own heart and your own path And just stop worrying ‘bout how It’s gonna look to the people ‘round Coz if you know Then you know what you need to do It doesn’t matter two cents if it doesn’t make sense To the majority of the people around you But I know that if I’m serious I gotta learn to walk the walk Most of my life I’ve had it easy I’ve had my fun, I’ve laid down the law It’s all very well to strut your theories But in the end you gotta get on that horse Like anyone else I have my fears And it’s like anyone else I tumble off But I’m getting back on There is a point Where most people, even brave ones, will turn back And anyone you meet out past that point deserves your respect For just being on the track There’s a frontier That you won’t find on any chart No the dragons drawn there writhe and spawn In the domestic cartographers nervous heart But I know that if I’m serious I gotta learn to walk the walk Most of my life I’ve had it easy I’ve had my fun, I’ve laid down the law It’s all very well to strut your theories But in the end you gotta get on that horse Like anyone else I have my fears And it’s like anyone else I tumble off But I’m getting back on Coz there is a place Beyond the badlands and the wilderness of doubt A high point where you look back on your journey Shake your head and wonder how You made it through The point is, you made it through And stand or fall or win or lose There’s none that can take that away from you And if you think I’m intrepid Well, I can only say that I do my best I’ve had my failures, I’ve had successes I’ve hurled my curses, but I’ve been blessed In the end if you want adventure You take the risk and accept the cost Coz if you’re gonna head into unknown territory You might get found, or you might be lost But you’re taking the chance You’re taking the chance Coz when you’re lying there on your deathbed Well this is the question That’s waiting for you Do you regret more The things you did, or The things that you didn’t do? But I know that if I’m serious I gotta learn to walk the walk Most of my life I’ve had it so easy I’ve had my fun, I’ve laid down the law It’s all very well to strut your theories But in the end you gotta get on that horse And anyone else might think I’m delirious And anyone else might think I’m wrong But I’m getting back on I’m getting back on La-da-da……
2.
Sweet Thing 02:47
Sweet Thing © Penelope Swales Hey sweet thing When you walk in the room Boys and girls, all alike They take a number and the get in line You walk in And a ripple goes round the room Suddenly everybody’s contemplating Having a mmm – much better time And I say – Oh, darling, use your powers for good? I do hope you will choose to use your talents For the benefit of the wider community Please, darling – use your power for good! Spread it round, now, don’t be shy Don’t let your golden age pass you by Sweet thing Now, don’t you waste your time The sooner the others get their turn Mmm – the sooner I might get mine Pace yourself! Don’t you wear it out I need there to be something left When it’s my turn to shout And I say – Oh, darling, use your powers for good? Don’t use them for evil, use them for good I do hope you will choose to use your talents For the benefit of the wider community Coz you never know That might include me Ah, now what makes it work Is that you’re so pure of heart Humbleness is a very endearing quality In a tart So please don’t get conceited Coz that’s not where it’s at You wouldn’t be half as sexy If you turned into a prat And I say – Oh, darling, use your powers for good I do hope you will choose to use your talents For the benefit of the wider community Please, darling – use your power for good! I just wanna sing your praise And watch that shy grin on your face And urge you darlin’ Urge you darlin Use your powers for good--------
3.
Distract me from the memory © Penelope Swales 2007 I begin to recover At least enough to be taking lovers Well no-one can replace you But that’s not what I’m asking them to do Anyone might think me healed To see me out playing the field If my loss finds a voice It’s in the way I frame my choices Give me dusky, not fair Give me sloe-black, not sandy hair Give me oil, not cream Give me brown eyes not green Give me swarthy, not speckled Give me moles, not freckles Anything, anything To distract me from the memory of your pale skin I seek refuge in the fray Many lovely creatures come my way I look into their faces I walk straight into their embraces My love for them is not specific It’s broad and blue like the Pacific Benevolent and weary And I value what they bring me dearly But I choose dusky, not fair Run my hands through black, not sandy hair I lap oil, not cream Gaze into brown eyes not green I drink musk in, not spices And it’s all open, and no-one has to lie ‘Bout anything, anything Just distract me from the memory of your forbidden skin And for all that you have That these men may never have Well, there’s one thing they can offer me And that’s themselves because they’re free This self-possession of theirs May be a temporary state of affairs So I embrace them while I may They help me face another dark day Without your sunny grin And I know it sounds like a dreadful, shallow thing Yeah, I know it sounds unfair But give me brown, black, blue but not blonde hair Give me oil, not cream Any colour eyes – not green Give me olives, not peaches Give me strong, dark Southern features Anything, anything Just distract me from the memory of your Northern skin Distract me from the memory of all that lies within Your sweet, sweet, pale, creamy, freckled, forbidden, Northern skin Oh, distract me from the memory Oh, distract me from my memories Oh, distract me from the memories Come to me Oh, distract me from my memories Come into me……. Ahh……..
4.
Confidented 04:53
Confidented © Penelope Swales I gotta learn it all again That trick I had to start with That it’s easy f you let it be It’s the worrying that makes it hard Sometimes I let fear Cloud my mind I can’t see anything May as well be a slave In a salt mine Perhaps it’s only curiosity That led me into the dark Wanting so much just to understand What it was you found so hard Freedom’s frightening When prison is the norm The dark can be so comforting When you’ve become Frightened of the sun I like to think I’m principled But maybe it’s just pride That despite my many failures I keep on trying People think I’m foolish I’ve never really cared But over time That negativity Has soaked into my head Jealousy, insecurity It’s like having a heart Full of worms Generosity’s the university In which the heart can ever learn So why is it so much easier To drag somebody down Than to venture with them onto Uncharted higher ground? Fears, doubts, insecurities They’re like a contagious disease That spreads like fear of plague Among the confident Constant exposure to these Has worn down my immunities I have become infected By the things I most resent The day stage fright Gripped the diva Sobriety the clown Vertigo assailed the trapeze artist You can’t do this shit if you look down The day Looey The Stunt Man Lost his nerve That was the day That I lost my verve When Jim The Lion-Tamer fainted At the sight of blood Those big cats that he held in thrall They got loose They devoured us all Ah, why do their fears affect me so? People that you love, they’ve Got a way of making sure you know They’d rather you were frightened, too Though everybody knows two people drowning Only drag each other down Sometimes this pain Haunts me still I’m wracked with grief and sorrow In my house upon the hill But when I try to free my mind I know I can be brave I just have to get out there and try For another day Oh, confidence is the only thing That keeps us all in place From the schoolyard to the stock market All over the human race
5.
Going Mad 04:18
6.
Face to the Light © Penelope Swales Turn your face to the light, Darlin’ What’s this that I see in your smile? I’ve known you far too long To be mistaken There’s an ache in your belly, Darlin’ Something akin to an endless need You don’t need to tell me I’ve seen her She is like a young gum tree She moves so gracefully Just one of those people Whose presence is like A soft cool breeze You’re shy And you’re not the only one Yet sensuality leaps when you touch But you’ve been Second-guessing your judgment Coz you want her too much You’re strong And you’re not the only one Something sparks Half challenge, half dance But you’re so solid And she is so supple She is like the reeds in the river That billow and sway Never losing their feet Feel he flow beneath you like water Tricklin’ deep You love And you’re not the only one Yet I know You’ve been chafing for change I’ve watched you wrestle with conscience And tug at the reins You’ve been staring at ceilings, Darlin’ Late at night in perplexities bed You don’t hide it As well as you think you might My friend She is like a young gum tree She moves so gracefully Just one of those people Whose presence is like A soft cool breeze She is like the reeds in the river That billow and sway Never losing their feet Feel he flow beneath you like water Turn your face t the light, lover What’s this that I see in your smile? I’ve known you far too long…..
7.
Membrane 04:53
Membrane © Penelope Swales 2007 You split me open Like a durian Like a fruit to gorge yourself upon And I allow you To pound, to prise, at my Most delicate openings Where external becomes internal Skin becomes bloodstream And only a membrane Separates the two And you’re magnificent But brutal Tender and rough Frightening, desirable Sensitive and gruff Spiritual, ha! And so carnal Passionate, yet so detached Yeah only a membrane Separates the two. And you peel me out With your mind, with your words You strip me down Til I am unbearably bare A snail without a shell A shellfish with no protection I’ve never felt so naked In all the years I’ve been out here You dissect me and expose My lame desires, my shameful flaws Demand a level of acknowledgement I’ve not submitted to before Demand I give it up, Demand I give it all Til only a membrane separates us two And then you say you just want friendship And I’m bruised Because I believed you wanted love And confused Because friends don’t go to these lengths They don’t plumb these depths They’re not so greedy Nor so generous Friendship doesn’t require This level of acquiescence The truth is, in essence Friendship doesn’t cost this much And I could weep with relief To be here lying in another man’s arms Making myself receptive To another man’s charms To be entered without being broached Penetrated without being pierced Without being asked to say That this is friendship, not love When only a membrane separates the two And all the women that have loved you so sincerely I feel the echo of their disappointment so clearly So why should I be favoured where they were not I don’t believe I shall be I believe I share the same lot So tell me, where’s the line? Love and sex, sex and and friendship Friendship and love, sex and friendship You get it all, Though only a membrane of your definition Separates the two And you thought you would be me And I would be you Thought I would be the hit-and-run one Take my fill and then just leave you Well, it’s not like I’ve never done that, But damn, I couldn’t do it for you A shame, because that’s what you wanted To be devoured and cast aside How romantic! Like fruit, like a durian I could gorge myself upon A moment’s shared gluttony With no surprises And only a latex membrane Separatin’ the two.
8.
Skin:Deep 06:42
Skin: Deep © Penelope Swales 2007 I wanna know why it is That when I see you in your nakedness You seem so much more undressed Than anybody else It’s as if your clothes were your skin And your skin was just nothin’ And you’re lying there With every fillet of your flesh exposed You were sittin’ in the bar Just a hunch o’ shoulders and a mop o’ hair And when I spoke, you looked up and into me I didn’t know your name But I knew just who you were Because I recognise that sparkle instantly There was no need for preamble We arranged things right away And your friends laughed to see you Carryin’ my guitar case Your laughin’ talk was circular Your eyes straight to the point And I couldn’t keep my hands off you Whether you laughed at me or not And you drew me to your bedroom Where I heard your anguished cries And I marvelled at your bareness As I held you deep inside And you clung to me so tightly You were talkin’ in your sleep You had me thinkin’ Laughing waters, they run deep Thinkin’ – you’re like me You’re in love with the sheer joy of it And no-one’s got a snowflake’s chance Of ever taming you Thinkin’ you’re like me It’s the thrill, the exultation It’s more precious than you can explain And it’s what makes life sweet. It was a long year later I was back in town again And I was wonderin’ Would you hide, or would you show? When I saw you there, I laughed to see You were just as nervous as me But the real reason for that Was something I was yet to know You weren’t supposed to be there Someone had you on a tether, yeah And I learned the dumb way not to make trouble I said, ‘Well, it’s been nice to you see you” Yeah, but just as I was leaving, Yeah You climbed into the front seat of my car Well, you laughed and talked and flirted And you danced around the room Then looked at me with sudden, sober eyes Half challenging, half pleading I said “It’s okay, I’m leaving” But before I was half-way to that door I was already compromised And you drew me to your bedroom Where I heard your anguished cries And I marvelled at your bareness As I held you deep inside And I stroked your hair in darkness You were talkin’ in your sleep You had me thinkin’ Laughing waters, they run deep Thinkin’ – you’re like me You’re in love with the sheer joy of it And no-one’s got a snowflake’s chance Of ever taming you Thinkin’ you’re like me It’s the thrill, the exultation It’s more precious than you can explain And it’s what makes life sweet. But it’s not for any lack of love But more that there’s too much More that convention will allow Coz we’re all so scared of touch Ah, but you, you could love them all And let them all be free And that, my darlin’ Is why you’re like me But the thing that makes it hard for you Is the thing that makes you most like me It’s not your promiscuity But your fatal honesty Life would be so much easier If you could lie, like all the rest do, yeah But there’s no point in trying With your hopeless transparency And you could do what I do, yeah And lay it open wide And say – this is what the deal is And then let them decide But it’s a hard row to hoe People don’t like it, and they let you know Or wear you out with tantrums Like a child screams and the tide And you’ll take me to your bedroom And you’ll skin me sweet and fast And I haven’t been the first one, no And I won’t be the last But it’s only fair to warn you, darling You talk in your sleep And I’m not sure that information’s safe With anyone but me And you’ll take me to your bedroom And you’ll clutch me to your chest And I’ll know I shouldn’t be there But I’ll be there nonetheless Because there is a form of loyalty That goes way beyond monogamy And I only say that Because you’re like me Because you’re like me – oh…. You’re like me da-ho…. I think I know why it is That when I see you in your nakedness You seem so much more undressed than anybody else It’s as if our clothes were our skin And our skin was just nothin’ And we’re lyin’ there with every fillet of our flesh exposed Lyin’ there with every fillet of our flesh exposed Lyin’ there with every fillet … Ahhh…
9.
So Lucky 05:33
So Lucky © Penelope Swales 2007 We’re so lucky to be here In a beautiful place, in a time of peace Of local peace, this peace is local and it’s important to know and to remember That it is not peaceful everywhere We’re so lucky to sit here in the expectation that we can sit here That no bomb will fall, that these walls will not cave in on us Our governments may be at war, but we have no argument with anyone That’s how we feel, that’s what we like to believe It’s not necessarily what the people on the other side might see But it’s only random good fortune that leads us to be born into the bosom of the strong Where we’re so lucky to be able to worry about romance or cars Or whether or not we like our boss Lulled by the luxury we don’t realise The extent of the compromise That we’re just cogs ina machine, making money for a man We’ll never meet It’s important to remember that we did nothing to deserve this good luck It’s not because we’re better, have better Karma or possess a better god It’s certainly not because we’ve got better leaders, we’re here because In order to have all that wealth and power, those in power need consumers We’re so lucky to be here wearing clothes of our choice To reveal skin to conceal skin To pain our faces or leave them plain To grow our hair or cut it short We’re so lucky to be able to go out and work And be independent of our families and of our culture We may get lonely, we may be exposed to danger We may get lonely, we may be exposed to danger We may get lonely, we may be exposed to danger But we’re still safer here than we would be almost anywhere else It’s important to remember that we did nothing to deserve this good luck These luxuries are the legacies of the labours and struggles of the people of the past Of the women, of the unions, of those who worked so hard Who risked their lives, who compromised their families, so we could be So lucky to be here, In a beautiful place, in a time of peace It’s important to remember that we did nothing to deserve this good luck It’s not because we’re better, have better Karma or possess a better god It’s certainly not because we’ve got better leaders, we’re here because In order to have all that wealth and power, those in power need consumers And we’re just lucky that we happen to be the consumers But in order for them to make money from us They have to have something for us to consume And that has to come from somewhere It has to come from someone Who once lived in a beautiful place, In what once was a time of peace Somewhere someone else has to have less so that we can have so much more than we need So if we’re lucky enough to be here In this beautiful place, in this time of peace If we’re lucky enough to still have some freedom of movement Some freedom of speech Then we’re lucky enough to know What it is that we’ve been seeing If we’re lucky enough to live In what must be called, for want of a better word, a democracy Then we have to shoulder the responsibility Because we are responsible for the actions of our leaders. I’m calling on you to wake from your dream While you’re, while you’re, while you’re still While we’re still So lucky to be here In a beautiful place, in a time of peace
10.
Heart knows for sure © Penelope Swales 2007 Oh my friend, it cuts me up See hear you call in such distress So lonely and so small And so distant and so desperate Where so little of my tenderness Can reach you Darlin’ you should know better Than to think that I’d take sides In such a personal mess I long to hold Your thin body in my arms And rock you like a child Lost in the wilderness Til your heart knows for sure That this love isn’t a fantasy How could I ever turn my back On someone who’s been so good to me? She says “Oh, Nel. What am I doing? What have I done? The more I try to get things right The more I blunder And now I’ve gone and hurt everyone I’ve wanted so much more from life Than this old friend could give I thought that I’d made up my mind But when I came to it, I just couldn’t do it Til my heart knows for sure That this love isn’t a fantasy How could I ever turn my back On someone who’s been so good to me? Who’s been so good to me? Ohh Oh, Nel.” Passion holds a pressure like a vice The crushing weight of need Well I can’t say I think the new dude’s right To issue such an ultimatum and cause such a scene When we demand choices We also demand sacrifice But I know you You’re not capable of the ruthlessness Required to do what he thinks is right And all the advantage That youth, strength and beauty Could give to a younger man Will all be effaced by his impatience and his anger While on the other hand Your shrewd old dude Being kind, being wise Well, he’s not going to force your hand It gets to him, But he’ll just sit back and wait for you to understand Til your heart knows for sure That his love remains constant and true And you may endeavour to turn your back But you know he’s been too good to you He’s just been too good to you And she says to me “Oh, Nel, you know, I could do worse than stay right here. And those dreams I had, Well, I’ve lost my chance Guess I just have to try To make things sweet here at home To make things sweet here at home To make things sweet here at home To make things sweet here at home Though my heart knows for sure That this love isn’t the place for me But how can I ever turn my back On someone who’s been so good to me And my heart knows for sure That your love isn’t a fantasy Through all my errors, all my mistakes You’ve always been too good to me – ohh.. Oh, Nel..”
11.
Anything at all © Penelope Swales If I could change my sore heart’s form I’d have you hold it in the crook of your arm Like a puppy, or a jacket Or a good book, or a bottle of wine Held snug against your ribs Like a football, or an old LP Or a birthday gift, or an armful of laundry I long to be held to your chest Like a warm paper bundle of fish and chips Like a pizza box Like a fresh-baked loaf Of sourdough bread Anything at all Anything at all Anything at all If I could put my sore heart into the body of a dog I could send it to put its head on your knee Butt your hand, drool on your jeans, Drop punctured tennis balls at your feet If my heart was a dog I could send it outside To howl at the moon, tip over your rubbish bin Chase your car, crawl into your bedclothes Steal me a slipper and bring it home I long to sleep in your arms Like a cat, like a child Like a seed you might hold in your palm Dreamless, suspended Waiting for the soil, waiting for the sun If secretly, I could send my heart to you Hidden in towels still warm from the dryer A soft angora jumper, a plump pleasing mango Anything you might wanna touch, hold or consume Anything at all Anything at all Anything at all Anything innocent, anything permitted Anything allowed, anything unrestricted Instead this contraband heart beats wet and messy Beneath these forbidden breasts Instead these illegal fingers tap a tattoo While this taboo tongue tastes An uncensored song of you And because you have a conscience I pretend I have a conscience Because you have scruples, I try to have some too But my integrity’s a sham If you were to reach for me, I would melt in your hands I long to be held to your chest Like a warm paper bundle of fish and chips Like a pizza box Like a two-inch master tape Full of freshly realised dreams There’s nothing to be done Nothing to be done Nothing to be done I try to call this canine heart to heel But it pays me no mind Keeps sniffing and scratching At the closed door of circumstance Howling like a mutt that’s been Left behind Left behind Left behind Aroo… Nothing to be done Nothing to be done Nothing to be done But when you think of these Mundanities Think of me Think of me Think of me Think of me
12.
If You Choose © 2007 Penelope Swales So the great prevaricator makes a decision It’s time to leave the stage before he wavers Any further oscillations, he can wrestle with alone In his transit times, in his backstage moments And if you choose Bondage over freedom Straight Street over the bohemian There’s nothing I can do And if you choose Nurture over nature Respectability over censure There’s nothing I can do To compromise an honest love For a less honest love Well, I, I understand But I can’t collaborate It goes too greatly Against my grain And if you choose An inner isolation Over a deeper understanding There’s nothing I can do And if you choose Suppression over reckoning If you’re gonna crush the whole thing down again There’s nothing I can do Coz law and order must be maintained Artists, jockeys, queers all must be retrained But always and forever Our hands will be stained By the blood of the death of dreams Who were you in your naivety To fondly believe you wouldn’t love me? And who was I, in my misguided nobility To think that I Wasn’t going to play for keeps? Choose a path You better choose it wisely Follow it cleanly, undividedly That’s what you have to do And oh, how far Did I allow you to entice me Into the world of compromise That’s what I chose to do And if you choose Bondage over freedom Straight Street over the bohemian There’s nothing I can do And if you choose Nurture over nature Respectability over censure There’s nothing I can do And if you choose An inner isolation Over a deeper understanding There’s nothing I can do And if you choose Suppression over reckoning If you’re gonna crush the whole thing down again There’s nothing I can do There’s nothing There’s nothing I can do There’s nothing There’s nothing I can do There’s nothing I can do Ahh…..
13.
Simultaneous Betrayal © Penelope Swales 2007 Oh, my love Your shamefaced note came creeping Into my letterbox, Didn’t say a thing I hadn’t already been hearing I’m not stupid Even if I am a little foolish But that’s ok. So you’ve fallen out of love Or that’s what you’re saying now You make it sound just like an accident But I feel that it’s a choice somehow I’m not naïve You’re not saying anything to me I haven’t said to someone else by now If you can’t be loved you can at least be graceful If you can’t have the feast, well you can still be tasteful And throwin’ good love after bad for you Would just be wasteful Oh sweetheart I could say I told you so But where’s the sense in that I’d just make myself sound shallow And if I ever felt our love might not make the grade Well, I kept it to myself and gave it my best shot anyway Yeah, and that’s ok Yeah, sure, that’s okay, it was worth every moment Yeah, I mean it – and that’s a big statement And I sure as hell hope you’ve got the good grace To appreciate it Oh sweetheart, Silence isn’t honesty Or maybe it is Any road, you got your point across to me yeah Now you apologise for cowardice Sure, fire away But I’ve been over this whole scene this many a day And I bet we both know you wouldn’t be so Contrite if it really mattered to you anyway. If I can’t be loved Well, I can still be gracious If I can’t be intimate Then hell, I’ll be spacious Your defection relieves me of my conscience After all that erotic excellence Well, I guess it’s not so very surprising We had simultaneous betrayal at the end Yeah, I guess it’s not so very surprising We had simultaneous betrayal
14.
Favourite Sinner © Penelope Swales 2007 Oh, the restaurant signs are glowin’ On highways A, B, C, D, E and G, yeah The Greyhound is rolling It’s gonna bring you back to me Well, I’m haunted by your vision Haunted by the things I see Knowin’ how your hard, ragged laughter Would ring if you were here with me Chorus: Take me back, my favourite sinner To a Summer in your arms Where everything I ever wanted Was right there in my palm In a schizophrenic country Strength and vulnerability Knowin’ there was somethin’ you needed You could only get from me Well the hair upon your belly Oh, the creases on your face Oh-ah, the way you shave so badly These things can’t be erased Mm, the skin upon your shoulders The way it smells when wet with kisses That slight bruisin’ deep inside me Your soft and knowing fingers Chorus Ahh – da da…. Ridin’ high on torn upholstery State after State unrolled It felt like heaven, smelt like freedom But you were only on parole Now you’re locked inside this winter I think about you in your cell You and your kind-hearted jailer Some things I can never tell Take me back, my favourite sinner To a Summer in your arms Where everything I ever wanted Was right there in my palm Your arms tighten ‘round the corner Stop me slidin’ from your knee Here in the dull-roaring darkness I sing to you, you sing to me

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Dedicated to my Mountain Hare.

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released July 1, 2007

"Membrane" engineered by John Kurgan at Hungry Goat Studios, New Jersey.
"Face to the Light" and Simultaneous Betrayal" recorded by Dale Jones in his home studio in Samford, Queensland.
All other tracks engineered by Peter Hayden at The Songsmith Studio (Northcote and Airey's Inet)
All songs copyright Penelope Swales
Produced by Penelope Swales

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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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