Grad School of Hard Knocks (A Year​-​of​-​EPs Sampler)

by Danny Saucedo

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about

From September 2010 to August 2011, I worked on a big project I called my "Year-of-EPs." Every month for a year, I wrote, recorded, and released a 5 track EP for free. (I also designed all the cover art, which you can check out by clicking on the individual tracks.)

Clocking in at 60 songs and 3 1/2 hours, I know it can be a bit overwhelming to listen to, so I put together this sampler of some of my favorites. I named the compilation "Grad School of Hard Knocks" because that's what I called the first couple of years I spent in the Bay Area after college. I learned a lot of great stuff in school, but I realized I needed to buckle down and really invest in myself as an artist if I was ever going to improve. "The Year-of-EPs" was supposed to be an exercise in songwriting, but I learned just as much about singing and playing guitar.

Over the course of a year, I got to explore and create different aspects of my sound and that's reflected in the different EPs, so if you like a song, please check out the EP it comes from. For as long as bandcamp is a site, these EPs will always be free.

credits

released January 27, 2017

Recorded and Engineered by Evan Owen

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Track Name: Eros (#10 Galapagos)
My heart has grown pajama soft
Oozes, bruises, offers up secrets
Peel my ventricles like banana tops
Expose my prose in proper sequence
Off the cuff I'm rough, a grizzly cub
But my prayers are bare and only sung for Cupid
Cupid

So reply, Eros
Let fly your arrows
As I try to kiss the sun
And if Aphrodite's lips
Ask for tidy gifts
All tied up with a bow
I'll know that this is for
No one

I sing it wrong like campfire songs
Each verse a new curse, repeating the chorus
Mis ojos son mi corazón, leen las líneas de mi dolores
I'm not tough enough to suffer love
In the ways I craved when I was young and stupid
Stupid

So reply, Eros
Let fly your arrows
As I try to kiss the sun
And if Aphrodite's lips
Ask for tidy gifts
All tied up with a bow
I'll know that this is for
No one

I've got the body of a Greek philosopher
Who shares his love of food
And I've got the mind of a savant-geek-toddler
Who stares in awe of the moon
And if Fate thinks that you'd be a good catch
Would you sit under this thatched roof?
I did us a favor, an afternoon's labor
Cut holes in the ceiling for a scenic view
Of the stars beyond the vine
The stars beyond the vine
So pick up your bow and let a few go

Reply, Eros
Let fly your arrows
As I try to kiss the sun
And if Aphrodite's lips
Ask for tidy gifts
All tied up with a bow
I'll know that this is for
No one
Track Name: Cubes (#5 The Cube)
They say that men think about sex twice as often as they think
I think that there is too much stress placed on the secret meanings of things

They say that if you chew your ice it means you’re loneliest at night
So you bite through frozen feelings
But I just think it’s very nice to tear right through
Their crystalline structures
So don’t tell me
Don’t tell me why

Why I do, do what I do
I don’t know, I don’t know
Don’t know why I chew the cubes
It’s just what I do
It’s just what I
Just what I do

Some people say that parlor tricks are unfit for company
Instead they see displays of wit as worthy of complaining

They say it took Rubik four weeks to unscramble every piece
His 54 faces grace us with God’s number
I just know that it feels so right to slide each slice into its
Fourth-dimensional chamber
So don’t tell me
Don’t tell me why

Why I do, do what I do
I don’t know, I don’t know
Don’t know why I solve the cube
It’s just what I do
It’s just what I
Just what I do

They say that Van Gogh lost his ear so he couldn’t hear his demons
What part of yourself would you cut off if you couldn’t wake from dreaming?

There are still some who draw a line and say that art belongs in times
And moving backwards is an illegal motion
But I think there’s an ebb and tidal flow, there’s miles to go ‘cause
Style’s a pretty big ocean
So don’t tell me
Don’t tell me why

Why I do, do what I do
I don’t know, I don’t know
Don’t know why I sculpt the cubes
It’s just what I do
It’s just what I
Just what I do
So tell me
Please tell me why

Why must art be origami’d into a box and held under a lock and key?
Why can’t it be free? How can a thing just be a thing
And still be nothing?
This is not a pipe, this is not, this is not a fist fight, why can’t I be free?
I want to be free, ‘cause if I were free
No, no, no, no, no, nobody, nobody, nobody would ever, ever, ever have to pay for me
Why can’t I be free? Why can’t I be? Why can’t I be? Why can’t I be
A cube
Track Name: Apple Disco (#8 Apple Baseball Suite)
Who knew the greatest food in the world grew
Above my head each morning, and fell at my feet each night

Take a bite, bite, take a bite
Take a bite, bite, take a bite

How come nobody told me that I should climb the trees?
How come nobody told me apples were good for me?
Instead I grew bitter, eating sweet clementines
While inside I withered, shrinking from the rind

She knew, the goddess of the apples knew what I should do
She knew, the goddess of the apples knew what I should do

Take a bite, bite, take a bite
Take a bite, bite, take a bite

At night we gathered, feeling rotten straight to our cores
Screaming our grievances to the great outdoors
I (bawled/balled) my frustrations right into an angry fist
And I launched an apple into the darkness

She knew, the goddess of the apples knew what I should do
She knew, the goddess of the apples knew what I should do

Take a bite, bite, take a bite
Take a bite, bite, take a bite

We entered her temple and we counted (all) her heavenly consorts
And when the time came I declared my love through public concert
But who knew that all I had to do was
Take a bite, take a bite

No teams and no innings, no one was keeping score
No lose and no winning, but we kept coming back for more
How come nobody told me that I should swing for the trees
How come nobody told me she was waiting for me

She knew, the goddess of the apples knew what I should do
She knew, the goddess of the apples knew what I should do

Take a bite, bite, take a bite
Take a bite, bite, take a bite
Track Name: Young Man (#6 Man vs. Machine)
You called me up the other day in the middle of the afternoon
It was hard to hear you there was too much noise in your room
You were watching the Simpson’s and listening to Young Emcee
I was playing Donkey Kong on my TV, said it felt like 1993

Frankly I’m so over it, I don’t want to sing this verse
It’s about my younger days and how they’re infinitely worse
With my girl, with the world there was plenty of uncertainty
That’s how you know this verse had to be, written about 2003

And it makes me wonder (wonder)
If my whole life could be an endless summer (summer)
Sometimes I swear it feels like I must be getting
Younger, Younger, Younger, oh oh

We were in the Ozarks it was the first time in 5 years
Everything was exactly the same and so not at all how it appeared
Sometimes I think this graveyard is holding my entire tribe
Who’d have guessed you’d be the one to survive, not back in 2005

The day was prolly august, the place was 3 pm
It is always Sunday in the Ramsell basement
The light is soft the couch is not, we’re ready for you to arrive
This could be any year you were alive, why not 1995?

And it makes me wonder (wonder)
If my whole life could be an endless summer (summer)
Sometimes I swear it feels like I must be getting
Younger, Younger, Younger, oh oh (whole thing 2x)
Track Name: Little Clump of Hair (#6 Man vs. Machine)
Little clump of hair
Circling the drain
Little clump of hair circling the drain
You were once a part of me, now you’re simply disgusting

Little clump of hair
In your underwear

Little clump of hair in your underwear
Why do all the other kids stare, why, why isn’t it there?

Little clump of hair
Finely on your face

Little clump of hair finally on your face
You’ve been waiting for years for this funny excuse for a beard

Little clump of hair
L-i-double t-le, C-l-u-m-p
Will I be with you always, will you be with me
Little (little) clump of hair, little (little) clump of hair
L-i-double t-le, C-l-u-m-p
Will I be with you always, will you be with me
Circling the, circling the, circling the drain
Track Name: "The Dead End of Western Civilization" (#7 Think Big Feel Good)
I’ve heard tell that the music scene has gone to hell and there hasn’t been a good band since Led
Zeppelin, well what happened?
‘Cause if only the strong survive, then the youth must be so strong ‘cause the
Kids keep rock alive there will
Never be a last great song

I read a filibuster about that hipster culture from a blister buster standing proud like Col. Custer
They said these kids’ll take a shiv to Western Civilization (ooh, that’s so crazy)
They said these kids are the Dead End Generation

I’ve heard tell that the music scene can go to hell and there hasn’t been a good band since
Nirvana, come on
‘Cause if only the strong survive, then the youth must be so strong ‘cause the
Kids keep rock alive there will
Never be a last great song

I read a dissertation about that hipster nation from a pack of mental patients with a lack of patience
They said these kids are the stars of product integration (well, ok maybe)
They said these kids are the products of corporations

I know I fall prey to this when I say my favorite album dropped in ‘96
I know I played into this when I said that all the sellouts could suck my
Didn’t I say, say I was wrong?

I read a diatribe against that hipster vibe from the pride of those who are or were what they despise
They say these kids have a lack of self-identification (there’s no debatin’ )
They say these kids have a deadened imagination
Track Name: Crow Don't Crow (#7 Think Big Feel Good)
Hoof, beak, tail, foot, part of some animal, ain’t it always so?
Lip-lock, tip-toe out on the GABUAP, midnight do-si-do
Big wingspan and heart of an antelope, flying south alone
Chest swoll-up ripe as a cantelope, filled with seeds of love

Crow don’t crow
Hen don’t hen
Girls all know
Men don’t men

Page one, page two, part of some manual, tells you what you know
Diagrams, arrows and labels, important ones in bold
Robot heart, out of its manifold, dripping lots of oil
Drop a screw into some cavity, better let it go

Crow don’t crow
Hen don’t hen
Girls all know
Men don’t men

Circus cellphone’s singing right to you
Right to you, right to you
Choked up, dying of the arcade flu
So are you, so are you

Fur, claw, tooth, jaw, part of some cannibal, lunching on his own
Baby bones crunch in his mandible, spoiling thoughts of home
Sacrificing our baby animals to the one most high
Hoping God won’t use us as cannonballs to wage war in the sky

Crow don’t crow
Hen don’t hen
Girls all know
Men don’t men

Circus cellphone’s ringing off the hook
It’s for you, it’s for you
Broken mirror’s bringing a new look
Thanks to you, thanks to you
Track Name: I Came Alive! (#6 Man vs. Machine)
Woke up this morning and put on my face
I came alive
Unstuck my sideburns and jumped into space
I came alive I came alive

You cut the heavens and dealt out some grace
I came alive
Put on a fever and burned up this place
I came alive I came alive

Pick up the beach boys phone tell
Acid cat he’s not alone
Cause out where the buffalo roam
The wizard has a nice home

So open your arcane books
And summon a magic cook
Cause we live in an uncharted zone
And our cupboards are dry as a bone

Woke up this morning burrowed in my nest
I came alive
Unzipped my skin suit and aired out my chest
I came alive I came alive

A scorpion without a frog
A footstep in the mud
A path through Jurassic woods
A trip around the neighborhood

So pick up the beach boys phone
Call an Indian god and goddess
Thank you to Ganesh and thank you Pocahantas
Track Name: Meerkat Painter (#4 Thank you, Jenny)
Meerkat painter, paint a picture
That your brothers and your sisters will call home
Meerkat morning, let out a warning
That the birds of prey are preying here

There is safety in numbers
The days get cold we grow number, dumber
Still where there’s a way a will will follow
Follow on the day when you will swallow your fear
And not disappear, you won’t disappear
You will swallow your fear and not disappear

Meerkat poet, just keep going
You’ll find that perfect stanza in your pen
Meerkat midnight, fight the good fight
There is no victory underground

Meerkat lover, don’t take cover
The birds of prey will hover all day long
So meerkat singer, don’t you meerkat linger
You must come out and sing your song

In our caves we lock like a safe
We lock step and keep a consistent pace
Trace emotion on each other’s faces, face it
We’re wasting away

Meerkat dancer, love’s the answer
The rhythm will get faster over time
Meerkat painter, paint me a picture
So your brothers and your sisters
So your brothers and your sisters will live on
Track Name: More Unsolicited Advice (#7 Think Big Feel Good)
I am telling you that things won’t always be this grim
There is a limb
There is a limit to what a man can take
And I can promise you that shit’ll always be the same
But you can change
You can change every day

Put down the gum and go brush your teeth
Put on some clean clothes instead of Febreeze
It’s ok to get caught trying

I am telling you there are plenty of fish in the sea
So you must be
You must beef up your strings to catch anything
And I can promise you that there are no rules to the game
But you must play
You must placate your fears and cast away.

Put down the gum and go brush your teeth
Put on some clean clothes instead of Febreeze
It’s ok to get caught trying

Think bigger
Live harder
Try until your eyes fall out
Reach higher
Live without doubt
Shout damn you, shout damn you, shout

I am telling you it can be better than this
This is a pit
This is a pit stop on your road to the top
And I can promise you there’s a real chance that you will succeed
Just look at me
Just look at medium as not good enough

Put down the gum and go brush your teeth
Put on some clean clothes instead of Febreeze
It’s ok to get caught trying
Think big enough and “meh” won’t mean much
Think big enough and you can change your luck
Track Name: Under the Stars (#12 King Kong)
Every time I come here I feel the same
In that I feel completely different
Usually when someone says “What’s your name?”
I feel like I’m saying C-C-C-C-Clark Kent

Like maybe this could be
A reasonable facsimile
A modern-day marvelous
Secret Identity
Is it still me?
Is it just me?

Every time I come here I sing that song
And everybody sings the words
The lights are bright upon me, I’m King Kong
And every little clap, my heart flap-flaps like birds

Like maybe this could be
The birth of my celebrity
A red carpet, carpe diem
Times infinity
Is it still me?
Is it just me?

I try to be a single entity
But different situations seem to call for different versions of
Me, as a meme ever evolving
Seems funny that they’d keep an extra-temporal haven for me
To return the favor

Every time I come here you look the same
In that you’re congruent with your still image
Everybody’s got a holy name
So I walk-walk-walk this pilgrimage

Like maybe this could be
A test of my divinity
A prayer circle in search of
Lasting serenity
Is it still me?
Is it just me?

I try to be a single entity
But different situations seem to call for different versions of
Me, as a meme ever evolving
Seems funny that they’d keep an extra-temporal haven for me
To return the favor
Track Name: Stasis (#3 Travelogue)
Face it, you’re wasting your time in
Stasis, disgracefully
Defacing the clock to stop it
Chasing you in slow motion, in slow motion

I am just a plaid-clad cad with the big bad
Post-grad gonads, I don’t take naps or
Crap from nomads
I’m a homebody, nobody can tell me I’m not living right, right, right

Right now, I found
A word, a cure, a heart, a hearth
Assurances that hard, hard work
Pays off, in the end,
I promise you this stasis will end

It’s basic arithmetic not
Magic. For a lunatic it’s
Tragic that you would let your
Habits govern your emotions, your emotions

Grab a bag, a setback, catch you on the next sack
Why don’t you let your neck snap you to attention
It’s not pretention to
Say at your party, “Nobody can tell me, I’m not living right, right, right

Right now, I found
A word, a cure, a heart, a hearth
Assurances that hard, hard work
Pays off, in the end,
I promise you this stasis will end

Face it, you’re wasting your time
Pacing this room in search of
Patience. Your looming
Imagination will fill in the gaps, fill in the gaps

I am just a plaid-clad cad with the big bad
Post-grad gonads, I can read maps and
Slap back nomads
I’m a homebody, nobody can tell me I’m not living right, right, right

Right now, I found
A word, a cure, a heart, a hearth
Assurances that hard, hard work
Pays off, in the end,
I promise you this stasis will end
When you make it end
Track Name: Propheteering (#9 Ragnarock)
Hell is what you think you deserve
If you give in to your guilt you might live in a Hell on Earth
Don't just look to the horizon
You should look down at your feet
They're closer and easier to see

I promise you won't have to worry 'bout the end of the world

No, history doesn't hate you
It just remembers the you that you could live without
If you run your past might chase you
The problem with a closet of bones is the smell might rub off on your clothes

High school cannot hurt you (hurt you)
Neither can your ex-loves (hurt you)
I promise you won't have to worry 'bout the end of the world

When the sun (sun) burns out (burns out)
And the buildings (buildings) that we took for granite are ground into (ground into)
Sand (sand) and the curtain falls down (down)
On the age of man (man), there won't be a man around (man around)
To suffer for his sins

If Rapture's what you're after
Your image has been captured with a caption so absurd
God is a good villain
His story's filled with intrigue and sin and conflicting sentiments

Magic cannot hurt you (magic)
Neither can the bible (bible)
I promise you won't have to worry 'bout the end of the world
Track Name: Dreaming #3 (#11 Experiments in Southern Discomfort)
I. Agnostalgia

They say you can never go home again
But you’re youngbravestupidsmart enough to ask whether
Maybe you can, after all, go to your home-away-from-home again

From the onset, manicpanic sets in
You’re yelling, laughing, sweating, running,
Lifting up unfamiliar children to the sun

You feel guilty, looking as you do unragged, unworn
Clean, fresh and well-slept
You bruise your face contorting it in a way you suddenly recognize seeing your whole life
On the faces of those who Returned
The face conveys a wide gamut of emotion
Relief wrapped in regret, covered with joy, tempered with unfamiliarity
You don’t know if you miss it or not
Agnostalgia creeps in

From your vantage point overlooking the valley
You start to notice a paradox
You can see the perimeter, can see with captioned labels the names of each component
You know its underlying mechanics are simple and few and well-documented
The roads are 1:72 scale
The people are much tinier than when you lived there
You now know it’s nothing but a scale model
Of Middle School
Of Government
Of Society at large
Your vantage point insists that this place is so small

And yet, here you are swimming in it
Seeing it stretch out to the horizon with no end in sight
Inside it, a multiverse of swirling storylines
Infinitely interchangeable socio-pycho-sexual relationships
In every conceivable combination
You are nearly drowning in it and you go with the flow because it’s just so easy
And you are separate from it forever and also a part of it always

You watch children at play
And your perspective spirals outward beyond your control
And like a painting of a painting of a painter painting a landscape
You realize that one of them
Doesn’t just remind you of you
He is you
And you remember that you started out as someone taller than you
And you suppose he must have started out as someone taller than him
And that it must stretch further back with each previous generation remaining forever taller
In the minds of its descendents
Which would necessarily dictate an uppermost echelon of progenitors of your youness
Who would have to be as big as galaxies
And yet, they are trapped inside this bubble in the same way a part of you will always be trapped there

And you look at the outside
And you know like the back of your heart what’s inside and you think:
How can this tiny bubble hold?


II. Dislocation

When you return from any trip, but most notably a longer stay,
And you come back Home
You get that feeling that everything was moved
Just a little bit
And things are the wrong color or the wrong relative size
The air smells funny

All the while, of course, everything feels exactly the same

You have obviously always known this fact from the first time you strangely found
Your toys exactly how you left them in media res
But somehow ever so slightly askew
Like they had all gotten up and moved around while you were gone
And were just really good at remembering where you left them

The thing is, the new thing is, the strange things is
You always pegged the Ennui of the Return
As a natural by-product of leaving a superior location to return to your creature comforts

Sure you were happy to have YOUR stuff back (you love your stuff)
It’s just that things were bettersimplerfasterslower way back
Before
In Grassisgreenerville

What’s new what’s strange is to discover
This feeling of Dislocation accompanies any return
No matter how much you need to get home
It won’t be the home in your head
And getting back won’t make it that place
Because you can’t go Home again


III. Appreciation Buzz

Take that buzz
The Appreciation Buzz that comes to you unbidden
While you open your heart’s ears or point it’s one piercing eye
At something you just can’t help but love unabashedly
The Appreciation Buzz does not ignore flaws
It celebrates them or simply lets them be
Telling you with raised arm hair or bodily tingling
That this thing before you is Good

You take that buzz and you turn it on yourself
And you think about the surprisingly unscientific storage capacity of small bubbles
And you think about you
And how maybe you hold galaxies too
And how maybe we made God and the Stars made us
And how you are special just like everyone else
Because everyone else is made from the same stuff you are

You start to wonder if maybe since we all, everything in creation,
Come from the same thing, we could all in the end happily return to it
But you can’t go home again
Track Name: New Man (#12 King Kong)
To return to the roots
To become the roots
To be buried in dirt
To become the good word
Who do you think I am?

Who do you think I am?
I don't know

To return to the soil
To become the soil
To eat the seeds
To become a redwood tree
Who do you think I am?

Who do you think I am?
I don't know

Sometimes I wish that I was still that person that you ran to
With all your problems but I’m not your dad
Wish that I could solve all of your crying shames with simple games
And sayings that I pulled right out of my ass
Ask me all of the questions
That you were too young to know that you should have been asking
Asking me

Like who do you think you are?
I don’t know

Sometimes I wish that we all lived in the same place so we could
See all of each other every single night
But I know if we spread out like seeds or sleeper cells
Then we can tell the big bad world to go straight to hell
Hello, all of my old friends
We are too young to have lost so many branches

I am, I am the Redwood
I am a New Man, and so are you
So are you