How the Cause Became the Cure

by The Dirty Birds

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"How the Cause Became the Cure meanders between toe-tapping, high-energy tunes and melodic, crooning orchestral numbers...However strictly midwestern The Dirty Birds’ beginnings may be, their music molds together all sorts of genres — including jazz, pop, folk and rock — into a wonderfully rich sound, deeply layered but simultaneously subtle...Intricate and delicate guitar and keyboard melodies deftly intertwine with the string orchestration, then suddenly erupt into heart-wrenching and soulful crescendos. Such explosions are always expertly placed — the band lures listeners into a state of anticipation and flips the switch at the optimal moment to release a great deal of musical tension...The album not only flourishes in production quality, but also in lyrical and musical terms — by blending so many genres, the album becomes virtually genre-less."

-The Michigan Daily


released August 9, 2009

Produced and arranged by the Dirty Birds & Tomek Miernowski

All songs written by Jared Saltiel

Engineered and mixed by Tomek Miernowski at Big Sky Recording in Ann Arbor and Smart Studios in Madison
"What I Realized" vocals recorded by Gregg Leonard

Mastered by Jim DeMain & Alex McCullough at Yes Master Studios in Nashville, TN

Art Direction, Illustration and Design by Adam Baker and Charlie Wagers for Three Bears Design:

Guest musicians:

Horns (Self-Discipline) – Scott Copeland: trumpet / Jimmy O’Connell: trombone / Mark Dover: tenor saxophone

String Quartet (What I Realized, Katrina & Promised Land) – Sheryl Hwangbo: violin / Alicia Doudna: violin / Thomas Carter: viola / Andrea Moreno-Beals: cello

String Quartet (Saudade & The Problem) – Emily Garber: violin / Sheryl Hwangbo: violin / Thomas Carter: viola / Hayden Gandolfi: cello

Woodwinds (What I Realized) – Mark Dover: clarinet / Elise Shoppe: flute


© 2009 The Dirty Birds. All rights reserved. Unauthorised Duplication is a Violation of Applicable Laws.



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Track Name: What I Realized

I was a follower of all kinds of hollow words,
I walked a path that led straight to the sea.
I immediately recognized the kindness inside your eyes,
it was the kind that could be found in me.

When I saw the bright fire in the sky,
I wandered off and left the path behind.
I must’ve burned my foolish eyes.
I lost sight of you, and as the sun set on all I knew,
I found myself searching for the moon,
hoping that soon I’d be home again.
I didn’t really know who I was then.

A miserable life began, lost in an unknown land,
the kind that can make any boy a man.
I made some friends along the way,
some that left and some that stayed ,
but no one who could ever really understand

why I always cried, hell, even I could never decide
if the tears were mine or if somebody else’s just never dried.
I don’t think my ancestors knew
what we were put on earth to do.
I was sure that I saw it in you, some kind of truth.
Oh I learned to say no, get along on my own, live my life.

So I lifted my gaze from the ground,
discovered that the world around was truly beautiful.
And the moment I felt the way I’d wanted to
since the day I saw your face, suddenly there you were.

As if tied by the wrists, we climbed every hill
and tried every little island, yeah we were finding
the same old kindness in our eyes.
‘Cause it was always the memory of you that carried me through,
but only when I knew the bitterness of youth
could I learn the truth, we’ll always be two, you and I,
left and right, that’s what I realized when you re-arrived.
Track Name: Miserable Turn of Events

What a miserable turn of events
This is a genuine mess, it doesn’t make any sense
When I start to thinking, girl, I start to feel
Like our Bohemian love affair’s a little too weird

‘Cause if you’re more like my sister, then this is incest
But when I’m lying with you, you know I couldn’t care less
I just hope I’m not alone in the way I feel
‘Cause if you wanna be my lover, baby I’ll love you for real

Oh, I’m just waiting for
A hug or something comforting or anything more
Do you want me to talk at all
Or are my stories way too long?
What a miserable turn of events

Sometimes you kiss me on the street
It feels a little routine when it’s on the cheek
But when you get me on the lips and people start to stare
Damn, baby, we’re getting somewhere


Well, I’m jealous baby
‘Cause when you keep me waiting
And you don’t call me baby
I worry that it’ll all start fading
‘Cause if you’re my sister maybe
But maybe you’re my lover, lately
Then all I know is that I don’t know

Oh I’m just waiting for
Some kind of assurance ‘cause I lack my own, babe
I’m waiting on you to let me know
Are you my lover or am I still alone?
What a miserable
What a comfortable
What a wonderful turn of events!
Track Name: Caitlin

Caitlin, the passenger you’re carrying, in the bag you accidentally packed him
in, was unable to decide when to tell you that he’s coming

He still regrets his big bet
He wagered way too much for what he’d get for Caitlin

You’ve been traveling across continents, chased by letters overconfident that you’d be coming home again over an ever-widening ocean

He still regrets his big bet
He wagered way too much for what he’d get for Caitlin
He’s got no sense of pretense
He never even knew how to begin with Caitlin
He said too much all at once
But think a little bit before the end, Caitlin
‘Cause whatever boiled over is bound to cool back down

It would make sense, ‘cause he knew that she was never just a friend, but she was no Juliet
He wagered all he had when all he’d get was the same Caitlin
It would make sense, but he never made too much of an attempt to shake off their innocence
He never even knew why to begin with Caitlin
Oh, well it would make sense, but he severed his only connection to some sort of long-lost twin
He won’t make too much effort to repent, she just came and went, and there’s no use wasting happiness over it
‘Cause it’s just a matter of time ‘til you die.
Track Name: Just As Blue (feat. Charlene Kaye)

The snow falling makes me think of you
Winter’s over but it’ll be back soon
I tried my best to change my heart for you
But this tune is still just as blue

When I’m alone, letting my mind roam
Those thoughts start to stray
So I cling to you, like you ask me to
And we chase them away

You look nothing like you used to
But your eyes are still just as blue
Sometimes I wonder why I couldn’t see
You loved me and I never knew

What if all we’ve got is a comfortable knot?
Sure is hard to undo
If there were no more air on earth
Would I share my last breath with you?

You sing nothing like you used to
But your voice still sounds brand new
I could’ve left you if I wanted to
Over and over I still choose you

Earnestness is about the best
That I can do
If you’re feeling alone, baby I wanna know
I might be feeling it too

The snow falling makes me think of you
But the sky is still just as blue.
Track Name: Katrina

You left me so broken-hearted, Katrina.
When we parted, I was hardened and meaner.

You left me broken, so broken
I’ll never be the same,
never be the same.
And when I hear your name,
I still think of that pain.

You made me see myself all that much clearer.
The tears that you held in your eyes were like mirrors.

You left me hoping and hoping
and hoping for a change,
hoping for a change.
Surely it won’t surprise you,
it never came.

They say the first one is always the worst one,
well, yeah, I’m disillusioned.

You left me stranded and lonely, Katrina,
watching for boats docking at the marina.

You left me waiting and waiting
and waiting for a sign,
waiting for a sign
that you noticed me there,
that you cared,
that you paid me any mind.
Track Name: Promised Land
PROMISED LAND (String arr. – Tomek Miernowski)

A humble man is one who prays.
Well, I’ve been too long in this haze,
seeking out the ground
but this cloud is all I’ve found.
Forty more cold desert nights
and forty days of glaring light.
Give me a sign, I’ve really tried
hard not to cry, hard not to whine ,
hard to need nobody’s help,
but I’m—

I’m not seeking salvation.
All I want is water drawn
‘cause my throat is parched.
So keep your staff, we’ve no need for that.
This rock’s of sand, the same as man
and your promised land.

If I make one more concession,
then I’ve no need for confession,
if I can finally lose my sense of identity.
‘Cause I once knocked all of my walls down
and let in the wilderness around.
I thought it would help me
‘cause I was lonely,
but the only thing it showed me
was the meaninglessness of being Me.

So I’m not seeking salvation.
All I want is water drawn,
been thirsty too long.
And keep your staff, we’ve no need for that.
‘Cause I’m just a man, you know I can’t
create your promised land.

Isolation is overrated
I wish I had you with me
Loneliness, it sure is lonely
Pray for me

I’ll pray for you if you pray for me.
Track Name: Checkmate

Take my pawn, make your move
Come on strong, I won’t even play my own game
All along, I’ve been leading you on
I’ve been keeping you at arm’s length

By now I think you should know
I’m not a friend, not a foe

I don’t ever wanna make it to checkmate with you
I don’t ever wanna strategize a plan for my moves
Maybe you could just chase me across the board
in those pretty shoes
I don’t ever wanna make it to checkmate with you

Your castles will find my defenses
Stand on shaky ground
Oh, Queen, in the end
All you want is to wear a stolen crown

Guilty though I may be
Your love’s a prison for me

I don’t ever wanna make it to checkmate with you
I don’t ever wanna strategize a plan for my moves
Maybe if you just chase me across the board,
we’ll never lose
I don’t ever wanna make it to checkmate with you

Guilty as I may be
Love’s a prison for me

If you knock me down, I’ll be stuck there for good
I’m never gonna be the man that you wish I would
No, I won’t ever treat you the way I know I should
When you’ve been chasing me like you were thirsty for blood

You started this game, I don’t know why, I don’t know when
Now it’s looking like it might be reaching the end
I won’t be your lover and I can’t be your friend
So I’ll let you get checkmate and live to play again
Track Name: Self-Discipline

Self-discipline is the art of winning against yourself
Well now, I don’t do real well
And when I win, well even then I will question
My ends and my own motivations

So will somebody please stop this bus
I wanna get off, don’t wanna get caught up
I’d love to stay here and talk
But my watch is a handcuff
And I don’t wanna get stuck

‘Cause it wasn’t always like this
I’ve got a memory of a fulfilled wish
An echo of when things were different
I could fool myself to like this
But something in me just won’t give in
Something in me is resistant
Guess I ain’t got no self-discipline

Self-consciousness is born of this voyeuristic mess
This chaotic collective of reflective surfaces
Oh, distraction! shape-shifting away my intuition
When I’m saturated with too much damn information

So will somebody please tell me why the hell it derails me
Every time the world fails me
No I don’t want nobody to sell me on this lifestyle
It overwhelms me, and you know it won’t help me


Self-discipline is everything that I just cannot stand
Trying to fit my world to this world’s demands
And the more I think about it, the less I can
Imagine fitting my world to this land

Now everywhere there’s paparazzi
Snapping photos and making copies
And the image that they propagate is an illusion
Oh, maybe if I could consecrate just one thing
Accomplishing something would not be such a big thing
Such wishful thinking

Well it won’t always be like this
We’re gonna fulfill our own wish
We’re gonna make things a hell of a lot different
We were fooling ourselves into buying their shit
But you know that we got no need for it
‘Cause they can’t take our resistance
No we ain’t got no self-discipline.
Track Name: Valentine's Day

I’ve got way too much to say, but I’ll try anyway
She’s been tempting me all day, but I’ve just turned away

I’ve been all alone
Waiting by the phone
She called up to say
“What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?”

What if we could just pretend we’d never reached the end
Just for one night no more friends, then go back again


Why was that so goddamn weird when you came over here?
I’ve had a most unsettling fear of another aimless year

And that’s why it’s so weird when you come over here
And you whisper in my ear all the things I just can’t hear
And you’re making it all too clear that you just can’t fight this fear

We’ve been all alone, waiting by the phone
We picked up today, and we said
“What are we doing for Valentine’s Day?”
“What are you doing for Valentine’s Day?”
What am I doing but wasting away?
What does it matter? It’s over anyway.
Track Name: Saudade
10. s a u d a d e (String arr. – Jared Saltiel)

The sun sets, smog gets caught in the view
All the city is thinking of you
One word lingers in my mind
One that you used

“Saudade” has got quite a lot to do with you

Closed doors, old wars, ghosts for the new
All a city folded in two
All these separations between me and you

“Saudade” has got quite a lot to do with you

So love him, let him believe that it’s true
While this whole city is waiting for you
I already know what you will choose to do

“Saudade” means I’m gonna learn a new word from you

Maybe you too.
Track Name: The Problem
THE PROBLEM (String arr. – Dave Koenig)

The mother started crying when the autumn came
Two of her sons had gone away, but the third remained
The youngest one, he took for granted all she gave
And the windows shook with all her grief and all his rage

He blamed the bottle, she blamed the drugs
The flowers had wilted, the sunlight gone
He blamed his mother, well she blamed her son
Nobody realized what had become of them

The father couldn’t take a side, he stood and watched
For he could see that every side would share the cost
And he warned the boy of lessons learned in battles fought
That before the war even began, the war was lost

One blamed the fact that the other should
Should’ve worked out the problem but neither could
He blamed his mother, she blamed her son
Nobody realized what had become of them

And as the leaves fell, they looked on
and thought of seasons come and gone.
But when winter came along,
the leaves lay forgotten on the lawn.
While in this house of decadence
the selfish people sought revenge.
And the barren trees wished they could say
“It’s the same thing every year, love turns to hate.”

We all know spring is coming,
but it always comes too late.

That’s how the cause became the cure, the help the hurt
That’s how the child became another lonely adult
That’s how the one who gave the blessing cast the curse
Yeah, that’s how the problem was resolved for better or worse.