What has civilization​.​.​.​ever done for me?

by Bob Gaulke

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Eight songs from Portland, OR. recorded 2002-2014


released April 1, 2015

Bob Gaulke- Vocals
Kenny Coleman- Guitar
Jon Zaerr- Bass
Julian Brogi- Drums
Amorèe Lovell- Keys
John Luebner- Sax
recorded and edited by Sean Flora
mixed and mastered by Eber Pinheiro
photos by Mike Moe



all rights reserved


Bob Gaulke New York

I write songs and teach in the Bronx.

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Track Name: Short-haired Hippie
Short Haired Hippie

late to work again without a good excuse
reading comic books in the lunch room
he's moving back home, his girl friend can’t stand his looks
he’s bought a new guitar with the rent money for June

daydreams all day- can barely sweep that broom
eyes a flutter with sleep; stuck in there good
on the phone with jeff when it’s clearly my turn
he’ll tell you his plans when his submarine submerges

short haired hippie yeah
short haired hippie yeah

walks like a girl, but they dig him, too
making out in the park like the birds do
singing songs about outer space or animals at the zoo
I’d kick his ass but I've got better things to do

how could he be having so much fun without money
he doesn’t own a car or even watch tv
there ought be a law at least a bumper sticker
saying ‘watch that guy get away with murder’

short haired hippie yeah
short haired hippie yeah

truth be told I used to be one too;
that was years ago when I was in school
now I've got bills to pay and another baby due;
you got to grow up sometimes that’s what adults do

he's called in sick again, now he’s watching cartoons
he's just turned twenty-nine, to him that’s news
he don’t got troubles beyond the crabs
his next drug trip, or the name of his band
Track Name: Sharpening Knives
Sharpening Knives

had a job that paid eight dollars an hour
in a dark room filled with shiny things
they cut lights, saving power
me and a hundred men that didn’t speak

a blade over flint on a conveyor
two in a minute pointed and clean
polishing metal to a sharp edge
for cutting and slicing meat

sharpening knives sharpening knives
shat’s what I did with my life
sharpening knives sharpening knives
that’s how I survived

there's a rhythm louder and faster
there's a rhythm that cuts your head-
the sound of two hundred hands desperate
heat and sparks like creation itself

drunk on the sound, the pounding of metal,
intoxicating slavery
like a love that stays on too long
something cut out the heart of me

(repeat ch)
I woke one morning unable to move
I woke one morning unable to speak
sounds had filled me with fear
standing up made me weak

I haven’t worked since then
I rely on my wits and the generosity of women
sometimes I wonder what I've done with myself
other times I’m glad I survived

(repeat ch)
Track Name: Underwear Salesman
Underwear Salesman

as a kid
I watched what he did
his style;
his cynical smile

good with ladies,
not with money
he lived
between the lines

trouble he got in
and out like a film
in fact, he thrived

it took me a while
to forgive him
then I thought,
“fuck, I’m that guy”

smile to smile
without a break
sale to sale,
do it again

kids and a wife
you know who you are
on the table sits
your coffee mug

I need beauty in my life
don’t settle for smart-
If I'll never be rich
at least I'll play my part

train to train
with the sample case
following legs
up the street:

I’ve given up
on being saved
expectations fit
my mornings

net stockings, matte panties
double-laced bodice,
herring-bone necklace baby
you’ll wear those things

beauty in glances
sustains more or less
breathing in the city
laughing and lying on the wind

I need beauty in my life
I don’t settle for smart-
If I'll never be rich
at least I'll play my part

In this life things are often dull
I go days at a time thinking
of nothing at all
I see you at night in dreams
It's the closest we come to an understanding
Track Name: You're On My Money
You're On My Money

Colors can't paint you; words fall at your feet
holding you tight's the only culture I need
I don't care about the government or the kids in the street
This bed's my nation; you're on all my money

From the time you could dream a whole life to lead
to the time entropy finishes you
you could learn many things
and never appreciate how curiosity is used
wake up like billions but try to stay amused

Dress up, wear make-up. Never go to work
there's not enough time for the attention you deserve
staring into space is your true metier
all else is distraction overpriced and underpaid 

Now time is like the friend whom we'll never meet again
we move through passions only known
to those in burning planes or auto accidents
feeling life slip from various holes

I'll save my breath for blowing on your wounds

Everything is useless I don't need a thing
crush me with your lips, I just want to feel
I fill air with the pollution of written things
But on you I'm silent; happiness is deaf to my needs
Track Name: Fandom

fred and catherine make love in my head
I hear them bite when I dream

pulling strings tied in wires
and reverb plates, hammers pounding

you might think they live in my room playing at such a volume
you might think I'd shut them up, wouldn't you

they're making things they keep me guessing
with interesting songs to sing

it's irritating when you do things
everyday that don't make you happy

(but) fred and catherine play night and day they don't do an office routine
fred and catherine take me to places I've never seen

In days when I can't see beyond lines gray and green
In nights when imagination's warmth holds me as tight as a love could be

in a life as short as this where nothing
seems to resist a very seductive technology

Fred and Catherine live ten thousand miles away in Paris, France
Fred and Catherine are my best friends; we've never met

my money goes to a company that pays them royalties
they make what they feel: somehow it makes me happy

I don't stay long depressed I don't get upset
I escape to a place that doesn't exist

when I'm lonely in my bed listen to Catherine and Fred
one day I'm gonna live like them
Track Name: Island of Men
Island of Men

you left me on the Island of men
me and four guys that can't swim
we feast on your memory
with pieces of fruit cake

we remember your skin
rubbing our hands in fits
it's phosphorescent in our minds
it burns an obscure fire

spending the night rolling cigarettes
sucking butts to the lipstick
taking turns with your dress
putting a fold in the photograph

You left me on the island of men
the silence abuses your memory
nothing's left of the tin
I've become the fruitcake

we've got ugly routines
we use to pass the time
reenacting painful scenes
pretending to solve emotional crimes

Kevin takes me out on your birthday
Robbie takes off your glasses to kiss me--
There's nothing like Parris Island
In the springtime

I remember christmas
rafael's playing jesus
making love to your stereo
ryan wears the leotard

(repeat ch)

ultimately we know why
we're here but not when
we'll ever be trusted
around women again
Track Name: 4-d Blues
4D Blues
I don’t know where you’ve come from
I don’t care where you’ve been
how you got that scar
or the meaning of your name

I don’t know where we’re going
what it takes to free the world
make lots of money
or save my tiny soul

I just want this moment
I like what I feel
the music we make;
the movements we trace in the air

I just want these things
for a short time
then I’ll put my helmet on
and get back to my own side

I'd waited in vain for a new age
to come alive and sweep me away
now I keep my eyes on the ground
and look for shiny things to take home

I’ve heard all the arguments
I know you’ve been wronged
you have my sympathies
we both have our jobs

I’ve seen the faces
I’ve heard the cries
I’ve shed my tears
I’ve committed my crimes

and you still want this moment
that can’t be explained
my hands will be used as evidence
to press your lips against

you still want this moment
that you feel is so wrong-
purity and consistency
are better left untouched

you waited in vain for a new age
to come alive and sweep you away
now you've got these moments to share
I won’t be greedy, but I’ll take my fill

fires are extinguished
gloves slip over the hands
I put my suit on
I turn my back

you put the knife in;
I understand
a part of me
even gets turned on
-justice at last

you looked beautiful then
in the fading light
I’m off to somewhere else now
I’ll see you there sometime
Track Name: Practical Heart
Practical Heart

Your practical heart
doesn't fall apart
it folds in quarters
easily reinstalled

I see it working
even when you can't
pulling strings
under your skin

you think of love
as some kind of drug
watch it yourself, you see
its logic to work out
do the math with me

your heart does equations
your brain subtracts and adds
your moods are notified
to feel weird, strange, or bad

digits run over you
calculations run the day
a message is sent through
"urgent information"

what happens next
is between you and your neck
it's up to you to risk it
never growing back

your heart does equations
your brain subtracts and adds
your moods are notified to feel
weird, strange, or bad

the heart's first quarter is filled with stars
to navigate nights alone
the heart's second quarter's got a
St. Bernard with scotch under its nose
the third's a vault filled with "iou's" and "I love u's"
and the fourth's your dream bed; it barely sleeps two