CwtCS album cover

David Garland
“Conversations with the Cinnamon Skeleton”

news release & album info | track listing | credits | listen/lyrics | photos | more video | links

NOW AVAILABLE exclusively on Bandcamp for streaming and purchase.

Vashti Bunyan, Sean Lennon, and others join the downtown New York songwriter on an album of colorful, exuberant introspection

David Garland—The Long View video by TAKAHIRO KIMURA on Vimeo.

A complete collection of David Garland’s albums is available at
More information at and here

Released in cooperation with the label Epiphysis Foundation.

Creator/Curator David Garland is in love with the possibilities of song.

As creator, the New York City-based composer/singer/multi-instrumentalist has been steadily shaping songs in new ways since 1980. “Conversations…” is his tenth album. His first, “Control Songs,” was released in 1987. Garland builds his richly tuneful songs without presumptions of style and form, inventing very personal, communicative meldings of melody and meaning that invite us to reconsider what a song can be.

As curator, for more than 25 years Garland has been sharing the music he’s passionate about—usually music that defies easy categorization—on public radio stations WNYC, WQXR, and WKCR in New York, and on Garland aims to excite, challenge, surprise, and refresh his listeners. He has interviewed hundreds of musicians on-air, from John Cage to John Zorn, Paul McCartney to Laura Marling.

“If it’s not possible for popular music to reach the heights of the great classical masters, it seems no one has told David Garland. Garland has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary composers. Like many great songwriters before him, he pushes the limits of acceptable harmony and dissonance, yet never at the expense of beauty.” —Sean Lennon

“Witty, melancholy songs, arranged and performed with such careful skill and a natural unforced originality” —Robert Wyatt

“Conversations with the Cinnamon Skeleton” is a dialog with sense memories and with the sensation of remembering—a dance of optimism and pessimism, wonder and apology, extroversion and introversion. Garland’s lyrics have always mashed together quotidian observations and abstract ponderings, as in the album’s opener, “The Long View.”

The album is produced by Garland, with varied, colorful, imaginative arrangements that range from stark to opulent and balance on the border of experimentalism and pop. Garland sings in a rich, unaffected, expressive, everyman baritone. Instrumentally, his acoustic 12-string guitar is the focus, at times played with a new electo/acoustic drone-provoking modification invented and built by Garland’s son Kenji Garland (the modified guitar is used on several songs; its special qualities are best heard on “Lightning Shine,” where it’s the only instrument, and during the final section of “Forever”). The album features prominent use of clarinet, which Garland started playing a couple years ago, and piano, on which he’s performed since his teens.

British legend Vashti Bunyan sings on three songs. Sean Lennon (son of John and Yoko) and Charlotte Kemp Muhl, who together are the band The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, sing and play on three songs. Also contributing are drummer Otto Hauser (Vetiver, Espers), and the Osso string quartet (Sufjan Stevens, Clogs) performing Garland’s string arrangements.

History and memory weave through the songs: on one piece [“Vashti’s Dulcitone (Dialogue 1)”] Garland improvises on Vashti Bunyan’s Dulcitone, a late-19th Century keyboard instrument—the same instrument Bunyan took along on her famous 1960s trek by horse and cart across the UK. On another song [“Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long)”], Sean Lennon plays electric guitar through an amp his father used with The Beatles.

Garland’s previous albums were released on small labels in Germany, Japan, and the U.S., and were quite hard to find. Now almost all (with the exception of his 1993 album of Brian Wilson covers) are available for listening and download at Bandcamp. With contributions from musicians such as Meredith Monk, John Zorn, Sufjan Stevens, and Christian Marclay, these recordings form an unusual body of work.

“Conversations with the Cinnamon Skeleton” track listing

1. The Long View 3:56

2. Like a Blanket 5:33

3. Lie In My Truth 6:11

4. Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long) 3:30

5. What I Wanted to Say 6:19

6. Vashti’s Dulcitone (Dialogue 1) 2:34

7. Just a Small Percentage 2:21

8. Not There Yet 3:04

9. Lightning Shine 3:48

10. Splinter Heart 4:34

11. little guitar (Dialogue 2) 2:46

12. The Trees Agreed 5:08

13. Forever 10:34

CwtCS performer photos

Clockwise from upper left: David Garland, Vashti Bunyan, Charlotte Kemp Muhl, Osso, Otto Hauser, Sean Lennon


David Garland: music, lyrics, vocals, string arrangements, instruments (acoustic 12-string guitar, drone-modified 12-string guitar, clarinet, flute, recorder, piano, Dulcitone, bass, accordion on Splinter Heart, glockenspiel, acoustic 6-string guitar, e-bowed banjo, banjo, mandolin, toy pianos, percussion)

Vashti Bunyan: vocals on Like a Blanket, The Long View, and The Trees Agreed

Sean Lennon: vocals on The Long View, Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long), and Lightning Shine; electric guitar and drums on Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long)

Charlotte Kemp Muhl: vocals on The Long View, Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long), and Lightning Shine; accordion on Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long)

Osso (Rob Moose, violin; Olivier Manchon, violin; Marla Hansen, viola; Maria Bella Jeffers, cello): string quartet on Not There Yet, What I Wanted to Say, and Forever

Otto Hauser: drums on Like a Blanket, What I Wanted to Say, and The Trees Agreed

Kenji Garland: acoustic feedback guitar on What I Wanted to Say; inventor/builder of the drone-modified 12-string guitar

The Garland family chorus (Anne Garland, Kenji Garland, and David Garland): backing vocals on Splinter Heart, and The Trees Agreed

Lyrics for The Trees Agreed from a letter by Zelda Fitzgerald to F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Produced and mixed by DG.

Engineered by DG, 2008–2011 in midtown Manhattan, a cabin in Maine, and upstate New York.

Vashti’s Dulcitone recorded at Vashti Bunyan’s home, Edinburgh, Scotland.

Guitar and drums on Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long) recorded at Barn by Andris Balins.

Osso recorded in New York City by Alex Venguer.

Otto Hauser recorded in New York City by Irene Trudel.

Mastered by Damon Whittemore/ValveTone.

Photos: Anne Garland,

Musician photos: David Garland.

Thanks to the participating musicians, and to Brendon Massei and the Epiphysis Foundation.

copyright © 2012 by David Garland.


1. The Long View

In private

you can whisper all your plans

to the fog.

From Olympus the Gods observe us.

They’re crossing wires

and setting fires,

but they can’t see us for the clouds.


provide a latticework of work and words,

so climb aboard.

The long view; hard to see

past me, past you; the long view.

Things to come; gone from; gone through,

the long view; past the end.

Still can’t see around the bend

or through disguise; it’s a surprise.

In private

confide your little wounds and wins

to the wind.

In Valhalla, Odin’s angry.

He’s distracted by some infraction

of the rules for Gods.

2. Like a Blanket

Time will tell, but who will it tell?

Its quiet voice demands an ear,

but I won’t hear it.

You used to need

to know what I was thinking.

Without your need my thoughts stay vague;

I’ve gotten good at hiding.

I know, I know, I know.

Like a blanket my warmth is made of yours.

Like a blanket my warmth is made of yours.

Like a blanket my warmth

is made

of you.

I speak to you in the tender tones of mother.

You might not know what I say,

but you’re invited.

Wind, stones, and trees

are all I have for language.

I’d stroke your hair,

but I’m only there in hints and whispers.

I know, I know, I know.

3. Lie in My Truth

The burden of proof

lies in the truth.

Skilled slight of hand

does what it can.

Back before, when I first got involved,

back when things weren’t so resolved

I solved the crime.

It was open and shut,

but ever since then,

there’s a lie in my truth.

I might have been wrong,

but I’m trying my best

to do justice to you,

just as you are now;

naked or clothed,

open or closed.

The case went to trial,

the jury was hung.

Exonerate my smile,

exonerate my tongue.

My god, my whole life is locked up.

Where, oh where is the key—

the key to me?

I was open and shut,

and ever since then,

there’s a lie in my truth.

I really screwed up,

but I’m trying my best

to do justice to you,

just as you are now;

naked or clothed,

open or closed.

4. Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long)

He said,

I’m a broken motion sensor.

She said,

I still wanna see you dance.

They agree,

the texture of commitment grows like tree bark

wrapped around romance.

Maybe they won’t wait so long.

He said,

I’m a broken-hearted lover.

She said,

Look me in the eyes.

They agree,

We’ll hide away ’til everybody goes home;

’til everybody dies.

Maybe we won’t wait so long.

We will wait for you.

Play cat and mouse.

Placate your nervousness

by watching while the hands caress the face.

Hour hands.

Second hands.

Maybe we won’t wait too long.

I will wait for you.

5. What I Wanted to Say

What did I do to you?

Was it a cold touch?

Or maybe a smile at the wrong time?

My timing is off.

What did I give to you?

Was it the wrong word,

garbled and strange, or simple and plain

but not nearly enough?

What I wanted to say

pulled hard at my tongue,

dropped from my mouth

unheard and unsung.

What’s a reply like?

What’s worth responding to?

Pillars of fire, one pillar of salt;

don’t turn around.

Tell me a story,

make it a good one.

You tell me yours, and I tell you mine

at the same time.

What I wanted to say,

I will say anyway.

It’s an open door

for you to ignore.

No heavenly chorus.

That tree in the wilderness,

the one falling down, making a sound,

it’s making a sound.

6. Vashti’s Dulcitone (Dialogue 1)


7. Just a Small Percentage

Calved with a crack and a splash,

a new iceberg is born—

born to submerge most of its form

and its most urgent urge.

Just a small percentage exposed,

the entrance is closed,

so what sits inside

can’t be described, only implied.

Unseen, unsaid, and unknown

unheard and unshown

shape undefined; hidden behind;

titanically blind.

Hidden in the cabinet, seemingly inanimate,

time is lurking anciently, working very patiently

Time makes a pattern of change, random atoms arrange

into shapes you can see;

shapes like me

with portions revealed

and others concealed.

Hiding unseen,

caught in between,

looming below

the shape doesn’t show,

lurking behind,

titanically blind,

the old and the new

just out of view,

so what sits inside

can’t be described,

only implied.

8. Not There Yet

Here I sit preparing

for the chance to rescue you.

Waiting for your helplessness;

but don’t call me, ‘cause I’m not there yet.

Not yet powerful,

not yet fair enough.

On a Sunday night one week ago

we talked about life and death

and all of that heavy stuff.

You said something like you might need me.

Christ, I thought, I’m just not ready yet.

There’s still so much to do.

Still so much I ought to do,

and I ought to settle down, but I’m not there yet.

Here I sit preparing

for the chance to rescue you.

Waiting for my helpfulness.

I’ll get there, but I’m not there yet.

Building up and rising through,

taking off to rescue you.

9. Lightning Shine

He held a lightning rod

as he climbed the mountain that night.

There were clouds roiling overhead;

the rain had washed out the path.

He had doubts like a microphone,

turned them up and made them sing.

Lightning, strike my lightning rod for me.

Please electrocute my doubts.

Rain splashed among the trembling leaves.

Wind shoved the landscape.

It was all revealed in the flash.

He met the lightning bolt,

igniting the mountainside.

Dark clouds had opened up,

and they laughed their lightning at him.

He had love like a microphone,

turned it up loud and clear.

Lightning, strike my lightning rod for me.

Please amplify my love like shine.

Now there’s a clearing in the woods

where acrid sparks are seen to shine

the lightning shine.

10. Splinter Heart

My broken floorboard friend,

you found it in your heart:

the splinter I put there,

in your heart

in your heart.

In my mouth

words got old.

Paint peeled off

the window sill.

I’m rummaging around,

in search of tell-tale clues

of what happened and didn’t happen there

in your room

in your room.

In a song

notes sustain

as long as they are held.

As long as they are held,

people won’t hold back.

They open up their hearts

and make room—

if there’s room.

Down the drain,

Splinter Heart,

the ocean will flow

when we’re apart.

11. little guitar (Dialogue 2)


12. The Trees Agree

(words by Zelda Fitzgerald, from a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald)

You were a young lieutenant, and I was a fragrant phantom, wasn’t I? And it was a radiant night, a night of soft conspiracy. And the trees agreed that it was all going to be for the best.

13. Forever

Words are for erasing,

eyes for going blind;

friends to be forsaken,

love to leave behind.

I will live forever.

Everything is under control.

ooo, ooo

The buildings are shaking,

the cops are closing in.

Hold on to the railing,

hold on to your skin.

Everything’s uncertain

and tends toward decay.

I am no exception,

yeah, but anyway

I will live forever.

Everything is under control.

ooo, ooo

Hold my hand,

here we go.

All I know is

I don’t know.

Photos and album cover image

Conversations with the Cinnamon Skeleton album cover image

Album cover image

David Garland

David Garland

Vashti Bunyan Vashti Bunyan and David Garland

Left: Vashti Bunyan at her vocal recording session in David’s Manhattan home studio.

Right: David plays Vashti Bunyan’s Dulcitone as Vashti looks on, in her Edinburgh home. This is when and where David recorded “Vashti’s Dulcitone.” Photo by Al Campbell.

Sean Lennon Sean Lennon

Left: Sean Lennon at the drums, seen through reflections on the control room window.

Right: Sean playing drums on “Maybe (We Won’t Wait So Long)”.

Charlotte Kemp Muhl Charlotte Kemp Muhl

Left: Charlotte Kemp Muhl at the vocal recording session.

Right: During the long, late session, Charlotte sometimes looked like she might be sleeping, but she’d immediately speak up when she heard anyone go a little flat, sharp, or off rhythm; and she was always right.

Sean Lennon John Lennon's amp

Left: Sean adjusting the great-sounding guitar amp he used. He later revealed that it’s an amp his father used in The Beatles.

Right: John Lennon’s amp.

Sean Lennon David Garland, Sean Lennon, and Charlotte Kemp Muhl

Left: Sean Lennon experimenting with his guitar.

Right: In performance at The Stone in NYC, July, 2011: David Garland, Sean Lennon, Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Photo by Nigel Rollings.

cabin in Maine view from the studio

Left: The Maine cabin where portions of the album were recorded.

Right: A view from Sean Lennon’s studio window. Photo by Sean.

in performance at The Stone

In performance at The Stone in NYC, July, 2011: Yuki Numata, Sage Cole, Caitlin Sullivan, David Garland, Sean Lennon, Mike McGinnis, Charlotte Kemp Muhl. Photos by Anne Garland.

Watch a performance of “Forever” from this concert.

More Video


Watch new and old performances on Garland’s YouTube channel.

Garland’s music on Bandcamp.

A sampling of Garland’s archived radio shows:

Connie Converse Walking In the Dark

Van Dyke Parks at

Laura Marling at

Diane Cluck at

Movies on the Radio on WQXR

Spinning On Air on WNYC

and many more links here