Shooting Sparrows

by Kelly Howerton

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This album is a questioning of the value of human life and the extent to which it should be promoted and preserved.


released February 2, 2015

I would like to thank my wife, Allison, for putting up with all the disorder I created in the house during the production of this project. I would also like to thank Sam and Lila Kigar for sub-leasing out their house to us and granting me access to their piano and banjo. Furthermore, I would like to thank my past employer for paying me to write all these songs on company time.

All songs were written and performed by Kelly Howerton between 2012 and 2014. The song, the Laundromat, was written by Kelly Howerton back in 2009.
All album artwork was created by Kelly Howerton in 2014.
All tracks were recorded by Kelly Howerton in June 2014.



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Kelly Howerton Durham, North Carolina

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Track Name: Shoot'n Sparrows
A five-dollar drink that I didn’t really want
A five-dollar cover charge for a band I didn’t like
I’m a fearful consumer, conceding to the seller,
Too caught up in appearances, buying in and selling out.

I’m all outside of my element tonight
It’s an unfamiliar place with no friends.
And here I am now, just a sitting in the corner
With my elbows sticking to the tabletop.

I keep stealing glances from myself in the mirror,
Watching the waitresses behind the bar,
Thinking: This here beer, the empty calories,
This past hour, what a waste.

Grandpa used to tell me I could shoot the sparrows
‘Cause they don’t ever measure up to anything.
But lately I’ve been looking over my shoulder
Just to make sure no one’s out there aiming at me.

Oh ain’t it funny how I just feel so damn important?
That I feel like everyone needs to know what I think?
Another winter songbird blending into the grey,
Chirping out forgettable melodies.

This disillusion, this feeling unique,
We think we’re special just because we can speak
Track Name: the laundromat
The sign on the door said, “Not an exit”
I saw a lady enter anyway.
She had a key.
She had a lot of keys.
So much power in her hands,
That she could bend the rules.

Oh now old man folding clothes,
Why are you here?
Yes the obvious answer is you’re doing your laundry,
And this is a laundromat…. But why are you here?
What did you want to be when you were young?
Did all your dreams come true?
I see your car,
I see the things you have.
They are as worn out as the skin on your face.
Is this what you wanted?
Why are you here?
But then again,
Why am I here?
Why are any of us here at the laundromat today?
We’re all trying to be our best,
Trying to look presentable,
Trying to convey to others that we’re all just doing fine.
But we’re trying to get our clothes clean,
In dirty used up water,
That everyone in town has been through before.
It’s the same dirty water that everybody drinks.
And it’s the same dirty water that mingles with our piss in the pipes.
I think it’s safe to assume,
That life didn’t go
According to the plan.
Because rich folks don’t come here,
They got washers and dryers of their own.
Oh life’s been cruel to you,
Oh life’s been cruel to you.
And it’s easy to see you’re living alone,
‘Cause most men your age have wives to do their laundry.

“Well now everybody’s trying to push
This liberal humanistic civil rights garbage on me,
And I just get defensive.
I don’t know why.
It seems like they’re trying to tell me that equality is synonymous with fairness,
But it’s not…….. Hell!
Some of us are born taller, and stronger, and faster, and smarter, and richer than others.
Any of this talk, that we’re all the same, is just wishful thinking,
And anyone who wants to try and tell you otherwise is just trying to sell you something.
After all, we’re all looking out for number one, right?”

Some say when life hands you lemons you should make lemonade,
Then you can sell it on the corner for a quarter for a cup,
But the cups and signs for advertisement all cost money too,
And no one wants to buy your juice,
They’ve got lemons of their own.

Oh life’s been cruel to you,
Oh life’s been cruel to you.
Track Name: Discount Life
Well you should see them when they’re storming through the automatic doors,
You can hear their motor powered chairs straining across the floors
Under the ever watchful eyes in the ceiling up above
Looking out for profit, their one and only love
And with these prices so low, there’s no better place to go
To get your Chinese merchandise and kill your local Joe.

Wal-Mart shoppers, don’t shop for less, this discount life is gonna bring you down.
This discount life is gonna bring you down.

Gotta basket full of plastic and nothing green
Got your food stamps in your pocket for the poverty machine.
Got a big man carrying you on his back,
Setting you up for a heart attack
And you’re gonna let him do it, cut the legs from under you,
‘Cause you won’t bite the hand that heeds you, when it’s the one that feeds you.

Wal-Mart shoppers, don’t shop for less, this discount life is gonna bring you down.
This discount life is gonna bring you down.

Oh now Uncle Sam Walton is poking holes in your vessel
‘Cause you won’t rock the boat while you’re busy bailing water.
He’s gonna sell your health to the hospital
And the pharmacist will own your sons and your daughters.
Oh now Wal-Mart shoppers, don’t shop for less,
This discount life is gonna bring you down.
This discount life is gonna bring you down.

No we ain’t got the time for these health nut antics,
‘Cause we ain’t got the money for the food that’s organic.
Quantitie’s king when you’re under paid
Trying to feed a family on Medicaid
But there’s hormones in the milk that they’re dumping into WIC
And Mama wants to know why the baby’s sick.

Wal-Mart shoppers, don’t shop for less,
This discount life is gonna bring you down.
This discount life is gonna bring you down.

Poor people food tastes better than it should
Poor people food goes down too good
Poor people food, fill your arteries with goo
Poor people food, get your heart strings stewed
Poor people food, make your belly protrude
Poor people food, your diabetic début
Poor people food, get your mind construed
Poor people food will keep you subdued.
Track Name: Social Security Scooter
When you weigh too much to walk and you can’t see your cock
Get yourself a social security scooter
You can cart yourself around while drawing taxes from your town
Riding on a social security scooter
Got that sugar, sugar, starch, feed those parasites on march
Riding on their social security scooters
Declaring their entitlement to governmental supplement
Riding on a social security scooter

Obesity oblivion, go scorn a vegetarian
Go eat yourself to death or until your lungs can’t draw no breath
Then let a doctor intervene with an oxygen machine
Get diabetes, diabetes, even death can not defeat us
We gonna live forever as long as someone’s there to feed us
And you can get yourself a social security scooter
Go and get yourself a social security scooter
Track Name: Nothings Gonna Change
Well we’ll tear down all the trees and we’ll burn away their leaves
We’ll harvest all the woods and turn ‘em into paper goods
And in our halls of cardboard where we’ll hoard our packaged food
We’ll crank the air conditioners and eat more than we should
Then we’ll break apart the rocks and fill ‘em in with crops
We’ll saturate the soil with chemicals and oil
And with our diesel engines roaring in our tractor harvest-alls
We’re gonna save the world by turning corn to ethanol

So let us plow away the prairie, feed the cattle pesticides
We’ll drink their mutant dairy, keep our bodies compromised
And then we’ll wonder why our children don’t develop properly
While we blame it on the internet and satellite TV
‘Cause the counselors at school tell you there’s something wrong
That Junior isn’t focusing or following the rules
So we took him to the doctor and got a bill three feet long
He sent us to the pharmacist for capsulated jewels

So then we walk into the bank and we try and get a loan
‘Cause Junior’s on a breathing tank and needs a better home
So we get a fixed rate mortgage that we’ll pay off when we’re old
On top of all our student debt and titles that we hold
But now the money’s getting thinner and the children still want dinner
So we settle for the cheapy stuff with artificial filler
Now the girls are hitting puberty before they’re even ten
They’ve been eating chicken fingers laced with estrogen
But meanwhile there’s a senator who’s funded automatic
When he goes to the grocery store he only shops organic

We got a generation wrecking ball from GMO decay
Grandpa’s been a guinea pig for the FDA
‘Cause when we subsidize the food supply to the greedy corporations
Well you shouldn’t act surprised when they don’t meet your expectations

Now nothing’s gonna change
Nothing’s gonna change
Nothing’s gonna change, so why even try
Nothing’s gonna change
Nothing’s gonna change
Nothing’s gonna change and we’re all gonna die
Track Name: the Thief
Like a fawn upon the meadow she crept cautious towards the exit
With a shopping cart of diapers and baby formula
But that grocery store Gestapo came and caught her ‘round the corner
He’d been watching her from his hidden camera
And from his mouth rang the sound of defeat
“Excuse me, ma’am, can I see your receipt.”
Oh honey, no one
No one tolerates a thief

Well she shoved away her shopping cart into that sales clerk
And she dashed out the doors like a dancer gone bezerk
And as she tore across the parking lot, her heels a flyin’ high
I coulda swore I heard a baby start to cry
With the merchandise recovered you’d’ve thought they’d let her be
But they notified a sheriff, just in case she tried to flee
Sometimes justice is rubbing salt inside an injury

She musta hardly been no more than sixteen
But oh for a young girl, she sure stirred up quite a scene
All the folks inside the vestibule they said she had it comin’
Saying, “I hope they catch up to her out there as she’s runnin’.”
But I’m not a mother, so I don’t feel I have a voice
But people don’t steal diapers ‘less they see no other choice

…And I remember my mother saying,
“I’d do anything for you.”
But honey no one,
No one tolerates a thief
Track Name: Bessy's Broken Jaw
It was early in the morning, before the rooster summoned the sun
I saw that crooked farmer with his trusty shooting gun
And as he crept into the barnyard, my friends began to stir
There was a flash and a bang and an echo that rang
Sending shivers down my fir
As blood pools on the mud and straw
Around old Bessie’s broken jaw
Warden, farmer, lord, and law

I was born beneath a heat lamp in a damp and narrow stable
I could hear my cousins crying from beyond my musty cradle
Then lights came down from the ceiling as I tripped o’er the feeding trough
There was a rubber glove, picked me up and cut my tail off
My mother’s name is 32
She says it ain’t nothin’ new
And that there’s nothing we can do

Bessie’s coat hangs in the oak tree behind the tool shed
And it flaps in the breeze like a battered flag flowing butterscotch and red
And the dogs like to bark at the chickens and they like to come and tease us
They say Bessie’s in the icebox, cut up in little pieces
No I can’t stand their canine grins
Lately I’ve been noticing
Those bones they gnaw ain’t venison

Well the last thing I can remember I was barreling over the fence
In a tangle of woven wire and a head filled up with sense
The tree line lay before me beyond the asphalt river
When a pair of yellow screeching eyes came and bust my bones to slivers

Oh my whole life has been a lie
I was born and bred to die
Nothing more than meat to fry

It happened too fast
Once my stars aligned
By the time I knew what was happening
Someone else made up my mind
Now darling don’t you bring me down
When you’re holding on my hand
Tell me what I gotta do to make you understand
No baby, I can’t stay here anymore
Tomorrow’s burning up and the fire’s at the door
And all we thought was happiness
Was more like pouring diesel on the floor
Track Name: Burgers and Fries
Burgers and fries,
burgers and fries,
cheeseburgers and fries
mystery meat
and dinner surprise
cheeseburgers and fries.

Burgers and fries,
burgers and fries,
cheeseburgers and fries
mystery meat
and dinner surprise
cheeseburgers and fries.

(an additional verse of "the Thief", in hindsight)
Well now those diapers and that formula
you'd think that they were pearls
the way they followed after to arrest that little girl
and all the managers with folded hands
they said it's only policy
"we simply can't afford
to be a charity."
but meanwhile in the stockrooms
they're throwing food away
while homeless people on the streets
are starving everyday
and somewhere far away
there's a corporate CEO on holiday.
Track Name: Mama Save Me
Sacred fetus
Abortion child
Blessed is your antilife
Your vaccination
Your termination
Your afterlife invitation

(Chorus) Mama save me
Mama save me
Mama save me from the burden of your womb

Mama save me
Mama save me
Mama save me from existence

Well they force you into being
Taboo your means of fleeing
They make you tolerate your being ill
They say to count your blessings
And daily celebrate
The grand illusion of free will


Well all you righteous politicians
You talented morticians
Parading around a corpse of decency
While you preach pro-life
You bury a knife
In the belly of poverty

Track Name: the Youth in Asia
Broken bodies,
Frightened spirits,
Hiding out from death’s decay

Pumping blood
Through plastic tubing
Drawing breath from a machine

Are they living?
Or existing?
Why survive if not to thrive?

Live while you can under the fullness of the sun
And don’t fear the night as it darkens your horizons
There’s an endless amount of stars for you to count

Every action’s
A reaction
To conception in the womb

Being born
Was not an option
No decision on our part

But through death
There is a freedom
In the choosing of our end
Track Name: Terror of Time
We were all held in ransom by cellular phones
Like pigeons tethered to stones
Could I not hear the hum of my soul as it droned
Vibrating all throughout my bones?

Now where are the books that I meant to write
In the darkening hours of night?
They’ve been lost in the couch cushions
Tucked outta sight
Covered in dust and contrite

As I live in terror of time
How I tremble at each bell and chime
Could the source of my trouble
Be how I define
In thinking that all of it’s mine?

I was watching a paid TV program
Avoiding a projected plan
I was thinking about what Bukowski had said
In a book about rye bread and ham

He said that life’s just one big disappointment
With your young years spent looking ahead
Then you get older
And see you’ve been led
To an old dried up dead riverbed

As I live in terror of time
How I tremble at each bell and chime
Could the source of my trouble
Be how I define
In thinking that all of it’s mine?

Now darling, when it’s the end
And the credits begin
And the names of the actors descend
Can we sit in the dark
And try to pretend
We’re foolish young lovers again?