Not Your Door

by Robert Rotifer

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released July 1, 2016

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Robert Rotifer Canterbury, UK

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Track Name: If We Hadn't Had You
If We Hadn't Had You


We watched a film from when you were born
We heard you speak before words were formed
You said you recognised yourself
In the clothes I'd worn

We watched that film of the day you were born
And I thought of the things that were going on
In that very same world at the time
When you were born

And it wasn't all wrong
It wasn't any less true
Though I guess we withdrew
But what would we have had
If we hadn't had you

We rolled your pram down to Hyde Park
On that sunny day before the world went dark
They said it was a million
It may have been more

Your brother waving his placard around
You and us in the sun as we sat on the ground
And a faraway voice said
“We're too many to ignore”

Well we didn't stop the war
So it wasn't really true
And then everyone withdrew
Girl what would we have had
If we hadn't had you

If we hadn't had you, well, heaven knows
We would have bought some records
Some books and some clothes
To dress up the hell
Of a life only lived for ourselves

And it wouldn't have been wrong
Or any less true
If all that we knew
Is the little we would have had
If we hadn't had you
Track Name: Passing a Van
Passing a Van


I don't know if you spotted me
Through sheets of rain and spray
I was in that beat-up van
That you passed on the motorway
Along with seven other women
We were on our way out west
Thirty hours into the journey
Never stop to take a rest

As you were breezing past our van
I read your lips, you said
“That's the hordes coming in from the east”
And you were right
Cause true enough
We were coming to look after
Your mother and your father

We're coming for six weeks
Then we'll be going back again
I have met them all before
But I can't say that they're my friends
And as for my own son and daughter
I don't see much of them now
I save up all my affections
But they fizzle out somehow

When we roll into your city
The decisions have been made
We collect our bowls and bedpans
They're the tools of our trade
Yes I know more about your mother now
Than you have ever known
You should hear the things your father says
When he is on his own
He is on his own

We've come to look after
Your mother and your father
Track Name: Meanwhile in my Machine
Meanwhile in my Machine


So we stopped watching the news
Cause I just couldn't handle it
Each time I throw a hissy fit
I want to be applauded

And I send it to the world
I will dole it out pearl by pearl
All of my rage and half my wit
It needs to be recorded

Meanwhile in my machine
Calamity awaiting
Phone vibrating
Telling me nothing new
But keeping me a world away from...

You and me in '92
We walked the aisles of suburban sheds
Giddy young couples testing beds
We lived on Swedish meatballs

The direction was implied
In the end things would turn out right
Once all the world was unified
In singing with the Beatles

Meanwhile in our machines
Algorithms mating
Propagating personal points of view
Keeping me a world away from..

You know I feel I really can't compete
I'm an obstacle in the street
I want to go slow
And if all that I love is obsolete
Then where can I retreat
Where do we go

Meanwhile in my machine
Calamity awaiting
Phone vibrating
Telling me nothing new
But keeping me a world away from you
Track Name: Our Only Entertainment
Our Only Entertainment


Leave that Thesaurus on the shelf
One word and one rhyme for yourself
No need to waste your breath here
Cause it's been done to death, Dear
Just like that old trick you applied
To write a song for you to hide
Behind a you that means an I
The show-off's way to be shy

I'm from a place of little point
We barely bend our stiffened joints
We sing when we're ashamed and
This is what we call entertainment

So here I sit with my guitar
My fingers only reach this far
Watch how they drape around the neck
They've made those shapes for decades
I'm waiting for that minor chord
It comes along and breaks my heart
That's cultural conditioning
And I've no problem with it
No, I've no problem with it

And when our Western bodies meet
The setting must remain discreet
We sing for we're ashamed and
This is our only entertainment

(What do you mean there's "elf"
I know, but come on...)
Track Name: Nothing Left to Give Away
Nothing Left to Give Away


When they ask you
Always say that you don't know
You don't know where you're from
And you don't know where you go
Just as long as they're still asking
There is hope
Never give away
What you don't have to show

There's a man he says
He wants to be your friend
Once he gets you to trust him
That's going to be the end
Yes, he smiles
But you can tell that he pretends
Never fall for those
Who claim to be your friends

My life is over now
I've had my fun
And now I laugh at the setting sun
Cause now the slog is behind me
World is unwinding

I was going to tell you
Everything one day
But we built up this front
That we couldn't penetrate
Underneath it all
Our souls would suffocate
Till in the end
There's nothing left to give away
Track Name: The Piano Factory
The Piano Factory


I was on my brand new ten-speed
Racing down the cobbled street
Got my wheel caught in a rail
Cross the handlebar I sailed

I was face down on the ground
With grazes on my arms and knees
Heard the laughter of the men
In their bright blue dungarees
They were standing by the gates
Of the piano factory

I picked up my bike and pushed it
Down the path through our estate
Past the bear made out of stone
That we were not to climb on

It was summer, open windows
You could hear them tune the pianos
See their workshop walls adorned
With their tools and hardcore porn
By that time the 1970s
Looked shabby brown and worn

So in our teens when we were banned
From all the cafés in Vienna
To escape the cold and snow
To the showroom we would go

And we'd run our uncouth hands
Over their harpsichords and grands
Till the concert crowds came in
Always smug and double-chinned
Trading insults veiled in pleasantries
Before the show begins

But when I last came to town
By chance I passed the flattened ground
Where the factory used to be
And it all came back to me
The tuneless tinkling of piano keys
The laughter carried in the breeze
Hot summer air
The taste of blood
And bright blue dungarees
Track Name: An Autumn Day Like This
An Autumn Day Like This


On an autumn day like this
We'd sometimes let the fire die
Get our coats and drive out west
Beyond the end of the tramlines
Through the woods and up the hill
To a place where time stood still
We we'd be having toast and coffee
Looking over the city
We'd be drinking in the glow
Of the streets spread out below

Oh love
I'm sure you remember
I said
It's so dull being safe
I know
I was dumb and ungrateful then

In my old asthmatic Beetle
Mono speaker in the dash
Rolling down the cobbled road
To half the sound of our records
And if that was not enough
We would sing the other half
And in the weak beam of the headlights
All the trees looked like cut-outs
Turned a page each bend we took
In our life-sized pop-up book

Oh love
I'm sure you remember
What a git I could be
I know
But I wouldn't have believed you then

And back at the freezing flat
We'd try to get get the stove going
Till the flue was glowing red
Then we'd take ourselves to bed

Oh love
I'm sure you remember
I said
It's so dull being safe
I know
I was dumb and ungrateful then
Track Name: Irma la Douce
Irma la Douce


I'm getting ready for the last time
I'll be standing on your balcony
And see the sweep of pea soup
As it flows out of the city
Between poplar trees
That reach up from the ground
So far below
Their tops in green and silver
Almost within reach
While on the tarmac beach
Incessant mess is rolling
In a crescent to the left
Against the river's run

Irma la Douce
Tell me the truth
What made you come back home?
We came because we'd won

I turn around and face the curtain
Stepping in
I'm squeezing past the folding chair
You used to park yourself in there
On summer evenings
In the golden sun rays
Gleaming shock of white
Over that light bone china skin
Your hairless brows
White lashes under tinted glasses
I will pass that desk
A shrine for thirty years
To him who once was sitting here

Irma la Douce
Tell me the truth
What made you come back home?
We came because we'd won

His books still sitting in the shelf
Tobacco tin and wooden urn
That I once opened unprepared

There is the wall that was rebuilt
When you moved in in '45
A hole that some grenade had made
Let in the wind
That blew away the fatherland
And very soon the hole was sealed
To make a home to last till now
That you are gone
Do you know I wonder
When they come to paint the doors
Will they fill in the bullet scars?

Irma la Douce
Tell me the truth
What made you come back home?
We came because we'd won
Track Name: Top of the Escalator
Top of the Escalator


I said I'm sorry to hear
About what's happened to you
I was trying to be nice
There was no need to be true
I saw your picture pop up
On my timeline today
Knowing if I ignored it
It would just go away

Now your girlfriend she writes
She can't believe that you're gone
What I find harder to believe
Is how you ever found one
But underneath all her drama
And all of her grief
I've a feeling she and I
Share the same sense of relief

Cause every time I get off
At that underground stop
Would you believe
All those decades later
Part of me still sees you there
Looking down from the top
Of the escalator

You and your thick bunch of friends
You never could keep up with me

Some years on when someone
Introduced me to you
There was nothing in your eyes
No, I don't think you knew
That the last time we met
You'd been holding a knife
Chased me down the upward escalator
Running for my life

Now every time I get off
At that underground stop
Would you believe
All those decades later
Part of me still sees you there
Looking down from the top of the escalator

You in your big silly boots
You never could keep up with me

Out of breath I would come up
Into the open air
At the other end of the station
They'd turn off half the street lights
And that meant midnight
On Südtirolerplatz
Track Name: Not Your Door
Not Your Door


I went up to your house
And it dawned on me
As I stood by the entrance
That I no longer had your key
It came to my head
To press the buzzer instead
You'd never heard me through the din
But you'd always let me in

I took a few steps back
And looked up to see
Which one was your balcony
But of course, there couldn't be any
Nothing here anymore
Could ever be yours
This was the brand new truth
Of a world without you

Now I was locked out
There couldn't be any doubt
This was not your door
Anymore

So I walked back down
That familiar street
Right up to the corner
Where the phone box used to be
And I pictured you
Walking right next to me
Like you'd run around
Before those little legs let you down

Already I saw
You now belonged to my head
To make you young, make you happy
That's the beauty of the dead
And there'd be no reason
To ever come here again
This wasn't what I'd planned
But it helped me understand

Now I was locked out
There couldn't be any doubt
This was not your door
Anymore