Making Things Up

by Thomas Johanson

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“Making things up.” It's essentially what all artists do, whatever medium they work in, no matter how lofty their ambitions. We all take something from real life – a low branch brushing the waves of a rolling river, new love, even the Arab Spring – and somehow alter it to our purposes. We juxtapose these images, find parallels in history, imagine new worlds in which these scenarios can play out, divorced from the social and political baggage they have acquired from being all too real. We make things up so we can better understand the world around us. We make things up to entertain one another with false bravado and larger-than-life tragedies. We make things up out of the vainglorious hope that one day, the real world might more closely reflect the one we've been crafting in our dreams all our lives. And we make things up for fun – for the sheer joy of creating.
The songs on this record fall mostly into that last category. I occasionally get a little political, a little melancholy, a little strange. But ultimately, I composed these songs as a way to pass the time, to entertain myself and my friends, to see if they would work. Some did work, some were left out. What you have here are the ones I wanted to share, the ones I felt you would get the biggest kick from.


released July 19, 2011

All instruments: Thomas Johanson
Most vocals: Thomas Johanson
Guest vocals on "The Apricot Tree": Catherine "Mandikat" Duthie
Drum machine/MIDI programming: Thomas Johanson
Recorded in Bellingham, WA, Wells, MN, and Ames, IA



all rights reserved


Thomas Johanson Minnesota

Unsatisfied with the notion of sticking with any particular genre, I choose to explore them all.

Here you will find a partial account of my journey.

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Track Name: Lonesome Fashion
You called me last night from the county jail / Saying 'honey, could you please come post my bail?'
And I know in 6 months time, without fail / You'll call again
I saw you driving in your new corvette / Though I ain't received your alimony check just yet
And I'm guessin' it's a pretty safe bet / That I won't

Your pernicious deeds, like vicious weeds / Have choked the flowers of compassion
And as a victim of your own self-contempt, you stand there, clothed in lonesome fashion

Rusty's birthday was just the other day / We threw a party, with some money I squirrelled away
And the grandfolks came down from Federal Way / A good time was had by all
Still, Rusty wishes that you was here / Instead of passed out in the drunk tank from last night's good cheer
I guess we'll just have to wait / For next year

The phone rings in the dead of the night / You're calling for one last chance to make everything all right
And you know I'm too tired to fight / But I just hang up.
Track Name: It's Okay To Admit That You Don't Love Freedom
You can take comfort / There's someone watching over you
Looking into everyone you meet / And watching everything you do
So when you call your mistress on the telephone,
The two of you will never have to be alone
And it's okay to admit that you don't love freedom

So buy her useless trinkets / To make up for when you fight
And who gives a damn just where they come from / So long as the price is right?
And all these baubles that are simply tossed aside
Those who assemble them could never afford to buy
But it's okay to admit that you don't love freedom

There's a tanline on your finger / Things fell through, but at least you tried
But now you deny others the right to try and make it last / You say they'll never be sanctified
It don't matter if they never break a single vow
In your eyes they'll be damned anyhow
But it's okay. Just admit that you don't love freedom
Track Name: The Apricot Tree
The oppresive July heat hung heavy in the air / My shirt clung to my back
The fish they weren't a-bitin' at the old muddy river / So I decided to head back
Walkin 'cross that sun-baked field, my head began to swim
My knees were gettin wobbly and my eyes began to dim
When on the hill up yonder, I spied an apricot tree
And resolved to hid beneath its shade from the oppresive July heat

Fool I was, I hadn't brought a blessed thing to eat / Nor any water to quench my thirst
To top it off, the fruit up in the tree was not yet ripe / It seemed that things couldn't get much worse
Beneath broad leaves, I lay down to take my rest
When 'cross that sun-baked field a figure approached from the west
With hair of blond drawn 'cross her face and a dress cornflower blue
This barefoot beauty stopped 'neath my tree to say, "How do you do,
"I'm sorry, sir to bother, but I've come a long long way
And a longer trek is yet awaiting me
I would be most grateful, sir, if you picked me fruit from this apricot tree."

Paralyzed by her beauty, taking pity of her plight / I asked "What is your name?
Where is it you're headed, and from whence did you came?"
"Kind sir, my name is Lilybelle, from home I've run away
And it's my solemn hope to reach California someday"
With this she smiled ruefully, and my heart sank in its chest
I said, "The fruit is not yet ripe, but you can stay & rest"
"I'm sorry sir, but must insist, would you be so unkind to deny me?
I would linger here with you awhile if you picked me fruit from this apricot tree."

Her plea tugged at my heart once more, her smile did me in / I wanted just to make her stay somehow
Still I had not a single apricot to offer her / But then she pointed to the highest bough:
"I think I see one ready, there, so orange and so sweet.
I would linger here with you awhile if you brought it down for me"
Wanting only to please Lilybelle, I wasted no more time
I eyed the golden apple, and then began to climb
"Higher still, and farther out, you'll find the one I want.
I would lay with you til kingdom come, if you picked that apricot for me, my love, if you picked that apricot for me"

Higher still and farther out I climbed / Straining with all my might
And looking back down on Lilybelle, I saw her face beaming with delight
When suddenly the wind picked up, I jolted from the shock
The side of Lily's face looked as if shattered by a rock
The wind revealed the fatal wound her hair of blond did hide
I lost my grip, the branch it slipped, darkness fell over my eyes

The oppresive July heat had lifted at dusk / And so I slowly rose
The rocky soil had scraped my skin / And torn at all my clothes
I turned to inspect the stone where I had found my head
And suddenly my blood went cold, my heart it filled with dread
Two dates were scrawled upon it, and a name I knew too well
I turned and fled that place in fright, left behind my sweet Lilybelle.
Track Name: Something To Believe In
I wish I had your imagination
That like you I could spend all day making things up
What a neat trick / To sway the crowd
With a parting of lips and a flick of the tongue
To give them all something to believe in...

I wish I had your conviction
Strong enough to reshape the way we see the world
I'd raise the cry / To abandon anger
To embrace like brothers and remember
What it was like to have something to believe in...