Alex Mirkin

Alex Mirkin

 Somerville, Massachusetts, USA
BandFolkSinger/Songwriter

Biography

Almost literally "raised on the radio", Alex spent most of his young and formative years surrounding himself with music, whether it be his fathers taped copies of "Sgt. Pepper's" and "Tommy", his mothers folk compilations and bed-time Joan Baez lullabies, the families upright piano in the corner of the living room, the children's choir at church, or simply switching between AM and FM stations on a $10 radio. As a writer, Alex has built his craft on a belief that the english language is too broad and free to allow for lazy lyrics or over-used cliches. He fosters the notion that songs can be both poetry and prose, and nurtures this idea in his own creativity.
Alex was first introduced to the idea of alternate guitar tunings by Joni Mitchell and CSNY, and it has become the foundation for his playing style. But it was on a summer evening at the age of 17, in a bookstore in Portland, ME that he first heard Nick Drake. "Place to Be" was playing on an old stereo, and he stood where he was and listened to the entire "Pink Moon" album without moving. Ever since then, Alex's sound and style musically is based almost exclusively in unique and mood-setting tunings.
He is influenced by life; the up and downs, the uncertainty of it all and the grounded awareness of being. Love, loss, and everything in-between. We hope you enjoy.

"What I hear when I listen to Alex play isn't exactly folk or of the broadly-dubbed "singer-songwriter" genre. Instead, I get a highly creative and unique alchemy of new and old sound. I hear Paris nights and London rain. I hear beauty and sadness. I hear Nick Drake, Sylvia Plath, and Colin Meloy. His free use of alternative guitar tunings and gorgeous lyrical lines stand out to me in a way that makes me believe we will be hearing greatness from this young man sooner than we know."

- Jack Kerns

Lyrics

The Gypsy and The Palm Reader

Written By: Alex Mirkin

Sat a gypsy with a palm reader
Tracing circles in the dust
Tracing footsteps of the people on the street
Neither caring all that much
Both vainly tried to weight trade against silver that another made
But no one spared a dime or two, and saw them just as others do
Just two architects of paper-doll dreams

To the gypsy said the palm reader
“You steal your fortune, I read mine
Upon the hands of those whos pockets you pick
I’d say we walk a different line�
But the gypsy she replied in kind, said “boy you best go change your mind
Cause we tell the truth most every time, like orphans know their family lines
We’re both wolves amongst the city of the sheep�

And we’ll see what we see when we see from the other side

Said the gypsy to the palm reader
“You and I are quite the same
And though we were assigned to slightly different parts
We both sing the same refrain
Whether I go high or you go, we both know its all for show
And we with a single eye between us two, we move around and shape whats true
We’re both kings amongst the city of the blind
We’re both kings amongst the city of the blind

Clementine

Written By: Alex Mirkin

Clementine went out tonight, to catch a falling star that she saw
Crashing down on Main street in the echoes of the night
Ran far against the wind and rain, to see if she could catch it ‘fore it
Hit the ground and vanished with the creeping of the light

But all it is she found there at ending of the world
Were skylines and horizons disappearing in her eye

Clementine, always wasting time
Always running after something
That you know you’ll keep missing
Clementine, give us a sign
Will you be with us tomorrow?
Will you tell us when you go?

Clementine is high tonight, on twisted lies, amphetamines,
And anything to stop the contradictions in her head
Blazing through at breakneck pace, the life of her own party,
She’s addicted to the attitude of caring even less

But action’s no distraction for the demons in her brain
That tear and scratch and make it hard to keep herself sane

Clementine, what’s wrong this time?
Are you passed out by the back door?
Did you forget what you came for?
Clementine, give us a sign
Will you be with us tomorrow?
Will you tell us when you go?

Clementine is sad tonight, and I can’t do a thing to help her
Think about the falling stars and things beyond her eyes
Oh just stay here for a while dear, please don’t get the notion you can
Slip away without the slightest hint of a goodbye

She’s angry and she’s flailing like a bird caught in the wind
Who knows where she’ll go to and who knows where she’s been?

Clementine, what’s wrong this time?
Always crying, always screaming
Always saying that you’re leaving
Clementine, give us a sign
Will you be with us tomorrow?
Will you tell us when you go?

Philadelphia

Written By: Alex Mirkin

The quiet slumber, of lumbering buildings
Their antique windows reflect our history
10th street station rolls into view
Seem like a million years since the last time this felt new

Buskar boy, drinks a toast
To the lovers down on South Street, pressed up against a door post
And even though I, know this scene well,
Again I’m losing myself
In the shadow of the Liberty Bell

Philadelphia, Philadelphia
Sometimes I miss you,
But I don’t feel bad when I don’t

Somewhere hiding, in this skyline
Down churchly alleys, or on the Main Line
Between the canyons of steel and concrete
There’s a ghost of a memory that’s still bittersweet

And words alone won’t bring us back
To dancin’ down on 5th street
Past Independence Hall without a clue

I was blind and now I see
I’ll just repeat the same old things
I was lost, thought I was found
But now it all comes crashing down

Devil

Written By: Alex Mirkin

I’ve been falling from grace,
I’ve been stumbling in the shallows of an ocean
I’ve been dreaming in black and whites
And there ain’t no Technicolor in sight

Twenty-one years young and
Who is it that I’ve become
Does this mirror recognize me at all?
And if it did, would I like what it had to say?

All these sad sad strangers given me sideline glances
Like a bad bad chorus of their old used up chances
Either way its getting harder to sing hallelujah
With this devil sittin round my head
With this devil sittin round my head

I’ve been drinking like a drowning man
I’ve been sinking down farther than
The lights down near the end of the bar
Like lighthouse beacons warning of the rocks

Ce N'est Pas L'Amour

Written By: Alex Mirkin

Smoke fills up the broken room
Tired eyes looking through the gloom
You smile at me with every pass
My head’s fogging like a piece of glass

Record man begins to play
With a flick of your hips you begin to sway
Make me forget I ever cared
Meet all my stares with a toss of your hair

Strip away the layers of my confidence
Peel away the flavors of my innocence
Tear away each lasting bit of what I think of right and wrong
I don’t think this is much but it might be enough
But this isn’t love

Blame it on a judgment call
Blame it on a moral flaw
Blame it on the chemicals
And ventricle that expand when you’re near

Non ce n’est pas l’amour,
Mais il pourrait vous faire bon

Monument Square

Written By: Alex Mirkin

You almost walked right by me
All beautiful and shyly
Seems like only yesterday
I was throwing you away

It seem you’re doing well
And me, I’ve been to hell and back
So lets go out and drown a few
And talk just like old lovers do

Take me out tonight
It don’t matter where
Get me drunk on cheap beer
So I can pretend that you still care
Like you did back in Monument Square

Like vanity fades
From an old woman’s face
These things move slowly by
I can’t quite reason why

There was another time
When I could read inside your mind
Now your words twist around my head
Like smoke from your cigarette

Oh, my tendencies for strange frequencies…

Paper Cup of Fine Wine

Written By: Alex Mirkin

There’s your crooked smile, begging me to stay
Here’s my awkwardness, standing in the way
The record player's spinning, my favorite oldies tune
I’m breathing in the silence that is filling up the room

I know, I'm not the slightest bit fancy
But in my own way, I'm gonna show you that I can be
I can talk about the man I'll be, in just a little short while
But for now,
But for now, I'm just a paper cup of fine wine,

Oh but when you look at me like I’m only halfway empty
Speaking optimistically, I'm nearly where I ought to be
Sometimes I'm like a little kid, playing at this grown-up shit
But if you take a little sip, the taste will linger on your tongue

I love you in spite of myself
I love you in spite of myself, and in spite of you

Girl In Blue

Written By: Alex Mirkin

Cigarettes and poetry
Ex-pat papers on coffee tables
Calm retreat from busy streets
Sugar cubes and Hemmingway
Espresso smells and cathedral bells
Summer haze and old ashtrays
Oh I’ll be your French café,
If you’ll be my girl in blue

Hollywood and superstars
Fancy people on sandy beaches
Topless cars down at hippy bars
Sunset alley where, we can dally
Pacific highway don’t know if I’ll stay
There’s a protest rally, down in the valley
Oh I’ll be your California
If you’ll be my girl in blue

Body warm and ice so cold
Later nights run into morning lights
Amber gold, tastes so bold
Getting high under open sky
Laughing friends with single-malt trends
Drunken smile, oh its been a while
Oh I’ll be your whiskey bottle
If you’ll be my girl in blue

Strangers Here

Written By: Alex Mirkin

He drove downtown on a Tuesday night
Fighting rain and sleep and alcohol
And all the houses looked like sandcastles vacant for the tide
With no direction, you can’t stray too far

And all his old friends
They walk a different beat
But all of the places that they’re walkin
Are the same they’ve always been

We’re all strangers here
With no idea
Of how to find our home when we’re there
Friends and lovers stray
No matter what you say
Or sometimes because of what you do
All alone with our familiarity
When we’re all strangers here

She came back home for the wedding day
Little sister found the man she never could
And everybody spoke in “don’t worry you’re next� undertones
It helps her out just about as much as it cheers

She walks down the street
To keep the questions at bay
Wondering how she ever missed a town
That never knew her anyway

Ghosts In the Machine

Written By: Alex Mirkin

These ghosts in the machine
Are climbing up the walls tonight
They’re playing on your fears
And their whispering in the dark,
As your brood about the starkness of your heart

I knew a piano man, lost both his hands
Playing cops and robbers in the second world war
Can’t play a single note of anything he ever wrote
Yeah but he still dreams of German mines and pretty, willing, blonde frauleins

Oh these ghosts in the machine
Yeah their haunting out your head
And creepin’ neath your bed, while you sleep
These backwards memories,
They’ll keep you up all night locked in fright
Don’t let those ghosts in the machine
Bring you down

Old lovers creed and lovers greed
Are phantoms in your head tonight
They’ll drag you down like shadows ‘neath the ground
Cause when you live in the dark and you love with no heart,
It could be said that you’re already dead

Am I your ghost tonight?
Cause I will haunt you when you close your eyes,
haunt you till the day you die

Discography

Strangers Here EP - 2006
Pentimento (full band album) - 2007

Set List

Song List:
The Gypsy and the Palm Reader
Clementine
Philadelphia
Devil
Ce N'est Pas L'Amour
Monument Square
Paper Cup of Fine Wine
Girl In Blue
Strangers Here
Ghosts In the Machine
Goodnight and Goodluck
Fields of Our Fathers
Powerlines
Sailors and Satellites
When the Bombs Fall

Set lists can be from 1/2 hour to 2 hours in length.

Typical covers include:
"Across the Universe" - org. by The Beatles
"Hallelujah" - org. by Leonard Cohen, cover version by Jeff Buckley
"Great Balls of Fire" org. By Jerry Lee Lewis