Douglas Nelson

Douglas Nelson

 San Francisco, California, USA
BandRockSinger/Songwriter

Douglas Nelson's sound is both available and accessible, yet still indefinable. His lyrics are packed with troubled meaning, haunting undertones and a zestful appreciation of the positive nature of the human spirit. His is a refreshing, original approach, told with wisdom and experience.

Biography

Getting to the heart of the matter – the individual as representative of the whole and yet with a unique story to tell.
Master storytellers are Nelson’s major influencers. For instance, Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp, Lucinda Williams, Roger Waters, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Lou Reed, and Dylan all display the individual’s point of view within a visible cultural scheme. Johnny Cash, especially, strikes him as being willing to plumb the darkest depths of his soul and find there the love and mercy of Jesus, and to throw it out there: a message that speaks connects.
These storytellers are all masters at showing the need for justice. Specifically, the tension between our instinctive demand for justice for our oppressor and a cry for personal mercy; whether the hero of the song receives justice, mercy or neither.
Musically, he enjoys the emotion of the electric bluesy rhythms of Pete Townshend (with the Who and on his own) and more recently A3’s mixture of roots and electronic music.
About being a Christian and a song writer: the Christian has a point of view but is handicapped by what others see as What a Christian Is – and he’s too easily pigeonholed: everyone knows what he’s going to say because they think they “know” him. Nelson wants to be an artist who’s a Christian – to tell the stories from a Christian point of view, engaging in neither the predictably didactic nor the predictable happy ending.
He feels a need to not so much preach as to display the gospel/Christianity at work through story—neither religious nor irreligious, but a third way that connects with the transcendent without being removed from the messiness of the struggle. He gives the overall impression of a traveler with sometimes crushing doubts, who fails frequently and tries to repent as regularly, with his hope not in pulling himself up but rather in relying on God for mercy and for justice. Candid that the sinner in his songs reflects his own struggles, he’s honest that his faith and his work in a 12-step program off and on for 20 years has given him both tools and insight. Though he studies both the bible and the 12 steps, he’s found it takes serious discipline to go from knowing to living; to humbly accept who he is; what he’s called to do; what he’s called not to do. Mostly, he’s confident that life isn’t an endless downhill slide.
He claims to be willing to expose whatever in himself will help people who are similarly stressed with life. For him, the tension in the fear of losing or not getting something ostensibly critical displays--on a moment-to-moment basis—exactly where his faith resides. And it’s usually in the wrong places. Trusting that he is not alone, his theory is that exposing his fears and sin is part of the process of healing, and there is the promise that it helps others to let go of their dreck.
“So in the name of community, I’m willing to show whatever it takes – whatever I’m called to do.”

Lyrics

Dollar Bill

Written By: Douglas Nelson

Young man walkin' up the street, 'cross Seventh Avenue
Maybe that man looks just like me, perhaps he looks like you
Chest all twisted up inside, his heart's about to bust
Last dollar in his pocket says "In God we Trust"

"In God we Trust", say it 'til you believe it
"In God we Trust", when you feel the dull blade thrust
"In God we Trust", sing it like you mean it
"In God we Trust", 'til we return to the dust

Left his woman five days ago, tired of listenin' to her cry
Couldn't see a reason to stick it out after seein' that young boy die
"Woman, you want some sympathy, see a preacher if you must"
Don't look to me to save your soul, I've had enough

"In God we Trust", say it 'til you believe it
"In God we Trust", this life is so unjust
"In God we Trust", sing it like you mean it
"In God we Trust", 'til we return to the dust

You don't know just where to go, got too many hours in the day
Can't find a job & can't go home, got nothin' to do but pray
Thought you'd have arrived by now, didn't think you'd end up bust
Empty of everything you was, you'll never be the upper crust

"In God we Trust", say it 'til you believe it
"In God we Trust", when your mettle's only rust
"In God we Trust", sing it like you mean it
"In God we Trust", 'til we return to the dust

Old Man walkin' down the street, right at Eighth Avenue
Sunset on his face feels sweet, maybe this time he'll be true
Thought I might be at my end but baby, things have changed
Everything that was goin' to hell somehow got rearranged

Some nights I pray I get my way, some nights I pray for rain
Some nights I'll do 'bout anything to lay down all this pain
Life get so hard, I want to die, I tell myself I must
Remember that ol' dollar bill…

"In God we Trust", say it 'til you believe it
"In God we Trust", some day I might adjust
"In God we Trust", sing it like you mean it
"In God we Trust", 'til we return to the dust

"In God we Trust", say it 'til you believe it
"In God we Trust", when you feel the dull blade thrust
"In God we Trust", sing it like you mean it
"In God we Trust", 'til we return to the dust

Call My Name

Written By: Douglas Nelson

Last chance for salvation, another night down on my knees
Given to temptation, but please hear this wretch's plea…

Long as I remember, I been cryin' from this hurt
I've taken what you've given me, my face is in the dirt
Life is only trouble in this cold suburb of hell
I'm a lonesome man, written off, at the bottom of a well

Oh, darkness, my only friend
Here I am, here I am again
Hopeless, hopeless and alone, I reap what I have sown
Oh darkness, call my name

Defeated by anger, I see no light of grace
You have turned my friends against me, put me in my place
Now everyone I know is out to put an end to me
And my appetite has taken what's left of dignity

Oh, darkness, my only friend
Here I am, here I am again
Hopeless, hopeless and alone, I reap what I have sown
Oh darkness, call my name

Can you hear me? Are you deaf to my cry?
Please, breathe your life into me, or just let me die

Left for dead on a stack of bodies without a single grave
Lost in black oblivion, beaten by rage

Oh, darkness, my only friend
Here I am, here I am again
Hopeless, hopeless and alone, I reap what I have sown
Oh darkness, Call my name, call my name…

Movin' On

Written By: Douglas Nelson

Don't know where I'm goin', couldn't tell you where I been
But I'm makin' good time along the way
Ten thousand days and nights I've traveled, I don't travel light
And my shadow's a little heavier every day

I'm not the boy I used to be, maybe I never was
But at the time everything seemed so profound
Dreams gave way to somethin' else - responsibility
Felt like I had to let those dreams lay down

Now here I am
Here I am
Here I am again
Here I am again

Killin' myself a day at a time, so lost I couldn't breathe
Locked myself in a room with the windows painted black
"Those hands around your neck are your own," Mama said, so
I took 'em down and tied them behind my back
I took 'em down and tied them behind my back

Now here I am
Here I am
Here I am again
Here I am again

Expectations, consequences
Bring me to my senses
You know I had to let them go

Don't know where I'm goin', where I been has brought me here
Still got a few regrets for what I left undone
Ten thousand miles behind me, what's ahead, God knows
But it's time to move on

And I'm gonna…

Make every moment count
Been wasted for so long
Gonna get on up, gonna get on down to
The nature of my wrong

Make every moment count
Been wasted for so long
Gonna get on up, gonna get on down to
The nature of my wrong

Make every moment count
Been wasted far too long
Gonna get on up, gonna get on down to
The nature of my wrong

I'm movin' on

Here to Stay

Written By: Douglas Nelson

Aunt Sally gave me this ring, to give to my bride
She said "a ring is a promise,” said it with pride
Uncle Johnny put it on her finger when she was just nineteen
He gave his vow to her, she swore her love to him

He said, ‘Baby, I'm gonna love you whether I like it or not
‘I’ll be on your side every night and day
‘When it's good and when it's bad, when you get sick, when I'm broke
‘When it all says run, I’m here to stay’

What you see in me, I did not see in myself
What you see makes me a better man
When I fail to love you like I should you turn me right around
When I'm lovin' you right baby, that's the best I am

If this ring is a promise, like Aunt Sally said
It's a vow we can't keep on our own
We need grace from above, strength from friends, courage to forgive
All for joy we'll come to know

What you see in me, I did not see in myself
What you see makes me a better man
When I fail to love you like I should you turn me right around
When I'm lovin' you right baby, that's the best I am

You picked me up when life had let me down
I was sick, you held my hand
Your love covers a lifetime of pain
Your grace gave me hope to love again - yeah!

I'm gonna love you whether you like it or not
I’ll be on your side every night and day
When it's good and when it's bad, when you get sick, when I'm broke
When it all says run, I’m here to stay

What you see in me, I did not see in myself
What you see makes me a better man
When I fail to love you like I should you turn me right around
When I'm lovin' you right baby, that's the best I am

American Dream

Written By: Douglas Nelson

Jimmy dressed for success, wore a clean shirt
Tired of workin' the line, tired of workin' the dirt
Got a job sellin' cars down on the boulevard
Never thought the good life would be so hard

He put some money down on a house in "Terrace Hills"
Got a big plasma screen to watch the channel that thrills
Got a pretty young thing to impress the boys at work
But behind his back, they just called him a jerk

Top of the month, the bill comes due
A new lifestyle gonna see you through
American dream is just pie in the sky
Sellin' your soul, livin' a lie

Now, livin' got hard on them credit cards
Jimmy got a loan & an extra 300 yards
Consolidate! That'll set you straight
Get a lower monthly payment at a lower rate

Jimmy said "Man, oh man, time for a change"
His American dream was still way out of range
So he leveraged what he had to keep movin' on up
Then came the day when Jim ran out of luck

Top of the month, the bill comes due
A new lifestyle gonna see you through
American dream is just pie in the sky
Sellin' your soul, livin' a lie

Bankrupt and broke, Jim lost all he had
Movin' up the chain didn't work like he'd planned
That job in the dirt, down on that line
Sat waitin' for Jim the whole damn time

Top of the month, the bill comes due
A new lifestyle AIN'T gonna see you through
American dream is just pie in the sky
Stop sellin' your soul, stop livin' a lie

In the Moment

Written By: Douglas Nelson

In the moment you were born I could not see
What I needed from you was a righteous plea
You came from your world into this, betrayed by that kiss
Yet by your death and life you somehow set us free

In the moment we first met I could not say
The great love I've seen from you from day to day
I've seen glory in your word, love surpassing the absurd
At a cost more than I ever could repay

In my dark hour, I turn away
I'm afraid to say that I'm the one to blame
But you were nailed onto that cross so my life would not be lost
And I turn my eyes to you, now, once again

In the moment of my death I'll see your face
In every moment of my shame I've seen your grace
Your love and wisdom beyond mine, not my will, Lord, but thine
Wherever I run you call me back, Lord, every time

Your love and wisdom beyond mine, not my will, Lord, but thine
Wherever I run you call me back, Lord, every time

Discography

Douglas' first full-length CD - "The Exact Nature of Our Wrongs" - is now available at www.cdbaby.com and iTunes.

Set List

Douglas can do a show anywhere from 45 minutes of all originals to an hour and a half of mixed original and covers. Here are some originals:

Dollar Bill (4:40)
Here to Stay (4:00)
End of the Line (3:30)
A Misdemeanor or Two (4:30)
In the Moment (3:20)
American Dream (3:30)
Call My Name (5:00)
Movin' On (4:00)
Nobody Knows (4:30)

Here are some covers:

The Tiki Bar is Open (John Hiatt) (3:00)
Things Have Changed (Dylan) (5:00)
Ugliest Girl in the World (Dylan) (4:00)
Minutes to Memories (John Mellencamp) (4:30)
Twenty Nine Dollars (Tom Waits) (7:30)
You Don't Know Me at All (Don Henley) (4:45)
Eldorado (Neil Young) (5:00)
Joy (Lucinda Williams) (3:00)
The Future (Leonard Cohen) (6:00)