A Dream Is But a Shadow

A Dream Is But a Shadow is a 2011 concept album by the real-world band Pop Bubblegum Trash. Recorded in Massachusetts and New Hampshire during February of that year as part of the 2011 RPM Challenge, the album was the brainchild of author E. Christopher Clark. It was the first story he told in the fantastical land of Eden, a rich sandbox he has been playing in ever since.

 

Dream was mixed by R.T. and by E. Christopher Clark.

 

On August 4, 2021, ten years after its initial release, Clark re-released it in memory of R.T.—a talented musician, an amazing friend, and most importantly a loving father and husband who was taken from his family far too young. 2020 sucked for a lot of reasons, and losing R.T. was one of them.

 

Click the play button over there in the sidebar, then scroll down to read the lyrics and see how they connect to the ever-expanding Clarkwoods Literary Universe.

 

If you’re looking to hear R.T. in particular, be sure to check out the guitar work on tracks 3 and 7.

 

Lyrics

 

01. We Don’t Dream Like We Used To

written by E. Christopher Clark
vocals, bass, keyboards, samples: E. Christopher Clark
guitars: R.T.

 

Mother taught us to dream
on her in between.
Once we slept, back to work.
No, she could never leave.

 

Daddy ran out of gas.
Now he’s in between.
Underground. Make no sound -- that’s what he taught me.

 

CHORUS
Ask yourself if you dream
like you used to dream
Do you still believe
you can do anything?
No, you do not. You do not, and neither do we.

 

Once we dreamt of a world
made of cold ice cream.
Sherbet skies, floating hills. We were kings, we were queens.

 

Then we dreamt of a mate
so hot she was steam.
Greenish eyes, scarlet hair.
She was our everything.

 

Anything we wanted
was reality.
Rockstar lives, every prize.
Peace and serenity.

 

Look what we settled for:
razors and shaving cream.
Suit and tie, buttoned up.
Climbing ladders to nothing.

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

Crumbling to pieces
before our time,
signing Polaroids
for the kids in line—
we never dreamed this.
We never divined
how far from divine
we’d be when we...

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

02. Hen Party at the Last Fight on Earth

written by E. Christopher Clark
vocals, keyboards, Funkbox: E. Christopher Clark

 

Once upon a time, they dreamed of this—
a funky bar that didn’t smell of piss,
a date that did not feel worthless—
the slave, the maid, and the princess.
They make love, while they watch the war.
The last two men duke it out on the floor.
The crowd stands up and screams, “No more!
Off with his head, then we’re out the door.”

 

CHORUS
Hen party at the last fight on Earth.
The men are all gone. Now it’s time for rebirth.

 

They sled down hills of soft ice cream,
like leprechauns they met in a dream.
They cast their eyes to the orange sky,
imagining the day they arrived.
But the memory now grows cold.
They can’t remember the days of olde.
How’d they get here? Who set them free?
Calamity or catastrophe?

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

Then out the bar glides the ghost of a man.
Come back to haunt is the old Salesman.
He’s got a message for all of them:
“This place is not what it seems,” says the man.
“West of The Reek lies the Land of Eden,
and there in The Garden the one who brought you in.
You must find him before he gives in,
before all this is gone, before it is nothing.”

 

Hen party on the last night on Earth.
One man is left to rescue or desert.

 

Hen party shaking with mirth.
Six vote rescue, the rest sing “Dessert!”

 

Hen party at the last fight on Earth.
Six will march on to cross the desert.

 

03. West of the Reek

written by R.T. and E. Christopher Clark
vocals: E. Christopher Clark
guitars, bass, keyboards, samples: R.T.

 

CHORUS
The Ghost’s directions were simple
and they were complete:
“Stay north of Wonderland
and west of the Reek.
Stay south of Nunya
and east of the land of Oz.
Stay your course
till you hear the roar of applause.”

 

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf
at the foot of the floating hills?
Who’s afraid of the blood red queen
tripping on mushrooms and pills?

 

Beauty’s got her beast
and Briar’s got her rose.
Gretel fears the syrupy sweet
and Ella might explode.

 

The sky fills with a coven,
a coven on their brooms.
A lion’s roar is silenced.
A dragon sends him to his doom.

 

They march across the Waste Land,
avoid the Inferno.
Where’s Ulysses when you need him?
At Finnegan’s wake, don’tcha know?

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

Enter the sandman
and the god that failed.
Death is round the corner
in the pumpkin patch—beware!

 

Don’t fear the reaper
or the little wooden boy.
The clown who cries while he smiles
makes us all his toys.

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

04. No Sleep till Eden

written by E. Christopher Clark
vocals, Funkbox, samples: E. Christopher Clark

 

Frodo and Sam got nuttin’ on us
nor does the motherlovin’ populace
of the four countries that be stalkin’ us.

 

We on a quest, you see,
to rescue the he that we call He,
before they bury the pronoun
in the tomb of the words that we don’t need.

 

Like supercalifrag and expialidocious.
I don’t know if you know this,
but you got to notice we shout:

 

CHORUS
No sleep till Eden!
We’re on the march to paradise.
We gonna castrate the angel with the flaming sword.
No way! We ain’t playin’ nice.

 

The ghost tells us that we knew him once,
the he that we call He,
back in the day before the catastrophic calamity.

 

Each of us he loved once upon a time.
That he kept a piece of us ain’t at all a crime
You gotta keep hold of the memories
to get you right on through the days like these.

 

I am the beauty can tame all beasts.
Ella and Alice steal hearts like thieves.
Briar and Gretel made him believe.
And Hood, she taught the blind to see.

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

The end of the Yellow Brick Road’s in sight.
That’s where we gonna lay the dy-no-mite.
Bring the Emerald City to its knees.
Find the garden that’s buried beneath.

 

And sittin’ right there, underneath the tree,
bingin’ on apples with Antigone
and Newton’s grandmama and Jackie Kennedy,
is the ever-lovin’ he that we call He.

 

Ghost says we gotta talk to him,
says we maybe baby gotta rock with him,
says maybe baby maybe gotta beat some sense in him,
says maybe baby maybe gotta shout to him:

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

05. We Should Have Left This Alone

written by E. Christopher Clark
vocals, bass, keyboards, iShred, samples: E. Christopher Clark

 

Ella could not take it no more,
every dream bottled up deep inside.
Locked in the tower, festered like a sore,
her heart behind walls has just died.

 

The man kept us here
to assuage all his fears
that he’d lived but was never alive.
He forgot that we yearned like he yearned
to be loved, to be great, to be free, and to thrive.

 

Gretel never knew why she was here,
never knew why he kept her for life.
They’d never kissed, never loved,
hardly touched, save a hug.
The King’s sister was how she’d survived.

 

Now she’s gone, run along,
gave up the ghost to become the old Grim Reaper’s bride.
That’s two friends we have lost,
two more souls to be added to Jim’s list of “People Who Died.”

 

We should have left this alone.
We’re closer now to alone.

 

06. Every Night the Party’s Almost Over

written by E. Christopher Clark
vocals, Loopseque: E. Christopher Clark

 

Every night the party's almost over.
Every night the beat's a little slower.
Every night a little bit more sober.
Every night the party's almost over, over.

 

Every night we gonna try to smolder.
Dust the dirt right off of every shoulder.
Every night we get a little bolder.
But every night we get little older, older.

 

Every night she doesn't hit the homer.
A little closer to a part-time bowler.
A little closer to a-playing poker.
Only thing that's wild is the joker, joker.

 

Every night we gotta do this over.
Every night He kills another soldier.
Every night we gotta move the boulder.
Every night we gotta do this over, over.

 

07. The Afterlife of a Salesman

written by R.T. and E. Christopher Clark
vocals: E. Christopher Clark
guitars, samples: R.T.

 

He had a good dream,
the only kind of dream,
a dime-a-dozen dream.
But now he doesn’t dream.
The number one man
in New England, man—
he was a low man,
never a great man.
This land’s not our land.
It is the Man’s land.
We are all sales, man.
Sold for nothing.

 

CHORUS
We are liked
but we are not well-liked.

 

There is money in the banana stand
and there is oil in Afghanistan.
We fight for things that we don’t need, man.
But that’s the way it’s been
since the Puritans.
Elect the salesman
who sells it best, man.
A thousand promises
that we will dream again.
There may be nightmares in another land.
But it’s “OK,” says the soda can.

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

I had a dream, man,
beneath my hoodie, man.
It’s not what I’ve been
It’s not why I sin.
Never meant to sell you a bill of goods.
No will to hurt you beneath this riding hood.
But now the Salesman,
he makes me see it, man.
He hisses in my ear
that I should stop right here.
I can see it now
the Raven on the cloud.
It’s time to wave goodbye.
The quest has gone awry.

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

Quoth the Raven
and the Salesman
and the Snake, man—
all the demons:
“Have you seen it, man?
What we’ve done to them?
Your last hopes are gone.
Time you should move on.
Admit that we’ve won
and give it up, son.
There is no one left
to be the bereft.
It’s no catastrophe,
no calamity
You’re just a man, man.
And this is the end.

 

08. My Lips May Promise

written by E. Christopher Clark
piano, VoiceBand: E. Christopher Clark
keyboards, samples: R.T.

 

09. Fifteen Years

written by E. Christopher Clark
vocals, bass, iShred, samples: E. Christopher Clark

 

CHORUS
Fifteen years is a long time,
long time for the decline.
I don’t know why
I’m still singing this line.
Fifteen years is a long time,
long time to arrive.
I don’t know why
you won’t let me die.

 

The last time you saw me,
we were sixteen years old
We cried by the waterfall.
You left me crying there alone.
Fifteen years to find you—
now you’re bitter and old.
You say that you’ve missed me.
Oh, the lies that you’ve told.

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

You dreamed yourself a redhead,
dreamed your name onto a book.
You dreamed a lot of things.
You dreamed, but never looked.
A woman stands beside you.
Two children wait at home.
A world of possibility
I shouldn’t have to show.

 

“I see it now,” you say to me.
“The truth so long concealed:
a dream is but a shadow,
the shade of something real.
Life’s the quest to find that thing.
From the shadow, the light we steal.
I see it now,” you say to me.
“The truth so long concealed.”

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

10. Sunshine, Rainbows, and Ponies

written by E. Christopher Clark, Kaylee Clark, and Melody Clark
vocals keyboards, samples: E. Christopher Clark
additional vocals: Kaylee Clark

 

I meant to teach you how to dream,
never teach you how to scream.
I meant to give you everything
but I’m mean, and it’s obscene.
Sometimes I’m good, sometimes I’m bad.
You deserve all the good I have.
I wish I could give you more,
wish I could stop the roar.
But the way I’m built
and the way I’m broken:
Humpty Dumpty at the foot of the wall.
The King’s men are still working.

 

CHORUS
Sunshine, rainbows, and ponies.
I want to promise you those things.
I want to teach you how to dance.
I want to show you how to stand.

 

Your mama puts up with a lot of stuff,
holds me inside the boat when the water’s rough,
knows to turn down the volume when I’m pumping it up,
keeps a hand on my shoulder when I’m sucking it up.
Sometimes I wonder if you’re better off
when I’m cross the country, when I’m long gone.
But your mama, she knows, and she tells me no.
So I’m gonna stand my ground till you say, “Go.”

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]

 

Dad, here’s a song for you.
Don’t you feel so blue.
I made it up for you
to sing with me.

 

We’re okay.
We’re all okay.

 

[REPEAT CHORUS]


Comments

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5 Aug, 2021 01:08

I really love your music. Its so darkly relaxing.

~Confused Soup
Sage eccbooks
E. Christopher Clark
5 Aug, 2021 13:04

Aw, thanks! I don't get around to making much music these days, but I do hope to make some more some day.

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