The sea and its contents

by Barret Anspach

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"The sea and its con­tents" is a very dear and unusual project of mine, which began some­time in 2006 as a small col­lec­tion of songs ("The moon" being my first) that has now arrived, I believe, at its final stages of com­ple­tion. Many heart­felt thanks go out to Michael Hart, Zack Winokur, Joshua Guthals, Par­vaneh Angus, Seth Gar­ri­son, my fam­ily and every­one who has listened.


released February 24, 2011

All parts performed by Barret Anspach.



all rights reserved


Barret Anspach New York, New York

I grew up in Belle­vue, WA, with decid­edly broad artistic inter­ests. While city-planning with Legos and con­coct­ing alter­nate his­tories of the world (with maps and lan­guages), I dove nose-first into music at age seven with scented col­ored mark­ers and high­lighters on card­board. Now I'm a classically-trained composer doing pretty much the same thing. ... more

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Track Name: A view of the sea (as seen from within)
To you, lovely boy. The kind one, the one that, when I speak, leans for­ward while fid­get­ing with a bit of curl — but I for­get what it was you said, and I stop.

While you wait, my love, I try to count how many, how very many oth­ers I have joined together to make you, beside me, into the boy who leans for­ward, fid­get­ing with his hair. And I try to count, but can­not, the ways I would like to use words, but can­not, to tell you — and so dearly, you, you have already fallen asleep.
Track Name: A ghost
I heard you breath­ing. Did you lie down to rest beside a river? I am waiting.

The sea mur­murs its own name, is fed by the rain rolling off your hair. A ghost fol­lowed me; I fol­low it now, down to the shore where waves lick the sand. Was this where you dreamt? A dull res­o­nance lingers, a faint pulse.
Track Name: The manor
We sat at a table across from each other, and I missed your glance. I waited out­side and lit a cig­a­rette. I missed you, and I sat down.

(Later in our lives, we sat down together and I saw your glance.)
Track Name: Naughty bird
Come in, you naughty bird! The rain is pour­ing down. What would your mother say If you stayed there and drowned? You are a very naughty bird, You do not think of me. “I’m sure I do not care,” Said the spar­row on the tree.
Track Name: Metro North
Lean against me, tired and weary. Rest your head and dream. Watched the cliffs, a trail of trains, a drift­ing boat go by. Always think­ing, the heart slow­ing, the Hud­son River flow­ing. And all I have to do is to stare at you, noth­ing to do but stare at you.
Track Name: The moon
In the car, where we sat awhile, where you watched from far away: and I saw you. In the room where we talked awhile, trad­ing phrases in silence: but I heard you. Near the end, where I wait for you: thought I felt your hand next to mine. Stars are out, and your face — the moon — shines.
Track Name: You sleep elsewhere
The bird sleeps. You sleep else­where. Drive home through a blan­ket of weary mist. The road dis­ap­pears and we con­tinue to speak. Moon­light rubs against the birch-trees.
Track Name: Priest Lake
I’ve disappeared.

A song trails off through the branches. A willow tree bends to the ground. A fire at night, its cast-off smoke: I’ve gone away, I’ve disappeared. Take care of me. Don’t breathe me in, but say my name and I’ll return.
Track Name: Wallace, Idaho
We drove past a town, the St. Regis River below. A white cour­t­house loomed, paint peel­ing, over the quiet streets in this val­ley. With Mr. Mul­lan on his right, St. Regis pro­nounced whether their river flowed to day or night. In this val­ley peo­ple hid inside and it began to rain. We drove past dark green, dark mist.
Track Name: Fort Tilden
From Park Slope to Brighton Beach we rode side by side. On Ocean Blvd. we took our time. (If we tried it, if we tried a lit­tle harder. If we tried to, if we tried a lit­tle longer.) Seth! Hours later we arrived and went for a swim. Sit­ting side by side I held hands with him. (If I tried it, if I tried a lit­tle harder. If you tried to, if you tried a lit­tle longer.) Look­ing up at the sky we saw thun­der­clouds. Rac­ing back to 116th I fell to the ground. Seth! (If we tried it, if we tried a lit­tle harder. If we tried to, if we tried a lit­tle longer.)
Track Name: Confluence of the Hudson and East Rivers
La, la, la!