Track 5 of folksinger Dan Bern/Bernstein's 2001 album, New American Language continues the dark turn of mood begun by the previous song, "God Said No." But whereas "God said no" ultimately comes to a hopeful conclusion about learning from the past without dwelling on it excessively, and above all making the most of the present, the narrator of "Turning Over" is stuck in a present that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. The dark mood of confusion and despair continue into the song that follows this one, "Black Tornado", but listeners are given a much-needed hope break with Track 7, "Albuquerque Lullaby".

Bern/stein has written a number of songs that can depress the hell out of me when I'm in a lousy mood, most notably the heartwrenching "Wasteland" on his full-length debut cd, dan bern. This is another one of those songs; some days it's all I can do to keep myself from skipping it, but I know the way it brings my mood down will pay off by the end of the album. In many ways, New American Language is the best summary of Bern/stein's unique mix of realism and optimism to date. He doesn't pull any punches in it, and especially in this song. It hurts, but I like it.

Lyrics

Sittin' in that town in New Mexico
Named after a game show

Tryin to decide if I should sell my van
Buy a truck, and drive down to Texas
Sometimes I think I'm gunnin' for the big time
Sometimes I think I'm runnin' out of time
And that big odometer in the sky turned over
That big odometer in the sky just turned over

Lately I've been scattered
My attention span is like a three-year-old
I pick up my guitar and I set it down
Try reading books; end up going downtown
My friends say relax and slow down
But my insides feel like a ghost town
Tumblin and blowin' and all my guts turned over
Like a tumbleweed through an empty town turning over

Turning Over, upside down
Blowing round and round and round
Turning over, wrongside up
Can barely fill my coffee cup
And I can't find me one new leaf worth turning over
I can't find me one new leaf worth turning over

Maybe I should go get in a fight
Look for someone's honor to protect
Maybe I'll go down and drink my fill
Maybe I can go sign someone's will
Out there in the alley someone's tryin'
To start their car but that old thing ain't buyin'
Every time he tries he scrapes the air
But that tired crate, she's barely turnin over

Turning Over, upside down
Blowing round and round and round
Turning over, wrongside up
Can barely fill my coffee cup
And I can't find me one new leaf worth turning over
I can't find me one new leaf worth turning over

copyright 2001 Dan Bern/Bernstein


These lyrics are freely available at Bern/stein's official website, http://www.danbern.com, and are reproduced here by permission of the artist's webmistress.

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