Things That Can't Be Taught

by Wendell Kimbrough

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about

Wendell Kimbrough’s 2011 album Things That Can’t Be Taught is a collection of songs that move from intimate folk music to the big brass sounds of early American jazz. It’s an ambitious project that came to life through the tremendous musical contributions of some of the Washington, DC region’s finest jazz instrumentalists. Lyrically, the album covers a wide range—from the spiritual to the comedic—and features a number of fan favorites like “Home” and “Communication.” For those who, like Kimbrough, wish that James Taylor had made an album with Louis Armstrong’s Hot Five, Things That Can’t Be Taught, imagines their musical meeting.

Things That Can’t Be Taught is an album that almost did not happen. After a year of working mostly alone in a spare bedroom studio, Kimbrough was dispirited and out of funds. Friends encouraged him to use Kickstarter to reach out for help, and in less than 48 hours, supporters had pledged over $5,000 to guarantee completion of the project.

Watch the Kickstarter video: www.kickstarter.com/projects/247220177/wendells-first-studio-album-with-a-little-help-fro

credits

released November 18, 2011

All songs written, arranged, and produced by Wendell Kimbrough
Except Lonesome Blues, horns arranged by James Hall; Things That Can’t Be Taught, strings arranged by Jon Steele; Home, arranged by Wendell and Steve Steckler.

All songs recorded and engineered by Steve Steckler at Asparagus Media Studios in Takoma Park, MD and by Wendell Kimbrough at Home. Except: drums and bass for Lonesome Blues, Communication & The Longest Month recorded by Jason Chmiola at Blue House Productions in Kensington, MD.

All songs mixed by Wendell Kimbrough and Steve Steckler at Asparagus Media
Except Death of Death, mixed by Ken Lewis, and Home, mixed by Brent Kolatalo.

Mastered by Bill Wolf at Wolf Productions

Cover art and album design by Caroline Kimbrough
Photography by Brian Tropiano

Performers:
Jon Steele plays bass, upright and electric, everywhere there is bass on this album.
James Hall plays trombone on Lonesome Blues, Death of Death, Two Ways to Be Worthless, and The Longest Month.
Quincy Philips plays drums on Lonesome Blues, Communication, and The Longest Month.
Jim Barredo plays drums on The Death of Death and Home.
Dave Robinson plays cornet on Two Ways and trumpet on Lonesome Blues.
Gary Gregg plays clarinet on Communication and Two Ways.
Lauren Hofer sings backing vocals on Two Ways and Communication.
Ben Hofer sings backing vocals on Communication.
Wendell Kimbrough sings lead vocals, backing vocals, and plays acoustic & electric guitars, pianos, accordions, synths, samples, glockenspiel, shakers, and tambourines.
Chorus of Door Smashers: Jeremy Geddert, Daniel Hall, Will Weir, Jon Holbrook, Ben Hofer, Lauren Hofer, Brittany Noetzel, Rebekah Hanson, and Megan Vitek.

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about

Wendell Kimbrough Fairhope, Alabama

Wendell Kimbrough is a songwriter and worship leader in southern Alabama who believes church music should simply be good music that forms us as we sing it together. Drawing on the sounds of American folk and soul music, , Wendell writes scripturally-rich songs with singable, memorable melodies. His music is embraced by churches across the country, young and old, praise bands and choral groups. ... more

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Track Name: When I Work Alone
WHEN I WORK ALONE
Words and Music ©2009 Wendell Kimbrough

When I work alone, I get things done;
I put away the hours and I send away the sun.
When I’m tired out I do not sleep;
When I work alone, I do not need it.

When I work alone I don’t slow down;
No one else distracts me; no one’s here to mess around.
When I’m growing hungry I don’t sleep;
When I work alone I do not need it.

When I work alone, my boss is pleased
He tells me all the things that I know I could achieve
I can hear him whispering in my ears
Above the droning absence of the things I need to hear

When I work alone, I’m very still,
A watercolor painting of a vase that cannot fill.
When I sit for so long, I get cold.
I could wear my coat, but I don’t when I work alone

When I’m finally done, I cannot rest
I close my eyes and lay there, but I cannot slow my breath,
‘Cause my mind is racing ‘round the room;
When I work alone I know that the morning will be here soon.
Track Name: Lonesome Blues And Love
LONESOME BLUES AND LOVE
Words and Music ©2010 Wendell Kimbrough.

Lonely, why do you come for me? Why can’t you leave me alone?
I was doing fine working on my own, ‘til you came knocking loud upon my door.
Lonely, why do you come for me, when I am not even alone?
You have less to do with my circumstance than something deep inside that I don’t know.

And it’s all I can do to believe all that you say of me is not true,
When you come for me when I’m home, and you come for me when I’m gone.

What am I to do when a day like this slips past my defense and takes hold?
What kind of excuse can I tell myself to justify this sudden empty soul?

And it’s all I can do to believe I don’t deserve these lonesome blues,
When they come for me when I’m home, and they come for me when I’m gone.

And I try, and I try, but I can’t get outside of my mind, though I try,
‘Cause demand for love kills supply;
And I can’t explain my own part in the darker ways of my heart.

I have tasted love, I have felt it’s breath, warm against the surface of my soul,
But when I walked away, I could feel myself so quickly returning to the cold.
Track Name: Two Ways To Be Worthless
TWO WAYS TO BE WORTHLESS
Words and Music ©2010 Wendell Kimbrough.

When I hit rock bottom and I slip into the night,
When I leave behind my wife and kids and I drink to feel all right,
When the sadness gets me, and I slip into despair,
When I close my eyes and curl up tight, and I beg to be left there,

Find me where I’m hidin’, look me in the eyes.
Do whatever else it takes to make me tell you why.
Listen with compassion, while I sit and stare,
Ask me how it happened, show me that you care.

But please don’t leave with comfort ringin’ in my ears;
Please be sure and say the words you know I need to hear.
Tell me to stop mournin’ for the tragedy of me;
Tell me to start thinkin’ about someone else in need.

Tell me ‘bout my wife and kids and then tell me ‘bout my mom
Tell me I’m an asshole to ignore them while I’m gone
When I hit rock bottom, do not think that tellin’ me
That “everything will be all right” is anything I need.

But when I hit the big time, and they’re callin’ on the phone
With record deals and spinnin’ wheels that take me far from home.
When of fame and fortune I am chasing what is mine,
And my family is at home alone again most of the time

Shoot me in the femur with the handgun in your purse.
Tell me what you’re goin’ to do hurts me but hurts you worse.
Or maybe use the shotgun if I seem really stuck,
Take me home in a wheelchair in the flatbed of your truck.
And then tell me that you’re savin’ me from my so-called good luck.
It’ll be all right; it’ll be all right.

Cause when the cops they ask you to explain crossin’ that line,
You can show them this here letter, and say love, love is not a crime.
Track Name: The Robin's Nest
THE ROBIN’S NEST
Words and Music ©2011 Wendell Kimbrough.

I don’t mind a lonely year or two,
Especially if I’m hoping that the lonely will bear fruit.
But give me half a childhood with a father like you,
And I would spend a lifetime not knowing what to do.

I can see that all the noise he makes,
It is making him; the less you give the more he takes
Lessons from a child upon a throne,
Where the empty stops, you don’t care, and I don’t know.

The Robin finds a corner for her nest,
Where a mother’s instincts for the safety find their rest.
Working as a team of two they feed
Mouths crying out in a melody of need.

The instincts of a tiny little brain;
Anyone who’s listening knows they put your heart to shame;
But I know you are not alone to blame;
Cause I have seen your son; I don’t even know his name.
Track Name: The Death Of Death
THE DEATH OF DEATH
Words and Music ©2010 Wendell Kimbrough.

Told myself I was leaving; had no love left to give.
I was angry from screaming at a man who would not live.
These are things beyond my power, things that I can’t control.
Who can blame my surrender? Who can tell me I’m wrong?

So I sailed to the far side, with my white flag up against the waves.
When I saw that I was losing, I admit I was scared and ran away.

This is life on the dark side of the sword and the flame,
And my clenched fists are bleeding from a fight I can’t sustain.
As I fled from my outpost, as I took on the blame,
All the ground I surrendered, all my friends have reclaimed.

And they came with their arms full of the good things that I had thrown away;
And I watched as their candles turned the night that was round us into day.

You have built up the dark side, buried men down deep beneath their shame,
But the heel that you strike now will return to trample on your face.
We have smashed down the doors now, and the light floods in upon your face;
All your prisoners are laughing, and your former slaves are giving thanks.
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!
Track Name: Home
HOME
Words and Music ©2010 Wendell Kimbrough.

Well I climbed a tree on a mountain top; I was searching far and wide
For a place to be found or a place to hide.
I was vain and small and my stories all told of things I hoped I would be
If I ever grew up tall enough to see.

I couldn’t find my own way home; if I had seen it, would not have known
I could tell others where to go, but I couldn’t find my own way home.

Well a family called and they took me all, with my mess and my liberty,
And they loved me for the man they hoped I’d be.
And I landed strong on a red rubber ball and a song I knew I could sing
For the ones who saw some beauty inside me.

I couldn’t find my own way home; if I had seen it, would not have known
I could tell others where to go, but I couldn’t find my own way home.

Where all the love that I can take,
All of the music I can make,
All would just gather in one place

Then a woman came with a lovely name, just as I was learning to see,
And I drew her near, ‘cause I finally saw her clearly.
And she knew my name and she knew my days in their darkness and their glee
And she still found ways to give her love to me.

I couldn’t find my own way home; if I had seen it, would not have known
I could tell others where to go, but I couldn’t find my own way home. (repeat)

Where all the love that I can take, all of the music I can make, all would just gather in one place; And all of the times our hearts would break, all of the doubts we just couldn’t shake, find their place in a story of how we came home.
Track Name: Communication
COMMUNICATION
Words and Music ©2010 Wendell Kimbrough.

Hey girl, I got your number;
The one you never really gave to me.
I got it from your friend (and it was just an accident!)
And I called you out of curiosity.

Hey boy, I don’t mind you calling,
And even asking me out on a date,
Cause I need something to do on a friday night or two,
So if you want to pay my way, that’s great.

Oh, Communication! So many ways to get it wrong!
‘Cause the women they can tell that the men are overwhelmed
Tryin’ to figure out what’s going on.

Hey boy, I had a good time.
In fact, I was a little bit surprised,
Cause you went the extra mile, and you somehow made me smile,
So you can take me out again; that’s fine.

Hey girl, now I’m in love!
It only took one date to get that way.
If I had a ring to borrow, I’d marry you tomorrow;
Please tell me that we’re on the same page.

Oh, Communication! So many ways to get it wrong!
‘Cause the women they can tell that the men are overwhelmed
Tryin’ to figure out what’s going on.

Hey girl, I finally got it:
The message you won’t even have to send.
Cause I read between the lines, and I saw something in your eyes,
It said you would so much rather be just friends.
Track Name: The Longest Month
THE LONGEST MONTH
Words and Music ©2010 Wendell Kimbrough.

Sun is out, but it’s not bright.
Snow on the ground is gray, not white.
Christmas bells are far, far away,
But it’s still two months, ‘til we reach May.

February, how I hate thee!
February, how I hate thee!

Well you may say it’s your birthday; or you may say you were in love.
Maybe you just love Valentine’s Day, so February is what you’re dreaming of.
As for me, I’d say you’re crazy. There’s only one thing else to say,
If you were born in February, your folks were getting on in the merry month of May.

Spring time, O Spring time, come back soon, come back soon;
O Spring time, O Spring time, come back soon!

Maybe you like the snowfall, getting buried under ice.
Getting locked up in your home, making monsters out of roommates who were nice.
As for me, I am crazy for the summertime rains
Thunderstorms in the afternoon that roll in quick and then quickly roll away.

Spring time, O Spring time, come back soon, come back soon
O Spring time, O Spring time, come back soon!
Track Name: Little Birds
LITTLE BIRDS
Words and Music ©2009 Wendell Kimbrough.

Underneath their trees two birds have landed,
Both of them in place where they should go.
One of them is lonesome and he’s hoping,
He is not the only one to know

How it feels, how it feels,
How it feels to be hoping,
How it feels to be hoping, hoping.

After all the time that they spent circling,
Learning how to fly on their own
One of them just hopes that if love finds them
He won’t be the only one to know

How it feels, how it feels,
How it feels to be hoping,
How it feels to be hoping, hoping.
Track Name: Things That Can't Be Taught
THINGS THAT CAN’T BE TAUGHT
Words and Music ©2009 Wendell Kimbrough.

You have strengths you have yet to discover;
You have options you have not yet used.
At the end of the road with the others,
You’ve a grip on the truth that can’t come loose.

When the girl on the platform was plundered,
And the bystanders all turned their back,
You had the heart of a hero and a mother;
You held the doors and absorbed their attacks.

In the end, there’ll be songs left to cover;
In the end, there’ll be songs left to play.

When the heart won’t do what it ought,
There are things it can’t be taught,
So pack your bags and find another way.

There’s a song on your heart when you’re weary;
There are notes on the tip of your tongue.
When you’re down and you’re not seeing clearly,
Oh, there’s a new song that’s about to come.

In the end, there’ll be songs left to cover;
In the end, there’ll be songs left to play.

When the heart won’t do what it ought,
There are things it can’t be taught,
So pack your bags and find another way.
When the heart won’t do what it ought,
There are things it can’t be taught
So pack your bags and fight another day.

So if you hang up the phone and you’re weeping,
And the world spinning ‘round will not halt,
You’ve got too much joy in safe keeping,
To not love the things that sorrow bought.

In the end, there’ll be songs left to cover;
In the end, there’ll be songs left to play.

When the heart won’t do what it ought,
There are things it can’t be taught
Pack your bags and find another way.
When the heart won’t do what it ought,
There are things that sorrow bought,
Take them home and sing another day.