Go Home to Your Friends

by The Olive Tree

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about

A long time ago, there was a man who was deathly sick, broken down, and pushed out by everyone. One day, that man saw Jesus get out of a boat at the base of a hill, and he ran to him. Jesus healed this man. Then he turned to get back in the boat, and the man begged Jesus that he could be with him. But Jesus replied, 'Go home to your friends, and tell them what the Lord has done for you.'

This album is an attempt to do just that.

credits

released October 6, 2011

All songs written, performed, and recorded by Ben and Scott Cunningham. This record has been recorded in small rooms and obscure places in Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, New Jersey, and Sheffield, England.

Contributing Musicians:
Miller and Ginger Cunningham: vocals on 'idolatry' and the "hey!" on 'wisdom'.
Avery Bright: all fiddles.
Dan Fager: lead guitar on 'devotion'.
Marissa Hunt: vocals on 'faith'

Cover Art: Benjamin Kaplowitz

*click on the song link for lyrics and other track information

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about

The Olive Tree

Meet the collaborative songwriting effort of two brothers. Currently based out of New Orleans and Chicago, Ben and Scott Cunningham grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. They love alt-country, the key of G, acoustic guitars, fishing, Jesus, and the world he created. For the past six years running, together they write and record songs about these things, calling this effort The Olive Tree. ... more

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Track Name: sing
this is something I don’t do too much
the pages all are hot to the touch
are they calling you to stay
or helping you escape?
Oh my God, you give more than enough

my patience with the cold is gone
for things like fishing in the sun I long
from the songs that keep you sane
to those old routines of shame
you keep the things that keep you warm

Oh the words he spoke, I figure that he meant them
Guess it means he’ll, be where he said he’ll be
Oh rolling on so ears can hear, and eyes can see

a good friend of mine, he just got engaged
from time to time we’ll meet and pray
we take a glass of bourbon
let the moon preach her sermon
and close on out another day

the simple chords, they never get old
yeah you owe them for the tales they’ve told
helped you wait upon that dove
and roam the range of love
there’s so little, can we really hold

Oh the words he spoke, I figure that he meant them
Guess it means he’ll, be where he said he’ll be
Oh rolling on so ears can hear, and eyes can see

oh you drove it back to Tennessee
yielded to lessons of memory
the roads still calm
those choices still wrong
but they sweetly sing in harmony

so all that sorrow, it aint worth a dime
its got no reason, and has got no rhyme
the Lord forgives

Oh the words he spoke, I figure that he meant them
Guess it means he’ll, be where he said he’ll be
Oh rolling on so ears can hear, and eyes can see

love it is the darkest sea
got currents running deep beneath
when the silence tempts
when I’m shipwrecked
let me turn to the sky and sing
Track Name: down at Jesus' feet
I've been working long hours, I've been passing days
waking up early and going to bed late
I've got aching hands and blistered heels
joyless and jealous in these harvest fields

but there's music pumping from my Father's house
and I can feel its rhthym and hear it's festal shout
so I'm throwing it down and I'm checking out
I'm going back to the heartbeat of what it's all about

so take off a load and take off your shoes
you can't ever do enough and you aint meant to
if you're worried and anxious from so many things
go on and take your place back down at Jesus' feet

I have saved no one and I never will
and though I try so hard I always fail
but I just don't have the words-I aint the remedy-
and my devotion wavers like a leaf on a tree

but I'm letting failure do its wholesome work
gonna remember my place even if it hurts
that's the thing about failure-aint it the darnest thing-
you fall and find yourself back down at Jesus feet

so take off a load and take off your shoes
you can't ever do enough and you aint meant to
if you're worried and anxious from so many things
go on and take your place down at Jesus' feet

be not proud, be not hasty
kneel down and lower your eyes
compose and quiet your spirit
like a newborn weaning child

remember you're from the dust
and dust you shall be soon
quit trying to master the mystery
and let it master you

and so it's good coffee and a good book
it's time for slow rivers and a fishing hook
I'm gonna settle in back down at Jesus' feet
and then crawl in to bed and get a good night sleep

so take off a load and take off your shoes
you can't ever do enough and you aren't meant to
if you're worried and anxious from so many things
go on and take your place back down at Jesus' feet

(Luke 15, 10:38-42; Psalm 131, Psalm 127)
Track Name: at the kitchen bar
I’m sittin at the kitchen bar
man I’ve had a lot of good conversations here
had some hard one’s too
walked some good friends through
and been carried myself

I awoke and pulled the blinds
made sure I sat right in the sun
called out my fears one by one
and I said c’mon, you got nothing on what the night left me with
sober happiness
and the ringing in my ears

let all that speaks of God’s good love be treasured here

I once heard, woe to the one
who seeks a good name over goodness
yeah that cut me pretty deep
cause I got a real long line, for cares other than my own

we sure do choose our teachers
pushing carts through the aisles
pulling down what will fill the soul,
whenever we get home,
so whatever testifies
through sun and snow
bring it out into the clear

and let all that speaks of God’s good love be treasured here

there’s that old vigilante
selling his amp, so they’ll turn back on the heat
and that couple down in texas
carrying on the message, and shedding a lot of blood

and the ones over the seas
who know loss way more than their returns
you can see it bounding through their rooms
and shining in their eyes
and no they aint done yet
so go on and take heart
their laughing through their tears

and let all that speaks of God’s good love be treasured here
Track Name: faith
slowly he climbed the bloodstained temple steps
a fragile grey haired man
with no fruit to show for all his faithful years
save the incense in his hand

but when he reached the holy room
amidst the fumes
an angel confirmed the promise by his tongue

into time and into space
an earthy grace
the smoke mixing with the holiness as one

----

blessed is she who truly believed
all the Lord has said
at night in her room she treasures in her heart
things behind and things ahead

the Word is planted in the womb
and when birth has bloomed
she lifts her head and opens up her mouth in song

though in poor and low estate
the darkness breaks
eternal Son and infant heartbeat pulse as one

----

blessed is he who believes yet does not see
all the Lord has done
when days show their fangs and lash and steal away
the fragile work begun

he put his hand inside the wound
and in the dusty room
he broke down and cried, 'my Lord and my God!'

so the rest of us do wait
and live the days
the dream dancing with reality as one

(Luke 1; John 20)
Track Name: down the line
there were moon rays diving in
the music was running wild
there was all this in her glance
that beauty no shadow could hide

we danced it out cross the hardwood floor
the kitchen the perfect scene
there were whispers that time could not endure
her kiss, was tender and sweet

tell me who’s got the eye to trace
what never lays a track
we’re all just looking for that star to chase
and to never make it back

theres aint much here
that needs much more than time
you don’t need it too clear
to drive it one more mile
down the line

my brothers riding silver trains
running ore the hills
another table to tame the days
another jar to fill

he’s plugging in for another show
give em all you got
your songs give me back what I surely know
what I once forgot

theres aint much here
that needs much more than time
you don’t need it too clear
to drive it one more mile
down the line

I heard a young man once walked up to you
and asked what was on his mind
he had kept all those commandments from his youth
you loved him, you were kind

but this man he had all sorts of wealth
and only some of that was gold
no eye could ever see all there is to sell
no eye can read your tone

hes gonna pull off what none can do
his name is Jesus Christ
hes got all of us rich young fools
right through the needles eye

theres aint much here
that needs much more than time
you don’t need it too clear
to drive it one more mile
down the line

(Matthew 19:16-22)
Track Name: fill it up
I remember that place where I laughed and played,
I drank and bathed near the pools of your riverbed
but I'm farther away passing nights and days
just me all alone with the monsters in my head

and they crawl and they creep and show their teeth
and their tongues wag twisting everything you said
so I'm driving back roads with a bloody nose
and an empty soul looking for that fountainhead

so fill it up!
fill my cup up Jesus
ya and soak my head beneath the water spout

wash it all off!
wash it clean now Jesus
because I reek with the stench of doubt

I got a little drawer full of letters and cards
from all kinds people saying all kinds of things to me
saying 'my oh my, what a great guy, good job, good work,
ya been such a blessing to me'

but I always need one more, gimme one more!
there's always something someone hasn't said about me
see it don't matter how much, it's never enough,
there's a hole in the pocket of my pride and my vanity

so fill it up!
fill my cup up Jesus
because no one else is ever gonna do

take it all back!
take it all back Jesus
everything I've stolen from you

but yonder's the small print
signed in blood at the bottom of the form
it says, 're-read the guidelines son,
cuz you're gonna get what you ask for
and there at the new birth,
from the time you see the light,
you're no longer hidden from that on which it shines'

and so Elijah sleeps beneath the broom tree
praying that he might not live to see another day
and Jeremiah weeps through Jerusalem's streets
choking on the words that he's been told to say

and Jonah's fleeing like a bat out of hell
trying to catch the last boat setting sail for the Tarshish bay
and I'm picturing you in the garden dark,
holding a full cup, asking if there's any other way

so fill it up!
fill my cup up Jesus
and I guess mix in the wormwood and the gall

fill it up!
to the brim now Jesus
and have mercy Lord, when I don't drink it all

(Jer. 20; Jonah 1; 1 Kings 19; Matt. 26:36-46; Luke 19:41-44)
Track Name: jacob's fist
my feet were soaking wet
you swung from behind
I was making Jacob’s fist
aiming for the eyes
see that blessed face comes without a name, holding my hip the whole way home
over before it began
just leave it alone

see all those nets were full
it had been a good day
but you’d heard the council’s pull
setting tongues aflame
but all your tough ideals, your four spinning wheels, will shake when its time to own
over before it began
just leave it alone

what doesn’t seem to have its poles?
if it don’t then it should
you wanna see something shot full of holes
well come in here and have a look
was I a little jaded, a little cold? oh you aint seen the half of it
you wanna shake off that weakness?
well go and get some more of it

we got together on the hillside
our eyes fixed upon that sage
Good God, we cried, give us a sign
just like you did the prior age
but you just set your stare, with your hand in the air, and said yours will be the bones you break
my fists we never so tight
standin ore your vacant grave

(Genesis 32:22-32; Luke 22:58; John 6)
Track Name: devotion
I think devotion might be one of my favorite words
every bone in my body so bent on allegiance it hurts
and though I'm surrounded by those quick to leave and to curse
I think devotion might be one of my favorite words

teach us to number our days, that wisdom might bring forth good works
I want to sweat and confess until I return to the earth
and I think devotion might be one of my favorite words

I think that desperation is one of my favorite things
I'm talking sweet starvation-sick, rib-showing groveling-
you know when there's nothing left and I crawl to you begging, 'please, please, please!'
I think that desperation is one of my favorite things

you say 'the poor in the spirit, the hungry, theirs is the blessing'
you say 'I'm high and lofty but close to the lowly'
that's why desperation is one of my favorite things

I think that discipline is pure gasoline
when I'm pumping means of grace, honey I'm a well-oiled machine
ya so come hell or high water, well it don't mean a thing
I think that discipline is pure gasoline

ya know the Lord changes not, who was, is, and always shall be
but I can't even stay sane, much less keep some consistency
but that's why discipline is pure gasoline

(Psalm 90; Matthew 5; Isaiah 57)
Track Name: idolatry
forgive me, Lord
I opened the door to the temple of my heart
and watched all the host of Babylon walk in
and that's when the backslide did start

they set up their booths and turned your house into
a dark carnival for false gods
and with eyes full of tears I'm lost in the room
wishing I would have kept it locked
wishing I would have kept it locked

so come Lord Jesus and cleanse your temple
with your whip and your sweeping broom
you had zeal for your house in Jerusalem
and I sure could use some of it too

forgive me, Lord
I sat on the throne of the temple of my heart
and hired all the priests and false prophets in
to worship me while I played your part

but they all got bored and left through the back door
when I failed to perform a good act
and I'm heavy with glory that should have been yours
wishing I could just give it back
wishing I could just give it back

so come Lord Jesus and cleanse your temple
with your whip and your sweeping broom
you had zeal for your house in Jerusalem
and I sure could use some of it too

forgive me, Lord
I opened the door and I'm not sure what I'm gonna do
this house that you filled with order and peace
is now simply sad and confused

the walls that once reeked with your holiness
now just look like slabs of stone
and I'd give every single thing that I got
to have you back on its throne
just to have you back on its throne

so come Lord Jesus and cleanse your temple
with your whip and your sweeping broom
you had zeal for your house in Jerusalem
and I sure could use some of it too

This song was inspired by the poem 'Prayer for Marilyn Monroe' by Ernesto Cardenal. (John 2:13-22)
Track Name: gracious and clear
the first storm of spring came tearing through the screens
and it soaked everything it burned
marvel and gladness were
thunder and lightning trading turns
you cannot paint in blue
and keep the eyes of youth
the early day
has got a lot to say
step on out and do what you love to do

the first news for years came falling on our ears
and all them telephones and paper-stands were full
laughing and running, you, should’ve seen the color and all
but I was a stranger, a masquerade
signed up and could not stay
can I start again?
start again?

and so I’m draining my cup
just trying to stay awake
thumbing the binding
picking out which game to play

pull all the stops
fill all these caverns with sound
holding your heart at the top
keeping your guard on the ground

the sprout and the dust, the shine and the rust,
shaking hands in the heat of the day
the wear in the wood louder than your words can say
all under a sky that does not bend
breaking the best defense
gracious and clear

(Frederick Buechner: 'Telling the Truth')
Track Name: wisdom
well I woke up this morning afraid and alone
I laid there and stared at the ceiling--a pathetic sack of bones
and I felt like a strong hand was pulling me slowly down and away
feeling like there was nothing to help me pull the other way

i got up and put on my jeans
stumbled across the floor
went downstairs and brushed my teeth
and walked out the door

next I was on the pavement, living another day
passing all kinds of people going this, that, and the other way
looking at those faces I sank in an empty grief
feeling mocked and accused by the world's disbelief

I looked down and bit my lip
turned my headphones on
paced my feet, tried not to slip
and just kept moving along

it was then I saw her--and I must confess--
at first she was just another girl in another simple dress
but as she drew closer I realized she was staring at me
with eyes ancient in color and deep set in mystery

she walked up and put her hand
on the side of my head
and with gentle, but stern command
looked at me and said:

"fear the Lord and turn away from evil"

(Proverbs 1)
Track Name: mississippi flood
a swell for every sailor
a knot for every nail
a hook for every fighter
a hole for every pail

full and supplicated
so tranquil when its home
now suspicion is spreading
like a Mississippi flood

this sanctuary season
boasting all we’ve left undone
this catholic confession
building just to make me numb

all sights they find
opposing lines
sweet Shepherd, how do you name it?

what started right
lives and dies
springs weathered, up to the Advocate
and grows up good again

a key for the caged up
release for the siren
go play out in the street now
how long have you been waiting?

up there on the mountain
family at his feet
hunger incarnate
plenty here to eat

now for the indictment
loved and memorized
caught up in the excitement
the silence the reprise

all sights they find
opposing lines
sweet Shepherd, how can I name it?

what started right
lives and dies
springs weathered, up to the Advocate
and grows up good again

blessed are the peaceful
blessed are the sore
blessed are the gentle
blessed are the poor

(Ecclesiastes; Matthew 5)
Track Name: when the heather was purple
no matter where I go
no matter what I do
I'll never get away from you
I'll never get away from you

no matter what I think
no matter where I hide
I'll always have your face inside
I'll always have your face inside

when the heather was purple and I was alone
I walked the hills and streets with nowhere else to go
and so I slept through the seasons and now the heather is brown
I think about it as I wander in to town

but you're still around

on the wings of the morning
in the tossed waves of the sea
even there your hand holds me
even there your hand holds me

there's no bread in my cupboard
and there's no life out on the street
so where else can I go?

when the heather was purple and I was alone
I walked the hills and streets with nowhere else to go
and so I slept through the seasons and now the heather is brown
I think about it as I wander in to town

but you're still around

no matter where I go
no matter what I do
I'll never get away from you
I'll never get away from you

(John 6:66-71; Psalm 139)
Track Name: from jordan to baton rouge
It was a hundred and nine, I was right in time, driving slow on the bayou banks
with my head held high, I was watching that big sky break
but the thickest of clouds, though raining their doubts, got some blue about to come through
the light hit the sugar cane rows from Jordan to Baton Rouge

when I was a child, trusting and wild, hittin baseballs at the park in town
My Dad he would pitch, and my dog would bring em back to the mound
But I got so ready to leave with cheap tricks up my sleeve now I miss it with all of my heart
and now I’ve got these memories in rows from Jordan to this distant coast

she’s the Carolina queen, she moves in full steam, makes my sadness a runaway
when you walk up to meet me, baby, it’s the best part of my day
and I don’t need so much, when I’m feelin her touch, see her eyes, they were made to renew
and I saw that mystery in rows from Jordan to her yellow room

you sweat and you bleed, barter for seed, put a shoulder to a part of the wheel
but most of the time, those ruts are all that you feel
but no toil or gain can make whats crooked straight, so sit down and fill it up tall
and I saw the tables in rows from Jordan to the banquet hall

he was tough out at sea, tired at 33, the whole town sure knew his name
but when he came back home, see, he only knew shame
But before he packed up, and did what he must, he left us with somethin so true
He said ‘if you walk with the Lord, he will walk with you’

from Jordan to Baton Rouge

(Inspired by a man on the elevator; John 15:4)