Henning Goes To The Movies

by Henning Ohlenbusch

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about

It's the future, is it still okay to release a concept album? Celebrated New England songwriter Henning Ohlenbusch thinks so. "Henning Goes To The Movies" consists of nine songs about nine movies. Ohlenbusch describes the album this way: "Like everything in life, movies are experienced differently by each viewer. On this record, I tried to express in music how these nine films impacted me personally. At the outset, I established one rule: I was not allowed to revisit a film until I composed and recorded the song that it inspired me to write. In this way, I hope that each piece genuinely conveys the ways in which each movie has stuck with me throughout the years."

The nine songs on the album are: Joe Vs. The Volcano, The Straight Story, Poltergeist, The Year My Voice Broke, Planes Trains and Automobiles, Logan's Run, Superbad, Amélie, and Meatballs. Though many of these films are widely considered to be comedies, the songs here are mostly gentle and melancholy, touching on the moving aspects of the films, whether they be sympathetic characters or defining moments. It's a relaxed, friendly record. The songs don't try to push the listener, but rather invite them to settle down for the journey. As the chorus of The Straight Story explains, "I don't care how long it takes. I don't mind how slow it seems. I'll get there."

Ohlenbusch sings all the parts and plays all of the instruments (with the exception of the drums on Amélie by Brian Marchese). The album was recorded, during a particularly harsh New England winter, entirely by Ohlenbusch in his small basement studio, buried under the snow, with just him and his instruments. Some songs feature just Ohlenbusch’s voice and his trusted dark red Guild acoustic guitar while others have full arrangements. Listen for melodicas, glockenspiel, warm synthesizers, electric guitars and basses, pianos, organs, and various little percussion instruments. The production, like the rest of the album is personal and intimate with Ohlenbusch's simple and natural voice conversationally riding on top of the carefully selected instruments.

Most noteworthy, perhaps, is how Ohlenbusch's well-crafted lyricism manages to cut to the heart of each film. Poltergeist: "Nobody's acting like they should in the blue-eyed houses of my neighborhood." Amelie: "My apartment might seem real tragic. I’m sitting here scheming secretly, part of me dreaming this magic might find its way back to me." or Superbad, who's song takes place during one escalator ride (a nod to Nicholsson Baker's novel "The Mezzanine"?): "It’s a thought that’s as jarring as the homeroom bells. The next time you see me, I might be someone else."

Though each song is about a movie, the listener need not be familiar with the films to enjoy the album. Ohlenbusch explains, "It was important to me that each of these songs stands on its own merit. For most of them, the listener might have never even known what the inspiration was had the songs not been titled the way that they are." For those that are familiar with the films, Ohlenbusch hopes to "convey the mood and spirit of the films how I experienced and remember them over time." This explains how a movie as goofy seeming as 1979's Meatballs starring Bill Murray could yield a chorus like "To casually and gracefully interact with others, to naturally and easily articulate my thoughts, this seemingly instinctual trait of human nature, confoundingly has evaded me for the better part of my life. Just to have a conversation, what would that be like?"

Henning Ohlenbusch is an award winning singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer living in Northampton, MA. He fronts the band School for the Dead and is a member of The Fawns, The Gay Potatoes, The Aloha Steamtrain, The Rub Wrongways Caravan of Stars, and Sitting Next To Brian. Henning has been a touring musician with Winterpills and Spouse, performed with Mark Mulcahy and Ben Katchor in The Rosenbach Company, and recorded and performed with Fountains of Wayne's Chris Collingwood.

credits

released August 23, 2011

Written, performed, recorded, and produced by Henning Ohlenbusch.
(drums on Amélie by Brian Marchese)

Recorded and mixed at Rub Wrongways Studios, Northampton, MA
Mastered by Dan Richardson Up In The Basement


Design and Photography Max Germer

All songs © 2011 Henning Ohlenbusch
(ASCAP)

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Henning Ohlenbusch Northampton, Massachusetts

Songwriter and producer also found in the bands Gentle Hen, The Fawns, and Polaris.

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Track Name: Joe Versus The Volcano
You said the waves affect your dreams
I’m dreaming of a warm and golden light
Unlike these tubes hanging over me
That are buzzing angrily and flickering sickly white light

You’ve sat slouched in that chair for years
Like a struggling flower in a parking lot
We disappear in our careers
But every morning you would nudge my heart.
I’m sorry that I left you there, but you didn’t have the view I had.

Life changing news can make things stark
Exaggerate the difference between the light and dark
You might see things you’ve never seen before
The enormous dog, the tiny lady, or the round car.
I’m sorry that I left them there, but they didn’t have the view I had.

I see your face everywhere I go
Here, beneath the make-up of a chronic debutante
Who thinks she can’t make it on her own
And hangs her painting in her father’s restaurant.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
I’m sorry that I left her there, but she didn’t have the view I had.

There is a current we can float on. We’ll get there.
I never knew how big the world could get.
If someday I forget, I’ll think of this moment.
Cowboy, cowboy.

I’ve been swindled, I’ve been mislead, I’ve been fooled with unusual jargon
But I resolve to hold up my end of the bargain
Now I’ve got this brand-new life I never thought I’d have
Still, it’ll always be something with me
But you’re cool with that.
I’m thankful that you took me there, ‘cause I didn’t have the view you had
I’m thankful that you took me there, ‘cause I didn’t have the view you had

There is a current we can float on. We’ll get there.
I never knew how big the world could get
If someday I forget. I’ll think of this moment.
Cowboy, cowboy.
Track Name: The Straight Story
In the morning, in the backyard, I sit and wonder how life got so small
Is this all there is?

Through the screen door, cups and saucers are chirping like birds,
She’ll be OK. I can get away for a while.

Something’s nagging, something’s gnawing
I gotta do something before it’s too late
Gotta set things straight

I don’t care how long it takes. I’ll get there.
I don’t mind how slow it seems. I’ll get there.

Make a bee-line, make a straight line, push the pedal, and watch the fields glide by
Under the great big blue sky.

I don’t care how long it takes. I’ll get there.
I don’t mind how slow it seems. I’ll get there.

Some people think I’m crazy
They want me to stay
Other people have written me off
They can’t hear what I say
If you really want to help me
I mean, if you really, really want to help me
Just get out of my way.

In the evening, I light a fire. It’s a beacon for any lost souls
Trying to find their way home

I don’t care how long it takes. I’ll get there.
I don’t mind how slow it seems. I’ll get there.

Some people think I’m crazy
They want me to stay
Other people have written me off
They can’t hear what I say
If you really want to help me
I mean, if you really, really want to help me
Just get out of my way.
Track Name: Poltergeist
The sound of broadcast voices in the air
Seeps through the screens of kitchen doors
Windows flash the TV on the lawn
I can see and hear it all from here

Everything is how it usual is
In the blue-eyed houses of our neighborhood

Information rides on frequencies
The air is full of things that we can’t see
When I crash my cars by remote control
No one knows how far the signal goes

Everything is how it usual is
In the blue-eyed houses of our neighborhood

The speed of sound
One thousand miles per second
That’s five seconds per mile
When lightning flashes shadows on my bedroom wall
The countdown starts
One one thousand, two one thousand, keep on counting, keep on counting

We let these things into our homes
Even though the windows and doors are locked
And when we feel like we’re alone
Something’s there to remind us that we’re not

Everything is different than it was
In the blue-eyed houses of my neighborhood
Nobody’s acting like they should
In the blue-eyed houses of my neighborhood
In the blue-eyed houses of my neighborhood
Track Name: The Year My Voice Broke
The highest note on the highest string
Of an old Australian violin
Brushes the grasses and slips through the dark
‘Til it finally settles into my brand-new heart.

I know you can hear me although you’re not near me
All my life you’ve been there. All your life I’ve been here.
That was the year that my heart broke
I guess somebody misspoke
It was my heart that broke.

Can’t find the words to describe how bad it feels
It’s so absurd to be the third wheel
In this haunted house or on this stupid bike
That’s not the kind of guy that you’re supposed to like.

I know you can hear me although you’re not near me
All my life you’ve been there. All your life I’ve been here.
That was the year that my heart broke
They say the first time you choke
It was my heart that broke.

If I could hypnotize you, I would take advantage of the moment that I had control
Instead I agonize and do my best to manage on my own
I’ve no control over anything in my life.

Did they all know from the start
That you were born with a desperate heart
No one told me, there was no secret revealed
I spent the night imagining you were out there in our field.

I know you can hear me although you’re not near me.
All my life you’ll been there. All your life I’ll been here.
That was the year that my heart broke
Maybe I’ll always be the joke
It was my heart that broke.
All my life you’ll been there
All your life I’ll been here
That was the year that my heart broke
I guess somebody misspoke
It was my heart that broke.
Track Name: Planes, Trains and Automobiles
A pirate’s chest with a broken latch never left his side
When I sat down on the moving bench I realized that he lied
The glass felt cold on my forehead as the buildings glided by
And I knew when I got back to the station, that I would find him there inside.

He dragged his tragic past like a ten ton anchor below where no one could see
And every night he’d take out a picture of her and thank her and remind her there’s no where he’d rather be.

Well, I don’t know what I’d do without you.
I guess I’d be okay.
Well, I don’t know what I’d do without you.
I guess I’d be okay.

In the air, on the rails, and on the road we’re traveling
From one place to somewhere just the same
And I swear, I’m afraid in these towns we go to
That no one will remember my name
But he’s got this way with the people he meets
Somehow he makes them his own
Now I know that the power that motivates him
Is that there’s nowhere else for him to call home

Well, I don’t know what I’d do without you.
I guess I’d be okay.
Well, I don’t know what I’d do without you.
I guess I’d be okay.
Track Name: Logan's Run
We’re not allowed to talk about it.
We’re not allowed to talk about it.

Underneath the dome. All my life I’ve known.
Something’s missing, something’s gone.
There’s gotta be more.
There’s gotta be more.

We speak in hushed tones ‘cause we’re never quite alone
Something’s listening, something’s there
Baby please, stick with me
We’ll bust this ceiling down
Or sneak out underground

I thought about it, though I’m not supposed to
I can’t believe that you believe that
Let’s find a doorway, a forgotten hallway.
Let’s find a way out, a far-out way out.

We’re not allowed to talk about it.
We’re not allowed to talk about it.

I might miss the dome. It’s the only home I’ve known.
I love the inside when it feels like outside.
But it isn’t real, stick with me and
We’ll bust this ceiling down
Or sneak out underground

I was a sandman. Now I am a runner.
I’ll keep on running until they believe me
You’re coming with me. You have no options.
You’re coming with me until you believe me

We’re not allowed to talk about it.
We’re not allowed to talk about it.
We’re not allowed to talk about it.
We’re not allowed to talk about it.
What’s that feeling on my skin?
It’s the sun, and it’s amazing.
Track Name: Superbad
Swallow your fear and take the escalator down
I’ll still be herw watching if you turn around
The cogs and gears are spinning just beneath the ground
You don’t have to say a thing
This is where we belong
There’s no point fighting
The current’s too strong.

Your shirt’s too big and the back of your neck is pale
You raise your hand up to the escalator rail
My lungs are full, but I don’t want to exhale
It’s a thought that’s as jarring as the homeroom bells
The next time you see me, I might be someone else
It’s a thought that’s as jarring as the morning bells
The next time you see me, I might be someone else.

I’ve been forgetting all about you
I’ve been packing and you’ve had nothing to do
I’m so sorry, I guess what they say is true.

I catch my reflection in the freshly polished floor
I can hear the shoppers going in and out of stores
And I see you drift away like a bottle from a shore
I stumbled on a secret that nobody tells
The next time you see me, I might be someone else
Like a train full of horses on a rusted old track
Life’s full of forces that we can’t hold back

I’ve been forgetting all about you
I’ve been packing and you’ve had nothing to do
I’m so sorry, I guess what they say is true.

It’s a thought that’s as jarring as the homeroom bells
The next time you see me, I might be someone else
Track Name: Amélie
I want to be the angel
I want to be the mystery
I want to be the phantom
That nobody else can see.

My apartment might seem real tragic
I’m sitting here scheming secretly
Part of me dreaming this magic
Might find its way back to me.

I’m leaving signs around town
I’m painting arrows on the ground
I’m leaving hints and clues
Hoping that they’ll lead you to me

I want to be the fable
Skulk through your house when you’re not home
Cut the legs on your kitchen table
So you wonder if you have grown

I hope that I don’t surrender
I hope I don’t give in easily
Sloth is a sneaky vendor
That could sell my life back to me

I’m not a thug or a gangster
More like a bug or a prankster
I’m a subtle super hero
Injecting life into your life.

Through the steam of coffee. Just behind the sugar.
Reflected in the window. There’s a perfect pair of eyes.

Perched above the city. Back lit by the lamp light
A hand pulls back a curtain. There’s a perfect pair of eyes

I want to be the angel. I want to be the mystery
I want to be the phantom. That nobody else can see.
Track Name: Meatballs
No one ever talked to me like that before
No one really talks to me at all
I don’t know why
I never learned to get along.

I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to go, they made me go.
I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to go, they made me go.

I keep my head down
I keep my voice down
I place myself in the back of the room
They say it’s easy
They make it look easy
But it’s the hardest thing to do

To casually and gracefully interact with other
To naturally and easily articulate my thoughts
This seemingly instinctual trait of human nature
Confoundingly has evaded me for the better part of my life
Just to have a conversation
What would that be like?

I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to go, they made me go. (repeat)

Am I your project?
Are you gonna fix me?
Nobody knows what the summertime brings.

You found my power
I am a runner
But I won’t run away now, I’ll run towards things.

To casually and gracefully interact with other
To naturally and easily articulate my thoughts
This seemingly instinctual trait of human nature
Confoundingly has evaded me for the better part of my life
Just to have a conversation
What would that be like?

I didn’t want to go, I didn’t want to go, they made me go. (repeat)