Simple Toil - EP

by Tim Koehn

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The title track was inspired by three things:

- A visit to the village of Vézelay in Burgundy
- A section of Wendell Berry's poem "Work Song"
- Kahlil Gibran's chapters about Mary Magdelene in his book Jesus the Son of Man

These are the passages that serve as epigraphs for the song:

native to this valley, will spread over it
like a grove, and memory will grow
into legend, legend into song, song
into sacrament. The abundance of this place,
the songs of its people and its birds,
will be health and wisdom and indwelling
light. This is no paradisal dream.
Its hardship is its reality.

- Wendell Berry, from Part 2 of "Work Song"

Then He stood up and looked at me even as the seasons might look down upon the field, and He smiled.

- Kahlil Gibran, from "Mary Magdalene", from Jesus the Son of Man


released February 5, 2017

Guitar and vocals: Tim Koehn
Cello on 'Simple Toil': A big thank you to Felipe Forero
Trumpet on 'He Hideth My Soul': A big thank you to Ross Bradley



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Tim Koehn Istanbul, Turkey

“I do not wish to close the frontiers of my life upon my own self. I do not wish to deny myself the expansion of seeking into individual capabilities and depths by living in a space whose boundaries are race and nation. Lord, give my poor stammering tongue at least one taste of the whole round world, if you please, sir.” ~Zora Neale Hurston, Dust Tracks on the Road ... more

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Track Name: Sink and Rise
I don't want to sink to the bottom
But I don't mind sinking with you
Life will float us clear to the surface
Riding undercurrents of truth

I thought I'd rather fly in the sky so high
But that was never part of the game
Until you said you'd swim in the sea with me
Well, now the rules have totally changed

Sink to the bottom with you
Rise on a current of truth
Flying high was never the game
With you the rules have completely changed
Track Name: Simple Toil
Mary Magdalene and her basilica-­‐wrapped bones
brought a fancy fame to the village of Vézelay.
But I like to think of her in her cave of cold, wet stone,
meditating on her man all night and day,
who Gibran says looks upon her
like the Seasons look upon the fields of hay.

What work-­song started then amidst the juniper and sage,
sprouting seeds of memory folded in the soil?
Then aromatic legend came out baked by sweat and age—
it took a song to wring out the sacramental oil.
Now we remark in wonder,
blind to what went under,
“How blessed, pure, and holy”—
what might be made of only simple toil.

Sacrament is holding you and me;
Tighten up unless you want to be free
to love this dirty damn family.
Track Name: One Little Buffalo
One little juniper
Two little junipers
Three little junipers
Four little junipers

One little hummingbird
Two little hummingbirds
Three little hummingbirds
Four little hummingbirds

Four little junipers
Four little hummingbirds
Juniper, hummingbird

One little butterfly
Two little butterflies
Three little butterflies
Four little butterflies

One little buffalo
Two little buffalos
Three little buffalos
Four little buffalos

Four little butterflies
Four little buffalos
Butterfly, buffalo

Juniper, Hummingbird, Butterfly, Buffalo

Four little junipers
Three little hummingbirds
Two little butterflies
One little buffalo
Track Name: Into the Ground
You, in that time of the year--
cold season, dry season,
when dormancy's here--
keep that dark feeling deep down:
nothing inviolate could ever be found.
But it waits under ground,
then up in the crown
of that most patient tree
like whom we'd all like to be,
to be both rooted and free,
to be just like a tree.

Strange we don't feel that we feel
love first deep down for the fundamentally real,
not apparitions of need:
urgency, tragedy, the sweetness of greed.
The chorus of voices believed.
Change, well, for that we'd have to personally bleed

Into the ground...

Then up in the crown
of that most patient tree
like whom we'd all like to be,
to be both rooted and free,
to be just like a tree.

Just like a tree.
Track Name: Estuary
Barefoot walking on that road
every step pressed all the holidays
into red of Africa,
then it spread through all the hues of gray

reflected on the lake,
the sky about to break.

Breath-stirred hem of Bangladesh
at your knees and hair across your face--
clothed like estuary birds
in the warmth of estuary days.

They'll push us past the waves.
They'll push us out to sea.
Whate'er will be will be.
If you will walk with me,
we'll always keep each other free.

Clothed like estuary birds
in the warmth of estuary days.