Everyone's Okay

by Kevin Dickerson

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about

Special thanks to John Vanderslice and Beau Sorenson for helping to make this album and for putting so much care into Tiny Telephone.

Even more special thanks to everyone who played on this album: Beau Sorenson (Beaunoise). Cherilyn MacNeil (Dear Reader) for courteously playing piano on an Owen Ashworth song she'd never heard after listening to me hum it for a few seconds. Jeff Sauer for courteously playing drums after imitating a drum machine with my voice. Avinash Mittur for playing drums on several (non-metal!) tracks. Jessica Bean for playing clarinet, flute, and saxophone.

Thanks to Gary, Fernando, Ryan and Tim at Gary Brawer Guitar Repair for setting up my guitars and for sharing your expertise and advice for dealing with a never-ending impulse to change string gauges, tensions, and tunings.

Everyone's Okay was written and recorded mostly spontaneously in Tiny Telephone in San Francisco and Oakland with Beau Sorenson (Beaunoise) from December 2015 through December 2016.

Tinderbox was written and recorded in the hours following the deadly Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, California.

credits

released July 7, 2017

Recorded and mixed to 2" tape by Beau Sorenson at Tiny Telephone in San Francisco and Oakland
Produced by Beau Sorenson and Kevin Dickerson
Mastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service

Beau Sorenson (Beaunoise): producer, engineer, drums, tape loops, drum machines, synthesizers including but not limited to RMI Lark, Moog Source, Moog Mono/Poly, Prophet 5, Eventide H949, Buchla Music Easel, Teenage Engineering OP-1, Korg KR 55, etc. See individual track credits.
Avinash Mittur: Drums on "Moving Stories," and "Good Morning Beautiful City"
Jeff Sauer: Drums on "Trisha Please Come Home"
Cherilyn Macneil: Story and Clark Chicago upright piano on "Trisha Please Come Home"
Jessica Bean: Flute, saxophone, clarinet on "Miami Sound Machine" and "We Are All Connected"
Kevin Dickerson: Words, vocals, electric guitars, baritone guitar, electric bass guitars, acoustic guitars, tenor guitar, Nashville guitar, Spanish guitar, vibrophone, marimba, percussion

All songs by Kevin Dickerson except "Trisha Please Come Home," by Owen Ashworth, "Natural Light," by Owen Ashworth, and "Unfucktheworld," by Angel Olsen

Cover photo by Kevin Dickerson
Design by Kevin Dickerson

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Kevin Dickerson San Francisco, California

Kevin Dickerson is a songwriter who lives in San Francisco.

Photo: Courtesy of Paige K Parsons @paigekparsons. Pictured: Kevin Dickerson (right) and Beau Sorenson (Beaunoise), June 2017

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Track Name: Everyone's Okay
I called my dentist and made an appointment for a chipped tooth
After a wedding in Tahoe, I think it was maybe from the farro or the roasted mushrooms
There’s something magical about the mountain air up there
I didn’t know the bride’s friends very well but I left an impression on all the parents
Any time you get a bunch of 30-something single white women in the same room
Who’ve known each other almost their whole lives it’s gonna be hard to punch through
The thick barrier of brunches, bloody Marys and sparkling white wine
And hey that’s their thing and I think that’s just fine

And we talked about buying
a house over there
But I got enough going on

Like, I’m at Tiny Telephone right now
and I’d like to finish up
a couple more songs

Everybody’s talking
Talk talk talk
Everybody’s sipping
Sip sip sip

I stayed close to my girlfriend who maybe felt a little differently
Shaking my head, don’t single her out because of her ethnicity
Like all the middle aged aunts and uncles bringing up their big trip to Pakistan
Or the Berkeley folks like, “I love biryani, what’s that good place called with all the different naan”
But I had a great time, and I appreciate all the work they put into it
Those two have a great thing going on and we relaxed back by the fire pit
At the River Grill, listening to all the classics while the girls were sippin’ and flockin’
Like Harvest Moon and Harry Nilsson’s Everybody’s Talkin’

And we talked about Neil Young and music from the past
all night long
all night long

I turn thirty-five in a few days
and I gotta take care
of this chip in my tooth on Monday

A chip in my tooth
A chip in my tooth
A chip in my tooth
A chip in my tooth

Just as I finished up an overdue haircut at Joe’s Barbershop
In a rare event my phone rang, it was my dad calling me up
My phone’s display reminded me I still haven’t taken my mom’s name off the caller ID
My dad wanted to let me know he was shipping her Gibson Ripper bass from the mid-70s to me

Due to a hack job repair, involving a metal washer, that bass has electrocuted me several times over the years
Voivod played Slim’s this spring, and Jason Newstead showed up playing an identical bass during a surprise encore appearance
My dad had to run and get a few hundred gallons of fuel for his new place to last through the winter
And now I’m planning another stop by Gary Brawer to check the Ripper’s neck, and I’m sure some other repairs will be in order

And we talked about my dad’s friend Gene
who lives down in Maine
They’ve been friends since high school and I don’t even know how long that’s been
And my dad told me there’s no more news today
And everyone’s doing okay
And although I was afraid to bring it up, I hope that since my Dad didn’t say anything, that Gene’s recovering pretty good from his stroke

Everyone’s okay
Everyone’s okay
Everyone’s doing okay
Everyone’s doing okay
Track Name: Trisha Please Come Home
You don't call me ever on the phone
Am I supposed to listen to Thin Lizzy
and get high on my own
I went by the restaurant
Becky said
you don't work there anymore
She said one guy too many made a pass at you
and you walked out the door

You dropped your apron in the parking lot
and never came back for your last paycheck

I don't see you ever at the bar
I'm always on the lookout
for your busted ass Windstar
Your name's off your buzzer
There's no welcome mat
sitting outside your door
Your neighbor said the landlord raised the rent so you
wouldn't pay it anymore

You cleared the whole place out in a single night
and you were up and gone before it was light

You used to get so mad
I couldn't take you serious
I'd make one stupid joke
and you'd act furious
You even warned me once
that you'd get out somehow
I guess you're somewhere laughing now

Wild one wild one where'd you go
Wild one wild one where'd you go

Trisha please come home
Track Name: Unfucktheworld
I started dancing just to be around you
Here's to thinking that it all meant so much more
I kept my mouth shut and opened up the door

I wanted nothing but for this to be the end
For this to never be a tight and empty hand

If all the trouble in my heart would only end
I lost my dream, I lost my reason all again

It's not just me for you
I have to look out too
I have to save my life
I need some peace of mind

I am the only one now
I am the only one now
I am the only one now

You may not be around
You may not be around
You may not be around

I am the only one now
I am the only one now
I am the only one now
I am the only one now
Track Name: Tinderbox
For whatever reason last night I woke up unsettled at five AM
Dimmed the screen on my phone and read the headlines coming in
A "warehouse" fire in Fruitvale, the deadliest in America in a decade
The Ghost Ship was a fiery cage as it went down in flames

First nine then ten, twenty-four, and now thirty-six confirmed inside
The search was ongoing Saturday night, the body count was rising
They don’t suspect arson, said the fire chief
and it’s not a crime scene, said the OPD

There are friends and relatives pouring over building code regulations
Trying to find meaning, searching for explanations

If you’ve never lost a loved one, if you’ve never paid for a burial or cremation
There’s a clock that’s ticking, while you click on Facebook invitations

The East Bay arts and music scene influencers with party outfits and color-streaked hair
were looking for cheap freedom and just wanted to dance in a building that didn’t have sprinklers or stairs

Youth... the disenfranchised... paid a promoter looking for a good percentage of the door
to get into a fire trap cooler than Uptown’s "expensive," "pretentious," "unaffordable"

“Why do you Americans build your houses out of matchsticks?"
my British roommate asked in 2003, jokingly
I said you have a point and we laughed and we talked about how much we both loved David Bowie

I drove to Santa Cruz to the Play it Again Sports parking lot
to pick up an old amplifier that I bought

This dusty amplifier’s almost three times older than some of the victims and it’s just an object
and at a stop light I almost cried thinking of the burning Ghost Ship

I visited the burn ward at a hospital in Anchorage
and I saw third-degree domestic violence burn victims completely covered in sickly pink-and-white bandages

It was a scare tactic after getting busted for drinking half a beer in my dorm room
I was breathalyzed by my future landlord and I was twenty-two when I got to the courtroom

And I could tell the nurse was like, "you’re doing fine"

But I remember that experience and I know there are scars that will never heal on the inside

I just recorded a song about a friend’s suicide and another about a fatal traffic accident

Even if the flames and smoke didn’t touch them, everyone in the city I love, Oakland, will remain traumatized by this preventable event

My heart goes out to the victims
My heart goes out to the families of those affected
My heart goes out to the crew who saw the devastation
My heart goes out to those who suffered from the indifference of that fire
Track Name: Moving Stories
I sold an old Fender amp to a young skater kid
He played it with my guitar, he wasn't that good
But hauled it away for a hundred bucks
I held the door for him and wished him good luck

walked up the street to get some x-rays
Took the CD from the nurse, got a salad at Jane
Waited around for an hour or so
To find out what’s next with the plate in my elbow

“The doctor will see you as soon as he is able”
I noticed a book, “Moving Stories,” on the coffee table

I had something downtown so I took a bus
After waiting outside for the fucking 31
a beautiful day under a beautiful sun
I thought about Prince and everything he's done

Sat down for a drink at Market and Hyde
Where people were talking about “When Doves Cry”
It got me thinking about my own run in life
I practiced guitar late into the night

Another dreamless sleep before this April session
Already thinking up verses for the next one

I'll spend the rest of the week packing up my things
moving some shit into a storage place
Back to home depot for boxes and tape
Gotta pack up my Guitar Center SG bass

I hope my landlord makes a pretty penny
All the new kids in my neighborhood bum me out anyway
Who gives a shit, it's triple the rent
But I get to spend every day with my girlfriend

It's just another change, I'm over it
I got a story of my own and who cares? I own it

I visited my friend Christine last week the Mission
I took a trip to her neighborhood to pay her a visit
It was a month or two ago that her dad passed away
In Pasadena, California just outside L.A.

The San Francisco air was misty, rainy and sunny too
a beautiful sky you never get used to
she opened the door to her apartment
and the first thing she said was, “There’s a double rainbow!” so we went to her roof to look at it

And we looked out towards the East Bay
Over Potrero Hill across the water where I used to stay
And there was a rainbow in the sky
And we hung out for a while and then we said goodbye
Track Name: Natural Light
I got some news on you from a friend
You're in Charlotte again
Teaching Spanish at high school

He said you're going by Joy
You cut your hair like a boy
And you don't talk to your old friends

I found a picture from before the fight
We're in natural light
And you're sitting on my lap
Like everything's all right

I've walked around with you on my mind
The names we used at the time
You know I've changed myself since then

I've thought on things that you said
What if we'd had the kid
I guess he'd be 15

I found a picture from before the fight
We're in natural light
And you're sitting on my lap
Like everything's all right
Track Name: Maybe We'll Get Lucky and We'll Both Live Again
The last time I saw you
We were only twenty-two or maybe twenty-three
Standing in the same aisle
In the New Sagaya downtown on Thirteenth

I told you you looked like shit
you told me you were sick
We both wore big poofy coats and looked like marshmallows
And you asked me if I had a brother

I don’t remember the color of your eyes
You were always so fucking funny
You did the best impersonations
Everyone was cracking up, you could have given Larry David a run for his money

You would come over to our house
We’d listen to Modest Mouse you’d have a few beers and have fun
We’d have the best time standing around the porch outside in the dark and I was seeing someone else
And at some point you’d sheepishly run off and I wondered where you went and ran off to

I don’t know what happened or where you went off to
Sometimes I wonder how it is that everything is fucked up all the time
Sometimes I just feel like my heart is being ripped out
And other times I stop and stare at a perfect flower on the city streets

“Maybe we'll get lucky and we'll both live again”
I don’t really believe in that kind of thing
But it’s nice to dream
Track Name: Good Morning Beautiful City
Good morning beautiful city
Doesn't smell so good after the rain
On my way to my haircut
Crossing the street in my head

Cars screech between me and the curb again
Famous singer-songwriter backing band friends
Thanks to the tickets to your show and the conversation

It was fun being backstage at the Greek with the band
After me and Beau were shaken
By one of your six thousand drunk angry fans

Six thousand drunk white people in this place
An ocean of screaming pink faces
Not as drunk as the crowd at Neil Young
Now back on the bus and

Run run run

We met a friendly drunk fan by the tour bus
And picked up your keyboard to fix
He asked everyone but me
About the key to success

I caught a ride home and gave my girlfriend a kiss
Track Name: Miami Sound Machine
We went somewhere for brunch
It took over four hours
I don't know why eating breakfast takes half a day
And costs over a hundred dollars

Sometimes on weekends my dad made breakfast on Saturdays
Potatoes and toast and ketchup and bacon from the microwave

And me and my dad watching X-Men cartoons when he wasn’t busy
My mom in her denim shirt in her garden picking berries with me
Watching the sun shine through the window, our soundtrack was Yanni
I washed the paint from her brush and from her wedding ring

When I was three my grandfather visited and he and my dad built a playhouse
And came back from a hunt and in it strung up a bloody moose carcass

When I was feeling bold I would take my dad's guitar out of its case
An early 80's Custom Les Paul with gold humbucker pickups and a turquoise strap that my mom made
And play as loud as I could through his smoky amplifier
The colors faded from sweat and playing bars and clubs over the years

When I was seven we went to Florida and I couldn't handle the heat
I came to with my mom pushing a Mickey Mouse popsicle on my forehead at the Miami Sound Machine
Track Name: We Are All Connected
I woke up and lay in bed for a minute trying to figure out how to get some new guitar tones
I need to have a conversation with Dan and Beau
But I gotta get paid before I have people building extended range guitars for me
As my bank account is pretty low

It’s November 26, last night we ordered Indian food and stayed in
And watched some show on Netflix with a bunch of swords and a lot of skin
You don’t need a holiday when you’re thankful all the time
And I just read that Fidel Castro died last night

In 1961 my uncle was at the bay of pigs, I visited him
in Cridersville in the mid-2000s, I drove from Pittsburgh with my blonde ex girlfriend
my aunt superglued her tooth, there were Mack trucks and a dog named Tom in the yard
Grandfather was late-stage and rocked a doll like a real child in his arms

I was struck by how similar everything looked to the way things were back home
The two were brothers, they were connected, and it showed
My dad was teased by my uncle until he knocked him out cold one day with a 2x4
And thought grandma’d be mad but she laughed; it was the last time they ever quarreled

Glen was buried with a military funeral, it helped out
My mom emailed me, the subject read, “Your uncle Glen - SAD”

She wrote to me,

Dear Kevin,
Uncle Bill just called Dad and I to let us know that your uncle Glen has passed away.
He died today from a stroke and could not be revived.

Uncle Bill is contacting family members right now.

Dad says Glen just would not listen to anyone about eating all those donuts.
He was about 350 pounds.
Preventable death. Makes me so sad and angry at the same time.

I'll let you know more when we find out.
Bill was going to call Grandma after he talked to us.

Take care,
Love, MOM xo

(November 6th, 2011)

Well Fidel, you did it. You outlasted Glen and some family I never got to know.
And what’s this, Gloria Estefan just put out a touching photo
Of her family on a raft to America on the internet
My girlfriend’s up now and she just brought me coffee and I’m going to take a break and drink it

“May freedom continue to ring in the United States, my beautiful adopted country”
Now I’m drinking my coffee looking out my apartment window
at a palm tree waving in the Mission breeze
thankful for everything I have and everything I’m allowed to be

Gloria Estefan’s sentiment rings true to me
We are all connected. Freedom will continue to ring, Gloria Estafan.
Regardless of whether you’re in the Great White North, Florida, or Northern California
Remember, if someone tries to push you around, you gotta push back

My girlfriend and I took a walk over to the Castro to get some good coffee beans cuz we were out
We stopped by the bookstore where my dad bought a Cher biography
But I was lost in thought as we walked around
Past the tree below which Ronald Merritt Junior’s body was lying on the ground

Covered by a medical examiner’s body bag, a blood stain near his head where he bled
The same colors as a holiday ribbon tied silver and red around that tree
His sister sent me a photo of the two of them as kids, she kissed her brother on the cheek.

She said,

I am the sister of the deceased, Ronald T Merritt, Jr. I would love to talk to you as of the image you remembered.

It appears that my brother had a meeting at the Safeway across the street for the “Feed the Need” food drives that are taking place throughout the Bay Area.

Eradicating homelessness is what got Ronnie up every morning.

Although he called us every Thanksgiving, he never came during Thanksgiving because of his volunteer work to serve the homeless on that day. So we always set a placemat at the table as to his honorable deeds. It was well known about Ron's life-long passion for helping the needy, and the disenfranchised.

“We are all connected” is not just a song by Voivod
“We are all connected” is not just a Neil Degrasse Tyson quote
“We are all connected” is not just a vapid yoga affirmation
We are all connected, and this planet, there’s only one of them

Even though there are terrifying things in it
sometimes rich men in fatigues or red ballcaps may frighten you
and make you promise you’re moving to New Brunswick
while they make false promises all day long to lure the downtrodden and the disenfranchised

Just think of people like Ronald Merritt, Jr.
Who cared so deeply about people who have no voice
Who cared for the homeless, and the disenfranchised
Who died tragically in an accident in front of a Whole Foods, and his sister needs to understand it but can’t

What happened to my mom’s long lost brother Christopher?
Did he die in Washington in Vancouver?
Was he by himself, alone and marginalized?
Or was there someone there for him by his side?

Now I’m finishing up some words about a someone I once knew
Her name was Lindsay, and she killed herself in the mid-2000s
We weren’t the closest of friends, we never kissed or held hands
But I wonder if anyone this year set an empty placemat
Track Name: A Few Days Ago
A few days ago
I was staring at Claude the albino
Alligator now I’m staying up too late staring at the news at night
I need a new ritual

It’s been a fall I won’t soon forget
So many good ones are gone
Don’t talk to me about the president elect

The Great American Music Hall
I’m listening to music tonight with my dad, that’s all

None of my stories seem to be
As heavy as the toughest year 2016

A few days ago
My dad was with me in San Francisco
We took a drive up north
To see redwood trees

On November 5 2016
The same night Ronald T. Merritt Junior died on Market Street

Dad ate Japanese ramen for the first time
We went to Old Jerusalem on election night

And spent some quiet days
Then he headed home in an airplane
Track Name: Older Man on a Stretcher
I listened to Marc Maron's Joanna Newson interview
They talked about their doctor parents and her harp and her music
And the little hippie town she grew up in

And how one particular dude growing marijuana
Fed his weed plants special yogurt
It made me laugh out loud at the gym

Then something happened and someone called the paramedics
And two fire trucks pulled up alongside Noe Street
They carried in a stretcher and someone needed help but I couldn’t see

And I turned around and there he was
An older man: too skinny, tattoos, and he looked really pale
But he had a smile on his face
He didn't seem worried about it
He just smiled and they wheeled him away
And he stayed in my mind all day

I got plums from the market and a bouquet of flowers
And I went home and played an eight-string guitar
Track Name: My Mother's Oncologist Was Indicted for Tax Evasion
today is a really good day
only good lies before me
abundance flows into my life in surprising ways
life loves me

all is well
I release all drama from my life and now get energy from peace
“you hate everyone equally”
“you hate everyone equally”

I was in a giant humidified glass bubble looking at tiny orange frogs and blue butterflies
When my brother sent me a chat message, as he does fairly often—although this one was a surprise

In a twist, I read a news article about my mom’s oncologist
Indicted on four counts of tax evasion in Alaska, while on vacation in the Caribbean

He was obese and wore frumpy silk shirts with beer and margaritas on them
And in his giant living room in his big house on Big Lake he kept a tyrannosaurus rex skeleton

My dad was beside me and he could see that I was becoming livid, I can be a handful
He did his best to reassure me and rubbed my shoulder and said, “Let it go.”

all is well, and so am I
I am greeted with love wherever I go
I look with expectation to my next moment
which is fresh and new

I don’t blame myself
I don’t blame myself
I am pain free and totally in sync with life

Let it go, let it go, let it go
Let it go, let it go, let it go
Let it go, let it go, let it go
Let it go, let it go, let it go

I messaged back, “I always said that motherfucker was a goddamned fucking piece of shit asshole”
My brother like oh this again said, “you hate everyone equally”
“you hate everyone equally”

Despite how pissed off I was he sent me a funny internet picture that made me laugh
I’ll remain forever disgusted that we couldn’t even get a wheelchair, and this fuckface steals millions in cash

She lay in the living room, covered with an old sheet, the room was dark without her light
The cremation center’s corpulent owner asked me about my new cell phone’s battery life

Leonard Cohen, Gwen Ifill… Leon Russell said “Hallalujah” when he was indicted into the rock and roll hall of fame
And the united states just elected a tax-dodging piece of shit douchebag twitter egg troll
And is trying to figure out who to blame

I don’t know how much life remains
I don’t know how much life remains
I don’t know how much life remains
I don’t know how much life remains

Let it go, let it go, let it go
Let it go, let it go, let it go
Let it go, let it go, let it go
Let it go, let it go, let it go

We walked to a Thai restaurant and I got all pissy, acting like an out-of-line hater
In front of my dad and my girlfriend after looking at a gigantic albino alligator

And I’m grateful for everything I have in my life
And I’m grateful for everything I have in my life
Like my girlfriend and brother and father who were right there by my side
Track Name: Last Night I Got into an Argument with My Girlfriend About Aziz Ansari
December morning chill
An empty orange bottle on the floor with no more refills
Sunrise 7:10am
Breakfast with my girlfriend

Open the blinds to look outside
Sheets of smooth grey underneath the sky

It’s been a few weeks and I’ve had a little break from travel
Some people think it’s exotic, but it’s lonely and it’s a big hassle
To live in hotels and look out at airplane wings
Missing out on life at home and the little things

Primary physician… Allergists… Ears nose throat…
I just had surgery a few weeks ago
And what a lifesaver Dr. Kenyon has been
For helping me clear up a massive infection

It’s crazy how you let some things float right on by

Vanessa wrote me a doctor’s note
To stay home for a month or so
I guess I needed the rest more than I realized

Western gulls climb high and dive
The morning rain is cold but they don’t seem to mind

The air outside makes me think of home
I’m reminded of Rob Czarneski, The Czar of Guitars
Who died of a tumor in his brain and spinal column
A lot like what happened to my mom

It’s December 5th, 2015, and last night I got into an argument with my girlfriend. We were talking about Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang’s new series, “Master of None,” when she spoiled the ending of an episode. I felt bad about the whole thing but I know she loves me and she knows I love her, too.

In four days it'll be my mom's birthday. She would have been 65 years old. What would she have thought of that—me getting into some dumb argument about a Netflix comedy series?

After Thanksgiving, we got tickets to fly home to Alaska to spend time with my dad and my brother. I can't wait for her to meet them.

I'm pretty tired, and my girlfriend and I are going to get some tofu and matcha noodles from Mission Chinese Food. It's a little chilly walking back from Tiny Telephone. Everyone's really drunk and wearing onesies. It's about 9:30pm and it's Saturday night.