In 1991, we created a short chapbook of lyrics from nine SWOON songs as a precursor to a compilation of music we never put together. Eight pages, nine songs, two folded pieces of paper. Thanks to SWOON super-fan, Brad Swenson, one paper copy survives. He photographed it and submitted his photos to our Facebook Page.

Here’s a link to download a PDF of the booklet titled Sleep Little Stash.

Sleep Little Stash

No, it’s not a book about getting high off your own stash. “Stash” was the name of one of the characters inhabiting the imaginary world of SWOON stories. The name is short for Anastasia, a Greek/Russian name that means “Resurrection.” The song Old Woman Willow (Sleep Little Stash) croons about the death of a fictional British girl named Anastasia who gets buried under a willow tree. (Think of Tolkein’s sinister man-eating Old Man Willow in The Fellowship of the Ring.) The tree absorbs her body through its roots to more-or-less resurrect her into leaves and branches via the cycle of physical death and rebirth while her soul takes flight passing out to sea over the chalky Dover cliffs before becoming one with the One who is I WILL BE AND I AM. Something like that. Perhaps we were getting little high.

We gave the chapbook away to fans and probably gave out copies along with other SWOON merchandise at our shows. The songs selected for inclusion shared some common connective tissue as half-told narratives featuring named characters. Most of them had been written on the heels of our exodus from the Christian music scene, and the bawdy lyrics are too eager to prove themselves scandalous. In those days, we were living together in a rented house just outside of the University of Minnesota’s Dinkytown area in Minneapolis. An enormous cast of compelling characters intersected our lives, coming and going at all hours, playing musical chairs with love and relationships. Their personalities and personal dramas inspired the fictional characters in the songs. The lyrics documented some of the swooning going on at the time, and they hint at some of the emotional wreckage left behind in the wake.

The broader theme followed the same path we first blazed in BEN SON BEATRICE/NEVERLAND by continuing to explore the world of innocence-lost, unrequited spiritual longings, frustrated eroticism, and angsty puzzlement over the question of how the soul fits so snuggly into the physical body. The chapbook contained lyrics from two songs recorded in the NEVERLAND sessions: Sweet Ally and Speak Soft. Three of the songs eventually went down on tape in the posthumous SPECTACULAR ILLUSIONS session: Old Woman Willow (Sleep, Little Stash), Seriously Sonny, and Dixon Berkman’s Tale. Four songs never made it to studio at all: The Tenth of May, Wishing Ring, When Things Go Well, and Happy Indeed (Sparrow). Recently, a cassette recording of a rehearsal showed up in the hands of a Cottonwood native named Tony Schwartz. It included a recording of Happy Indeed. (We played a live version in the 1989 Winona show. See the bootleg GLORY LIGHTS.)

One notable omission that should have been included with the collection is the ethereal Epiphany. It’s another of those half-told narratives about a named character undergoing some vague spiritual experience of unfulfilled longings consisting of deep sighs for intangible worlds. It’s the same type of romantic SWOON-worthy dish we we liked to serve. The lyrics to Epiphany don’t appear with the collection in Sleep Little Stash because, by 1991, our keyboard player was no longer part of the lineup. Songs that depended on her had to be cut.

What about the remaining three songs in the chapbook? It’s possible they might yet show up in Mr. Schwartz’s collection of vintage cassette tapes or elsewhere. In the meantime, it seems appropriate, on Easter Day 2023, to celebrate the Resurrection by resurrecting Stash. Here’s a Soundcloud link to the audio of Old Woman Willow (Sleep Little Stash) from the unreleased album SPECTACULAR ILLUSIONS.

daniel thomas

Emmett and I walked the Via Dolorosa while visiting Jerusalem in 1985. I sort of remember him saying, “That would be a good name for a song.” It’s the name of a street in the Old City on which Jesus allegedly carried his cross as he went to Golgotha. Every Good Friday, Christian pilgrims commemorate the stations of the cross and walk the Via Dolorosa. The name literally means “Way of Sorrow.”

You can hear the influence of U2’s The Joshua Tree in the chord progression of Via Dolorosa. It wasn’t intentional, but we liked it that way. A short version of the song went down on the ben son Beatrice demo. The live version could roll on for a long, long time. We almost always closed out our live shows with that hypnotic rambling extended version—right before the big-bang showstopper GO NO STOP.

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daniel thomas

THE SWOON starts in small-town Cottonwood, MN ‘round about 1975 when my family moved into town and became next-door neighbors to the amazing Dacey family. Us kids lived in the perfect Norman Rockwell dream of small-town America—a world of bare feet and banana-seat bicycles, without rules or boundaries where you could see to the horizon in every direction. Every house on the block had children our age. I think there were fifteen or sixteen of us in those days. Every summer we ran wild. We did everything together all day long every day all summer long: building forts, exploring the drainage ditch, waging wars, watching Star Trek, playing matchbox cars, playing football, kickball, freeze tag, Ghost Ghost in the Graveyard, and eventually, playing Dungeons & Dragons. In the early eighties, the Dacey brothers and I spent most of our spare time adventuring in those fantastic imaginary landscapes, rolling dice and living large through paper heroes in the never-ending war against evil orcs and goblins. Austin and I even tried to open a hobby shop in his basement, but Emmett was our only customer.

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This song just wanted to be a rock song, but it got all tangled up with angst about faith, spiritual frustration, and the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life. Several versions of the song existed before the one that coalesced onto tape in the Neverland Studio sessions. This version is a live, raw performance scooped from a bootleg of a show in Winona, MN (Sep, 1989), mashed up with video footage from a show at the New Union in Minneapolis (Nov, 1989).

Whose Hands are These? puzzles over the contradiction between substance and spirit, between a materialist reductionist worldview and the ineffable, transcendent spirituality leaking through consciousness and self-awareness … you know, the type of stuff kids are always crooning about. The audio of this live version, scooped from a 1989 bootleg recorded in Winona, MN, preserves the full-length song–unlike the truncated version that went down onto the Neverland recordings.

It’s a war song. Sort of. Tim O’Brien’s book Going After Cacciato, the story of a soldier who walks away from the Vietnam war, inspired the vibe. Florence Dacey, the mother of the Dacey brothers and adopted mom of the band, campaigned tirelessly as an activist against the Cold War Era war machine and nuclear proliferation. Thompson’s Confusion vectors on the mystical unity of every human being. There are no strangers. This song never made it to the studio, but a cassette bootleg from a 1989 live show preserves its memory.

Thompson’s Confusion

We recorded Let’s Talk About Love in 1988 for the ben son ben son Beatrice demo, but this version of the song is scooped from a bootleg cassette recorded at a live show in 1989. The song itself, while pretending to bounce along as just another silly love song, contrasts pop culture’s infatuations with the the expensive price of perseverance in a relationship gone wrong. Video clips from a 1948 version of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina tells it like it is.