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Exurban Prayer


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Description
Singer longs for the day when he sees Jesus, instead of Wal-Marts, all around. A dirge against sameness, this song is not entirely serious, but sort of. Not completely religious, but kind of. Originally, I intended to write a funny song protesting all the road construction and urban sprawl around my town, but when I sat down at the guitar, what came out is more like a prayer. Guitar and vocal were recorded together in one take, with the mic placed somewhere in the middle. Harmonies were added later.

(Originally titled "Suburban Heaven.")

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Lyrics

Please Jesus
Tell me there’s no asphalt in heaven
I’ve been told the streets are made of gold
Things here in this blacktop world
All look the same
Everywhere I go it’s the same:
Four lanes are better than two
I am better than you
Silence-a space to be filled
Different-a beast to be killed

Please Jesus
Tell me there’s no billboards where you are
No signs selling at all
Please Jesus
Tell me there’s no TV in heaven
You’re the only light I see
Things here in this blacktop world
All look the same
Everywhere I go it’s the same:
Four lanes are better than two
I am better than you
Silence: a space to be filled
Different: a beast to be killed
A beast to be killed

Please Jesus
Tell me there’s trees in heaven
Green is just fine by me
Please Jesus
Tell me there's music where you are
Alleluia
Things here in this blacktop world
All look the same
Everywhere I go it’s the same:
Four lanes are better than two (Alleluia)
I am better than you (Alleluia)
Silence, a space to be filled (Alleluia)
Different, a beast to be killed (Alleluia)
Alleluia

Please Jesus
Please Jesus
Please Jesus
Tell me there’s no asphalt in heaven
I’ve been told the streets are made of gold


Song Stats
Hits: 6321
Comments: 46
Fans: 16
Plays: 368
Downloads: 266
Votes: 36
Uploaded: May 14, 2005 - 09:08:39 PM
Last Updated: Nov 30, 2005 - 09:58:03 PM Last Played: Jul 01, 2019 - 11:38:27 PM
Song License
Creative Commons License:
Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial

Creative Commons

Song Actions
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Hardware:
Boss BR-8 Digital Recording Studio
G5
Shure SM58 Mic
Alvarez acoustic guitar
Software:
GB
Comments
snowdragon said 5209 days ago (May 14th, 2005)
This is why I live in the country
This tune had just right touch of John Prine. Loved the
"four lanes are better than two, I am better than you" line.

Good tune Attie. And by the way, the good news is there
is no asphalt in heaven. The bad news is, it's your turn to
mow the lawn.
Check out my latest song called Nightmares
Tom Atwood said 5209 days ago (May 14th, 2005)
This is why I live in the country
*rimshot!* Thanks Snow, for listening and for your comments.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
Peter Greenstone said 5209 days ago (May 14th, 2005)
Amen
Tom, you get a big "AMEN" from this Jew. You and I and
so many others live in this suburban sprawl. In the past
few years this area on the outer edge of Austin where I
live has become more and more of a repeating pattern of
the same crossroads, the same super-stores, chain
restaurants, and gas stations, lit up at night like nuclear
blasts. They're widening the once-quiet highway and they
started lining it with tall steal powerline poles, fencing off
the once unobscured horizon. When I pull out of my
apartment complex onto Hwy 620 it doesn't really matter
if I go left or right; I'll find much the same thing either
way. Pretty convenient, one might say, but then again, so
is a colostomy bag.

Anyway, I obviously love the lyrics; not only the sentiment,
but the great craft with which you wrote them. The
simple musical arrangement is wonderful, as well, and just
right for the song. Back to basics.
Check out my latest song called Iridium Flare (2013 Re-Release)
Tom Atwood said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
Amen
Thanks, Peter. There are so many images that came to mind while writing this
song, including those gleaming steel utility poles you mentioned. In front of
my children's school (named "Woodland Elementary" for the trees that used to
surround it), a four lane hiway is being built. A few weeks ago I drove past
and saw the steel poles going up, and huge trees being cut down to make
way for the wires. I think they need to change the name of the school, now.


Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
Peter Greenstone said 5209 days ago (May 14th, 2005)
Unknown Artist
Oh, Tom, you forgot to put your name on the file. Just lettin'
you know.
Check out my latest song called Iridium Flare (2013 Re-Release)
DrToasty said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
Drtoasty says:
I didn't know what to make of this at first, I'm not much of
a religious person...But this song not only sends a nice
message, but it also is very soothing. I think I just might
download it..
Great job, keep it up.
Check out my latest song called Wike Awake
Cori Ander said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
Yes
Though living in a part of the world where things are
smaller and not so "developed", this song expresses a
plague that has been following even me since childhood.
It is tough to see how the world COULD be so much a
better place if we were more sensitive and considerate.

The world here in Sweden is not so stuffed with big
highways and the other stuff that you and pgreenstone
describe. But this same general lack of human sensitivity
finds other ways to make us lame.

The difference between what man is today and what man
could and need to be is so big that if I didnt' have God, I
would find it difficult to maintain.

A really great thing about your song is that it expresses
the pain not in a frustrated and angry tone, but sensitive
and vulnerable. That makes it powerfull.
Check out my latest song called O store Gud
Tom Atwood said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
Yes
I'm sure urban sprawl is not just an American reality, but you are lucky,
Johannes, not to have it in Sweden. My opposition to sprawl is
frustrating, because it makes me feel anti-progressive, and old. "When I was
your age," I tell my kids, "we didn't have plastic! We didn't need electricity! We
foraged for food." They just look at me. But, slowly, they're beginning to at
least share my dislike of asphalt. They really hated seeing those trees
come down around their old school.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
Cori Ander said 5207 days ago (May 17th, 2005)
Yes
Well, the sprawl is coming in our capital (Stockholm), but was lucky to move out
of there ten years ago.

Have you ever felt the sadness of seeing people around, especially kids, getting
drowned in soap operas, video games and "degrade-yourself-TV" — dont know
which words you use but I guess you know exactly — to see them turn to
passive consumers of non-life?

Thats what I personally suffer the most from anyway.
Check out my latest song called O store Gud
White Hawks said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
:)
"Tell me there're lot of great musician's like Mr. Atwood in
heaven."

thanks for sharing.

- Hawks
Check out my latest song called Shepherds Out in the Field
Tom Atwood said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
:)
Thanks Jemimah. You're a good kid and I appreciate your support.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
Pie said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
a fine example...
...of understatement. i could learn from this :-)
Check out my latest song called Coalesce (Instrumental)
Joanna said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
Beautiful
A simple, heartfelt song with a lot of depth. This was such
a treat, atwood. I just loved it. Fabulous lyrics and a
wonderful vocal performance.
Check out my latest song called Baby, It's Cold Outside
aclarke said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
Simply done
And perfectly executed. Excellent production- just the
right mix everywhere. Song is outstanding and has a very
strong message. This tune is just so pure and beautiful.

Even in Southern Maine where I live urban sprawl is
becoming more and more evident as the Boston suburbs
move northward. I Wish those developers and greedy, tax
hungry communities would get a clue.
Check out my latest song called Right on Time 2014- feat. David McNair
eltopo said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
Beautiful song writing
Reminds me a little bit of Tom Paxton.

A thought-provoking reflection on urbanisation and the
vaseline samey blandness of the growth fetish at the heart
of neoliberalism, which runs contra to any notions of
quality of life.
Check out my latest song called Gentrification (live)
Mystified said 5209 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
What a terrific song!

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this. Clever and heartfelt
lyrics, fantastic production (how do you do it in GB?).
And really nice vocals, too.

Thank you for this!
(And I'm looking forward to streets of gold, too.
Asphalt...blech ;)
Check out my latest song called Elevated--Miss Chaos/Mystified vox
Tom Atwood said 5208 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
What a terrific song!
Thanks, Cat. This song was only mastered in GarageBand. I recorded the
original guitar and vocals on a digital 8-track, then transferred those trax to
GB to output. I do that because I have never been able to eliminate the room
noise (or computer noise) recording vocals and guitar in GB. So I shut
everything down except the little digital recorder, which you can still hear
humming slightly if you listen closely enough. I think SGF has the best idea--
building a 'booth' in her basement using a shed kit, then lining it with
soundproofing material.

(A long answer, I know, to your question). Thanks again for listening.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
eDrew said 5208 days ago (May 15th, 2005)
More
Great stuff. Needs more guitar though. Consider re-
recording with more level on the Guitar. Thanks for
sharing
Check out my latest song called Corporate Presentation
btransue said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Preaching to the Choir
but we still need it. The homoginization of American culture.
Oh you know how much I love to hate it. Actually...no, I just
hate it...the homoginization I mean...the song is great.


Check out my latest song called Guitar & Piano, Minus the Piano
btransue said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Oh..and by the way
really like your voice...and the photo...very "War of the
Worlds"...maybe the real demons weren't from outer space at
all...maybe they were of our own creation.
Check out my latest song called Guitar & Piano, Minus the Piano
bronco said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
I Told You So
Yes, I said it, do another simple vocal song. This is so
good Tom!! I love your quiet voice. A very nice followup to
"Looking for Jesus". I think you've even invented a new
category, religious/eco. Living in Austin I can second
Peter's remarks. If ever there was a place which went from
paradise to pair of dice, this is it. In 30 short years it has
gone from a place which honored the past, tradition and
culture, to (as Henry Miller put it) the air conditioned
nightmare. Oh the city fathers still talk the talk but they
don't even crawl let alone walk the walk. Thanks for the
tune Tom! Oh, by the way, great harmonies as usual.
Check out my latest song called Stenosis Commitosis
mandolinquent said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Beautiful...
Lovely, restrained singing and playing. Very, very nice. I
really like the rhythm of your phrasing in that chorus too.

Well, oil production looks like it's peaking soon, so maybe
the weeds will soon start peeking through the asphalt.
Check out my latest song called Fair Jenny's Jig and Matthew Briggs
alley-oop said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Hey! I want my MAC in heaven!
And my tele and my amp. Is that too much to ask?
Very interesting and uniquely crafted song. A soul saving song? I have questions about the reality of God and religion, but am somehow comforted by your songs and message. No one else have ever gotten as close as you.
Check out my latest song called rain
Tom Atwood said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Hey! I want my MAC in heaven!
Thanks Tom. I am really not in the soul-saving business. I believe your soul,
like all of us, will do fine. As for your questions about the reality of God? I
have questions about the reality of reality...so go figure.

Thanks again for listening.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
TobinMueller said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
A simple, sad marvel
This is so sweet, so sad. More about this world than
heaven; more about sadness and disappointment than
hope or expectation. So well performed, so simply and
truly stated. Marvelous. Another jewel from you, Tom.
Check out my latest song called Momentary Undertow
Tom Atwood said 5208 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
A simple, sad marvel
I was glad to read your comments, Tobin, because you are right: the song is
not really about heaven or Jesus at all. If it was, it would not be a dirge, at
least not if I wrote it. Thanks for your kind words.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
selters said 5207 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Very nice song!!
This song is one the songs i had to listen to more then once! There is a great wibe in it that i cannot describe. It reminds me of something, but i cant really tell, and that is always a good sign. The lyrics are very interesting, a liked them a lot. I think I understand your point.
Check out my latest song called Going South
Emily Rohm said 5207 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Very nice.
GREAT lyrics. Although I must admit I like asphalt... I'm
allergic to too much nature. Those darn trees. Hopefully
I'll be able to enjoy nature more in heaven! This is a nice
song, Atwood. Your voice is so soothing.
Check out my latest song called Monica's Waltz
Rebsie said 5207 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Nice one
I'm impressed that this was essentially a live take ...
just goes to show how some things are best when
they're spontaneous.
Check out my latest song called Amongst The Colours (w/ Luna Trick)
stevel said 5207 days ago (May 16th, 2005)
Nice acoustic sound
This kind of reminds me a bit of Loudon Wainwright, nice
subtle acoustic playing and clear strong vocals. I can
imagine hearing some orchestration coming in on this
one, but I guess that might go against the message of
simplicity!
S
Check out my latest song called Out of Reach
rovert10 said 5207 days ago (May 17th, 2005)
Quite perfect
This is one of the prettiest things I've heard in a long time.
The harmonies are wonderful.
Check out my latest song called Gears
I. Spike said 5205 days ago (May 18th, 2005)
The Kingston Trio
Immediately upon hearing the first few notes I was
transported back to my childhood, laying on the couch
and opening my ears to my parents record collection...
specifically The Kingston Trio.
Great lyrics, performance, heart, sentiment...
This is going on my favorites.
Beautiful.
Lately I've longing to do more folk and bluegrass. This is
the final push I needed.
Thanks for the most excellent work.
Check out my latest song called Aqua Velveeta
_nderscore said 5205 days ago (May 18th, 2005)
quietness in a blurry world of noise
your soothing music & vocals offer a sense of peacefulness
in spite of the conditions you describe. i think part of the
problem is that most people don't even notice their
surroundings anymore (what's to take note of?). they just
ramble thru life as it presents itself, not caring one way or
the other. the 'most bang for the buck' side of development
takes care of the rest. why don't people stand up for what is
truly important anymore?

a really beautiful song, tom-thanks
Check out my latest song called kolors wash
Anonymous said 5205 days ago (May 18th, 2005)
nice voice
you possess very nice voice ... soothing to hear ... lyrics
are all-too true ... i see this horrible suburban mess in my
travels constantly ... it is unfortunate to the extreme! ... i
wish for more rhythmic foundation on this ... best aspect
is when you sing in harmony ... is wonderful! ...
Stun Nutz said 5205 days ago (May 18th, 2005)
wow
I love songs like this that can convey a lot of emotion
with very little... good work. Those harmonies at the
end are a great way to close...
Check out my latest song called stagnation
John Stebbe said 5203 days ago (May 21st, 2005)
Neat song
You have a very enjoyable vocal style. Reminds me of Bob
Dorough, who did the singing on many of the old
"SchoolHouse Rock" shorts in the 1970s.

Hmm -- what about Macs in Heaven? It does give one
pause!

I like the humming in harmony.
Check out my latest song called Midwest States Song
EdensEve said 5191 days ago (June 1st, 2005)
Tragic choice
The difference between paving streets in asphalt or gold...
you give a strange choice that seems to show the limits of
imagination many human beings display when thinking of
the perfect world-heaven (on purposes I think, since you are
a very good self-consious song writer). This gives the entire
song a tragic quality, a sense that even heaven is without
natural splendor, that opulence equates to peace, that
trappings provide happiness. I think you knew all this as you
wrote, and I applaud the tragedy you have wrapped in a
sweet childlike song.
Tom Atwood said 5191 days ago (June 2nd, 2005)
Tragic choice
Thanks, Eva. You might be surprised to find out that I believe the kingdom of
heaven is within us, each one, here and now, not awaiting some but not
others in the sky, and not made up of gold or asphalt or any of the 'trappings'
you mentioned in your insightful comment.

Thanks to you, and to everyone for listening and commenting on this. I
appreciate it.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
ScooterDMan said 5187 days ago (June 5th, 2005)
love it
tom, you can probably gather from my songs, im not
exactly a religious person. but i absolutely love this song,
especially the line, "four lines are better than two, i am
better than you."
i also love the bass line that kicks in right before the
chorus. im a sucker for that particular sound. not sure if
youve listened much to ryan adams or his older, more
countrified band, whiskeytown, but he hovers around
those same bass notes in lots of his songs. im not sure if
there's a name for that sort of progression (or if it's a
progression at all), but there's something about that
sound that creates a sense of warmth.

there's also something reminscent of early simon and
garfunkel here that i really like. i think it's the soft vocals.

great stuff, tom.
Check out my latest song called The Sunshine Shadows (Live Take)
Tom Atwood said 5187 days ago (June 5th, 2005)
love it
Thanks SDN. I have not heard Ryan Adams or his band. Glad you like this
piece. I guess it does have kind of an early folk sound. And I'm glad it appeals
to those who are not "religious," because it is not exactly a religious song. But
for some reason, religion seems to kind of leak out of me into most of my
stuff. Not intentionally, sometimes. Thanks again for listening Scoot.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
schroter said 5178 days ago (June 14th, 2005)
brilliant expression of human angst
Have you read C.S. Lewis' 'Mere Christianity'? You're onto
something when you say "I believe the kingdom of
heaven is within us, each one, here and now..." It follows
logic that when you sit and write that it would come out as
a prayer or 'religious'. Your spirit is crying out to see
creation as it was intended to be. This song really
touched me deeply. You seem to be in synch with the
heartbeat of God. Please keep going to that closet of
yours, and keep sharing these songs with us. If you
haven't already - I'm sure you'll soon have an encounter
with the living God that you can't walk away from
unchanged.
Check out my latest song called All Who Are Thirsty
Tom Atwood said 5178 days ago (June 14th, 2005)
brilliant expression of human angst
Thanks for listening, schroter, and for the kind words. I will email you re:
your comments.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
caroline said 5171 days ago (June 22nd, 2005)
what a find!
this makes me feel so young - thank you for this simple tune, beautifully sung and great lyrics - less is absolutely more x
Check out my latest song called i'm a reunion maid MJRF 2010
Tom Atwood said 5171 days ago (June 22nd, 2005)
what a find!
Thanks caroline. Very glad this makes you feel young. (Good to 'meet' you
yesterday, I will go listen to your vegetable song now...)
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
perceptualvortex said 5153 days ago (July 9th, 2005)
Very sweet
Great writing and singing. I love the vocal phrasing, it seems so natural here, but I can't imagine how you come up with it. The harmonizing is also really nice. I agree with the sentiment, in my non-religious way.
Check out my latest song called Mercury (RPM 6)
Tom Atwood said 5153 days ago (July 9th, 2005)
Very sweet
Thanks for taking a look at this old song, PV. Glad you find something in it,
religious or not.

---
.
Check out my latest song called Vanishing Pezzicato
Artist Info
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Name: Tom Atwood
Location:
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I guess I could be a 'poster child' for MacJams. I joined the site on New Year's Eve 2004, after several years of not making much music at all. A long dry spell. Since then, I have posted more than 50 songs here, collaborated with some wonderful arti... [see more]

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