but so beautiful

by Jonathan J. Bower

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    Produced by Evan Phillips, James Glaves, James Dommek Jr. & Jonathan J. Bower. Comes in a gatefold case & feat. art by Gabe Travis, & photography by Brian Adams.

    Includes unlimited streaming of but so beautiful via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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Tough 03:24
Tough Up in smoke, says Sugar And don’t you think we shoulda pulled an act together well by now Took the lumps, hit all our bumps Stained the walls with thick thumps Pound for pound all that the law will allow But you’re so good at being the someone every one loves so tell me baby why you gotta be so tough Cigarettes standin’ in for prayers A few beers ease an evening’s fears But I save the finest wine for a day’s more time Inside your eyes Got this boat, it’s jammed in my throat Stuck there, won’t float If I choke up this whale of tears Maybe that baby would set sail Chorus And I’m sorry to take up your time Move along, baby, move along, never mind Nothing’s wrong, nothing’s wrong Everything’s fine Everything's fine Chorus Your letter arrived today Read it through What to say? Thought you were where you want to be Your fortuneteller told you to leave I’m fine Doin’ my time Grab some moments as they wander by Wasting wages on creature comforts As day bleeds into night Chorus © 2010, rafflemyheart music
Rodin’s Hands So, it all went down just like Mama planned The clouds split apart and Jesus came back Separated – The goats and the lambs The sheep from the rams The bottles from cans Stop the press Grab a rest Meet the ex Run the kids over to the zoo Take the test Do your best Make a guess Baby what did you hope to do? I would have to confess It’s a beautiful mess And though I’m kind of impressed I think I’d settle for less Big Brother’s belly’s hangin’ over his pants But he can’t keep from envying the dervish his dance Still he’d like to pretend That a network of friends Is a means to the end Chorus Isaac just sucker-punched Abraham That’s some poetic justice on the day of the damned Daddy don’t understand There’s a salvation plan Written on Rodin’s hands Chorus …I would have to confess It’s a beautiful mess And though I’m kind of impressed I think I’d settle for less ©2011, rafflemyheart music
Cargo City 03:33
Cargo City He has a Jersey Jones He visits each weekend Hops in the Olds And crosses Walt Whitman He don’t dig on the Old City women With their shiny boys and painted on pants She’s a flushed waitress A high-haired Twinkie Her feet are flamed Until he walks through the door Jukebox plays their favorite hair-band ballads He’s a fistful of quarters hitting the floor And late nights down in Cargo City Just off of South I-95 They watch the airplanes leaving and landing Laying out on the hood of his car She saves her tips for a shack in Wyoming A woodstove under a blanket of stars He’s easy to please when he’s not in the city They spilled their dreams on the hood of his car Late nights down in Cargo City Just off South I-95 They watch the airplanes leaving and landing Late last night that junker’s battery died Soon they’ll flee the hazy summers Clouds of paste the city hides behind The hamster wheel, the cobweb of highways Any day now, they’re gonna fly They’re gonna fly She’s his Jersey Jones His high haired Twinkie He’s a fistful of dollars Won’t get far Waving goodbye to the sideways city Driving into the Western sun The Western sun... ©2002, rafflemyheart music
The Victim Well She really loves me After I’ve had enough And I cry “Baby – Why’re you so tough?” She laughs, says, “You no angel, Speak for yourself Quit playin’ the victim But you do it so well.” The fruits hang heavy On her secret tree But her guard dog’s burned my name Into his shiny blue teeth She leaves me strawberry tops And rose hip seeds Fireweed cotton And gold birch leaves The sky goes blue to blood To black and waves of green The full moon’s nowhere, mama And her hound dog’s in my dreams Her fruits hang heavy On a secret tree But the dog’s breakin’ down And he’s too tight on his chain Chorus Our Christian says “Hell,” The hipster sighs, “Well,” And my baby says, “Boy, You play victim so well.” © 2011, rafflemyheart music
Book of Failures I got soft I got soft And then every signal crossed But still was not lost Only very tossed So jilted But we stayed open God baby how’d we get so broken And how’s Love take in an ocean Without choking? An epic book of failures Where the heroes become villains (Last: Where the children slay the villains) Tragic, but so beautifully Avoiding signs and portents Played hero, went zero And clutched you as I went down Set that village on fire As I raced from town Now I spend my nights Under starlight But baby at what vain price Love dead on the vine – Your child’s father’s crime Chorus You called this an escape But I said it’s just a landscape A well enough wide space To contain a heartbreak I got soft I got soft And then every signal crossed But still was not lost Only very tossed Chorus Chorus ...where the children slay the villains... ...tragic but so beautiful... © 2011, rafflemyheart music
Still 04:02
Still Raven dances on the wind A murmur passes through the leaves There’s an acid-washed landscape And still no sign of rain And in the clamor of our voices Rests a silent in between Where I find I still believe in you Though the word from on high Comes down all scribbles, Greek, and graphs And I’ve tried to ignore it You insist until I laugh Until I cry and beg for mercy The likes of which I never knew And find I still believe in you Yeah, there’s your wearisome perfection And your crude expectations And words all jagged glass And then your timeworn creations And all the ways I get it wrong Before you offer me a clue And find I still believe in you And there’s no way of telling why I do And there’s no way of telling how I do I’ve kept your dirty secrets And scorn the chosen few And scandalize the silence in all truth You already have the rivers And they’ll always trump my songs As I fumble for the words to frame The way I’ve always longed For you to receive me Like the lover I never knew Saying “Boy, I still believe in you” I hear you’ll receive me Like the lover I never knew Saying, “Boy, I still believe in you” © 2010 rafflemyheart music


“At once old-timey and poignantly modern, Bower’s guitar playing will reverberate in your ears long after the music is over. Lyrics this thoughtful and haunting could only come from a born writer, so you won’t be surprised to learn he has an MFA in writing. Check out Bower’s website for some examples of what great songwriting sounds like.”

- Anonymous - Alaska Travel Blog

"elegies, little victories, and masterful storytelling...But So Beautiful is a compelling package, one that ultimately conjures images of getting on despite gritty circumstances. [These songs] manage to weave beautiful, forlorn tales in a matter of minutes, but with a defiant note of hope."

- Jeri Kopet - The Anchorage Press


released September 30, 2012

Produced by Evan Phillips, James Glaves, James Dommek Jr., & Jonathan J. Bower

Recorded at The Wolverine Den & Twisted Penguin Studios in Anchorage, Alaska, December 2011 – May 2012

Mixed by James Glaves at Twisted Penguin

Mastered by Jeff Lipton at Peerless Mastering, Boston, MA

Assistant Mastering Engineer: Maria Rice

Jonathan J. Bower: Gibson LG, Vocals, Lyrics

Evan Phillips: Acoustic & Electric Guitars, Banjo, Tambourine, & Vocals; Sage & Architect

James Glaves: Wunderkind, Electric Guitars, Bass, Noise, Ears of Gold

James Dommek Jr, : Drums, Percussion, Keys, Guitars, Bass; The Secret Weapon

Aaron Benolkin: Pedal Steel
Miriah May: Violin
Molly McDermott: Cello
Corwyn Wilkey: Trumpet

All songs © rafflemyheart music 2012

Album artwork by Gabe Travis

Photography by Brian Adams

Gratitude to those mentioned above; who brought their skills to the fore for this project, investing time, wares, and resources in the composition of these songs.

Special thanks: Ken Sease, Jeri Kopet, Wes Hartlieb, Marc Bourdon, Craig & Cheryl Lyon, Suzanne Drinen, Winterberry, Skrappy, The Bowers, Whorleys, Viles, Marcins, & Dwyers, Pendle Hill, Chris Gunderson & Kelly Overacker, Kumamoto-shi, Tsuyoshi Yamaguchi, Natsuko Uemara, the Mishima family, Masahiro Hori, Paul Silverman, Emma Hill, Alison Krieger, Tara Endicott, Doug Frank, John Linton, the Klings. Michael Ceci, the BG’s, Shawn Teague, Don Rearden, Christine Byl & Gabe Travis, Liz Bradfield, & Bradley Wakefield

&, of course – always – Sam & Matt & Anya

Last year, from different corners of the globe, Will Davies & Marisa Beltramini helped seed, grow, and root this project in the good, mystifying ground of Dreams. These songs are for them, with deep, swollen and mildly bruised Gratitude. All the love, folks.


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Jonathan J. Bower Anchorage, Alaska

On the release of his 2012 EP, But So Beautiful, The Anchorage Press wrote, “[This is] masterful storytelling. These songs weave beautiful, forlorn tales in a matter of minutes, but with a defiant note of hope.” The songs on 2018's Light Years album play like postcards & snapshots written during an endless road trip around Alaska - or along every other dreamy, scenic stretch of highway anywhere... ... more

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