A World That's Bigger

by Mike Vial

supported by
Dave Polus
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Dave Polus Why doesn't everybody own this album, and why isn't Mike Vial a household name?

He is in our house, and he is a gifted artist. Mike Gentry produced and encouraged this gem.

Pick it up! Favorite track: A World That's Bigger.
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1.
"A World That’s Bigger" We don’t know how big the world will be When we take it slowly down the road To the baseball field by the one-room schoolhouse With the paint that’s peeled And the church won’t share The answers to the secrets in our prayers for you, Sing them out, sing them strong, Beat our doubt, by helping you belong to A world that’s bigger than you and me A world that’s bigger than the fur and the flea A world that’s bigger than the length of a sea A world that’s bigger than you and me and love, Virginia We don’t know if we’ll have to break the bank When we send you off to the school With the best college rank For the subjects of your choice that make you say That the world is bigger than you and me A world that's bigger than the fur and the flea The world that's bigger than the length of the sea The world that's bigger than you and me and. The root of all heartache is a mild surprise With these gentle words we try to calm your cries You were born a spring baby during the last winter snow Even Mother Nature doesn’t know That thee world is bigger than you and me The world is bigger than the fur and the flea The world is bigger than the length of a sea The world is bigger than you and me and love, Virginia
2.
“I Just Want to Be Your Last” If sugar goes well with coffee like the day mixes with night I might be a little different than you but we go together right You treat me quite better than I’ve been treated before I don’t want to sound trite, I just know that I know for sure We all live with regrets We shouldn’t care about the past I don’t need to be your first love I just want to be your last You said you had to kiss a few frogs before your prince appeared Well I’ve been waiting for you like the sun waits for clouds to clear It’s been raining for what feels like years And the whole time you were always near to me, but that’s how it goes when We all live with regrets We shouldn’t care about the past I don’t need to be your first love I just want to be your last, your last Cause when I finally found you I finally forgot my past, my past Was just the preface before you So when I met you I’d say, “At last…” I use to think that love at first sight was for fools I hope that it’s ok that I broke a few of your rules We have all been hiding some scars under our hearts But I’ve been told the healing ends after true love finally starts When I first saw you, I first thought, “At last…” We all live with regrets We shouldn’t care about the past I don’t need to be your first love I just want to be your last
3.
04:45
“Ghostwriter” You don’t need that ghostwriter, you’ve got something to say Let the words spill out of you in a suicide note or a long-form love letter You don’t need to sugarcoat or water down words Bend our ears to your truth, even if it will hurt the ones that you love Chorus If youth is wasted on the young, We all have to face change together If honey doesn’t taste as sweet to your tongue, We can take the salt off the earth before the heavy winter If we don’t become bitter You don’t need to chase that sound of the Sirens' song To the Hollywood lights, when the earth shakes that town Will you still stand your ground? You don’t need to hide your age, let the time turn the page on Your Peter Pan ways, put a hook in your heart Calm your blood boiled by rage Chorus If youth is wasted on the young, We all have to face change together If honey doesn’t taste as sweet to your tongue, We can take the salt off the earth before the heavy winter If we don’t become bitter You don’t need to feel ignored, lost in the crowd Sure it’s a great big world, your voice will be found You don’t need that ghostwriter, you’ve got something to say Let the words spill out of you in a suicide note, a suicide note, or a long form love letter
4.
04:13
"One Way Road" Maybe there’s only one way to go If life is just a one way road I’d rather take it fast than too slow tonight Maybe I’m better off being alone But it’s scary being away from home There’s no way to know which way is right There’s no guarantees I’ll arrive In the mean time it doesn’t help me That I don’t believe in love at first sight There’s only one way to go There’s only one way to go There’s only one way to go If life’s a one way road I never, I never even say goodbye My friends and family don’t know why I impulsively drive, drive, drive away And maybe it helps me get a grasp on life For awhile my memories that I can compile Since the minutes add up faster than miles But I’d better slow down It’s only fifty-five through this tired town I think I’ve been here before Because I recognize all the faces Coming out of the store It’s like they’re looking for more There’s only one way to go There’s only one way to go There’s only one way to go If life’s a one way road And maybe this long drive will help me Maybe this long drive will Help me find some way to settle down There’s only one way to know If I’m heading down the wrong way On a one way road And that’s to try to turn round…
5.
03:40
"Little Drum" Give me a minute, give me another minute of this time Before the time has passed us by Or I’ll still be thinking, I’ll still be thinking of the girl Who had the greatest smile, and shared it with the world That brought it to a boy, who didn’t say a word… Tell me a story, tell me another story of your childhood Before the cards fell down Or I’ll still be searching, I’ll still be searching for the perfect chords and melodies, and piece them one by one Into a little song, that comforts us with love Find us an hour, find us another hour to this day And you can pick the game we’ll play Soon we’ll be listening, soon we’ll be listening to the sound Of a little beating heart--our little drum--can you still hum That song your mother sung….when you were young Chasing your sister in the sun When you were young Chasing your sister in the sun Give me a minute, give me another minute of this time To tell me a story, tell me another story of your life When you were young Chasing your sister in the sun, Chasing your sister in the sun, Like our little drum
6.
"Damn Fine Day" I can read your eyes, I can see you’re sad I can feel your heart beat away the bad Bad times we’ve fallen on… It’s like we found our lives stuck on pause Feel an endless strain but never find the cause Well the world can’t keep us down Today will be a damn fine day Today, we’ll pretend that it’s a holiday Get dressed in your best And dress me up in mine We’ll make the most of the meantime I will take you back to that summer’s day Where we promised to never betray Each other or those dreams we had Let’s go out, paint the town red Dance to your favorite songs until we crash in bed Well the world can’t keep us down Today will be a damn fine day Today, we’ll pretend that it’s a holiday Get dressed in your best And dress me up in mine We’ll make the most of the meantime Even I’ll admit There are days where I feel my spirit Fade into the night that was once starlit Stars array when you smile I don’t know how I got this far Behind the chase of a lucky star When it’s only you I need And the world can’t keep us down Today will be a damn fine day Today, we’ll pretend that it’s a holiday Get dressed in your best And dress me up in mine We’ll make the most of the meantime Stars array when you smile
7.
"We're Not Here Anymore" Take your finger, point it in the air Do you feel a presence, was your final judgment fair? Did you hide your secrets, like a scripture untold? See that fire burning we left out in the cold When we're not here anymore Take your fingers, dig deep in the ground Did you leave a marble, or take each stone that you found? Did you replace those bones with a current and a wave? Did someone paint your shadow with no future left to save When we're not here anymore When we're not here anymore We fear a mystery waiting, a knock that's at the door By fingertips of rose, the man and the moon were given a chore When we're not here anymore Take your fingers, count minutes one by one No, you won't go blind if you stare into the sun There's a ghost on the sidewalk, a devil in the street One you'll never welcome, one you're meant to meet When we're not here anymore When we're not here anymore When we're not here anymore When we're not here
8.
“Girl on the Mountain, Boy in the Beach” A girl climbed the tallest mountain, And the light from the sun in the sky She found a juvenile traveler He was watching the moon die, the moon die The girl ran down the mountain The boy lay down in the beach Passion gave in to power The sun and the moon never reach Did you need a little hope this morning? Did you need a little hope, did you cry? A father readied a journey A mother made up her mind Children fleeing their country Can you give sight to the blind, the blind? A girl ran down the mountain A boy lay down in the beach Children fleeing their country The sun and the moon never reach Did you need a little hope this morning? Did you need a little hope, did you cry?
9.
"Burning Bright" Ain’t life strange how time promises tomorrow But we’re a thread of gold cut without sorrow If there’s only one star I see up in the sky on a lonely night I’ll think of you burning bright At the edge of a church, stain-glassed story in the distance Shared some words of my search, the pain of your absence If there’s only one song I sing, a closing hymn, under candlelight I’ll think of you burning bright I carried you like you carried me times before Measure of your days like a maze, my feet walking through the door If there’s only one myth I read, an epic line of an phoenix’s flight I’ll think of you burning bright Ain’t life strange how time promises tomorrow
10.
03:35
“Those Shoes” We’ve had a rough stretch Our tired arms are powerless To what comes next To what comes next We lost a heartbeat A secret kept between our feet I was stepping back I was stepping back This pain won’t last This pain won’t last I know… I’m tired, yet I can’t sleep My mind has more than I can keep To myself To myself I know there’s more that I could do To sooth your pain and comfort you I’m reaching out I’m reaching out This pain won’t last This pain won’t last I know… And if we share our fears in twos Could we have filled those shoes? And if we share our fears in twos Could we have filled those shoes? We've had a rough stretch

about

Update: I was hit by car three days after the record was released, walking to a gig at the Ark theater in Ann Arbor. My guitar and I survived: mlive.com/news/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2016/10/vial_returns_to_the_ark_after.html

Essay about the record:

Is life truly a one way road?

Love, death, and family are universal themes of the human experience; and my new folk album, A World That's Bigger, ponders them.

This record is about recent experiences: the rollercoaster of art careers; the process of purchasing a home during the recession; the birth of our first child; as well as the moments of healing from loss and miscarriage.

A World That's Bigger was recorded live at a cabin in Indian River, Michigan in May 2016. My friend Mike Gentry offered to bring his recording equipment and help me capture the ten songs as they needed be captured: live.

I had a one simple rule during tracking: I would play the guitar and sing at the same time. We would use no overdubs during the mixing process. My goal was to offer you a real performance that captures the energy of my live shows.

If I made a mistake, I'd either have to play the song again, or live with it; like life.

Over three days, with Gentry guiding the mixing board, I recorded approximately 150 takes, and narrowed it down to the best ten performances. If you listen closely, you might even hear the rain in a song or two, since it stormed during one afternoon of tracking.

Lyrically, theses songs may seem terse; but after multiple listens, you may notice overarching themes, rhetorical devices, and allusions hidden within the songs, like reading a book.

Dr. Thomas C. Foster--author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor--gave a guest lecture to my class during my last year teaching at Holly High School.

He described how all literature is having a conversation with the past and present works, how literature is one long dialogue about the human experience.

I wondered, can songs join that conversation?

I've intentionally added elements to the music and lyrics to reinforce the themes. The record is five snapshots of dyads or counterpoints. Each song is having a conversation with another, a reflection about life and death.

So you might be wondering, "Will it be easy for me to hear those counterpoints?" Yes!

You can start with the lyrics, and I think you will find the counterpoints on your own; but you can also use the music as a guide.

Often, motifs in plays (like the flute melody in Death of a Salesman or the hymn in Our Town) will signal reoccurring themes. I've borrowed this technique while composing on the acoustic guitar.

For example, listen for the musical motif of ascending double stops; or how a fermata is used before the third verse; or how a similar fingerpicking pattern graces certain songs...

Also, there are various literature allusions hiding in the lyrics. (Former students from my English classes will have a leg up on finding these literature references to Shakespeare, Greek mythology, fairytales and the Bible!)

One reference is more direct: This record's recording process is inspired by Nick Drake's Pink Moon--a powerful album recorded live over three days, too.

And my song "Ghostwriter" is dedicated to that British songwriter. "Ghostwriter" is a figurative conversation with Nick Drake, reflecting on his posthumous success, as well as his tribulations as an artist.

However, the song is also a conversation to all artists, even myself, who may feel lost in this world as we seek inspiration: "You've got something to say, let the words spill out of you..."

Like a many Greek myths, the narrative structure of the album begins "in medias res"--in the middle of the story. Yet strongest theme of the record is introduced in the opening song.

This title track, "A World That's Bigger" is the first song I wrote as a new parent, contemplating the responsibilities of raising Ginny.

"Little Drum" is the last song I wrote before Ginny was born, considering how time will never feel the same for my wife and I.

"Those Shoes" is reflecting on a common experience we don't discuss enough, facing miscarriage, which bookend Ginny's birth. (We are so lucky to have her.)

Eight songs are new, but two songs were rerecorded from past EPs: "Damn Fine Day" and "One Way Road" offer expositions for my family's story (wedding engagement; changing careers). I also knew l hadn't captured the right energy on their previous studio recordings. I feel like I got the true essence of these songs this time.

"Burning Bright" was written for David Plawecki, inspired by his dying wish, a pay-it-foward movement; and I'm thinking of my aunt Julie Plawecki, too, who we are missing greatly this year. The Divine Child Church's stain glass windows color the lyrics of the song, and I'm so thankful for my hometown, the Dearborn community.

"We're Not Here Anymore" is a song written during the PVSG song game I organized with friends. We attempted to write a song every week during the polar vortex. Each writer had to compose a song using a phrase. That week's prompt was "ghost on the sidewalk."

"Girl on the Mountain, Boy on the Beach" is part protest song for the Syrian Refugee Crisis, part mythological journey. It is for anyone seeking a safe home.

And my own challenges are minuscule in the shadows of this horrible crisis where families must flee their homes.

Still, this record wouldn't have been possible without Mike Gentry's help. This record was delayed multiple times, partly from hospital bills, house repair surprises, hitting a deer on the last day of the spring tour...Music has been healing throughout it all, but I was frustrated trying to get this record done.

Without Gentry's encouragement, talent and patience, it wouldn't have been possible to complete it this year.

And the same goes for my wife's love and encouragement: "Stars array, when you smile."

Thanks for listening,

Mike Vial

credits

released October 3, 2016

All songs written and performed live by Mike Vial.
Produced by Mike Gentry.

Recorded live in a cabin in Indian River, Michigan in May of 2016.

Artwork hand drawn in ink by Caitlin Kronk.
Album cover editing and fonts done by Jake Smith of Black Anvil Design Co.

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Mike Vial Ann Arbor, Michigan

Mike Vial is a singer-songwriter from Michigan. He drinks too much coffee, plays Heritage and Taylor guitars, teaches guitar lessons at Dixboro Guitar, and tries to take his dog for two walks every day between a busy gig schedule, and his baby's nap schedule. ... more

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