Noyo: a Love Story

by Will Stenberg

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A concept album about a troubled relationship in a small Northern California town.


released May 23, 2013


Colin Anderson
Caleb Baker
Bill Bottrell
Ivan Caluya
Nick Delffs
Jen Grady
Rachel Jensen
Carey Lamprecht
Henry Nagle
Bennet Strauss
Will Stenberg
Emily Jane White
Adam Willumsen

Engineered by Caleb Baker at Troubadour Studios, Portland, OR.
Produced by Henry Nagle and Will Stenberg, except “Darkness,” produced by Bill Bottrell.
Mastered by Andrew Mitchell, Audio Bay Mastering, Rockford, MI.
Orchestral arrangements on "Sober and Tired" and "Good Old Town" by Max Stein.
All songs written by Will Stenberg, copyright 2013. Published by Automatic Western Melodies, ASCAP.
Photos by Jacob Hewko.
Thanks to all involved and especially Henry and Caleb.
Love to Bambi.



all rights reserved


Will Stenberg Portland, Oregon

Will Stenberg is searching for the perfect marriage of text and tune, mediated by himself with maximum honesty. He spends a lot of time writing songs and has a vague, persistent hope that there is an audience for them. He is from a small town, has lived in various parts of the US, and is full of love and unease. ... more

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Track Name: You Are Something to See
You are something to see, in or out of jeans.
I love you hectically, I’m yours respectfully
under the redwood trees, here by the roaring sea -
it always yells at me, and what it’s telling me
is it knows what I need isn’t any more speed.
I love you frightfully, sometimes you frighten me.
Don’t wave that knife at me, oh baby go to sleep.
I love you wordlessly, all your absurdities.
Will you remember me? When you are lost to me
at such a cost to me. I love you monumentally.
You’ll be the death of me. At least love what’s left of me.
Oh, pay no mind to me. Oh babe, be kind to me.
Don’t wave that knife at me. Why don’t we go to sleep?
It’s been over a week. My body warped and weak.
The sky starting to leak rain, or blood or bees.
They’re crawling over me. My dealer, ‘tis of thee.
My lover by degrees, you know I hold the key
to your mortality, your fucking frailty,
your wounded gaiety, your pious penalties,
your guilty gallantry, your negativity.
My mother misses me, you’re always dissing me.
Haven’t been kissing me since 2003.
So be a good junkie, go get a bag for me.
It’s such a drag for me, all your apathy.
I know nothing’s for free. Not your loyalty.
I pay with my body. Pay with my sanity.
You’re mostly good to me. ‘Cept when you’re hitting.
You just ain’t getting me. This shoe ain’t fitting me.
I feel so out of step. Strangers on our doorstep.
But let’s not fuss and fret. Let’s act like we just met.
Do you recall that bet? Six days since we last slept.
Seven days wins your respect, then you can have this wreck
that used to be a girl, that used to love the world,
that once had plans and schemes and
dreams and dreams and dreams.
Now all these memories are fucking killing me
but I won’t go willingly.
Don’t wave that knife at me.
Track Name: Just a Place
Once this was a town; now it’s just a place.
Where we hang around and live and die and never leave a trace.
Since the mill’s shut down I don’t think anything’s the same.
It disappeared without a sound,
left nothing in its place
but empty space.

Empty space.

These are the streets I walked on as a girl.
These are the very same feet traced my tracks out in the world.
These are the hands that could never hold anything for very long.
These are the lips that could never tell that man
when he was wrong.

Now he’s gone.

Now he’s gone.
Track Name: Didn't We Get Down
Hanging out on Laurel Street.
I got a hangover for a head.
I’m about as much fun as a sack of meat.
Guess I’d be better off dead.
That’s what she said:
I’d be better off dead.
And if this life’s a joke then I don’t get it.

I met her at the bowling alley.
She was seventeen.
I was ten years older.
I was scared as I could be
if you know what I mean.
She was seventeen.
I said, “Hey, how are you? C’mon, let’s hit it.”

We walked down to the harbor
to watch the fog come rolling in.
We smoked a bowl and then we opened our souls
and filled them up with Pabst Blue Ribbon
and that ain’t no sin.
It’s just a place to begin.
She said, “I’d give to you my heart if I knew where I hid it.”

We walked on up to Main Street
where the mill used to scrape the sky.
She said, “Ain’t it a shame?” and then she spoke my name
and then she began to cry
but my eyes were dry.
I was way too high.
She kept on crying and crying till I told her to quit it.

We had nowhere else to go.
So we went back to her home.
Not much happens in this town.

But for at least one night we didn’t fuss and fight.
Everything was wrong but it felt all right.
She was just my size; she was just my height.
She was full of lies; she was full of light.
And though not much happens in this town …

didn’t we get down?
Track Name: Coastal Bars
You don’t meet nice girls in these coastal bars.
Every lumberjack’s daughter thinks she’s some kind of movie star.
And you don’t have to be from a great big town
to have great big issues.
But I could not resist you,
first time I kissed you.

She was drunk when she fell in love with me.
Yes, I guess, she’d sort of have to be.
But people, if the truth was known about the
way that things were,
I’m not sure
I wasn’t drunker than her.

So come on, babe, let me see your body move!
Come on, babe, don’t act like you got something to prove!

And you never have anything nice to say about this town.
As a matter of fact I’m surprised that you haven’t
up and burned it down.
And I know that you’re not good for me,
but I just can’t get enough.

But I don’t want your love.
I just want your drugs.
Track Name: Sober and Tired
I know no one believed in you.
It’s just grist for the mill.
People cheat and deceive you,
they love and they leave you,
then they send you the bill.

And the innocent suffer.
I know it to be true.
But it just makes them tougher
when times get rougher
if they make it through.

So please take my hand now.
And please stay awake.
The dawn, it is coming.
And it’s here for your sake.

You’re my love till the end, babe.
Yeah, you’re all I desire.
And I’ll still be your friend, babe.
When we’re ’round the bend, babe
and we’re sober and tired.

When we’re sober and tired
and the thrill is used up.
I’ll be there to remind you
that I’m right behind you
and you’ll always be loved.
Track Name: Raymond Carver's Eyes
A cross on the side of the highway.
A green bottle broken on the road.
A woman buying groceries
looking strung-out and uneasy
like she’s carrying more than her share
of a hurtful, heavy load.

Where’s her husband?
Does she love him?
Is she pretty under poverty’s disguise?
Does she know how she looks
in the words, yeah, in the books -
in the burning gaze of Raymond Carver’s eyes.

A cop at the bar orders whiskey.
He drinks it and it burns away the fear.
At the jukebox there’s a couple
dancing close and seeing double,
holding onto each other
full of something so unclear.

He whispers something.
She says she loves him.
They share a lot of love and a lot of lies.
Do they know how they look
in the words, yeah, in the books -
in the burning gaze of Raymond Carver’s eyes?

In the church the mourners shuffle slowly
down the aisle to gaze upon the dead.
She’s young, too young it seems
to come to the end of dreams
but someone had other ideas
floating in his head.

Where is he now?
Does he know how
he gets when he’s too angry or too high?
Does he know how he looks
in the words, yeah, in the books -
in the burning gaze of Raymond Carver’s eyes?
Track Name: Good Old Town
Anna Lee’s been around the block a time or two.
She walked that block with me, probably she’ll walk that block with you.
She’s sitting at the bar, asking all the boys to guess
the good news she got yesterday from her last round of blood tests.
She’s been through some bad things.
But there’s still some good she’s found.
Everything considered, she can’t help but love this town …

Jimmy’s playing pinball, he says, “This game’s been good to me.”
His crops didn’t turn out this year like they did in 2003.
His father gave him grief. His mother gave him love.
His cousin taught him how to build a meth-lab in his bathtub.
He tried that for a while.
He had to put all that stuff down.
Everything considered, he can’t help but love this town …

it’s a good old town.

Samantha hasn’t been the same since she got out of the stir.
I remember back, in times past, I was so in love with her.
Now she’s hanging on her boyfriend. He’s got the cash to keep her high.
I never was that fond of him. He’s just not my kind of guy.
He says that he’ll take care of her.
She says, “I like the way that sounds.”
Everything considered, she can’t help but love this town …

Bob looks kind of hungry as he chalks up his pool-cue.
He says to buddy Billy, “Even a fool would know what to do.
We hit him while he’s sleeping. Take the goods and go.
Find some senoritas down in the south of Mexico.”
Billy says, “Forget it.
Le’t just have another round.”
Everything considered, he can’t help but love this town …

it’s a good old town.

Martin’s at the table, bitching about his DUI.
The second one they’ve slapped him with since that boy learned how to drive.
He sips the beer I bought for him and curses his bad luck.
He won’t be driving drunk tonight, ’cause his girlfriend stole his truck.
He says, “I would have followed her,
but the room kept spinning around.”
Everything considered, he can’t help but love this town …

Jenna’s standing by the door. She’s almost thirty-five.
She looks about ten years older but says, “It’s good to be alive.”
She had her second birthday in the program just this year.
She lights a cigarette and eyes the bourbon and the beer.
She knows where she’s come from
but she don’t know where she’s bound.
Everything considered, she can’t help but love this town …

it’s a good old town.
Track Name: Hanging Around (In Heaven)
The gates to the city are open.
But all the bars are closed.
No more drinking and doping.
It was only a pose.
So get off of your high horse
before it throws you down.
And welcome, son, to heaven:
It’s time to start hanging around.

You’ll find the people pleasant
and the atmosphere serene.
Like you, most here are peasants.
Like you, they’ll be washed clean.
So here’s your brand new outfit
of beige and black and brown.
And welcome, son, to heaven:
It’s time to start hanging around.

The party is over.
You always knew it would end.
You’ll still have your memories
except the ones that might offend -
offend the sensibilities
of all the nice people in this town
so welcome, son, to heaven:
it’s time to start hanging around.

There are so many like you.
Now there is one less.
We don’t want to fight you.
We want to give you the best.
So clear your mind of everything
you might have learned back in town.
And welcome, son, to heaven:
it’s time to start hanging around.
Track Name: Less Than Love
I remember you in a bright light,
just as bright as anything.
Standing above me, saying you loved me,
saying you’d buy me a ring.

And down, so far down in my hospital bed
with you so high up above.
I could hardly speak, tears tickled my cheeks.
I felt nothing less than love.
I felt nothing less than love.

Love for all you could have been
and were not allowed to be.
Love for all I thought you were
and will always be to me.

You were saying how you were so sorry.
I laughed: it seemed funny, that’s all.
I asked you to move. You were blocking my view
of the TV that hung on the wall.

Then you started in ranting and raving
but by then I had heard quite enough.
And as they led you away in the fluorescent day
I felt nothing less than love.
It was nothing less than love.
Track Name: You Are Not the Sun
I heard about your gentlemen callers.
They weren’t so gentle at all.
They crushed you like snow on the flowers.
You’ve lived your life with your back to the wall.

Your facts are wrapped up in fiction.
Only your lies are true.
And the politics of addiction
have made a fucking politician of you.

And I’ve never been the one
to cast judgments on the sun
for shining
but you are not the sun.

I’ve been hearing about you lately.
I guess you’ve been making the rounds.
And I know you probably hate me
because I wouldn’t follow you down.

I’d never try to explain.
I’ve never traveled on the path you’ve trod.
But I know that nothing can save you, girl
short of an act of God.
Track Name: Let's Save Ourselves
I don’t know what you’ve been told,
but this is no place to grow old.
You’re a good girl; me, I’m not so good.
This is no movie; this is not Hollywood.
And if the ending can’t be happy
it can at least be somewhere else.
Babe, let’s save ourselves.

This town don’t make sense no more.
They’re gonna have to turn her out-of-doors.
They’re gonna make up her face and change her clothes,
like she’s some painted hussy, some cut-rate ho.
And you know I’ve got a funny feeling
it’s not going to end well.
Babe, let’s save ourselves.

Everything will be just fine.
Babe, just cut me one more line.
Just one more night of living this way,
then we’ll burn up the darkness that divides the day.
This place has been plundered;
it’s got nothing left to sell.
Babe, let’s save ourselves.

It’s a fishing town; there’s no more fish in the sea.
It’s a lumber town; there’s no more goddamn trees.
This place has been plundered;
it’s got nothing left to sell.
Babe, let’s save ourselves.
Track Name: The Night I Tried to Fight You
There were shadows in the shadows.
The stars were loud and bright.
There were a hundred thousand headlights
in the parking lot that night.

There were mandolins and heroin
and a girl who nearly died.
The night I tried to fight you
I could have killed you if I tried.

You told me to meet you at eight o’clock.
I wore your favorite dress
and your favorite shade of lipstick …
you did not look impressed.

And out of all the ones who loved you
it was I loved you the most
They just loved your flesh and blood;
I loved your flesh and blood and ghost.

And the liquor bottles emptied
and they shattered on the ground
and you cursed the bar where your parents met
and you staggered all around.

And I seem to remember some dancing;
you were dancing with someone.
Dashboards, a razor, some powder
and boys playing with guns.

I woke up on the pavement
and blood was in my hair.
The night I tried to fight you,
you could have killed me then and there.

I got up from the pavement
and something broke inside my chest
and my veins were filled with love and fear
and the purest loneliness.

And God, how I missed my mother
and I wish I’d never run.
I wiped the tears from off my face
and walked towards Highway One.
Track Name: Darkness at the Heart of This Town
It’s amazing how many just give up,
weary of waiting around.
If they try and act smart it will tear them apart.
There’s a darkness at the heart of this town.

It’s amazing how many just grow up,
grow up only to be cast down.
So they all play their part though they knew at the start:
there’s a darkness at the heart of this town.

And that dark will enfold you
like your mother’s sweet arms.
She just wants to hold you.
She don’t mean you no harm.

It’s amazing how many just freeze up
when they look and they see where they’re bound.
There’s no map, there’s no chart, there’s no ease, there’s no art.
Just a darkness at the heart of this town.