The Elmsley Count

by Adam Fromm

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All songs written & performed by Adam Fromm, copyright 2011 except "Step It Out, Mary," traditional.

Jenna Medaris: backing vocals, "Step It Out, Mary"

Thanks to Jenna Medaris, Jax Goss, Catt Kingsgrave, Liz Burke, Shira and Adam Lipkin, Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps, S.J. Tucker, Cordelia Abrams, and the dozens of you who have leaned hard and helped this album happen. I couldn't have done it without you.

Cover design by Jenna Medaris and Adam Fromm


released November 22, 2011



all rights reserved


Adam Fromm Worcester, Massachusetts

New England transplant from Illinois via upstate New York, and a singer/songwriter who finally decided that the walls of his living room weren't a big enough audience. He is one-half of the folk band Murder Ballads, specifically the half with more facial hair. ... more

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Track Name: Camille Claudel
So here's that story that you wrote
The names have all been changed
Protecting no one at all
And I can pretend that I can't tell
Who the inspiration was
Behind the man in the mask
Perhaps you'd prefer to spell it all out

But here on page four, the part you dog-eared and underlined
This part on page seven that you circled in red
Well, I know that you know perfectly well
Those are words that I never could have said

'Cause I could never be
Never be your Modigliani
Why should you want to be
Want to be my Camille Claudel?
You have always seen
Always seen the magic in the clay
But I can only see
Only see the thousand walls that fell

So you drew that picture on the wall
The one in colored pencils
Hanging over the bed
I can always spot your signature style
And there you go with that mask again
You never met a metaphor
That you didn't like
The scribbled-in man with the painted-on smile

But even through that, my face is unmistakable
The color of the eye and the shape of the brow
And I know that you know perfectly well
It's the way you like to look at me now


Five a.m. poetry
Razor's edge opera
Shadowbox crime dramas
All in a row
Spare me all the greasepaint
Hide me from the footlights
Let me draw a picture
Of the reasons why I needed to go
I think you knew I needed to go

So consider this my last reveal
Take a look before
I turn my face to the door
And believe when I say it's truly a shame
But this mask of yours never fit so well
Never was the kind
To watch the world from under my hands
This isn't my tale, this isn't my game

And tomorrow there'll be stories about the cold-hearted ne'er-do-well
Tomorrow there'll be paintings of the bastard in blue
But I know that you know perfectly well
The mask always better suited you

Track Name: Some of Us Bridesmaids
When I woke up, I was standing at the office
The second hand on the clock refused to spin
Three hours down, and that left far too many left to go
I tried not to think, tried not to cave right in

At three o'clock in the morning, I watched my breathing
Back to the mattress, one foot on the floor
And somewhere in all of this, I thought of the curve along your shoulders
And found I couldn't breathe as I had before

In my notebook there's a stack of unmailed letters
On my desk there's a pile of unpaid bills
When we first met, I hoped the world would move in my direction
Now I'd give all that I have to keep it still

I can't blame you, I can't blame your decisions
As much as I would like to some of the time
I'm just weighing the pros and cons of getting down on bended knee
To beg for something that was never mine

I don't have it in me to wage a holy war
But I'm losing the strength to keep it all inside
So I'll just say that some of us bridesmaids
Are getting tired of never being the bride
Track Name: The Way Things Go
He hides behind his Ray Bans like he's trying to keep his cool
But all the while he's feeling like he never got past school
"Cause she's away of all the stares while lounging by the pool
She lifts a hand to wave, he lifts a hand to wipe the drool

He fishes through his pockets, finds the nerve to say hello
She flashes alabaster teeth, and it's on with the show
She moves to slip the strap back on her shoulder, lets it go
He's thinking there are things that man was never meant to know

And that's the way things go around here
In case your visit didn't make that perfectly clear
God knows we need a change, but God's too scared to interfere
'Cause that's the way things go
That's the way things always go around here

He finds a chair to lounge in like he's bound to strike it rich
She like a piano, orchestrating every twitch
He's scratching at his ankles; he can't seem to find the itch
She knows he's gonna cave like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge

She leans a little closer while he readjusts his jaw
He says something about her eyes; she knows her eyes aren't what he saw
He says, "I think you might be way too young." She laughs, "Pshaw
Too young for good decorum, but I'm well within the law"


Now they're heading for his Jaguar like two vultures on the breeze
Her hands tugging at his elbow, his hands fumbling for the keys
He never sees the flying kick that drops him to his knees
His distant shrinking license plate's the only thing he sees

Track Name: Step It Out, Mary
In the village of Kildori
There's a maiden young and fair
Her eyes they shone like diamonds
She had lovely golden hair
When the country man came riding
Up to her father's gate
Mounted on a milk-white stallion
He came at the stroke of eight

Oh, step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
Marry if you can
Oh, step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
Show your legs to the wealthy, to the wealthy man

"I've come to court your daughter
Mary of the golden hair
I have land and I have money
I have goods beyond compare
I'll buy her silk and satin
And a gold ring for her hand
I'll build for her a mansion
She'll have servants to command"


"But sir, I love a soldier
And I've pledged to him my hand
I don't want your goods nor money
I won't have your house and land"
But her father spoke up quick and sharp
"You'll do as you are told
You'll be married on this Sunday
And you'll wear his ring of gold"


In the village of Kildori
There's a deep stream running by
They found Mary there at midnight
Where she drowned with her soldier boy
But in the cottage, there was music
And you could hear her father say
"Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
Don't you know it's the wedding day"

Track Name: Eclipse
The moon is being swallowed by the shadows
Just another couple of minutes 'til it's gone
The New York chill is slipping along the baseboards
And there's nothing here except the ringing of the phone

"Have you been watching the moon?" you say as soon as I answer
"It's a beautiful night, and I'm glad I brought my cell
I'm walking along the sand, the tourists have all gone running
And I've got the whole Atlantic to myself

"And I just called to try to wish you down to Florida
This is too good not to share, too good not to name"
I say, "Geography's the bane of our existence, always has been
At least your eclipse and my eclipse are the same"

Sometimes I wonder how our paths ever intersected
I mean, I've never been one to go dancing through the fire
Twice married, twice divorced, never quite in motion
Sure as hell not overhead, walking on the wire

And yet here you are, all steel and ink and lightning
Wielding words like claymores like I wish I could do
And here I am the boy who wanted to run off with the circus
Staring in awe as the circus comes to run off with you

But no matter how, we've got some kind of something
And though this distance sometimes feels like a losing game
Still it's a beautiful night in Florida, a cold night in New York
And your eclipse and my eclipse are the same

To watch an eclipse is all a matter of waiting
But we've got plenty of time, you and me
Time enough to stay on the phone, both of us staring upwards
At the spot of copper where the moon used to be

And I dream of just showing up upon your doorstep
With a ticket in hand and a refreshing lack of shame
But for now, this thousand miles feels that much closer, just from knowing
That your eclipse and my eclipse are the same
Track Name: Strowler's Song
The scenery is constantly unfolding
Though every slab of asphalt looks the same
And I feel like I could step out on the shoulder
And greet every last mile marker by its name
Still sometimes I wonder just what all of this is worth
Body pressed against the bedroll, bedroll pressed against the earth
And if you took the time to ask me, I don't think I could explain
Unless you let me raise my voice in song again

There are stories in the vapor trail
Stories in the tracks
There are stories in my footprints
The ones that won't turn back
And I've got songs trapped in my lungs
With every breath I let them fly
As I sing for my supper
Then I sing for the ride

There are nights when I lose track of where I've stumbled
So I search my clothing, tabulate the clues
Is this the rain from Puget Sound that soaked my jacket?
Is this Murfreesboro red clay on my shoes?
But I don't forget the faces, I can still retain that much
Every hand that brought me whiskey, brought me bread or brought me touch
And for the things that are not given, for the things you have for sale
Let me turn my pockets out and spend a tale


And it's not that I'm not subject to the cold
It's not that hunger doesn't sweep me like the tide
And I thank you for your offer
But I really must be going
Couldn't quit this if I wanted
Couldn't stop it if I tried

I won't be envied, won't be held as an example
Unless I find myself a fellow fool
But still I'm welcomed into your home and by your fire
Though I'm a walking condemnation of the rules
But don't believe I'm lonely, don't believe I bear that shame
Every story has a face, and every song has got a name
And don't waste your goodbyes, the very word goodbye is wrong
This road is far too short to stay away for long
Track Name: Untitled
He was still in college, still trying to find his way
And you were self-sufficient with too much to throw away
And I was treading water, doing everything I could
And none of this was bad, but we were up to no good

'Cause you wrote him a note, he told you not to ask
And I stood back and watched; didn't dare to make a pass
Then he was out of town and you were on the phone
I kept showing up—I couldn't stand to be alone

Looking back it's hard to say exactly what went wrong
Like someone wrote the story and we all just played along
And I'd like to point my finger now that all of this is through
But I know it wasn't me, it wasn't him, it wasn't you

'Cause I messed up the house and he gave you a call
And you just sat there shaking and you told me about it all
Then he rearranged his plans while I tore out my hair
You took off for the weekend; I pretended not to care

Time seems to fly when you're in up to your neck
And you're trying to be friendly and politically correct
But there's no easy way when you're all tied up in knots
And no one can make up their minds and everyone gets caught

"Cause he went on the road and you got on the ball
And I moved to an apartment with nothing on the walls
Then he wrote you a note, you told him not to ask
And I stood back and watched, 'cause this, too, must pass
Track Name: Saint You or Saint Me
Well, I thought I saw Saint Christopher on Saturday night
Some cover band was playing, he was waiting in line
His hair was all done up with architectural grace
His attitude was polished down to a factory shine
I watched him for a while as he studied his shoes
He looked like he was someplace he didn't want to be
And I'll bet you what's left in my pockets
He never would have noticed Saint You or Saint Me
Never would have noticed Saint You or Saint
You or Saint Me

Well, I thought I saw Saint Catherine in a café on Wednesday
Wearing a blouse with a coffee stain right there on the sleeve
She had a glass of burgundy and a book of Anne Sexton
Both were just half-finished; she had no plans to leave
I watched her wince as the binding cracked beneath her fingers
She looked like she was someplace she didn't want to be
And I'll bet you what's left in my pockets
She never would have noticed Saint You or Saint Me
Never would have noticed Saint You or Saint
You or Saint Me

So tonight I'll bow to the man before me, the one who accepts the dollar
Tonight I'll raise a glass to a stranger's health
Tonight my skin needs yours; let's go out and find each other
Light a candle to save ourselves
Save ourselves

Well, I thought I saw Saint Michael behind the register
And I thought I saw Saint Margaret across the aisle on the train
So I cast my circle there on the street, just two arms wide
Blinked my eyes, and nothing looked the same
Because we all go to sleep with the world's weight on our eyes
And we all wake up someplace we didn't want to be
And we know there's nothing left in our pockets
Nothing left to notice but Saint You and Saint Me
Nothing left to notice but Saint You and Saint
You and Saint Me
Track Name: Frost
You can spin us both around
'Til we're dizzy and we're lost
And I can write our names here across the window pane
Tracing letters with my finger in the frost
'Cause I can't help the thought
That even if you're all I've got
I would need nothing more

There's a thousand things that we could do
What with all this time to kill
But believe when I say
We've nothing to do today
But stay where we are and just lie still

So you can lie here in my arms
Until the hours all turn to snow
And I can keep you pressed with your back against my chest
'Til we both forget where we're supposed to go
So if you wouldn't mind
Sharing some unproductive time
I couldn't wish more