Complications

by Teddy Blanks

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about

Six upbeat pop songs about strange diseases and medical trauma inspired by the writings of Atul Gawande.

"As a writer, I have not had a cooler, more thrilling experience than when Teddy Blanks sent me the music he'd made out of inspiration from my work. It wasn't just that he'd taken the time and effort--which itself was extraordinary. It was that he'd found a way to make unbelievably catchy, weirdly danceable, and completely off-kilter pop songs out of my stories of, say, a TV anchorwoman who has surgery to take away her ability to blush, or a woman with an itch that causes her to scratch through her skull. I'm an obsessive indie music fan, and as music alone, I loved this EP. But I have also gotten to have this special, unexpected connection to it. You don't get luckier than that."
- Atul Gawande, surgeon, author, and staff writer for The New Yorker

credits

released February 7, 2012

Produced by Teddy Blanks & Miguel Urbiztondo.

Engineered by Bryan Walthall.
Mixed by Alan Weatherhead.
Mastered by Luke Harper at Audio Altimeter, Minneapolis, MN.
Cover photo by Jenny Hueston

Backing Vocals:
Neeka (tracks 4 and 6)
Joana Avillez (track 5)

Recorded at:
Wintershack in Falls Village, CT
Sound of Music Studios in Richmond, VA

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about

Teddy Blanks Brooklyn, New York

Teddy Blanks is a singer-songwriter who composed the score for Lena Dunham's debut feature Tiny Furniture. Blanks is also the co-founder of CHIPS, a Brooklyn graphic design studio. In 2009, he released a solo EP, Complications, inspired by the medical writings of Atul Guwande in the New Yorker. He will release his new album, Therapy, on May 7, 2013. ... more

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Track Name: Faint & Shaky
Several gather, watching the whole time
You dozed off in the road
I'm flagging down the passing cars so they don't hit you, honey
You're faint and shaky but you're mine
It's time to take you home
Little silly sleeping anywhere it suits you

Treated, handled and confined,
the dream will take control
See your lovers' faces cream, they've come to save your country
You're faint and shaky and your mine
You can't be let alone
I will be here, I will watch, and I will wake you

Shutting down,
ignored and so dangerous
You're alone and going forever
Blacking out
A fawn in the grocery line,
you will call on Mulder and Scully again

Cut the belly of the night
at any random time
Is your coma as delicious as your bloody mary?
I set off bombs, I lose my sight
I awkwardly define
Little silly, spitting sweetly, I will join you

Shutting down
ignored and so dangerous
We're engaged and sleeping together
Blacking out
A fawn in the grocery line
We will call on Mulder and Scully again

Darling, are we going out tonight
You're tired, you're thinking no
I will see you shortly, hour and a half is all I'll be gone
You're faint and shaky, turning white
You don't know where to go
You will find me on the sidewalk on Delancey sleeping
Track Name: Hold Your Head
Heavy blankets up to here,
rubbing shoulders everywhere,
colder than heaven
Hold you down and flush your face
Helicopter on the way
for the same reason
Keeping vital organs warm
so we can go perform
You'll get the picture
Not supposed to tell you this,
but the recession is
making us richer

When you were frozen on the stage
I'd hold your head and I'd pray

I can sense impending snow
Sneak it further, nice and slow
Deep as your footsteps
Frugal and alert, I dive
Frozen, breathing, still alive
Face is a trainwreck
Sipping drinks and reading scripts,
burning holes in your chapped lips,
drawing conclusions
Not supposed to tell you this,
but your confession is
causing pollution

When you were sliding off the page
I'd hold your head and I'd say
"When you were frozen on the stage
I'd hold your head and I'd pray"
Track Name: Crimson Tide
Christine blushes in her field report
Face is flush and she's missing her cues
Sure, she's been red-faced before
But at the rate her mind goes blank,
she'll never chair the evening news

She can't make it go away
One blush and confidence is gone
She piles the turtle-necks and cover-up, her camoflage

But I can see it coming
like a wave, like a crimson tide

Christine slips - it's getting scary now
She's been shocked and she's feeling removed
But she's a public figure now
She cries and wonders why god cursed her with a job that she can't do

Now she's blushing every day
and they don't know what to prescribe
She could try beta-blockers, valium, or suicide

And I can see it coming
like a wave, like a crimson tide

Overcome, you'll overcome
You fly away
We'll put you under
No more no more rosy cheeks
Two tiny cuts and then you're out
Be a kid with dark sunglasses
When the mask comes off i wonder
Will you, will you step outside
your fragile pride?

And I can see it coming
like a wave, like a crimson tide
Track Name: The Itch
M scratches hard,
scratches down on the itch hardcore
She doesn't give it for her body no more,
doesn't feel the flesh protecting the sore

Her blunted rage
constantly three steps down from pain
She doesn't hear the dermatologist say
She scratches through the skull right into her brain

After she found out that she had the virus
After the divorce, the financial struggles,
her children were gone, and she couldn't
pressure this feeling away

She's got the itch, and it won't stop

M. wants her dreams
then to rise into something clean
She's rejected all the drugs on the scene
and split the monuments we found her between

Repeat this test
Strapped and bandaged and confined to a bed
She can train herself to flurry instead,
shifting slowly all the nerves in her head

After the lull of the third operation,
she'd learned not to touch, control the temptation
The itch was still there, and she couldn't
pressure the feeling away

She's got the itch, and it won't stop
Track Name: The Largest Chain
Twist and shout
'til my skinny bones
knock you on the head
all over the world
Work it on out
Sturdy, baby, strong
Steel and glass and lead
on the other side of the world

Open the door
Pushpins on my brow
that you can't explain
We're the largest chain
Get on the floor
Dancing on the ground
No i can't complain
We're the largest chain

I was driving over the bridge,
watching the water falling,
only hoping to avoid
drowning in the road

They come to clean up the mess
after the storm
Baby we just keep moving along
and I'm on a plane
just reading your book
and leaving the paparazzi alone
You walk in the room
You look to the left
Slow motion cameras are shooting
Who will clean up the mess
after they're gone?
Baby, we just keep moving

Play that song
'til my stereo
speaks unto the lord
Sturdy as a board
All night long
We will pay on time
what we can afford
Sturdy as a boar

Call my bluff
On these flooded streets,
rescued from the rain,
we're the largest chain
Strut your stuff
Dancing to defeat
Dancing to maintain
We're the largest chain

They come to clean up the mess
after the storm
Baby we just keep moving along
and I'm on a plane
just eating my snack
and leaving the paparazzi alone
You walk in the room
You look to the left
Slow motion cameras are shooting
Who will clean up the mess
after they're gone?
Baby, we just keep moving
Track Name: Move Your Body
In every house
where I come
I will enter only for good

All the knowledge
coming to me
I can keep a secret
and I will never reveal

I can stand right now
in front of all my peers
and recite a copy of
every little article

I want to block the sound
before the sound appears
I can make earmuffs with fur
from every single animal

I come to your grave
to look at your bones
Move your body
I'm picking you up
I'm taking you home
Move your body

Sand just rolls over, come on
Sand just rolls over, come on
You got a group together
I'm gonna dig into you

I swear, Apollo
I take witness
To my brothers
I will prescribe

Do good by my parents
Good to my children
I will keep this secret
and I will keep it real

I can sneak you out
under the Rabbit's Moon
and feel the awful weight of
every little cuticle

I want to be devout
I'm gunna be there soon
I can see you stiff and still
and still you're beautiful

They called us
to turn a cautious eye to the water