Absence of Blame

Released May 4, 2010 | Sleeveless

This is a beautiful recording with moments that sent chills through me. … [Sara’s] voice is in amazing shape, making the whole set simply soar. A baseball pitcher threw a no-hitter today, saved by an amazing play by an outfielder diving for a ball tailing away from him; they cut back to the pitcher and you could see him mouth the word “Wow.” And that’s my response: wow.
David Kronke, Freelance Writer/Los Angeles Daily News/Huffington Post

ABSENCE OF BLAME is practically faultless. Frankly, she has never sounded better.
Arthur Wood, Maverick Magazine UK

Although I’ve lived in Austin for years I had not become a big Sara fan until this album. But, a wonderful article in the recent Austin Chronicle got me interested in this one. Sara certainly covers a lot of territory and with the bravery of a songstress with guts and soul. Beautiful vocals and terrific supporting cast. Thanks for the music, Sara!
“Bluegrassinman”, iTunes Review

Gratitude: I’M SO GLAD (YOU CAME ALONG) words and music by Sara Hickman

Betrayal: SUITCASE music by Sara Hickman, words by Sara Hickman and Dan Workman

Body Image: SIZE 6 DRESS words and music by Rachel Loy and Sara Hickman

Autism: STATE OF EMERGENCY words and music by Sara Hickman

Prison: EDENTOWN words and music by Sara Hickman

Sex: 99% words and music by Sara Hickman

Suicide: BLOWN AWAY words and music by Sara Hickman

Family Dynamics: BROKEN music by Sara Hickman and Rachel Loy, words by Sara Hickman, Rachel Loy and Johnny Goudie

Infidelity: BEFORE YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND words and music by Mark Addison and Sara Hickman

First Love: JULIET AND JULIET words and music by Marvin Etzioni

Heroism: LAST MAN IN THE WATER words and music by Sara Hickman

John Lennon: LAST OF A DYING BREED words and music by Sara Hickman and Colin Boyd

Love: LOVE IS THERE words and music by Grace Pettis

Additional tracks available only on Limited Edition:

AFTER THE FALL words by Sara Hickman and Colin Boyd, music by Sara Hickman
Limited Edition Bonus Track

THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE by Phil Ochs, extra verse written by Noel Paul Stookey
Limited Edition Bonus Track

THE ONE words and music by Sara Hickman
Limited Edition Bonus Track

  • Executive Producer: Sara Hickman
    Producer: Mark Addison
    Engineer: Mark Addison
    Assistant Engineers: Amy Burchette, Mike Agentis
    Studio: Aerie Studios, Texas
    Mastering: Jim Wilson
    Musicians: Mark Addison, Scrappy Judd Newcomb, Dony Wynn, Sara Hickman, Mike Agentis, Mother Nature (rain)
  • I’M SO GLAD (YOU CAME ALONG)
    Words and music by Sara Hickman

    There was no place to tell my story
    There was no stage to sing my song
    Until you built a house of glory
    And I’m so glad …. you came along

    The night time skies were full of sunbeams
    The stars were lost and struggled on
    Until you placed your hand upon me
    And I’m so glad…you came along

    My heart felt forever’s sorrow
    My eyes wept eternal pain
    I lost my soul, I lost tomorrow
    And then you whispered my name…

    Then through the mist…I heard you answer
    I felt your arms….I found your kiss

    I found the strength…To move these mountains
    I found that life….is more than this

    Now there’s a place to tell my story
    There is a stage to sing my song
    Because you built a house of glory
    And I’m so glad…you came along


    THERE BUT FOR FORTUNE
    by Phil Ochs

    Show me a prison, show me a jail
    Show me a prisoner whose face has gone pale
    And I’ll show you a young man with many reasons why
    And there but for fortune may go you or I
     
    Show me the alley, show me the train
    Show me a hobo who sleeps out in the rain
    And I’ll show you a young man with many reasons why…
    There but for fortune may go you or I
     
    Show me the whiskey that stains on the floor
    Show me the drunken man as he stumbles out the door
    And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why…
    There but for fortune go you or I
     
    [Extra verse… written by Noel Paul Stookey]
    Show me the famine, show me the frail
    Eyes with no future that show how we failed
    And I’ll show you the children with so many reasons why
    There but for fortune go you or I.
     
    Show me the country where bombs had to fall,
    Show me the ruins of buildings once so tall,
    And I’ll show you a young land with so many reasons why
    There but for fortune may go you or I


    AFTER THE FALL
    Words by Sara Hickman and Colin Boyd
    Music by Sara Hickman

    with a flick of the switch i’ll remember it all
    when i’m ready to tear down what’s left of these walls
    still, i’m scared who i’ll find haunting these halls
    i’m not sure who’ll be standing
    after the fall
     
    when you look in the mirror
    is it someone you know?
    or the face of a stranger you knew long ago
    did the choices you make leave you nothing at all?
    is there someone left standing….after the fall
     
    is it the fear inside me or the thought of something else
    that locks me away…away from myself?
    and if i make a mistake will i lose it all…?
    i’m not sure i’ll be standing after the fall
     
    the story of my life is so incomplete
    i keep tripping on chapters, trapped under my feet
    i keep turning the pages
    hoping to meet
    the one who’ll be standing…after the fall
    i’m not sure who’ll be standing…after the fall


    BLOWN AWAY
    Words & music by Sara Hickman

    what can i say? that hasn’t been said…
    it’s too late, now, to change those voices in your head
    cuz now you’ve blown away all those memories
    of the hidden days that were given to you and me
    now i don’t know what i’m to do
    cuz i’m haunted ….by you
    and the way
    i was blown away

    seems just like yesterday you were standing here
    all along your dreams were so clear
    you were the one with the great big smile
    you were the one who was gonna go far
    you were the one who came to get me
    when we snuck out in your white car
    and now i’m blown away
    cuz you’ve done left me here
    all alone with just these memories
    of what i thought would be
    something we could grow old
    together
    but now you’ve gone and left me
    blown away

    so, don’t come cryin’ over spilt milk…cuz you were the one who told me
    not to give up on these stupid dreams
    now i’m sitting here and i’m 37 tomorrow’s my birthday
    and you’re in heaven
    tell me: is it as good as it seemed?
    cuz i’m still blown away by yesterday
    by all those things you said we would do
    and now i’m left here all alone
    without a clue
    you kicked over the queen of cards
    and i dunno…you gotta take the hits when life gets hard
    but you’ll never know…no, you’ll never know
    now that you’ve gone… away
    away…day after day…blown…away


    BROKEN
    Music by Sara Hickman & Rachel Loy
    Lyrics by Sara Hickman, Rachel Loy and Johnny Goudie

    here comes another sad song about you
    this is it…cuz after this, i’m through
    no more self-inflicted damage
     
    woke up with that feeling of living in a room with a 2 foot ceiling
    phone is ringing, now i’m bleeding
    you threw that punch without a care
     
    broken…broken…broken
    broken…broken..choking on the hope i’m not…

    you’re a wreaking ball with a loaded mouth
    cut me in half when you cut me out
    how do you manage
    so much damage?
    once it’s shot it can’t be stopped
    a bullet’s hard and i am soft
    i’m taking this bullseye off my heart

    Chorus

    Chance of a lifetime
    Waits just outside my door
    You say, “I won’t do it anymore…”
    Yea, I’ve heard it all before
    So, go ahead and laugh, go ahead…
    I know you don’t believe
    That I’m finally breaking free
    But what you’ll never get
    Is that I’m doin this for me     
    Instrumental
    No, I’m not broken….broken…broken
    Broken…broken
    Never have been, never was then, never again, never will be….


    99%
    Music and Words by Sara Hickman

    Hey, baby, one more drink
    Then it’s time to go
    We’ll catch the bus
    Head downtown
    Maybe catch a show

    Hey, baby, whatcha think
    I’d really like to know
    Something curious
    Has gotcha down
    I see your soul
    Swinging low
    And now your cover’s blown…
     
    You live as though
    You’re still wonderin’ where the mystery went
    Let me take you home
    I’ll give you
    99% 
     
    Hey, baby, I’m your missing link
    We can take it slow
    1% is hard for all of us
    To let go or ignore
     
    Hey, baby, you don’t need no shrink
    Who says they’ve seen it all before
    No need to discuss
    Other clowns
    Who took control
    Made you old 
    Now your cover’s blown….
     
    CHORUS

    Drop the pen…let me write it
    There’s no need for you to fight it
    Ya get up, ya get down
    Ya feel right, ya feel wrong
    Either way you still belong
    In the collective song
    Words begin, then they end
    Listen over and over again
    Search high then dig deep
    From this demented sleep
    Let me in, take it out
    Let’s blow up this rusted doubt…
     


    SIZE SIX DRESS
    Words & Music by Rachel Loy and Sara Hickman
     
    There was a little operation
    Her mom told her it was for the best
    After surgical invasion
    Her body weighed 80 pounds less
     
    Changed her body, changed her clothes
    Skirts high, shirts cut low
    Needing a whistle
    Needing a sign
    To prove that the fat girl died
     
    CHORUS:
    Who’s this mess in the mirror looking back?
    Less is more, less is happiness, I guess
    Are you happy now there’s half of me…?
    Love is more than a size six dress
     
    Obsessed with her thighs and breasts
    Food is tasteless and who’d have guessed
    Once afraid…Twice ashamed
    Feeding addictions that have no name
     
    CHORUS
     
    These hidden fears are staying near
    They cause the pain
    That eats me up inside
    There’s no surprise this thin disguise
    This crazy game…this stupid side show ride….
     
    Who’s this mess in the mirror looking back
    Less is more… less is happiness I guess
    Here’s a thought I’m all I’ve got
    I’ve got to change to be set free
    This stupid game… this private shame
    Only hurts me
    Can you be happy with who I’ve grown to be….?
     
    Love is more…than a size six dress
    Love is more love is more
    Than a size six dress…


    STATE OF EMERGENCY
    Words & Music by Sara Hickman

    I’m feeling ugly… I’m feeling rude
    Ain’t got no hope left… Can’t shake this mood
    Behind the promise… Behind your eyes
    You’ve been poisoned by a government’s lies
    I keep on runnin… all night and day
    I’m going crazy… Prayin’ we’ll be saved
    You’re full of toxins… Your body hides
    Pushin’ the pedals on a bike… You’ll never ride
    Too much fightin’ …and hittin’ too
    My body’s been bitten til it’s turning black and blue
    Eats up the money… eats up the brain
    I don’t know if I can ever be happy again…

    CHORUS:

    It’s a lock down, broke down can’t rip off the shades
    Shootin’ up with mercury and no one’s mind is safe
    No one to help me… Can’t no body see?
    I’m living in a state of emergency…
     
    All of these worries… All of these fears
    A pressure cooker that’s been building up for years
    Who will help you? Learn how to steer?

    When your momma and your daddy are no longer here?
    Eats up my money… Eats up my brain

    I don’t know if I can ever be happy again

    CHORUS

    Who brought this crisis home…?

    Most of all… who will watch them when I’m gone?
    Who will love them and feed them… promise not to beat them and keep them from hurting themselves….?

    I’m feeling bad… no,.. this ain’t no good

    Locked up living in a freaked out neighborhood
    I feel so anxious…You’re screaming ‘cross the room
    But I can see… no body’s coming… to help us soon…
     
    It’s a lock down, broke down can’t rip off the shades
    Shootin’ up with mercury every little mind unsafe
    No one to help me… Can’t no body see?
    I’m living in a state… of emergency


    LOVE IS THERE
    Words & Music By Grace Pettis
     
    In the prison cell 
    In the soldier’s private hell
    In the mother who blessed us
    In the father who left us
     
    With the battered wife
    And the orphan in the night
    With the homeless in the rain
    & in the middle of our pain
     
    Love is where you are
    And you are with us now
    In the broken places
    And the empty spaces
    Love is there somehow
     
    In a remembered kiss
    In a razor at the wrist
    In the drunkard’s dream
    And when it’s hard to believe
     
    CHORUS
     
    So when lovers are romancin’
    And their little girl is dancing…
    With the stillborn in his mother
    And when we kill each other
     
    In the broken places
    In our enemies faces
    Love is there somehow…Love is there somehow
    Love is there


    JULIET AND JULIET
    Words & Music By Marvin Etzioni

    Juliet and Juliet
    Met last night
    They kissed til the morning’s light
    They held each other
    And watched the sun
    Rise in each others’ eyes
     
    If mama only knew
    She would break them in two
    And no more would they stand a chance
    So they kept it a secret
    Two angels in the dark
    Curled up and purring like cats
     
    And no one can deny
    The yearning of the heart
    No matter how they try
    No handcuffs won’t stop us
    And blindfolds won’t blind us
    True love only comes once a life
     
    Juliet and Juliet
    Wept and wept
    When they realized
    They knew deep inside it was never to be
    The first cut is the deepest my love
     
    And no one can deny
    The yearning of the heart
    No matter how they try
    No handcuffs won’t stop us
    And blindfolds won’t blind us
    True love only comes once a life


    LAST MAN IN THE WATER
    Words & Music By Sara Hickman
     
    Once upon a time there was a day
    Seemed everything was going my way
    I was the type who did believe
    It couldn’t happen to me
     
    And lookin’ back on how it all got started
    I never knew I’d be so open hearted
    Here’s the part of the story where I have to say
    My life’ll never be the same….
    Oh…oh
     
    Here underneath the water….I can see
    Here underneath the water…Life’s bigger than me
     
    I was the last man in the water
    I was the one who saved your sons and daughters
    And when they finally sent down
    The last shred of rope…
    I saw my last hope wave goodbye…
     
    I barely had time to think
    I’d just sat down, just got my drink
    I heard an awful sound and the world caught fire
    Freezing water swirling all around…I saw it pull a young couple down
    My fingers cold, my body numb
    Revelations for everyone…
     
    Here underneath the water….I can see
    Here underneath the water…I’m finally free
     
    CHORUS
    What would you do…in my shoes?
    When you’ve got everything to lose?
    I gave away my sweet, sweet right to life
    But I don’t regret this final sacrifice…ohhh…..
     
    SOLO
     
    There were maybe four or five of us
    Three began to pray, one began to cuss
    Who knew who’d be saved and who was through…?
    Time was tickin’, man, it sure can fly
    When life is passing before your eyes
    You realize what you have got to do…
     
    So…you become the last man in the water
    You’re the one who saves the sons and daughters
    And when they finally send down
    The last shred of rope
    You’ll see your last hope wave goodbye…
     
    I was the last man in the water
    I was the one who saved your sons and daughters
    And when they finally sent down
    The last shred of rope…
    I saw my last hope wave goodbye…


    THE ONE
    Words & Music by Sara Hickman
     
    No flowers for his funeral
    No one here on the phone
    Invisible, here
    I am living in fear
    I am broken and alone
     
    The burden of my broken heart
    Can never be compared
    To the loss and anger others feel
    And the other mothers share…
     
    I’m not sure what went wrong
    Was it something I said?…
    These words keep spinning through my soul
    And I’m not sure what I could have done
    I can not find the words
     
    His eyes were dark, he seldom cried
    But we told him he was good
    And he never played with a single soul
    In our neighborhood
     
    My mind goes back so long ago
    When he first came into this world
    I gave birth to hands and a sweet, small mouth
    Nine months of mystery revealed
     
    And… I fear that I will go insane from this evil ghost I bear
    He will always be remembered as
    The one who held the gun…
    But to me…He was…my son
     
    My feet have grown so heavy
    They are sodden from the tears
    Mixed with the loss of reason
    That was lost within his years
     
    And… I fear that I will go insane from this evil ghost I bear
    He will always be remembered as…The one… who held the gun…
    But to me…He was…my son


    EDENTOWN
    Words and music by Sara Hickman

    If you drive across Texas far side of the state
    There’s a ribbon of heaven for those who just can’t wait
    Got a Moroccan Hotel and a little shady creek
    With a Slumber on Inn and broad broadway streets
    Tall walls are covered with sharp barbed wire
    To prevent anyone from getting any higher
    You can visit the dump
    Where the flowers still grow
    And you can always start all over
    Cuz it’s all you’ll ever know

    In Edentown…oh…back in Edentown….

    One step beyond I found Adam and Eve
    In a dingy old house by the side of the road
    With a car up on blocks, a dog chained to a tree
    I found the new swank Eden as bleak as can be
    Well, Eve had six children and Adam was drunk
    He led them deeper into debt, wiped each kiss with a punch
    ‘Til the violence escalated even further one day
    Adam shot Eve in the face
    So they sent him away

    To Edentown…oh…Edentown….oh….

    Come over here…let me hold you tight
    I gotta tell you something now…I gotta set things right

    Children smacked ’round, broke down, what a life they’ve led
    With a papa in prison and a mama who’s dead
    Has God gone on vacation…Or is it too late to save?
    What was allegedly created in just seven days?
    Is there a chance in hell when the hope is all gone
    What can replace all the madness that’s descended upon…?

    Edentown…oh… Edentown…..oh


    LAST OF A DYING BREED   
    Music by Colin Boyd
    Words by Colin Boyd & Sara Hickman

    You may not have seen his kind before
    And you may not again
    Another time when things were more
    Defined for sure
    Way back when
    When honesty couldn’t hurt you
    And your integrity wouldn’t brand you
    Just the thing that we all need
    He’s the last of a dying breed

    You should have heard the way he sang
    His words would fill the room
    He’d take you to someplace true
    That always seemed to end too soon
    You could count upon tomorrow
    And hope wasn’t something you borrowed
    Just the thing we all need
    He’s the last of a dying breed

    The rain was falling fast as tears
    The years had come and gone
    Who will touch me with his words
    Who will carry on?
    Staring into empty space
    I miss the wonder, I miss the grace
    Before he left he laid a seed
    The last of a dying breed

    Now each day I face the world
    Looking for a sign
    A reminder and a purpose of what was left behind
    And with each choice I’m choosing
    I’m winning or I’m losing
    Trying to make sure I won’t be
    The last of a dying breed


    THE SUITCASE
    Music by Sara Hickman
    Words by Sara Hickman and Dan Workman

    Broken and torn, tattered and traveled
    Here in the warmth…a handle to hold
    Unlocking the ridge
    Waiting for answers
    What will I find…waiting inside?

    Packed up so tightly…responding to no one
    I bounce on your knee…I’ve curdled the love

    These ramifications…soft, easy leather
    Too tense for beginning
    Into fog I must slide…

    Wake up your sister…It’s time to be going
    Go grab your brother…tomorrow we ride
    You have my suitcase…I have your belongings
    There goes the story…we all know so well

    A camera to capture…the journey I’m after
    Complete with the sorrow
    You left me behind

    Folding the clothes…that I never owned
    I pack them away….with the thorn, of a rose

    Who would have questioned these complications
    For early last week
    I felt so composed

    These skeleton keys
    Some other womans
    Strung between glass beads
    I’ve…never owned

    Wake up your sister…It’s time to be going
    Go grab your brother…tomorrow we ride
    You have my suitcase…I have your belongings
    There goes the story…we all know so well


    BEFORE YOU CHANGE YOUR MIND
    Words and music by Mark Addison and Sara Hickman

    It’s late at night but the air’s still warm
    The wind can’t seem to blow
    I like awake with the tv on
    And watch your favorite show
    And all I want is to know you’re well
    Standing there at the carousel
    If they lost your bags, just give ’em hell
    Before you change your mind

    The coffee’s hot…oh, how I hate the clock
    The paper’s still outside
    The kids are up…and the neighbor said
    She’d give Suzanne a ride

    And while we slept the world turned round
    Now you’re all alone in a faceless town
    So, you knot your tie
    And you stand your ground
    Before you change your mind

    And all I want for history to change
    Is the nothing left for me to hold…
    And all I want
    Is the mystery explained
    But sometimes  you just have to let go….

    What’s it like…to be alone?
    Does it bring you peace of mind?
    How does it feel….to come back home
    To what you’ve left behind?
    And all I want is for you to know 
    No matter where you are, or how far you go
    I pray your path always brings you home
    Before you change your mind

    Mmm…..