A Way to Get Back Home

by Craig Manning

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Chase Tremaine
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Chase Tremaine Picking a favorite is hard, but the expert melodies and harmonies on this song show off the vocal strengths Craig harnesses throughout this lovely homemade debut. Favorite track: Losers in a Losing Game.
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about

Inspired by the loss of my grandfather, A Way to Get Back Home tackles questions of love, family, home, growing up, leaving it all behind, and knowing when it's time to come back.

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released April 19, 2016

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Craig Manning Traverse City, Michigan

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Track Name: Way Too Long
It's midnight, I'm going for a drive
Out into the backstreets of this town I've called my life
I'm driving slow, I've got nowhere to go
But I know that come tomorrow, I'll be gone
So, I won't sleep, I'll walk out my front door
And take the long way home until I know what I'm here for
With "All My Friends" looping on the stereo
I shed a tear this place is home
And you've been my world for so long
But now I'm off to find a brand new start

It's been way too long
Since I cruised your streets that night
Feeling younger than forever
Feeling born to run for life
And I heard my first song in your forest halls
And I played my first chords between cinder walls
But I know that there's no going back
And it's been way too long

It's 2:00 all my things have been in boxes for 12 hours now
Come 2:00 in the afternoon tomorrow I'll be a resident of the highway
So I'll stop by a house I've known forever
Of a friend who's moving off to New York in September
And we'll reminisce about the trouble that we caused
Back when we were to young to know
What we were gonna be when we grew up
Long before this town was fading in the dark

It's been way too long
Since I cruised your streets that night
Since I broke into my high school
Just to remember what it was like
To walk nervously to class on the very first day
Or to sing a song on the very first stage
That changed my world forever
And I don't know how to get back there
But it's been way too long

I don't believe in moving on
I think that youth is always there
Obscured by fears of growing old
But I must go away and write a different song
Still I'll keep singing words about
A brave new world along the road to home

It's been way too long
Since I looked upon your grace
Your sunsets and your cloudless skies
Your miles of shining lakes
And I took my first drink in your loving arms
And I kissed that girl beneath your bright blues stars
And I know that it's only a memory
But it's been way too long

It's 10 to six, the night is done
The light is breaking through the trees
The summer's gone, nobody on the road
And nobody on the beach
Feel the sand in between my toes
Feel the waves hitting soft and slow, it's home
But I've gotta go, gotta hit the road
But I'll be back before I know it, I suppose
Track Name: The Last Gasp of Summer
It's August 25th and I can't believe it's been a whole year since
You caught my eye as I walked on by down on the boardwalk you were just trying to sing
Along to the words of "Born to Run" or some summer song where the boy gets the girl
And then you had me and I was down on one knee trying to joke my way into a dinner and then we'll see

The temperature's down below 80 degrees for the first time since May
And I gotta say that it sure is nice to walk out my door without the feeling that I might just burst into flames
But I feel like the weather is sending me a sign, that you'll go and you'll be gone and we'll have run out of time
So toss me a beer or two and I'll pretend that the summertime hasn't just come to an end

The western sky's turning red
And I know…

That they're pulling down the carnival rides
Locking down the beach, shutting off the lights
But I've still got this car and a stereo
So you can think back on this place and how it felt to call it home
They're closing down the ice cream shop
And you've got your suitcases packed to the car top
Now I know when you come back you'll probably have a new lover
But remember me like the last gasp of summer

So now I'll hold you close and kiss you hard
And try to hide the fact
That when you leave this time on Thursday
You won't be coming back
I'll say "The fireworks are going off at nine
And if we don't leave now we might miss the whole light show"
And that would be a shame 'cause we won't get another
Chance to see how our sparks caught the breeze at night

Just you and me on the bridge
When you said

That there may be miles, there may be storms
That we can't move past, can't ignore
But we'll meet again somewhere off down the road
And I'll kiss you like we haven't been apart at all
'Cause most small town dreams just seem to fade
And most promises don't even last through the rain
But you and me, baby, we can beat the thunder
So remember me, like the last gasp of summer

Why's it gotta be that it always goes this way?
Like boy meets girl and boy falls in love
And then boy lets girl just walk away?
Why's it gotta be the summer always ends too soon?
One day it's June 21 and then September has come
And there's nothing left to do but sing…

That they're pulling down the carnival rides
Locking down the beach, shutting off the lights
But I've still got my car and a stereo
So you can think back on this place and how it felt to call it home
They're closing down the ice cream shop
And you've got your suitcases tied to the car top
And I know if you come back you'll probably have a new lover
But remember me like the last gasp of summer
Track Name: A Million Reasons
I've got a million numbers
Just sitting on my phone
From all the girls I thought I loved
Before they walked right out the door
I got a million excuses
For the dreams that didn't come true
I've got a million reasons why
I dropped the ball and walked away before my time had come

So I know I know I'm not so useful
So I know that I got lost
And now I know I won't be seeing you again
'Cause you're going off to Houston in the spring

I've got a million memories
Of sitting on that old park bench
Where we first met in 2004
And you told me I was doing it all wrong
I've got a million songs to sing
Reminding me of everything I missed
When I was being stupid and alone
And I couldn't find the strength to just pick up the goddamn phone

So I know I'm not that useful
So I know I ruined it myself
And now I know no one is coming back for me
And I'll just be the old man left sitting underneath his willow tree

You see I've got a million phone calls that I missed over the years
Some from you and some from friends that I don't see
Now I've got a million lessons that I never really learned
But I'll start learning them now before I wind old, regretful, and alone

Now I've got a million miles left to travel in the night
If you're not gonna call me back...
And if I never, ever, ever see your face again
At least I'll know that I had something perfect
Just for a little while
Track Name: Missing the War
And I know that I’m missing the war
And I know that I'm growing up bored
And I know that I don’t have the words anymore
To say “I’m sorry that I left you alone”

And I know that I don’t have a choice
I just got so fucking sick of the sound of my own voice
And I lost the will to go on again
But I’ll find it when we’re grown

But you find hope in the words I sing
And you seem to know the answer to this riddle
I haven’t been able to solve
‘Cause I…I don’t know

Had a dream that I burned all the books
That we used to read each other when we were thieves and crooks
Before the ambulance arrived and took what’s left of my soul
In the blood that I bleeding when I met you

‘Cause I know that you smashed a hole into my chest
When I looked into your eyes that night
And you said that it was perfect as you turned out the light
And then they had to come scrape me off the floor

Cause you found meaning in my stupid words
And you saw a man instead of this scared and helpless little boy
And you seemed to know the way to reach me when no one else could
So I thought I’d give you my heart

I know that I lost my way
I just got so damn tired of driving down the same two-lane
And now I feel my car’s about to die
And you’re waiting there in the headlights

And yeah, I know that I missed the class today
And I’m off on some adventure
And riding on that same airplane
That killed Buddy Holly and so many other greater men than me
What did I do to deserve you?

‘Cause I never thought I’d write a song worth anybody singing but my self
Or pen a line that anyone would be able to remember past next week
But you’re here and you’re singing along to every single letter
And I know it’s just a song, but it’s ours

So let’s go on, and let’s miss the war
Let’s just ride off into the sunset, and find a place to call our own
Don’t care if it’s on a mountain, or in a small and quiet town
Let’s go, time’s a wastin’
Track Name: Leaving Song
She said "the summer's breaking up"
I was the only one for her
I told her I was gonna be there when the afternoon was done
And that was gonna be my whole life
Again and again
And we'd fall in love each and every night
Never have to see the end
And she could be the one to change me
Help me grow and learn to be a man
And I could be the one to memorize
Her stories and her plans
And I could ask her that one question
That would change both of our lives
And we could build our own forever
Flitting in and out of time

But I'm telling you,
It may not ever be the way you want
Because I'm leaving in the morning
With the rising of the sun
And I'll be home by September
If that's okay
But if you miss me too much, baby
I won't take it personally
If you walk away
Walk away, take back your whole life
Tell me that this just won't work
And I'll say "everything's alright"
Because girl, I'll love you for the rest of my life
And if you don't feel the same
You can turn around and leave, girl
And I won't say a single thing

But if we're meant to be we'll weather this
Long distance til it's gone
The miles and the dusty roads
The hours left 'til dawn
And if you're tired of spinning wheels
Or of waking up alone
Just know, my love, that this is not goodbye
It's just a leaving song

This song is just four simple chords
But babe it's all of me
It's every Dashboard song on the radio
As I turn around to leave
It's every sunset over I-94
With your face still stuck in my rearview mirror
And every time I know I won't be satisfied
Until I'm headed back this way
It's every moment that I felt that skipping beat within my chest
Every phone call when we promised to love each other best
It's every night spent lying out on the beach
When the summertime was still in our reach
And every Sunday evening, every long goodbye
That I didn't want to say

But if we're meant to be we'll weather this
Long distance 'til it's gone
The miles and the dusty roads
The hours left 'til dawn
And if you're tired of spinning wheels
Or of waking up alone
Just know, my love, that this is not goodbye
It's just a leaving song

I guess it all came down to that one night
Out in the rain, freezing my ass off at some payphone in Ohio
And you're crying on the other end
And I don't think my soul is gonna take another bend
Down one of these highway lines
And I'm sorry I'm not there to make it right
And they're telling us we're too young
That we can't know love
But I'm not going to listen to that
Not making excuses, or turning back
'Cause miles are just numbers on a map
And I'll be damned if I let them take you away

But if we're meant to be we'll weather this
Long distance 'til it's gone
The miles and the dusty roads
The hours left 'til dawn
And if you're tired of spinning wheels
Or of waking up alone
Just know, my love, that this is not goodbye
It's just a leaving song
Track Name: Two Lane Road
I heard a new song
Last night
And it was our song by the time the dark turned to daylight
And it was your face
On my mind
The girl from class who rolls her eyes every time I walk on by
And I know we're from different sides of the street now
I drive a blue beater Chevrolet, you drive a Mercedes Benz now
But we're not so far apart
So I'm hatching this plan built to steal your heart

And I know it's dumb trying to change your mind
But if you'd give me a shot you might just like a guy who plays guitar all the time
And I'll learn the words to all your favorite songs
And we could sing along to them together, baby, out on that two lane road

The smell of summer
Of long nights
Of driving 'round til the radio plays a song that sounds all right
The smell of your hair
On my clothes
From kissing down on the beach before you told me it was time to go
And I know that youth is just a shout into the breeze now
And you leave for college in the fall
But we got two months to do this right
So let's not waste another night
Let's not waste another night

So if you give me a chance we'll work this whole thing out
I'll get the night off from work and take you dancing downtown
And you might just see me for who I really am
And on the way home you might just kiss me on the side of that two lane road

We broke the rules again
Stayed out past 3 a.m.
And now I'm driving home alone
The stars are glowing bright
I think maybe tonight
We'll stay out past the rising sun
And make that drive last all night long
Because I don't think
That I can do it alone

Now I know it's late and our curfews are blown
But what's the point in playing by the rules when it's you and me out here all alone?
I can just turn left and take the short way home
Or I can take a right and you can stay with me out on this two lane road
Track Name: Losers in a Losing Game
7. Losers in a Losing Game

The longest minutes of my life were spent just sitting
By the sign that pointed off toward the stage
While four old men just sat behind that velvet curtain
And spared five minutes to decide my whole damn fate

But while I was staring at the walls I got to thinking
Of walking out the door and on my way
Remove the pretense of this awful situation
It's my life and it's my time now to be brave

To be braver than the songs, to be braver than the words
That they'll speak to me to dismantle my dreams
Cause they're no more than teachers who never taught
No more than singers who never sung
No more than losers in this goddamn losing game

They called my name out in a callous fractured cadence
And I walked the 50 feet to reach their cage
And in a chair designed for students in pursuit of something more
I saw three years of my life vanish away

I could have cried, I could have broken down and begged them
To reconsider, or to spare me from the pain
I could have smashed the Grand Piano off the edge of that damn stage
Left them open-mouthed and fearing for their names

But I'll be braver than the songs, I'll be braver than the words
That they spoke to me to dismantle my dreams
Cause they're no more than teachers who never taught
No more than singers who never sung
No more than losers in this goddamn losing game

But failure it don't have to be the ending
Not of life, or hope, or dreams of better days
And I'm done giving you the power to make me cry or make me rage
Because to me you're just debris, you're something I don't want to be
I'll keep myself and snuff you out in an ashtray

And I'll be braver than the songs, and I'm braver than the words
That you spoke to me to try to change my dreams
'Cause you're no more than teachers who never taught
No more than singers who never sung
No more than losers in this goddamn losing game
I don't wanna be a loser in a game that I can't play
Track Name: It's My House (But I Don't Live There Anymore)
Walking these halls back in 2009
I never really thought we'd make much out of life
We were young and dumb, broke and drunk
Skipping classes every day, skating by on luck
We had some massive nights, we had some crushing lows
Played our records so damn loud that every neighbor would know
If it was Bruce or Butch, The Hold Steady or Cash
And now I look back at those days and how they went up in flames so fast

'Cause four years looked so long
When we were standing on the precipice, movin' in here
And now we're breaking leases and cuttin' ties
I wonder when it's gonna be you and I again

Now I'm driving down the street where we used to live
And I can feel it all come back
Tossing bottles off the porch on a Thursday night
Feel the spring breeze rushing through the black
Hear the train whistle out my window
Like some age-old call to war
It's my house, but I don't live there anymore

It was senior year and we were burning the candle
At both ends, living life as both students and vandals
We had a booth at the bar like some sitcom group
And we'd stay up until the morning writing songs on the roof
Just laughing out loud at the thought of growing old
At the chances of us ever doing what we were told
And now it's nine-to-fives and suits and ties
But all I really want to do is crank the volume and drive

Back down the street where we used to live
So I can feel it all come back
Tossing bottles off the porch on a Thursday night
Feel the spring breeze rushing through the black
Hear the train whistle out my window
Like some age-old call to war
It's my house, but I don't live there anymore

And someone else will walk these halls
And feel the youth within these walls
And someone else will play their songs
On that back porch, the one that used to be ours
And someone else will make good friends here
And feel like it's never going to end here
But then it does and it's all gone
So just hold on, so just hold on

To those old streets where we used to live
Where we could feel it all come back
Tossing bottles off the porch on a Thursday night
Feel the spring breeze rushing through the black
Hear the train whistle out my window
Like an age-old call to war
It's my house but I don't live there anymore

It's our college town
But we don't go back there anymore
Track Name: What Do I Do?
What do I do to forget?
Riding down the street in your '72 corvette
What do I do about the wall
That I hit in the middle of the night?
'Cause you're not there to call anymore
What do I do about those years?
That are all just in my memory
They're not coming back here
What do I do about the last words that I said to you?
They're not the ones I would have wanted
But I guess that they'll have to do

What do I do?
I just can't forget you
Oh no

Driving down the road now by myself
Ain't got no one sitting beside me
Just my music playing loud
Dashboard light shining at me
I've got 1,500 miles left to go before I see
Anyone I know
Or a face I'd recognize
A landmark to tell me this ain't a bad dream in disguise
Or a house in the middle of a field
Like the one you grew up in
Got demolished half a century ago
So I got nothing left
Of when I was a kid and you were there
When I was a kid and I was scared
For you to leave at the end of a visit
'Cause I didn't want to go back to being alone
But now I'm so damn alone
'Cause you're gone forever
And I can't get you back
And I can't call you on the phone
Or hear your voice
Aside from the messages you left
When I didn't pick up
And I'm sorry 'bout that now
'Cause I can't go back to knowing
What it was like just to see your name on the readout
Comforting, knowing you're near
And knowing that you knew
What you meant to me

What do I do?
Cause I just can't forget you
Track Name: One Last Ride
This is an ode to the one who always got me
From point A to point B
This is an ode to my partner in crime
On those nights out exploring the backstreets
This is an ode to the one that was there
As I headed off to college for the first time, hit the county line
And it's an ode to my way back home
Always there when I needed an escape

A silver lining in this cold dark world
A Fortress of Solitude for me to call my own
A song on the radio that might reboot my dreams
It's all gone
And I'm off on one last ride

300,000 miles crossed
And countless battles won and lost
She's beaten and battered but she'd still run
To the end of the earth and probably beyond
Driving way too fast
Coasting way too slow
Falling in love in a 45-mile-an-hour town
Ain't possible unless you're capable of both

A silver lining in this cold dark world
A Fortress of Solitude for me to call my own
A song on the radio that might reboot my dreams
It's all gone
And I'm off on one last ride

We've been down every street
From Thunder Road to Desolation Row
We've screamed through every line
From "screen doors slams" to "no direction home"
The red light's turning green
And now I know it's really time to go
The miles that we rolled
Track Name: Carry It Forth
Sleep well, good night
Maybe ‘til we meet each other by the morning light
Farewell, it’s too late
To do all the things we wanted before reaching heaven’s gates

I don’t know where you’ve gone
But I know the pain is leaving and that you’ll never be alone
So just surrender, close your eyes
Let the sickness fade away until you’re strong and full of light

Down here, we’ll remember all the good times
All the baseball games and Cub fan dreams and the raucous jokes you told
Down here, we’ll laugh and make a toast to you
The memories we made with you and the love you left behind

Call this an elegy, an effigy, a monument to you
As we blast through all the memories, the ghost stories and truths
We’ll remember you, brave and good and witty ‘til the end
And raise a glass to you, in heaven, in a choir with the best

I couldn’t find the way to say goodbye
When I was sitting by your bedside
I didn’t know how to fit so many years of what you meant to me
Into a word, into a phrase, into an anecdote to capture
This family that you built, this life you lived so brilliantly
The people that you touched, the middle name you gave to me
The bond we shared through writing, and how you got to see
Me stand up at the altar and pledge my life to be
Something like the man you were, a husband and a father
A man you could be proud of, a man to share your legacy
And carry it forth, carry it forth, carry it forth, carry it forth

We’ll carry it forth
And live every day
To honor your memory
To honor your name

We’ll carry it forth
With love and with pride
So lucky were we
To spend a life by your side

We’ll carry it forth
In stories and songs
In memories and photographs
Of the days that are gone

Just know you’re always with us
We are the lives that you changed
And just a fraction of the people
Who are better cause they knew your name
I’m so much better cause I knew your name
And your voice, and your face, and your heart
And your kindness, and your grace, and your life, and your love

Goodnight, goodbye
I know the years they took their toll, and that it’s time for you to go
But with the closing of your eyes
Just know I love you, you’re the best I man I know
The best man I know
Track Name: A Way to Get Back Home
The winter snow is falling down
And I can feel the cold
I'm not ready for you to go
So I'll throw on another log
The fire is burning bright, you see
And you're the only one
So take a drink and watch it burn
And hum this winter song

The seasons change, the years roll on
I found this home with you, but now you're gone
You know I've been here a long time
Always finding my way
Always watching through the window as the smoke burns away

The weekends that we have together
Always end too soon
And we head back to our lives
In different cities, different rooms
But I don't want to go back to
The way things were before
Let's freeze this frame and keep it
'Cause this family is my home

But time keeps on falling by
And these moments fade away
And I don't know how to leave here
I don't know how to stay
I just get into my car
Turn the heat on again
It don't work well anymore
But neither do I

So let's drive across the country
Let's find a way to get back home
And back to how it was when we were younger
'Cause I'm so damn tired
Of losing that

The winter snow is falling down
The holidays are here
And I can't sleep, so I'll stay up
And crack another beer
And think back on the days of wonder
At what this time of year could bring
The colored lights, the snowball fights
The early morning ring
But many years have come and gone
We've all grown up and moved along
And I just we should could go back there
Be the family that we were
But you can't go backwards
You can only go on
So just meet me at the intersection
Of who we are and what we want