Life in the Rearview Mirror

by Craig Manning

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about

I’m beyond proud of this record.

My first album was mostly a collection of songs that I recorded live in my living room on an acoustic guitar. It was sparse and spartan, no frills to the point of being limited.

This time, I knew I wanted to work harder to get the sound that was in my head onto tape. So I looked to the records I love most. Records about youth and growing up. Records about summer. Records that have always made me want to drive faster and sing louder. Records with emotion and grit and honesty, but also plenty of hope. Definitely records with lots of guitars.

Six months after I hit record on track one, I’ve finally found the sound I was looking for, and it’s the sound of who I am and the life I’ve lived so far. It's the sound of the people I've loved and the places I've called home. It's definitely the sound of the many roads I've driven, in the beating light of day and the pitch dark of night.

My first album was a dream come true because I finally made a record after 12 years of wanting to make a record. This album is a dream come true because it’s the album I always wanted to make but never knew I could. I am so happy to share it with you.

credits

released August 11, 2017

All songs written by Craig Manning

Craig Manning: vocals, guitars, keyboards, mixing
Jillian Manning: cover photo

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Craig Manning Traverse City, Michigan

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Track Name: We Ain't That Young Anymore
And we all just want to stay young forever
Hold on to that feeling
Of how we watched the sun go down in the summertime
And thought the world was ours
But youth is just a house on fire
You either get out or die trying
There's no fire department coming down the road
You gotta do it on your own
And there ain't no map, no X-marks-the-spot
No treasure waiting at the end of the rainbow
You ain't Peter Pan, this ain't Neverland
Move on

We ain't that young anymore
We ain't that young anymore

And we all just want to stay cool forever
Hip to the latest trends
Stay out with your friends until the last call
And you're shutting down the bar
You used to live your life like a college kid
Burning your candle at both ends
You were wild and free you were bold and brash
You were the king of the world and the bar
But they stopped carding you a long time ago
You're not the kid with a beer in his hand
You're a grown ass man, it's time to take a stand
Move on

We ain't that young anymore
We ain't that young anymore

And we all just want to stay gold forever
Be the heroes in the songs we love
Be a Ziggy Stardust or a Magic Rat
We can beat them, just for one day
But the songs were about somebody else before
And they'll be somebody else's again
Because people age and your life's gonna change
But characters are always staying the same
You can't live in a book you don't live in a song
You can't be timeless if you never grow
So just let "Born to Run" fade into "She's the One"
Move on

We ain't that young anymore
We ain't that young anymore
Track Name: Moving Away
We moved in here when I was only 10
9/11 hadn't happened yet
The world felt brighter back then
We had a new dog to go along with our new life
And it was summertime
You could taste it in the air…

A few years later you came down the stairs
And said "We're moving away"
I was only in eighth grade
And I don't know why
But I felt it deep down in my bones
This town wasn't done with me yet

So I was selfish and self-centered
I screamed and I cried
Until you found a job a little closer to home
And on the day you said "We're staying put"
I was singing a song about "believing in Futures"

I know we're moving away
We'll never call this house home again
But that's what it is
There'll be no false starts this time
And I'm not trying to change your mind
For my own sake
'Cause there's a whole wide world waiting
And you've gotta go where it's calling you
Even if that means leaving behind the place I spent my youth
So here's a song for the road
And maybe one for the home we shared here
For 15 years

Do you remember that time you went away for the weekend
And left me alone?
You only gave me two rules:
Don't have a party
And don't get the sports car out of the garage
Well you were gone half an hour or so
And I was rolling down those windows on a back road
And it only took 'til that night
To get my friends here
Circled round the living room and sharing a beer
I wasn't trying to be bad or rebellious
I was just living my life
And now I look back on those youthful days
And wonder where they've gone
Guess that's the nature of a house when you call it a home
It takes your memories and keeps 'em for itself
And we're all out here on the highway of life
Trying to make a few more while we got the health

I know we're moving away
We'll never call this house home again
But that's what it is
There'll be no false starts this time
And I'm not trying to change your mind
For my own sake
'Cause there's a whole wide world waiting
And you've gotta go where it's calling you
Even if that means leaving behind the place I spent my youth
So here's a song for the road
And maybe one for the home we shared here
For 15 years

If we had moved away in 2004
I'd be a different man today
Would I have learned to play?
Would I have found my voice?
Would I have the music in me?
Would I have met that girl?
Would we have fallen in love?
And gotten married on a summer's day?
I know the answer's "No"
That’s why it's hard to go, to go away from here

I know we're moving away
We'll never call this house home again
But that's what it is
There'll be no false starts this time
And I'm not trying to change your mind
For my own sake
'Cause there's a whole wide world waiting
And you've gotta go where it's calling you
Even if that means leaving behind the place I spent my youth
So here's a song for the road
And maybe one for the home we shared here
For 15 years
Track Name: Before You Came Along
I'd sit alone in my room on a Saturday night
The TV on and the music playing
Trying to drown out the loneliness with laughter and songs
Back before you came along

Make a dinner on the stove just for myself
And the mixtapes I was making, they weren't for anybody else
Oh, make no mistake girl I was perfectly lonely
Back before you came along

Back before there was you I was on my own
I related to the words of "Like a Rolling Stone"
I was a party of one, I didn't know where I belonged
Back before there was you I was weak, but now I'm strong

Now it's Valentine's Day and I'm driving alone
Ain't nothing but love songs on the radio
Always a girl on my mind but she was never mine
Back before you came along

Now it's Christmastime it's family and wine
And the room starts to spin and snow is falling down outside
It's a damn good party but I've got no one to hold
Back before you came along

Back before there was you I was on my own
I related to the words of "Like a Rolling Stone"
I was a party of one, I didn't know where I belonged
Back before there was you I was weak, but now I'm strong

Now it's New Year's Eve 2009
Last few minutes of the decade
Oh how those 10 years did fly
So we make toasts and resolutions
But at midnight I'll be alone
At least that's what I thought
And that was when you came along
Track Name: Money Down
I was born and raised here
This tiny rust belt town
In the northwest corner of the state
Where our only claim to fame
Is staying put after we graduate
And it ain’t that we’re dumb
We don’t lack the ambition or drive
To get out of this town
Make something out of ourselves
We just know what we got here
With the sun and the stars
Is too good to leave behind in our college years
That’s why we always come back

Let’s find a place where the sun sets on the tree line
Or a beach where we can make the most of summertime
Let’s watch the stars burn out with the night
If we’re never gonna get out of this town
Let’s put some money down
And stay here

I don’t mind the dirt on my shoes
Or the sand in my hair
Or the dust in these vinyl grooves
If we could stay out of the city lights
For our whole lives
Girl, I think that might be alright
Our best friends moved away four years ago
They said they had to see the world or something
I don’t know
But we’ll be saying “I told you so”
When they’re rolling back down Front Street
‘Cause they couldn’t find a way to beat what we got here
When nobody else is near
Yeah, we’d be crazy to leave

Let’s find a place where the sun sets on the tree line
Or a beach where we can make the most of summertime
Let’s watch the stars burn out with the night
If we’re never gonna get out of this town
Let’s put some money down
And stay here

‘Cause settling down don’t mean settling for less
And putting down roots don’t mean putting your dreams to rest
Gotta be honest girl: I couldn’t care less
About finding the best job, or making us a pile of cash
As long as I can stay here
In the best place in the world
With the most beautiful girl
Where running away just means jumping on a boat
Maybe grab the guitar, we can write a hit song

‘Bout finding somewhere where the sun sets on the tree line
Or a beach where we can make the most of sweet summertime
Let’s watch the stars burn out with the night
If we’re never gonna get out of this town
Let’s put some money down
And stay here
Track Name: Try to Pretend
She’s the girl you never get over
She’s the girl who’s in every song
She’s the girl you know who will still pop into your head
20 years down when you’re driving alone

She’s the girl you never saw coming
The only one you couldn’t predict
She rolled through town like some hurricane wind
And swept your old life away life it wasn’t even yours to begin with

You think you found a way
To make a getaway
But in the end you’re just spinning your wheels

‘Cause she won’t last for ever
She is now or never
She won’t be there when you wake
And she’s not the girl you end up with
She’s just the one you’re happy to run with
For a little while ‘til she leaves you in the dust
And I know you’re a doubter
And you’ll try to change her
But boys can never hold onto the wind
But you can try to pretend

She’s the girl of every lost summer
She’s the girl who ruled all your nights
Trespassing on some beach you didn’t even know
Skinny dipping underneath the stars

She’s the girl you thought you were in love with
Back before you knew what love was
She was your teenage dream wrapped up in a red sundress
And she’s never coming back, boy, and you know it

She made a getaway
Left earlier today
And now you’re sitting here wondering what went wrong

‘Cause she won’t last for ever
She is now or never
She won’t be there when you wake
And she’s not the girl you end up with
She’s just the one you’re happy to run with
For a little while ‘til she leaves you in the dust
And I know you’re a doubter
And you’ll try to change her
But boys can never hold onto the wind
But you can try to pretend

Some nights she seems so close
Like lightning crashing off the road
But I know that she’s as far
As shooting stars out in the dark
And if she never thinks of me
That’s fine
I don’t need her to
I wish I didn’t think of her
But I can’t help it where my mind goes
When it’s dark and I’m the only one around

‘Cause she won’t last for ever
She is now or never
She won’t be there when you wake
And she’s not the girl you end up with
She’s just the one you’re happy to run with
For a little while ‘til she leaves you in the dust
And I know you’re a doubter
And you’ll try to change her
But boys can never hold onto the wind
But you can try to pretend
Track Name: Woodlands
Take a look around man, and take it all in
Take a look around, try to remember it
Take a look around , 'cause someday soon
You're gonna run out of all those afternoons

And you can't turn back the clock to that day in spring
When you met your best friend by the playground swing
Or saw that girl across the hallway and time just stopped
That's the only time you're ever gonna beat the clock

I remember riding in the front seat of my mama's car
Cruising through the half-lit woods, with the radio on
I remember everything, from the morning we all met to the Friday we all left
And I consider myself blessed, I grew up in the woodlands

Sitting here tonight I cast my memory back
To sledding hill injuries and capture the flag
To card games and football and memories that last
And somewhere along the way, I guess we also went to class

I remember riding in the front seat of my mama's car
Cruising through the half-lit woods, with the radio on
I remember everything, from the morning we all met to the Friday we all left
And I consider myself blessed, I grew up in the woodlands

And maybe 20 years down, we'll all meet up again
It won't be awkward at all, no we'll still feel like old friends
And we'll go out to a bar and close that place down
Just talking 'bout the past until they throw us out
And then we'll rage on the backstreets 'til 4 a.m.
Just looking for trouble the way we always did
When we were young and we were just
Having a blast being kids
Who grew up in the woodlands

There's so many days I wish I could get back
There's so many friends I wish I could see again
There's a guy we knew back then who used to walk these halls
Now there ain't nothing left of him but pictures on the walls

So take a look around, man, take it from me
Take a look around, son, I know what I mean
Take a look around 'cause I'm the man you're gonna be
When that last bell rings at a quarter to three
Track Name: Life in the Rearview Mirror
The day I finished college
I just got into my car
Set the GPS to some new city
And drove

It was the start of a new summer
Though it wasn't even May
And I was heading off toward some new life
That I had never seen

I was moving away
From the only world
That I had ever known
I was moving off to Illinois
To find some new dream
Moving off to share a life with you

Jimmy Eat World on the CD player
All my bags in the backseat
Stacked so damn high I couldn't see
Anything behind me

See, I couldn't use the trunk 'cause it was flooded
From the time that I got hit
Left the backside of the car all dented
And a leak to let rain get in

So all the mirror is showing me
Is suitcases and reams
Of papers from the classes I just finished
Got my records in a box on the floor
And my guitar stacked on top
Like some troubadour just heading out to Nashville
And singin' a song...

About how I'm driving alone
Down this Michigan lane road
And I can't see behind me at all
The only unobstructed view
Is through this cracked windshield
I guess I'm thankful 'cause I can't keep looking back
At my life in the rearview mirror

Thought about that summer in Traverse City
The one that gave us our first kiss
It was long hot days and longer nights
Staying out 'til 3 a.m.
I had more hours to kill than there were dollars in my pocket
So I spent 'em on the beach with you
Or singing songs at a theater down by the docks

But the water levels rose
I bet that beach ain't even there anymore
And they turned that old theater into an organic foods store
You and I are still something
But we're something different
And I'm heading off to find what "different" is

So I'm driving alone
Down a two lane road
And I can't look behind me at all
The only unobstructed view
Is through this cracked windshield
I guess I'm thankful 'cause I can't keep looking back
At my life in the rearview mirror

We ain't kids anymore
It's time to shed the weight of the things that we carry
So we can carry more
I'm not suggesting we forget the past, no, I'm glad it's there
But I'm also glad that we can't turn around
What's in that rearview mirror is gonna have to stay there
And maybe one day girl we'll look back on today
As the past to which we long to return
But until that day…

There's no more driving alone
Down a two lane road
I got you sitting there beside me the whole way
And when we glance to the backseat
No, I don't know what'll be there
Maybe a pair of kids or the signs of some other dream
Either way it's good to have you on my team
As we're leaving time behind, all the laughter and the tears
I gotta say we sure did find a way to leave
A damn good life in the rearview mirror
Track Name: Wallflower
She wakes up every morning
To the sound of "Annie Waits" on the stereo
And gets ready for her day
Like a ballet dancer in a show
She could make a V-neck tee
Look like it belonged on the red carpet
Like when she walks down the hall at school
And every head turns her way

Well she's the queen of this town
And you best believe
That I'm wanting her like the rest
Watching as she drive in the parking lot
In her black Mercedes Benz
Well I only got three months
'Til high school's gone
And I'm outta time
So I better take my chance before first hour
Say "Hey"
Or spend my life as a wallflower

She's read every Jane Austen book on her shelf
A dozen times now
And she's smarter than every boy
Who's ever held her hand
And she's in love with this town
The way a hopeless romantic loves poetry
She dreams of falling in love
And settling down here someday

Well, she's the queen of this town
And I must admit that she's a little bit out of my league
But I'm bold and I'm dumb
So I'll give it a run
And take a chance to try to make her see
That I'm everything she wants
At the end of the dance when the lights go low
So I'm gonna take my chance on that last song
Take her hand
Or spend my life as a wallflower

I grew up to the sounds of The Wallflowers
Playing on the radio
"6th Avenue Heartache," "Three Marlenas," "One Headlight" on down
They made loneliness sound like a romantic drug
Worth its weight in gold
But now I'm trading it in
To be the guy who gets the girl

'Cause she's the queen of this town
And you best believe
That tonight I'm gonna make her mine
Away from the crowds and away from the noise
And away from any sense of time
She said "We've only got this beach
And the moon up above, and the stars in the sky"
So I'm gonna take my chance at this late hour
And kiss her
Won't spend my life as a wallflower
Track Name: Making Movies
She's making movies in her head
That he'll man up and say the words she's always read in his eyes
But until then they'll keep pretending they’re just friends
Until times runs out and it's on to the next, onto the next chapter

He's making movies in his mind
About the last time that he saw her face light up the night
She was a slow dance in the summer rain
But got away
And he's a sad song of regret
Still burning up the radio
'Til the static sets in

He loves her more than he could ever tell anyone
But she's eight years gone
And he's still holding on, he's holding on

But he's gonna see her tonight
He doesn't know it yet
But at half past eleven
He'll look up across the bar and catch her eye
And then he'll take the seat beside her and buy her a couple rounds
And they'll talk until closing time
Or are they just making movies of their lives?

She hasn't been here since her college days
When she stopped waiting around
She met a guy who played hockey in a semi-pro league
And left, thinking he was her American dream
But he wasn’t
He hasn't seen her since they were both 21
Sharing beers on the hood of his Chevy Cavalier on a Friday night
She leaned in close, he pulled away, she swore under her breath
He tried to find the words to say...
But they just slipped away, they slipped away

But she's gonna see him tonight
She's got her makeup on
To cover up the bruises that her deadbeat of a husband left behind
She starts to feel like she's never gonna find a way out
That this will always be her life
And then she sees him and she's making movies in his eyes

She doesn't need a savior
Or another man to take her home and make it right
But for tonight it might be nice to look into the eyes
Of a friend she used to know
And let go of the secrets she's been keeping deep inside

So she's gonna see him tonight
And she'll take a deep breath with the tears in her eyes
And let him in on a life that's gone so awry
And then he'll take her in his arms in the low, low light
And for a moment everything will be all right
And she'll just pray this ain't
The movie version of her life
Track Name: Bon Voyage
I think it's time we face the facts
I think it's time we packed our bags
I think it's time we start our lives
Somewhere else

I think it's time we settled down
I think it's time we left this town
Just take the street signs west and then head north
Dodge a speed trap and you're gone

But one more time before we go away
Let's take the time and let's spend the day
Taking one more pass through all these streets
Before they don't belong to us no more

So, bon voyage
Goodnight, goodbye
Bon voyage
I'll miss you 'til you're back here
I'll miss you 'til you're back here with me

I always knew you'd get your dream
And you'd follow a road that leads a long, long way from here
I always knew that once we moved away
We'd never live in the same town again

'Cause you're the big city lights
Or the wheels of a tour bus driving
Yeah, you're a rolling stone
And I'm the type to put down roots and stay

Bon voyage
Goodnight, goodbye
Bon voyage
I'll miss you 'til you're back here
I'll miss you 'til you're back here with me

And sometime in the evening when you're sitting on your porch
Having a beer and just reflecting as the sun arcs toward the shore
I hope you think of me and all the times we had way back before
Singing songs until our voices couldn't sing songs anymore

And if you're lonely and you're homesick and you need to reminisce
About our college days, the classes and rehearsals that we missed
'Cause we were sitting in the café throwing burgers at the wall
You can ring me up and trust that I won't mind the long distance call

And if you're hearing this through headphones as you're sitting on a flight
Take a look out of the window through the clouds of London skies
And try to hear the bells of Big Ben floating out along the wind
And remember not to forget the brothers we have been

And maybe in a few years, you'll find a way back
But if you never come home, I think we'll all understand
And I'll toast to you and think back at it all once again
So hard to say goodbye to one of my best friends