North American Birdsong

by Headless Relatives

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Thirteen new songs about birds, inspired by birds, or very loosely connected to birds. There are songs of joy and songs of despair, songs of defiance and songs of surrender.


released April 21, 2018

All songs written and recorded by S. A. Biskind

Grouse drumming in Addicted to Sorcery courtesy of the National Park Service




Headless Relatives Raleigh, North Carolina

Headless Relatives play songs. These songs feature desperate individuals, bittersweet memories, and ancient Egyptian gods. Some of these songs can be found here.

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Track Name: Addicted to Sorcery
All my life
I’ve been addicted to sorcery
I’m compelled
To peel back your mysteries

Drawn to
Study you
Your grey eyes

The circle’s drawn
And I am ready for you now
I yearn for
The knowledge that you endow

With every word
My soul is stirred
To embark
Into the dark

I’ll pass through
And follow you
Track Name: Thoth
The walls of my study are lined
With dusty tomes and yellowed scrolls
My fragmentary collection
Pages torn from musty spines
Advance and retreat in scattered patrols
In every direction

Read in the gaps
Let knowledge lapse

I scratch symbols into the walls
And hide them behind the furniture
To shield them from illumination
And when divine knowledge calls
It can be hard to resist its allure
To fight temptation

Hide from the light
Embrace the night
Track Name: Ossifrage
Down here among the bones
I’ve made my meager home
Four grey walls
At least I think they’re grey
In the hall
I can hear every word they say

I dye my hair in the sink
I’m just trying not to think
Dull orange strands
I guess it turned out okay
I’ve stained my hands
It’s not like it matters anyway

I turn my music up loud
Throbbing notes become my shroud
I scream along
Neighbors bang on the thin walls
I know it’s wrong
But I won’t hold back at all

When I walk down the street
People beat a quick retreat
They all stare
I guess I look quite the freak
They’re unaware
That I’m just trying to last the week
Track Name: Corvid Envy
The jackdaws laugh every night
Their humor eludes me
Their Byzantine social structures
Have always been a mystery
But I swear, I swear I’ll learn

Mating magpies soften their harsh song
They understand dynamics
Despite all my best efforts
I’ve never mastered that trick
But I swear, I swear I’ll learn

Rooms in their parliaments
Mutter to themselves incessantly
When I imitate them
I always end up lonely
But I swear, I swear I’ll learn

Hooded crows feasting on a sheep carcass in the fields of Hertfordshire, England
Share and share alike
But when I offered you a bite of my chicken tikka masala
You went on a hunger strike
But I swear, I swear I’ll learn
Oh I swear, I swear I’ll learn
Yes I swear, I swear I’ll learn
Track Name: Nightingale
You stand on top of the roof
Looking out
Your hair is dancing in complex steps around you

We’re all standing below
Afraid to breathe
Silent eyes tracking everything you do

Your mute defiance
Of these structures
Your silence
Is my scripture

You stretch an arm to the sky
Maybe you’re pointing
But we all lack the requisite context to be sure

I stand apart from the crowd
By your gestures warping the very light around you

Your mute defiance
Of these structures
Your silence
Is my scripture

And now the crowd has gone
We are alone
Just you and your most faithful acolyte

I can’t explain how I know
But when I leave here
I will be swallowed by the sounds of the night

Your mute defiance
Of these structures
Your silence
Is my scripture
Track Name: Black Crane Song
You think I’m broken?
You think I’m weak?
You think I’ve lost
The will to speak?
You think my silence
Stems from fear?
See what happens
When you draw near

You think the shadows
Are your friends?
Once you enter
You’ve sealed your end
You think I’m hiding
Beneath my wings?
Soon you’ll hear
My sharp beak sing
Track Name: Albatross
By the time the plane touched down we were exhausted
Bleary-eyed we shuffled down the jetway
You had a green bandana tied around your head
In my mind I always picture you that way

We were half-asleep for the drive up from Momona
I’m not sure how we kept ourselves awake
By the time that we checked in to our hotel room
We could only collapse onto the bed

You took my picture outside the Fortune Theatre
The wind blew my hair into my face
You laughed and said that that was one thing
You sure as hell didn’t miss these days

We had lunch outside in a little café
It was crowded but you didn’t seem to care
And I watched you like every move was a new revelation
Another piece of you laid bare

We rode out to the Head the next morning
To watch the albatrosses dance around
You laughed at all their arcane movements
I’ve never heard a more beautiful sound

Last night I dreamt that I was on the shoreline
An you were gliding overhead
I watched you awestruck as you sailed out over the water
Your luminous body lit up the whole sky
Track Name: What the Owls Say
They’ve tried their pills
And their needles too
They’ve tried everything
They’ve been trained to do
They say
You’re fading away
But that’s not
What the owls say

Give me your hat
Give me your shoes
Give me the watch
That you always use
Then I
Can ply my trade
Performing each task just like
The owls say

One ear of corn
And a muttered spell
A sheet of paper
And some water from the well
And you’ll be back
On your feet today
At least that’s what
The owls say
Track Name: Harbinger
I wade in the muck
Filth is all that I see
But I don’t need my eyes
To sense what’s stirring beneath

I probe in the mud
Looking for omens and signs
But it’s only routine
I know what’s approaching this time

I take off my shirt
Paint a complex design on my chest
And begin my task
For the lucid there is no chance of rest

I beat the drums
The throbbing it charges the air all around
When the storm comes
I’ll stand my ground
Track Name: Skysong
The ground underneath my feet may be singed
But I will take to the wind
Everything that you say may be true
But I’m not listening to you

From up here
Everything that I fear
Seems so small
I can sail past it all

The powerful push of the wind at my back
Makes up for the strength that I lack
Down there I’m only a pawn in the game
The open sky is my domain

Sing my song
Make it up as I go along
Set aside my fear
Sing it loud, sing it clear

I know that someday I’ll have to land
Surrender to life’s demands
But I will revel in every day
That I can keep the madness at bay

Feel each shift
Ride the swoops and the lifts
Land-bound fools
I won’t play by your rules
Track Name: Peryton
You come home late
For the second time this week
You’re exhausted but so am I
When you ask me what’s to eat

We lock horns
Almost every night
We’ve made this bed of thorns
But we sleep alright

I send out radio bursts
But you’re not receiving
And I’ve had my bags packed for a month
But we both know that I’m not really leaving

You say that my smile’s lopsided
And it ruffles my feathers
This is a house divided
But we built it together

I frown at the floor
Because my shadow
Looks a whole lot like yours
And my reflection
In the mirror each morning
Keeps shifting its features
Without warning

I hate the sight of your face
Except for when I love
These signals from deep space
Can take their advice and shove it
Track Name: Transmutation of Flesh
I nurse the embers, I stoke the flame
I am not going down this way
I run my hand through my dark hair
It’s getting pretty barren up there

I am not this
Fragile creature you see
It’s not me

I call up old friends to tell them my plan
To unleash the being I know I really am
Their words are kind but I won’t be deceived
Even well-meaning demons cannot be believed

I’ll be reborn
And I will blaze like the dawn
Show them they’re wrong

I check the figures, do one final round
As the minutes wind down
My equipment casts shadows on my bare walls
Encouraging me to answer the call

I will throw off
This useless machine
That hinders me
And I’ll fly free
Track Name: Admonition
If I’m up before the yellow dawn
It’s not a sign of insomnia
I don’t need much sleep these days
I don’t need much sleep

If I mumble words you can’t make out
I’m not really talking to myself
But to the old ones beyond the sea
Beyond the seas and gone

You may not understand
But that’s not always a bad thing
Look out over the desert
Remember there are other worlds beneath

If I watch the eagles warily
Don’t assume I’m being unreasonable
I’m checking them for human features
I’m only checking

If I tell my stories differently
It doesn’t mean my memories going
The best stories flow like water
Like water flows

It may seem odd
But you haven’t seen what my eyes have seen
Look down at the ground
Try to imagine what’s underneath

If I stare out into the distance
My mind is not necessarily absent
I may be watching for my olde brother
My older brother who’s been away

And if a masked man stands before me
Don’t question him or throw him out
His mask may hide divine radiance
His mask may not hide divine radiance

You ask me for answers
But you’re missing the point of the riddle
Look past the words
You may glimpse something slithering underneath