, but it hurts SO GOOD!

Chrysalis (1999)

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chrysalis600The music of Chrysalis is a kind of revisionism: as if hip-hop had not been born out of the drum machines of the 80’s, but out of the jazz combos of the 50’s; as if rap had taken its cue from the story-tellers of the South…

1. Intro
2. Dark Disguise
3. Falling in Love Again
4. Parable I: Dragon
5. Parable II: Better Days
6. Gifts You Can’t See
7. Corner Store
8. Closer Walk
9. Unabashed
10. Friends
11. Song for Ju-Ju


LISTEN.COM – by Alex H.

       The slow rolling hip-hop beats he uses as anchors can hardly hold the enigmatic Beston himself. A one-man band of grandiose proportions, he plays six instruments and still finds time to harmonize with his own vocals. Blues, hip-hop, Calypso, Folk-Rock…nothing can escape the tentacles of this musical octopus, who fuses styles with the confidence of a practiced musician.

MP3.COM – Featured Artist

       With the release of his debut, “Chrysalis,” Beston Barnett, who lives in San Diego, has effectively combined his Nashville roots with his love of rap to produce an invigorating musical concept all his own. The irony is how the seeds of his artistic leanings were planted in the country-music capital way back when. “I spent most of my childhood listening only to black music, (while) some of my friends got really into Bob Dylan, or delved into classical music. Only later did we all kind of come together in a love for classic songwriting,” he says, before reeling off a litany of legendary tunesmiths like Leadbelly, Hank Williams, Bob Marley, Gram Parsons, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon and the Motown team Holland-Dozier-Holland.

APHIRE – Interview – by Caleb

       What is the science about your name?
No science, they just gave me that name.  Parents that is.  Children of the sixties both of them.  Ran out of gas somewhere between rainbow gatherings and gave birth to me at the Best In Texas Beef Broil.  Manager was kind enough to let them use the manger behind the grill, so they named me after the place, though it got cut short on the birth certificate.  It’s as if Joseph and Mary named their kid Little Barn in Bethlehem, but the Romans shortened it to Littlebar.
       Who is who in the group?
Just me, Beston Barnett.  Write the songs, play the instruments, sing a bit, do the dishes, and it all appears to be happening at the same time through the miracle of modern science.
       What motivated you to get into this industry?
I’m not really “in the industry” yet – just getting started.  But let’s imagine I am a part of the music biz; probably my biggest motivation is making a living doing something I enjoy.  Working towards something – a body of work, an artistic goal – rather than just taking up oxygen and protein.
       What was your first single/recording?
Actually a couple of months ago I unearthed a recording of my sixth grade rock band, Tennessee Colony of Slippermen.  Righteous stuff – we do a Blues Brothers tune and Cream’s Sunshine of Your Love.  That’s gotta be my first recording: I’m playing the piano.  There was a band in fourth grade – Verbal Beat – in which I played bass, but I don’t think we ever recorded anything.  Both bands went the way of the dodo, citing artistic differences.
       What was your favorite single/recording you did?
I think I like “Gifts you can’t see”, from the Chrysalis album best.  Through many listens, I really feel the production holds together – really works.
       What instruments do you use?
I play upright bass, acoustic guitar, piano, Fender Rhodes, clavinet, drum kit, congas, and various other percussion on Chrysalis.  On the next album I hope to bring in some of the instruments I’ve become more familiar with here in  Brazil: tun-tun, cavaquinho, quica, berimbau, and pandeiro.
       How would you classify your style as an artist?
Not sure.   I’ve tried to stick with alternative hip-hop, but I mean that in the most literal sense.  It’s not alternative music, the way radio formats that stuff now.  It’s actually an alternative to the kind of hip-hop that’s out there now.  Hip-hop where the musical-ness of it is not pushed to the side – real, mostly acoustic instruments and rap that I think is more honest for me – I’m not a gangster.
       Growing up, who do you think was a few of your biggest musical influences?
Man I could go and never stop.  Lemme try and do this in order. Probably the first stuff to seep into my consciousness was Ray Charles, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, James Brown.  Followed quickly by Thelonious Monk, Horace Silver, John Coltrane, Miles Davis.  Then on to Reverend Gary Davis,  Leadbelly, Paul  Simon, Shawn Colvin, Gillian Welch, Steve Earle.  When I moved west, I dug into Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Pharcyde, Del, Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul.  These days all I listen to is Cuban son and Brazilian pagode.  I know you wanted a shorter list, but I just couldn’t do it.
       Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Probably back down here in Bahia, Brazil or maybe in San D.  Making more tunes of course – hopefully put together a good group.
       What do you feel is the toughest part of the music industry?
No idea.
       What would the ultimate reward for you be?
The best thing in the world for me would be to be able to make a record a year for the next ten years and not have to worry about anything while I’m doing it.
       What message are you trying to get across to fans?
Same thing as the Beatles: all you need is love.  In the next album I’m gonna try and reiterate some of Sly Stone’s thinking: dance to the music.  By the end of my career I hope to be able to say, as clearly as Bob Marley: we’re the survivors.
       Do your friends and family look at you differently now?
Not that I know of.
       If someone were to look in your CD player or tape player right now what would be in it?
I think I’ve got the original Cursos do Mestre Bimba in the tape player.  Bimba is a legendary capoeira master who taught here in Salvador, Brazil in the thirties and forties.  Capoeira is a traditional Brazilian martial art/dance/ritual that I’m here studying.  The signature instrument of capoeira music is the berimbau, which is a one string affair with a gourd.  I was just practicing along with the tape – though it’s hard cause the old dude plays fast.
       Personally what does hip hop mean to you?
I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer this question.  There’s a lot of stuff out there and it’s all hip-hop if it’s got that swinging hip-hop beat that comes from James Brown and there’s somebody rhyming over top.   What more can I say?  I like the way you can inject so much personality into hip-hop, way more than you could into other kinds of music.  Take a popular pop-tune, anybody could redo the song and though it might not be as good, it would still make sense.  But nobody could come in and try to do one of my tunes – it would just sound ridiculous, cause the stuff is written so specifically for my voice.
       Who do you feel is your biggest influence and why?
On Chrysalis, I’m pulling in influences from every direction at once.  Maybe the biggest is Cassandra Wilson, or more importantly her guitar player and producer.  When they did New Moon Daughter, they were able to give folk/jazz music a whole new life by letting these simple acoustic instruments be heard – that music has incredible depth.  I tried to bring the same kind of simple depth to hip-hop.
       How do you feel your music will effect its listeners?
It’s meant to put them into a trance, from which they will wake wanting desperately and single-mindedly nothing more than to finally and totally debunk the infamous Cheerios Myth.  (the Cheerios Myth is the ridiculous idea, thrust upon us by the heinous marketing industry of the eighties, that we ever wanted cereal that didn’t sink or that stayed crispy in milk.  Woe how I remember those dark days when the WASPy neighbors next door sneered at my Grape Nuts, while eating their Fruit Loops, their Cheerios, their Captain Crunch.  Who’s laughing now, clowns.)
       If you could change one thing in world, what would it be?
I’d reverse the agricultural revolution.  If we hadn’t ever learned how to grow crops, we’d still be hunting and gathering like the rest of the animals, probably much happier, and certainly wouldn’t be hurtling towards Malthus’s carrying capacity with environmental doom in tow.  Call me an edenic declinsionist, but Gaya is not happy.
       What would you like to say to all the new artists in the game?
I only know what I’ve come up against so far: and I can’t foresee what will happen to me next.  The only thing I know is that you’ve got to make good music – not parodies, not second-rate imitations, not just the music you know how to play, but the music you love.  If you make good music I can’t guarantee you’ll go anywhere, only that you’ll be happy.
       Any Last Words?
Parting thoughts from Townes Van Zandt (greatest songwriter that ever lived): I come from a long line, High low and in between, Same as you.



written by Beston Barnett

Your Dark Disguise

written by Beston Barnett

They got a word for this: metamorphosis. This mediocrity, just chrysalis.
And like Solomon spake to the butterfly,
My sky-high pie’s just not passing me by.
And what for? One more. What for? I ain’t sure.
I guess I’m tapping on the wrapping, tappy-tap tapping,
Testing out my shit-kicker blue suede shoes,
The big B’s coming back with the brand news
To say, “I’m sorry, Charlie,” and the wings bust through
Up in neon lights, electric blue,
Saying watch the new kid, goody two-shoes,
Blazing up across the night like a fuse…
Out beyond the shore,
There is a wreck on the ocean floor,
A thousand treasures and maybe more,
Left by some old conquistador.
Swim up into the light,
To where the seawater meets the sky
So I can see your beautiful eyes.
You can throw off your dark disguise.
I can be your black cat.
I can criss-cross your path.
I can meow in the moonlight.
I can keep you up all night.
I can be your supermarket door and open wide for you.
Do what friends do: stick by you like glue.
I’ll call K-ACE and dedicate you a tune.
If it’s a helping hand you need, I’ve got two.
In my head, I’ve got a picture of you
Like a ghost ship rising from the ocean blue
On a cruise to a more southern latitude:
Wide sails, warm nights, white stars, full moon, singing…

Falling In Love Again

written by Beston Barnett

I just let myself go.
I just let myself go.
I just let myself go.
I just let it go, so hear we go, let it flow,
‘Cause it’s a night like no other, I told my mother,
This girl treated me so right I’m just holding tight
To the idea that she wants date number two with yours true.
And if dates three and four ensue, I’ll be floored.
Score or no score, I want more.
Get me on the dance floor, I’ll spin you, skin you,
Maybe win you a trip to the Tropics
On a non-stop disco rocket.
But tonight with all the candlelight and stars,
How about we take down your brother’s old guitar,
And I’m gonna sing you a song, babe,
I’m gonna sing you a song, and it goes…
I think I’m falling in love again
So won’t you pour me another drink, babe.
Goes sweet with the old cat-gut guitar
And the candle slowly sinking.
The moon is laying us down, babe.
The moon is laying us down.
I don’t think I can get to my feet
With the moon so big and round.
Let’s start by listing gifts that you have given me:
A pair of hazel blue eyes to lose myself in;
A mental picture of the world full of promise;
A key to new frontiers within myself.
And if that ain’t wealth then fuck it,
I’ll forego the ducats, roll over, kick the bucket.
Take this phony life and just huck it.
You just show me the system: I’ll buck it.
Got to suck it up, all these doubts of mine,
‘Cause the prize in your eyes, it can’t be lying,
And the truth is crying out just to take us higher.
Your love to me: air, water, earth, and fire…
I got love in the palm trees.
I got love in the palm trees.
Like a tropical ocean breeze,
This crazy palm tree love.
If you want to take it higher, let’s take it higher.
I can’t stand pussyfooting or formal attire.
If the candle’s caught flame, I’m gonna feed your fire.
Skip the dirty dishes, let’s rock.

Parable I: Dragon

written by Beston Barnett

       “Many times through history have the losers attempted to rationalize their lot. There are memoirs a-plenty blaming everything from vicious gods, to conniving prime ministers, to city hall interns with poor tickers. Of course, such rationalization is clearly pointless…for the winners have already won. Their deeds will be remembered long after the whines of the vanquished have suffocated under the weight of history.”
       – Jon D. Wright Drawer of Superior Dragons
Paper dragons, paper dragons,
Paper dragons, paper dragons…
At age five I was an eager little reptile.
Pass the pile of crayolas and I’d whip up Arabian nights,
Or a kite with twenty strings in a Cubist style,
Or a tile of Spanish kings, whatever.
I could draw anything.
And from Memphis to Johnson City my praises one day they would sing.
I knew this.
I knew like Brutus knew to do trusting Caesar on the Ides of March.
That’s foreshadowing, that stab in the back shit, but I’ll get to this.
You see, my specialty in artistry was drawing dragons.
These clawing, ragged, hellish demons left adults white.
Knock your knees but you can’t hide from these.
So lock your doors up tight.
By and by, I and I’ll rise and rise,
And gonna spread my black wings and fly.
My dragon’s better than your dragon.
My dragon’s better than your dragon.
My dragon’s better than your dragon.
‘Cause my dragon’s got two tails.
It all started with this contest.
The best dragon drawer in the state would shake the gubernatorial hand.
Cute picture, find it in the morning paper.
Man, that bland nostalgic vapor makes me sick.
Whatever, I got my career to think of, you know.
Five years old, I’m chasing carrots on the stick.
Call off your spies, art never lies.
You can throw what you know, but I’m gonna keep my eyes on the prize.
Visualize me and my best friend Jonny D
Up ’til three, pencils scribbling madly.
I had in mind something to freeze them in their tracks.
My dragon’d smack ’em back to Anglo-Saxon clarion calls
When halls of treasure harbored monsters that could fuck shit up.
So hide your holy cup behind the castle walls.
By and by, I and I’ll rise and rise,
And gonna spread my black wings and fly…
My best guess for what went wrong goes something like this:
Some poor sap down at city hall would sit in judgement,
Tasked to sort the drudge meant for the trash from those with promise;
Ten thousand children’s dragon dreams stacked in reams.
It seems not a job for Clark Kent alone, one would think.
He takes a drink and midnight oils it ’til the morning’s wink.
Turns the page to find Beston B’s from Nashville, T.
Jump the fuck back from that shit, Jesus!
Should have warned him about that, huh?
An icy fang bared scared the pants off his trembling thighs.
Tries to sleep, but in his dreams demons fly,
Tie him down and with a claw pull him inside out.
And who can doubt the fear that led the flame to my dragon’s door:
I’m sure he flicked his Bic and sent my picture up in smoke.
And so turned and picked the winner randomly,
And glory be, the next Tennessean’s picture’s Jonny D’s.
Promised myself one day I’d right this wrong:
Put pencil to paper and I wrote this song.
By and by, I and I’ll darken the sky
With my spread black wings and fly…

Parable II: Better Days

written by Beston Barnett

The Beaming Boy met the Lily of the Lake
Down in the Land of the Smoking Mirror,
And though Joy himself cut their cake,
This Love was not to be…
Miss Red, White, and Blue turned green when she heard.
The Feathered Snake too went wild.
Boy and Lily’s love turned to labor:
The daughter she bore him was Destiny’s Child.
Destiny grew in Purgatory,
Far from the arms of the Beamish Boy.
Lily found that Rhyme had left Reason,
Transformed herself to a Teething Toy.
Destiny turned sadness to seeing,
Inside herself saw the world’s Dark Star.
Un-Rose-Colored Glasses could never stand leaving
Things the way that they are…
Better days, better days, better days, baby, better days.
You and me, Hon-a-lee, come one day we can make our way.
Better days, better days, better days, baby, better days.
You and me, Hon-a-lee, come one day we can make our way.
The Horse-Hair Girl found the Lonely Tower
Dancing through town with Joker’s Wild,
And though Joy himself would flower,
This Love was not to be…
The Tower stood up taller and taller
‘Til Girl let her Horse-Hair down.
Packed her bags and ran like Rapunzel;
The child she had was the Prodigal Son.
Back in Music City,
Out on the porch with Dair-ee Lemonade,
Afraid she had a wayward child,
But the Son fell in with the Nash Brigade.
Prodigal fingers spun straw into gold:
Just another heavy stone to carry.
And like his father, seldom showed
And chose to walk alone…
When Destiny’s Child met the Prodigal Son,
A cool wind swept across San Fran Bay.
Wildfire, wildfire, run, fire, run!
This Love was meant to be…
The Snow Queen and the GingerBread Man
Lay down their Swords and Shields.
In one sweet day, a Fortress of Sand
Can all be washed away.
So come on, give me your hand to hold,
And we’ll march into that cold, cold river.
‘Cause for every two sad stories told,
One grows Wings of Gold…

Gifts You Can’t See

written by Beston Barnett

I’m gonna steal a slice of pie from my momma,
Dig out on the front porch and just sit,
And if anxieties try creeping on me,
I’m going to bat them on the head with my guit.
I was talking with an old girlfriend
About the way good things come to strange ends,
And those ends, more like bends
In the ancestral paths of the west-ward winds,
And we’re all a pilgrim’s song
Of pilgrims gone wrong, of families writ long.
From the Ellis Island tease to the auction tragedies,
A giant sailing ship of stories.
I don’t know what she meant by that,
Sometimes the girl’s a little quirky.
I do know that the fates got stake in this date,
But won’t play monkey in the middle with me?
One, two, three, ready, come, and see
What chickadee’s going to grow up to be.
Old folks dead, but the epitaph said,
We give you gifts that you just can’t see.
The ancestors track us in more ways than one;
If you wish, turn your eyes to the setting sun.
Hey, everybody can be free,
Free in poverty: the chains that bind aren’t always those you see.
And see, my grandfather’s heart was bound by chains to mine
Ever since mom had to pick me up at juvenile.
No saint with the spray paint:
This crazy old nun caught me running from her gun.
And though I know what I did wasn’t all that bad,
Grandpa’s going to be mad, yep.
I thought the old man’s heart would just give up
When my mom made me walk straight in and ‘fess up.
And that’s just how it flows, everybody knows,
We come from where we come, and we goes where we goes.
And the ghosts of our peoples watch down from the steeples
Like Obi Wan, they carry on.
Integrity’s a gift that you can’t see.
But racism is a gift that you can’t see.
Culture is a gift that you can’t see.
But misogyny’s a gift that you can’t see.
Honesty’s a gift that you can’t see.
Equality’s a gift that you can’t see.
Hate is a gift that you can’t see.
But see, love is a gift that you can’t see.

Corner Store

written by Beston Barnett

Stuffing, stuffing, scarecrow stuffing.
Stuffing, stuffing, your stuffing ain’t nothing.
Stuffing, stuffing, scarecrow stuffing.
Stuffing, stuffing, stuffing.
Jonny thinks he can hold a candle.
Jay thinks he’s got game.
Fur just ain’t been discovered yet,
He’s out singing in the pouring rain.
We all want to shake our booties on the stage,
Girls in the cage, smoke machine pumping purple haze.
Too many days of talking smack have got my tongue tired.
We’re hardwired thinking fame is where you’ve got to head.
But when I’m dead, will my worms care if I twisted fate?
All they’ll care about is what I ate.
So whip some roots in the oven for a tasty treat,
Put some gravy in my guit, and turn the heat on the beat…
And we gon get on down to the corner store.
Everybody’s stomping for more and more.
And with the po-po knocking at the dance floor,
We’ll be stepping out my backdoor.
Don’t cry for me Argentina.
Ain’t no way I’m forgetting my name.
Catch me shooting up stuff in the corner,
Taking A R T straight to the vein, singing,
– Look ma, I got my own slow jam –
A stack of bread and butter and the mic in my hand.
– Look ma, I got my own slow jam –
And no I will not eat your green eggs and ham.
– Look ma, I got my own slow jam –
Not from concentrate, fresh not canned.
– Look ma, I got my own slow jam –
Making fools dance like waves on the sand…
Ha, ha! Put money in the middle.
Why we always talking shit? Put money in the middle.
Put your money in the hat, I’ll slip a cork in your gat, then you’ll say:
“Listen to my nine-millimeter go POP!”
Too many days of talking smack has got my tongue tired.
I bet the blaze of fire at the tunnel’s end is crap.
This sorry sap we’re fed ain’t nutrients enough for me.
I’ll fetch some honeysuckle for my morning tea…

Closer Walk

written by Beston Barnett

Well it’s just a closer walk with thee.
Be-bop-a-lu-lee, inevitably.
Well it’s just a closer walk with thee.
Be-bop-a-lu-lee, inevitably.
Hey yo, close the door – close the door –
End the bout – end the bout –
The water’s getting wetter and the gas has run out.
Read it in the paper, the Hollywood vapor
On the power-pack, missed the stack, on the way back.
The hero’s gone like dawn in the morning, and when you’re learning
On the subject, not the object, and the story’s wrecked,
Then follow me to Tennessee.
The carbon copy makes the mellow seem yellow.
But the crow says – oh –
The reel’s lost a wheel – the reel’s lost a wheel –
The reel’s lost a tire and we’re headed for the mire,
But I never tire in pursuit of the fire.
I’m the crier with the lyre
Tossing them up higher…
I think I’ve lost my shoes – lost my shoes –
I can’t find my shoes – hmmn –
Down by the free-i-ay in Cali-for-nee-i-ay
They slipped away, hey.
And I’ll never be the same.
It’s like a rainy Wednesday ’cause I can’t come out to play,
And anyway the times are weird,
No time for maybes, like we feared,
No time for strolling all around when there are nails on the ground,
And every second step is down, and the bridge is unsound,
And my nerves are unwound.
I guess I’ll just swing on back – with the pack –
Keeping on trucking – with the second-line track –
And if the band starts playing off the beat,
I’ll come out stepping in my bare feet…


written by Beston Barnett

So many lies today, so many uncertainties.
How many times today did I say something I did not mean?
Some would say there’s no other way.
But there’s something, something that keeps me unafraid,
And that’s when I say…
I love you, I love you,
And it feels so right ’cause when I say it, it’s true.
I took a walk by the water, watched the sun set behind the bay,
And I can’t say for certain if it will rise another day.
But even in the darkest phase, there’s something in my heart,
To replace the sun’s sweet rays, and I got to say…

My Friends

written by Beston Barnett

In Nashville, they have a dance
They named after a square.
In LA, they have a dance
Called the funky mealworm.
There are times when I’m so lonely,
My guitar makes me tired.
There are times when I’m so happy,
I could cartwheel down Hillsboro Road…
I don’t know where I’d be without my friends.
When my girl starts to dance,
She fills the darkening room with light.
Hold my hat for a second, boys,
I’ve got work to do.
I lived with a girl who ate fire,
And we got along real good.
And then one day we kissed,
And I found out what love really is…
I don’t know where I’d be without my friends.
Silver thorn, pretty pill,
Rotten wood on my windowsill.
Too many days, too many days.
My boat sinking under silken waves.
Honey, just let the telephone ring.
Castles of honey, golden wings.
White sand castles, silver wings.
A pocket of change’ll make your telephone ring…
I don’t know where I’d be without my friends.

Song for Ju-Ju

written by Beston Barnett