UNPLUGGED: A Survivor's Story in Scenes & Songs

by Maya Kuper & Paul McComas

/
  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    * * *
    100% of proceeds from downloads benefit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)'s National Sexual Assault Hotline, as well as The Kennedy Forum, which works to eliminate the stigma around mental illness and enforce parity for behavioral healthcare.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $10 USD  or more

     

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Includes unlimited streaming of UNPLUGGED: A Survivor's Story in Scenes & Songs via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days

      $12 USD or more 

     

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Read UNPLUGGED the novel + listen to UNPLUGGED the musical! This bundle gives you both.

    Includes unlimited streaming of UNPLUGGED: A Survivor's Story in Scenes & Songs via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days

      $27 USD or more 

     

  • UNPLUGGED is a tale of depression, recovery and self-reinvention. It’s also the story of how a young woman is taught and healed by nature — by the very land beneath her feet.

    This expanded 15th Anniversary edition of Paul McComas' award-winning novel includes sheet music for 12 "Dayna Clay" songs. Softcover, 364 pages, published 2017, John Daniel & Co.

    * * *

    Jimi Hendrix. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Each rocketed to the top of the rock ’n’ roll pantheon — then died at age 27, a casualty of drugs, despair or both. More recently, when Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain took his own life at the same age, his mother lamented, “I told him not to join that stupid club.”

    UNPLUGGED imagines someone whose membership in that club is denied — barely.

    Dayna Clay struggles through the final concert of a wildly successful tour. Tormented by an ever-deepening depression, the 27-year-old rocker hands her guitar to a fan and beats a retreat. Forfeiting her career, she sets out incognito for parts unknown and winds up in the Badlands of South Dakota, where her growing connection to the land and to the people she meets there begins to heal the wounds of an abusive childhood.

    Meanwhile, Dayna’s disappearance only serves to boost public interest in her — and to fuel her skyrocketing record sales. Laboring to choose between her musical ambitions and the new life she has made, she finds herself stranded in a far-flung corner of the wilderness she has come to love. Saved from a suicide attempt earlier by nature, she now may perish by the very same hand.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Symmetry [from UNPLUGGED] via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ... more
    ships out within 3 days

      $19 USD or more 

     

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
03:37
8.
9.
02:37
10.
04:22
11.
12.
13.
03:06

about

Fictional character. Real music. Vital causes.

"Dayna Clay" is a 27-year-old rock star, battling depression, suicidal thoughts, and post-traumatic stress in the wake of an abusive childhood. She's the heroine of Paul McComas' acclaimed 2002 novel, UNPLUGGED. Although Dayna is a fictional character, her story addresses issues that are all too real.

The Dayna Clay Project brings UNPLUGGED to life on stage in an original alt-rock musical. Featuring songs by Maya Kuper and Paul McComas, "UNPLUGGED: A Survivor's Story in Scenes & Songs" chronicles Dayna's bumpy journey out of depression, through the South Dakota Badlands, and into self-discovery, healing, full embrace of her bisexuality, and love.

All proceeds from the Dayna Clay Project's performances benefit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)'s National Sexual Assault Hotline, as well as The Kennedy Forum, which works to enforce parity for behavioral healthcare and eliminate the stigma of mental illness.

Join Maya Kuper and Paul McComas as they raise funds and awareness to prevent suicide, fight stigma, and Rock Against Rape!

Learn more at UnpluggedTheMusical.com

credits

released October 22, 2017

"Fireproof Storage," "Give Me Oblivion," "Hand Over Hand," "Little Church," "Symmetry," "First Storm," and "Karma Bomb" written by Paul McComas

"Virtual Virtue" written by Paul McComas and Jim Schettl

"Wanted Poster," "Jack-o'-Lantern," "Second Storm," "Hand Over Hand (Reprise)" and "Ready to Bloom" written by Maya Kuper & Paul McComas

Produced by Maya Kuper & Paul McComas for CAUDog Records / Chicago Acoustic Underground

In order of appearance:
Paul McComas: acoustic guitar; background vocals; bass; harmonica; drums on "Symmetry"
Maya Kuper: vocals; synths; keyboards; piano
Mike Holden: electric guitar; flute; trumpet; saxophone; trombone; bass on "Second Storm"
Justin Marsh: drums
Megan Corse: background vocals on "Jack-o'-Lantern," "Ready to Bloom," "Karma Bomb"
Joe Dilillo: acoustic guitar on "Ready to Bloom"

Engineered by Joe Dilillo and Maya Kuper
Mixed by Joe Dilillo at Solid Sound Recording in Hoffman Estates, IL
Mastered by David Roman at 4130 Mastering

license

all rights reserved

tags

about

The Dayna Clay Project Chicago, Illinois

"Dayna Clay" is a fictional 27-year-old rocker, battling depression and PTSD in the wake of childhood sexual abuse. Maya Kuper & Paul McComas’ alt-rock musical "UNPLUGGED: A Survivor’s Story in Scenes & Songs" chronicles Dayna’s bumpy journey through the South Dakota Badlands, and into self-discovery, healing, full embrace of her bisexuality, and love. Proceeds support RAINN and The Kennedy Forum. ... more

contact / help

Contact The Dayna Clay Project

Streaming and
Download help

Redeem code

Track Name: Fireproof Storage
You tell me it's in writing—well, that ain't worth a damn
You show me a signature, and I'll show you a scam.
Oaths and vows, well, they're just like the paper that they're on
'Cause paper burns, and paper turns to ash, and then it's gone.

CHORUS:
Now you lock up your treasures in fireproof storage for to keep 'em all safe and sound.
What you gonna do when your fireproof storage burns right down to the ground?

If you seek Eternity, want to hold it in your hand
I would say you'll have to stray away from the ways of Man.
Ride out to the mountains, they will stand till the clocks run down
It's safe out there, but friend, beware when you ride back into town

(CHORUS)
Where you lock up your treasures…

Way back when, you had a friend, the best you've ever known
But it weren't secure, 'cause ya can't insure what you've only got on loan.
Once upon a time, you had a lover sweet and kind
And they were true, came through for you—until they changed their mind.

(CHORUS)

I said you locked up your treasures in fireproof storage for to keep 'em all safe and sound.
What you gonna do now your fireproof storage has burnt right down to the, burnt right down to the, burnt right down to the ground?
Track Name: Give Me Oblivion
I said a prayer and pitched a bottle out to sea
Then sat in silence as it drifted back to me
Begged for a rescue that this world did not allow
I needed something then, but I need Nothing now.

Take my plants and pets
All I've earned or won
Take my debts, my regrets, just give me oblivion.

I've ripped the numbers and the hands off all my clocks
Cashed in the contents of my safe deposit box
Torn up my calendar, commitments I can't keep
I'd sell my future for just one good night of sleep.

Take my hopes and fears
All I've said and done
Take my tears, my career, just give me oblivion.

My mind is scattered and my body's spent and sore
They never seem to play together any more.
My spirit's fading like a fog into the air
No one can damage you if you're no longer there.

Take my plants and pets
All I've earned or won
Take my hopes and fears
All I've said and done
Take my clothes, my car
Take my firstborn son
Take my voice, my guitar, just give...me...
Track Name: Virtual Virtue
I used to dream that you'd become the dad I never had
Someone who'd look after me, come through when times were bad
A man to guard my mother's heart, complete our family
But you were only using her to get a stab at me.

CHORUS:
Your virtual virtue, your make-believe soul
Took vicious advantage in taking their toll
Your counterfeit conscience, your replica heart
Can wear me and tear me, but never apart!

With empathy and flattery, you stole my love and trust
Then you cashed them in, ground my dreams into the dust.
You got me drunk, defenses down, (and) pushed yourself inside.
I kept breathing, my heart kept beating, but something in me died.

(CHORUS)

Eight times more you cornered me, then vanished from our home
Knowing I had found the strength to make our secret known.
Someone tried to tell me that forgiveness is divine
Well, I will live, but not forgive; that liberty is mine.

(CHORUS)

Never, never, never, never apart!
Track Name: Wanted Poster
There's a sign in the window, ev'ry store in town:
“All is forgiven, your family needs you back, come home now.”
There's a side to her story that the signs don't say
So, take your time, girl, make him sweat, you gotta run away, run away.

Now they're puttin' up a wanted poster for the runaway wife and mom
But there ain't a word on it about what it is she's runnin' from.

I don't see any bruises, I don't see no scars
But I do see the face of a woman whose love has been stretched out too damn far.
They say love is patient, they say love is kind
But if you don't see when your lover starts to take you for granted, your love's blind.

Now they're puttin' up a wanted poster, like she's Jesse James or Al Capone
Tried and sentenced for the rest of her life to the prison that they call home.

Said they're puttin' up a wanted poster, ev'ry neighborhood in ev'ry town
'Cause they branded her an outlaw and now they're determined to drag her down.

Well, I don’t know your story and you don't know mine
But we both got to cover our tracks when we're runnin' from the lives we left behind.
Don't ask any questions, that's a whole can of worms
But if you wanna go back, if you're gonna go back, you'd better do it on your own terms.

Now they're puttin' up a wanted poster like her freedom is a threat to Man.
I would bet the way they're judgin' her is the reason why she ran.
Oh, oh, now they're puttin' up a wanted poster for the runaway wife and mom
But there ain't a word on it about what it is she's runnin' from.
Oh, oh, no, there ain't a word on it about what it is she's runnin' from.
Not a fuckin' word on it about what it is she's runnin' from.
Track Name: Hand Over Hand
Hand over hand, I ascend in a land of soil that passes for stone.
Progress is slow, and all that I know is how much remains to be known.
Hunger and thirst become bad, become worse as the shadows around me grow long
But the pangs are for naught, for all that I've brought are my body, my spirit, my song.

And I'm miles from a friend or a phone, and the wind up here chills to the bone.
I could turn back, retrace every track, and still be no closer to home.
Far from home, far from home.

Day after day, over earth, over clay, I keep moving, a woman possessed.
Night after night, I await morning light and the chance to continue this quest.
Mile after mile, entranced all the while by a region half heaven, half hell
Climb after climb, I grow stronger each time, but never as strong as the spell.

And sometimes my prospects seem poor, for each peak that I reach leads to more.
How can your search ever come to an end if you don't know what you're looking for?

Hand over hand, I ascend in a land where nothing is set in stone.
Progress is slow, and all that I know is how little can ever be known.
Hunger and thirst are more blessing than curse: they remind me that I am alive
So I struggle and try, but the summit's so high, it's not certain I'll ever arrive.

And I'm miles from a friend or a phone, but I'm equally far from alone.
If the foundation beneath me gives way, God give me faith in my own, in my own, in my own, in my own.
Track Name: Little Church
Rode to town, and there I found a little church about twelve foot wide
Opened up that little door, and I took a little look inside:
Little altar, little pews, little preacher turnin' back the clock
With a small-minded sermonette for his little old nodding flock.

Well, he started out real gentle, with a scripture verse or two
Talkin' of love and Noah's dove and a promise made for me and you.
People all around me, they were listenin' with half an ear
So pretty soon, the preacher changed his tune, and he gave 'em what they came to hear.

Ooh…

When the preacher said, "Damnation," the congregation, they perked right up
They were shoutin' "Amen!" as he condemned all the folks who wouldn't make the cut.
Now he's wavin' 'round his Bible, sayin' "Love the sinner, hate the sin"
But he'd do well to drop the Hell and let some Heavenly mercy in.

Ooh…

I know it's Man who made the Bible, and God who made the Earth and sky
And Christ who made it clear that we're not here to judge or crucify.
Still, it seems to me "religion," well, it's "division" by another name
And it breaks my heart how it splits us apart when inside we're really all the same.

You know, I rode to town, and there I found a little church about twelve foot wide
Opened up that little door, and I spent a little spell inside:
Little altar, little pews, little sympathy and little love
Gonna trade that little church for the prairie and the hills above.
Said for the prairie and the hills above.
Track Name: Symmetry
Early this morning, while I was passing underneath a prairie cottonwood, I glimpsed a flash of crimson fluttering down from above.

Reaching up, Dayna surprised herself by actually catching the leaf in mid-fall.

Studying my prize, I fell into a kind of reverie, and I found myself pondering, at length, the symmetry of nature:

The leaf’s intricate network of veins mirrored, in miniature, the branches from which it had dropped—not to mention the other, unseen tributaries anchoring the trunk to the earth below.

The realization made me gasp—and it moved me in a way I couldn’t quite fathom. For, all at once, it hit me: The veins are the branches are the roots.

From high in the air to deep underground, the cottonwood tree—
and every tree—
emphatically asserts its “treeness” throughout.

They can have their Bible, 'cause here it is in the palm of my hand: the divine plan.

And now, perched atop a towering land formation with a nasty north wind in her face, Dayna finds herself taking this line of thought further.

I've seen it out here dozens of times in dozens of ways: the land sustains not just flora but fauna as well.

And in so doing, that land embraces male and female in equal measure, engaging and enriching both of those sexes—
and everything and everyone in between—
with an unerring and unerringly even-handed devotion.

And what, finally, is “God” if not the seed-sowing, life-growing spirit flowing through that land:
through bison and bighorn,
pine tree and prairie grass,
mountain
and canyon
and...and Dayna herself?

My own nature mirrors Nature.

Throughout her adult life—and even earlier, in her teens—there have been those who've told her how wrong her feelings are,
from the boyfriend who labeled my attraction to other women “a phase,”
to the leader of a women's “support” group who provided anything but,
accusing me of “coming halfway out” and deriding my professed feelings for men as a cover.

At times, under the weight of such criticism, she's wondered whether her detractors on one “side” or the other might be right.

Yet the land itself seems to suggest otherwise—and to do so by example.

Looking out, Dayna views the vista before her as if for the first time.

Do I really believe in a higher power? Well, maybe. But I think I do know what it means, at least for me—
for her, who loves female and male,
women and men—
for her to have been made in a higher power’s image.

Any lingering trace of guilt connected to who I am and whom I have loved—
that trace of guilt, at long last, has...
...vanished. For now, I know that my Creator feels the very same way.
Track Name: Jack-o'-Lantern
You fake an accent and disguise your voice
You say you're making a performance choice
In spooky makeup you recite your lines
You play a part to hide the girl inside
Nobody gets to see the girl I know, oh
It's only me who gets to see you glow, oh

CHORUS:
Oh, I see you glowing like a jack-o’-lantern
And it's Halloween night, whoa, oh
So keep it going, let it burn, burn, burn
Show me your light—shine your light!

So, I met this girl...

Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me
I think I recognize you from TV
You wear a costume and you change your name
But I see through your little goth-girl game
I see the sweeter side you never show, oh
It's such a treat for me to see you glow, oh

(CHORUS)

I know what you're thinking: Oh, great, now the suicidal gal is totally smitten by a walking figure of Death!

So light a candle and think of me
And all that we can be
Now I, I've seen the real you
Let me show you the real me
Whoa, oh...
Let your flame burn higher!

(CHORUS)
Show me your light—share your light!
Track Name: First Storm
The first storm hit me on the eastern Dakota plains. I was in the lowest place of my life, driving westward, speeding away from my old life, trying to leave it far behind — the grief, the depression, the abuse — but I couldn't leave it; couldn’t escape it. My vision was blurred by a near-constant stream of tears.
Then, all at once, through the tears, I saw it: a broad, dense, swirling ground-cloud of dirt and dust was sweeping right toward me. It was like the air just above that desolate, flat land had somehow sprung to malevolent, earth-rending life.
By the time I'd regained enough of my wits to stop and shift into PARK, the dust storm was blotting out all sight and sound and light. It was above me and around me and on top of me: pushing down, pressing in, bellowing into my ears, demanding entry. It was an assault. I should know. I shut my eyes tight. I grabbed onto that steering wheel so hard that my nails cut into my palms. And I thought, "the Hell inside me has escaped; now it’s expanding to destroy the world…and it's starting with me!" Then it moved away, past me, now just a hovering swath of gray in the rearview mirror, shrinking by the moment as it continued to recede. Yet it left me shaking and aching, curled up on my side, sobbing, face-down, into the passenger seat.

But the second storm — yesterday — a few months after the first? Totally different. For starters, the second one was bigger. Plus, I wasn't on the highway, but out on the land, on foot, four or five miles from the Badlands ranch where I’ve been living, and healing. This time, I was out hiking, with no car — unsheltered; unprotected; utterly exposed. But it wasn't any of those things that made the second storm so different. No; the main difference was that, unlike with that first storm…the second time — I was me.
Track Name: Second Storm
Nobody returns...
No one recovers...
Nobody quite goes back.

On the day the first storm hit me, I was headed for a fall
I was driving down the thoroughfare of dread.
I had no road map to guide me, just the writing on the wall
And "Abandon ye all hope" is what it said.
I was searching for an exit, I was reaching for the brakes
When the air itself exploded like a mine.
There was nothing to hold onto but the sorrow and the ache
And the me I'd tried and failed to leave behind.

CHORUS:
My second storm
This is my proving ground
My second storm
'Cause there's no turning round
My second storm
Yeah, I've been here before
This is my second storm.

Didn't know there'd be a sequel, never gave it any thought
Because lightning's not supposed to strike you twice.
But then, all things being equal, that's a battle that I've fought
All my life without considering the price.
Well, the second one took longer; I was so much more exposed
Than I'd been when I was hiding in that hole.
But by now I'd gotten stronger, so my wounded heart arose
And for the first time since my youth I had a soul.

(CHORUS)
Where I am lost, then found

No, no, nobody returns, no one recovers
Nobody quite goes back to the way they were before
But the storm helps us learn, and we discover
How the writing on the wall becomes a door.

(CHORUS)
Where I am killed, then born
Track Name: Hand Over Hand (Reprise)
Hand over hand, I ascend in a land of soil that passes for stone.
Progress is slow, and all that I know is how much remains to be known.
Hunger and thirst become bad, become worse as the shadows around me grow long
But the pangs are for naught, for all that I've brought are my body, my spirit, my song.

And I'm miles from a friend or a phone, and the wind up here chills to the bone.
I could turn back, retrace every track, and still be no closer to home.

Day after day, over earth, over clay, I keep moving, a woman possessed.
Night after night, I await morning light and the chance to continue this quest.
Mile after mile, entranced all the while by these Badlands, half heaven, half hell
Climb after climb, I grow stronger each time, but never as strong as the spell.

And sometimes my prospects seem poor, for each peak that I reach leads to more.
How can your search ever come to an end if you don't know what you're looking for?

Hand over hand, I ascend in a land where nothing is set in stone.
Progress is slow, and all that I know is how little can ever be known.
Hunger and thirst are more blessing than curse: they remind me that I'm still alive
So I struggle and try, but the summit's so high, it's not certain I'll ever arrive.

And I'm miles from a friend or a phone, but I'm equally far from alone.
If the foundation beneath me gives way, God give me faith, God give me strength
If the foundation beneath me gives way, God give me faith in my own, in my own, in my own, in my own.
Track Name: Ready to Bloom
Alone in this motel, I stare at the floor
Where something that I never noticed before
Is sticking straight up between those two boards.
A tiny green thistle, no more than a weed
Not a leaf to its name, just a stem from a seed
It carries a message I think I can read:

CHORUS:
Every wall is a window, every floor is a field
Every ceiling's the wide open sky beneath which we're healed.
You're no weed, you're a flower, ready to bloom
So, bloom where you're planted, even in this dark, cold room
Bloom where you're planted
Even in this dark, cold motel room.

You took root deep down in the darkness below
In dirt cold as a grave, and you started out slow
Little by little, determined to grow.
You made your way up through a crack in the floor
And you're not done yet; no, you're gonna grow more
'Cause when you emerge, you'll throw open a door!

(CHORUS)
And you are a flower, ready to bloom

Unplug, unmask
Don't tell, just ask
Let go, give in
This time, we win.

I stand at the sink and I fill up a glass
I water the plant, saying, "This too shall pass"
'Cause you're not alone anymore; I'm here with you.
I see how you struggle, you strain and you strive
I watch how you fight for your chance to survive
And I see this flower in me; I'll make it through, you're gonna see!

(CHORUS)
And you are a flower, ready to bloom

I am this flower, even in this dark, cold room.
I'll keep on going, even in this dark, cold room.
We'll keep on growing, even in this dark, cold motel room.
Track Name: Karma Bomb
Jesus Christ gave nice advice, but how can we begin
"Doing unto others" when they've sworn to do us in?
Till that tarnished Golden Rule is practiced far and wide
I propose a way for us to stay un-crucified:

CHORUS:
Gonna build a missile to stop the abuse
Fill it up with anger, truth for a fuse
Cut through the confusion, sound the alarm
Instant retribution when we detonate ourselves a little karma bomb
Karma bomb!

Dominic's a clever prick who teaches English Lit
Dominates his girlfriend with his lies, his size, his fists
Twice her weight and twice her age and not one-tenth as kind
She must close the book on him to liberate her mind.

(CHORUS)

There is not a spot on Earth where Exxon would not drill
Flouting safety measures, flirting with a spill.
We should take the CEO and all the top VPs
Soak them in petroleum from their goddamn Valdez.

(CHORUS)

If somebody bashes you because of who you love
Don't just turn your cheek and wait for justice from above.
Justice doesn't come till they lie moaning in the mud
Oozing out a pint or two of homophobic blood.

Here's a little paradox that almost makes me laugh:
In the name of life, somebody shot the clinic staff.
Let us lead this terrorist directly to his fate:
Let's abort him with a bullet—thirty years too late.

(CHORUS)
Instant retribution when we detonate ourselves!

The Dayna Clay Project recommends:

If you like UNPLUGGED: A Survivor's Story in Scenes & Songs, you may also like: