Words & Music from UNPLUGGED: 12th​-​Anniversary Compilation

by Maya Kuper & Paul McComas

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about

This album is a compilation of songs and spoken-word pieces inspired by UNPLUGGED, Paul McComas' acclaimed 2002 novel. They were written in the voice of the novel's main character, Dayna Clay, and performed by Paul and Maya Kuper, along with many other collaborators.

All proceeds from this project benefit RAINN: the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (www.rainn.org).

credits

released January 15, 2014

Music & lyrics by Paul McComas © 1998–2014

“Virtual Virtue” music by Jim Schettl & Paul, lyrics by Paul ©1998, 2014

“Carried Away” music & lyrics by Maya Kuper © 2014

Produced, engineered and mixed by Maya Kuper & Paul McComas

Track #2 engineered by Milwaukee Public Radio,
#3 & 4 by Jay Mueller,
#9 by Joe Dilillo at Solid Sound Recording,
#13 & 14 by Channel 2/CBS-TV Chicago,
#16 by Chicago Public Radio

Tim Buckingham: drums (3, 4, 6, 10, 15)
Kim Hah: lead vocal (3, 4, 6, 10, 15)
Ben Handelsman: rhythm guitar (3, 4), lead guitar (15), guitar solo (12)
Louisa Holland: viola (4)
Chris Kozlowski: xylophone (3), percussion (4), dialogue (5)
Maya Kuper: lead vocal (1, 9), backup vocal (1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 12), melodica (1), synthesizers (4, 6, 8), narration (5, 8), piano (6)
Heather McComas: keyboard (15)
Paul McComas: bass (3-6, 10, 13-15), lead vocal (7, 12), backup vocal (1, 3, 6, 9, 10, 12-15), guitar (1, 7, 9, 12), drums (8), organ (11), narration/dialogue (2, 5, 8, 11, 16)
Heather Mell: dialogue (11), drums (13, 14)
Angela Roché: lead vocal (13, 14)
Jim Schettl: lead guitar (3, 4)
Leslie Stein: guitar (10)
Rachel Taknint: flute (6)

UNPLUGGED is a novel by Paul McComas
(2002, John Daniel & Co., 261 pp., ISBN 188028460X).
Reviews: paulmccomas.com/authored/unplugged/unplugged-reviews
Signed copies of the book are available for $13 each, postage included.
Copies of the charity CD are available for $9 each, postage included.
PayPal: paulmccomas@mail.com
All proceeds benefit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

Cover photo of Paul & Maya by Nina D'Angier
Package design and “Fireproof” photo by Maya Kuper

In loving memory of Julia, and of Jim Schettl

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about

Maya Kuper & Paul McComas Chicago, Illinois

"Dayna Clay" is a 27-year-old rocker and rape survivor, battling PTS and depression. She's the heroine of Paul McComas' acclaimed 2002 novel, UNPLUGGED.

As the Dayna Clay Band, Maya Kuper & McComas bring UNPLUGGED to life on stage in an alt-rock musical.

Proceeds support RAINN's National Sexual Assault Hotline + The Kennedy Forum.

Fictional character. Real band. Vital cause.

#RockAgainstRape
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Track Name: Fireproof Storage (2013)
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
But 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 'til the clocks run down
It's safe out there
But friend, beware
When you ride back into town

(Chorus)

Like this...
(Melodica Solo)

Way back when, you had a friend
The best you've ever known
But it weren't secure, 'cause you can't insure
What you 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)

So you locked...
But what you gonna do now your fireproof storage
Has burnt right down to the ground?
Track Name: Give Me Oblivion (1998)
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

(Guitar Solo)

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 first-born son
Take my voice, my guitar, just give...me…
Track Name: Virtual Virtue (1998)
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 and ground my dreams into the dust
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
I will live, but not forgive -- that liberty is mine

(Chorus x2)

Never, never, never, never apart!
Track Name: Hand Over Hand (2003)
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, re-trace 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
When you don’t know what you’re looking for?

(Flute solo)

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 uncertain 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 (Live 2006)
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,” well, the congregation 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, God who made the Earth and sky
And Christ who made it clear that we’re not here to judge and crucify
Still it seems to me "religion" is just "division" with 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 (2013)
Earlier that day, while passing underneath a prairie cottonwood, Dayna had spied a flash of crimson fluttering down from above; reaching up, she'd surprised herself by actually catching the leaf in mid-fall. Studying her prize, she'd then fallen into a reverie, and had pondered, 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 had made her gasp, and it had moved her in a way she couldn't quite fathom. The veins were the branches were the roots; from high in the air to deep underground, the tree emphatically asserted its "treeness" throughout.

They can have their Bible, she had though, 'cause here's the divine plan.

And now, perched atop a looming land formation with a nasty north wind in her face, Dayna took this line of thought further. She'd seen it dozens of times in dozens of ways: the land sustained not just flora, but fauna as well. And in so doing, it embraced male and female in equal measure, engaging and enriching both sexes with an unerring -- and unerringly even-handed -- devotion. And what, finally, was "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, she understood with a start, mirrors nature.

Throughout her adult life -- and even before, in her teens -- there had been those who'd told her how "wrong" her feelings were, from the ex-boyfriend who'd labeled her attraction to women "a phase," to the leader of a women's support group who'd provided anything but, accusing Dayna of "coming halfway out" and deriding her professed feelings for men as a cover. At times, under the weight of such criticism, Dayna had found herself wondering whether her detractors on one side or the other might be right. Yet the land itself seemed to suggest otherwise -- and to do so by example.

Looking out, she saw the vista before her as if for the first time. She'd just begun, tentatively, to believe in a higher power, yet already she grasped what it meant for her -- her, who loved female and male, women and men -- for her to have been made in that higher power's image.

Any lingering trace of guilt connected to who she was and whom she had loved vanished...the moment Dayna understood that her Creator felt the very same way.
Track Name: Carried Away (Unplugged Version, 2013)
Look at us
It's the haves versus the have-nots
So rehearsed, we act like robots -- it's bizarre.
We don't trust
So plugged-in and so plugged-up,
We're afraid to love each other as we are.
We need more drums --
And fewer drum machines.
Truer hearts --
And fewer dumb routines.

Chorus:
Let's get carried away -- and rise above
Carried away -- in boundless love
I will carry you, if you'll carry me
So let's throw all the rules out the window
Let's get carried away -- okay.

Look at us:
Can't you see that something's wrong?
Too many DJs, too few songs -- by far.
We can't see
All these students and these teachers
For the individual creatures that we are.
Stop building walls --
And tear the old ones down.
Our world's so small --
We all share common ground.

(Repeat Chorus)

Just as sure
As the world will keep on turning,
Every spin around the sun, we're learning more.
But it's still
Just a little disconcerting
To love like we never have been hurt before.
So let's refuse
To play games anymore.
We can't lose
If we're not keeping score.
But I will carry you, if you'll carry me
I will you carry you, if you say...

(Repeat Chorus)
Track Name: Karma Bomb (2002)
Jesus Christ gave nice advice but how can we begin
“Doing unto others” when they’re sworn to do us in
Till that tarnished Golden Rule is practiced far and wide
I propose a way for us to stay uncrucified

Chorus:
Gonna build a missile to stop the abuse
Fill it up with anger -- truth for a fuse
Cut thru the confusion -- sound the alarm
Instant retribution when we detonate ourselves a little karma bomb

Dominick’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
Coat them with 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 chief of staff
Let us lead this terrorist directly to his fate
Let’s abort him with a bullet 30 years too late

(Chorus)

...instant retribution when we detonate ourselves!
Track Name: Fireproof Storage (Slide-Guitar Version, 2004)
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
But 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 'til the clocks run down
It's safe out there
But friend, beware
When you ride back into town

(Chorus)

Like this...
(Slide-Guitar Solo)

Way back when, you had a friend
The best you've ever known
But it weren't secure, 'cause you can't insure
What you 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)

So you locked...
But what you gonna do now your fireproof storage
Has burnt right down to the ground?
Track Name: Give Me Oblivion (Live 2003)
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 first-born son
Take my voice, my guitar, just give...me…
Track Name: Hand Over Hand (Live 2003)
(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, re-trace 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
When you don’t know what you’re looking for?
(Looking for, 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 uncertain 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: Virtual Virtue (Live 2009)
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 and ground my dreams into the dust
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
I will live, but not forgive -- that liberty is mine

(Chorus x2)

Never, never, never, never apart!