Movie Theatre Haiku

by Chris Robley & the Fear of Heights



"This gothic, orchestral indie-pop is sure to leave heads spinning with its unique and haunting sound." - NPR’s Second Stage

"This is an album for the ages." - John Winn. Racket Magazine


released January 15, 2009

Robley's third solo album upholds his reputation for writing story-songs about characters that find themselves in heartbreak and despair. But "Movie Theatre Haiku" also finds him taking his trademark blend of fractured folk and dark, psychedelic indie-pop into more ambitious orchestral and electronic territory.

"[It is an] album about measuring distances in an over-stimulated world where all our standard compasses have gone spinning out of control. Distances between old lovers, between the living and the dead, between your ambitions and your limitations, between the world you wish for and the world that is, between a performer and audience, between God and mankind, between here and home," explains Robley.

"The characters in each of the songs on 'Movie Theatre Haiku¹ are lost in a kind of confined space, fumbling in the darkness to feel the four walls closing in on them. They must measure distances in a shrinking world, and find a way out."

Produced in Portland, Oregon by C.A.R. with Mike Coykendall, Jeff Stuart Saltzman, and Rob Stroup @ Blue Room, Mysterious Beard, and 8-Ball Studios.

Lovingly coached, coaxed, mixed, and massaged by Jeff Stuart Saltzman, except tracks 9 and 12, mixed by Rob Stroup.

Mastered by Carl Saff.

Artwork, layout design by Tammy Paladeni.

Writ by C.A.R. (bite my tongue, ltd.) ASCAP
copyright 2009



all rights reserved


Chris Robley & the Fear of Heights Portland, Oregon

"Chris Robley is at the top of his game with his new work." - KCRW

Maine-based singer/songwriter and award-winning poet Chris Robley (formerly from Portland, Oregon) performs orchestral indie-pop and fractured folk reminiscent of John Lennon, John Vanderslice, Harry Nilsson, and Joe Henry.

His poetry has appeared in POETRY Magazine, Prairie Schooner, and many other journals.
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Track Name: A Memory Lost at Sea
I wait in the rain that falls on the pier
everyone’s here to watch the ships come in from the fog
I’m nervous and cold
its been so long since they’ve been home

what happened to my baby?
where has my baby gone?
who’ll keep me safe from harm and warm?

I’m soaked to the skin and everyone’s gone home with their friends
and I’m all alone in the cold, shaking my bones
nobody knows where is my boy

someone knew me
they’re gone now
Track Name: User-Friendly Guide to Change
like a flower bent towards the memory of the sun
you will do the things that you have always done

like a wounded bird who has fallen from the sky
you will never never know the reason why you never ever really learned to fly

no kiss me and make up
no shake hands and make friends
this is how the story really ends
no pinch me and wake up
no way we can fake it
there’s no way we can pretend again
Track Name: My Life in Film Festivals (haiku #1)
remember that movie we saw at the film festival?
-the one with the girl and the artist.
this torn and worn ticket stub is reminding me of your breasts
that I praised in darkness.

a period piece set in France with a star-crossed romance
and the ending dragged on in slow-motion.
I held your hand as you breathed heavy during the scenes where they made love
like us by the ocean.

and when the couple would fight, grainy and black and white
it seemed like they fought out of boredom.
and when the theatre turned on the lights, exit out to the night
all the leaves in the street colored autumn

I said I sided with him, you found him selfish and dim
like all men who dwell within their own minds
you don’t want to be alone so I’m walking you home
hand in hand, both of us for the last time
Track Name: Solipsist in Love
It's hard to believe things existing outside my head
That you’re sleeping with somebody else in someone else’s bed
and that people still live in the homes and the towns I’ve left
That the world will keep turning around long after I’m dead
Track Name: Atheist's Prayer
can’t ya hear us crying Lord, Lord, Lord
don’t ya feel us dying Lord, Lord, Lord
thought I saw you flying, oh my god
flying out of town like Santa Claus when times get hard

every man is free, that's a story
we can barely be before we
get so tightly tied to Lord, Lord, Lord
tied for all our lives to lies

every man is free to choose his chains
you’re at liberty to pick your pain
do you hear my prayers, Lord, Lord, Lord
do you even care? are you even there at all

god is great and god is good
but god is something I’ve never understood
god is good and got is great
but god is something to which I could not relate
and god is great and god is grand
but god is something I could never understand
Track Name: Premiere
city folk in city clothes all bustle down the street
check their hats and coats and loap about the mezzanine
crowded in the queue to view the concert
coughing as they’re clustered in their seats to be there

dressed so fair to put on airs
like throwing fine pearls to swine

recite the lines a dozen times tonight and then repeat
by demand the actor and the audience will meet
would that I could muster up the strength to
such a feat for one accustomed to defeat just to be there

the show goes on at eight o’clock
and we won’t stop when we mess up

when they’re on their feet
the world is at peace
the world goes to sleep

all have gone, tomorrow morn we’ll wake another day
to mine the mint the papers print for what the critics say
Track Name: The Late, Great Age of Paper (haiku #2)
Ahhh, the great age of paper.
Track Name: Concrete & Nails
so you think you’ve gone
is it any wonder that you won’t stay long
spoiled bon vivants in the real world with no confidence

so you’ve gone away
is it any wonder that you won’t stay there
out all on your own
soon enough you will come crawling home

concrete and nails
bitter betrayals
stones against stick
bones against brick
stepping on cracks
knife in the back
when all else fails
run with your tail between your legs
back home

raise society on a little bit of sesame street propriety
and this is what you’ll get
little mama’s boys and teachers’ pets
Track Name: Glass Reich
Track Name: Baltimore Fugitives Buried in Brownsville, TX
wake up babe its time to leave this place behind
and cross the border
before the morning comes we’ll run from what we’ve done
our new life’s just begun

give me the keys
oh, we gotta go
we’ll drive down to Mexico
these sweet dreams would’ve been nice
to take you to the Mayan Empire
and tour the pyramids of gold
lying on the beach at sunrise
you'll be kissing me
I’ll be holding you

did you see those lights flashing in the night
its time to make our flight
Track Name: Permanent Fixture of Regret
on the train, I’ve seen this movie before
its the one with the midwest football hero and the championship game when he scores
how dramatic, how cliché
and he gets the chick and she sucks his...
yeah, but they’ll cut that part out anyway

but its a picturesque burlesque

and I look out the window
a dozen silos poking up above the fog
and a man on a gravel path by the highway as he jogs in the after-dawn
all those silos are all the same
all painted red and filled with grain
and he’s running home to his ball and chain
run boy, run

cause its a picturesque burlesque

and all those silos are all the same but I count them
as they go flashing by I count them
one, two, three, four
why is everything a fucking bore?
and these photogenic freaks in their seats,
nervous as they’re drifting in and out of sleep
they’re all the same but I count them
they’re all the same but I count them

one by one and two by two
everybody’s got so much to prove
one by one and two by two
everybody’s got so much to lose
one by one and two by two
everybody thinks they’ve got the blues
one by one and two by two
they’re all the same but I count them

cause its a picturesque burlesque

and I’m no different
but I think I am
ah, but I know I’m not
but I don’t give a damn

a permanent fixture of regret
Track Name: Waltz for Angelika Dittrich
1, 2, 3, 4. It's my fault.
This album needed a waltz.
But I just can't stand 3/4 time.
So 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.