A Thing So Real

Released in November 2003, A Thing So Real features eleven original story-songs that explore subjects ranging from the tug of war between independence and intimacy, to the joy and chaos of parenthood, to modern consumer culture.

Roberta Schwartz, writing for the Folk and Acoustic Music Exchange (FAME) had this to say about the album:

“Like some of the best performers in the musical theater, she moves easily from the classic torch song to a comedic song and everything in between. She has the kind of voice – an alto with a lovely upper range – that is so easy to listen to that you won’t want to remove her CD from your player even after it’s ended. But more importantly, she writes great songs – both those that come from the heart and those that tell a story.”

All songs by Sandy Cash. Click on a song title to read the lyrics.

All songs written by Sandy Cash © 2003 Bud-Man Music (BMI), except “Into the
Light” music © 2003 by Mitch Clyman (ACUM) and Sandy Cash, lyrics by Sandy Cash

This Love is Only For You

Strangers With One Heart
The Ghost
The Boy Next Door
The Madlibs Song
Survival of the Fittest
Beyond These Walls
Giorgio Perlasca
The Real Thing (A Retail Fantasy)
The Children’s Brigade
Into the Light

This Love is Only for You

There’s a house up on a hillside
I’ve approached it many times
Up beyond a lonesome path
Through a stand of forest pine
They’ve got a wide veranda
And a wood two-seater swing
The bell beside the front door
Echoes sweetly when it rings

I climb along the pathway
And I see them come and go
Hear the chattering of the children
And the old folks speaking low
Some nights a man and woman
Take their place out on that swing
All alone among the shadows
I listen as they sing

This love is only for you
Forever and onward
Our whole lives through
Let the forest burn down
I’ll still know that it’s true
This love is only for you

It’s a song I’ve known forever
But it draws me all the same
With a vision that I cling to
Of a joy I dare not name
Just to give my heart to someone
And to be loved in return
Still I’m standing on this pathway
Still I listen, still I burn


Strangers With One Heart

You warm me from the inside out
Like light upon the water
We’ve never met, but still the same
You are my son… or daughter
A mystery, a part of me
A secret world I cannot see
With joy and sorrow, hope and fear
I wait for you out here

Saving all my dreams for you
If you’ll take the gifts I’m giving
Will I recognize your face?
Will you change this life I’m living?
Serenity and harmony
Beyond the laws of gravity
Your every move a dancer’s code
That points me down an unknown road

Growing from without and in
Racing toward where life begins
Wondering just who will win
And how we’ll live without the other
Strangers with one heart, the child and mother


The Ghost

She’s looking out the window

At the rolling clouds below
A solid gray expanse that cuts her off

From what she knows
From the infinite horizon

To the in-flight movie guide
She will find something, somehow
To get her through this ride

The flight attendants coming through

To gather up the cups
She puts away her earphones
Folds the tray table up
She feels the weather changing

As the plane starts heading down
And slips into a snowstorm
On the outskirts her town

And it’s just three hours from her life to this town
It’s half a lifetime trying to get away
Now she’s haunted by the ghost of lost potential
I disappoint, therefore I am, that’s what she’d say
Crazy, but it’s true, that’s what she’d say

This old town had always been
A sort of show and tell
With diplomas and distinctions

And receipts for doing well
Each one held up to the light
Of prizes won before
To her it was so obvious –

She should be doing more

So she roared into the city

And she blazed herself a trail
With boys and boardrooms battled for

With skin and tooth and nail
It took six years to get that
Corner office with the view
Like the townhouse that she rented
It had room for two

And her nose was to the grindstone

And her back was to the wall
In the shadow of each victory
Was the specter of the fall

And it’s just three hours from her life to this town
Where constant movement keeps the fear at bay
Still, she’s haunted by the ghost of lost potential
I’m doing all I can, that’s what she’d say
After all these years, that’s what she’d say

The taxi driver leaves her

On the sidewalk in the snow
The evening chill grows deeper
But her legs can’t seem to go
The porch light stretches toward her

Like a carpet on the lawn
Her memory running, hot and cold
She’s frightened and she’s drawn

And she stands outside the light now
Though it’s what she needs the most
This visit has potential
If she’d just give up the ghost

And it’s just three hours from her life to this town
But closing the real gap is touch and go
She blames it on the ghost of lost potential
But she’s the one out standing in the snow
She’s the one out standing in the snow


The Boy Next Door

The boy next door’s got that gleam in his eye
He never says please, he never asks why
To tell you the truth this guy’s stinking with sin
But at the end of every day
My good intentions sizzle away
And I lift my voice and pray that he’ll come in

You may think it’s his squeaky voice
Or maybe it’s his hair
Or maybe it’s his attitude of

Devil may care
You may think it’s his backpack

Or the way he parks his bike
But of all his many features
Here’s the one I really like

I’ve got a bunch of little kids

(aged seven, five and four)
And when that boy comes calling

Every one heads out the door
They follow him like puppies
From half past three till five
That little break is all it takes
To keep this mom alive

The Boy Next Door, the Boy Next Door
My children may survive
Thanks to the Boy Next Door

He’s taught ’em how to sass me
He’s taught ’em how to spit
If he teaches them to shoplift

Hell, I may get over it
So what if he’s a devil?
Who cares if he’s a louse?
I’ll trade my better judgment
For some quiet in my house

Cause while he’s out making trouble

For the neighbor’s dog and cat
I pour myself a drink
And phone my girlfriend for a chat
I complete entire sentences
Even a paragraph or two
Let loose with all the “cuss” words

I’ve held in all afternoon

The boy next door’s a terror
I should be steering clear
But he’s like life insurance for those

Kids I hold so dear
He helps me find my temper

And to make it through the day

Don’t call me irresponsible
The alternative’s impossible
This stage of life is crossable
Thanks to the boy next door I’ll be OK.


The Madlibs Song

Every year, the end of August
There’s a cry across the nation
A collective “omigod”
As all the shrinks go on vacation
How could they leave us hanging
After all that we’ve been through?
How could they dare suggest
They might have better things to do?

I traditionally fall victim
To this end of year distress
But after years with the same therapist

She knows me well, I guess
And because she knows how hard

It sometimes is for me to cope
In ending our last session
She gave me an envelope

She said, “Here is an exercise

I’d like you to complete
I’ve prepared it for the session that

We’ll miss this coming week
So at our regularly scheduled hour

If your thoughts have got you down
This hopefully will help you feel
Just like I’m still in town.”

So half past three on Sunday

I sat down beside my desk
Read through the words she’d written

And tried filling in the rest:

An adjective thing happened to me

In name of a place
When my family member, past-tense verb
And said, right to my face
Exclamation, said family member
You are really adjective
I stood there verb, in “ing” form

For the best response to give

It was difficult to know
Whether to verb or let it pass
When everything inside me
Said to verb him in the body part
It brought out all the feeling
I’d experienced as a noun
But I handled it adverb
Doc I know you’d be so proud

Here’s a visualization
To help me verb the noun away
I am at name of a place
On a bright, adjective day
Male celebrity is with me
We share an adjective gaze
Now I’ll hold that feeling with me
‘Till you’re back in numberdays

I worked through this assignment

Crossing “T”s and dotting “I”s
When a realization surfaced
And it caught me by surprise
This is more than just a method
To survive my shrink’s vacation
It’s a Madlib – getting mad’s
A form of psychic liberation!

So I flipped that paper over
And I let my feelings flow
Even though you’re on vacation, Doc,

There’s something you should know

You’re probably verb, in “ing” form

On the name of cruise ship line
Or gazing at the plural noun
As you sip some price range wine
But that Madlib verb in past tense
To some feelings deep and true
So I say verb it, time to give
Some noun where nounis due

That exercise in noun
Was a professional disgrace
If the AMA found out
You’d have cooked food upon your face
I know you have a noun from
Third-class junior college State
Is this what made you think
That you are worth your hourly rate?

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned
Over the course of therapy
It’s that my problems stem
From unexpressed hostility
So dig out malpractice policy
By which you are insured

But don’t wait for me on Sunday – After this,

I think I’m cured.


Survival of the Fittest

Before Charles Darwin dipped his pen

To write the Species’ Origin
Man’s stewardship of the cosmos was unshaken
Then the theory of evolution
Stirred up quite a revolution
By putting Man’s Descent before Creation

It was Natural Selection, he said
Not divine election
That determined who survival would elude
And the one that would prevail
And would live to tell the tale
Was the one with access to sufficient food

If I may venture an opinion
On theories Darwinian
They seem to give the modern woman hope
For if Chuck’s right the supermodels
And the women thin as rods’ll
Soon be sliding down the evolutionary slope

For when bodies that are real

Are compared to the ideal
It can hit a woman in her sense of worth
But with Darwin as our guide
We will no more be denied
And those who eat shall, in the end, control the Earth

I don’t mean to be “elitist”
But survival of the fittest
Comes from grabbing what’s created as our due
It’s all based on adaptations
From amphibians to crustaceans
C’mon girls, if crabs can do it, we can too

Yes, the woman of tomorrow
Will evolve beyond the sorrow
Of selecting fruit cup from the pastry cart
And improvement of her vision
Will add to the precision
With which she locates milk duds in the dark

Adapting to the challenges
Of how the species scavenges
For foodstuffs at the local shopping mall
The flow of her adrenaline
Will serve her very well when
Racing for the shortest check out line of all

The power of her fist and flexibility of wrist
Will easily twist off the tightest lids
And her suppleness of shoulder
And extended reach will hold her
When she raids the treats
She’s hidden from the kids

Yet before we can progress
There’s an issue to address
The same one Darwin knew the finches faced
Selection, when effectual
Is both natural and sexual
So is subject to guys’ unenlightened taste

Still, before we get downhearted
Let’s remember how we started
When the first amoebas oozed out of the slime
From our prehistoric past
We’ve reached low-heeled shoes at last
And the men may evolve too, just give ’em time!


Beyond These Walls

Hang your coat up on the hook
Toss the new moon one last look
Then shut the door and lock it tight
Switch off the stars flip on the light
Check your mail and scan the news
Weigh the contacts you can use
Then set them on the windowsill
Till morning comes, as morning will

Beyond these walls a crescent moon’s suspended in the sky
Harvesting a field of stars did you ever wonder why
On the cutting edge of solitude you shine so hard and bright
When there’s more than one way to light up the night

By light of day you move so strong
March in step and sing that song
Things to do and worlds to win
Too bright to let the shadows in
I once was blinded by the glow
Of the part of you you let me know
The rest of you you shut away
I wish you might I wish you may

Come out and see the crescent moon suspended in the sky
Harvesting a field of stars did you ever wonder why
On the cutting edge of solitude you shine so hard and bright
When there’s more than one way to light up the night.

I will stand here by your window
‘Till the night resolves to day
Reflecting on your sadness
Will you turn your face my way
I’ll watch through all your phases
And keep sight of all the stars
‘Till you join me for the harvest
Of the fullness that you are

Beyond these walls a crescent moon is rising in the sky
Harvesting a field of stars did you ever wonder why
On the cutting edge of solitude you shine so hard and bright
When there’s more than one way to light up the night


Giorgio Perlasca

Italy was far behind me even if I could be warned
Just a hot-head would-be soldier underage
And half-informed
I’d signed up for Franco’s army

In the Spanish Civil War
Mussolini’s thundering speeches

Like an anvil to my sword

But by the time I’d crawled home

Old enough to have some doubts
Il Duce took my native land
And sold it to the Krauts
The whole north of the country

Gone to pay the Devil’s due
I took a job in Budapest to see the Blue Danube

They had gathered at the river
When into this place I came
From Giorgio to Jorge
I’d never be the same
Raised to rally to the truth I could not well deny
The death-defying logic found in living out a lie

There weren’t many free states left in 1942
The work was hard but legal
And thank God I was no Jew
But when the country’s jack-boot-licking

Leaders came for me
I dodged the labor camps
Inside the Spanish embassy

His Excellency took me in with little left to lose
He’d made himself a nuisance
With his sympathy for Jews
They’d seen him at the brickworks

And beside the eastbound trains
With freshly-printed papers
Showing family links to Spain

But just before the gendarmes
Strung him up for what he did
He vanished from the city
And resurfaced in Madrid
Forgotten in my hiding place

I haunted the halls through
Echoes of the rifles rising up from the Danube

They had chased them to the river
When into this place I came
From Giorgio to Jorge
I’d never be the same
Raised to rally to the truth I could not well deny
The death-defying logic found in living out a lie

An oaken desk a golden pen
And stamps that bore his name
The phone rang for a morning
Then fell silent once again
They’d laid their stores in well –

It would be a week or two
Before I had to weigh the risk

To starve or make a move

The shots along the riverbank

More frequent day by day
As I sat and watched his mirrors

Turn my olive skin to grey
They say that if the shoe fits

It should certainly be worn
The clothes he left all fit me
As if to the manner born

The day I stepped outside my thoughts

Went drifting back to Spain
A stranger in that fight and now

A stranger once again
A pen and paper soldier
I performed the work of war
As Don Jorge Perlasca – Spanish Ambassador

They had left them in the river
When into this place I came
And those along the riverbanks
Would never be the same
Raised to rally to the truth I could not well deny
The death-defying logic found in living out a lie

This story should be told until the Blue Danube runs dry
Of how Giorgio Perlasca dared to question: Why?


The Real Thing (A Retail Fantasy)

I remember when it happened, I was feeling pretty down
I thought I’d lift my spirits with some shopping in the town
The lights the noise the musak and the crush of humankind
Would all unite to drive the day’s disasters from my mind

To get the full effect I chose a huge department store
The kind with festive banners and a glass revolving door
An outstretched hand, a clockwise push that’s all it took for me
To join the teeming masses for some retail therapy.

I searched through all the clothing, the jewelry and the rest
But every purchase option seemed to get me more depressed
No matter where I turned and looked the offerings seemed to be
Designed for someone younger, thinner, wealthier than me

So I gave up, admitted to myself that I’d been beat
But the soda machine called to me as I turned toward the street
A jolt of caffeine, saccharine, and caramel coloring
And hey, the sign assured me that it was the Real Thing

My coins clinked to the bottom, the drink shot down to the hole
But the can slipped through my grasp and on the floor began to roll
I reached out — suddenly I felt I’d slipped into a dream
Because that can of Coke — I swear — chugged off on its own steam

It zipped through ladies’ lingerie and down the housewares aisle
It hopped the escalator with me following all the while
Although I feared I’d lost my mind I held tight to the trail
As it rolled down a darkened hall beyond a years’ end sale

I took a look around just to make sure the coast was clear
Then followed down the corridor my heart pounding with fear
Down at the end a mirrored wall gleamed dimly in the light
I stared and saw the can roll through that mirror, out of sight

I walked up to the mirror and I reached out with my hand
My fingers slipped right through like Alice’s in Wonderland
I gulped, then squeezed my whole self through to see what I would find
I found a store, but nothing like the one I’d left behind

The shelves were lined with presents, all in shining paper wrapped

But as I reached for one, I felt my shoulder being tapped
“This one’s for you” the salesman said, “We’re really glad you came”

He handed me a box and on the card was my own name

“I’m not quite sure I get it,” I said, a little lost
What exactly is this gift and how much does it cost?”
“It’s not for sale,” the man replied, it’s meant for you alone.
Besides, it makes no sense to buy what you already own.”

“But what’s inside?” I asked the man. He said, “It’s hard to tell.
You could be a stranger to this gift or know it very well.
But if you want to use the gift there’s really just one way

Don’t take it home – but leave it here to always give away.”

He pointed out an empty space upon a nearby shelf
I hesitated, hoping I could keep it for myself
“But surely you have something I can take home from the store?
Without something in hand I’ll never know what this was for.”

The salesman smiled and said to me, “Now here’s the tricky part.
You don’t need things in hand when you can hold them in your heart.
And if you feel you’re missing something, well, that may in fact be true.
But that empty space feels fuller when you give the gift of you.”

I smiled and thanked the man and left my box there in the store
And suddenly I found myself in the real world once more
I pushed through that revolving door and strode off through the night
But not before I stopped by that machine and bought a Sprite.


The Children’s Brigade

How brave my brothers
How righteous our cause
How sweet the war snatched from
The peacemaker’s jaws
In the children’s brigade ahead of them all
We march to the dangerous beat
Of our countrymen’s call

And the fight makes us strong
And it conquers our fears
Redefining us more than

Our ten or twelve years
And the loss of our mission
Would leave us undone
Our battle a birthright passed down
From father to son

Drink while you may from the fountain of youth
An eye for an eye and a heart for the truth

How dazzling our fallen, how fabled their names
How they beckon us forward to join in the game
We are knights of the newscast
The lords of the land
As chiseled and hard as the rocks

In the palms of our hands

And our teachers prepare us
And our parents consent
And our leaders make sure
All the money’s well spent
In the eyes of our people to brighten the blaze
A fire that burns to the soul
Of the children they raise

Drink if you dare from the fountain of youth
A eye for an eye and a life for the truth
And who will repay the loss of our youth?


Into the Light

Taking the step
Taking a stand
Slipping my soul into your hand
Holding my breath
Looking at you
Waiting to see what you will do

Breaking the rules
Crossing a line
Seeing beyond what’s merely mine
Willing to want
Daring to care
Knowing I might not find you there

But if there ever was a reason to hide my love away
It’s time to step into the light today

Playing for keeps
Playing with fire
Walking the tightrope of desire
So far to go
So far to fall
Finding the balance after all

What will you say?
How will you feel?
Can we survive a thing so real?
Hope for the now
Fear from the then
Longing for love since who knows when

But if there ever was a reason to hide my love away
It’s time to step into the light today