Portal is my first record.

It downloaded into my head over the course of a night of rock and roll mayhem on a Mendocino County mountaintop.

In the summer of 2013, some friends of mine threw a festival and invited the band I was in to come play. We played as the sun went down, and things only got weirder from there.

By morning, I had 11 songs — named and in order — about what had happened to all of us that night. It took them a few more months to develop, but the names, key lines, and basic sounds were all there that bright morning. With the help of my friend and drummer, Kirk, my muse and collaborator, Root, my old friend, Mike, my new friend, Stephen, and a few other trusty friends on the ground, I released Portal on February 25, 2014. We first played it live at the release party in Oakland on May 3.

Read about Portal

Liner notes

  1. Living Room
  2. Lani
  3. Being Stuff Together
  4. Blocks
  5. The Robot
  6. Platonic
  7. The Room On Top Of Your Heart
  8. Friends On The Ground
  9. The Field
  10. Root (Waking Up With You)
  11. 11:11

1. Living Room

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I wrote this song after my mother’s father died, when I was 18. I had recently returned from China, and the sounds of that trip reminded me of him.

He once showed me this little green box with dragons on it that contained two black metal balls. He explained they were for maintaining the strength in his hands. I sometimes think of that Chinese medicine when I play guitar. I performed the piece at his funeral.

When my father’s father died, not long after, I performed this at his memorial, too. It’s a song about life and death for me now, sad but sweet. It was untitled until I decided to play it on this record.

Guitar: Jon Mitchell

Written by Jon Mitchell

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2. Lani

“A locked up garden is my sister, my lover; a locked up spring, a sealed fountain.”

— Shir ha’Shirim
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Lani, Lani
come dance with me

My sister, my lover
show me how to move

I wanna get telepathic with you

 

Vocals/guitar: Jon Mitchell
Bass: Michael Feinberg
Drums: Kirk Benttinen

Written by Jon Mitchell

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3. Being Stuff Together

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In the city by the sea, 
people look like ants and bees 
in the hive, in the nest 
never stop, never rest 
you’re the best

In the house, on the couch, 
nothing to fear, nothing to doubt 
disappear away from here 
being nothing, drinking beer 
this is weird

We’re all tangled up forever 
being stuff together

In the car, on the road 
where do we go? ask the phone 
we’re alone all together 
getting tangled up forever 
and forever

On the steps, a cigarette 
you don’t smoke, you just need a breath 
some fresh air, we can share 
our fair city doesn’t care 
we are there

It’s a knot 
not a lie 
let’s unite 
or just untie

 

Vocals/guitar: Jon Mitchell
Vocals: Ariel Root Wolpe
Bass/stuff: Michael Feinberg
Drums: Kirk Benttinen

Written by Jon Mitchell
Special thanks to Zoe Young

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4. Blocks

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I can’t help it 
it just pours out 
all over the ground 
I’m spilling sound 
it mixes with water 
and turns to mud 
a splash of blood 
and it’s ready 
to be molded and made 
it’s done

I built it out of blocks 
it’s a portal to your thoughts 
it’s a house with a living room 
it’s an Earth with a silver moon 
it’s a record with 11 tunes 
and I wrote them just for you 
to see what you will do 
when you come through

You have permission 
to sing this song 
at the top of your lungs 
it’s never been sung 
until you sing it 
don’t just hum the tune 
it’s me or the moon, you said 
and I don’t know how to choose

Don’t you wonder why you dream so deep 
you’re stealing all my sleep

Vocals/guitar: Jon Mitchell
Vocals: Ariel Root Wolpe
Bass: Michael Feinberg
Drums: Kirk Benttinen

Written by Jon Mitchell

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5. The Robot

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The robot’s calling 
she’s buzzing in my pocket 
I am falling 
for her logic 
I am being 
beta tested 
rat or lizard 
I am human 

Please just be here 
while I disappear 
and then I’ll let you go 
run your fingers through my hair 
I’m a sucker for despair 
I’ll kiss you on your microphone

I’m talking to the robot   
my thumbs are on the glass   
the drones with the microphones   
are coming in fast   
my body’s made of water   
but I have iron in my bones   
maybe I am just a robot in human clothes

The robot needs sleep to recharge her power   
the robot needs to dream of glowing flowers   
wake up pretty robot, your wires are live   
I’ll bet you’re just like me inside

 

Vocals/guitar: Jon Mitchell
Vocals: Ariel Root Wolpe
Bass: Michael Feinberg
Drums: Kirk Benttinen

Written by Jon Mitchell
Special thanks to Kirk Benttinen

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6. Platonic

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It’s a million miles across this empty bed 
I’m lying awake at night pretending you instead 
I don’t know where you sleep 
don’t even know where you stand 
you keep changing colors

This shape is solid, regular 
it’s platonic, a form 
you can look at it from any angle 
but it will look just the same as before

You are so close to me know 
I can reach out and touch your hair 
but the glowing flower between us 
keeps changing colors

You can use me to grow 
I don’t know, I don’t know

 

Vocals/guitar/bass: Jon Mitchell
Vocals: Ariel Root Wolpe
Drums: Kirk Benttinen

Written by Jon Mitchell

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7. The Room On Top Of Your Heart

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The sun is low 
the day is almost done 
and you don’t want 
to bother anyone

You can’t please anyone else 
you’ve given all your help

This is the right place to start 
in the room on top of your heart 
where you can hear yourself

I go inside 
when my ears are ringing 
when I go out 
I’ll go out singing

Enough of the buzzes and bells 
we’re only fooling ourselves

 

Vocals/guitar: Jon Mitchell
Bass: Michael Feinberg
Drums: Kirk Benttinen

Written by Jon Mitchell

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8. Friends On The Ground

You gotta be a giant to stand with me
you gotta stand taller than the tallest trees
so I believe that you can see
over the horizon

But I haven’t learned not to trust what I see
witches and wizards know how to trick me
I’ve been deceived, and so I try to read
the skies my heart flies in

If I see storm clouds coming in
I’ll try so hard to descend
but the currents always catch me in the end
I know where I’m headed
and I know where I’ve been
but my compass just spins and spins

Now I see a maze when I look in your eyes
when you hold my gaze, I feel surprised
It delights me to see you
playing with the lights

But now I’ve gotten lost and turned around
I used to grow up, but now I’m growing down
I’m growing down, growing down
to my friends on the ground

So I’m going down
I’m going down
mayday, baby
I’m going down

So come on down,
come on down
to your friends on the ground

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Vocals/guitar/piano: Jon Mitchell
Bass: Michael Feinberg
Drums: Kirk Benttinen
Friends on the ground: Irina Alexander, Ring Bear, Kirk Benttinen, Josh Cohen, Megan Doak, Stephen Feinberg, Randall Leeds, Jenna Rose Marek, Sam Mitchell, Nat Rosenzweig, Lauren Thomas, Jesse Alexander Eunoia Wolfe, Ariel Root Wolpe

Written by Jon Mitchell

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9. The Field

Everything’s suspended on the surface
of a bubble filled with air
we all just pretended we were
separate and solid and scared

I’m in on a secret
I can’t believe is true
I knew I should go
into the field with you

Let’s go out to the field
where we can’t tell if anything’s real
grab all the blankets you’ll find
let’s go lie in the field tonight

We are like cities
our tunnels and alleys
are quiet at night
our bodies are busy
rebuilding the bridges
we cross in the light

The streetlights are glowing
out of your eyes
let’s get back to the dark
and wander outside

Let’s go out to the field
where we can’t tell if anything’s real
we’ll feel better outside
it is cold, but it’s clear and bright

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Vocals/guitar: Jon Mitchell
Vocals: Ariel Root Wolpe
Piano: Nat Rosenzweig
Bass: Michael Feinberg
Drums: Kirk Benttinen

Written by Jon Mitchell

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10. Root (Waking Up With You)

Don’t be scared to let someone know you
the world is waking up around us

Do you know how you’re feeling?
can’t you see you’re still smiling?

I believe in finding out

What are your intentions?
show me your intentions

I feel lost
do you feel lost?

We’re not so different you and I

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Vocals: Ariel Root Wolpe
Vocals/guitar: Jon Mitchell
Bass: Michael Feinberg

Written by Jon Mitchell & Ariel Root Wolpe

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11. 11:11

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It never happened.

Vocals, synthesizer, and drums: Kirk Benttinen
The Kirk machine: Ian Pellicci
Guitar/subliminal stimuli: Jon Mitchell
Bass: Michael Feinberg

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Credits

Portal
by Jon Mitchell

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Produced by Kirk Benttinen

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Engineered by Ian Pellicci and Stephen Feinberg at Tiny Telephone Recording in San Francisco

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Cover by Irina Alexander

Jon’s guitar teacher: Travis Andrews

Mastered by Bob Weston at Chicago Mastering Service.

Portal and all songs by Jon Mitchell (Ablaze Interactions/ASCAP)

© 2014, an Ablaze Interaction

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