The Ambassador

by Gabriel Kahane

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    "One of the year's very best albums." — Rolling Stone

    Includes complete lyrics, an essay by Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne, and code for digital download. Despite what bandcamp says below, this purchase does NOT include automatic immediate download.

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Ambassador via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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  • Compact Disc (CD)

    "One of the year's very best albums." — Rolling Stone

    CD contains booklet containing an essay by Los Angeles Times architecture critic Christopher Hawthorne as well as the complete lyrics.

    Despite what it says below, this purchase does not come with a digital download. Please visit iTunes for the digital album, or feel free to rip it onto your computer after you buy this gorgeous art object!

    Includes unlimited streaming of The Ambassador via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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     $15 USD or more

     

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about

"One of the year's very best albums." — Rolling Stone

Bruce Willis’ hair, detective fiction, modernist architecture, and race riots all provide fodder for Gabriel Kahane’s major label debut, The Ambassador (Sony Masterworks), a meditation on the underbelly of Los Angeles seen through the lens of ten street addresses. Gabriel was born in a modest bungalow in Venice Beach, California, but spent his childhood in New England, upstate New York, and Northern California. Now, with the release of The Ambassador— produced by Kahane along with Matt Johnson (St. Vincent), Casey Foubert (Sufjan Stevens), and Rob Moose (Bon Iver)— Gabriel turns his gaze toward his birthplace with his most focused album to date.

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released February 5, 2016

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Gabriel Kahane Brooklyn, New York

Gabriel Kahane is eating chocolate bread.

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Track Name: Empire Liquor Mart (9127 S. Figueroa St.)
Empire Liquor Mart (9127 S. Figueroa St.)


When the black and whites arrive
I am lifeless on the floor,
Crumpled dollars in my hand
In my hand, in my hand.

The lady in the fishing vest
Has dropped the gun.
Who wears a fishing vest
When they’re working at a liquor store?

I float up to the corner,
Just above the ice cream
and the frozen food.
I perch beside the surveillance
Camera...

Only days after the trial
You could feel the tension rise
In the street and in the rhythm
Of despair, of despair.

It was war after a while
In each neighbor’s tired eyes.
There was nothing to persuade them
To stand down, to stand down.

I float higher and higher,
Friendly with the clouds
That cover Southland...

* *

I watch the tender skyline
Dancing, oh the terror—
On the long night,
On the long fight,
Blood, glass, burnt hair.

These angry armies quick ad-
vancing, in position:
On the rooftops,
In the culverts,
Stores are sacked while no one’s there.

Now two kinds of light
From fires and fixtures
They fill the sky—

It was never so bright
When I was young, I was
Too young to die.

On TV sets, in houses
Effortlessly done in fancy colors,
All the righteous,
All the newsmen
Speak of end times.

Why should they give a fuck some
Angry little black girl took a bullet?
Lord have mercy,
Lord have mercy
On the ones who’ve done the crimes.

Now two kinds of light
From fires and fixtures
They fill the sky—

It was never so bright
When I was young, I was
Too young to die.

If I float even even higher,
Pattern and procession are uncovered:
Flood and fire,
Flood and earthquake
Keep folks unmoored.

And the occasional celebrity car chase
Woo woo woo woo!
Just to keep God
From getting bored.

Now two kinds of light
From fires and fixtures
They fill the sky—

It was never so bright
When I was young, I was
Too young to die.

***

When my Grandma was a young woman,
East St. Louis,
She thought the town was
No good to us.

She took a Greyhound
Just as far as it could take her,
Felt her maker in the waves—
You know, how God moves through us.

I was six years old when we followed,
My mother was twenty-two.
The light was magic,
The light was true.

She thought we’d moved
moved beyond a sharecropper’s debt,
But we were just a pawn
In the accuser’s bet.

Nobody reads from the Book of Job
At the church where me and my grandma go.
Nobody sees the trouble I know,
But I know that trouble’s gonna find me.

Three years later on a Thanksgiving,
The light turned bitter;
My grandmother didn’t know
what hit her.

We got a chill
From the cold white sun,
Momma found herself staring
At the barrel of a gun.

That weren’t enough,
My uncle died too—
Shot through the chest
Back in East St. Louis,

So one fine day,
My grandma lost two,
Took me in her arms,
said, it’s just me and you.

Nobody reads from the Book of Job
At the church where me and my grandma go.
Nobody sees the trouble I know,
But I know that trouble’s gonna find me.

***

So when I say that my un-
timely death was
Something certain,

What I mean is
that these tragedies
are a kind of a family tradition.

So when I walk into the
Liquor store that morning, bright and angry,
In a daydream
Of a boyfriend
I was fifteen,

Pick up a bottle of orange juice
And put it in to my backpack,
Head toward the counter with dollar bills
And she accuse me of stealing that—
She pull my sweater
And so I hit her,
Put down the bottle
Don’t want no trouble—

Now two kinds of light
From fires and fixtures
They fill the sky—

It was never so bright
When I was young, I was
Too young to die.

I suppose it’s no surprise
To find myself about to die.

But how long that silver moment
from the bullet to the floor.

That right there was a lifetime...