“House of Dancers” has long been a sort of unfinished symphony for me. Playing with Spiny Norman, I was inspired to write something dark and confessional in tone. Something that would be uncomfortable to write, and would produce an emotional resonance because of it. I was very pleased with the result, which clearly shows the debt I owe to Billy Joel, one of my greatest pop/rock influences. The mindset was still with me a few years later when I first truly tried my hand at a Bardic song, which birthed “The Bastard’s Tale”. (Pun intended.)
Unfortunately, the chord structure of the song was as challenging as the lyric, which made it difficult for the band to rehearse. Other pieces I wrote after, such as “Roses Are Red” and “World Enough And Time”, took its place in the hopper. I shifted my focus to my engagement even as the band decided it needed to focus more on rock music, and sought out a trained drummer. When I left the band shortly before my wedding, we’d never played the song. I took a few months of guitar lessons, and managed to muddle through the song on acoustic guitar one night at an open mic, but I yearn for the chance to at least record it, if not perform it live, one day the way it was meant to sound.
UPDATE (December 2012): After playing with GarageBand for a few months, I finally have a version that captures it well enough for me to be willing to share. At least now you can hear what I was after.
House of Dancers
© 2001 music & lyrics by Eric Schrager
I walk alone, the glaring lights distort my midnight vision,
The sky-tall buildings all stare down and mock my indecision,
I know this hunger, it’s impossible to quench,
My stomach’s knotted—as I close my eyes, my teeth are clenching…
It’s Friday night, I left the office drained, the week was endless,
There’s nothing really wrong, I’m only feeling tired and friendless,
If I just make it to the bus, I’ll be okay,
But now I feel my feet betray me, ’cause they aren’t going that way!
They lead me to the House of Dancers,
I know I won’t find any answers,
But at some girl’s suggestion, I’ll start some light investing,
And in a little while I’m sure that I’ll forget the question!
So welcome to the House of Dancers,
I can’t say no to their advances,
It’s foolish to be taunted by all that beauty flaunted,
But they’ll convince me that they’re what I’ve wanted…
There’s red-head Sloane, whose leggy confidence is all I see;
Vanessa tells me that these nights pay for her law degree;
Renee is out this month, the surgeon left her bruised;
I’m scared for Kate—champagne and coke have got her so confused…
I love the knowing eyes and sultry smile of my friend Ivete,
She’ll be returning to Brazil soon, but she hasn’t left yet.
I hear their stories—each unique, yet all the same,
There’s just one question that I cannot ask them: “Is that really your name?”
I meet them in the House of Dancers,
Working their wanna-be romancers,
Their looks may be a blessing, but somehow it’s depressing
To watch them smile and slip the bills away as they start dressing.
Employment at the House of Dancers,
You want the cash, you take your chances;
The money’s good, they tried it, but one or two confided,
They’ve found it just as hard to leave as I did…
The House of Dancers caters to your every need,
And if you pony up, you’ll have it sweet indeed.
How ’bout a quick massage? Champagne room’s in the back,
Drinks start at ten bucks—
Like everything else, the cards are well-stacked…
I sit there slumped, and I don’t see the glaring lights around me,
My pain dissolves as she starts serpentining up and down me,
I smile and nod when she asks, “Maybe one more song?”
It ends so quickly but somehow she makes it feel so long…
And now the itch is on, as I survey this house of plenty,
It’s gonna feed off me all night until my wallet’s empty.
I know this scam by heart, I’ve learned all their techniques…
When I get home I’ll stay away, I promise…for at least a few weeks!
But now I’m in the House of Dancers,
I lose my reason in their glances,
I’m helpless when she eyes me, but why should that surprise me?
When I’m just sitting there and begging her to mesmerize me!
It holds me tight, the House of Dancers,
I feel it eat me like a cancer,
The more she keeps revealing, the more my head is reeling,
To get such intimacy without feeling…
I met them in the House of Dancers…