Teenage Flesh

I wrote most of Teenage Flesh between 2002 to 2005 (hence the title). I was 15 to 19 years old during those years.

During that time, I left Mississippi to go to college in Vermont for a year. Then spent time in Northern Arizona before settling in Buffalo, New York, for 2 years.

These songs are from high school to my first experiences into adulthood.

harlan vaughn teenage flesh
Teenage Flesh album art. Photo credit: Hannason Lindley

Here’s all you want to know about the album, including full lyrics.

I recorded the vocals in Brooklyn and Dallas over a period of ~4 years.

All photos by Hannason Lindley.

Where to listen

Spotify

Teenage Flesh

Here are each of the songs with notes & lyrics.

1. Sundust

The origin of this song was another one called Red Instead. After that, I used the phrase in a poem, Discerner, then another song called Over Your Shoulder (which also had some traces of what ended up being Out Of My Life).

Sundust art. Photo credit: Hannason Lindley

This is about finding the one, that someone you want to watch every sunset with. Someone who makes you want to get in the car and drive and drive and drive all the way to the coast before you’ll stop.

It got a major rewrite on April 4, 2018.


I couldn’t believe the amount of the tease
When it came back time to renew with you
So let’s go, my love

We’ve got to run to race
Suck to taste
It’s time to fly high, into our daze
Then through Calexico
Sundust lust-fucking to Pacifica Highway

Pink red blue and you’re by my side, with your hand in mine
The way you laugh, your handsome smile
I want to see the end of the world with you
In our own version of Manifest Destiny

We’ve got to run to race
Suck to taste
It’s time to fly high, into our daze
Then through Calexico
Sundust lust-fucking to Pacifica Highway

I couldn’t believe the amount of the tease
When it came back time to renew with you
So let’s go, my love
Pink red blue and you’re by my side, with your hand in mine
So let’s go, my love

We’ve got rest to sleep
Stand to lean
It’s time to fly high, into our daze
Then through Calexico
Sundust lust-fucking to Pacifica Highway
Then through California
Sundust lust-fucking to Pacifica Highway

I started to think it could really happen
Happen with you, you and me
With your hand in mine

2. Piss Ourselves

After the fleeting love of Sundust, we enter the stormy and toxic realm of Piss Ourselves.

This one started as In My Throat and morphed into Pink Glitter, then Piss Ourselves. I used the “square mile” line in another one called Hotbed, from 2004. I actually wrote what because Piss Ourselves on January 2, 2006.

The opening lines used to be, “We sleep for almost an hour after the fucking is over. I don’t like misogyny and I’m not done working your junk.”

It’s about the cruel games people, especially loved ones, play with you. The unreturned calls, the ignored texts, the stringing along for months and months. Like you’re both holding your bladder for as long as you can and the first person to piss loses the whole stupid game.

There’s an element of sexual obsession and escapism here. But mostly, it’s just abusive.


We sleep for almost an hour after the fucking is over.

I ran a square mile. We had some acceptable sex.

Now I sit here alone thinking of what. How I’m alone with a swath through my throat.
Trust would be the sexiest thing. But am I too gone to extricate this?

You and I play a terrible game. We both play Piss Ourselves.
I go along with it. Ah, ah, ah
It is ideal to trust. I dropped a vial of acid and stared (mortally) out the window for hours.

Now I sit here alone thinking of what. How I’m alone with a swath through my throat.
Swath through my throat. Swath through my throat.

We sleep for almost an hour after the fucking is over.

You kiss me goodbye.
I sit in my chair while the day’s worries float over me.
Our game is another cruel way to keep me suppressed.
We both play Piss Ourselves. We both play Piss Ourselves.

Now I sit here alone thinking of what. How I’m alone with a swath through my throat.
Swath through my throat. Swath through my throat.

We sleep for almost an hour.

3. Contraband

Oh my god, the chorus of Contraband was stuck in my head for about 20 years – literally. I wrote it on paper for the first time in 2006.

The origin of Contraband scrawled on paper

The chorus was supposed to be part of a song called Roll Up My Sleeve. But I liked it so much, I moved it out and made it a whole song out of it.

Contraband art. Photo credit: Hannason Lindley

The line, “That’s my angle… my angle’s downgradient” was from another song called Bad Blood, then in another one – Make Drinks Tump/Tanks Away. But for now, it’s living inside of Contraband.


I will learn to cartograph
I’ll wipe myself straight off the map
I will learn to cartograph
I’ll wipe myself straight off the map

But that’s all contraband
That’s all contraband
That’s all contraband

All this hate I emanate. Ether around.

And that’s my angle
My angle’s downgradient

4. Out Of My Life

I wrote the first incarnation of Out Of My Life on April 23, 2002 in Columbus, Mississippi. And recorded it over 16 years later. So crazy.

Original lyric sheet for Out Of My Life

Then in 2005, in Florida, I put some chords to it with a guy I was seeing at the time.

C Sharp Major, baby!

This is probably one of the earliest songs on the whole album. I was 17 when I wrote it.

Another cool thing is it’s mostly completely unchanged from its original version. I’ve always loved the lyrics and melody for this one. It’s been in my heart for a very long time by now.

I added the first verse in 2007. It’s originally from a song called New Favorite Color.


Looking thru my contact lens
I see the world from a different point of view
I see all the books I never read
And the messes I let run askew
But I wanna leave those books unread
And those messes all unkempt

Cuz
You just walked out of my life
You just walked out of my door
And you walk on, walk on
And you just left my heart bleeding

I sat alone all that nite now
I don’t know
I don’t think
I don’t care
I said oh
You just go, you just go

You just walked out of my life
You just walked out of my door

I fell asleep uneasily
And woke up with a passion in me
I had to get you back
You’re still a challenge to me
You can still hurt me like you know you can, well
What will you do when I’m not there to adore you?
What will you do when no one will hold you like I want you to stay here with me and hold me while you sleep in my bed
But you just go
You just go

You just walked out of my life
You just walked out of my door
And you walk on, walk on
And you just left my heart bleeding

You just go, you just go, you just walk
You just walked out of my life
You just walked out of my door
And you walk on, walk on
And you’re leaving me, you’re leaving me
Oh my god, you’re really leaving me

5. Dear John

This was inspired by a Reba McEntire song called She Thinks His Name Was John. Of course, there’s since been a Taylor Swift song by the same name. But it’s supposed to be a more classic “Dear John” letter – a kiss-off, a goodbye, and in this case, a fuck you.

I think the person writing this letter was deeply hurt, but decided to move on when it was clear the other person didn’t care any more. The pain remains, and he decides to remain alone to heal for a while after releasing some healthy aggression.

This is also the turning point of the the album and goes from sentimental, playful, and mournful into some much darker terrain on the brooding second half.


Dear John
Fuck you
I release you
Wasted so much time thinking about you
Trying to get you back to me

It’s clear
You don’t care
It was my fault
But you won’t give me another chance
So goodbye
Fuck you
I release you
Dear John, Dear John

If you don’t care then I don’t care
And I’m in this thing alone

I’m hurt
But at least
I can heal now
Wasted so much time thinking about you
I thought you could be the one

All the time we wasted
The life we could’ve had together
Will never happen now
I hate you for taking that away from us

If you don’t care then I don’t care
And I’m in this thing alone

Dear John
Fuck you
I release you
Wasted so much time thinking about you
Trying to get you back to me

If you don’t care then I don’t care
And I’m this thing alone

6. Katana

I wrote this song in Phoenix on December 31, 2004 – New Year’s Eve.

First draft of Katana

It was pretty wild then, and got a big edit in 2018.

It’s about wanting to get close to someone. But once you’re close, everything stagnates. The relationship ends with neither party pursuing the other. No one will lead. What you thought you wanted so badly went nowhere. There is no transference.


Nuzzle you to muzzle you

I ran a cord from me to you
You cut your end so it’s tricky to
Shift my point to make it bloom into the race I wanted
A race to the end
Now I don’t even feel like moving
Don’t feel this is moving

If you want, I can take control
If you don’t, then please just fucking go

My last option is to holster you and bolster you
Nuzzle you to muzzle you
Then knuckles white a katana
Knuckles white a katana

Vulgar in black effective this way
I see it as strands, you see it as strange
We took ourselves right out
And I’m barely hanging in
And I don’t even feel like moving
Don’t feel this is brewing

If you want, I can take control
If you don’t then please just fucking go
You know I wanted to fight for you
But I won’t build a house that’s on sand for you
If it’s going to stay this shaky
I don’t think I can make it

My last option is to holster you and bolster you
Nuzzle you to muzzle you
Then knuckles white a katana
Knuckles white a katana

Your puzzle for today is nuzzle or muzzle
Nuzzle you to muzzle you
Then knuckles white a katana
Knuckles white a katana

7. Hide Your Head

I wrote this song in my English class on January 10, 2002, in Columbus, Mississippi. It’s about a fight I had with my dad about wanting to go to college in Vermont.

He told me – point blank – that I was making the worst decision of my life. I ended up going to Vermont in August 2002.

Original Hide Your Head lyrics

I didn’t change a thing about this song – just recorded it as it was. It came out fully formed. It’s the oldest song on the album.

The vocal on this one is mad warble-y and pitchy – but that’s kinda my thing. Plus, it suits the material of the song.

I actually tried to re-record the vocal many times and could never get it “just right.” I’ve learned to embrace the warble – it fits the uncertain direction the song is about.


Bear your teeth
Then hide your head
Turn it around and lick it back again
Shave your legs
Praise your bed
Canopy in the general’s land
I go

Slap your kin
Fire your lead
If I go to college, that’s fucking up?
Gotta get this gold
A northeastern place
In this land

I’m going
To kill you
If you dare oppose my position again

Don’t bear your teeth
Then hide your head
Go, little scrub
Turn it around again

I said, hide your head
Hide your head
Don’t look at me ever again
I go, I said

Leave me be
Mold these rings
I went there in my head
Blue sky, golden sun
Yes, I see this and know that you’re a shithead mother fucker
Fuck you, I go

Bear your teeth, then hide your head

8. Poleax

I wrote Poleax on July 5, 2002, in Memphis.

This is another early one that came out fully-formed. I only edited a couple of words and loved it immediately.

I also really really love the chorus – another one that’s been stuck in my head for nearly 20 years.

Original Poleax lyrics

(Maybe you’ll find this interesting…)

I will poleax you
When you’re slippin’ a ten
Gives me something to do
I will poleax you
My walls are damaged
You’re gonna die today, you little shit

Stop confusing me
Overcomplicating sophistry
I sent in all the forms
And on my way right past your door
I’m not banging
Blocked for over a month (you let it desist)
Moving, moving

So this what I’d gotten used to
Just ended lacking yellow signs
Wish to forget utterly and forever
That all you got
Don’t look yet –
Badlife is winning

9. Vindictive

I wrote the first version of Vindictive in Buffalo on April 3, 2004. Then revised it to its current form on June 12, 2005, in Arizona.

First draft of Vindictive

This song is about being safe in your mind despite people constantly requesting access. It’s about the freedom to think whatever you want to think – as long as you can infiltrate your own mind, you can do anything you want in there.

Vindictive art. Photo credit: Hannason Lindley

Bulletproof is fine for a vest
But only if I aim for your chest
What kind of man do you think I am I aim I am
I’ll aim for your head
Don’t look at me like that

Like

I’m thinking of something vindictive
I’m thinking of something and my sister don’t know
She don’t know

I used up two rounds, but I need to be sure
Yes, I am human but my heart doesn’t pump
I don’t need your stuff to make me complete

Firm favor firm now firm now hold
Fuck I said it’s about to jerk back

Like

I’m thinking of something vindictive
I’m thinking of something and my sister don’t know
She don’t know

I’m thinking of something vindictive
I’m thinking of something and my sister don’t know

I can play to win and I can tear me up
Mine is soft pink truth
Yours is something I stir into my tea
It’s not like I don’t think of destroying myself
When the car started to fill with smoke,
I actually thought of just sitting there
Like
Like I said I am thinking of something vindictive
I am thinking of something and my sister don’t know
She don’t know
She don’t know
She don’t know

10. So Much For That

This one is actually the newest song of the bunch. I wrote it on April 2, 2008 in New York. 10-year anniversary!

Damn, the vocal on this about near killed me. I must’ve recorded it a zillion times. In the end, I dug up the first vocal when it was still rough and raw and discovered I loved it best.

This one is looking back on an awful situation from a much healthier place. I felt it was a good way to end Teenage Flesh, especially the darker second half.

I was in my early 20s when I wrote this one. I left New York that summer and went to Montana. That fall, I moved to Chicago to finish college.

I love absolutely everything about this song.


Make it all go to hell, well…

I don’t need to hear the song
Just need to know it still exists
Underneath the lifelong chillout

I won’t downplay the Ventolin of a proper gaze
Revenge: he kills him.
Revenge
He dreams this.

Nothing goes to good
This time I’m right
And I am bigger
I am bigger than you
And you, you are wrong and small
You had the high hand
I gave so much – So much for that
Make it all go to hell, well…

Whizzing from contraband to hazy days
There’s not much along the way
A settlement every few kilos
You stuck to your regiment
So serendipitously
But it caused something else
It’s these side effects printed smallest

I won’t downplay the Ventolin of a proper gaze
Revenge: he kills him.
Revenge
He kills this.

Nothing goes to good
This time I’m right
And I am bigger
I am bigger than you
And you, you are wrong and small
You had the high hand
I gave so much – So much for that
So much – So much for that.
Make it all go to hell, well…