The Snow Queen: A Folk Opera

by Laura Dunn

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A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen's tale in contemporary Detroit.


released August 8, 2014

Words and music: Laura Dunn

Vocals and ukulele: Laura Dunn

Vocals and guitar: Kendy Gable

Vocals, flute, and glockenspiel: Ellen O'Meara

Double Bass: Kirk Siee

Sound engineering and mixing: Craig Lardiere

Mastered by Gus Elg of SkyOnion

Album art by Willow Holdorf

Copyright 2012 by Laura Dunn

For my family



all rights reserved


Laura Dunn and the Ghosts of Xmas Past Portland, Oregon

with Bjorkish runaway melodies and surreal lyricism, Laura Dunn and the Ghosts of Xmas Past combine banjo-driven creepy folk music with opera singers, toy pianos and rattling chains.
She sounds like "Emmylou Harris singing in a haunted house" --James Duval, Virginia Omnivore
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Track Name: Summer Friend
O, the whippoorwill of traffic from my bed,
I look out and see the garden we made
from a flower pot and spider web.
Three red flowers learn how to bloom;
summer in the city, we make do.

I wait for you to crawl in my window
from the fire escape that divides our homes.
Your silhouette appears, mocking the sun’s glow.
So many people in the city—you’re the one I know.

O, my summer friend, we walk down the sky’s blue—
mirror for the avenue.

I want to be the first to see
cracks in the buildings
sprouting little green leaves.

O, my summer friend
let’s sleep in the park’s arms.
O, my summer friend,
let’s dodge the avenue’s cars,
sing louder than the subway,
morn the river’s gray.
We’ll cat call all the fellas
before they can yell anything at us.

O, my summer friend
may it never end
Track Name: Little White Spiders
Little white spiders
crawl on the window.
There’s the sky’s stir—
call it snow.

The window turns to ice
it divides you and I—
we have to stay inside.

Little white spiders
in gowns of ice,
the ground is white
and so is the sky.

On the window I trace
the queen of snow—
if she comes inside
I’ll melt her on the stove.

Cold feels like the blue edge of a knife,
the ground’s twilight,
the trucks skidding on the road—
to be safe—become the cold.

The crowds of the empty city
won’t keep you warm,
the atoms of ice stand very far apart.
If you want to survive,
become the ice.

She stands on the road,
throws her red shoes in the river.
You can’t stop her arms from shivering.
If it’s too much to care for her,
become the winter.
Track Name: Song of a Burning Tree
Song of a burning tree
worlds away
how is it I can hear it
on your lips today?

A thousand years ago,
a mirror was smashed by clouds.
To this day, it’s still raining down—
raining down.

I watch the red and blue of my T.V. screen.
Is this seeing?
I want to see.

Wind rushes down the street tonight—
it happens to us all—
You got something in your eye

There’s a wind from china
blowing dust on my shoes.
I write songs to remember
all that I lose.
Two people at a table,
noses glowing in their phone light,
no, this isn’t sight, I want sight—

You turn away, something in your eye
you turn away, something in your eyes
blinking is your eye waving goodbye
Track Name: Garden Song
It was a bruise blue night,
and she talked to the knotted plants
because she missed him,
and there was no one else to talk to.

It was a bruise blue night,
and she talked to the knotted plants.
They could read the ground,
hear footsteps
even when the snow mutes the sound.

Their roots grew
deep as the dead.
Their roots knew
where he went.

Their roots grew
deep as the dead.
Their roots knew,
but they couldn’t talk back.

The snow falls in a spider web,
gets caught,
and I couldn’t care less.

It was a bruise blue night
and she talked to the holes in the sky
where the light shone through the night.
Gnats were swarming beneath her feet
but movement only says one thing: goodbye.

The quiet of the road,
the direction of the river’s froth,
the litter of the stars
only tell her north

Their roots grew
deep as the dead
their roots knew
but they couldn’t talk back.

Their roots grew
deep as the dead .
Their roots knew,
and she left.
Track Name: Old Crow's Song
Old Crow’s Song

What do I know? I’m just a shy ol’ crow
with a list of places I’ve never been.
What do I know? I’m just a lying ol’ crow
with a longer list of my sins.

You want to know about longing?
I live on the wind.
You want to know about longing?
my love has a door she won’t let me in.

When it snows, I look in the pond
that cracks like the crow’s feet
that stretch from the eyes
of my love when she tries to talk to me.

When it snows, we meet in the garden
where the weathervane fell.
She smells of linen
and rooms I’ll never go in,
and things she’ll never tell.

You want to know about losing?
The sky is deeper than the sea.
You want to know about losing?
between the night and a crow
there is no seam.
Track Name: Sleeping Boy
O my sleeping boy,
this city has lived 10,000 nights
and been seen with just as many closed eyes.

O my sleeping boy,
is your life just as new?
You run on stones
where the weeds once grew.

The crow says it’s you,
is it you?
and away to my home, that zephyr blew you.

O my sleeping boy,
don’t turn around. Is it you?
or someone else that I’ve found.

O my sleeping boy,
look at all 10,000 lights,
like you, they reach from the ground
toward the sky.

The crow says it’s you,
is it you?
a boy who once only said no,
now says “I do.”

There’s a bridge and a garden
and a fire to warm your feet.
A bridge and a garden,
what else would you need?
There’s a bridge and a garden
and a fire to warm your feet.
A bridge and a garden,
wont you stay with me?

O my sleeping boy,
awake to empty streets.
My footsteps in the wind—
a far off melody.
Track Name: The Mugging
I trap the pigeons
in the ceiling
so they wont fly away.

You don’t buy gas
at the station
but you still have to pay.

I run my blade
down the old man’s throat
so he’s too scared
to pass away.

I’ll rob you
so you know
what to hold on to.

The lights leave the city
fade from the north
to the still water on the lake shore.

I gather strays
the city gathers dust
we’re robbed of every color
but rust.

The grass dries to a curled finger
mice bob in the pond
it’s hard to count the things that are gone.

You’ll never go—
you’ll never go—
I will never ease my hold

You’ll never leave—
you’ll never leave—
I don’t want to feel grief.
Track Name: Top of the World
I held a pile of sand
then I let it go.
it took so long to lose it.
it melted-- it was snow.

Big, black clouds
race us to the north pole.
In this melting world,
there one thing I would hold
on to—to you –

Forward, forward to the top of the world.

Are you a lonely boy
writing without a sound?
I am a willful girl.
I sing your name out loud.

Do you think of me?
draw our home on the blank ground?
I left home to look for you.
It’s the whole wide world I found
Track Name: A Book in the Wind
A Book in the Wind

I watched as he poured his drink into the stream.
That red wine swam like a salmon spawning,
and where it swam, I found this dream—
I’d color life like a book so he’d stay with me.

How far can a foot sink in a dune?
Can’t tell, can’t tell—disappears too soon.
But I will wait on this moonless night
for just one planet to swim into sight.

I’ve done everything, but I’m only a girl.
I don’t think that my baby likes it much in this world.

In a market inVietnam,
noodles hung from our lips like an old gray beard.
We jumped on our eyeglasses,
growled at volcanoes,
but what will keep him here?

I’ve done everything, but I’m only a girl.
I don’t think that my baby likes it much in this world.

At night in a garden of black flowers,
there was a party—and our whispers
blew away in the wind.
But somewhere off the coast of Chile,
you can hear my whisper where it landed,
saying, you open my eyes like a book in the wind.
Will you stay with me to the end?

I’ve done everything but I’m only a girl,
I don’t think that my baby likes it much in this world.
Track Name: You're a Stormy Morning, Mr. Sphere
I spy with my little eye
clouds walking to a grave.

I’ll try—I said, I’ll try
to stop a tidal wave.

Call the operator
she’s got to know—
I’m going to stop the snow.

When I’m with you,
I see the world in an icicle.
When I’m with you,
we stop in a town called impossible.

Call the philosophers,
let’s give their pens some trouble.
Call the philosophers,
lets have a love that makes them uncomfortable.

The weather aint easy—
the weather aint enough
of a reason to give up.
I’ll strike a match—
lets bless what gets tough.

I spy with my little eye
clouds walking to a grave.
Track Name: A Thousand Owls
I was born in a town that don’t exist no more.
The river turned to glass.
The factories moved off shore

Before you, I loved a brick merchant.
He filled his suit with stones,
and drowned with the stock market.
Every night, I dream of his name
on the ocean floor,
written and erased

Someday this big planet is going to lose me too,
but I’m just a little thing
except to you—

A thousand owls
landed in the bay
their feathers washed clean the waves,
and when they flew on,
I looked for you—
there’s one thing I don’t want to lose

Now I’m lost in North Carolina’s mists,
a child on each hip, you and our life
clutched in my fists.

A thousand owls
and a boardwalk reaching out a mile
into the sea.
I always remember that day at the beach.

A thousand owls hid the ocean’s blue,
and I’m just a little thing
except to you.