Jump Roping in Chains

by Michelle Lynn

supported by


"Iowa's Emerging Butterfly Of Song"
by Clay Riness, Tapestry Magazine, February 2006

The great state of Iowa, which is the back drop for this essay, has a new member in its musical family, singer / songwriter Michelle Lynn. Born and raised the youngest of three on a farm near Monona, Iowa, she looks every bit the heartland farm girl, fresh-faced and beautiful, with long, dark Irish curls and a smile that could melt down the entire football team at Mar-Mac High School, and probably did. But she couldn't have been too typical a kid, because there is very little child in her writing.

Michelle's story is a rather remarkable one and it begins with the fact that she is just nineteen years of age and has only been playing guitar for a couple of years. Yet, she has created a debut CD entitled Jump Roping In Chains which gives us a serious look into who she is. It is a fearless collection of songs that strips away any pretension and hangs her deepest feelings out like laundry for the world to see. The album is quite sparsely produced, which seems appropriate for such personal writing, and helps listeners to appreciate the lyrical weight of the songs.

Her singing style is folksy but contemporary, rather like Ani DiFranco in some respects. But what really makes the Michelle Lynn story worth noting is the interesting style in her writing. She claims some of the best influences in music...Dylan, Neil Young, Gillian Welch, Bob Marley. Yet, her songs are like none of these stellar word smiths. Thoreau once wrote: "If man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears."

Michelle has taken in the messages from her favorite artists, but rather than copy them, has stepped to the music which she hears. Henry would be proud. She is an inward thinker with a knack for odd structure. Often her words come and go quickly, as fleeting as the thoughts she confesses.

For a writer of nineteen with so little life experience, her lyrics contain weighty statements. One won't find songs of puppy love or catchy pop rewrites rolling off the pen of Michelle Lynn. She writes without fear about whatever motivates her. Some of her songs almost have a James Joyce, stream of consciousness quality. Others are quite profound and to the point.

In sum, Iowa can indeed be proud of Michelle Lynn, and we can all enjoy watching her future unfold as an ever-evolving singer and songwriter. Watching from a distance with a sturdy binocular, we should resolve to keep our eyes trained on what is clearly Iowa's newest emerging butterfly of song, because nothing is as wondrous and beautiful as a butterfly, and one day, she may spread her wings a fly away from us on a greater journey.


released November 15, 2005

Engineered & Mixed by Harold Pederson
at Studio of Dreams in Mabel, MN
Mastered by Justin LeBreck
at JPL Records in Cary, IL


all rights reserved



Michelle Lynn La Crosse, Wisconsin

Songs from the perspective of overlooked historical people.

Michelle's first five albums focused on psychology and creative living.

contact / help

Contact Michelle Lynn

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Report this album or account

Track Name: Take a Guess
Take A Guess

what have we here
get a handle on yourself
can’t shut it up forever
get a handle on yourself
can’t shut it up forever

you pulled me aside and said
stop running from yesterdays lies
I know you know you’ve been
bottled up air tight blue in the face and bled white
now it’s time you spelled it out right

do you believe beyond the benefit of the doubt
benefit of the what
yes double-guess the obvious
if that's what you’re asking
we’ll see what we can do

our minds are made up
our minds are made up of whatever it takes
until the choices are making us
the choices are making us my friend

do you believe in justice and fairness
shorter end of the stick
all the better to beat the dead horse with
how is your appetite
face duct-taped at the head of the buffet

how do you sleep at night
still using a nightlight
how many fingers am I holding up
if that’s what you’re asking
we’ll see what we can do


how have things been going at home
the deed has been redone
they say it’s time brother john bought the farm
kid I’m not much for your psycho babbling
how is your concentration
there is something on the wall
I don’t know who wrote this
next one’s protocol
if you disappeared tomorrow
would anyone notice you’re gone

you say jump I say how far is the fall
I’ve been wondering if I’ve been wandering too far
how did I get here who’ll get me out alive


all the time I spent wishing I could fly
I could’ve built a rocket and sling shot it to the sky
but I lied cried brain fried landed by your side
kid you’ve got quite the imagination
do people clap when you survive a normal conversation
take a guess
Track Name: Half of It
Half of It

tear this apart
scratching around in the dark
you’ll find a ruptured heart
with punctured skin and bones

through five windows
I’ve been peering in
throughout your soul
hear touch taste smell see all you want
never can be gathered
every bit of what’s been scattered here
through a crystal clear view
you’d still have your work cut out for you

something seems to be missing
that’s half of it
mix my questions with your questions
do you plan to fill me in

you’re puzzling to my peace of mind
with your excuses piled up so high
honestly why try to plot this any thicker
we’re treading through thick and thin
trying to even out these burdens
are you certain you heard silent screaming
help me help me out
you can’t complete me
but you can still reach me now
I’m still falling


spill it egghead
you know full well
breaking out of your shell
all the kings horses and all the kings men
couldn’t put humpty together again
so they talk talk more talk
as off the wall another one falls
here lies my head in your hands


but you don't answer
when you don’t answer
Track Name: Cupid's Eye Patch
Cupid's Eye Patch

don’t say you didn’t see it coming

I don’t understand the first thing
about the way you’re put together
giving mind body and soul
not necessarily in that order
as we recklessly run fly by night
one on one to what we should be wise enough
to run away from

I was wondering kind of sort of a little bit
could you possibly get out of me what I want
downslide or upswing
heads cocked to the side eyes wide and grinning
taking delight in the nagging possibilities
I’m really just a prisoner jump roping in my chains
trying to beat you hands down at social charades
innocent enough behind all these words
but sometimes I think you hope
I get what you deserve

was this a coincidence
can we pass it off as an accident
since when has your aim been
to get the hit or miss waiting to happen
when it’s not that I block your vision
or you block mine
just tell me why can’t we see
we’re blind

should I say sorry I opened my mouth
nothing good came out of it
we’re out of touch tied in tongue standing now
who means to make it hard if it’s not where it counts

are you trying to confuse me with your little rules about
how what guard goes up in time must come down
whether you talk your way out
or you talk your way through
the facts get bigger as they get closer
like most things do


cupid’s got an eye patch
don’t say you didn’t see it
Track Name: Two and Two
Two and Two

for more on confusion go to my head

see other side and roll me over again
this game of life came full loaded with dice
does that mean I can drop out at anytime
say alright you win confirm my suspicion
I’m never right

one two can you tie your shoes
three four run back for more
take it for what it is
or tell me what we came here for

so caught up in everything
but only truly caught between
who we are and who we are becoming

who we are who are we to say
when we take it only so far
get our name on it and run away

true befriends false when whichever way it falls
there is a choice representing no choice at all
when honesty calls hand it over

if it doesn’t kill me it will make me wonder
now I’ve been beaten commonsenseless
with my eyes so far back in my head
there is room for nothing else to sink in

intellectualize this someday your gonna die
does that make any sense
well good neither does your life
and I should go play outside

for more on left unsaid get to the bottom
see other side and roll this over again
off in the distance tires are spinning
can you see some wound tight rocket scientist
about to chase a butterfly off a cliff

sit and think about this someday your gonna die
does that make any sense well good
neither do I
and I should go play outside

somewhere there’s a point
to know this might be enough
I put two and two together
I still live only once

Track Name: Big Blue Ball
Big Blue Ball

what gets it rolling

were you sitting around last night
watching solutions circle the world
hundreds at a time
to get them into our minds
would you have to whip out a chisel

I want to know what you know
and what you think of it
potential blood sucker born every second
life spent hording cash just to count it
then congratulations you win the biggest coffin

someday you’re gonna wake up dead
what are you going to believe in then
some say believe in yourself
maybe I should ask and what else

with your eye kept on the threat
something else will smack you upside the head
I want to have what you have
and what you’ll have with it
I can’t put things up high enough can I kid
you better learn to do what you’re told
or I’ll flash your life in front of your eyes
so many times it’ll get old


watch the big blue ball roll around again
baby I want to show you the world
but not some of the ideas on it

nobody can dig a pit that deep
unless they’re standing in it first
nobody should listen that close
yet avert from everything they’ve heard
nobody’s rock and hard place holds them together
sometimes the blood on my hands
might as well have been my own


watch the big blue ball roll around again
baby I want to show you the world
but not some of what you’ve been born into

oh my god
what keeps it rolling
Track Name: Watch Your Head
Watch Your Head

sometimes we make it worse than it is
half the time that is our problem

stumbling through this mental block called my head
no true way around it no two ways about it
where is the do it yourself kit
can I rewire this

how I feel for you
he says so much I feel for you
can you feel for me
I don’t want to hide to seek but retreat
when it hits from all sides
left to the middle I seem
is it too late to see that I should free myself from myself

cuz what you’re running from eventually haunts you
hunts you down relentlessly taunts you
and when you’ve got nothing to lose
you better watch your head

there's always something that should’ve been said
who can say it now if it mattered then
don’t cripple yourself
and think the truth stands on it’s head

can I feel for you
he says so much I feel for you
can you feel for me
I don’t want to relapse collapse and fall back
so don’t you dare quit the world
just to rid yourself of those selfish ways
if still to a beast youÂ’d slave
at least free yourself from yourself


I’ll admit I find it funny when you think you’ve broken me
to find me back standing right where I said I would be
in the midst of this frantic firing
you’re leading me around
but I see you set me up for that need to knock me down

can I feel for you
he says so much I feel for you
can you feel for me

I’m through thinking I could ever breathe for you
and I won’t leave it up to you to teach me
to take care of myself
Track Name: Self-Proclaimed Self Reliance
Self-Proclaimed Self Reliance

I’m almost pretty sure you want to tell me everything
but you want me to know nothing
saying take my word who knows where
and tell me you heard it from me when it gets there

I’m almost pretty sure we don’t know what we’re doing
but that’s never stopped us from trying anything else
so I’ll take your word who knows where
if you swear to say a prayer for this future
when we get there when we get there
we’ll be aware
why we’re here

why would you worry
what’s worth the worry
not this time not this time
why would you hurry
why would you hurry up
just to wait and watch it pass you by

early this morning and late last night
I was talking to myself again and looking for advice
oh what to do how about this
scratch your head and make a sound effect

I think you think we think
your wrong

stack it up add it up
counting on a helping hand and holding your own
so would you take your own word
or would you rather take it to your grave
rest-assured everything is the only thing worth chasing
as you pack it up to move it out handle with care
then look at the time there goes your ride


look at the ditto I found
it goes faster up as it comes around
should I go mark it down as another discount
we don’t know what we’re buying
we don’t know what we’ve bought
the only thing getting cheaper in this life is the talk

How may I help you
Come again
Track Name: As Good As Mine
As Good As Mine

I will look at you
tell me what your looking at
Haven't you ever seen the way the world
is strapped on one man's back

Yes I believe I'm still
very much alive
Been trying to climb this mountain
since the day that my daddy died

I will look at you
tell me what your looking at
Haven't you ever seen a desperate act
bring somebody back

I guess I'm not the only one
with death written on my pocket
I'm not supposed to read it till I reach
the top of this mountain

What I will go through
I'd gladly do it for you
I feel the fight
I'm gonna get it all
As good as mine

This might be a mission
to justify my existence
if I made my decision clearer
I would keep your distance

Yes I've been thinkin'
I should settle these old scores
yeah, but I have found out
that there's more

There is more to this
There is always more to...

This must be the top
Can I get any higher
This must be the top
My air has gotten thinner
This must be the top
All I've got is a chill
Greeting me snowballs
and can't be rolled back up its hill

I can't feel my hands
I'll take it as far as I can stand
I question stuff like
I'm gonna get it all
As good as mine

I will look at you
tell me what your looking at
Haven't you ever seen somebody ask
about the drawbacks

Scared of heights? Just spin around
hands thrown in the air
Watch out when the clouds come down
somebody shouts, "Get down from there!"

I can't see a thing
Maybe there is nothing to see
I forgot what I came to find
But I still get it all
As good as mine

Sometimes I'd give anything
Maybe I'd give everything
If I could get myself something worth keeping

I pull out daddy's note
See what it says
"Someday your day may come
but don't trade your life in for it"
Track Name: Self-Inflicted Deafness
Self-Inflicted Deafness

caught here in your revolving door
would you like to tell me what I’m here for
past life in pictures line the wall
it’s dead in here except voices down the hall
I think

is there a place for me
to press my face against the glass
if not could you please pass the time
my life seems to be for
writing be back soon on the devils door
and falling flat on my face
trying to face up to false beliefs

I’d love to tell you everything
I’d love to tell you everything
my version of the truth
as plain as I think it
sometimes it’s only what you make of it

my head has hit this wall too many times
I’m thinking straight but seeing cross-eyed
and I guess that makes a change
cuz we stopped at nothing to change

now sanity has become a madness all it’s own
everybody is trying it so pull out the cash
you can buy it
but pity for a dime will burn a hole in your pocket
cuz here we’re in the same boat
with some silly trying to rock it
you better buy me a big box
and put it beneath a bridge
does my diagnoses read self-inflicted deafness
and are you going to put your foot down
or are you just going to kick my
well nobody knows
but maybe if I listen real close

Track Name: Blank

wouldn’t you like to believe
everything happens for a reason
should I shake this dust off my feet
but keep the reasons to believe
drifting might settle me down

and so it comes and goes on back to this
can’t forget the time has arrived to move on

wouldn’t we like to believe
everything happens for a reason
striking with lightning
what if it doesn’t

through our skewed views we see
as memory is but a game rigged by a child
who wants nothing but to play
and if it made sense yesterday
say lets rearrange it

and so it comes and goes on back to this
can’t forget the time has arrived to move on

hold on to each moment
but never long enough to go down with it
and don’t wish to reach too far
then reach right past what is worth reaching for
the future fills it’s own time
before the sands spill no more
see what needn’t be left behind
to fill the blanks in everyday life
Track Name: Not Big Words (Just A Lot of Words)
here is a penny for your thoughts
here is a dime for what your not
as you die for what you want
but you can’t live with what you’ve got

not big words just a lot of words
who really knows what they’ve heard
don’t feel the need to explain yourself to me
watching the news stay the same over time

I view myself as a spectator in life
my biggest fear is becoming someone else’s parade animal
as I strut through a highly edited version of myself


you say nothing anywhere makes any since
(or so it seems)
I don’t think you want to know me
I is the most frequently used word in the dictionary
facts like that tend to scare me

I have never toured the country
If I did my family would think
it’s because I’m a truck driver
so everyday I drive by where my brother works
because that is where my father works
past where my other brother works
just to get to where my mother works

I have one check and no cash
with a gas light flashing on my dash
they say here is a penny for your thoughts
and here is a dime for what your not

Track Name: Ticket to Heaven
Ticket into Heaven

she said should I pack my bags
and try to get away again
it didn’t work when I was twelve
but I’ve got more to run away from now

he said you haven’t got a prayer
and if you did I bet nobody would listen
she said you can’t control me
now do you know what it feels like to be god

are you going to get yourself the ticket into heaven
and sit around and flaunt it
even if you didn’t buy it
or are you going to get yourself a little piece of heaven
and grow it down on this earth
before you have to sell it

between you me and four walls
these walls are pretty thin
do you think you should be telling me this
when they think your safe and soundly sleeping

have you been through hell and back
what’s your take on the view
is that disease going to die
an hour after you do


she called on her demons
to deal with her problems
then like hypocrites they crawled
through the hospital chapel

these memories echo in my brain
but not long enough to scare me into reasoning
when are you coming home
don’t leave me here alone
I don’t know you anymore
but it’s not like I did before

are you sleeping
brother john you can not take this lying down
hey are you sleeping
brother john you can not take this lying down

morning bells are ringing
Track Name: My Own Worst Critic
My Own Worst Critic

could you spare a little faith
could you spare a little confidence
could I be you for one day
then maybe I’d get through this
sometimes I do believe you don’t want to hear it
but hell look at me I’m the one living it

so throw this back when you are finished
don’t worry about breaking me
don’t worry about breaking this
leave it up to me I’ll take care of it
I can guarantee I’m my worst critic

could I take my life now
and put it to application
as I’m reading all your books
and pretending I understand them
oh well now you know
maybe it goes to show
you cannot read someone else
until you can read yourself well
I suppose if there’s anything I should learn from life
it’s once upon a time getting lost inside a dream
the path split both ways
and I had to wake up as me

(2nd refrain)
with a crazy thought in my head
should I lock it up and keep it
or would you like me to decode this
through the efforts of well said
well said too many times
will leave you in your head
as you’re going out of your mind


correct me if I’m wrong
being two different people
and right now they happen to be getting along
if I could I would shut one off
can’t push the button for you

(2nd refrain + refrain)

it’s just my life laying on your line
you can take it and you can rate it
better throw it back when you’re finished
don’t worry about breaking me
I tried to get a break from this
this voice inside that keeps getting louder
it says don’t you wish you could get paid
for listening by the hour to me

If you like Michelle Lynn, you may also like: