Seven Years

by Jacob Mau

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Jacob Mau is a passionate storyteller who has worked with refugees since 2006. His current project, Seven Years, is a collection of songs, stories, and poems drawn from this experience. Jacob has shared Seven Years in the U.S. and Canada. In 2014 he participated in the Forced to Flee tour, a Chadwick Stokes national campaign raising visibility for refugee issues. Jacob lives and works in Chicago, where he continues providing hands-on support for resettled refugees.


released February 14, 2014

Jacob Mau: vocals, guitar, banjo. Annie Scott: violin, background vocals. Brett Ratliff: drums, background vocals. Derek Song: lead guitar, background vocals. David McKenzie: bass guitar. Recorded at Sowing Season Studios in Chicago. Mixed by Brett Ratliff. Mastered by Joe Tessone at Mystery Street Recording. Album art by Aaron Schmid.
"Think it Strange" features Oliver Horton on bass and Brian Powers on Mandolin. Mixed by Nick Gunty. Mastered by Joe Tessone.
© 2014 all songs by Jacob Mau.


all rights reserved



Jacob Mau Chicago, Illinois

Jacob Mau spins compelling stories of misfit people and misplaced landscapes oft overlooked by others, and ignored by history. As this year's winner of Chicago's longest-running open mic competition, hosted annually by Uncommon Ground, he is clearly a standout among the city's best singer-songwriters. Good things await this young musician."

-Scott Schaefer
Label Manager
Bloodshot Records
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Track Name: Think it Strange
Soldiers brought a big machine gun
Put it in his living room
Said we’d like to use your window sir
There’s things we’ve got to shoot

When he told his kids that story
It became their memory
Though they never saw the bullets
And they never heard the scream

Now in America his son is play’n
X-box shooter games
Thirty points for a clean head shot
No one seems to think it strange

Hum ditty ho hi ho hum
Does anybody think it strange?

I met a woman who had never been to school
Or learned to read
She could hardly hold a pencil
But she spoke in poetry

All the wisdom I had gathered
From the information age
Now in question, now unraveled
Neath those melodies she sang

Hum ditty ho hi ho hum
Does anybody think it strange?

I found a tree that ‘gainst all others
Shown a trunk white as a bone
Branches stretch’n up like fingers
Roots down in the soft dark loam

Forty years I walked that river
Wonder’n what its name could be
Then appearing Adam told me
Oh that’s a great big sycamore tree

Hum ditty ho hi ho hum
Does anybody think it strange?

I went look’n for my princess
I went search’n for my queen
Says it right there in the Bible
How come you’re all laugh’n at me?

When I find her with a royal love
We’ll walk at Jesus’ side
Ever suffering, ever praying
Till the world is put to right

You can read again those stories
You can mine your memory
For one single recollection
I tell you, that’s how it’s gonna be

Hum ditty ho hi ho hum
Does anybody think it strange?
Track Name: One-Way Ticket
They hauled my daddy off to jail
Next time I saw him he was silent and frail
The bombs they fell and the bullets flew
I still have no idea how we made it through
Over that border in a rumbling diesel truck
Was it an all-powerful protecting hand
Or just dumb luck?
The barbed wire and land mines weren’t so kind
To all the others we left behind

We’re taking pictures and signing our names
Climbing up into a giant airplane
With six one-way tickets to the promised land
When we get there what will we do--
My parents and my brothers and my grandma too?
With six one-way tickets to the promised land

They bombs they fall and the bullets fly
You were there, now you’re here
And I don’t know why
Like two dozen angels in disguise
I see them sometimes when I pray
And I open my eyes
Laughing and singing to me that divine song
"Something good still grows in the
Middle of all that’s gone wrong"
I remember long ago somebody told me
That one day the blood of the wicked’s
Gonna fill the sea

We called out for our lives and we ran
But you, you were born in the promised land
So safe, so free, so far away
Oh brother I’ve wept and I’ve wandered too
But I know exactly what I’ve got to do
Before I ever step foot in the Promised Land
Before we ever lay eyes on the Promised Land
Track Name: Three Times I Have Asked
Come brother bear this burden
Sister share this shame
I know the world has moved on
Gave me a number and forgot my name
My name is Khadija Khan
I just turned seventy-three
Back home I raised eight children
In America I sit alone and watch TV
Come brother bear my burden
Come sister share my shame

Come brother bear my burden
Come sister share my shame
Here in the land of the living
I am the only one who remains
I saw them kill my family
And turn our village into ash
The soldiers took my sister
I heard her screaming as they laughed
Could you bear this burden?
Could you share this shame?

Come brother bear this burden
Come sister share this shame
I’ve wandered deep into the darkness
Turned my back on you and walked away
And now I cannot lift my eyes
To look you in the face
I’m certain that I’ve slipped beyond
The reach of Heaven’s grace
Can you bear my burden?
Could you stand my shame?

Come Mary bear this burden
Come virgin take this shame
You will bear a child
Emmanuel will be his name
Hold him in your belly
And do not be afraid
The prophet cries "Deliverance!"
Now the angels sing in praise
Follow him out of the city
Now lay him in his grave
He will not remain there
He’ll rise and take away our shame

He will bear our burdens
He will bear our burdens
Track Name: Seven Years
Oh Jubilee come remind me
That this field is not my own
Though my fathers fought so hard
It was the Lord who held their sword
And gave to them a vineyard
Which they did not plant
A place of quiet rest
A sweet inheritance

Oh refugees come remind me
That this land is not my home
Though my fathers worked so hard
It was never theirs to own
Teach me not to hoard good things
Or take more mana than I need
I will lay down my silly rights
And unhand my property

I believe, I believe that the promises are true
When you die you won’t take your house
Or car or your field or your servants with you
I’m an alien I can’t fit in cause I am not yet home
Should I spill more blood
Defending something I don’t own?
Or trade my life for a career
So I can pay for something I can’t keep?
Please believe with me
That in the resurrection we are free
Track Name: War and Glory
Yousif, Yousif, where has your sister gone?
I haven’t seen her since the night they dropped the bomb
And she sang to me a song to keep my tears from coming on
As the fire lit up the dawn. I remember her though it’s been so long

Young Mohammad, I long to speak with you
You learn a new language twice as quickly as I do
You grow more distant everyday, and I don’t have the words to say
But I won’t let you slip away, Lord knows, my son
You are the very one I came here to save

Jacob, Jacob, your heart became a stone
You’re turning paychecks but you’re putting on a show
Your brittle branches hang so low, so many stories
You don’t know because you’re always on the go
And your fruit is overgrown, and your love remains unknown
You go to work, you go to work and come back home

Well it’s true, and I don’t know what to say
But do you love me anyway?
You’re not okay. I’ve noticed it too
And yes, I do

Henry, Henry, you’ll never return home
You’ll die a distant soldier as these quiet cornfields grow
And your little sister cries, as she stares into the fire
Wondering exactly how you died, she only wants you at her side
And your father walks the fields in the blackness of the night
He left a long day’s work behind to shake his fist
At a silent sky and wonder why

I’ve seen your picture, Henry, from 1922
We could’ve been brothers, me and you
That war was different they say
There was good and evil, clear as day
But it took you just the same
Track Name: Lead Forth In Peace
Mother, come and dance with me
We’ll sing with the mountains
And clap our hands with the trees
For all our sorrow
Is just a memory

Sister, don’t you cry anymore
A king he came and
Put an end to the war
All your beauty
Has now been restored
Track Name: If I Forget
At the waters of Babylon
I hung up my harp
When they told me to sing your song
I hung up my harp
Will we ever return?
My child I don’t know
Yes we will return
Remember, the prophet told us so

He said,
Our bodies will be strong
And our city will shine
With a beauty we’ve never known
Through all ages
Until the end of time

Son of David, Son of Man
Is this Elijah, returned to us?
Or our Passover lamb?
If I could only touch his dusty robe
I would be healed, I would be clean
They say when he takes his sword
And cuts the Romans down
Oh then we will be whole
Then we will be free
We will be free

At the waters of Babylon
I hung up my harp
When the told me to sing your song
I picked up my harp

And said,
Let my right hand
Forget all its skill
Should I ever cease to sing
Of your holy hill
Track Name: Day And Night Before You
Oh Lord, God of my salvation
I call out day and night before you
Let my prayers come to you
Turn your ear to my cry
Turn your ear to my cry

For my soul is full of trouble
My life draws near to the grave
I am counted among the dead
I have no strength, no strength, no strength
Turn your ear to my cry
Turn your ear to my cry

repeat with "his"
repeat with "her"
repeat with "our"
Track Name: To Receive Me
So you think that I’m some kind of prodigal
That some day I’ll show up with my head hung low
That may be so, that may be so
But would you shame yourself to receive me?
Would you shame yourself to receive me?

You took what I gave to you
You took it, and you walked away
You and your new friends had your fun
You had your day, now you’re so low
And you think nobody knows
You’re so low, and you think nobody knows
Could I shame myself and receive you?
Should I shame myself to receive you?

There are three things I’m certain of
My family, and my home, and a love
That cannot be understood but can be known
It can be known, Oh Lord, it can be known
It can be known, Oh Lord, it can be known
You’d shame yourself to receive me
You’d shame yourself to receive me

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