• RDO

LifeInLyrics - Paper Horses (Hey, Adeline)

This is one of my favorite songs from the Kaden Hollow album. It is also probably the most recent song written for that project. The subject of the lyrics is Adeline, whose daughter, Katy, is a main character in the Kaden Hollow stories. Adeline has a somewhat sordid past of debauchery, promiscuity, and running from her problems. She is left later in life with a less than savory reputation, which is then taken on by Katy, who is in reality nothing like her mother. This song transitions back and forth between the point of view of Katy and that of Adeline, such that one is left with the understanding that they are both fighting the same demons.


But the discussion taking place in this song is not of judgement or mocking in any way toward Adeline. Instead it is a matter-of-fact attempt at validating her humanness and her flawed reactions to her experiences. Much of the imagery references fantasy, religion and Biblical icons, which juxtapose Adeline's efforts to be free in the same way a prison inmate might start a fight with a guard to be free: it's desperate and intense, but probably not very effective, and may even serve to bite the hand that feeds her. She harbors the same judgements about herself that others have, so she battles those dragons in a very circular way, never truly escaping. The icon of the paper horse for me is one of juxtaposition as well. Horses are strong, willful creatures with passionate spirits, but paper is fragile and frail, easily damaged.


Adeline is not present in the Kaden Hollow story, save for references to her and the sense that she is a shadow following Katy around. Nevertheless, she is a very intriguing character to me, and I have known many people like her.


On an interesting technical side note, this song went through a number of stylistic changes before this incarnation. It began as an almost epic electronica song, still in a 4/4 time signature, but played with completely different instrumentation and a heavy accent on the 1 rather than on the 2 and 4. Seeing as how it was to be part of an indie-folk album, I made myself change the key and play the chords without a pick to alter the feel into something more organic and rustic. Enjoy.

"I'm never gonna make it out of here," I heard you exclaim to the graveyard cook,

Then you spent your break at the drugstore.

You left the cafe at midnight. You got in your car, but it wouldn't start.

You pounded your fist on the dashboard.

There's a smile on the face of the statue angel mounted on the wall by the chapel yard

72 steps from your house.

There's a story with a little bit of truth and a lot of lies about your mother at a high school dance;

Everyone thinks they know you now.


Hey, Adeline, what's the hurry? What's your worry this time?

All the paper horses race across the wasteland of your mind.

And they won't remember you, will they, when you pass your prime?

Hey, Adeline, it's time you stop this fight and come inside.


Across the railroad tracks from the dispatch, the cars rumble and scream and the lights flash.

Everybody on the side of the road stands still.

And it's a tragedy, but you've been here before, pressing your face in the window.

The Canaanites, and the rusted hinge, that drew your blood where the door had been,

The apple trees, and your favorite sin; the smell of sweat in the summer wind.

Maybe you were made of fragile parts that never quite fit together.

Now you turn and run from them, knowing you will run forever.


Hey, Adeline, what's the hurry? What's your worry this time?

All the paper horses race across the wasteland of your mind.

And they won't remember you, will they, when you pass your prime?

Hey, Adeline, it's time you stop this fight and come inside.


For all your battles, you can't chase them out, these dragons in your house.

Frail and fragile, you don't recognize the name you're hearing called.

Daylight finds you running from the dark and disappearing.

All their hands are bound; all their heads are bowed down.


Hey, Adeline, what's the hurry? What's your worry this time?

All the paper horses race across the wasteland of your mind.

And they won't remember you, will they, when you pass your prime?

Hey, Adeline, it's time you stop this fight and come inside.


music/lyrics by Ryan David Orr

Ryan David Orr/All Rights Reserved

Acoustic Indie Folk Rock Singer-songwriter Arizona Southwestern United States