RISE

Release: 2013

The Players

ELAINE MAHON: Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar on all tracks except 9, Harmony Vocals

GABE VALLA: Acoustic Guitar on tracks 3, 6, 8, 10 & 11; Mandolin on track 3

ELISABETH WILLIAMSON: Harmony Vocals; Banjo on tracks 3 & 12; High Strung Guitar on track 1

LON WILLIAMSON: Bass on all tracks except 9

HANNAH ALKIRE: Cello on tracks 2, 8 & 10

TUCK TUCKER: Dobro on tracks 6 & 7

JASON THOMAS: Fiddle on tracks 5 & 13; Mandolin on track 12

DAVE KELSAY: Percussion on tracks 4, 5, 8, 11 & 14

PENNY NICHOLS: Harmony vocals

KIM BLACKBURN: Harmony vocals on tracks 1 & 14

Credits

Produced by Elaine Mahon, Lon and Elisabeth Williamson of Gatorbone Studios
Harmony vocal arrangements by Penny Nichols
Additional arrangements by Elaine Mahon, Lon and Elisabeth Williamson
Engineering by Lon Williamson Gatorbone Studios, Keystone, Florida
Additional recording and engineering by Butch Hause The Ranger Station, Berthoud, Colorado
Mastered by Pete Winter & Lon Williamson at Winterstone Studios, Tallahassee, Florida
Winterstone Productions, www.winterstoneproductions.com
Gatorbone Records # GR0015, www.gatorbonerecords.com
Manufactured by Oasis Disc Manufacturing, www.oasiscd.com
CD design: Annie Capps, www.swampstreetdesign.com
Cover Photos: James Quine, www.jamesquine.com
Head Shots: Callie Williams, www.etsy.com/shop/216stitches

All songs © Mary Elaine Mahon/Six Pelicans Publishing (BMI) except “One by One” © Mary Elaine Mahon/Six Pelicans Publishing (BMI), Elisabeth Williamson/Through-the-Mist Music (ASCAP); Lon Williamson/Dunebilly Music (BMI); “Rio” © Mary Elaine Mahon & Steve Friedman/Six Pelicans Publishing (BMI); “The Selkie Bride” © Mary Elaine Mahon & Tom Nelly/Six Pelicans Publishing (BMI); and “Calusa” © Mary Elaine Mahon & Lisa Aschmann/Nashville Geographic (ASCAP)

Click for Lyrics and Sound Clips

Rise Up Singing
Lead Vocal and Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Kim Blackburn, Penny Nichols, Elisabeth Williamson, & Elaine Mahon
High Strung Guitar: Elisabeth Williamson
Bass: Lon Williamson

One of the greatest joys in my life is singing – just for the sheer joy of it.

Seen in the light of reason
Seen in the light of a clear blue day
Some people I can’t please them, but
I’ve got to please myself I say,
Oh I’ve got to please myself I say

No matter the time or season
When I get out of my own way
Where there is rhyme there’s reason
And a song to sing most every day
Oh a song to sing most every day

(Chorus)
And I will rise up singing
Lift my voice and soar
For as long as I am breathing
Song is what my voice is for
Oh, song is what my voice is for

Some days my wheels are spinning
I can’t figure out which way to go
I’m searching for new beginnings
And a high follows every low, oh
Oh, a high follows every low

Sometimes the words flow freely
And a melody comes out to play
And inspiration leads me
To another song, another day
Oh, another song, another day

(Chorus)

(Bridge)
I won’t lie to you
Some days I feel blue and wrong
But I have a choice
I can lift my voice in song

Seen in the light of reason
Seen in the light of a clear blue day
Some people you can’t please them, but
You’ve got to please yourself I say,
Oh, you’ve got to please yourself I say

And you can rise up singing
Lift your voice and soar
For as long as you are breathing
Song is what your voice is for
Oh, song is what your voice is for
Oh, song is what your voice is for

Harvee's Song
Lead Vocal and Acoustic Guitar:  Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals:  Penny Nichols & Elisabeth Williamson
Cello:  Hannah Alkire
Bass:  Lon Williamson

A dear friend, who sings beautifully, lost her husband suddenly. He called her “my songbird.”
This song is written from his perspective.

My love she went out walking, down in the piney wood
She came upon a sunbeam, bathed in light she stood
It felt like a warm blanket, cast down from above
It wrapped itself around her, while she dreamed of our love

(Chorus) If I could have one wish, or be granted one more dream
It would be to hear my songbird sing

My love, she went out walking down below the canyon rim
She spied a raven’s feather, from wings that owned the wind
It rose upon a thermal and circled high above
Like that raven’s feather, her heart soared with our love

(Chorus)

Some say she imagines me, but even if she does
Whenever my love dreams of me, her heart soars with our love

(Chorus)

My love sits by the campfire, the flames flicker in her eyes
The songbird caught within her throat, beats its wings to fly
Her friends sing all around her, she loves those melodies
Then like an angel lifts her voice and sets my songbird free

(Chorus)

Dust Tracks in the Road
Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Penny Nichols & Elaine Mahon
Acoustic Guitar and Mandolin: Gabe Valla
Bass: Lon Williamson
Banjo: Elisabeth Williamson

In the early 1900’s, my husband’s maternal grandparents homesteaded in South Dakota. Two photographs inspired this song: one was of Alma hanging laundry in a stiff wind by their small tar-paper shack, and the other of the newly married couple heading out onto the Plains in their horse-drawn carriage.

In South Dakota how those prairie winds did blow
Set out from Yankton, wagon sagging ‘neath her load
To Harding County we set out to stake our claim
Me and sweet Alma, my lovely flower of the Plains

I staked a good claim, built a small tar-paper shack
Tilled up a garden, strung up a clothesline in the back
Grain elevators sprung up like steeples on those Plains
Beneath their promise we sowed our fields of grain

Oh those clouds rolled ‘cross the Plains,
Vessels empty of the rain and
The ground beneath us baked and broke in veins
Not a living thing could grow,
So we packed our goods to go
And the only thing we left behind
Were dust tracks … dust tracks in the road

Ryegate, Montana … foreman in the lumber yard
Lived in the guesthouse, pay was fair
but times were hard
We had a daughter
she could do no wrong in my eyes
Could not make ends meet,
the good Lord knows how hard we tried

Oh those prairie winds would blow
But how was I to know
It was the seeds of my misfortune they would sow?
And with our wagon sagging low,
We moved to Buffalo and
The only thing we left behind
Were dust tracks … dust tracks in the road

I worked the sawmill. Alma birthed a baby boy
My wife and family, they were my pride and joy
Then influenza, with the soldiers on the train
Took my sweet Alma, left me no reason to remain

Oh those prairie winds did blow,
They whispered in my ear
You might find some greener pastures
Not far down the road from here
We packed all that we could stow,
To California we would go and
The only thing we left behind
Were dust tracks … dust tracks in the road

Oh – how those prairie winds would blow

One by One
Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Elisabeth Williamson
Bass: Lon Williamson
Percussion: Dave Kelsay

Inspiration for this love song arrived on a beautiful summer evening in West Virginia while camping with my husband and our son. We were alone on a hill above a river, bordered on one side by trees and another a freshly sown cornfield. The evening fog settled in and the fireflies began to blink low over the cornfield. As the night progressed the fog lifted revealing a star studded sky and a host of fireflies extending from the ground to the treetops. It was magical and we stood together in the middle of the field in silent wonder of it all.

The silver slipper of the moon steps down from the horizon
She turns the lights out when she leaves the room
The evening fog comes coursing through
Leaving this hillside damp with dew
Listen to the Chuck-will’s-widow’s tune … and

(Chorus)
One by one
One by one, they flicker on
The stars come out and shine on me and you
One by one
Two by two, me and you
Watch falling stars and fireflies kiss the dew

Here in this moment the sublime
Opens up our hearts and minds
To treasure that is way beyond compare

Someday when we’re old and gray
I will hold your hand in mine and say
Darling close your eyes I’ll take you there … and

(Chorus)

This Garden Place

Lead Vocal and Acoustic:  Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Elisabeth Williamson & Elaine Mahon
Bass:  Lon Williamson
Fiddle:  Jason Thomas
Percussion: Dave Kelsay

My front yard garden began when we lost a great laurel oak. I planted a live oak to replace the laurel and then dug up all the remaining grass and started seeding wildflowers. Almost every day someone stops to admire the flowers, birds, and butterflies. The garden reminds me just how miraculous all this life on Earth really is and how truly connected we are to all that is living.

My hands and feet are filthy, my hair’s in disarray
I’m digging in my front yard on a muggy August day
I feel fine and I’ve found grace in this garden place

Bees in conversation, butterflies abound
Mockingbird in yonder tree, makes a joyful sound
He feels fine and he’s found grace in this garden place

(Chorus) Something’s always blooming Summer, Fall or Spring
Winter slows and sleeps the ground, so playful while it dreams

A brilliant flash of red, a glint of emerald green
A Ruby-throat swoops by, rests on a branch and preens
Beneath the wild blueberry bush, kicking up the leaves
Towhee dressed in orange and black is singing “drink your tea”
He feels fine and he’s found grace in this garden place

(Chorus)

People stop to wonder, beauty they have found
Here’s a banquet for the soul rising right up from the ground
They’re for a moment mesmerized and what was lost is found
They sip this sweet elixir and the knots just come unwound
They feel fine, they’ve found grace in this garden place
They feel fine, they’ve found grace in this garden place … in this garden place

'56 Blue Chevy
Lead Vocal: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Penny Nichols & Elisabeth Williamson
Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon & Gabe Valla
Bass: Lon Williamson
Dobro: Tuck Tucker

This story comes straight from my childhood. A powerful memory emerged when I was digging deep into my past, rediscovering myself as a little girl growing up in the South during the 1960s.

Eating lunch this afternoon I looked up to see
A poster of a little girl that reminded me of me
She was standing in her frilly dress, it was halfway up her thighs
By a ’56 blue Chevy, though it was in black & white

My momma used to drive one to the Dixie Day Old Store
She’d park it in the hot sun right outside of the front door
She’d drag me in real quickly with my little bro’ in tow
Buy some discount white bread then she’d say, “It’s time to go.”

(Chorus) Oh I hated that old Chevy though it was my shade of blue
She could never get it started, and I’d have to help her to
She would hoist me o’er the fender with my underwear exposed
And I’d have to hold the choke down ‘til she got that thing to go

Oh she’d have to coax us several times from the cookies and the cakes
We’d whine and beg for something sweet but rarely would she cave
Oh and she’d grab her bags, my brother’s hand, wipe dirt off of his face
Then head back to the parking lot where stood my big disgrace

(Chorus)

Now the fender burned my belly, by the noise I was undone
Hanging o’er that greasy hell, I was baking in the sun
And for those sudden backfires I could never quite prepare
In mortal fear I dangled ‘til she dragged me out of there

(Chorus)

Rio
Lead Vocals and Acoustic Guitar:  Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Penny Nichols & Elaine Mahon
Bass:  Lon Williamson
Dobro: Tuck Tucker

Rio was inspired by a story written by Steve Friedman, about Skip Conrad who lived beside El Rio de las Animas Perdidas, the last free flowing river in Colorado and the largest undammed river in the lower 48 states. Skip disappeared in the mountains of Silverton, Colorado and his body was never found. His story struck a deep chord within me, partly because I have backpacked many times in the mountains of Colorado and share his love of the wilderness.

Through rocky crags she tumbles, the barbed wire snakes along
It trails her banks, it mars her flanks, but the Animas flows strong
Through paintbrush fields and columbine, through monkshood and wild rose
Past avalanche, abandoned mines – she ferries her lost souls

(Chorus) Rio, Rio, de las Animas Perdidas, last of the free she flows
Rio, Rio, down from the San Juan Mountains, into New Mexico

A legend of a mountain man in leather gloves and jeans
In a T-shirt, sleek, knife in its sheath, from a photograph he beams
All sinew stands the steward, his flinty resolve strong
He’ll mark his days upon this Earth, until the wire is gone

Rio, Rio, de las Animas Perdidas, last of the free she flows
Rio, Rio, down from the San Juan Mountains into New Mexico

Skip Conrad he went missing, some thought him hurt or lost
But made of barbed wire by his trailer, stood Jesus on the cross
A get-well card mailed to a friend arrived after he’d gone
Upon the margin he had written, “All the wire is gone…”

Rio, Rio, de las Animas Perdidas, last of the free she flows
Rio, Rio, down from the San Juan Mountains, she ferries his lost soul

Rabbit Hole
Lead Vocal: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Penny Nichols, Elisabeth Williamson & Elaine Mahon
Acoustic Guitars: Elaine Mahon & Gabe Valla
Bass: Lon Williamson
Cello: Hannah Alkire
Percussion: Dave Kelsay

I read an interview with Neil Young, one of my favorite songwriters, in Rolling Stone Magazine. He likened songwriting to sitting quietly beside a rabbit hole and waiting for the rabbit to come out. That night I had one of my “architectural” dreams, where I visit structures that have existed in my dreams for years. This structure was a rambling beach house behind the dunes with many outbuildings in various states of disrepair. I realized at some point in the dream that it didn’t make sense to restore it and I came to the liberating decision to tear it down. Upon waking I felt the freedom of a burden lifted, quiet descended and my muse came out of the rabbit hole and hung with me for a while.

I sit beside the rabbit hole,
And I fear what may come out
“The time has come,” I tell myself,
“To tear this old house down”

It lingers like an afterthought,
Hunkered down behind the dunes
As if its architect had danced
To some mad hatter’s tune

The kitchen’s dark, I can’t abide,
Those claustrophobic rooms
It makes me want to run outside,
Jump in that ocean blue

The rabbit waits and watches while quietly I sit
Decides it’s safe to wander out and join me for a bit

I’ll tear it down right to the ground,
With all that I hold dear
I’ll vanquish fear, I’ll dry my tears,
Wait ‘til my vision clears

In silence sit together, me and my golden muse
He says “It’s time to seize the day”
then vanishes from view

The thrill of thoughts unoccupied,
of nothing left to lose
“The time has come,” I hear a voice,
“Honor your vision true”

How sweet is revelation,
when the missing link is found
“The time has come” I tell myself “to tear this old
house down … to tear it down”

I sit beside the rabbit hole
And I fear what may come out
The time has come
I steal myself and tear this old house down

Six Pelicans

Vocals: Elaine Mahon

This is my attempt to capture a transcendent experience I had at the beach.

It’s sunset on the inlet and the tide is roaring through
The evening sun paints everyone in amber honeyed hues
… in amber honeyed hues
Six Pelicans fly over and eclipse a quarter moon

Transparent or transcendent, expanding out beyond this room
The window is wide open and the wind is blowing through
… the wind is blowing through
The window is wide open and the wind is blowing through
… ooooooo
Six pelicans fly over and eclipse a quarter moon

I wasn’t asking for redemption or even searching for a sign
I was quietly observing when stillness fell upon my mind
… stillness fell upon my mind
I was quietly observing when stillness fell upon my mind

Maybe this is heaven and I’m only passing through
Where the latitudes of reason meet the longitudes of truth
… the longitudes of truth
Where the latitudes of reason meet the longitudes of truth

This is all that I remember and all I’m going to
The window is wide open, and my heart is open too
… my heart’s open to you
The window is wide open and my heart’s open to you
… oooooooo

Six Pelicans fly over and eclipse a quarter moon

Selkie Bride

Lead Vocals: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Penny Nichols & Elaine Mahon
Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon & Gabe Valla
Bass: Lon Williamson
Cello: Hannah Alkire

The first time I went to Summersongs songwriting camp I was challenged to write a song about a woman who abandons her children. I couldn’t do it. A couple of months later I saw John Sayles’ movie “The Secret of Roan Inish” which was based on the Scottish/Irish myth of the Selkie Seal. Suddenly everything clicked.

Silver slipstream through dark water
Slides upon the shore
Sheds her skin, those dark eyes shining
Him they do implore

Lonely boy on the cliff above her
Spies her bathing there
Never has he seen such beauty
It’s more than he can bear

He feels the tugging of love undenied
Breaking inside him like waves
Scrambling down to the rocks way below
He fell within her gaze

Into her eyes he stares with wonder
Windows to the deep
Wraps his shawl of wool around her
Steals her skin to keep

He feels the tugging of love undenied
Breaking inside him like waves
Launching his skiff on the incoming tide
A Selkie bride he takes

She bore him three sons and
Two dark comely daughters
A loving wife she did make
But strange was her gaze
And unearthly her singing
Beneath the moon she would bathe

She feels the tugging of love and of tides
Breaking inside her like waves
Today her young children found her Selkie hide
In the attic hid away

So she flew like the wind to claim her Selkie skin
Fled straightaway down to the rocky shore
There she dove into the sea and as a seal swam free
Beyond the breakers, turned her gaze once more

Though she was held against her will;
even so, she loves them still
But they’ll wait in vain and for them she will yearn
And then she’ll turn

Silver slipstream through dark water

Calusa

Lead Vocals: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals:  Elaine Mahon
Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon & Gabe Valla
Bass: Lon Williamson
Percussion:  Dave Kelsay

Standing on a shell mound on the Gulf coast of Florida, I began to wonder what life would have been like as a woman of the Calusa, the most powerful indigenous tribe in Florida. This song is my first collaboration with my friend and fellow astronomer, Lisa Aschmann.

We wait by the water, watch the tide as it rolls in
While the sun sinks beneath the waves
We search the horizon for the boats that bear our men
We knot our nets and count the days

The village feels empty like the missing tooth
That I trace over with my tongue
Still lies the water blanketing the oyster beds
I listen for their voices, hear no one … Calusa

We wait by the water, watch the tide as it rolls in
While the sun sinks beneath the waves
Upon the horizon, only seabirds sailing in
We knot our nets and count the days

We gather together like the seagulls on the beach
Work on our nets with worried hands
A call in the distance then the cackle of an owl
Sends a chill as it drifts ‘cross the sand … Calusa

We wait by the water, watch the tide as it rolls in
While the sun sinks beneath the waves
We search the horizon for the boats that bear our men
We knot our nets and count the days

The sound of their paddles drifts as music on the wind
Stirring the longing in my bones
Leaping like mullet we run schooling on the shore
Wading out to welcome them back home … Calusa

We wait by the water, watch the tide as it rolls in
While the sun sinks beneath the waves
Upon the horizon, only seabirds sailing in
Knots in our nets, a count of days … Calusa

Honey Tree

Lead Vocal and Acoustic Guitar:  Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Elisabeth Williamson & Elaine Mahon
Bass:  Lon Williamson
Fiddle and Mandolin:  Jason Thomas
Banjo:  Elisabeth Williamson

This song follows the storyline of a guided meditation all the way to sitting down in a chair inside a tree. I fell asleep during the meditation and the rest of the song is the crazy dream that ensued!

This morning I went walking out in a field of green and
I could see a great big live oak waiting there for me
Draped in moss its arms spread out so gracefully
I could hear the cardinals and the chickadees
Calling out to me

It was hot and so I laid down within its cool dark shade
And through its branches watched the squirrels at play
Time passed and with it my cares of the day
What exactly happened here is anybody’s say

Looked over at its trunk and saw a little door
I wondered why I hadn’t noticed that before
I looked a little closer, saw it was ajar
And a sign above it read,
“HERE IS WHERE YOU ARE,” here is where you are

It was dark and dim in there, but I could see some stairs
And they were leading down,
Leading deep down into who knows where?
A little light it beckoned me and curious I followed
I bet by now you’re thinking this tall tale’s
Too big to swallow

Upon a little table was a candle lit
Beside it was a comfy chair where I could sit
Oh and I sat down and in it I fell fast asleep
All that happened next is still a mystery
It’s still a mystery

I awoke and I found something
Had been dripping down
Forming an amber puddle on the ground
A strange sort of magic here was taking hold
I was covered in a blanket made of black and gold
Honeybees from the honey tree

I could feel their feet and feelers tickling
Their soft and certain humming strangely comforting
Safe and warm inside my cell I felt complete
Next thing that I knew those bees were feeding me
They were feeding me – honey from the honey tree

Quiet in my chamber I sat listening to the honeybees
I swear I heard them whispering to me
Next thing I awoke outside beneath that tree
Their words were flying circles in my memory,
Words of the honey bees in the honey tree

Sometimes the best advice is given free
And some days I am my own worst enemy
Oh but there is always honey here just look and see
For you are always welcome in this honey tree
Here with the honey bees in the honey tree

So Small

Lead Vocal and Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Penny Nichols & Elaine Mahon
Bass:  Lon Williamson

This is the story of Autumn Lily, who was born prematurely with a birth weight of under two pounds, and who is now a beautiful and thriving little girl. I was moved by a photograph which showed her father’s wedding band loosely encircling her tiny arm. This song poured out of me following my visit with her in the neonatal intensive care unit.

So small, so utterly amazing
So small, into your blue I’m gazing
Past the night into the light of you

So small, Summer’s leaves have started changing
So small, lives around you re-arranging
Wanting you so much – you came too soon

So small upon your arm his wedding band
So small beside you through the night he stands
Born with Fall, in Winter you were due

So small, so utterly enchanting
So small, in my dreams you are dancing
I hear your childish laughter fill the room

So small, such tiny lips and tiny fingers
So small, captivated I must linger
You’re the sun and I’m your harvest moon
Autumn Lily … bloom

Give It Up

Lead Vocal and Acoustic Guitar: Elaine Mahon
Harmony Vocals: Penny Nichols, Kim Blackburn, Elisabeth Williamson & Elaine Mahon
Bass: Lon Williamson
Percussion:  Dave Kelsay

When is a songwriter ever finished with a song? When the song is finished with the songwriter! This song has taken me on a long journey through countless rewrites and rearrangements. When a friend suggested that perhaps the song was not about giving something up, but rather giving up “to something,” it all came together.

(Chorus) Oh when powerful emotions are pulsing through my veins
It’s a matter of wanting and needing and knowing that they’re not the same
It’s a matter of living and loving and letting loose the reins
It’s a matter of life and growing with each change

I’ll give it up to the wonder of each waking day
Give it up to discovery in finding my way
I’ll give it up to the hope that keeps my dreams alive
I won’t wait for time ‘cause it’s just passing by

(Chorus)

I’ll give it up to the wonder of life on this Earth
Give it up to discovering my own inner worth
I’ll give it up to the hope that keeps passions alive
I won’t wait for time ‘cause it’s just passing by

(Chorus)

I’ll give it up to the wonder of stars up above
I’ll give it up to discovering the power of love
I’ll give it up to the hope I’ll do more than survive
I won’t wait for time ‘cause it’s just passing by

I’ll give it up!

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Love and deepest gratitude

to my wonderful husband and son, John & Sam Mahon, for their love and whole hearted support of my artistic endeavors; Elisabeth & Lon Williamson of Gatorbone Studios for sharing my vision for “Rise” and bringing all they had to bear on its recording and production including instrumental & vocal support, friendship, artistic insights, great dinners and the best studio experience ever;  all of the incredibly talented musicians, artists & engineers that contributed to this project: Penny Nichols, Gabriel Valla, Hannah Alkire, Jason Thomas, Tuck Tucker, Dave Kelsay, Kim Blackburn, Pete Winter, Butch Hause, James Quine, Callie Williams and Annie Capps – each of you put your heart and soul into your work and it shows; and my creative co-writers Lisa Aschmann (Calusa), Steve Friedman (Rio), Tom Nelly (The Selkie Bride), and Elisabeth & Lon Williamson (One by One).

Special thanks to Penny Nichols, Kari Estrin, Bob Franke, Cosy Sheridan, John Martucci, Glen Roethel, Pat Wictor, Steven Prasinos, Brandy Kerschner, Bob McPeek and David Beede who shared valuable artistic insights, and to everyone that has offered encouragement and support along the way especially Mom & Dad, my family & friends, and to Michael O., Chuck & Betsy G., Lila M., Richard B., Diane C., Amy S., Joseph S., Shelley & Dave W., Freddie J.,  Frank S., the Summersongs songwriting community, the Shake Rag Gallery folks, the Sandhill Songwriter’s Circle, and to my fans and listeners: “Rise” is for you – enjoy!

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