Awake

Recorded at Ordophon-upon-Avon, San Francisco, CA during 1997

Produced, arranged and mixed by JWH and Chris Von Sneidern.

All songs written by John Wesley Harding except It’s All My Fault by John Wesley Harding and Shelley Jackson.
All Songs published by Plangent Visions Music Ltd (ASCAP)

Vocals, Acoustic Guitar (all tracks): JWH
Drums (2,3,4,5,7,9,10,12,13): Steve Bowman
Bass (4,5,9,10,12,13): Peter Straus
Percussion (all tracks), Electric Guitar (3,4,5,9,13): CvS
Electric Guitar (3,6,9): Chuck Prophet

Mastered by Joe Lambert at Ground Zero, NY

Design by Sheila Sachs
Photographs by Jim Alexander Newberry, Trudy Fisher (JWH portrait), Sheila Sachs (cemetery)

Scott McCaughey appears courtesy of Malt
Chuck Prophet appears courtesy of Cooking Vinyl

Awake was re-released by Appleseed Recordings in 1998.
Credits for the new edition:

All songs written by John Wesley Harding ©Plangent Visions Music, Inc (ASCAP) except Jackson Cage and Wreck on the Highway © Bruce Springsteen (ASCAP)

Mastered by Paul "The Gaul" Stubblebine, SF, CA

Awake redesign by Sheila Sachs

Bruce Springsteen appears courtesy of Columbia Records

I Just Woke Up

I just woke up
And I feel so good
And I’m looking straight ahead
My thoughts are wild
All I do is smile
And I’m jumping out of bed
I Just woke up (just woke up)

I just woke up
And the sun is bright
And it’s shining down on me
If you’ve got big ideas
I’m all ears
But all I plan to do is be
And I just woke up (just woke up)

From a bad dream......

I just woke up (just woke up)

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Your Ghost (Don’t Scare Me No More)

You ghost visits every night at midnight
I can hear the clanking of your chains
First it frightened me but now somehow
I’m glad to see you’ve come again

And I used to be so terrified to hear you
Moaning like the hinges on the door
But now that late night sound is like a lullaby to me
Though I know I won’t be sleeping anymore
I know I won’t be sleeping anymore

Your ghost, your ghost
Opens the door
Your ghost, your ghost
Don’t scare me no more
Don’t scare me no more

Every night we sit up in the darkness
Talk about whatever’s on your mind
Someone did away with you and so you’re doomed to limbo
That’s another theory you’ve opined
That’s a spooky theory you’ve opined

Your ghost, your ghost
Creeps on the floor
Your ghost, your ghost
Don’t scare me no more
Don’t scare me no more

Your ghost and my human living body
Turns out that we are the best of friends
If the story is you’re coming back to haunt me
Then I’m pleased to say it has a happy end.

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Window Seat

I was bought on by my mother as her carry-on
She had me in the toilet when the seat-belt sign was on
I crawled up to the captain down the other end
I hid under the seats that’s where I played pretend
And I ate the wild pretzel and the nuts that fell
And the screech of brakes was all I knew for my school bell
And I know I’ve got the whole world at my feet
In my window seat

I learned to eat the sweet, I learned to swallow hard
I learned to ease the pressure with free playing cards
Spent my teenage setting off all of the smoke alarms
Then running down the alley saying "please stay calm"
Met the girl in 7B, we tried to settle down
But we couldn’t reach the aisle before we hit the ground
And I know I’ve got the whole world at my feet
In my window seat

And now the sisters of the sky think I’m deaf and dumb
As I wait around for upgrades that will never come
But I know that we will one day sit on his right hand
Be his automatic pilot when this plane must land
And the stewardess of Babylon will spread her arms
And show us all a thing or two about her charms
We’ll be tempted by the devil with the magic wand
He’ll make us stand with arms outstretched then wave us on
Into the great beyond (our boarding passes gone)
And I know I’ve got the whole world at my feet
In my window seat

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Burn

If I die tomorrow
Don’t read too much into this song
I’ll be as surprised as you are
I always get predictions wrong
If I die tomorrow
Break out and play my best guitars
Don’t put this one in the Hard Rock Cafe
In a case above the bar
I’d like to take this chance to say good-bye
You want the answers, don’t look in my eyes

You’re asking me my opinion
Well, baby, we’re all gonna burn
So light up and wait your turn in the fire
I’m telling you my decision
Baby we’re all gonna burn
There will be no return
Cos baby we’re all gonna burn

If I die tomorrow
There’s one thing I’d ask of you
A favour for your favourite friend
When his living days are through
Make sure it’s me up on the funeral pyre
Make sure the house band’s playing Light My Fire

You’re asking me my opinion
Well, baby, we’re all gonna burn
So light up and wait your turn in the fire
I’m telling you my decision
Baby we’re all gonna burn
There will be no return
Cos baby we’re all gonna burn

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

It’s All My Fault

There’s pollen flying down The Holland Tunnel
And the hotel’s full of mud and unmade clay
There are rumours coasting in on fumes and vapors
And there’s no more gas for anyone today
There’s an earthquake where the milkshakes are perfection
And a TV that we leave on all the day
There’s apostrophes for anyone who needs them
And quotation marks round everything you say
And it’s all your fault
I’m sorry that I wrote this song
It’s all your fault, it’s all my fault
It won’t be long

There’s some rifle sights high on The Eiffel Tower
Trying to pick off anyone who’s french
"You’re spoilt for choice" a voice calls down from heaven
"So shoot someone or get back on the bench"
There’s a supermarket where the ark is grounded
In frozen foods, we feel the wind and snow
There’s a two for one deal at the checkout
All that’s yet to come is priced to go

And it’s all your fault
I’m sorry that I wrote this song
It’s all your fault, it’s all my fault
It won’t be long

And your details are for sale like sacred relics
And your real name has already been used
Face to face sounds mostly like an echo
And when we touch feels mostly like a bruise
And it’s all your fault
I’m sorry that I wrote this song
It’s all your fault, it’s all my fault
It won’t be long

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding and Shelley Jackson (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Sweat Tears Blood And Come

I am here
You are here too my dear
We’re drowning in the sun
We’re so near
We’re getting closer and
We’re sweat tears blood and come

We are now
Our skin is fusing somehow
What will we become?
Why write songs?
They only turn out wrong
Sweat tears blood and come

But I think that I know
That I want more of you

What are we?
Some future yet to be?
The present leaves me numb
Look at you
There’s so much left of you to do
Sweat tears blood and come

But I think that I know
That I want more of you

We’re inside
Who would want to hide?
Who would need to run?
We’re afloat
The bed’s a drunken boat
Of sweat tears blood and come

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Poor Heart

Poor heart
What to do?
Dim the light
There’s no respite
For you

Poor heart
Can you see?
Or will you beat
A sad retreat for me
Poor heart?

Poor mouth
Poor eyes
Poor soul
Poor mind
Poor start
Poor heart

Poor heart
Look around
Who else remains
Who can contain
Your frown?

Poor heart
Why so vain?
Are you rich enough
To play so rough
Again
Poor heart?

Poor heart
Poor eyes
Poor soul
Poor mind
Poor start
Poor heart

Poor heart
Play your part
Nothing’s done
’Til it is sung
Poor heart

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Featured track—hear the whole thing

Miss Fortune

I was born with a coat hanger in my mouth
Oh yeah, and I was dumped down south
I was found by the richest man in the world
Oh yeah, who bought me up as a girl
My sheets are satin but my mind’s a mess
But there are worse things I confess
Than drinking tea in a pretty dress
and I’m here to tell you that it’s not all bad
Count your blessings and maybe you’ll be glad

When he died, I inherited his wealth
Oh yeah and I revealed my self
I was snubbed by the friends he’d never had
Oh yeah, who sided with my dad
All my riches are beyond control
But it’s the same old rigmarole
They say I’ve lost my very soul
Maybe I have
But I’m here to tell you that it’s not all bad
Count your blessings and maybe you’ll be glad

And as I grew so did my fame
So I gave it up and changed my name
It’s catch as catch can and
You’ll never know who I am

When I died, I hoped to hear the angel’s song
Oh yeah, but was I wrong
They threw me back there in that lane
Oh yeah and they said "start again"
So when you’re turning out the bedside light
Consider me and my wretched plight
Looks like I’m gonna have to get it right this time
But I’m here to tell you that it’s not all bad
Count your blessings and maybe
You’ll be glad

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Song I Wrote Myself In The Future

I wish I could go back in time
Tell you it has turned out fine
Like it has, like it has, like it has
I sit here singing in the sun
Words not meant for anyone
Just you, just you, just you
Cos this is the song, this is the song
Oh yeah
This is the song that I wrote myself in the future

The air was shot of hope
Knots became your name for the rope
Then the noose, then the noose, then the noose
You put it down and found it made no sense
You bought the farm and then you built the fence
At your expense, at your expense
And this is the song, this is the song
Oh yeah
This is the song that I wrote myself in the future

I know it’s hard as you hear this for you to see
The desperation you feel now will disappear one day
For you, for me

Cos this is the song, this is the song
Oh yeah
This is the song that you wrote yourself in the future

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Something To Write Home About

Dear Mum
Everything’s gone wrong
And I wish I’d listened to what you said
The times you sat down on my bed
And told me ’bout my life
Told me ’bout my life
Dear Mum
I’ve been out of touch
I guess I just didn’t need you that much
But now I’ll scream and shout
Cos I’ve got something to write home about

Dear Mum
Everything has changed
I don’t know if you’d know me today
I wonder what we’d have to say
When I told you ’bout my life
Now everything’s a blur
I know what happened but lost the words
We can’t live without
Now I’ve got something to write home about

And so
It’s time to go
I’m glad we’ve had this time alone
It almost felt like time at home
Before I went away
Now I’ve got something to write home about

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

You’re Looking At Me

I was breathing not sleeping nor having the choice
I was brushed by the skirts of a ghost with your voice
You were drowned in the buzz of the humming machines
And you were looking at me
You’re looking at me

A strange conversation in the visiting room
The big smile of ignorance shone like the moon
What I wanted to say was lost at sea
Cos you were looking at me
You’re looking at me

Being your sleeper what should I do but tend
Enlaced in your beauty, silent shining friend
Sunburned and bruised where no-one can see
You were looking at me
You’re looking at me

Where is the dreamer when night makes its slide
And light takes a candle to shine on inside
And is it a dream that no-one can see
That you’re looking at me?
You’re looking at me

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

You So & So

I’m gonna fill me full of coffee
Just to drown the nicotine
I’ll do a slow striptease
Then wash my body clean
I’m gonna go to bed too early
Just to keep me still
Then I’ll lie there quiet
Try to write my will

Then I’ll dream that I am with you
Oh to hide inside your hair
I’ll be so quiet that
You won’t know I’m there
Visit me tonight
Come like dust under the door
Here’s a key
And you know what it’s for

But, oh
Do you know
I love you so
You so and so?

I never took a breath before
I never wrote a song
My body is in trouble
I’ve been out of it so long
But I want to be inside right now
And only you know when
Just one kiss would bring me back
Again

But oh
Do you know
I love you so
You so and so

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

I’m Staying Here (And I’m Not Buying A Gun)

I’m staying here and I’m not buying a gun
I’ll just take my trouble as it comes
I know you’ve got it in for me
But I don’t give a damn
I’d rather die while trying
Than to give up who I am
Please tell everyone
I’m staying here and I’m not buying a gun

I’m staying here and I don’t care who knows
No-one has the highs without the lows
I know prescriptions you can write me
For everything I need
But I don’t need a band-aid, doctor
’Til I start to bleed
Please tell everyone
I’m staying here and I’m not buying a gun

Come on, Pilgrim
Come on, Pilgrim
I’m staying here and I’m not buying a gun

I’m staying here, I hope you’ve got the news
You got me and someone else confused
I know you thought I’d turn and run away
When it all went wrong
But you’ll be saying "so you’re staying"
When I say "so long"
Please tell everyone
I’m staying here and I’m not buying a gun

Come on Pilgrim
Come On Pilgrim
I’m staying here and I’m not buying a gun

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Wooden Overcoat

There’s a man in a pitch black hat
And his underwear’s made of mud
He jumps like a pouncing cat
And he lands with a sickening thud
His head is surrounded by ravens
The plague has progressed to his heart
Best that you meet him clean shaven
Cos his razor is not kept sharp
And he’s wearing a wooden overcoat

He’s known in the underworld
He lives in the undergrowth
And he’s knowingly undersold
Though he’s never been under oath
His devils are arrayed in armies
And his angels will fix the fight
He’ll shape you like origami
And throw you away at night
And he’s wearing a wooden overcoat

His house is a damp museum
And all of his servants worms
Mating in mausoleums
Licking the floor for germs
And his cabinet’s full of wonders
There’s specimens everywhere
He’s negative six feet under
And has to submerge for air
And he’s wearing a wooden overcoat

Don’t ever act too humble
Don’t eat away thy heart
He’s tearing apart each dungeon
His tail’s an evil dart
And he’s wearing a wooden overcoat

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Punch ’n’ Judy

(An outtake that will surface somewhere, at some point...)
The Beadle says I killed them all
My wife, my screaming child
I’m dying in the morning
And they wonder why I smile
So I’ll sit and write my memoirs
Of a life upon the stage
And hope to die of middle age

Jim Crow The Abyssinian
Has sung his final song
The Grand Turk of Senoa
Always gets his English wrong
He could just say "Shallaballa"
But he’d say that word three times
And nobody knows my crimes

They’ll say that I’m an outlaw
But I tell you, that I’m your friend
You know I’m only in for
Punching Judy again

The radical gentleman
Complained about my bell
I said it was an organ
And I rang that thing like hell
The Objector backed me up on
Any name I said it is
And guess which one of them will live

While riding on my hobby horse
I was overthrown
To the doctor I was sent
To cure my broken bones
He beat me without reason
’Til I had to give to him
A taste of his own medicine

They’ll say that I’m an outlaw
But I tell you, that I’m your friend
You know I’m only in for
Punching Judy again

The executioner arrives
Jack Ketch is that man’s name
He thinks he’s gonna hang me
But he doesn’t know my game
I can’t get my head into his noose
He’s gonna show me how
And I’m gonna hang him now

I’m ready for the devil
And I see that he’s appeared
Like Mr.Faust before me
I will pull old Satan’s beard
So for Toby my old terrier
And everyone of you
I’m gonna kill him too

They’ll say that I’m an outlaw
But I tell you, that I’m your friend
You know I’m only in for
Punching Judy again

Music and lyrics by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Inc., ASCAP)

Photo by Christoph Hammerschmidt