Dynablob 4

Originally released 2002.
Rereleased on WOW/DRT 2003.

Produced and Played by: John Wesley Harding, Eric Kupper, Pete DuCharme and Mike Leahy

Gentle listener –

This album was previously called Delayer – which is funny if you like Yes. Even if you’re not a ‘yesman’, I think you can still enjoy it by picturing the title in Roger Dean font #1. But then the title changed, as titles do. Swings and Roundabouts: "What you lose on the swings, you gain on the roundabouts". I remember my headmaster at school saying it. Everything balances out in the end. Most specifically, in a playground. "What you lose on one venture, you recoup on another – it’s a way of restating the law of averages" is how Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable puts it. Though the delay of The Man With No Shadow was not strictly part of Plan A, it wasn’t hard to work out how to turn it to our mutual advantage – put out an entirely new and different album of unrecorded songs. Some of these are songs that people had asked me to put on CD because they had heard them live (Darwin), some are songs too odd to play live without getting them down in a recording first (Thank You, You’re Welcome), and others are songs that I like to play live but wouldn’t quite belong on one of my more ambitiously produced records, unless I gave them an inappropriately grand arrangement – when really they just required to be played out loud with a microphone dangling somewhere near my mouth (For An Actress).

So that’s what I did, with a little help from my friends. 12 new songs right here, right now. And 12 more new ones just around the corner – already made, ready to go. Swings and Roundabouts! Enjoy.

JWH. Brooklyn, October 2002.

PS. And the album is also called, by mistake and in very 70s style: John Wesley Harding Swings! (and Roundabouts) .

Individual Track notes:
Merry-go-round
Written one evening in Chicago, in the kitchen of Sheila’s old apartment while I was waiting for Dag. When he arrived, we wrote a song called How We Wrote The Song ‘Bloodyfinger’, which I don’t think survives. But this one does. Much played by Robert Lloyd and myself in the famous duo format.
Vocals, Guitars, ‘Sitar’, Bass: JWH
Pipe Organ, Percussion: EK

The Governess
Written in Seattle. Minnie Driver played The Governess in a movie of the same name, but this isn’t about her. When I sing this song, I always see a woman in voluminous dark skirts racing as fast as she can up a hill. If you’ve ever fallen asleep during Masterpiece Theatre, then you might well have woken up and written something like this.
Vocals, Guitar: JWH
Harpsichord: EK

The Common Kiss
Probably the oldest song here. I wanted this to be on three albums that it never quite made its way on to. We could have done this song at least 32 ways: here’s the 33rd.
Vocals, Acoustic Guitars, Bass, Piano, Percussion: JWH
Electric Guitar: ML

Dreamfader
I played Dreamfader quite a lot towards the end of the Awake tour. At the time, it featured Kirk Swan, once of Dumptruck, on guitar and here it features Mike Leahy, coincidentally also once of Dumptruck. I’d like to dedicate it to Kirk, because if we lived nearer he’d have been jamming all over this recording. And if Robert and I lived round the corner from each other, Robert would be on every track too.
Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Pump Organ: JWH
Electric Guitar: Mike Leahy

Darwin
Written in Seattle and played live but never put down for posterity until now. And here, for better or worse, it is. I think that the last verse owes a debt to a song called Cockroaches On Parade by Harry Waller that I heard on the Tribute To Steve Goodman LP (an album that I remember as being the first time I’d ever really heard of a tribute album – those were the days). It is, at least, the only in-depth song that I can think of about cockroaches. Having said that, the idea for the last verse was suggested to me by Shelley Jackson and she’s almost certainly never heard that song.
Vocals, Guitar: JWH

Love’s Reign of Terror
I wrote these words on a plane from NY to SF, and then I recorded it at CvS’ studio in The Tenderloin: he left the room for some coffee and by the time he came back, somehow, I had the whole song in front of me, tune and all, and we recorded it immediately. Oh, there is a connected quote: "Are not vile acts committed as often with the heart’s help as without it?…. Will we ever be done with the imbecile Sentimental Inquisition, the Heart’s reign of terror?" Milan Kundera: Testaments Betrayed. 1995.
Vocals, Guitar: JWH
Drum, Organ: EK

Meet The Sheep Written at my house on Vashon Island, WA. This song isn’t about audiences by the way. It’s about what suppliers of entertainment think about audiences. Not me, though. Oh no. This is one of those songs where I just decide to stick with one idea and not muddle it, or myself, with a second one.
Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Bass, Percussion: JWH
Electric Guitar: ML
Congas: PD

For An Actress
To my horror, I have just been informed that there actually is a remake of Rear Window and that this fact makes For An Actress, by default, about Daryl Hannah. I’d just like to say right here that it isn’t about Daryl Hannah and I’ve never met Daryl Hannah (or Minnie Driver – though I would far prefer to meet Minnie Driver). I have of course followed her film career closely, all the way from Splash! right up to Roxanne. (And her singing career, by the way – though, if it involves more than backing vocals on Jackson Brown’s cover version of The Incredible String Band’s First Girl I Loved, I couldn’t rightly say.)
Vocals, Guitar: JWH

Don’t Rain On Me Today Written in Seattle, this song has already made it on to a record called New Quadrophonic Highway , as kindly covered by Russ Tolman. I wrote this in Seattle after listening to a lot of Fred Neil. I’d like to send this song out to Nige, who was always its greatest champion. This song, by the way, isn’t about Gwyneth Paltrow, as those other two weren’t about Minnie or Daryl.
Vocals, Guitar: JWH
Vibes: EK
Thank You, You’re Welcome
Written in Chicago, at the dining room table in Sheila’s new house. It started out as me trying to play Angie by Davey Graham and then turned into something else entirely. I wasn’t waiting for Dag Juhlin this time either – I was waiting for Chris Mills.
Vocals, Guitars, Bass: JWH
Drums, Piano: EK

The Fall Of The House Of Harding
Written on a long car trip from New York to Austin, TX with my feet up on the dashboard. (I was the passenger.) Not precisely the true story of my family, obviously. One of my sisters, I would like to mention, is an actress, though none of the songs on this album are about her – including the bit in this song which refers to ‘my sister’.
Vocals and Guitar: JWH

World Of Light
In which we all die, one by one. Written in the back of a quiet van on tour some time last year. For Radical Gentlemen everywhere.
Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards: JWH
Loops: PD

The Cast of Assembled Players, Producers, Mixers and Engineers:
John Wesley Harding, Eric Kupper, Pete DuCharme, Mike Leahy

Recorded at:
1, 2, 5, 6, 8-11: Hysteria!, Weston, CT (27/28 June 02)
Mixed by Eric Kupper
3, 4, 7, 12: Music For Picture, Union Square, NY (16/22 July 02)
Mixed by Pete DuCharme

All songs by John Wesley Harding, published by Plangent Visions Music, Ltd. Mastered by Kurt Bloch

Merry-Go-Round

If you want the best, wanna be with the blessed
Come on and ride on my merry-go-round
You’ve wasted your money on all of the rest
Come on and ride on my merry-go-round
It doesn’t go faster
It isn’t that safe
If there’s a problem
There’ll be no escape
Half of the horses are stuck on with tape
Ride on my merry-go-round

You’re ridden the stairs and you’re bored of the fair
Come on and ride on my merry-go-round
You’re looking for something they can’t give you there
Come on and ride on my merry-go-round
You’ve read all the papers
You know what they said
But no-one who knows
Will look elsewhere instead
Cos the real excitement is all in your head
When you ride on my merry-go-round

The taller the story, the bigger the dream
The smaller the ghost train, the sadder the scream
Just look at the faces
Of those who have been
Their smiles are bigger
Than you’ve ever seen
Cos I am the man and you’ll know what I mean
When you ride on my merry-go-round
I am the man and you’ll know what I mean
When you ride on my merry-go-round

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

The Governess

I am in love with the governess
She’s played by a beautiful actress
Who looks so good in period dress
On Sundays on TV
She cares for the child of a titled squire
Who can’t control his base desires
He’ll beat his slaves when he retires
Out in the colonies
And it’s not going to get any better
No it’s not going to get any better
And it’s just like Masterpiece Theatre
Since I met her, since I met the governess

She doesn’t know who her parents are
But her father had a dueling scar
She takes the child down to the spa
They sit there are alone
They say her parents died at sea
Perhaps she comes from royalty
I hope she’s not related to me
When the truth is finally known
And it’s not going to get any better
No it’s not going to get any better
And it’s just like Masterpiece Theatre
Since I met her, since I met the governess

Do I love her? Course I do
She has much better lines than you
Do I need her? Read the script
She finds my note in her pillowslip
I offer my companionship

The scoundrel will never set her free
’Til her ward is married to some Marquis
Says he’ll take his whip to me
If I don’t stay away from her
The squire is played by Martin Sheen
But it’s my cameo that steals the scene
As she gets dressed behind the screen
And We elope to America
And it’s not gonna to get any better
No it’s gonna get any better
Til it’s just like masterpiece theatre
Til I get her, ’til I get the governess

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

The Common Kiss

I was feeling down, beneath a frown
Just like a plane that can’t get off the ground
I couldn’t face the climb
I was all alone until you phoned
How did you know that I was sitting home?
Sometimes I wonder bout your timing
We went out drinking
And before I started thinking much too hard
You played your wild card.....

You were sitting there, you had the chair
There was a little heaven in the air
Your hair was like a halo
Then you leaned so close and I supposed
You wanted to whisper something so I froze
Held my breath upon your say so
I closed my eyes
And suddenly I realised
Right on time, the moment that your mouth touched mine...

I Caught The Common Kiss
The one that’s going round
Caught the Common Kiss
Now it’s all over town
I’ll pass it on to someone else but only when it’s time to
Cos I caught the common kiss from you

Now I’m not the same, I have no shame
Just like a starlet who’s in search of fame
I’d do anything
I’ll stay in bed, forget the bread
I’ll ring up work and I’ll sound like I’m dead
I’ve lost my head, remembering
I closed my eyes
And suddenly I realised
Who was boss, when your mouth was right where mine was....

I Caught The Common Kiss
The one that’s going round
Caught the Common Kiss
Now it’s all over town
I’ll pass it on to someone else but only when it’s time to
Cos I caught the common kiss from you

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

Dreamfader

"The less said the better" is what you told me
Then you talked for half an hour
When all I want is just you hold me
I had never felt so sour
You’ve got your finger on my dreamfader
Don’t pull me down

I’ll sleep in the doghouse if you let me
I’ll only come when I am called
When all I want is just you pet me
Wanna watch my fleas jump round your hall
You’ve got your finger on my dreamfader
Don’t pull me down, don’t pull me down
Dreamfader - don’t pull me down
Don’t pull me down

I’ll hide down here if you don’t mind me
Down at the dark end of the bed
When all I want is that you find me
Pull me closer to your head
Please take your finger off my dreamfader
Don’t pull me down, don’t pull me down
Dreamfader - don’t pull me down
Don’t pull me down

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

Darwin

The tourists get into their car
And drive through the safari park
There’s animals you’ve only seen in books
And despite the helpful warnings
(You could read them in the dark)
They decide to try and get a closer look
And they park the car and lock it cos you’re better safe than sorry
And they try to make the lions look their way
And in a perfect Kodak moment, they’re hunting for their car keys
As the lions come bid them all good day
And they say: Haven’t you ever heard of Darwin?
Did you think we were going to run and hide?
Haven’t you ever heard of Darwin?
Don’t roll down your car windows
It’s a jungle outside

There’s white tigers in Las Vegas
Who deign to show their teeth
Sip tea from china to polite applause
And they’re weighing up the gamblers
They’re masters or they’re meat
Provided they stay arms length from the paws
And it’s very nearly showtime, the magicians warm up backstage
And the sound effects so loud that no-one hears
As one tiger turns to the other and says: "you wanna see some magic?
Tonight it’s the magicians disappear!"
And the tigers say: Haven’t they ever heard of Darwin?
Did they think we’d vanish in thin air?
Haven’t they ever heard of Darwin?
Don’t roll down your car windows
It’s a jungle out there

Further down the food chain
Closer to the ground
Scurry all the scavengers at home
You can tidy up the kitchen
And wash all of the plates
But there’s always meat left somewhere on the bone
And all our tiny flatmates are waiting to inherit
The legacy we’ll leave behind one night
They feed their little habit and wait with perfect patience til
There’s no-one left to turn on all the lights
And they’ll sing: Hadn’t they ever heard of Darwin?
Now we don’t have to run and hide
Hadn’t they ever heard of Darwin?
Open up the windows, It’s a jungle inside

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

Love’s Reign Of Terror

Love’s reign of terror is over
With only a wave and a kiss
After so many years of resistance
It finally came down to this
It took us too long to realise
The evils performed in its name
Love’s reign of terror is over
That monster is finally slain

Love’s reign of terror is over
Common sense finally won
St.Valentine’s army defeated
With not even one shot from a gun
Cupid’s infinite archers
Finally gave up the fight
Love’s reign of terror is over
Sleep like a baby tonight
This one’s for you, there’s been a crash
There’s been a coup, there’s been a fatal error
And it’s the end of love’s reign of terror

It wasn’t all kisses and candy
The truth will emerge at the trials
Where did you think were the heartless
When everyone walked down the aisle?
Their methods were charmingly touching
So, being polite, we agreed
It all seemed so quaint and so harmless
We didn’t expect they’d succeed

The torture was so sentimental
Tasteful, romantic and sweet
Done in the darkest of dungeons
Performed by the pert and petite
They kissed me and whispered ’I love you’
As they stripped all the gums from my teeth
Goodbye to the heart’s reign of terror
Revenge will soon follow relief

Chorus

So beware all you useless romantics
Who flourished throughout this regime
Profiteers also, be watchful,
Who sold them impractical dreams
It’s so many years since they shouted
’Death to the Tyrant, The Head!’
’The old heart is dead’ shout the headlines
’Long live the new heart instead’

This one’s for you, there’s been a crash
There’s been a coup, there’s been a fatal error
And it’s the end of love’s reign of terror
This one’s for you, you disappear
Right on cue - Goodbye to you, dear Sarah
It’s the end of love’s reign of terror

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

Meet The Sheep

If you’d like to, I can take you back to meet the sheep
We can set them free out in the fields and go to sleep
We can watch them all amuse themselves
Delightfully abuse themselves
Then when they want back in the pen, they’ll start to bleat
If you want to I can take you back to meet the sheep

If you’d like to, I can take you back to pet the lambs
The uncorrupted offspring of the ewes and rams
They haven’t had to compromise
Like all the piglets in their sties
The lambs can go to heaven but the pigs are damned
If you’d like to I can take you back to meet the lambs

They like hanging out in herds
They’re happy in the pen
Anything they’ve done one time, they’ll do again
They’ll do again
They’ll do again

If you’d like to, I can take you back to sheer the sheep
The profits are enormous and the labour cheap
They don’t get angry in the least
They don’t know when they’re being fleeced
They’re happy when they do not have to think too deep
If you’d like to I can take you back to meet the sheep

They like hanging out in herds
They’re happy in the fold
Their memories are very short, their jokes are old
Their jokes are old
Their jokes are old

If you’d like to I can take you back to count the sheep
We’ll pull the wool over their eyes then go to sleep

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

For An Actress

There’s a lot of you about at the moment
Is there anything that you will not endorse?
Every time I see your face before me
It reminds me that we once had intercourse
And I can see the single bed where we lay tangled
Our hands, our limbs, our bodies intertwined
I still have the book that you once gave me
It’s a shame perhaps that I never got it signed

My mother always calls when you’re on TV
Yes, and this was charming long ago
Back when we would pull off of the highway
Just to hear you on the radio
And I recall the last time that I saw you
We were going to lead such different lives
Yes, and it was me who sent you packing
For the woman who til lately was my wife

And I loved you in the remake of Rear Window
A film we saw in 1983
Then it was James Stewart and Grace Kelly
Now it’s me and you on my TV

So thank me when you’re holding up the Oscar
I’ll never sell your story to the press
Though sometimes when I’m feeling broke and hopeless
I’m tempted by the money, I’ll confess
And I wish you very well in your career
Just as I wished you very well in bed
And if you ever need some soundtrack music
I write that shit standing on my head

And I loved you in the remake of Rear Window
A film we saw in 1983
Then it was James Stewart and Grace Kelly
Now it’s me and you on my TV

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

Don’t Rain On Me Today

The sun is shining
The sky is blue
I’ve got my hands full
Loving you
The clouds are gone now, given up and moved away
Hey, hey, don’t rain on me today

You’ve seen me smiling
Seen me frown
Watched me swimming
Watched me drown
Sometimes the sun shines
Suddenly it’s grey
Hey hey don’t rain on me today

Is that the wrong side
Of the bed?
We should have stayed there
Instead
Your wish is my command
Yes I will obey
Hey hey don’t rain on me today

The sun is shining
On the sea
You got your hands full
Loving me
While it’s beautiful
Kiss me once and say
Hey hey don’t rain on me today

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

Thank You, You’re Welcome

I used to laugh at your jokes, it wasn’t hard to smile
We started going out and we went out in style
And now it’s all exploded, I feel a weight removed
The chips lift off my shoulder, my life has improved
And I like it

Now I don’t see you anymore
Just a glimpse of you behind a closing door
And I don’t hear you anymore
Just a little voice that’s easy to ignore
And I’m feeling so much better now
Now we’re out of touch
And I’m feeling so much better now
Thank you, You’re welcome!

So let’s just keep our distance, don’t ring, don’t write or call
Forget my whole existence, I don’t mind at all
And I won’t come and spook you, I’m no revengeful ghost
Back when we said we were happy was when we scared me the most
God help us!

Now I don’t see you anymore
Just a glimpse of you behind a closing door
And I don’t miss you anymore
Now I realise that it isn’t either/or
And I’m feeling so much better now
Now we’re out of touch
And I’m feeling so much better now
Thank you, You’re welcome!

Now I don’t see you anymore
Just a glimpse of you behind a closing door
And I don’t want you anymore
Just a memory of someone I adored
And I’m feeling so much better now
Now we’re out of touch
And I’m feeling so much better now
Thank you, You’re welcome!

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

The Fall Of The House Of Harding

I was burdened by the hopes of an ailing failing family
It fell to me to marry to preserve the family fame
Mother’s stupid snobbery, my father’s desperate gambling
Combined to lose the deeds to all we owned except our name
And so mother brings me heiresses, the weak-chinned and the widowed
The simpering and whimpering, they queue to be my wife
And I treat them all with diffidence, even feign an interest
But I regret I didn’t save my elder brother’s life
It’s goodbye...

May the family hall fall into ruins all around us
Collapse onto my mother and her evil little schemes
She’d be better dead than living, if her ghost was not forgiving
She could haunt the stone forever and destroy all of our dreams
Cos they sold my little sister into some strange form of slavery
She’s living somewhere far away with someone that she hates
But I know she must be smiling cos that whore escaped this hellhole,
And the one revenge I have occurs the moment it’s too late
When I die....

You’d think I might be pining for some paupered little country girl
My folks won’t let me marry cos she doesn’t have a sous
Then maybe she’d inherit some unexpected legacy
That’s just reserved for novels, need not worry me and you
Cos there’s no-one in this world for me will ever make me happy
My attentions don’t lie elsewhere, well, they don’t even exist
And the truth is I could marry any pampered little socialite
But the family’s on the edge, they’re looking down at the abyss
So goodbye to all my creditors,
Au revoir, you heiresses,
Adios, my doctors
And adieu to all of you
Bad news for you, my family
Bad news for you all
Our house is all in ruins now
I will be our fall

And this is how it seems to me: must I prolong the agony?
We’re weak-willed and we’re spineless and we don’t know why we’re here
Our name’d be better on a tomb so leave me with my opium
I haven’t even got the strength to muster any fear
So Goodbye....

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

World Of Light

They were falling around in the darkness
Playing football when the floodlights failed
In the park
And they didn’t stop
Though they couldn’t see
And they laughed and fell
And skinned their knees
But they were not going to go without a fight
Now they are all gone
Now they are all gone
Now they are all gone
Into a world of light

They were fooling around in the darkness
Right outside their hotel room
A black dog barked
And when they were done
They closed their eyes
And when they awoke
To their surprise
The bathroom shone and turned the whole room white
Now they are all gone
Now they are all gone
Now they are all gone
Into a world of light

Oh and it’s so black in here
And all I see is shadows of you now

I was trying to write in the darkness
But the page had turned
The colour of the ink
And inside the van
The driver and me
Were the only ones
Who weren’t asleep
And a towncar overtook us on the right
Now we are all gone
Now we are all gone
Now we are all gone
Into a world of light

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