It Happened One Night/It Never Happened At All

November 5, 1988: an out of the way bar in West London. One man, with his guitar, plays to an audience of about 100, consisting of strangers who’ve never heard of him, some friends who are doing most of the talking and a few regulars who can’t be bothered to leave. He is recording his first record. He is me.

At the time, my manager and I thought it was a great idea. The songs will stand up and be heard, we thought, whatever the context. And, in a way, we were right, because in the year 2004 It Happened One Night is back, fashionably late for its own 15th anniversary. Some people even think it’s my best record. (I think they’re insane, but I appreciate the sentiment.)

As a record of me as I was in the first year of my career, I like it (without wanting to listen to it). It shows me exactly as I was at a very typical show, singing (sometimes in tune), full of words, perfecting my “strum und drang” guitar technique, doing everything very very fast.

None of those are the reasons I don’t like it.

I don’t like it because It Happened One Night shouldn’t have been my first album. We hadn’t quite thought it through: I had done a total of about thirty gigs before I recorded my debut album; the songs were live, so no one wanted to play them on the radio; I was writing a lot at the time, so I was bored of these songs by the time it came to record Here Comes The Groom. Besides, who (except Peter Frampton) releases a live debut album anyway?

My first album should have been It Never Happened At All.

There was a whole different record I was making in 1988/89 with great musicians, many of whom would go on to play on Here Comes The Groom. It Never Happened At All – which, given my Capra fetish, would almost certainly have been called You Can’t Take It With You – was forgotten, lost, dispersed all over the place, and is now presented here. I loved reconstructing it. It’s a better general picture of me at the time, trying to write a song in any style that took my fancy: that Bo Diddley rhythm I’d just heard, a little rockabilly, country and western, a folk ballad, a synthy cinematic epic, a very heavy metal version of “Scared of Guns,” even (Lord have mercy!) a blues – just looking for something I liked. And then Sire came along, and they wanted to start from scratch and I made Here Comes The Groom, forsaking whatever this album was going to be for the wonders that lay ahead.

To me, It Never Happened At All is not a bonus CD: it is my alternative first record from a parallel world where you can have two debut albums. At the time, unfortunately, it never happened at all, but now, sixteen years on, it gets to happen after all.

Mastered by Emily Lazar at The Lodge, NYC
Cover Photography: Adrian Boot
Cover Design: Abbey Tyson
JWH Tape Archive: Bob Whitfield

Thanks to: Jim Musselman, Dave Seitz, Andrew Solin, Bob Whitfield, Peter Barnes, Glen Colson, Mark Linett, Steve Lang, Adrian Boot and Richard at Urban Image (for helping to find the original photos from the session), Mike Dixon, Cathy Hendrix, Mike Leahy and Brian Lohmann.

For David Lewis, Adam Barker, Amanda Posey and Jo Graham.

It Happened One Night

This version of It Happened One Night restores the two missing songs, “Three Legged Man” (which I sang to cover breaking a string, and of which I only sang two verses) and “Every Sunrise Is Another Sunset” (a duet with David Lewis.) On 5th November 1988, the songs were sung in this order:

  • The Devil In Me*
  • Career’s Service*
  • Humankind
  • July 13th 1985
  • Affairs Of The Heart
  • Kiss/Lover’s Society
  • Every Sunrise Is Another Sunset
  • The Night He Took Her To The Fairground
  • Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Steve Goodman, David Blue & Me
  • Headful of Something/The Devil In Me
  • You And Your Career
  • The Biggest Monument
  • Three Legged Man
  • Roy Orbison Knows
  • Who You Really Are
  • Famous Man
  • Pound Pound Pound
  • Save A Little Room For Me
  • One Night Only
  • Career’s Service
  • Bastard Son

*not used due to a microphone malfunction

Produced by Wesley Stace
Recorded live by Barry Farmer and Paul Bass, 5th November 1988 at The Wheelhouse Club on The Strand on the Green, Chiswick, London.

All songs written by John Wesley Harding except
The Biggest Monument (John Wesley Harding and Adam Barker), Every Sunrise Is Another Sunset (John Wesley Harding and David Lewis) and Kiss (Prince). All songs published by Plangent Visions Ltd except Kiss (Warner-Chappell Music)

It Never Happened At All

The sources for all these songs were a variety of different tapes in various states of disrepair: two inch 24 track masters, quarter inch 2 track mixes, half inch 16 track (a particularly hard machine to find in America today), cassettes… you name it. Some we remixed, some we couldn’t (so we did what we could).

  1. LOVE’S SACRIFICE
    Guitar, Vocals, Percussion: JWH
    Electric Guitar: Mike Leahy
    Drums: Pete Thomas
    Bass: Bruce Thomas
    Backing Vocals: Brian Lohmann
    Originally recorded at Turbot Studios, Hammersmith (4/14/89)
    Engineered by Barry Farmer
    Extra recording done at Shelter Island Sound, NYC (5/5/04)
    Engineered and Mixed by David Seitz
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

  2. ROY ORBISON KNOWS
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    National Guitar: Roger Hubbard
    Keyboards: Kenny Craddock
    Bass: Colin Gibson
    Originally recorded at Invisible Studios, Crowhurst (early 1989)
    Engineered by Kenny Craddock and Colin Gibson
    Mixed by David Seitz at Shelter Island Sound, NYC
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

  3. THE DEVIL IN ME
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    Electric Guitar: Steve Donnelly
    Bass: Paul Bass
    Drums: Pete Thomas
    Originally recorded by Barry Farmer at The Strong Room, Shoreditch (1/21/89)
    Overdubs recorded at Turbot Studios, Hammersmith
    Mixed by David Seitz at Shelter Island Sound, NYC
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

  4. SAME THING TWICE
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    Drums: Pete Thomas
    Bass: Paul Bass
    Guitar: Steve Donnelly
    Backing Vocals: David Lewis
    Banjo, Harmonica: Julian Dawson
    Originally recorded by Barry Farmer at Turbot Studios, Hammersmith (4/14/89)
    Mixed by David Seitz at Shelter Island Sound, NYC
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

  5. BROWNING ROAD
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    Electric Guitar: Mike Leahy
    Electric Guitar solo: Steve Donnelly
    Bass: Paul Bass
    Drums: Pete Thomas
    Originally recorded by Barry Farmer at The Strong Room, Shoreditch (1/21/89)
    Extra Recording done at Shelter Island Sound, NYC (5/6/04)
    Engineered and Mixed by David Seitz
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

  6. LOVER’S SOCIETY
    Guitar, Harmonica, Vocals: JWH
    Electric Guitar: Steve Donnelly
    Piano: Geraint Watkins
    Bass: Paul Bass
    Drums: Pete Thomas
    Originally recorded by Barry Farmer at The Strong Room, Shoreditch (1/21/89)
    Extra Recording done at Shelter Island Sound, NYC (5/6/04)
    Engineered and Mixed by David Seitz
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

  7. SCARED OF GUNS
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    Electric Guitar: Steve Donnelly
    Piano: Geraint Watkins
    Bass: Paul Bass
    Drums: Pete Thomas
    Originally recorded by Barry Farmer at The Strong Room, Shoreditch (1/21/89)
    Mixed by David Seitz at Shelter Island Sound, NYC
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

  8. WHO YOU REALLY ARE

  9. BAD FRUIT
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    Recorded by Barry Farmer at Turbot Studios, Hammersmith (6/19/88)
    Digitally enhanced by Andrew Solin

  10. POUND POUND POUND
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    Recorded by Roger Chatterton at Kite Studios, Cambridge (5/11/88)
    Digitally enhanced by Andrew Solin and Dave Seitz

  11. ONE NIGHT ONLY
    Vocals: JWH
    All Instruments: Steve Nieve
    Produced and recorded by Steve Nieve, London (1988)
    Digitally enhanced by Andrew Solin and Dave Seitz

  12. THE NIGHT HE TOOK HER TO THE FAIRGROUND
    Vocals, Guitar: JWH
    Electric Guitar: Adam Barker
    Bass: Andy Thurston
    Drums: Greg Salter
    [Collectively known as The Accelerators]
    Recorded by Roger Chatterton at Kite Studios, Cambridge (1/12/86)

  13. SAVE A LITTLE ROOM FOR ME
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    National Guitar: Roger Hubbard
    Keyboards: Kenny Craddock
    Bass: Colin Gibson
    Originally recorded at Invisible Studios, Crowhurst (early 1989)
    Engineered by Kenny Craddock and Colin Gibson

  14. YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU
    Guitar, Vocals: JWH
    Harmonica, Backing Vocals: Julian Dawson
    Electric Guitar: Steve Donnelly
    Piano: Geraint Watkins
    Bass: Paul Bass
    Drums: Pete Thomas
    Originally recorded by Barry Farmer at The Strong Room, Shoreditch (1/21/89)
    Overdubs recorded at Turbot Studios, Hammersmith
    Mixed by David Seitz at Shelter Island Sound, NYC
    Assisted by Andrew Solin

All songs written by John Wesley Harding and published by Plangent Visions Ltd.

Headful Of Something

We can wear the social fabric
Put on the make-up of society
We can champion the underdog
Be proud that we’re not another cog
In the Blue Machinery
In the Blue Machinery
We all wanna do those things
But what’s the point in a headful of something
What’s the point in a headful of something
What’s the point in a headful of something
If you’ve got a heartful of nothing
If you’ve got a heartful of nothing

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

Who You Really Are

You got a brain just like a steam shovel
And I’m tar upon the road
You’ve got a body like a shotgun
That I’m trying to unload
If you are yin and yang then Baby
I must be ego and id
I’m the Man from La Mancha, whoever he is
And you’re a bold El Cid
Well come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
You got a beret like Che Guevara
But your dress makes me see stripes and stars
Oh come on Baby I wanna know
Who you are
Who you really are

You got imagination like a lift
I’m stuck between the floors
Your soul looks like a doorman
I’m revolving in his doors
I try to read you like a book
You laugh between the lines
You got a sense of humor like a motorway
Clearly I’m not an exit sign
Well come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Well you tell us that you’re going far
How come your stocks are still where they are
Oh come on Baby I wanna know
Who you are
Who you really are

You’ve got a future like a family photo
And I’m just out of shot
Well when your car is freezing over
My collar’s getting hot
You’re fighting wars in your inside
And I’m a pacifist
Yeah, but if you were my country Baby
You know that I’d enlist
Oh come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Well I guess I’m in the gutter gazing at stars
Baby don’t tread me down too far
Guess I’m in the gutter gazing at stars
Baby don’t tread me down too far
Guess I’m in the gutter gazing at stars
Baby don’t tread me down too far
Oh come on Baby I wanna know
Who you are
Who you really are

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

Famous Man

Mother, last night I shot a famous man
His music, his life, I was his greatest fan
Mother, I’m sorry for all the things that I did
I’ve been hiding it all of my life, shouldÌve kept it still hid
Should’ve kept it still hid

Mother, last night I shot a famous man
Ain’t it funny the things a man does cos he knows that he can
When I raise my voice, it’s a small feeble sound in the wind
To make yourself heard in this big bad world, you must know where to begin
You must know where to begin

Mother, last night I shot a famous man
But today I can’t say it all went according to plan
He just looked at me, he stared me straight in the eyes
Now I know how he felt every day til he died
Every day til he died

Mother, well now people listen to me
I’m the King of America, some say that I’m the King of Comedy
Mother, now that I know what it means to be heard
I wish I put down my gun, like he put down his guitar
And I wish that I’d swallowed my words
Wished I’d swallowed my words

Mother, I knew him, but he never knew me

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

You And Your Career

You know those feelings I’m talking about
You’re walking down the road
A car indicates right and then turns left
You didn’t get the code
It’s a world of signs we’re living in
A mirror and that’s a fact
If you don’t reflect what they provide
They’re likely to react

Was another wind-swept Wednesday
In the schoolyard of the heart
Your knuckles got wrapped for this before
You had to learn your part
I’m at your window looking in
Seems my valentine has died
We came out in 1983
Now you’ve gone back inside
You’ve gone back inside

A snapshot of a wicked world
It’s flowing down the sink
But there is no point in watching it go
No time to sit and think
The world’s revolving faster
But the train’s still going slow
So much cackle, no more laughter
Don’t trust anyone you don’t know

Your mother’s irresponsible
Your father’s on the booze
It just happened to turn out that way
They could not really choose
Now you’ve got big alternatives
But it’s only one or naught
Don’t try to look between those places
If you do then don’t get caught
Don’t get caught cos that could ruin your career

You’re looking for a part-time job
You’re picking up the perks
And all you do is lick the floor
And jerk off all the jerks
I don’t know if you’ve noticed
I’m tired of being understood
But at least these words rhyme with the world
In a sense you knew they would

Sometimes I am a politician
Other times I’m just a king
But I always do the things I want
Like let my payphone ring
Of course I have no money
Naturally, I have no friends
Of course I have no power
But the license to pretend that I’ve got a career
I can pretend that I’ve got a career

You reached the door they told you to
They just said ëWell what took you so long?’
Well maybe in that corridor
All the exits were marked wrong
You took the route they told you to
You walked down straight white lines
You kept on looking straight ahead
I’m sure it’ll work out fine
Now you’ve got what you want and you’ve got your career

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

July 13th 1985 (The Live Aid Song)

July 13th 1985 was the day we watched Live Aid
The Global Jukebox came alive
We fed the world that day
We fed the world that day

It was a day for a party we made a lot of food and we ate it sure as hell
Vegetarian salads, they had no meat, there was leftovers as well
Everybody laughed when I said
Thinking of the people either dying or dead
Let’s pick up the leftovers, send them to the starving children in Ethiopia
My mother used to say that

Sure I was pleased to give money, cause it was not a political cause
I just remember the smiling faces, the music and the applause
I spent 30 quid on coke
I smoked a little too much dope
I was wiped out from 5 til 7, I missed Spandau Ballet and U2

July 13th 1985 was the day we watched Live Aid
The Global Jukebox came alive
We fed the world that day
We fed the world that day

The music was fucking brilliant and that Madonna she sure can move
By the time Paul McCartney’s microphone had failed yeah, we are all well into the Live Aid groove
Paul McCartney, he sang...
Which must have been a bit of an irony
Cos if you ’Let it Be’ nothing will ever improve
But it was one of the first times I ever heard one of the real Beatles sing a real Beatles’ song live on television, I really wished Julian Lennon had turned up instead of his recently dead father, I was really moved

July 13th 1985 was the day we watched Live Aid
The Global Jukebox came alive
We fed the world that day
We fed the world that day

Well the powerful voice of pop music, solve the problems, feed the world
So what if there weren’t any blacks involved there was Everything but the Girl
Bob Geldof has no ego that man should get the Nobel Prize
By the time he sang the solo on Feed the World
I thought he should be canonized

I felt guilty about the starving but I felt good to be alive
And I must admit I shed a tear or two in the very moving video for that great Cars song Drive
Saint Bob made me feel like shit
So I got out an envelope, opened it
Put in a very crisp ten pound note
It was the same one I used earlier to snort my coke
And that made me feel good inside
Sending the money, not snorting the coke

July 13th 1985 was the day we watched Live Aid
The Global Jukebox came alive
We fed the world that day
We fed the world that day

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

One Night Only

He got shafted in Bradford for his out of date routines up there
And the trouble he ran into Brighton was more than his share
He’s been running for thirty years, he would have settled down
But each town he appears in puts a red nose on the clown

You can buy the old showbills and frame them, they’re nearly antiques
You can trip up on his big clown shoes as you’re starting to speak
He squirts the flower, hurts your hand, it’ll always catch you
And his tears are etched so deep that they might just be tattooed

The one man circus is coming to town
Put the banners up, take your trousers down
Paint on a smile, wipe off the frown
Heaven knows he won’t hurt us
The loose, the lovely and the lonely
One night only

He said ’I played Chaplin for Hitler in March 44
Been a black and white minstrel before that whole thing was outlawed
And I’ve dragged it on every pier in every seaside town
But there aren’t any dances today, the pavilions have all been pulled down

I came over straight after the war and they hijacked my name
I waited for so many years but my wife never came
I’ve been learning these lines every day since 1945
And I’ll recite them everyday I wished I was alive’

The one man circus is coming to town
Get the dogs out, tear the posters down
Paint go home on the walls til he is elsewhere bound
Don’t you know he could hurt us
The loose, the lovely and the lonely
One night only

He’s tripping over backwards, taking off his clothes
And no-one helps him, everyone knows
We laugh at the misfortune of others

Everytime the glass empties, the lions they all get set free
On a town full of unsuspecting tourists who scream when they’re happy
And the scarecrow’s on probation just for making faces in a mirror
The past put a hand on his shoulder and drowned him in tears

Now he ushers and watched the movies where children don’t age
And the dancing horse stole all the keys and took charge of the stage
And the freaks are on the razzmatazz, they’re all fuelled on coke and gin
And the cast-out’s on the street and we’ve already let him in

The one man circus

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

Humankind

I’ve read that it’s official
That our love has solidified in ritual
And all our sweet nothings melted into vitriol
We eat it up, we chew it round, we spit it out
But I doubt that we’ve got a lot to shout about
The time has come, the bell has rung and now it’s seconds out
I’m just a man but I try to be a human
I’m just a man but I try to be a human
Now the inmates are in charge of the asylum
All this silence, it will only lead to violence
Now the inmates are in charge of the asylum
Watch out

I’ve seen the big oaks falling
And I’ve heard the dying voice of England calling
No vote is worth a damn, we’re stuck here in our heartland stalling
Her nerve is twice as cold as the icebox in my fridge
I’d write you letters but she took away my privilege
I’ll be there at the auction just to see how high she’ll bid
I’m just a man but I try to be human
I’m just a man but I try to be human
Now the inmates are in charge of the asylum
All this silence, well it might only lead to violence
Now the inmates are in charge of the asylum
Watch out

They clipped my ticket but they took away the cinema
Well now they just show films with things the way they think they are
Some things may be black and white but not when there’s a color bar
You tell me not to throw it’s only someone’s policy
I think you oughta know I’m sick of ideology yeah
I’m gonna hide right now, will you clear up this mess for me?
I’m just a man but I try to be human
I’m just a man but I try to be human
Now the inmates are in charge of the asylum
All this silence, well it could only lead to violence
Now the inmates are in charge of the asylum
Watch out
They’re taking my humanity and they’re trying to squeeze it out of me
They’re taking my humanity and they’re trying to squeeze it out of me
I’m just a man but I try to be a humane man

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

The Night He Took Her To The Fairground

Her glasses fell on the grass
They were reflected in the lens
Though short-sighted she knew
That they could never be friends
And as he pulled her down
She threw off his new suede shoes
He didn’t carry protection and
She’d just blown a fuse

She laughed but it wasn’t at him
She called him a crazy fool
Well she’d broken all of her promise
And he’d broken her golden rule
They kissed but their eyes were closed
And she said ain’t love blind
Well she put his scarf round her eyes
But the attachment was just a bind

The tunnel was out of love
The waltzer made no sound
The ghost train was on fire, on fire
And the merry go went round and round
The roller coasted on
As they went up and down
It was the night that he took her to the fairground
It was the night that he took her to the fairground

She ran away so fast
Like water down a drain
Well they met and they tried to pretend that
They were strangers on a train
Well she poisoned him with words
Well he tried to spit them out
Well he thought it was all absurd
You know that he had got no doubt

You know she was bending him out of shape
Well just like plastic warps
He was an actor in her play but he was
Just beginning to corpse
They molded together well
Her hand fit into his glove
And they were making up this story while
While they were making love

Yeah the tunnel was out of love
The waltzer made no sound
The ghost train was on fire, on fire
And the merry go went round and round
The roller coasted on
And they went up and down
It was the night that he took her to the fairground
It was the night that he took her to the fairground

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

The Biggest Monument

Well he shouts and wakes the whole street up
He says ’I’ve never believed in you anyway’
He says ’Now what the hell do you want to lecture me for
To keep the approaching years at bay?’
And as the curtains opposite open slight
They see a front door slam
And God the Father to His chosen Son
Shouts ’Be saved or You’ll be damned’
And the years go past
Nothing changes ’cept the date
This time, it’s just the same as the last
It’s always just too late
He smashed the car again last night
And he can’t bang out the dent
He was trying to pull down the biggest monument

Wallpaper medals decorate the soldiers
But the memories have peeled away
Well people fight, they come and go like politicians
So proud to have nothing to say
Well there were moving pictures on the news at ten
Why they rioted, it’s a mystery
Well let’s play tin soldiers at Goose Green
I never said we learned from history
And the years go past
Nothing changes ’cept the date
This time, it’s just the same as the last
It’s always just too late
Splashed across breakfast on this morning’s papers
One of the soldiers was bent
He was trying to pull down the biggest monument

Eyes light in the twilight twilight
Dusk of a late-night bar, late-night bar
Well they both believe in love at first sight
Provided you can’t see the scars
And mummy did it and his daddy too
Otherwise how could they be here
Will you have me in sickness and in health
Til death do us part and we’ll get divorced next year
And the years go past
Nothing changes ’cept the date
This time, it’s just the same as the last
It’s always just too late
He got smashed again last night
His hard-earned money came and went
He just tried to pull down the biggest monument

Yesterday in tomorrow’s world
They invented the wheel again
Someone died in Hollywood
And then he was proclaimed King of the Insane
And tomorrow it’s in the papers
The next day it’s on the news
And it all happened just like this before
You know I’m starting to get confused
Yeah and the years go past
Nothing changes ’cept the date
This time, it’s just the same as the last
It’s always just too late
We get born with history on our shoulders
We still can’t afford the rent
When you try to pull down the biggest monument

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

Kiss/Lover’s Society

Well they’re taking minutes to do what takes me hours
At the lover’s society
Well they’re sending out tenders for new ivory towers
At the lover’s society
And the chairman’s so together
Drinks coffee from a lover’s cup
It’s always lover’s weather
If Bitterness would just button up
He doesn’t need sugar, we all know why
When he’s planning a broken heart bring and buy

I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
They shouldn’t mess with me, no
They shouldn’t mess with me

They talk about things that do not make my agenda
At the lover’s society
The committee are emotional big spenders
At the lover’s society
They’ve always got a quorum
They love to love to always agree
That this is the lover’s famous forum
And they’ve excluded cynical me
They say it’s paranoia, and I’ve got the patent
But I think it’s paranormal that they’re so blatant

I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
They shouldn’t mess with me no
They shouldn’t mess with me

Casanova and Don Juan talk cold turkey in the corner
At the lover’s society
Sylvia Plath and Mrs. Browning they just go for a sauna
At the lover’s society
I’m standing at the lover’s keyhole
With half a bottle of Becks
Cos it sure felt cold and lonely
Sucking my thumb in the annex
You should see the archives on the shelf
Proves every lover just loves him or herself

I’m vaguely bitter cos they’ve written to me
Out of the text of the lover’s Society
I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
They shouldn’t mess with me no
They shouldn’t mess with me
They shouldn’t mess with me no

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

Careers Service

It’s a 24 hour operation with a skeleton staff
The profits almost double when they cut the work force in half
The boss votes the way the money goes, and the flags fly at half-mast
He believes in the lie that is free enterprise and it just makes me laugh
And it makes me nervous
Careers service
It makes me nervous

You can’t walk down the street now the corner-shop’s been closed
Who needs nostalgia when it belts you in the nose
Big men put me out of business, made me sell budget garden hose
Left you drunk on overpriced scotch, wearing a plastic rose
And it makes me nervous
Careers service
It makes me nervous
The boys in the queue
The girls in the queue
The men and the women all shouting at you
Whatever happened to careerÌs information
Whatever happened to the pride of this nation
No-oneÌs giving us good vibrations
Excitations
You’ve got your best suit on for the interview
Meeting people you shouldnÌt have to meet, doing things you don’t want to do
Behind the desk, it’s all sex on a casting couch, surely will bite you
You don’t even get the understudy amidst all this hullabaloo
And it makes me nervous
Careers service
Well it’s so worthless
Careers service
Well it’s so worthless

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

Pound Pound Pound

I was standing on a corner kicking my heels
Had my coat buttoned up beneath my chin
And I saw in some girl’s eyes, she thought I was making deals
There was just me and the clock struck out
I was looking for something to scream and shout about
So I took a train and I went back home
There was no one to tell so I didn’t telephone
That place is just another big unknown to me
That place is just another big unknown to me

The sea made angry faces, the waves were getting high
Saw them kicking down onto the front
And the cars dodged the water that was flooding on by
And I just stood there, an orphan fool
I saw kids smoking chain on their way back from school
A tramp got reckless in the center of town
He was talking about Jesus as the sun went down
A lifetime of sorrows, he was ready to drown
A lifetime of sorrows, I think he was going to drown

Well I hit this bar where I used to hang out
Talked to the guy behind the bar, then dropped a few names
He didn’t know what I was talking about
So I put my money down and I shot some pool
Beat two punks, I was feeling cool
A couple of girls started to flirt
And I felt really old as they tugged my shirt
And I walked outside as they hurled some dirt at me
I walked outside as they hurled dirt at me

Went to visit Helen by St. Helen’s Park
That place used to frighten me now all I can see
Was a couple of wide-boy sharks flashing their teeth in the small-town dark
Huddled myself in the cold
That old red brick house I can find it blindfolded
I loved her when I was sixteen
She was an old town new brown beauty queen
Now I just spend my time filling the gaps in between her and me
Well I just spend my time filling the gaps that have grown in between her and me

Midnight in the subway, we’d huddle up and laugh
When we missed the last bus home, we’d just sit there all night
And we’d play guitars until the night-time passed
I went there to count some sheep
With the smell of glue, I couldn’t sleep
Made my excuses to no-one, left town
To leave it in the city at the lost and found
Where the steps my father walked don’t echo on down
And my mother’s voice calling doesn’t make no sound
And there’s no yesterdays to tie you down
And as I hit the city, I remember this sound
Waves on the shore going pound pound pound
The streets in the city still swirling around
And my mother’s voice calling me, calling me, calling me back

I was standing on a corner kicking my heels
Had my coat buttoned up beneath my chin
I saw in some girl’s eyes, she thought that I was making deals

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

Roy Orbison Knows (The Best Man’s Song)

Well your voice grips me tight like fingers
Takes hold of whatever’s inside
Though we try to harmonize with different singers
When we’re out of tune at least we’ll know we’ve tried
Baby, it’s a hopeless feeling
Leaves Mr. Logic reeling
I love you, I know
But what does that mean
When the only place forward is where we’ve just been
It’s time to think twice
It’s time to decide
Turn and keep walking or be my bride
Or be my bride
Or be my bride

Well Roy Orbison, he knows that I can’t forget you
Well he told me last night at forty-five
Hope this honesty doesn’t honestly upset you
He said Îto lie is death to love’, I know we’re still alive
Baby when the morning’s breaking
So many actresses have already started faking
I love you I know
But it’s not such a big deal
I’m gonna tape you this song on my reel to reel to reel
It’s time to think twice
Make up your mind
Take me to the altar or leave me behind
Or leave me behind
Or leave me behind

Well my memories, they lie to me just because they want to
Well, like a runaway train, you know I have no control
I’m gonna tell them where you live so they can go and haunt you
And take back all the parts of me you stole
But I no longer feel like crying
My nervous system’s dying
I love you I know
But I’m anaesthetized
I was foolishly hopeful, now I’ve realized
It was time to think twice
You had to go
I hope that you blossom, I hope that you grow
Write me a postcard, make it some little thing
If you get married, I’ll carry the ring
If you get married, introduce me to him
Introduce me to him, introduce me to him

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

Love’s Sacrifice

You got dirty hands
And you can’t wash the stain off
Looks like it rained too hard last night
And the water won’t drain off
The morning mirror will reveal
What you’ve long tried to conceal
Looks like you paid the price
For cowardice in the face of Love’s Sacrifice
Love’s Sacrifice

If you were a saint
You would have acted better
But there’s no time for prayer
And you lost my letters
Can’t you see it in the stars
The silver fenders of brand new cars
Looks like you should have thought twice
About bearing the burden of Love’s Sacrifice
Love’s Sacrifice

You keep your secrets hidden close
For when you wanna let off steam
And one sin is bigger than pride
Guess you know what I mean
Can’t you see me in the splutters and coughs
Of TVs when they are turned off

Now you’re on you’re own
And the nurses treat you kindly
A lonely old man with no visitors
Loves is blind
But you were blind, you couldn’t see
To give up graciously
Looks like you should have thought twice
About bearing the burden that is Love’s Sacrifice
Love’s Sacrifice

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

Roy Orbison Knows

Well your voice grips me tight like fingers
Takes hold of whatever’s inside
Though we try to harmonize with different singers
When we’re out of tune at least we’ll know we’ve tried
Baby, it’s a hopeless feeling
Leaves Mr. Logic reeling
I love you, I know
But what does that mean
When the only place forward is where we’ve just been
It’s time to think twice
It’s time to decide
Turn and keep walking or be my bride
Or be my bride
Or be my bride

Well Roy Orbison, he knows that I can’t forget you
Well he told me last night at forty-five
Hope this honesty doesn’t honestly upset you
He said Îto lie is death to love’, I know we’re still alive
Baby when the morning’s breaking
So many actresses have already started faking
I love you I know
But it’s not such a big deal
I’m gonna tape you this song on my reel to reel to reel
It’s time to think twice
Make up your mind
Take me to the altar or leave me behind
Or leave me behind
Or leave me behind

Well my memories, they lie to me just because they want to
Well, like a runaway train, you know I have no control
I’m gonna tell them where you live so they can go and haunt you
And take back all the parts of me you stole
But I no longer feel like crying
My nervous system’s dying
I love you I know
But I’m anaesthetized
I was foolishly hopeful, now I’ve realized
It was time to think twice
You had to go
I hope that you blossom, I hope that you grow
Write me a postcard, make it some little thing
If you get married, I’ll carry the ring
If you get married, introduce me to him
Introduce me to him, introduce me to him

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

The Devil In Me

I shot John F. Kennedy in Dallas in 63
They blamed it on Oswald carelessly
But it was the devil in me
Put Jesus on the cross, I put a gag on the Boss
I kissed him on the cheek so he couldn’t speak
But that was the devil in me
It was the devil in me
It’s the devil in me that’s unlevelling me
Put it down to the devil in me

I made you breakfast, put poisoned sheets on the bed
I made you cry, couldda made you laugh instead
But that was the devil in me
So I killed you off, I tore your famous brown furcoat
I laughed at your cough, ignored your suicide note
But that was the devil in me.....

I blew up the bus, I started World War III
Hijacked the plane with Qadaffi, blew the hostages free
That was the devil in me
I’m sponsored by a company that I don’t believe in
I advertise their things for cash, that ain’t deceiving
No, that’s just the devil in me
It was the devil in me....

I gave you acid rain
I polluted the sea
I covered your thoughts up
With graffiti
You can call me by my real name
Or you can call me humanity
Because it all seems just like human behaviour
It all seems like human behaviour to me
Put it down to the devil in me

It was the devil in me
It was the devil in me
Well it’s the devil in me makes me do these things
Devil in me that makes me sing
Devil in me gave you a wedding ring
Put it down to the devil in me

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

Same Thing Twice

He’s done it all a million times
The gags, the repartee, the little crimes
Every audience is special and that goes for you
He looks into your eyes again
He never does it but he tries again
That old boy lost look could bruise you black and blue
Everybody’s looking for a single row so they can be alone
Cos every time the lights go up, they’d rather be at home
I looked through all the wanted ads with a fine toothed comb
And all I came up with was another evening
Doing the same thing twice
That’s what I was doing

All the drinks that he’s been sinking
Never ask him what he’s thinking
Every audience is unique and that goes for you
Dead or alive you’re coming with me
Because everything’s my cup of tea
That’s why I’ve got a gold suit and some green italian shoes
Everybody says they had, but we all know they didn’t
It’s impossible to be a little bit pregnant
Give me the whole fruit cos I’m getting just a segment
And all I end up with is another evening
Doing the same thing twice

Well it hurts so bad to get this stoned
By ugly looking bureaucrats with ears like headphones
Reading The Sun, Sunday Sport, S.Ideal Home, Woman’s Own
Looks like you’re on your own

Bring me on the magic sponge
My dying gasp, my final lunge
It’s all over now bar the dance
Do it now but don’t get caught
I’ve been having third thoughts
They can be so clever, only when the script demands
You cluttered up the sky now so you can’t follow any star
Someone’s sitting next to you in an empty cinema
No-one wants to end up face down in a reservoir
And I don’t wanna end up with another evening
Saying the same thing twice

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

Browning Road

The cats are howling round the dustbins
They’re all into that trash
But they’re heading to Clubville later
For their PR company bash
The sun is setting on the first act
And I have bought new shoes
And I’m going down to Browning Road
Just to be seen with you

The philosophers are out on Sartrean sulphate
Say I don’t exist
But I’m tune in the spoon in the june moon
Must be something I missed
They disappear backwards when they use big words
When the small ones just won’t do
And I’m going down to Browning Road
Just to be seen with you

Romantic ain’t the word for what you do to me
Maybe frantic, mantic, transatlantic
Baby, get a message from me

The poets pose in the prosaic
They say everything must rhyme
But down Browning Road they’re all stitched up
Because nothing keeps time
Out here, the dealers get up at seven
To push their big deals through
And I’m rockin’ on down Browning Road
Just to be seen with you

Well, you know that there’s trouble in the fundamental factory
Something’s rotting on this estate
We would have done something about it
But when we were born it was much too late
Sick analysts are traveling inwards
Even Jesus has got the blues
So I’m going down to Browning Road
Just to be seen with you

Romantic ain’t the word for what you do to me
Maybe, frantic, semantic, oh transatlantic
Hey, Baby, can’t you see


That when the sun hits heavy on your selfishness
And the light in your heart gets dark
And your sick of the sight and the stink and the steam
In this everyday amusement park
Well I’ll throw in my hand when I’m on a roll
Pick up my rockin’ shoes
And then I’ll go down to Browning Road
Cos I just wanna be seen with you

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

Lovers Society

Well they’re taking minutes to do what takes me hours
At the lover’s society
Well they’re sending out tenders for new ivory towers
At the lover’s society
And the chairman’s so together
Drinks coffee from a lover’s cup
It’s always lover’s weather
If Bitterness would just button up
He doesn’t need sugar, we all know why
When he’s planning a broken heart bring and buy

I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
They shouldn’t mess with me, no
They shouldn’t mess with me

They talk about things that do not make my agenda
At the lover’s society
The committee are emotional big spenders
At the lover’s society
They’ve always got a quorum
They love to love to always agree
That this is the lover’s famous forum
And they’ve excluded cynical me
They say it’s paranoia, and I’ve got the patent
But I think it’s paranormal that they’re so blatant

I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
They shouldn’t mess with me no
They shouldn’t mess with me

Casanova and Don Juan talk cold turkey in the corner
At the lover’s society
Sylvia Plath and Mrs. Browning they just go for a sauna
At the lover’s society
I’m standing at the lover’s keyhole
With half a bottle of Becks
Cos it sure felt cold and lonely
Sucking my thumb in the annex
You should see the archives on the shelf
Proves every lover just loves him or herself

I’m vaguely bitter cos they’ve written to me
Out of the text of the lover’s Society
I wanna belong and I wanna be part of the lover’s society
They shouldn’t mess with me no
They shouldn’t mess with me
They shouldn’t mess with me no

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

Scared Of Guns

Well, the power of the bullet is fascinating
They’re polishing the luga facsimiles
The little kids grow up imitating
Cowboys shoot indians before puberty
Don’t get me to the battle on time
I’d be useless in the front line
Don’t point that thing at me
You know I’m scared of guns

You can argue, say it’s harmless
In the nightmare fairground gallery
We’re all under pain of death
To keel right over gracefully
I ached to be a uniform man
And toss that baton in a marching band
Don’t point that thing at me
You know I’m scared of guns

I’m scared of guns, they’re out of your hands
I’m scared of guns, they might go bang
I’m scared of guns, Hey Joe, they’re out of control
I’m scared of guns, fear eat the soul
Don’t shoot me

I wanna put flowers in the barrels
Like the famous photo, understand
That I’d rather get hit on the head
That hold cold metal in my hand
The new arrival, the latest addition
The little boys running out of ammunition
Don’t point that thing at me
You know I’m scared of guns

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

Who You Really Are

You got a brain just like a steam shovel
And I’m tar upon the road
You’ve got a body like a shotgun
That I’m trying to unload
If you are yin and yang then Baby
I must be ego and id
I’m the Man from La Mancha, whoever he is
And you’re a bold El Cid
Well come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
You got a beret like Che Guevara
But your dress makes me see stripes and stars
Oh come on Baby I wanna know
Who you are
Who you really are

You got imagination like a lift
I’m stuck between the floors
Your soul looks like a doorman
I’m revolving in his doors
I try to read you like a book
You laugh between the lines
You got a sense of humor like a motorway
Clearly I’m not an exit sign
Well come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Well you tell us that you’re going far
How come your stocks are still where they are
Oh come on Baby I wanna know
Who you are
Who you really are

You’ve got a future like a family photo
And I’m just out of shot
Well when your car is freezing over
My collar’s getting hot
You’re fighting wars in your inside
And I’m a pacifist
Yeah, but if you were my country Baby
You know that I’d enlist
Oh come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Come on Baby I wanna know who you really are
Well I guess I’m in the gutter gazing at stars
Baby don’t tread me down too far
Guess I’m in the gutter gazing at stars
Baby don’t tread me down too far
Guess I’m in the gutter gazing at stars
Baby don’t tread me down too far
Oh come on Baby I wanna know
Who you are
Who you really are

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

Bad Fruit

On the long slow slide to Calvary
Or was it an airplane flying home
Well, I met her when I was born
And we went off to roam
We ended up in Italy
The rain was pouring down
She was wearing her party dress
She’d got me dressed up like a Pierrot clown

As the sun climbed up my window
The alarm went off again
I had to leave right after that warning
I just could not be contained
I took my love for her away
But she never left my mind
She said “You know I don’t mind looking you in the eyes
But I wish you wouldn’t be unkind”

And I said: “From one quick bite of a bad fruit
To today in seconds flat
Do you still have that hat I gave you?
Do you still think that it will save you?
And just between you and me
This life is not as long as it’s cracked up to me
I’ve been here so long, it feels like I’m growing roots
Took one quick bite of a bad fruit”

Well, I fell in love with being in love
And she fell in love with a snake
And all he gave her was social security
And a slice of his birthday cake
And I went back to the house we renovated
In that row on Nowhere Street
And I sat there writing my obituary
Waiting for a chance to complete it

Something happened in some big city, somewhere, sometime, somehow
That’s as far as I can go
I checked in my pockets and the petals you gave me were still in there
So it wasn’t a dream I know
As my ships sailed from the harbour
She waved from on dry land
A redheaded woman told me last Thursday
“You have to go backwards if you want to understand”

And I shout: “From one quick bite of a bad fruit
To today in seconds flat
Do you still have that cat I gave you?
Do you still think that it will save you?
And just between you and me
This life is not as long as it’s cracked up to me
I’ve been here so long, it feels like I’m growing roots
Took one quick bite of a bad fruit”

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

Pound Pound Pound

I was standing on a corner kicking my heels
Had my coat buttoned up beneath my chin
And I saw in some girl’s eyes, she thought I was making deals
There was just me and the clock struck out
I was looking for something to scream and shout about
So I took a train and I went back home
There was no one to tell so I didn’t telephone
That place is just another big unknown to me
That place is just another big unknown to me

The sea made angry faces, the waves were getting high
Saw them kicking down onto the front
And the cars dodged the water that was flooding on by
And I just stood there, an orphan fool
I saw kids smoking chain on their way back from school
A tramp got reckless in the center of town
He was talking about Jesus as the sun went down
A lifetime of sorrows, he was ready to drown
A lifetime of sorrows, I think he was going to drown

Well I hit this bar where I used to hang out
Talked to the guy behind the bar, then dropped a few names
He didn’t know what I was talking about
So I put my money down and I shot some pool
Beat two punks, I was feeling cool
A couple of girls started to flirt
And I felt really old as they tugged my shirt
And I walked outside as they hurled some dirt at me
I walked outside as they hurled dirt at me

Went to visit Helen by St. Helen’s Park
That place used to frighten me now all I can see
Was a couple of wide-boy sharks flashing their teeth in the small-town dark
Huddled myself in the cold
That old red brick house I can find it blindfolded
I loved her when I was sixteen
She was an old town new brown beauty queen
Now I just spend my time filling the gaps in between her and me
Well I just spend my time filling the gaps that have grown in between her and me

Midnight in the subway, we’d huddle up and laugh
When we missed the last bus home, we’d just sit there all night
And we’d play guitars until the night-time passed
I went there to count some sheep
With the smell of glue, I couldn’t sleep
Made my excuses to no-one, left town
To leave it in the city at the lost and found
Where the steps my father walked don’t echo on down
And my mother’s voice calling doesn’t make no sound
And there’s no yesterdays to tie you down
And as I hit the city, I remember this sound
Waves on the shore going pound pound pound
The streets in the city still swirling around
And my mother’s voice calling me, calling me, calling me back

I was standing on a corner kicking my heels
Had my coat buttoned up beneath my chin
I saw in some girl’s eyes, she thought that I was making deals

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

One Night Only

He got shafted in Bradford for his out of date routines up there
And the trouble he ran into Brighton was more than his share
He’s been running for thirty years, he would have settled down
But each town he appears in puts a red nose on the clown

You can buy the old showbills and frame them, they’re nearly antiques
You can trip up on his big clown shoes as you’re starting to speak
He squirts the flower, hurts your hand, it’ll always catch you
And his tears are etched so deep that they might just be tattooed

The one man circus is coming to town
Put the banners up, take your trousers down
Paint on a smile, wipe off the frown
Heaven knows he won’t hurt us
The loose, the lovely and the lonely
One night only

He said ’I played Chaplin for Hitler in March 44
Been a black and white minstrel before that whole thing was outlawed
And I’ve dragged it on every pier in every seaside town
But there aren’t any dances today, the pavilions have all been pulled down

I came over straight after the war and they hijacked my name
I waited for so many years but my wife never came
I’ve been learning these lines every day since 1945
And I’ll recite them everyday I wished I was alive’

The one man circus is coming to town
Get the dogs out, tear the posters down
Paint go home on the walls til he is elsewhere bound
Don’t you know he could hurt us
The loose, the lovely and the lonely
One night only

He’s tripping over backwards, taking off his clothes
And no-one helps him, everyone knows
We laugh at the misfortune of others

Everytime the glass empties, the lions they all get set free
On a town full of unsuspecting tourists who scream when they’re happy
And the scarecrow’s on probation just for making faces in a mirror
The past put a hand on his shoulder and drowned him in tears

Now he ushers and watched the movies where children don’t age
And the dancing horse stole all the keys and took charge of the stage
And the freaks are on the razzmatazz, they’re all fuelled on coke and gin
And the cast-out’s on the street and we’ve already let him in

The one man circus

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

The Night He Took Her To The Fairground

Her glasses fell on the grass
They were reflected in the lens
Though short-sighted she knew
That they could never be friends
And as he pulled her down
She threw off his new suede shoes
He didn’t carry protection and
She’d just blown a fuse

She laughed but it wasn’t at him
She called him a crazy fool
Well she’d broken all of her promise
And he’d broken her golden rule
They kissed but their eyes were closed
And she said ain’t love blind
Well she put his scarf round her eyes
But the attachment was just a bind

The tunnel was out of love
The waltzer made no sound
The ghost train was on fire, on fire
And the merry go went round and round
The roller coasted on
As they went up and down
It was the night that he took her to the fairground
It was the night that he took her to the fairground

She ran away so fast
Like water down a drain
Well they met and they tried to pretend that
They were strangers on a train
Well she poisoned him with words
Well he tried to spit them out
Well he thought it was all absurd
You know that he had got no doubt

You know she was bending him out of shape
Well just like plastic warps
He was an actor in her play but he was
Just beginning to corpse
They molded together well
Her hand fit into his glove
And they were making up this story while
While they were making love

Yeah the tunnel was out of love
The waltzer made no sound
The ghost train was on fire, on fire
And the merry go went round and round
The roller coasted on
And they went up and down
It was the night that he took her to the fairground
It was the night that he took her to the fairground

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

Save A Little Room For Me

When it’s time to pack your bags
When everything appears as the drag that it is
Get down that brown case that your grandma had
Open it up and think of your dad
When you’re feeling empty
And the echoes round this cold white room have no identity
When it’s time to pack your bags
Save a little room for me

When it’s time to buy a home
When you’re sick of using a different phone everyday
Settle up your debts and then settle down
Take that suitcase back to the lost and found
When you’re feeling lonely
I guarantee the neighbourhood community will rally round you
Wait and see
When it’s time to buy a home
Save a little room for me

When it’s time to lie down
When you’re sick of the sound and the sight hurts your eyes
Wrap up warm in a single bed
Tie up the loose strings that are in your head
When you’re feeling empty
Dreams will fill you up in the Big Sleep City
When it’s time for you lie down
Save a little room for me
Save a little room for me

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

You Can’t Take It With You

I love your money, your diamond rings
I love your money, honey, your earthly things
But you can’t take it with you

I love your space shuttle, your flash cars
I love your primadonnas, your rock stars
But you can’t take it with you

I love your double standards, I love your double-takes
I love your false witness, oh but for heaven’s sake
But you can’t take it with you

I like your Georgio Armani, the things you offer me
Amount to bribery, greed and hypocrisy
But you can’t take it with you

I am no Christian, I have no angel wings
The answers don’t exist, but I know one thing
You can’t take it with you
And you know it’s too worthless to disown

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