John Wesley Harding‘s New Deal

Originally released in 1996.
Rereleased with additional tracks on DRT in 2003.

Produced, arranged and mixed by John Wesley Harding and Chris von Sneidern

All songs written by John Wesley Harding except "Cupid and Psycho" by John Wesley Harding and David Lewis. All songs publshed by Plangent Visions Music Ltd. (ASCAP)

The New Dealers: John Wesley Harding, Chris von Sneidern, Robert Lloyd, Greg Leisz, Tammy Rogers, Peter Straus, Bennet Bowman, Denise Sullivan, David Phillips

Engineered by Chris von Sneidern

Recorded at Ordophon-Upon Avon, San Francisco, CA; The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco, CA; and Sharkbite, Oakland, CA

Tammy Rogers was recorded at Studio By the Drive, Nashville, TN; and engineered by Harry Stinson

Mastered by Geoff Sykes at A&M Mastering, Hollywood, CA

Remastering: Dean Bailin
Management: Michael Dixon Management
Agency: Mike Leahy at Concerted Efforts
Photography: Trudy Fisher
Reissue cover art: Abbey Tyson

To Whom It May Concern

To whom it may concern
Whatever your address
I didn’t think I’d have the nerve
To write this I confess
To get it off my chest
But now that I have your attention
I must make sure I get it right

To whom it may concern
Dear madam or sir
I don’t know your name
Or if you’ll ever read these words
I know that sounds absurd
I know you don’t know who I am
You know that we haven’t met
Yet

And I hope this is alright with you
I hope this is alright with you
I remain your faithful servant

To whom it may concern
Let me cut to the chase
We’re gonna have to meet one time
Before we quit this place
Gone without a trace
And you may have already won
So please fill out this questionnaire
And say a prayer

To whom it may concern
Now we will begin
I’m not gonna post this
I’ll just throw it in the wind
And wonder where it lands
But I know that it will reach you somehow
I know that it will be received
I must believe

I hope we’ll be alright with you
I hope we’ll be alright with you
I remain your faithful servant....

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

Other People’s Failure

Maybe you’re insecure
Neck deep in life’s manure
Maybe your heart’s impure
Inured to all small compensations
Maybe you’re born to lose
Could be caught out or confused
Wearing the condemned man’s shoes
Worn out, beyond a warning
There might be one million ills that ail ya
But why do you take pleasure in other people’s failure?

Each day since time began
You’ll meet a modest man
Who says he understands
Your plans, your dreams, your schemes, your feelings
But rather you than me
That’s his mentality
He’s a slave to gravity
And he watches laughing as you fall down
He doesn’t even have to nail ya
That’s why he takes pleasure in other people’s failure

It is a rule of thumb
Inside the coliseum
That when the time will come
We’d rather see the losers slaughtered
And no-one can resist
This vicarious kiss
It is our greatest bliss
The twist that gives success its flavour
A psychopathic psychedelia....
That’s why we take pleasure in other people’s failure

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

The Secret Angel

The secret angel fell from grace
Condemned to wear a human face
Evicted from her paradise
Excommunicated twice
Settled for second best
And so she found me

Don’t ask the nature of her crime
Don’t ask her why she’s serving time
Don’t ask this girl why she can’t cry
Don’t ask her questions that start "why"
I’m trying to help her start anew
To learn to walk when once she flew
Above the ups and downs
That floor and ground us

Into the dark, she was reborn
She says tonight will have no dawn
And all the light drains from her eyes
As she forgets to say goodbye
To one more memory
That tries to lift her high

She drafts new plans and draws designs
To find a way for her to fly
I hide them when her back is turned
The secret angel never learns
She just gets burned again
And falls eternally....

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

Kiss Me, Miss Liberty

Up in Westminster, the bell fell down
Took three hundred years to touch the ground
Fall leaves drifted by and turned brown
A foreign plane was downed

Dogs came running from their cold dog pound
They leapt through the fence and ran downtown
And the convicts turned their ship around
And they were homeward bound

Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Take me to bed
So I can be free as well
Not just in my head
Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Lift me above
Unchain my heavy heart
Fill me with love
Miss Liberty, Kiss me

And the slaves were saved from their chain-gang
Knives cut men down just about to hang
Lost love returned just like a boomerang
And it was I who sang

Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Take me to bed
So I can be free as well
Not just in my head
Miss Liberty, kiss me

Freedom, show me to your foreign shore
Lay me in your arms at your front door
I can’t face confinement anymore
I won’t be ignored

Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Take me to bed
So I can be free as well
Not just in my head
Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Lift me above
Unchain my heavy heart
Fill me with love
Miss Liberty, Kiss me

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

Heart Without A Home

I went from door to door
From town to town
To find somewhere
To lay myself down
Somewhere to call my own

I am out on the street
The lengths I’ve gone
To hear myself
Keep on beating on
Instead of this dialing tone
Because I’m a heart without a home

An arrow with no aim
A man without a name
Identity unknown
A heart without a home

Everyone stops and stares
Because I belong
In the lonely chair
You drew my picture on
So many years ago
Now I’m a heart without a home

I’m an arrow with no aim
A man without a name
So come and meet John Doe
Because I’m a heart without a home

Everybody says I have no right to stay on
Where I don’t belong

So if I look you up
Send me on my way
To an old address
From yesterday
That is where I will roam

I’m on a journey with no end
And I’m about to start again
Identity unknown
A heart without a home

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

God Lives Upstairs

There was this man
Who lived on the seashore
The house with the steel door
You passed it on the way to where you are
He stares at the sand
From his bedroom window
Shakes as the wind blows
Through the passing tail-fins of your car

Nothing matters anymore
If he does, he doesn’t care
The devil lives below him
God lives upstairs

He’s trying to sleep
So hard in the daylight
Impossible at night
Between those neighbours driving him insane
Footsteps from above
Below, it’s all-night parties
And it’s drink up, my hearties
They’re stoking up for the furnace once again

Nothing matters anymore
If he does, he doesn’t care
The devil lives below him
God lives upstairs

He hasn’t a prayer
Between the heated floorboards
And the quiet guy on the third floor
Who never even picks up all his mail
He knows where it goes
Downstairs is stealing
He stares at the ceiling
He knows that all he has to do is fail

Nothing matters anymore
If it does, he doesn’t care
The devil lives below him
God lives upstairs
The devil lives below him
God lives upstairs

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

Infinite Combinations

There was you and me and then there was him
Which leaves me out on a limb
Out in the cold where the wild things grow
Where no one talks because no one knows
That there are 26 letters, just five vowels
And you can use them all, it’s allowed
If you’ve got the patience
Because there are infinite combinations

There are cars on fire and burst balloons
Which one of us must mend soon
But it’s a dark old path through the dead of night
And only one way to get there right
Because there are 20 million roads
And 20 million coming home
You can find the longest way, it’s not unknown
If you’ve got the patience
Cos there are infinite combinations

Your heart is safe, I don’t have a key
Your heart is a safe that’s locked to me
But when the lights go out, I’ll place my bets
Because we’re not finished yet

There are endless numbers and finite moves
But you can try them all, it’s been proved
If you have the patience
Because there are infinite combinations

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

The King Is Dead Boring

The King puts on his raiment
And surveys the royal scene
And tries to put his finger on
The source of all his ennui
But when something goes, it’s gone, you know
Starts at the top, spreads down
Just check out the faded bodywork
Beneath his rusted crown

They’re waiting for impeachment
But they can’t see the day
The queen can’t give him any heirs
The word is he’s to blame
So he beheads her for amusements
And now he’s quoting Nietzsche
You’d think that he would have known
She was his one redeeming feature

But the king isn’t dead, the king’s dead boring
That’s the song that the millions sing
You name it, he’s lost it, he lacks everything
The king is dead boring

He used to be a Don Juan
Now he’s just the royal slut
Knocking up the servant girls
Waking up half-cut
He gets a chance to win them back
But gives them some old spiel
And all they see’s the ghost
Of his former ex-appeal

But the king isn’t dead, the king’s dead boring
That’s the song that his minions sing
You name it, he’s lost it, he lacks everything
The king is dead boring

They used to sing Long Live The King
He was the man with everything
But now they shout
"Get that dull bastard out"

He used to be so Carnaby
So out of all our leagues
Now it’s all that he can do
To zip up his fatigues
If only he could make excuses
Engage with us somehow
But effort is so out of place
And failure’s not allowed

Because the king isn’t dead, the king’s dead boring
That’s the song that the millions sing
You name it, he’s lost it, he lacks everything
The king is dead boring

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

The Triumph Of Trash

I sing of the triumph of trash
The rise to success of hard cash
The birth of annihilation
The end of my patience
I sing of the triumph of trash

Trash is the product of greed
Selfishness planted the seed
Everybody knows
Money makes it grow
Trash is the product of greed

Trash needs nostalgia to breathe
It brings a familiar relief
Deja vu is all that matters
Unless we predicted it, it never happened
Trash needs nostalgia to breathe

Trash is at once high and low
It panders to the worst parts of both
We’re so pleased we’re in agreement
Our heads in clouds, our feet in cement
Trash is at once high and low

Hope is left out in the cold
Looking for pieces of gold
Our refuse has no limits
She tries to live in it
Hope is left out in the cold

I sing of the triumph of trash
The past is a grate full of ash
No morals and no sinners
So there’s no losers and no winner
And I sing of the triumph of trash

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

Cupid and Psycho

As I was out walking one night in the park
Cupid was out on the town in the dark
And I couldn’t resist as I saw him walk by
So I asked him why he had a tear in his eye

He said "I’m an outlaw but my hands are clean
And I love this girl who won’t look twice at me
I’ve made love work for others and now it’s my turn
But these arrows are useless, they just crash and burn
They’re wide of the mark"

Cupid and Psycho, a couple much better apart
When Cupid’s in love
It’s Psycho left holding the darts
And it tears us apart

Psycho was sitting on her balcony
Framed on the wall by a heart made of ivy
Cupid said "Stay here with me and you’ll see what I mean"
And he climbed on the tree that led up to his dream
And she shook on the branch and he fell to my feet

Bruised but still breathing, his crestfallen love
Cupid he said "Throw your hair from above"
She said "Just leave me alone, I’m bound for my bed
All the voices I’m hearing are just in my head
All the voices I’m hearing"

Cupid and Psycho, a couple much better apart
When Cupid’s in love
It’s Psycho left holding the darts
And it tears us apart

While Cupid is crying, love waits to be born
Broken in pieces, alone on the floor
He’d let go of the reins and the ride was insane
If he doesn’t get back on, will love live again
Could we be in love? Would our hearts beat again?
Could I love you? Could you love me?

Cupid and Psycho, a couple much better in two
When Cupid’s in love
Psycho ends up so confused
And it tears me and you

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

Still Photo

I saw you yesterday
I couldn’t let you be
I had to sift through broken glass
To find out if you missed me
But all I found was a slow fade
And a gift-wrapped box of band aids
With a note that said "I’m never coming home"

Beneath my single bed
Everything’s haphazard
There’s boxes full of bits of you
And none of them are numbered
And when I search, it’s deja vu
Things I think I knew
I should have thrown away this time last year

Everytime I touch you
You move so slow
And you’re still like your photo

I heard me yesterday
Repeating my own name
To persuade myself
That none of us had changed
And now I’m walking round the grooves
Of a record I lost when we moved
There’s dust and scratches mixed with all these tears

Everytime I touch you
You move so slow
And you’re still like your photo

Should we throw it all away
The failed long shots through far distant styles
Those forced smiles, those forced smiles
It started off so on the mark
But it missed by one million miles

Nothing has developed
This darkroom gets me down
I’d throw on all the lights
But I’m afraid you’d come around
You’re living in a limbo hell
A life that’s only parallel
Is the real you aware what’s going on?

Everytime I touch you
You move so slow
And you’re still like your photo

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

In Paradise

Everything’s changed and it’s all for the best
And it’s all gone according to plan
It’s out in the open and now it’s all over
Three cheers for every woman and man
Terry and Julie still stand on the bridge
But only in our memory
Don’t look to them to draw a conclusion
Just love them and set them free

Julie hangs out by the banks of the river
Where the garbage all flows to the sea
Something’s washed up, it’s sacrifice to her
From the Twentieth Century
She sees the smokestacks and she sees the city
She sees the stadium’s covered in snow
The streets have been cleaned except for the bedrooms
Of all the people with nowhere to go

Terry will clutch at threads where the rope was
As he’s freefalling fast to the floor
But nobody claps because nobody’s watching
It’s his lawyers who get all the applause
Time’s on the move, and I’m on the redeye
Where I’m hoping to find one more song
But it’s like looking for rain in the river
Better not leave it too long

Terry and Julie filled out the coupon
And they won tickets tonight to the show
But it’s the aisles in the new stores that beckon
As they shine a divine guiding glow
The bridge through the city, it has just crumbled
And that link is what kept them all sane
The two of them tumble into the river
Forget to come up for air again

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

The Speed Of Normal

I’ve lived my life backwards
Or Heaven knows I’ve tried
Hope I find my perfection before I die
Maybe once we were fantastic
Maybe once we were divine
Now we’re flailing in the wake
Of progress passing by
At the speed of normal

Ever since you were the baby
You’ve been trying to grow up
But that’s nothing that a therapist can cure
There’s an unconfirmed report
Or could it be a cruel hoax
That death is just the punchline
To a tall tale told
At the speed of normal

So for everyone who’s anyone
And you know who you are
Hope you don’t drop behind in the hundred yards war
The winners and the losers
Overtaken in the end
By their very shadows
Taking the last bend
At the speed of normal

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

The Death of a Ghostwriter

The ghostwriter sits at home
Paid for his trouble
And he's laughing at the light
That shines on fame
Nothing can be shared
He's no-one's equal or double
Money talks
And no-one ever says his name

She signs every book
With a flourish of fulfillment
And some red ink from a pen
He knew she stole
Now she's on Kaleidoscope
And someone says she's Milton
When she didn't even read the book
Or so he's told

Riding on a ghost train to a ghost town
An of-our-lives-we-made-less-than-the-most-town
Once you get in, you can not turn around
The ghostwriter's found

So he sits at home
Where he writes his little novel
About the wicked winning out
Without remorse
They find him half-alive
In his half-house that's half a hovel
And his final words are
"Tell her, we are now divorced, of course

Hey you sad-sack hacks
And all you back-room boys beware
They'll buy you up
Like diamonds and fur
Then spit you out like coffee grounds
That fell through the filter
And say "The book could not have been written without her"

Riding on a ghost train to a ghost town
A Your-check-is-coming-in-the-post-town
Once you get in, you can not turn around
She has found

The ghost of the ghostwriter
Noticed by no-one
It was his choice
So he's paying for it now
Deadlines and death taxes
All that's waiting for us
Wake up and sell the coffee
Milk the profits, kill the cow
It's coming on 2000, lads
Anything's allowed (and how)

Chorus (Your life is turning into toast town)

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

Let Us Now

Let us now put pen to paper
Let us now be heard
Let us now see eye to eye
And praise the power of the word
And may the unlearned, the illiterate
Be allowed to know its worth
Let us now praise everyone

Let us now give praise to Allah
Let us now thank God
Let us now place all religions
In a king-sized melting pot
Let us not be scared by others
Who believe what we do not
Let us now hear everyone
Let us now hear everyone

Let us now be hopeful for success
Let us now clean up this mess
Let us now be open, honest
And let us now confess

Let us now shout out the window
Let us now give voice
Let us now raise the high the rooftops
Yet be heard above the noise
Of the ads for self-indulgence
And the false idols of choice
Let us now see everyone
Let us now see everyone

Let us now be hopeful for success
Let us now clean up this mess
Let us now be open, honest
And let us now confess
That our hopes and fears
Are falling on deaf ears

Let us now give up possessions
Let us now not care
Let us now live hand to mouth or
Let us all be millionaires
And may the source of all our worries
Up and vanish in thin air
Let us now be everyone
Let us now be everyone

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

Featured track—hear the whole thing

When the Beatles Hit America

Please listen to the music for the words to this song.

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

Kiss Me, Miss Liberty (live)

Up in Westminster, the bell fell down
Took three hundred years to touch the ground
Fall leaves drifted by and turned brown
A foreign plane was downed

Dogs came running from their cold dog pound
They leapt through the fence and ran downtown
And the convicts turned their ship around
And they were homeward bound

Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Take me to bed
So I can be free as well
Not just in my head
Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Lift me above
Unchain my heavy heart
Fill me with love
Miss Liberty, Kiss me

And the slaves were saved from their chain-gang
Knives cut men down just about to hang
Lost love returned just like a boomerang
And it was I who sang

Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Take me to bed
So I can be free as well
Not just in my head
Miss Liberty, kiss me

Freedom, show me to your foreign shore
Lay me in your arms at your front door
I can’t face confinement anymore
I won’t be ignored

Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Take me to bed
So I can be free as well
Not just in my head
Kiss me, Miss Liberty
Lift me above
Unchain my heavy heart
Fill me with love
Miss Liberty, Kiss me

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

The Secret Angel #2

The secret angel fell from grace
Condemned to wear a human face
Evicted from her paradise
Excommunicated twice
Settled for second best
And so she found me

Don’t ask the nature of her crime
Don’t ask her why she’s serving time
Don’t ask this girl why she can’t cry
Don’t ask her questions that start "why"
I’m trying to help her start anew
To learn to walk when once she flew
Above the ups and downs
That floor and ground us

Into the dark, she was reborn
She says tonight will have no dawn
And all the light drains from her eyes
As she forgets to say goodbye
To one more memory
That tries to lift her high

She drafts new plans and draws designs
To find a way for her to fly
I hide them when her back is turned
The secret angel never learns
She just gets burned again
And falls eternally....

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

Photo by Trudy Fisher