Sings to a Small Guitar vol. II

1, 4, 14 recorded by David Seitz at Shelter Island Studio, NYC (6.6.06)
2, 7, 10, 11, 13 by Chris von Sneidern at Ordophon-upon-Avon, SF (6.7.94)
3, 9 recorded by Pete Gerrald in his house, Seattle, WA (6.30.99)
5 recorded by Kurt Bloch in his hallway, Ballard, WA (5.23.01)
6, 8, 12 recorded by Sean Slade & Paul Kolderie at Fort Apache, Cambridge, MA (9.12.91)
15 recorded by Chris von Sneidern at Ordophon-upon-Avon, SF (8.28.96)

All songs written by John Wesley Harding (Plangent Visions Music, Inc., ASCAP)

Produced and Arranged by JWH
Mastered by Emily Lazar and Joe LaPorta at The Lodge, NYC
Art and Design by Abbey Stace

Hey! Director!

Hey Director! Is this my scene?
I haven't got my lines down
Just like I'm in a bad dream
30 years in make-up
But I still look like me
I wonder if this film will be
What it was meant to be

Director! Is this my mark?
What’s my motivation?
I’m in the dark
You'll find me in the rushes
Looking completely lost
Moses or the moneymen
Who knows who calls the shots but....

Are you ready for my close-up?
I could do it with my eyes shut
I live when you say 'action'
I die when you say 'cut'

Hey Director! Mr. de Mille
If it's the death of you
Who'll execute your will?
Leave me the casting couch
I played my best part upon
You get the thing you want
And then that thing is gone

Are you ready for my close-up?
I could do it with my eyes shut
I live when you say 'action'
I die when you say 'cut'

Director! Let credits roll
Now this fiasco’s over
We’re all in the hole
I can’t believe you talked me into this
So easily!
I'm going back to music
That makes more sense to me

Chorus

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

The Coming of Sound

You haven’t said a word for ages
As you slowly turn the pages
Of a book that we both know you know by heart
You haven’t moved since 7.20
Give me hope, I haven’t any
And I don’t know where to start
How good is that book you can’t put down?
How come you don’t pass it around?
I’m waiting for the coming of sound

The TV flickers in the distance
And it meets with no resistance
But the real sitcom isn’t on the screen
We’d get canned before one season
No one’s talking, that’s the reason
And that seems fair to me
Maybe the show was way before its time
I guess the Midwest never took to mime
I’m waiting for the coming of sound

In the years when films were silent
The TV was not linked with violence
But there was no TV and I could kill you now
And some actors had no choice
Because they such stupid voices
They had to take their bow
I guess that we’d be talking today
If I could only think of one thing to say
I’m waiting for the coming of sound

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

The Promise Of Love

I forgot all my perfect ideas
On the night I was born
But the day that I saw you the first time
It was a new dawn
I'd been watching reflections in windows
It wasn't enough
I gave into your Promise of Love

You stirred up a dim recollection
So deep in my soul
Recalling a version of this world
Where everything is whole
I was resigned that the right way
Was dirty and rough
So I fell for your Promise of Love

I never loved you the way like they said that I would
But people were jealous which never does no-one no good

Now nothing can stop me
The world looks so shallow and blurred
The shadows I'm seeing as dull
As the echoes that I have heard
I'm going somewhere beyond
All the push and the shove
I'm bound by the Promise of Love

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

I Don’t Work Here

I know why you’ve brought me here
But first I’d like to say
It was a nice and strange surprise
You seeing me today
I love this corporation
Whatever it is we do
But I know there’s been questions asked
About my attitude

We’re one big happy family
I read that in the note
That’s pinned up on the noticeboard
That hides behind our coats
Most of your employees
Are inspired by that joke
“You don’t have to be mad to work here”
And I’m not and don’t
So you can’t fire me
I want to make that clear
First you’d have to hire me
Get me all the gear
Stick me in a cubicle
Insure me for a year
But right now, you can’t fire me
Cos I don’t work here

I know I’m late and lazy
And here with no excuse
Yes, I’m drinking whiskey
From a flask marked orange juice
And I can’t even claim to be
Uniquely qualified
No-one knows just what I do
And when I do it, why
You can’t fire me
I want to make that clear
First you’d have to hire me
Get me all the gear
Stick me in a cubicle
Insure me for a year
But right now, you can’t fire me
Cos I don’t work here

But I like hanging round and being rude
And stealing all of your supplies
Everything’s so lax round here
I think you should employ a private eye, an office spy, such as I…

I wanted a large company
Where I could feel at ease
Become part of the furniture
And turn up when I please
And here I really feel at home
But I wish that I was paid
So when there is a vacancy
Here’s my resume
Then maybe you can fire me
I want to make that clear
First you’ll have to hire me
Get me all the gear
Stick me in a cubicle
Insure me for a year
But till then, you can’t fire me
Cos I don’t work here
And right now, you can’t fire me
Cos I don’t work here

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

Sorry, Lazarus

We opened up a can of worms
By bringing you back to the wonderful world of germs
Do you think that you can
Fight the firm?
We got legions of lawyers who’ll argue every term
And I wish that you were favoured by the odds
But the contract doesn’t cover acts of God

And we’re so sorry Lazarus that we rolled away the stone
We couldn’t let you be, leave well enough alone
So sorry Lazarus, don’t forget to phone
Just connect, call collect, sorry Lazarus

Was it heaven in the night?
Did you take a journey? Move towards the light?
Or maybe you’re just
Not so bright?
Why can’t you be like the blind man’s loving all the sights!
Please pretend you’re pleased to see the wife
We don’t need to threaten you with life

And we’re so sorry Lazarus that we rolled away the stone
We couldn’t let you be, leave well enough alone
So sorry Lazarus, don’t forget to phone
Just connect, call collect, sorry Lazarus
Just relax, call us back, sorry Lazarus
Take deep breaths….

Instrumental Bridge….

And we’re so sorry Lazarus that we rolled away the stone
We couldn’t let you be, leave well enough alone
So sorry Lazarus, don’t forget to phone
Just connect, call collect, sorry Lazarus
Just relax, call us back, sorry Lazarus
Here’s a thought, see you in court, sorry Lazarus

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

I’ll Be Your Eyes

I know it’s hard to see for real
Everyone knows how bad that feels
Second thoughts replace what first impressions steal
So they’ll be pitfalls, they’ll be traps
You’re not provided with a map
No secret envelope for you to break the seal
And no one you can send
But if you need a friend
I’ll be your eyes
It’s my intention
I’ll be your eyes

So just go act the way you do
Deciding things you don’t think through
But there’s no hospital where broken hearts are mended
All the boys aren’t on your side
You’re blinded to their little lies
Their stupid fantasies of you have never ended
They’re always so strict
You’re always the victim
I’ll be your eyes
It’s my intention
I’ll be your eyes
If you’re blind with passion, I’ll be your eyes
If you’ve got double vision, I’ll be your eyes
Dark indecision, I’ll be your eyes

I know I’m just as bed as them
Cos we all want to be your friend
Want to show how all the other guys are colder
SO I’m no better than the rest
Say things are fine when I’m unimpressed
But you seem so at home upon my shoulder
Don’t think you’ll be burned
No one expects nothing in return
I’ll be your eyes
It’s my intention
I’ll be your eyes
If you’re blind with passion, I’ll be your eyes
If you’ve got double vision, I’ll be your eyes
Dark indecision, I’ll be your eyes

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

You’re It!

It started back in school
They used to push you out of line
And make you feel just like you had
No DNA or spine
You thought it would get better
Now it happens all the time
And the Esperanto Queens
Have erased you from their dreams
You’re murdered by their memory
Their laughter drowns your screams
And you’re all boiled up
And you’re running out of steam

Cos you’re it!
And they all run away in the playground everyday
Cos you’re it!
Everyone got sick of you or sick enough to say
You’re It!

From Monday morn to Friday
Just keep looking straight ahead
Through the styles and stipulations
To the days you stay in bed
Either we’re all out to get you
Or we’re living in your head
And the mumbo jumbo mummies
Got their voodoo in the can
Their clothes are numbered one by one
You’ll never understand
That one size fits everything
And that’s what’s called a plan

Chorus

And you don’t know what you did
So you don’t what to do
But when you ask them what it is
They say: “It’s you!”

Some day when justice reigns on down
Is it you who will be blessed?
Or does a desperate defeatist
Just get crushed like the rest?
You say they failed you out of fear
But you never sat the test
If you want the last word
Must have spoken once before
You’re not even a character
If you just walked in the door
After crawling up and down the walls
You’re curled up on the floor

Chorus

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

The Receiving End

It will not take a day of stock market disarray
To change the way you are
Fortune cannot be impressed
That’s why she’s a way cool mistress
A customer that pays without regard
Say which cheek you want the wet kiss
When she reveals your nemesis
How will it feel to have turned the bend?
How will it feel to have turned the bend?
And be on the receiving end?
And be on the receiving end in the end?

And there will be rematch, no starting from scratch
Once you’ve counted, they won’t hatch anymore
Wish vainly for another chance
They’ve marked your last card dance
No deathbed conversion, that’s all
These revengeful thoughts we must keep
To soothe our troubled minds to sleep
How will it feel to have turned the bend?
How will it feel to have turned the bend?
And be on the receiving end?
And be on the receiving end in the end?

Guess you’ll try to call our bluff
Play a little rough
But will revenge be enough for us?
You’ve got the lawyers and the power
And of course those handy business hours
But you won’t be getting flowers on your dust
They say that everyone should think things through
But I’ll be happy when you just get what’s coming to you
How will it feel to have turned the bend?
How will it feel to have turned the bend?
And be on the receiving end?
And be on the receiving end in the end?

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

The Bullet Catch

Every night in my magic show
I switch the real bullet and the fake
You point the barrel at me
And we see whose nerve will break
When only I know
That the real one is in my hand
It’s make-believe
When I am the magician
You can gamble your life and never once fail
On a coin that has two tails
And that’s the catch
The Bullet Catch

Yesterday evening
As you inspected the real one
Before I had a chance to change them
You’d already loaded up the gun
And I am The Great Whoever
So I just said ‘take your aim’
Held my breath
And hoped you did the same
There’s not a bone in my body gives in gracefully
You can call it the Magician In Me
And that’s the catch
The Bullet Catch

I watched the rising muzzle
And your finger on the trigger
Seconds passed

And no-one spoke
The audience saw you hesitate
I stood there, looking at you
And wondered why you’d wait
I knew your nerve had broken
And I crossed the stage to you
“Don’t feel bad
It’s happened to others too”
You took your seat once your chance had gone
That’s the only time that trick went wrong
And that’s the catch
The Bullet Catch

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

Ballad of the Inferno

And in the journey of my life
I got lost in the darkest wood
The way straightforward long since lost
The path behind so obvious
And at this crossroads I sat down
Cos I was lost and tired
I put my head into my hands
And tried to close my eyes

I heard the noises in the wood
Turn into human voices
I felt myself before this time
Of compromise and choice
And as I sat I seemed to dream
Or if not dream, then be there
And all my middle years left
And vanished into air

And I flew with them back in time
The light was all around me
I felt the brightness take the strain
Of all the chains that bound me
And I saw all my friends who died
And myself dead but breathing
Death, he walked at my right hand
And taught me how to sing

I said “please show me now your face”
He handed me a mirror
I threw it on the cold wood floor
Could not make it shatter
And I collapsed upon the ground
To sick and tired of life to plead
The way behind had long since gone
Nothing lay ahead

A woman’s face looked down on me
Her features lost in sunlight
I had to cover up my eyes
So used were they to night
And I heard her laugh and say
“Young Man, I think you’re dying”
She gave me water, made me drink
And then she took me in

And so I laid me down to sleep
And I woke just where she’d found me
She’d built a house of my dead dreams
Built it all around me
Smiling there, she looked and said
“Open your eyes and look around”
And so I listened as she sang
Amazed at what I found

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

The Funeral Band

The funeral band plays a song of despair
For the mourners who wish they were dead
Half of the crowd says “I spit on your grave”
While the other says take me instead
The church bells are wringing the tears from our eyes
And it looks like you’re lying in bed

So I’ll see you in the beyond
It’s high time that we were gone ahead
With a hand for the funeral band

The funeral bands bids adieu, au revoir
Bon voyage and then Goodnight, Irene
A low flying plane spells out words in the sky
But nobody knows what they mean
The cotton wool letters fade into grey
Like the smoke on our chewing gum dreams

Only the two of us know
They wrote the words “hello” and “Please
Give a hand for the funeral band”

The funeral band takes their tips from the hat
That they left surreptitiously near
Your people remembered you as they walked out
And their change clinked and turned into beer
You only live once but there’s plenty of you
And you die every day of the year

Before their echo dies
I came to say goodbye, my dear
With a hand from this funeral band

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

The Meltdown

The sun is playing hide and seek
Blind shadows on the wall
The clothesline sags, the clothes won’t dry
They’re dripping wet outdoors
The thaw is just beginning
The anti-freeze is gone
The car’s a statue monument
To yesterday gone wrong
And here in this museum
No curios are found
So I guess I’ll hang around
For the meltdown

One time you came round here
I couldn’t take the heat
It was so hot, it felt like ice
The place where those two meet
And then the whole room froze right up
We wrapped up warm at night
A little loving glance previewed
The dimming of the light
And now it’s dark and empty
Full of the nothing but the sound
Of someone listening
For the meltdown

The weather don’t mean anything
Ask the weatherman now he’s in Sing-Sing
The pathetic lies of false untruths
Are sliding down the tiles that are sliding down the roof

Tears fall from the eyelids of
Two shoes stepped round the back
Shed for melting hearts
The melting starts my heart attack
That feeling’s in the air again
Who is it loves the sun?
When sometime there’s no one left
For it to shine upon
You shout into the bedroom
“I think we’re going to drown”
But I think we should keep it quiet
Till the meltdown

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

I Know Nothing

The prisoner gets on his knees and pleads into the dark
“You can freeze all of my assets, you can repossess my car
Deprive me of the carphones where I make my deepest deals
You can take away the self-help books that tell me how I feel
You can read all of my diaries
That won’t take you long
You could offer me protection
Or a new ID in Hong Kong
But please be understanding
I know nothing”

The torturer adjusts his mask and snaps his rubber gloves
He reads the orders once again faxed down from above
Shrugs his shoulders just like when the kids have made a mess
Says “Please don’t try to talk to me unless it’s to confess
I’m sorry if you’re innocent but even if you are
All I have is orders
And I carry out the task
So whatever you’re thinking
I know nothing”

And the warden says “Jackson Pollock bloodstains and Yoko Ono screams
Screw up my siesta, they contaminate my dreams
The soundproofing here is laughable, the walls are paper thin
Every time one switch is pulled, all the desk lights dim
All my children go to school
Their Dad’s a bureaucrat
I transport X from A to B
That is where my job’s at
And I hope you’re understanding
I know nothing”

Half the world’s in prison and the other half’s the same
It’s just that some are suffering and some inflicting pain
Everybody has his place, that is pre-ordained
Like the illusion of free movement through the links that form the chain
So when you’re down and dirty
And you’re coming back for more
Make sure the line is orderly
We like a tidy war
And when they’re asking
Say “I know nothing”

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

Why Must the Show Go On?

The director is drunk in the foyer
Can’t find the exit door
And the star hears her five minute call
Slumped on her bathroom floor
And the paint in the green room is peeling
And I’m feeling it’s time to be gone
Why Why Why
Why must the show go on?

The writer has notes for a cast
Who refuses to learn its lines
They stumble all over the shop
Props never appear in time
So they’ve silenced all of the critics
Who said their motivation was wrong
Why Why Why
Why must the show go on?

The producer can’t rally the troops
But he won’t admit defeat
Just when he should be cutting his losses
He’s casting a brand new lead
He’s paying off all of the judges
But the world isn’t singing along
Why Why Why
Why must the show go on?

Why won’t they just call it curtains?
How long is a piece of string?
Who’ll pull the plug on the giant marquee?
Why won’t the fat lady sing?

The circle fell down on the stalls
Landed on all of us
The audience streams down the aisles
Ghosts in our suits of dust
And that’s what we get for our talking
And leaving our cellphones on
Why Why Why
Why must the show go on?

I gave my advice to the stagehand
Whose never allowed to go home
I said “just get out while you can”
As she swept up the stage with a comb
She just smiled, said “What and leave showbiz?”
And I knew this circus had won
Why Why Why
Why must the show go on?

I know this is what we all live for
So no one admits they are wrong
Why Why Why
Why must the show go on?

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

We Are Not the First

We are not the first to be
We won’t be the last
We’re looking to the future
Banking on the past
It’s still the middle-ages here
We are immature
Somewhere between bitten nails
And our first manicure

We are not the first to be
They’ll be something next
We’re actors trying to improvise
While sticking to the text
But we are not beyond despair
And it is my belief
That only art can break
But that love will bring relief

Onward, onward, we must go to the ends of the earth
Just to plant another flag that says “We are not the first”

We are not the first to be
We are not alone
We’re treading in their footprints
In a land we thought unknown
From the sea, we found the land
Built a boat and sailed
Some of us had second thoughts
And turned back into whales

Deeper, deeper, we must go on a sea that is cursed
We never think ahead, we are not the first

We are not the first to be
We are not the world
We’re a just a holy singles club
Of lonely boys and girls
Who come together once awhile
To compare notes and converse
And trade our baby carriage in
For a handsome little hearse

Downward, downward we must go beyond the final verse
We won’t be the last because we were not the first

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