Why We Fight

Album originally released in 1992
Rereleased 2003

Produced by Steve Berlin

All songs written by John Wesley Harding except Ordinary Weekend by John Wesley Harding and David Lewis (Plangent Visions Music, Inc. ASCAP)

All songs arranged by Steve Berlin and John Wesley Harding

Recorded at Paul and Mike’s Studio, LA by Paul DuGre (assisted by Danny McGough)
Additional recording by Bill Jackson and Michael Webster

Mixed at Brooklyn Sound by Bob Schaper (assisted by Scott Stillman), except for Where the Bodies Are, mixed by Scott Stillman

Remastered by Dean Bailin

Album originally titled Give The People What I Want

Kill the Messenger

The messenger came with bad news from the front
Said "The soldiers are starving and their swords are all blunt
They need a show of support or some futile sign
That’s what they told me to tell you, not even the words are mine..."

The messenger came with bad news from the war
Said "The fine young men forgot who they were fighting for
They don’t wanna be stars on your TV screen
That’s the general feeling, please don’t blame it on me"

And the people said "One and one is two
There’s nothing left for us to do
But since we can blame it all on you
We will kill the messenger"

The messenger came with bad news from the town
Said "The phone-lines are on strike and the doormen are all down
They’ve turned your den of thieves into a temple
They need someone of stature to set them an example"

And the people said "Two and two is four
Don’t tell us anymore
We all know the score
We must kill the messenger"

Someone brought the news to the messenger’s folks
He said "Your son’s been killed two times"
They said "Is that a joke?"
He said "No
He was he victim of ignorant minds
I hate to bring such bad news, please don’t think me unkind"

And the family said "One and one is two
There’s nothing left for us to do
But since you’re here and we can blame it on you
We will kill the messenger

So if you want to send a message...

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

Ordinary Weekend

I lost my job on Friday, I went drinking to forget
My luck it had been down so long but I could change it yet
Sat down and started talking with some guy sitting there
He bought me drinks all afternoon until I didn’t care
He said was I in need of work, some money could be found
I said "Is it above the law?" He said "It’s underground"
I said "I need the paycheck now, I got debts here and there"
He smiled and asked if I could drive and I said "Anywhere"
Anywhere...

In this weekend of ordinary dreams
Everything is not as it seems
Take a look around at the faces in the crowd
And you’ll see where I’ve been

We met up on the Saturday, I thought it was us two
But I had not asked questions not knowing what to do
Twelve of them were in the van, thirteen including me
Twelve pairs of eyes were staring back at me, suspiciously
And so I just sat down and drove, took them to some track
And drove past the security guard while they hid in the back
They made me stop, and got out there, and I heard a couple of shots
I hoped they were in self-defense but I knew that they were not
They were not...

Not in this weekend of ordinary dreams...

I drummed my fingers on the wheel and waited for the boys
Had a smoke, I had a few, I got very paranoid
And still they hadn’t come back there, so I just drove away
Deciding to play safe and get my share another day
On Sunday, he came round my place, I asked him where they’d been
He said they’d left another way and only I was seen
He said that we should cash the van and did I want my share
I didn’t like the way they’d left but by now I didn’t care
Didn’t care...

Didn’t care for this weekend of ordinary dreams...

He drove me to a back room with a single swinging light
Someone said "The fish are starving, ain’t it time they had a bite"
And I felt sick and stupid and damned my own brown hair
Forgetting that the price you pay must far exceed the share
Someone pulled a knife out and they stabbed me in the back
They tied my hands and bound my feet and threw me in a sack
They took me to a lakeside and they threw my body in
I could hear them laughing, they said you can sink or swim
Sink or swim...

So hear you desperate women and hear you desperate men
Don’t take your life for granted
Don’t live your life in vain
But if you think that you can change it,
Hope you know you can’t go back
Just go down to the lake
Watch me floating in a sack,
In this sack.

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

The Truth

I was arrested for disturbing the peace
But, hey, I was disturbing the war

I was waving a small white handkerchief
Singing "Please don’t fight no more"
And I thought there’d be an army each side
But there were just two guys wearing very bad ties
So I shouted until my throat went hoarse
And they cut out my voice box of course

I was taken to court in a city of gold
Where silence is a sure sign of guilt
And you can’t speak out in your own defense
Or be heard over worlds being built
And the trial was a farce as befitted a place
Where comedy and tragedy share the same face
The judge read the verdict, a curtain was raised
An audience roared out its praise

And I said
"Where’s the truth around here today?
Where do fact and fiction separate?
Who’s the big guy that we have to pay
To find the truth, to find the truth?"

It all made the news but the story was wrong
And the photo wasn’t even of me
And the great god I love, he intoned from above
You shouldn’t sniff at free publicity
But it wasn’t the voice I’d expected to hear
It was thin and unclear like Richard Gere
And somebody said "God’s had a bad fall
That’s his manager taking his calls"

And I said
"Where’s the truth around here today?
Where do fact and fiction go their separate ways?
I thought we were much too clever to pray
But where’s the truth to find the truth?"

I was put in a cell for the whole afterlife
But my mind was just as free as can be
Somebody said, "Just your body’s enchained"
And you can guess how that encouraged me
So I wandered and roamed for the rest of my days
I was clearing my name, I was apportioning blame
And when I woke up, it was all a dream, all was well
But when I woke up, I woke up in my cell

And I said
"Where’s the truth around here today?
Where do fact and fiction separate
No-one wants to be the one to say
Where’s the truth around here today?"

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

Dead Centre of Town

I live in the dead centre of town
Where every landlorn sailor comes to drown
Where great ideas extinguish without sound
And all my fickle friends have gone to ground
So they will not come round...
And you ask me what the problem is
I say it’s obvious
And I’m not lying

I live in the dead centre of town
With one foot in the grave and one underground
Where clocks don’t go no matter how they’re wound
Boredom’s king, unhappiness abounds
And you ask me what the problem is
I say it’s obvious
And I’m not lying
Our town is dying

I live in the dead centre of here
Where daughters treat their daddies like King Lear
Who says "Death’s a good career prospect, dear"
Where sinners burn in hell for half a beer
And you ask me what the problem is
I say it’s obvious
And I’m not lying
Our town is dying

I live at the town centre of death
Where even time is running out of breath
She crawls past gasping "How much have we got left?"

I’ll tell you
What the problem is
It’s oh so obvious
And I’m not lying
Our town is dying

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

Into the Wind

He threw his hopes into the wind
To see if they would pin on her again
He threw his heart against the wall
To see if it would stick or fall
She put her arms around him
And said "You are forgiven"
He said "Well you’re the only thing
That makes life worth living
When you live into the wind"

He pushed the rock up to the top
Until it rolled back down the mountain
He did it once, now he can’t top
But he’ll never quit complaining
She tells him why he does it
It must be because he needs to
He takes his hands away
And the rock does not roll down
It sits firm into the wind

Why can’t he see
He creates these situations?
It’s not to be or not to be
Nothing’s that easy

He builds a home paper on sand
And awaits congratulations
The wind blows once, the house falls down
And he wails amidst the ruins
For all the time that he spent working
On this worthless enterprise
She stands him on a rock and says
"A word to the wise
If you live into the wind..."

He doesn’t feel the cold today
He doesn’t worry about tomorrow
He doesn’t build a house of cards
Just so he can knock it down
He takes her in his arms
His overconfidence returning
And laughs with her when she says
"We have love to burn
If it burns into the wind."

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

Hitler’s Tears

One man’s tears stain the pillow
Where he used to lay his head

She’s left him for another man
So how come they’re both sleeping in his bed?
He can hardly sleep for misery
You can hear him catch his breath
And he grinds his teeth into the night
And God says "Hey, Adolf, are you alright?"

One boy’s tears stain the paper
Where he writes his Christmas list
And he inks in broken German
"Send me the skill of a fine artist"
Then he wipes out half a continent
With one flick of his wrist
He’s so lonely, so misunderstanding
As he pulls his blanket across the landing

You can hear them falling every day (Hitler’s tears)
Just open up the newspaper (Hitler’s tears)
You can hide, there’s no escape from Hitler’s tears--
Just what makes the führer blue?
He’s crying for you

One man’s tears--he was a fascist
Before it was cool
’Cos now it’s so expected
Just accept it that power is cruel
So he’ll apply for reinstatement
By new reincarnation rules
’Cos he’s the only man, most certainly
Who could claim to have learned from history

Hitler cries himself to sleep, alone in Brazil, no-one calls
How must it feel to be the biggest loser of them all?

One man’s tears--saltwater salutes the final trip
A thousand naughty Nazis
A fraülein with a bullwhip
A lullaby of Über Alles
A shaking upper lip
It’s all become a Whitehall farce
That’s how we tear our fears apart
But you shouldn’t take it straight to heart
So the rest of us can get some sleep tonight

You can hear them falling everyday...

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

Get Back Down

I know you think that you are perfect
So Fred Astaire, so Joan of Arc
I see the light that shines around you
And leaves you standing in the dark
’Cos you’re in debt up to your eyeballs
You’ve no idea how much thing cost
You’re so high on higher purpose
You don’t know what you’ve lost
You don’t know what you’ve lost
And you should get back down

You get so proud because you’re humble
You cut off truth from what is true
You’ll blame your problems on anything
Except you
You don’t take criticism easy
I see those handfuls of hair
And when some poor fool attempts to
You get up on your high horse, yeah, of course
You get up on your high horse
And you should get back down

You say no-one can kill a notion
Then watch one bleed to death each day
Say it once, and say it with emotion
But watch what you say
’Cos you’ll hate something on a Monday
Tuesday you love it out of fear
You’re blind by Wednesday with your head in the clouds
You say "It’s heaven up here"
Weekends, it’s heaven up here
Well, you should get back down

You know if Jesus was a rent boy
Then God was his pimp
The People in Power they squeezed him
Until he went limp
If the new messiah called here
First, we’d put him on hold,
Get him a deal and a good-looking haircut
We’d make him look less old
Less good and less old
Tell him to get back down

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

Me Against Me

Tonight the clocks go backwards
And it’s snowing at home
And we’re incommunicado
’Cos they cut off the phone
We’re in collaboration
Against everyone who tries to bring us down
And we’re sadly incoherent
All our sorrows have been drowned

Got the plane out of Atlanta
Stripped the honour bar of booze
Saw the ceiling melt like candles
Dripping wax onto my shoes
Needed proof I was still breathing
So I held my breath for a while
Fell flat on my face on purpose
Just to see somebody smile

And they say that it’s them and it’s us
And they say that it’s you and it’s me
But now I can see that it’s me against me
Against me against me against me

I keep your picture in a locket
Heart-shaped hanging around my neck
You put it on me last year sometime
Now the catch is just a wreck
My new friends say that you look like me
Of course, they’re right
But you’re who I used to be
Sometimes late at night

All the things we’ve done, think we should own up
How come we’re old but we’re not grown up?

I wish I didn’t drink so much
Wish I didn’t drink at all
Wish I didn’t need these smokes
Wish I didn’t take those pills
I wish for just one time
My behaviour matched up to my needs
Wish you were alive now
So you could help me

And they say that it’s them and it’s us
And they’ll tell you it’s you and it’s me
But now I can see that it’s me against me
Against me against me against me

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

The Original Miss Jesus

"Hey you" she said
"I think that I have something in my eye"
And she posed beneath the standard lamp
As her clothes waved goodbye
And she was
Naked as a new apology
For something she hadn’t yet done
And he said "Did I ever tell you the one about
The Original Miss Jesus?"

"Born before
Her more famous little brother Mister Christ
Sure, there were miracles
But out of the public eye
So they didn’t
Think even to have her crucified
She just wrote some novels and then she died
And only her family cried for her
The Original Miss Jesus

And then he came
The one that they wrote all the books about
The King of the Rock Opera
Whom she could do without"

"Stop!" she said
"Jesus could have been a boy or girl
History would still have been unkind
If he’d been a her
Anyway
Just watch me turn this beer into air
As for Redemption Value, I don’t care
But if you want, I’ll even pretend to be
The Original Miss Jesus"

So she was
The saviour
Of that sad and lonely room.

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

Where The Bodies Are

Somebody went and killed some people
And they know who
The evidence fits around the facts
Like a favourite shoe
But nobody knows where the corpses are
Their whereabouts unknown
The killer’s in a frenzy
And he’s getting on the phone
So they put their thinking hats on
And spread out in their cars
But only I know where the bodies are

You know they can i.d. someone
From one cell of skin
But they couldn’t spot a crime scene
If the killer went and let ’em in
To genetic fingerprinting
We all take off our hats
To hide the little stains that spread
Across the welcome mat
You can put your best foot forward
And wish upon a star
But only I know where the bodies are

Lawyers defending guilty men
Depending on the bid
The question isn’t if they’re guilty
But if they’ll get acquitted
Justice goes unjustified
Beneath a police chief and an eagle
Pain’s too difficult to prove
They’re not going to make pain illegal
To think that we were once naive
To think we’ve come this far
To think that only I know where the bodies are

Some people don’t wanna know
The facts behind the scam
Or see "Who could I be?"
Peeking out behind "The great I am"
But most of us got enough to think about
Husbands and wives
To notice pointless death’s become
A brand new way of life
And this is just a sandwich board
That I wear out in the park
Saying only I know where the bodies are
(And I’m not telling you.)

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

Millionaire’s Dream

I’m a quiet guy, lead a quiet life
Got a quiet way and a quiet wife
I don’t say too much, if there’s nothing to say
I just watch the silence blow my day away

Put the TV on, but there’s nothing to see
Just people talking endlessly
About things to buy, more shows to see
Might mean something to someone, means nothing to me

And when I go to bed, I sing to her
Then I go to sleep, and dream of dreaming

Walk down the street, wish I’d stayed in
Shoulda taken the car out for a spin
People ask for money, say I’m sorry for you
I’m in debt for life, I should be begging too

Had a dream that I was dreaming
Woke up with a start
A millionaire with a broken heart
Not me

So I don’t want nothing, and I don’t need much
’Cos I’m a millionaire with a Midas touch
The bank, God and tomorrow lay siege my home
And I wish they’d just leave us alone

And when I go to bed....

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

Come Gather Round

Come gather round and listen, if you can get that near
If not, we’ll use a microphone so all poor souls can hear
And hold hands in a circle, or stare bored straight ahead
Rejoice in your rebellion, or wish you were in bed

Come gather round and listen, or watch it on the screen
The campfire burned out long ago, the songs all got obscene
And left us with some rich kids trying hard to be sincere
Let it fly straight out the other after going in one ear

Come gather round--from the kings and the queens on down
If you listen close, you can hear the sound
Of a human voice saying "Come Gather Round"
Come Gather Round

So listen to my story, though I haven’t yet begun
We have to cut through so much crap to have a little fun
And who are "we" now anyway to even earn the name?
We’re so convinced we’re different, it makes us all the same

Don’t fall for the maturity
It ain’t real
They just call it "integrity"
Please don’t grow up
Please blow up your TV

Come all you desperate rebels and hang your heads in shame
For those who live in self-contempt with just themselves to blame
And for those who can, who do nothing, and those who can’t, who succeed
To cry out "bloody murder" the moment that they bleed...

Come gather round--from the kings and the queen on down
If you listen close, you can hear the sound
Of a human voice saying "Come Gather Round"
Come Gather Round

These lyrics are copyright controlled and cannot be reproduced in any form without permission. Words and Music by John Wesley Harding, Copyright 1992 Plangent Music Ltd ASCAP, except "Ordinary Weekend" by David Lewis and John Wesley Harding, Copyright 1992 Plangent Music Ltd. ASCAP.

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

The original cover illustration for Why We Fight was created by Hendrik Dorgathen. The portrait is of poet Arthur Rimbaud.