Ghost Bikes

by Jim Page

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about

Recorded at Jack Straw Productions in front of a live studio audience. Jim Page: acoustic guitar and vocals, Grant Dermody: harmonica, Michael Gray: fiddle, Erin Corday: 2nd vocals, Joel Litwin: percussion, Joe Martin: harmonica, The Audience: finale chorus.

credits

released May 7, 2010

Recorded at Jack Straw Productions, Seattle, WA
Engineered and mixed by Tom Stiles
Cover art by Katy Keenan
All songs by Jim Page, except "Big Star Fallin" by Willie McTell, and "Frank, Dennis and Me" by Jim Hinde

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about

Jim Page Seattle, Washington

Named by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as “One Of The 50 Most Influential Musicians In Seattle History.” Originally crom California Page has called Seattle and the Pacific Northwest “home” since 1971. Songs covered by The Doobie Brothers, Christy Moore, Dick Gaughan, Michael Hedges, and Roy Bailey. Utah Phillips: “If you’re ever going to get the message, this is the messenger to get it from.” ... more

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Track Name: Meinong
in Meinong, in the valley of the butterfly time doesn’t go very fast
things just seem to last

in Meinong I saw a butterfly dance like a butterfly does
made me think about how clumsy I was

in Meinong I saw a man on a bicycle balancing a load of wood
his balance was that good

in Meinong I saw a family of five on a motor scooter
goin’ out for a drive

in Meinong, in Meinong

and it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world
it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world

in Meinong there was a temple on the hillside, I prayed to the Buddha
for the flower to open up wide

in Meinong I drank the good strong ginger tea
and it agreed with me

in Meinong everything grew
tomato and the pepper and the betel nut too

in Meinong I ate the green grass, the fish and the squid
and everybody else did too

in Meinong, in Meinong

and it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world
it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world

in Meinong there was a melon sweet, juicy on my sweater
and somethin’ like an apple only better

in Meinong the sun flew by on a butterfly breeze
ricochet wing way up the trees

in Meinong my spirit got lighter and my head got clear
and I thought to myself I’m gonna stay right here

in Meinong, in Meinong

and it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world
it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world

in Meinong all around the circle eternity flows
but after a while you gotta go I suppose

in Meinong everybody’s got a home and I got mine
don’t say goodbye, say see ya next time

in Meinong, in Meinong

and it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world
it’s a big round world, yes it is, all around the world
Track Name: Lightnin' Hopkins
no one could sing the blues like Lightnin’ Hopkins
I don’t care what anybody said
I was 15 years old ridin’ by the passenger window
with my radio up against my head

that’s when I heard him for the first time
cuttin’ in through the noise of the car
and my whole world turned upside down
and I just had learn to sing and play guitar

so I’d get on my bicycle with the high rise handle bars
and I’d ride for twenty miles on a run
I got all of his records I could find back then
I had eleven of ‘em by the time I was done

and I never learned to play the blues
I hope that’s all right
I never learned to play the blues
but I can sing and play guitar all night

years later up in Seattle town
Lightnin’ came through playin’ three nights in a row
I caught up with him early in the dressing room
somehow I just had to let him know

so I took out my guitar and I started playin’
and I made him up a song to tell it right
about the radio, the car, and all of his records
and how glad I was to meet him that night

and I sang about what he taught me without even knowin’ it
and all the lessons I still had to learn
and Lightnin’ he just grinned, and when I was done
he told me a story in return

and I never learned to play the blues
I hope that’s all right
I never learned to play the blues
but I can sing and play guitar all night

he said he was walkin’ in the backwoods down in Texas one time
when he was only twelve years old
he was carryin’ his guitar, it was almost as big as he was
he was tired, hungry and cold

he saw some people were havin’ a picnic
he asked if he could sing for his meal
they turned him away, he said, ‘cause he was too raggedy
he could still remember how it made him feel

then he looked off into the distance through his dark sunglasses
and he grinned a little more just for chance
he said “now I got money in the bank back home
and they know who I am in France”

and I never learned to play the blues
I hope that’s all right
I never learned to play the blues
but I can sing and play guitar all night

Lightnin’ died back in ’82
I can still remember where I was and how I heard
I was playin’ at the Meetin’ Place in Dublin
a local blues singer gave me the word

some people pass right through you
and maybe they leave a little mark
some people shine like a light for you sometimes
help you find your way when it gets dark

they say the world is made of stories
and from those stories our songs are grown
sometimes the songs just get so big
you have to make a song of your own

and I never learned to play the blues
I hope that’s all right
I never learned to play the blues
but I can sing and play guitar all night
Track Name: Tent City
too cold for rainbows, too cold for sun
too cold for downpours but we gonna get one
better run for cover, rally ‘round that flag
ain’t got a rain coat, I got a plastic bag
come sit by the fire, it’ll do you some good
gonna keep it goin’ long as we got fire wood

too cold to sit down, too cold to stand
too cold to say hello but I can shake your hand
this is where we live now, so come on in
as long as you’re not lookin’ for trouble you’re welcome friend
bring a sleepin’ bag over, batten it down
try to keep it level so you don’t roll out on the ground

CHROUS
livin’ in America in tent city
livin’ in America in tent city
livin’ in America in tent city
livin’ in America in tent city

too cold for livin’ in tents, too cold to camp
try to stay dry, everything gets damp
too cold to be livin’ outside, you can tell that to the cops
ain’t no other place to go and the weather won’t stop
take a letter to the mayor, deliver it for me
tell him we’d all like to see him down here keepin’ good company

yeah it’s too cold, but what you gonna do
you gotta live somewhere and you know it’s true
I can’t pay the mortgage, can’t afford the rent
after food and bus fare my money’s just about all spent
take a message to the man, whisper it in his ear
tell him until we see some changes we’re gonna stay right here

CHROUS
livin’ in America in tent city
livin’ in America in tent city
livin’ in America in tent city
livin’ in America in tent city
Track Name: Big Star Fallin'
wake up mama
don’t you sleep so hard
don’t you hear these blues
walkin’ all over your yard

I got these blues
I’m not satisfied
that’s the reason why
I stole away and I cried

blues grabbed me at midnight
wouldn’t turn me loose till day
I didn’t have nobody
to drive these blues away

big star fallin’
mama, ain’t long ‘fore day
maybe the sunshine this time
will drive these blues away
Track Name: Ghost Bikes
ghost bikes, ghost bikes

bicycles all over town
dangerous streets, they’ll run you down
memorialized among the stars
with wild flowers on your handle bars

ghost bikes, ghost bikes

bicycles as free as a breeze
what could be more humane than these
like pedal birds, that’s what they are
don’t stand a chance against a car

ghost bikes, ghost bikes

this country was built on petroleum wheels
factory whistles and business deals
you could be a traitor to the bottom line
they don’t even see you till it’s too late sometimes

ghost bikes, ghost bikes
ghost bikes, ghost bikes

somebody got killed
on a Saturday night
they took a bicycle and
they painted it white
now it’s a ghost bike

poetry and an epitaph
keepsakes and a photograph
coulda been somebody you almost knew
it coulda been you

ghost bikes, ghost bikes

long time ago somebody invented a wheel
and somebody else said this is gonna be a big deal
humanity is gonna have to decide
whether to asphyxiate itself or go out for a ride

ghost bikes, ghost bikes
ghost bikes, ghost bikes

you want to change the world
do it one step at a time
get out of that dinosaur
and leave it behind

ghost bikes, ghost bikes

so write a poem, sing a song
life goes on so get back on
and ride for everybody who’s ever ridden before
and then ride some more

ghost bikes, ghost bikes
Track Name: Yang, Ru-Men
Yang, Ru-Men was raised on a family farm
with the love of the land in the morning and the muscle in his arm
out on the China Ocean on the island of Taiwan
it’s a story worth the telling and I’ll sing it in a song

the family farm is the rock of humanity’s anchor
in the 21st century world war between the farmer and the banker
the great corporate bullies ride on the money train
the farmers stand to lose the corporations stand to gain

Yang, Ru-Men saw the danger comin’ from a dark and angry place
and he thought of all the farmers whose lives would be displaced
he made calls and he wrote letters but what good did it do
corporations never answer nor the politicians too

Yang, Ru-Men went walkin' one night
the moon was like a lantern and the stars were shinin’ bright
and there came a voice a-callin’ so clearly in his head
maybe it was the ancestors, this is what it said

when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window

Yang, Ru-Men the farmer, he made a paper box
and he folded in the corners and he weighted it with rocks
with a little black powder and a little bit of rice
warnings on the label, words of advice

“Danger” said the paper box in writing bright and bold
“do not buy imported rice, our future can’t be sold
support the local farmers, resist the foreign trade”
and he placed them in the city where his point would sure be made

and he left them at the bank and at the railway station
little paper boxes with their little explanations
at the government building, they put the bomb squad on alert
but they were only made of paper, no one ever got hurt

they called him the Rice Bomber and they made a great campaign
they said he was a terrorist and they vilified his name
but in the farming countries when these matters were discussed
they would tip their hats and smile, and say “he’s one of us”

when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window



seventeen paper rice bombs, seventeen times
every one a statement though they called them each a crime
and though they scoured through the countryside they did not have a clue
Yang, Ru-Men decided then just what he would do

he went down to the city to give himself away
he said “I am the one you’re looking for, this is your lucky day
“my name is Yang, Ru-Men” he said, and he took a little bow
“I did that for the farmers like I do this for them now”

“if you did that for the farmers, that’s just what you say
“but we have you in our custody and that’s where you’re gonna to stay”
and justice was a stone wall, it never shed a tear
they tried and convicted and they gave him seven years

seven years for seventeen little boxes of rice
what kind of mathematics could arrive at such a price
it’s the kind of mathematics turns the world upside down
and it’s up to us to turn it back around

when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window

the family farm is still the rock that holds humanity’s anchor
in the 21st century world war between the farmer and the banker
one side has the money and the other has the plow
and it’s anybody’s guess what happens now

I went to visit Yang, Ru-Men, they had him in Taipei
it was in the detention center, it was on a visiting day
I didn’t speak his language and he didn’t speak mine
there was Plexiglas between us, and we didn’t have much time

he said you have to hold your vision and you have to hold on tight
take pride in your accomplishments and don’t give up the fight
and when the time was over, and they led him away
he put his fist up in the air and I can still hear him say

when god closes a door he opens a window
when god closes a door he opens a window
Track Name: Frank, Dennis, and Me
I was eighteen and change when the telephone rang
calling me to report to the sea
the Vietnam war raged on every front page in the country
so I sailed to the war of a faraway shore
with boys no wiser than I
too young to vote and hoping too young to die
serving time for the crime of being born American male
where sons become brothers in arms or brothers in jail
perhaps it was love or self prescribed drugs
or the limbo of lost out at sea
sailing that line beyond reason and rhyme
Frank, Dennis, and me

I recall the resorts and all the opium ports
but truth shines later in life
for the plight of the pawn pales in the light of the king
how convenient is a god who would spare not the rod
and send his only child to die
when in the hands of power intent on only saving a lie
I turned twenty-one years old sailing home from the south China Sea
slapping paint on the rust of the sinking American dream
and did the home fires burn for the heroes return
was the red carpet rolled to the sea
where was the parade when democracy was saved
by Frank, Dennis, and me

now I can see in my son were he to march to the gun
how his soul would wither and die
I know how that goes, far too long it’s been happening to mine
may the damage done me by the powers that be
never be done unto mine
and may the criminals and foes be exposed by history and time
for Dennis and I swore that the Vietnam war will have ended
at the moment when honor prevails with justice demanded
and as the names on the wall in the Washington Mall
await the dead to return from the sea
those veterans still dying a day at a time
with Frank, Dennis, and me

for Dennis and I swore that the Vietnam war will have ended
at the moment when honor prevails with justice demanded
and as the names on the wall in the Washington Mall
await the dead to return from the sea
those veterans still dying a day at a time
with Frank, Dennis, and me
Track Name: Hole In the Air
there’s a hole in the air where the wind blows through
a hole in the air and it looks like you
nobody knows where you go when you go way out there
way out there through a hole in the air

she had a good life
she was the pride of her home town
and her dreams came true
like dreams will do
when they don’t let you down
she had a true love
as true as love will be
their life lines
were intertwined
for all the world to see

and there were times
when they were timeless then
and the seasons passed
through window glass
and they became best friends
and the planets rolled
‘round a great revolving wheel
circumference of
that kind of love
is something to reveal

and if I was a rain drop and I fell into the sea
you would know where I had gone but you would never find me

we dance to celebrate
and we sing to tell a tale
remembering
the things we bring
along the crooked trail
stumbling brilliant
we are necessary fools
the diamonds
and the tears
they all look like jewels
Track Name: Song For Leonard Peltier
loan me a minute, let me borrow your ear
and I'll sing you a song about Leonard Peltier
he's gone so long in a federal jail
the innocent victim of a tangled tale

in South Dakota where the fear was thrown
where the presidents watched from a mountain of stone,
they said all people were free to roam
there was a struggle for freedom in the Indian home

(chorus)
how many have gone before
and tell me how many more
must be lost to the Indian wars

the company spoke to the high command
"we need the deeds to the Indian land
to dig for oil and uranium ore
maybe have to start a little Indian war"

the orders came from way on high
and it was a job for the FBI
"It won't be hard, all we'll have to do
is just cause a little trouble and follow it through"

in Oglalla where the spirit did dwell
it was a time they remember well
women and children were gathered there
when the wind blew a warning through the whispering air

and Leonard Peltier was one of those
who came to the call when the time arose
and dangerous strangers were prowlin' around
bringin' trouble to the reservation ground

and that was when the agents made their play
in a gunshot battle on a deadly day
and three men died in Lakota land
two FBI and an Indian man.

(chorus)
how many have gone before
and tell me how many more
must be lost to the Indian wars

Joe Stuntz was a man that died that day
but the eyes of the law didn't see it that way
all they cared about was their own kind
gonna get somebody for a capitol crime

the charge was set for homicide
but Leonard got away to the Canada side
where he lived for a while in the northern town
till they came up and got him and the brought him back down

the judge and the jury, they both agreed,
two times murder in the first degree
they pounded the gavel and they rang on the bell
two times life in a federal cell

citations came from Washington
congratulations on a job well done
two agents gone is a mighty price
but if you want somethin' bad you gotta sacrifice

they took Leonard Peltier off away in chains
all of those years to suffer in pain
but all of those years makes a warrior strong
and the struggle of the people goes on

(chorus)
how many have gone before
and tell me how many more
must be lost to the Indian wars

and so it's been since days of old
when Custer died for a mountain of gold
but times have changed and passed him by
he's been replaced by the FBI

oh, it's all so easy to weep and moan
for a warfare fought so far from home
you can preach of peace from a righteous stand
while they struggle for peace on the Indian land

when Joe Stuntz was lowered down
the winds did blow with a mighty sound
and the answer came in the driving rain
"this man will not have died in vain"

for the hollow power of the lock and key
ain't nothin' to the power of the raging sea
or the lightning strikes in the angry skies
that puts the power into people's eyes

oh, the weather is building to a mighty storm
and the words in the wind that come to warn
are once more spoken to your ear
only this time the name is Leonard Peltier

(chorus)
how many have gone before
and tell me how many more
must be lost to the Indian wars
Track Name: I Want a New America
I want a new America this stuff’s getting old
I’m tired of bein’ hungry and I’m tired of bein’ cold
I’m tired of gettin’ lied to every time I turn around
I want a new America or this one’s comin’ down

I want a new America, I guess you heard me right
it’s been so dark so long I can’t remember what it’s like
we been leavin’ bloody fingerprints everywhere we go
I want a new America or somethin’s gonna blow

yes it’s a good idea
yes it can be true
I want a new America
and I think you do too

yes there’s somethin’ happenin’
you can feel it in the wind
I want a new America
and it’s comin’ around the bend

I want a new America one where I can be proud
I can hold my head up and I can say it out loud
I’m tired of makin’ excuses for every mess we make
I want a new America or somethin’s gonna break

I want a new America we can be better than this
we can learn to shake hands instead of always makin’ a fist
goodbye to playground bullies goodbye to guns and drums
I want a new America the time has come

yes it’s a good idea
yes it can be true
I want a new America
and I think you do too

yes there’s somethin’ happenin’
you can feel it in the wind
I want a new America
and it’s comin’ around the bend
Track Name: Over My Dead Body
We are born in nature and in nature we will die
And if we don’t make it, it’s not because we didn’t try

They say they will incorporate the world
Over my dead body, over my dead body, over my dead body, over mine

They have all the money but we have the will
And I would rather be a match than a paper dollar bill

They have all the guns, all we are is flesh and blood
But we will multiply our numbers and drown them in our flood

They say they will incorporate the world
Over my dead body, over my dead body, over my dead body, over mine

They have all the power, that’s what they say
But we will turn those tables, take their power away

We will not be dissuaded and we will not turn around
We will face the barricades and we will tear them down

They say they will incorporate the world
Over my dead body, over my dead body, over my dead body, over mine

You can call me a fool, that’s alright with me
But I will live to see this good round world breaking free