Ghost Bikes

by Jim Page

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1.
Meinong 04:44
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
2.
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
3.
Tent City 03:55
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
4.
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
5.
Ghost Bikes 05:35
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
6.
Yang, Ru-Men 06:04
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
7.
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
8.
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
9.
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
10.
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
11.
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

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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Jim Page Seattle, Washington

Named by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as “One Of The 50 Most Influential Musicians In Seattle History.” Originally from 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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