Seattle Songs

by Jim Page

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Recorded and mixed at David Lang Studios, Fife, WA. 2004

All songs by Jim Page, Whid-Isle Music, BMI

Jim Page: vocals and guitar
Orville Johnson: guitar, Weissenborn, and Dobro
Grant Dermody: harmonica
Michael Gray: fiddle

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released June 25, 2004

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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 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: Whidbey Island Overwater Transfer Ferry Line
she’s comin’ in cuttin’ ‘cross the Sound
and she rattles and she rumbles as she rolls, good god
she’s worthy, she ain’t never run a-ground
she got pulp putty pluggin’ up the holes, good god
she’s a mighty bit unsteady
and she coughs when she gets cold
but she’s well put together
all the better when she gets old
she runs on bourbon and boiler steam and it suits her just fine
she’s the Whidbey Island Overwater Transfer Ferry Line

she gets washed in the water at the cross
and she leaps and she lurches as she goes, good god
she got direction, she don’t never get lost
they blindfold and lead her by the nose, good god
she gets twisted and unruly
and they try to calm her down
she’s a little less than able
but she’s the finest ship around
she’s a mighty bit uncertain but she’s always on time
she’s the Whidbey Island Overwater Transfer Ferry Line

all hale the captain at the head
for he staggers as he clutches to the rail, good god
he has knotted up the mast to make his bed
he’s been on every ship that’s ever been a-sail, good god
he’s and old salt hustler
and a half back oiler
he’s a mighty bit punchy
he been gassin’ up the boiler
he’s got a full head of steam up blowin’ salt water brine
on the Whidbey Island Overwater Transfer Ferry Line

all hands hit the deck out in a fog
and they’re tuggin’ and a-leanin’ on the line, good god
and she shudders as she bumps up on the logs
and they’re twistin’ and a-tightenin’ on the twine, good god
and the clangin’ of the chain pins
and the bangin’ of the landing
it’s a miracle she made it
it’s a wonder she’s still standing
she could go down like a boulder but nobody never minds
she’s the Whidbey Island Overwater Transfer Ferry Line
Track Name: Gasworks Park
early in the evenin’
we go walkin’ in the park in the evenin’
do a little talkin’ in the dark of the evenin’
just she and me
see the way the moon flies
like a kite up in the night skies
shine upon the gasworks park
by the union sea

oh there’s a sign in the water
says don’t go in the water
there’s somethin’ in the water that they
don’t want you to get on your skin
oh but the lights of the city
make it look so pretty
and one of these days we gonna leave
this city behind

and there is little to be what it appears to be
it’s an illusory situation
you can do anything, be any one
get your mind undone, it’s a simple equation
and it’s a tiny spark
in the gasworks park

oh in the town that I was born in
they got up every mornin’, went to work
and they came home in the evenin’
and it was always the same
I coulda followed in their footsteps
don’t know why I didn’t
but somethin’ in my thinkin’ wouldn’ allow me
to jump on that train

and there is little to be what it appears to be
it’s an illusory situation
you can do anything, be any one
get your mind undone, it’s a simple equation
and it’s a tiny spark
in the gasworks park

so early in the evenin’
we go walkin’ in the park in the evenin’
do a little talkin’ in the dark of the evenin’
just she and me
Track Name: Singer and the AWOL Kid
I’ll tell you a story my friend
from the Vietnam days way back when
body count mountin’ on the wall
you had to do somethin’ about it all

that’s when the singer took a trip up to Washington State
it was a good day to travel on the interstate
two hitch hikers all of nineteen
traveling real light with their heads shaved clean

the singer picked them up, he had room in the car
he said “I’ll take you where you’re goin’ if it’s not too far”
“we’re goin’ up to Canada” they said it kind of slow
“seems like the place to go”

you can trust a stranger if give him a chance
and there’s a million stories in a sideways glance
the singer knew, he had a long range view
“I’m only goin’ to Seattle but I’ll see what I can do”

the interstate’s a long straight black top line
and you can do a lot of thinkin’ while the time unwinds
leavin’ California for the evergreen land
pretty soon the singer had a plan

stoppin’ for supplies like anybody might do
get a map and a compass and a flashlight too
canteens for water, food enough to last
goin’ on to Seattle but they drive right past

almost to the border, take the side road to the hill
“here’s your map and your compass and a twenty dollar bill
Canada’s that way, it’s a straight shot
good luck and goodbye and don’t get caught”

then the singer drove away through the darkening breeze
and two shadows disappeared in the evergreen trees
and that’s the measure of a war
try to tip the balance just a little bit more

I was there when the singer came in late
mutterin’ somethin’ ‘bout the interstate
the songs were good and the music was fine
and that’s what kept us goin’ most of the time

so that’s the end of my story my friend
from the Vietnam days way back when
about a singer on the road and the AWOL Kid
you had to do somethin’ and that’s what they did
Track Name: First Avenue
it’s midnight on the ice tonight, everyone has gone to bed
except for Lonesome Sally with her aspirins in her head
she’s peeking through the keyhole where the doorway meets the hall
watching for stranger who is long dark and tall
so when Long Tall Howie with ribbons in is hair
comes skipping down the hallway singing “everything is fair”
she knows he’s a nice fellow but she doesn’t like his looks
‘cause he ain’t long and tall enough so she goes back to reading books

down by the benches and Bennie’s hungry shoes
down by the water on First Avenue

the blue streak purist bus comes in right on time
the driver gagged and cross-boned, tied up way behind
a skinny kid with afro is drivin’ the wheel for us
and he don’t allow nobody to pay to ride on his bus
and the taxi cab and the French horn play a midnight melody
as Vanishing Lucy paints her face with mystery
and as she vanishes finally a hummingbird does growl
along the foamy waterfront where the Jesus people prowl

down by the benches and Bennie’s hungry shoes
down by the water on First Avenue

Sergeant Frank is terrified with his policeman’s badge and hat
he’s afraid of men with beards, especially if they’re fat
so when fat bearded Poco comes and taps him on the boot
poor Sergeant Frank jumps clean out of his suit
Poco puts it on and goes walkin’ off down the street
shooting off his guns on his new policeman’s beat
and somewhere in the city a naked sergeant’s on the loose
as Poco pawns his uniform to buy a jug of juice

down by the benches and Bennie’s hungry shoes
down by the water on First Avenue
Track Name: Walter Tortoise
Walter Tortoise was a pool player, best I ever seen.
He was an eightball magician with his eye on the green.
He could make five-hundred dollars in a one-night's go-around.
There was a lot of empty pockets when Walter came to town.
He could cue his way from 'Frisco Bay all the way to Maine.
Every side-pocket corner town was fodder for his game.
He musta come from somewhere, but just where I never knew.
I met him in Seattle on First Avenue.

He was two-thirds drunk and drinkin' to make his other third
when I sat me down beside him to hear what could be heard.
He was losing to his limit, and his limit it was clean;
twenty dollars worth of quarters in a gambling machine.
And the more he lost, the more he laughed, as he drained the drafty beers,
and he fed his final quarter and watched it disappear.
And when a girl came up and won it all with just a single try,
well, he laughed so hard 'til his eye began to cry.

Then he said, "These metal bandits ain't my cup of gruel",
and I said, "What's your real game", and he says, "Playn' pool".
Why, only just the other night he had 'em on their toes
winnin' everybody's money up at Smokey Joe's.
He said he was a shark of such dangerous degrees,
he could hustle up a bundle nearly any place he please.
He'd won more fortunes than the Rockefeller clan.
Not bad for just an indigent with chalk dust on his hands

Well, I listened to his talking just the way that you would do,
then I said, "Alright, if you're so good I'll see you to the cue".
He laughed at me so hard I thought he'd surely come to harm,
then he said, "Alright, I'll play ya but I'll only use one arm".
I racked 'em up and broke 'em and I even sunk a few
until one-armed Walter took his stance and loaded up his cue.
And with a blinding combination cleared the table all and over,
then he laughed again and grinned, said, "I play better when I'm sober".

We wandered off, in and out, and squandered through the night,
until I got lost and he got taken off to see the sights.
And I wound up in a strange one with a head to make you wince,
but where ever was was he was I ain't never seen him since.
Yes Walter was a pool player, everybody knows,
he could rack 'em and attack 'em, he could sink 'em with his eyes closed.
I may not know much of nothin', I ain't got the cure,
but Walter Tortoise was a pool player, I know that for sure.
Track Name: Paul Allentown
when I first came to Seattle
it was barely bigger than a small town
with the evergreen trees growin’ up
and the good rain comin’ down
and it looked so innocent then
you’d never dream to take a glance
at those baby billionaires
waitin’ for their chance

a penny makes a nickel
makes a dime, makes a dollar
makes a kindergarten CEO
want to jump up and holler
turns a software magician
with a fine and friendly face
into a planetary predator
with fingers all over the place

we used to call it Seattle, Jewel of the Puget Sound
we used to call it Seattle, now we call it Paul Allentown

Seattle was Duwamish
but nobody really really cared
so they turned him into a drinking fountain
in Pioneer Square
and the mountain was Tahoma
but that made their minds go blank
so they called it Rainier
and that became a bank

and the bank became a magnet
for the money and the flash
and the mountain made of nature
became a mountain made of cash
and the little baby billionaires
broke out of their padded cells
and the little town got real big
and everything went to hell

(chorus)

Paul Allen made his millions
in the Microsoft days
then he multiplied those millions
and he gave himself a raise
and he gazed out into the distance
as far as he could see
and everywhere he looked
he saw an opportunity

and he waved his wallet
like a scepter and a sword
he said “there’s nothin’ next to god
that this wallet can’t afford
move over Mister Yessler
step aside and take a bow
my name is Paul Allen
this is my town now!”

(chorus)

you like sports?
he’ll build you stadium or two
and he’ll do it with
your money too
he owns Lake Union
and the EMP
he owns half the city council
but he don’t own me

you want to fondle your portfolio
you’ve come to the right place
you like high rise
get yourself a condo with a happy face
with a Starbucks on every corner
and your own cash machine
now I know what they mean
when they call it “evergreen”

(chorus)

they say Paul Allen plays a mean guitar
but I don’t think that’s right
I think that poor guitar’s just angry
‘cause he ain’t treatin’ it right
like some adolescent ego
with his billfold overblown
he thinks he can just go out and buy himself
a rock star of his own

Jimi Hendrix on his bended knees
up on Broadway all in bronze
he still can’t figure out
what went wrong
playin’ The Star Spangled Banner
in a blown out purple haze
now he lives in a digital museum
and his fans are all half crazed

(chorus)

new money likes to strut around
showing off it’s stuff
and we’re all supposed to love it
we’re not supposed to call its bluff
just buy your ticket, take your chance
and keep your place in line
and maybe they’ll throw you down
a few crumbs from time to time

they say the road to hell is paved
with all the best intentions
hypnotized and dazzled
by the latest slick inventions
like a deer in the headlights
tryin’ to catch a ride
well it can be a big surprise
when you reach the other side

(chorus)
Track Name: All They Want to Talk About
there's a man there livin' in a cardboard box
and he's checkin' out the weather
hopin' it don't rain too hard
you know down around this part of town
it's a perilous life to be livin'
without a membership card
and it's hustle for hustle, it's hand to mouth
it's an easy hole to get in to, but it's so hard to get out

and all the want to talk about at city hall
is how to build a better building to play baseball

there's a teenage girl with a baby boy
and a great big monkey
on her thin little back
she's lookin' down the alleyway for some kind of love
seems like her whole life
keeps slippin' through that concrete crack
and it's tease for tease, it's a trap set to fall
won't be no memorial when she goes, just some spray paint on the wall

somebody's grandmother livin' on memories
and stretchin' that social security
as far as it'll go
you know I always thought you were supposed take care of your old people
I guess that shows how much
I know
and it's lonely for lonely, it's so far from grace
they say if you ain't in with the cash flow, you're just takin' up space

I see those long limousines glidin'
they got millionaires inside 'em
oh, and they look so fine
they'll play you for a taxpayer fool
and make a good clean killing
almost every time
and it's dollar for dollar, you can hear that cash register sound
they say that sports spectacular is the finest game in town

there's a shadow on the promised land
shiver in the winter
freezin' in the empty space
seems like nobody really cares about anybody anymore
if you ain't got a lot of money
or a pretty face
and it's slander for slander, it cuts like a knife
this ain't no game we're playin', this is real life
Track Name: The Wrecking Ball Blues
I used to live in the city, an apartment on the second floor (x2)
until the man with the money said I couldn’t live there no more

well they brought in a wreckin’ ball and beat it to a hole in the ground (x2)
they put me outside walkin’, made me homeless in my own home town

now tell me who loves a wreckin’ ball, surely ain’t no friend of mine (x2)
they built a bank to put their money in and I ain’t even got a dime

well I served my country and I loved it like a long-lost friend (x2)
now my country don’t love me back, looks like, ‘cause I ain’t got the money to spend

you know my shoes are worn from walkin’ and my head is spinnin’ around (x2)
and there’s a cop with a ticket book tellin’ me I can’t sit down

well I’m tappin’ on your shoulder and I’m whisperin’ in your ear (x2)
you know I’m only tryin’ to warn you but you seem to be so hard to hear

I’m thinkin’ dangerous thoughts and I know I ain’t the only one (x2)
I’m thinkin’ about that wreckin’ ball and how I’d like to get me one

well if I had a wreckin’ ball I’d turn it on to City Hall (x2)
and I’d stand back laughin’ while I watched that whole thing fall
Track Name: Guitar Thing
Guitar Thing

we'll, I get up early, I go to bed late
seems like every day's the same
starin' out the window like fish eyes on a plate
I don't even care if it rains

somethin' on my mind, I guess it must be you
you been on my shoulder for a while
whisper in my ear, say “what are you gonna do?”
and me, well I just stutter and smile

think I'll hit the streets, take a walk up Capitol Hill
check out all the latest facial lacerations
maybe I can get lost, I got some time to kill
feels like that kind of situation

somethin' about a streetlight lit up so fine
makes you want to lower down and cruise
all those uptown bravados on the high hip line
wish I had some shine on my shoes

I’m talkin' with the herbivore outside the neon cafe
I remember when this place was called Ernie Steele's
and the old Fresh Air, well that was just down yonder way
man, those were the days for real

just then my ears implode and my head begins to fog
and I get a funny kind of vision in my eyes
good old Seattle when nobody even knew where it was
and there wasn't no such a thing as a high rise

it was a small town, big city, wide open kind of scene
the wild west with no two minute warnin’
you had to know just how fast to walk to make all the street lights green
‘cause they’d give you a ticket at 3:30 in the mornin’

now I'm walkin' down the rainy street and I'm turnin' in doorway
it's crowded dark and lit up like a jungle
there's wild eyes lookin' at me, scopin' out my state of mind
“how far you want to go?” they seem to mumble

there's taps of some same old, ain't no micro-brew
and there's enough smoke to choke a chimney
and there's a rock and roll band playin’ with no room to move
but everybody’s movin' anyway, believe me

now maybe some one gets hot and they have to cool him off
and somebody else may pass out on the floor
and by the time it's all over it's too much to remember
but everybody got what they came for

now I shakin' my head, I'm comin' to my senses
the herbivore's off lookin' for a vegetable bone
there's no place to be but these present tenses
I guess I shoulda known

and I'm seein' all those ghosts in the sidewalk lookin' at me
you know I can almost hear 'em callin' my name
funny how you never really lose a good connection
but I know it'll never be the same

now I'm rollin' up my sidewalks and turnin’ up my collar
figure I might as well go back home
got nothin’ on me but a Susan B Anthony dollar
and you can’t even use those things in the phone

so I make like to start for my cross-town drive
and there you are on the hood of my car
I say “all right, I’m glad to be alive!
let’s go play guitar”
Track Name: I Keep Comin' Back
I love the way that the rain sounds on the rooftop over my head
like little animal feet
the way the clouds come down so low sometimes they seem to prowl the alleyways
and get into the side streets
and all the world goes soft and the hard lines disappear
and the echo of the footsteps is the music in your ear
and the sing song river runs all along that little crack
I’ve been all around the world but I keep coming back

the big boats come to the dock side, they tie off and unload
and they stay a little while
you get a bright light Saturday liberty night, you gotta do it up right
want to do it in style
maybe hear a little music, can I have this next dance
maybe fall in love if I get half a chance
with somebody like you, yeah imagine that
I’ve been all around the world but I keep coming back

first time I rode the bus it picked me up hitch hikin’
took me clear across town
I said I ain’t got no money, he said that’s alright friend
just get on board and lay your burden down
he said where you goin’ I said I ain’t got that part figured one out yet
life is so uncertain and the future is not set
I let you know when I get there, how about that?
I’ve been all around the world but I keep coming back

I rode that Fremont Bridge so high one time
I coulda scratched old Mister Moon right on the chin
I took a look at the water in the canal down below and I thought to myself
I’m gonna dive right in
yeah but I’m too young to go that way I ain’t ready yet
I don’t mind the fallin’ that far, I just don’t want to get that wet
it’s a carnival of circumstance, you gotta have a knack
I’ve been all around the world but I keep coming back