Phoenix In The Ashes

by Mandolin Jack

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    Artwork - MJ; photos of the USA - M.Tulloch; cover photo - JSM Photographs, Brisbane QLD

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1.
Headin’ out west on an all-night drive In an old black flathead ‘55 Four guys trying to keep this dream alive We’re looking for the man called Smokestack Jack Put the whole gone world back on the map The only one who’s gonna show us where it’s at. Smokestack Jack Smokestack Jack Smokestack Jack is gone & won’t come back We’ve got guitars and a gallon of wine in the trunk Brownsville blues and beers up front Been looking for Smokestack Jack in every honky-tonk We’ve been down the track to the railroad’s end Heard the clickety-clack of ol’ Southern Train Turn around, and we’re back on the road again So I’m here behind the wheel Of this westbound automobile I still don’t know what is real And what’s just yakety-yak Smokestack Jack Smokestack Jack Smokestack Jack is gone & won’t come back I wanna meet the man who’ll shake my hand Show me the way to the promised land Preacher, teacher, leader of this rock & roll band Smokestack Jack Smokestack Jack Smokestack Jack is gone & won’t come back
2.
In a white-timbered back-street hotel The bar was made of zinc A row of old chrome barstools Where the customers sit and drink, He looked like a preacher Whose faith had left him weak I sat a while beside him He took his time to speak He said, pour me another drink, boy Get out your pen and write I’ll tell you a story I’ll show you the light He said he went looking for his father Who he never knew first hand Just a grey and faded photograph Of a travelin’ man And while he told me of his journey He showed me his battered guide A picture of his hero Sal Folded up inside He said, pour me another drink, boy Sit with me tonight Listen to my story I’ll show you the light He said, just read the scriptures, son Check all the fine detail Don’t end up like me, boy With the hellhound on your trail. There’s gospel on the radio Jazz in the air When this old preacher got up to go There was a halo in his hair (he threw me a coin & said …) Pour yourself a drink, boy I hope you got this right Listen to my story I'll show you the light
3.
Friends will come, friends will go Some on the fast train, Some on the slow. The whistle blows a long lost chord Calling out for us To get on board. Train, train, I hear your sound But this time I’ll stand my ground Slow rollin’ train My sweet girl was at the station Waiting ‘round for Some salvation; We check’d the time, we check’d the date Check’d every hour, That train was late. Train, train, it’s been so long Love my girl but now she’s gone Slow rollin’ train One day I’ll stand by that rattling track Wait for the train to carry me back Mile-post for my head-stone That train’s rolling over my bones That train’s rolling over my bones
4.
New shirt, new shoes And a table for two It’s the good times Good wine & good food And a romantic view It’s the good times But one word out of line and the tables are turned Found out all my bridges are burned I planned what to say but it all comes out wrong It feels like good times are gone Good times, good times They come and they go and you never know when Good times, good times Stay with me - we’ll see - Good Times again Old friends are like family And all that evokes It’s the good times Sharing old jokes Round the campfire smoke It’s the good times Drinking beer and whiskey, staring into the flames Remembering faces and places and names Some of the best couldn’t stay ‘round too long It feels like the good times are gone Good times, good times They come and they go and you never know when Good times, good times Stay with me - we’ll see - Good Times again Life moves on You see a ghost in the mirror, you look back it’s gone Good times, good times They come and they go and you never know when Good times, good times Stay with me - we’ll see - Good Times again
5.
The city that I left behind Won’t ever be the same I got on board and now we ride A strange and alien train. Someone’s been foolin’ ‘round With kerosene and matches I guess I won’t be ‘round to see if there’s a Phoenix in the ashes I saw old Jimmy by the track Waitin’ on a long-gone train Said the old days they won’t come back There’s no reason to remain. He’s been walking all the way From Coeur d’Alene to Natchez I guess he won’t be ‘round to see if there’s a Phoenix in the ashes Mother’s by the highway Bent down to the ground Picking up beer cans to sell for scrap At 45 cents a pound She wouldn’t even let me know Where her hidden stash is I guess she won’t be ‘round to see if there’s a Phoenix in the ashes Cisco says he’s doing OK Just thankful he’s survivin’ Selling candy, snacks and pumping gas Slippin’ and a-slidin’ Tonight he’s through but in his rear-view A red and blue light flashes I guess he won’t be ‘round to see if there’s a Phoenix in the ashes
6.
Me and my cousin, out on the creek Trying to catch some muddies for us to eat Nothing in the net, nothing in the bottle Mud-crab slide and mud-crab scuttle. It don’t matter to me, It don’t matter to me, Only one place that I wanna be Here in the roots of my family tree. Me ‘n’ Alby, Garto out in the Bobcat Floatin’ ‘round wondering, where’s all the fish at? Wanna get a beer, tastes so sweet But you gotta hook one big enough to keep. Chorus Sitting on the deck, pickin’ the blues To a coupl’a kookaburras and some kangaroos Putting on a show for the neighbourhood dogs With fine backing vocals from the green-tree frogs (they’re singin’) Chorus
7.
A leaf falls, the sky cries I’m starting to say my goodbyes It’s a perfect day for a sad farewell Goodbye Minnesota The window pane drips with rain The open road calls out to me again No sleep to fight, no dreams to quell Goodbye Minnesota You caught my hand, you sought my eye A long hello, a brief goodbye Friends take time, as we know so well Could you be mine? Only time would tell; Now I find time’s slipp’d away It’s a poor turn of fate That won’t let me stay Midnight train, a speeding car A whispered note on a steel guitar The steady toll of the crossing bell Goodbye Minnesota
8.
STEEL WHEELS 02:55
Night train rolling down the railroad track The iron rails buckle then they buckle right back I see the leading diesel pulling us over the crest I lean my head against the window try and get some rest Steel wheels screaming in my sleep Diesel locomotive don’t you know I got a rendezvous to keep She’ll be waiting at the station at a quarter to three My black-eyed Rosalita saving it all up for me I’ve been away up in the North working my fingers to the bone I catch the night train bring my money back home Steel wheels screaming in my sleep Diesel locomotive don’t you know I got a rendezvous to keep Station after station picking up all night fares Smell that dirty diesel in the midnight air My head feels heavy, my eyes like lead I can’t wait to get some rest in Rosalita’s bed Steel wheels screaming in my sleep Diesel locomotive don’t you know I got a rendezvous to keep Bright lights burning through an early-morning town Sleep finally come I lay my poor head down Rosalita search the platform, breathing diesel smoke But I’m five more miles down the track before I woke Steel wheels screaming in my sleep Diesel locomotive don’t you know I got a rendezvous to keep
9.
IVY 02:45
Ivy, you don’t look like any girl I know Ivy, I’m ready for your Wild West show Part Betty Page, part Warhol Red cowboy boots, black camisole Like a tattoo under my skin Oh mama, I’m suck’d in You better believe it, I’m possessed I want you to play me like your Flame Job Gretsch Strummin’ your fingers, making me ring Driving me wild when you bend my string Like a tattoo under my skin Oh mama, I’m suck’d in You always bring out the bad in me Turn up and turn me on Take me back to my used-to-be One more time and I’m gone, gone, gone You leave me stumblin’ like the Living Dead Lost my mind, lost my head Wrap around me, Poison Ivy, please Let me get a taste of your disease Like a tattoo under my skin Oh mama, I’m suck’d in
10.
BIG TRUCK 03:09
When that big truck comes & runs me down and I’m lying in the dirt And all the rest is history Don’t stand around and tell me that I got what I deserve, That’s between that eighteen-wheeler and me Yes, it’s just between that big truck and me It’s just between that big truck and me I want my own sweet piece of heaven To be the last thing that I see When it’s just between that big truck and me Met a girl in Montana, she had eyes for me She calmed the troubled waters of my soul That she got mad when I left town, was no surprise to me I just had to let these wheels roll When that big Air Horn blows Telling me I’ve run out of road I wanna keep drivin’ ‘til I hit the next horizon Just to see where this old road goes Bad lands highway, straight as any die Cutting right across this grey and arid land No turn or retraction, it just looks you in the eye … Showed me how to be a better man
11.
There’s a cloud on the horizon Rain on the wind I believe I should be leavin’ I’m not sure where to begin It’s a long and a lonesome road But I won’t walk alone It’s a long and a lonesome road That will lead me back home There’s a shadow at my shoulder Hesitation in my tread I’m going to need you here beside me To guide me through what lies ahead I’ll see my friends; I’ll see my family ‘Though the way may be hard and cold But this sweet, sweet harmony Will surely help me reach my goal

about

Mandolin Jack has his own unique brand of mandolin-driven Americana. Though based in London, UK, many of his evocative songs tell of his travels in the USA & Australia. His true roots are in Nashville where he has played in most of the iconic venues on Broadway, several times at the Bluebird Cafe, and in many others with friends and collaborators.

The new CD "Phoenix In The Ashes" on Lonesome Road Records is a 10-song self-produced collection of observations & impressions from that first-time visit to Australia; followed by a long bus, car and Amtrak adventure across the United States during the last days of their heated presidential election in 2016. A time of meeting up with, and saying goodbye to, old friends, new friends & family.

credits

released October 19, 2017

Thanks to everyone who helped us on our journey; Tony, Janet, Julie & Alby for making us fall in love with Queensland, Angus & Christine for the margueritas and the music, Ali & David for the hospitality and the guitar, Marie & Frederick for the Moonshine Gulch Saloon, and Kallie for her lovely Minnesota home.
Thanks to Caspar, Darren, Dave, Pierre-henri, Roger & Tim for giving up their time to help make this project come to life.
Major thanks to John for the continued musical inspiration and superlative playing, to Jon for his expertise, and to Isabella & Mary for the vocalisation and moral support.

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Mandolin Jack London, UK

Mandolin Jack - "a unique brand of mandolin-driven Americana" say the press. But the new songs are more introspective & written mainly on guitar ...

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