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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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" says the press. But the new songs are more introspective & written mainly on guitar ...

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Track Name: SMOKESTACK JACK
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
Track Name: THE PREACHER'S STORY
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
Track Name: SLOW ROLLIN' TRAIN
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
Track Name: THE GOOD TIMES
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
Track Name: PHOENIX IN THE ASHES
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
Track Name: MUD CRAB BLUES
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
Track Name: GOODBYE MINNESOTA
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
Track Name: STEEL WHEELS
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
Track Name: IVY
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
Track Name: BIG TRUCK
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
Track Name: LONESOME ROAD (Endless Highway Mix)
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

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