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Strange Tales

by John Plainsong

  • Digital Album
    Streaming + Download

    John's new album —Strange Tales — is available as a digital download. Or order the CD and get the digital download as a free bonus, plus a printed lyric sheet.
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  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Comes in a nifty eco-friendly, 4-panel fold-out digipak, with original artwork by Sarah Davis Baker. Purchasing a CD includes the digital download with lyric sheet and cover art!

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Night Train 03:45
--- Letter dated May 14: Desiree, Take the night train down. I miss you so. It's cold and lonely in this town. I'm tired of hiding out in cheap hotels and running place to place. Its been eight years, I don't think anyone would recognize my face. ~ Frank --- Letter dated June 20: Desiree, Take the night train down. I'd come back home, but the investigator thinks I'm dead and gone. I'm happy the insurance money comes in every month. I just wish you'd come down here and maybe share it with me some. ~ Frank --- Letter dated August 7: Desiree, Take the night train down. I miss you so. Its cold as bones in this ghost town. We should be lying on the beaches of Cancun just like we planned. You say there's been a change of plans but, honey, I don't understand! ~ Frank --- Choruses [If you don't want the fruits of sin Stay out of the devil's garden, then. What's that sound? is that a whistle I hear? Talk of the devil and the devil appears!] [Clickety-clack-clickety clack-coming... Smokestack lightning and the wheels are humming. Clickety-clack-clickety-clack-coming...]
Crazy Man 03:33
Look out kids, the crazy man is back in town! Builds himself up by cutting everyone else down. Ever so efficient, and so surgically clean. Doze it to the ground, then sell off lots at "Forest Green". Look out!! You never really see the crazy man, but he's out there, Dumping in the river, and belching in the air. Living in a mansion at the edges of the sea, Built from teeth and bones from all the poor and the hungry. (Chorus) Crazy man is telling us more lies, Mirrors and the smoke behind his eyes Everything he ever did or said was just to keep us from the truth. We don't have to buy the stuff he sells, Pour a little more poison down the well, We don't have to wait until we're drowning. 50,000 species hacked from rain forests each year. 200 acres burned each minute we stand here. The planet weeps where ever crazy man has been; Raining black tears, oil is the sorrow of machines. (Repeat chorus)
Strange 04:04
Inspired by Mary Shelly's classic novel "Frankenstein." Reanimate me, I just need a spark. Give me words for this silence, Give me light for this dark. From bits and from pieces. From boneyards and death You brought me to being. You filled me with breath. Strange in the darkness, Strange in the sea, Strange in the spark that electrified me. Stranger in a stranger place. Stranger in a stranger place. I've tried to do good things. I've learned right from wrong. But I live in the shadows, And hide in the dark. All men hate the wretched; they all turn away No one can lock eyes on a face that's so strange. Strange in the darkness... Theres Elizabeth for you, but there's no one for me. I asked you to create a companion you ignored my plea. So I leave you for now, but hear what I say: I swear I'll return on your wedding day. Stange in the darkness....
Southbound 03:32
Packed my bags, I’m headed southbound There's really not much that I need. Friends say I should stick around some, But there’s nothing here for me. Boss man boarded up the factory, Walked away with 6 weeks pay. Now I’m out here raking asphalt For a 50-dollar day. And it doesn't really matter where I run to, Cause the big wheel keeps on turning round and round. And it doesnt really matter what I do or what I say; I just can't seem to slow this big wheel down. Heard there’s good work down in Austin. I heard they pay an honest wage. Leaving tonight I’m headed southbound, Maybe I’ll be back someday. Every workday starts out black as pitch, And every workday ends the same. You stand there talking 'bout the rut we're in Year after year, but nothings changed. I packed my bags, I'm headed southbound There's really not much that I need. Friends say I should stick around some, But there's nothing here for me And it doesn't really matter where I run to, Cause the big wheel keeps on turning round and round. And it doesnt really matter what I do or what I say; I just can't seem to slow that big wheel down
Jay Tower 03:25
Please don't help me remember. Don't give me more clues. I feel better off far from the memories, Miles from the facts and the news. But when I look in your eyes, I can just see a trace; Like frost on a window a breath could erase. And if I open the door for you, What if it all rushes through? I saw planes in an orange sky. I saw jungles in flames I heard noises like lightning, like thunder, Like concrete falling like rain. So don't wake me from slumber, I'd rather forget. And I'd rather be empty than full of regret. But could you teach me to hold on to just all the sweet things in life? Some might say I'm a weak man, But they don't realize, That there's only so many things one man can see 'fore he just shuts his eyes. And you ask me to put all the pieces in place, But the puzzle belongs to the whole human race And if we don't work to solve it Then maybe we're all hypnotized.
Yellow Dog 03:29
Yellow Dog on a yellow night, howling at a yellow moon Barking up a cedar tree at a fiery eyed raccoon Running all the black cats down Tabby tigers too Gonna getcha getcha getcha getcha ooooo Would you fetch a willow stick, if I throw it hard Would you come back when I call and stay here in the yard I don’t think you understand a single word I say You here what you wanna hear and I guess thats OK Yellow Doggy — get your ball and bring it back to me Yellow Doggy — when I call your name Leave behind your sheddy hair And all your circus fleas Just bring all your doggy love to me. I bet you could learn to dance and hop on your hind feet Balance things upon your snoot or maybe even speak Yellow Dog roll over, Yellow Dog play dead Sit, stay, heel, wait, drop it, go to bed.
I'm independent. Don't need anybody, I'm OK on my own. A solo engagement, living is easy when you're living alone. But as much as I know I can make it as one, I'm starting to think maybe two is more fun. As I walk through this world I'm enjoying the view, But the world is much nicer when I share it with you. I miss you so much. Your kiss and your touch, everything that you do. I miss you so much. I miss you so much I don't know what to do. You gave me a picture. Us in the orchard, my arms around you. I thought it would help some, but it only reminds me that I'm missing you. So I fix myself dinner and talk to the walls, Put the clothes in the dryer, feed the cat, make some calls. Trying to keep my mind on the things that I do, But I'm losing my focus; my mind is on you. Summer to autumn. Autumn to winter and winter to spring. Then back to summer. Who could imagine the changes they bring? Do the flowers miss sunshine? The birds wait for spring? (I imagine they cherish what each moment brings.) Though there's only one moment in time and in space, I'm counting the hours 'til we're in the same place.
There’s this old guy, his name is Steve Lives up the hill from a rusty winery Sits on the front porch, listenin’ for a sound Calls up the sheriff, says “shut the whole thing down” We go up there from time to time when the weathers nice Some times on Thursday, sipping Merlot with my wife. We like the music there. We like the lunch. But Steve the bad-ass apple spoils it for the whole damn bunch. [Locking your doors won’t stop the bad neighbor blues. Drawing your blinds won’t stop the bad neighbor blues. A barbed wire fence won’t stop the stench Of the bad neighbor blues.] We bought a little home in a little neighborhood Things were going fine until they moved into the hood They formed an HOA, made us all pay dues With a little gang of bullies, was there nothing we could do? We called a lawyer to alleviate our pain We got autocrats and tyrants marching up and down our lane He cried “they’re everywhere, from Portland to Bellevue. You need whiskey and a shotgun for the bad neighbor blues. Tweaker in the driveway; redneck in the shed Throwing bottles outa Chevies. Shooting BBs at your pets It's a smoky wet leaf bonfire. It's a detonating fuse. It's a national dilemma. It's the bad neighbor blues. [Hiding inside won’t stop the bad neighbor blues. Digging a trench won’t stop the bad neighbor blues May you and yours never endure The bad neighbor blues]
Mania 03:27
My baby’s calling on the telephone, It’s three weeks since she disappeared from home. She calling some East of Kathmandu. She stopped her meds, there's nothing I can do. The doctor said there might be days like this, But this is eight times in a year, at least. One day shes lying low, then flying high. She’s draining all the family savings dry. My baby loves plastic. She's sociopathic. My baby loves plastic. But she’s gotta come down. There's charges for the Crown Plaza Resort, gold jewelry, carpets, Nepalese airports, fine food, fine wine (I watch the bills compile). Shes spending rupees like they’re out of style! There's no reason why I endure all these ups & downs. (I hold too tight to dreams.) No more lithium. No more money. The mania fades away.... My baby called again last night, collect. She called from somewhere south of Bangladesh. She cried her MasterCard was all maxed out. I’m sure she’ll get along just fine somehow.
On the south side ,down the road They’re using lessons that he taught them; how to hide out in the cold. Lock it away, we should have known. Maybe the rust was really medicine they pumped into our home. (But its all right 'cause a half life’s overblown.) They been boozing, calling names swimming in their little ocean, in an inky sea of games mobilizing far and wide I can’t believe so many minions would swallow up the lies. Get a rock to hit a jaw to ... Let ‘em lie. CHORUS Look outside. Is that the sun again? The same as yesterday? No one nailed a wretched cloud above your home? Shine a light if you see shadows. Shout a warning at the dark. If you ever feel abandoned or alone ... you’re not alone. Bees are swarming! Get 'em out! Take them on down the road and turn 'em loose, but here they ain’t allowed. Another light year, led by the nose. Room by room they try to sell us on a rose that never grows. Get along now. That’ll light ya. Let it go. Get inside and guess again.      He's got a lousy set of rules there that’ll let the rooster in; Beady eyes, an empty head. I can’t believe the stupid things he did, the stupid things he said. Shoulda locked him in a room, hung by a thread.
Vampire 02:57
Moonlight casts the same dark shadow on my wall. I hear your footsteps and I feel the midnight call. Doors and windows locked up tight against the chill... I'm not taking any chances! You said that he was evil, wicked, mean, and cruel; Your back against the wall, would I please help you through. All you needed was a healthy substitute; Someone else to sink your fangs in. (Chorus) Get away from my door I can't take it no more! Her words say "Sleep. Just look deep in my eyes." Where is the sun? How long can I run and hide? Night after night, a vampire right at my window! I tried to help you in your time of misery But all you wanted was a way of using me. Now I see right through your selfish little plan... Did you think that you could fool me? Somewhere, somehow, sometime he's gonna find the truth. A wooden stake is all he'll need to run you through. What you gonna do when there's no one left to bleed? Unprotected in the daylight... (Chorus repeat)
Mary Madeline took her seat on the DC-7, Held her ticket tight --- thirteen hundred miles to Redmond. "Too late for second sight... I hope I'm doing this right. I hope." Back in San Jose, friends on the phone exchanging stories, How she quit her job, and put everything that she had in storage. "Who knows what's in her head... Goodbye is all that she said..." Goodbye. You can cry and shake your fist to stop the wind. You can wonder where does time go. Or just turn off of the road that brought you in, Start all over again. Somewhere over Oregon, she felt her heart cry out for him, But all he really loved was a car and a track and a race to win. "I tried to make him see... Some day he'll forget about me..." Some day. Mary Madeline searched for the ground through the mist and the aether, And then the clouds broke through, and the whole wide world stretched out beneath her. But tears had made her blind. So hard to leave it behind. So hard. You can wish and hope for time to change the past. You can pray for some commitment. Or you can walk right out the door that let you in, start all over again.


Strange Tales are based on true stories.


released January 1, 2020

All songs composed and performed by John Plainsong.

Vocals, with acoustic and electric guitars, E-bow, electric bass, standup bass, horns, saxes, dobro, drums, keyboards, accordion, theremins, shehnai, tonette, squeaky toy, and harmonica.

See individual tracks for song credits and lyrics.
Recorded at Sound Dog Studio (Battle Ground, WA).
Mixed by Hill (Barcelona, Spain).
Mastered by Garrett Haines, Treelady Studios (Pittsburgh, PA).


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John Plainsong Battle Ground, Washington

John Plainsong is a songwriter and performer in SW Washington.

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