Ghosts in the Pipes

by Jeff Giles & The Cannonballs

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1.
another spin around the sun, another birthday on the run just trying to buy some coffee with a tune when it's winter weather, summer months, take shelter on the bus and count the miles by the phases of the moon sing it back in double time: "a star is born, a constellation dies" and all these lonely beds I've known and all these roads I've travelled on hope someone still remembers me when the highway's set me free oh, I hope I remember the way home. it's basement barrooms every night, a tired voice, a shoddy mic, who knows if either one will last the show I've had about all I can take, falling over from the weight of all my cliches lined up in a row sing it back in double time: "a star is born, someone's left behind" and all these lonely beds I've known and all these roads I've travelled on hope someone still remembers me when the highway's set me free oh, I hope I remember the way home taillights like embers drifting away in the night Greyhounds with bellies of baggage along for the ride... sing it back in double time: "a star is born, a constellation dies" sing it back in double time: "I'm laying breadcrumbs on the yellow lines" sing it back in double time... all these lonely beds I've known and all these roads I've travelled on hope someone still remembers me when the highway's set me free oh, I will remember... all these lonely beds I've known so many miles left to go hope someone still remembers me when the highway's set me free oh I hope I remember hope I remember the way home... so another spin around the sun...
2.
I was gonna call you, I was gonna ask you how you’re doing but I know better... I was gonna call you on the phone, ask if you still sleep alone but I know better, I know better... I’m a slow learner: you said “stop”, I went further. I could dance right off the edge of the world. but I’m smarter now got it through my head somehow gotta let you go, now I know now I know better I was gonna write you, I was gonna wish that you were here but I know, I know... I was gonna write you a letter, cast another tether but I know better, I know better I’m a compass and a ruler in the age of computers, I keep looking for an angle I can try but it’s no damn use, how could I be so obtuse? you’re not coming back, I’m cuttin’ my hope loose ‘cause I know better two ships in the night two strangers in the day so I won’t ask you again if you’re going my way I’m a slow learner: you said “stop”, I went further. I could dance right off the edge of the world. but I’m smarter now got it through my head somehow gotta let you go, now I know now I know... so I was gonna call you, ask if you two got back together but I don’t wanna know... I know better...
3.
I dreamed the moon was hanging by a thread I had sought you out to try and make amends when the heavens blew a devil’s breath that moon came down and split my head and I woke up without you again but I have learned to take the mornings in the chin a circle of salt around the bed to keep the nightmares in I chain them to a scratching post shower, shave, make my toast and get on with the life that I have left but I think I’m happy underneath this cloudy sky there’s a sliver of the sun stuck in the corner of my eye and no illusions left I can defend if you don’t believe me if you don’t believe me just pretend and I hang my horseshoes crooked on the wall careless as the moon, I let the luck fall ‘cause superstition always leads to idle hands or rosaries and I won’t pray for luck that I don’t need ‘cause I have spent too much time holding on to hope tossing pennies in a fountain ‘till I was nearly broke and between you, me, and the summer rain I’ve only got myself to blame for thinking something oh so gold could stay but hey... I think I’m happy underneath this cloudy sky there’s a sliver of the sun stuck in the corner of my eye and no illusions left I can defend if you don’t believe me if you don’t believe me just pretend just pretend just pretend if you don’t believe me just pretend
4.
Lonely 04:54
I’ve been wearing the stain off the pews a stiff neck and the God-sick blues not a choir in sight, and I only know secular songs Lord, if you’re gonna throw down a sign take it from me, now’s probably the time ‘cause I’m getting so tired, I’ve been getting the silent treatment so long, I'm lonely I’ve been so lonely so lonely without ‘ya so lonely for so long and the ghosts in the pipes back at home they wake me up at night with their howlin’ and moanin' they’re still knocking back the Jack that I poured down the drain last year when Jenni left I didn’t have to ask why when I got clean she’d found some other guy and when I think of her with him, I think: “maybe I should start with a beer…" lonely I’ve been so lonely so lonely without ‘ya so lonely for so long I pulled the phone book from off of the shelf to hear anybody talk but myself second time through, just keeps ringing, ever number I try there’s only static on the TV and the radio keeps hissing at me is there anyone out there? ‘Cause I feel like the last man alive, oh I'm lonely I’ve been so lonely so lonely without ‘ya so lonely for so long so lonely without ‘ya so lonely for so long so lonely without ‘ya so lonely for so long
5.
I wipe a rag across the mirror, sweep up the dust that’s on the floor I let the breeze in through the shutters and watch the morning greet the shore I chop the wood, carry the water like before and I bet Sarah’s waking up the sun rising like a dream Sarah’s waking up to a new day without me I dig my hands into the compost, where everything I touch still turns to shit but I’ve spread my sorrow on the surface of the earth and grown a new life out of it chopping the wood, carrying water like before and I bet Sarah’s waking up the is sun rising all around Sarah’s waking up and I am back on solid ground sometimes you’re perfect for each other so how could anything go wrong? sometimes you start to plan a future then your past goes off like a bomb through all the fire and the thunder I couldn’t hear her when she called and sometimes you don’t get second chances but it’s a miracle we both survived at all So I carry water from the well and feed the wood into the stove I bring the kettle to a boil, sing my little song of letting go and don’t you know I think things are looking up the sun, it rises in mysterious ways Sarah’s waking up and I’m getting stronger every day I’m getting stronger every day Sarah’s waking up Sarah’s waking up Sarah’s waking up
6.
they’re kicking out the cancer from the Queen street bars now I don’t know where I’m stumbling, but I know it’s far with twenty four dead soldiers swimming in my bones and twenty six blocks fishing quarters from the phones when I’m all outta words I use sticks and stones and when last call comes I’m left with black butterflies... black butterflies... she was swaying on the corner with a stake in her heart and a stack of yellow letters in a shopping cart with twenty four dead soldiers lined up in a box and a few more holes than threads to her socks you’re swear she’s an angel, the way that she talks but when Sunday comes, she’s left with black butterflies... black butterflies... the bags beneath her eyes, just as black as mine a pair of ghosts tossing empties at the sky they all shut their windows when we stumbled by and butterflies... those black butterflies... she said “there’s nothing more godly than an atheist’s bed” as she pulled another wing from the back of my head with twenty four dead soldiers strung out in the hall and twenty six shots behind a loose board in the wall but I never tango as well as I crawl and when the morning comes when the morning comes I’m left with black butterflies... black butterflies... those black butterflies... black... black butterflies...
7.
the walls, they groaned, barely holding back the wind as it howled like a banshee down the street, and shadows thrown from a single bulb crept along the peeling paint as a fly buzzed ‘round a knife left in the sink. the floorboards creaked under muddy boots as I moved another chess piece into place and fire flared from gasoline poured on bloody sheets while I sat at the kitchen table and sharpened my teeth all these little houses, so quiet in a line with all their little secrets tied up in the basement just beyond the light and under the stairs there’s a patch of earth freshly turned and human-shaped a hole dug deep while I sit at the kitchen table and sharpen my teeth all these little houses, so quiet in a line with more little secret slipping through the handcuffs just beyond the light and under the stairs there’s a patch of earth freshly turned and human-shaped a hole dug deep while I sit at the kitchen table and sharpen my teeth behind the door of the last house in the line I’m coiled, I’m a snake ready to strike... the walls, they groan, as the wind slips through the keyhole like a cold blade hunting someplace warm to sheath while I sit at the kitchen table and sharpen my teeth while I sit at the kitchen table and sharpen my teeth
8.
I hope you’re making friends down in the bardos I hear the lights are beautiful and bright I hear that pain and pleasure kinda mixes all together ‘till you end up with that thing we call divine and I won’t ask you to tell me any secrets that’s not why I’m whispering to the dawn I don’t need to answer any Sunday morning questions I just wanna know you’re safe, wherever you’ve gone smaller than the eye of any needle your mother’s X, and my little Y I wish I could have met you before you slipped through the keyhole and out beyond space and time do you remember the darkness of that ocean? or the rhythm of your mother’s beating heart? we didn’t have a clue about what we were gonna do with you but we didn’t care about that part and I know she doesn’t talk to you that often she’s always been the silent type, you know there’s things that we don’t talk about, scars she’d rather live without but she loves you, she just wishes you were home smaller than the eye of any needle her little X, and my little Y we wish we could have met you before you slipped through the keyhole and out beyond space and time and I wish I had advice that I could give oh I wish I had some wisdom you could use but you’ve seen more than I ever have and now my little Y’s the wisest part of me that I never knew smaller than the eye of any needle your mother’s X, and my little Y I wish I could have met you before you slipped through the keyhole out beyond the great beyond out beyond the great beyond out beyond... so I hope you’re making friends down in the bardos... I hear the lights are beautiful and bright...
9.
Better Days 04:04
leaves are scattered on the boardwalk I fill my lungs up with the cool air and the spray and all the sleepless nights that grew from summer’s branches I can feel them falling, autumn’s blowing them away, and I am ready for better days I am ready for better days I am ready I am ready for better days I think I’m ready to get my troubles gone bury the hatchets I’ve held for way too long a cardboard coffin sinking in the waves a white-capped headstone for every rusty blade, oh I am ready for better days I am ready for better days I am ready I am ready for better days and if this autumn keeps its promise oh, if this shoreline can keep me from the sea there is nothing more I need to last the winter solid as a maple stripped bare of all its leaves I am ready for better days I am ready for better days I am ready I am ready for better days...
10.
you couldn’t see it from the train but I kept waving ‘till you were worlds away and yeah I’ve got a phone, yeah you’ve got one too but you never said for sure if I’d ever hear from you but I’ll keep a light on at the station even though your track might not lead back to me I’ll keep a light on at the station I’ll be your brakeman if you ask me to be I’ll be your brakeman if you ask me to be there was a time when you called me “love" just that one time, but once was enough and now I’m on the platform, heart in my hand and I’ll keep it warm for as long as I can stand and I’ll keep a light on at the station even though your track might not lead back to me I’ll keep a light on at the station I’ll be your brakeman if you ask me to be I’ll be your brakeman if you ask me to be all that coal thrown in the fire all those whistles in the night oh, it’s such a lonely sound but I won’t be lonely, I’ll just be around and I’ll keep a light on at the station even though your track might not lead back to me I’ll keep a light on at the station I’ll be your brakeman if you ask me to be I’ll be your brakeman if you ask me to be I’ll be your brakeman if you ask me to be

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released January 3, 2016

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Jeff Giles Toronto, Ontario

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