A HISTORY OF GHOSTS

by Bobtown

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    With a library of original material from five different writers, the Bobtown sound doesn’t easily fit into one genre. It certainly falls under the umbrella of folk/roots music, but often incorporates other styles as well. Their material features elements of country, pop, R&B, bluegrass, rock, gospel and field hollers, but the group is most widely recognized for its strong emphasis on vocal arrangements and harmony.
    On this album:
    1. Across the River (3:11) – The sound of angels. Appropriate, considering the subject matter.
    2. The Girl in Blue (2:55) – Up-tempo banjo-burner based on the mysterious death of Josephine Klimczak.
    3. Morning Sun (3:33) – Ram Dass-influenced, outlaw ballad.
    4. Rumble Seat (3:48) – We don’t know what small town John Cougar Mellencamp is singing about. It sure isn’t this one.
    5. A History of Ghosts (4:00) – Western themes and post-punk references ask the question, why do bad things happen to good people?
    6. Darlin’ (3:07) – A waltz so country we had to leave the “g” off the title.
    7. Our Lady of Guadalupe Street (4:32) – Dios mio! A tango about a south-of-the- border witch.
    8. Fosse Grim (4:07) – Folk/Americana and folk/Scandinavia mix in a haunting tune about a misunderstood, violin-playing water nymph.
    9. Kentucky Graveyard (3:12) – You’ve been to Disneyland, right? Now image if they built the Haunted Mansion on Tom Sawyer’s Island.
    10. Oh, Undertaker (3:37) – Story of a woman who meets an undertaker and finds him to be, ahem, stiff.
    11. Stitch in Time (3:50) – Outdoor festival-ready, banjo-rocking anthem that leaves the listener wondering…what will the world write on my tombstone?
    ... more
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1.
ACROSS THE RIVER Quiet now, can you hear? Singing soft and clear-- voices from on high that ring like silver? They are calling you home never more to roam in the sweet by and by across the river. Lift your eyes, can you see a grove of evergreen ’neath the bluest sky so bright it shimmers? And in fields of gold see the young and old you will greet by and by across the river. Come rest your weary head your work is at an end let the water wash away any pain you feel today. One more breath to take one more journey to make loose your boat from its moor let it carry you ashore. Take my hand, can you know what I could never show? Love you leave behind will ever linger. What was broken will mend no farewells my friend. We will meet by and by across the river. We will meet by and by across the river.
2.
Girl in Blue 02:55
GIRL IN BLUE The girl in blue (where is she goin' to?) The girl in blue (a coat of wool and dress of cotton) The girl in blue (what is she gonna do?) Unknown but not forgotten. December 1933 - under icy skies of Willoughby Hazel eyes, auburn hair, five-foot-four, freckled fair Off the gray Great lake to Second Street, the boarding house to rest her feet She walks the lane with warm hellos For strangers she will never know The girl in blue (where is she goin' to?) The girl in blue (a coat of wool and dress of cotton) The girl in blue (what is she gonna do?) Unknown but not forgotten. Beyond the brush of maple trees - Waits her grievous destiny Unforeseen in such a youth - Will we ever know the truth? Mind dead set to meet the track, Knew there was no looking back Restless for that speeding train, A swift escape, can't explain The girl in blue (where is she goin' to?) The girl in blue (a coat of wool and dress of cotton) The girl in blue (what is she gonna do?) Unknown but not forgotten. Blue coat, blue shoes, Are blue devils always chasing you? Alone, no clues Why are you passing through? The Devils always chasing you...
3.
Morning Sun 03:32
MORNING SUN Hangman, how are you today? Hangman, ain’t got much to say, I feel the morning sun shine on me Lord knows, all the things I’ve done, Lord knows, nowhere left to run— I feel the morning sun shine on me I remember when I saw my face, and in my eyes an empty space went on, and on, and on, and on, on and on, and on, and on. Broken bits of memory trying to get that feeling but it’s gone, gone. Don’t cry for the wasted years. Don’t cry they’re not worth the tears. I feel the morning sun shine on me. Satan come and take my hand— I can see your Promised Land stretch on, and on, and on, and on, on and on, and on, and on. No salvation for my soul, you can’t save something that’s already gone, gone. Goodbye, only seconds left. Goodbye, taking my last breath. I feel the morning sun shine on me. I feel the morning sun shine on me. I feel the morning sun shine on me.
4.
Rumble Seat 03:48
RUMBLE SEAT Jimmy is stumbling around the bar, Bennie is sick out behind his car, Mary Jo’s angry ‘cause nobody wants to dance. AJ is flirting and in walks his girl, she tells him that next time she’s gone, for sure, and everyone know which one of them wears the pants. Another day and night on Main Street— Another dream to dream and bury deep. Someday I’ll pick up and say, “so long,” I feel like I’m lost in a country song— Yo-di-lay-hee-hee, yo-di-lay-eee. Oooo Working all day, then it’s time to cruise up and down Central to look for booze— me and the girls smoking cigarettes in the ‘Stang. No one’s got money for gas tonight, we sneak out some beer from the Kwik Delight and wind up at Annie’s ‘cause her mom don’t give a damn. Another day and night on Main Street, we sleep, we work, we drink, and then repeat. Never quite seems to me I belong, it feels like I’m lost in a country song— Yo-di-lay-hee-hee, yo-di-lay-eee. Oooo Another day and night on main street Feels like I’m always in the rumble seat Maybe I stared at the light too long, I think that I’m lost in this country song— Yo-di-lay-ee-hee, yo-di-lay-eee. Yeah, maybe I stared at the light too long, but someday I’ll pick up and say “so long”— yo-di-lay-heee-hee yo-di-lay-eee.
5.
A HISTORY OF GHOSTS Ten men ride in the cold November sky, (Ten men ride in the cold November sky), whiskey on their breath, blood on the trail. One man hides, cold and terrified, (one man hides, cold and terrified), Jesus, he ain’t answering his mail. When all is said and done the tide comes rolling in. Pages writ in rust, slowly turn to dust— drifting on the wind. Twelve men decide who is gonna die, (Twelve men decide who is gonna die), truth be told, there weren’t much truth to tell. When all is said and done the tide comes rolling in. Pages writ in rust, slowly turn to dust— drifting on the wind. In a land across the sea, a lady holds a bible in her hand; calm in the assurance that everything that happens is God’s plan. Two boys beside a grave open wide, (Two boys beside a grave open wide), Daddy’s gone to heaven up from hell. When all is said and done the tide comes rolling in. Pages writ in rust, slowly turn to dust— drifting on the wind. When all is said and done the tide comes rolling in. A history of ghosts, a descending line of notes— drifting on the wind.
6.
Darlin' 03:07
DARLIN’ When I call you darlin’, do you think of her? When I lie beside you, do you dream of her? While I feel certain, you seem unsure, when I call you darlin’, do you think of her? When first we met, you promised me that you could forget the memory. But the thing that haunts me most is you can’t give up her ghost. When I call you darlin’, do you think of her? When I lie beside you, do you dream of her? While I feel certain, you seem unsure, when I call you darlin’, do you think of her? You crossed your heart and that’s a fact, but were your fingers crossed at your back? Can you put the past behind you? Or does everything remind you? When I call you darlin’, do you think of her? When I lie beside you, do you dream of her? While I feel certain, you seem unsure, When I call you darlin’, do you think of her? When I call you darlin’, do you think of her?
7.
OUR LADY OF GUADELUPE STREET Every day at her door, line up the devotees Faces hidden by veils so nobody will see When the saints and the priests don’t have the answers they seek They pray to Our Lady of Guadelupe Street They say she once was a beauty, but some disagree I don’t know how they know she’s at least a hundred and three But they believe she has the power to bring men to their knees Is she an angel or devil Our Lady of Guadelupe Street? They can break your heart, And leave you out in the cold But peace can be yours, If you have the gold Make ‘em stay, make ‘em go, make ‘em crawl, make ‘em beg for more No matter what you’re looking for¬–it’s behind the red door She had a lover from Sevilla, or was it Napoli? Quick with a fist, and a head full of steam. They found him lying in the alley, his death a mystery But on his lips the last kiss from Our Lady of Guadelupe Street They can break your heart, And leave you out in the cold But peace can be yours, If you have the gold Make ‘em stay, make ‘em go, make ‘em crawl, make ‘em beg for more No matter what you’re looking for¬–it’s behind the red door Have a drink for love, take a pill for tranquility A few words from her lips can set you free May God grant you joy and serenity But if God’s not at home try Our Lady of Guadelupe Street La, la, la, la, la La, la, la, la, la
8.
Fosse Grim 04:07
FOSSE GRIM Their ears pressed to the wind, enchanted by his hymn. Every stroke of his bow readies heart and soul, ‘Tis the song of Fosse Grim For blood, or beast or snus, he'd spill his secrets loose. On the Midsummer's Night came the neophytes for to master and seduce Though lured by violin, no lass would stay with him. And the Lillie bowers turned to crimson flowers in the flight from Fosse Grim. Abiding love forsook, then to his bones he shook. And, with his vi-o-lin, went to sea again, no more to play the silvery brook.
9.
KENTUCKY GRAVEYARD Ah-ah, Ah-ah Shake those stones, rattle them bones, bang on your guitar, Make a sound to wake the dead in that old Kentucky graveyard. Shake that gloom, bang those tombs, pluck the old banjo, The graveyard’s where people come when it’s time to go. Jimmy Joe lost his girl so he took his life, Pastor Ned was caught in bed with someone else’s wife. Fireman Fred was crushed to death by a train gone off the tracks, Otis Parson’s heart gave out while engaging in the act. Captain Craig was blown to bits when the boiler blew, Katie Lee, an Irish lass, killed by the Spanish flu. Granny Cob was frozen stiff in the blizzard of ‘99, Baby Tyler took a swig from a can of turpentine. Shake those stones, rattle them bones, bang on your guitar, Make a sound to wake the dead in that old Kentucky graveyard. Shake that gloom, bang those tombs, thump that double bass, You’re welcome any time you like, we’re saving you a place. Major Stevens lost his head to a rebel gun, Then his entire regiment was blown to kingdom come. The Etzels and McDearmans, they got into a feud, Eighteen died on the Etzels’ side, the McDearmans: twenty-two. The outlaw Sneaky Snyder was gunned down by the law, Hattie West—killed by a bus that she never saw. Tim Cook struck by lightening while walking in the rain, Grandpa Hicks died in his sleep and never felt no pain. Shake those stones, rattle them bones, bang on your guitar, Make a sound to wake the dead in that old Kentucky graveyard. Shake that gloom, bang those tombs, strum that mandolin, The line is wrapped around the block, they’re dying to get in. Shake those stones, rattle them bones, bang on your guitar, Make a sound to wake the dead in that old Kentucky graveyard. Shake that gloom, bang those tombs, let us hear your horn, You were on your way here the day that you were born. Ah-ah, Ah-ah
10.
OH, UNDERTAKER When he took my hand his touch was cold I felt a chill deep down in my soul And I could have sworn the blood in my veins froze As he offered me a withered black rose Oh undertaker, oh undertaker You took my heart to meet its maker Now I can't get over the undertaker The sky opened up, the rain came down As we lay upon that sacred ground He captured the day and he caught my breath And showed me the way to my little death Oh undertaker, oh undertaker You took my heart to meet its maker Now I can't get over the undertaker When I awoke, I found he was gone I was alone in the cruel light of dawn And I heard the toll of the old iron bell The sun broke the sky and shattered the spell. Oh undertaker, oh undertaker This sleeping heart, you'll never wake her Now I can't get over the undertaker No I can't get over the undertaker
11.
STITCH IN TIME Put the paper to the pen, add it up, but in the end it don’t matter what you've got only matters what you’ve been. Take the high road when you can, get your head out of the sand, find a place to make your stand, hey, you’ve got to be a better man. To everyone comes quid pro quo, yours will come, now, don't you know? When the credits roll to fin only really matters what you’ve been. Put the paper to the pen, add it up, but in the end it don’t matter what you've got, only matters what you’ve been. Put the paper to the pen, add it up, but in the end only matters what you’ve been, ooo, ooo People always lookin’ out for me, me, me but what we gonna give to the Giving Tree? When we gonna stop putting out our hand and give the world a better man? Really don't matter how you take the hook— whether Bible verse or a science book, there's more than one way to be damned so you gotta give while you can. Put the paper to the pen, add it up, but in the end it don’t matter what you've got, only matters what you’ve been. Put the paper to the pen, add it up, but in the end only matters what you’ve been, ooo, ooo Days are short and it won’t be long (Hey, you got to be a better man) we’ll wake up wondering where the time has gone (Hey, you got to be a better man) Have no regrets when you look behind (Hey you got to be a better man) Don’t wonder if you could have been more kind. Lord knows we get just one chance, we are only a stitch in time Put the paper to the pen, add it up, but in the end it don’t matter what you've got, only matters what you’ve been. Put the paper to the pen, add it up, but in the end only matters what you’ve been, ooo, ooo

about

"A History of Ghosts," Bobtown's 3rd full-length release, summed up by the blog Brooklyn Country:

“There is darkness and light, temptation and salvation, the complexity of life, past, present and future… and beneath and all around that, a presence of redemption. A feeling that music and people sharing music can, does, and always will make a difference. Bobtown makes a big difference, and this is why you need this record.”

credits

released November 17, 2014

KAREN DAHLSTROM: Vocals; acoustic guitar
ALAN LEE BACKER: Banjo; electric & acoustic guitar; dobro; vocals
KATHERINE ETZEL: Vocals; drums; accordion; ukulele; glockenspiel; organ
FRED STESNEY: Vocals; electric & acoustic bass guitar
JEN MCDEARMAN: Vocals; percussion

VIOLIN ON “DARLIN’,” “FOSSE GRIM” AND “STITCH IN TIME” BY
Efrat Shapira (big thanks!)

PRODUCED BY Bobtown & Joe Ongie

BAND PHOTOGRAPHY: Farzana Razak
COVER ART: "Ghost Map" (2014) By Galelyn Williams
COVER DESIGN: Richard Thomas Jennings
OTHER DESIGN: Joe Ongie

TRACKING ENGINEER: Justin King @ Vinegar Hill Studios
ADDITIONAL TRACKING: Mike Nolan @ Gridley Records
MIXING ENGINEER: All songs mixed by Damon Whittemore @ ValveTone Studios except "Rumble Seat" and Fosse Grim," mixed by Mike Nolan and Katherine Etzel.

ADDITIONAL MIXING: Katherine Etzel
MASTERING ENGINEER: Richard Morris
MANUFACTURED BY Disc Makers

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