Ghosts

by J.P. Whipple

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Marco Descalzo
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Marco Descalzo "Ghosts" is an acoustic blues record with a taste of rock and folk. Every song is memorable and creates its own atmosphere, some lyrics are sarcastic and others are direct, but all of them come from the core of the man, it's all mind and soul. I consider this one among the best of the year. Favorite track: The Ballad of Phil the Alien.
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about

"Maybe John Whipple is like Diogenes from ancient Greek mythology, wandering around with a lantern “looking for a human being.” Or maybe he’s just a restless soul doing the only thing he can in life, simply trying to catch a break. Either way, buy his CD /go see him play/get him a show/buy him a beer….you won’t be sorry. You’ll be treated to one of the country’s most unique musical acts and probably have some great conversation to top it off." - Phil Venderyken -Sweet Tea, Music and Pumpkin Pie

"Ghosts" is a jet black, painful, dark, stunning and beautiful whole that JP Whipple as an idiosyncratic and uncut singer and songwriter presents. Headphones seems essential. This album deserves to be completely sealed from the world listening" Altcountryforum.nl (Johan Schoenmakers)

"He is an extraordinarily gifted lyricist, some of the twelve songs having humourous elements, some philosophical, some harrowing, hard hitting, sad and just about any other emotion you can come up with. All of those lyrics are highly descriptive and the clichéd term ‘painting musical pictures’ could well have been invented for the album. This, allied to his selection of the instruments required to get the best out of the songs, plus his raw expressive vocal abilities equals an exceptional, at times thought provoking recording that everyone should have in their collection." - AmericanRoots.uk

"Ghosts is very, very good" - The Mad Mackerel

Things had gone to black. The money ran out. Prospects were grim. I was (and probably still am…) heading to join the ranks of the shopping cart pushers and dumpster divers. Needless to say, I fell into a true black depression. Physically and mentally ill and without any sort of health coverage (Go Team Amerika!) I needed to self medicate.

I couldn’t afford heroin so I set up some microphones and started to record some music. I know. It was such an irresponsible thing to do but I am an addict. There I said it. No more denial. No matter how useless or self destructive my music habit is I just can’t help myself. That’s the first step, right? Acceptance. I believe the next step has to do with atonement. So now I need to apologize to all the people my addiction has harmed and this time I owe you all a big apology. Being so miserable… so devastated… feeling like such a loser and failure… I went on big time bender this time.

I made a whole fucking album…

I have limited means as far as recording goes. The extensive crew of fellow addicts responsible for my last album, Bible Milk, are in far away places such as Portland, Boise, Salt Lake and somewhere in Wales. Each are still fighting their own battles with their addiction (…with limited success I am sorry to say). Music is more addicting than crack and, yet, you almost never hear about all the harm it causes.

Ever desperate to get that fix I decided to embrace my limitations and record all those songs I wrote around the campfire while I was homeless (…or… um… “on tour” and enduring long layoffs between gigs because I have a bad manager (me)). I know what you’re thinking and it is true. Even though my music addiction had reduced me to living out of a pickup truck rather than getting clean I kept right on making music.

Absolutely pathetic.

f course, once I begun I couldn’t stop. I pushed everything aside. Ignored my bills, friends and family (especially my bills…). Once you’re hooked nothing else matters. Nothing but that next fucking track. My computer is so full of track marks now there is barely room on the hard drive for anything else but I don’t care.

The result is “Ghosts”. If this record has any redeeming value it is that many of the songs are open and honest about the consequences of music addiction. The song “Hard to Love” is all about what happens to people hopelessly hooked on their art (Hint: They become bartenders or waitresses). The song Douche Bag Bar reflects on the sort of scenes you are likely to get involved in if you decide to play music in your local pub. Perhaps someone like me cannot be helped but maybe sharing my experiences can help others avoid the slippery slope that starts so innocently with nothing more than a Pink Floyd LP and bag of crappy weed. It’s too late for me.

So, here, the consequence of my addiction, Ghosts. It’s filled with relatively austere acoustic arrangements. That’s just where I am at right now. All I can afford to do anymore is to be honest.

Since I am a (not)recovering addict, it could be a long time before I have means to properly print this album but if anyone should want to hear this or knows someone who might benefit from hearing this music, I am making available hand crafted copies through my website and at my shows. If anyone should choose to order a copy through the website for the remarkably low price of $9.99 (rounded up to ten bucks for simplicity sake… I suck at math. For people ordering online before the world ends (12.21.12), I will include a “bonus” disc of field recordings I made out in the wilderness of the songs (and some different ones) that make up Ghosts.

Remember your support helps. I promise that I will do my best to not buy more guitar strings with the proceeds and purchase bottles of whisky instead… and maybe even pay rent or something too.

Thank you,
J.P.Whipple

credits

released January 19, 2013

J.P.Whipple - Dobro, guitar, accordion, harmonica, vocals and bass guitar

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about

J.P. Whipple Portland, Oregon

J. P. Whipple is a barefoot vagabond whose errant rambles have taken him through the Great American West picking up songs along the side of the highways, in the mountain forests, the rivers, canyons and down broken alleyways. He grows them in small notebooks and when they mature he translates them through banjo, Dobro or accordion and then brings them to audiences throughout the US and Europe. ... more

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Track Name: I Got Faith
I got faith (in something)
Well she’s getting out of bed and I am raising my head… for a kiss
She says “Do I know you?” I said “I don’t think so because of you did…
You wouldn’t keep coming back here.”

As she puts herself together she asks “Why must you tear me apart?”
I say “Because I want to know what’s inside and where you start.”
She says “If you ever find out can you tell me how to get there?”

She says “I like your songs but sometimes they’re a little crude.”
I said “Thanks, I guess, and I wrote everyone for you”
She says “That’s funny. They don’t sound a bit like me.”

She asks “Why must you let in those Bible Crazies?”
I said “Because I want to know what it’s like to love a lie rather than hate reality.”
She says “You can’t love nothing unless you believe…”

I said “I got faith… in something… maybe it’s you.”
She said “That’s crazy.”

As she finishes getting dressed I say “Let me help you out of that mess.”
She says “No. I need this armor to face the wilderness.”
I said “I’ll do my best… to understand.”

She says “Have a nice day” as she heads out the door.
I said “You don’t fool me. You’ll be back here for more.”
She says “Not if I can help it. Lucky for you, I can’t….”

Because I got faith… in something…. maybe it’s you.”
I said “You’re crazy.”
Track Name: Another Day Above Dirt
Another Day above Dirt
All you want is more.
You need control.
So you squeeze the life out.
Of all you hold.
Now you’re golden fields.
Fading into dust.
Machines you built.
Falling into rust.

What did you find there but another day above dirt?
Living the lie…
For all it’s worth.

She was a beauty.
So you locked her away.
So she withered.
Into grey.
Now you’re treasure.
Looks at you with dead eyes.
That she gives no pleasure.
Should it be a surprise?

What did you find there but another day above dirt?
Living the lie…
For all it’s worth.

They come for you now.
The ghosts of all you betrayed.
No one stands beside you.
As the walls give way.
Those armies you sent out.
Into the river of blood.
Reaching for you now.
To drag you into the mud.

What did you find there but another day above dirt?
Living the lie…
For all it’s worth
Track Name: This Ain't Living
This Ain’t Living (it’s getting by)

She’s home late.
Worked both jobs today.
He says “There’s dinner in the kitchen.
Waiting in the microwave…”

He says “The rattle is getting worse.
Gonna have to take the truck in.
And the boy’s fever hasn’t broke.
Gonna have to see the doctor again.”
She says “If it ain’t one thing it’s another”
“This ain’t living… It’s getting by”.

She says “Close the window.
It’s starting to get cold again.
It’s gonna be a long winter.
Things are gonna get pretty thin.
The bills on the fridge are just gonna get bigger.”

He says “If we can get through this… somehow
I can always find work in the summertime.
Maybe we can get ahead next year.
Because you know that this ain’t living… it’s getting by.”

She says “Turn on the TV.
I don’t want to think on this right now.”
Track Name: Douchebag Bar
Douche Bag Bar

Don’t know how I got booked at this douche bag bar.
Must’ve taken that wrong turn in Albuquerque way too far.
So now I’m singing to my beer glass.

The bar is full but no one listens.
The Ken and Barbies shout over each other for attention.
Someone puts a fin in my jar says “Bob Dylan”.

She is trying to get her attention.
But he is busy shouting at the television.
The game is close. Time’s running out….

They’ve seen each other around.
It’s hard to be a stranger in such a small town.
When you got beauty in common.

Negotiations break down when he takes her home.
He is hurt when she tells him no….
Even though she was only hoping to find someone who would listen.
Track Name: Hard to Love
Hard to Love

All the great artists are bartenders or waitresses.
See them suffer for their art pushing that cart of dirty dishes.

All the poets, playwrights and musicians…
Are either gas station clerks or they found some work in service positions.

There’s operas no one has heard. Paintings no one has seen.
Tucked away in little boxes and crates.
I guess some might make it someday.
While the rest fade away.
For some, success comes too late.


And all the mad scientists and geniuses.
Sold out their dreams, but it’s not as bad as it seems, it’s just business.

He was ahead of his time but it did no good. It was just a joke.
No one understood the languages he spoke.
Except that one mad scientist who had already gone… corporate.
So he stole all his patents and hid them in his basement.

Yes it’s hard to love.
A world… so cruel.
It’s hard to love
A world that turns a genius to a fool.
Track Name: Broken Record
Broken Record

I
Leave the coffee on
For you when I’m gone
Slip out without a word.

You.
Lost in a dream.
You wonder what it means
To be a broken record

And when we slip
Ain’t it funny how it skips
to “We can’t go on like this”
Then we start it over.

So I
Drown in rusty still
Live out a window well
Sing a song no one’s heard.

You
Say I’m to blame
It’s always the same
It’s just like a broken record

And when we slip
Ain’t it funny how it skips
to “We can’t go on like this”
Then we start it over.

I
Shuffle through the snow
Wondering where to go
Afraid to move forward

You
Lost in a screen
And a cell phone ring
That you never answer

And when we slip
Ain’t it funny how it skips
to “We can’t go on like this”
Then we start it over.

So I
Turn to head home
And close the phone
Without a word

You
Say I’m to blame
It’s always the same
It’s just like a broken record.
Track Name: Love, as the Empire Fell
Love, as the Empire Fell

I held you close
As the walls came down
When they all fell back
We stood our ground
Out there among the ruins
And all the crap we couldn’t sell
It was only love as the empire fell.

We were there
From the beginning
We knew all along
We were never the ones winning
But don’t you know business
Had never done so well
It was only love as the empire fell.

We watched the trucks drive off into the night
We never thought they’d put up such a fight… just because they were right.

Now the hotel is boarded up
The night club is shut down
Even all the locals
Have fled town
There’s no trace of the lies
We used to sell
It was only love as the empire fell.

We made our choice
We took our turn
We made love
As the villages burned
We found a paradise
So we gave it hell
It was only love as the empire fell.
Track Name: The Happy Song
The Happy Song

She said “Baby, won’t you sing something happy now?
Because those blues that you play have a way of bringing me down
When you got so much that you can be thankful for
Like the fact you got two good legs.”

I said “Maybe you’re right come to think of it.
I got two good eyes to see that the world is full of shit.”
She said “That’s not what I meant for you to take a good thing
And twist it until it’s bent.”

“Why not try to imagine the world is one?
Where there is no more fighting. No more wars. We all just get along.”
I said “That sounds fine as long as they don’t play New Age Music
Because that shit just makes me sick.”

She said “Fuck you. You’re just a hopeless case.
I try to set the scene for you and you just trash the place.
But that tune you got going is pretty good listening.
Maybe you should stick to whistling.”

….

I said “Baby. I can’t change all the world.
To a unicorn puking rainbow poster on the wall of a teenage girl.
But I’m having myself a good time just sitting here with you.
Trying to make it rhyme.
Track Name: Ghosts
Ghosts

In my arms you lay
And we both dream of the road
We’d never guess how far we’d go.

In the traffic and the noise
We watch the lights fade
In the faces we’ve come to know

If I ever thought to tell you truth
Would it reach the distance in your eyes?
What does it matter that I lied?
There’s a ghost here in our kitchen
She sings as the train passes by
I think I know why.

With a coffee and a smile
We set off to our own worlds
It seems coming back can be so hard.

The window is repaired
But I still find some broken glass
I see it shine out in the yard.

If I ever thought to tell you truth
Would it reach the distance in your eyes?
What does it matter that I lied?
There’s a ghost here in our kitchen
She sings as the train passes by
I think I know why.

In the madness and the haze
We get so carried away
We are blind. We are so blind.

If I ever find my way home
I’ll leave a trail of bread
For you to find. For you to find.

If I ever thought to tell you truth
Would it reach the distance in your eyes?
What does it matter that I lied?
There’s a ghost here in our kitchen
She sings as the train passes by
I think I know why.

In my arms you lay
And we both dream of the road
We’d never guess how far we’d go.
Track Name: The Ballad of Phil the Alien
The Ballad of Phil the Alien

Phil the alien came down. He was just passing by and thought he would have a look around.
It looked like a nice place to relax… get a little sun.
Recharge the old batteries. Get some reading done.
But news traveled fast where his ship went down.
People started gathering from miles around.
Some came to gawk. Others came to protest.
Some people just need to yell so they got it off their chest.
Some set up stands. Sold hats and T-shirts.
Others came to pray... fearing the worst.
Scientists came and asked him “What’s the secret of the universe?”
The alien looked around and said “I think it only gets worse.”
The President came too… seeking some advice.
The alien said “You all look the same to me. Why can’t you play nice?”
“I ain’t no messiah. No Cinderella. I’m just looking for some peace.
Don’t you know it’s mighty cold in space. I’m just looking for some peace.”

So the alien went on the TV. That way everyone could see. There’d be no more mystery.
Fox News got him first… and they’re the worst.
The interview was no use. The commentator just wanted to hear his own views.
Then he went on NPR. You know how those folks are.
They took everything way too far.
The man said “Some of us believe in God. What’s your take?”
The alien said “Gods are hard to find but they’re pretty easy to make.”
“Is there life after death?” The alien said “I wouldn’t hold my breath.”
“What’s the meaning of life then?”
The alien said “Well…
What else you got left?”
“I ain’t no messiah. No Barbarella. I’m just looking for some peace.
It’s mighty cold out there in space. I’m just looking for place to be.”

Word traveled right away. A lot of folks didn’t like what the alien had to say.
“He’s been sent by the Devil!” That’s what a preacher said.
Some hicks showed up with shotguns wanting his head.
Not everyone wanted him to go.
Two networks offered him his own reality TV show.
Some folks wanted to go with him but he said he couldn’t handle the weight.
“Besides”, he said “What makes you think my planet is so great?
It’s overcrowded as hell. The traffic is the worst.
Takes ten light years just to get out of the suburbs.”
Soon the alien grew sick of the mob.
They broke through his forcefield last night. All his hubcaps were robbed.
The military was closing in thinking that with all his technology we’re always going to win.
“I ain’t no messiah. No Godzilla. I’m just looking for some peace.
Don’t you know it’s mighty cold out there in space. I’m just looking for a place to be.”

The alien left the next morning without a word.
Some folks say they saw him giving us the bird.
The military gave chase but they were way too slow.
Besides, we can’t afford another war.
We had to let him go.
Pretty soon the crowd started to move on.
A lot of folks were crying now that the alien was gone.
Some say he still comes around
but he knows better now and steers clear of town.
Some kids in Sedona came up to me
saying they saw the alien out in the desert…
while they were on LSD.
Some say he’s up on the moon where you can camp for free.
There’s no ranger up there trying to get a fee.
A lonely scientist sent a message out into space…
saying if you ever come back you can stay at my place.
But the alien went back to the station and took the evening train
telling everyone he met not to go down there.
Those creatures are insane.
“They thought I was the messiah but I’m just an ordinary fella looking for some peace.
Don’t you know it’s mighty cold out here in space. I’m just looking for a place to be.”
Track Name: Home (is where I'm leaving...)
Home (is when I’m leaving…)

My baby is soft and warm and it’s hard rain outside.
You know I can’t stay no more. I got to ride.
The highway is my only friend.
The only time I feel at home is when I’m leaving.

Had a good job until I told off my boss.
He wrote me a check that day and told me to get lost.
In my rearview mirror I can see my bridge burning.
The only time I feel at home is when I’m leaving.

I must be moving on.
A step ahead of the badge – another ahead of the gun.
This highway never ends.
Until I break down again.

Drop off some old clothes down at the thrift store.
This town is all worn out. It don’t fit anymore.
Run over to the Post Office to change my address again.
The only time I feel at home is when I’m leaving.

Took my guitar to the pawn.
He knows I won’t be back. I know that ax is gone.
But it’s enough to get me to Portland. I just hope she lets me in.
The only time I feel at home is when I’m leaving.

I must be moving on.
A step ahead of the badge – another ahead of the gun.
This highway never ends.
Until I break down again.

In the morning I fill my tank and have my coffee black.
Tonight I’ll be in another state tipping a bottle of Jack.
Offer up a toast to all the places I’ve been.
The only time I feel at home is when I’m leaving.

Takes a couple hours to get past all the malls and chains.
This country has lost its flavor. Now it is all just the same.
Still I try to find some place to fit in.
The only time I feel at home is when I’m leaving.

I must be moving on.
A step ahead of the badge – another ahead of the gun.
This highway never ends.
Until I break down again.

I got no excuse for the hand I’ve been dealt.
I had a full glass before the bottle was spilt.
So I pray to St. Christopher that this isn’t another dead end.
The only time I feel at home is when I’m leaving.
Track Name: Enough
Enough

Hello Anne, it’s good to see you again.
It’s been long since our season’s end.
Good to hear you’re doing well.
I guess I’m doing okay myself.
At least I wouldn’t know where to begin…

So I’ll try to be brief. I’ll try to be discreet.
Now that we’re no more than strangers on the street.
Some of me is glad to see you.
Mostly I don’t know what to do.
The rest of me is trying not to act like a fool…

I’m so glad you got that job you wanted so bad.
I got a little money now myself.
Though it’s hard to believe that being a man of means
Was ever all it was cracked up to be
Because all the money I have
Wouldn’t buy any of what we had
When we shared that one room loft.
Without a nickel to our names
We had it so rough
When we had each other and each other was enough.