The Celestial Railroad

by Van Walker

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released August 22, 2008


THE PLAYERS:

VAN WALKER: vox, 6 & 12 string acoustic guitars, electric, Nashville
CAL WALKER: acoustic, electric, harp, mando, bottleneck, b/vox
ZANE LYND: bass, acoustic, organ, percussion, auto harp, b/vox
CHRIS ALTMANN: drums, banjo, steel, electric, organ, percussion, auto harp, b/vox

CAS GANNELL: cello; GREG FIELD: fiddle; JO BROCKMAN: banjo (Track 6); LIZ STRINGER: banjo & vox (Track 13); MATTY QUINN: vocals; & JEB CARDWELL: lap (Track 12)

Recorded late October 2007 at Wet Area On Dry Land Studios, Northcote
Recorded by Chris Altmann / Mixed & mastered by Craig Pilkington @ Audrey Studios
Band photo by Ronnie / Van & Cal photo by Maria / Layout by Jen Huntley
Drawings by Van Walker / Cover painting by Marc Chagall


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Track Name: Milk & Honey (album only)
MILK & HONEY
by Van Walker

Wild nights drinking in the country
On my own, off me head
Gone are the days of milk & honey
Honey's gone, Honey's dead

Wild nights sleeping in the country
On my own, hope be brave
Gone are the days of chasing money
Money's gone, there's nothing saved

Wild nights dreaming in the country
Of my home, so far away
Gone are the days of chasing Annie
Annie's gone, little Annie May

The idleness I choose till I'm running out of booze
Responsibility don't mean a thing
There's nothing else to do
But get drunk and think of you
And I won't regret it in the morning
Track Name: The Celestial Railroad (album only)
THE CELESTIAL RAILROAD
by Van Walker

Rolled & ragged, bruised and battered
Made to bow down on my knees
Tricked & cheated, plain mistreated
Don't send no one's sympathy

Feared and frightened, chased by lightning
Had that big bad wolf break down my door
Sold down the lake, stung by heartache
Now I'm cursed with headaches and remorse

Bought & broken, rudely awoken
I've chose to hold that bloody knife
Drowned in the water, run right over
Rolled that boulder all my life

Kidnapped by fleas, caught every disease
All my doctors closed their doors
Stitched up, shook down, messed with, fucked around
But I ain't angry anymore

Cause I keep moving through the deep recess of time
I don't need my luck improving
I believe I'll be happy
Just as long as I can get myself some relief
Track Name: All The Leaves Are Shaking (album only)
ALL THE LEAVES ARE SHAKING
by Van Walker

Lay down your troubles and take off your mask
All the leaves are shaking
I'm in the mood for a little romance
And if you're willing I'm waiting

Hand me that bottle and kick off your shoes
All the leaves are shaking
Shall we go drink it out under the moon
If you're willing I'm waiting

Throw down that blanket out under the tree
All the leaves are shaking
Nowhere on this planet that I'd rather be
If you're willing I'm waiting

Well yr eyes are like water and yr breath's in the air
All the leaves are shaking
The sky is on fire but it don't compare
And if you're willing I'm waiting
Track Name: Singing Detective (album only)
SINGING DETECTIVE
by Van Walker

I used to be a spy
I used to be a real enigmatic guy
I travelled on the trains
I travelled with my collar turned up in the rain
I had a little gun
An I followed on the heels of those on the run
And they never got away
There always was a price and the price got paid
I used to be a spy
I used to be a real enigmatic guy

Before I met you
And before all the shit that you put me thru
I thought love would prevail
But you had me running round chasing my own tail
I couldn't even spy
I always was conspicuous no matter how I tried
I was pissing in the wind
So desperate I resorted to going through your bin
I used to be a spy
I used to be a real enigmatic guy

But that was way back when
Back when I was fatter and my hair weren't quite as thin
But you made me look a fool
So I took my little gun and put an end to you
Now they hunt me every day
They hunt me like a dog but I always get away
Cause I'm a slippery little worm
Living off my wife now the worm has turned
I used to be a spy
I used to be a real enigmatic guy
Track Name: The Murder Of The Mallee Girl (album only)
THE MURDER OF THE MALLEE GIRL
by Van Walker

Walking on the street, a lit cigarette in her hand
Nobody saw em leave, now I fell bad, bad,bad
He must have saw her in his headlights
As she was walking on the road
He robbed her of her young life
And left it wrapped up in her coat

She was a friend of Mark & Suze
Her boyfriend came from outta town
I'd never talked to her before, its true
But I'd sure noticed her around
Supple, tall & lean with a naughty little grin
He looked more shy than he looked mean
And you were way too good for him

It wasn't hard to choose from all those girls
There at that dance
I might have fell in love with you
When you took me by the hand
I should have left you alone
You had a boyfriend I could see
I should have offered you a lift home
He should have took it out on me

They argued in the car as he dropped her on the road
Then he went and hit a bar as she started walking home
He only left the bar when he was fully drunk
He ran her over in his car & threw her body in the trunk

Walking in a glade
The cops were digging with their hands
They found an unmarked grave only inches from a path
Hidden from the sunshine
The bones had crumbled into dust
It was only the one time ... one time too much

Ooh wee I had been dancing all night
With another man's woman but he said it's alright
Ooh ooh & it sure was strange
The day after the dance the girl suddenly went away
Track Name: World Of Sin (album only)
WORLD OF SIN
by Van Walker

There's a funny thing that women do
Complain you don't ring then they hang up on you
But in every hole there's two ends to a snake
And you'll never know if you don't reach in & take

Out in the street there's a world of sin
Before the night's complete I'll take a walk with him
And everywhere we go people treat us kind
And they never know their soul's on the line

And you won't recognise him until he's far away
Across the horizon, beneath the waves
Throughout the day

Sometimes I'm glad that she let me down
For now I meet my man & we go to town
Then I recall when I was just a lad
Lord, I didn't know I'd turn out so bad

For you won't recognise him until he's far away
And then you can't describe, he can't be conveyed
But you can feel him rising once the price is paid
Across the horizon, beneath the waves
Throughout the day
Track Name: Big Sleep (album only)
BIG SLEEP
by Van and Cal Walker

Honey I'm tired
These highway's are long that I travel on
Honey I'm tired
But you won't believe that I've aimed to please
Honey I'm tired

I'm tired of the pain that comes with needing you
I'm tired of the games that I can only lose
And I'm tired of the shame that we both abused
Honey I'm tired

This grave be my bed should I lay my head
To sleep is to die
But if you turn away should I rest today
There's a peace in my mind
Cause honey I've tried
But honey I'm tired
Track Name: If Lovin You Ain't Crazy I Am
IF LOVIN' YOU AIN'T CRAZY I AM
by Van Walker

Sometimes in the morning
I pretend that I've been yawning
Cause I'm tired and I can't help it
Were you hurting? Cause I felt it
There's achip here on my shoulder
Must be worth at least a boulder
Tried to wash my face to change it
Bot the mirror won't rearrange it
Cause I'm laggard and I'm lazy
And if lovin' you ain't crazy I am

There's a sign out on the window
Says they're closing down for the snow
For the bridges have all caved in &
The windows they're all shaking
And the gutters are overflowing &
The streetlights are slowly going
And the candles are all dying
Tiny fires are getting frightened
And it's increasingly hazy
And if lovin' you ain't crazy I am

On the southside of the river
There's a box I must deliver
To a family of ancients &
I've really stretched their patience
Cause I wanted to be early
For the grandmother was surly
But the phone lines deceived me
Into thinking they'd believe me
Though it'd kill me if they praised me
If lovin' you ain't crazy I am

Now the nights are awaful boozy
Like some old forgotten movie
About a man who drinks with his dog
Cause he can't recll his dialogue
And he's playing his old records
But they sound like they're playing backwards
And he's fumbling with barbed wire
Making dolls that would take your eye out
Cause the television's broken &
The fire needs a stoking
And the possums in the ceiling
Have gone from scratching to a-screaming
And the pot-plants are all dying &
The whole house needs an ironing
And the lamp lights are all flashing &
My potatoes need a mashing
And there's dog-ends in the gravy &
If lovin' you ain't crazy I am

One light goes off, but one comes on
You were right: I went wrong
I know it's bad for my health
But I don't want no one else

What's that in the window
Like a little yellow pin-ball
Bouncing around & slowly poking
Like a yellow feather floating
It's the sunshine only smiling
With the blue sky draped behind it
And the maple trees all blooming
Around the compost heaps all fuming
While the children are outside screaming
Behind the cars slowly leaving
And the earth it keeps on turning
And soon my love will be returning
And it continues to amaze me
If lovin' you ain't crazy I am
Track Name: The Low Road
THE LOW ROAD
by Van Walker

Heaven is nothingness
But we all been convinced otherwise
It ain't nothing but dreams for the blind
The same way a child fears the night
But memory cannot go anyplace it don't already know
But I'll keep my eyes on the road
A road that's as long as it's low

There's vanity everywhere
As we all try to climb greasy poles
I'll wait my time down below
And watch as the go-getters fall
For the faster they pick you up
Well they'll put you down just as quickly
But I've a longer strategic strategy
I'll embrace an invisible destiny

For living ain't everything
It's about time we all realised
This old world we consume like a fire
We fuel with our future kids lives
And the heart's no commodity
But an ego that's empty with greed
Values quantity over quality
When more stuff's the last thing this world needs

The low road is long
And those high roads are quick but they're wrong
For they'll chew you up and spit you out
Then when you're gone you're gone
It's the low road for me
Track Name: Wildgrass
WILDGRASS
by Van Walker

Down to a river by an old dirty track
I was running like a rabbit hiding in the grass
I met a little fish swimming in a stream
Most pretty little fish that I ever seen
She was peaking up from out of the blue
I was wiggling my whiskers, I said How do you do?
She said I'm alright, I'm feeling OK
Thanks for asking How are you today?
I told her I was happy just scooting around
Asked her if she'd like to see my hole in the ground
But she wouldn't have it & was kind of upset
I asked her What's the problem?
She said Well, is it wet?
I said No, it's dry, drier than the sun
She said That's problematic, beside which, I don't run
But if you'd like to see my little rock in the reeds
Swim this way & follow me if you please
She swam a little circle then she dived deep down
I waited for a second but there wasn't a sound
So I waited on the river by the side of the track
Listening for a ripple but she never came back

Baby, out in the wildgrass
That's where I live & I run so fast
But lately out of the water
Since I met you I ain't been sober
I'm just a drunk little rabbit waiting by a stream
Waiting for a fish I seem

I hopped out to the mountains out to visit a friend
I asked him if he had some kind of boat I could lend
He just laughed & he narrowed his eyes & said
I'm an eagle, boy, I live in the sky
I said Well, no harm in askin' & I hopped on my way
But my friend flew overhead
He must have had more to say
I waited by the river where I spent most my time
& my friend the eagle came flying out of the sky
He grabbed me by the ears & he swung me round
Way out over the river I thought he would drown
Gathered all my strength & kicked him hard in the arse
He dropped me & I landed with a thud in the grass
Then I ran off like a rocket that was Jupiter bound
Back into my burrow, little hole in the ground
I waited & I trembled & I didn't come out
Trying to figure out what all that was about

Eventually I figured it had been a mistake
So I visited my neighbour, a big black bellied snake
I told her about the fishy that was down in the stream
& all about the eagle that was cranky & mean
She just smiled & hissed & waggled her tongue
Then she whispered in my ear
But what she said kinda stung
She told me I was nosey & as dumb as they come
I should not be hanging out where I don't belong
So I stumbled & I staggered back to the river's edge
I was feeling kind of sick so I layed down my head
And I had myself a vision like a wonderful dream
Like I was floating in the ocean but in that very stream
And all the little fishies they were swishing around
& suddenly I saw that little fish I had found
She told me I was welcome to join her in the black
So I did & I was happy & I never looked back

Baby, out in the wildgrass
That's where I lived & I ran so fast
But lately I'm out of order
Since you left me I'm drowning in water
I'm an unhappy little rabby drowning in a stream
Down among the fish I seen
Track Name: Beware Of Bandits (album only)
BEWARE OF BANDITS
by Van Walker

Beware of bandits lonesome traveler
For they work along these roads
They & wait and they gravitate
To the darker shadows
So don't walk alone if you got money
For they always come in pairs
They're cowards down on their luck
& you're a sitting duck if you're not scared
Don't be paranoid, just be prepared

And don't be hoodwinked lonesome traveler
For the thief is always kind
First he'll pat you on the back
Then he'll rub you from behind
And to pick him sure ain't easy
For we all wear a disguise
You might be expecting broken teeth
But most have gold within their smile
And their sympathies are sure to beguile

Well some will rob you with indifference
Some will rob you with pure greed
Some will steal with nothing but pure & sincere need
And while the poor go to jail, the rich ones spring bail

So find a tavern lonesome traveler
You'd do good to spend the night
In a house where it's dry & warm
& the midnight oil always burns bright
You'll pay twelve dollars for your cigarettes
& five bucks for a beer
But it's better to be robbed inside
Where there's laughter & there's cheer
For what's the price for a sympathetic ear

Well man they'll rob you with indifference
Man they'll rob you with pure greed
But some will steal with nothing
But a pure & sincere need
Blue collar crime, you know it ain't right
But the worst crimes are white

So beware of bandits lonesome traveler
For they work along these roads
And their businesses are legal
& their doors are seldom closed
Beware of bandits lonesome traveler
Track Name: Beyond Where The Last Buses Run (album only)
BEYOND WHERE THE LAST BUSES RUN
by Van Walker

Well my shoes are crumbling from my feet
Still I can choose to embrace victory or defeat
It's just I'm scared I must have done somebody wrong
Still I'm prepared to pay the price
In another life as another someone
Cause I'm here and then I'm gone
But I want to be gone for long
It's just I live a little beyond where the last buses run

Little children always seem afraid of me
I never done them wrong
Nor their parents, as far as I can see
I know it's true I ain't too cool
I kinda dress down like tramp
& it's no excuse not to bathe
I know that I smell pretty bad
Well I'm always out of line but I'm just my mother's son
And I live a little beyond where the last buses run

And it's true I never had a job unlike you
Although there's no one I have ever robbed
I'm a man though they treat me like a dog
I can't understand what it is they are so afraid of
For I'd love to be with you but it just cannot be done
For I live a little beyond where the last buses run

Well the sun is water in my eye
& my blues are as blue as the cloudless summer sky
And if I knew what tomorrow might bring
I might throw a noose over a beam & there I'd swing
But it ain't me and even cliches disappear
I can bare my teeth
Even while I'm living on the verge of tears
For today there's too much sunshine in the sky

& these tears of grief could be tears of joy
Welling in my eye
The end is coming soon but it's only just begun
Where I live a little beyond where the last buses run
But I ain't a bad son of a gun
It's just I live a little beyond where the last buses run
Track Name: High Street Bridge (album only)
HIGH STREET BRIDGE
by Van Walker

Street lamps let them shine on the city
Road maps let them swallow the street
O the High Street Bridge sure looks pretty
I never understood why until now
That I'm laying on my bed
& the rain is falling by my head
And I ain't needing no company
Tell me why do I feel like the night is calling
And soon I'll be out wandering the streets

Half nine & I'm late & I'm restless
It's time & I've a date to keep
With the band assuming I'm on the guest list
I catch a tram & find me a seat up the back
Now I'm rolling on the bar
& the drinks are flowing thru my heart
The band are playing with the light in their eyes
Tell me why will I hold up the bar until morning
Until I can see some more light in the sky

Back home, one more drink, toast the city
Cut the light & I turn up the lamp low
The High St Bridge & it's trucks still run busy
But once they've passed I don't care where they go
Cause I'm alright now I'm laying on my bed
& the rain is pouring by my head
And I ain't needing no company
Tell me why do I yield to this urge for roaming
When the sky is calling me
Track Name: Waiting (album only)
WAITING
by Van Walker

I need a woman that I can hold
I'm looking high, I'm looking low
I left my trouble on the railway line
I built my house where the sun don't shine
The house is only three years old
Looks like me, mainly board/bored
With a steel iron roof and a split level hardwood floor
But when I think of everything I'd do
I can't help thinking I was chasing you
Thru a room of rules to a view in an open door

I sail my love on a stormy sea
There ain't too many gonna sail with me
But when I pass under a star filled sky
There ain't no wind gonna sail me by
I've drifted now on a gentle breeze
Fall only when I try to please
Now I'm out of reach & I ain't got nothin' more
For everything that I had to lose
I left behind to a merchant whore
Only business was to remind me from the shore

There ain't no love where there ain't no home
& I been long gone baby since the day I was born
I built this house for mama you & I
Still I live alone no matter how I try
For you were only ever free now & then
Whebn you needed me
& you probably don't need that anymore
Still I've waited
& I'll always wait until this whole thing evaporates
And the line of fate draws itself on my floor

I'll be waiting O for you

Baby I got what I wanted but I lost what I had
Track Name: V.F.A.(album only)
VAGRANT'S FORCED ATTRITION
by Van Walker

When the road is rocky
I'll keep rolling on
I won't let nobody stop me
I'll keep rolling on
And if my friends all dislike me
& the girl that I love is long gone
I'll sat and I'll fight, if only out of spite
I'll keep rolling on

When the masks try to deceive me
I'll keep rolling on
When the jailers swear that they can free me
I'll keep rolling on
And when the faithless don't believe me
& my critic cries I'm wrong
It don't matter what I do, I know my heart is true
I'll keep rolling on

When the crowds thru which I pass are laughing at me
I'll keep rolling on
And when my request to take your hand is refused flatly
I'll keep rolling on
And when the nets of despair swoop down to catch me
& all I got left are my songs
I'll write another tune, I'll dedicate it to you
But I'll keep rolling on