Ghosts Upon the Road

Belgian Bar   (Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

One snowy night alone in my house in Norway, I sat with pen, paper, and guitar and a candle by an old wood table. I felt a canopy in the air and the feeling of being somewhere else. I started to remember a time when I was with a close friend a couple years before. We had been in Brussels working on a film score together and we had many good evenings hanging out in this ancient city in the middle of Europe. And this evening it came rushing back. As if I had stumbled into a cathedral of memory. After we finished the project we took a train to France. I went on to Venice and it was right before Christmas.
We were living in a nice hotel on the avenue Louise
Workin on a project there it was just my man and me
I was unattached back then like a puppet off his feet
A crazy pile of broken strings only one I had to keep
We walked around the corner saw the lights of a little bar
The mood there made me curious a chance to forget
Awhile inside a couple of tables a couple rock 'n roll cassettes
I was drinkin rum that night with the barmaid speakin French

I wonder just how things have changed
I wonder where you are
And I wonder if a young French girl
Still works in a Belgian bar

Brussels in October the yellow gray's all I recall
The rain ran on forever like the wires on a trolley car
Walkin down the new wet streets ancient wind blowin through my heart
The only face I couldn't see was the face of my true love
I dreamed about the lights of Nice the rust rocks of the coast
I dreamed about a frozen path to the one I missed the most
Then I guess it wasn't long before I was on my feet again
It must have happened someplace quiet cause I don't remember when

I wonder just how things have changed
I wonder where you are
And I wonder if a young French girl
Still works in a Belgian bar

When I look over my shoulder from the window of my train
I think about my man again who I heard has moved to Spain
We worked hard and we traveled some through France and Italy
When it rained down hard in Brussels it poured on you and me
And when my eyes got tangled in the honey colored hair
Of the girl ho poured the drinks that night when we were talkin there
She had eyes that seemed to drink us up and a crooked little smile
When we sailed off for the starry night and forever took a little while

   <top>
 

Spanish Steps   (Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

This song is a brief chronicle of frequently separated lovers. It begins on the Spanish Steps of Rome. English poet John Keats died in a small house at the foot of the steps. I wrote this one night in New York.
Meet me on the Spanish steps oh you will not wait long
Near the place where we first met it was on the streets of Rome
You were young and your eyes were bright your cheeks were flush and fair
We were eye to eye on the Spanish steps I can see you standin there

When I was sailing the Portland coast your face came back to me
It became so real it was never a memory
A friend once asked would I send a word to the one in the long blue skirt
I didn't want to lose you I didn't know what one was worth

Later on we met again and we drank by the Oslo docks
The fire of art shot from your hands spillin freely from your heart
More than a smell of a memory and more than a love by choice
The thing that I remember best was the beauty in your voice

So now it's you and I my love and the two you bore for me
I love you for your strength that you carry so quietly
So let us hold our glasses high and keep our voices hid
And take me down on this summer's eve beneath the birches now

Meet me on the Spanish steps oh you will not wait long
Near the place where we first met it was on the streets of Rome
You were young and your eyes were bright your cheeks were flush and fair
We were eye to eye on the Spanish steps I can see you smilin there
I still see you smilin there

   <top>
 

It Starts With A Lie   (Eric Andersen and John Leventhal)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

This song I wrote with guitarist John Leventhal. It reminds me of an African rhythm meets an Irish lyric. If it were a film it would be black & white and in grainy tones.
Walkin on shells and stones by the water
to find somethin that was mine
You who walked with me are so far away
I realized there's no further distance than time
I saw your face I looked for your face in the sea
Out in the harbor a sail silhouetted deep in my heart
I thought you were comin for me I reached out
to touch you It wasn't a lie when I called
If it wasn't true when I told you I loved you
It starts with a lie after all

I saw you wake alone in the morning
you opened the window to see Out in the dark
a storm all around us Light in the clouds
in the light do you ever see me
I reached out to touch you
It wasn't a lie when I called
If it wasn't rue when I told you I loved you
Then it starts with a lie after all

Watchin
Standin
Standin up close to the wall
Standin without you
Standin alone with no shadow at all

Walkin alone over stones by the water
feeling the wet of the rain Echoes of footsteps
vanish in darkness They disappear
along with the sound of my name
I reached out to touch you
It wasn't a lie when I called
If it wasn't true when I told you I loved you
It starts with a lie after all
I reached out to touch you
It wasn't a lie when I called
If it wasn't true when I told you I loved you
It starts with a lie after all
Yes it starts with a lie after all
No it wasn't a lie after all

   <top>
 

Trouble In Paris   (Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road, Blue Rain]

Looking out the window, one wintry Norwegian night, on the cold soft snow that weighed down the boughs of the tall spruces and made the world smooth and quiet, I had a strange vision. I started to see fog and gas lamps and in the mist the blurred red lights of the Moulin Rouge. I saw a woman light a cigarette. I heard a scream and saw a fleeing shadow on the wall leaving only a cloak's hem visible on the wet cobblestones in the crescent light. It was Paris and it could have been the 1880's. It is a murder ballad that came like a little movie.
There's a blue shadow moving through the Moulin Rouge
And a man with a knife point pickin his teeth
An off duty cop sits with his back to the door
And somebody just took a piss in the sink
The cop's drinkin Pernod thinks he's drinkin absinthe
With the girl who had loved him on the Rue St. Denis
While somebody's slinkin smokin under a light
And there's trouble in Paris tonight

Now Simone pulls the collar up tight to her throat
While the riverboats knock under the old Pont Neuf
A rat makes a run for his hole in the wall
She stops by a street light and lights a straight cigarette
A Gitane on his knees starts to howl like a dog
She closes her purse and tries to peer through the fog
Nothin seems wrong but somethin ain't right
And there's trouble in Paris tonight

Now the man cleanin his teeth well he ain't satisfied
He's hungry for somethin that he just can't define
The one by the sink is now sweeping the floor
And the cop he ran short of dreams a long time ago
While under a street lamp there's trouble it seems
First there's a struggle and then there's a scream
She didn't know what hit her when she asked for a light
And there's trouble in Paris tonight

Simone had been a town girl not far north of Nantes
Who did it for money once then she just couldn't stop
Had a fight with her mother another runaway teen
Who had hotel love with a cop on the Rue St. Denis
And a boy once abandoned by a cop and a whore
Has a knife in his hands he was a child of the war
It was either Simone or cut out the lights
And there's trouble in Paris tonight

There's a blue shadow moving through the Moulin Rouge
And a man with a knife point pickin his teeth
An off duty cop sits with his back to the door
And somebody just took a piss in the sink
While somebody's standin out cold in the rain
Could be all warm inside drinking champagne
Bin thin as a shadow smokin under a light
And there's trouble in Paris tonight

Bein thin as a shadow smokin under a light
And there's trouble in Paris tonight

   <top>
 

Listen To The Rain  (Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

I wrote this song in one of the loveliest and rainiest parts of the world, Bergen, on the west coast of Norway. The terrain, seascape and weather are much like the Northwest Pacific coast states.
Take your time and rest your heart
Time will fade away your pain
Close your eyes take some time
Stop and listen to the rain
Sorrow's in the air
And trouble's on the wing trial and despair
Ain't no use in trying to run
Like a spirit in the night
You can try with all your might
But pride's been stripped away

Take your time and rest your heart
Time will fade away your pain
Close your eyes take some time
Stop and listen to the rain
And let your sorrow go
Let romance keep your heart cast your fears away
See what's right before your eyes
Will be gone before you know
Time is all we have
So let the moments grow

Take your time and rest your heart
Time will fade away your pain
Close your eyes take some time
Stop and listen to the rain
Take your time and rest your heart
Time will fade away your pain
Close your eyes take some time
Stop and listen to the rain
Listen to the rain
Take your time and listen to the rain
Take your time and listen to the rain
Take your time and listen to the rain

   <top>
 

Ghosts Upon The Road  (Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

Sometime the typical song format gets limiting and boring. There's the urge to push out and redefine the boundaries. So in this piece I tried for something different. I wanted length and breathing room. Something closer to a narrative without melody, like a short story, set to rhythm and music, that would incorporate abstract sounds. It takes place in Boston and New York. Places I had lived when I started out as a song writer.
I was stranded up in Cambridge Mass it was the winter of 64
Before that in a torn down building up on Beacon Hill
I made my money mowing lawns that fall and junkin in a band
The air was full of energy only a few could understand
Now I was lucky in my building because the city had forgot
To board up all the doors and windows and shut the electric off
An abandoned dog had earlier destroyed the first and second floors
I found some country records there but I had no stereo
But sometimes I'd heard noises in the night
On the 3rd floor there I was living by candlelight
crashed out in the corner of a room Afraid to draw attention
I was eating cold out of cans Later they said I was livin like a rat
Now the crowd that I hung out with well they were outcasts too
Suzie alone and pregnant with my best friend's kid
Johnny Boy just got thrown out of the local looney bin
And Brian was rentin out apartments that didn't exist
Then one night alone I wrote a song about something that I knew
About the black faced miners it was tune from a man named Blue

Ghosts upon the road
They were ghosts upon the road
Just ghosts upon the road

Soon I moved across the river and got a roommate right off of Cambridge Ave
Alfredo was from no man's land he danced his car over the moon
His eyes were full of Latin smoke and his wall was full of knife holes
He had a job as a maitre'd and I didn't have enough to keep in cigarettes
His pockets were always lined and his bed was always full
my soul felt like an empty lot And people were hidin their stash and stuff
underneath their floorboards Back then everybody was paranoid of the cops
Then there was Diana she took me under her hat She's happily married
with three kids now So I won't go into that

Ghosts upon the road
They were ghosts upon the road
Just ghosts upon the road

Now the jungle war and politics was on everybody's mind
They rejected me on mental grounds so it was not my lot to serve
That August day down on Whitehall street I ran into some post beat hippies I'd known
I must have looked so weird to them they only waved to me
I'd been lucky to have been advised from some higher sources
That I'd known and managed to keep the circles under my eyes
I knew that fear could make a man crazy even more than make him scared
You didn't need a blood hound to know the smell of blood was in the air
Soon I was asked to leave the place the rest were made to stay
Both my head and I were dressed like Holden Caulfield on that day
But ridin the rails of subways was far safer from the time I tried
Like takin matters into my own hands down on the Lower East Side
That summer's night down on Avenue B He almost jumped off a 6 story roof
Next time I got a piano but I fell in love too soon
But sometimes I'd hear noises in the night

Ghosts upon the road
They were ghosts upon the road
Just ghosts upon the road

It was then I knew that death was death that life was life maybe there was an in between
Not just some French and Russian novels or the love of a poet's life
Or the need to give everything a name
Three had tried to kill me and three had saved my life
Life and death were indistinguishable til death put an end to that
I dreamed my life would roll on forever like some great plain in the west
My lovers I'd count like billboards on ribbon route infinity
Cryin out Dean Moriarty Sweet Marilyn here I come
In our fast cars our rockin boots meet the sons of the dharma bums
Til one went into the bathroom he took his belt off
And never came out and Melissa put one up inside the soft roof of her mouth

Ghosts upon the road
They were ghosts upon the road
Just ghosts upon the road

Now and then I think about Rachael who I once followed up some steps
And I think it was Georges Clemenceau who once said
That the highlight of making love first time
Was to watch a woman from behind climbin up the stairway to her room
But that was 1914 and this was 14th Street
In the Spanish neighborhood by the river But it was long ago
She said she took a lot of acid then but she ended up okay
Besides many I knew ended up much worse
And Ramblin Jack was wild but Lowell Jack was first and I still shiver from the words
But it's these times I wonder when I'm alone and I don't see you
Did I lose my way or did you lose yours

Ghosts upon the road
They were ghosts upon the road
Just ghosts upon the road

   <top>
 

Too Many Times (I Will Try)   (Eric Andersen and John Leventhal)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

This is another song written with John Leventhal. It's about us being creatures of habit, of time and of missed opportunities. It's hard to open up and show ourselves and reveal our true feelings. And then, for many of us, it's too late.
Too many times caught in the shadows Where I'd hide
from the eye of the heart Too many times trapped by a feeling
I would run with a chain wrapped too tight around my heart
I will try I will bleed Too many times I tried to love and not believe
I will go to the end you'll see too many times I was scared I will try

Now I can see the reason you're here with me
Second chance just a trance saved in time
Now I believe I know what you mean to me
You released a part of me I never should set free
I will try I will bleed Oh too many times
I didn't know what love would mean
I will go to the end you'll see Too many times I was scared
I will try I will try I will try I will try

Too many times caught in the shadows
But I'll search for the light I see shinin through your eyes
I will try I will bleed
Oh too many times I tried to love and not believe
I will go to the end you'll see
Too many times I tied to be all I couldn't be
I will try I will bleed
Too many times I tried to love and not believe
I will try you will see
Too many time I tried to love and not believe my eyes

   <top>
 

Carry Me Away  (Words and Music by Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

This is a love song to my closest soul. I wrote it fast, like a feeling - in 15 minutes.
My love for you goes on even times I wasn't strong
not strong enough Like the days when I was gone
when the nights did not belong to you my love
You have helped my on my way when I knew
I couldn't stay for long my love Ain't it strange how life
works out the river always finds its way
And if love's what it's about let it carry me away

You saw me as I am not how people like to
do when you see them It's like following a star
like a phantom in the dark darkest night
It's those times you least expect
someone standin at your door
Most things come by accident like a face you've seen
before I never thought I'd go down that road again
Now with you well I'm standin here I am
If love's a light let it shine on to the end
And take me round again

And when hearts fall down like rain and they wash into the land
A pool of water starts anew and the river starts again
Things that I kept out of sight oh you hold them to the light
to shine like new Ain't it strange how life works out
the river always finds its way And if love's what it's about
let it carry me away I never thought I'd go down that road again
Now with you I'm standin here I am If love's a light
let it shine on to the end And take me round again
Let it carry me away Let it carry me away

   <top>
 

Six Senses of Darkness   (Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

Lying alone in bed one sweltering New York night, i couldn't move, I couldn't read, I couldn't sleep. Books and newspapers were piled up on the bed. Nothing worked. As the minutes crawled by, I couldn't tell any longer if the noises I was hearing were coming from the adjoining alley or from the inside of my head. As dawn broke, it brought a gentle rain with the dirty gray light. I think I played a Lou Reed tape and went to sleep.
I couldn't sleep last night peace wouldn't come
alone And awake all the night like in a dream
when you're tryin to run Out in the alley I didn't
know where Something that disturbed the silence
somebody was scared Six senses of darkness
Six senses of night Six senses of silence Six senses of light

I heard someone breathin afraid to themselves
Knew what they were feelin but I couldn't help
Out in the alley I didn't know where Movin in
closer like a wound in the air
Six senses of darkness Six senses of night
Six senses of silence Six senses of sight

Something was wrong and I couldn't feel it
Something was hurt but I couldn't see it
Something came down with the forces of darkness
And didn't utter a sound Cool light of the morning
came in through the pane Steeple bells tellin the time
soft in the rain Out in the alley it was quiet and dark
Something was bruised by the darkness like a noise in
my heart Six senses of darkness Six senses of night
Six senses of silence Six senses of light Six senses of
darkness Six senses of night Six senses of silence and madness
Deep in your mind deep in your mind Deep in the night
deep in the night deep in the night Deep in your mind

   <top>
 

Irish Lace   (Eric Andersen)   [Albums: Ghosts Upon the Road]

This is about two women. One lives not too far away and though she is still around you could say she has gone. The other has long departed this world but I couldn't say she's ever left.
With your Irish gypsy face Your silver spoons
and your velvet razor blades oh lover
You pulled the wool right over my face
But didn't it feel like Irish lace So many times
I wanted just to lay beside you So many times
you turned and rolled away Those times that
lovers make for sleeping If there were friends around
to keep you up you'd always slip away
Lonely but never quite alone

It's amazing we could make it another day
I mistook your smile for love Believed my eyes
like the ones before that it really was Oh lover
you know you broke my heart in three
Once for you and once for the kid and the final time was me
Yes I've seen you while you're sleeping
And I've seen your silent nights sometimes talking
but really never speaking It's a wonder to me now
why anybody ever tries like a silence that keeps screamin all the time
It's a wonder that we haven't lost our minds

Once a lover thought the world of me She scared me
with her hatred but she wrote me poetry Oh lover
you took yourself so seriously Who'd ever believe you'd really leave
What a way to leave one more lover no one dared to save
A statistic who just left without a trace Too scared
to stick around and say But who always had enough
had enough to throw away Like a memento
from an attic from another time and place
Like a rag that once was made of Irish lace
Like a rag that was made of Irish lace
Like a rag that was made of Irish lace

   <top>
 


All songs by Eric Andersen except where noted.
© Wind and Sand Music; © Wind and Sand Music / Lev-A-Tunes

Return to the Eric Andersen Page.
Last revised: Mar 2007.