Jack & The General (Mirror Man, Act One)

What Mirror Man Sees.
[David Thomas speaks]
Mirror, mirror,
mirror man.
Eyes as about as wide as eyes can be.
Blue sand -
cobalt blue salt-encrusted dry sea bed.
A tin can rusted.
The river's turned black.
White line,
Big Sky.
You wanna get yourself a pink cadillac.
He's rollin,
and he's reelin.
He's a ghost on the face on a neon land.
Mirror, mirror,
mirror man.

Lost Nation Road.
[Robert Kidney sings]
Out of the night,
into the dawn,
the rose lit road rolls on, and on,
and on.
The carpenters were knockin it up
with the hammer,
and the saw,
when I came into view.
"This is all one of those facades," she said.
I says, "This town will grow on you."
Then came the voice from the burning hot,
"It ain't real good but you know what you've got."

You know there's always a sign
that points the way home -
until some jackass blows the arrows off
with his shining shotgun.
Right from the start I knew
I'd always be running from you.
"Now, how did you know that?" she said.
I says, "I'm not the only pawn on the lost highway."
Mirror Man Speaks.
[Bob Holman speaks]
Carson Lake, Sand Mountain, Cold Springs... you'll bypass Desatoya Peak, cross New Pass Range over to Bob Scott, and in Jornada del Muerto there's 250 souls, looking at you with 499 eyes - the Horn of Death. For a hunnert miles you'll be blinking at that tall stone tower, built by who knows who for who knows what in who knows when. Where the Great Basin empties in the Sulphur Spring Range between the Wah Wah Mountains and Confession Ridge, uh, Confusion Rage. They call it the loneliest highway in the world, where the road heaves up like a volcano of solitude. Sulphur Spring Range. Carson Lake. A volcano of solitude, a party for silence, a shard of glass, a cracked rear view tacked up on a porch post - What's the mirror see, anyhow? The mirror is a sea, I'd say. "Drinkin coffee from a crimped up can..." Why there's even a Cleveland here if you take that detour north on 10. Hell, that's no detour, right by Charlotte and Ruth - places named for women. Can't even remember to forget em anymore. Over there where the names are stripped from the roads so's all you get's numbers, whistled in the wind - 15, Ought-6, good ol 75. The flappin tin sign on the loose shingle board puts the price up at about 17 cent a gallon. And that's even afore there was such a thing as unleaded. 17 cent a gallon, and the highway bright and shiny like it's asking for more. You know, somebody said the past didn't go anywhere, and I'm just settin here waitin till it does.

[David Thomas speaks]
I saw this guy in Green River,
at a hardware store,
paddling his hands in bins of nails -
like he was playing at some keyboard.
Like he was looking for something in the distance.
He was listening for something,
something intangible.
You want to testify, you testify to that.

[Bob Holman adds]
Whistle your bones, boy, whistle your bones!
The Flying Dutchman Of The Interstate.
[Daved Hild speaks]
I was born in Florida. Florida is in the eastern United States. It's kind of at the bottom of it. It's kind of at the end of it. It sort of looks like a gun. I don't know if that means anything. Anyway, Florida is not the same. It used to be a world full of lands. Now, it's a world full of worlds. Now, it's this Disney type of thing. It used to be gators and swamps and begging Seminole Indians. It used to be little but it had some attractions, and the attractions had these giant billboards and they'd tell you how many miles it was to get there and when you got there there used to be something really good like maybe some animals playing instruments. My favorite one had a chicken named Randy. He was playing a toy piano. My parents used to take to this hotel while we were there and we would eat in the restaurant and from that restaurant you could see a big view of the lake and in the middle of the lake was a monument with some kind of fountain. No one knew what the fountain was for or who it was dedicated to because while they were building the fountain one of the masons fell in the cement and he died. So I always thought it was a monument to a guy who was working on the monument. I never really figured all that out but it kind of messed me up for a long time. Anyway, while I was in Florida recently I was walking around and it just wasn't the same. There's all these Worlds. There's no more Lands. There's no more Fork Land. There's no more Gravy Land. There's no more Gator Land. There's no more Green Land. There's no more England. There's nothing. There's no more Lands. Now, they tell you "It's a Small World After All." It is not a small world. It used to be a small world before Disney came, before Exxon came, before they all came and took it all away from us and took that smallness and made it big. Because Big Is Good, right? Well, it ain't right. So, anyway, I was walking around Disney World. It was spring, summer, fall - I don't know what season it was but I was walking around and I was thinking, you know I felt kind of like those pigs on an A-bomb test site in Nevada where they used to put sunglasses on them and wrapped them in foil. And I wondered what those pigs were thinking. Maybe they thought, "Maybe they're gonna feed us. Hey, I'm on vacation. Who knows?" And then suddenly, boom, they're vaporized. Late at night I drive around. And there's nothing on the radio late at night in Florida. Maybe there's nothing on the radio late at night here. But while I'm in there, driving along with the windows up and the air-conditioner blasting, I just wonder what it'd be like if Randy was on the radio. So I come up to a stop sign, and I see a car next to me and I roll down the window real fast and I yell out, "Play it, Randy!"


Ballad Of Florida.
[Daved Hild sings]
There's nothing left of me.
I gave it all away.
I left in a beach,
and it washed out with the waves.
I laid it on a chair in Florida somewhere.
I threw it in the air,
and the clouds walked over me.
I threw it in the air -
maybe near the bird on roller skates.
The clouds walked over me.
The clouds walked over me.
I gave it all away.
I left in on a chair.
It washed out with the waves.
There's nothing left of me.
I gave it all away.
I threw it in the air,
and the clouds walked over me.
[Bob Holman speaks]
Nah, the chair dont rock and the swing dont swing. And I can see most anything in the horn blast when the present collides with my face. The collision of place and memory, thats my face, I'd say. River, a river of stone, stream and course, a drift over the rise, and my sweet honey riding my arm, a patch of song a shard of the past, a wound in my side and a kiss on the face of time itself. This is progress, and these here photos of Jack and the General I tacked up, ah, dont get me started! Like those were the days of nonstop, kid... vision, utopia... words. Those were days of gold flowing black shiny concrete building the land itself. Speed limits hell, a time of speed without limit, of time without end, just like the river that flowed out back by the porch, the rails that sang over the bridge, the highway that started in the backyard and rolled out, a prescient shadow, a mole with a soul.

[David Thomas adds]
I read the rear view.
I read the face of the refugee I see.
"What's there to stop for?" I say to him.
What's there to see that can't be passed by along the road to e-ter-ni-tee?
"Honey," I say, "Honey, we're gonna drive like there's no tomorrow."
There is no tomorrow.
They used up tomorrow.
Montana.
[Jane Bom-Bane sings]
In the state of Montana,
in the Year of the Ford Nineteen hundred & fifty-four,
people are leaving,
they're driving all night.
Women are crying,
they're frozen in light.
And we roll on the river.

Our river is black.
Our river is deep.
Headlights and moonlight, a space full of grief.
Secrets and heartaches must carry the load.
The heart of the thing is the thing we don't know.
And we roll out the barrel.

Lo and behold, the night is too long.
Anchored in sorrow,
afraid of the dawn,
nobody changes -
the truth is all gone.
Bosses have said, Everybody must go.
And we roll on the ribbons of our dreams.

Ribbons On The Road.
The good times are gone,
and we must drive on.
But how will those pale ribbons feed us?
Where will we go?
And how do we know where these aimless wheels will lead us?
Not to some luscious and heavenly place,
draped with the future in luminous lace -
where overtime flows on the sparkling Ford stream,
and windscreens are scaled to the cinema screen -
but back to our thoughtless and futureless cause,
back to our colorless, laborless thoughts -
where the treads of our tires turn to shreds with each mile,
and our mirror in shards frames the boss's last smile.
Tossed on the winds of the night's leaded beams,
we roll on the ribbons of our dreams.

[David Thomas speaks]
Here's the big sky -
howlin big wave.
I saw it comin.

[Bob Holman adds]
Here's where the sun comes in: a glowing gas & heat, a cauldara in a universal volcano. And here's where the sun steps out: your dancing partner, your collar, your grandparents' last breath, the neverending night of slight breeze.
Morbid Sky.
[Jackie Leven sings]
In my head morning never comes.
Sadly we go never to come back again.
Them days I feel like a motherless child.
I feel like a motherless child marking time under a morbid sky.

The heart is a lonely man.
My hands stretch out to you then roll back again.
Somehow I know you & I were never meant to be.
You & I are like flowers under a morbid sky.
You & I are strangers under a morbid sky,
marking time under a morbid sky.

Slowly,
slowly we dance -
turning, waltzing.
Waltz across to Texas.
Waltz by the sea.
"Liar."
"Liar."
"Oh, liar."
I heard only raindrops bursting in the dust.
Hard.
Hard.
Hard.
Bursting in the dust.

In my head the morning never comes.
Though we wait daylight never shows.
Marking time,
marking time under a morbid sky.

[David Thomas speaks]
Ya see it everywhere,
out there in the middle of nowhere -
abandoned gas stations,
forlorn handcrafted theme parks.
Rattlesnake World.
Motel Dust.
Cafe Despair.
And you ask yourself,
"Why did anyone ever think to build that thing out here?"
You look around and you don't see anyone.
"It's trailsign," you say to yourself.
There's been something broken pass thru here.
Nowheresville.
[Linda Thompson & David Thomas sing]
"I found my thrill in Nowheresville."

Mayor calls just to ask me my will.
Chief of police says,
"Do not fret yourself there's no one got killed around here.
"There's nothing here that we will not fix for you.
"No one's to blame when your eyes have played tricks on you."

"I found my thrill in Nowheresville."

Somebody saw her down by the river,
crying aloud about an indian giver.
"Don't you do what I have done.
"I stood on my pride.
"I played deaf & dumb in Nowheresville.
"Nowhere I go gets me farther from...
"Nowhere I go gets me farther from Nowhere."

1957, New Mexico. Small town. Man walks down a street, street without shadows. Man has a dream and it's his shadow. He has a fear and it is his shadow. His dream is his wife. His wife is the one fear in his life. Has one dream, it's his one fear. He's afraid that she will leave him. As the story turns out he's right.

That day the sun is like a broken lamp that buzzes too loud and shines too bright. In this man's life everywhere hurts. Suddenly the place he's heading to doesn't seem to be so important. He stops at a bar where the air is dark and the nagging at the back of his neck is quiet. He watches the top of his beer and waits. He hears talk going round, how they're gonna build a highway down the valley.

All the world needs to go, he thinks to himself. All the world and his brother needs to be free. If I can build myself a gas station out there where they're gonna put that superhighway I will become a successful man. And a woman will love a successful man. I will build her a house on a hill. I will build her a swimming pool round back and she will dangle her lovely legs in the water where she can see herself reflected and see how beautiful she is and know how much I love her. And the sun will flash in the water beside her face and she will smile as my shadow falls across her.

This is the song the man sings one starry night as he sits on the porch of his Heartbreak Garage, watching the lights of the superhighway that they built on the far side of the ridge.

People say,
I wonder why?
Why do the stars twinkle in the sky?
Why do lovers ever have to say goodbye?
People say,
I wonder why?

People say,
I wonder how?
How do men & women ever get along?

People say,
I wonder where?
Where do the broken-hearted ever find to park their cars?
People say,
I wonder where?

So many broken-hearted people -
nowhere to go to.
Man thinks to himself,
"You know, a person with insight could take this,
seize, seize this business opportunity."
Thinks about that.
Thinks to himself,
"If I build it they will come."
Where do the broken-hearted park their cars?
Mystery Road.
Down Mystery Road,
again and again.

Shadows On The Face.
[Bob Holman speaks]
So the General connects us all up with the fabric of his interstate system, that's the country's grid. Always a way home, to the next town, next county, next state - all looping back to reveal your home, home... wherever, and Jack's golden smile, as if goin somewhere there was somewhere to go, to get there, to stay there just long enough to fill up the tank with truth and a side order of possibility, rolling towards dawn in the land of the free and the light crackin sweet Pancake Summit! You can go on to Ruth if you like, she's always in...

[David Thomas adds]
There's a town I know where you can see shadows pass across the face of the neon land.
It's sort of an elephant's graveyard kind of a town.
You go to lay your bones down there.
With the bones of the ancestors.
You go to lay your bones down.

[Bob Holman continues]
Ghosts in the valley near Ely. Hamilton: 45 mile west, $9 million worth of silver ore, 19 hunnert and 55. Dont miss the White Pine Public Museum and General Store in Ely with its collection of historic items and minerals. Ride the Ghost Train of Old Ely at the Nevada Northern Railway Museum, sixteen miles south of the Ward Charcoal Ovens Historic State Monument. And when the comets dust off the night you can hightail it up in The South Snake Range where the craggy mountains and dry sagebrush alternate in a continuous, almost monotonous pattern: pinyon, juniper, woodlands, aspen, manzanita. Night put on its enormous hat & began to imitate me behind my back. I whirled around so quickly I walked right out of there & kept walking. Night set out after me, calling. But I was so cool. I just kept on walking & walking. To this very day walking.

Memphis.
[Robert Kidney sings]
In the ghost town that's inside of my heart,
all your downtown is parking lots.
At the drug store at 9th & Payne,
they stock my bitter pills.
They say, "Will we see you again next Tuesday?"
"What more can we do for you, Mr Johnson, sir?"
Pass the word around them golden pools.
I've been elected King of Fools.

And at the barber shop, they never close.
They cut your hair and they shine your suit.
They say, "You look fine.
"Mister, you look smart.
"We can tell how well you play the part."
Pass the word around them golden pools.
I've been elected the King of Fools.

And the coffee shop is open all night,
Cafe Delight.
And I pass through to say my prayers.
All this rain & black coffee.
And I stub out my cigarette.
And I step outside for a breath.
The rain turns the street to fire...

Pass the word around them golden pools.
I've been elected the King of Fools.

Down at the city hall the mayor hands me the key.
He said, "Take a look around; make yourself at home.
"Everything that we do for you is our pleasure."
In the ghost town inside my heart,
all your downtowns are parking lots.

[David Thomas speaks]
It's bound to be like someone I know,
says a haunted heart to the narrow road.
Bound to be someone I know,
so says the haunted heart to the narrow road.
Over The Moon.
[Linda Thompson sings]
I want to be like you are.
I want to rewrite your name.
I want to live in the heart of someone.
I want to ride the mystery train.
Only you & I know it.
We live like we don't belong.
On the night we went falling we were too tired to hang on.
We were too tired to hang on.

I want to be like a house on a hill.
I want the clouds in my eyes.
I want to be like all those people in love that I see advertized.
Only you & I know it.
We live like we don't belong.
On the night we went falling we were too tired to hang on.
We were too tired to hang on.

I want to be like the moon above.
I want to roll through the harvest sky.
I'm gonna look down on your house.
I'm gonna be the moonbeam in your eye.
Only you & I know it.
We live like we don't belong.
On the night we went falling we were
too tired to hang on.
We were too tired to hang on.

[Bob Holman speaks]
Two boys in a 52 Ford passin through Fallon and Lahonton Dam as if time didn't exist, and on the loneliest highway in the world you could finally find something, pushing on down the line, a perfectly blended hum of power and possibility in the golden wind of meaning, the silver structure of the road, the brilliantly shining architecture of the soul, the road leading everywhere, and you taking all roads simultaneously, a direct shot to the heart of the country, penetrating the heart's heart, and the sweet sweet beat that takes you there, wherever you want to go you go. The man in the moon I prune. The enjine whines and the tall pines pine For all's I love's a dove above 'n a particular fuse I use.
If The Deer Blinks.
[David Thomas speaks]
It was chance that we stopped where we stopped when we stopped. People last night were saying it was fate. But I know it was an accident. Like driving down a backroad somewhere and going thru a ghost town you think, "This is the way it used to be. It's so clear here that I can see myself like I was in a stream and all I have to do is..." But you never forget that place because it's a perfectly shaped moment in time and space like a vision of a future that will never be and you know that, you know it even as you dream it. So you say aloud, "We can renovate one of these old store fronts and move out here," and, of course, you know you never will but the vision has power because it answers a need. Some people find what they need in the darkness. Some people are transfixed by lights. We checked in and we'll check out. All the deer has to do is blink, just once. You know if fire is like a mirror, the heart you'll find rockin on its heels, watching the heart of the flames, transfixed, transfixed. All the deer has to do is blink. All I have to do...

[Bob Holman speaks]
You could've said a million things. But you said drive. That's what you said. The earth sneezes off the blanket of night. Last night streams into a coffee cup. Now you can see it roll around in its own trash.
Drink up!
Bus Called Happiness.
[Linda Thompson sings]
One day I'll say, I woke up to find a heap of a mess.
Running for the bus I'll cry,
"Hold that bus called Happiness!"
Why am I so slow?
If I only knew.
Say it isn't so.
I wondered what I'd want without you.

Through the back window I thought I saw the color of her dress.
Which way does that bus go?
Buddy, that's the bus called Happiness.
Why am I so slow?
If I only knew.
Say it isn't so.
I wondered what I'd want without you.

One day I'll say, I woke up to find a heap of a mess. I'll look around and all the plants are withered. Dishes piled up in the sink for months & months, they are withered. Even the glass in the windows is withered. I'll wake up with a shock Won't know if I'm here or there or how much time is passed. I'll have that feelin you don't know if you've been dreaming or you've been awake And that terrible thing that happened, I'll say to myself in a panic. Did it happen in my dreams? Or did I only dream that the terrible thing that did in fact happen never really happened at all? Which part of the dream is true? Which part of the truth is a dream? I throwed out the coffee and I drank the soap I ran cuz I had to know Stumbling & flailing Fumes & exhaust black & fluid billow`ed Running for the bus I cry, "Hold that bus called Happiness."

[Bob Holman speaks]
Let me spin that out. It'll be Blue.
Then a building tombstone.
Black car loves its shadow.
Dashboard lighted like a rocket on a launch, and the windshield's a TV,
Sure sure sure.
And the song of the coyotes you could hum all night to.
And the moon light illuminating the petroglyphs like a daily paper.
And the land itself rises up, a mirror to our youth, a monument to our ancestors whose days had worn their bones out and unravelled their nerves like ribbons.
Crimped up can placed just so by a strip of truck tire on the shoulder.
It's a sign,
a sign that lights the sky.
Filler up?

[David Thomas adds]
A man is like a mirror.
But a man is like a need.
And somewhere between the two the haunted heart roams like a refugee.
Mirror, mirror,
mirror man.
Weird Cornfields.
[Robert Kidney sings]
I said I would miss you.
I said I wouldn't forget.
I said I would miss you.
And so I guess do.
One day seems so much like another.
Some days look the same.

There's a township road that crosses a girder bridge outside Meadville.
Over French Creek, down upon the flatlands,
the corn stands in long, bone rows,
so dry and bone-like in the moonlight -
and the river's hush,
and the wind's whispers.
And the corn is creaking.
Floorboards creaking in the dark.
Something is trying to be said,
and the moon is rising to harvest.
It's pale from the night.
And tonight the world will end in its paleness.
And something is nagging at me.

This nightmare of mine is a cornfield.
Cornfields, across the pale.
Cornfields, closing in.
Cornfields, following behind in my backseat.
Cornfields, in front of me.
Cornfields, into infinity.
Cornfields, and I'm drowning.
I'm drowning.
And I'm drowning down.
I'm drowning down.
I'm drowning.
And I'm drowning down.

It's as though every damned thing that I've ever done wrong is here with me.
And you.
And you.
Are the haunted house.
And you.
Are my coupe de ville.
And I'm saying, "How? How? How?"
This is how it ends.
And I'm saying, "How? How? How?"
This is how it ends.
And this is...

Songs variously published by Bug Music, Polygram Music & Tess Music.

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