John Wiseman

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Liner Notes

1. Roll Along

I harbor a secret ambition to be a PBS travel show host. I want to take an RV and travel between all the state capitol buildings. (Yes, I know it would be difficult to drive to Honolulu - or to Juneau, for that matter. Don't spoil an old man's dream with logic.) I picture this as "rolling along down the road" music for that show.

2. The 49B

I do a lot of my songwriting while waiting for buses - let's face it, that's how I spend a lot of my time. I don't even have to take the 49B anymore. My doctor is still on Peterson but my friends moved to the far northwest side.

3. Seven Angels (for Columbia)

I wrote this on the afternoon of Feb. 1, 2003. Some guy in the lobby of my building said something like, "Maybe they shouldn't be going up there". Don't EVER say that to me. EVER.

4. Coraline

Wendy had borrowed the "book-on-tape" version of this for one of the Minstrosity road trips. It knocked my socks off.

5. The Wabash Cannonball

A well-loved song in my family when I was growing up. My brother Don (who is NOT musically inclined) used to "threaten" to sing it "at" us from time to time. Often heard the Roy Acuff version on WHOW in Clinton, Illinois.

6. The Parking Lot Strip

I freely confess that I wrote this song solely in order to hear large groups of women making the "bodice-gasm" sound all at once at my bidding. Music to my ears.

7. Statue's Dream

It seemed like a "dreamy" kind of thing, and it has a peculiarity in the fact that one finger does not change its position on the fretboard throughout the tune.

8. The Voyage of the James Caird

When I heard the story of the Endurance expedition to Antarctica, I was struck at once by the fact that Shackleton stated in his recruitment advertising for his crew that they may very well not survive. And then by the fact that, in spite of the extraordinary difficulties they encountered, they all DID. Mind you, many of them died within a few months afterward in the trenches of WWI.

9. Hard Times (Come Again No More)

I saw the PBS special about Stephen Foster and immediately found myself identifying with him in many ways. This one was written at one of his low points, and I think it's one we can all relate to.

10. Danny Boy

I had been complimented on my version of this, particularly the fact that I am not an "Irish tenor".

11. Planxty Irwin

Turlough O'Carolan was a great blind Irish harper from the 1700s, and he wrote many of the tunes played in Irish music seisiuns ("sessions") to this day. I've played it many times, and I wanted to offer a version of it that I thought showed off the beauty of the tune and the versatility of the session.

The Parking Lot Strip

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Words and Music by John C. Wiseman

If you've ever been enchanted by a lady
At a Renfaire and you think she's really hot
You can find out what she's like out of her costume
At the end-of-day Performer's Parking Lot

Even if the faire has got a changing area
It's too far away for wenches such as this
For they simply cannot wait until they get there
To experience their "bodice-gasm" bliss

The Parking Lot Strip (The Parking Lot Strip)
The bodices rip (The bodices rip)
When those farthingales start flying better duck duck duck!
When those corset starts loosen you'll hear... (ahhhh!)
When the beer is finally in the pickup truck

Well, the men are also anxious to get nekked
But the reason is quite different, as you'll see
For the tights they wear are awfully restrictive
Now the "block 'n' tackle's" finally swingin' free

When the cannons fire and closing scene is over
When the shops all close and faire day's at an end
If you're anywhere near where the Court is changing
Perhaps it's best for you to stand upwind

When you wear thirty pounds of clothes for thirteen hours
When you remove them, you don't give a damn who's near
The only thing you want to do is hit the showers
And maybe drain a keg or two of beer

So let us raise a glass to those in tights and corsets
Especially those who forego privacy
But even while we celebrate them, let's admit it
There are some things it's just better not to see

It's Rennie naked time!
It's Rennie naked time!
It's Rennie naked time!
It's Rennie naked time!

The 49B

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Words and Music by John C. Wiseman

If you travel Western Avenue in old Chicago town
From the street that they call Howard to the El stop marked in Brown
There are signs along the sidewalk that are up for all to see
For a CTA bus called the 49B
My doctor is on Peterson near Western Avenue
And to my friends on Damen, it's about a mile or two
A bit too far to walk, and in the rain, it's too much fuss
And how convenient it would be to take a bus

But the 49B, oh please explain to me
Why you might as well be walking if someplace you need to be
It's just an urban legend, the best that I can see
There's no such bus as the 49B

I've waited there on Western for an hour at a time
And thought I'd like to get there someday, while I'm still in my prime
I've waited patiently until I thought I'd go insane
I'd feel a drop, look up, and sure enough, it starts to rain
I saw a 49B once, but it must have been a mirage
As it came closer, I read on its front, "North Park Garage"
There's four or five of those and they're the only ones I see
I dream someday of a 49B

And there's one marked 49 that actually makes a stop
But it only goes to Foster, and my spirits start to drop
Standin' there all soaked in rain, I've wasted half a day
And all I want to do is curse the CTA
Now, I'm not a big complainer - oh, heavens no, not me!
But couldn't they run this one bus line a bit more frequently?
I think if old King Richard had lived in this country
He'd say, "My kingdom for a 49B!"

Oh, look, here's one now!
Hey, wait a minute - this one says "Flying Dutchman"...


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Words and Music by John C. Wiseman

The mice and I tried to tell you
Not to go through the wall
The mice and I tried to tell you
Not to go down the hall

You found a world that's like no other
With flying toys and things like that
Then she said she's your other mother
And that you should not listen to the cat

She'll only love you the way
The hunter loves the prey
Oh Coraline
She'll never let you get away

One look in those eyes could tell you
She's nothing like the same
And now she holds your parents hostage
Time to beat her at her game

And then she put you in the mirror
And you met the other children there
Now you must issue her the challenge
The only question is will she play fair

The Voyage of the James Caird

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Words and Music by John C. Wiseman

It was Elephant Island which Antarctica points to
Where in nineteen hundred sixteen came the brave Endurance crew
A miracle had got them there, another they'd require
For on this isle was not a scrap of wood to make a fire

They had a leader by the name of Ernest Shackleton
And he'd explored the polar lands since nineteen hundred one
When icy floes destroyed their ship, they salvaged some supplies
And three small lifeboats dragged along until they crossed the ice

They'd have to send a lifeboat out to see if help would come
The man to lead the voyage out was Ernest Shackleton
Del Fuego was the closest land, but o'er the harshest sea
And so South Georgia was the place that they would have to be

The largest of the lifeboats was called the James Caird
And she was worthy for the sea, the carpenter declared
Captain Worsley and the carpenter and officer Tom Crean
And two seamen named McCarthy and Vincent joined the team

The Caird was the only hope of eight-and-twenty men
They wouldn't have a second chance to try the trip again
No landmarks on the choppy sea, but Worsley was prepared
For a sextant was the only way to navigate the Caird

They couldn't see they sun because the sky was overcast
And when Worsley held the sextant, two seamen held him fast
For the violence of the southern sea, the little boat did shake
And four sextant reading were all that he could take

Back upon the freezing rock known as Elephant Isle
Two-and-twenty sailors in the care of Mister Wild
Took the two remaining lifeboats and built a little house
And all of them moved in there and lived from hand to mouth

The Caird fought the rolling sea, the clouds were black and thick
The drinking water ran too low and Vincent, he fell sick
Worsley said if they missed Georgia by so much as one degree
Then they might as well prepare themselves for burial at sea

After sixteen days and nights, they saw the western shore
But east was where they had to be, and they couldn't sail no more
The whaling station in the east was twenty-two miles to go
And across the frozen mountains and the rocks and ice and snow

When the storm permitted them to leave the inlet beach
The Captain, Crean, and Shackleton, with three day rations each
Crossed the rugged mountains and didn't have a map
They walked for thirty six hours straight with just a little nap

They came to Stromness Station on the twentieth of May
"Who the hell are you?" the station manager did say
"Why, don't you recognize me?" said England's bravest son,
"You met me eighteen months ago - my name is Shackleton."

It took some time, but several ships were sent to find the men
One got sixty miles away, but ice turned it again
At last on August thirtieth, the cheers went through the air
A Chilean tug came up to shore, and every man was there.

Now when you talk of heroes, you'll never find a one
As worthy of the title as Ernest Shackleton
He never once forgot his men and never once was scared
To make the daunting voyage in the little boat, James Caird

Seven Angels (for Columbia)

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Words and Music by John C. Wiseman

Another seven angels have fallen from space
It's never been questioned, it's a dangerous place
Trying to answer questions as we circle the sun
'Bout who and what we are and what can be done.

And like early sailors who died on the sea
They knew where they went was a hard place to be
And all too soon, we'll all be where they have gone
I'm sure if we asked them they'd say, "Carry on"

To these seven angels, let's raise up a cup
We haven't stopped sailing, we must not give up
We'll never stop flying in the air and beyond
Just because seven angels have gone

Willie McCool played guitar on the ground
Kalpana Chawla and Captain Dave Brown
Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, Ilan Ramon,
And Commander Rick Husband, you are not alone

You'll join the brave seven from Challenger's flight
Apollo's One's Grissom and Chaffee and White
Komarov, Dobrovolski, Patsayev, Volkov
They all gave their lives so mankind could blast off

The hundreds who've been there can all testify
It's all been worthwhile, even though some may die
The millions who dream and the thousands who plan
They'll all say it's in the best interests of man

It's not about money or glory or fame
Not finger-pointing or who is to blame
Let's all just remember, as we sit in our cars,
We're going to continue our drive to the stars

© 2007 John Wiseman. All Rights Reserved.