The Ghost of John Henry

by Sci-Fi Romance

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  • Receive both full-length Sci-Fi Romance albums - "The Ghost of John Henry," plus "...and surrender my body to the flames" - on physical CD, AND the limited edition, handmade, silk-screened "Ghost of John Henry" poster created by Los Angeles artist Mr. Mike (signed and numbered by the artist), AND a limited edition "Ghost of John Henry" railroad spike, reformed and hand-stamped by Vance Kotrla, along with your digital download.

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  • Full Digital Discography

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about

"The Ghost of John Henry" is the second full-length album from Los Angeles indie folk band Sci-Fi Romance. It is a concept album that uses the familiar John Henry legend - about a railroad worker who raced a steam drill to tunnel through a mountain - as a starting point to create a complete emotional journey about a man, rather than a legend. "The Ghost of John Henry" is a story about love, loss, pride, the exploitation of workers, and man's place in a world increasingly driven by technology.

"The best album of the year." - TeamHellions.com

"Modern folk music in it's purest and most hauntingly beautiful form." - Ear to the Ground

credits

released May 8, 2012

Vance Kotrla: Guitars, vocals, artillery shells, and chains
Kurt Bloom: Drums, percussion
Jody Stark: Cello

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Jaron Luksa at Jaronsound Studios, Burbank, California
Bass by Johnnie Kotrla

All songs written by Vance Kotrla
Published by Inciting Insurrection Music (ASCAP)

Cover design and booklet layout by Cameron Petri
Band photography by Kirsten Bosio

license

all rights reserved

tags

about

Sci-Fi Romance Los Angeles, California

Sci-Fi Romance is an independent folk band from Los Angeles that blends unique arrangements and a dark, percussive take on acoustic music into a sound that has been labeled "steamfolk." It began as the solo project of singer/songwriter Vance Kotrla.

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Track Name: John Henry, Part 1
This will be the death of me
And what will I, what will I leave behind?
Will they sing my name
After they lay me in the sand

There won’t be no victory
For this heart that beats, and hands that bleed
What more can they take
Than I gave with this hammer in my hand?

‘Cause maybe I was born
For such a time as this
Maybe I was born
So this moment could be written

You’re wrapped in chains and told you’re free
By men with force or men who pay
But I’m through selling me
And if I fall, then at least I made a stand

Maybe I was born
For such a time as this
Maybe I was born
So this moment could be written

I will rise...

Maybe I was born
For such a time as this
Maybe I was born
So this moment could be written
Track Name: We Used to Sing
We used to sing of glories yet to come
How the troubles of this life would soon be done
We’d raise our eyes up to darkened skies
And pray for angel wings to bring us home

But I can’t sing those songs the way I used to
The words just feel so empty on my tongue
No, I can’t sing those songs the way I used to do
The way I did before I was in love

We used to sing the songs of the open road
Saying where we lay our head we call our home
Always blind to what we left behind
And never sure what we were running from

But I can’t sing those songs the way I used to
The words just feel so empty on my tongue
No, I can’t sing those songs the way I used to do
The way I did before I was in love

I used to sing a sad, sad lullaby
Alone beneath the distant stars at night
How no fallen world could ever make us whole
And happiness was meant to pass some by

But I can’t sing those songs the way I used to
The words just feel so empty on my tongue
No, I can’t sing those songs the way I used to do
The way I did before I was in love
Track Name: Tomorrow May Take You
It takes so long to fall asleep
When you're gone
This aching house just moans and creaks
When you’re gone
No wishing star to shine for me
When you're gone
When you’re gone

But when you're here
You're here and I can make some sense
Of this life
In this life everything I need is in
Your arms
Your arms can hold me fast against tomorrow
Because tomorrow may take you again

I watch your shape fade down the road
When you leave
I feel those footsteps in my bones
When you leave
And I beg the winds to bring you home
When you leave
When you leave

'Cause when you're here
You're here and I can make some sense
Of this life
In this life everything I need is in
Your arms
Your arms can hold me fast against tomorrow
Because tomorrow may take you again
Track Name: Steam Drill Blues
The morning come
Sun-burnt sky
Swing the hammer
Drive the spike

I got a girl
Left alone
‘Cause I’m too many
Miles from home

Gotta go where that money flows
‘Cause love don’t buy too many clothes
It’s a job that breaks your back and soul
But’s what we do ‘cause it’s what we know

The country grows
We make the way
Our blood and sweat
For a better day

Now they say
We’ll be replaced
Machines are coming
To push us out the way

What to do when that money goes?
‘Cause love don’t buy too many clothes
It’s a job that breaks your back and soul
But’s what we do ‘cause it’s what we know

Before the Lord
I’ll stand proud
No machine
Will beat me down
No, no machine
Will beat me down

Bring that drill
Coal and steam
Bring it ‘round
To hear this hammer ring

Against a wall
A man will fight
I’d beat that drill
Though it take my life

What to do when that money goes?
‘Cause love don’t buy too many clothes
It’s a job that breaks your back and soul
But’s what we do ‘cause it’s what we know
Track Name: Broken World
It’s a dry season
‘Til the rain begins to fall
And it’s a barren winter
‘Til the ice begins to thaw
Until I knew you
Gray was all I saw


‘Cause it’s a broken world
But here we are, you and I
Somehow I found the only one
Who could ever help me see
That in the cracks is beauty
That in the cracks is beauty

The empty branches
Give way to the bloom
And the burning daylight
Yields to the moon
No matter what the distance
You know I’ll hold you soon

‘Cause it’s a broken world
But here we are, you and I
Somehow I found the only one
Who could ever help me see
In the cracks there’s beauty
In the cracks is beauty

It’s a broken world
Yeah, it’s a broken world
It’s a broken world
But in the cracks, there’s beauty
Track Name: More to Rust
My strength
My enemy
Gone, the days I thought I had
Ahead of me

My strength
My enemy
Work my hands have done I'm told
Is obsolete

You use words like progress
You use words like change
And grind your brothers down beneath
This onward rushing train

The world keeps spinning faster
But where's it taking us?
The more machines we build
The more there is to rust, and I say…

Oh, oh, oh,
You can keep tomorrow
I don't know how to live the life you're promising
Oh, oh, oh
You can keep tomorrow
If disappointment is all it brings.

My pride
My ability
Though the ground may shift and change
Beneath my feet

My pride
My ability
Haven’t met the mountain yet
Could conquer me

You can yell your progress
And you can yell your change
But if this river breaks its banks
We all drown just the same

The world keeps spinning faster
But where's it taking us?
The more machines we build
The more there is to rust and I say…

Oh, oh, oh,
You can keep tomorrow
I don't know how to live the life you're promising
Oh, oh, oh
You can keep tomorrow
If disappointment is all it brings

My strength...
Track Name: God, In His Wisdom
I once heard an old and broken man
Say that he wouldn’t change a thing
All the pain and life’s suffering
Had made the man he was that day

But who can say what could’ve been?
Who can say what could’ve been?

I think of roads I might’ve walked
And in the dark I pray
That God in his wisdom
Has led me this way

A boy in prison blues held his head up high
Said that he wouldn’t be ashamed
His heart could not be caged by walls or by chains
Another chance and he’d use it just the same

But who can say what could’ve been?
Who can say what could’ve been?

I think of roads I might’ve walked
And in the dark I pray
That God in his wisdom
Has led me this way

We make peace with the
Past we create
Or we fall beneath its weight

The wife of a wealthy man cries herself to sleep
Thinks of a love that she once turned away
He'd asked for her hand, but she was too afraid
And sold her heart for some money and a name

Now who can say what could’ve been?
Who can say what could’ve been?

I think of roads I might’ve walked
And in the dark I pray
That God in his wisdom
Has led me this way
Track Name: The Morning Breaks
The morning breaks
It smiles on me
I know what I’ve been
But not what I’ll be

Today they’ll see
When fate calls my name
I won’t shrink away
…Today they’ll see

The devil takes
He takes my hand
And tells me that I’m nothing
Just a broken man

Today he’ll see
I won’t be fooled this time
I won’t believe the same old lies
…Today he’ll see

Days I forget but I don’t mean to
All I love and things I choose
Can take this clay, and shape it new

Today I’ll see
The blue of the sky
And as the sun does shine
…So will I
Track Name: John Henry, Part 2
When I was just a little baby
My mother whispered softly over me
“My child, my boy
The only way to live is on your feet”

Now the sun is high and it begins
The smell of burning coal upon the winds
My hammer, their steam
A mountain made to dust beneath each swing

At the end of this race
Eternity awaits
At the end of this race
I will reach the light of day

On, and on we go
Lord, Lord

Deep inside the rock it’s hard to breathe
Visions of my love, they come to me
My baby, my girl
I’ll fall into your arms come victory

At the end of this race
Eternity awaits
At the end of this race
I will reach the light of day

On, and on we go
Lord, Lord

Home.
Track Name: My Love, Look Up
Into the light we walk
An ocean of sky that calls
Its voice like wind and a welcome hand
To bear us away when we fall

But I go there with you
My love, my love
But I go there with you
My love, my love

We point our feet for home
But none we’ve ever known
We only fear the road ahead if we
Feel that we walk it alone

But I go there with you
My love, my love
But I go there with you
My love, my love

My love, look up
My love, look up

The clouds are lifting
From the sky above
A new day is coming
My love, look up