The Ghost of John Henry

by Sci-Fi Romance

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  • Receive "The Ghost of John Henry" on physical CD, 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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  • Poster/Print + Digital Album

    Los Angeles-based artist Mr. Mike created limited edition, handmade, silk-screened posters based on "The Ghost of John Henry." Receive one poster, numbered by the artist, along with a copy of "The Ghost of John Henry" on physical CD, along with your immediate download.

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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 Full Digital Discography

    Get all 12 Sci-Fi Romance releases available on Bandcamp and save 35%.

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality downloads of From the Plague Year, The Rain Becomes a River, Dreamers & Runaways, When the Levee Breaks, A Burning Ember to a Grove of Trees, Dust Among the Stars, October, God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen (single), and 4 more. , and , .

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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
2.
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
3.
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
4.
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
5.
Broken World 03:45
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
6.
More to Rust 03:38
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...
7.
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
8.
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
9.
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.
10.
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

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

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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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