John Twist

Music

The Vine Grows Back

by John Twist

Released 2003
Cottonwood Records
Released 2003
Cottonwood Records
If Nick Drake, Richard Thompson and Dave Carter had an alien love child it would sound like John Twist.
  • 03:49 Lyrics
    Little Billy Black

    Little Billy Black

    Coal company man pushed the paper cross the table
    Momma signed it though she’s barely able
    Money for a dead man’s wife
    Went to pay the company store
    The day my daddy died he was one of two
    But up at the mine that’s barely news
    With evening coming on at the tavern
    The same old whiskey poured

    They call me little Billy Black
    But daddy he ain’t never comin’ back
    Though he come a walkin’ in my dreams
    They call me little Billy Black
    Catch myself counting the cracks
    Running beneath the sagging beams

    There’s no living without my daddy’s pay
    When I took his job, I heard them laugh and say
    “Black should be every miner’s name”
    Now I think he’s the lucky one to die young
    Coal dust works its way into your lungs
    And they don’t owe you nothin’
    When they leave you lame

    They call me little Billy Black
    But daddy he ain’t never comin’ back
    Though he come a walkin’ in my dreams
    They call me little Billy Black
    Catch myself counting the cracks
    Running beneath the sagging beams

    Hear the timber
    Twist and groaning
    Those who do the digging
    Never do the owning

    Cold clothes flapping in the Colorado wind
    A neighbor knocking with the news, the strike begins
    Men we never seen before
    Stand cradling their guns
    And the stream in the ravine runs black from the mine
    When they drove us off, crossed it one last time
    Their faces dark as the coal
    With the doing of what they done

    They call me little Billy Black
    But daddy he ain’t never comin’ back
    Though he come a walkin’ in my dreams
    They call me little Billy Black
    Catch myself counting the cracks
    Running beneath the sagging beams

    Daddy’s bones rest uneasy on company land
    His Winchester resting easy in my hand
    Wagon jostles down the mountain road
    The endless prairie stretched out in spring snow

  • 03:50 Lyrics
    Black Raven River

    Black Raven River

    Cindy Sue took me on down
    To where my favorite place is found
    Tuggin’ on my hand winding through the wood
    Till on the river bank we stood
    By the waters of Black Raven River

    There’s a ripple of fear on a river of laugher
    She got in the water, bade me get in after
    Her clothes there tangle with mine
    Where we left them on the shoreline
    By the waters of Black Raven River

    Wading in the shallows the skulking wolf mocks
    As ice water drags us over brutal rocks
    Raccoon priest safe on dry land
    Offers up a prayer and washes his hands
    In the waters of Black Raven River

    The Ravens clatter and caterwaul
    Where the river turns to waterfall
    Our tangle of limbs torn by flood
    Spring melt swirling up dark mud
    From the bottom of the Black Raven River

    Catfish Sage bigger than a man
    Swam out of his hole and dragged me to land
    Said the only reflection black water will give
    Is looking up from where I live
    At the bottom of the Black Raven River
    Memory and dream flow into one
    I see Cindy Sue’s face filled with sun
    But she’s far away on the other side
    Briar underbrush breaking her stride
    Away from the Black Raven River

  • 03:55 Lyrics
    The Vine Grows Back

    The Vine Grows Back

    Broken by lightning
    A charred scarecrow
    Stands upon the hill
    The dead tree goes gray
    In the years and the rain
    The vine grows back

    Honey suckle and sage
    A Monarch on his way
    Over dandelion, milkweed, and clover
    Wasp nest buzz’s summer
    The schoolyard is grown over
    As the vine grows back

    Cicada’s holler in the heat
    Water eddies trapped at my feet
    The pool filled with mosquitoes
    Dreams the thunderstorm
    When he will overflow
    The vine grows back

    A dog barks far away
    In the summer night
    Insects chant rebellion
    Seduced by the porch light
    Beetles buzz and moths flutter
    The window fan dies with a stutter
    But the vine grows back

    The vine grows past my window
    Twinning the summer to fall
    As the raven scolds
    My memory of you
    That refuses to grow old
    As the vine grows back

    Broken by lightning
    A charred scarecrow
    Stands upon the hill
    The dead tree goes gray
    In the years and the rain
    The vine grows back

  • 03:31 Lyrics
    Going Up On The Mountain


    Going up on the Mountain

    Momma had her babies and the Bible
    Daddy had his books and the bottle
    Her good foot was on the brake
    His was on the throttle

    I'm going up on the mountain
    Wind bent trees give way to stone
    Going up on the mountain
    Crossing over gotta go alone
    On the other side the river runs true
    Going to the ocean I never knew
    Going up on the mountain
    Where the cross winds blow

    Over the clatter of silver in the sink
    Momma’s tears came tight and hot
    Granite in her face, iron in her spine
    Hard work says what her words can not

    Going up on the mountain
    Wind bent trees give way to stone
    Going up on the mountain
    Crossing over I gotta go alone
    On the other side the river runs true
    Going t the ocean I never knew
    Going up on the mountain
    Where the cross winds blow

    Their love is solid as the rock
    But up here only the wind will talk

    I dreamt my daddy held a book wet with dew
    He lay at the foot of the ancient tree
    Where the stubborn root grew
    He said “Boy you’re too much like me”

    Going up on the mountain
    Wind bent trees give way to stone
    Going up on the mountain
    Crossing over I gotta go alone
    On the other side the river runs true
    To the ocean I never knew
    Going up on the mountain
    Where the cross winds blow

  • 03:36 Lyrics
    Temple of Serious Fun

    The Temple of Serious Fun

    Laughing Jack and joking Jane
    Got me to come in out of the rain
    Outside the church door
    Sorrow and misfortune
    Were a down pour

    Here in the temple
    Of serious fun
    Sing with the choir
    And all smile as one
    Lay down your burden
    With the setting sun
    Let fun be done

    I was drunk on sorrow,
    Drunk on fear
    They got no use
    For that here
    And when I dared
    Read from Ecclesiastes
    The fun turned nasty

    Here in the temple
    Of serious fun
    Sing with the choir
    And all smile as one
    Lay down your burden
    With the setting sun
    Let fun be done

    I left the church
    Wandered among the graves
    The ghosts know me there
    Know I’m already saved
    The Lilies of the Field
    Considered the past
    As the Song of Solomon
    Blew through the grass

    Here in the temple
    Of serious fun
    Kneel at the altar
    And all laugh as one
    Bow down your head
    When you get your crumbs
    Let fun be done

  • 04:18 Lyrics
    Scrooge in Black and White

     Scrooge in Black and White 

    Standing in a store
    With the line out the door
    In this last minute Christmas crush
    With desperation in the air
    The latest fad toy’s not there
    And these fantastic plastic purchases
    Will come a roosting
    In an avalanche of February mail
    Cause angels I have heard on high
    The real meaning of Christmas
    Is buy, buy, buy, buy

    And it snowed
    The day before Christmas
    But the snow turn to rain
    So we double the rum
    In the egg nog
    And watch Scrooge
    In Black and White again

    I bought a late
    Hanukkah card for Ben
    Though he’s no more a Jew
    Than I a Christian
    Both of us lapsed
    And deconstructed
    Laughing together
    In good natured derision
    We were down
    At the Salvation Army
    Serving a Holiday meal
    To shifts of men
    Wearing thrift store attire
    Here we see
    St. Nick’s missing gifts

    And it snowed
    The day before Christmas
    But the snow turn to rain
    So we double the rum
    In the egg nog
    And watch Scrooge
    In Black and White again

    And on Christmas Day
    all the stores closed
    Even the Starbucks
    But for the few of us who know
    Powell’s coffee shop was open
    A living room
    To those without family
    I had a hell cow with three shots
    Into the donation basket
    My money drops
    For the Sister’s of The Road

    And it snowed
    The day before Christmas
    But the snow turn to rain
    So we double the rum
    In the egg nog
    And watch Scrooge
    In Black and White again

    All the hotels are vacant
    Downtown emptied
    Like a gutted fish
    So that a solitary car’s
    Passing swish
    Remained un-swallowed
    By the city
    Cheesy carols sounding tiny
    Coming from antique
    Toy window display
    Where the ghost of Tiny Tim
    There he stood and gazed

    And it snowed
    The day before Christmas
    But the snow turn to rain
    So we double the rum
    In the eggnog
    And watch Scrooge
    In Black and White again

  • 03:46 Lyrics
    4 Letter Word

    Four Letter Word

    The papers edge
    Curls in the fire
    I burn her letters
    One by one
    Driving the flames
    Ever higher
    With my memory
    Of what's been done

    I’ve got a solution
    To my problem
    But it comes
    From a bottle
    That’s got no bottom
    Oh you make me feel
    Love is another
    Four letter word

    By the dark of the moon
    I stood beneath her room
    Casting my pebbles
    at her window pane
    But she slept
    straight on through

    I’ve got a solution
    To my problem
    But it comes
    From a bottle
    That’s got no bottom
    Oh you make me feel
    Love is another
    Four letter word

    She changes lovers
    Like she changes clothes
    And leaves all the old one’s
    In a dirty pile on the floor
    She’s burning the candle
    With more than one friend
    There’s always someone
    Waiting in the wings

    I’ve got a solution
    To my problem
    But it comes
    From a bottle
    That’s got no bottom
    Oh you make me feel
    Love is another
    Four letter word

  • 03:42 Lyrics
    Drinking in the Graveyard

    Drinking in the Graveyard

    She’d put that
    Old record on
    And sing along
    But now she’s gone
    And it’s ruined that song

    I’m gonna go drinking
    in the graveyard tonight
    As the street light
    Weeps her weak light
    The bone orchard’s heavy
    All the fruit is ripe
    So I’m gonna go drinking
    In the graveyard tonight

    I drive round this town
    Past the places we lived
    Got Patsy on the oldies station
    Begging me to forgive

    I’m gonna go drinking
    in the graveyard tonight
    As the street light
    Weeps her weak light
    The bone orchard’s heavy
    All the fruit is ripe
    So I’m gonna go drinking
    In the graveyard tonight

    She’s singing crazy
    And so were you
    And now you’ve gone
    And proved to yourself
    There’s only so much
    One man’s love can do

    I don't want to hear
    That old song no more
    Ever since
    You walked out my door

    I’m gonna go drinking
    in the graveyard tonight
    As the street light
    Weeps her weak light
    The bone orchard’s heavy
    All the fruit is ripe
    So I’m gonna go drinking
    In the graveyard tonight

     

  • 04:43 Lyrics
    Cottonwood Crow

    Cottonwood Crow

    Old ragged crow
    Come to my window
    The night is hushed
    By the fall of virgin snow
    In the disguise he’s taken
    Pretends he’s the raven
    Cottonwood leaf he’s crushed
    And dragged into my haven

    Outside her window
    The cottonwoods grew
    The month of June
    Brought me to her room
    There by the river
    The cottonwoods a blizzard
    When the wind blew

    The night goes softly silent
    Crow knows how the miles went
    Black ice and dirty slush
    Bitter cold without relent
    Crow crowds round
    On my desk he found
    Her last letter that shush
    All my doubts
    That drag and drown

    Outside her window
    The cottonwoods grew
    The month of June
    Brought me to her room
    There by the river
    The cottonwoods a blizzard
    When the wind blew

    A scar twists round the tree
    Where the vine tore free
    And now the fall of snow
    Reminds me of the cottonwoods
    When the summer breeze would blow

    There in summer
    She used to hum her
    Lullaby of trust
    Before her wanderlust
    Had undone her
    But crow had understood
    Called to me
    From the cottonwood
    Fretted and fussed
    And flapped alarm
    Where he stood

    Outside her window
    The cottonwoods grew
    The month of June
    Brought me to her room
    There by the river
    The cottonwoods a blizzard
    When the wind blew

  • 03:36 Lyrics
    Pressed in Bloom


    Pressed in Bloom

    I walk a little town
    That time forgot
    Looking to find
    Where the Greyhound stops
    Rails gone to rust
    And barbed wire faces
    The keep out sign
    Tells me where
    My place is

    But I've got a lock
    Of her hair
    I've got a flower
    Pressed in bloom
    I've got my memory
    Of lying in her bed
    In her room
    The sun keeps trying
    To stare me down
    But the moon
    She swings me around
    And says:
    "When are you coming home?"

    On a black road
    In the night rain
    Darkness swirls
    Beyond the pane
    The driver hums
    In the ghostly light
    We're both well acquainted
    With the night

    But I've got a lock
    Of her hair
    I've got a flower
    Pressed in bloom
    I've got my memory
    Of lying in her bed
    In her room
    The sun keeps trying
    To stare me down
    But the moon
    She swings me around
    And says:
    "When are you coming home?"

    Wanderlust wore
    A ragged edge
    I need her
    To hold me
    As she says
    My name

    Sweet air
    It tastes of home
    Valley green
    Laid out down below
    Cathedral pines
    Line the road
    Twisted old roots
    Deeply grown

    I've got my hand
    In her hair
    I've brought
    fresh flowers in bloom
    I've got her lying me down
    With the kindest of hands
    In her bed
    In her room
    The sun kept trying
    To stare me down
    But the moon she
    Swung me around
    And says: "Welcome Home".

NOTES
A debut effort that exhibts a unique lyrical voice and an extrodinary instrumentalist. Here's what the citics/press has to say of Twist's efforts:

"Twist is an unusual yet strangely alluring musician. His baritone voice goes on its own deep journey while his virtuoso guitar playing keeps each song focused. Hints of the Blues, Appalachian and Celtic music seep in to Twist's original songs, which are vivid stories filled with imagery and emotion." Idaho Statesman

"I really was surprised by the intensity of Twist's songs, it's like I hear Christy Moore. Really good songs!!!" Berrie Koetsier Radio Ijsselmond, The Netherlands,

"A rare gem in today's musical pebble field."
Chris Merrick KBOO Program director

"Sophisticated imagery, beautiful linear melodies and slightly gravely voice set against swift picking patterns creates a compelling urban folk style." HipFish

Segovia said he was trying make the guitar sound like an orchestra, tonight John Twist did just that" John York, formery of the Byrds

"John Twist played an excellent couple of sets at Mt. Hood Roasters a while back. The man is as versatile on stringed instruments as I am with a bottle of ketchup...everything was perfect in its place. Twist is a professional, who obviously loves his music, displayed in a diverse repertoire, including serious technical picking, banjo tunes, lush twelve string songs, and more." Joshua Baker East Clackamas County Gazette

"A Weaver of 12 String Wonders" Jeff Rosenberg,The Willamette Week

"The Oregon-based guitar guru has a strong reputation
for a keen display of virtuoso fretwork and sophisticated songwriting with a strangely enticing combination of driving Celtic music, sweaty blues, sorrowful mountain music, and joyful pop...
Isamu Jordan 7-Spokesman Review

"(Twist)draws comparisons to Richard Thompson" The Daily Astorian

"Twist's virtuoso Celt-blues fretwork and complex song-stylings...can't possibly do wrong." The Salt Lake City Weekly

"John Twist is like our own Leo Kotke, right here in Portland (OR). I think John is amazing" Joe McMurrian

"It has to be said: Twist does an excellent job." Rene Van Abs Alt Country Radio

"John Twist has a compelling voice combined with superior guitar work and writes memorable, intense songs." David Stafford, KKUP, Friday Folk Off