Before the Light

by James Thomas

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02:52
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03:31
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02:47
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03:38

credits

released December 25, 2014

Recorded and Mixed by: Daryl Chonka (www.oldgrowthmusic.com)
"Nostalgia" Recorded and Mixed by Bruce Witkin
"Silhouette" Recorded and Mixed by Mark Lawrence (www.biginjapanrecordings.com)
Cover Photograph by: Tayu Hayward (www.tayuhayward.com)
Mastered by: Graemme Brown at Zen Mastering, Gabriola Island
Songs Written and Performed by: James Thomas

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about

James Thomas London, UK

James Thomas is a singer/songwriter from Vancouver. A blend of Nick Drake, Jeff Buckley and Paul Simon. He plays in a finger- picking acoustic style with literary influences from Henry Miller to Walt Whitman. His songs deal with themes of conflict between the search for peace, alienation, women, the imagination and self-destruction. ... more

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Track Name: Alibi
Alibi


Maybe I’ll take a train home
Maybe I’ll dream for a while
Maybe I’ll find a coat to wear
Herb in my cigarette
I can’t quit not quite yet
There’s such a thin line
‘Tween the modern in me
And the old slave chained
To the black oil tree

But every way’s another way home
Maybe I’ll crack the code
Her love lacked the quality,
Romance or poverty
To make me believe she was worth all the life in me
But you’re making me shake girl up and down
So the sky gets big and the world turns ‘round

You are the dream
You are the light
Out at the crossroads
In the dark of the night
You are the alibi
You are the reason why
I keep staggering
All of my life
You are the way I go
Mama, don’t you know
The way you shine

Dead entertainer talking on the telephone
Circus tent wrapped around his frail and brittle bones
I want to fit in but I feel so much better
Reading the map on my own
So blindfold the eyes of the future in me
‘Cause I don’t want to see what died in my sleep
Make me more like a river Lord and less like a stone

You are the dream
You are the light
Out at the crossroads
In the dark of the night
You are the alibi
You are the reason why
I keep staggering
All of my life
You are the way I go
Mama, don’t you know
The way you shine
Track Name: Hollow Moon
Hollow Moon


Love, it wouldn’t hurt so much without so many words
My word wanders like a dog without a friend left in the world
Oh motorcycle moon I’m a gunshot through the heart
Of a convict chasing halos through his conscience in the dark

Dancing is hard when you’ve got no heartbeat
When you’ve got no discreet
Way to leave your mind behind
I can barely hold a candle to a ghost
Like a matchstick in a stove
To feel the warmth you’d never know how bad I’d broken

Time is whispering secrets through the woman on my mind
And my mind only wants to leave the gifts of God behind
I’ve never seen a king go down the way my father died
He left me scarred enough to keep the dream alive


Dancing is hard when you’ve got no heartbeat
When you’ve got no discreet
Way to leave your mind behind
I can barely hold a candle to a ghost
Like a matchstick in a stove
To feel the warmth you’d never know how bad I’d broken

More and more the outlaw in me wants to set things right
I sit inside this storm and feel the poems in me die
I watch the changes flash like haunted bats across the sky
Beneath this hollow moon that rolls me down my life
Track Name: Love
Love


Love is like wine
I must let myself think if I'll drink every time
For I swallow so fast
As each moment rolls past
Each night gets so dizzy down under the last

Love's like a house on the moon
I get carried away if I build it too soon
I don't mind floating free
But there's no air to breathe
And a man can't believe when it all feels so empty

Love's like a wolf in the woods
Now we see eye to eye and it's well understood
It's a one-sided game
and only I am to blame
For picking a shot I don't know how to aim

Love's like the dance of the stars
It seems so much bigger than all that we are
I can look up and see
Such a beautiful dream
But it's the trick of the hook that pulls fish from the stream

Love's like a wave on the beach
Some say it's safe on the shore but it's so out of reach
If I want it to stay
And not sweep me away
To a world that will swallow me up in a grave

Love's like the rain comin' down
When it's fallen so far just to break on the ground
The rivers all know
It was round long before
It rusted the key you kept secret for me by the door

Even as a stranger
Counting quarters in the midnight fall
I now see that love can be
Anything I want at all
Track Name: A Thousand Times
A Thousand Times


My clue lady luck I dance half wrong
As the train cracks the station bell and the morning rolls along
But I’m a sight to see
As the king of the night in my infamy

And for all I know I’ll have to burn a thousand times
In her eyes to empty out my head and realize
I only want to hold my hand up to her heart and say
Never again will I pretend that I could know the only way

My barefoot angels fight the dogs
And carry light back from the dawn
To save the music curled up crying
With the money in her arms
She just wants one more song
Before the spirits, the rain and the lights go on

And for all I know I’ll have to burn a thousand times
In her eyes to empty out my head and realize
I only want to hold my hand up to her heart and say
Never again will I pretend that I could know the only way
Track Name: Nostalgia
Nostalgia


A little bit afraid of Chinese music
A little bit ashamed to burn the old church down
A little complication, slip of the tongue
A little bible burning in the name of the crown

A little old dream I wish I'd killed her
A little quiet moment when the sun goes down
A little cold religion, fit of a wise man
Skinning a cat in the dress of a clown

I'm in and out of change
Like a porter through the rain
I found my baggage in an old hotel
Without any poets to its name

Wondering how it's gonna be
Two strong hands
But there's nothing here for me

A little bit of dark to make the children brave
A little sweet maria to be saved
A little conversation, a mystic door
A little blood to wipe up off the floor

A little bit of shadow in the water
A little birdsong in the oil and the wine
A little candle for the mourning
A little old dog in the ruins and her master's blind

I tell it like it is
I'm hiding phantoms in this old guitar
I burn the window as I sit
And dream I'm someone from afar

Looking out across the hill, I imagine army running
Through the mind of an old man killing
The nightmare runs and the bells keep ringing

A little bit afraid of Chinese music
A little bit ashamed to burn the old church down
A little complication, slip of the tongue
A little bible burning in the name of the crown

A little bit of animal in the spark of the knife
A little funeral at the heart of my life
A little dance with a dying ghost in my eyes
A little hand on the mouth of the child in me crying

I'm in and out of change
Like a porter through the rain
I found my baggage in an old hotel
Without any poets to its name

Wondering how it's gonna be
I escape for a moment
The world falls back on me

So I tell it like it is
I'm hiding phantoms in this old guitar
I burn the window as I sit
And dream I'm someone from afar

Looking out across the hill, I imagine army running
Through the mind of an old man killing
The nightmare runs and the bells keep ringing
Track Name: Old Man on the Mountain
The Old Man on the Mountain


The old man on the mountain found a way
To turn any star back into a heart that never would fade
While his sister the shepherd she opened the eyes of the storm
Saying see how they cry, do you still wonder why
They forgot they were born

Oh, but I don’t mind this peaceful silence
After they all go
For it leaves me breathless
This ever-restless
Need for me to know

The art-maker’s truck bead of split hearts rolled cold
Down the highway humble to war
‘Tween destroying his mind and losing his time
To a woman who let herself go by the door

By their child looking up and wondering why
They’re so angry in fire and breeze
As a grandmother hides the tears that she cries
For a world that was calmer inside of the dream

Oh, but I don’t mind this peaceful silence
After they all go
For it leaves me breathless
This ever-restless
Need for me to know
Track Name: Silhouette
Silhouette


My silhouette agreed to break even
With the darkness on the wall that surrounds me
When I feel nothing at all
My imagination’s too strong for the truth

I know you thought that love would never save you
This one took you by surprise
Like every white cross underneath the highway sky
Some days the tide will rise
And wash the misty eyes right off the moon

But if you’re gonna cast me back into my past
Don’t sit there burning asking blood to turn to wine
I know I’m not an easy man to be with
I’ve seen trouble in my time

You’re more beautiful than any heart
I ever thought I’d feel in the woman soft beside me
In a world I cannot deal with on an even keel
I let down my guard and watch you like a hawk as you roll through

But if you’re gonna cast me back into my past
Don’t sit there burning asking blood to turn to wine
I know I’m not an easy man to be with
I’ve seen trouble in my time

I’m constantly at odds with the man I try to be
Alongside every contradiction in the world that I can see
There’s a way to learn to fake it,
There’s a chance I’ll never make it
As a fool I have forsaken one and all
I know I’m not an easy man to be with
Baby, catch me as I fall

I know you thought that love would never save you
This one took you by surprise
Like every white cross underneath the highway sky
I climbed out of a dying world for you
Track Name: Demon in the Sea
Demon in the Sea


I’m so afraid of the demon in the sea
There must be something I don’t want down in the darkest part of me
It’s like there’s blood on the wings of the shy dove in my cage
They’re drawing back the curtains while I’m still painting my face
The tears of a savage on a little café stage

With a black tie and an axe inside a church of angel bones
I spit out stained glass with a country organ hanging from a rope
Until I see I’m just a bridge with my nightmares whipping through
All I was taught as a child like icy bullet through my mama’s womb
I knelt and learned to pray until the virgin came with the pouring rain
To wash away the truth

I’m dying, and I know I missed your birthday
But I’m trying to take my mind off yesterday
For I can’t see the city of God glow inside the rose
So blind I bleed in the arms of something I might never know

Tomorrow swings the hammer like a baby on the snow
I climb that holy mountain with such crackling in my soul
Like a candle in the hand of a slave ship engineer
I’m going down beneath the shouts and cries the end is coming near
I wouldn’t mind shattered reality if I could disappear

I’m dying, and I know I missed your birthday
But I’m trying to take my mind off yesterday
For I can’t see the city of God glow inside the rose
So blind I bleed in the arms of something I might never know

Swallows they will mourn for free
Even kids like you and me
As I run my feet they weave
Through razorblades and dregs of Eden
Wreathes I tie with such regret
Around the arms of all the dead
That burn along with all the pain
Of memory inside my brain
And all the faces she can see
When she spaces out in my company
Track Name: Last Supper
Last Supper


There are ways a man can live
That let him sleep in peace oblivious
There are ways a man can learn to fight
What will never die

I’ve got that rose in my crown
As I kiss the tear on the shoulder that tears my world down

Pour me a drink
Tonight I’m in love
Pour one for sorrow
And the angels above
Tomorrow it’s war boys
And they called out my name
That silvery river will swallow me
If I can ever learn to be brave

There are ways a man can hide
And turn from the lantern
That glows through the night in his eyes
There are ways a man can learn to fight
What will never die

I’ve got that rose in my crown
This empire will bury my bones like the sun going down

Pour me a drink
Tonight I’m in love
Pour one for sorrow
And the angels above
Tomorrow it’s war boys
And they called out my name
That silvery river will swallow me
If I can ever learn to be brave

When I can’t come down to take your hand
Go quiet and seek all the peace in your heart
That your conscience can stand
For under your thoughts I shall play
Like a shimmering ghost in a grave
Here at your side I shall stay
‘Till the first birds of morning arise
To wash me away

Pour me a drink
Tonight I’m in love
Pour one for sorrow
And the angels above
Tomorrow it’s war boys
And they called out my name
That silvery river will swallow me
If I can ever learn to be brave