Vagabonds & Wastrels

by Jeff Andrew

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Travel songs for orphans, freaks, hobos and ghosts. Rusty gates, muted horns, resonators, accordions and voices, held down with percussive acoustic guitar and the mad bowing of a six-fingered classical bassist.

"A two-sided record on a one-sided disc, the album begins with familiar folk fare: love, drunks, killers and working-class heroes, before descending into an underworld of faeries, ghosts and madness." - BC Musician Magazine

"A wordsmith and poet...Andrew has harnessed his muse on hobos, heartsick pilgrims and the demons left on the highway." - Americana UK


released January 13, 2009

This album is dedicated to the Ghost of Utah Phillips.

All songs by Jeff Andrew except #11, by Tobias Meis (SOCAN)
Engineered, mixed and mastered by Corwin Fox
Production and soundscapes by Crows At Midnight
Recorded at El Studio in Victoria, BC
Photos by Melisa Melo (
Art and design by Juniper English (

Jeff Andrew - guitar, fiddle, dobro, banjo, harmonica, piano, vocals, percussion
Tobias Meis - bass, organ
Larissa Ardis - accordion
O'Mally - vocals
Radar - vocals
Shelder Footz - trumpet
Corwin Fox - percussion



all rights reserved


Jeff Andrew Vancouver, British Columbia

Fiddles, horns, double bass and subterranean percussion from the tunnels of East Vancouver. Songs from the road and beyond the grave.

"A backroads troubadour with a few things to say by way of viscera, nerve and hard experience...basically a raunchy Bob Dylan with blood in his teeth." - Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
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Track Name: Dirt Alley Rose
Dirt Alley Rose

Midnite coffee keeps me warm
This music keeps me whole
She said "This place is hard to find, but I'm glad I found you here
'Cause I've never been to a wedding
But I've seen my share of wakes
Last night I dreamt I was a butterfly, but this morning I woke up as a snake"
I said "They found me in a burned out alley
Tied me up like an old pair of shoes
They left me in the grease-stain sunrise with nothing but the needles and the blues"

This world ain't much for dreamers like us
We’re freaks wherever we go
But now the nights are getting cold and I'm so tired of being alone
I just want to fall in love one more time

Maybe I'll see you out on the road somewhere
In the mountains with your thumb to the sky
You'll be dancing with your backpack and you'll be singing a song
Looking like you're living a dream
Looking like you're living a dream

This place is cracked and crumbling
That's how I like it best
Broken bottle glass and empty hearts and all the rest
She stopped under an October streetlamp
With the wind wrapping shadows around her feet
With her eyes full of heartache and the cold in her cheeks
She smiled and sat down next to me
She said "I've walked between the stars and the mountains
I've hitchhiked every road you can name
I've seen all there is to see and all I've ever found was me
Ten years and I got no one left to blame"

My hands are as patched-up and scarred as my clothes
And we both got the same miles of dirt in our toes
But you're pushing thru the wreckage like a dirt-alley rose
Lord I hope you never lose your thorns


The radios are crackling in the alleys
That old jazz that always sounds best at night
"Our adventures are the love songs we write to the world"
She told me as we stepped into the light
She said "I know there's an answer on the highway
There's a home waiting for me out there
I keep my faith wrapped up with the beads in my hair; now I'm sorry babe, but I got to go"
My heartache has a rhythm like a freight train
Comes and goes like a po' girl on the run
'Cause you're a sad old song that gets better every time I hear it sung

My traveling boots are falling apart
I can fit my whole life into a shopping cart
When my last wish is gone I'm going to make a new start
I promise I'm going to find you someday

Maybe I'll see you out on the road somewhere
In the mountains with your thumb to the sky
There's some magic out there we're gonna find it I swear
We just got to hang on to our dreams
We just got to hang on to our dreams
Track Name: Deeper Than This
Deeper Than This

Pick up the axe and let the brittle wood fly
We can always go deeper than this
Hold the truth in your eyes and you can never miss
We can always go deeper than this

Now the lake has frozen over and by the time this is over
There'll be nothing left but matchsticks in the wind
I'd like to die with the Northern Lights shining
Snow covering every place I've sinned

So pick up the axe and let the brittle wood fly
We can always go deeper than this
Hold the truth in your eyes and you can never miss
We can always go deeper than this
Tell the story of creation in the moment of a kiss
We can always go deeper than this

I been here since the beginning, that night you drove out alone
Sled tracks disappearing in the storm
Now the winter's blowing over and this is all so far from over
I'll be here when you decide to come get warm

Track Name: Truck Stop Wall (Highway of Tears)
Truck Stop Wall (Highway of Tears)

I set out lonely in the Prince George rain
To see my sister in the mountains today
A truck pulled over when I stuck out my thumb
He said he'd take me somewhere far away
I know it's dangerous, I know people have died
But I been stuck so many times, I can always find a ride

Now the pigs are ready for slaughter in the farmlands to the south
I can still feel East Hastings like a bad taste in my mouth
I came back to the north to be with my son, but I'm nobody's wife
Now he's reaching into his boot and 'Oh my God, that looks like a knife…'

Faces fading on a truck stop wall
Another missing for another year
Forgotten voices in the northern rain
Last seen standing on the Highway of Tears

These forests are my playground, this backpack is my home
The road is full of bad turns but you can't be afraid to roam
My contract finished early, I planted my last tree
Now there's a festival in Smithers, people I want to see
I know it's dangerous, I know people have died
But it's summertime on the open road and I feel like I can fly

I used to laugh at all the faces looking away with their little lies
But now I'm a ghost in your rearview mirror who wasn't there when you drove by
Two cities named after Princes and a Highway full of thieves
My body's still out here somewhere, my soul's lost in the trees


I only drive this highway about once or twice a year
I'm the only one on this stretch of road who ain't got nothing to fear
I like 'em tall and pretty, dark-haired and young
I got a knife tucked into my boot and if they scream I got a gun
They all know it's dangerous, they all know people have died
But every day there's another girl with her thumb out for a ride

I know someday they might catch me, but for now I'm not really scared
As long as I leave the white girls, the cops don't seem to care
Now their mothers all walk the highway, there's another one every year
They know it'll never be over, as long as I'm still here

Faces fading on a truck stop wall
Another missing for another year
A killer driving with a stolen heart
Last seen standing on the Highway of Tears
Track Name: Old Drunken Scribe
Old Drunken Scribe

I'm the undisputed master of a hopeless old vernacular
My diction is as worn out as my shoes
But go ahead and ask her - she'll say my couplets are spectacular
And if you follow my hidden meaning, you can't lose

I'm an old drunken scribe and I dare you to imbibe
Another shot of what I've got to say

I came here on a boat, I got a bottle inside my coat
My pants are made from genuine tweed
Once there was a time when I could make anything rhyme
But now I'm lucky if my stanzas can find their feet


They said I could'a been a real voice
Of the people, another James Joyce
But then I went and made a choice
To follow Burroughs' model instead

'cause I'm an original, my style is inimitable
There's no one in the world like me
But now I need to find a woman who can publish what I've written
Then old Sam will let me drink here for free


I wrote a thousand perfect truths
On a napkin at the Hog's Tooth
Stuffed it down the side of a naugahyde booth
And left without a hat upon my head
Track Name: Cambie & Cordova
Cambie & Cordova

Manic street preacher, wild-bearded dream teacher
A wandering light in the fog
A whisperer in shadows; he was right there at the gallows
Crying: "Freedom is a backpack and a dog!"
The world whips around her, no peace has ever found her
But you can light up her day with a smile
And one ever asks why the cops come so fast
As she stands up to walk the last mile

There's cars on the street, people trying to sleep
The rain beating down on their souls
At the corner of Cambie and Cordova there's a door:
Turn left if you're rich, turn right if you're poor

In an old shopping cart, she keeps a piece of her heart
All that's left as she tries to hold on
A cold wind is blowing and the doors are all closing
As she dreams of a child dead and gone
"I need to get to sleep," he says as he cries
Head in hands on the park bench at dawn
"When will it end? I had so much to give
Now all I've got is this bell and this song"

There's cops on the street, people trying to sleep
The rain beating down on their souls
At the corner of Cambie and Cordova there's a door:
Turn left if you're rich, turn right if you're poor

A place to get warm, a shelter from the storm
Wrapped in old newspapers and sin
But from the madness inside, there's no place to hide
When the daemons all call from within

There's cops on the street and a woman on the floor
Of an old hotel bar by a cheap liquor store
At the corner of Cambie and Cordova there's a door:
Turn left if you're rich, turn right if you're poor
Track Name: Rebel Girl
Rebel Girl

I was workin in the North Woods on a hillside cut to hell
Setting chokers on a sketchy high-lead show
Then the boom went to bust and my paycheque went to dust
Ten months and I had nothing left to blow
So I stepped into a cold rain on the west road from Wenatchee
Cross the mountains and down to old Skid Row
I found a camp outside of town and a bowl of jungle stew
A bed of cardboard by the barrel-fire glow

And with the echoing gunshots of Ludlow and Everett
Ringing across a century's dead air
A girl played the violin with fingerless gloves
By the man with the thousand-yard stare
With the harp from my pocket and the rhythm in my feet
We sang like a pair of foxes in a snare
About a history rewritten to bury sedition
Beneath the parking lot at Rockefeller Square

"Joe Hill never died," the Rebel Girl cried
"I saw him on the long dusty road
He lives in our eyes and the railroad ties
Walking with the ghost of Tom Joad"

Greasy grimy drifters, hobos tramps and bums
Work for nothin while your boxcar dreams of rain
Now they come across the desert, thru Juarez and El Paso
Trade the sweatshop for a slaughterhouse on the plains
And you can watch your children starve while they burn the golden fruit
The great failure that outweighs all our gains
Throw the heroes in a cage or kill them while they sleep
With axe handles and a spreading bloodstain

Like that night in Chehalis when they lynched Wesley Everest
Strung him from a railroad bridge
Ninety years later and nothing's really changed
Militia's still camped up on the ridge
Like a Panther in his bedroom and a cabbie on Death Row
The firing squad for writing Rebel songs
Take AIM at Wounded Knee or the women in the mill
The killing starts whenever we get strong

"Joe Hill never died," the Rebel Girl cried
"He lives in our blood and our bones
He leads the striker's line, singing so fine
Walking with the ghost of Mother Jones"

Winnipeg in '19, Seattle in '99
Chicago in 1968
Bread and Roses in Lawrence and the chance to take a stand
But we can't fight hatred with hate
So Fellow Workers hear the call: Revolution Starts Inside!
Find your demons and the world you want to make
We're all leaders, that's the secret - shout it down the years:
Never let your fears decide your fate

So this one's for Lucy Parsons and Emma Goldman too
And the Triangle Shirtwaist women dead and burnt
This one's for Rosa'sharn's baby and every mother too
And all the kids who died so ours wouldn't have to work
This one's for Ani and Utah and Elizabeth Cotton too
And everyone who sings to what we're worth
You can find us in the forests and the city deserts too
From the mountains to the edges of the earth

-Choruses 1 & 2-
Track Name: Shapeshifter

This time I come in with the trainsmoke
Catch the Midnight Ghost at the edge
Of another small town and roll across the border after dark
With the rickety-clack and roar of the great wheels turning
I leave the trainyard in the early morning fog
Work my way downtown
With the streetsweepers rumbling in the gutter and the seagulls
Fighting over what's left of Saturday night.

I don't talk to anybody, not at this hour
There are scars on my hands and secrets buried
Deep in my eyes
I'm alright when I find an abandoned cup of coffee on the church step
Pick a long butt off the street and smoke it in the alley
With the matches from the Tennessee Diner
And an old scabhound sleeping on a bed of cardboard beneath the fire escape.

This morning there's a voice across the alley
Moaning with the delirium tremens in the doorway of an old hotel
I'd help him, but I'm not strong enough yet
The only one who knows me here is the guy with the bell and the clapboard sign
Standing like a scarecrow at the corner of Mars and 4th.
"I remember your face," he says, when he thinks no one's listening
"But I've forgotten your name…"
"It's alright," I tell him. "1307 was a bad year for all of us."

Time always goes so fast. Still
I remember the sound of the ocean and the way
The salt hangs in the air on the right kind of night
When the fog rolls in and wraps the streets in a whispery
Blanket of half-remembered dreams and for a few short hours
You can pretend that everything is different.

Alma always said: "Watch out for the cold years.
The winter and the razor and the drink like amber tears."

I forget the rest of it, but I can still hear her voice
On those sad October nights
When the moon hangs low and the stars do their perfect little dance
And I remember the time when I stood at the foot of a cross
In the desert and looked up, at the dying man I had just been
and would be
Again, someday…but it's a long way
From Golgotha to the back door of the Astoria Hotel.

So for now I'm waiting…waiting for the stars to be right.
Waiting for my time to come again.
Track Name: Map Of Secrets
Map of Secrets

Since I left my home
Since I left my home
Never once have I looked back
Since I left my home

I danced with an angel
Eyes as blue as her soul
She taught me how to hitchhike
And she left me on the road

When I left my home
When I left my home
Knew I couldn't be the only one
When I left my home

I was 18 and brave; said I wouldn't be no slave
Combine machinery and childhood dreams betrayed
So I learned to trust the shadows and the voices in the trees
Drumbeats on the full moon night calling out to me

When I left my home
When I left my home
Never once did I look back
When I left my home

Footsteps on the highway, a ghost in every town
Echoes of the old world everywhere
Shadows of the Goddess, spirits cast in stone
Echoes of the old world everywhere I roam

Everywhere I roam
Everywhere I roam
I see the cracks in what we've built
Everywhere I roam

I dreamt the city shadows were flaming in red
Falling down a ladder on a dried-up riverbed
When the highways are forgotten and the traintracks are dead
Follow me to Salem like the prophecy said

Trying to find my home
Trying to find my home
Searching every pair of eyes
Trying to find my home
Track Name: Faerie Music
Faerie Music

You better watch out for that faerie music
Hear it once and you'll never come back
Join the underground, there's mysteries all around
Wail with the banshees in the night

Haunted melodies on a foggy hill at night
Cemetery stonework and a God-awful fright
An invitation from the shadows, final snap upon the gallows
Unseelie Court is in session tonight

You better watch out for that faerie music
Hear it once and they'll never get you back
Leave the world of concrete, feel the earth upon your bare feet
Dance with the pixies on the grass

Wood nymphs in the trees, a crescent moon in the creek
A monolith to mark the edge of time
A rare and ghostly tune echoes on the moon
A hobgoblin has stolen your heart

-Chorus 1-

Myst upon the moors, firelights in the swamp
A fallen snag lies rotting on the path
This is your world now, forget that cross it's much too shallow
The bread crumbs have all been swept away

-Chorus 2-
Track Name: Wanderlust

In the last days of summer, thirteen hundred and four
I bid farewell my home, set out on the moor
I pushed hard for the boundary and up to the hills
Thru the myst I heard a cry and my blood went a-chill
A dark shape in the forest tracked me all thru the night
'til I turned and drew steel in the flashing moonlight
Now my headstone is carved and the psychopomps wait
For my shadow to fall on the last iron gate

Be careful my love, there's a ghost on the hill
He carries a blade and I know he's there still
But if you must travel, you must go alone
Just be sure you can find your way home
Promise me you'll find your way home

When the wand'ring wind finds you, when the children have grown
Scrape the moss from the marker, read the letters on the stone
Take the path from the churchyard thru the black raven sky
Find the edge of the forest where the creekwaters rise
Beware of the beldam, she's not who she seems
Stay clear of the shadows, hold on to your dreams
I'll be there beneath the bloodmoon on the last autumn night
By a door in the hillside and an unholy light


Now the road lies before me, I can almost hear the sound
Of a pipe and a drum and a world underground
So tonight I cross the bridge made from old turtle shells
My path lit by the fire from a kingdom in Hell
Your voice calls like silver, your tears fall like rain
How I long for your kiss, but I cannot remain
The Shadowmen are coming, my love I must go
There are things in the darkness older than we can know

Track Name: The Madhouse Keeper
The Madhouse Keeper

The sun is a stranger, the moon is a dream
Myst on the mountains, a ghost ship at sea
Ten desperate men in an opium den
A bounty on their heads makes a fortune for me

He stands before the big iron gates
In his palm he holds all of our fates
We must find our way out before it's too late
For in the shadows the Madhouse Keeper waits
In the shadows the Madhouse Keeper waits

We set out with the dawning for the tombs in the north
Broke the seal on the headstone; with the prize we set forth
Then the blood rites were read and they left me for dead
Now the Nile lies behind me and I'll have my revenge


In my dreams I see the horror and the sunken city rise
An ancient sleep broken and a thing without eyes
Sailors and jailors, they all look the same
A whisper in the darkness and I hear him call my name

Track Name: Zombie Falsetto
Zombie Falsetto

At the edge of a rusted backwoods dream
He soaked his voice in kerosene
Lay back with the moon through a wolfhound screen
Shut his eyes and lit the match
She scraped the blood from her guitar strings
With the splintered shadow of a nameless thing
The wraith took her hand and she began to sing
Of an itch she could never quite scratch

I want the rolling thunder and the bottleneck sky
I want the knife on the corner and the steel string slide
Tin cup, rattlesnake, blind in one eye
I want the moonshine nightmare and the gods to cry

The ocean broke upon a scarlet dawn
Whiskey-blind panther wrapping up his song
Smoke-shattered voice howling 'Everything's gone wrong!'
But man, that old tomcat can sing
She dropped her coin into a dried up well
A child of sadness and the wizard's spell
As the sparrows gathered and the darkness fell
On an angel with one broken wing

I want the rusted brandy and the diamond tooth grin
I want the axe head sharpened and the cows brought in
Wrought-iron gateway to an alley made of sin
I want the secrets of the ancients and the witches to win

Blistered martyr in a flaming skirt
Staked her cross into a pile of dirt
One last sign as the world lay burnt
Saying "All Who Would Seek Me - BEWARE!"
The madman wept for the blood he'd spilt
As the Nothing crept across the world he'd built
And the Devil danced on broken stilts
At Hell's County Fair

I want the witches' ladder and the cobblestone march
I want the fire on the hillside and the pyre in the swamp
Zombie Falsetto and a skeleton stomp
I want the Carnival of Shadows and the madrigal romp

When the general public has no use for your face
The carnival barker he can show you your place
If you follow the voices and abandon the race
There's a party down here in the slums
We're gonna rip that harp like a crosscut saw
Slap that voice til the melody's raw
Race that bass to a dragstrip draw
And bang them fuckin' drums

I want the haunted boxcar and the railroad earth
I want the stewbums' racket and a graveyard's worth
Garbage can lid in a back alley church
I want to watch it all burn from the Gargoyle's Perch