The List of Whales

by Carrie Ferguson

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about

"Devilishly catchy folk-pop tunes and melodic ballads, exuberantly heartfelt lyrics...infectious joy"
- The Valley Advocate

The List of Whales, Carrie Ferguson’s second full-length studio album, bridges genres with a dreamy mix of folk-pop and indie rock all held together by Ferguson’s addictively catchy melodies and vivid, carefully crafted lyrics.

Called by the Greenfield Recorder, “beautifully produced ...impeccably arranged” the 12 song CD was produced, mixed and engineered by Garrett Sawyer at his Amherst, MA studio, Northfire Recording Studios. Sawyer’s vibrant arrangements range from toe-tapping and dub-infused (Song For My Addiction) to lush horn, string and vocal arrangements (On the Way to Ashfield, The List of Whales), to moments of beautiful acoustic intimacy (Sealie, To the Moon).

As on her first record, Riding On the Back Of the Wind, Ferguson continues to explore her favorite themes and settings: the landscapes of Northern California and New England (Arcata Song, Grandmother Tree), the complexities of human relationships with each other and the natural world (The List of Whales), the bemusing fact of impermanence in all things (Stretchmarks), and the spiritual quest for self-understanding as a rollicking adventure (Wooden Nickel, Sunlight). All are present in this collection along with hefty doses of her trademark melancholic joy, humor and playfulness.

The record features an all-star cast of Western MA musicians including Jim Henry (Mary Chapin, Tracy Grammer) on guitar and mandolin, Zoe Darrow (Zoe Darrow and the Fiddleheads) on violin, Stephen Katz on cello, Steve Yarbro (The Primate Fiasco) on saxophone and clarinet, and JJ O’Connell (Heather Maloney) on drums.

Ferguson celebrated the release of The List of Whales on January 5, 2014 with a sold-out show at The Iron Horse Music Hall, in Northampton, MA. The release marks the culmination of a year-long project which began in the Fall of of 2012 when Ferguson raised $8,500 using the using the online crowdfunding platform Indiegogo.

credits

released January 5, 2014

All songs written by Carrie Ferguson
Produced by Garrett Sawyer
Recorded and Mixed by Garrett Sawyer, at Northfire Recording Studios, Amherst, MA
Mastered by Jay Frigoletto for Mastersuite

Carrie Ferguson - Lead Vocals, Piano, Acoustic Guitar (8, 12), F.B.Organ (2)
Brian Bender - Trombone (1, 11)
Garrett Sawyer - Electric Bass, Stand Up Bass, F.B. Organ (2), Fiddle-Picker (4)
J.J. O’ Connell - Drums and Percussion
Jim Henry - Electric/Acoustic Guitars, Mandolin
Micah Maurio - Trumpet (11)
Ryan Hommel - Electric Guitar (5)
Stephen Katz - Cello
Steve Yarbro - Clarinet (5), Saxophone (11)
Zoe Darrow - Violin

Harmonies - J.J. O’Connell (2, 3, 7, 10); Elizabeth Donahue (1, 2, 3, 5, 10, 12); Garrett Sawyer (6, 12)
Choir (track 11): Chris Scanlon, Emma Ayers, Eli Ayers, Elizabeth Donahue, Stella Green Sanderson, Zoe Langsdale

Photography - Glenn Koetzner
Art - Carrie Ferguson
Graphic Design - Nur Habib

“To The Moon” is dedicated to Tom Rotello

Thank you, Seal, my love.
Thank you, Garrett Sawyer for you generosity, beautiful ideas, and meticulous ears!
Thanks to Jay Metcalf and Northfire for believing in this project!
Thanks to all the amazing folks who played and sang on this record!
Thanks to Glenn Koetzner for your generosity and beautiful photos.
Special thanks to Jane Stephenson, Leslie Chaison, Joel Dundorf, Paul Gulla, Sam Stegeman, Steve Freiman, Tracey Levy, and Zoe Howard for helping to make this record possible!

A HUGE THANK YOU: To everyone who contributed through Indigogo!
AND for support in many ways: Frances and Francis Ferguson, Caleb Shelburne and family, Carrie Rubinstein and family, Chris Scanlon, Charlotte Haines, Denise Danforth, Doug Howard and Andrea Chase, Elizabeth Donahue and family, Emily Breines, Eric Ferguson, June and the Bee, Kendra Rosenblatt and family, Marianne Hurley, Nur Habib, the Sawyer family, Sarah Getoff, Seal LaMadeleine and family, Shoshana Narva and family, the Snow Farm folks, Span of Sunshine, Sophia Getoff-Scanlon, Stella Green Sanderson, Tom Knight, Tommy and Jessica Byrnes, the Wolfwoods.

The List of Whales
Copyright 2014
ASCAP
Carrie Ferguson, Walking Songs Music

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about

Carrie Ferguson Northampton, Massachusetts

Carrie grew up playing an enormous upright, chocolate-brown piano. It had a darkly booming, slightly furry quality to it, like the weather in her hometown of Arcata on the North Coast of California. Ferguson credits its sonorous voice, combined with the perpetual fog and clamminess as instilling in her the baseline aesthetic of melancholic optimism that permeates her words and music today. ... more

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Track Name: Sunlight
Sunlight

I was born of royal blood but I threw it all away
I left home when I was young, they couldn’t make me stay
I climbed the highest mountains and I sailed the deepest seas
Until I met a northern queen who pledged her love to me

I loved her like water I loved her like wind
I sang to her my soul but I couldn’t let her in
And she could not make me settle and she would not block my flow
She loved me like sunlight and then she let me go

And in the west I mined for gold and wrestled grizzly bears
I dove for pearl oysters and I lived on prickly pears
But in the southern mountains was where I fell in love
Struck in a summer rainstorm like thunder from above

She loved me like water she loved me like wind
She’d never take me with her only tell me where she’d been
And I could not make her settle and I would not block her flow
I loved her like sunlight and then I let her go

Now I’ve had love of every shape and all of it was fine
Sometimes it takes a few mistakes to know your own mind
I’ve chosen things I thought were great that tore my soul apart
Sometimes it takes a few mistakes to know your own heart

So love me like water, I’ll love you like wind
Sing to me your soul and I’ll take you where I’ve been
My heart, it longs to settle, there’s nowhere I want to go,
Let our love be sunlight so on and on it flows
Track Name: Arcata Song
Arcata Song


I forget the fog is in a mood to wander
It drifts across the town, we drown in all that water
I hear the ocean singing out beyond the bay
Once it covered everything, now there’s just this gray

I dream of angel whales, voices deep as mountains
Watch them from my window rolling south like steaming fountains
Swim each day a mystery through carved and ancient boulders
The ghosts of fishermen and pirates ride their mossy shoulders

If I ever leave this place
Let the world take me away
Know that I’ll be back some day
The tide can leave its mark but the water never stays
The tide can leave its mark but the water always stays

The ocean comes to call you out, finds you in your bed
Kisses you with salty lashes, sings into your head
You wake with clammy skin, the taste of someone else’s tears
She’s slipped out through the window leaving water in your ears

If I ever leave this place
Let the world take me away
Know that I’ll be back some day
The tide can leave its mark but the water never stays
The tide can leave its mark but the water always stays

When I’m filled with water will you give to me your land
Knit a net of kindness, fish for me with lover’s hands
We’ll build our house of quartz and agate, volcanic proof of passion
And when the sea comes to our door, may she always find us laughing

If I ever leave this place
Let the world take me away
Know that I’ll be back some day
The tide can leave its mark but the water never stays
If I ever leave this place
Let the world take me away
Know that I’ll be back some day
The tide can leave its mark but the water never stays
The tide can leave its mark but the water always stays
Track Name: On The Way To Ashfield
On The Way To Ashfield

On the way to Ashfield, you and I were singing
Driving in a Volkswagen van
I had a dream I met the man of your dreams
He said “you got to tell her where I am”

And I’m fine
Every day, every time
I’m fine
Either way

I was getting sleepy, you said that you had to pee
So we pulled in to Elmer’s store
Pancakes and maple cream, life is nothing but a dream
So yes I’ll take a little bit more

And I’m fine
Every day, every time
I’m fine
Either way

On the way to Ashfield, you and I were singing
Driving in a Volkswagen van
I had a dream you met the man of your dreams
And everything was just like you’d planned

And I’m fine
Every day, every time
I’m fine
Either way

And I’m fine
Every day, every time
I’m fine
Either way
Track Name: The List of Whales
The List of Whales

They say “we’ve never seen it, we’ve only heard it sing
Deep in the dark, somewhere out there swimming
By the size of it’s voice, if could be bigger than the Blue
It only sings one word, with all it’s might it thunders “Bloop”

Love, sing me the list of whales, fragile and strong, a mysterious song
It’s the list of whales
And there is something that we need
But we can not remember

With your lungs full of sky, and your hair full of leaves
On this October afternoon it’s hard to believe
The ocean keeps its secrets, but memories flow through our blood
Fossils tell their stories, voices frozen in the mud

Love, sing me the list of whales, deep and dark, your ancient heart
Knows the list of whales
And there is something that we know
But we can not remember

Now we live in our cities, forget our six degrees
Don’t remember when the ancients crawled back into the seas
Everything is changing, is nothing built to last?
Remember what we treasure as it slips away so fast...

Love, sing me the list of whales, fragile and strong, a mysterious song
It’s the list of whales
And there is something that we love
Sing me the list of whales, deep and dark, your ancient heart
Knows the list of whales
And there is something we must do
And then we do remember
Track Name: Sealie
Sealie

Oh Sealie, do you feel alone?
Like something’s missing, your house is not a home
You try so hard everyday to make it work
You try so hard to make it work

Oh Sealie, there is nothing wrong
Just an old familiar shadow singing you its song
And you try so hard every day to let it go
You try so hard to let it go

You can see the mountains from your house
You can watch the stars come out
Someday maybe you will figure it all out

Oh Sealie, you are not alone
This love is stronger than any thing we’ve known
And we laugh so hard every day ‘til it hurts
We laugh so hard every day though it hurts
We laugh so hard every day

We can see the mountains from your house
We can watch the stars come out
Someday we’ll stop trying to figure it all out
Track Name: Thomas' Horse
Thomas' Horse

Twilight, I’m riding down on Thomas’ horse
Across the ridge, down through the green of the darkening trees
After work I wash my face in the cold well water
My father’s shirt, my favorite belt, then I leave the farm behind

I know she waits for me in the lamp light shadow
She left her family’s house to meet me there
All I am and all I’ll be is always for her
Tonight we ride to find the world beyond

I’ve never seen the sea, I’ve never seen the sea

Twilight, I’m riding down on Thomas’ horse
Across the ridge, down through the green of the darkening trees
Everything I’ve ever known is all these mountains
Everything is opening and she is by my side

I’ve never seen the sea, I’ve never seen the sea
Track Name: Wooden Nickel
Wooden Nickel

We were up in this bus and it whizzed through the sky
I lost track of how often the world went by
But it was crowded and they were looking at me
Said “Honey, it’s time to be all you can be”

So they gave me a skin and a sack full of bones
“Don’t worry you won’t be alone”
And they pushed me out the window and I landed here
And now I don’t know what I’m doing

And if I ever get back
I’ll tell ‘em that I saw you and you’re doing so so
Things would be much better
If we could just remember what we already know

I went down to the river, it was already crowded
Poets and prophets singing the blues
Seems like every good story has already been told
But you get what you’re given and you can’t always choose

You can live like a saint or a criminal and a fraud
Make a pact with the devil or a deal with God
One is stubborn and the other is fickle
But they’re just two sides of the same wooden nickel

And if I ever get back
I’ll tell ‘em that I saw you and you’re doing so so
Things would be much better
If we could just remember what we already know

Well, I think it’s all this falling puts the shrug into our shoulders
Martyrs die of patience on the mountain pushing boulders
It’s a practical joke when you’re not in the mood
It’s the kind of gift that makes you choke on your food
You know you gotta take it with a good attitude
So you force yourself to laugh, you don’t want to be rude

And if I ever get back
I’ll tell ‘em that I saw you and you’re doing so so
Things would be much better
If we could just remember what we already know

So I tried to make it work, I tried to figure it out
Was there a plan or a purpose I forgot about?
I lost my map and operating instructions
I need a thirty second mission message self-destruction
Track Name: Song for My Addiction
Song for My Addiction

I’ve got this hole, its bigger than you see
I had a heart but it fell off of my sleeve
I want to run but I can’t seem to leave
I try to sing but I can’t even breathe

Hard to stand still when your body is itching
Hard to look honest when your face keeps twitching
Give me a name for this terrible affliction
And la la la la la this is a song for my addiction

I’ve got some courage, it’s fear that makes me brave
I made my bed now I’m digging my own grave
Thinking is like drinking, just take one more sip
And if you listen to your head your mind will start to slip

Hard to be happy when you’re stuck in this depression
Hard to be friendly when you’re feeling this aggression
Give me some kind of positive expression
And la la la la la this is a song for my obsession

Hard to be present when you’re listening to these voices
Hard to decide when you’re plagued by all these choices
List your credentials and I’ll list my diagnoses
And la la la la la this is a song for my psychosis

Hard to stand still when your body is itching
Hard to look honest when your face keeps twitching
Give me a name for this terrible affliction
And la la la la la this is a song for my addiction
Track Name: Food Song
Food Song

Food is always the setting for our tense, infrequent meetings
It mediates our arguments and buffers the leaving
I know I have a bone to pick with you but it gets stuck in my throat
Instead, I say “please pass the bread”, and laugh at your stupid joke

Well I’ve finally managed to gain back all that weight
I lost when I was with you even though she ate and ate
It was like you had stolen my stomach with my heart
And no matter how much I stuffed my face
I just couldn’t fill up all of that space

I’m not sure if I can love someone who plans to love me back
I’m not used to reciprocity, makes me feel my love is lacking
Some thing that makes it real, “this is not how true love feels
It doesn’t hurt enough, it doesn’t smart enough”

Good love is bread and jam to me, i’ts hearty and its sweet
It feeds me when I’m hungry and I can never over eat
It makes my fingers sticky and leaves stains around my mouth
I’m through with all that fasting, throw those diet pills out

I know where my bread is buttered, now I’m speaking tongue and cheek
I’ve given up that bitter gin and tonic for something much more sweet
You might be spicy and expensive and look good on the plate
But you’re not the best meal, no, you’re not the best meal
I ever ate.
Track Name: Stretchmarks
Stretchmarks

Once you had gone, the space left behind
Was smaller than I’d expected to find
So I went to the edge of that hole
And I looked right in

The edges weren’t bloody, just stretch-marked and scarred
So I stuck my head in and I listened hard
Cause down at the bottom
I thought I heard somebody singing

I’m the last one, I’m the first one
I’m the only one here
I’m not broken, just forgotten
But I’ve always been clear

Everyone talks about trying to find balance
Between the way that we want it and the way that it is
Sooner or later compromise comes up
Some things you find elsewhere, some things you give up

But I’ve made myself sick trying to stick in a middle
Where the part that I’ve left for myself is too little
And times when I find I’m too close to that edge
I hear that voice whisper “Are we having fun yet?”

So I’m practicing no til I recognize yes
And when I can’t tell then I’ll just have to guess
And I’m gulping my air to make up for lost time
And I’m flapping my arms cause I know I can fly
And I plan to look foolish as long as I need to

Cause, I’m the last one, I’m the first one
I’m the only one here
I’m not broken, just forgotten
But I’ve always been clear
I’m the last one, I’m the first one
I’m the only one here
If you let me, I can show you
Cause I’ve always been clear

Once you had gone, the space left behind
Was smaller than I’d expected to find
So I went to the edge of that hole
And I looked right in
Track Name: Grandmother Tree
Grandmother Tree

There’s a girl who lives in the forest
In a garden she’s borrowed from the land
Sometimes squirrels and birds come to visit
They let her feed them right from her hand

But there’s a secret she’s hiding
She keeps it even from herself
All the worry she carries
Belongs to someone else

In the morning she goes walking
Up the hill to the grandmother tree
As she lies there she listens
To the voice she hears singing in the leaves

Tell me the story of your heart
Breathe out all the lies that they told you
Let the new story start
You can rest while I hold you

There’s a girl who lives in the forest
In a garden she’s borrowed from the land
She’s the one that I love
She’s the one with the kind, gentle hands

Tell me the story of your heart
Breathe out, and let all your hope in
Let the new story start
How much can you open?
Track Name: To the Moon
To the Moon

I saw all the dreams of lonely lovers hanging in the sky
I heard all their voices, all their colors just asking “why”?

I’m going to drive this ship to the moon
And I hope I get there

They say anything that you can say
Someone has probably said before
And anything that you can do
Someone has probably done it more

I’m going to drive this ship to the moon
And I hope I get there soon

Who knows all the reasons
For the stories that we tell ourselves?
Why keep a lonely secret of the heart
If it makes you unwell?

I’m going to drive this ship to the moon
And I hope I get there soon
You can meet me there
We will make our own air
We will make our own air
We will make our own air


Why tell yourself it will be hard
Why not tell yourself it will be easy?