Lights off, headphones on

by Jack James

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wonderdog Part Arab Strap, part Roy Harper, & lots of Scottish Sadcore. Favorite track: Learning My Lines.
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Written by a friend

"I'm going to include this in the bio."


"I think it'd be a good way of introducing you as a person."

"It's a bit self indulgent..."

"Only a bit."

I've known Jack James for years now, we tried to convince Glasgow that you could play some rock music without some kind of personality gimmick. We figured out that you pretty much can't. That's the real problem here, I can't go on about how he was born on a farm and learned guitar from the music box and made his first guitar from a wooden fence and shoe string. Nor is Jack James from the hardest streets of Europe's knife crime capital Glasgow, always wishing to break away from blood covered stairwells.

Jack James is a regular dude, he learned guitar as a kid because he liked listening to good music and wished to make his own. He plays music to work out his feelings on life, love and friends. His first album "Lights off, headphones on" should be taken as directions for correct usage. Using minimal takes, a guitar and a microphone, he delivers starkly honest and emotional views on a century hell bent on creating mass consumable irony, evoking parallels to musicians such as Neil Young and Bon Iver.

"Thanks for doing this anyway, it's weird having people write about yourself."

"No Problem."

"But I'll probably change it anyway."


released May 16, 2009

Written: late 2007 - 13th May 2009
(Home) Recorded: 29th March 2008 - 13th May 2009
Location: Glasgow, Scotland, UK

The songs you hear here were home recorded in a home.
The majority of this album was done in the first 5 months of 2009 because of unemployment due to moneygeddon.

Official Site:




Jack James Glasgow

Rangy songwriter.

“From Neil Young... by way of Bonnie "Prince" Billy, to Arab Strap, without the charming vulgarity”
-The Herald

"Sounding more like a Scottish Leonard Cohen than ever"
-Scots Whay Hae

"Jack James may be doomed"
-The List
... more

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Track Name: West End Blues Waltz
I'll meet you out in the West End
But I'm seeing myself there instead
This night is feeling so smooth
I'm thinking I just can't lose

I don't know what to say to that
I have to go now but we can talk about it when I'm back

He sees her alone at the bar
You can tell that he won't get very far
Whatever he said makes her laugh
I'm left standing with an empty glass

I try to walk right on past
But I'll have to say something
When I avoid I get trapped
By the ones that want to last

They say you can't escape yourself
But you can when you've got wealth
It starts with a silent goodbye
And ends with a feeling of cold
Track Name: I Am Ready Now
I’m looking out for some new city where I can go
If they speak a different language, I’m sure I’ll pick it up
Make a couple friends, people you don’t know
I’ll have a different life there, separate and protected

I didn’t mean to be so closed off, to close you out
Ok it was on purpose, I wasn’t ready then
But I am ready now, I’m coming around
I hope we can talk more, it feels like we never met

It’s like a different version of small town life
But it’s just in this building and you don’t go out
Because it makes you nervous
So you change the way you walk
As you pass that crowd of kids
Who don’t know why they shout
Track Name: Decisions
Things always seem to work out best for you
Putting no effort in that’s what you do
When you left school you had no plans
Your friends moved on you tried to be a man

It’s decision time
Working full-time for the rest of your life
Wasn’t what you had in mind

Heading down the stairs carrying crates of wine
This double shift is too heavy for me
This double life has me out on the line
I can’t wait to get home to put on my headphones

When you were idle
You didn’t do the things you had planned
Now you say you don’t have time to talk

We’ve talked about this over coffee and beer
You had your time to make your choice
You thought it would last for more than a year
You’re beyond help if you don’t listen

You want advice?
Just get on with your life
And don’t feel sorry for yourself
Track Name: Small Talk
Slipping through the part of the day
The time when events take place
Sleeping through most of the night
Sleeping even when it’s light

Drinking til they went away
Drinking is why they stayed
You need it to talk to that crowd
And that’s why the music’s loud
Track Name: Visit
Your girl is coming over, over to your place
And you’re having trouble remembering her face
It’s been a week since you’ve seen her
And before that only once did you meet
You were drunk and she was too
Only for a short time did you speak

So thank yourself for taking the picture
On the camera that is now in your pocket
And even as you look at her you don’t know how good you’ve got it

Looking at that face you know you
You’re going to drop it

You meet somewhere you both know
She’s never been to your house before
You meet her at the olive tree
And then you lead her to your door
You say you’re sorry for the mess
There’s garbage bags piled up on the floor

Go in and take a seat
You’d offer her a drink but you have none
Delaying conversation
Thinking about what’s to come

You try to tell her something
But you’ve got nothing to say
Any little something
But you’ve got nothing to say
Track Name: This Guy
Some guy’s out there lying
Looking for his pay
He tells them everything
He knows just what to say

Tying up his story
Like the time he took a ride
To that foreign country
I was almost by his side

There’s this crowd of people
And they all like their drink
I’m sure you’ll meet them
It seems like they’re everywhere

This guy he is with them
I’m sure you know the type
He likes to talk too much
About his worthless life
Track Name: Burnsy Lang
Fed up with the same things I get a headache all the time
I want to try something new would you mind if I changed her lines
Don't say it that way it doesn't really feel
Just keep your accent and see the deal you get

A yellow man walked in and smoked his cigarette
His hair is fading and his jacket is jet black
He gives you money he always says "let's go"
He has a country house by the river bank

One reason at last for not having to quit
It's no longer them pushing you for it

He named that country house the Burnsy Lang retreat
After the character he's seen in his dreams
You stayed there one time and you stood upon a snake
While collecting firewood and making the mistakes you made

You swam that river to the other side
You couldn't see below it was warm but it was grey
It's like that girl you knew you couldn't see through her
But you swam with her that night going through the dark
Track Name: Chances
All I wanted is a chance
But I had no opportunities
There were people in the past
Who know I can obsess about

Mrs White took the edge off
Does that mean I’m well rounded now?
Grease him up, he’s ready for the world
Now he’s sliding past all hunched over
Track Name: Learning My Lines
I can't talk to you
And it's sad cos I'm right for you
I'm building up the courage having a drink or two
And you're so beautiful I just can't stand it
And you know when I'm looking at you, don't you?
But don't worry I can't approach you

I'm standing on the stage
Reading out my lines

This doesn't feel like last time
It was so much easier when we were standing in line
I made fun of your friend's dress I said yours was alright
And you took that as a sign
That night I said you could buy me a drink
I said I was promoting a new kind of way to think
I never did get that drink

I'm standing on the stage
Reading out my lines
Track Name: Safe House
I’m in my safe house
Where I can see it all
Because I’ve got the high ground
It’s easier to fall

We’re snowed in
And locked out
We’re breathing your smoke
You don’t have to shout

He started a fire
I’m not sure how it was done
He had coal in his pocket
And some form of ignition

He’s burning snow

I’m in my safe house