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The Ghost of John McGowan

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Liv: voice, mission organ, ukulele, piano, bowed glockenspiel, saw, rhodes, hammond b3
Braden: voice, acoustic, nashville, and electric guitars
Peter Klaassen: upright bass
Mark Mariash: drums, percussion
Jillian Sauerteig: cello
Adrian Irvine: violin
Jeff LaRochelle: bass clarinet, alto saxophone
Sam Boer: metal, prepared milk jug, box, ukelin, sleigh bells
chorus: Alex Millaire, Kaitlin Milroy, Anita Cazzola, Sam Boer, Liv, Braden


Have you seen the ghost of John?
Long white bones and the rest all gone
Oo! Oo! Wouldn’t it be chilly with no skin on?
- Traditional

Scene 1: Investigation

Christmas was dark in that border town
Seeking the body of John McGowan
That time of year the frost runs deep
No chance in hell to dig six feet

I’d find his killer, bring him to the stand
“A Mountie always gets his man”
When I got there it’d been fourteen days
Since screams first floated from the lake

I asked around for any sign
An open door to a killer’s mind
In every home they cursed John’s name
His murder they did celebrate

I came to learn about the man:
Liquored, mean, and violent
It was known he drank for taste
He only smiled when in a rage

They’d all felt his hate at night
But none as much as his poor wife
Had justice beat me to that town
To take the life of John McGowan?

Scene 2: Interrogation

Marie McGowan was needing sleep
A fading bruise upon her cheek
Said, “After fifteen years, better believe
I bled him less than he bled me”

Then she wrote it out
I read it all
I left her there
Told her you might call
Let your court decide
If I’m unfit
If you’d been there
Would you have brought her in?
Her confession read:

Scene 3: Confession

John’s gone
Ain’t coming home
Won’t raise his hand
Won’t hide the phone
Won’t pollute his blood
I watched as it froze
Made a Jackson Pollock
In December snow
Then I took his eyes
And I let him go
Gave him a chance
To walk back home
Then I came back
After three cold nights
And I cut a hole
Into the ice
Now it’s too bad
He couldn’t see
‘Cause I was grinning
Cheek to cheek
When I laid him down
Into that hole
And now his body
Is just as cold
As the wicked hands
He could not control
And the bars of the prison
Where I’ll grow old

Scene 4: Haunting

On the darkest day
On the longest night
You’ll hear a tap-tap
From beneath the ice