Survivor's Tale

by Les Thomas

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credits

released November 9, 2013

All songs written by Les Thomas
Produced by Les Thomas

Recorded at The Enclave Recording Facility by Jeff Lang (Survivor’s Tale, Free Ranjini, Song For Selva, These Machines Cut Razor Wire, Shaping Stones, plus additional overdubs) in 2013 and Head Gap by Neil Thomason with assistance from Ben Franz (Unpaved, World Without Hatred, Strip it Bare, Still Breathing and Forevermore) in 2011.

Mixed by Colin Wynne with assistance from Lily Rose at Thirty Mill Studios, Brunswick.

Mastered by Adam Dempsey at Deluxe Mastering, Brunswick.

Vocals, acoustic guitar and harmonica by Les Thomas

Love and thanks to the players
Jeff Lang, Ben Franz, Justin Bernasconi, Cat Canteri, Ashley Davies, Alison Ferrier, Mandy Connell, Ruth Lindsey and Grant Cummerford.

Artwork by Tim Molloy

With full acknowledgement and respect to the traditional owners
of the land on which this work was created.

www.lesthomasmusic.com

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about

Les Thomas Melbourne, Australia

“Les Thomas makes me want to be a better person . . . he’s a bloody good singer-songwriter.”
— Timber and Steel

"In the folk tradition of Woody Guthrie . . . people like Les Thomas that keep the origins of folk forefathers alive and true." — Lauren Duiker, The Orange Press
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Track Name: Shaping Stones
The fog is lifting above the river
Separates these shores
Worn down by time
The stream is surging
It’s silently urging me
To look at its reflection
And everything it holds

Well I’ve finally found an answer
It’s not what I expected
But I can only thank you
For giving me the truth
Now I won’t wonder
And I need not bother you
With questions that fluster
And force you to retreat

Well I know that change will come
But I won’t go
If we can’t find forgiveness
There’s no peace we can know
It’s just and early warning that I’ll take
And I could let it throw me down
But I can’t afford to break

There’s a haunting feeling
A voice that’s appealing
To hear things clearly
And set my mind to rest

You wash the tired illusions from my eyes
You spared me all the dangers
Of those seductive lies

All I believe I must let go
All we conceive time can only know
Stand beside me see this river flow
Look into its currents
Moving logs and shaping stones

Well I’ve finally found an answer
It’s not what I expected
But I can only thank you
For giving me the truth
Now I won’t wonder
And I need not bother you
With questions that fluster
And force you to retreat

Stand beside me see this river flow
Look into its currents
Moving logs and shaping stones
Track Name: Survivor's Tale
To the spark that lit a father’s eye
Maybe a child can teach a man to fly
And I dreamed of you so long ago
It took a leap of faith to make it so

Your mother and I both hold you in our heart
We couldn’t share a home and so we had to part
But we shared a love when we gave you your name
And if nothing else, please know you’re not to blame

This could be an invocation
Sing it softly at the dawn
Survivors’ tales were written in you
On the day that you were born

Can you hear the voices of the ones before?
From the many ships that landed on this shore
And the ones that come from this land itself
For they are here to guide and they are here to help

And the lessons learned will see you through
In the gifts they passed from us to you
Because there are no riches but the riches of love
And there’s nothing you can’t rise above

This could be an invocation
Sing it softly at the dawn
Survivors’ tales were written in you
On the day that you were born

To the spark that lit a fathers eye
Maybe a child can teach a man to fly
And I dreamed of you so long ago
It took a leap of faith to make it so
Track Name: These Machines Cut Razor Wire
Woody played songs on picket lines
After downing tools from painting signs
Woody was a dust bowl refugee

But the one sign he painted on his guitar
Words for the world that travelled far
Words that carried on to you and me

“This Machine Kills Facists” rang out clear
Unite good workers, you’ve nothing to fear
This land will be ours some sunny day

Wrote ‘Deportees’ all those years ago
‘Bout the heartless voices on the radio
Jesus y Maria, come and stay

If Woody had lived till the present day
Bet he’d speak out loud and have a lot to say
Maybe his machine would cut razor wire

Still a hard time to be a refugee
This land still ain’t ours, we’re still not free
This machine will cut razor wire

When your home in this world is a three-foot cell
You know they’re sending human rights to hell
This machine cuts razor wire

And do you think the jailers can understand
That they’re immigrants on stolen land?
These machines cut razor wire

These machines cut razor wire
These machines cut razor wire
These machines cut razor wire
These machines cut razor wire
Track Name: Free Ranjini
Ranjini weeps three children at her side
When the pain becomes too much to hide
Authorities claim she’s a security threat
But time will prove them liars yet

In the detention centre at Villawood
They try to imagine a life that’s good
This could all be over, you must understand
With a signature from the minister’s hand

Ranjini, we have heard your plea
You’re not a threat to this country
It’s time to set you and your children free
Free Ranjini, Free Ranjini

Paari was born behind the razor wire
Should be enough to raise this nation’s ire
But Brandis is his cruelty would claim
“They only have themselves to blame”

ASIO says you could do us harm
But the only thing that raises my alarm
Is in hurting you so needlessly
How can we let a child suffer with PTSD?
Ranjini, we have heard your plea
You’re not a threat to this country
It’s time to set you and your children free
Free Ranjini, Free Ranjini

How they’ve held you without trial so long
Is a sign they can’t tell right from wrong
The rule of law has been denied
But there are many standing by your side

Is it all we can offer to a family in need?
What does it say about us that they’re still not freed?
“A life full of grief” just will not do
So we send a song of freedom to you

Ranjini, we have heard your plea
You’re not a threat to this country
It’s time to set you and your children free
Free Ranjini, Free Ranjini
Free Ranjini, Free Ranjini
Free Ranjini, Free Ranjini
Track Name: World Without Hatred
Please spare me all your alibis
I knew just where you were
Yeah, I saw it all with my own eyes
There’s so much that I’ve learned

Well we’re not the only ones to feel the shame
Of a stain we can’t remove
I only know if we survive this darling
There’ll be nothing left to prove

And if you and I should ever meet
In a world without hatred or conceit
Maybe there we can find all the comfort we seek
May not come in a day, may not come in a week

Don’t go and beat yourself up now
You know that that won’t do
You’re only human and I realise
Yeah, darling, I’ve got my flaws too

But let’s not pretend it’s all OK
Let’s not brush it all aside
Seems we’ve all got a debt to pay
All got a secret to confide

And if you and I should ever meet
In a world without hatred or conceit
Maybe there we can find all the comfort we seek
May not come in a day, may not come in a week

You sip at your coffee while we talk
You’ve always liked it strong
You can feel that caffeine kicking in
But it’s a high that won’t last long

I remember back when we were kids
How you held me so enthralled
And how your name would set off sparks in me
Every time I heard it called

And if you and I should ever meet
In a world without hatred or conceit
Maybe there we can find all the comfort we seek
May not come in a day, may not come in a week
Track Name: Unpaved
I pulled my shoes on quietly
With dawn still several hours away
I saw my chance and ran
Could have died back there
But I had another plan

Must have made five miles before day break
Seemed a worthwhile risk to take
But what could I do?
The only hope I saw
Was just to try and make it through

I could not help but follow you
And I know you scaled these mountains too
But you were miles away
Way out where the road remains unpaved
I was looking out for passing cars
Where the maps are written in the stars
Sometimes weeks can pass without a human sighting

Songlines echo in that place
They help me keep a steady pace
And I thank the ones
Who sang the words that guaranteed our survival

I could not help but follow you
And I know you scaled these mountains too
But you were miles away
Way out where the road remains unpaved
Track Name: Song for Selva
My name is Selva Kulachelvan
And I am fighting for my life
Thirty-seven months I’ve been held
I miss my child I miss my wife

Escaped the clutches of the men with guns
Sri Lanka was my home
Australia put me in a prison camp
Now it’s three years gone

Here they treat me like a worthless human being
Do they see me as a worthless human being?
They do not know

Officials here they question me
They say they want me to return
But how can I go back now
When I have seen my people burn?

It’s hard to go on living
When your future is denied
Years will wear you down it’s true
I could be one more suicide

So say I’m not a worthless human being
Cos no one needs a worthless human being
My family need a worthwhile human being
So they can they know

My little girl wasn’t even born
When I crossed the raging sea
My daily voice on the telephone
Is all she knows of me

I hold her photo in my hand
And I dream of a better time
How do I explain her dad’s in jail
When I’m guilty of no crime?

Can you see me as a worthwhile human being?
Only want to be a worthwhile human being
Can you let me be a worthwhile human being?
We all need to know
Track Name: Strip it Bare
Take a look at something here I’ve found
Something probably better left buried in the ground
I put it in my pocket here to keep
Feel a little safer when I push it down so deep

I set it up, roll it over, send it down
Steel my heart, shield my mind, I won’t drown
Coming up, fill my lungs, taste the air
Lay it low, hold it up, strip it bare

What do I hold? Is it a promise or a threat?
Will it fulfill me or leave me in regret?
Is it a punishment or a glittering reward?
I hope there’s not some fatal flaw
I may have just ignored

I set it up, roll it over, send it down
Steel my heart, shield my mind, I won’t drown
Coming up, fill my lungs, taste the air
Lay it low, hold it up, strip it bare
Found a neat solution
With a man I met in town
He gave me gold and riches
For the treasures that I found

I thanked him and we parted ways
I tried to live my days in peace
Haven’t seen him around here since
But the worries still won’t cease

I set it up, roll it over, send it down
Steel my heart, shield my mind, I won’t drown
Coming up, fill my lungs, taste the air
Lay it low, hold it up, strip it bare
Woah strip it bare
Track Name: You're Still Breathing
What would I give to set you free?
Cast off these chains of misery
I’d give everything of my body and mind
To spare you grief of any kind

It’s your life and their game
You’re still breathing all the same
You’re still breathing all the same

You weren’t defeated
You stepped out of the void
You were scarred and beaten
But you were not destroyed

And when I look back at where we’ve been
All the bullets we dodged in that deep ravine
Feel kinda lucky just to make it in one piece
And I thank the day of our final release
I thank the day of our final release
Oh yeah, yes I do

There’s a card for fortune, a card for war
A card for healing every heart ache from before
You still breath, you still smile
World still turns and the sun still shines

It’s your life and their game
You’re still breathing all the same
You’re still breathing all the same
I’m so glad you’re breathing just the same
I’m so glad you’re breathing just the same
Track Name: Forevermore
It’s 9 O’Clock Monday night and I’m just waiting to hear the jingle of your keys
You’ve been away so long I draw the lines of your face
On a bottle that’s so cold my finger freeze
So come home, please

It seems like hours or is it days that I’ve been staring at a quiet telephone
If your voice could break the silence then my eyes would open wide
I’d pull you in and hold you close and warm
Out of that storm

If I had a choice, I’d choose to spend my days with you
We would run the streets of this town, darling, in the pouring rain
We could rest a while then do it all again
Just tell me when

It’s just a thought that comes to me every now and then
And there’s a dance that I’m rehearsing in the back of my mind
I’ll share it with you one day in good time
All in good time

Sometimes I rush
Sometimes I fail to say the things that linger in this beating heart
But I should let you know I never doubted you’re the one for me
I feel it hit me every time we part
Maybe I should start to not deny you all the secrets of my heart
Cos I’ve spent too long down here in these valleys of neglect
And I trust you with the words that I impart
You’ll know my heart

Now I can hear your steps
Your keys they jingle as you open up the door
I see you smile and hug you like it’s been ten long years
Please tell me that you’ll stay forevermore
Stay forevermore