The Ashen Grove

by The Eli Wise Band

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I began these songs during the Iraq War, from 2007-08. One of my best friends from high school, Alex Carbonaro, was in the marines and he went on two tours of duty. I've always been a pacifist but I also wanted to understand what he and others like him were going through. He was a good, kind, caring person. I read newspapers, talked with him when I could, and tried to imagine the inner lives of soldiers like my friend Alex.

He died just a few weeks after getting married and just short of his 28th birthday. The Ashen Grove and He Chose it Again deal directly with different aspects of the journey I went through with his loss and the dreams and visions I had.

War Crickets imagines a young boy whose older brother enlists.
Ships on TV was written after I watched a PBS documentary about all the ways that the Navy guys got along and got by. I had a bitter taste after watching it - the program made it all look so cheery.

Ships on TV also owes a great debt to Damon Waitkus, who created the percussion from his suitcase of found sounds and engineering expertise.


released February 15, 2011

Eli Wise, Damon Waitkus, Luke Selden, Jim Kassis, Caroline Penwarden, Emily Packard. Mastered by Myles Boison


all rights reserved



The Eli Wise Band Oakland, California

Mythology set to music by the Oakland band. Vocal harmonies, ethereal guitars, and driving rhythm.

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Track Name: Sacrifice to the Dead
Sailing from the west by the light in the fire
Waiting for the wars to start
Sailing from the west by the light in the fire
Waiting for the boys to drop
See you little soldier, tall against the bright sky
See how the great wheel rocks
See you little solider, your eyes pale like the devil
When you see the great wheel stop.

Thrashing through the brush, through the dust and the darkness
Didn't know it would be so close
Thrashing through the brush, through the dust and the darkness
As we walk half men, half ghosts
Say you see a thin line, God and the Devil pull
Who do you trust the most?
Say you walk a thin line earth, hell, heaven, time
Turn away, bled free of remorse.

And who will be the Sacrifice to the Dead?
And who will be the one who remembers
To tell the stories that are left behind
So it's embers to ashes, drain your glass of wine.

Flash back to innocence your girl made little sense
Ready to feel the world
Flash back to innocence your girl looks a little tense
When all her gifts turn to coal in your hands
Everything is fuel to burn, a fire spin a war churn
Time to say goodbye
Everything is fuel to burn a fire spin a lightning storm
Sighted in the eastern sky, the eastern sky.

Night falls every hour, then rushes away
Dreams aren't for this world, I say.
Track Name: Lost in an Open World
Said no more will I dream of ships and war
Said no more will I look at isolation
Said I will just stay home and get a job
Just stay home and watch the light
Just stay home, I will just silence my will
Silence my -

Don't fear this light under the door
This light belongs to the city again
Will I become this silence
Will I be lost in an open world?

Said no more will I not speak your name for days and days
No more will I stand and stare at blood on the basement, all over the basement floor
I will just sit and watch TV
I will just keep my fingers still
I will just quietly step out of the room when my head begins to pound

Don't fear this light under the door
This light belongs to the city again
Will I become this silence
Lost in an open world?
Track Name: War Crickets
Two brothers waiting on their mother
outside of church, sunday at noon
The oldest one stands shiftless in the dust
The younger boy hears crickets from the lawn
asks his brother, if he can go stalk them

Meanwhile, the army recruiter
leaning against the wall smoking a cigarette
says, “any of you all looking for a job
do you need a job?”

The young boy's crouching in the grass
Gonna keep still til the tall shadows pass
Or they'll throw their voices like lead
onto the delicate things he's trying to grasp

3rd week, in the desert sweat
Getting sickeningly used to the look of the dead
But at night he looks at the pictures his brother sent him

4th week shoots the wrong men dead
and he stands in horror at the innocence bled
He cradles his head, new troubles in his head

Oh now the young man's lying in the dark
says, I know God I have just a spark left
How can I shield it from this heat?
Young man praying in the dark
says, Yes God I will play my part
but I'm afraid if you don't use your power
to make this stop

Now the young boy hears the crickets from his bed
says mama why do they make the noises they do?
she says I don't know
maybe they're trying to talk to you
maybe they know something we ought to

And mama, when's my brother coming home?
She looks at the flags like flowers in the lawns
She says, I hope not long.

But the soldier's out on patrol
Til an explosion throws his whole
Unit to the ground
The soldier, lying on the ground
Says, mama there's chaos all around me.
Why can't we hear the sound?
Track Name: The Ashen Grove
(The Martyr's March )

If you die and if you die
you are bound for heaven
I know the thorn, I know the vine
you are bound for heaven, I -

If you fall and if you fall
your mother she'll gather up
your body in a silken shroud
and lift you from the Ashen Grove

She'll take you to the river, down
wash you in waters brown
bury you with wooden crown
and walk with white eyes

Earth abounds
but veiled in heaven's light

If you fall and if you fall
your father he'll gather all
your wishes, silver on the ground
and lift them from the Ashen Grove

He'll take them up the mountain far
Throw them as dust to stars
Open arms to heaven's hearth
A father's Utterings - blown apart.

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