Wives' Tales

by Illustrated Manual

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burtjohanson great lyrics. love reading along on all these. Favorite track: Fingers Crossed.
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Illustrated Manual's 3rd studio album. 12-tracks. Releases June 8, 2017.


released June 8, 2017

Jonathan Cooke - Acoustic Guitar, Resonator, Vocals, Percussion
Dave Swanson - Electric Guitar, Vocals, Mandolin, Bass Guitar, Percussion

Produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered by Dave Swanson at Legend Studios in Avon, CT. Artwork by Kevin Peloquin. All songs written by Jonathan Cooke.



all rights reserved


Illustrated Manual Casper, Wyoming

Illustrated Manual was originally called "The Illustrated Man." Jon received an informal cease and desist for the name due to its use as the title of a collection of short stories by Ray Bradbury, published in 1951.

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Track Name: Negatives
I got an old book, it’s never been opened
And it looks the way it did the day I bought it
Along with negatives that I’ll never develop
Forever rolled up in their plastic canisters


Another night another year
And I’m still sitting here behind this steering wheel
Watching the plains turn into corn fields and white mountain ranges
But I feel the same just


Like a traveling painting the scenery’s changing
But I have stayed the same
For centuries counting
Dried oil on cotton
Hanging on a peg

Take me down, set me on fire
Free me from this molding frame
And I’ll dance in the air alive for a moment
And then gone in the next

Track Name: Kerouac Girl
Your mother told you to go and see it while you’re young
So you kissed her goodbye and got on a flight to California
Drawing your own lines across the country
Connecting the dots from the ghost towns to the big cities

An acid hit on the Vegas Strip it’s a scene a don’t remember
Johnny Depp on a flashback trip riding on that elevator
You told me it’s an old wives’ tale that you don’t believe in
You told me that you only met yourself after you let yourself start breathing

I’ve got no idea where this goes from here
I guess it goes on

I met a stripper in a bar, a street performer in the park
And a young black man in a basement pool hall shooting in the dark
Where I saw you in that flannel blue standing in the corner
All the boys were walking on broken glass and drinking themselves to death to get your number

I’ve got no idea where to go from here
But you gotta go in your own direction

I felt like I was falling in love but it was probably the booze building up in my blood
Because the song that you sang in your sleep was not for me
Now and then I wonder about if you’re a roman candle flickering out
Or spidering across the stars

Maybe our paths will cross again or maybe they won’t
I heard you were living in Bend before you ended up back home
It’s funny how that rubber band pulls you back
After all the miles you covered and time elapsed

I’ve been down that road before, east and North to Upstate New York
Where the wind and the stunted pines whisper lies at the tree lines
Oh your stuck in my memory like a repeating melody
Like a repeating melody
Track Name: Stump
Babe do you know that I've been looking for a reason to blame
Everything on you but it isn't fair
I don't want to be a villain at the end of the story
Holding all the cards and cutting out your heart

I've never given up on you, you know, even when I wanted to
Entangled in your past and my high expectations
You know me and the darkest secrets that you keep

Lesley can you see the animal and his flashing teeth
Eating me alive every time that I
Think about the causes and how I lost my way somewhere in the process
Of growing skin so thick and getting over it

I don't really want to meet another girl because she won't love me
When I'm standing at the edge off balance and I need that steady
Hand in mine, the one that I
Know so well

Honey did you hear that I've been looking for places to go
And never look back because it hurts bad
All the lessons I've learned have pruned my limbs right down to the dirt
I am just a stump of who I thought I was

When I told you I would run away with you and we'd live out of a
Converted van and finally make good on those plans that we made when you were
My best friend, you made me see in color
No one can
Track Name: Fingers Crossed
I am a gambling man laying it on the line
That’s my philosophy down to my last penny
I feel like there must be more but I guess there could be less
There’s no way to know for sure before you place that bet

Nothing good comes easy, easy, easy
Nothing worth keeping, keeping comes for free

I’ve been keeping score bending and forcing the parts to fit
It may not be obvious but there’s one thing that I’ll admit
You love me more than I could ever love you back

You’ve got a way with words that I’ll never understand
Playing ‘em close to your chest and holding ‘em in your hand
If nobody knows what you got then nobody knows what you don’t
But you got to lay ‘em down eventually or you gotta fold

Nothing good came easy, easy, easy
Nothing worth keeping, keeping came for free

The old man sitting at the table told me son you gotta know when to walk away
Assuming that you’re able and you’re not in so deep that you have to play

Fingers crossed, hoping that I can make you see
That I'm on your side even if it breaks me
I’ve been waiting for you to put down the burden that you've carried
Wavering back and forth over whether we should break up or just get married

Because I love you more than you would ever ask me to
Track Name: Boy in a China Shop
I’m on my way to God
I may not be old but I am old enough
To know that my time is up
So I’m throwing the towel in

I’ve been on my way to making the same mistake
That I’ve made ever since the day I was born
I’ve been so afraid of causing anybody’s pain
So I just stood still like a boy in a china shop

I met a girl at school
She was everything that I believed in
When love was still simple
Just holding hands and making promises

I was on my way to making the same mistake
That I made when I was so young
I was so naive for telling her I’d never leave
I left as soon as my clean hands got dirty

Worried sick my life would never measure up to the mark
On that measuring stick if I ever lose control

I climbed out my window
And went running down the old South Easton railroad
I saw a man with pistol, aiming at the sky
And asking God for a sign

He was on his way to making the same mistake
His father made when he was drunk
Twenty years ago with a woman that he barely knew
He fell in love with her for an hour in her bedroom
Track Name: The Lumberjack
When I came to my senses I realized that you
Would never understand those words that I said too soon
I laid there wide awake because I couldn't wait
I was afraid that it would, it would soon be too late

Oh, what a day it was
I was reborn inside of a

I went a tramping through the woods like a lumberjack
Hoping to cut me down a tree and then drag it back
But when I saw her standing in the middle of the old growth pines
I found my saw and ax both as dull as butter knives

Oh, what a day it was
I was reborn inside of a
Twenty-four hour moment
The whole world was new, sitting across from you

Maybe I'll try again or maybe I'll let it go
Maybe I'll carve and whittle 'til you stop saying no
Track Name: Ant on a Rubber Rope
I was born into the mouth of a lion
Red and ugly and coming out early
I couldn't be sure if I'd been here before
But it was strangely familiar

Half of a man and half of the devil himself
Are living inside me and making me crazy
Going to war, knocking on the doors
Of all the questions that plague me

Got a long way to where I am going
But my eyes on that horizon
Maybe I'll see you at the other end
When I find my way out of this maze I found my way into

I am an ant walking on a rubber rope
Stretching out in front of me farther than an ant sees
All I can do is break it into
Moveable pieces

I've been working my whole life to be a good man
But it turned out to be harder than
I imagined it would ever be
But I won't give up or go along quietly
I'm gonna claw my way out of the belly of the beast that swallowed me

Immanuel was my age when he decided
To put down his hammer and walk out on the water
He didn't know where he was gonna go
Only that he was going

He wiped the dust off of his feet and let go of what he
Knew he couldn't have anymore
I wish I could say that I would do the same
But I can't or won't or both
What difference does it make

He told me that I was forgiven
But it feels like I've been living
On the tip of someone else's tongue
Tangled in the filament it spun
Visible and waiting for the end to come
Track Name: The Missing Rib
I've been down low before and I don't want no more
I've been down low before and I don't want no more
A woman'll bring you down, oh what will you find
That she's still a heartless soul or that she is kind?

I've been way up high, high above the tower
I've been way up high, high above the tower
That holds her hiding heart up above the clouds
Up above the treetops and the houses and the murmur of the crowds

Up high and down low, from the Rockies to the rainy coasts
Following that wandering heart before anyone breaks it
But the devil, he knows me before than most
And how far I am really willing to take it

If god took his hand and made a woman out of man
If god took his hand and made a woman out of man
Then why is she so damn hard to understand
Why is she so up and down and up and down
Track Name: Japanese Maple
I won't say I told you so
Even though you don't remember
What you said last night on the phone
About how there's no use in talking

Because my mind will not change like old folks stuck in their ways
Waiting on their turn to tell
That old joke everyone knows about the Catholic priest
The kids and their three leads

Erin, I wish I could
Bring you back to the beginning
Sitting in the bloodgood
In front of your apartment

Before I became so back and forth like the migrating gray geese
Flying in their vees
Heading for the melting north but by the time that they arrive
It'll be about time to leave again

Talking, talking in my sleep
And I'm telling her everything
Love is not enough
When it's so quick to give up
Track Name: Eddy in the Alder
The barkeep remembers me
Blacked out in the street
Face down in a flower bed dream
In a tiny town
All the lights go out
And all the stumbling boys go home alone

To their mothers, hands on their hips
Crawling out of their wranglers and into their beds

The creek ran black
The morning you went back
To the Pacific Northwest on a couple hours of sleep
One working headlight and a deadline to meet

If things don't work out like they should
Was it predetermined from before we ever knew
Anyone else, even ourselves
Or what it was like to sit in the dark

Under a sky of LED constellations
Poor bastards stranded high up on the bivy ledges
Deep lake to the Cirque, wading out into the water
Waiting it out until the clouds roll over

You and me
Maybe, let's just see
Because there're things that you need to know
I've been told
That I'm mechanical
That I'm always at a distance and never realistic

Always analyzing the past
Rearranging the deck chairs long after the impact
But I wanna see you again
In Wyoming or Oregon

'Cause you might be my Eddy in the alder
And I could be your Gus in the brush
I used to think no one would ever understand
But I'm wagering that you maybe can
Track Name: Pretty Girl from Wyoming
Darling are you wondering to yourself
If it was all for nothing
All the energy wrestling with
Something that you couldn't control

You decided you were going away
Out to the East Coast
Gave away the Avett Brothers tickets I bought
For you before I knew that you were leaving

If I could tell what you were thinking
Would it have been different
Or would it have been
The same in the end

I remember dancing with you
At the old Silver Dollar Bar
Before they caved and tore a couple of the walls down
To make more room for the aging Baby Boomers
All the cowboys were looking at you
Wondering if you were new to Jackson
Holding on to me on that tiny dance floor
Covered now by a wall-to-wall carpet

If I could tell what you were thinking
Would it have been different
Or would it have been
The same in the end

Every time I hear "I and Love and You"
Or "Murder in the City"
I wanna tear down the house
It'd be easy if you were just another pretty

Girl from Matthews
Girl from Raleigh
Girl from Annapolis
Girl from Rowan County

The last time I saw you, you were making me laugh
Back to your old self
Feet in the water, the sun in your hair
The sweet summer air in your lungs

I've been trying to keep up with the changes
I wonder where you're traveling to next
But you don't want to hear from me anymore
It's probably for the best
Track Name: The Hurt
I've got this feeling way down in my gut
And I don't know what it is
It made me act different
Like I was in someone else's skin

The more I thought about it
The more confused I became
I was sure but then I doubted
And I watched you float away

I would have stayed with you forever
And figured out a way to make it work somehow

I just wanna talk to you but you don't wanna let me through
I just wanna see you smile the way that you used to
I just wanna pull that trigger, head out on the road with you and
Make good on the plan that we had before the hurt

I really miss your wit
I've never known someone so damn clever
I'm trying hard to forget
But I just can't help remembering

All of the mornings that I woke up next to you
I took it for a warning sign when it was too good to be true

I travel back in time
Once or twice a day, OK, once or twice an hour
To excavate and analyze
Digging in the dirt for a trace or any sign of

The bones of the fire, waiting to be found
Hiding underneath the ground
Still warm
Still glowing

I could see the meteor coming in hot and heading right for
The life that we've been building for the last three years
The archaeology could never explain why we
Couldn't make it work after all the hurt