Fathers and Sons

by John Lester

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about

John Lester’s new album, Fathers and Sons, is a collection of his most personal and powerful work yet. Inspired by the often unspoken family relationships between men, each song messages the love, pain, tension, struggle, and questions that arise and confound these ties and bonds. From the full acceptance and embrace of a young boy’s gender fluidity in “The Beautiful Princess of Never Come True”, to the merciful attempts at reconciliation with an estranged father during his final days in “The High Road”, to the feeling of forever growing family love in “Real, Real Love”, John’s life experience as a father, husband, son, teacher, and songwriter is felt throughout each song as well.

John has collaborated with incredibly talented musicians from around the globe and from many phases of his career for this recording. With John on vocals, acoustic basses, guitars, and his 1930 era Martin ukulele, the core band is rounded out by his long-time European touring partner Paul Tiernan on acoustic guitars and background vocals, and New York drummer Tim Bulkley. Grammy-nominated songwriter Gretchen Peters (background vocals) and Nashville pianist Barry Walsh guest on the opening track. Other guests include Bay Area drummer Michael Urbano, Baxter Roberston on Hammond organ, six string bassist Steve Lawson, and Grammy-award winning fretless bassist Michael Manring. John’s two sons, ages eleven and nine, make their debut appearances on vocals.

Fathers and Sons was recorded in the San Francisco Bay Area at 25th Street Recording by Grammy-award winning engineer Michael Rosen (Rob Wasserman, Santana, Country Joe McDonald). It was mastered at New York’s Sterling Sound (John Mayer, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon) by Randy Merrill, who won this year’s mastering Grammy for his work on Adele’s album ‘25’.

credits

released June 18, 2017

John Lester ~ vocals, bass, guitar, and ukulele
Paul Tiernan ~ background vocals and guitars
Gretchen Peters ~ guest background vocals
Kai and Aaron Lester ~ guest vocals
Barry Walsh ~ piano and accordion
Baxter Robertson ~ Hammond organ
Tim Bulkley ~ drums
Michael Urbano ~ additional drums and percussion
Michael Manring ~ fretless bass
Steve Lawson ~ soundscapes

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John Lester San Francisco, California

Award-winning singer-songwriter, bassist and multi-instrumentalist.

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Track Name: The Beautiful Princess of Never Come True
Pink for girls or blue for boys
Fairy dust or fighting toys
A child must choose when they’re still young
Between a magic wand or a plastic gun
But there’s this kid who doesn’t care
What his classmates say or which daddy’s stare
His hair’s pulled back in a ponytail
He wears a purple dress and he’s got painted nails

And he says why does everybody tell me what I can’t do
And then he just sighs and says I guess I’ll be
The beautiful princess of never come true

Some people try to put him down
But his heads held high and he stands his ground
He’s strong, he’s wise, and he’s pretty too
And he’s got a lesson for me and you
‘Cause he likes both Lego planes and lady bugs
His dolls ride trains and he gives big bear hugs
Boy things, girl things, all he sees
Are people things, not he’s or she’s

And he says why should anybody tell me what I can’t do
And he can’t deny that he’ll always be
The beautiful princess of never come true

Of never come true
He’s beautiful princess
Of never come true

When are we the parents finally gonna stop our pretending
That we don’t look down in judgement
Can’t we see the message we’re sending
‘Cause if a boy wants to fly on butterfly wings
Or dress himself up in the prettiest things
Then why should he have to fight a very old point of view
And be the beautiful princess of never come true

I hope this child will always see
Exactly who he wants to be
And he won’t grow up to be afraid
To stand behind the choice he’s made
For perhaps the writers got it wrong
With their fairy tales where he can’t belong
From his innocence, from this child at play
I hope they learn that’s alright to say

You can fly in any way that you imagine to do
So please don’t deny that you can also be a beautiful princess
Just reach for the sky and all the heavens will be open to you
Now let’s say goodbye and thanks to
The beautiful princess of never come true


©John Lester
Track Name: Real Real Love
With my words I’m gonna bring you flowers
Gifts to you I will sing
I’ll fill the air with a sweet sweet sound
That you can breathe in every little thing
I’ll play this poem I now offer
No need to read between the lines
I’m telling everybody here yes I’m gonna make it very clear
That this song is yours and mine

‘Cause I’m talking ‘bout a Real Real
A Real Real Love
A Real Real
A Real Real Love

I’ll get people on their feet up and dancing
To this happiness that I feel
I’m laying down a groove that I know is gonna make you move
Because it’s way too big to conceal
And in the bright stage lights I’m gonna show your
So everybody else here can see
A picture of my life that’s finally going right
Because it’s all about you and me

‘Cause I’m talking ‘bout a Real Real
A Real Real Love
A Real Real
A Real Real Love

Now when I look around I hardly believe it
So many years have rolled on by
What began as just us two
Multiplied as our love grew
And now the little ones walk by our side
When I think back on all my expectations
Of everything I thought this would be
I realize that we’ve surpassed
All I dreamed of in my past
Now when I’m singin’ ‘bout our family, I’m singin’ ’bout a

I’m singin’ ‘bout a Real Real
A Real Real Love
A Real Real
A Real Real Love


©John Lester
Track Name: Through Your Eyes
The center of a sunset or the city from a rooftop view
The stars on a cold clear winter’s night
All the sights I’ve seen that I’d like to share with you
If they weren’t so far from your sight

If I had one wish I’d like to see through your eyes
Just one moment’s all I’d need through your eyes
Then I could final realize
All it is you that you sacrifice
If I had one wish I’d like to see through your eyes

Take my hand when the shadows start to fall
Or the path gets rocky up ahead
I know the others well they don’t understand at all
But it’s by your strengths they’ve been misled

If I had one wish I’d like to see through your eyes
Just one moment’s all I’d need through your eyes
Then I could final realize
All it is you that you sacrifice
If I had one wish I’d like to see through your eyes

To look beyond the rainbow into a world without any lines
You set your own horizon that no one else can define
When I’m seeking guidance from a different point of view
I always know I can find it if I only turn to you

Please forgive me if sometimes I forget
That you just can’t see things the way I do
But I never doubt you and there’s nothing I regret
For I know you’ll reach all you pursue

But if I had one wish I’d like to see through your eyes
Just one moment’s all I’d need through your eyes
Then I could final realize
All it is you that you sacrifice
If I had one wish I’d like to see through your eyes
If I had one wish I’d like to see through your eyes


©John Lester
Track Name: The High Road
How could a man rise and fall so far
From the once admired great captain of the sea
To one who resigned to just define ally or enemy
In search of your final foe you set your sights on me

And so I made my way to the high road
I left my anger and my pride along the way
Though we no longer saw eye to eye
I thought we could still walk side by side
But taking the high road
Is not the choice you made

When did your need for praise and admiration
Turn you towards deception and deceit
And though I wasn’t wrong to hold so long to the respect I kept for you
In the end you only used it to bring me to my knees

But still I made my way to the high road
I left my anger and my pride along the way
Though we no longer saw eye to eye
I thought we could still walk side by side
But taking the high road
Is not the choice you made

Where did he go
The father I looked up to, the man my sons would never know
I am all that I am
Thanks to the lessons he once taught me so now I’m reaching out my hand

But all that’s left is your legacy
For which you used your final words to make you winner of your game
But I will still pass on your lifelong lessons to your progeny
Though all you left them was a folded flag and the family name

And how I hoped you’d make your way to the high road
And leave your anger and your pride along the way
Though we no longer saw eye to eye
I thought we could still walk side by side
But taking the high road is not the choice you made
No taking the high road is not the choice you made

©John Lester
Track Name: Everybody Loves Your Little Melody
Hey Shiela, I remember the day I met ya
It was a welcome to the world to the prettiest thing I’d seen
I knew from the moment I heard your first born cries
I’d love you for forever, you’re the apple of my eye
And that day you inspired this little melody

Hey Shiela, how you made me love being a daddy
We’d play peek-a-boo games while I bounced you on my knee
I’d read you Little Orphan Annie and you’d give me a snuggle
When we put you to bed if you gave us any trouble
I’d simply sing your little melody

Hey, I was so sorry when I had to leave you
Things just didn’t work out like we planned with your mom and me
You were only two and the best thing I could do
Was that I keep a little distance though it gave me the blues
I thought about you every time I played your melody

But hey Shiela, I always watched you from the distance
And what a beautiful young woman you grew up and came to be
I heard about your wedding day from your brother in the crowd
I never got to tell ya but you made me so proud
That that day my heart sang out your little melody

Hey Shiela, who’s that playin’ my ukulele
The one I bought back in 1933
I see a very close resemblence, guess it’s meant to be
My little uke would reconnect the family tree
Now let’s see if your boy can play your little melody

Hey Shiela, could I have the next dance in heaven
Ain’t nobody gonna make a big fuss you’ll see
‘Cause here it’s all about the love not about the sorrow
We all dance throughout the night because there’s never a tomorrow
And all the angels love your little melody

©John Lester
Track Name: Train Song (Don't Let Freedom Fade Away)
I’m looking at my country from the outside-in again
And I see a demagogue get ushered
He reached down from the one percent
And shook the hands of all our angry men
He doled out empty promises
And bathed his facts in spin

He told us that our greatness was just a memory from the past
He pointed fingers and blamed make him win
He said he’d a wall
And put “the foreigners” at fault
But no barrier protects us
From the enemy within

But like an American train song
Or some 1950’s jazz
We’re all living in a stream of moments
Between our future and the past
If everything we are tomorrow
Comes from our actions of today
Then let’s not build a wall ‘round freedom
Or our freedom is gonna fade away

With the news as propaganda
And the media for sale
He hid the truth behind a very thin white veil
He cherry picked his facts
And offered nothing but attacks
So from his Bully Puppet’s podium
Our values were assailed

He divided up the nation
With no a Mason-Dixon line
Told rural counties that he’s was one of their own kind
Though they could clearly see his face
They looked beyond all his disgrace
To hear his populist promises
That take us back in time

But like an American train song
Or some 1950’s jazz
We’re all living in a stream of moments
Between our future and the past
If everything we are tomorrow
Comes from our actions of today
Then let’s not build a wall ‘round freedom
Or our freedom is gonna to fade away

What will we say to our founding fathers
On the day we return as the prodigal son
If we let misogyny and hate
Create a fascist state
Then the liberties we’ve long fought for
Will all become undone

But like an American train song
Or some 1950’s jazz
We’re all living in a stream of moments
Between our future and the past
If everything we are tomorrow
Come from our actions of today
Let’s not build a wall ‘round freedom
So our freedom will never fade away

Freedom forged our sovereign nation
Then we gave freedom through emancipation
We gave it to the suffragettes
The gays and lesbians need it yet
We gave for our women’s choices
We gave it for our colored voices
If we don’t stop this hate and bigotry
Then we’ll all be freedom’s refugees

Don’t let it fade way
Don’t let it fade away
Don’t let it fade away

©John Lester
Track Name: 67 Minutes
67 minutes
Is not that much time
To put an ending on a lifetime
To say a last goodbye
A secret operation
An international flight
We simply went ‘round those who wronged us
To set things right

I still see your face as I surprised you
All the life left in your eyes
Now each time I think about you
The memory of you lies

In 67 minutes
Of joy not tears
Now I’ll remember every second
For the rest of my years
Our oldest dancing all around you
Our babies silent gaze
The infants and their elder
Before we parted our ways

I know no one lives forever
But through their children carry on
So we were there for you and listening
To everything you’d pass along
In 67 minutes

And then our 67 minutes
Finally came to a close
So I lingered by your doorway
And heard each word you chose
How you told me not to worry
You last advice to your son
And then you praised the girl I married
And the new lives we’d begun

Then I walked into the afternoon
And left our last goodbye behind
Now that’s how I now remember you
Running like a movie in my mind
For 67 minutes


©John Lester
Track Name: Love Attack
I see you running from across the playground
I better brace myself or I’m gonna go down
You’re arms are raised, there’s a big smile on your face
I’m getting ready for the impact of your embrace

Love attack
Ohhh, love attack
I better watch my back
When you hit me with your love attack

You’re staring at me when I wake in the morning
My eyes just open but you give me no warning
I just can’t do this without my cup of coffee
But to get it gotta first get you off of me

Love attack
Ohhh it’s a love attack
I can’t even get out of the sack
Before you hit me with a love attack

I always thought of love was warm and gentle
Now I know it can also be mental
A kiddy cuddle would be so sweet and so nice
All you parents better listen to my advice

Get ready for the love attack
Ohhhh love attack
Your little darlings are all maniacs
They’re gonna get ya with a love attack

You ain’t lyin’ when you call me your old man
I try and stay in shape but what chance do I stand
‘gainst 50 pounds of pure grit and muscle
Just tryin’ to prove himself and get in a tussle

Love attack
Ohhh it’s a love attack
Did I hear somethin’ crack
When you hit me with your love attack

Aaaaay love attack
I’m still reeling from a love attack
And now you’re comin’ back
For another love attack

©John Lester
Track Name: They Come and They Go
There's a tired young man who’s walking to the window
I've seen his kind a hundred times before
Since I've been working serving coffee down at this hospital weekdays
See I've got a little cart that's just outside it's door

This fella smiled and said his wife just had a daughter
And he’d come to buy her a little treat
Well I said, " Well Pop this one's on me" and I just let it be
That he's one of very many brand new daddy's that that I meet

‘cause life passes by my window
And it tells me all I need to know
It says some things never change
While others just won't stay the same
And people they come and they go
They come and they go

'Round 'bout noon arives this lovely older lady
But she wears her sorrow like a mournful mask
Usually I'd say "Hey there how's it going?"
But this time I decided not to ask

She said she'd lost her lover of forty-seven years
He was her world he was her everything
And she thanked me for my warmth and understanding
But when she left I realized that I hadn't said a thing

And life passes by my window
And it tells me all I need to know
It says some things never change
While others just won't stay the same
And people they come and they go
They come and they go

Now a brand new baby cries
While our elder man just up and died
I hope his lifelong wisdom
Can open up her brand new eyes
For if our souls don't grow
Then we won't have very much to show
Because people
We come and we go
We come and we go

Now there's a family gathering outside on the patio
For only one of two reasons that I know
They wait for the new arriving or pray for the just surviving
Well this time it turns out that it was both

Now who'd have thought that there could be such complications
With modern methods there's no need to worry
But now a husband’s happiest day might be his saddest in the same
And there's a brand new baby boy with a mom he may not meet

And life passes by my window
And it tells me so much more than I really didn't care to know
It says some things never change
While others just won't stay the same
And people they come and they go
They come and they go

I’m gonna make the most of every single moment that I own
Because people we come and we go


©John Lester
Track Name: Little Lullaby
Hush little darlin’
Don’t you cry
Daddy’s gonna sing you
A little lullaby
There’s no need to worry
So tuck your cares away
The lullaby will tell you
It’s just the end of today

Every night we will meet like before
There’ll always be tomorrows that’s what good nights are for
Well take the days adventures and store ‘em in a chest
Get ready for tomorrow and dream about what’s best

In the morning the sun is gonna rise
We’ll wake up and we’ll wipe all the sleep out of our eyes
Daddy makes his coffee and you’ve had your morning snack
We’ll walk out into tomorrow and then there ain’t no looking back

Hush little darlin’
Don’t you cry
Daddy’s gonna sing you
A little lullaby
There’s no need to worry
So tuck your cares away
The lullaby will tell you
It’s just the end of today

©John Lester