Ghost Repeater (2006)



Holed up in Iowa City for the coldest week of the year, Jeffrey Foucault partnered with legendary blues guitar player and producer Bo Ramsey (Greg Brown, Lucinda Williams) to create GHOST REPEATER, a country and blues album exploring the hopefulness of new love and the seasickness of contemporary American life.

Ghost Repeaters are empty radio stations scattered around the country to re-broadcast demographically tailored playlists, endless echoes of American market culture, from thousands of miles away. Epidemic sameness, big-box stores, and the retail news cycle of ghost prisoners and God on Our Side create the context in which GHOST REPEATER unfolds a story of love and uncertainty.

Written over the course of the year in which Foucault married, GHOST REPEATER juxtaposes a personal narrative of hope and joy against the wider story of the times in a series of travelogues and dream-scapes. The words bloom, fade, truth, mercy, dream, and memory recur through the album to create a sort of grammar, a palette of colors that Foucault and Ramsey merge with dark washes of electric guitar and vocals hushed or plaintive, in a visionary portrait of modern Americana.

GHOST REPEATER features full band arrangements but hews close to the line of Foucault’s previous albums, with darkly intimate songs and rich language, framed this time around by Bo Ramsey’s signature electric guitar work in a series of country rockers and dark blues. It was a natural progression for Foucault - whose first two records explored the landscape and characters of his native Midwest in spare and largely acoustic terms - to broaden the focus of the music and the subject matter by incorporating a rhythm section and training his sights on not only the intimate but the wider world, both the personal and the profound.

Joined by Rick 'Rico' Cicalo and Steve Hayes (Greg Brown) on rhythm, along with special guest appearances by Iowa's Dave Moore on harp and accordion, Eric Heywood (Son Volt) on pedal steel, and Kris Delmhorst on backing vocals, with GHOST REPEATER Foucault lays out the particulars of love in a country contending with its own ghost. In songs of love and empire, dream and memory, he delivers the honesty of country, the desperation of blues, and the simplicity of folk to achieve a document that’s timeless and poignant.




“An album full of gravelly, gorgeously rolling poems about weather, trains, and love. Foucault pronounces his last name "Folk-alt," which sounds something like one of those inadequate names given to the acoustic-guitar-driven musical genre of which he is an exceptional practitioner.”


“One of the best albums of the year... there’s nothing derivative about Foucault's haunting allusions… the fundamental truths that emerge are undeniable… a harmonious minimalist sound. ”


“There is no America like the one that serves as a backdrop for the songs on Jeffrey Foucault's aching new album… his spare, rootsy tunes are deceptively complex… a high-lonesome feel and ominous undertones.”


“Incisive… a contender for many 2006 Best-of lists… mesmerizing.”



1.  Ghost Repeater
2. Americans in Corduroys
3. I Dream An Old Lover
4. One for Sorrow
5. Train to Jackson
6. One Part Love
7. Wild Waste & Welter
8. City Flower
9. Tall Grass In Old Virginny
10. Mesa, Arizona
11. Appolline

Ghost Repeater

All of the drunks
Dressed up like Santa Claus
Ring Salvation Army bells
But the town square is quiet
The juke joints are empty
Everyone's buying
What no one can sell

And the girl I loved once
Came to me last night
In a dream with a secret to tell
She whispered close
Can't you hear the ocean?
As she leaned her ear
Against a shotgun shell

Dark was the night
Cold was the ground
I could barely make out the song
Of the Ghost Repeaters
Singing Hallelujah
His truth is marching on

Willie Mae's crying
At the toll booth to heaven
With a bottle of gin
And a gold-toothed smile
Where the dreams pile up
All washed out and broken
As thick as the stars
On the Miracle Mile

But the movie is over
The theater is empty
The credits are starting to roll
The wages of sin
Don't adjust for inflation
It's a buyer's market
When you sell your soul

The plaza is dark
The picadors are dreaming
Of blood in the alleys
And rust on the vines
They sandbag the bulls
And prop up the matadors
It's a sweetheart contract
They're taking their time

And all the ghost prisoners
Who aren't in the ghost prisons
Don't weep at the sound
Of your name
They just stare up at the clouds
Of passenger pigeons
Winging back home
To the cities of the plain


The star up above
The 5th Avenue Christmas tree
Is shining tonight
Through the cold and the rain
To light all the faces
In the live nativity
Down on the floor
Of the stock exchange

Dark is the night
Cold is the ground
The armies march out to defend
And the Ghost Repeaters
Of the revelators
Are singing "Peace on Earth
And Good Will to all Men"

Americans in Corduroys

We pushed back at JFK
And watched our country fall away
Two lovers chasing hours into the dark
Who blacked their boots
And locked the doors
And now for richer and for poorer
Go vagabond and wild as a spark 

It was a civilized affair
You wore flowers in your hair
And your Mother's dress
So white against your skin
The stars of pale blue
Above the morning found a new
And nameless country
Where no one had ever been 

We raced the valleys down
Through the sleepy little towns
As blind as any traveler you could meet
They took us as we came
No one even asked our names
Two Americans in corduroys
Kissing in the middle of the street 

Back home behind closed doors
Where the bread and circus roars
They turn the volume up
And pull the shade
But on the cobbles in the square
People laugh and smoke and stare
And no one looks to me like they're afraid 

At home the trees are turning
Red and gold the leaves are burning
Ruined apples fall
Too heavy and too sweet
But right here the birds are calling
The early stars are falling
For Americans in corduroys
Kissing in the middle of the street 

Trading evening for midday
We touched down at JFK
And our country rose to meet us in the air
With all its beauty and its lust
Its diamond teeth and heart of dust
That beats inside us
Though we travel anywhere

I Dream an Old Lover

You still come to me in dreams
This little bed can barely hold
The dark beauty of your eyes
Burn like a fire in the cold 

Comfort is the only kind
Hearts like flowers bloom and fade
Against the chill that finds the bone
Is come from dust to dust in trade 

Your sorrow for another coin
A phrase no lover fails to strike
The record of our briefest kiss
The shadows of our love alike 

As memory and the sea are deep
Inside our blue and nameless blood
Coursing through this mortal fuse
The flower with its frailest bud 

You still come to me in dreams
This little bed can barely hold
The dark beauty of your eyes
Burn like a fire in the cold

One for Sorrow

We'll start out with fancy sheets
And wear them down so thin
I'll get myself a coal black suit
I'll never wear again
Your Mama will give us china
And your Daddy give us hell
And when we make our getaway
They're gonna ring those wedding bells

One for sorrow two for joy they say
I've had my fill of sorrow anyway
(One for sorrow two for joy I know
I've been one for sorrow for too long) 

I was driving out on County N
With my high-beam headlights on
In the late night FM no man's land
Looking for a Tom Petty song
The Perseids were falling
In that hothouse August night
I saw two come down together
And I thought it looked about right 


And we'll have a hundred babies
And a little house outside of town
With a wood-stove and a claw-foot tub
When we're all done traveling around
And around 


Train to Jackson

Dead before the sun could rise
I stole the silver off my lover's eyes
Rolled out on the dark demise
Of midnight's breaking day
Born full grown and raised up wild
All mortal bones and passions piled
Upon my head the blessed child
The father of the man 

I cut my hair and caught a train to Jackson
I took a name and found the range
Where a voice will make no sound
I met a man he told me "Son,
I can see you're on the run,
If you tell me where you're going
I'll tell you where you're bound" 

They put me off outside of town
A cold black rain was falling down
I lay my head on the red clay ground
And slept for a thousand years
I woke into a fever dream
Where silence talked and money screamed
And nothing was but only seemed
And no one seemed to care 

I cut my teeth on the bread of pure temptation
I tried it all and I learned to fall
Like I would never hit the ground
I met a ghost who looked like me
I asked him, "Is it plain to see
Or is it hidden?"
But he never made a sound 

I was a lion in the circus ring
A scarecrow dressed up like a king
Innocent of anything
Like love and going blind
So I set all my clothes on fire
Sold my soul to any buyer
Wrapped my heart in concertina wire
And showed it for a song 

I cut and run I ran until I stumbled
I struck out alone a rolling stone
Forty days came up and down
I chased the river to the source
I met a girl on a pale horse
She pressed her fingers up against my lips
And I fell down dead and gone

One Part Love

I tumbled out of Gateshead
It was a lazy afternoon
I put the pedal down for southbound
Beneath an early rising moon 

And I ended up in Durham
Standing underneath the rain
Sometimes the whole world is a city
Where no one knows your name 

There was a gypsy selling papers
She sounded like a mourning dove
Calling soft and sad and quiet
One part grief and one part love 

One part love 

It was a late night in Newcastle
And I made myself a friend
We traded cab fare from the hotel
Across the Tyne and back again 

And we stood each other beers
Out of the money from the show
And we talked about the job
And indie bands and bars back home 

And with the hotel windows open
I slept and woke and slept again
And I dreamed they burned a city
With a suitcase and a grin 

And I stood in Durham City
Beneath the castle and the keep
And heard a gypsy woman selling
Like one part love and one part grief 

And my dream came to me waking
On the cobbles in the rain
Maybe nothing is forever
Nothing is in vain 

One part love

Wild Waste and Welter

Honey leave the lights down
There's killers on the road
Going door to door
With lamp black eyes
And the number on your soul 

They're painting down the doorposts
With the darkness of the lamb
And the instruments of mercy
Are foreign to their hands 

The sleeper trains go rocking
Through the catalogue of night
The darkness by arrangement
The engine out of sight 

And sleepfast all the poor ones
The old ones and the young
Know the scenery is everything
Inside the barrel of a gun 

It's all wild waste and welter
Come singing to the bone
No one can give you shelter
From the one thing that you own 

They throw tickertape on Main St.
There's a hero in every car
Singing, "Down with the traitor,
Up with the star!" 

They line up to take the sacrament
When they hear the anthem sung
And the Scarecrow and the Tin Man
Place a memory on their tongues 


But who will pay to garrison
This city on a hill?
Who's left to play the audience
When everyone's a shill? 

Every dream is born in waking
Every liar with the truth
The acorn fells the oak tree
Blood is the only proof 

So Honey leave the lights down
Until I find the door
The truth is like a pearl
Beneath my tongue
But I can't use it anymore

City Flower

City flower
Raised under street lights
Hothouse rose
Born in the shade
It could not hold you
The empire skyline
Could never keep you
From turning to flame 

I was restless
Running from nothing
I built my foundation
On the shifting sands
And I was a pauper
At midnight and morning
Morning glory
You king me where I stand 

You find me in the shadows
And the shade
Show me how to bloom
I promise I won't fade
City flower
Wrapped around my heart
Like a daisy chain
No one can tear apart 

The barroom lights
Are fine and they're golden
The city bells
Ring soft in the night
But to be in your arms
All twined up and tangled
That's the only thing
Can make me feel alright 


Tall Grass in Old Virginny
(A song for Paul Curreri)

Tall grass in old Virginny
The river high
The bridegroom skinny
Too dressed up
To do much else but look around
He's standing aimless in the aisle
With a shoeshine and a smile
Just waiting for the whole deal
To go down 

We lost money he and I
All down the Mason-Dixon Line
In empty bars
And odd cafes outside of town
And we probably drank too much
But we laughed just like to bust
And I don't guess I'd
Have things the other
Way around 

Famous, famous
Lord knows
That ain't us
But restless, reckless
Wearing out
It sure as hell beats
Going to rust 

Tall grass in old Virginny
The moon is high
The music tinny
And they're dancing
As the Shenandoah rolls on by
So let it roll
You let it roll
And God bless your crooked soul
No shooting star
Is half so blue
Or half so bright

Mesa, Arizona

All alone in a Mexican joint
In Mesa, Arizona
With a mariachi band
On the jukebox
And an empty Corona
And the sun gone down
In the pale thin pink
There's no one to talk to
All I can think
Is your eyes are full of train smoke
And your mouth tastes like rain
And I know when I know nothing
I will always know your name
You're my one and only one
You're my only one 

Out here working
In the neon lights
Where the temperature is falling
It's hotel coffee
Red-eye flights and Honey
I'm your midnight ringer calling
And the snow comes down
From this desert sky
And I tell everybody something
But it's usually good-bye
But not you you're my one
You're my only one 

Only one I want to talk to
Only one I know to call
Only one who's going to catch me
When my pride leads to a fall
You're the sky all full of starlings
And an ax blade shining in the sun
You're the angel touched a coal
Against my lips
You're my only one 

Reel to reel
The country rolls
And the towns slide by
Like ghost repeaters
Of faded billboards & big-box stores
Like a movie of an empty theater
You look around and wonder
When the seams are going to fail
And how dear the cost of living
Where everything's for sale
Except you you're my one
You're my only one 

And I'm all alone
In a Mexican joint
In Mesa, Arizona


I've got a girl named Appolline
Prettiest thing I've ever seen
There's no fire that burns
So cool or so clean
As my Appolline
Oh my Appolline

Well I walked through the valley
Of the shadow and I've seen
The hunger of mercy
The violence of dreams
And the rainbows that shine
On spilled gasoline
But nothing shines like Appolline
Nothing shines like Appolline

And will you take me as I am?
This bloodshot blue midnight
Like a tattoo on my skin
Will you tell me you love me?
Will you tell me again
And tell me one more time? 

They're selling heart attacks on credit
And shadows on a screen
And they'll grind your bones to dust
In this American machine
Where the firemen trade their water
In for kerosene
But I'll never trade
My Appolline