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Hell's Laughter and Heaven's Ache

by John Ludi

ALL DEAD DICTATORS Discard your faith in the virtues of civilization, for here lie the bleak rewards of decadence and degradation. For the few: opulence, for the rest: subjugation to the capricious whims of a dying nation. All dead dictators extend their apologies, such a tricky notion this thing called morality. An army of peasants are we, heeding the megalomaniac’s call to build an empire fated only to decline and fall. How many Stalins will it take until we learn the lessons of history that the wise and dull all spurn? All dead dictators extend their apologies, for they cannot savor the spoils of victory. (c) Oh relax, it's ok, everyone's entitled to make a few mistakes at everyone else's expense. Just one passionate voice unmoderated by sanity can lead the rabble to unreasoning calamity. A revolution of fools to conquer other fools like them, (and just wait long enough and it will all start again).
Progress 03:11
PROGRESS So here we are all standing on the brink a bible in one hand, in the other a drink into diversion we joyously sink cause it’ll be all right as long as we don’t think. Some of us have some clever things to say, but on reflection they sound bloodless, pale, and gray. And why introspect when you’d rather play, and save convictions for some other day? (c) These pieces never fit, there’s a message we never get when it comes right down to it. It seems we don’t know much at all, it seems we don’t know much at all So high to climb, so far to fall. It seems we don’t know much at all. Our own worst tendencies conspire in our fall and throw us up against destinies wall. And from their graves our ancestors call "Your world is so advanced it doesn’t work at all". So keep the blindfold on, someone else will steer. Despite appearances, there’s nothing to fear. Life is beautiful, our future’s bright and clear, just ask the Mayans (oh sorry, they’re not here).
Cycles 03:38
CYCLES Witness the numb youths slouching towards tomorrow with cynical eyes and tattoos by the score, hardwired for oblivion (if it’s entertaining) history’s seen many like them buried before. Despite their pose they don’t have any answers. Behind them stand the fading flowers of revolution whose ideals lie like rotting driftwood on the shore of a world grown bitter and materialistic, history’s seen many like them buried before. Despite their dreams they didn’t have any answers. (C1) No one knows, history makes fools of us all. We come and go...and what you don’t know can hurt you. From anonymous shadows peer the sacrificial silent, with labor and effort they minded the store that now stands closed due to angst and dysfunction, history’s seen many like them buried before. The seeds of good works did not grow into answers. (C2) No one knows, we have but words after all, They come and go...and what you don’t know can hurt you. Gray old soldiers watch with pride and disapproval and wonder if this is what they fought and died for. Before them grins the specter of dissolution, history’s seen many like them buried before. The battles won didn’t bring any answers.
THE COMPLACENT SONG Open the blinds, tell me, what's that sound? Never mind...pass the wine, I'm to be found casting about aimlessly as those waves do rise, whistling a happy tune to greet our demise. For my part I think I'll get something to eat. It would take more than a holocaust to get me to leave my seat. I'm just another consumer watching Eden turn to hell, so don't ask me to be the one to ask "Hey Nero, what's that smell?" (c) Who are you calling complacent, haven't I done my fair share? I don't need to make statements and by the way, I don't care. I go to work every day, my taxes I pay, so leave me alone and go away. Close my eyes and go to sleep, it's all the same. Thinking's too hard and I'm too tired and I'm not to blame for whatever happens, it's the system...it's not me, and I'll be ok as long as I still have my beer and my TV.
DYSFUNCTIONAL (THE GENERATION "X" LOVE SONG) You took away my pride, you damaged me inside (but left me satisfied---but maybe that was only me?) You dragged me through the mud and drained my veins of blood, but passion it did flood, almost drowning me. (c) You wasted my time and taxed my troubled mind, now would you be so kind and listen to me whine? You blackened my skies and told me pointless lies, it’s you I should despise (so why do I think less of me?) And now I spout clichés like "I’m the mess you made... but I wish you would have stayed", now all I’ve got is pathetic me. I was dysfunctional, you were dysfunctional, the whole world’s dysfunctional...it should have worked. I’m not responsible!
SECRET SERENADE (Be) still my beating heart. I know I’m not what you intended, and I hope you’re not offended by my attentions and my intentions. For try as I may , I can’t forget you. And try as I may, I still let you in here (c) where the angels don’t dare but the devils swear and play their secret serenade keep me up all night and day dreaming of you. Still my beating heart. I know there’s a great gulf between us and that sorry Cupid has never seen us when wistfully I gaze at you and it seems to me you look that way too. I wish I could just ignore you, but I wish I could implore you into here (c) You make me wish I was younger or richer (a presentable picture). You make me wish I was somewhat less somber and less prone to ponder a vision as lovely as you, but there’s naught for me to do but dream of you. And try as I may I still want you in here (and back and forth I pace)
HELL’S LAUGHTER AND HEAVEN’S ACHE Help me, I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me, I hear your words but my mind is empty...empty. My head is filled with the sound of one hand clapping and I don’t like is and it makes no sense at all. Tell me, are you someone that I should remember? Should I greet you with suspicion or be tender...tender? (c)I’d like to go out and talk with the world, but I don’t think I’d have very much to say Know me, you keep saying that you’ve already shown me the lessons whose points have all disowned me...disowned me (and left me floating skyward without a tether). Emptiness is not all it’s cracked up to be. (c2)And I don’t know if I’m asleep or awake caught between hell’s laughter and heaven’s ache. And I leave no footsteps where I walk, so I can’t find my way home, a ghost in a featureless desert where eternally I roam.
Song of Set 05:52
SONG OF SET This form, lying prone, stares skyward. Concrete hell, sullen demon... give him some light. Floundering here in the abyss, but hardly hopeless. Capsizing ships, burning churches for your sorrow. When things break down he's to be found. Well spurned by happy heathens, inert cells. Plastic smiles and plastic signs and plastic purpose. When parts wear down he's to be found. (c) He is weary won't you let him go? He is bound here and the earth is his soul. Call it evil and you'll miss the mark, we are primitives afraid of the dark Age of wonder, cruel convenience, needs all satisfied. Tainted waters his broken fingers, instincts die. Twisted Eden of sterile splendor, drowning in numbers. He's mining cities, graves to sleep in while it all melts away.
THE CLEAR LIGHT OF DAY In our mad pursuit of questionable ends borne by motivations we refuse to comprehend. Towards disaster we're conditioned to descend, barely bolstered by convictions we can't defend. (c)And the sun comes up every day, we buy and sell and then pray that god will save us from ourselves. What is it in our souls that makes us turn away when the rare voice of reason points the way out of the caves of fear and prejudice? What fatal flaw in us instructs us to resist? While taking everything and all for granted we've ignored the dark seeds we've planted. But once the storm begins it never can be stopped, and once the lid is raised it never can be dropped. If we stood blinking in the clear light of day, if conscience and empathy replaced our greed and rage, what world of beauty would we all be living in? Could we then love ourselves and forgive ourselves our sins?
A LATE NIGHT ARGUMENT WITH GOD Talk to me, tell me what you want me to be, or unlock the gates and set me free. Just do something...say something. You are alone, and I'm the stranger's voice on the telephone. I'm the confidence you'll never own. I'll do nothing, I'll say nothing. Speak to me at last, for I've an empty future and a hollow past. I'm a bitter drink in a broken glass. Just do some thing...say something. You shall be lost, your ship will be battered and storm-tossed, and I'll never help you no matter the cost. I'll do nothing, I'll say nothing. (c) Please give me a sign, I believe I'm losing my mind. Please make clear my role or release my weary soul. Don't you need me somehow? Is there no scared vow I could take here tonight, I could take to make things right? My soul I'd give to you, just tell me what you want me to do. How can eternity be so cruel? Just do something...say something. Your soul I don't need, and I'll not appease your ego's greed no matter how much you cry and plead. I'll do nothing, I'll say nothing.
Kali Yuga 05:23
KALI YUGA Submerged, playing the opening strains of our own dirge, sinking into an abyss of faith and words, submerged. But don’t close the coffin yet, even though it’s a fool’s bet that we might wake long enough to see that we’re sleeping. Patterns, this reoccurring act of failing, this ending up at bad beginnings, patterns. Some see the start of it while cursing the end of it, yet all have feet of stone climbing the ladder of time. Time’s hands are choking you, fate’s plans a joke on you, while you live to let live, tripping on gifts that you cannot give. Forget, losing the reason why we built this empire of science and illusions and defects, forget. We all are chained to it, our souls are owned by it, losing the questions as well as the answers.
(Coming soon)


(UPDATE 12/29/2019-Remastered these songs to make them a little easier on the ears.)

This was the first album I released under the name John Ludi...and the last one I recorded on the trusty Fostex 8 track reel to reel I had used for about a half dozen projects. The sound is that of late period Goth, even though the song structures didn't really fit in that genre. I was dressing the part at the time.

The obvious drum machine and the reverb dumped all over everything give it a rather dated feel, but I think the songwriting redeems it...hopefully. My songwriting had reached a level of maturity that quite frankly surprised even myself at times. While still being concerned with the trials and tribulations of the big scary world out there and the human condition in general, I finally was able to write in an introspective manner that did not scream out angst and slogans.

I can't imagine this album appealing to a huge amount of people, but it did get a decent amount of positive press and airplay back when I put it out.


released January 1, 2001

Basically another project that I did all by myself from start to finish with the notable exception of harmony and background vocals (and a 2nd acoustic guitar on The Complacent Song) by a Minnesota singer/songwriter named Jodi Jarchow.


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John Ludi Madison, Wisconsin

John Ludi is a musician/singer-songwriter with a wide array of influences and lyrical interests who was "Indie" before the term even existed. Working outside of the music industry by choice has given Ludi the ability to release songs of a level of lyrical depth that are anathema to the minds of the "suits". Ludi lives off-grid in a yurt in the woods of WI and will "fight the power" til he dies. ... more

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