Darkness and Light

Sideburn Records

This cd was recorded live off the studio floor. The songs were done in just a few takes with some of John’s favorite co-conspirators on board. The only overdubs were strings, background vocals, and faux horns. Edgey alt-country-blues featuring John’s off the cuff electric guitar soloing.

Musicians on this recording and a few of their career credits:

John Bunzow: Co-Producer, Vocals and Guitars.
Brian David Willis: Co-Producer and Engineer.
Chad Cromwell: Drums (Neil Young, Mark Knopfler).
Larry Marrs: Bass (Marty Stuart).
Richard Bennett: Guitars (Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler).
Dan Dugmore: Pedal Steel Guitar (James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Warren Zevon, Glenn Frey).
Tim Lauer: Keyboards (Nashville session musician).
Anthony Crawford: Background Vocals (Neil Young, Steve Winwood, Dwight Yoakam).
Tammy Rogers: Strings (Steeldrivers, Patty Loveless).
Allison Moorer: Background Vocals (Steve Earle, Shelby Lynne).
Jimmy Hall: Background Vocals and Harp (Jeff Beck, Wet Willie).


Recorded at Deep Field Studios, Nashville, TN
Mixed by Ray Kennedy

Love Is The Only Rescue
(John Bunzow)

It’s been so long since she left me
I’m still drinkin’ from the bottle of despair
Double shots of regret goin’ straight to my head
My heart is empty as the bartender’s stare
I’ll be dead drunk before this night is through
Stranded where love is the only rescue

Time is a harsh companion
So uncaring and cruel
It keeps reminding me of how I used to be
Now I’m ripped as the cushion on this barroom stool
Where I sip on the cold hard truth
Stranded where love is the only rescue
Where love is the only rescue

The poison of self-pity
Has finally been flushed out of me
In the new morning light
Hope is gleamin’ in my eyes
And the waitress in the café is actin’ might friendly
She tells me she’s off work at two
Funny how suddenly life reaches out to you
Standing where love can come to my rescue
Standing where love can come to my rescue
Please come to my rescue

Long Gone Leavin’ Train
(John Bunzow)

Maybe I’ll go to New Orleans
Maybe I’ll go to LA
Any place your mem’ry won’t find me
On this long gone leavin’ train

I’m so gone
I will never be back
Gotta outrun your mem’ry
Chasin’ me down this track

Maybe I will meet some stranger
Fall in love and forget your name
She’ll get on board and sit next to me
On this long gone leavin’ train

Conductor please take me
Farther down the line
Her mem’ry is closin’ in
Somewhere beyond the blue horizon I will find
A place where she won’t cross my mind again
I’m on this long gone leavin’ train

Straight Into The Sun
(John Bunzow, Nathan Meckel)

Clouds rollin’ in
The moon is lost in shadows
Another night is fallin’
I feel somethin’ callin’ me to go

Down a highway somewhere
Takin’ me far away from where I’ve come
Somehow I’ll get there
Takin’ this backroad straight into the sun

Today I got your letter
Must have read it twenty times
It said come to California
I hear California is a paradise

I see daylight up over the horizon
Just outside of Salina Kansas
Out on Highway 81
I’m headin’ straight into the sun
Straight into the sun

Muddy Water Under The Bridge
(John Bunzow, Harry Stinson)

Mary and Jimmy had a lover’s argument
Suddenly emotions got twisted and bent
But their momentary thoughtlessness
Was washed away in a flood of regret

Now it’s muddy water under the bridge
Spiteful thoughts they couldn’t keep his
Pride can make life’s river run murky
Into the heart’s ocean of love and mercy
Cleansing our souls to forgive
All the muddy water under the bridge

In a rainy schoolyard there’s two boys fightin’ like a couple of madmen
Some kind of extra-curricular physical education
All they’re screamin’ dirty words until they’re out of Wind
Then ten minutes later they’re buddies again

Pieces On The Ground
(John Bunzow)

Mend this broken body in pieces on the ground
My spirit’s cracked and crumbled, my world’s been crashing down
The weight upon my shoulders got so heavy they just gave in
Till I could not lift my head up to face another day again

Let a ray of hope come shining
So I may look up at the sky
And see a glimpse of tomorrow
Where I’m standing in the light
Let me climb upon a hilltop
Where healing hands can touch me now
They will mend this broken body
In pieces on the ground

The human heart’s a fragile thing, it shatters just like glass
Gather up all of these splinters and crush them into grains of sand
So the wind may scatter them towards the angels looking down
They will mend this broken body in pieces on the ground


Desolation Road
(John Bunzow)

Been steerin’ these eighteen wheels
Goin’ on ten years
Tucson to Orlando
Shifted a lot of gears
Too tired when I got home
To see the hurt in her eyes
From so many nights alone
I just didn’t read the signs
That lead to desolation road

I got her goodbye note
At a truck stop in El Paso
It really shook me up
Like the time I hit the guardrail near Fargo
Can’t handle this emptiness
Wish I could turn back home
It’s drivin’ me to the edge
Gonna jack-knife me for sure
Down on desolation road
Desolation road

Where there’s burning bridges
And fog black as diesel smoke
Ice on the turnpike
And my heart’s heavy load
Is losin’ control
Down on desolation road
Desolation road
Desolation road

Corner Of Darkness And Light
(John Bunzow)

Down at the corner
Of darkness and light
That’s where I’m standin’
Right now tonight
Temptation’s callin’
Should I put up a fight
Down at the corner
Of darkness and light

Voices call from the shadows
They all seem to know my name
From the other side
There’s someone sayin’
Go back from where you came
Makin’ up my mind
Should I cross the road
Or should I walk the line

I know that it should be easy
But it ain’t all black and white
I’m callin’ on my good intentions
To help me do what’s right
There’s heavy traffic
There’s a lit up sign
Don’t walk
Keeps flashin’ through my mind

I’m Just Tryin To Get By
(John Bunzow)

Been six months since I got laid off
They cut loose thirty others and me
They called it consolidation
Just a word for obsolete
Cause they don’t need the sweat from my brow
Now it’s cheaper with machinery
After ten years not even a handshake
Just the cold slap of corporate greed

Now I’ve got all the time in the world
To sit and wonder why
Maybe in a year or so
The anger I feel will have died
Right now I’m just tryin’ to get by

Sure wish I could find something steady
They just say I ain’t properly trained
And my friends have all left this mill town
Lookin’ for a better way
Guess I knew she’d finally leave me
I’ve been hard to live with these days
Been drinkin’ kind of heavy
Unemployment makes me feel so ashamed

I sit and stare at the TV
I can hardly believe my eyes
The whole world’s goin’ cracy
What happened to simpler times

I’m sinkin’ like an anchor
Drowning in darkness tonight
There’s desperate thoughts inside my head
And a gun and some bottles of wine
Right now I’m just tryin’ to get by

Ghost Of A Man
(John Bunzow, Jack Ingram)

I know it’s so hard to imagine
A man so empty and cold
But you wrecked my heart so completely
Everything has been drained from my soul

My friends they all see me walkin’
They stare in disbelief
I know to them it’s shocking
To see a man as far gone as me

I’m a ghost of a man
They look right through me
There’s nothin’ left for them to see
A ghost of a man that’s me

Yesterday I thought I say her
From the corner of my eye
I turned around and she was starin’ back
Just a dream that’s been haunting my mind

Choices Come Easy
(John Bunzow)

In a cheap rundown hotel she lives alone
One more new address since she ran away from home
Sixteen years old nowhere to go
These cold hard city streets sure ain’t no yellow brick road

Back home her father got drunk every night
His temper would derail then his anger would strike
For the longest time she thought she’d done somethin’ wrong
Then one day she realized how crazy he had gone

All she can do is run and run and run
Long as she moves her heart stays numb
She dreams of Arizona and livin’ in the desert sun
But choices come easy when they’re down to none

She’s been dancin’ at a strip joint told them she was 23
She’s learned how to become just what she has to be
There aren’t many second chances in this neighborhood
These back streets they’re like quicksand they’ll suck you down right where you stood

All she can do is run and run and run
Long as she moves her heart stays numb
She dreams of livin’ in a big house and raisin’ a family with someone
But choices come easy when they’re down to none

Now she floats through a blue haze of pills and heroin
Venom running through her veins
The needle and the damage done

All she can do is run and run and run
Long as she moves her heart stays numb
But her demons cannot harm her
If tomorrow never comes
Choices come easy when they’re down to none

Chasin’ Trains
(John Bunzow)

Here I am chasin’ trains
Drivin’ down a lost highway
Locomotive on the tracks
Tell me where’s my baby at
How could she leave me this way
Confused hell bent and half crazed
Chasin’ trains

Thought I saw her get on board
Why did she have to go
There she was dressed in black
A ghost out of my past
I’m goin’ over the edge
Whistle howlin’ in my head
Chasin’ trains

Smoke and steel on the track
Heartless cold and black
Forty tons of misery
Bearin’ right down upon me
Chasin’ trains

I broke through the crossin’ gate
Stopped my car on the tracks to wait
Locomotive deliver me
From this cruel insanity
Chasin’ trains


“The swampy roots-country groove of the leading track “Love is the Only Rescue” suggests more than a live basement studio recording from a Portland, Oregon native with a kick ass band. It cuts through to the soul to suggest that there is one heck of a great record to follow. And it does deliver the goods! Darkness and Light expresses solid songwriting through an organic and vibrant direct to tape performance. Bunzow’s songs easily sway from rich country rumblers and ballads to blues-infused stingers. Imagine Buddy Miller with hints of Robbie Fulks in his easier moments. Years of performance experience (he’s slung guitar for Chris Knight and Allison Moorer) and noteworthy critical praise as a Nashville songwriter are quite evident here. An unlucky label dissolve in ’96 put one potential release back in the can, but we’re sure that Darkness and Light will bring John Bunzow the success he deserves.”

Miles of Music

“Nashville-by-way-Portland singer/songwriter John Bunzow’s Darkness and Light is a blues-infused roots-rock record, a well-produced collection of eleven songs rooted in tradition; yet stylistically and lyrically, it offers up more than your average roots-rock record. The dusty country grooves alongside this burning rock n’ roll fever catapulted by Bunzow’s love for blues and R&B, make this a rich, lively album to sink yourself into as Bunzow wins you over song after song.”

“From free-for-all rock ‘n’ roll jaunts to tender, laid back numbers, Bunzow covers the gamut, opening up himself to you through the music. Meanwhile, he keeps things cohesive enough that you know its him, but diverse enough to ensure you don’t grow tired or weary of the album. The result is a fine-tuned, strong piece of roots-rock that will put a smile on your face and give you at least one reason to believe that Nashville hasn’t killed the soul of roots music. I’ll give it an A-.”

Alex Steinberg, In Music We Trust

Issue Fifty-Two/September 2002

“This roots rocker shows his influences without being held back by them. This guitar-driven disc at times displays a wide variety of influences – from Albert King to Dylan, early Carl Perkins to Jerry Reed – sometimes in one song. It is a melting pot of eclecticism as far as the songwriting and guitar playing is concerned. His tunes carry much of that twang that is associated with hillbilly rock & roll, but it comes across through a filter of the ’60s/’70s music scene that was percolating just under the horizon of FM music. He wrote or co-wrote all the tunes on this disc and each one is a good fit. He has the nasally vocals and the jangly guitars that sell each song as part of the whole. He has a variety of tunes, from the rocker that opens the disc, “Love Is the Only Rescue,” through the funky “Muddy Water Under the Bridge,” and there are some heartbreak pieces and a few that just won’t fit any category. He also has some great help on this disc, including Allison Moorer, Richard Bennett, and Jimmy Hall. This is a strong disc that rips into each new song with a strong ferocity that brings the song home. You should hear more from John Bunzow in the future.”

Bob Gottlieb, All Music Guide

“…Both musically and lyrically, Bunzow has an impressive grasp of his craft and such a strong and unique voice, and his songs are defined both by their diversity and the distinct sense of unity running through them. Themes of disillusionment, new found hope, distrust and making a new start are more than common in folk music, and it’s a sign of Bunzow’s talents that he tackles these subjects respectfully and in a refreshing manner….on the whole Bunzow has made a stunningly passionate and refreshingly contemporary country album.”

Stein Haukland, Ink 19

“Never heard of this Bunzow character before, but after this CD I’ll be damned if I forget him. Starting off with a loping, guitar-busy Dave Edmunds-sounding track (Love is the Only Rescue) turned on it’s side by his Robbie Fulks-like vocals, Bunzow begins his disc in fine stead. You might not believe me when I say it gets better from there, shit, I’m not sure I believe it myself, but it does. It doesn’t hurt that Bunzow has drafted such talents as Dan Dugmore (session vet and player on Linda Ronstadt’s best tracks from the 70’s) on pedal steel and Allison Moorer on harmony vocals. Despite Bunzow being a flash guitar player wiht plenty of tasty licks, his vocals and find songs are what carry the day and the guitar solos never once take away from the fact that this is a country record. Sure,its got a Southern rock vibe happening but this is one country boy who’s unashamed of his roots. A damn fine, damn fine CD.”

Bill Frater, Freight Train Boogie

“…we should keep an eye on John Bunzow, and I, for one, will go out of my way to see him live.”


“John’s CD is among the best I’ve heard these last months! Consider me a fan.”

Paul van Gelder, GEEN TIJD/Varas Radio 1

The Netherlands

“It’s the kind of record that belongs in the upper regions of the Americana/Roots charts.”

Theo Oldenburg, ALT.COUNTRY COOKING, Radio Winschoten


“This is how roots music is supposed to be. John Bunzow is the best hidden talent I know.”

Roel Stabler, Music Director, Radio MG

The Netherlands

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