Three Ghosts

from by Joe Goodkin

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Three ghosts came to me on the night I wrote this song
In my sleep I picked up my guitar and I could play nothing wrong
The first ghost was a friend from high school who took her life at 16
She and a classmate made a pact and sat in the garage with the car running
The day we heard my dad and I were driving back from downstate
We stopped so he could check in with my mom and he came back to car with a look as
heavy as the rain
We sat in silence for the rest of the ride and I thought about the loss
She and I had worked together in a club and I’d even asked her to prom
The following days we filled up the churches as fathers remembered their girls
We tried and we hugged and we walked and we talked how we all felt alone in the
Now it’s decades ago I don’t think of her much but every once in awhile by chance
I remember the smile on her face in the hallway when she turned me down for the

The second ghost was my wife’s ex who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge
Left two kids behind, a note on a napkin and a list of deceptions long and rich
They were a thing for four years in all, one good, one less and two tough
They bought a house and moved in together, she tried to save him but it wasn’t enough
She remembers the phone calls, the questions, the shock, when they found his car on
the Bridge
The search for a body, a shoe or a shirt but nothing was ever recovered and so it was
Just a year later when she and I met and she told me of that first night alone
Awash in a loss no one can imagine and waiting and waiting… and he’s not coming

The third ghost was my uncle Curt who passed away Christmas week
He used a gun to finish a job he’d been working on decades with drink
He lived in Seattle was estranged from us here in Chicago for most of my life
What I was told was a typical story that no one got along with his wife
Then in a turn of incredible fate not eight months after he died
My wife and I were the airport in Seattle waiting in one of those interminable lines
And an airline employee came up to us there to help with changing our flight
She looked at our tickets, I looked at her badge and realized it was my uncle’s wife
“Nancy” I said “It’s Joe…”
And my words hung in the air
She took a step back and then she embraced me as if she wasn’t sure I was there
And I told her I read the words that she wrote in the paper, so honest, so beautiful, so
And she that near the end though they’d gotten divorced she’d stayed with him in her
And after ten or so minutes we said our goodbyes I’m pretty sure that all of us wept
And the whole flight home I wondered and I
Held my wife
As she slept


from Record of Life, released June 30, 2015



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Joe Goodkin Chicago, Illinois

Chicago-based singer/songwriter Joe Goodkin (of Paper Arrows and The Odyssey) is proud to release his first solo record, entitled Record of Life. Record of Life chronicles family, love, loss, and remembrance in six sprawling songs, each recorded using only Goodkin's haunted 1963 Gibson ES-125t. ... more

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