more from
We've updated our Terms of Use. You can review the changes here.

Songs from a Stolen Guitar

by Simon Joyner

  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Limited colored vinyl is translucent red. In deluxe tip-on jacket.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Songs from a Stolen Guitar via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
    edition of 500 
    Purchasable with gift card

      $27 USD or more 


  • Record/Vinyl + Digital Album

    Black vinyl edition of the album in deluxe, tip-on jacket.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Songs from a Stolen Guitar via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
    edition of 700 
    Purchasable with gift card

      $25 USD or more 


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Digisleeve with 16 page booklet with lyrics.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Songs from a Stolen Guitar via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    ships out within 3 days
    Purchasable with gift card

      $14 USD or more 


  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $7 USD  or more


Caroline’s Got a Secret Caroline’s got a secret you better not repeat She asked me last night to keep it under lock and key She said there’s never enough moonlight for the things I’d really like to see And it’s even darker here inside Take it from me But if I drive through the prairies and mountains and park near the Golden Gate alone I could flip my coin into that fountain and think of home Where all the books I haven’t read are dusted every week or two And see that jar of chickpeas on the dinette? Well, I meant to soak them too but now I guess I’ll leave that up to you You’ll find my azaleas love the shadows They’ll bring hummingbirds and butterflies but there’s a barred owl by my window who asks the same question every night Who really wants to feel any older? And, who’s so tired of wasted time? Well, I won’t throw any salt over my shoulder said Caroline
Gone Too Soon All those switchbacks cut the time in half You were on the furthest branch, your forehead dipped in candle wax There’s no peace in rest on that other side but we’ll sleep better here believing that you might And we spill wine and share the stories which strain to capture you just right and there was not a dry eye in the house You didn’t leave a single dry eye Gone too soon Your ex-roommate sends his love with an old snapshot of you at a barbecue sticking out your tongue I passed Brian Byrd crouched down on an empty patio one hand still holding onto the broom The other sweeping your laughter from his eyes because now you’re gone too soon Well, Jeff’s been sketching a family of pigeons on the ledge of his apartment nesting He might convalesce until those eggs hatch with butcher paper and ink wash at the ready And Noah takes the horse trails through milkweed and bur oaks A broken sunset spills before him And you’ve got the surliest waiters in Omaha in the kitchen crying into their aprons Gone too soon Shake off that dusty epithet Nobody laugh and nobody move Can’t you see I’m trying to take your portrait? Wearing your cowboy hat in that linen suit and whistling an old Waylon Jennings tune We just turned away for a second, it seemed and now you’re gone too soon
Don’t Tell Bobby I’m Through Singing These Blues What was his mother’s favorite saying? ‘Don’t get caught out in the rain’ So we stayed inside, he tended his books I cleaned a clean house and traded dirty looks with the mirror he hung in every room and he was unable to touch me and always too soon But don’t tell Bobby I’m through singing these blues That’s just between me and you And don’t tell Bobby I had to be free That’s just between you and me ‘I’ll see you in hell’ was his father’s favorite line ‘Nothing could be farther from the truth’ was mine So, I pulled the tooth and it was rotten inside I placed it under his pillow, there’s your valentine Then I took everything I needed and I ran A photo of my baby sister and a bottle of aspirin But don’t tell Bobby I’m through singing these blues That’s just between me and you And don’t tell Bobby I had to be free That’s just between you and me I felt like a faded postcard, undelivered Trapped like a dog, tail between her legs I guess he called it love, I call it surrender and nobody knows you when you’re waving that white flag If the walls really had ears like the proverb goes I wouldn’t be changing this tire on the side of the road south of Parkston and north of Tripp on my way to a flickering Motel 6 But nobody heard nothing, my prayers never mattered I’ve been screaming since the wedding but that crystal never shattered But don’t tell Bobby I’m through singing these blues That’s just between me and you And don’t tell Bobby I had to break free That’s just between you and me
The Stolen Guitar I wrote a song on a stolen guitar I gave it all I could A thief dressed like a revolutionary Wielding nylon, steel, and wood It was short, it was long It was weak, it was strong It was everything I wanted to say I wrote a song on a stolen guitar when I was just learning how to play The words came fast as I recall My tongue savored the melody I wore down the frets with all my regrets and all of my ecstasies It was sad, it was sweet Unvarnished, complete A trick memory sometimes plays when you cling to something you don’t really own and you give the rest away But a song is hardly ever enough Could there be even more that I owed? It was show-and-tell with a rope and a bell and I was the only one who showed Because somewhere I got lost somehow and the song drifted out my door I wrote a song on a stolen guitar but I can’t hear it anymore I swore I’d always give it to you straight, my friends If indeed that’s still what you’re after Whether I’m singing in the shower or hanging from the rafter It was right, it was wrong It was old, it was young It was everything I could not say I wrote a song on this stolen guitar when I was just learning how to play
Live In the Moment Do you recall where you were when the world finally stopped? I swear I never heard the last needle drop Alone in the basement, the apostate’s last stand He’s still shooting at the lightbulb with an old rubberband Setting mousetraps near every crack in the foundation and trying to live in the moment Just trying to live in the moment Here in my hand, a photo of Cat and Jim under a New Orleans gallery waiting out the rain That baby in her belly is gonna spoil all the fun or maybe that letter in his hand from a friend in Vietnam We’ll name her Sunshine but in a pinch, Simon We’ve got to live in the moment, babe Let’s try to live in the moment It could snow all night I’ve been watching the streetlight where confetti falls But if I sleep I might dream and if I dream I’ll wake again and erase it all and I can’t face that now I asked myself aren’t you bigger than all of this but I was hiding like a pulse on a newborn’s wrist And I reminded myself there’s only one thing worse than ignoring a blessing and that’s nursing a curse Once the tornado unspools we’ll survey the destruction For now, we live in the moment We’ve got to live in the moment
Tekamah 04:46
Tekamah The allure of the gutter must have led me to his bed He was drunk and vulgar and as brief as a dandelion head I bet whoever said the meek will eventually be blessed never had to turn the other cheek while their lover undressed So, I’m going back to Tekamah Straight as the crow flies I’m heading home to Tekamah North on Highway 75 ‘Life is too short’ and other cruel cliches Like ‘all is forgiven’ haunt the walls of this suitcase I guess it was naive to think a girl like me could win but did this city have to spit me out and chew me up again? So, I’m going back to Tekamah to see my cottonwoods in the sunrise I’m headed home to Tekamah North on Highway 75 Do you have a dream you’re ready to forfeit? Do you have a shred of dignity you haven’t tossed? Sometimes they take you for everything and you can afford it Sometimes they leave you with nothing and you’re lost Some friends of mine still wish on eyelashes and falling stars but right now I’d settle for my old shift back at Ronnie’s Bar Some are crying all the time and some have got it even worse I just want a man to look me in the eye who doesn’t rifle through my purse So, I’m going back to Tekamah I’ve already said my last goodbyes I’m headed home to Tekamah North on Highway 75
The Actor 04:42
The Actor I finally made it to the top It wasn’t as lonely as I thought Like a screen door the wind passes through people blow through me now like I always hoped they would do Hollywood gambles in dreams and flesh I was craved and carved up like the rest A scarecrow dressed in second-hand clothes with memorized lines and a messianic pose No, you couldn’t stop me, Mama Nobody could have saved me My heart was broken anyhow It was the only kind they gave me You’d be surprised what a little make-up can do I disappear, that’s my gift to you But in a blue motel room where somebody died next to a stain so plain they dared not hide it I stashed a love letter in a drawer with no key beside a bible and a map of the stars who burned out before me And there’s a gold box of matches with the number for the front desk and the motto ‘Don’t you deserve the perfect rest?’ And there's a black-and-white photo that I’ve taped to the mirror and when I’m ready to go, I’ll leave him here Now they’re casting the role of the great magician who escaped handcuffs and chains with only flimsy illusions I could read for the part or just send them this journal I’ve been coughing up blood since sometime in April But you couldn’t stop me, Mama Nobody could have saved me My heart was broken anyhow It was the only kind they gave me You’d be surprised what a little lighting can do I disappear, that’s my gift to you
Yellow Bird #2 I’d like to come in from the rain but will these blues ever let me be? Every tear takes a turn on my window pane and still you follow me The dust crackles inside my radio Now it won’t play nothing but the blues Even the pop star lost her shadow I had to sew mine to my shoes She sang, “All my love, all my love is leaving me Won’t somebody tell me where it goes?” In my mother’s book fathers kill their sons and somehow it fills the collection plate While these fresco fig leaves hide our love an angry heart can sing the blues all day Last night I dreamed a strange haiku ‘Wind tossed kite, be free. I held my breath for you. Now give the knife to me.’ All my love is vanishing Won’t somebody tell me where it goes?
Morning Light Blood-stained sumac and goldenrod bend in the wind as sundown slips behind me If every thief leaves scattered fingerprints perhaps there’s a chance you might come and find me Our wreck was pulled from the old ravine but the sirens never stopped The echoes sweeten the memory like Patsy Cline on some jukebox feeling crazy I should have known when I first saw you dance there weren’t enough hands on the clock to hold you Huddled in our haunted apartment burning sage like smoke could somehow raze a statue The dreams you float while in your bed and forget when morning hits your eyes are collecting dust on a Greyhound bus while you walk around surprised as a newborn baby In the morning light I saw a ghost reflected in the mirror and drank a toast to things which disappear In the morning light I heard a faint knocking at my door and turned away from those coming back for more She said deja-vu is worth repeating Cigarettes, sunsets, and the smell of gasoline I want to hear ‘That Old Time Feeling’ and hang from the words into the spaces in between We were laughing around the campfire but isn’t ash all we really left? It’s thoughts like this which make me wish all my cards weren’t tattooed to my chest They’re talking Civil War blues on my radio as mother earth broadcasts the fall of man The Devil won’t be there to see us go and I guess God has no use for idle hands The poor and injured lean on matchsticks but at least the flags burn at half-staff and soon the papers will be backdated to protect the future from the past In the morning light I saw the spider’s web tucked in the chandelier and confronted what’s never quite as it appears In the morning light I watched a hornet trapped inside the window screen and walked away from those exactly as they seem What happens to a Rembrandt torn to pieces and left drinking at the bar? How can this candlelight be counterfeit when it captures wounds as open as you are? Camouflaged in the thickets you slipped away from me again but in dreams you’ll come to visit another cardinal sitting on a barbed wire fence Across my hallway hear the old man His lungs rattle with a cough that’ll make you shudder Like the earthquake on the last line of that novel I’m trying hard now to remember When I flip back through our old pages time seems to vanish with your eyes green as the veins in the kale leaves and open like the curtains for sunrise In the morning light I saw a train hauling timber through the mist and let go of things too restless to resist In the morning light I watched a flock of geese return from the northern sky and I welcomed those too faithful to deny


Artists are not athletes. The career of the athlete is, by mortal necessity, compressed and brief. No one expects to see a professional slugger in their sixties out on the diamond, much less see them vying for a pennant. Artists, on the other hand, tend to age like wine—think Dylan, Cohen, and Cash—with the most rarefied among them capable of swinging for the fences with every at bat.

Omaha singer-songwriter Simon Joyner, who recently turned fifty, is such an artist, and while I’d certainly enjoy seeing his face grinning at me from a box of Wheaties, I’d rather he continue making albums like Songs From A Stolen Guitar.

Joyner, who’s been making records since 1990, has been on a roll since his mid-career magnum opus, 2012’s Ghosts, one of the great double albums of the past 25 years. On Songs From A Stolen Guitar, he is abetted by collaborators new and old, but the social distancing required by the pandemic of 2020 imbues the album with a distinct and poignant tenor.

The remoteness of the individual players on Songs From A Stolen Guitar, while necessarily eliminating some of the ragged spontaneity of much of Joyner’s previous work, yields a sort of silver-lining effect: Joyner’s songs, produced more meticulously and perhaps more intentionally here than on any of his previous albums, cut through that much cleaner, foregrounding both his dazzling wordplay and his clarity of vision. If Ghosts was his Tonight’s the Night—clamorous, naked, and unmoored—Songs From A Stolen Guitar may just turn out to be his Harvest.

Songs From A Stolen Guitar was recorded across several different cities. Joyner recorded his vocals and guitar live in Omaha; bassist Wil Hendrix added his parts at home in San Francisco, Michael Krassner recorded his guitar and piano overdubs at home in Phoenix, and drummer / percussionist Ryan Jewell recorded in Colorado. This musical chain letter then made its way back to Omaha where David Nance (guitars and backing vocals), Ben Brodin (organ and vibraphone), and Megan Siebe (viola and backing vocals) overdubbed—separately—their respective contributions.

As with any album recorded and / or released in the midst of wide scale upheaval, it is easy to read into these songs, and the performances of them, a thread of alienation, loneliness, and loss.

“The album wrestles with themes of isolation, so it was fitting that the musicians were alone to figure out their parts,” says Joyner, “and the overall atmosphere of the record is stark, and reflects that kind of isolation and first person point of view.” Joyner even asked drummer Ryan Jewell to avoid using a traditional drum kit, and to eschew cymbals entirely, to draw attention to rather than away from the isolated, unnatural nature of the recording.

The gambit pays off. The “virtual” band plays a supporting but complementary role throughout, always generating the appropriate amount of tension to accompany and swaddle these quixotic and emotionally charged stories populated by broken sunsets, haiku dreams, and chandelier spiderwebs. Indeed, the interplay is sensitive and cohesive, albeit mediated by geographical distance, often sounding like music filtered through the mist of an autumn morning.

Still, when it comes to Simon Joyner records, you pay your ticket to hear great songs, and in this category, too, Songs From A Stolen Guitar does not disappoint. The stirring “Tekamah,” boasting a strong and scene-stealing harmony vocal by Nance, is road trip sing along-worthy; the tender and beguiling “Caroline’s Got A Secret” reimagines the twilight elegance of the third Velvets album as a melancholy mystery; the introspective and sublime “The Actor” introduces us to a damaged yet imperishable character who coughs up blood and confronts ghosts reflected in the mirror; “Live In The Moment”—in which Joyner mischievously teases us with a bit of autobiography—wrings from its title’s platitude a panorama of vivid characters and situations via lyrics that are pure poetry (“I was hiding like the pulse on a newborn’s wrist”).

It turns out that the limitations imposed on the creation of Songs From A Stolen Guitar are, ultimately, serendipitous. The result is the rare album that sounds like what it’s about: the chasm that separates loneliness from aloneness, the lines between love and surrender, the distinction between the tornado and what it leaves behind.

-James Jackson Toth


"Omaha has given us the reigning heir to Henry Miller's dark emotional
mirror, Townes Van Zandt's three-chord moan, and Lou Reed's warehouse minimalism: his name is Simon Joyner." — Gillian Welch

"Pound for pound Simon Joyner is my favorite lyricist of all time. He
has shades of all the greats (Van Zandt, Cohen, Dylan) but exists in a
space all his own ... He truly is an American songwriting treasure. It
is my hope that more people will discover his music and share in the
unique joy that it brings." — Conor Oberst

"Simon's always been a secret handshake amongst me and my peers. He's a pioneer. He's helped pave the way for many people, myself included. He's an artist in its purest form--for his only concern is crafting a perfect song--which he's done time and time again."
-Kevin Morby


released June 3, 2022

All songs by Simon Joyner, Cowardly Traveller Music, BMI.

Musicians: Megan Siebe: Viola, Backing vocals, David Nance: Lead guitars, Backing vocals, Michael Krassner: Guitar, Piano, Max Knouse: Guitar, Sunshine Joyner: Guitar, Vocal, Ryan Jewell: Drums, Percussion, Wil Hendricks: Bass guitar,
Ben Brodin: Wurlitzer, B3, Vibraphone, Wally Boudway: Percussion on “Don’t Tell Bobby...”

Principle engineering and overdubs by Ben Brodin at Hand Branch Studio, Omaha. Ryan Jewell’s drums and percussion engineered by Jeff Kanan at The Keep Recording Studio, Denver. Final overdubs engineered by Michael Krassner at the 7-Track Shack, Phoenix.
Mixed by Michael Krassner and Simon Joyner, Phoenix. Mastered by Carl Saff at Saff Mastering, Chicago. Cover photo, design and layout by Sara Adkisson Joyner, home. Additional layout by Krstof Milovanic.

(p) & (c) (2022), Simon Joyner/Grapefruit Records, under exclusive license to BB*ISLAND for Europe and UK. Homeless Records for New Zealand and Australia. All rights reserved. Made in the EU.


all rights reserved



Simon Joyner Omaha, Nebraska

Simon Joyner is a singer-songwriter from Omaha, Nebraska. He's been flying under the radar since 1991, releasing music on various independent labels including: Team Love, Jagjaguwar, Sing Eunuchs!, Catsup Plate, One-Hour, Shrimper, Brinkman, Secretly Canadian, and Unread. He is also the co-founder of Grapefruit Records ( and an occasional producer of other people's albums. ... more

contact / help

Contact Simon Joyner

Streaming and
Download help

Shipping and returns

Redeem code

Report this album or account

If you like Simon Joyner, you may also like: