The Story and Lyrics

A Sequel to "Ziggy Stardust" in Three Acts

David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars promised that the world would end in five years... but we're still here.
The Fall and Rise of John Elderkin and ¡Moonbeams No Mas! picks up where the story left off. The record works as a rock opera, with characters and plot, but it is not a musical homage to Bowie. Instead, John Elderkin has collected a group of fellow North Carolinians to create their own Everyperson’s epic story of hope, loss, and resilience.

And a trip to the moon.

ACT 1: The world doesn’t end. John and Danielle start a band. The Cosmos calls.

We Waited Five Years

John: We waited five years for the world to go bust

To explode into space and scatter as dust

I tried to hold on—wasn’t sure who to trust

I didn’t know about love yet

We waited five years, what a grueling routine

The assholes acted nice,

The sweethearts got mean

Mom shooed us outside, said, "Run play while you can"

The Old Man grabbed our necks, shoved shovels in our hands

Said, "We’re perfectly safe, we’ll dig halfway to Japan"

Oh man, I didn’t know about love yet

I ran away, straight to the record store

I charged in singing that song about “Hate and War”

When, who were you, all alone by the used-vinyl bin?

Danielle: I was trying to choose between Molly Hatchet and Ringo Starr

when you stumbled in

John: Stumbled in? You wore an eye patch, what could you see?

Danielle: Even with lazy eye, I could tell you were three inches

shorter than me

John: The record store’s record stopped just as I said out loud,

“World, please, don’t end now!”

We waited five years for the world to shut off

To go still and dark with a whimper and cough

We waited five years and a day

My sis marked the calendar, said, “No freaking way!”

At five years and a week

Mom opened our hatch, took a peek

When five years became six and seven,

The Old Man paced the yard grumbling, “Same hell, same heaven”

I grew at least a foot hanging by the used-vinyl bin

Waiting for a certain someone to walk back in

I didn’t know about love yet

Messy Down Below

John: Well, here we are

Danielle: With bumps and scars

John: We’ve come so far!

Danielle: But true love, don’t you know, gets messy down below

We’re here to tear it up,

Even if nobody shows

We’re aiming high cause it’s messy down below

John: I can dance the Watusi

And the Moray Eel

Danielle: Try the Nae Nae

John: I got no fear

We’re here to tear it up,

Even if nobody knows

We’re aiming high cause it’s messy down below

John: What's your dance?

Danielle: I shake like a rattlesnake

Adam: I do the Americano

Robito: I dance the Shing-a-ling

Paul: The Rickshaw

Carolyn: The Pistol Pete

Phil: I like the Blue Loafer

Bruce: I do the Calzone

The Message (by John Elderkin/Chris Garges)

Song For David Bowie

Why do you run? Where do you hide?

What secret sun lights your half of the sky?

Where it glows, it glows, it glows

George Clinton battled with Sir Nose

The Carpenters welcomed UFOs

What explains what rock stars know?

Are your ears to the tracks, palms toward the ‘om’?

Were you alone when you cracked the astral code?

Oh you know we know you know

Desmond Dekker calls from outer space

Sun Ra quit the human race

What explains a rock star’s grace?

Hey David Bowie, I wrote this song for you

Hey David Bowie, you and Mick Ronson, too

I say David Bowie, ancient prophets got nothing on you

With your voice so true, like Marcel Marceau sniffing glue

ACT 2: The band aims to spread the word. Our heroes are tested.

Gather Your Strength

John: Where can I find a pair of Beatle boots,

Eyeliner and Nudie suit?

I know just the look the spotlight wants

When can I git off?

Play to your strengths—gather your strength

Danielle: Let’s write our names way up in the sky

Then watch the wind blow

Let’s sail a boat to the horizon line

Then feel the wind blow

Gather our friends—play for our friends

John: What can I pawn for a new guitar?

The loudest and brightest

Where can I cop a hot set of wheels?

Let’s turn some heads now

Danielle: Let’s close our eyes and take a breath

Let’s make our work play

Take my wrist, find my pulse

Let’s be here now, okay?

Don’t Look Right at the Sun

Everybody wants the same thing every summer

And everyone gets all burned up by the sun

Go sing songs about the sun

Roll on the grass under the sun

Build a temple to the sun

But man, don’t look right at the sun

When the winter comes we all want to wrap up

Everyone hopes the fire stays lit through the night

Sing songs around the fire

Snuggle up next to the fire

Rub your hands over the fire

But man, don’t jump into the fire

If everyone could hear the same song at the same time

If we could hang a sign that everyone could see

To shine a light bright as the sun

To build a fire that won’t expire

That's our plan, man

That's what needs to be done

Keep It Down (by John Elderkin/Chris Garges/Mark Whelan)

The whole world is always sleeping in

They say keep it down, down

I can keep it down

But in the still morning hush, I hear trouble

Want me to keep it down, down?

I can keep it down

Here comes the sound of keeping it down…

Get Back in the Van (by John Elderkin/Steve Ruppenthal)

It’s fucking cold even for Sioux City

My beer won’t pour out of the can

I’ll load the gear, settle up with the man

Yeah, let’s get back in the van

We swore an oath, we spit in the same cup

We’re volunteers, we raised our hands

It’s been six months, okay a year

Time means nothing in a van

Right, let’s get back in the van

The band: We wanna weigh in, and we want a way out

Why don’t we sing?

Let’s all join in as one: la-la-la, la-la-la-la

We will be heard, spring will thaw our toes

We’ll laugh we almost quit the plan

Please, let’s get back in the van

Help me work it out!

You Got Sick

You got sick and we didn’t know why

The sky was shining, our words were rhyming

You got sick and we don’t know how long

The sky was shining, we honed our timing

We got stoned and we wrote our own song

The sky was shining, all silver lining

I saw you smile, I watched you laugh, I turned my head, I didn’t cry

I saw you smile, I watched you laugh, I turned my head up to the sky

Danielle, Long Gone

Danielle: I count the miles and months gone

I search around on Google Earth

When I sing, you’re with me

I track the moon between us—can we see it the same time?

When I sing, you’re with me

I know you tried hard as me

I slept through a tsunami, I felt an earthquake on the street

When I sing, you’re with me

I went to hear The National, they called out a song for you

When I sing, you’re with me

I know you tried hard as me

Every town we played was a factory town

They all churned out broken hearts

I’m not saying that’s why I got sick

I’m just saying I want a new start, even if this is the end

ACT 3: Is all lost? John and Levon fight the good fight. On the moon.

Fat Levon on Acid

Levon: Hey, man. You know how Marty got all fucked up and passed out on that futon?

I came in, I thought he was my sweet baby. I took off all my clothes. I felt him up. Hey,

man. I saw your cousin Freddy over at the gas station. He had that nasty axle grease

all over his fingers. I watched him stick his hands down his pants and start feeling

around down there. It freaked me out. Hey, man. It kills me to see you so bummed out.

You can’t shut yourself away. I won’t let you. Tell you what—my mom sent me a big,

orange birthday cake. That thing is profound. There could be girls inside it. Come

here, man. I’m gonna toss you right in the middle and let you eat your way out.

Partiers: Fat Levon on acid Levon: Life is not so bad!

Megaphone on the Moon

Off to the moon

Here we come, moon

First thing in the morning, crank up the Internet

Download instructions, we’ll build a rocket

Construction site lumber, hammers and ladders

Correct attitude, to haul this megaphone

Off to the moon

Here we come, moon

By early evening, swab up the flight deck

Run down the checklist—test lift, drag, weight, and thrust

Lunches in Tupperware, map in my back pocket

Just you and me, Levon

Let’s haul this megaphone

Off to the moon

Here we come, moon

This ain’t rocket science

Sore Afraid

I am sore afraid of what comes next

Of losing you, of keeping you

I’m a shepherd in the field, I work nights

Silent nights, gigantic nights

Oh, fantastic light—did we hear it right?

I am sore afraid of leaving here

The work of man, the work of God

Oh, fantastic light—did we hear it right?

I am sore afraid of what comes next

Of losing you, of keeping you

Telstar (by Joe Meek. Used by permission)

A Trip to the Moon

Give Me Your Hands

Stub out that cigarette

Tie those cinderblocks to your shoes, tight.

We’ll set up on that ridge, right there

Where the dark side meets the light.

Friends, can everyone hear?

Friends, look up, look way up here!

Blue ocean fills our eyes

Our bloody canteens ran dry

These jet packs on our backs, they won’t get us home

Friends, we carry rough news

And friends, you’ll have to shoulder it, too

I wrote a rally cry and promised not to cry

But friends, up here you can’t believe the size of the sky

I wish I could reach out, reach out down there

Can you give me your hands?

Give me your hands while I tell you that...

The End


All songs by John Elderkin unless noted
(c) 2017 BMI


Recorded and mixed by Chris Garges at Old House Studio, Charlotte, NC;

Additional engineering with: Jerry Kee at Duck Kee Studio, Mebane, NC;

Eamonn Aiken at The Bastille Studio, Arlington, VA; Thom Canova and Mark

Simonsen at Studio m, Durham NC

Mastered by Scott Craggs at Old Colony Mastering, South Boston, MA

Vinyl lacquer master cut by Jeff Powell at Take Out Vinyl, Memphis, TN

Woodwinds arranged by Chris Garges

Instrument/sound loans: Dutch Adkins, Brad Bailey, Jason Hausman,

Mike Jones, Tim Murray

Artwork: Shaun McCarthy at number 09 design

Cover photo: Lucy Collins

John, Mark, Chris photos: Daniel Coston

We are all Moonbeams:

John Elderkin – vocals, guitars, synth, bass, noisemakers

Chris Garges – percussion, drums, synths, glockenspiel, bells, Omnichord

Danielle Howle – vocals

Mark Whelan – bass, banjo, guitars, piano, glockenspiel

Pete Kaperonis – guitars


Voice of the Cosmos – John Ensslin

Bass: Don Dixon, Matt Everhart, Henry Pharr, Robert Sledge; Bassoon:

Sue Heineman; Clarinet: Jennifer Everhart; Drums: Eric Willhelm; Guitar: Dan

Hood; Noisemakers: Chuck Garrison, Stough Garrison, Philip Collins

Piano/Keyboard/Synth: Sam Esquith, Philip Collins; Saxophone: Greg Jarrell;

Stylophone: Kevin Ruppenthal; Theremin: Troy Conn; Trombone: John Plymale;

Violin: Laura Thomas

Vocals: Kent Alphin, Lewis Baucom, Steve Beeson, Philip Collins, Rob Gal,

Jay Garrigan, Erik Johnson, John Plymale, Charlotte Schwartz, Paul Schwartz,

Mark Simonsen, Rett Snotherly, Adam Tamashasky, Cathie Trosch, Lou Trosch,

Andy Ware; Radio Announcers: Roey Haviv, Colman Gota, Hansford Rowe,

Quincas Moriera, Brad Warner, Joe Wilkie, Fatma Daglar, Emily Murphy, Mike

Bridavsky, Carol Stumpf, Grit Denker, Ricardo Cyncynates, Scott Elderkin,

Sam Esquith, Jack Murray

See for track-by-track breakdown.

Big thanks, Kickstarter partners: Betsy Alperin, Kent Alphin, Steve Balcom,

Martin Baucom, Steve Beeson, Trilby Berger, Glenn Boothe, Dawn Bost, Ann

Bronston, Kelly Bruce, Bill Bryson, Cathy Bryson, Eddie Campbell, Jane

Campbell, Sharon Campon, Thomas Coble, Adam Cohen, Chuck Crews, Jim

Desmond, Jen Divis, Becky Elderkin, Dave Elderkin, Scott Elderkin, Lisa Gray,

Sue Heineman, Mary Anne Hoskins, Dick Huey, Laura Fuller, Chuck Garrison,

Eddie Huffman, Erik Johnson, Andrea Kornstein, Bud Long, Elizabeth Malcom,

Victoria Mattiuzzo, April McCarthy, Heather McDonald, Jay Mebane, Lessley

Merklein, Jeff Middents, Brian Mixon, Juliette Morgan, Kevin Morgan, John Mundt,

Rob Neely, Eric Nolan, Amy and Tom Okel, Mike Olivieri, Ted Pappas, John Priebe,

Jason Reed, Jeff Ruppenthal, John Ruppenthal, Kevin Ruppenthal, Sophie

Sartain, Cal Sawyer, Doug Schoemer, Charlotte and Paul Schwartz, Rett

Snotherly, Adam Steckler, Chad Stern, Drew Stern, Scott Stevens, Adam

Tamashasky, Lou and Cathie Trosch, Henry Underhill, Karl Wachter, Mark Whelan,

Carter Woollen, Steve Yarbrough

Special thanks: Cathy Bryson, Chuck Crews, Mary Crews, Shaun McCarthy, Caroline Rumley,

Josh Starmer, Wiley Stewart, Adam Tamashasky, Karl Wachter...

and David Bowie

Executive Producers: Bill Bryson, Dave Elderkin, Mark Whelan


@moonbeamsnomas, and

~ Upon This Rock Records ~