Iron & Rust

by Stranger Ways

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"It started like a lot of days; the sky was as grey as my town."

Long, long ago, the hedge dividing the human and faery realms started to crack. Human children began disappearing in the night, replaced by changelings and kept as playthings by the Queen of the Fae. The humans, in turn, began kidnapping any faery foolish enough to venture beyond the hedge--making the fae fight to the death for sport, or killing and eating them for the Dust their bodies naturally produce, which is a powerful intoxicant when ingested by humans.

"You don't understand; you stand at the brink of a changing world - but your kind never does."

The Queen of the Fae has lived since time immemorial, and holds absolute power in the faery realm. She has had enough of the treatment her kin has received at the hands of humans, and has developed a plan to rid the earth of them forever.

"I'll take this nightmare and I'll make it mine."

Desmond was born in colonial America and fell into the faery realm, where time passes differently. When he escaped, he found that centuries had gone by, and swore revenge against the faeries who did this to him. Under the name "Dizzy Dez," he became a talk radio demagogue, stirring up anti-fae sentiment until it reaches a boiling point.

"I've heard all the tales, what they've done to good men - so why do I feel like I'd do it again?"

Tom never wanted to be any kind of hero - he just wanted to get high in the woods. But on one such venture, he met a wandering fae, mistook her for another human on a Dust trip, and flirted with her. Now he finds himself on a misadventure that could decide the fate of two worlds.

"These tales are so exciting! Did they think I'd be afraid?"

Echo, the niece of the Faery Queen, wanted more than anything else to get away from her home. But what was supposed to be a nice stroll into the human realm turned into a nightmare when she met Tom. Whether she knows it or not, Echo has both the knowledge and the will to stop the violence between the two worlds for good.


released January 19, 2020

Nat Budin as Desmond
Kara Hurvitz as Echo
Brad Smith as Tom
Alexandria Wilkie as the Faerie Queen

Nat Budin: guitar
Jon Sagotsky: bass
Brad Smith: percussion
Alexandria Wilkie: flute

All songs composed by Stranger Ways.
Recorded, edited and mastered by the band.

"Sprite Fight Night" includes the sounds "Jacob's Ladder Single 2" by Halleck, "Splash, Jumping, F" by InspectorJ, and "VomackovaK_ambulance" by kristynavom98 from

Special thanks to:
Julia Kedge, the original Echo
Murder Ballads and Sassafrass for all their support over the years
Susan Weiner, our founder and composer-in-repose
Jesse Cox, OG Stranger
Kate Fractal, SMOF, house concert host, and friend of the band

And an extra-special thanks to everyone who has supported Stranger Ways. Thank you all!


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Stranger Ways Boston, Massachusetts

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Track Name: When the World Was Young
You don't understand
You stand on the brink of a changing world
But your kind never does

When the world was young, it was covered in a veil of darkness

And the sun didn’t shine and the plants didn’t grow
And the waters were cold and the barren stone cursed the sky

And the stone’s stark cry struck a hole in the sky, just a tiny thing at first
But that hole in the sky let the first magic in and the world began to thirst
And the magic formed a bubble, a womb for the first faerie
And the faerie was born and the magic made more to join in its revelry
The selkies moved on the waters and tides and the leprechauns weaved light
The dryads’ trees drank from shellycoat ponds and the wisp-lights filled the night

And the faeries fed on the magic of the world and our numbers grew as the magic was gobbled up
And our reign was long and the air filled with song until that dismal day when the well of magic dried up

And that day saw the birth of something new on the earth, neither animal nor fae
Something born when the world couldn't muster enough magic and creation went astray
A beast called man, born deaf, dumb, and blind, too sad to be humorous
But the world was starved and it couldn’t do better and they soon outnumbered us
And the colors slowly faded, like a sunset after dusk
And the faeries fled to hidden courts in a world of iron and rust

But we faeries are full of mischief; we’re unseen, but far from done
We have made a world that they don’t deserve - in exchange they’re ours for fun
Pluck a child from under her bed, or a lover full of sighs
Steal them away to the courts of the fae, we'll trade music for their
Cries, and they'll be playthings, or curiosities
Small price to pay to be guests among the fae; they alone get to see what life can be

When the world was young, it was covered in a veil of darkness

Now the darkness returns but there will come a day when our glory is restored
When our will finds a way to set man’s world ablaze by the ruse or by the sword
Track Name: Desmond
There once was a boy, a boy they called Desmond
Charming and brave with a happy young life
He lived in a village not too far from here
The son of an old preacher man and his wife
He wanted for nothing, he knew he was loved
But there comes a time when a boy wants to climb
That tree a bit higher, to pick through that briar
To stray from his home and to see the world for himself

He took an old compass his father had earned
When he was at sea while he, too, longed to be
A gallant adventurer, exploring the world
When the lad left home, his parents despaired

His father cried out, "the woods are not safe
Now do as you're told and don't stray from the road
Don't give your poor mother a fright; there are demons at night
They're seductive as sin!", but he did not heed

Now I think you all know what happens next
Poor Desmond was taken, enthralled to the fae
And there he remained as a slave far beyond
The mercy that should have been his dying day

The thing about fae is they aren't quite cruel
They just don't know pleasure and pain like we do
And we are just playthings, like bugs in a jar
As poor Desmond cries out, but his voice doesn't carry far

Show me the way out of here
The plea grows hollow, as hope is killed by fear
I see the others taken like me
See them forget that they once were free... not me
Cling, cling, cling to my memories
My poor dad must worry over me
He looked like - oh no, not this again
Must hold on - the stubble on his chin
Eyes were brown - this is my litany
Hair was white - you won't take him from me

My will alone gives me a chance
But drives me mad; it's the only way to dance
When you are bound by hands and your feet
And then it's clear as reason retreats

This magic - I start to understand
Poisonous, but woven to the land
My compass - how did I never see
How it glows with all this energy
Channel it - my will to do them harm
Show me the way

The needle starts to turn
The needle starts to turn
The needle starts to turn
I'll make their kingdom burn
Track Name: Time Passes
Head in the grass, surrounded by flowers
Sun in my face, clouds above me
Sleeping for days or just a few hours
I can't remember the last time I felt so free

Time to get up, time to get going
Time to return to my family
Feels like so long, but I'm happy knowing
That I'm going home, finally

Passing the clearing by the stream where the woods end
Why is that hill no longer green? Home is just around the bend
That cottage up the road seems much bigger than before
The path turns smooth and black; my home is not there anymore

I woke up somewhere and I don't know when
Almost familiar, but how long has it been?
Is this a nightmare or could it be true?
What kind of twisted fate have I fallen into?
So many people in one place, how can it be?
I woke up somewhere and I don't know when

This is not my time; this is not my home
Cut off from my line, now I'm all alone
But I guess I'm here to stay in this place
I woke up somewhere and I don't know when

I woke up somewhere and I don't know when
Good morning Desmond, where have you been?
Is this a nightmare or could it be real?
Well, how could anybody know how I feel?
And all the people I once knew, they’re all dead
I woke up somewhere and I don’t know when

Have you heard the news? I’m not from your time
Though I feel confused, I’ve made up my mind
But there will come a day, I’ll have my revenge
I woke up somewhere and I don’t know when

I woke up somewhere and I don’t know when
Well, it might take a year - it might take ten
I’ll take this nightmare and I’ll make it mine
It was too cruel to take a kid from his time
They won’t get away with this; they’ll rue the day
I woke up somewhere and I don’t know when
I woke up somewhere and I don’t know when
Track Name: Brownie Brownies
If you wanna taste some magic
If you wanna feel the rainbow
Then kids, I've got the ticket
To take you where you wanna go

LSD you say, that’s so yesterday
This robs heroin of its kick
There's only one way to make the cool kids sway
and that's a little baking trick

Put some brownies in your brownies
They're like chocolate mixed with hope
Put some brownies in your brownies
See? It just got easier to cope

First you'll feel a sparkles, then a kind of smoke
It smells like terror, feels like color and makes you want to choke
But then the veil will part, and you will see with brand new eyes
You’ll hear the stones and the trees discuss the birds and the bees, and greet each butterfly

And when you start to come down, it’s like waking from a dream
but I’ve got good news, you don’t have to lose, ‘cause you’re on the winning team
The fae are like a plague, but that’s no reason to dismay
We’ll make the most of it, save some lemons, and use them for lemonade

So put some selkie in your smoothie
Put some banshee in your blow
It’s got faerie it’s got dairy
It will make your insides glow

Bake ‘em in the oven, alone or by the dozen
It’s not wrong, because they can’t feel pain
Now grind them into flakes, that’s really all it takes
And sprinkle plenty on your coffee and your cakes

Remember, they’d do the same to you
Do the same to you

So put some boggan in your noggin
Put some dryad in your drink
Then just sit back and relax, and you
Won’t even have to think
Track Name: Tom
It started like a lot of days, the sky was as gray as my town
With a sound like a train the rain began to fall
I trudged along without a word, and ducked into the mall,
Which I blame, in part, for the drain that keeps this place tame

But freaks are here, and freaks peddle Dust
And Dust is what I want

Dealers and weirdos belong in the shadows, but these aren’t your usual fare.
Find the gaudiest neon glare and there they stare,
In rev’rent revelry; aware of something I can’t see
But will...

The deal is quick, and I score, and I soar, and finally relax
Hallelujah for the fae! Buck up, little guys, your loss has made my day

And now the rain is colorful, and even this town makes sense
And I can hear every stone down in my bones and they all scream, ‘Get thee hence!’
‘Quicken your pace! Leave this place before it sucks you dry.’
So I wandered deep into the woods at the edge of the town

If Mama knew, she’d be so afraid
But I was beyond fear

Well, then I saw the craziest thing
I wasn’t alone, somebody was singing!
Somebody else as hazed up as me
Pranced and sang to an old willow tree

Well hell, this day just keeps getting better
I’m not the only one out here unfettered
I laughed and I joined in the crazy dance
Feeling too good to not take a chance

Well, maybe I’ll hate myself in the morning
But I’ll do that regardless, so why be boring?
I walked right up to that willow tree
What fools, what fools we mortals be
Track Name: Echo
Oh, a merry fae went wandering to see what lay outside,
And I know to be true because that merry fae was I
They say that magic’s dead beyond the hedge’s hidden walls
But I think that wonder doesn’t die, it hides when shadows fall
And wondrous are the places deep and hidden I will find
For I’m sure I’ve but to listen and the earth will hum in kind

They've tried to tell me do not go, for badly I will fare,
they may be right, I’ve heard about the men that rule out there
They say they're taking those who stray much farther than is
They’re vile, voracious, vicious things with iron in their hearts
Oh, these tales are so exciting! Did they think I’d be afraid?
...well maybe just a little, but I won’t be scared away

I've always wanderlusted; I will take charge of my fate
For not much worth is safety when you’re stuck behind a gate
And so I went a-wandering, to see what lay outside,
And I sang with crickets and starlings, even made the old willow sigh
Oh, this world is just as wondrous as I knew that it could be;
So many creatures big and small to greet, befriend, to see…

I’m glad I went a-wandering and meandered down the path
That rambles through these woods without a sign of iron wrath
Perhaps I will find dangers still within the realm of men
But I can’t seem to believe that; all this world's a peaceful glen
But lo, what's this I merry see? A figure further down
Infused with magic just like me; this must be kin I've found!
What joy to have found suddenly a fellow fae as free as me!
The tales we’ll tell of how we’ve fared will become history!
Track Name: Tom and Echo
Hail to you, you radiant thing!

And also you, who to the woods bring
a music that’s mirthful but soft as a pillow--
Your talents are wasted upon that old willow

The willow is shy and reserving its praise.
It’s probably pining for happier days!

Oh, the willow’s a sap for a past evergreen!

Take the past and the future, leave me what’s between!

Oh a present you’d like? A particular kind?

Just the gift of adventure, and life unconfined.
At home it’s so formal, so nice it’s oppressive.

I know! And the petty political games, the obsessive, aggressive pursuit of dilution of things that might threaten their tired old ways...
So away from them beckoned.

Yes... and here we are now, as if it were fated!

Then here’s to new friends, well met if belated!

We’ve heard the same call, you and I have been sent
From our homes by that half-hearted muse, discontent.

It’s strange we’ve not met, coming from the same place.

Yes I’m not sure that I’ve ever once seen your face
And I know I would recognize something so pretty.

No, it’s not even like it’s that big of a city!

Wait, you live in the city?!
Track Name: A Foolish Fae
Oh a foolish fae went wandering into the land of beasts
Where magic isn’t dead, but is the food that monsters eat
Run away you foolish fae before the human sucks you dry,
Eats your magic, leaves you far from home, alone to die

Fear is like a banshee scream, rusalka kiss, a waking dream
Flying through the woods to flee my newfound monster friend

We danced and laughed and bandied words, he seemed a kindred soul
But now I see the game was me, a clever, hidden goal

Oh, she warned me she warned me that I was a fool
To venture outside of the realm faeries rule
For I am no hunter of monsters and so
I’d make easy prey for a fearsome new foe
But I did not believe the tales of what they’d done to us

The human seemed to understand the hidden courts of fae
He spoke of leaving home, of discontentment and dismay
Who knows what lies in the hearts of things that on magic’s arts do feed?
But as I run, I realize... he thought I wasn’t me

And underneath that willow tree he seemed surprised as I
But I hadn’t time to wonder, and for refuge I did fly

So now I fly through a strange, dark wood, alone without a map-- OOF!

And you were so distracted that you ran into our trap
Oh she warned you she warned you that you were a fool
To venture inside of the realm humans rule
For we’ve become hunters of monsters like you
You’ll fight in our ring and we’ll see how you do
For what your kind has done to us you’ll get what you deserve
Track Name: Sprite Fight Night
I can hardly see; this chamber is dark, but I can
Hear their voices screaming for blood, and I know
I was not abducted to join a picnic
Shackled to a cage, and I hear them shouting

“Step into the iron octagon”
We have taken their kind but never like this
“Step into the iron octagon”
The crowd resumes its menacing hiss, I’m caught
Sprite fight night

I have been here many times before but I never
Thought I’d ever come to the fight on a mission
In this place, the faeries are made to fight and
Die for sport, and kill their kin while the crowd cheers

Step into the iron octagon
Full nelsons don't work when your rival has wings
Step into the iron octagon
Bet on the winners and make out like kings
Your ramen days are over
If you pick your faeries right
So grab your four leaf clover
And come on - sprite fight night

It was in the woods I saw the men take her and I
Followed close behind while they brought her downtown
I knew then that I was responsible and
I knew then what I had to do, before she’d

Step into the iron octagon
It's better in person than on Pay Per View
Step into the iron octagon
You know this town's boring, what else would you do?
You can't fight pugs or beagles
Cause that'd be cruel, right? (Right!)
But fighting sprites is legal
So come on - sprite fight night

Tom what are you doing here, this is madness
What have you betwixt your hands--is that water?
You should not be back here without the handlers
Who knows what these monsters will do if I don’t

Step into the iron octagon
And come watch Titania fight Oberon
Step into the iron octagon
It's half pro wrestling, and half Pokémon
The ticket booth is closing
You know you want to bite
So here's what I'm proposing
Step right up - sprite fight night

Take your seats now ladies and gents
The first fight is about to start
Tom where are you taking me?
I do not understand your plan
Just duck and I’ll take care of it
How well can you see in the dark?
Sorry folks, a system glitch
No need to panic; please stand by
I was behind you, where’d you go?
My legs are not as long as yours
I’ve cut the power--now’s our chance, let’s
Beat it while we can-- “Hey douchetruck,
If you like the faeries so much you can go live with them!”
Track Name: Kicked Out
“Hey now get your hands off me!” / “What is this supposed to be?”
“Stop! You’re hurting me”
“Hey now, where you taking me?” and then I begin to see
Oh, please no not this

There’s a Rift not far from here, what they intend is crystal clear
I’m dead to them now. Might as well
Toss me into faerieland, let me suffer at their hands
And laugh all the while

I’ll be kicked out of my home, left here all alone
I’m thrown by my fortune to places unknown
I’m shunned by my race, kicked out on my face
They left me to die in disgrace

Will my mother shed a tear if I don’t get out of here?
Please don’t forget me
How could they have been so cruel; how could I be such a fool
Why did I set them free?

Spent my life believing they were nothing but deceiving fae
We just paid them in kind, but when she
Found out what I really was, terrified of me because
Oh! I’ve been so blind

And just what did I think my new friend would infer
When she found I'd consumed other folks just like her?
She ran and was caught, and I couldn’t stand by
But now for my troubles am I gonna die?

Well, they started it first, yes they started this fight
So why should they care if I tried to do right?
I’ve heard all the tales, what they’ve done to good men
So why do I feel like I’d do it again?

I’m kicked out of my home, to the fae realm, alone
To follow my conscience to places unknown
She ran away; should I do the same?
If I try to talk then will I get the blame for it all?
Track Name: In the Faery Court
Why’s she asking me to guard this one?
Can’t we throw him through the Rift?
I’ve been through quite enough today
Without a dungeon shift

Never thought I would find you again
But you made it out, I see
Oh, now my luck has finally turned
You’ve got to set me free

Hey, I know you! (Stop!)
I can show you
How to sneak away--
You’ll have to wait, but I can…

No, you tell me - what? What's the plan?

Did you miss the things your monarch said?
I’m not sneaking back to home!
Her rants are long and I bore easily
That’s why I tend to roam

Let me tell you what she told me, then
She’s preparing for a war
She wants to take things back to how
She claims they were before

Do you agree?
Would you kill me
If she told you to?
Your ruler plans to kill us all

All her power here is absolute
Even when she dooms us all
I do not want to wage a war
But we live in her thrall

I cannot control her actions, Tom
Nor can I delay her hand
You bid me rise against my Queen
But you don’t have a plan

So that’s it, then?
Is it written?
We’re all gonna die?
There has to be some other way

Think what her battle will mean
You will all take casualties too
There are more of us than her and we can stop her if we try

Says the man whose whole experience
Of the faerie court involves
Getting locked inside a cage
And not much else at all

Look, if we are to make a difference here
We should start with something small
Let me out of this prison cell
And then we’ll show them all

On your feet, then
Have to beat them
There’s no time to lose
Okay, so what’s the plan?
I have one thought...
[spoken] But we should probably talk about it on the way.
Track Name: Burn Down the Faery Ring
Once there was a time for laughter
Once there was a time for play
But there must come a time when we must draw the line
Because that time is over today

Once there was a time for faeries
And magic, and wonder, and lore
But we must take a stand to defend human land
Because now it is the time for war

I have come to raise the alarm
We must stand, hold the line, take up arms
We shall not yield to our enemy
We are strong, we are proud, we are free

So god damn all sprites, elves and faeries
And god damn the songs that they sing
We’ll pillage their homes and we’ll smash their queen’s throne
And we’ll burn down the faery ring

The world once was young and all faeries were one
We fae and our magic were free
But you beast-men instead, clumsy and overbred,
Have taken the world from me

Lurking in every dark alley
Waiting, we’ve always been here
Complacent no more, here to settle the score
We are your deepest fear

Come, my friends! Let us stand as one
The dawn of the fae has begun
The world’s ablaze, by our magic, rise
On this night, by the sword mankind dies

Ready for battle, my legions
Take back the world for the fae
Together we’ll fight, we will triumph this night
We’ll right the world gone astray

Join me in glorious battle
Together we will make them pay
We'll take none alive and our people will thrive
They’ll not live to rue the day

You know our cause is righteous
You know our faith is true
We must now stop their lot; kill them all; let them rot
They'd do no less to you

Curse the fae! They will steal your kin
In return they will burn for their sin
Curse all men! They’re our world’s decline
Prove your worth and the earth shall be thine

March through the rift on my order
My friends, we are destined to win
Our triumph draws near; we will teach them to fear
Let their destruction begin
Our triumph draws near; we will teach them to fear
Let their destruction begin
Track Name: The War That Cannot Be Won
Two ancient enemies arrived here today
Your people praying for salvation
I’ve seen the madness and the vengeance in their eyes
That way leads to annihilation

You’ve ignited the fuse, now you cannot but lose
You lead your own men into slaughter
When the battle is done, you will fall to the gun
The end is nigh, this war that cannot be won

Two ancient enemies have been kept apart
Their worlds completely separated
But over time the wall has been chipped away
The hedge between them desecrated

It was better before you kicked open the door
We’ve proven we can’t live together
Separation a gift now destroyed by this rift
I’ve got to end this war that cannot be won

Tom, if you really want to stop the coming bloodshed
Then we could close the rift, but at a cost
I think I know a way to separate our worlds forever
But its power must arise from human loss

Your queen could throw away a hundred thousand of my people
But for her that would be no sacrifice
The willing death of just one tiny human holds more power
Than the slaughter she would use to pay the price

Two ancient enemies that met in the wood
And found their fates woven together
Until today I only cared for myself
So we can do your queen one better

Never thought that a friend would deliver my end
My virtue the death of my conscience
We must give human life to the will of the knife
To save us from the war that cannot

Be they human or fae, I will curse those I save
Our worlds must be parted forever
So now take up the blade, blood and tears will be paid
We won’t let you fight the war that cannot be won
Track Name: Nothing Good Can Last
I took a walk down by the stream today
I sat alone and let time just slip away
There was a path here winding through the wood
I used to play there, but now it’s gone for good

I met a stranger there who looked like me
But then he showed me how cruel the world could be
My friend is gone now, but the Rift is too
I wonder is this really what he had to do?

But now I know that it’s part of our nature
Doesn’t matter how we tried
I know that nothing good can last, and we are why

[instrumental break]

But it was time, there was just no solution
Doesn’t matter how we tried
I know that nothing good can last, and we are why

They said the world was ours, and we believed
Through all our hubris, what did we achieve?
Now we have a world all to ourselves, and nothing more

And they a world of rust and iron won,
If both had looked to the future, what could we have done? Instead we
Fought over grudges back to ancient times
Drunken on old mem’ries that had aged like wine

And I have learned history can be poison
It enthralls us in its spell
So maybe "nothing good can last" is just as well

We gods of old and we youthful rivals
Pray these words outlive ourselves
Our story’s done, but not alone upon the shelves

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