Prelude to a Staten Island Ferry Disaster


The wind is howling at my window
Someone’s knocking at my door
And there’s soldiers at the front lines
Who ain’t coming home no more

45 miles per hour
That’s what the weatherman said
Some of them soldiers at the front lines
They’re coming home dead

Well I hope it ain’t my brother,
And I hope it ain’t my friend

And I wonder how’s the weather
In that awful place
Does anybody at the front lines
See this is a goddamn disgrace?

The wind is howling at my window
Someone’s knocking at my door

Copyright © 2008 Karl Ward

Release Info

  • Release: Prelude to a Staten Island Ferry Disaster
  • Artist: Ninth Street Mission
  • Format: Digital
  • Date: November 30, 2008
  • Personnel:
    • Karl Ward: electric guitar, drums, lead vocals
    • Adam Chimera: mixing
    • Quinn Raymond: electric guitar
    • Namrata Tripathi: bass, harmony vocals

Writing notes

So my friend Brian lived across from the United Nations in this high rise. I was crashing on his couch for a bit back in 2003. He had just gotten a big plasma screen TV, which was a big deal back then. There were really high winds so I turned on this ridiculous TV and started watching the weather forecast. To my surprise, they were showing the weather in Afghanistan. These chords were bouncing around in my head and I started playing them on a Gibson J-45 acoustic guitar I had borrowed from Aileen Morgan. The words came quickly, all flowing from the wind that was actually howling. It wasn’t long after writing it, maybe a few minutes, that I heard about the horrible Staten Island Ferry crash that had just happened that afternoon.

It just seemed so pedestrian to be talking about the weather in this war that was very real for thousands of people, but just another bit of weather entertainment in between commercials for this terrible network. Like a joke, that Americans would literally talk about the weather instead of the war. America felt dark at that moment.

Recording notes

The drums and rhythm guitar parts were recorded in my apartment on Henry Street. This might be the only appearance of my solid state Fender Frontman 25R amp. I think I recorded the quieter electric guitar parts on the Telecaster plugged into the Sovtek MIG-50. I know I recorded the loud rhythm guitar parts on the Fender Frontman, because it just sounded so nasty. The drums are being hit as hard as possible–no one called the cops? I think we just did two takes and then decided not to press our luck. Quinn added the underwater lead guitar and rockets, and we recorded vocals in Brooklyn.

There’s a version of this that Adam and I recorded with just acoustic guitar, snare with brushes, and upright bass that needs to see the light of day. I think I have come to prefer that recording, which we really should have finished.