Distorted Vision

by Gray Rinehart

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More "truths and lies and make-believe" from Gray Rinehart


released August 22, 2015

Words and music by Gray Rinehart, except:
- "A Great Lake of Beer" is built around a 6th Century prayer of St. Brigid of Ireland
- "The Books We Call Baen" is built around "The Hero of Canton" by Ben Edlund -- Used by permission
- "The Faded Coat of Brown" is built around "The Faded Coat of Blue" by J.H. McNaughton, 1865
- "The Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries" is built around the Seventy Maxims developed by Howard Tayler, specifically Maxims 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 13, 20, 22, 23, 27, 29, 35, 36, and 37

Arrangements by Mark Minervino

Gray Rinehart: Lead and some backing vocals
Mark Minervino: Instruments and backing vocals

Recorded at Stormghost Studio, Cary, NC, and MKM Studios, Scarborough, ME
Engineered and mixed by Mark Minervino at MKM Studios, Scarborough, ME
Mastered by Brian Ceccarelli at Talus Music (talusmusic.com), Apex, NC
Published by Gray Rinehart (graymanwrites.com), Cary, NC
Photography, typography and graphic design by Christopher Rinehart (christopherrinehart.com)

Special Thanks ...
To the creators of the stories that inspired the various songs: Firefly/Serenity, produced by Joss Whedon, Ben Edlund, et al; Schlock Mercenary by Howard Tayler; Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card; and many others.
To Baen Books, for letting me be part of the family.
To James Maxey, for requesting an original song for his "Winter Tales" event.
To Jill, Stephanie and Christopher, for keeping me (somewhat) sane and (mostly) ignoring my insanity.



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Gray Rinehart North Carolina

Gray Rinehart writes science fiction, fantasy, assorted nonfiction, and the odd song. Or odd songs.

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Track Name: Ten Thousand Years Ago
If I had been born 10 thousand years ago
At the dawn of civilization, one thing that I know
Is that if I had been born 10 thousand years ago ...
I'd be dead by now

Unless, that is, I was immortal
Like that fellow in that movie where there could "be only one"
But I'm not a very good swordsman, so if I met the Spaniard or the Kurgan
I'm pretty sure I would be done

Chorus <1000 years ago, back in the Middle Ages>

Unless, that is, I was a Time Lord
With a T.A.R.D.I.S. and companion, showing up to save the day
But I'd probably get lost or worse, ranging through the universe
Yeah, I would've bought the farm on Gallifrey

Chorus <500 years ago, in the Age of Exploration>

Unless, that is, I was a vampire
Like the cool ones in the movies -- suave, debonair, and smart
But if I had to be the sparkly kind, I think that would drive me out of my mind
And I might put a stake through my own heart

Chorus <100 years ago, in the early 20th Century>

Unless, I grabbed the Sorcerer's Stone
Track Name: My Distorted Vision
The limits of my vision change in unexpected ways
I can't get my mind to focus on the things that really matter
I see the past too clearly, the present moments are a blurry haze
And there are dirty, shuttered panes between me and "happily ever after"

I cannot see you, cannot see you as you are
Between beams and confusion I'm blind to the messages in the stars
I cannot see me, cannot see me as I am
I can't make out the path ahead, or read the Book in my own hand

We may gaze in the same direction, but we don't see the same things
And when I looked at my reflection, it didn't look like me
Because what we see depends upon the light we're standing in
And the old, gray man was a far, far cry from what I used to be


Touch my eyes, restore my sight, renew my mind
Clarify my vision, so that I can understand
Who you are, and who I am ... who I am

I bought a pair of rosy glasses on the road to Shangri-La
I think that's why I lost my way, and wandered through the years
Now I've pulled the curtains closed on the window to my soul
And my crystal ball is cracked, no magic images appear

Track Name: Winter Simplifies the World
I have been where the winter steals the sun for months on end
Where ice-laden winds blow blinding storms down to the frozen bay
And the solstice noon is midnight dark and the cold will not relent
And every soul despairs a little as the old year fades away

I'm amazed at how much winter seems to simplify the world
As it hides the paths we'd hoped to take and wraps the earth in crystal white
It gives us long cold months to meditate on what's behind and what's ahead
We're on the cusp of new beginnings when winter simplifies the world

I remember her smile and her hand warm in mine
And the way I felt that winter day when I had to watch her go
And how, like marble under the chisel, the fragments of my heart were chipped away
And dropped with all the warmth of moonlight on newly-fallen snow


If we make it through the longest night
If we survive to see the dawn
If we endure the frost that chokes us, and melt the ice that binds
Then we'll know we have the strength to carry on -- because

The snow-covered world is lonely, waiting for the sun and warmth and life
She doesn't wear a shroud, but a lacy veil to hide her bridal smile
And it will lift like fog and she'll kiss us, with lips soft as a budding rose
And we will stand in the cool spring morning, enthralled, entranced, beguiled

Chorus (past tense)
Track Name: We Want the Easy Road
Follow me, my yoke is easy
Follow me, my burden is light
Follow me, and truth shall free you
Follow me, receive new sight
It sounds so good, you knew it would, all the pleasant things you said
We want your peace, sweet release, we want the easy road, the wine, the bread

Follow me, and learn to fish for human souls
Follow me, leave your family and your home
Follow me, I don't bring peace, I bring a sword
Follow me, and let the dead bury their own
It sounds so odd, these words from God, so we ignore the hard things you said
We just want peace, sweet release, we want the easy road, the wine, the bread

Follow me, learn to be salt and light
Follow me, and know that hate may as well be murder
Follow me, turn the other cheek and love your enemy
Follow me, and drink the living water
It sounds absurd, these things we heard -- all those crazy things you said
We just want peace, sweet release, we want the easy road, the wine, the bread

What should we do instead?
We should be carrying our crosses, shouldering the load
Walking with the Master down the straight and narrow road
And when we fall, and we will fall, He'll pick us up again
Carrying our crosses in our own Jerusalem

Follow me, don't be surprised when men revile you
Follow me, your wealth won't get you into Heaven
Follow me, be faithful in the small things
Follow me, forgive to be forgiven
We close our ears, don't want to hear, are we sure that's what you said?
We just want peace, sweet release, we want the easy road, the wine, the bread

Follow me, and be a good and faithful servant
Follow me, shine like a city on a hill
Follow me, worship in Spirit and Truth
Follow me, so you can really live
Track Name: The Maxims of Maximally Effective Mercenaries
Muster, muster, mercenaries, learn the maxims good and true
They're the keys to maximal effectiveness in everything we do

The maxims are better far than doctrine
They make more sense and are easier to learn
They're all about fighting smart instead of harder
And they start with the simplest: Pillage, then burn

You know that any Sergeant who's in motion
Outranks a Lieutenant who doesn't know what's going on
But an ordnance technician moving at a dead run
Should be followed because he outranks everyone


When the going gets too tough, the tough call for air support
Because close air support covereth a multitude of sins
And you know if you're not willing to shell your own position
Then really, you're not willing enough to win

Never turn your back on an enemy, and don't be afraid
To be the first to resort to violence when opposed
'Cause if violence wasn’t your last resort, you failed to resort to enough of it
And there's no such thing as "overkill," just "open fire" and "reload"


If you can see the whites of their eyes, someone's done something wrong
And the enemy of my enemy is my enemy's enemy -- nothing more
And the Platinum Rule of mercenaries is "do unto others"
And that which does not kill you has made a tactical error

We have far too many maxims than we can fit in just one song
But you'll keep your company happy if you take them all to heart
And if the food is good enough the grunts won't complain about the incoming fire
But the company mess and friendly fire should be easier to tell apart

Track Name: The Anti-Candidate Song
I just want your money, I just want your cash
I just want all your treasure, whatever's in your stash
It's strictly voluntary, it's not highway robbery
I just want your money ... and that's why politics is for me

I've been unknown, and rarely sung, I'm an Anti-Candidate
And I'd serve in any office, in any district or any state --
But I have a little problem, it's an introvert's disgrace
I'd rather rely on social media ... than to meet you face-to-face

Chorus 1 <50>
Politics, politics, the life I want to lead
To make sure I get what I want, and you get what you need
I may be arrogant and megalomaniacal but it's just because I'm great
Come out and join me any time -- X bucks a plate

You asked about religion? I'm a Christian, there's no doubt,
But I support your right to follow any faith, or even to live without
Just don't take away my Bible or tell me not to pray
And I won't dress you up and make you stand in my Nativity display

Chorus 1 <500>

And as for our armed forces, they're our bravest and our best
I wore a uniform for 20 years, so I'm talking about the rest
You see, all my years in service did not go to my head
Some say I wasn't in the military -- I joined the Air Force instead

Chorus 1 <5000>

There's a plane fueled up and waiting on the tarmac
To fly me to where I'll give my victory speech
I'll be speaking from a little island nation
Where there's no extradition treaty and secret bank accounts are chic

If you ask me if I'm liberal, I'd have to answer "yes"
I believe in freedom to own lots of guns, to protect what we possess
If you say that sounds conservative, I guess I must agree
I think the government should be smaller -- except, of course, for me

Chorus 1 <50 grand>

Chorus 2
Politics, politics, yes, that's the life for me
So tell me now, how do you feel about my honesty
I won't try to fool you, making promises I'll never keep
I want your money, and all the power, and unearned celebrity
I hope you'll vote for me
Track Name: The Enemy's Gate is Down
It's supposed to be noble, to fight for a cause
But more of us fight for our families or comrades who stand at our sides
Ideals may get lost, when we're counting the cost
And all that we have is each other, our love, our honor, our pride

Chorus 1:
Down, down, the enemy's gate is down
Down, down, the enemy's gate is down
The enemy lurks in the endless sky
And gave us no choice but to win or die
But justice will not be denied
The enemy's gate is down, the enemy's gate is down, down, down

They came without warning, attacked from the black
They came here to conquer, to kill, to maim and destroy what was ours
We beat them the first time, we'll fight to the last
We'll chase them into the fearsome dark and pave our way to the stars

Chorus 1

There are times when you fight, win however you can
The price you pay is your soul ... piece by piece by piece
It's a pittance to offer, for your fellow man
To guard those we love and treasure while they peacefully sleep

The lion won't lie down with the lamb tonight
A favored son is leading it to war
One with mind and stomach for the fight
A different fight than we've ever had before ...

They offered no quarter, no chance for escape
Just fire and vacuum, confusion-and-chaos, pain and death and fear
We united against them, common foe, common fate
The tribes and tongues and nations together in arms along the frontier

Chorus 1

Chorus 2:
Down, down, the enemy's gate is down
Down, down, the enemy's gate is down
The price of freedom is always high
We pay it when we kill, and we'll pay it if we die
But we pay it for the futures of those we left behind
The enemy's gate is down, the enemy's gate is down, down, down
Track Name: The Faded Coat of Brown
My brave lad sleeps in his faded coat of brown.
In a lonely grave unknown lies a heart of love renowned.
He sank faint and hungry among the famished brave,
And they laid him sad and lonely within his nameless grave.

No more the bugle calls the weary one.
Rest, noble spirit, in thy grave unknown.
I'll find you and know you when the final trumpet sounds
And a robe of white is given for the faded coat of brown.

He cried, "Give me water and just a little crumb,
And my mother she will bless you for all the years to come.
Please tell my sweet sister, with gentle goodness crowned,
That I'll meet her up in heaven in my faded coat of brown."

He said, "My dear comrades, you cannot take me home
But if you'll mark my grave for mother, she'll find me if she'll come
I fear she'll not know me, if indeed I can be found
Out beyond the 'Verse's end, in my faded coat of brown."

Long, long years have vanished, and though he comes no more,
Yet my heart will startling beat with each footfall at my door.
I gaze o'er the hill where his ship leapt off the ground,
But no gallant lad I see in his faded coat of brown.
Track Name: A Great Lake of Beer (for the King of Kings)
I'll raise my glass in highest honor
Of the man who turned the water into wine
For he taught us how to live a little better
And I'd like to drink with him for all of time

Oh, I'd like to have the men of Heaven
In my house with all my kith and kin
And I'd like to have brimming vats of good cheer
Laid out and tapped, to welcome all of them


Oh, I'd like to have the three Marys join us
To celebrate their great and glorious fame
And I'd like to have folk from every corner of Heaven
To come and help us celebrate the same


Oh, I'd like them to be cheerful in their drinking
As we laugh and share our stories, games and songs
And I'd like to have Jesus, too, amongst them
So we can drink with our great King the whole night long


Oh, I'd like to have a great lake of beer
For the King of Kings and Lord of Lords' good pleasure
And I'd like to watch Heaven’s family drink it through eternity
And enjoy with them that feast beyond all measure

Track Name: The Books We Call Baen
Baen ... the books we call Baen

We've got Weber, Drake, and Ringo, and Correia and Bujold
Some of the finest stories that you've ever been told
Lackey, Flint and Kratman, Spencer and Van Name -- look for the
Dragon and the rocket ship, on the books we call Baen

Jim Baen felt the readers' hearts breaking, he heard the readers' lament
He saw other publishers taking readers' money and making no sense
So he said, "How can we satisfy their hunger, our authors can only write so fast"
Then came e-books and Baen's Bar, webscriptions and e-ARCs
A publishing house running at full blast


Our authors compete for highest body count
And how many ways they can make Joe Buckley die
Mil-SF and fantasy, space opera, alternate history, but never enough to satisfy the 'flies
The Barflies are always armed and ready
And pretty quick to raise a hue and cry
But they keep reading all the while, and Jim looks down and smiles
From that great SF convention in the sky


Extended Chorus
We've got Gannon, Freer, Mad Mike, Chadwick, Bova, Hoyt and Spoor
Daniel, Lee, Miller, Nye, Coe, White, Torgersen, Asaro, Zahn, and more
Taylor, Moon, Buettner, Resnick, Stone, Stirling, Lambshead, Johnson
McCaffrey, Pournelle, Norton, Niven, Turtledove and Heinlein
Our love for them now, ain't hard to explain -- look for the
Dragon and the rocket ship, on the books we call Baen
The books we call Baen
Track Name: Dead Dog Party
The convention is almost over,
it'll soon be time to go home
Back to the mundane workaday world,
where I sometimes feel so alone
When I make some remark about STAR TREK,
or steampunk or robots or clones (because)

All my friends in fandom understand the things that I like
No matter what I am into, they don't think I'm out of my mind
So when I'm driving away, you might hear me say
That I can hardly wait 'til next time

At home, I'm the red-shirted crewman,
or the trooper who cannot shoot straight
And my family gets all the references,
but too often I have to explain
That WARS and TREK are really two different things,
to anyone with half a brain (yet)

Non-fen don't dress children as Ewoks,
or know Dumbledore from Gandalf
And I can't shoot them first like Han Solo,
or even threaten them like Captain Mal
Or make saving throws against normal,
when they don't know Skynet from HAL (but)

But I won't let the mundanes assimilate me,
or give in to doubt or despair
Though the odds are never in my favor,
I can still find fannish friends everywhere
So I'll look forward to the next big convention,
and I know that I'll feel at home there (because)