Distorted Vision

by Gray Rinehart

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1.
Chorus 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
2.
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" Chorus 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 Chorus Bridge 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 Chorus
3.
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 Chorus 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 Chorus Bridge 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)
4.
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 Bridge 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
5.
Chorus 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 Chorus 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" Chorus 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 Chorus
6.
Intro 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> Bridge 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
7.
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 Bridge: 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
8.
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. Chorus 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.
9.
Chorus 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 Chorus 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 Chorus 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 Chorus 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 Chorus
10.
Baen ... the books we call Baen Chorus 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 Chorus 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 Chorus 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
11.
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) Chorus 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)

about

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

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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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