The Free Refill

by The Mispronouncer

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1.
02:48
2.
03:41
3.
4.
04:00
5.
04:00
6.
03:31
7.
02:26
8.
05:08
9.
10.
11.
12.
03:23
13.
03:53
14.
03:13
15.
02:05
16.
03:14
17.
04:53
18.
05:59

credits

released August 7, 2011

Jans Pasma designed most of the cover art.
Jake Kloet finished the cover art and helped me get it uploaded when I kept running into problems.
Dutch Schuttz sequenced the album and proofread all of the lyrics, both of which were tasks that I was dreading.
Baby, Dutch Schuttz, St. Ion, and Peter Mariani listened to the songs when they were in their early stages and made many good suggestions, some of which I heeded.

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The Mispronouncer Redlands, California

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Track Name: Free Refill
1. I spent my first 27 years clearing my throat.
As soon as I spoke I started with the second-guessing.
I took another year to reassess the approach.
Now it’s back to the well for another round of regressing.
I’m an at-least-twice-in-a-lifetime event.
I reappear, reaffirm, reinvent—I repent.
I resent any implication that I’m drying out.
With a Free Refill, a spill’s nothing to cry about.
If you were hoping that this was a redo or a mulligan
You’ll be out in the cold again when you find I’m full of bull again.
Check the bulletin, dramatic change is sort of a pain.
Keep your cup and fill it up with more of the same
At no extra charge, now you’re doubling your value.
Always be refilling, just finished, or about to.
There’s no cheaper thrill than a free refill
And there are very few better applications of free will.
Rephilistines not participating: correct it.
Sloppiness is not an inherent quality of seconds.
20 ounces turns to 40, 32 to 64
44 to 88, it’s a good night to stay awake.
Twice as nice at one price, if you want my advice
It’s a better bargain going easy on the ice.
If it’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun,
Then it’s probably unwise to think anything’s one and done.
Straining your bladder, it doesn’t matter if you’re sick of it.
You gotta take advantage of a deal when presented with it.
If you can’t meet the challenge and force it down
You should refill anyway and pour it on the ground.
We keep mistaking being obstinate for perseverance.
We keep mistaking being stubborn for strength.
We keep finishing our drinks and feeling unsatiated
So let us refill for free with pleasure and give thanks.

Chorus: Fill it up, drink it down, fill it up again and again and again,
We’ll drink the Earth dry before the refills end.
The free refills flow in glorious cascades,
Only suckers pay for refills these days.
Can I get a refill, miss?
Can I get another refill, miss?
Can I get a refill after the refill that I get after this?
Fill it up, drink it down, fill it up again and again and again,
We’ll drink the Earth dry before the refills end.
The free refills flow in glorious cascades,
Only suckers pay for refills these days.
Can I get a refill, brother?
Can I get another refill, brother?
After the refill after that refill can I then have another?
Track Name: Behold
1. If you ain’t a quarter Dutch, you ain’t much.
I can make a meal out of harboring a crush and plain mush.
Looking at me like I’ve got one foot in the urn.
I said I couldn’t stay, never said I wouldn’t return.
Time is running out, yeah, I know that fear.
Am I writer slash rapper or a stockboy/cashier?
No one’s got a recent portrait of me in their wallet.
I put my phone number in “Fact” and no one called it.
Get my shoe size from the footprints on my tongue.
I’ve gotta stick to my squirt-guns while I’m young.
I’m still young, right? But I have an admission:
Some of my friends’ kids are flappin’ and hissin’.
International renown, I’m in on the ground floor
’Cause I’ve got a couple fans in El Salvador.
My slow jams bring your mating rituals to a halt.
I am self-deprecating to a fault.

Chorus: Sooner or later you’ll find me out
And the truth will confirm your doubts.
I didn’t dress up for the big reveal.
I’ve got no clue how you’re supposed to feel.
Sooner or later you’ll find me out
And the truth will confirm your doubts.
You’ll wonder what all the fuss was for.
I’m a voice in your ear and not much more.

2. I resent auditions, I don’t believe in goddesses,
But I don’t wanna hang out with the doubting Thomases.
When I share my feelings, I usually regret it.
Backpedaling, explaining I was kidding when I said it.
It’s hard to resist when you get to caressin’.
If nothing else, I wanna give a man-eater indigestion.
Producing grandchildren at a sub-glacial pace
’Cause I won’t fall victim to a dumb angel-face.
Guide me, dear ones, shine a light for me
And tonight I’ll read you a Bedtime Story.
You know me from somewhere, you’re pretty impressed.
Check the autograph later, it says “Celebrity Guest.”
I’m drinking snowmelt, and I’m eating noodles raw.
I’m Schediahwhick scheming out another coup d’état.
I’m making house calls: minimal cost or risk.
I am not a Swiss doctor, but I am Dr. Swiss!

Chorus

3. Let me answer your question before you ask it:
No, I do not have a Southern accent.
I can’t save the day, pay your debts, or right wrongs
But at least I never fake-laugh in my songs.
I’m sorry if I ever gave you crummy advice
But it’s difficult to be both funny and nice.
Aim Less came first and you liked it better, huh?
It’s still the M-I-S-P-R-O-N-O-U-N-C-etcetera.

Chorus (2x)
Track Name: Kicks (ft. Dutch Schuttz)
1. You’re scrubbing the scum that’s stuck to the floor.
You stay ’cause you’re in chains, God knows what you come for.
You lost me, then you lost me some more.
Give Chance a piece, it’ll love to make war.
When stressed, I request a vest to deflect flack.
If I’m alive when it arrives, it’ll get sent back.
Kids flip when you flop, long drop, try a new tack.
Tell me what you brag about, I’ll tell you what you lack.
Read my palm and debate the theme.
Right past home video and straight to meme.
The last thing I want to interpret’s your dream.
All red herrings are just what they seem.
It’s off to the mines I go, hi-ho,
I know I could kill us all with the right typo.
Broker in time, I ride like a rhinestone
Cowpoke, line-dancing on a tight-rope.

Chorus: We get a kick out of kicking up a fuss.
You’d better be alive and kicking if you’re kicking it with us.
A couple kids to kick around, don’t kick us when we’re down.
Better than a kick, better, better than a…
Better than a kick in the teeth, like…

2. I’ll make your most modest dreams come true.
The least of myself’s the best I can do.
And the best of the worst that you can assume
Is I want you to want me to want you. One, two
Three for the wheel that won’t take a hint
Hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge till you make a dent.
We’re breaking the rules ’cause they won’t stay bent.
Your best intent is a non-event.
When you die, so do all of your future top 10 lists.
No hot dates skipped, no feet kissed, no ears blissed
With cribbed top 10 quips.
No way to discover you have not been missed.
Straight from the pages of your favorite unread book.
If you get a minute take a look.
My deaf, dumb, and blind pawn takes your rook.
If you think I’m mistaken, you’re mistook.

Chorus (2x)

Outro: You can’t resign without your regret
And you can’t give up all your hope just yet.
And you can’t mourn what you take for granted.
You can’t get your kicks implanted. (4x)
Track Name: Shaken
1. Shaken with the “e-n” so I’m shaking with the “i-n-g.”
Not as voluntary as I’d like it to be.
I’m shaking my head even when I try to agree.
My faith in liars shaken when I caught ’em lying to me.
Don’t come crying to me, when you can’t keep your hand steady.
When your knees are knocking while you’re trying to stand up at the ready.
Ready or not, you get the shakes when you’re scared stupid.
When you know it’s foolish but someone dared you to do it.
I shake with the chills, and I shake with a fever.
I shake with hypothermia and shake with a seizure.
I shiver in the dark, I can feel my skin crawl.
Shake from overstimulation, shaking from withdrawal.
I wanna pull the trigger but it isn’t so simple
When every time I raise my weapon I begin to tremble
With fear, with rage, never with intent.
Now shake it like you shouldn’t shake an infant.

Chorus: When pieces of what you thought you knew
Are strewn about in front of you,
You get shaken (shaken), shaken (shaken).
Composed for the moment but you can’t maintain it.
I can see the vigilant watch you’re keeping,
But doubt seeps in when you’re finally sleeping.
You get shaken (shaken), shaken (shaken).
Cracks appear in unsound foundations.

2. If I can’t quit twitchin’ in the next couple minutes
Then yeah, I suppose there’s probably trouble, I admit it.
Daily concerns leave me shaken not stirred
And the shakiest beast gets forsaken by the herd.
Shaken to the core, don’t mistake it for fidgeting.
Is it me or is every light flickering?
Knew a girl who blamed the shaking on my low blood sugar
Till I reached out, grabbed her by the shoulders, and I shook her.
I was always planning on standing and delivering
But when I took the stage, my voice began quivering.
Didn’t take long to succumb to the tremors.
Unconditional surrender is the last thing I remember.
Spasmin’, scrabbling for traction, categories rattlin’
Stammering, heart hammering, panickin’.
I huddle under covers with my stomach flutterin’.
I start sputterin’, stutterin’, I start shudderin’.

Chorus

Bridge: Somebody tell me how many fingers I am holding up.
I see at least a couple dozen, and I know that can’t be right.
Woke up shook up, and I couldn’t shake it off.
Too shaken to run, too shaken to fight.
Unrest settles in your heart and leaves you unsettled,
If you can’t shake it loose, it’ll shake you.
If you’re no great shakes at keeping it together,
You’ll be shaking be like a leaf, you’ll be shaking in your boots.

3. There’s a chance from a distance the shaking could be mistaken for a dance.
Any rhythm detected is pure happenstance.
I need a Good Samaritan to restrain me
Humanely sedate me, last resort: brain me.
Hyperventilating, I’m a bundle of nerves.
Trying to explain it but I jumble the words.
Speech slurred, vision blurred, see me pitching a fit,
But my own body won’t give permission to quit.
Folks are repulsed when I start convulsin’
Like shows of no control are so revoltin’.
Holdin’ to the hope that someday I can lie still.
When to shake or not is subject to my will.
On the brink of success, but I’m getting too jittery.
Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
Even though my legs are jelly, gotta push on.
I’m shaking the bush, boss, I’m shaking the bush—gone!

Chorus
Track Name: Huge Pop
1. The Huge Pop was designed, forget the Big Bang.
It sprang forth fully-formed filled to the brim.
It was dark and cold and thick and deep and wide and fizzing from within.
Acidic properties make it rough on thin skin.
I didn’t slip in, I was willfully immersed.
It’ll be the final thing that you hear when your bubble bursts.
Poor nutrition, I’ll admit it, but what it may lack in vitamins and minerals
It makes up for by helping me to swallow bitter pills.
I can tell you’ve got a dire warning brewing,
But the dental hygienist told me, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
And I don’t know really know for certain if these two things are related,
But I’m feeling really confident and I’m feeling really carbonated.
Criticize it all you want, I’ll probably take it as a joke
If you’re preaching to me from within a cloud of cigarette smoke.
Water for the fish, booze for the depressed and reckless.
Pop in huge amounts for me for supper, lunch, and breakfast.

Chorus: This is the way I end.
This is the way I end.
This is the way I end.
Neither with a bang, nor a whimper, but a Huge…
This is the way I end.
This is the way I end.
This is the way I end.
Neither with a bang, nor a whimper, but a Huge Pop.

2. I’ve got ears to hear, I’ve got a mouth to speak,
I’ve got a pair of lips for sucking down fountain drinks.
I do it for the thrill and the joy, I don’t seek applause.
Teeth so nimble I can chew the stripe off of a drinking straw.
To say I’d choose a beverage over girls would be unwise,
But only while procuring soft drinks do I care about cup size.
One price, any size, definitely no excuse
For choosing to go with any size other than the Huge.
Crushed smalls, mediums, and larges lying in its wake.
It simultaneously satisfies and intimidates.
Just be careful how you lift it if you’ve got a bum shoulder.
And don’t be downhearted if it won’t fit in your cup holder.
Quality in borderline ridiculous quantities.
You can call it “excess,” I’m gonna call it “economy.”
No one knows if I can or cannot hold my liquor,
But they know where I stand with the Huge Pop, go figure.

Chorus

3. At first it feels limitless, as if no one could finish it
But little by little your sipping and swigging diminish it.
You drink it till there’s nothing left at which point you stop.
The Huge Pop is Huge to the last Huge drop.
At first it feels limitless, as if no one could finish it
But little by little your sipping and swigging diminish it.
You drink it till there’s nothing left at which point you stop.
The Huge Pop is dead, long live the Huge Pop.
Track Name: Speak Out
1. Here it is summer and I’m in a black mood
’Cause my little town still has no fast food.
And no buffets, and no indoor water parks.
I can’t hold back harsh remarks
Any longer, my grievance needs release.
No wheel squeaks more than me, gimme that grease.
If we must, we can all discuss the facts later.
For now, just know that I’m a taxpayer.
My neighbors are slobs and jerks and dumb brutes
’Cause their lawns aren’t mown and their dogs run loose
Or the dog’s on a chain, no water in sight
And I’m gonna kill it if I hear it barking tonight.
Whoever stole the ornament out of my front yard:
I hope you adore it ’cause you broke my heart.
I hope no one ever puts you through
What you put me through except that I do.

Chorus: Back with stacks of bad tactics intact.
My attacks lack tact, but I won’t retract.
Speaking out, speaking out, speaking out, speaking out.
Newsprint on a page, I’m venting my outrage. (2x)

2. On this battlefield there are no victors
But I feel like a winner when I misquote scripture
In support of a point that will emerge
If I just keep piling words upon words.
The school’s unfair and biased, it’s blatant.
Everybody richer than me is their favorite.
My kids are victims of bitter critics and vicious haters
Like coaches and teachers and worthless administrators.
And don’t get me started on the local police force.
They hassle me while illegal immigrants creep north.
No one promised me that life would be easy
But no gas price is low enough to please me.
From a waitress at a place that shall remain nameless
To the able-bodied parked in handicapped spaces.
From obese children to daylight savings
Civilization’s white flag is waving.

Chorus (2x)

Bridge: So here we are.
We’ve got this amazing forum where everyone can speak their minds
And no one knows what they’re talking about
Except for me.
My neighbor speaks out. I speak out.
My ex-wife speaks out. I speak out.
Low-lives speak out. I speak out.
Criminals speak out. I speak out.
Know-it-alls speak out. I speak out.
Whiners speak out. I speak out.
Cretins speak out. I speak out.
Braggers speak out. I speak out.
Cranks speak out and I speak out.
Nuts speak out and I speak out.
Fools speak out and I speak out.
I despise them all and I speak out.

Chorus (2x)
Track Name: Prefix
Chorus: The past is always with you.
That’s why nobody gets you.
It’s not true, it’s just catchy.
I’ll be here all night if you let me. (2x)

1. I’m the cream of the cream of the crop, seeking the Queen of the Hop.
Tweaking all the evil, feeble people I meet at the top.
Too revealing, really need the bleeding to stop.
Not ideal but I’m kneeling and I’m wielding the mop.
I’m too legitimate to get intimate over sentiment.
I heard a snippet of her diction, started ripping up her digits.
I will fidget through the whole movie, waiting for the credits.
If you’re gonna bare your soul to me, you’d better let me edit.
If you can’t take the heat, fix the condition of the kitchen.
If the mission doesn’t fit your disposition, here’s permission
To bail out, only making out with other Christians.
Cut the “brother” business, another sucker’s born every minute.
I feel like a beast of burden but at least I’m working.
I’m a person undeserving of the luxury of feeling certain.
Perking up, sure enough, you’re a nothing also.
Mano a mano, bravo, tomorrow gone, I thought so.
Crown me and shout aloud about me from the mountain
I want a sound mount and a palace to run around in.
Almost drowned in the downtown fountain I was found in.
Hounded, surrounded, surmounted without pouting.
I’m a prince formerly known as an artist, and I’m harnessed
To the carcass of my own youth, trapped in a phone booth.
Either whistling the “Carol of the Bells” or “Raining Blood.”
If I ain’t making love at least my name isn’t mud.
I’ve never been drunk, never fired or flunked.
I definitely had more fun being myself when I could dunk.
I’ve got some literal junk in my literal trunk.
You’re not a critic or a cynic, just a typical punk.
Going nowhere in a hurry, ghost-riding the gurney.
Approaching thirty, please forgive me if I seem a little surly.
Wouldn’t worry if I didn’t think I might run out of cheap tricks.
Some days I just wanna go back to being Prefix.

Chorus (2x)
Track Name: In General
1. I wanna have my cake and eat it too
And have your cake and eat it too.
Far be it from me to say what you need to do
But maybe we should call this a peer review.
It isn’t that you couldn’t say this but you didn’t.
But if we’ve ever met there’s probably some of you in it.
And I don’t really believe in using throwaway lines
But I’m willing to make an exception this time.
Already over the cliff when you throw it in reverse.
You reap what you sow unless the locusts get it first.
I can heel like a dog hard-trained on a choke chain.
I don’t strain so as not to evoke pain.
Nobody plays fair so you hit the alarm.
If you really wanna play fair, you can be the pig barn.
Thanks to my grandpa Drent for that line.
First it was his, then my dad’s, now it’s mine.
I can judge a book by the font on the cover
But I can barely tell one blonde from another.
Whether falcon, ostrich, starling or partridge
Birds of a feather flock to the same garbage.
And yes, everybody’s got a hungry heart.
One little crush and the gluttony starts.
When the blood’s spilt don’t get caught admitting guilt.
Learn to fiddle now while Rome’s still getting built.
This is what it sounds like when doves laugh.
I’ll be gone in revision, I live in the rough draft.
If you find the thing you love to do and get paid to do it
Then the thing you love just became your job and you ruined it.
Conceived in ecstasy, born after it finishes.
Wander through the backgrounds of pornographic images.
Illiterates are living by the letter of the law
And the fox guarding the hens has a feather in his jaw.
I crush Competition like participation ribbons.
I never count my chickens till they’re headless in my kitchen.
Give me a pen, I’ll sign your cast with a pseudonym.
The dumb mutt became a sly dog when we neutered him.
I hope you don’t think that I am condemning it
But a rose by any other name is still effeminate.
I am needy and until I have another means
I might try raging on behalf of the machine.
Get off your high horse and fall to your doom.
I don’t wanna know what you call your costume.
’Cause it doesn’t matter how many times we go through this.
In the end, you are just another clothed nudist.
Which came first: the chicken heart or the egg on the face?
I’m just a peg begging for a healthy leg to replace.
I’m a square peg dreaming about a round hole.
When they made me they disavowed the mold.
We’ve got names for the planets, they’ve got none for us.
And they’d never hesitate to throw us under the bus.
Deformed in ways we don’t dare expose.
Somebody tell the wolf sheep don’t wear clothes.
Never a bridesmaid, never a bride.
Too pompous to flaunt, too clever to hide.
Corrupt enough to leave a whistle-blower breathless.
Turn over a new leaf and watch it wither over breakfast.
The world is my ashtray, but I don’t smoke.
So it can hold my toll change till I’m totally broke.
You undercut my motivation and ask me to act.
The world is my oyster, that’s a giant aphrodisiac.
And this is what happens when you try to appeal
To the people less amused by the show than the blooper reel.
Not everything is gonna be all right.
But I think there’s a good chance some things might.
Give a man a fish, you improve his condition.
Teach a man to fish, now you’ve got competition.
All we really care about is scratchin’ where we’re itchin’.
Fall back on talent if your passion is deficient.
Now, I’m guessing I could be content on Cloud Eight
If the upstairs neighbors don’t get loud late.
My honor student beat your dropout senseless.
Stupidity is not one of the better defenses.
I’m spread thin, but I could spread thinner.
Old by lunchtime, dead by dinner.
Wear that badge like a scar of honor.
My indifference charms your daughter.
The forbidden apple never falls far from the tree.
Only say what I mean while I talk in my sleep.
Shot through the heart, got nobody to blame.
I guess I give victimhood a bad name.
A rubber neck, a sweet tooth, lead feet.
You call shotgun, I call ejection seat.
Blood is thicker than water and pop is thicker than both of ’em.
I respond to the heckles like, “Thank you for noticing.”
One sour note and the doubts appear.
Like, c’mon guys, are we men or Mouseketeers?
Do you wanna talk motor, wingspan, upside?
Do you wanna conquer or subdivide?
Spitting out my words whenever they lose flavor.
I know why the caged bird needs the newspaper.
I’m crying over milk spilled all over my masterpiece.
Somehow surprised every time the past repeats.
I drift past like a blank, unbound page.
You and me are gonna go and paint the town beige.
The only rap song with the guts to mention
That sometimes snitching is the braver decision.
Adversity strikes and I grin and bury it.
Entrench on the fringe like a true contrarian.
The man at the urinal next to mine’s crying
But he’s out of his mind if he thinks I’ll be inquiring.
After the boys of summer are gone
The boys of autumn come out of hiding and fall on your lawn.
You’re poking a dead carcass with a stick.
If it moves, you’re afraid, if it doesn’t, you get sick.
The only thing worse than your bark is your bite.
First sign of a fight, you bleach your flags white.
Whole patterns come apart with one pull of the thread.
I need trepanation like a hole in the head.
Better safe than sorry, better sorry than remorseless.
I’m forcing drinking water down the throats of horses.
The answer you need is always your last guess.
You won’t call me a dummy when I ace the crash test.
I will bore a hole through my cheek with my tongue.
You can watch me grind my teeth when I’m done.
I’ll gouge out my eyes when I’ve finally seen enough.
Even creampuffs seem tough while they demean stuff.
I know my limits like the back of my hand.
I know my limits on a first-name basis.
I signal for help with a flash in the pan.
The best get to rest while the worst stay famous.
Aim Less, shoot from the hip, go with your gut feeling
Unless it’s intestinal bleeding.
You might find you prefer not being believed in
To trying to fulfill a destiny beyond reason.
No place like home but I’m spinning my wheels.
I’d rather burn out than be seen clicking my heels.
Arm to the leg, leg, arm to the head.
In general, all’s well that ends well said.
Track Name: Spooky Gulch (ft. St. Ion)
It’s one of the last few places where the West is still wild.
I’ve seen it turn grown men back into little childs.
First you go down in the earth about three quarters of a mile.
Quicksand in the crag, it’s the earth’s belly’s bile.

1. I can’t figure out the theme of this theme park
Or tell the difference between fossils and machine parts.
If you find my bones in an archaeological dig
Do your best to get me to a hospital quick.
Dozing off waiting for a break in the action.
I fear nothing except for abstraction.
I go on the offensive when I feel defenseless.
When the last wire-cutters break, there will still be fences.
I posed for this photograph filled with the sense
That anyone who saw it would discern my dissent.
Dusk in the desert, all the orange goes blue
And very few survival strategies you’ve read hold true.
If we start cold-calling locals right now
We might find a warm bed before the night bites down.
Picture us disappearing in a fissure in the ground.
Inside of Spooky Gulch I feel it twisting us around.

Chorus: Thirty feet deep and half a mile long.
(Down where no daylight eye can sight you)
Too narrow to glimpse what lies beyond.
(The pliable among you slide right through)
Take an ancient approach to a new result.
There are no straight lines in Spooky Gulch.
We are not welcome
But we don’t let that dissuade us.

2. If I don’t look at my gas gauge, it can’t hurt me.
I’ll defer to experts when my wits desert me.
I’m swallowing desire in a roadside diner.
It’ll smolder for years like a coal mine fire.
Got a thing for the typical but try to disguise it.
I’d chase my own tail if I thought I’d recognize it.
Avoid decoys, fishy mating calls, salt licks.
I beat a dead horse ’cause I find it cathartic.
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel uninformed.
Searching for kindling in the middle of a thunderstorm.
My mother never warned me there’d be days like this
But I can sleepwalk halfway through a crisis.
Downpours turning red dust to black mud.
We flee before the approach of the flash flood.
Envision us emerging from a crack in the Earth’s crust
Almost as if Spooky Gulch just birthed us.

Chorus

3. Squeeze between the walls, single-file line.
You name your disease, I don’t feel the need to title mine.
Quick moves leave you broken in two
But look around and see what slow erosion can do.
You only see the sky overhead as a crooked strip.
How can such a tight space be such a good fit?
Always defined by what you can’t quite find.
We’re intruding in a place not meant for mankind.
Turn sideways, skinny up, push forward.
We appear most human when we look cornered.
Scraping knuckles, smearing blood on the rough rock.
Panic attacks go well with tough talk.
In the improbable case of a seismic disturbance
None of us would survive the frantic climb to the surface.
Only feel stimulated when I can’t relate.
Watch us feel at home in a crack in the landscape.

Chorus
Track Name: Strange Shore
1. An ounce of prevention’s worth a pound of cure,
And a pound of cure’s worth at least a ton of hope.
You say you feel fine, you don’t sound too sure.
When we’re under the gun, we joke to cope.
Behind the scenes, there is a mass of humanity
Grumbling incessantly about the actors’ vanity.
Finally got the spotlight, stricken with stage fright.
Forget Contentment, we’re not even getting Rage right.
Paradise Lost and commemorated with a plaque.
Easier than doing what we can to get it back.
Somewhere way on this side of the rainbow
The bluebirds sit on the couch and watch a game show.
Sleeping at the wheel on the road to recovery.
I didn’t promise anything, that must have been another me.
We’re gonna wile away the hours sitting splitting hair.
Skyrockets in disrepair, afternoon despair.

Chorus: No land in sight and the panic hits.
We’re taking on water, I abandon ship.
I drift for days and days before
I wash up half-drowned upon a strange shore.
I’ve got a mouth full of ancient salt and sand.
And the seabirds’ cries are a sham.
They don’t care, they don’t know who I am.
I’m new here, I’m new here.

2. At the moment I was born I heard a baby scream.
In retrospect I understand that that was probably me.
Trudging on sunshine, the plod of the Valkyries.
Getting nothing but burnt flesh from amateur alchemy.
Reluctant or excited we all arrive uninvited.
I wonder when you’ll learn that no attention’s undivided.
Rain falls on the righteous and the wicked and the undecided.
Better wear something waterproof if you wanna fight it.
Is there a willing scapegoat in the audience?
Cleanliness is closer to filthiness than to godliness.
Back from the presumed dead, filled with relief
At the remnants of the evidence of acquaintances’ grief.
You remind me of the Devil but sadder and shorter.
Your number’s 6-6-6, but not in that order.
Faltering stars and crawling saucers.
I stand by my choices with appalling posture.

Chorus: I gather my strength and lurch to my feet.
It hurts to breathe, but I’ll search the beach.
There must be something that I can eat.
There must be some relief from this heat.
The plants look wrong, so does the night sky.
I’m terrified of what I might find.
Signs of life, but not the right kind.
I’m new here, I’m new here.

3. If heaven is a place on Earth, I think I’ll pass.
I never got much out of chasing greener grass.
For what shall it profit a man or his son
To gain the whole world if the world is this one?
I came, I saw, I waited for the signal
To conquer. Now I wonder if it’s that simple.
And if it turns out that this record is my legacy,
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re already forgetting me.
The relative might of the sword and the pen
Depends entirely upon who’s wielding them.
Your life’s off track and you want a replacement.
Cats have nine lives and they all get wasted.
Manchild overboard, is fighting for life worth it
When you need a foam disk to preserve it?
Potential is delightful but Fate’s a whore.
I wash up washed up, washed out on a strange shore.
Track Name: Skinny Finger
1. Perched on a low treebranch like an aye-aye.
Skinny middle finger like something out of sci-fi.
And I don’t know, but some folktales say
That it means you’re gonna die if it aims your way.
Where the tip of the index finger ends
The skinny finger’s intermediate phalanx begins.
Not just skinny, the finger is quite long.
What works in the dark turns stomachs with the lights on.
Pick a padlock with it, slip it through a keyhole.
Pluck hard-to-reach grubs, eat ’em by the treeful.
I’d like to believe it’s fundamentally peaceful.
“Unnerving” is not necessarily “evil.”
A fatal flaw or an ugly asset?
The answer to that isn’t clear as yet.
The skinny finger always demands more than I planned for.
One little waggle and it clears the dance floor.

Chorus: Where do I end and where does it begin? I’m going
Back to the basics like original sin. What am I
Without the skinny finger? What is it without me?
Am I wrapped around it or is it wrapped around me?

2. Highly specialized, limited appeal.
Difficult to explain, difficult to conceal.
There is no denying that it’s tough to love
But it’s even tougher to cover it with a glove.
And it’s tipped with a jagged nail I don’t clip.
When I grip what I wanna grip, I won’t slip.
The odd man out, my hand’s black sheep.
The official finger of creeps and bad sleep.
Thumb, index, skinny finger, ring finger, pinky.
Only one would pop the lifeboat and sink me.
And the folks with five fat fingers might scoff
When every single ring just slides right off.
You can call it spindly or flimsy
But I could never be heavy-handed with a finger this skinny.
If any of my enemies lay a finger on me,
Then I’ll lay one on them and you know which one it’ll be.

Chorus

Bridge: Dry skin stretching thin from knuckle to knuckle.
You think a finger like this must be all kinds of trouble.
I’m ashamed of my pride and I’m proud of my shame
And when I point the skinny finger all the righteous take the blame.

3. Narrow is the finger that leads to exclusion.
I put it to good use and cling to illusion.
I pick my teeth with the thorn in my flesh
Then return it to the gaping gash that it left.
There is no tender moment skinny finger won’t spoil.
Eyes meet, I reach out, she recoils.
I’ve been foiled again, the skinny finger’s at fault
’Cause every soft touch feels like an assault.
And the skinny finger speaks for itself, but I don’t understand.
Someone please interpret for me if you can.
Sometimes I think it’s got a mind of its own.
Like I’ll wake in the night and find it going for my throat.
It’ll grope for your wounds and poke the sutures.
I focus on the present while it probes the future.
There is no telling what a man deserves.
For better or worse I’m blessed with a curse.
Skinny finger.

Chorus (2x)
Track Name: Now
Chorus: Now
That I’ve persevered
And I’m still right here,
Do you love me now?
Now
That I’ve done my best.
Please don’t make me guess.
Do you love me now?

1. Do you love me now? How ’bout now? How ’bout now?
I’m never gonna earn your love if you won’t tell me how.
Time is of the essence, making educated guesses,
At the very least I hope you think my effort is impressive.
And I aim to please, the 12 chores of Hercules
But I will only follow through if your love is a certainty.
Coercing me to change, your love’s a carrot on a stick
And it keeps me plodding forward for a nibble or a lick.
Maybe you could write me up a handy little checklist
While I’m whistling your favorite song and making breakfast.
Shots in the dark, reaching arbitrary benchmarks.
With demands this voluminous I’m gonna forget parts.
Glass slipper didn’t fit, you handed me a blade.
You said it hurt your feelings every second I delayed.
I said I wasn’t sure that guys ever wore glass shoes
But I’d lose a few toes if I had to to have you.

Chorus: Now
That I’ve told the lie
That if you leave I’ll die,
Do you love me now?
Now
While you’re not upset,
Or at least not yet,
Do you love me now?

2. It’s the middle of the night and I’m at your front gate.
I need a progress report, I need an update.
I wanna know if I’m getting any closer
To the bare minimum that it’ll take to win you over.
You expectations: I’m struggling to meet ’em.
Compromise means you don’t expect me to exceed ’em.
When you’re finished with me you might find you don’t recognize me.
If that’s sort of what you’re going for I can’t say that’d surprise me.
Hide me in a chrysalis till I become your butterfly
But don’t be stunned if people wonder what came of “that other guy.”
When you say “jump,” I negotiate a trade.
At what height will you slide a little love my way?
Not enthusiastic, I’m a bad communicator.
Agree to love me now and I’ll perfect myself later.
I’m sorry that you freaked when I said that you were touchy.
I was wrong, you were right, so, uh, now do you love me?

Chorus: Now
That I’ve heard your side
And agreed it’s right,
Do you love me now?
Now
That I’m so mature,
Give me just one word
Do you love me now?

Bridge: That I’ve let you see me cry a tear or two.
I keep my tattoo covered up for you.
We’ve rearranged all my priorities.
Now it’s only polite for you to love me.

Chorus: Now
That the song is done,
Please say I’m the one,
Do you love me now?
Now
I kept less and less.
There’s none of me left.
You won’t love me now.
Track Name: Eyesore
I’ve seen hands that are too big.
I’ve seen six-packed abdominals, I’ve seen chiseled chins.
And I’ve seen that the world is a mess.
Every one of you is afflicted.

1. A sight for sore eyes, in a poor disguise.
I’m going back to the store for more supplies.
I’m like, “Focus in America, it’s time to wear make-up.”
Last ditch efforts to prevent another break-up.
Ugly ducklings grow up to be ugly ducks.
Born into these bodies and I’m sorry, honey, but we’re stuck.
I’ll admit a positive attitude is all fine and dandy
But you won’t be grinning when you bite the razor in the eye candy.
Pigeon-toed, chicken legs, crow’s feet, bird beak:
Woke up one morning and everybody had turned freak.
If beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, that explains
Why his vision isn’t clear enough to choose to abstain.
Dry skin, hangnails, overbites, underbites.
Faces only really undiscerning mothers like.
Pockmarks, blackheads, varicose veins.
No one looks good from very close range.

Chorus: Hey, hey, hey, I’m an eyesore.
Hey, hey, hey, you’re an eyesore.
Hey, hey, so is all mankind.
If your eyes aren’t sore then you must be blind.
Hey, hey, hey, I’m an eyesore.
Hey, hey, hey, you’re an eyesore.
Hey, shortcomings on display.
We are all hard on the eyes in our own way.

2. Socialized standards of beauty are good enough.
We tried to tinker with ’em, in the end we couldn’t bluff.
Either you can try to meet ’em or appeal to a fetishist.
We all taste defeat when it’s genetics that we wrestle with.
Even our good sides are looking pretty hideous.
When no one looks pretty then you really pity idiots.
All reflective surfaces are met with dread.
We should wear a paper bag on our collective head.
I think it’s only sensible to nitpick on principle.
With the right perspective, no one’s irresistible.
No one is above being rejectable, but even
Beer goggles bow to your Desperation Spectacles.
Tell me truly how you think you’re gonna seduce me
With beauty that you gotta define that loosely.
Even near-perfect is imperfect to me.
I like to think I’m smarter than a bird or a bee.

You’re gonna tell me you wanna keep looking like yesterday’s meat slaw?
You’re gonna keep walking around, picking at that mole you wanna get rid of.

3. The magic mirror on the wall’s kind of at a loss
’Cause even the fairest of them all is covered with flaws.
We can shape up, slim down, lose some weight,
And tomorrow wake up to a new trait to hate.
We’re a species of ones on a scale of one to two.
All I see are the defects, what am I gonna do?
Cover girls don’t blush while they don’t wear much,
But you can’t fix real people with an airbrush.
Suppress your gag reflex and say you’re into me.
The relatively beautiful hide behind relativity.
The gap between Adonis and The Elephant Man
Is too tiny for the average beauty queen to understand.
We’re all dissatisfied, whatever solace that gives
But you really wanna spend your life trying to stay attractive?
Even Helen of Troy only started feeling pretty
When she saw the Greek and Trojan bodies piled ’round the city.

Chorus (2x)

Cheer: U-G-L-Y! You don’t need an alibi!
E-Y-E-S-O-R-E! You’re an eyesore and so are we!
Track Name: Stop
1. When the facts come out that’s when I back out slowly.
Whatever you got on the jukebox can’t hold me.
I’m telling you now this song is gonna outgrow me.
If you’re stopping the music you better toast me or roast me.
You get a little sentimental, sentiment is sinister.
You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
The Pied Piper wasn’t honking on a bagpipe
When he led us on a dead-end march last night.
Cut class, cut corners, cut to the chase.
Too much of a good thing corrupts your smug taste.
Hear that, darling? They’re butchering our song.
With their reckless fervor pushing it along.
Why when the slow dance grinds to a halt
Do we reach for the repeat button by default?
I know right now you think the sound can’t touch you,
You’ll change your tune when the music interrupts you.

Chorus: That’s 50 seconds that are gone forever.
The music makes the ash taste better.
If it never stops you can never forget it.
Well, am I stuck in your head yet?

2. Circles never end, like tracks on wax.
If you don’t face the music it’ll stab you in the back.
In the brief gaps between songs I have found that
Not every moment of my life needs a soundtrack.
Not every second needs to be accompanied.
Don’t need a score to tell joy from suffering.
Pull a plug, flip a switch, turn it off, shut it down,
Music unchecked smothers every other sound.
The roof is not on fire so we don’t need no water either.
Not a cheater but I cut through the cables and caught a breather.
Off the meter, I was thinking that a finite song is sweeter.
If you only made it longer then I won’t call it “deeper.”
Just how long has this set gone on for?
I for one could sure do without an encore.
Am I the only one who thinks it’s probably for the better
That the band can’t keep on playing forever?

Chorus: That’s a minute forty gone forever.
The music makes the ash taste better.
If it never stops you can never forget it.
Well, am I stuck in your head yet?

3. When the music won’t stop then you can’t hear squat.
A moment of silence to appreciate one clear thought.
Fear not, take advantage of the brief pause
To duck free of the melody’s sweet jaws.
Everywhere you turn you’re advised to surrender.
The music will deny what you fight to remember.
It drowns out heartbreak, stress, and anger,
And it leaves you unaware of approaching danger.
Jump, shake, twist, sing along, raise hands.
The music doesn’t play, it just makes demands.
It commands our steps and directs our feelings,
Sends us frail little weaklings reeling.
I know you think you’ll never get sick of these songs
But there’s nothing I wanna do all night long.
Crank that volume down to zero.
Cease and desist, cut it out, finito.

Chorus: Two minutes, forty seconds gone forever.
The music makes the ash taste better.
If it never stops, you can never forget it.
Well, am I stuck in your head yet?
Two minutes, fifty-five seconds gone forever.
The music makes the ash taste better.
If it never stops, you can never forget it.
Well, am I stuck in your head yet?
Track Name: Good Kid
1. Don’t smoke, drink, chew, or date girls who do.
Got a firm handshake and say please and thank you.
And I don’t play hooky and I never ate the glue.
If the good die young, then I’m probably overdue.
One bad apple might spoil the whole bunch
But one good egg can save your whole lunch.
I’m very rarely ticketed and never arrested.
Pretty good to be decent but it’s better to best it.
Some girls claim that they want a bad boy
Then they get one and he acts bad, they’re annoyed
Or worse, cheated on, beaten up, deep in debt
And us good kids are like, “You sick of bad boys yet?”
What I’m about to say don’t misconstrue.
But Eva Braun was into bad boys too.
I’m the young man you young men shoulda been.
I make them good girls gone bad wanna get good again.

Chorus: Good Kid.
I ain’t half bad.
How you gonna go and find fault with that?
’Cause I’m a Good Kid.
Not averse
To making you all you really bad kids look worse.
I’m a Good Kid.
I’m really this nice.
Huge Pops are my only vice.
I’m a Good Kid.
Good Kid. Good Kid.
But don’t push it.

2. Role model with a lot less pompous posturing.
A real boy scout without the bureaucracy.
Call me a suck-up, brown-noser, goody-goody:
I’m not as embarrassed as you seem to think I should be.
Rules were made to divide and assess us.
Spirit’s unwilling but my flesh acquiesces.
I dabbled in rebelling but I couldn’t get into it.
I guess I’m just a sucker for a good influence.
Don’t hate me just ’cause your parents like me.
Or begrudge me my well-adjusted psyche.
Don’t be surprised when attempts to tempt me
With run-of-the mill ills just come up empty.
Well-trained, well-maintained, well-behaved.
Mischief is the nearest thing to hell I raise.
It’ll take more than mere peer pressure to lure me
Into trouble. What? I’m a good kid, sue me.

Chorus: Good Kid.
Clean living.
Praise and approval are so bewitching.
I’m a Good Kid.
All in good fun.
You don’t have to sit in the soup kettle to cook some.
Good Kid.
Got guilt and doubt.
But you can’t, but you can’t keep a good kid down.
I’m a Good Kid.
Good Kid. Good Kid.
But don’t push it.
Track Name: Thumbs Down
(Listen, I’m not gonna sugarcoat this to make it easier to swallow.
I’m gonna be completely honest with you here.)

1. In a time when dubious art runs amok
There’s nothing in the world quite as a corny as a thumbs-up.
I can tell you just what I think without words.
My thumbs creep perpetually downwards.
I can’t help it if it pretty much all sucks.
“A” for effort, thumbs down for the products.
Hey, look at me: “I’m so acerbic!”
My thumb’s exhausted but I know it’s worth it.
My whole system’s so efficient
Not to mention truly consistent.
I’m a believer in equal treatment:
Thumbs down all around, I don’t need a reason.
Life’s too short for shades of gray.
In this day and age thumbs only aim two ways.
Or in my case one, my tongue doesn’t praise.
Only fools walk around with their dumb thumbs raised.

Bridge: Sometimes I wonder how it might be.
To appreciate some of the work I see.
But I already know there’s no debate.
One thing’s for sure, I never overrate.
Nobody’s safe if that helps you cope.
I’d like to like you but my thumb says “nope.”
12 billion thumbs on Earth as it spins around.
I make a point of pointing both of mine down.

Chorus: The human thumb is an amazing weapon.
I can dismiss years of work in one second.
Brace yourself for my frank appraisal: (Thumbs down).
You don’t need authority or expertise.
Just a thumb and a love of being displeased.
Brace yourself for my blunt critique: (Thumbs down).

(Wow, you know, I always took you for someone who wanted to improve,
But how are you going to improve if you can’t learn to accept my criticism?)

2. You rationalize like, “They’re just opinions.
One thumbs down can’t shake my convictions!”
You sound convincing, your tone so brave
But you say it so often that I know you’re afraid.
With a roguish wink and self-satisfied smirk
I discount whole bodies of work
In one fell swoop with just one digit.
If your art’s so frail, don’t put your heart in it.
You’re proud to announce you got some discretion
But you don’t know the power of the thumb’s direction.
Without opposable thumbs we’re just beasts
Devouring every rotten dish at the feast.
So thumbs down to both those I know and don’t know.
Thumbs down to amateurs and virtuosos.
No amount of talent or ability’s immune.
There is no reputation my thumb won’t impugn.

Bridge: You might despise me ’cause I love to judge.
But this thumb is down and it’s not gonna budge.
So if you got a beef with my thumb’s review
Last time I checked you’ve got a couple thumbs too.
Like one, two, three, four, I declare thumb war.
While you twiddle yours let me show you what a thumb’s for.
One more time, in this life I’ve found,
You can sum it all up with one thumbs-down.

Chorus: I wanna be on the forefront of the backlash
The first to dissent and the last to laugh.
Brace yourself for my candid rating: (Thumbs down)
When I’m contrary, I feel refined.
Your contribution has been declined.
Brace yourself for my curt assessment: (Thumbs down)
I’m a one-man Coliseum crowd thirsty for blood.
No free pass, no mercy for duds.
Brace yourself for my heartless sentence: (Thumbs down)
Cool and casual, unperturbed
I kick your masterpiece to the curb.
Brace yourself for my thumbs-down.

Thumbs Down: Interminable descriptions of jazz.
Dream-sequence fake-outs.
Birth scenes.
Storm scenes on ships.
Musings on the unpleasant sterility of hospitals.
Arbitrary use of the second-person point of view.
Photographs of eyeballs.
Suicide as a plot point to artificially inject your work with gravitas.
Track Name: Summit Pop
Intro: Two squares issued us a warning.
It was our pleasure to ignore it.
We’ve got that positive reinforcement.
And I’ve got a thirst for just one exceptional drink.

1. When your inert self climbs something of its own accord
It’s not such a bad thing to pack a reward
To enjoy at the top with the view and the crisp air.
Why not pause and sip a little bit of fizzy bliss there?
We’re always almost overrun, it’s all been pretty overdone
So yeah, we tend to overstate the obstacles we overcome.
So I am not saying we deserve an ovation
But the summit pop exists for this exact occasion.
Untold tons of rock under my cheap sneakers.
Maybe for a moment we forget we’re such weak creatures.
Maybe we forget the blisters, weary legs, and damaged joints
When we taste the summit pop at this vantage point.
I grip its cap and I give it a twist.
While I dance on the edge of the cliff: frivolous risk.
And if I lose my balance and I plummet to my death,
I will do it with the smell of the summit on my breath.

Chorus: From our common complaints to our routine stress,
The everyday pops that we drink mean less.
And I know this path will climb again
And there will be a summit pop waiting at the end.
From the effort to the pressure to the burdens we bore,
The pops that we drink on the summit mean more.
And I know this pride will fade away.
I’ll save a pop for another summit some day.

2. Don’t let your youthful mistake be too much caution.
Daylight burns while you discuss options.
I don’t need special pants, poles, or the rain gear.
I won’t know I did it unless I’m in some pain here.
Since the trailhead I’ve been eating like a pauper,
Picking at the bread-wad, washing it down with water.
So when I gain the summit and there’s no more elevation,
I’ll renounce hydration, it’s time for celebration.
I can’t recall the tips I may or may have not heard,
But the thought of the summit pop drives me onward.
My lungs are on fire and my knees are nearly buckling,
But now I’ve seen a little more than nothing.
And even if the naysayers are not impressed,
It tastes like triumph, it tastes like conquest.
Not too bad for a dollar and a few cents.
In a perfect world I’d still be doing this.

Chorus

3. And the summit pop is not restricted to the mountain peak.
It’s out of sight in the distance or it’s just out of reach.
But it’s there every time I surmount something significant.
One bottle, how does so much vindication fit in it?
Find it at the end of chores you find laborious,
In war if you’re victorious, glorious performances.
Sick of being prey, you turn the tables on the hunter.
When you get the girl or maybe save it till you dump her.
When the flaws in your project feel perfect.
When you finish your memoir, or maybe when you burn it.
When the concept was beyond you but you learned it.
Break out the summit pop and pop it open, you earned it.
Whether scaling fourteeners, literal or otherwise,
It makes that achievement just come alive.
You can have a pop while at ease in luxury,
But one pop on the summit’s worth a dozen drunk comfortably.

Chorus (2x)
Track Name: Downhill
Chorus: And it’s all downhill from here.
(We’re losing altitude)
And it’s all downhill from here.
(We’re losing altitude)

1. Whatever goes up must come back down.
It’s late but nothing’s gonna change that now.
We’ve been to the summit, now it’s back to the flatlands.
Back to the base camp, back to my dad’s van.
Back down to the town, back to the motel,
To the road and the homes that we know well.
To the short-term plans we devise with our own hands.
Back to your regularly scheduled program.

Chorus

2. The sun dips below the peaks behind you.
And terrain you recognize only serves to remind you
Of the long rugged miles that still remain
Until you can really rest and acknowledge the pain.
I’m inclined to believe that we’re on the decline
As we follow switchbacks down to the tree line.
And the animals pause as they turn to flee
’Cause they catch a quick whiff of the summit on me.

Chorus

3. And the descent always goes by in a blur
Like you wake from a dream and you’re right where you were
When you stood at the base of the mountain and you thought,
“By the time I get back I’ll have been to the top.”
Now I shrug that backpack off of my shoulders.
Might not be wiser but I sure feel older.
And I’m back where I started but it wasn’t in vain,
’Cause no trip to the summit ever leaves you the same.

Chorus

4. a) And you feel like a stone sinking to the bottom of a lake.
But your stride doesn’t break.
You anticipate the end around every bend.
Predict and amend and amend and amend.
Your walk is a controlled stumble.
Your face either drained or humble.
Complete the circuit, close the loop.
You tasted the fruit but you belong with the roots.

b) And your mind wanders up, you recall the feeling
Of standing at arm’s reach from the Earth’s ceiling.
Your whole life below you, above only space
And you realized then the summit’s a lonely place.
Nobody lives there, nobody stays long.
They soak up as much as they can and then they’re gone.
Back to their day jobs and their sea-level hobbies
In an elevator from the penthouse to the lobby.

c) Call it a “return to form” or “backsliding.”
Back to the grind or back into hiding.
Back to the mines or a life of leisure.
God help me, I’m feeling eager.
The laws of physics help to hasten us.
Night follows dusk and it chases us.
Not a fall from grace but a long descent.
Back to the old lows you cannot prevent.
And now it seems like at least a week.
Since posing for photos on the peak.
But it’s only been at most an hour
And all the pictures have lost their power.
Here’s another group climbing the slope.
They want to know if they’re getting close.
We just shrug and hold our tongues
’Cause when you’re close, you’re close to done.

d) It’s hard to focus on what we accomplished.
Were we set free or taken hostage?
Were we shown a glimpse of splendor
Just to descend and forget to remember?
I don’t know and I wish I cared.
I could not see my house from there.
I could not find it within to imagine
Why I’m attracted to distraction.
But as the valley floor gets closer
My expectations get lower.
Back to the muck and back to the masses.
Back to the taxes, back to the ashes.
But also back to all the reasons
I believe in what I believe in.
You only know the worth of the summit
After you conquer and come back from it.

Chorus (2x)

You can find me at the base of the mountain.
Look for me at the foot of the hill.