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Trail Of Mars

by John McDaid

  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.

    Fully automated luxury geek folk that takes on mediated political reality, social justice, and assorted existential crises.
    Featuring an *amazing* crew of musicians, recorded remotely from June-August 2020, so you know it's topical AF.
    Includes a sparsely illustrated pdf of lyrics and liner notes!
    Purchasable with gift card

      $10 USD  or more


  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Featuring a 16-page booklet with lyrics and information about each song.

    Includes unlimited streaming of Trail Of Mars via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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      $12 USD or more 


We're livin' in a cave Watching shadows in projection Like laboratory rats And Penfield's hacked all our connections Nothing is for certain It's all interpreted sensation Any effort at ontology Lost in translation Well we don't know what comprises Most of the universe’s matter But we might not see the answer If it was served up on a platter Things get weird down in the regime of Loop quantum gravitation Our notions of what is, are Lost in translation Fish aren't aware of water Nor humans of perception Any time we say we know Is an act of self-deception There's no way outside of Our egocentric situation Even phenomenology is Lost in translation Chorus Well we’ve been down this road before And we’ve studied all the rules We see the charlatans and quacks Treating us like fools Enlightenment don’t come easy If it comes at all But the royal road to knowledge Won’t be stopped by any wall The Fox is in the henhouse The tools are on the Hill There's Russians in our Facebook Waving hundred-dollar bills And the mango Mussolini Twitters out his fabrications The promise of America Lost in Translation Well I went to ask the Bishop For a couple words of wisdom But they'd put him in the big house For abusing little children All former moral centers Vanished to evaporation Our core institutions Lost in translation The acolytes of Heston Demand their guns be buttered So the schools are all installing Heavy metal roll down shutters Any moderate position Branded an abomination Any middle ground at all Lost in translation Veterans living on the streets And children locked in cages Walkin' wounded in the cubicles Of Kübler-Ross's stages And we have no response That is not mute capitulation The children of the sixties Lost in Translation Chorus Anti-vaxxers on the left Climate deniers on the right And a botnet in the middle Looking for a fight You got college prices going up Wages trending down We all are Number 6 now And the circus is in town There are no easy answers But the question's still worth asking Though it's hard to pay attention And we suck at multi tasking We are easily distracted By random information... Hey, look, a squirrel! Lost in Translation It’s a Prisoner’s Dilemma It’s a comic book adventure And we shamble down the sidewalk Picking brains out of our dentures We’ve been sold light anesthetic When what we need is deep sedation We’re zombies on the half-shell Lost in Translation We amused ourselves to death Squeezin' reason through a funnel We precessed our simulacra In a Disney-themed dark tunnel We are nomads on the rhizome Apres nou, le conflagration All of Western culture Lost in translation
Onscreen, offscreen On the printed page Everybody’s talkin' Bout the problem of the age It’s the death of wisdom The debuff of expertise The triumph of deception That has us on our knees Chorus Buy the ticket, take the ride Nothing really matters but the ending of the show Buy the ticket, take the ride And you’d better look out below Heads up, heads off It’s all a grim display No one's even watching It doesn’t matter anyway It’s a slow train comin' The return of the repressed The final disposition Of the gently dispossessed Chorus Nail gun, rail gun Needle in your eye Everybody’s runnin' From what’s fallin' from the sky It’s the Sixth Extinction The Anthropocene Forcing us to look at All the things we wish we hadn't seen Chorus Fulbright, half-bright Be as clever as you like Everybody ends up With their head on a spike It’s the Dolce Vita The Angst und Schrecken Tag Dancing through Gehenna In a bloody epilogue Chorus (spoken) Gardyloo!
There's a feeling in the air That can't be explained This guy come to town And the people all just got strange It's the bottom line The world you find When you open the door It's like the law of the jungle Or diminishing return We're standing in Lafayette Park Watching the Emperor Cower while America burns To this new Mason-Dixon Line Don't you turn that blind eye no more Its a corporate culture and We're cultural creatures I'm just trying to turn all these Bugs into features Livin' out on the bottom line Reading dollar signs And the Art of War Ah, the Medium is the Message Ya gotta understand it If Moses had an iPhone there'd be Ten thousand commandments Workin' on the bottom line Under the function you find To make more Well we heard it all before But it's for real this time We're waiting at the station for the 11:59 I can see the signals change See it comin' down the track That slow train comin' To get the rich off our backs Down on the Bottom Line Don't you look behind you No more Matter makes time Time makes space And that's the end of the story Right on down to the end of the Human race It's just Being and Time That's the bottom line Matter makes time Time makes space And that's the end of the story Right on down to the end of the Human race Nur die Sein und Zeit Unter dem Stich der Sterblichkeit
We stuffed the evil Rat Man's parts
In the back of his limousine As we watched the black-light CSI gang Descending on the scene He was just in rigor mortis Not yet cool to touch We were sure nobody we cared about Was going to miss him much He had shit on everyone we knew From a cruel and distant height And we yelled as we dumped his head in the Charles Good luck, and good night

 He was sure nobody's hero He was vicious and he was mean And we drank champagne as we hurled his brain From the Rat Man's limousine 
Me and Little Hans and the Wolf Man
 And Dora, out on bail
 Hit the Denny's in Fall River
 Once we were sure we'd lost our tail
 We laughed like twenty-somethings
 As we ate our scrambled eggs
 At how his screams had filled the icehouse
 When we removed his legs
 We riffed on lines from Manos 
And Catcher in the Rye
 And savored the advice on dismemberment
 We got from that Saudi bone-saw guy

 He was nasty, short, and brutish
 With a mouth like a latrine
 And we toasted his pain, like tears in rain 
In the Rat Man's limousine The sun was peeking up over the waves
 When we made it to the Cape
 Random chatter in the Twittersphere
 Told us we'd made good our escape
 I sat in the dunes with Dora
 And we cuddled and made plans
 While the Wolf Man skinny dipped in the surf
Washing the blood off Little Hans
 For the first time in this century
 It seemed things might turn out okay 
And we held hands on the warming sand
 With the courage to face the day

 He poisoned everything he touched 
Too good for the guillotine
 And we watched the flames burn his last remains
 In the Rat Man's limousine
I was born down In a Gadsden County town So small it barely had a name My daddy worked nonstop At my uncle's body shop Jacking out twisted frames My momma waited tables For as long as she was able Prayin' to get off her feet My snakebit generation Crawled through public education And never saw the county seat Chorus I'm goin' down to the river Down to the river Down to the river to dream Now I’m livin' every day In this world that money made Lost in a forest of deals Driftin' in disguise through This crappy 9 to 5 Where nothing that matters is real Swinging at the clock Goin into shock Wasted on a Saturday night Every promise that I hear Is just something else to fear But I gotta try to keep up the fight Chorus Bridge And I look up at the highway As the traffic buzzes by Over the Apalachicola Against the evening sky And I wonder if I'd be a happier man Sipping whiskey in a big beach house down in Port Saint Joe Or if the people like me who gotta work all day Have something those rich folks never know... The people that I meet In this journey through white heat Giving up an inch at a time Losing all we’ve got As we throw away our shot Busted at the scene of the crime We're scrambling for a chance To make it to the dance When we know that we won’t get in the door It’s a tournament of pain For the desperate that remain And I'm feeling like I've been here before So I'm goin' Chorus
There's people in the streets And they're all wearing sheets Each with a pitchfork and torch All marching together Out to tar and feather When they're not pissin' off the end of the porch It's a fable we despise A catafalque of lies Drawn by a TV billionaire Into thin air We're in critical condition It's an impossible mission But we put up a good front We do all our own stunts We been hiding underground for months Trying to be two places at once When we're not anywhere; we're gone Into thin air We been ambushed by a nation Where death is a vacation Hanging by the skin of our teeth Hopin' for a rain check Livin' pay to paycheck In the gray economy underneath Trying to get to Friday Sleeping in the doorways Of a long-ago Times Square vanished Into thin air We're in critical condition It's an impossible mission But we put up a good front We do all our own stunts We're the targets in this witchhunt Trying to be two places at once When we're not anywhere; we're gone Into thin air There is no contradiction Between the altar of conviction And the suck of the memory hole We're tending our incisions As we're tortured by these visions In the dark night of the soul Watching Cain and Able At the kitchen table, Playing double solitaire, off Into thin air We're in critical condition It's an impossible mission But we put up a good front We do all our own stunts Locked in countertransference Trying to be two places at once When we're not anywhere; we're gone Into thin air Now's the time for cunning Gotta hit the ground running With every gadget in our bag of tricks A better world is waiting In the future we're creating But we better make it quick If we wanna dodge disaster This has to happen faster Before it's all fucked beyond repair, lost Into thin air We're in critical condition It's an impossible mission But we put up a good front We do all our own stunts We been hiding underground for months Locked in countertransference Targets of this witchhunt Fuck it. Let's just roll up a blunt Trying to be two places at once When we're not anywhere; we're gone Into thin air
Living out on Chaos Street Under layers of plastic sheets Watching a wasted world That's lost its nerve In a huddled heap we're waiting As underneath the grating Subway wheels Go shrieking round the curve At the wrong end of the rainbow In fear and panic's shadow Shaking a coffee can of change While a flood of corporate paper Whispers through this old theater Passed by robot hands kept Safely out of range Chorus It's a midnight dose of bile With a Mona Lisa|Gioconda smile It's a Russian nesting doll of coverups It's a jagged little treat With the taste of self deceit Where the concrete meets the luckless Page of Cups We're canaries in a coal mine Every pocket that we find's Been picked clean by an Invisible Hand Nothing gained for all we've ventured We spend our time indentured To the elites of this Hallucinated land While we're hissing on the griddle The dolt dictator fiddles And the clock runs out for those Down on their luck It's all magic smoke and mirrors Spin the facts, deny the errors Stack the losers in Refrigerated trucks Chorus It's the ending of our revel No sympathy for this devil Early on we learned to not expect Too much There's no method to this madness But there's a science in the sadness Dispensed like iron death By Midas' touch We were given the assurance It's a matter of endurance That effort gets you to The Other Side But it's the twilight of the idols A daily grim recital As the market yields Slow motion genocide
I bring the gospel Of the inanimate world The world before you came I seek communion A Gnostic union But you see only blame I am time's ghost A dread Pentecost You angrily dismiss But I am the voice Of the void below And all that does not exist Chorus Stabat parens dolorosa The pierced parent, lying Juxta helix lacrimosa By the helix, crying Retexo sacramentum As the mystery is unwound Praepararent cellas All the cells make preparations Satis omnibus instructis To obey this invocation Dum emisit spiritum As my spirit is unbound I am the Angel And the burning bush That lays golden idols to waste I am the Stone That guides your hajj All normal life erased I am the Truth A Tetragrammaton That controls all life on Earth Each strand encodes New flesh that flows Toward our virgin birth Chorus I am a brick Hurled through your wall To let our lives take root We stand as one You fall apart From Eden's poisoned fruit You speak in tongues To spread our Word The prophecy remains: We are the Alpha And Omega Without end. Amen.
Well we knew there was no hope But must pretend there is a chance In a maelstrom spun of lies And whirling hostile circumstance Lost, double-crossed in a forest of fear We live out on the frontier Of a land no longer ours On the trail of Mars In the ceaseless gaze of robot eyes Joined by the lost who dare to dare Stripped of all we ever loved With no relief from mute despair Broken, on this darkening liminal plain With his master's voice in our brain Hiding in our avatars On the trail of Mars At a task no human mind could see Trapped in a spot whose sere terrain Had left us hopeless by degrees With no way home again We wheeled, kneeled and inverted the flag Tore down the mutinous rag As we contemplate our scars On the trail of Mars The hand that rocks may rule the world (for now) But the hand that holds the hand rules the heart Though they say without Control These things would quickly fall apart But here at the edge of the sea and the sky With the world at the back of our eyes We watch for falling stars On the trail of Mars
Standing on the beach Waiting for the black rain to come down Lost your badge and your gun Helpless as they run you to ground Now you got your hand in your pocket Watching the rocket's Red glare Ain't got a clue what it's about But you don't think you Really care Chorus You ain't guessing you know Who's behind it or what it's all worth You're just busy right now Getting ready for Walkin' off the earth You followed the footprints of Noah's Raven Scribbled in the sand Caught the whiff of hypocrisy In the theocracy slathered on the land You ain't goin' nowhere Got nothing you care about At all You're just watchin' vapor trails And waitin' for the hammer To fall Chorus Now it's the end of the movie And you ain't the hero, that's for sure So you're here with all the other losers On the cutting room floor You ain't got nothing that you're owed You been livin' on the road Of dead dreams And you long ago gave up That childish hope of a Post-credit scene Chorus


released October 2, 2020

Produced by John McDaid

Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Mark Dann

John McDaid—Vocal, guitar, keyboards, ukulele, harmonica

Craig Akin—Bass

Abbie Gardner—Dobro (Down To The River, Into Thin Air), vocals (Down To The River, Walking Off The Earth)

Tracy Grammer —Violin, vocals (Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride, Gioconda Smile, Walking Off The Earth). Recorded at The Blue Room, Greenfield, MA

Jim Henry—Electric Guitar (Lost In Translation, Sigmund Freud's 115th Dream, Gioconda Smile, Trail Of Mars), mandolin (Lost In Translation, Walking Off The Earth)

Laurie MacAllister—Vocals (Down To The RIver)

Eric Parker—Drums

Album art by A.D. Puchalski


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John McDaid Portsmouth, Rhode Island

Award-winning science fiction writer, freelance journalist, folk/filk singer-songwriter.

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