Lonely Heroes: Abroad

by John Spearn

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released August 18, 2014

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John Spearn Edmonton, Alberta

You’ll instantly catch these deep influences threaded through John’s fine vocals, lyrics, and rootsy, guitar-mastered songwriting works. This is pure Canadiana: forgotten but deserving heroes, the humility in our international image, and a superb range of tender ballads through to raw, foot-stompin’ stories that need to be told. ... more

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Track Name: Keeper of the Peace
Spied through a sniper’s gun-sight, I carried the legless child
Near a playground where a tall swing once stood.
Once a verdant city, broken, wasted, burned, defiled
Only rubble…that once was a neighborhood.
After we flew in, and tried to reason what was left
I asked the master, what was my station?
Please answer me, or are you forsaken here
I dreamed I heard the spoken word so clear.
He said the evil that you see, is why I brought you here
Do what you can to spare the souls not taken.
And be [I’m] a builder of a new school, heal the wounds, and gunfire cease!
Be [I’m] a sweeper of the landmines….a Keeper of the Peace!
To wear this Blue Beret, I know I have to stay
I have to keep on proving that I’m worthy
Of my country’s prayers for me, and if only eyes could see
I’m facing elder’s wisdom before I’m thirty.
And when evil-powered and twisted souls become the brain behind the gun
In a world where hunger tempts for fortune
Be the only one who can, as a father to a son,
And above all show a strong and sharing hand.
And know that I…am only human
I’m a Keeper of the Peace.
Track Name: The War Bride
My Caledonia…so far away
‘Cross the wide ocean… long, long the day
Westward I travel…let go the tears
Farewell Nova Scotia…rain down on the Pier.
From this rolling railyard…watch Canadi-ay
Four days through the wild land… there I will stay.
And so soon shall I see…my marryin’ man
Up on the Altar…a new church in the plan
Where a battered piano…awaits my command
And my Commonwealth soldier…steady’s my hand.
My Caledonia, so far from here
‘Cross the wide ocean… [let go the tear]
Track Name: The Crimson Maple Leaf
See the boats on the Bay of Fundy waiting for the crimson tide
Out on the frothy sea crest, they will ride.
In the waters of Queen Charlotte where the halibut boats all glide
See the Maple Leaf that’s flying off the side!
On the sun-soaked plains of Saskatchewan see the dancers bring the rain
While the children play, the story is told again.
In the north you’ll find the Caribou Line, where the villagers know your name
Over Franklin’s bones it’s the Crimson Leaf again.
See her flutter in the north wind’s fury, in the steam of summer’s rain
From sea, to sea, to sea…she flies the main
From around the world we’ve gathered, sharin’ one belief
Sing our song of [the Crimson Maple Leaf]
From Tecumseh’s brave warriors, to the flyers at Amiens
To the blood on the faraway Dieppe shores
There’s Bethune, and Banting, Terry Fox and Pearson’s Corps,
And the list can go on forevermore.
To this land we were born or the legacy that we pledge
She’s given us the best that there can be.
Il c’est bienvenue au St. Laurent to the Fraser River’s rage
In the Klondike or in St. Anthony
Track Name: Tail Gunner's Dream
Walk the runway line, terror in your soul
Take a three-bar climb, find the turret hole.
Thirteenth night, our squadron must fly
From total darkness- to the torchlit German sky.
Ringing in your ears, words the Chaplin pray
Lord of heaven steer, keep the flak away.
Two more gone, one on either side
Spotlight found- death a demon’s ride.
Open bay, let the doom scream play
Hear the roar, make the corporal pay.
Nightmare, women and children below
Gunner’s dream, no more missions to go.
Enemy night fighter, radar guidance plan
[Heather’s locket, tightly in my hand].
Track Name: Hong Kong Christmas
Our little garrison, ten thousand strong, guarded the sea-port town of Hong Kong
December eighth, 1941, we heard the news Pearl Harbour had gone
And down came the Imperial Japanese.
Messages came, Shang Hai over-run, War in the Pacific, the headlines began
Send reinforcements, soon as you please, ‘cause we won’t go down on our knees, to the imperial Japanese.
[And the Sergeant cried: “Give ‘em some heroes, Boys!!]
While the Mitsubishis roared overhead, straefing our A-A gunnerboys
We threw back to them everything we had, but our weapons seemed like little toys.
We trenched as their troops came up on the shore, we had a few tricks up our sleeve
In the forward positions our lads had dug down sayin’ we won’t go on our knees
To the Imperial Japanese.
As the days went by we fought to hold ground, Johnny O. and the ‘Peg Grenadiers
Hand to hand in the hills we were found, wrestling through hopes and our fears
Two weeks went by, two weeks we held, waiting for help to arrive
Spending our honour with blood on the ground, hundreds of friends gave their lives
Sayin’ we won’t go on our knees, to the Imperial Japanese
Track Name: Dieppe (Unplugged)
We rode on a wave to Dieppe that day] There was Frenchy, Mac, and me, in our proud black berets.
Canadian commandos, five thousand strong were we
So glad to be delivering liberty, but the Germans were there on the shore
Dave Mack ran a gamut, way out in front of the boys
We just couldn’t see through the smoke, fire and noise
we knew he could run, but soft sand, his pack and his gun
In a blinding flash on the shore-cry no more
Frenchy led the way past the gun caves we could see
With a fine eye and luck, he knocked out two or three
The boys heard armour rollin’, closer than they wanted to be
It seemed so sudden for Frenchy- pousser de cries.
With as many dead as wounded, pinned down we can’t break free
I just want to go back to my Saskatoon prairie
They’re picking us off like flies, I can’t take it no more
Dear Lord, please sail us off this shore
One thousand me lay dyin’, dear Lord-cry no more.
Track Name: O Canada (Anthem)
O Canada, our home and native land
True patriot love, in all our sons command
Car ton bras se porter le payee
Il se porter la croix
Ton histoire et une et peu payeux
De plus brilliants exploits
God keep our land, glorious and free
[O Canada we stand on guard for thee]
Track Name: The Sons of Canada
They were the sons of Canada They heard the call for to obey
They heard the call for souls away
They were the ones from old St. John’s
Up from the ‘Peg, South Saskatchewan
Trois Rivieres, and Nipigon, on memory’s wall
Right under the guns.
They fell freeing France, they stood in Hong Kong
They stand for peace, and getting along
They stand for hope, in the darkness gone long
They stand on guard, true north free and strong.
Track Name: Queen of the Hurricanes
Within the greatest peril the earth has ever seen
There stood a titan woman like none before had been
Strong and looking skyward, fightin’ polio and pain,
Canada’s Elsie-e MacGill…[ she’s bakin’ up Hurricanes][ bakin’ up hurricanes].
Soon Goering’s mighty squadrons were pummeling Britain’s lair
But for brave and daring pilots of the Hurricane and Spitfire
We’ve got to knock those bombers down today from e’er they fly
Call Elsie to the rescue, [bakin’ Hurricanes, not pies][knock those bombers from the skies].

Chorus 1: Hey, hey,…way up high…gotta knock those bombers from the sky
She was the finest engineer an airplane ever knew
She’d build a thousand Hurricanes before she was through
And send ‘em o’er the ocean protecting Britain’s soil
With every woman’s hands to work, and [blood and sweat and toil][grease and fumes and oil].
Those Hurricanes flew fast and true and turned upon a wire
They buzzed and whacked the Messerschmidts with lead and wrath and fire
When it was o’er, old Goering knew full well that he was done
Nevermore o’er Britain’s shores [would Hitler’s pilots run][ya’ Goering’s boys were “toast”].
Chorus 2: Hey, hey,…way up high…Elsie’s hurricanes [knocked those bombers from the skies]
So what e’er you do take heed my friend and never ye’ forget
When the chips are down and the end seems near, no you ain’t finished yet
Just make a call to the women’s hall, and there we’ll find a way,
To keep us all from Satan’s wall, for its [Elsie saves the day][Queen o’ th’ Hurricanes]
Coda: Hey, hey,…Queen o’ th’ Hurricanes, through blizzard, snow, and rain, Queen o’ th’ Hurricanes, she’s bakin’ those hurricanes.
Track Name: Riel: New Version
We arrived near Batoche on that day, with chains to take Riel away.

Our orders from Middleton were clear: {"Rout the Metis . . . right here!"}

The Saskatchewan River, with a steam paddle-wheeler, we sailed.

With our cannons and horses, provisions and tack,

And a fine eight hundred, we’d surely prevail.

And tose men of Dumont were a ragged brigade,

“Dieu ne les laisserait pas perdre!” Riel said, {and they stayed }

With our scarlet and polish, we smelled of the English,

We could see them from miles away.

And in trenches the Metis started to pray . . . they started to pray!

We had the finest of rifles and ammo' in our revelry.

With two guns made by Gatling, let loose! The devil to see!

And the two hundred Metis had muskets for shot,

And for three remarkable days, they fought, and they fell . . .they fought and they fell.

"Stop the madness! Stop killing! Stop in God's name!"

{We could hear the priest yell} . . .

Speaking: Riel escaped, but gave himself up after 3 days. I was first up to the

man...Riel looked my soul right through.

He said "Dieu, pardonnez les, il ne savent pas, ce qu’il font!"

<Oh Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do!>

I squirmed and started shaking... Riel looked me in the eye,

And I knew deep down in my soul that this brave man. . . was doomed to die.

{And in chains we took Riel away

and the little church rang its bell.

And dozens of men lay dead on the ground,

With a tale they never could tell.}

With a tale they never could tell!

Near the little church on La Belle Prairie . . .