8. Plastic Fire Hats

04:48
Roman Rhodes: Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards/ Tim Wiltshire: Electric Guitars/ Moray Crawford: Drums/ Masahiko: Bass/
05/31/2009
Roman Rhodes: Words & Music, (c) Multifolk Inc. 2006 SOCAN

Story

Prometheus and why I am not famous. When I was a child every time you filled up on gasoline at the pumps you got coupons for a free dish, glass, cup or bowl. As a result all of our family dishes were from Texaco. When I was studying archaeology in the classics department at Concordia University, and was made aware of the incredible importance of pottery/tableware in understanding past cultures, I recalled this and was struck how appropriate it was that in the age of oil oligarchies, oil wars, and oil based foods, insecticides, fertilizers, clothing and containers (our oil society!)that the table ware that would be studied by future civilizations would be from an oil company. We of course also got the free plastic fire hats. And there is a story in my family that when my parents were desperately but unsuccessfully trying to have their first child (5 miscarriages in as many years) one day my father stayed home from work to make babies, and just as my parents were at it, the doorbell rang and there at the door was a little kid in a fire hat, who yelled "put out the fire!" This scenario developed into a short story I wrote for a college writing class in which a recently fired husband comes home in the mid afternoon and tosses all the coupon Texaco fire hats onto his dead front lawn for the neighbourhood kids to play with, and distract them while he faces his wife. But it backfires like the real life story. The image of the plastic fire hats falling on the dead lawn( modern symbol of the garden) stuck with me and I knew I had to use it for this song about post modern society's drive to have kids even as it fails providing them with a sustainable future and fails understanding why the children turn against it, their parents and themselves. The fire hats become like a bandaid, not toy hats, but totally useless items in face of the real emergencies facing our world. The chorus with the birds refers to the mercurial German God Odin or Wodan, of our word Wednesday, who traveled with two crows on his shoulders: forethought and afterthought, like the Greek Prometheus and Epithemeus. And what that is about is this: in the west we have this incredibly rich mythology, and history full of tales that help us understand life, face and interact with it in a more harmonious and constructive way. And yet we were never told about our real past in any detail because Christianity was set on us forgetting our pagan past. We were left to figure these things entirely on our own. Only when I got to university and learned all about our past, did life fall into place for me and I no longer felt lost. In the Greek Myth, afterthought is the bumbling brother who unleashes all the illnesses from Pandora's box. So that is one way to look at it. But afterthought can also be reflection on history so we can act with forethought and don't repeat the mistakes of the past. Hence we need both birds. So you see: all this erudition for a little pop-rock song: no wonder I'm not popular!

Lyrics

Plastic Fire Hats
©Roman Rhodes, 2006

Plastic fire hats thrown on a dead lawn;
All our plates gotten at the Texaco;
Free coupons with the gas to go;
All our past I never came to know. 
Culture was something that I'd have to grow 
on my own, lost and all alone. 

Parking lots as far as the eye can see;
People wondering why the youth should be
So full of violence, nothing else to do
Seems all life is already rotten through.

People want own children when so many without
Half the world is flooded, the other half in drought.
With such imbalance, no wonder we're in doubt
And all they offer is a God who seems like such a lout.

Chorus: Ah think about it! Think before you act!
           Two birds on the shoulder: One looks forth and one looks back.

Red Fire Hats falling on a dead lawn:
All our life, we're searching for something to help us on,
Find our way, keep us clear and make us strong.
With no guidance, no wonder that we go wrong.

Wondering why the Youth has gone to pot?
Wondering why moral's something we're not?
Wondering why the world is going to hell?
Obvious isn't it, but don't you dare tell:

All our culture gotten from the Texaco!
All our government/wars, just to make the oil flow.
All our past, something we never came to know.
All our future, something we fear won't show.

All my youth I was always searching for
Some world-view to help me put it all in order.
Since I've learned so much that I think I'll bleed
sorrow from my pores, when you come to cut me
with your knives for your prying eyes to see,
That really I'm just like you.
Only that truth was something I both spoke and knew
While your values are upheld as a blockade to the truth.

Plastic fire hats are all they have to save us:
Duck and cover from the splitting of the nucleus.
Band-aids for errors deep as fault lines,
Same mistakes as history's left behind.

[Some earlier verses that got cut.
People who want children just can't seem to reproduce
Those who got 'em, never wanted, tell me what's the use?
No future anyhow and so much abuse,
Values are upheld as a blockade to the truth.
That we got something better inside. 
That goes beyond the wrong and the right.
It comes like a rain in the night
And makes green the lawn that is white.

Music

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