Vaccination Scar references


"...So the chemistry's set
And I'm not the saddest cheerleader
To forget the American word
For the gang in their heads
That dwindles to no members
When the mystery's met"

"...Life is forgetting
Good enough for the frivolous."

In Between Evolution carries many an example of anti-war, anti-'ready-aye-ready,' and perhaps even anti-George W. Bush poetry. Downie spoke out against the United States invasion of Iraq, as well as the disappointment publicly expressed by US Ambassador to Canada Paul Cellucci (over Canada's unwillingness to participate), during his 2003 solo tour. Bobby Baker later commented that it would be difficult to not allow the world around the band to influence their work. Parts of the lead single from IBE may take direct aim at Bush's flawed march to war.

Lovely and talented Hip Head Keri Kaminsky notes that the opening lyric may also reference the fact that Bush himself was a cheerleader in the mid to late 60's at Andover Academy and later Yale University.

The lead up to the Iraq invasion included US Secretary of State Colin Powell literally presenting the chemistry of the argument to the United Nations. Powell appeared before the UN Security Council with a vile of lethal chemical dangling from his fingers. He claimed that the United States was sure the Saddam regime had stock piles of the stuff, and they were determined to go in and clean house. The entire presentation has been largely discredited.

The International community was largely against the United States and their plans. Britain, Australia and Spain rallied to the cause, but the overwhelming majority of nations in the "coalition of the willing" contributed little or nothing to the effort, some simply aboard for political gain or because of plain old economic dependency on the United States. As the war went on and the mystery of "Weapons of Mass Destruction" was met, members of the coalition began feeling political pressure at home to pull out of "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

  "...This little silver boulder
this slowly falling star
We're rolling, so what
Never getting older
Where the moonshot curtains part
At the heart of enough"

Bush's rhetoric in the months leading up to the war included the "Let's roll" slogan reportedly used by civilians who brought down a hijacked 747 in Pennsylvania during the 9/11 attacks. On March 20, 2003 at 5:30am, the bombs begin falling on Baghdad. Strategic air strikes were the key to what US military spokespeople called a campaign of "Shock and Awe." The media were so well accommodated during the initial stages of the war, complete with embedded reporters, play by play coverage of battles and daily press briefings, that it gave new meaning to the term "theatre of war."   

The "life is for getting" line was a common rant Gord performed on stage during 2002. Often singing "life is for getting/Life is forgetting" during At The Hundredth Meridian.

"...For lighthouse fire
Burning down to embers end"

"...It went down like a bad card table
Like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge."

Despite the US capacity to wage war, their ability to stage one was continually called into question. Their justification for the invasion kept changing, and the much vaunted "Weapons of Mass Destruction" never materialized. Bush's original reasons for invading Iraq fell apart like a poorly constructed house of cards, or an equally flimsy card table. Much like a sailor following the glow of a lighthouse to shore, only to find it on fire: soldiers in Iraq had gone in expecting one thing, and found something entirely different. Circumstances were certainly not what they had anticipated, as being greeted with roses was not the common experience for those on the ground.

Bush's collapse in credibility is likened to the collapse of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. You've probably seen the famous footage of this steel wire suspension bridge being violently shaken by the wind in 1940.

As the Hip recorded IBE, floods swept through British Columbia. The boys ended up playing a benefit gig for a town that had literally seen its bridge washed away.

Gordon Welch has this to add: "this little silver boulder/this slowly falling star/the mysteries met/sky just reddened/headin' home under dusk/is life just forgettin' another word for frivilous?/Little silver boulder, silence from Mars.

I think he might be talking about the Mars Polar Lander. On December 3rd, 1999, the last telemetry from Mars Polar Lander was sent just prior to atmospheric entry. No further signals were sent. There was 'silence from Mars.' Richard Cook, project director at Mars Surveyor '98 program, called the craft the program's 'last silver bullet.'

In keeping with the extraterrestrial theme, the lyric "a tear dropped in a vaccination scar" might be referring to the alien autopsy film that came out in 1995. The veracity of the film was widely debated at the time. Critics of the film quickly pointed out that the alien had what appeared to be a teardrop-shaped vaccination scar on its left shoulder, suggesting that whatever was lying on the autopsy table was raised on Earth."