THE PARABLE OF THE GREENHOUSE BLUESMAN
In preparation for the performance of Greenhouse Blues live at the Duncan Theater in Lake Worth, Florida this November 7, 2015: I thought it apropos to engage in a deeper analysis of this particular text. The pseudo-old-timey introduction gives a straightforward explanation of the theme.
Hey, pretty baby/ have you heard them say?/ this place is getting hotter baby/ day by day?
Seems all the things we burn/ and most the things we do
Are making it a hotter place for me and you/ no one seems to listen
Listen to the news/ No one wants to sing about the Greenhouse Blues…
The issue of global warming and climate change are truly topics no one wants to sing about. At first listen the subsequent lyrics appear constrained merely to an individual coping with his addiction and then evolving to a more enlightened recovery. This song is, however, a parable for our modern times. On closer inspection we learn that the narrator represents all mankind burdened with the hangover of global warming caused by the past fun of our consumer-driven affluenza-diseased fossil-fueled society.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, la, la,la/ shooby dooby wah wah wah
It’s all right if it happens again/ I guess we might as well begin
This terse introduction deals with the normative reaction to the inconvenient topic of global warming. It expresses the usual attempt to ignore, but the narrator decides that even if this familiar reaction happens again, there still must be hope, thus we might as well begin approaching the topic.
I wake unto the morning/ and I hurt so bad/ paying a pretty price/ for all the fun that we had
Our narrator wakens from years of climate abuse, disillusioned by the decades of fun represented by a fossil-fuel driven society.
Can’t quite remember it all/ and that makes me mad, been going at it like this since I was a lad
These lines refer to the memory hole of history that denies over a century of climate research. Science is under attack, and has been for some time versus the oil-producing capitalist economy that rules with an oligarchic tyranny.
It makes my family, friends, and lovers all real sad/ call me a black sheep, a bad man, or just a cad
Broaching the conversation of the greenhouse effect leads to both deniers and those on the fence to often simply make ad hominem attacks against our narrator. Being silent on the issue can equally lead to attacks from the same family and community expressing distaste for rejecting such a vital issue of our times.
It’s getting me nowhere but I never learn it/ the answer is clear but I can’t discern
However, discussion of climate change rarely lead to results, although the answer is clear: if peer reviewed scientific journals are any indicator. Once again, though, often the hard science is ignored, though the research shows a clear pattern (below).
Got a flame inside, I guess I should burn it/ it’s a clear pattern, reckon I earn it/ it’s a crying shame
The burning of fossil fuels is here also a metaphor for the desires fueled by all big carbon-footprint activities. The clear pattern revealed by research, as detailed above, leads us to the introduction of the mantra it’s a crying shame, the leitmotif of the song.
It’s a crying shame/ my own self to blame/ not getting nowhere/ not getting any fame.
The assignment of blame is clearly a nod to the human caused origin of most CO2 emissions. This argument, however, though well-known in the scientific community, lacks the fame of popular culture.
No one wants to know my name/ they all think I’m lame
it’s just the same old same/ no one’s glad I came
Once more, our narrator is confronted with being the bearer of bad news. Cognitive dissonance wins out over coming to terms with the problem.
Burned too bright a flame/ just playing the game/ I got to make my claim/ before it gets t’ me
Nevertheless our hero shall continue to make (his) claim, before his conscious gets to (him). Thus we move to the final section, one of hope for changing personally, maybe even locally, in an effort to think globally.
I get up every morning whether I want to or not/ thank the Lord above I got three hots and a cot
This passage marks the beginning of the enlightened turn around for our hero. Being thankful for the simple things leads to the realization that the necessary things in life often are the most essential.
Tell the druggie man that I would rather not/ partake of his most bodacious pot
The similarities to drug addiction are an obvious parallel to society’s oil addiction.
Then I hit the road, give it a shot/ get some new wheels down to the car lot
New wheels, possibly a hybrid, or other vehicle with a lesser carbon footprint, is just one example of acting locally. Thus our hero’s journey comes full circle, and it is a crying shame that others choose not to follow this path.