I’ve absolutely no idea why, but yesterday, while listening to Propagandhi’s new record, yet again, one song, in particular, felt so much like a kick in the neck. Potemkin City Limits. I know, why is that song, the name of their last record, on this album, Supporting Caste? As Chris said in a recent interview;
“If you had heard the version of the song ‘Potemkin City Limits’ that was originally intended to appear on the record of the same name, you would nod your head vigorously in understanding as to why it was ultimately shelved until a later date. Wow, did it STINK. It is good now.”1
Is it ever! Not just good, it’s great. Not that I’d heard it before. But any song that incites a response, such an emotional reaction, from the strongest Motherfucker ever to rock this planet’s surface, me (OK, I like to exaggerate), has to say something. Doesn’t it?
“Francis didnâ€™t give a fuck about the rollbacks, the overproduction, the reduced demand. He never gave much thought to disputed contracts. In his short life heâ€™d only ever known panic, fear, pain, darkness and pandemonium (in the hell that was his home). Fourth quarter earning expectations expedited his demise. The panic grew as the humans stalked among them. When the screaming began, Francis shut his eyes and felt the hand of inhumanity brush over him. But his would-be killerâ€™s back turned for a moment and a blinding ray of light spread across the floor. In a crimson pool he saw his own reflection as he bolted for the door. Not just some fractured fairy—tale although I wish that that were true. This is a fable far too real. Yet we somehow still cling to the story lines that bridge the chasm between cognition and belief. Any old implausible denial that might offer some relief from the dissonance that Francis left screaming in his wake as deep into the heart of the cityâ€™s park lands he made good his escape. And where for 5 months he ran free and replayed his only fond memory—just a warm and distant dream of his motherâ€™s loving eyes upon him. Francis made it farther than she did—a quarter mile just short of the city limits they finally captured him. Thereâ€™s a statue that the abattoir erected to remind us all of their contributions. To me it marks Potemkin City Limits, this Francis cast in bronze. Not just some fractured fairy-tale, although I wish that that were true. This is a fable far too real, yet we somehow still cling toâ€¦”2
I went ahead and posted the entire song’s lyrics. I was going to cite the parts that I found, personally, compelling, but that was quickly proven to be an exercise in futility. TheÂ song’sÂ power lies in its entirety.
Now consider this collection of words for a moment. I don’t mean read it and brush off as “bullshit”—though most of you will, I’m sure. But really consider being Francis. All you know of a life is an existence rife with “panic, fear, pain, darkness and pandemonium?” Followed by a brief shot at freedom, like you’ve never known? You don’t need to live it to know what it’s like? Do you?
Maybe you do. To which I must point out, you musn’t worry, we will. For, I feel, each and every single person, no matter how briefly,Â will live to experience the exact sameÂ feelings, in the exact same context, asÂ Francis.Â Eventually.Â Some may argue my interpretation is the true definition of irony. Frankly, I think, it reeks of “justice.”
And sadly, much like Francis, not one of “us” will live to speak of it…
- 1 Tom GabelÂ interviews Chris Hannah
- 2 Potemkin City limits, Supporting Caste, Propagandhi