"The Geographic North Pole" lyrics - LAURIE ANDERSON

"The Geographic North Pole"

The summer of 1974
Was brutally hot in New York
And I kept thinking about how nice and icy it must be at the North Pole.
And then I though, "Wait a second, why not go?"
You know, like in cartoons
Where they hang going to the North Pole on their door knobs and they just take off.

So I spent a couple of weeks preparing for the trip,
Getting a hatchet, a huge backpack, maps, knives,
Sleeping bags, lures and a three month supply of Banic,
A versatile high-protein paste
That can be made into flat bread, biscuits or cereal.

Now I had decided to hitch hike
And one day I just walked out onto Houstin Street,
Weighing down seventy pounds of gear,
And stuck out my thumb.

- Going North? I asked the driver as I struggled into a station wagon.

After I got out of New York,
Most of the rides were trucks until I reached the Hudson Bay
And began to hitch in small mail planes.
The pilots were usually guys who'd gone to Canada
To avoid the draft
Or else embittered Vietnam vets
Who never wanted to go home again.

Either way they always wanted to show off a few of their stunts.
We'd go swooping low along the rivers doing loop do loops and baby hueys.
And they'd drop me off at an airstrip.
"There'll be another plane by here couple of weeks; see ya; good luck.

I never did make it all the way to the geographic pole;
It turned out to be a restricted area
And no one was allowed to fly in or even over it.
I did get within a few miles of the magnetic pole though.
So it wasn't really that disappointing.
I entertained myself in the evenings,
Cooking or smoking,
And watching the blazing light
Of the huge Canadian sunsets
As they turned the lake into fire.

Later I lay on by back,
Looking up at the Northern lights
And imagining there'd been a nuclear holocaust
And that I was the only human being left in all of North America
And what would I do then.

And then, when these lights went out,
I stretched out on the ground,
Watching the stars as they turned around
And their enormous silent wheels.

I finally decided to turn back because of my hatchet.
I'd been chopping some wood and the hatchet flew out of my hand on the upswing.
And I did what you should never do when this happens:
I looked up to see where it had gone
And it came down - fffooo - just missing my head
And I thought,
"My God! I could be working around here with a hatchet embedded in my skull
And I'm ten miles from the airstrip.
And nobody in the whole world knows where I am."

Daddy Daddy, it was just like you said
Now that the living outnumber the dead
Where I come from it's a long thin thread
Across an ocean. Down a river of red
Now that the living outnumber the dead
Speak my language