I Had No Idea That I Was A Netizen

Apparently, this word is a portmanteau of the words Internet and citizen, so that fits me quite well, because I am often involved in online activities.  ‘Paper in Fire’ was a hit single from John Cougar Mellencamp’s ninth studio album The Lonesome Jubilee which was recorded in 1987.  This song reached #9 on The Billboard Hot 100 and it got to #86 in the UK.  Mellencamp’s Uncle Joe had died of cancer at the age of 57 the year before this song came out and ‘Paper in Fire’ is about Joe and the family’s ingrained anger.  John Mellencamp came from Seymour, Indiana and this is where his father, Richard Mellencamp, met his mother when he slammed into her on the street one day in the late 1940s.  Richard and his big brother Joe were running from the cops after pummeling four guys in retaliation for a whupping that his father Richard had gotten earlier.  Mellencamp recalled that his Uncle Joe who was once a massive man was down to 100 pounds in the intensive care ward, but he still didn’t want to spoil his macho football star image by letting loved ones see him.

The “paper in fire” represents the dreams that disappear when Americans are hit with the harsh realities that destroy them.  The song touches on elements of the bible, the 1963 Paul Newman film Hud, and the rock-and-roll lifestyle.  Paper in fire is hell, and it is mentioned in Revelation 20:15, “Anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire”.  The Book of Life is the book in which God records the names of every person who is destined for Heaven or the World to Come.  The line in this song, “We keep no check on our appetites”, comes from the 1963 movie Hud, starring Paul Newman.  The line is said by Melvyn Douglas who played the character of Homer Bannon who despised his son Hud.  Homer got pissed off with Hud and said, “You don’t care about people Hud. You don’t give a damn about ‘em. Oh, you got all that charm goin’ for ya. And it makes the youngsters want to be like ya. That’s the shame of it because you don’t value anything. You don’t respect nothing. You keep no check on your appetites at all. You live just for yourself. And that makes you not fit to live with.”  Mellencamp liked the movie so much, that he named one of his sons Hud.

Mellencamp recorded six albums as John Cougar before switching to John Cougar Mellencamp and finally back to his given name.  In 2008, John was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

She had a dream
And boy it was a good one
So she chased after her dream
With much desire
But when she get too close
To her expectations
Well the dream burned up
Like paper in fire

Paper in fire
Stinking up the ashtrays
Paper in fire
Smoking up the alleyways
Who’s to say the way
A man should spend his days
Do you let them smolder
Like paper in fire

He wanted love
With no involvement
So he chased the wind
That’s all his silly life required
And the days of vanity
Went on forever
And he saw his days burn up
Like paper in fire

Paper in fire
Stinking up the ashtrays
Paper in fire
Smoking up the alleyways
Who’s to say the way
A man should spend his days
Do you let them smolder
Like paper in fire

There’s a good life
Right across the green fields
And each generation
Stares at it from afar
But we keep no check
On our appetites
So the green fields turn to brown
Like paper in fire

Paper in fire
Stinking up the ashtrays
Paper in fire
Smoking up the alleyways
Who’s to say the way
A man should spend his days
Do you let them smolder
Like paper in fire

Written for Reena’s Exploration Challenge #164 – photo prompt.

9 thoughts on “I Had No Idea That I Was A Netizen

  1. A very engaging read, and intense song!

    The Creator’s gift to living beings – mortality, survival instinct and unclear purpose. The result is all that we see, explore and write about, because the purpose of life is so subjective.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My favorite by JCM was always Jack and Diane. Two American kids doing the best that they can.

    I could never be a Jack. I was practically an anti-Jack. I didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of catching a Diane. I was surrounded by them though and thought that being a Jack and having a Diane was everything I could ask for.

    Nobody writes songs for Freds. Except for this one…

    Liked by 1 person

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