Flint.Auto   Though I’m sometimes loathe to admit it, my one-time dream was to be a singer/songwriter.

Growing up in Flint, Michigan, I suppose I was fortunate to take part in a small but vibrant local music scene centered around a performance space for original local acts. It really was the only one of its kind at the time, since most bars in the area at that time wanted heavy metal and Southern rock cover bands. (Think Lynnrd Skynnrd on Quaaludes.)

dream  As fate would have it, the powers-that-be in said music scene found it in their hearts to let my band perform a few shows over the years. The moment following our first song, we got a LOT of requests… but we kept playing, anyway. Sadly, those days had to come to an end, as previously chronicled here and there on Trauma Central.

I have plenty of fond memories of my time in Flint’s underground music scene. I was fortunate enough to have the honor of playing my first-ever show on the Capital Theater’s main stage. While shows are no longer held there, the founders of the Flint scene are continuing their tradition of dedication to original music with the Flint Local 432, an all-ages, non-profit, substance free music and performing arts venue located in downtown Flint.

While my days of being an active musician might be over, my desire to perfect my lyric-writing craft remains. Since I owe a debt of gratitude to the founders of Flint’s punk and alternative rock scene, I see it only fitting to write at least one song about my hometown. And what says “Flint, Michigan” better than General Motors and the city’s strong auto industry past… and it’s fading future.

Some might read these lyrics and think, “This is like Ben Hamper’s ‘Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line’ in lyrical form, I think these lyrics are more complex than that. I come from a long line of schoolteachers, thus working in Flint’s auto factories was never in my blood nor an expected birthright.

Thus, enjoy this outsider’s view of what it was like to grow up in Flint during the height of GM’s popularity in the 1970s…

Propped Up to Die
lyrics by J.P. Ribner

We were told we could have everything,
all we had to do was try
On this carousel of sadness,
we are propped up to die

The whistle blows, a siren’s call,
Proud men from southern mountains
To the land of rust and honey,
To build castles in the sand
Every man a king
Strong backs and strong traditions
Ignoring all that’s written
For a birthright in our hands

Propped up to die, you’ll do what they told ya
Propped up to die, like a good little soldier
We were told we could have everything,
all we had to do was try
Propped up to die

No whistle blows, a siren’s call
We lost boys roam the valley
In shadows cast by carnival steel
Wait our vicious, roving bands
Every promise broken
Leaves us scarred, marked and shaven
Our birthright burns in flames
Holding ashes in our hands

Propped up to die, you’ll do what they told ya
Propped up to die, like a good little soldier
We were told we could have everything,
all we had to do was try
Propped up to die (x2)

Feed the beast,
feed the machine
This city feeds
on dying dreams
Our eyes are blind,
our hearts are stone
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne
Let this armchair be my throne

We were told we could have everything…

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

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Comments
  1. […] came to our careers, Generation X was told we could do anything. Little did we know, we were being propped up to die. After a few decades in the workforce, many of us have come to accept that our jobs are […]

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