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Can't Be Rich (On Shattered Land)

from Blackbirds by Alex Hickey

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The terrible practice of hydraulic fracturing (shale gas extraction) threatens Nova Scotia with its waste of water, its poisoning and destabilizing of the land and its destruction of rural landscapes. This song explores the temptation of easy money—and one possible response.


My man can’t find work
No matter where he looks
We’re on the dole
We’re busted flat
We thought of growing some
weed back in the woods
But we don’t want our kids
mixed up in that

It was borrow now and foreclose later
We’re up to our keisters in alligators
Don’t know what we can do
It’s gonna take a miracle to pull us through

Then this fellow came up to our door
Offerin’ money to mine out back
He said, “You’ll be gettin’ paid for nothin’, folks
If you’ll just sign here and let us frack.”

So we can be rich
On shattered land
Or poor on land that’s whole
Yeah, that’s the choice they’re offerin’
Hey, Mister
You put a bounty on our souls

Our kids are learning to do without
There’s more to life than clothes and toys
And yeah, we’d love to give them everything
But this is the devil’s choice

I say it sounds too good to be true
And I ask the man
“What’s the risk of cancer?”
He says, “You can have your money up front.”
And, you know, that ain’t no kind of answer

’Cause if it’s money now and tumours later
Shove your hydraulic fracturator
Don’t want your poisons in our well
Hey, Mister
You can go to hell

I guess I’m goin’ back to school
Study Tourism Management
And my man’s plantin’ a Victory Garden
Washin’ the dishes and mindin’ the kids
‘Cause it’s borrow now but pay back later
We love this land and won’t betray her
There’s always something we can do
Hard work is gonna have to be what pulls us through

’Cause you can’t be rich
On shattered land
Or poor on land that’s whole
That’s no choice they’re offerin’
Hey, Mister
Can’t put a bounty on our souls


from Blackbirds, released September 18, 2012




Alex Hickey West Dublin, Nova Scotia

Alex Hickey is a Nova Scotian songwriter whose songs walk a delicate line between cynicism and a passionate love for the world. Clever and poignant, funny, heartbreaking and punch-to-the-guts honest, every CD or live performance should come with a packet of tissues. ... more

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