CAGES OF STEEL (©Words and Music by Paul F. Cowlan)

I once dreamed I’d written a song produced this song.

The trees on the street grow in cages of steel,
in autumn their leaves fall on concrete and stone.
They’re never alone.
Through the cold and the heat and the rush and the fumes
you can’t help but feel that they’re safer in cages of steel.


Freak storms, hurricanes, poison in the water
and the burning rain that makes the leaves turn brown.
Scream of the chain-saw and grumble of machinery
that never dies away until the last tree’s down.
Brand new wasteland, man-made desert
and the blood of the forest on the evening air.
It’s only half the story, but you really can’t ignore it.
There’s very very little time to spare.

Stone axe, wooden plough, antler-pick and shoulder-blade;
life was hard in the Good Old Days.
Dawn of history; hunger, lust and innocence,
and learning to survive was the only way.
But times have changed and the world’s grown older,
spinning through a universe of cold, bright stars;
turns one cheek to feed her hungry family,
turns the other cheek and shows the scars.

Because they chop down trees dropping leaves on their flower-beds
and cultivate their gardens all in nice neat lines,
shoot the birds that wake them up by singing in the morning,
and try to douse the sun because the damned thing shines.
High-rise hells and a breeze-block paradise,
I hardly need to tell you how they feel.
Birds, bees, flowers, trees, mountains, animals and seas;
lock them safely in a cage of steel.

Roots deep down in the darkness, head high in the sky,
birdsong in the branches, seasons rolling by.


Think about it. It’s worth a little trouble.
There won’t be anybody else to blame.
The Past is gone, another generation
will bless your memory or curse your name.
High-flown ideals, low down dirty deals,
that’s the kind of rubbish that we’ve heard before.
Somewhere, someone, should be doing something.
And that’s a challenge that you can’t ignore.

Drawing water up from the soil, drawing down the wholesome air,
leaves, flowers, fruit in the season. How do we compare?

The trees on the street grow in cages of steel,
in autumn their leaves fall on concrete and stone.
They’re never alone.
Though it looks like defeat, they will never say die;

And you can’t help but feel that they’ll outlive their cages of steel.