The Thousandth and Tenth Day of the Human Totem Pole – song notes


  1. It’s a Statue of Liberty Doll (not status). If you want to know what Don thought about the Statue of Liberty listen to his lyrics on Who Do You Think You’re Fooling (A&M B-side 1966) which was addressed to the statue itself. “You’re as cute as can be / Just as sweet as candy / But who do you think you’re fooling? Baby it ain’t me!” To Don the statue was a lie – an outstretched hand and a smile with a hook attached. The child represents those who are fooled.

    The Human Totem Pole doesn’t refer to the same thing. It’s about the long history of human suffering, layers upon layers over time, represented by the gigantic swaying set of totems on the pole reaching up to the sky. Men achieve their goals and get to the top of the pole by sitting on piles of dead human bodies and the collected pain of two hundred thousand years, poetically summarized as A Thousand and Ten days (and counting, with no end in sight).

    When Don includes the child approaching with a Statue of Liberty doll, he’s referencing his older work, which he did all the time.
    He’s one of those “I’ve always been looking for the right place to use that line” poets; carrying ideas around for years til he finds the right place for them. Also there’s a continuum in his words. His positions have never really changed – older & newer lyrics all fit together and make a consistent statement of who Don was and what he thought – so he could bring up older ideas anytime and fit them into new puzzles.

    1. Author

      Thanks for pointing that out – an embarrassing typo which might have been online for 20 years! Now corrected.

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