Amidst the Peals of Laughter
Historian: Tom Marshall
Last Update: 2013-11-12
by Tom Marshall
What is a drone?
It's the bee in the hive that does the “work” – the worker-bee. What is the hive? It's society. It's where we co-exist.
I always felt like a drone. In college – I'm finally away from my hometown (drone-town) and high school and what do I get? More drone activity on campus: happy faces chatting and following pheromone-marked trails from class to class, carrying books. What's in those books? Drone lessons. How to be a drone! They were written 50 years ago these books. We're not breaking new ground here. Cafeteria lines of drones eating drone food. Can't this wait 'til I'm old, can't I live while I'm young? But that's a different song, “Chalk Dust Torture” – a drone protest song about school. (Ok, that one's about other stuff too.)
“Amidst the Peals of Laughter” is about me, living the drone life, but hearing laughter from non-drones.
”Amidst the Peals of Laughter” – 10/31/13, Atlantic City, NJ
Why did Jack and Jill go up a hill? To fetch a pail of water. "Fetch." They weren't on a sightseeing walk – someone told them to go GET that water. This isn't a nursery rhyme… this is a 300 year-old drone protest poem. They fell down. People laughed at them. They failed at their drone task. They dropped their tray in the cafeteria.
In this society, we're forced to spend most of our waking hours at “work.” Why? Because that's what drones do. We're given “tasks” by non-drones… some of whom may laugh at us when we do them.
Enough about drones, Tom – we get it! Right? Ok… I'll stop.
In fact, Trey said the same thing. In the last line of the last verse I wrote "the drones have awakened, the day has begun" – Trey said the "drone" reference was too much… too obvious… we GET it, Tom. We substituted "world" for "drones" – I'll still sing drones though. It's drones.
Unfortunately, I don't have any answers. Can we just skip school and have fun instead of education? Of course not… although some people do. Can we just never get a job and never go to work? Of course not… although some people resist the pressure.
Olivia Arias was asked in an interview about all the women who pursued her husband George Harrison throughout his life. She said it's tough, but she had the secret to a long marriage: don't get divorced! It's that simple.
She's right. Just don't. She was pressured but fought the pressure.
I was laid-off from the insurance industry in 2005. I never went back to a 9-to-5. I'm not a drone anymore and it's AMAZING. It's tough – I still work, for myself and for others – but with no cubicle-honeycomb cages in sight it's worth it. It took me too long to wake up, and if the decision wasn't made for me, I might not have been brave enough to do it on my own. Looking back though I feel unhappy about those 20 years. I feel it was time wasted. Being patted on the back for doing a good job: good drone. Being laughed at by those who broke free somehow.
That's what this song is about.
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I feel blessed that the Phish community, which you are an integral part of, encourages us to take the first step, or the next. Love the song. Thanks for everything you do!
Also, sister song to Stealing Time? Thematically, at least.
Kind of Awake, but Still A Drone
Nice write-up. The nursery rhyme bit reminds me of Throwing Stones a little.
The Best thing about being a drone... Awakening to the knowing that I am no longer a drone. And owning the fact that if I never took the stroll and fell down, no matter how far the fall, I'm not sure I'd be having as much fun now
Tom, thank you for being so direct with your truth.
Hath not old custom made this life more sweet
Than that of painted pomp? Are not these woods
More free from peril than the envious court?
Here feel we not the penalty of Adam,
The seasons’ difference, as the icy fang
And churlish chiding of the winter’s wind,
Which when it bites and blows upon my body
Even till I shrink with cold, I smile and say,
“This is no flattery: these are counsellors
That feelingly persuade me what I am.”
Sweet are the uses of adversity,
Which like the toad, ugly and venomous,
Wears yet a precious jewel in his head;
And this our life, exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing.
-Shakespeare. As You Like It, Act II Scene I.