This started out, in 1995, as an attempt to explore the question of the motivations of the (at that time, unknown) persons responsible for the bomb in Oklahoma City — in particular, the kind of premeditation that would include the killing of so many children. The song developed a mind of its own, however, and went in a somewhat different direction about halfway through — you’ll probably be able to tell just about where that happens. In the end, I suppose the main question it asks is this: If premeditation is one of the main elements in determining how serious an act of killing is, what does that say about us, when it comes to executions, and the amount of premeditation that they involve? On a different note, I wrote the line in the first verse using the phrase “a hole in the heart” in 1995. It was a strange — almost eerie — feeling, during the trial two years later, to hear several of the family members of the victims use exactly those same words in describing how they felt.
In the middle of the heartland, in the middle of the day,
A hundred sixty-eight innocent lives were blown away.
A giant hole in the ground, far too deep to be filled;
A giant hole in the hearts of the loved ones of those who were killed.
How could you have so much hate? How could you kill so many kids?
The time, the place — how could you not know exactly what you did?
So many tiny bodies lying on those cold morgue shelves …
How could you have so much hate — unless you hate yourselves?
And so you say it was about Waco? Or maybe Idaho?
About government agents going farther than you think that they should go?
So you were going to make a statement? Going to take an eye for an eye?
Going to teach them all a lesson — by deciding who lives and who dies?
Now we’ve arrested some suspects, we’ve convicted them and tried them;
And now that they’re convicted, lots of people want to fry them;
Want to take some more revenge, want to show them that we’re strong;
Want to strap them down and kill them — just to show them killing’s wrong.
How could we have so much hate? It won’t bring back a single kid.
The time, the place — how will we not know exactly what we did?
Just to add a few more bodies to those cold morgue shelves …
How could we have so much hate — unless we hate ourselves?
So how would you define a coward? Well, I guess one thing you could say:
It’s the kind of person who could kill someone who could not get away;
Like someone who’d bomb a bunch of kids who’d never done him harm;
Like someone who’d strap a prisoner down, and stick a needle in his arm.
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