Our Lady Peace's grungy alt-rock song, One Man Army is from their third album, Happiness... Is not a fish that you can catch and written by their lead singer/lyricist, Raine Maida. has been interpreted as a glorification for burning down schools, a struggle for individuality, and an anti-war protest song. However, along the same themes the other interpretations offer, I believe it can been seen as an individual's fight against pressure to smoke.

Take these plastic people Read their lips, now let it linger Is there anything that makes them sound sincere? Tightly hold your hand Take a deep breath, give them the finger Are you worried that your thoughts are not quite Clear? Twitch Overlooked, unfit appearance I remember falling I remember marching Like a one man army Through the blaze I remember coughing I believe in something I don't want to remember falling For their lies Unbutton your clothes Undress your soul, show them your vigor Are those inhibitions easiest to Fear? Take this gasoline tin Head up high, walk like a winner Let the bare feet be the last sound that they Hear. Twitch Overlooked, unfit appearance I remember falling I remember marching Like a one man army Through the blaze I remember coughing I believe in something I don't want to remember falling For their lies

Here is an explicative breakdown of the lyrics:

Take these plastic people/Read their lips, now let it linger/Is there anything that makes them sound sincere? - The speaker is giving advice to someone being confronted with the choice of smoking. The plastic people in the opening line could be a metaphor for actual cigarettes or marijuana, those who smoke, or the cigarette industry. By using plastic to describe these objects or people, the speaker identifies them as something artificial and false. Things that are smoked must, inevitably, go through the lips. The lingering feeling could be the glorified affects of smoking such as getting high or getting a nicotine rush. The final line of the stanza basically degrades those that promote smoking into insincere liars.

Tightly hold your hand/Take a deep breath, give them the finger/Are you worried that your thoughts are not quite clear? - This stanza continues to address one being confronted with the choice of smoking. By saying "Tightly hold your hand," as opposed to someone else's hand, brings up the individual versus society theme. In this case, the social system says to smoke. "Take a deep breath, give them the finger" is an obvious and blatant rip at this system. The speaker is urging people to gather their will and reject the temptation of smoking to fit in. The final line is essentially a question asking people if they are truly in the right frame of mind when they make decisions to smoke or not with social pressure being inflicted.

Twitch/Overlooked, unfit appearance- This brings a change in the structure to the lyrics as well as the enterance into the chorus for the song. Twitching is not commonly seen as a good thing. It could be refering to nervous twitch of an unfulfilled smoking addict. The theme of being lied to also appears again. The overlooked, unfit appearance might be seen as the negative affects that aren't revealed until after smoking has become an addiction.

I remember falling/I remember marching/Like a one man army - The lyrics have changed from addressing someone to first person. The speaker is now lamenting a past experience that involved falling and marching. Falling can be interpreted an innumberable amount of ways, mostly with negative conotations of loss or failure. Marching is seen as a conformist activity. It could be the speaker remembers the pain of social rejection for turning down some smokes. It would seem then that marching would be paradoxical if the speaker did defy society. The simile of "like a one man army" further lends support to the idea of conflict and resistance to the pressure to smoke.

Through the blaze/I remember coughing/I believe in something- The chorus continues and the speaker continues to reflect on the allegorical battle he fought in rejecting smoking. A fire, or blaze, is certainly needed to light up any kind of substance that can be smoked. Coughing is a direct connection to the most visible sign of a smoker. It could be that the speaker recalls literally coughing from smoking, or is using it as a parallel to the battle his one man army is fighting. Believing in something certainly lends more support to the individual versus society theme prevalent throughout the song.

I don't want to remember falling/For their lies- The speaker sadly recalls falling again before taking another open shot by calling those that support smoking liars.

Unbutton your clothes/Undress your soul, show them your vigor/Are those inhibitions easiest to fear?- The second verses returns to someone being addressed. Unbuttoning and undressing the soul then showing "them" vigor is an act of defiance. The speaker urges people not only to reject the social pressure of smoking, but even to fight back violently. The ending question of the stanza is a query if the people he is addressing are truly capable of resistancing society pressure.

Take this gasoline tin/Head up high, walk like a winner/Let the bare feet be the last sound that they hear- The final lyrical pieces show the extent of how far the speaker believes people should fight. As noted early, fire is needed to begin smoking. The gasoline tin is essentially a violent form of resistance. By dousing those that smoke in gasoline, they will surely explode if they light up again. The final lines are encouragement and glorification for those who can defy peer pressure and win their individuality through resistance.


CST Approved

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