Wildfire—the raw imagery of a spark igniting a flame.
Wildfire—a flame spreading so violently, so uncontrollably, that it become a fire, a fire that then takes hold of leaves and bushes and trees and everything it can grab before it can be suppressed. Savage destruction as everything that surrounds us burns; the unstoppable force of the flame.
And, in Mandolin Orange’s song, “Wildfire,” from the band’s most recent album, Blindfaller, it stands as the perfect metaphor to represent the spread of ideas. An idea that acts as the spark; the conflict that ensues, that moves with the energy and the power to burn a whole forest.
This framework is used several times throughout the song, and, in five minutes of simple lyrics, Andrew Marlin encompasses our country’s entire history of unnecessary dichotomy and preventable conflicts and uncharacteristic hatred.
And, most importantly, he echoes beautifully the sentiment that the great divides existing within our country, in terms of beliefs and ideals and treatment of those different from ourselves, are rooted in our country’s history of hatred and mistreatment of others and that these continue to exist today because they always have existed, because new generations are raised with the principles of the old. That none of this—these hate crimes upon and mistreatment of and disgust for those who are different—should exist.
The Wildfire—it starts with an idea long ago that led to a revolution and to the birth of our country. Marlin uses Joseph Warren, whose death made him a martyred symbol of the American Revolution, as an example of an unnecessary death resulting from the wildfire of conflict in the colonies.
It should have been different, it could have been easy. His rank could have saved him, but a country unborn needs bravery.
And it spread like wildfire.
A few brave individuals willing to stand up and fight for their beliefs and their ideas ignited the whole of the bravery that spread and led to our Revolution.
And, as with any true wildfire, everything burns. Bravery and a willingness to fight burned the Colonies as we knew them to the ground, and a cycle began, as things began to grow anew.
From the ashes grew sweet liberty, like the seeds of the pines when the forest burns.
From the ashes grew our new country—our “Land of the Free.”
But, as time progressed and as the country grew, things were not as “Free” as they should have been. A new flame grew— a conflict between two groups with vastly different beliefs developed.
It should have been different.
it could have been easy, but too much money rolled in to ever end slavery.
The cry for war spread like wildfire
And we found ourselves again fueled by a burning flame—for some, a desire to make things right; for others, a desire to keep things the same.
Civil war came, civil war went. Brother fought brother, the south was spent. But its true demise was hatred, passed down through the years.
It did not need to be this way.
It did not need to be this difficult.
But pride has a way of holding too firm to history.
And it burns like wildfire.
Unnecessary deaths over pride and the unwillingness to change and the stubborn belief that one group is right and one group is wrong. The country burned in the wildfire and, from the ashes, grew again.
And then Marlin brings us to today and to this generation where, from the ashes of the conflicts from our country’s prior generations, hatred grows ever so strongly.
I was born a southern son In a small southern town where the rebels run wild.
They beat their chest and they swear: ‘We're gonna rise again’
Here we are— in a new generation, yet somehow fueled by those same principles.
For some, a hatred; for others, frustration, and a desire to make things right, as with times before.
A People divided, no doubt.
Stubbornly, painfully proud people.
As we always have been, the way no burning wildfire has yet to change.
It should have been different, it could have been easy. The day that old Warren died, hate should have gone with it. But here we are, caught in the wildfire.
And, again, conflict ensures as the wildfire burns. People seek a change for the better, to find a new way for the people in this country to coexist.
The way they could have been all along; the way it could still become.
No hatred fueled by these words and ideas that have been unnecessarily passed down through the generations.
No hatred of others because of the hatred that once existed between our ancestors.
No mistreatment of an individual or a group because they are different or because they think or feel or act or look or believe or live differently. Because their race or sexual orientation or social or political or ethical beliefs are different. Because of anything that makes them different. Because our ancestors mistreated those who were different.
Marlin yearns for this, and he echoes repeatedly that it could have always been better—from the very moment those brave men once victoriously fought for a new country of freedom, we could have been united. But we were not. And, for that reason, for reasons of pride and stubbornness and discomfort and fear and countless other frustrating traits, hatred was passed down; feelings of superiority were passed down. The great divide was passed down.
Our country now finds itself at another crossroad—the feelings of frustration and the desire to change have led to these new conflicts that headline the news today.
To the unnecessary deaths.
To the divides that have been caused by this election season.
As with times in our country’s past, the flame of passion has led to this wildfire, and, as we have learned before, something is going to grow from the ashes of this miserable mess.
Let us hope that, unlike the generations before, sweet liberty—true equality and acceptance and respect—grows. Let us make that change, to rid ourselves of our predisposition for prejudice stemming from our past and the way we were once raised. Let us finally allow something beautiful to grow from the ashes.
Let us hope that this song, as had many ideas before, catches fire.
Listen to the beauty of the song, and right the ways of this country.
Let something wonderful come from this Wildfire.