Heroes or zeroes


Written well before the Arab Spring. Dictators are falling again like ninepins. 

This had its first live outing at the Vortex in March 2010.  

Vocals, piano
Richard Rhys O'Brien
Bruce Knapp
Richard Sadler
Tony Shepherd


Heroes or zeroes

They were walking in the morning, they were walking in the evening, they were walking in the dead of night
They were trying to cross the country, as fast as they could, but the cold was beginning to bite
They didn’t have much water, food was getting shorter, the boots were feeling real tight
An army when it’s beaten, when it hasn’t eaten, isn’t a very pretty sight
The freezing Russian weather, at the end of their tether, Napoleonic army in retreat
Only one chance, of making it back to France, go all the way on their feet
Like a herd of cattle, though they’d won the final battle, it might as well have been a defeat
Moscow was on fire, the funeral pyre, of Bonaparte’s ambition in that heat
Boney went to prison, but soon he had arisen, to seek glory in a hundred days
I wonder if he knew, he’d meet his Waterloo, and launch a brand new phrase
They played the concertina, when he went to St Helena, just about far enough away
They buried him in style, though it took a little while, on a cold January day

We remember great dictators, destroyers and creators, of empires and other people’s things
When they are in power, many people cower, when they are defeated, church bells ring
Some start with good intentions, then it all goes wrong
They break all the conventions, death replaces song
And some of them stay heroes, revered until this day
Some of them are zeroes, when they’ve thrown it all away
Heroes or zeroes, make a mark or leave a scar
Heroes or zeroes, saviour or Tsar
Heroes or zeroes, the stakes are very high
There’s a long way to fall, there’s a wrong way to die

© Richard Rhys O’Brien  
September 2009