The Dam

Beside a volcano and the rising ash
A crystal river rushing past
A crystal river flowing free
Now again like it used to be
Since now the dam is out of sight
Blown apart by dynamite
Blown apart by everyone
In the land of the midnight sun

A hundred farmers the next day
Called the cops so they could say
If you’re looking for one to blame
A hundred farmers gave their names
Gave their names, said it was I
Who couldn’t just stand idly by
We all knew that sometimes
You must commit a crime

There was a blast – a booming sound
And the dam came crashing down

In Reykjavik, voices shrill
Said the dam should be bigger still
By the Laxa riverside
A hundred farms would be washed aside
Legal efforts and protests failed
But they still had air behind their sails
They had air and dynamite
So they gathered round there late one night


Prosecutors tried to choose
Which farmers had lit the fuse
But not a one would tell the tale
And not one farmer went to jail
The dam was never built again
And many still remember when
By the Laxa river they set things right
With a couple sticks of dynamite


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“The Dam” appears on the Bandcamp album, All the News That’s Fit to Sing (2014).

On one of my brief stops in Reykjavik folks told me about the incident that is generally known as the beginning of the Icelandic environmental movement.  It began, auspiciously, with an explosion.  They also call it the only act of domestic terrorism in Icelandic history.  (I guess when Sea Shepherd sank the whaling boat that doesn’t count as domestic terrorism, since the people doing the sinking weren’t Icelandic.  And maybe boat-sinking doesn’t count as terrorism whether domestic or not, since there are no explosives involved, or at least arson…?)  Many years later the Icelandic government was considering putting that dam in again, and they got a letter from the children of the farmers who blew up the dam in 1970.  “We still know how to use dynamite,” they said.  The government canceled its plans (again).