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hank green – phineas gage lyrics

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oh, phineas gage was 25 years old in 1848
and he liked his job, working at the railroad, but he had another fate
he was blasting rock when something distracted him
and he forgot to put the tamping sand in
he shoved the tamping rod into that little hole onto the blasting powder
and suddenly his entire left frontal lobe had been turned into clam chowder

oh this is the story of phineas gage, who was stabbed in the brain
and once your frontal lobe has been destroyed, you can never go home again

a little while later phineas gage was sitting on his bed
he told the doctor the tamping rod had shot straight through his head
but the doctor could not believe what phineas said
for if that were the case he surely would be dead

but then phineas had a coughing fit
and a teacup full of brains fell out of his head
and that was more than the doctor could explain

oh this is the story of phineas gage, who was stabbed in the brain
and once your frontal lobe has been destroyed, you can never go home again

well the doctor told the family to prepare for gage’s death
’cause the one you take before your head gets stabbed is usually your last breath
and phineas spent the next few months in bed
in and out of consciousness, with a swelling in his head
but mere months after the accident, he walked right down his stairs, as if having lost a quarter of his brain left him no worse for wear

oh this is the story of phineas gage, who was stabbed in the brain
and once your frontal lobe has been destroyed, you can never go home again

but unfortunately for phineas, our story won’t end there
the reason we still know his name is the strangest part of this affair
after his brain was scrambled his friends and family said
“oh, this is no longer phineas. there’s a new man here instead.”

and thus we know that operating on the brain needn’t not cause death
and that what makes a person who he is, is not the heart but the head

oh this is the story of phineas gage, who was stabbed in the brain
and once your frontal lobe has been destroyed, you can never go home again

oh phineas gage was 37 years old when he finally made his way
back to his home and family, for he could tell the day of his death was fin’ly creeping up on him
’cause he forgot to put the tamping sand in

and as common in these cases, of severe head trauma, seizures took their toll and put an end to this drama