Thom now says that penning “Fake Plastic Trees” was the first time he really found himself as a writer: “We were always aware when we were recording it that we would get people moshing all the way through it – the comedy of that, how ridiculous that would seem – and not caring,” he says. “We finished the song thinking, ‘Why do we have to pander to that? This isn’t about supply and demand.'”
So what made “Fake Plastic Trees” an instant and immortal hit?
Back in the 90s everyone was disgruntled with the discouragement that comes from living in our hectic, modern world. People hated Fake! Then along comes this song about fake plastic, fake earth, fake towns, fake people, etc. Everything is manufactured and unnatural.
We start out with “a green plastic watering can / for a fake Chinese rubber plant / in the fake plastic earth.” Do we detect a hint of irony here? Why would you need to water a “fake” Chinese rubber plant? And definitely not while it is in fake earth.
It’s all very depressing but even worse the song doesn’t give us a solution.
We can’t ask Thom why he cried after writing it, but my guess is that he was just struck by the bleakness of it all. The thousands of people who are trapped in modern societies, who wish more than anything that they could hike up a mountain and look at the view, but can never find the time. They are stuck in their fake plastic world with their own fake plastic trees…