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Friday, March 3, 2017

New Pokey LaFarge Song "Riot in the Streets" Inspired by Ferguson Unrest

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 6:39 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY NATE BURRELL
  • Photo by Nate Burrell

Pokey LaFarge's new single, "Riot in the Streets," takes its inspiration from the unrest in Ferguson that followed the 2014 shooting of eighteen-year-old Michael Brown by then-Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.

The song, which was released on Wednesday, is the first from LaFarge's forthcoming album Manic Revelations, due May 19 on Rounder Records. It includes references to tear gas, "the gun that takes away a mother's son" and even West Florissant Avenue, the Ferguson road where much of 2014's unrest was situated.

"It is a tough thing to write about, but as a citizen of St. Louis and as an artist, I had to say something. Hopefully this song does more good than bad and, ultimately, gets the dialogue started," LaFarge says of the track. "Although it’s also important to not forget the peaceful protests and those that spread the message of love in the pursuit of justice and equality, this particular song is about people being marginalized and brought to the brink. It was only a matter of time before they fight back. I hope you feel that tension in the song — even from the first bass click."

Incidentally, LaFarge's sentiment regarding the riots in Ferguson echoes that of rapper Killer Mike, who performed with his group Run the Jewels in St. Louis on the very night it was announced that there would be no charges against Wilson — a night that saw the city of Ferguson descend into chaos, with tear gas and smoke from more than a dozen burned buildings choking the air.

"I would like to give all thoughts and prayers to the people who are out there peacefully protesting," Mike said in his now-famous pre-show speech. "And I also give thoughts and prayers for the people who could not hold that anger in, because riots are only the language of the unheard."

Mike's last line there is a quote from no less than Martin Luther King Jr., in a speech delivered just weeks before his assassination:

It is not enough for me to stand before you tonight and condemn riots. It would be morally irresponsible for me to do that without, at the same time, condemning the contingent, intolerable conditions that exist in our society. These conditions are the things that cause individuals to feel that they have no other alternative than to engage in violent rebellions to get attention. And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard.

In other words, LaFarge is in good company — even if some of his fans disagree:

  • Via Official Facebook

"Stay away from politics" — so much for that.

Stream the new track below, and scroll down to read the full lyrics. Preorder Manic Revelations here.

2 a.m.
bars were closing
heard the news on channel 4 then
tv anchor tried to say
what she thought really happened today

but words are dangerous like the gun
that takes away a mother's son
a lot of people had had enough
just waiting for the time to come

gonna be a riot
gonna be a riot in the streets tonight x3
gonna be a riot tonight

right or wrong, battle lines are drawn
like the difference between dusk and dawn
black and white in the light of day
but at night there's only shades of gray

preacher speaking, fist raised singing
barely missing, tear gas whistling
walking down West Florissant Road
feels like the city is going to explode

gonna be a riot
gonna be a riot in the streets tonight x3
gonna be a riot tonight

painted signs, a megaphone message
you can feel it St. Louis to Los Angeles
these words written on the door
it ain't just about the rich and poor

our past won't go away
it haunts us to present day
there's so much left to learn
as the bullets fly and the buildings burn

gonna be a riot
gonna be a riot in the streets tonight x3
gonna be a riot tonight

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