A GUEST POSTING by Jonny the Friendly Lawyer

Want to know what’s going on in America? Here you go:

Helicopters over the house again
We got the projects two or three blocks from here
They pull the kids over for Driving-While-African
And the ones with the warrants always run in fear
So I sit here waiting for the coast to clear
Wishing once again I had a gun around here
Turn on the news, and what do I hear?
Some kid shot the bank up on Gallatin Road
Ran away from the cops while he was trying to reload
He beat them up to Eastland Street on feet
Now he’s probably reloaded and running down my street
I better turn the alarm on and lock myself in
Helicopters over the house again

Sometimes you rise above it
Sometimes you sneak below
Somewhere in between believing in heaven
And facing the devil you know

Poor kid probably never had a chance to give a fuck
He wouldn’t know good luck from a debutante
He’s got to find a way to be Steve McNair or Young Buck
Or he’s tough luck looking for a prison to haunt
And you can fuck getting any kind of job you want
Unless you really want to work in a fast food restaurant
And who wants to do that? Do you want to do that?
I wouldn’t trade that for my crooked hat
Or my gang or my gun or my waist full of pagers
For a job deep-frying shit for rich teenagers
If that’s where it’s at and no one’s gonna help
How you gonna blame a man for helping himself?
There is a war going on that the poor can’t win
Helicopters over the house again

Sometimes you rise above it
Sometimes you sneak below
Somewhere in between believing in heaven
And facing the devil you know

Black and white cops shining lights in the bushes
I can’t see how this kid is gonna get very far
Unless he finds a way to make it back over to Barry Street
And he can’t do that unless he steals a car
The way things are, they don’t seem right
All these white people talking ’bout the hope and light
There ain’t no hope in Sam Levy, just guns and drugs
We ain’t building bridges we’re just training thugs
And then I hear a terrifying kick at my back door
In walks this kid, I say “I’ve seen this kid before”
I see him all the time at that bar on Woodland Street
And now he’s bleeding in the kitchen tracking mud off his feet
And he’s looking at me like I’ll either help him or die
Until he sees in my eyes that I’m on his side
I hand him my keys, I say “You better move fast
“There’s a J in the ashtray and plenty of gas”
He throws me the cash, he says “I’ll be back for this”
I say “Yeah? Well don’t be surprised if there’s a little bit of it missing”
His gold teeth glistened with a big old grin
He said “We’ll talk about that when I see you again”
He shook my hand, I shook his back
I felt like I was ’bout to have a heart attack
Until he finally drove away I thought “Goddamn
Helicopters over the house again!”

Sometimes you rise above it
Sometimes you sneak below
Somewhere in between believing in heaven
And facing the devil you know
Facing the devil you know

mp3: The Devil You Know – Todd Snider

*This song came out 14 years ago and nothing’s changed. At least the cops didn’t kill the black guy.

**This song takes place in east Nashville, Tennessee, and all the street names are references to that part of town. ‘Sam Levy’ is a housing project. Steve McNair was the MVP quarterback of the Tennessee Titans. Young Buck is a rapper from Nashville.


JC adds…..

Jonny dropped this to me last Saturday evening as his home city of Los Angeles was put under curfew.  It’s absolutely shocking to look at the TV pictures from this far away and see what is happening in cities all across America, but it has been a long time coming. I’d like to think that I’d have been on the streets to add my voice to those who have had enough, but at the same time, I’d be shitting myself to run the risk of being on the wrong end of police brutality.

PS : Jonny dropped a further email at 6.11am (UK time) this morning – 10.11pm on Sunday evening in LA.  He simply said he was re-reading the lyrics to this song, while the helicopters hovered above his house.

Stay safe my friend….


2 thoughts on “SOME SONGS ARE GREAT SHORT STORIES (Chapter 35)

  1. A great short story, indeed. It made for a depressing but worthwhile read. Racism: the face of an acceptable pandemic.

    Killer Mike’s response was humbling.

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