appears on Charge (Chärj)
Jerry Joseph & I wrote this song in my apartment in Brooklyn, a few weeks after Barack Obama first took office. We had each witnessed an awe-inspiring eruption of joy & hope in our neighborhoods on election night—me in Brooklyn, and Jerry in Harlem. We knew we were about to go into the studio to make a record and needed to write…and we knew we had to say something about what had just happened in our country…did we dare to be hopeful? I had the idea for the chorus—I had been working with the idea of playing with the multitude of denotations of the word “charge“. I had also come up with a chord progression.
I showed it to Jerry. He knelt down at the coffee table with a legal pad and laid out the four verses almost as fast as he could write. We got a melody right away, and went into the studio in Upstate New York couple of weeks later, along with Jerry’s drummer Steve Drizos. We laid down this and six other songs in two days.
We still talk about doing a follow up…Re-charge…or some such.
Adam Clayton Powell and 125th
Come to boast our victory or slit our little wrists
Centuries revolve around rage and pride and shame
But the ground can’t shine
Or leave a mark on a flame
But you can charge
Well you say up for facing the enemy within
With blood and bones and organs not the color of your skin
Speed or indecision are the choices that we make
And we can gas it into overdrive or slamming on the brakes
Get out and charge – up and down the boulevard
Will hear the benediction as it spills out in the yard
Charge – your paper have been served
Did you really think you’re gonna get the justice you deserve?
Well my neighborhood messiah wants another cigarette
And, i love him like a brother, haven’t learned to like him yet
Well, he say he got a mainline, a secret route to grace
Do we line up for the Koolaid? are we running in the race?
Set off the charge – we’re asking for the cash
A little bit embarrassed that we even had to ask
Reverse the charge – credit your account
Do you really think the shadow’s gonna hide the body count?
Well the bells of st. joseph are ringing through the night
They are laughing and they’re weepin’ and they’re bathing in the light
And i’m standing on the morningside with st. john the divine
Either sunlight or explosions, at least we’re gonna shine
Sound the charge – up the boulevard
From the kitchens and the closets gonna hit the concrete hard
Get a charge – will the victory taste sweet?
Well, you’re gonna find out quickly ’cause it’s spillin’ in the streets