Before the virus shut down much of the world, it seemed like every few weeks there would be news of another school shooting.
I remember as a student, sitting silently next to my classmates in the dark during drills, shoulders tensing every time an announcement came over the intercom: will this be the day? Too many sleepless nights were spent forming escape plans in my mind if the same fate ever befell my elementary, middle, or high school.
Chico Harpo’s “He’s in the News Again” condemns gun violence, America’s untreated wound.
Harpo’s chilling lyrics complement a heavier sound. The distorted guitar and edgy vocal style are similar to Kurt Cobain’s; they closely echo 90’s rock.
I hear in this song the frustration and bewilderment at the lack of action taken towards gun control. The angsty grunge sound exhibits this well – though I think “angst” is probably too small a word for what Harpo’s expressing. It’s really anger, and it’s well-placed, too.
The bully at the pulpit shouts
‘We mustn’t forget our freedom or God’s only son!’
Cause happiness is a warm gun
It’s no secret that the institution of the church, particularly in more conservative sectors, has adopted a pro-gun, pro-military viewpoint. Harpo highlights the church’s complicity in supporting gun violence with this line, and rightfully so. It’s a formative piece to the puzzle of America’s deep issue with gun control.
A sick man with a gun shot 20 children
He’s on the run shooting at… (Everyone)
In reference to the tragedy of Sandy Hook, Harpo mentions the 20 children lost to a gunman at an elementary school in 2012. Over the news, from behind microphones and pulpits, the country would hear tears and condolences from those in power, but words of remorse are empty if no action is taken.
Everyone says, ‘isn’t it horrible what he did?’
Then we don’t change a thing but we all say
‘Isn’t it horrible that he’s in the news again?’
Last month, Texas moved closer to allowing residents to legally carry a handgun without a permit or training, which is an unfortunate reminder of how much work needs to be done. I want to thank Chico Harpo for raising awareness of the issue through this song. Music has such power, and it’s always refreshing and inspiring to see art being wielded for positive change.
Check out “He’s in the News Again” below, and then spin it back via a live recording with All Welcome Records. The second take is slower and more somber rather than angry – like the sadness that’s left after the emotional edge has worn down.
Here’s hoping, with Chico Harpo, that we can stop wearing this story out.