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Burn Baby Burn, song lyrics

Song: Burn, Baby, Burn
Lyrics: Jimmy Collier(2)

Music: Jimmy Collier(2)
Year: 1965(3)
Genre: Folk
Country: USA

Middle of the summer, bitten by flies and fleas,
Sittin' in a crowded apartment, about a-hundred-and-ten degrees,
I went outside, the middle of the night
All I had was a match in my hand, but I wanted to fight,
So I said,

Burn baby burn,
Burn baby burn,
Nowhere to be, and-a no one to see,
I said-a nowhere to turn
Burn baby burn.

I called President Johnson(4) on the phone,
The secretary said he wasn't there
I tried to get in touch with Mr. Humphrey(5)
They couldn't find him anywhere,
I went into the courtroom, with my poor sad face
Didn't have no money, didn't have no lawyer
They wouldn't plead my case,
So I said,


I really wanted a decent job, I really needed some scratch
(I heard people talking about a dream, now, a dream that I couldn't catch)
I really wanted to be somebody and all I had was a match
Couldn't get oil from Rockefeller's wells(6)
Couldn't get diamonds from the mine
If I can't enjoy the American dream, won't be water but fire next time,
So I said,
This song was originally posted on

Walkin' around on the west side now, lookin' mean and mad
Deep down inside my heart, I'm feeling sorry and sad
Got a knife and a razor blade, everybody that I know is tough,
But when I tried to burn my way out of the ghetto,
I burned my own self up,
When I said,


I really want a decent education, I really want a decent place to stay,
I really want some decent clothes, now,
I really want a decent family,
I really want a decent life like everybody else.....


1 - Freedom's A Constant Struggle: Songs of the Freedom Movment, Candie Carawan, Guy Carawan, Ethel Raim, Oak Publications, New York, 1968, p.188-191

2 - Jimmy Collier biography

3 - Jimmy Collier said he wrote this about the Watts riots (Los Angeles) which happened during August of 1965.

4 - Lyndon B. Johnson in Wikipedia.

5 - Hubert Humphrey in Wikipedia

6 - John D. Rockefeller in Wikipedia

7 - There was a later 1975 song also called "Burn" by Bruce Cockburn, that has the line "Burn, baby, burn" which many mistake as the title.