Ballad Of George Jackson

George Jackson died with a bullet in his head
his body was given a front page spread
no one will ever know what was said
when he died with a bullet in the top of his head

the year was 1971
San Quentin prison in the California sun
tension tight like a lighted fuse
under the heel of authority’s shoes

it was a time of a great revolutionary war
that shook the core of America
and George was a symbol of the fatal flaw
a black man up against the white man’s law

and they shot him down, put him under the ground
yes they shot him down, so he could not make a sound

George was a man who was hard to hold
locked up inside since he was 18 years old
never backed down from a deed too strong
spent a lot of time thinkin’ how the line got drawn

education, I’ve heard it said
he had a hundred books up under his bed
the mind is a weapon if you use it well
even if you’re livin’ in a prison cell

his first book came to a wide acclaim
hit the outside world like a fiery rain
his second book followed with a crashing blow
and word came down George had to go


the plans were made and the trap was set
it was August 21st, I remember it yet
it was a hot sun summer afternoon
when George went out to meet his doom

executioner up in the tower so high
like the California sun way up in the sky
a flash of fire, a echo of lead
and George went down with a bullet in his head

camera’s eye where he lay on the ground
they took a photograph and they passed it all around
and they said they had to do it, he was gettin’ away
there was no other choice, there was no other way


George Jackson lay where his life was done
while his mother cried in the California sun
for the child she’d never live again to touch
and the man who died because he knew too much

but memory lingers and so they tell
after all this time you can feel him still
inside where they struggle with a lighted fuse
under the heel of authority’s shoes


there’s gotta be a reason for singin’ this song
you can kill the body but the idea lives on
all those people, all those years
soldiers born from a river of tears

pressure drops and the storm wind blows
truth is a window that’s hard to close
honor to the names of the ones that fell
the mind is a weapon if you use it well