Sunday Music: April 29, 1992, There Was A Riot On The Streets Tell Me Where Were You?

When I first heard Sublime’s “April 29,1992” in the mid-90s I thought it was just some punk/anarchist stuff. These last few weeks it’s been one of the songs I’ve revisited several times. It’s not just about looting and rebelling, it’s about inequity. It’s about the dark side of our consumer culture, where when the things we want to own for social validation are perpetually out of reach, frustration stores up. Sometimes that frustration breaks. Give it a listen with an open mind.

April 26th, 1992
There was a riot on the streets, tell me, where were you?
You were sitting home, watching your TV
While I was participatin’ in some anarchy

First spot we hit it was my liquor store
I finally got all that alcohol I can’t afford
With red lights flashing, time to retire
And then we turned that liquor store into a structured fire

Next stop we hit it was the music shop
It only took one brick to make that window drop
Finally, we got our own P.A
Where do you think I got this guitar that you’re hearing today?

Later in the song…

Cause everybody in the hood has had it up to here
It’s getting hotter, and hotter and harder, each and every year
Some kids went in a store with their mother
I saw her when she came out, she was getting some Pampers

I don’t think this was intended as deep social commentary by the band, but I think the frustration and the “this is bigger than this one very significant incident” message comes across strongly. It’s worth revisiting today.

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