Stream: Chris Pierce, ‘It’s Been Burning for a While’

Chris Pierce

As the embers of unrest have burst into flames these past weeks, veteran soul man Chris Pierce arrives with a timely and powerful reminder, “It’s Been Burning for a While.”

The song, co-written by Mark Malone, first premiered for the nonprofit Playing for Change on the 99-year anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre.

“This song was written in memory of George Floyd and all those whose lives have been affected by abusive, excessive and inhumane force,” the songwriters say. “The lyric, wrapped around a thought Malcolm X expressed many years ago, is about the current and historic storm engulfing our nation and world. The melody and chord structure are in the spirit and structure of African-American work and protest songs. This song is written as a call, in the enduring hope of a response.

“We must embrace each other and realize that our differences contribute to our beauty and much like a puzzle, fit together perfectly to create a masterpiece. Together, we can be the change we seek in this world for we are all brothers and sisters in one race — the human race.”

Pierce, the author of eight albums (including work as Reverend Tall Tree and in the duo War & Pierce) and myriad songs that have been featured in films and TV shows, sings to current events in a knowing voice: “You say it’s in the eye of the beholder / Well, I’ll just go and check — / No, it ain’t no chip up on my shoulder / That’s your boot up on my neck.”

That might be a revelation to those who are blind to decades of injustice, but Pierce makes it a moving (and all-too-familiar) lament.

||| Stream: “It’s Been Burning for a While”

||| Also: Check out “Amen,” the latest single from War & Pierce (his duo project with Sunny War)