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Uploaded on Oct 2, 2007

John's statement about "Jena"

"I am not a journalist, I am a songwriter and in the spirit and tradition of the minstrel, I am telling a story in this song.

The story is not, strictly speaking, about the town of Jena or this specific incident but of racism in America.

The song was not written as an indictment of the people of Jena but, rather, as a condemnation of racism, a problem which I've reflected in many songs, a problem that still plagues our country today.

The current trial in Jena is just another reflection of prejudice in our nation. If the song strikes an emotional chord with people and if they examine it and interpret as they will, something will have been accomplished. The aim here is not to antagonize but, rather, to catalyze thought."

John Mellencamp has been in the studio working with producer T Bone Burnett on an intriguing new album. John has made a video for one of the new tracks titled "Jena." Due to the newsworthy subject matter covered in the song, John did not delay releasing the video. The song and video are inspired by today's headlines about the Jena Six.

Jena, Louisiana

Six black teenagers are accused of beating a white student.

The incident followed white students hanging nooses from a tree on school grounds.

Initially five of the "Jena Six" teens were charged with attempted 2nd degree murder, to be tried as adults by an all-white jury.

"Jena" lyrics:
An all white jury hides the executioner's face
See how we are, me and you?
Everyone here needs to know their place
Let's keep this blackbird hidden in the flue

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down

So what becomes of boys that cannot think straight
Particularly those with paper bag skin
Yes sir, no sir we'll wipe that smile right off your face
We've got our rules here and you must fit in

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down

Some day some way sanity will prevail
But who knows when that day might come
A shot in the dark, well it just might find its way
To the hearts of those that hold the keys to kingdom come

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take those nooses down

Oh oh hey Jena
Oh oh Jena
Oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down

Take those nooses all down

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