I Think I Saw Somebody Die

from Say Their Names by David Rovics

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I got an email at the beginning of September from Ben Fraters in the Hague, one of many beautiful cities in the Netherlands. He had just seen someone breath their last breath, lying on the sidewalk. I've often looked at people lying on the sidewalks of Portland and other cities, wondering if I was watching them taking their last breath right then. We wrote a song about this experience together.

lyrics

I Think I Saw Somebody Die

I think I saw somebody die
I think I saw him breath his last
Lying on the sidewalk
With the cars driving past

An ambulance pulled over
They picked him up and threw him in
No question where he's going
Who knows where he's been

Just another vagrant
Here in this city called the Hague
Did he die of exposure
Or was he a victim of the plague

Here by the Court of Justice
In the city of the queen
In the richest country
The Earth has ever seen

They talk of moral obligations
And international law
But I'm not sure how that figures
In the things that I just saw

I know it's complicated
All the ways that life can go
All the different opportunities
That this guy could never know

How many chances did he have
How many dead ends did he meet
That led him to this sidewalk
Where he lay beside the street

Two blocks from the Parliament
Where they sing the praise
Of our country, of our market
Of our enterprising ways

But what good did all that do
To this man that I now see?
He couldn't eat their balanced budget
Or sleep in their GDP

I think I saw somebody die

credits

from Say Their Names, released October 3, 2020

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David Rovics Portland, Oregon

"Absolutely brilliant. David Rovics says exactly what needs to be said."
Ian McMillan, BBC

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