It's Been Burning For A While

Album: American Silence (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • Chris Pierce is a Los Angeles-based singer songwriter who co-wrote the track "We Can Always Come Back To This," performed by Brian Tyree Henry in the 2017 "Memphis" episode of This Is Us. He wrote "It's Been Burning For A While" with his friend Mark Malone on May 30, 2020 in the wake of the George Floyd killing.

    "There were marches on my street and folks being arrested for raising their voices, trying to be heard speaking against injustice," he said on the Songfacts Podcast. "I was talking with my friend Mark Malone about how angry I was looking out of the window, seeing people laying on the ground in handcuffs just for raising their voices. It got me thinking about how powerful songwriting can be. Songs can be a way of marching and can add to the conversation."

    Pierce is mixed race, with an African American father and white mother. "For me personally, having dealt with a lot of intolerance and racism to the point of being shot at, being stabbed, being thrown in jail when I was young for speaking up, I feel like we as writers and creators often compartmentalize these feelings in order to survive and get along with people and get on in the world, but sometimes we get to a tipping point where these songs have to come out," he added. "It's all there, we just have to be open to them coming out and putting them into song form."
  • The day after writing this song, Chris Pierce performed it for the first time on a showcase for Playing For Change, an organization that seeks peace through music. That performance quickly garnered over 100,000 views on YouTube, prompting Pierce to record a studio version that he released as a single accompanied by a music video (produced by Grisha Alasadi) showing footage of various #BlackLivesMatter protests.
  • In this song, Pierce makes it clear that recent protests have a long backstory - a fire that has been burning for a while but has only recently become too big to ignore. He also asks allies in the fight to commit to the cause, telling Songfacts: "There's a line in the song, 'Glad you stopped to see,' which hopefully will prompt people not only to fight for a day, but to spend a lifetime reaching out to other people in the fight against injustice."

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