The Justice Bell

Album: The Day The Earth Stood Still (2021)
Play Video


  • New York City rocker Willie Nile wrote this tune about racial injustice in honor of US Representative and civil rights leader John Lewis, who died in 2020. Nile was performing at a birthday party for Congressman Joe Crowley when he was first introduced to Lewis, and the moment had a huge impact on the singer-songwriter. Nile told Songfacts in a 2021 interview: "Joe gave me a really nice introduction to John Lewis. It was one of the high points of my life, really. I think the world of him, a true American icon. We had a moment together, I got to thank him in all sincerity for all that he's done for this country and for justice and for people, and he was very kind in response. Then, I got to see him speak for about 10 minutes and I was about five feet away. It was a mountain top of my life."
  • Nile wrote this with his frequent collaborator Frankie Lee, who also provides backing vocals and percussion elements on the album.
  • Nile coincidentally recorded this on January 6, 2021, the day a mob of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol in hopes of overturning the presidential election in his favor. "It just happened," he recalled. "We were in the studio, people came running in, 'Look what's happening on TV, you're not going to believe this.' And we're recording the song 'The Justice Bell.' It was a pretty deep experience. It came out beyond my wildest dreams."
  • Nile recorded The Day The Earth Stood Still, his 14th studio album, with his longtime producer Stewart Lerman (Elvis Costello, David Byrne). Nile and Lerman first collaborated on the rocker's third studio album, Places I Have Never Been.


Be the first to comment...

Editor's Picks


AC/DCFact or Fiction

Does Angus really drink himself silly? Did their name come from a sewing machine? See if you can spot the real stories about AC/DC.

Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds

Jim McCarty of The YardbirdsSongwriter Interviews

The Yardbirds drummer explains how they created their sound and talks about working with their famous guitarists.

American Hits With Foreign Titles

American Hits With Foreign TitlesSong Writing

What are the biggest US hits with French, Spanish (not "Rico Suave"), Italian, Scottish, Greek, and Japanese titles?

Jethro Tull

Jethro TullFact or Fiction

Stage urinals, flute devices, and the real Aqualung in this Fact or Fiction.

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)

Richie Wise (Kiss producer, Dust)Songwriter Interviews

Richie talks about producing the first two Kiss albums, recording "Brother Louie," and the newfound appreciation of his rock band, Dust.


AdeleFact or Fiction

Despite her reticent personality, Adele's life and music are filled with intrigue. See if you can spot the true tales.