Burning Down: The Songs of Anarchist Prisoner Sean Swain

by Various

  • Streaming + Download




6/17/15 UPDATE: I mistakenly did not correctly disable the ability for folks to pay for this compilation, which I intended to do because there is no paypal account attached to this bandcamp page. Anyone who payed for the downloads has had or will have their payment refunded. However, I highly encourage you to redirect your money to Sean's legal defense fund at his website: seanswain.org

Burning Down is a collaborative music project between anarchist prisoner Sean Swain and musicians outside of prison. The lyrics to all of the songs on this album were written by Sean. The music was written and recorded by the bands, in some cases with input from Sean. As Sean is a fan of folk and punk music, bands that reflect those genres were sought for this project. If you like a particular band, there is a link to their website, bandcamp or facebook if you click on the individual track. A physical version of this compilation will eventually be released, hopefully by the end of 2015.

This project aims to support Sean and bring his lyrics to life. It also aims to provoke interest in prisoner support in general, including collaboration with prisoners on creative projects such as this. Learn more about prisoner support at the links below:

List of prisoners: denverabc.wordpress.com/prisoners-dabc-supports/
Tips for writing letters: nycabc.wordpress.com/write-a-letter/
And in case you are wondering why we hate prisons so much: criticalresistance.org/about/not-so-common-language/

For a world without cops, cages or borders!

These songs are free to download, but you can donate to Sean's legal defense fund at his website: seanswain.org


released May 1, 2015



all rights reserved


Sean Swain Lucasville, Ohio

Sean Swain has been held without legal conviction or sentence since 1991 for the self-defense killing of a court official’s relative who broke into Sean’s home and threatened his life.

Sean will only be liberated when the illegitimate power of the lawless rogue state holding him hostage is abolished once and for all.

More info at seanswain.org
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Track Name: Under Your Radar - Ghost Mice

I'm under your radar
You don't know my name
I know right where you are
You'll never be the same
You can't find me
You can't buy me
You can't kill me

I'm under your barbed wire
You can't see my face
Your satellites can't find me
My steps don't leave a trace
But I'm comin'
I'm runnin'
I'm runnin'-runnin'-runnin'-runnin'

I'm standing right behind you
I'm your shadow as it falls
I'm that clock that's ticking
That you can't hear at all
I'm Crazy Horse and Marcos
Moctezuma and the Taino
Malcolm, Tecumseh
Assata and Allende
Weathermen, S.L.A.
Bolivar and MLK
Ho Chi Minh and Castro
Chavez and Tito
Guevara, Sandino
Huey and Geronimo
I'm history...
I'm history...
Track Name: Dead Kids - Moon Bandits

ever since those trade towers fell
I believe in things I can't even spell
like democracy... and economy
half a million dead kids the cost of oil
buried in Iraqi soil
while vultures dine... on Palestine

oil black and money green
the whole fuckin' thing is so obscene
dead kids
hey, hey, U.S.A.
how many kids did you kill today
dead kids

nike logo on the holy grail
we knew Marx was doomed to fail
Gatorade quells... the fires of hell
keep 'em hooked and keep 'em dumb
let 'em look and sign up young
fill the ranks-boats-planes-and-tanks

oil black and money green
the whole fuckin' thing is so obscene
dead kids
hey, hey, when you buy the lies
would you like some blood to go with those fries
dead kids

tell me what I should think
when to breathe and when to blink
I'll nod when... you say "us" and "them"
pour it on, runnin' down my sink
pop the top, I'll take a drink
industrial waste... we love the taste
Track Name: Do You Think About Me? - Shots Fired

Love, hate
something so intense I can't relate
but I do the best I can
wrong, right
you know I don't wanna fight
but I have to make my stand

And do you think about me when I'm standing in the pouring rain?
do you think about me...
do you think about me...

do you think about me at all
would you be there to catch me if I fall
do you think about me at all
if the going gets tough you can count on me
but if the tables turn, can I count on...

you, me
caught up in the tragedy
and I love you too much to stay
yes, no
both sides of that winding road
but I can't just walk away

day, night
you know I tried to make it right
but I don't know where to begin
sticks, stones
don't hurt as bad as no way home
so I run against the wind
Track Name: Back To You - The Hills The Rivers

Since I've been gone, I'm a song without the band
without you, I'm a beach without the sand
an arm without the hand
a but without the and

I'm comin' home
I'm comin' back to you, back to you
I'm comin' home
I'm comin' back to you, back to you
I'm comin' back to you

Since I've been gone, I'm a bank without the cash
without you, I'm a tray without the ash
a whip without the lash
a wreck without the crash

It's been a long hard lonely road
and now I'm on my return
I almost forgot the sound of your voice
now my letters to you will burn
and I plan to prove what I wrote to you
every single word of every single letter was true

Since I've been gone, I'm a scandal without the scorn
without you, taps without the horn
a night without the morn
a flake without the corn
Track Name: A Heros Return - Cue The Dagger

Stepped into my boots to make my contribution
protect god-country-and-mom, and our constitution
back in the real world, that don't pay the rent
pennies and dreams are easily spent
everyone seems to know just where it all went... But me
take a good look... at a hero's return

I know you awaited my return with anticipation meet your great expectations
I'm vacant as straw behind paranoid eyes
sad to inform you, but your son has died
I pulled back the curtain, there's no one inside... But me
take a good look... At a hero's return

I'd rather decline from a dose of your condemnation
my chest full of medals and grand commendations
signed with the general's own rubber stamp
I was straight as an arrow, boy, sharp as a tack
now who stands before you with the knife in his back... But me
take a good look... At a hero's return
Track Name: Seremos Como El Che - The Antiseptics

say you don't believe in revolution
you don't believe in solidarity
you don't believe in liberation
you only believe what you can see
one day, one day...

so you believe in making money
you believe in shit you buy
you believe your wealth can save you
one day you'll see it's all a lie
one day, one day
seremos como el Che

became a slave to your habits
became a slave to your desires
became a slave to the tyrants
faith never forged in fire
one day, one day...

you can't take freedom from the people
can't exploit a woman or man
you can call them what you want to
makes them no less proletarian
one day, one day
seremos como el Che
Track Name: My Religion - Greg McKillop

I played the knight who rescues the maiden
proposed to the princess on my bended knee
she looked at the world through rose-colored glasses
and I took for granted the things I had seen
I walked yellow brick roads through miles of desert
watched sand castle dreams melt in raging seas
as I went under I remember thinking,
"I have plans for tomorrow... does tomorrow have plans for me?"
you are my religion
you have always been just what I need
you are my religion
you have always been what I believe

I remember places the sun found me waking
I hope those places remember of me
I've had dark desperate hours push down on my conscience
and maybe it's the bondage that made me truly free
I remember faces of those who have known me
and I've seen their fingers worked down to the bone
seen those same hands when they tried to hold me
when I was too worry to stand up on my own

I saw Woody at Brooklyn State Hospital
I cried for him like you cried for me
sat with Guatama down in the desert
and I watched Yashua walk across the sea
some people find God in old rusty buildings
after walking thousands of miles
some people find God in old dusty rule books
I find God each time I see you smile
Track Name: Iowa Summer - Cottontail

No one here knows the color of the sky
we're captive in a raging storm
stackin' up hope all through the night
our homeland's become trenches for war
this farm put clothes on my family's backs
put my daughter through school
won't sell the land to the government man
who says I must be a fool

the rivers rage
the river rolls
the eye of the storm is blind
my hands have bled
for the family's I've fed
now I wonder who's gonna feed mine...
when rivers rage

forty days and forty nights
we been in fear of losin' the land
all that I see and all that I know
is all that I sew with my hands
live in the house my grandfather built
farm the soil he plowed
sometimes sir I can smell his cologne
when I wipe his sweat from my brow

I see my dad sitting out on that fence
hear his harmonica play
these memories are all part of me
all being swept away
now 18 inches of rain fell today
it's only a matter of time
we can work through the night and again through the day
to keep from falling behind
Track Name: Proletariat - Immaculate Misconception

I watched the proletariat as their diamonds turned to coal
foreclosure unsuspected like the mortgage on their souls
life passes by in a hard-earned world where hope is now erased
corporate giants deal the cards, they sit and watch the race

and it's hard to live a life when there's no life left to live
meaning yields to greed and there's nothing left to give
the tired, the poor, the hungry all hear the east wind blow
now we're all huddled masses and there's nowhere left to go

petty leaders built their monuments
dictated greedy schemes
they stole the simple magic and
stomped the "American Dream"
so the sheep began to wander
no more life breathed from the dust
grazing fields turned to pavement
when the silver coins were tossed

a graveyard was made where amber waves
and spacious skies turned gray
lady liberty wept bitterly
dropped her torch into the bay
McRome has burned and the sun has set
the polls have all come in
to a vacant house on a barren hill
where a flag blow wind
Track Name: No One Here Gets Out Alive - You People

you can have my today, can't have my tomorrow
steal my joy, can't touch my sorrow
take my eyes, I won't be blind
steal my thoughts, I've got my mind

I'd rather die, stand up and die
you'll never, ever take me alive
I'd rather die, stand up and die
cuz no one here gets out alive

lead me to water, can't make me drink
roll me in your gutter, can't make me sink
steal the diamonds, I got my coal
take the heart but not the soul

take my treasures, call them trash
take my dreams, turn them to ash
take the pleasure, I've got my pain
steal my freedom, I'll break these chains
Track Name: Wasting Beauty On The Blind - Douglas Fur

Joe's guitar was in a cardboard case
each night he found a dive to play
the needle and bottle were his falls from grace
a desperate poet looking to trade
diamonds for dimes...
living in a timeless tragedy
drinking til he saw nothin' wrong
no one ever listened but the drinks were free
and he could usually play his own songs
as long as they rhymed
wasting beauty on the blind
wasting beauty on the blind

Tina worked hard to spend the rest of her life
in a marriage that just wouldn't last
devoted to a man who beat his wife
she fixed dinner with her arm in a cast
pearls before swine...
at night she danced topless and I'd stare at her face
wonderin' if it crossed her mind
she was giving away what she couldn't replace
for something she just couldn't find
spending her time
wasting beauty on the blind
wasting beauty on the blind

Joe and Tina had no way to know
their futures wouldn't be so dark
they both signed up for a traveling show
that plays McBeth in Brandenberg Park
no more bump and grind...
Tina was looking for a place to stay
finally moved in with Joe
she laid in his arms and he heard her say:
"You know, sometimes you just don't know
the treasures you find
wasting beauty on the blind
wasting beauty on the blind..."