Hurray for the Riff Raff

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Hurray for the Riff Raff
Small Town Heroes
ATO Records (

For RootsWorld, I review albums. But I want you to set aside the concept of the album for a moment, stop everything else you are doing, and listen to this song (with or without paying attention to the excellent, artful video):

When I first heard this song last February I named it my 'Song of the Year for 2014.' It has been a very long time since a single track hit me like this one has.

The song: “The Body Electric.” The songwriter: Alynda Lee Segarra, bandleader of Hurray for the Riff Raff. The subject: a twist on murder ballads like “Banks of the Ohio” and “Tom Dooley.” The lyrical setup:

        Tell me what's a man with a rifle in his hand
        Gonna do for a world that's all gone mad?
        He's gonna shoot me down, put my body in the river

Further references to “a world that's so sick and sad” and “a world that's just dying slow” have resonated more deeply as the months go by; headlines about violent CIA operatives, violent police officers, violent NFL players and more violence everywhere dominate the news cycles. We all need to hear and act on Segarra's plea: "My girl, we gotta stop it somehow."

Many of the other songs on the album are dark, and they remind me that now is the right time to stare into the darkness, confront the challenges, and take action. Both politically and musically, Hurray for the Riff Raff's Small Town Heroes is my personal 'Record of the Year.' - by Greg Harness

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