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about

This track was written and recorded in response to a deadly fire in the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland, California that occurred on the night of December 2nd, 2016.

lyrics

For whatever reason last night I woke up unsettled at five AM
Dimmed the screen on my phone and read the headlines coming in
A "warehouse" fire in Fruitvale, the deadliest in America in a decade
The Ghost Ship was a fiery cage as it went down in flames

First nine then ten, twenty-four, and now thirty-six confirmed inside
The search was ongoing Saturday night, the body count was rising
They don’t suspect arson, said the fire chief
and it’s not a crime scene, said the OPD

There are friends and relatives pouring over building code regulations
Trying to find meaning, searching for explanations

If you’ve never lost a loved one, if you’ve never paid for a burial or cremation
There’s a clock that’s ticking, while you click on Facebook invitations

The East Bay arts and music scene influencers with party outfits and color-streaked hair
were looking for cheap freedom and just wanted to dance in a building that didn’t have sprinklers or stairs

Youth... the disenfranchised... paid a promoter looking for a good percentage of the door
to get into a fire trap cooler than Uptown’s "expensive," "pretentious," "unaffordable"

“Why do you Americans build your houses out of matchsticks?"
my British roommate asked in 2003, jokingly
I said you have a point and we laughed and we talked about how much we both loved David Bowie

I drove to Santa Cruz to the Play it Again Sports parking lot
to pick up an old amplifier that I bought

This dusty amplifier’s almost three times older than some of the victims and it’s just an object
and at a stop light I almost cried thinking of the burning Ghost Ship

I visited the burn ward at a hospital in Anchorage
and I saw third-degree domestic violence burn victims completely covered in sickly pink-and-white bandages

It was a scare tactic after getting busted for drinking half a beer in my dorm room
I was breathalyzed by my future landlord and I was twenty-two when I got to the courtroom

And I could tell the nurse was like, "you’re doing fine"

But I remember that experience and I know there are scars that will never heal on the inside

I just recorded a song about a friend’s suicide and another about a fatal traffic accident

Even if the flames and smoke didn’t touch them, everyone in the city I love, Oakland, will remain traumatized by this preventable event

My heart goes out to the victims
My heart goes out to the families of those affected
My heart goes out to the crew who saw the devastation
My heart goes out to those who suffered from the indifference of that fire

credits

from Tinderbox - Single, released December 5, 2016

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about

Kevin Dickerson San Francisco, California

Kevin Dickerson is a songwriter who lives in San Francisco.

Photo: Courtesy of Paige K Parsons @paigekparsons. Pictured: Kevin Dickerson (right) and Beau Sorenson (Beaunoise), June 2017

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