Sacramento’s Tré Burt, who re-released his debut album Caught It From The Rye on Oh Boy Records earlier this year, is sharing the video for the striking “Undead God Of War”, written after the murder of Philando Castille in 2016, a song whose imagery and lyrics are a searing indictment of America’s inherent racism, including the constant churn of the military-industrial complex feeding its imperialist war machine around the globe and extrajudicial murder by a militarized police force of Black Americans at home.
Tré Burt opens the song with a verse packed full of double meanings and arresting imagery, singing; Dreadfully, I watch through eyes too young for me / The undead God of war, he lies in recovery / Up in the clouds, the eagle flies so mournfully / From its claws, the head of a boar spills blood on Main Street.
The first line, Tré says, is about his own experiences with loss of innocence, the moment he found out that his life does not hold the same value as his white peers in the eyes of many. The potent invocation of the eagle, representing American exceptionalism, is to Tré an indictment of the entire system. This majestic creature, upheld as a symbol of a freedom that doesn’t, and hasn’t, existed for huge swaths of the American public. The boars head a symbol of American excess, rampant racist capitalism built, like everything in the USA, on the bedrock of the slave trade. The image of it’s blood running down mainstreet, a stand in for wallstreet and unbridled capitalism, sees Tré using that symbol of freedom as a reclamation of sorts. An almost triumphant image of revolutionary change, a light in the darkness and a clarion call for justice.
He doubles back with the explicit verse at the end of the song, which needs little exposition; And Mother Nature, I guess she caters / To those with white skin / I don’t feel well anymore / To darkness I’m returnin’
Speaking to the events that led to his writing “Undead God Of War”, and the song’s current relevance, Burt says; “I was living in Australia during the 2016 elections and BLM protests responding to Black lives murdered by police officers, namely Philando Castile and Keith Lamont Scott. The country was wailing in pain, rage and unrest and I could hear it from across the world. With everything in me I wanted to go back home and mourn with my community during such a pivotal time in transition but I couldn’t yet afford a plane ticket. In the garage shed I was renting out one night I wrote this song, Undead God of War, in a state of catharsis. I figure if I couldn’t be home the next best thing I could do was to put it to song. Fast forward 4 years to the present and nothing’s changed. Today, we are fighting for justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmed Aubrey, Stephon Clark, and the countless others. The Undead God of War is as alive now as it was when colonialists first stole this land and took it for their own. We are not surprised by this, for this is the America we are introduced to as children. It is also the America that I fight for, my first love, my demise, my home.”