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Colossus of Roads, Snake Plant

New lyrics by Hurray for the Riff Raff

Photo by Tommy Kha

Editor's note: The new Hurray for the Riff Raff album The Past Is Still Alive comes out February 23rd, 2024. Here, Alynda Segarra debuts the lyrics to two new songs. "Pa’lante" by Hurray for the Riff Raff is featured on our Ballads Issue companion CD.

COLOSSUS OF ROADS


I wrote this song in one sitting after hearing about the Club Q shooting in Colorado. I sat on the couch and cried and wrote this. It is my love song to queerness and outsider culture existing amidst violence. This work is a collage of hobo art references (buZ blurr:
The Colossus of Roads, also grease marker writings on oil cans) radical poetry (Eileen Myles: I Must Be Living Twice). My favorite song of mine to date: this one is sacred to me.

Hold my head like a live wire,
Duck quick now I hear gunfire.
Caught somewhere in the space between
Do you love me and do you love me?

Everything is advancing,
I love to see you out dancing.
There's women up in the mountains,
We could be up there if we could get up there.

Say goodbye to America,
I wanna see it dissolve.
I can be your poster boy for the great American fall.

Now I'm out and I'm prowling,
You make me wanna start growling.
You will live forever as this bombshell
In my mind.

I know that it's dangerous,
But I wanna see you undress.
Wrap you up in the bomb shelter
Of my feather bed.

Eileen, I must be living twice.
Colossus of roads, buZ blurr in the night.
Cowboy hat and a cigarette,
Grease marker in my leather vest.

Let's go paint the oil cans,
Write our names on a grain of sand.
No one will remember us,
Like I will remember us.

Meet me down in the Castro,
We'll pretend it's 1985.
Before we were a twinkle,
In our great grandfather's eyes.

Children forever!
In the end
Of the night, baby
Of the night.
In the night, baby
In the night.

Photo by Tommy Kha

SNAKE PLANT (The Past is Still Alive)


A memory box in a song, the first verse is about my father driving my aunt, brother, and me down to Florida every summer in a minivan. We would stay in Florida for a month or so and visit my grandfather and aunts. I have very potent memories of hot summers and trespassing onto farms that weren’t ours so my grandfather could brag and show me livestock that actually belonged to his boss. My first experience with hurricanes: my father would joke he was going to tie me and him up to the big tree outside and we would ride out the storm together. Many moments alone listening to music, dreaming up what I wanted my life to be, dreaming up my getaway. The rest is what I found out in the world: community, grief, love, passion, death. I always wanted to write my version of Dylan’s “I Was Young When I Left Home,” and this is it. 

Snake plant, Florida water
I only wanted ever to be a good daughter
Soft hands, gold rings
Try to remember most everything.
Like feeding grapefruits to the cows,
Hold my belly while I'm laughing out loud.
A bathing suit on a two-day drive,
Malaria, you can't sleep at night.

Lemon tree and a mango for the baby,
Record player you can call me sister Sadie.
Gonna cut a rope and tie her to the tree
When the hurricane comes, the hurricane comes.

I know your face I know your smell.
I know that you were living in hell.

Pee in the bushes while I wait for a train,
Under the bridge when it starts to rain.
I never got to ride the sunset route,
But I drank enough 100 proof.

Campfire on the superfund site,
Garbage island fucking in the moonlight.
I play my song for the barrel of freaks
And we go shop lifting when it's time to eat.

They don't even really know my name,
I'm so happy that we escaped from where we came.

Tattoo with a needle and thread.
Most of our old friends are dead,
TEST YOUR DRUGS
REMEMBER NARCAN
There's a war on the people,
What don't you understand?
There's fentanyl in everything,
Don't become an angel with a broken wing.
We need you back down here on earth,
Nothing is as painful as birth.

Time flies when you're getting old,
I was born with a baby boy soul.
Maybe someday I'll see you again
In a field, a war, a kingdom of sand.

Maybe we can smile again,
Maybe we can dance again.
I'd kiss your lips and hold your hands.
Maybe we can dance again. 

I was young when I left home,
I never stopped running,
Used to think I was alone.
But nothing can stop me now.
Nothing can stop me now.





Alynda Segarra

Born in the Bronx and of Puerto Rican heritage, Alynda Segarra was raised there by a blue-collar aunt and uncle. Alynda was radicalized before they were a teenager, baptized in the anti-war movement and galvanized in New York's punk haunts and queer spaces. At 17, Segarra split, becoming the kid in a communal squat before shuttling to California, where they began crisscrossing the country by hopping trains. They eventually found home in New Orleans, forming a hobo band and realizing that music was not only a way to share what they had learned and seen but to learn and see more. Hurray for the Riff Raff steadily rose from house shows to major stages, where Segarra became a pan-everything fixture of the modern folk movement. In 2022, Segarra shifted sounds and released the electronic opus Life on Earth with Nonesuch records. Their follow-up album on the same label, The Past Is Still Alive, releases this February.