You know the story if you live in this country. On May 25, 2020, a Minneapolis police officer ended the life of George Floyd during an arrest that may have had something to do with a counterfeit bill. The officer in question knelt on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, cutting off his air supply and killing him. Three other officers were on the scene and did not interfere with this act; Floyd was already handcuffed and lying on the ground begging for his life.
I cannot begin to understand the hate that would allow one man to murder another in such a brutal fashion. America has responded to this in a way that it has never done before. The current administration thinks that this response is hateful, but their reaction only shows how out of touch they are with what is really happening on our city streets and elsewhere.
Bill Reyer, my good friend and colleague felt compelled to respond; he wrote the following very powerful text:
I Can’t Breathe!
I can’t breathe the air of murder
I can’t breathe the air of racism
I can’t breathe the air of violence
I can’t breathe the air of hatred
I can’t breathe the air of cruelty
Without thinking of you, George Floyd!
Rest in peace and power!
Bill posted his latest poem on his Facebook site as he often does. I saw it there and could not rest without providing a musical setting. Usually I ask for Bill’s permission first, but I wanted to be sure that I could bring justice to this important poem before contacting my friend. Fortunately he was fine with my efforts; the song now exists in versions for baritone and tenor.
If you are in need of a song of this nature for a concert or performance. I will be happy to provide a copy to you, free of charge. Black lives matter!..........
Text: Copyright 2020, by William Reyer. All rights reserved; used by permission
Photo: Mural in Gedenken an den durch einen Polizisten in den USA ermordeten George Floyd im Mauerpark in Berlin 30. Mai 2020. Leonhard Lenz, photographer. Available through Creative Commons
The score for I Can't Breathe can be found in the Vocal section of my Composition tab; it is listed with the other Simple Songs that feature the poetry of William Reyer.