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Black Rochelle — Vance Gilbert

I wish I had the tools back then

To see those fools for fools back then

And stand tall enough in my own black skin

When they rang the recess bell

See, I was part of that cartel of kids

That did the awful thing we did

Locking hands in a circle and shouting

Hey look it’s Black Rochelle

It’s not like I didn’t have a choice

I’m as guilty as those other girls and boys

With satisfaction at those silver tears

As down your face they fell

Didn’t matter what they screamed or yelled

For once it was at someone else

Point chubby a light-skinned finger singing

Hey look at Black Rochelle

I never had the chance to say I’m sorry

You never had the chance to tell me

Go on straight to hell

If I could take it back in time

What a different story I could tell

Oh God bless the black

Of Black Rochelle

I’ve been punching bag and bully bait

Familiar with how they operate

A fat-ass sissy they could hate

I knew the blueprint well

But here my skin was lighter than

Like my black ended where yours began

License to join that loathsome clan

To call you Black Rochelle


Maybe you’re a lawyer

Or a pentecostal minister

Supermodel, homemaker,

Doctor or a judge

Maybe you have children

Sitting ‘round your kitchen table

And each and every one you teach

To never hold a grudge

Maybe you’ve forgotten

Like the pages of a calendar

Coming fast and flipping past

Each one looking the same

Maybe you’ll recall a boy

Caught up in that broken crowd

For fifty years still

Haunted by that name



VANCE - vocal, acoustic guitar

JOEY LANDRETH - electric guitar

LORI MCKENNA - background vocal