Amplify: Something in the Way: A discussion of Amiri Baraka’s ‘Something in the Way of Things (In Town)’

*UPDATE: Now with video!*



Knows me? You knows Amiri Baraka is the grounding voice. Fascination. inspiration. Baraka’s work shows the way forward—we so often lose the way. Freedom.

“The real problem is you don’t know the real problem.” Remind us: Keep peeled.

A great podcast was released sometime: William J. Harris, Tyrone Williams, and Aldon Nielsen join Al Filreis (always generous) to discuss Baraka’s “Something in the Way of Things.”

I’m delighted Filreis chose to play the version of the poem from the Roots’ 2002 album “Phrenology”. The album—I bought it from the Staten Island Mall on day one—was essential in showing this young introverted weirdo that his suspicions about people being easily defined was specious—contrary to everything my small island peers had suggested. Punk. Rap. Poetry. R&B. Soul. Sound collage. Techno. Profoundly compelling instrumentation. Music as preparation. As runway.

Hard to conceive I first heard Amiri Baraka’s words 16 years ago.

Anyway, the podcast discussion is accessible and criminally brief.

After I listened to it, I was sent back to my bookshelves to hunt down a collection of Baraka’s work from 2014—the year he died—SOS.  The hardcover version of the work collects some of the poet’s final poems. That’s how I’ll be spending my night.

I had to share it with all of you in hopes you might share it as well. Be well.


For further study:

Allison Parrish on @CommonplacePod

Hello. Listen to this conversation between poets Rachel Zucker and Allison Parrish. I’m a proud supporter of the show and if you have the bread, please consider doing so as well.

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Click above (or here or here or here) to listen to the show.


(starts out a little far away and slow and nondescript, but by the time its textures are big and its bones are casting shadows, you’ll be impressed. promise.)

What would metal sound like after capitalism?

“A pop song—and metal, for all its fuck no, is pop music—is a commodity, and its market conditions are written into its chord structure. It is caught up entirely in capitalism’s circuits. A wash of guitars and a blast beat do not have the power to resist the contradictions they expose and express.

“Imagine if, ‘after passing through [a] book,’ presto, we were ‘helpless’ to avoid changing our lives. Sometimes I wonder what metal would sound like after capitalism, or whether we would even need metal then. I wonder the same thing about poetry.”


— Michael Robbins, from his essay “Destroy Your Safe and Happy Lives.” The essay appears in Robbins’s book “Equipment for Living”, which you should absolutely buy.