Attica State (song)

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"Attica State"
song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono from the album Some Time in New York City
Released 12 June 1972 (US)
15 September 1972 (UK)
Recorded Studio: November 1971 – March 1972
Genre Rock, blues rock
Length 2:54
Label Apple/EMI
Writer John Lennon, Yoko Ono
Producer John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Phil Spector
Some Time in New York City track listing

"Attica State" is a song by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It appeared on the album, Some Time in New York City. The song is a lamentation of the loss of life in the Attica State prison riots, as well as the poor living conditions and human rights prisoners are afforded in the United States.

"Attica State" was also intended as the b-side of the lead single from Some Time in New York City, which was to have been "The Luck of the Irish."[1] The intended single was given catalogue number APPLE 1846 but was cancelled before being released.[1]


The song was conceived on Lennon's 31st birthday, 9 October 1971, where his friends, including Ringo Starr, Maureen Starkey, Phil Spector, Klaus Voormann, Mal Evans, Neil Aspinall, Eric Clapton, Allen Ginsberg and Jim Keltner, threw Lennon a party and participated in a sing-along. One of the songs they sang was an ad-libbed version of "Attica State." The riots had occurred only weeks beforehand.[2]

The song's lyrics take sympathy of the prisoners killed in the riots, though they regret the loss of all life. Lennon and Ono also issue a scathing condemnation of the American judicial and penal system with such lyrics as "Free the prisoners, jail the judges," "They all live in suffocation," and "Rockefeller pulled the trigger, that is what the people feel." The final verse calls on its audience to "Come together, join the movement / Take a stand for human rights / Fear and hatred clouds our judgment / Free us all from endless night."

Lennon first performed the song live at a rally for John Sinclair on 10 December 1971.[3] This version was released on the soundtrack to The U.S. vs. John Lennon.[1] One week later, he performed the song at a benefit concert for the families of those killed in the riots, which took place at the Apollo Theater in New York.[1][3] This performance was released on the 1998 John Lennon Anthology box set.[1]

Coincidentally, Lennon's murderer, Mark David Chapman, was incarcerated in Attica Correctional Facility on a life sentence from 1981 until 2012, when he was moved to Wende Correctional Facility.


Personnel on the Some Time in New York City recording are:[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Blaney, J. (2007). Lennon and McCartney: together alone : a critical discography of their solo work. Jawbone Press. pp. 65–69, 234, 275. ISBN 9781906002022. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Madinger, C. & Easter, M. (2000). Eight Arms to Hold You. 44.1 Productions. pp. 67–68, 72. ISBN 0-615-11724-4.