Irish singer-songwriter Hozier has just gained a raft of new fans in Hong Kong after the release of a new song, which features a verse about the city’s ongoing anti-government protests.
The song, written in the style of a ’60s protest anthem, features four verses: one is about the Dakota Access pipeline protests at Standing Rock in the United States, one about the protests in Moscow this year over the refusal to let opposition candidates stand in parliamentary elections, and one about the ongoing Hong Kong protests:
In Hong Kong it won’t be long
‘til they have to fall in line
For the long hand of Beijing
Stretching south a thousand miles
Where they rock the Jackboot Jump there
Like that shit’s going out of style
The final verse goes:
All around the world
You’d think that things were looking rough
But the jackboot only jumps down
On people standing up
So you know good things are happening
When the jackboot needs to jump.
Hozier debuted the song on “Late Night With Seth Meyers” on Wednesday night, one day before the music video, featuring the artist performing the song before an audience during what is believed to be a recent concert in Texas, was posted on YouTube.
A concert review in Variety from late last month revealed that Hozier had been performing the song in front of live audiences throughout October, and that before performing the song at the Greek Theatre in L.A., he begged the audience “in good faith” not to film it. (What’s remarkable is that people apparently obeyed.)
In the review, Hozier gave a lengthy introduction to the song, saying that he had some reservations about protest songs and protest music, but that he decided to write “Jackboot Jump” — a reference to the preferred footwear of fascists everywhere — in the vein of songs like Woody Guthrie’s “Tear The Fascists Down” after coming to the realization that now is no time for subtlety in art.
“I was kind of looking into songs in that sort of tradition, that singing out, and I was worried that this is 2019; it’s a very unsubtle way to approach songwriting,” he said.
He then added that it was “a funny few weeks” given the situation in Hong Kong, Moscow, and now Chile, adding, “and I was thinking, forget about subtle art — what is not subtle is this murder of protesters, and what is not subtle is the jackboot coming down in Orwell’s picture of the future: ‘If you want to imagine the future, imagine a jack boot stomping on a human face forever,’ that chilling quote from 1984. Anyway, I was just thinking, yeah, fuck it, it’s not subtle, but let’s do it.”
The song, meanwhile, has been well received by Hongkongers.
“As a Hongkonger, I’m moved to tears,” said one YouTube commenter.
“I’m feeling power and vulnerability at the same moment,” said another. “I just can’t believe I could witness such a song being produced. Liberate Hong Kong, the revolution of our times.”
Another added: “Thank you Hozier for shouting out to our little city. Hong Kong’s fight is everyone’s fight.”
Check out more coverage of the Hong Kong protests at Coconuts HK.