"Detroit '67" as written by and Sam Lewis Roberts....
I went walking at street level
Feeling strange and disheveled
Past the abattoir and the glory holes
Like a film noire in the starring role

To the side streets, kept my nose clean
Tasted beautiful, tasted obscene
Singing, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

This is Detroit, see the skyline
A commotion on the assembly line
Raise a glass to the ambassador
As she's moving you to the dance floor

Does anyone here tonight
Remember those times?
Can anyone here tonight
Just tell me what they felt like?

So many years, so many lives
These are the streets where they collide
From Jimmy Hoffa to Cadillac
Some look ahead, I'm going back
'Cause I'm just looking for some sounds
To ease the vice that squeezes us every day

This was Motown, this was New France
Where the Chippewa did the fire dance
That was long ago, this is here and now
But the memory still remains somehow
Singing, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh

I can't tell you how this old story ends
I can't touch you now, like they did back then
Past the child's play with the jump rope
Hear the gun play, it's a tightrope

Does anyone here tonight
Remember those times?
Can anyone here tonight
Just tell me what they felt like?

Does anyone here tonight
Remember those times?
Somebody call the riot police
There's trouble down on 12th Street



Lyrics submitted by rarefied

"Detroit '67" as written by Sam Lewis Roberts

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Detroit '67 song meanings
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7 Comments

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  • +1
    General CommentAn ode to Detroit's heyday, when the Big 3 motor companies were pushing jobs and profits, instead of losing them. A working class Detroitian today probably cannot help but wish that they may have lived in a more prosperous time, like 1967. They have a few buddies to drink with as they ponder this (and it certainly is a drinking song, which the video makes clear), among them: the Chippewa who were pushed off of their land by the French, who in turn were conquered by the British. Is this just an unlucky patch of land? Sam can't say for sure what the future holds for this great city, but who can?
    st3voon November 19, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMore people in the USA need to discover Sam Roberts - a great talent from Montreal. I believe this CD is finally going to be released stateside in February 09. Saw him perform this song live on the banks of the Detroit River from the Canadian side and he gave a shoutout to the Motor City. I'm not sure Sam was even alive in the era he is singing about, and I was just a baby, but growing up in the shadow of Motown we have all watched the demise of once great city since the Race Riots of the 60's. Sam captures the heartbeat of Detroit in it's prime and sadly it seems it is an energy that may never be seen again.
    markmiester01on January 07, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI live by Detroit and this is how I feel about it every time I go there. I wish I could have lived in the time period when it was the place to be. Its sad to see what its become because it has so many great possibilities.
    yyellowbirddon February 08, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst of all, I really love Sam Roberts and i think that it will go down in history as a fine example of a great canadien band that delivered great music. I wish people would discover more great music like Sam Roberts. I advise evryone to just give a listen to Sam Roberts because if you haven`t yet your missing out on some great music.When i first heard Sam Roberts I was immediatelly hooked.I thought ``hey this is truly great music, this is what great music is about!!! Ì`m sure that we can all agree that there is a lot of junk on the radio so why not support grear music? Oh!And i personally give a sout out to all of our fine canadein artists representing us like Sam Roberts,Feist and City in Color. I also advise everyone to gieve a listen to Kings Of Leon because their awesome!!! (MY PICK:sex on fire and be somebody)

    Regarding this particular song, I love it! Songs like Detroit `67 is waht makes Sam Roberts Sam Roberts.


    samrobertsgirlon April 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentFirst of all, I really love Sam Roberts and i think that it will go down in history as a fine example of a great canadien band that delivered great music. I wish people would discover more great music like Sam Roberts. I advise evryone to just give a listen to Sam Roberts because if you haven`t yet your missing out on some great music.When i first heard Sam Roberts I was immediatelly hooked.I thought ``hey this is truly great music, this is what great music is about!!! Ì`m sure that we can all agree that there is a lot of junk on the radio so why not support great music? Oh!And i personally give a shout out to all of our fine canadien artists representing us like Sam Roberts,Feist and City in Color. I also advise everyone to gieve a listen to Kings Of Leon because their awesome!!! (MY PICK:sex on fire and be somebody)

    Regarding this particular song, I love it! Songs like Detroit `67 is what makes Sam Roberts Sam Roberts. i agree that this song is a shoutout to Detroit.In a way it is ironic because of what is happening now with the auto industry and all.I mean at one time Detroit was booming and seemed to be promising. I think that Detroit can still be a great place and can be how we remember it back in the old days. Whenever i hear this song, this particular song i picture myself there and how it was like back then,as described in the song. I know it was great and it can still be great again .Detroit had so musch potential and it still does. This song describes how we all picture Detroit in are hearts.I know Detroit is dear to us because whenever i go to Detroit it`s almost as if I here it calling to me.

    PS;DOES ANYONE KNOW ANY OTHER GREAT BANDS THAT I MIGHT LIKE? I HATE TO LET GREAT MUSIC BE LEFT UNDISCOVERED,SO LET ME KNOW.ANYTHING WOULD BE DEEPLY APPRECIATED. THANKS.


    samrobertsgirlon April 16, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentDoesn't get much better than this. Absolutely fantastic song. Raise your glasses and salute one of the greatest cities of all time. She may not be much to look at these days but thank god people like Sam Roberts can still see the beauty in her.
    dwatts13on October 24, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is going to be along post because I actually know quite a bit about this one, but the short and dirty version is this: Detroit '67 by Sam ROberts is about two things. It is about his first time walking the streets of Detroit feeling utterly fascinated. It is also about the 1967 Detroit riots, sometimes referred to as the 12th Street riots, where growing dissatisfaction amongst auto workers, partocularly black auto-workers, boiled over in a 5 day riot that is now considered one of the US' most deadly and destructive.

    Sam Roberts talks about this song during a segment on the CBC Radio 3 podcast called "School of Rock".

    He says that the band went to visit Detroit and were all really fascinated by it. They saw many similarities between Detroit and Montreal, particularly Detroit's French heritage. The more Sam learnt about Detroit the more he was fascinated by it, and wanted to write a song about it.

    The majority of the verses in the song are simply references to Detroit culture, and basically a celebration of Detroit as this beautiful, resilient city (which it totally is). Walking past the abbatoir (slaughterhouse) and glory holes (Im not even getting into that) Roberts compares walking the rough streets of Detroit to a noir film. Noir films are characterised by their dark, graphic nature. A cop in a fedora and trenchcoat walking down a street in the red-light district (this is all black and white, of course) is the best visual example I can give. Film noir turns the dark and graphic into something very beautiful.

    Roberts talks quite a bit about Detroit's rich history. The days as Motown, as a colony of New France and as aboriginal territory. He spends alot of time focussed on Detroit's "heyday", where the auto sector was booming and everyone was very successful. Walking around Detroit you definitely see a city that was once great and is now reduced to something quite sad. The image of its greatness still lingers on though, so its no surprise that Roberts would put "Can anyone here tonight just tell me what it felt like?" in the lyrics.

    "Somebody call the riot police there's trouble down on 12th street" refers to the riots I had mentioned in the first paragraph, which Roberts said he felt very fascinated by.

    It's strange, but I don't think any songwriter has quite captured the spirit of Detroit the way a Montrealer has after spending just a little time there. It really speaks to the city. ROberts captures this idea of this resilient spirit in Detroit, the rich history and times of greatness, the times of extreme hardship that have fallen upon it, and the hope to reclaim its status as a great city once again. Bravo to Samuel, this is one hell of a song.
    RomeAndStuffon October 18, 2011   Link

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