on the day that dennis brown's lung collapsed, spring rain was misting down on kingston.
and down at the harbor, local cops were intercepting an inbound shipment.
and for a while there it was chaos
as they handcuffed and then roughed up some sailors.

on the day my lung collapses
it's not going to be much different.

on the day that dennis brown's habits caught up with him, school children sang in choirs.
and out behind the Chinese restaurants
guys were jumping into dumpsters.
and the stench was overbearing,
but they were past the point of caring.

on the day my habits catch up with me
I'll be down among the jumpers.

and when the birds come home in spring,
we will fill them full of buckshot.
and jets of contaminated blood
will cloud the rivers and the lakes.
it took all the coke in town to bring down dennis brown.

on the day my lung collapses
we'll see just how much it takes.


Lyrics submitted by fuckedupdog

Song For Dennis Brown Lyrics as written by

Lyrics © SCHUBERT MUSIC PUBLISHING INC.

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Song for Dennis Brown song meanings
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9 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentI saw it as having to do with the sense of fatalism that comes with addiction. Like, some people will point to the story of a great hero or artist who died of an OD, and use it as an example of a tragedy that could be prevented by saying no to drugs. But if you're addicted or have an addictive personality, you hear the story and think "well, if it killed a great like him, what chance do I have?"

    I think that also resonates with the concept of the album as a whole, growing up in an abusive and dysfunctional family. I think the speaker in the song is pretty much writing himself off as not having a chance to be any different from the previous generation.
    asimaiyaton May 10, 2010   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe song is about one of Jamaica's best singers. Dennis Brown was called "the Crown Prince of Reggae" by Bob Marley, a title he richly deserved. Brown died of a combination of a coke overdose and a collapsed lung (it's relatively rare for people to die of collapsed lungs anymore, hence the line "it took all the coke in town to bring down Dennis Brown").
    huxleyon January 31, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentthis song seems to be about john reflecting on has dennis died, and thinking how he could die the same way.
    pocketsfullofshellson June 29, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI agree it's about the world moving on, but in a sadistic way. A hero to many dies, and the cops are busy being bastards. A spokesman for the poor dies, but they still have to dumpster dive to eat.

    Kind of a "change doesn't happen." For all Dennis Browns words meant to the Jamaican people, the world is not a better place, and never will be.
    bshaft42on November 04, 2008   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe end of this song is a beautiful moment of pure nihilism, starting with the 'when the birds come home to roost' line. The whole subtext seems to be: this is the way it has to be, and damn the consequences. The final line kills me every time, as it was meant to. I love this song.
    nathan1149on May 15, 2018   Link
  • 0
    General Commentbeautiful song, kind of bizzare lyrics.
    weezerific:cutleryon August 30, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General Commentthe world moves on
    seedsofseditionon March 21, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General Commentnot one of my favorites, but highly liked, but very powerful words with a very real meaning
    doRabeThon April 26, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJD had the some drug problems that Dennis Brown had (the We Shall All Be Healed album covers that), so when he learns about what happens to Dennis Brown, it resonates with him and he remembers it because he thinks he will die the same way
    cbinghamon January 26, 2018   Link

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