Who Breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel? A Tribute to Pussy Riot

by Turn Me On, Dead Man Recordings

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Lyrics adapted from Carol Rumens’ English translation Virgin Mary, Mother of God, impugn Putin, oppugn him, Virgin Mary, Mother of God, throw the book at Putin, we pray thee! Congregations genuflect Black robes brag gilt epaulettes Freedom's dead and gone to heaven Gay Pride's chained and in detention KGB's chief saint descends Guiding punks straight to the pen Don't upset His Saintship, ladies Stick to making love and babies, please Shit shit so steeped in shit Shit shit sanctimonious shit Shit shit self-righteous shit Shit shit this holy shit Bless our festering bastard-boss Let black cars parade the Cross As preachers school the middle class Meet them there, and pay in cash Patriarch Gundy* believes in Putin Who the hell do they think they’re foolin’? 24 years – how many more? Vilify every troublesome whore Bless our rights, forget the rite – Join our protest, Holy Virgin, please Shit shit this holy shit Shit shit self-righteous shit Shit shit sanctimonious shit Shit shit this papal bull- Shit shit self-serving shit Shit shit this holy shit Dierdmo Dierdmo Dierdmo Llorda Dierdmo Dierdmo Dierdmo Llorda Shit shit this holy shit Shit shit self-righteous shit Shit shit sanctimonious shit Shit shit this papal bull- Shit shit self-serving shit Shit shit this holy shit Dierdmo Dierdmo Dierdmo Llorda Dierdmo Dierdmo Dierdmo Llorda *Solo Virgin Mary, Mother of God Holy feminist, we pray thee Virgin Mary, Mother of God Be a fucking feminist, set Mother Russia free *Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow, born Vladimir Mikhailovich Gundyayev
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Balaclavas Bright colors These pussies don't purr They scratch eyes and ruffle fur A punk prayer Caused a scare They're incarcerated But they're underestimated Cause all around the world There are women and girls Ready to shout We're tired of being quiet! All around the world Women and girls We want them out! We stand with Pussy Riot! Set them free! Set them free! Set them free! Balaclavas Bright colors These pussies don't purr They scratch eyes and ruffle fur.
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Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot!
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Saint Mary, virgin Drive away Putin Black robe, golden epaulettes All parishioners crawl to bow The ghost of freedom is in heaven Gay pride sent to Siberia in chains The head of the KGB is their saint Leads protesters to prison under escort In order not to offend the holy Women have to give birth and to love Holy shit The shit of the Lord Saint Mary, virgin Become a feminist The church praises the rotten dictators The holy procession of black limousines In school you meet with the teacher-preacher Go to class, bring in money! Patriarch Gundyayev believes in Putin Bitch you better believe in God Chastity belt can't replace general assembly The protests of our virgin Mary Holy shit The shit of the Lord Saint Mary, virgin Drive away Putin
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The lyrics to "Already Winning" are based on Nadezhda Tolokonnikova's letters from detention last summer. http://freepussyriot.org/content/6th-letter-detention-nadia-written-eve-verdict Are you there God? It's me, Putin Coming to confess my sins I have been punked by a trinity Of righteous hooligans Progoni Putin Progoni Putin This is the 21st century And you can be what you want to be And you can say what you want to say And you can play what you want to play In this world we're living in There's no iron curtain You can hide your face behind The unbelievable is happening We are already winning We have learned how to be angry Scared by a bunch of pussies This is the 21st century And you can be what you want to be And you can say what you want to say And you can play what you want to play In this world we're living in You know dissension is not a sin And the F word is not a crime The unbelievable is happening We are already winning We have learned how to be angry Scared by a bunch of pussies Totalitarian is criminal And the private is political We are all making history
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lyrics from the poem "Hope" by Sarah Anne Cox My mother used to say no, I will not calm down rinsing the roots of a coconut palm here, frost divides the pine needles and snowflakes aren’t special just unrelenting a case of conviction sewing camp red vestigial machines line in sewn in mouths Not even the smudged glass centuries of appeal to the painted lady hot breath whispered etched in silver the court room box can escape iconography
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(For Nadezhda, Maria, & Yekaterina, with love) I won't call it alteration But it's an alternate thing I won't call it conversion But I'm going to convert the King! If you would allow me to… Put the stone down, right where you found it Don't be the ending to ourselves I won't call it a cathedral But it could be a steeple Jetting out of the Kremlin I'm not tryin' to craze thee I'ma just praying to yuh lady Please drive your lords away! All your punks are praying...
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KGB coming back Soviet broken back Kremlin man with a five-year plan occupation in Kazakhstan 2 years a labor camp for a Punk Rock band State Police with baseball bats attack we stand United 'till we all fall down. Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! For a revolution Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Vladimir Putin Free Pussy Riot! There's rigged elections here cheap, strong beer yesterday I rocked now I'm rollin' Like Ivan Denisovich. Putin Stalin Expletive Racist Fascist War-Pig Gonna get a gun Gonna start a revolution Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! For a revolution Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Vladimir Putin Free Pussy Riot!
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Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot! Free Pussy Riot!

about

Update (February 21, 2014): When Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina were released from prison they made it clear they would not go away quietly. shortly after their release they reiterated their opposition to the regime of Vladimir Putin. Then earlier this month, after traveling to Asia and Europe, they performed at an Amnesty International benefit concert in New York with a variety of notable celebrities. The trip also included a memorable appearance on the Colbert Report (www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/432806/february-04-2014/pussy-riot-pt--1). Pussy Riot has also made their presence known at the Winter Olympics, now underway in the Russian city of Sochi. They were detained by the police, allegedly for stealing from their hotel. On February 19th Pussy Riot released a video called "Putin Will Teach you How to Love". The video shows members of Pussy Riot being harrassed by security forces at the Olympic Park in Sochi. (www.youtube.com/watch) The video demonstrates that Pussy Riot's incarceration has done anything but silence them. Their commitment to freedom of expression, environmental protection and gay rights is stronger than ever and their status as global symbols of freedom and human rights continues to grow.

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Original liner notes (December 23, 2013): Three members of Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, were arrested following a performance at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow on February 21, 2012. Pussy Riot performed "Punk Prayer: Mother of God Drive Putin Away," a song critical of church support for President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator. They were convicted of "hooliganism motivated by religious hatred or hostility" and sentenced to two years in prison. The case drew international attention and many noteworthy public figures called for their release. In declaring Tolokonnikova, Alyokhina and Samutsevich prisoners of conscience, Amnesty International pointed out that Pussy Riot's protest had been peaceful, they cooperated with church officials when asked to leave, and they caused no damage. Though their protest may have been offensive, the right to freedom of expression applies in all cases.

In 1967 William Rees-Mogg wrote an editorial in the Times of London entitled "Who Breaks a Butterfly on a Wheel?" in which he argued that Mick Jagger's sentence of three months in jail for drug possession was not just. Rees-Mogg's point was that Jagger received this sentence because he represented a threat to society rather than on the merits of the case. Apprehensions about the influence of the Rolling Stones seem quaint now given how much more permissive Western society has become since the 1960s but rock & roll was dangerous then. The case of Pussy Riot, as much a confrontational performance art collective articulating their views through musical performances as they are a punk rock band, demonstrates that there are places in the world where rock & roll is still dangerous.

The question asked in the title of Rees-Mogg's editorial is actually more applicable to Pussy Riot's case than to Jagger's. "Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?" is a line from "Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot," a poem written by Alexander Pope in 1735. The stanza containing that line is in response to a warning about those in power taking offense to satirical attacks. Beneath the colorful balaclavas, Pussy Riot presents a forceful feminist challenge to those at the highest levels of power in Russia, as well as to Russian society as a whole.

A few months after their convictions, Samutsevich's sentence was suspended on appeal, but the sentences of Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were upheld. With less than six months left on her sentence Tolokonnikova disappeared for several days after going a hunger strike to protest prison conditions. Three weeks later her family was informed that she had been taken to a prison camp in Siberia. And then, in a strange twist, on December 19, 2013, a new amnesty law passed in Russia that applied to those "who haven't committed violent crimes, first-time offenders, minors and women with small children." Though the amnesty law included a number of activists, the wording of it indicates that it was directed primarily at the members of Pussy Riot. Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina, both young mothers of small children, were freed today, December 23, 2013, less than three months before their scheduled release from prison.

This compilation collects songs recorded by fellow musicians in support of Pussy Riot during their incarceration. These songs are cover versions of Pussy Riot songs, expressions of solidarity, and calls for their release. From prison Tolokonnikova wrote, "I am grateful to everyone who said, 'Free Pussy Riot!' We are all making history--an important political event--and Putin's system will find it harder and harder to control us." In granting pardons Putin expressed no remorse about Pussy Riot's treatment. His actions were not motivated by conscience, but rather by the politics of the moment. Russia will be hosting the 2014 Winter Olympics and such cases cast the country in a poor light. Pussy Riot may also have benefited from political intrigue and other high-profile pardons carried out at the same time, or perhaps the pardons were just an attempt to improve Putin's image. Still, had it not been for the public outcry of those concerned about the denial of their civil liberties, as well as a steady stream of statements of support from fellow musicians all over the world, the members of Pussy Riot might still be in prison. Even if Putin had no awakening in regard to the treatment of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the calls to "Free Pussy Riot" did not go unnoticed.

credits

released December 23, 2013

All of the songs on Who Breaks a Butterfly upon a Wheel? have been contributed by the artists under an Attribution-NonCommercial-
NoDerivs Creative Commons license
Liner notes by Todd Gardner
Cover by Asha

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Turn Me On, Dead Man Recordings Washington, D.C.

Turn Me On, Dead Man is an internet radio station on radionomy.com playing garage, punk and psychedelia from the last five decades.

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