Venue censors, shuts down Corey Smith show in Chattanooga

[UPDATE, WED, SEPT 14TH: I’ve posted some new information here.]

I’m not really a Corey Smith fan, but I understand his appeal. He taps into many themes that touch the lives of teenagers and youngish adults — feelings of wonder, of isolation, of discovering that first beer or that first kiss.

I don’t follow Corey Smith closely, but I do follow American Aquarium, a great Raleigh-based band that has opened occasionally for Smith, including a great set this summer at Johnny Mercer Theatre here in Savannah.

So I knew ahead of time that Corey Smith was playing in Chattanooga at a new venue called Track 29, which has 2000 seats, with American Aquarium opening.

And the rest I only know from Facebook so far.

Apparently near the end of his show, Smith spent a few minutes introducing and providing context for his song “F#!% the Po Po.” (I’m not afraid to write that word out, btw, but the last time language like that appeared in one of my posts, the ads disappeared.) As he started to play the song, the venue pulled the plug and turned the houselights up.

Here’s the song, which captures the voice (I think) of a whiny, sometime-drunk who feels overly burdened with aggressive policing:
Blue lights flashing, they had traffic stopped
And Highway 11’s done turned into a permanent road block
I wasn’t driving, my wife was my D.D.
And she hadn’t drank a drop, still got hassled by the J.P.D.
And I said hey dude can’t you just leave her alone
She ain’t done nothin’ wrong man and we just want to go home

And I was mad as hell, thinking fuck the po-po
and they wonder why folks don’t trust ’em no more
And I’m not gonna let this go, so I’m singing fuck the po-po

So I got arrested, just for speaking up
And that cop said boy the only right you have is to shut the fuck up
Now I’m a jail-bird, I’ve done time in the pin
And I’ve got a real messed up story to tell all my friends
And my name was in the newspaper in my home town
They ruined my reputation because I didn’t bow down

And now I’m mad as hell singing fuck the po-po
And they wonder why folks don’t trust ’em no more
And I’m not gonna let this go so I’m singing fuck the po-po

Two fingers in the air for the J.P.D.
The long-arm of the law coming down on me
Now I understand why all these rappers are mad
They must have been treated as badly as I have
Now I’m screaming thug life, fuck the po-po
Shootin’ birds out the window whenever the cops go by
They’re puttin road blocks in front of my house
Man I’m starting to feel like I live under the Taliban
Can’t drive home without a gun in my face
Thursday through Sunday, they’re invading my space
Tellin’ me its for my sake, they’re keepin’ the streets safe
By gettin’ all the drunks off of the highway
But I say man, that’s a big fuckin’ lie
It’s all about the money from the D.U.I.’s
Otherwise they’d be parked out in front of this bar
Giving free breathalizers before we get in our cars
Instead they just hide about 3 miles away
And sit and wait for one of us to make a mistake
Drink a little to much and you’ll be cuffed and stuffed
And probably roughed up if you complain enough
You’ll be carted off to jai, in the land of the free
Another victim of the over-zealous J.P.D.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean disrespect
There are a lot of good cops, who serve and protect
And they boldy put their lives on the line
To protect our rights and give us peace of mind
But for every cop who thinks his badge is a crown
This song is for you, and I’ll never bow down …

And now I’m mad as hell singing fuck the po-po
And they wonder why folks don’t trust ’em no more
And I’m not gonna let this go so I’m singing fuck the po-po yall
Oh no, fuck the po-po

It’s not a song that I take seriously, but I know people who have felt just like that. I think the concern about being more interested in issuing DUIs than preventing drunks from driving will resonant with a lot of people.

The Track 29 Facebook page is now the point of much anger and disgust about the choice. There’s a claim that some comments have already been deleted — and I don’t doubt it.

Smith has so far made two public comments via Facebook and Twitter:

I’ll check back in on this issue later.

UPDATE, 4 p.m.: Track 29 has made an official statement on Facebook.
UPDATE, SUNDAY: Smith’s full statement can be found in a post on his website: Censorship in Chattanooga.