The Ballad of Chol So Lee

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45 Jacket Graphic

from the Chol Soo Lee Defense Committee 1978

vocals and copyright: Siu Wai Anderson, Sam Takimoto, Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo


This is a story about a man named Chol Soo Lee.

His case is not uncommon; it reflects on you and me.


Chol Soo Lee came to this country to walk the streets of gold

All he found were broken glass alleys where the gangs were pushin dope 

He tried to find an honest job to try to make ends meet 

Do you sell your soul tryin' to earn that gold? 

Do you hustle in the street?


Strange ways in a foreign land made it difficult to belong 

The Chinatown scene for a Korean man was a dream that had gone wrong A captured bird in a gilded ghetto 

What did he hope to be? 

What did he hope to see?


Chorus: He's not the only one 

Nor does he stand alone 

Joined by us all 

His spirit will carry on


There are things to see, truths to hear, there is life to be sung.


But a shot rang out in the alley 

A man was lying cold dead 

Witnesses - three out-of-town tourists - barely recollected 

He kind of looked like this one, but they look alike you see 

Cons in a hurry want to close the case so they handcuffed Chol Soo Lee.


The courts convicted Chol Soo on a hot Sacramento day 

By a frosty white judge and a stone-cold D.A. 

He's been in jail since '73 a soul on ice 

Can you call it blind justice? You better start thinking twice.


This is a story of a prisoner and a man 

Though a prisoner may be chained down, the spirit will always stand There are captured birds behind barbed wire 

The cage may stop their wings, but a voice will always sing



There is work to be done.