Pussy Riot release I Can’t Breathe: Eric Garner inspired the band’s first English song (VIDEO).

Pussy Riot’s First English Song Is a Haunting Tribute to Eric Garner

Pussy Riot’s First English Song Is a Haunting Tribute to Eric Garner

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Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 18 2015 9:39 PM

Pussy Riot’s First English Song Is a Haunting Tribute to Eric Garner

pussyriot1

Still from YouTube

The members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot are known mostly for their guerilla performances, political protests, and feminist ideology. Their music—an admittedly scarce collection of fewer than a dozen songs, all in Russian—gets less attention, especially stateside. But the group’s just released their first English song, “I Can’t Breathe,” and as the title suggests it’s a poignant tribute to Eric Garner.  

The video is perhaps even more powerful: it features Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alyokhina, the two Pussy Riot members jailed in 2012 for “hooliganism,” wearing riot-cop uniforms while being buried alive. After they’re covered completely, punk icon Richard Hell reads Garner’s last words. It’s fitting accompaniment for the song, which, with its cutting lyrics and throbbing bassline, sounds like an open wound.

Sharan Shetty is on the editorial staff of the New Yorker. You can follow him on Twitter