Daily Discovery: Justin Golden Gets Deeply Personal on “The Gator”

Photo by Joey Wharton, courtesy Hearth PR

Videos by American Songwriter

Videos by American Songwriter

Richmond, Virginia-based blues artist Justin Golden says he first got started writing music in college, just a few years after first picking up the guitar.

“I joined the choir and realized I could sing,” says Golden. “Before I knew it, I had music in my head that I had to get out.”

For Golden, the music he creates is deeply personal (so are the stories he tells about near-death experiences, we might add). He’s even identified (invented?) a genre all his own.

“Stylistically,” Golden says, “I would call my music Blues-Americana. This [upcoming new] record covers a lot of ground.”

Indeed, Golden is set to release a new album later this year and his latest single “The Gator” will feature prominently on the LP.

“This song deals with police brutality, racism and the Black experience in America,” Golden says, remaking on a series of topics few enjoy discussing but many these days find imperative to address despite that difficulty.

Golden continues, “While driving down south on a writer’s retreat, I saw gators in Florida. I thought about how somewhere under the water there was a gator just waiting for its chance to pull me under. Then, I realized, that’s the same way I feel every day as a Black person in this country—like something is waiting for a chance to pull me under.”

In the song, Golden sings, I can’t breathe, which is a not-so-veiled reference to both the recent murder of George Floyd at the hands of police and “the feeling I have every day trying to survive and thrive in the U.S.,” Golden adds.

For Golden, while some may say he should stop rocking the boat, or some other variation of don’t tell your story, all he wants is for “people to understand what it feels like. I want those that have never felt this way, to realize that so many others do.”

When he sings the track, Golden says, he has a favorite line. It goes: Stop tryna pull me under, I can’t breathe / Out there’s a gator that’s tryna eat me.

“I think it really illustrates how it feels to be black in this country,” Golden says. “At times it feels suffocating to me. It feels like it’s dragging me down. Meanwhile, I’m doing everything within my power to get out.”

Photo by Joey Wharton / Hearth PR

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