West Of Memphis: Voices For JusticeForget the tedium of The Hobbit – the only Peter Jackson film worth watching in 2012 was West of Memphis, an emotionally devastating and often infuriating documentary shining another spotlight on the injustice of the West Memphis Three case. Focusing on the experiences of Damien Echols, the only teenager wrongfully convicted of murdering three eight-year old children in 1993 to receive a death sentence, its accompanying soundtrack is equally harrowing. But featuring many of the high-profile supporters who campaigned for his release and several of the metal anthems which provided a lifeline during his agonizing wait on Death Row, it’s also a testament to the power of music. Here’s five sets of lyrics which best address the hopelesseness of the situation.

Bill Carter – ‘Anything Made Of Paper

Bill CarterFormerly the guitarist/bassist in Johnny Depp’s P., Texan singer-songwriter Bill Carter later teams up with his old Hollywood bandmate for an Ozzy Osbourne cover. But it’s this acoustic country-blues original, which appears during the film’s closing credits, that offers the most insight into the restrictions placed upon Echols. Carter’s valiant attempt to put a positive spin on the fact that paper was the only item allowed into and out of Death Row emphasises just how valuable any sense of optimism, no matter how small, can be: [LISTEN]

When I come to see you, what will I bring

The wisdom of a poet, the colour of a dream

And I leave with three roses made from a magazine

More beautiful to me than any flowers in the spring

And I feel the summer turn into fall

Anything made of paper, that’s all

Eddie Vedder – ‘Satellite

Eddie VedderRecorded specifically as a gift to Echols’ future wife, Lorri, back in 2000, Vedder then resurrected his bittersweet serenade for 2011’s Ukulele Songs, enabling the wider public to experience his unashamedly romantic reflection on the hardships of a jailhouse relationship. It’s little wonder that its beautifully poetic statement of undying devotion in the wave of such despair and helplessness was considered to be a source of comfort for the lady-in-waiting it was dedicated to: [LISTEN]

Days turn into
Night turns into
Days turn into today
Don’t think I’m out playin
Cause I’m inside waiting for you

Citizen Cope – ‘DFW

Citizen CopeThe Sunday afternoon bluesy hip-hop of “DFW” might have been based on the memories of a long-lost romance at an air force base. But adhering to the ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ school of thought, the slacker-pop troubadour’s nostalgic trip could just as easily have been composed with Echols’ relationship in mind. Indeed, it’s not too difficult to imagine that he and wife Lorri uttered a similarly long goodbye come the end of each visiting time: [LISTEN]

Well boo, you are a star, you always are
You are so full of grace
And we ain’t spoken in so so long, but I think about you everyday
It’s been a hard living, ‘cuz you never know
When you be lifted from the gift of living

The White Buffalo – ‘House Of Pain

The White BuffaloEchols’ love of heavy metal may have been used against him during his trial, but it also proved to be one of the few things that kept him sane during his 17 years locked in a cell. First recorded by forgotten 80s sleaze-rockers Faster Pussycat, “House Of Pain” was one of the tracks he played to temporarily escape his nightmare. But this sombre stripped-back rendition by hard-living The White Buffalo feels more relevant, its theme of abandonment and loneliness just as appropriate for Echols’ state of mind as it was Taime Downe’s longing for a father figure: [LISTEN]

And I didn’t write these pages and 
My script’s been rearranged 
No there’s no one home 
In my house of pain
No There’s no one home 
In my house of pain.

Henry Rollins – ‘Damien Echols Death Row Letter Year 9

Henry RollinsAs one of the most vocal and tireless supporters of the fight for justice, Henry Rollins is the perfect choice to narrate Echols’ description of the hellhole he was forced to endure. Penned almost a decade after being sent to prison as an innocent young man, his understandable dejection, anguish and misery is evident from the opening sentence, which like the rest of the spoken-word piece is made all the more haunting by the backdrop of Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ suitably mournful orchestral score: [LISTEN]

There’s a drain on the floor

And a water spout in the wall

That’s how you wash and take a shower

You never even get to go out into the sun here

Not to mention, they had a huge budget cut

So the first thing they sliced was the food