The song “Baltimore” was written by Randy Newman, but given its full potential through Nina Simone, a singer, who — despite disavowing the record of the same name her cover appeared on — avoided Newman’s tendency towards Dr. Seussian coloration, bringing his song into real, sad life.
The city of Baltimore is, as described in that song, a “hard town by the sea.” On an unreasonably humid Sunday, with the sun peek-a-booing through overcast skies, the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood where Freddie Gray was from looked blighted and bleak, every other building boarded, in ruins, surrounded by people with “nowhere to run to,” as Newman wrote and Simone sung. (Indeed, as David Simon explained to Bill Keller, there was practically nothing a resident of these neighborhoods could do to avoid getting arrested.)

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