Originally Released on:


also appears on:

  • Sonic Death (live '81 & '83)
  • Live in Venlo (live '83)
  • Gila Monster Jamboree video (live '85)
  • Live in Columbus video (live '85)
  • Burning Spear 7" (live '93)
  • No Alternative (live '93)
  • Sonic Youth 2006 reissue (LP version + live '81)
  • Smart Bar - Chicago 1985 (live '85)
  • 07/12/86 "LIVE IN DENVER 1986"
  • 10/07/01 "WORLD TRADE CENTER BENEFIT 2001"

Thurston - guitar/vocals
Kim - bass
Lee - guitar/drill
Richard Edson - drums

Lyrics   status: confirmed

I'm not afraid to say I'm scared
In my bed I'm deep in prayer
I trust the speed I love the fear
The music comes
The burning spear

Track length: 3:28

First Known Performance: 07/??/81
Last Known Performance:  10/11/08


  • Essentially the band's first song.
  • One of the pieces performed at Noisefest '81 is reminiscent of this song, specifically in the drumming.
  • Lee plays an electric drill with a contact mic into a wah-wah pedal during the intro of the original version.
  • Sonic Death rendition features extra vocals during post-verse breakdown.
  • "Dig This!" contains a sample of a live performance of this song from the Speed Trials festival, May 4th 1983.
  • On the 1983 European tour, SY would often segue into Burning Spear from Early American (while playing the "Scream Tape" thru an amplifier). This is captured on Live in Venlo and Sonic Death.
  • Re-recorded for 1992 BBC Session.
  • Slightly different lyrics published on
  • Jim O'Rourke played EMS synth on this song for the 2000 tour.
  • The reissue of the SONIC YOUTH ep features a live version of this song from 09/18/81, a portion of which is actually featured on 'SONIC DEATH' as well.
  • The cassette release of 'Sonic Youth' as well as web-only Mix Tape #5 contain the entire EP played backwards.


  • On "Live in Venlo" - LIVE - 3:58

    Recorded live on 11/27/83 in Venlo, Holland. Segued into from Early American via Scream Tape.

  • On "Gila Monster Jamboree" - LIVE - ?

    Recorded live on 1/5/85 in the Mojave Desert. Released on home video.

  • On "Walls Have Ears" - LIVE - ?

    Recorded live on 4/28/85 in London, England.

  • On "Live in Columbus" vid - LIVE - ?

    Recorded live on 8/1/85 in Columbus, Ohio at Stache's. Steve on drums.

  • "Smart Bar - Chicago 1985" - LIVE - 5:01

    Recorded live 08/11/85 Chicago, IL @ Smart Bar.

  • On "Burning Spear" 7" - LIVE - 3:44

    Recorded live on 1/24/93 in Melbourne, Australia at the Big Day Out Festival. 7" came packaged w/ some versions of Dirty in Australia. The same version appeared on the No Alternative compilation (the cassette version only).

  • On "Sonic Youth" 2006 reissue - LIVE - 3:23

    Recorded live on 09/18/81 in NYC at the New Pilgram Theatre for the Music for Millions festival. Part of this song was used in a loop on 'Sonic Death'.

  • On "Sonic Youth" cassette + Mix Tape #5 - 'Raeps Gninrub Eht' - the song played backwards.