Dear Readers! I’ve been on YouTube searching for lyrics that fit current economic conditions. I started with “16 Tons” but ultimately selected a different song, uploaded below. As is the case with web wandering, one find led to another. The following is my trail of treasures and thoughts along the way:
“16 Tons” is a coal miner song, collected and performed by Merle Travis in 1946. Many excellent performances – the one heard here by Mike Sumbling is a great combo of clear, good, sound, and historical photos.
One of the most revealing lines in “16 Tons” is “sold my soul to the company store“. When we get honest, we’ve got to acknowledge this is the economic situation of most of the world’s population – souls sold to corporatocracy elite.
“Which Side Are You On?“, (labor struggle, also focused on coal miners) was penned in 1931 by Florence Reece – audio of her a capella performance here. As the title suggests, the song asks us to stop waffling, to take a stand.
(“Worker’s Song”heard here by the Dropkick Murphy’s was a performance on this theme that also caught my attention. Clear statement of contributions by the lowest paid and hardest working was contrasted to their use as fodder for war and profiteering.)
“Worker’s Song” however doesn’t’ match the blunt clarity of “Which Side Are You On”. Dropkick Murphys performance of “Which Side Are You On”, heard here” has terrific international slide show visuals. But other versions of “Which Side Are You On” have more audible lyrics – try Pete Seeger, 3 minutes, for clarity in meaning and style.
“Ready to Fall” by Rise Against has painful environmental visuals and great energy, but lyrics are almost impossible to distinguish. And by then I had my ‘criteria’ for a single song to feature: economics theme, clear lyrics, easily heard and understood, and supporting visuals that extend to international community.
Few of my discoveries fit all criteria and I headed off to explore more of Pete Seeger. I’m posting “Banks Are Made of Marble“. Music and lyrics by Les Rice, a neighbor of Seeger, the song’s a great match to current conditions! Seeger’s version, presented by “TheInterdome” who has selected excellent supporting visuals – both historical and current – has an international touch.
I closed my search before trying to fit in two more worthy classics on freedom, value of each person, and human rights. You may also want to hear: “Bread and Roses” (Joan Baez, a capella renditon) and “We Shall Overcome“, Pete Seeger and audience singing together. Pete Seeger’s motivation was to inspire – audience participation was a strong goal of his performances. The linked “We Shall Overcome” performance demonstrates this.
Who owns our ‘souls’ – the company? or the individual? Nearly all the traditional classics on human dignity, and some more recent protest songs, have been covered by many artists – and all would free the ‘soul’ from ‘the company store’.
Enjoy this post – you may feel inspired to suggest more! –MaggieAnn
Economic ‘war’ between those in control, and those working for those in control, will continue as a ‘constant’ unless/until we decide we can do better to uplift all humanity and all life.
We’re smart enough, and we have enough compassion, but we don’t have the will.
Without the will, all our talk of democracy and equality is “just talk”; we’re gonna have to walk it if we mean it. We’re going to need to think globally – and to act locally.
We’re going to have to claim ownership of our own, individual, ‘souls’. And the only way we can do that is to extend rights of ‘soul ownership’ to one another, and to free up resources, make them available, to those whose hold is tentative. –MA