Friday, April 30, 2010
Almanac Singers: Talking Union
PETE SEEGER, vocal/banjo; LEE HAYS, vocal; MILLARD LAMPELL, vocal; JOSH WHITE, guitar/vocal; SAM GARY, CAROL WHITE, BESS LOMAX HAWES, vocal
My father was a union man, and -- boy! --did he ever talk union at the dinner table! In my childhood home, I swear the order of allegiance was FDR first, then God, then the Pope. Everything else followed logically from that. So I have a natural and abiding affection for -- and commitment to -- the political content of these songs.
That aside, though, they are a delightful bit of American labor history, as well as an early manifestation of what would be the folk revival of the mid twentieth century. Shortly after these recordings were made, Woodie Guthrie joined the group, which eventually became The Weavers. The invincible Pete Seeger is still with us, and still agitating for his beliefs through song.
There is a surfeit of material on May Day in all its many guises, so I will simply leave this small, musical offering of one of them. And, of course, I wish you a Happy May Day -- whether of May baskets (which I delivered to my friends as a small child), of Marian devotions, or, as here, in honor of the laboring, anonymous masses who have given so much, often for so little.
Link to all files
The music files are directly from the 78s, with no filters run. There's more noise, but more presence, too, and somehow a sense of "being there." Or maybe I imagine it.