A funny thing happened only about two weeks ago. Someone gave us about the entire series of Justified: The series about US Marshal Raylan Gibbons set in Harlan County.
For some reason I decided to read up on it and found some interesting information about the backgound of the series which explained the origin of many of the characters and storylines in the series. In one of the series a conflict between the local community and a mining company is highlighted and that it appeared was based on the true history Harlan country and it’s inhabitants had with the big mining companies destroying the Appalachians with top mining and their disregard of the entire region which at some stage lead to a huge stand down between the miners and the bosses who used scabs and thugs to keep control over their operations in the 1930s.
In my meanderings I came upon this song written by Florence Reece, the wife of Union leader Sam Reece, after her family had been terrorized by sheriff J H Blair during the miners trikes of 1931. It is called “Which side are you on” and I reckon it is one of the most important songs ever written and it’s question is as valid today as it was then. I planned to publish a series of renditions at the time but I didn’t for some reason. Now I guess I know why. With Pete’s death it seems all the more important to bring the song back to live.
As we are entering the “great culling” of all of us the 1% don’t need anymore the question as to what side each of us is on will become more urgent as each day passes: Whose side are you on boys, whose side are you on? Are you going to be a miserable scab or are going to be a man?
Peter Seeger’s rendition of the song is beautiful and strong and judging by the response of his audience the song lives and by the renditions made by numerous other artists it will be a song that will resonate strongly in the time to come so in celebration of Pete Seeger’s life I thought I’d link to a couple here starting of course with Pete Seeger’s rendition.
Rest in Peace Pete, we will continue the struggle and make sure most of us will pick the right side, the human side!
This one from Natalie Merchant made me cry:
Billy Bragg gave the song new meaning when he adapted it to support the miners fighting the bitch from Downing street. Mrs Thatcher may she burn in hell:
And wow here is a rendition of the writer of the song herself. Warning it ain’t pretty but wow, what a spirit!!!