Political Song History
An Article by Jerzy Smokey Dymny (November 2010)
The history of the world is one of riots, revolutions & rebellions. It’s a story of perpetual class war waged by the state, church, landlords & factory owners against the poor. Unlike the history we were force fed in school, the history of our opposition to being exploited is something we need to remember. And it’s a lot more interesting than the high school textbooks ever were. Those books were filled with half-truths strung together by boring academics. Most of what we were made to learn about kings, queens, laws, wars & dates of their battles against each other, was forgotten the moment your tests were over. It was ineffably boring because it was not our history. Meanwhile, the stories of the lives of millions of working people, their struggles & their victories, were buried under the glorified history of the ruling class.
Throughout time, while peasants, workers, or indigenous folk were fighting, marching or otherwise kicking over the traces, they were making up songs. Usually, using common folk melodies of the day, and altering the words to suit their causes, these were the short, pithy versions of an uprising that may have succeeded, but most often did not.
They were rarely recorded for posterity, as the symphonies or popular songs of the upper classes are. And because they were mostly in the oral tradition, or worse, the singers were rebels who were killed, those which have miraculously survived are all the more precious. They have been passed down from generation to generation, or dug out of obscure texts by enthusiasts who recreated the tunes and put the songs back into circulation.
However these songs got here, we should cherish them. The reason they were not on the hit parades and are not taught in your university literature or folklore classes is that they are still dangerous. They plant a seed that if nurtured, may just someday accomplish what their progenitors hoped for.
Jerzy Smokey Dymny,
All Hallows Eve, 2005 A.D.
Box 745, Quathiaski Cove,BC, V0P 1N0,
Smokey’s voice is a pork chop with a little bit of road dirt - Art Farquharson
Many thanks to Smokey Dymny for permission to add this article to the Union Songs website.
Find some of Smokey's songs in this collection.
Visit Smoky's blog at http://smokeydymny.blogspot.com/
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union songs..........a selection by mark gregory