Music

Reclaim the Song Book!

The Socialist Song Book is a superb website containing the words to many of the classics of the American labour movement including ‘Joe Hill’ and ‘There is Power in a Union’.

Delightfully it also has a section entitled Satirical and Sectarian Songs which includes songs such as In Old Moscow which mocks the twists and turns of the (Communist) Party Line after the Hitler-Stalin pact.

Here’s a short sample (to the tune of Clementine):

Leon Trotsky was a Nazi;
Oh, we knew it for a fact.
Pravda said it; we all read It,
BEFORE the Stalin-Hitler Pact.

Oh, my darling, oh, my darling,
Oh, my darling party line;
Oh, I never will desert you,
For I love this life of mine.

I revisited the songbook site after a reader sent an email with a great contemporary reworking of In Old Moscow:

In a palace close to Baghdad
In 1989,
Lived a bad lad who was mad lad,
So said the party line.

Oh my darling, Oh my darling,
Oh my darling party line,
It’s principled and invincibled,
Oh it never will decline.

He was a fascist and a hoodlum,
Sponsored by the USA,
We denounced him, we would trounce him
We would make him run away.

But what a blow, what a shock
What an awkward twist of fate,
The Nazi turned working classy
When he marched into Kuwait.

Now Saddam and all his armies
Have abandoned all their tanks
But we’re appalled at a tyrant’s fall
When it’s done by the Yanks

Oh you Kurds and oh you Shia
Learn the moral of this song
Don’t cheer us, my dear, as
We don’t hang around for long.

So comrades, inspired by this I think it is time we reclaimed the song book and especially updated the satirical and sectarian chapters.

Send in your songs via the comments box, or even better via email and I’ll add them to this post as we create our own little songbook. Who knows if we get enough we can publish it and sell it outside Stop the War meetings.

I’ve contributed one of my own to get the ball rolling, click below and imagine Billy Bragg singing it:


WHICH SIDE ARE YOU ON?

Saddam had killed the communists,
The socialists and democrats,
He’d gassed the Kurds and drained the marsh
And said “if you didn’t die you’re going to jail”

Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?

The Americans had an idea
It was time to go to war
But it seems like it’s illegal
To fight fascist terror anymore

And which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?

So while they fought for Iraqi freedom,
The comrades said “turn your back”,
We’ll go on the streets and protest
Did you hear the scabs say “Sod you, Iraq”?

And which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on, boys
Which side are you on?

Now Saddam is in his bunker
His statue has been pulled down
And it’ll take much more than Stop the War
To knock the fight out of an Iraqi man

And which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?
Which side are you on, boys?
Which side are you on?

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