Henry's Songbook

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Mothers Daughters Wives

  • (Judy Small)

       The first time it was fathers
       The last time it was sons
       And in between your husbands
       Marched away with drums and guns
       And you never thought to question
       You just went on with your lives
       'Cause all they taught you who to be
       Was mothers, daughters, wives

    You can only just remember the tears your mothers shed
    As they sat and read their papers through the lists and lists of dead
    And the gold frames held the photographs that mothers kissed each night
    And the doorframe held the shocked and silent stranger from the fight

    It was twenty-one years later with children of your own
    The trumpets sounded once again, the soldier boys were gone
    So you made their guns and drove their trucks and tended to their wounds
    And at night you kissed their photographs and prayed for safe returns
    And after it was over you had to learn again
    To be just wives and mothers when you'd done the work of men
    So you worked to help the needy and you never trod on toes
    The photos on the pianos struck a happy family pose 

    Then your daughters grew to women and your little boys to men
    And you prayed that you were dreaming when the call-up came again
    But you proudly smiled and held your tears as they bravely waved goodbye
    The photos on the mantelpiece, they always made you cry
    And now you're getting older, and in time the photos fade
    And in widowhood you sit back and reflect on the parade
    Of the passing of your memories, how your daughters changed their lives
    Seeing more to our existence than just mothers, daughters, wives

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1970:] Before taking this job in the paint-shop [of the Cowlairs railway shop, my mother] had worked a machine at Hyde Park, where they made the big locomotives. She was very proud of her skill with the strong steel shapes, and sad when they had to sack all the women workers to make room for the men who needed the jobs. They made no fuss, the widows, at being ousted in this way. They accepted the fact that in normal conditions man was the breadwinner, and quietly looked elsewhere for work. (Weir 123)

  • [1986:] Written in 1982. I wrote this song for my mother (though not all its details are true for her), and for all the women of her generation who, it seemed to me, spent a large part of their lives waiting for their menfolk to come home from war. They were the women whose work during World War II showed us that women could do any kind of job and were perfectly capable of independence. For that example, although they had little choice at the time, my generation is grateful to them and I hope we have learned the lesson well. This remains my favourite of all my songs. (Judy Small Songbook 53)

  • [1986:] We met Judy in a club in Sydney where she sang this song which challenges the traditional role of women in times of war AND peace. (Notes McCalmans, 'Peace and Plenty')

  • [1988:] During the war women took on a myriad of tasks. Some took over their husbands' jobs and became blacksmiths, paper-hangers and grave-diggers. Others were drawn into nonmanual trades where women rarely worked: witness women dentists, ambulance- drivers and switch-pillar inspectors. In addition, banks and offices employed women tellers and clerks to do jobs traditionally reserved for men. These were instances of substitution in the domestic economy. But women were also required to help out in munitions production. It must be remembered that munitions meant more than guns and bullets; the term came to encompass virtually everything the armies needed.

    [...] These changes elicited much anxious comment at the time. Employing women on jobs traditionally done by men presented a challenge to traditional sex roles. Some concerned voices were raised about the moral dangers of industrial work, the physical risks to the health of women, and the prospect of child neglect presented by the full-time labor of mothers. These (usually male) commentators [...] both understated the degree of women's industrial work in the pre-war period and overstated the change caused by the war. The French case illustrates this point. [...] In some areas, such as in metallurgy, fully a quarter of the labor force was female in 1918, compared to a twentieth in 1914. But this was the exception, not the rule. Elsewhere the proportion of women in the labor force did not go up much. Roughly 35 percent of the labor force was female in 1914; during the war, the figure rose to about 40 percent.

    The same can be said of Germany. Women workers were recruited not from those previously unoccupied, but rather from those who had already been in paid labor elsewhere in the economy. Thus it is best to regard with considerable skepticism the numerous statements made during the war about its "revolutionary" effects on women's work.

    After the Armistice, older patterns were restored in industry. In contrast, lasting gains in opportunities were registered in the clerical and commercial sectors. In Britain the female labor force in commerce rose by 400,000 during the war, and stayed high in the postwar years. [...] Many [women] recall the sociability of the job, and the satisfaction of learning new skills. But others recall the long hours and the double burden of paid work and unpaid child-minding and housework, which meant queuing up for scarce supplies either before or after working hours. (J.M. Winter, The Experience of World War I, p. 173f)

  • [1991:] Written for my mother and her friends after watching a T.V. programme on World War I. The people shown and interviewed were all men. (Judy Small, intro Tønder)

  • german [1995:] Ich sollte in einem traditionellen Folkclub in Sydney für eine Freundin einspringen. [Deshalb] dachte ich mir, ich lerne besser ein paar traditionelle Lieder. Ich machte mich also auf die Suche nach traditionellen Liedern über Frauen, mußte aber feststellen, daß es so etwas in der australischen Folkmusik praktisch nicht gab. Die australische Tradition kennt nur zwei Lieder über Frauen, eins über Sträflinge, das andere über eine Schlacht zwischen Sträflingen.
    Um diese Lücke zu füllen, fing ich zu schreiben an. [...] Ich schreibe erst seit 1980 eigene Lieder. [...] Am Jahresende fand ich Notizen zu vier oder fünf Liedern vor, die ich bisher nicht verwertet hatte. Ich setzte mich übers Wochenende ab und schrieb fünf Lieder, darunter Mothers, Daughters, Wives und Mary Parker's Lament. Diese beiden gehören für mich noch heute zu meinen besten Sachen. (Judy Small, Folk Michel 1/95, S. 13)

Quelle: Australia

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28.05.2002, aktualisiert am 16.06.2010