Henry's Songbook

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Which Side Are You On

  • (Trad / Florence Reece / ad. Dick Gaughan)

    Which side are you on?
    Which side are you on?

    Come all you good people you women and you men
    Once more our backs are to the wall we're being attacked again

    We fought a million battles to defend our hard-won rights
    And we're going to have to fight again and I ask you here tonight

    Thatcher sent MacGregor to smash the NUM
    And break the workers' unity, and I ask you once again

    The Tories rant and tear their hair and shout, Democracy
    But the kind the Tories have in mind is not for you or me

    And their screaming about ballots is pure hypocrisy
    If they care so much for ballots what about the GLC

    By bully boys in uniforms and thugs with riot shields
    Our comrades' blood is being shed and still they will not yield

    It's time for a decision and you really have to choose
    Support the miners' struggle, or the next in line is you

    (as sung by Dick Gaughan)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • english [1961:] Mrs. Florence Reece, wife of a rank and file organizer for the old National Miner's Union in Harlan County, Kentucky, 1931, was at home one day when the High Sheriff J. H. Blair and his "deputies" ("they were really company gun thugs" she related) came to her house. One of her little girls started to cry. "What you crying for?" said a deputy. "We ain't after you; we're after your old man." They poked their rifles into closets, under beds, even into piles of dirty clothes, and finally left. Mrs. Reece tore an old calendar off the wall and wrote these now famous verses [of the original]. She fitted it to an old hymn tune, and her little girls used to sing it at the union hall. (Seeger, Ballads 94)

  • english [1965:] In 1931, in Kentucky coal-mining country, at the height of the bloody strikes and union organizing drives of the period, a miner's wife, Mrs. Florence Reece, wrote what became one of the great labor song classics [...]. For her stirring and powerful song, Mrs. Reece borrowed the tune of an old Baptist hymn, Lay the Lily Low. At the same time, in the same place, Aunt Molly Jackson wrote the song [I Am a Union Woman] to the identical tune. Whether she was inspired by Florence Reece or vice versa - or whether it should just be chalked up as a folk coincidence, we'll never know. (Reprint Sing Out 8, 117)

  • german [1977:] Dieses sehr bekannte amerikanische Gewerkschaftslied geht auf folgenden Vorfall zurück: 1931 streikten die Bergarbeiter in Harlan County, Kentucky. Die Minenbesitzer gingen hart gegen die Streikenden vor. Zwölf Bergarbeiter wurden von der korrupten Polizei verhaftet und erschossen. Als der Gewerkschaftsführer Sam Reece von seiner bevorstehenden Verhaftung erfuhr, flüchtete er. Sheriff J. H. Blair und seine Männer durchsuchten das Haus, fanden aber nur seine Frau Florence und die beiden Töchter vor. Vor Wut zerstörten sie die Einrichtung. Nachdem sie gegangen waren, schrieb Florence diese Verse zur Melodie einer alten Baptistenhymne auf die Rückseite eines heruntergefallenen Kalenders. (Liederkiste 22)

  • english [1985:] As Edinburgh is in the middle of the Lothian coalfield and this concert was given during the Miners' Strike, I put these new words to Florence Reece's Harlan County strike anthem from the 30s. Ken Loach used it later on for his film about the miners, "Which Side Are You On?" which was nearly never shown - what price our free media? Well fought, Ken. (Notes Dick Gaughan, 'Live In Edinburgh')

Quelle: USA / Scotland

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