Saturday 12 March 2016

Woody Guthrie - Ludlow Massacre

  A question I sometime see asked is, who was the first punk? My answer is always Woody Guthrie. It's a question with no proper answer but I think mine is as valid as anyone's.

  From Okemah, Oklahoma, Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born in 1912 and had a tough childhood which saw the accidental death of his older sister, Clara, the institutionalization and then death of his mother and the financial ruin of his family. He became a travelling man, hiking and riding freight trains in search of labour in order to support his family, he observed the goings on around him during the Depression years and wrote songs about his experiences.

  Active in the New York folk scene, he was a protest singer with "THIS MACHINE KILLS FASCISTS" painted on his guitar. Hugely influential both through his music and his writing (check back tomorrow for proof of that) he was a voice of a generation who's message still resonates and is as relevant as ever . He suffered through his later years with Huntington's Chorea and eventually died on 3rd October 1967 in New York.

  He left a rich legacy, including the song you'll find below (one of his best) which is called Ludlow Massacre......

 It was early springtime when the strike was on
They drove us miners out of doors
Out from the houses that the Company owned
We moved into tents up at old Ludlow

I was worried bad about my children
Soldiers guarding the railroad bridge
Every once in a while a bullet would fly
Kick up gravel under my feet

We were so afraid you would kill our children
We dug us a cave that was seven foot deep
Carried our young ones and pregnant women
Down inside the cave to sleep

That very night your soldiers waited
Until all us miners were asleep
You snuck around our little tent town
Soaked our tents with your kerosene

You struck a match and in the blaze that started
You pulled the triggers of your gatling guns
I made a run for the children but the fire wall stopped me
Thirteen children died from your guns

I carried my blanket to a wire fence corner
Watched the fire till the blaze died down
I helped some people drag their belongings
While your bullets killed us all around

I never will forget the look on the faces
Of the men and women that awful day
When we stood around to preach their funerals
And lay the corpses of the dead away

We told the Colorado Governor to call the President
Tell him to call off his National Guard
But the National Guard belonged to the Governor
So he didn't try so very hard

Our women from Trinidad they hauled some potatoes
Up to Walsenburg in a little cart
They sold their potatoes and brought some guns back
And they put a gun in every hand

The state soldiers jumped us in a wire fence corners
They did not know we had these guns
And the Red-neck Miners mowed down these troopers
You should have seen those poor boys run

We took some cement and walled that cave up
Where you killed these thirteen children inside
I said, "God bless the Mine Workers' Union,"
And then I hung my head and cried

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