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No movimento sindicalista dos Estados Unidos, há uma forte tradição de canções sindicalistas (union songs), ou seja, canções que abordam os temas sindicatos, luta por direitos dos trabalhadores e trabalhadoras, organização, mobilização etc. Muitas destas canções, especialmente as compostas na primeira metade do século XX, se tornaram clássicos e são entoadas até hoje em encontros sindicais, manifestações e comemorações.

Muito colaborou para esta tradição, a criação da Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), também chamada de The Wobblies, uma organização sindicalista fundada em Chicago, em 1905, e junta trabalhadores e trabalhadoras dos mais diversos setores em uma mesma organização. A IWW, desde sua fundação, quando o compositor Joe Hill adaptava canções cristãs com letras de protesto, tem entre seus membros grandes compositores/cantores de canções de protesto. Estas canções foram, inclusive, compiladas em um livro chamado Little Red Songbook (Pequeno Livro Vermelho de Canções), lançado originalmente em 1909 e relançado posteriormente diversas vezes incluindo outras canções.

Estas canções são em sua maioria tocadas e cantadas no estilo folk, com violão e gaita, porém muitas canções sobre os direitos dos trabalhadores ficaram famosas em vozes de artistas consagrados e bastante conhecidos.

Nesta série de postagens, dividida em três, vamos apresentar alguns (poucos) dos principais compositores/cantores/intérpretes destas canções sindicalistas e algumas das suas principais canções, além de algumas canções já conhecidas do grande público e que falam da mesma temática. A lista é imensa e o objetivo da postagem é apenas servir de base para que quem não conhece estas canções, possa ter como começar a pesquisar sobre e aí sim conhecer a vasta obra dos vários e várias artistas. As postagens serão assim divididas:

1ª parte – autores (as), escritores (as) e poetas que fizeram suas carreiras principalmente na primeira metade do século XX.
2ª parte – autores (as), escritores (as) e poetas que fizeram sua carreira principalmente na segunda metade do século XX até atualmente.
3ª parte – canções de autores (as), escritores (as) e poetas que são conhecidos do grande público.

           

Talvez o mais lendário dos compositores de canções sindicalistas seja Joe Hill, que foi membro da IWW de 1910 até ser executado por fuzilamento em 1915. Joe Hill escreveu muitas canções e adaptações, que foram gravadas por diversos cantores e cantoras posteriormente. Outro membro da IWW que escreveu canções que se tornaram hinos do sindicalismo americano foi Ralph Chaplin, que inclusive é creditado como sendo o criador do logo do gato preto do anarcossindicalismo. Ele escreveu, entre outras músicas, Solidarity Forever, talvez a canção mais conhecida  e cantada sobre sindicalismo.

Outro artista muito relacionado às canções sindicalistas, bem como canções políticas sobre outros temas, é Peter Seeger. Peter Seeger participou do grupo Almanac Singers. Junto com outros integerantes deste grupo compôs diversas músicas pró-sindicalismo. Outros importantes membros do Almanac Singers foram Woody Guthrie, Lee Hays, entre outros. Diversos membros do Almanac Singers compuseram diversas canções sindicalistas muito conhecidas como Union Train, Union Maid e Talking Union. Outra famosa canção sobre sindicatos é Which Side Are You On, composta por Florence Reece para seu marido, trabalhador de minas e organizado em sindicatos. A seguir, o vídeo e a letra de algumas canções foram postas, além de algumas sugestões de pesquisa.

Outras canções/poemas que podem ser pesquisados são:

Bread and Roses por James Oppenheim
Dump The Bosses of Your Back por John Brill (IWW)
Pie in the Sky por Joe Hill
Roll the Union On por Almanac Singers
1913 Massacre por Woody Guthrie
Cotton Mill Colic por David McCarn

Joe Hill – We Will Sing One Song

Cantada aqui por artista desconhecido.

We will sing one song of the meek and humble slave,
The horn-handed son of the toil,
He’s toiling hard from the cradle to the grave,
But his master reaps the profits from his toil.
Then we’ll sing one song of the greedy master class,
They’re vagrants in broadcloth, indeed,
They live by robbing the ever-toiling mass,
Human blood they spill to satisfy their greed.

Refrão:
Organize! Oh, toilers, come organize your might;
Then we’ll sing one song
Of the workers’ commonwealth.
Full of beauty, full of love and health.

We will sing one song of the politician sly,
He’s talking of changing the laws;
Election day all the drinks and smokes he’ll buy,
While he’s living from the sweat of your brow.
Then we’ll sing one song of the girl below the line,
She’s scorned and despised everywhere,
While in their mansions the “keepers” wine and dine
From the profits that immoral traffic bear.

We will sing one song of the preacher, fat and sleek,
He tells you of homes in the sky.
He says, “Be generous, be lowly, and be meek,
If you don’t you’ll sure get roasted when you die.”
Then we’ll sing one song of the poor and ragged tramp,
He carries his home on his back;
Too old to work, he’s not wanted ‘round the camp,
So he wanders without aim along the track.

We will sing one song of the children in the mills,
They’re taken from playgrounds and schools,
In tender years made to go the pace that kills,
In the sweatshops, ‘mong the looms and the spools.
Then we’ll sing one song of the One Big Union Grand,
The hope of the toiler and slave,
It’s coming fast; it is sweeping sea and land,
To the terror of the grafter and the knave.

Joe Hill – Rebel Girl

Canção escrita em homenagem à militante da IWW Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. Cantada por Mats Paulson.

There are women of many descriptions
In this queer world, as everyone knows.
Some are living in beautiful mansions,
And are wearing the finest of clothes.
There are blue blooded queens and princesses,
Who have charms made of diamonds and pearl;
But the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

Refrão:
That’s the Rebel Girl, that’s the Rebel Girl!
To the working class she’s a precious pearl.
She brings courage, pride and joy
To the fighting Rebel Boy.
We’ve had girls before, but we need some more
In the Industrial Workers of the World.
For it’s great to fight for freedom
With a Rebel Girl.

Yes, her hands may be hardened from labor,
And her dress may not be very fine;
But a heart in her bosom is beating
That is true to her class and her kind.
And the grafters in terror are trembling
When her spite and defiance she’ll hurl;
For the only and thoroughbred lady
Is the Rebel Girl.

Joe Hill – There is Power in a Union

Cantada aqui por Utah Phillips. É uma adaptação da canção religiosa “There Is Power In The Blood of The Lamb

Would you have freedom from wage slavery,
Then join in the grand Industrial band;
Would you from mis’ry and hunger be free,
Then come! Do your share, like a man.

Refrão:
There is pow’r, there is pow’r
In a band of workingmen.
When they stand hand in hand,
That’s a pow’r, that’s a pow’r
That must rule in every land —
One Industrial Union Grand.

Would you have mansions of gold in the sky,
And live in a shack, way in the back?
Would you have wings up in heaven to fly,
And starve here with rags on your back?

If you’ve had “nuff” of “the blood of the lamb,”
Then join in the grand Industrial band;
If, for a change, you would have eggs and ham.
Then come! Do your share, like a man.

If you like sluggers to beat off your head,
Then don’t organize, all unions despise,
If you want nothing before you are dead,
Shake hands with your boss and look wise.

Come, all ye workers, from every land,
Come join in the grand Industrial band.
Then we our share of this earth shall demand.
Come on! Do your share, like a man.

Ralph Chaplin – Solidarity Forever

Cantada aqui por Peter Seeger.

When the union’s inspiration through the workers blood shall run
There can be no power greater anywhere beneath the sun
Yet what force on Earth is weaker than the feeble force of one but
The union makes us strong

Refrão:
Solidarity Forever
Solidarity Forever
Solidarity Forever
For the union makes us strong

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might
Is there anything left to us but to organize and fight? For…
The union makes us strong

It is we who plowed the prairies, build the cities where they trade
Dug the mines and build the workshops, endless miles of RR laid
Now we stand outcast and starving ‘mid the wonders we have made but
The union makes us strong

They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn
We can break their haughty power, gain our freedom when we learn that
The union makes us strong

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold
Greater than the might of armies magnified a thousand-fold
We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old for
But the union makes us strong

Peter Seeger – Talking Union

Composta com Lee Hays e Millard Campbell, membros do Almanac Brothers.

If you want higher wages, let me tell you what to do;
You got to talk to the workers in the shop with you;
You got to build you a union, got to make it strong,
But if you all stick together, now, ‘twont he long.
You’ll get shorter hours,
Better working conditions.
Vacations with pay,
Take your kids to the seashore.

It ain’t quite this simple, so I better explain
Just why you got to ride on the union train;
‘Cause if you wait for the boss to raise your pay,
We’ll all be waiting till Judgment Day;
We’ll all he buried – gone to Heaven –
Saint Peter’ll be the straw boss then.

Now, you know you’re underpaid, hut the boss says you ain’t;
He speeds up the work till you’re ‘bout to faint,
You may he down and out, but you ain’t beaten,
Pass out a leaflet and call a meetin’
Talk it over – speak your mind –
Decide to do something about it.

‘Course, the boss may persuade some poor damn fool
To go to your meeting and act like a stool;
But you can always tell a stool, though – that’s a fact;
He’s got a yellow streak running down his back;
He doesn’t have to stool – he’ll always make a good living
On what he takes out of blind men’s cups.

You got a union now; you’re sitting pretty;
Put some of the boys on the steering committee.
The boss won’t listen when one man squawks.
But he’s got to listen when the union talks.
He better –
He’ll be mighty lonely one of these days.

Suppose they’re working you so hard it’s just outrageous,
They’re paying you all starvation wages;
You go to the boss, and the boss would yell,
“Before I’d raise your pay I’d see you all in Hell.”
Well, he’s puffing a big see-gar and feeling mighty slick,
He thinks he’s got your union licked.
He looks out the window, and what does he see
But a thousand pickets, and they all agree
He’s a bastard – unfair – slave driver –
Bet he beats his own wife.

Now, boy, you’ve come to the hardest time;
The boss will try to bust your picket line.
He’ll call out the police, the National Guard;
They’ll tell you it’s a crime to have a union card.
They’ll raid your meeting, hit you on the head.
Call every one of you a goddamn Red –
Unpatriotic – Moscow agents –
Bomb throwers, even the kids.

But out in Detroit here’s what they found,
And out in Frisco here’s what they found,
And out in Pittsburgh here’s what they found,
And down in Bethlehem here’s what they found,
That if you don’t let Red-baiting break you up,
If you don’t let stool pigeons break you up,
If you don’t let vigilantes break you up,
And if you don’t let race hatred break you up –
You’ll win. What I mean,
Take it easy – but take it!

Woody Guthrie – Union Maid

Cantada aqui por Peter Seeger.

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come ‘round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union, I’m sticking to the union.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union ‘til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn’t be fooled by a company stool, she’d always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She’d show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she’d say

You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who’s a union man and join the ladies’ auxiliary.
Married life ain’t hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he’s got a union wife.

Woody Guthrie – Union Burying Ground

I see they’re low’ring a right new coffin,
I see they’re letting down a right new coffin,
Way over in that union burying ground.

And the new dirt’s a falling on a right new coffin,
The new dirt’s a falling on a right new coffin,
Way over in that union burying ground.

Oh, tell me, who’s that they’re letting down, down?
Tell me, who’s that they’re letting down, down?
Way over in that union burying ground.

Another union organizer,
Another union organizer,
Way over in that union burying ground.

A union brother and a union sister,
A union brother and a union sister,
Way over in that union burying ground.

A union father and a union mother,
A union father and a union mother,
Way over in that union burying ground.

Well, I’m a gonna sleep in a union coffin,
I’m a gonna sleep in a union coffin,
Way over in that union burying ground.

Every new grave brings a thousand new ones,
Every new grave brings a thousand members,
Way over in that union burying ground.

Every new grave brings a thousand brothers,
And every new grave brings a thousand sisters
To the union in that union burying ground.

Woody Guthrie – This Land is Your Land

Letra feita em cima da melodia de “God Bless America” de Irving Berlin.

Refrão:
This land is your land, this land is my land
From California, to the New York Island
From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters
This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway
I saw above me an endless skyway
I saw below me a golden valley
This land was made for you and me

I’ve roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts
And all around me a voice was sounding
This land was made for you and me

The sun comes shining as I was strolling
The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling
The fog was lifting a voice come chanting
This land was made for you and me

As I was walkin’ – I saw a sign there
And that sign said – no tress passin’
But on the other side …. it didn’t say nothin!
Now that side was made for you and me!

In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple
Near the relief office – I see my people
And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’
If this land’s still made for you and me.

Lee Hays – Union Train

Cantada aqui pelos Almanac Singers

Oh, what is that I see yonder coming, coming, coming?
Oh, what is that I see yonder coming, coming, coming?
What is that I see yonder coming, coming, coming?
Get on board! Get on board!

It’s that union train a-coming, coming, coming. (3x)
Get on board! Get on board!

It has saved a-many a thousand, thousand, thousand. (3x)
Get on board! Get on board!

It will carry us to freedom, freedom, freedom. (3x)
Get on board! Get on board!

What is that I see yonder coming, coming, coming? (3x)
Get on board! Get on board!

It’s that union train a-coming, coming, coming. (3x)
Get on board! Get on board!

Florence Reece – Which Side Are You On

Come all of you good workers
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how that good old union
Has come in here to dwell

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

My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son
And I’ll stick with the union
Till every battle’s won

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there
You’ll either be a union man
Or a thug for J.H. Blair

Oh, workers can you stand it?
Oh, tell me how you can
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?

Don’t scab for the bosses
Don’t listen to their lies
Us poor folks haven’t got a chance
Unless we organize