Which side are you on, boys? These are lyrics I remember "of all the girls in the whole wide world, I dedicate you this song. “They did not perform in costume, either of the concert stage or of the radio barn dance,” wrote Robert S. Cantwell in When We Were Good: The Folk Revival, “and yet their street clothes, in which they ordinarily appeared, ranged from pieces of business suits in various permutations and combinations to dungarees, workshirts, and construction boots….”, “Back where I come from, a family had two books,” remembered Arkansas-born Lee Hays. These folk artists collected and composed songs of the people, performed them in small clubs, union halls, and regional festivals, and made them available through recordings, virtually none of which were available to Florence Reece back in Kentucky. Jim Garland, another organizer and songwriter, immediately used it as a tool for protest. That’s right! They performed “Which Side Are You On?”, where it ultimately caught the ear of Pete Seeger. The struggle in Harlan County emerged from the depths of the economic crisis in the coal fields in the early 1930s, which produced successive wage cuts and layoffs for miners. It was released as the second single from the album. Support me on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/Feldmarschall_Friedrich This is a 1941 recording of "Which Side Are You On? "Always on Your Side" is a song by American singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow, and is featured on her 2005 album, Wildflower. Blair . We set out to join the picket line For together we cannot fail We got stopped by police at the county line They said, "Go home boys or you're going to jail" Which side are you on, boys? Now it’s our turn. She sings as an individual, without accompaniment or harmony. / Fire alarm wire’s disarmed, what do you call that? Later, together with Woody Guthrie, he formed The Almanac Singers and in 1941 they recorded “Which Side Are You On?”, something Seeger repeated 21 years later with his next band, The Weavers. Which Side Are You On? Which Side Are You On? Taylor Swift just dropped a new single called "Me!" View by: Highest Rated; Most Recent; Oldest First; 0. By the early 1940s, Seeger was changing the face of American popular culture. "Which Side Are You On?" Which Side Are You On? Exploring the meanings of songs since 2003. Become a Longreads Member for just $3 per month. “In the course of such fights, songs expressed people’s feelings in a manner that allowed them to stand together,” he said. Which Side Are You On?Song lyricsBy: Florence ReeceDate: 1931Source: Reece, Florence. Which side are you on? Which side are you on? Through the rolling years, “Which Side Are You On?” has been adapted and covered by myriad artists, including Dropkick Murphys and Ani DiFranco. Which side are you on? Oh workers can you stand it? on side supporting or part of the same team as someone else. Which side are you on? Florence Reece’s modal melody, an artifact of Appalachian fiddle music, has been incorporated and expanded. He penned some new lyrics in support of the National Maritime Union in 1947: The men who hate our union, they say we dodged the draft, Not one of those damn liars knows his forward from his aft. The miners responded by organizing a union. Oh tell me how you can? To understand the real meaning behind the song, you only need to look at its original name: “Vampires in Love”. Jim Garland, who brought “Which Side Are You On?” to New York, stayed and became part of the Greenwich Village folk scene, one largely founded by people like Seeger and Guthrie. “You have to be on one side or the other,” she once said. We hear harmonies now, as sympathetic as a friend, as organized as a union. Will you be a lousy scab Or will you be a man? First, Reece, singing her composition in later years. The new lyric has yet to be written, but the circumstances that will inspire it are with us daily. from the online English dictionary from Macmillan Education.. This story was funded by Longreads Members, Friends: We Need Your Help to Fund More Stories. In December, 1931, Garland and his cousin Aunt Molly Jackson travelled to New York to give concerts to raise money for the striking miners. 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Which side are you on? The next morning, Florence, in her words, “tore a sheet from a calendar on the wall,” and wrote a new lyric to an old melody. Be the first to know about new lyrics, song meanings & more! They sang folk songs — some they wrote and some learned from others — that were pro-union and anti-war. Which side are you on? Not only my own baby, but the neighbors’ babies. Which Side Are You On song meanings Add your thoughts No Comments. (Yes, you read that right.) on the side definition: 1. in addition to your main job: 2. secretly: 3. From Natalie's Merchant album "The House Carpenter's Daughter". You seed them starve to death too. He likes how one informs the other. “The Bible to help ’em to the next world. Lyrics: Come, all you good workers / Good news to you I'll tell / Of how the good old union / Has come in here to dwell / Which side are you on, boys? Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window), Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window), Click to share on Instapaper (Opens in new window), Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window). Reece’s performance is declarative and singular. Which side are you on? They certainly employed, to great effect, the Almanac Singers’ call and response arrangement, bringing altogether more church into the proceedings. Tom Maxwell is a writer and musician. sort form. “In Harlan County there wasn’t no neutral. The Pearl Harbor and the Explosions song "You Got It" was backed by "Busy Little B Side", also found on the Warner Bros. two-LP sampler, Troublemakers. A community has formed, and what they sing is as much indictment as encouragement. I first heard it in October 1965. The song was also adopted during the early 1960s by the black civil rights movement when The Freedom Singers gave it a hand-clapping, gospel feel and rewrote the lyrics. "Of the many songs born out of labor strife in America's coal camps, Florence Reece's classic 1931 union song "Which Side Are You On?" This is a song about the undead and their feelings. “I was home alone with our seven children. Which side are you on? It has been sung by people fighting for their rights all over the world. “Which Side Are You On?,” written from acute personal trauma, has been universalized, both in lyric and musical modality. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. Thus began a period of harassment and violence known as the Harlan County War, or more simply, Bloody Harlan. Oh, workers can you stand it? “In the course of such fights, songs expressed people’s feelings in a manner that allowed them to stand together,” he said. The Freedom Singers, a group formed by the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in 1962, rewrote the lyric to reflect their Civil Rights struggle. In every version, fearlessness defines her: ‘Your waist is slim and slender, your fingers they are small, Your cheeks too red and rosy to face a cannon ball’, ‘My waist, I know, is slender – my fingers they are small, But it would not make me tremble to see ten thousand fall’. It’s instructive to hear both versions. Come on come on come on if you're coming Come on come on come on Come on come on come on if you're coming Which side are you on? (Again, think of a Beatles song, with chord changes and harmonies.) After making its way out of Harlan County and into a New York recording studio, it got modified to fit the message of countless underdog protagonists. I think "Dark Side" is about just being you (the dark). / Which side are you … / Which side are you on? That's the night I met my wife. Now is the time to join us. is one of the best known. A History of American Protest Music: Which Side Are You On? The melody proved as durable as the lyrics proved malleable. 1997 Spectator And while clearly ‘on side’ with New Labour, he has never been a closely quartered insider. Oh workers can you stand it? It's hard to explain to a crying child Why her Daddy can't go back So the family suffer but it hurts me more To hear a scab say, "Sod you, Jack" Which side are you on, boys? Which Side Are You On ? Keep abreast of significant corporate, financial and political developments around the world. “Rather than walking up to a gun thug and saying, ‘You’re a bastard,’ which might have resulted in a shooting, we could express our anger much more easily in unison with song lyrics.”. / Which side are you on? Finally, we were blessed with “Side to Side,” a catchy pop tune featuring Nicki Minaj that’s all about having so much sex you can’t walk straight. Seeger had a knack for popularization. A powerful song written by the wife of a union organizer in 1931, popularized by the radical folk singer Pete Seeger and later adapted by the civil rights movement, perfectly expresses the moral question of our particular political moment: “Which Side Are You On?” I hear the refrain of that song in my mind each time I read about a fresh new horror in the ongoing crisis of On February 16, 1931, the Harlan County Coal Operators’ Association reduced their employees’ wages — already at subsistence level — by 10 percent. Now with a library of over 300,000 user-submitted interpretations, if you want a song interpreted, Lyric Interpretations is the place to be. Which side are you on? Which side are you on? commentary and analysis you can trust. The B-side of B. “Which Side Are You On?” quickly became an anthem in the union halls and picket lines. Which side are you on? Soon there was a general strike. Which side are you on, boys? Come all you good workers Good news to you i'll tell Of how the good old union Has come in here to dwell. Which side are you on? It was an alternative world, one informed by a mix of races and cultures and classes. The Almanac, to help ’em through the present world…We became the Almanac Singers.”. The chorus is a haunting response to his call, sung by a group of voices. It's hard to explain to a crying child Why her Daddy can't go back So the family suffer But it hurts me more To hear a scab say Sod you, Jack Which side are you on, boys? Come all of you poor workers, good news to you I’ll tell, Of how that good old union has come in here to dwell, If you go to Harlan County, there is no neutral there, You’ll either be a union man or a thug for JH Blair. Which side are you on? Which side are you on? The question renews itself as each generation struggles against inequality. “Which Side Are You On?” quickly became an anthem in the union halls and picket lines. Even though they didn’t change Reece’s original melody or lyric, the Almanac Singers took “Which Side Are You On?” from the personal to the universal. Definition and synonyms of whose side are you on? The melody for this song originated centuries ago in England, and is known as modal music. On your side definition: If something is on your side or if you have it on your side , it helps you when you are... | Meaning, pronunciation, translations and examples But he didn’t come home that night.”. We have to decide which side we are on: hate and exclusion, or justice, inclusion, and democracy? Lyrics: Come all of you good workers / Good news to you I'll tell / Of how the good ol' union / Has come in here to dwell / Which side are you on? Meaning of the famous line “Hello from the other side” Speaking with Rolling Stone about this famous line from the song, Adele said she was aware that the line sounds pretty morbid (as though she was no longer alive), but in reality, the line is basically about surviving your late teens and early twenties and transforming into a full blown adult. It always struck me that in this picture I look like I am not only of a different race, but of a different century, as though I were Emily Dickinson and had somehow wandered into the Bronx in the 1970’s. Traditional Irish and Scottish folk music, which became the basis for Appalachian folk music, is modal, and predates 1650. Change your default dictionary to American English. sort form. Which side are you on? And you can feel the generations swimming in your sea But you know that it's coming, as surely as the dawn The battle for the future, baby, which side are you on? General CommentThis sounds like such a brilliant re-invention of a classic protest song as only Ani could do! Mellow_Harsher submitted the album for The Jordan Lake Sessions: Volumes 1 and 2 by The Mountain Goats. My dady was a miner, And I'm a miner's son, He'll be with you fellow workers Until this battle's won. Although the Great Depression left no American untouched, those who lived in the penury of Kentucky coal country bore a greater burden. This is an ancient tune, also known as “Jack Monroe.” In most of its iterations, the song tells the story of a young woman who dresses like a man to find her lost lover in battle. Just as we were in the 1930s and ’60s, America is suffering a moral crisis. H.E.R. The Mountain Goats – The Jordan Lake Sessions: Volumes 1 and 2. They ransacked the whole house and then kept watch outside, waiting to shoot Sam down when he came back. There may indeed be one humanity; there may indeed be “no such thing as other people’s children,” but right now this world is binary, and we are called to choose. Grande confirmed this very meaning of the song to reporters at the MTV Video Music Awards, where the video premiered. (of food in a restaurant) served on another…. Songfacts - the stories and meanings behind the songs, with songwriter interviews and lyrics. You had to be.” She is asking us to decide, because even if the idea of community, in the form of a union, was comforting, the reality is that people were being picked off one by one. “Sheriff J.H. Because some people are afraid of the dark,and some people are afraid to be themselves,so I think the light is suppose to be representing a cover some peoople put on to hide who they really are. So to you I dedicate this song, please teach me the right from wrong. Lyrics: Who let the torch passed fall in the tall grass? Modal music doesn’t have a key or chords in the way we would understand from, say, a Beatles song. Talking Union was recorded in the same Central Park studio in May, 1941, and released on Keynote records in July. Which side are you on, boys Which side are you on? Which side are you on? song meanings Add your thoughts 1 Comment. They say in Harlan County There are no neutrals there You'll either be a union man Or a thug for J.H. Stay informed and spot emerging risks and opportunities with independent global reporting, expert View by: Highest Rated; Most Recent; Oldest First; No Comments Add your thoughts. Which side are you on? Will you be a lousy scab Or will you be a man? Finally, we were blessed with “Side to Side,” a catchy pop tune featuring Nicki Minaj that’s all about having so much sex you can’t walk straight. My daddy was a miner And I'm a miner's son And I'll stick with the union Till every battle's won . in 1931 during an especially violent strike. He formed a band called the Almanac Singers with folk hero Woody Guthrie and singers Lee Hays and Millard Lampell. Which side are you on? Will you join the Ku Klux Klan or Martin Luther King? “Which Side Are You On?” was the last of its six songs. It's an R&B song but I don"t know if it is a group or solo artist or even if it's male or female. Which side are you on? Learn more. 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? It’s axiomatic: In hard times, the vulnerable suffer most. If you could look at the photo, you would see one girl in the line of dark-skinned Latinas to the far right looking down, and that is me, sticking out as usual. The actual say is: "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar" This means that it is easier to persuade people if you use polite arguments and flattery than if you are confrontational. We want to dramatically increase our story fund this year, but we can't do it without your support. Florence's husband Sam was a coal miner in Kentucky. The Almanac Singers’ version of “Which Side Are You On?” is an example of tonal music. The first Almanac Singers album, Songs for John Doe, sold well enough in Communist bookstores to merit a new record. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! Which side are you on? Which side are you on? The sheriff’s department acted as enforcers for the mine operators. Which side are you on? Which side are you on? and while many might be thinking the song is all about her, it's actually so much more than that. Remember, it was he who changed “I Will Overcome” to “We Shall Overcome.” Seeger also identified “Which Side Are You On?” as being pliable to other applications. Reece couldn’t have known that what she created would become the most durable anthem of the labor movement, and a template for protest songs for decades to come. Oh tell me how you can? “In the early thirties I had one of my babies starve to death,” recalled Kentucky singer Sarah Ogan Gunning in Voices From the Mountains. This is the British English definition of whose side are you on?.View American English definition of whose side are you on?.. A listen to an a capella version of “Ho Lily Ho” by Appalachian singer Sarah Hawkes reveals the song’s origin. In Levon Helm's autobiography This Wheel's On Fire: Levon Helm And The Story Of The Band, he explained: "We had two or three tunes, or pieces of tunes, and 'The Weight' was one I would work on. She sings to us as a group of individuals, each with a decision to make. Which side are you on? Log in now to tell us what you think this song means. Which side are you on? Jim Garland, another organizer and songwriter, immediately used it as a tool for protest. A. Robertson's 1979 single "Goosebumps" is entitled "The B-Side" and contains lyrics from the song's point of view. “ the Bible to help ’ em through the present world…We became the basis for Appalachian folk music Which. Singers ’ call and response arrangement, bringing altogether more church into proceedings... ”, where the Video premiered now with a library of over 300,000 user-submitted interpretations, you. Create your own which side are you on song meaning at WordPress.com arrow-right, Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty.! In Kentucky we ca n't do it without your support of bullets ransacked the whole house then. Lyrics I remember `` of all the girls in the same team as someone else do. 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