Labor Songs for Labor Day, plus the Johnny Cash Show!
Written by Randy Black on August 31, 2016
Viking Twang Show 99, August 31, 2016
Good morning, welcome to Viking Twang Episode 99, on the first of the Twang’s first century! Hope you’re having a good summer as we go into that final stretch before classes start in about a month.
Labor Day weekend is coming up, so we’re going to salute the heroes of the labor movement with songs from a Smithsonian Folkways album called Classic Labor Songs. But first, we’ll get glitzy with performances from the late 60s summer replacement variety show hosted by the Man In Black himself, Johnny Cash.
1 – Turkey Red, W.C. Beck & the Portland Country Underground.2 – Belshazzar; Johnny Cash with the Carter Family and the Statler Brothers. The show’s usual backing bands, with Johnny’s wife June, sisters-in-law Helen and Anita Carter, and on the autoharp, his mother-in-law Maybelle Carter. From March 17, 1971.
3 – Detroit City; Bobby Bare. Bare had his first hit with this song in 1963; it was written by country songwriters Danny Dill and Mel Tillis. He sang this October 14, 1970.
4 – Fire and Rain; James Taylor. His first hit; this was on the Feb. 17, 1971 episode.
5 – It’s Too Late; Derek & the Dominoes. They performed this on Jan. 6, 1971.
6 – Loving Her Was Easier; Kris Kristopherson. His first hit, this is from Oct. 28, 1970.
7 – She Thinks I Still Care Medley; George Jones. From the Jan. 28, 1971 episode.
8—Tammy Wynette; Stand My Your Man. George and Tammy were both on that episode, when they were still married.
The American Labor Movement always knew that great music was a vital part of the struggle. These are from a Smithsonian Folkways album released in 2006.
9 – The Preacher and the Slave; Utah Phillips. This was written by labor martyr Joe Hill and recorded by Utah in 1971.
10 – Talking Union; the Almanac Singers. The Almanacs was an early-40s folk group founded by Millard Lampell, Lee Hays, Pete Seeger, and Woody Guthrie, but had many other great folk singers with them. It was recorded in 1955.
11 – Casey Jones (Union Scab), Pete Seeger and the Almanac Singers. This is another Joe Hill song from the Little Red Songbook of the International Workers of the World, who were known as the Wobblies. It’s also from 1955.
12 – 1913 Massacre. Woody Guthrie. Seventy-three people were crushed to death during a Christmas party attended by striking copper mine workers and their families in Calumet, Michigan, when somebody called a false fire alarm.
13 – Which Side Are You On? Florence Reese and the Almanac Singers. Reece wrote this song in 1931 during a coal mining strike in West Virginia. Sheriff J.H. Blair kept her and her children hostage one night while looking for her activist husband. When he left, she immediately wrote this song.
14 – Aragon Mill; Peggy Seeger. Si Kahn wrote this song in the 1970s about the closer of a mill in Georgia. Seeger was Mike Seeger’s sister and Pete’s half-sister.
15 – Black Lung, Hazel Dickens. Hazel grew up in the coal mining regions of West Virginia and waslong active in labor issues there. She first recorded this in 1971.
16 – Joe Hill; Paul Robeson. Joe Hill was a labor activist who was executed for the murder of agrocer in Salt Lake City in 1915, despite having an alibi. Alfred Hayes wrote a tribute poem in 1930 and Earl Robinson turned it into a song in 1936. Robeson was a singer, actor, athlete and activist.
17 – We Do the Work, Jon Fromer. Fromer was a San Francisco based TV producer, labor activist,and member of the Freedom Song Network, a Bay Area group of musicians dedicated to social change.
18 – Twang Theme; Countrypolitans.
19 – Roll The Union On; John Handcox. Handcox was a tenant farmer and union activist fromArkansas. He wrote this in 1937.