viernes, 23 de marzo de 2012

Woody Guthrie - 1913 Massacre

"1913 Massacre" is a topical ballad written by Woody Guthrie, and recorded and released in 1941 for Moses Asch's Folkways label. The song originally appeared on Struggle: Documentary No. 1, an album of labor songs [...]

Woody started writing this song around 1941. According to Pete Seeger he had the idea of the song after reading about the Italian Hall disaster in Mother Bloor's autobiography, which was titled We Are Many, which was published in 1940. Guthrie's own notes indicate that he got the idea for the song "from the life of Mother Bloor", who was an eyewitness to the events at Italian Hall on Christmas Eve, 1913. A socialist and a labor organizer from the East Coast, Bloor was in Calumet working on the miners' behalf with the Ladies Auxiliary of the Western Federation of Miners. She was greatly assisted in this work by Annie Clemenc, also known as Big Annie of Calumet – the "lady" in Woody's song who hollers "'there's no such a thing! / Keep on with your party, there's no such a thing.'" Bloor tells the story of the Calumet strike and the Italian Hall disaster in the first half of a chapter called "Massacre of the Innocents." She devotes the second half of the chapter to events in Ludlow, Colorado in 1914, the subject of another Woody Guthrie song — "Ludlow Massacre."


Dylan performed "1913 Massacre" at Carnegie Hall in 1961. He had been working with Woody during the late winter of that year. Apparently Woody had made him aware of the song's connection (via Bloor's book) to "Ludlow Massacre"; Dylan identified "1913 Massacre" as "one of a group of two" songs. Later, he set his own tribute to Woody Guthrie —"Song To Woody" — to the tune of "1913 Massacre."


The song revolves around a tragedy that took place on December 24, 1913, in Calumet's Italian Hall. Over five hundred striking miners and their families had gathered at the Hall for a Christmas party that night. The hall could only be accessed by a steep stairway; along with a poorly-marked fire escape which could only be reached by climbing out of the windows, the stairway was the only available exit.
During the course of the party, somebody shouted "fire!", although there was no fire. However, people began to panic en masse, and rushed towards the stairway. While trying to all make their way down stairs, seventy-three people were trampled to death, fifty-nine of which were children.

Wikipedia: 1913 Massacre

Twenty witnesses testified under oath and were offered interpreters. Eight witnesses swore that the man who first raised the cry of "fire" was wearing a Citizens Alliance button on his coat.

Twenty witnesses testified under oath and were offered interpreters. Eight witnesses swore that the man who first raised the cry of "fire" was wearing a Citizens Alliance button on his coat.


(the "Alliance"). The Alliance was funded by mine management and actively opposed the union and the strike.


Charles Moyer, president of the Western Federation of Miners, [...] announced that the Alliance was responsible for the catastrophe, claiming that an Alliance agent yelled the word “fire”. Members of The Alliance subsequently assaulted Moyer in nearby Hancock, then shot and kidnapped him. They placed him on a train with instructions to leave the state and never return. After getting medical attention in Chicago (and holding a press conference where he displayed his gunshot wound) he returned to Michigan to continue the work of the WFM.

The Italian Hall has since been demolished [...]

The event was memorialized by Woody Guthrie in the song "1913 Massacre", which claims that the doors were held shut on the outside by thugs.

Wikipedia: Italian Hall disaster

1913 Massacre
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

Take a trip with me in 1913,
To Calumet, Michigan, in the copper country.
I will take you to a place called Italian Hall,
Where the miners are having their big Christmas ball.

I will take you in a door and up a high stairs,
Singing and dancing is heard everywhere,
I will let you shake hands with the people you see,
And watch the kids dance around the big Christmas tree.

You ask about work and you ask about pay,
They'll tell you they make less than a dollar a day,
Working the copper claims, risking their lives,
So it's fun to spend Christmas with children and wives.

There's talking and laughing and songs in the air,
And the spirit of Christmas is there everywhere,
Before you know it you're friends with us all,
And you're dancing around and around in the hall.

Well a little girl sits down by the Christmas tree lights,
To play the piano so you gotta keep quiet,
To hear all this fun you would not realize,
That the copper boss' thug men are milling outside.

The copper boss' thugs stuck their heads in the door,
One of them yelled and he screamed, "there's a fire,"
A lady she hollered, "there's no such a thing.
Keep on with your party, there's no such thing."

A few people rushed and it was only a few,
"It's just the thugs and the scabs fooling you,"
A man grabbed his daughter and carried her down,
But the thugs held the door and he could not get out.

And then others followed, a hundred or more,
But most everybody remained on the floor,
The gun thugs they laughed at their murderous joke,
While the children were smothered on the stairs by the door.

Such a terrible sight I never did see,
We carried our children back up to their tree,
The scabs outside still laughed at their spree,
And the children that died there were seventy-three.

The piano played a slow funeral tune,
And the town was lit up by a cold Christmas moon,
The parents they cried and the miners they moaned,
"See what your greed for money has done."

2 comentarios:

  1. Tome un viaje conmigo en 1913,
    Para Calumet, Michigan, en el país de cobre.
    Te llevaré a un lugar llamado Salón italiano,
    Cuando los mineros están teniendo su gran bola de Navidad.

    Te llevaré en una puerta y sube las escaleras altas,
    El canto y el baile se escucha en todas partes,
    Voy a dejar que te dan la mano con la gente que ves,
    Y ver la danza los niños alrededor del gran árbol de Navidad.

    Usted pregunta acerca del trabajo y te pregunta acerca de pagar,
    Ellos te dicen que ganan menos de un dólar al día,
    Trabajo de las reclamaciones de cobre, arriesgando sus vidas,
    Así que es divertido para pasar la Navidad con los niños y las mujeres.

    No está hablando y riendo y canciones en el aire,
    Y el espíritu de la Navidad está ahí por todas partes,
    Antes de que te des cuenta que eres amigo de todos nosotros,
    Y usted está bailando alrededor y alrededor en la sala.

    Pues una niña se sienta junto a las luces del árbol de Navidad,
    Para tocar el piano así que tienes que callar,
    Para escuchar toda esta diversión no te das cuenta,
    Que los hombres del jefe del cobre matón se arremolinan afuera.

    El jefe matones del cobre asomaban la cabeza por la puerta,
    Uno de ellos gritó y gritó, "hay un incendio"
    Una señora le gritó: "no hay tal cosa.
    Sigan con su partido, no hay tal cosa. "

    Unas pocas personas se apresuraron y sólo unos pocos,
    "Es sólo a los matones y las costras engañando"
    Un hombre agarró a su hija y la llevó hacia abajo,
    Pero los matones abrió la puerta y no podía salir.

    Y luego siguieron otros, cien o más,
    Pero la mayoría de todos permanecieron en el suelo,
    Los matones de armas se rieron de su broma asesina,
    Mientras que los niños fueron asfixiados en las escaleras de la puerta.

    Una visión terrible que nunca vieron,
    Llevamos a nuestros hijos de regreso a su árbol,
    Las costras fuera todavía reía de su matanza,
    Y los niños que murieron había setenta y tres.

    El piano interpretó una melodía fúnebre lento,
    Y la ciudad estaba iluminada por una luna fría Navidad,
    Los padres lloraban y gemían de los mineros,
    "Vea lo que su ambición por el dinero ha hecho."