The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #14233   Message #3022613
Posted By: GUEST
03-Nov-10 - 12:27 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Songs by Bruce 'Utah' Phillips
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Songs by Bruce 'Utah' Phillips
I think 'Ship Gonna Sail' is a masterpiece. I first heard Bruce sing it at the Champlain folk fest in 2005. I was able to visit with him when he was in Saratoga after that, and asked him for the words. He said he would send it to me, as well as the introduction. Bruce's introductions were composed as carefully as his songs, and I believe he wanted the intro performed with the song. I have performed this few times, first at his remembrance at Old Songs a few years ago, and found the audience responds to the intro as well as the song. Here is the text of the recitation I put together for the intro, which is a combination of the sister's of the road article and the live recording. I sure miss Bruce, and this is a song for our and all times.

"They were starting a peace center in Nevada City, where Bruce lived. The day after the last presidential election, the Peace organizers came into a general meeting to discuss what went wrong, and they were draggin' their tails, just so depressed. It was so awful. Some people dissolved into tears. There was a lot of loose talk, I'm gonna go to Canada, I'm gonna go to New Zealand. Bruce just couldn't let that happen. He thought back on old Fred Thompson, the editor of The Industrial Worker. The man did hard time at San Quentin federal prison as a political prisoner for the IWW. Fred talked about the first World War, and the espionage act and the mass deportations without any due process, and the 5,000 union brothers and sisters in jail, the beatings, the lynchings, he said worse than anything we're going through right now see, but we still came out of it with the structure of the 8 hour day, mine safety laws, child labor laws, and you roll on up into the Great Depression, grinding oppression, I mean right down on the bottom, but you have the birth of the CIO, and the progressive movement, and what came out of that awful time: Social Security, workmen's compensation, minimum wage, unemployment insurance, things unheard of anywhere, You come up through the War and into McCarthy times, the Red Scare, Korea and the beginning of the cold war when they tried to destroy the labor movement completely, and we came out of that, we did, and we survived. We came out of that with the civil rights movement that worked, and the largest peace movement that the country has ever seen. So knowing that, I know that we're going to get through what we're going through now, and we're going to come out of it better and stronger and you can count on it.

We've got a lot of help, we've got a lot of help to do that you know. When you think back down that road, we got people like Sojourner Truth, and Mother Jones, remember Mother Jones? The miner's mother lived to be 100. Mother Jones in Philadelphia, speaking at a mill, and they brought little kids to her, the workers with parts of their hands missing, cut off by the machines, scalped, hair caught in the machines that pulled their scalps off. She flew into a rage, went down to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and said, "We've got to expose this!" and the editor said we can't do it because the people that own the mill own the paper. Hasn't changed much has it? Did she write a letter to her congressman? Did she start a petition? No, she got 100 of those kids together and marched with their parents and chaperones, marched overland 100 miles to New York City, caught the ferry across to Long Island, and those kids camped on President Theodore Roosevelt's lawn to embarrass him into coming out in favor of child labor laws. Direct action gets the goods. And Eugene V. Debs, who founded the Socialist Party of the United States. I love the man. There was never a man more loved in this country than Eugene V. Debs. There in court, telling the judge as he was on his way to jail for objecting to the First World War as a bosses' war. He looked at the judge and said, "While there is a lower class I am in it. While there is a criminal class I am of it. While there is a soul in prison I am not free." And on up to Maurice Sugar and the sit-down strikes of the 1930's in Detroit and Flint, Michigan, and on and on.

These people, I see them as building a boat. They were building a ship, and none of them believed that they would ever sail on it, but that was no excuse not to build it. When they got too old, and broken, too tired to build any more on that ship, they passed the tools and the skills on to the younger ones, and they kept building the boat, and now those tools are passed on to our times. They are in our hands, and we keep building that boat. When our turn comes, we'll pass those tools along, and someday that ship is gonna sail. Some day that ship is gonna sail to a world of economic justice and peace. You can count on that too."

Then sing the song