The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #581 Message #3279601
Posted By: Joe Offer
25-Dec-11 - 01:07 AM
Thread Name: Origins:Deportees-seeking original Woody recording
Subject: RE: Deportees - seeking original Woody recording
I note with some satisfaction that the page from indybay.org quotes my post above...
I would guess that Woody wrote the lyrics in 1948, shortly after reading about the plane crash. As stated above, Woody chanted the lyrics and did not have a particular tune for the song - I think I read that in Joe Klein's biography of Woody. I believe it was 1960 that Martin Hoffman wrote the familiar melody for "Deportees." Woody died in 1967, but I think he stopped performing and recording sometime in the 1950s - anybody have a date for that?
So, as far as I can tell, Woody never recorded the song, but I'm hoping that somebody taped him singing it somewhere.
This song affects me like no other. I guess that's because I worked the Central Valley of California for 30 years. I visited the labor camps and saw their miserable conditions. I visited the Border Patrol offices and the Immigration Detention Centers. I talked with farmworkers in the fields and heard their stories about having to deal with the filth and the heat and the snakes and the lack of water and the backbreaking work. I was a federal investigator driving an air-conditioned car and sleeping in clean motels and eating nice meals, and it embarrassed me to be talking with such nice people who had life so tough. I was also sometimes embarrassed to be working in service to "la Migra" - I was doing security clearances on prospective employees of the Immigration and Naturalization Service.
I once had a need to interview Cesar Chavez, somebody I had idolized since I was in college. He refused to see me, and I suppose he had good reason to refuse to be interviewed by a federal investigator. Still, it was a big disappointment. I suppose he didn't know I was on his side.