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The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)

DigiTrad:
BIG MUDDY
DON'T ASK WHAT A RIVER IS FOR
FLOWERS OF PEACE
I MIND MY OWN BUSINESS
MY GET UP AND GO HAS GOT UP AND WENT
MY OLD BROWN EARTH
OH, HAD I A GOLDEN THREAD
OLD DEVIL TIME
ONE GRAIN OF SAND
PRECIOUS FRIEND
QUITE EARLY MORNING
SAILING DOWN MY DIRTY STREAM
SAILING DOWN MY GOLDEN RIVER
SOUR CREAM
TURN, TURN, TURN or TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON
WALKING DOWN DEATH ROW
WELL MAY THE WORLD GO


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Stringsinger 02 Sep 07 - 01:14 PM
alanabit 02 Sep 07 - 11:37 PM
Folk Form # 1 03 Sep 07 - 07:00 AM
Wolfgang 03 Sep 07 - 08:07 AM
dick greenhaus 03 Sep 07 - 11:15 AM
Charley Noble 03 Sep 07 - 04:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Sep 07 - 06:06 PM
Joe_F 03 Sep 07 - 08:28 PM
Janice in NJ 04 Sep 07 - 09:35 AM
Stringsinger 04 Sep 07 - 11:08 AM
Thomas Stern 27 Apr 14 - 08:00 PM
Joe Offer 27 Apr 14 - 08:51 PM
Young Buchan 28 Apr 14 - 06:29 PM
keberoxu 17 Apr 16 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 27 Mar 17 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 24 Aug 18 - 02:16 PM
Joe Offer 24 Aug 18 - 06:00 PM
keberoxu 25 Aug 18 - 12:09 PM
Joe Offer 25 Aug 18 - 03:11 PM
GUEST 26 Aug 18 - 05:27 AM
GUEST,akenaton 26 Aug 18 - 05:32 AM
GUEST,keberoxu 26 Aug 18 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,akenaton 26 Aug 18 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,keberoxu 26 Aug 18 - 06:16 PM
Steve Shaw 26 Aug 18 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,akenaton 27 Aug 18 - 02:31 AM
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Subject: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 01:14 PM

(from Sunday's Chicago Tribune):

Seeger protests Stalin --better late than never

ALBANY, N.Y. - Pete Seeger has the Joe Stalin blues.

Decades after drifting away from the Communist Party, the 88-year-old banjo-picker has written a song about the Soviet leader that's as scathing as any tune in the folk legend's long career.

"I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe. He ruled with an iron hand. He put an end to the dreams of so many in every land," Seeger wrote in "The Big Joe Blues."

Seeger said he left the Communist Party around 1950 and apologized years ago for not recognizing that Josef Stalin was a "very cruel misleader." But he told The Associated Press on Friday that the song he finally finished this year is a first for him, despite three visits to the Soviet Union beginning in the '60s.

"It's the first overt song about the Soviet Union," Seeger said during a phone interview from his Hudson Valley home in Beacon. "I think I should have though, when I was in the Soviet Union -- I should have asked, 'Can I see one of the old gulags?'"

Seeger calls it a yodeling blues song and said it's the sort of song his old buddy Woody Guthrie might have written in the '50s.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: alanabit
Date: 02 Sep 07 - 11:37 PM

Yes, a lot of good people were fooled by Stalin at the time. However, most of them, like Pete Seeger, told the truth when they realised what he was.
I fear we may have to wait a good bit longer for the Pinochet apologists to appreciate that the guy did have his flaws...
There seems to be someting about the word "communist", which puts you beyond redemption. I suspect Pete Seeger has enough sense of humour not to be bothered too much by this.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Folk Form # 1
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 07:00 AM

Didn't Ewan Maccoll (I know I've probably mis-spelt his name) write a song called The Ballad of Joe Stalin in the 50s? Knowing Maccoll, it was probably less critical than Seeger's song.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Wolfgang
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:07 AM

Ballad of Stalin (MacColl)

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 11:15 AM

Finally! an answer to "When will they ever learn?"


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 04:25 PM

Be nice to see the rest of the lyrics.

Charley Noble


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Subject: ADD: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 06:06 PM

JOE STALIN BLUES
(Pete Seeger, 2007)

I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe,
He ruled with an iron hand
He put an end to the dreams
Of so many in every land
He had a chance to make
A brand new start for the human race
Instead he set it back
Right in the same nasty place
I got the Big Joe Blues
(Keep your mouth shut or you will die fast)
I got the Big Joe Blues
(Do this job, no questions asked)
I got the Big Joe Blues.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Joe_F
Date: 03 Sep 07 - 08:28 PM

Penguin Egg: Yes, Ewan MacColl did write a song in praise of Stalin, "The Ballad of Stalin". Peggy Seeger included it, with due apologies, as an appendix to _The Essential Ewan MacColl Songbook_. The copyright date is 1992, but he seems to have written it in 1956, after Stalin's death but before Khrushchev's denunciation.

John Manifold, the Australian Communist poet to whom we are indebted for "The Griesly Bride" and "The Bunyip and the Whistling Kettle", wrote a treacly elegy at about the same time.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Janice in NJ
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 09:35 AM

If you read the entire article in the August 31 issue of The New York Sun by historian (and Friends of Old-Time Music founder) Ron Radosh, you will discover that Pete Seeger wrote The Big Joe Blues in 1982. The condensation in The Chicago Tribune is old news. As other people have pointed out, what Seeger said to Radosh is substantially the same as what he wrote in the first edition of Where Have All the Flowers Gone? in 1993: "At any rate, today I'll apologize for a number of things, such as thinking that Stalin was simply a 'hard driver' and not a supremely cruel misleader."

That being said, Radosh is the latest in a group of critics who have raised an important issue. That is, why do so many biographers, journalists, filmmakers, and historians tread so lightly (if at all) when dealing with subjects who have a Communist Party past? Not all of the critics who have raised this issue have been on the political right. Some have been independent socialists, Trotskyists, or anarchists. Others have simply been people of all political leanings who feel the issue is important enough to deal with squarely.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Sep 07 - 11:08 AM

"Uncle Joe" even fooled FDR. Man, the naievete of the Left folkies in those days was amazing!

I always had doubts about Stalin and never praised him even if I didn't know what was really going on. I don't like militarists of any stripe whether they emerge as monsters like Stalin or not. I go with Smedley Butler.

I think that biographers, journalists, filmakers and historians who are sympathetic to Progressive ideas are afraid of the Rethuglicans making hay out of the excesses of the Political Left which apparently they have done successfully.

That said, there is no Centrist position. It's a myth.

"They say in Harlan County, all centrists are in flight.
You'll either be in the Union
Or a thug for the political Right."

Which side are you on?

Frank


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 08:00 PM

Tuesday, October 09, 2007
An open letter to Pete Seeger: About your Stalin song
by Karl Dallas

http://folknews.blogspot.com/2007/10/open-letter-to-pete-seeger-about-your.html


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Apr 14 - 08:51 PM

I got this article from the Washington Post, but I guess I have to admit it probably caught more attention on the Fox News Website.

Pete Seeger Sings Out Against Stalin
By MICHAEL HILL
The Associated Press
Friday, August 31, 2007; 3:26 PM
ALBANY, N.Y. -- Pete Seeger has the Joe Stalin blues.

Decades after drifting away from the Communist Party, the 88-year-old banjo-picker has written a song about the Soviet leader that's as scathing as any tune in the folk legend's long career.

"I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe. He ruled with an iron hand. He put an end to the dreams of so many in every land," Seeger wrote in "The Big Joe Blues."

Seeger said he left the Communist Party around 1950 and apologized years ago for not recognizing that Josef Stalin was a "very cruel misleader." But he told The Associated Press on Friday that the song he finally finished this year is a first for him, despite three visits to the Soviet Union beginning in the '60s.

"It's the first overt song about the Soviet Union," Seeger said during a phone interview from his Hudson Valley home in Beacon. "I think I should have though, when I was in the Soviet Union - I should have asked, `Can I see one of the old gulags?'"

Seeger calls it a yodeling blues song, and sings the chorus so it sounds like "I got the Big Joe Bloo-ew-ew-ews!" He said it's the sort of song his old buddy Woody Guthrie might have written in the '50s.

The song's existence also touches on a sensitive political issue: the view by critics on the right that the left recognized Stalin's tyranny only belatedly. Partial lyrics were cited Friday by author Ron Radosh in a New York Sun column.

Radosh, an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, a conservative think tank, accused Seeger in the newspaper two months ago of failing to criticize the communist regimes he once backed.

Radosh took banjo lessons from Seeger in the '50s - two dollars for three hours - though Radosh took a very different political path from his childhood hero.

In a follow-up column Friday, Radosh said he was tickled to receive a warm letter last week from his old idol with a copy of the song attached. He provided a copy of the song to the AP on Friday, and said he still admires Seeger.

"I think he is a man of principle," Radosh said. "He's often wrong."

Seeger said he hopes to publish the song in the folk magazine "Sing Out." Though Seeger's voice has been reduced to a throaty croak, he said he has performed the song for friends.

Seeger is still politically active, concerned about the fate of humanity - and puckish. He agreed to answer questions on the phone from an AP reporter only if the story included lines from a song he wrote after the Sept. 11 attacks about the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. It goes like this: "Don't say it can't be done, the battle's just begun, take it from Dr. King, you too can learn to sing. So drop the gun!"

"I get the whole crowd singing on it," Seeger said. "I've never failed to get an audience singing, whether they're 8 years old or 80 years old."

As far as I can tell, the lyrics posted by McGrath of Harlow above, are the entire song.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues
From: Young Buchan
Date: 28 Apr 14 - 06:29 PM

'Yes, Ewan MacColl did write a song in praise of Stalin, "The Ballad of Stalin".'

He is also sometimes attributed (whether accurately or not, I don't know) with the song that begins:

Hitler's a non-smoker and Churchill smokes cigars;
They're both as keen as mustard on imperialistic wars.
But Uncle Joe's a worker and a very decent chap;
He even smokes a pipe and wears a taxi-drivers cap.

The German drive on Stalingrad is ging mighty slow;
They've got a room in no. 9 of Slobaskaya Row.
Hitler makes the blunders and his generals take the rap;
But Joe just smokes his pipe and wears his taxi-driver's cap.

It would be difficult today to say which is less PC - the attitude to Stalin or the attitude to pipe smoking.



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Subject: RE: The Big Joe Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: keberoxu
Date: 17 Apr 16 - 03:14 PM

I wonder if this has been actually published as a song. If it has, I fail to locate it in my search just now.

The lyrics turn up in news-media articles online (which is where I first saw them, in 2007). There is a website called unionsongs which lists the words. Does this thing have a tune?


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 27 Mar 17 - 01:36 PM

Never mind whether or not the lyric has a tune.

What bothers me today, is this:

Stalin was Uncle Joe to FDR, I guess to Truman as well.

Today, it is more like Cousin Vladimir, according to US President Trump.

Wonder if people will be writing songs about Putin one day?


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Subject: RE: Pete Seeger songs
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 24 Aug 18 - 02:16 PM

I have a question regarding the Joseph Stalin piece.
This is the one Seeger authored and promulgated late in life.

Does it have a tune?
Or is it just a recitation?


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Subject: ADD: The Big Joe Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Aug 18 - 06:00 PM

Hi, keberoxu. I don't think that one has been posted at Mudcat. I found this at https://unionsong.com/u580.html

The Big Joe Blues

A Poem by Pete Seeger©Pete Seeger 2007

I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe,
He ruled with an iron hand
He put an end to the dreams
Of so many in every land
He had a chance to make
A brand new start for the human race
Instead he set it back
Right in the same nasty place

I got the Big Joe Blues
(Keep your mouth shut or you will die fast)
I got the Big Joe Blues
(Do this job, no questions asked)
I got the Big Joe Blues.

Notes

Pete Seeger wrote this song about Stalin. This is how it was reported in the Chicago Tribune 31 Aug 2007

Pete Seeger has the Joe Stalin blues

Decades after drifting away from the Communist Party, the 88-year-old banjo-picker has written a song about the Soviet leader that's as scathing as any tune in the folk legend's long career.

"I'm singing about old Joe, cruel Joe. He ruled with an iron hand. He put an end to the dreams of so many in every land," Seeger wrote in "The Big Joe Blues."

Seeger said he left the Communist Party around 1950 and apologized years ago for not recognizing that Josef Stalin was a "very cruel misleader." But he told The Associated Press on Friday that the song he finally finished this year is a first for him, despite three visits to the Soviet Union beginning in the '60s.

"It's the first overt song about the Soviet Union," Seeger said during a phone interview from his Hudson Valley home in Beacon. "I think I should have though, when I was in the Soviet Union -- I should have asked, 'Can I see one of the old gulags?'"



I didn't find any evidence of a tune, and couldn't find a recording.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: keberoxu
Date: 25 Aug 18 - 12:09 PM

All right, one of the interviews posted to this thread
says a specific thing or to,
to justify my question.
See post dated 27 April 2014 which references The Washington Post.

Here are the details:
Pete Seeger, interviewed over the phone,
"calls it a yodeling blues song, and sings the chorus . . ."

and:
"hopes to publish the song in the folk magazine 'Sing Out.' "

Okay, I don't read Sing Out.
There have to be Mudcatters who do so.
Did this song ever turn up,
with or without a tune,
in 'Sing Out' magazine?


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Aug 18 - 03:11 PM

Nope. No sign of "Big Joe" or "Joe Blues" in the Sing Out! Song Index. The index covers Volumes 1-55, which is all the issues that have been printed so far.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 05:27 AM

The truth of the matter is that any revolutionary move from a capitalist economy to a communist/ radical socialist one, even today would involve loss of life and massive social upheaval.
In the context of the second world war, and the concerted attack on Russia by the "Axis powers", the results are unsurprising.
China has lifted many millions of people out of poverty through the pursuit of socialist policies and curtailment of what we regard as democratic institutions. The Chinese government now appear to be relaxing some of their economic structures, but the people have learned the value of self discipline, while we demand more personal freedom without regard to our perilous economic situation.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 05:32 AM

Sorry that was me and I forgot to add that Mr Seeger seemed to me a rather confused Communist......his confusion seems to have worsened with age......or perhaps his Stalin song was an attempt to rescue his reputation in a rapidly changing "Folk" world.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 04:15 PM

Old friend,
I'm not sure Mr. Seeger was any sort of Communist at all.
This is a man who wrote an idealizing song lyric
with chorus lines like
"and I was never alone,
"and I was not far from home..."
floating in a small boat
in the badly polluted Hudson River,
before the big clean-up.

Where did he get that capacity to visualize an ideal
with pollution literally floating the boat he was on?


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 05:46 PM

I'm sorry keberoxu, but you will have to explain that one to me, I don't understand your meaning.
I have read that Mr Seeger was a Communist for many years, and it is a truism that once you accept the doctrine you never really refute it.
It ties in with the assumption that all liberals are socialists, when in reality, most liberals would be appalled by a radical socialist regime.....they just don't realise much about humanity and have assumed great political power through the offices of the various media, they have lost touch with the real people all over the world and like the new folk music intelligencia, speak only to themselves.
I'm sorry to say that Mr Seeger appears to have been only a liberal masquerading as a socialist......a very dangerous species.
There is no doubt that someday we will all be forced to accept socialism, whether we wish to or not, simply through necessity.
No one should assume that socialism will be any sort of Utopia, quite the reverse, but there will be no viable alternative.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: GUEST,keberoxu
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 06:16 PM

Explain idealism, my friend? I wouldn't dare;
my own prejudice is toward the stoic, not the idealist, philosophy.

You see, I tipped my hand there.
Who but a flaming idealist could visualize home sweet home
while surrounded, about and beneath, by a badly polluted river?

The socialism of which you speak, sounds anything but idealistic,
and in this we are in agreement;
I think Seeger chose what he chose, bad as this sounds,
the better to seek refuge from something else,
rather than because it was the appropriate choice for him.
Seeger is not the first idealist
to flee the pragmatic materialism of the generation
into which he was born.

Thus, it is sadly no surprise
that he would have enormous blind spots
and miss what was in plain sight to others.

It means that Seeger is not the happiest role model
in terms of the choices he held to.
I listened for years to what Seeger had to say,
and I took note when he expressed himself
with questions rather than answers.

He questioned censorship and asked how it would be possible
to get free speech on television;
and that's a darned good question to this day.

The answers in which he sought refuge tell a different story.
Seeger was not a simple man
and there will always be paradox and ambiguity in him
the closer one looks.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 26 Aug 18 - 06:33 PM

You are on a hiding to nothing, keberoxu. You are allowing a once-persistent troll, excluded from below the line, to engage you in a non-musical argument in a place where it shouldn't be happening. Your business, of course.


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Subject: RE: The Joe Stalin Blues (Pete Seeger)
From: GUEST,akenaton
Date: 27 Aug 18 - 02:31 AM

Thank you for that considered and reasonable response keberoxu.
Very well written......I would agree with a large portion of it.


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