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Lyr Req: Wasn't That a Time (Hays, Lowenfels)

jlp 13 Jul 01 - 12:14 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 13 Jul 01 - 12:50 PM
Suffet 13 Jul 01 - 04:47 PM
Amos 13 Jul 01 - 06:18 PM
Tedham Porterhouse 14 Jul 01 - 11:23 AM
Suffet 14 Jul 01 - 12:21 PM
Amos 14 Jul 01 - 01:14 PM
Rick Fielding 14 Jul 01 - 01:50 PM
dick greenhaus 14 Jul 01 - 02:34 PM
Amos 14 Jul 01 - 02:45 PM
Suffet 14 Jul 01 - 06:15 PM
jlp 21 Jul 01 - 05:14 AM
Suffet 21 Jul 01 - 12:01 PM
The Walrus 21 Jul 01 - 12:25 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Jul 01 - 11:08 PM
Genie 02 Jul 08 - 02:19 PM
Genie 02 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM
Genie 02 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Jun 13 - 10:57 AM
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Subject: Wasn't that a time
From: jlp
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 12:14 PM

WASN'T THAT A TIME (Lee Hays and William Lowenfels) who knows when the song was written?


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 12:50 PM

1957


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Suffet
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 04:47 PM

No. That 1957 copyright date may appear on the version the Weavers recorded, but Lee Hays and Walter Lowenfels wrote "Wasn't That a Time" for the Henry Wallace presidential campaign in 1948. A version appeared in "The People's Song Bulletin" that year with an introduction which said in part:

"During the recent months of campaigning, the people's songsters have been singing the rhythmic tunes of the new [Progressive] party, like 'Passing Through' [by Richard Blakeslee]. Of them all, only a few are reflective songs which try to say more than can be said in a jingle. The writers of this song have attempted to say things for November and the months that lie ahead."


In any event, the American People's Chorus sang "Wasn't That a Time" at their 1948 concert in New York City.


--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Amos
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 06:18 PM

The white man came
Into this land
With a banner of hate in a bloody hand
And on that credo, he did found
This land -- this Freedom ground!

Wasn't that a time?
Wasn't that a time?
A time to try
The soul of Man--
Wasn't that as wonderful time?

In Hungary
In '66
They fought the Russian tanks
With stones and bricks
But we let them die
In blood and dirt
Because we feared we might get hurt!

Wasn't that a time?
Wasn't that a time?
A time to try
The soul of Man--
Wasn't that as wonderful time?

Two verses remembered faintly from a youth-rally version of the Sixties, not the original, and not my composition.

Regards,

A


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Tedham Porterhouse
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 11:23 AM

Steve,

Thanks for the correction. I based my "1957" response on the copyright date shown on the sheet music.


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Suffet
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 12:21 PM

These verses recently appeared in Sing Out!


WASN'T THAT A TIME?

Original song by Walter Lowenfels and Lee Hays © 1948
New verses by Stephen L. Suffet © 2000
Use them ad lib with the old verses. Note the gender neutral refrain, lines 1, 2, and 4 of which are taken from the original version.


The slave fought back... with spade and hoe,
And sometimes with bare hands,
Swift feet ran down... the darkened road,
To escape... from slavery's land.

Wasn't that a time...
A time to try...
The human soul?
Wasn't that a terrible time?

Brave people walked... the picket lines,
And faced the bosses' rage,
They held aloft... their picket signs,
To demand... a living wage.

Wasn't that a time, etc.

The bombs fell down... on Vietnam,
They brought a napalm rain.
Young men refused... to go to war,
And they saved... the faith again.

Wasn't that a time, etc.

The racists come... in camouflage,
To tear our nation down.
But we shall stand... hand in hand,
Upon our faith... and hold our ground.

Isn't this a time...
A time to try...
The human soul?
Isn't this a terrible time?

Isn't this a time...
A time to free...
The human soul?
Isn't this a wonderful time?


--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 01:14 PM

Steven:

For shame, bowdlerizing a perfectly good phrase, "the soul of Man".

In case you haven't noticed, the very distinct and different definition of "man" is a species formally known as homo-sapiens. Species do not have gender.

The whimpering of the reactionary PC crowd has led you into an aesthetic disservice.

Regards,

A


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 01:50 PM

This was the song that Seeger wanted to play for the HUAC (after being questioned about it). They considered it verrrry Un-Amurrican. They really objected to the line "there is no victory in a land, where FREE men go to jail"

Bloody good song. Certainly lends itself to re-writes and re-surfacing.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 02:34 PM

AMOS- I dunno. "Human soul" may not have the same ring as "Soul of Man", but it has a pretty fair thud. Something like Tom Paine's "Rights of Person"


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Amos
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 02:45 PM

Dick:

I guess I could live with it, although the ring of "soul of Man" thrills me because of the unspoken contrast between a "species" and a "soul". Maybe some ladies would say there's a cognitive dissonance, not to say oxymoron, in the phrase "soul of Man". :>)But my complaint was less of the aesthetics of the result, than taking a scalpel to Lee Hays' song for the worng darned reasons! The notion of changing the name of a species because of political correctitude is bad enough, but when it is based on a misunderstanding of the word!! OY!!!

Fondest regards,

A


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: Suffet
Date: 14 Jul 01 - 06:15 PM

I shall feel no shame in singing "human soul," even though I understand the aesthetic objection. I can answer it with what I am certain people have heard many times, the now common feminist critique of using the masculine noun to convey a universal meaning which encompasses both genders. That critique was rarely if ever heard in 1948. But had they written "Was That a Time?" 25 years later, or had the modern feminist movement arisen 25 earlier, there is a good chance Messers. Lowenfels and Hays would have penned the words "human soul" themselves.

That is pure speculation, of course. What is not speculation is that the use of the terms "PC" and "politically correct" has become our contemporary equivalent of red baiting. One who uses those terms is essentially saying, "I will hang a label on you which will all at once dismiss your argument out of hand, belittle you as an individual, and scare off anyone who would come to your defense."

I do admit, however, that I at one time used terms such as "politically correct," but that was always among leftists, and we used them to describe others on the left, particularly would-be Maoists and other "lefter-than-thou" types. In that context, such terms were more humorous than insulting.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: jlp
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 05:14 AM

Hello everyone: thanks for the info and the side track of gender. I'm also glad that this good song is still being sung with new verses keeping it's original purpose alive.

Does someone have the original verses from 1948?


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Subject: Lyr Add: WASN'T THAT A TIME (Hays, Lowenfels)
From: Suffet
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 12:01 PM

Yes. Here they are as published in"The Peoples' Song Bulletin":

WASN'T THAT A TIME

Words & music by Lee Hays & Walter Lowenfels © 1948

Our fathers bled... at Valley Forge...
The snow was red with blood,
Their faith was warm... at Valley Forge...
Their faith... was brotherhood!

Wasn't that a time!
Wasn't that a time!
A time to try... the soul of man.
Wasn't that a terrible time!
(Wasn't that a terrible time!)

Brave men who fought... at Gettysburg...
Now lie in soldiers' graves,
But there they stemmed... the rebel tide,
And there... the faith was saved.

Wasn't that a time!
Wasn't that a time!
A time to try... the soul of man.
Wasn't that a terrible time!

The fascists came... with chains of war...
To prison us in hate.
And many a good... man fought and died,
To save... the stricken faith.
Wasn't that a time!
Wasn't that a time!
A time to try... the soul of man.
Wasn't that a terrible time!

And now again,,, the madmen come...
And shall our victory fail?
There is no vic...tory in a land,
Where free... men go to jail.

Isn't this a time!
Isn't this a time!
A time to try... the soul of man.
Isn't this a terrible time!

Our faith calls out... THEY SAHLL NOT PASS!...
We cry NO PASARAN!
We pledge our lives... our honor, all,
To free... this prisoned land.

Isn't this a time!
Isn't this a time!
A time to free... the soul of man.
Isn't this a wonderful time!
ISN'T THIS A WONDERFUL TIME!



--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: The Walrus
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 12:25 PM

Amos,

"...In Hungary In '66 They fought the Russian tanks..."

Shouldn't that be '56 - the year of the Hungarian uprising?

It's just one very minor point and makes no great difference to the message in song.

Best Wishes

Walrus


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't that a time
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 11:08 PM

I can only point out that "try the soul of man" is a quotatin from Tom Paine. I have a problem with garbled quotes; I once had an editor who revised "..most unkindest cut of all.." because it failed to conform to "correct" grammar and usage.

PC, as I recall, first appeared as a denigratory term back in the 1950's, when it was used by one or another radical group to describe the revisionist prose or poetr of another radical group.

I have no quarrel with those that modify lyrics to make them acceptable to a particular audience; I have a severe quarrel with those (who obviously don't include Steve Sufett) who would try to claim that the revised ones were traditional.

And the Freedom Fighters were in 1956.

So there.


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Subject: Lyrics: Wasn't That A Time? - additional verses
From: Genie
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 02:19 PM

"Soul of man" doesn't strike me as sexist in the same way that "souls of men" would. "Man" is a synonym for "humanity," whereas the singular "person" is not.   There's seldom any excuse today for using the word "men" instead of "people" or "all" unless you're tied into a rhyme scheme that requires something with an "en" sound instead of an "eeple" or an "all."

Anyway, since it's an obvious quote from Thomas Paine, I don't think it needs to be rewritten.
As for the verses, this song not only lends itself easily to new ones but almost cries out for them as new history is written and new insights emerge into the old.

Amos, parts of the Sing Out! version verses you posted don't seem to scan with the meter.

Amos - PM
Date: 13 Jul 01 - 06:18 PM

The white man came into this land
(With a banner of hate in a bloody hand) - Sing Out! line
It would scan if you left out "a banner of" and just sang

"The white man came into this land
With hate in bloody hand.
And on that credo he did found
This land -- this "Freedom" ground!

In verse two the second and last lines also have way too many syllables (even if you sing them fast):
"They fought the Russian tanks With stones and bricks"
"Because we feared we might get hurt."

This would fit the meter of the song:
"Hungarians in '66
Fought the Reds with stones and bricks,
But we let them die in blood and dirt
For fear we might get hurt!"


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Subject: RE: Help: Wasn't That A Time
From: Genie
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 02:44 PM

The last verse, from The Weavers' Songbook, as I remember it, goes:

Our faith cries out, we have no fear.
It's time to reach our hand(s)
To other neighbors, far and near,
To friends in every land.


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Subject: lyrics: Wasn't That A Time? - Peter, Paul & Mary
From: Genie
Date: 02 Jul 08 - 03:02 PM

Peter, Paul & Mary used mostly the verses The Weavers sang, but the 3rd voice seems to be their own addition:

Wasn't That A Time?
(as sung by Peter, Paul & Mary)

Our fathers bled at Valley Forge,
The snow was red with blood.
Their faith was worn at Valley Forge,
Their faith was brotherhood.

Wasn't that a time? Wasn't that a time,
A time to try the soul of man?
Wasn't that a terrible time?

Brave men who fought at Gettysburg
Now lie in soldier's graves,
But there they stemmed the rebel tide
And there their faith was saved.

Wasn't that a time? Wasn't that a time,
A time to try the soul of man?
wasn't that a terrible time?

The wars are long, the peace is frail,
The madmen come again.
There is no freedom in a land
Where fear and hate prevail.

Isn't this a time? Isn't this a time,
A time to try the soul of man?
Isn't this a terrible time?

...


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Subject: Lyr Add: WASN'T THAT A TIME (1988 version)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Jun 13 - 10:57 AM

Apparently the Weavers continued changing the lyrics to suit the times. This is from a reunion concert.

WASN'T THAT A TIME
As sung by the Weavers on "Together Again" (1988)

Our fathers bled at Valley Forge.
The snow was red with blood.
Their faith was warm at Valley Forge.
Their faith was brotherhood.

CHORUS: Wasn't that a time! (Wasn't that a time!)
Wasn't that a time!
A time to try the soul of man.
Wasn't that a terrible time!

Brave men who fought at Gettysburg
Now lie in soldiers' graves,
But there they stemmed the rebel tide,
And there the faith was saved. CHORUS

Informers took their Judas pay
To tell their sorry tale.
The gangs in Congress had their way
And free souls went to jail. CHORUS

How many times we've gone to kill
In freedom's holy name,
And children died to save the pride
Of rulers without shame! CHORUS


Our faith cries out; we have no fear.
We dare to reach our hand
To all our neighbors far and near,
To friends in every land.

LAST CHORUS: Isn't this a time! (Isn't this a time!)
Isn't this a time!
A time to free the soul of man.
Isn't this a wonderful time!
Isn't this a wonderful time!


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