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Lyr Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song

DigiTrad:
HARMONY
HEY JIMMY JOE JOHN JIM JACK
THE BALLAD OF HARRY POLLITT


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GUEST,jgtheg@shaw.ca 13 Dec 02 - 08:19 PM
Joe Offer 13 Dec 02 - 08:31 PM
John Routledge 13 Dec 02 - 09:01 PM
Jon Bartlett 14 Dec 02 - 02:25 AM
Deckman 14 Dec 02 - 10:07 AM
GUEST,Sonja 14 Dec 02 - 10:36 AM
Hrothgar 14 Dec 02 - 09:58 PM
Mountain Dog 14 Dec 02 - 11:19 PM
Deckman 15 Dec 02 - 01:11 AM
Susanne (skw) 15 Dec 02 - 07:15 PM
Genie 15 Dec 02 - 09:04 PM
Jon Bartlett 16 Dec 02 - 04:17 AM
Genie 16 Dec 02 - 01:22 PM
Susanne (skw) 16 Dec 02 - 06:16 PM
Gareth 16 Dec 02 - 06:55 PM
Susanne (skw) 16 Dec 02 - 07:59 PM
Joe Offer 16 Dec 02 - 08:05 PM
Cluin 17 Dec 02 - 12:27 AM
Genie 17 Dec 02 - 02:56 AM
Gareth 17 Dec 02 - 03:37 PM
bertie the bolshie 24 Oct 04 - 05:46 PM
Snuffy 24 Oct 04 - 05:57 PM
Grampus 24 Oct 04 - 06:23 PM
Joe Offer 25 Oct 04 - 01:01 AM
GUEST,Art Thieme 25 Oct 04 - 10:28 AM
GUEST,Suffolk Miracle 15 Oct 08 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,AdatheCadre 14 Feb 10 - 01:25 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Feb 10 - 02:25 PM
Don Firth 14 Feb 10 - 02:51 PM
Herga Kitty 14 Feb 10 - 02:57 PM
Newport Boy 14 Feb 10 - 04:56 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Feb 10 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,Clive 13 Sep 13 - 06:21 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: GUEST,jgtheg@shaw.ca
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 08:19 PM

unsure of the sirname spelling

Harry pollick was a worker
one of Lenens lads
He was fouly murdered by the counter-revolutionary cads
Counter-revolutionary cads
    ''         ''      ''


Something about going to heaven and meeting saint Peter
and orginizeing the angels and sending them all on stike


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 08:31 PM

Hi - in the Digital Tradition, it's called The Ballad of Harry Pollitt. I don't know if we've had a discussion of Harry before. I couldn't find it right off. I guess we might not have the tune, either.
-Joe Offer (e-mail sent)-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: John Routledge
Date: 13 Dec 02 - 09:01 PM

Harry Pollitt was Chairman of The Communist Party of Great Britain.
I don't know his period of office.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 14 Dec 02 - 02:25 AM

The words in the DT are not as singable as mine: they need the addition of a few "well,.."'s, etc. The tune is known to everyone, but no-one in my house can think of its title! It's close to "Mary had a steamboat, the steamboat had a bell,..." etc. A set of words is in "The Common Muse" (V. de Sola Pinto & A.E. Rodway (Penguin, c. 1965) wherein I see that Mr. Harry Pollit has given permission for the song to be printed, titled "H___y P_____tt." I've always sung the last line of the last verse as "if you want to be a Stalinist, you'll have to go to hell." Common Muse has "Communist". I can't tell you much about Harry, just that he was front and centre in the British CP for many years, and was the author of "How to Win the Peace" (1944) and "Looking Ahead" (1947).

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Deckman
Date: 14 Dec 02 - 10:07 AM

By the way ... this song cannot, I repeat CANNOT be sung properly unless everyone stands at attention, and sings, or shouts, at their very loudest! In fact, just writing this brief note has my blood racing. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: ADD Version: Harry Pollitt (Limeliter version)
From: GUEST,Sonja
Date: 14 Dec 02 - 10:36 AM

Here's the Limeliters' version.  It's easy to sing.

SWO

HARRY POLLITT
(Bruce)

            G                                                 D
Harry Pollitt was a worker, one of Lenin's lads
                       C                         G                D7          G
He was foully murdered by those counter revolutionary cads,
    G             D7           G                        C             G
Counter revolutionary cads, counter revolutionary cads,
                        C                         G               D7           G
He was foully murdered by those counter revolutionary cads,

Well, Harry went to heaven.  He reached the gate with ease,
Said, "May I speak with Comrade God?  I'm Harry Pollitt, please.
Harry Pollitt, please,..."

"Who are you" said St. Peter?  Are you humble and contrite?
You're a friend of Lady Astor?  Well, OK, that's quite all right,
OK, that's quite all right,..."

They put him in the choir, but the hymns he did not like,
So he organized the angels and he led them out on strike
Led them out on strike,... .

One day as God was walking 'round heaven to meditate,
Who should he see but Harry chalking slogans on the gate,
Chalking slogans on the gate... .

They put him up for trial before the Holy Ghost
For spreading disaffection amongst the heavenly host,
Amongst the heavenly host, ... .

The verdict it was guilty, said Harry "All well."
He tucked his nightie 'round his knees and he driftted down to hell
Driftted down to hell, ...

Now seven long years have passed,  Harry's doing swell.
He's just been made First People's Commissar of Soviet Hell
Commissar of Soviet Hell, ... .

Now the moral of this story is easy for to tell,
If you want to be a Bolshevik, you'll have to go to hell,
You'll have to go to hell, ...
If you want to be a Bolshevik, You'll have to go to hell!"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Hrothgar
Date: 14 Dec 02 - 09:58 PM

I learnt the first verse as:

Harry was a Bolshie,
One of Lenin's lads,
Till he was foully done to death
By counter-revolutionary cads.

Whe I was working in Sydney a few years ago, I had occasion to ring a school - can't remember which one, but I think it was in an outer Sydney area. When I asked the bloke I was talking to his name, he said " ... Pollitt."

Smart-arse me says, "As in Harry, the Bolshie?"

"Yes, he was my uncle."

Went quiet for a minute. Talked about something else...

I think this bloke was used to that reaction, somehow.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 14 Dec 02 - 11:19 PM

Hi, Joe

For what it's worth, there was a discussion of Harry Pollitt back in April 97 (Thread ID 1273#3975 for the archivally minded) in which Bert dug up a set of lyrics learned from his dad.

Sonja, thanks for posting the Limelighters' version - always my favorite of the several I've heard!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Deckman
Date: 15 Dec 02 - 01:11 AM

On the advice of my heart doctor, I shall not sing these words any more tonight. It not good for my health, you know ... what with all that marching around the room ... raising thea beer steins high ... bumping into things ... and then there's all those darned police reports! Oh well! Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 15 Dec 02 - 07:15 PM

My memory has been proved correct for once. (I haven't checked the other thread for this info, it may be there.) Harry Pollitt wasn't murdered.

"Harry Pollit was at one time a very influential member of the Communist Party in England, until he was finally thrown out; and when they threw him out, they wrote a song about him as if he were dead." From Lyrics Playground


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Genie
Date: 15 Dec 02 - 09:04 PM

Right, Susanne. The Limeliters' intro to the song says just that: they wrote the song "as if he were dead" after they threw him out of the party.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 04:17 AM

Here's a good site for Harry Pollitt, General Secretary 1929-1956, British Communist Party. He wasn't thrown out, either.
http://www.tameside.gov.uk/leisure/new/bp_19.htm
Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Genie
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 01:22 PM

You mean The Limeliters lied?!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 06:16 PM

Could it be that he was thrown out of the party for not being Stalinist enough and reinstated once that great personage had retired to Communist Heaven?


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Subject: Lyr Add: In Old Moscow
From: Gareth
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 06:55 PM

Mmm ! Doubt it Susanne, my aged mother can recall singing this at University in the late 1940's.

On the other hand, Harry P along with Willie Gallecher were under suspicion for being "premature Anti Facists" !

"In Old Moscow, in the Kremlin,
in the year of Thirty Nine,
Sat a Russian and a Prussian,
To lay down their Party line."


Chorus.

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
oh my darling Party Line,
Don't forsake me, over take me,
On my darling Party Line.

Party Comrade, Party Comrade,
hear this grevious news of mine,
Comrade Stalin does not love you,
Since you left the Party Line.

Leon Trotsky is a Facist,
and I know this for a fact,
'Cos I read it in the Worker,
When they signed the non agression pact!

In Siberia, In Siberia,
excavating in a mine,
Is an old and aged Bolshi,
Who has left the Party Line.


And Yep! thats another one I learned at my mothers knee.

We take out politics seriously in the Valleys.

Gareth



All references to the infamous "Non-Agression" Pact.

I can also confirm that "Harry Pollit" was sung in leftwing South Wales circles well before I was born in 1951, again my aged mother, remembers it well being sung at University in Cardiff in the late 1940's.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 07:59 PM

'... at my mother's knee and other low joints', as Hamish Imlach used to claim. A great song! Thanks, Gareth!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollit ,a political satire song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Dec 02 - 08:05 PM

My friend Mrs. Lev sings this to me, and I didn't realize it came from a Limeliters recording. "Slightly Fabulous Limeliters" attributes the song to a songwriter with the last name of Bruce, and says the song is registered with ASCAP. Well, ASCAP.com attributes the song to none other than Glenn Yarbrough. Click here, and you'll be amazed to find what else Glenn wrote...
Songfile.com (The Harry Fox Agency) attributes the song to "Bruce." That's it - no other name given.
So, who WAS the songwriter?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Cluin
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 12:27 AM

Took my niece to go see the new Harry Pollick movie tonight. Pretty good. Don't remember any Communists in it, though.

Nor the book, for that matter...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Genie
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 02:56 AM

Joe, it doesn't make sense that Yarborough would have claimed to have written the song. He was with the Limeliters when THEY introduced the song almost verbatim as Susanne related above, i.e. "...they [the Communist Party in England] wrote a little song about him as if he were dead...".

I'll repeat what I've posted a couple of times elsewhere:
The fact that something appears in an artist's website, on liner notes, or in sheet music for one of "their" songs, does not necessarily mean that the artist wrote it [the blurb, liner notes, etc.] or vouches for its accuracy.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Harry Pollick ,a political satire song
From: Gareth
Date: 17 Dec 02 - 03:37 PM

Ooops Susanne, in my befuddled state last night I forgot to type a verse


"In the Kremlin, in the Kremlin,
in the year of Thirty Nine,
Sat a Russian and a Prussian,
To lay down their Party line."


All references to the infamous "Non-Agression" Pact.

I can also confirm that "Harry Pollit" was sung in leftwing South Wales circles well before I was born in 1951, again my aged mother, remembers it well being sung at University in Cardiff in the late 1940's.
Messages from multiple threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Req: Harry Pollitt
From: bertie the bolshie
Date: 24 Oct 04 - 05:46 PM

Any one know the words to this fine song about a fine revolutionary comrade? Not that I have much hope as this site is a bit bourgeois! Viva Che!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Harry Pollitt
From: Snuffy
Date: 24 Oct 04 - 05:57 PM

Bourgeois or not, we have it here in our own Pollittbureau THE BALLAD OF HARRY POLLITT


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Subject: Lyr Add: HARRY POLLITT
From: Grampus
Date: 24 Oct 04 - 06:23 PM

The version I remember is slightly different, and from memory goes:

Now Harry was a bolshie, was one of Lenin's Band,
'Till he was foully murdered by a reactionary hand.
A reactionary hand, a reactionary hand,
'Till he was foully murdered by a reactionary hand.

Now Harry went to heaven, he fell down on his knees
I want to speak to Comrade God, I'm Harry Pollitt please
I'm Harry Pollitt please, I'm Harry Pollitt please,
I want to speak to Comrade God, I'm Harry Pollitt please

They dressed him in a nightie, with a bible his hand
And he played the Internationale in the hallelujah band
In the hallelujah band, in the hallelujah band
He played the Internationale in the hallelujah band

They put him in the choir, the hymns he did not like
So he organized the angels and he brought them out on strike
He brought them out on strike, he brought them out on strike
He organized the angels and he fetched them out on strike

One day as God was walking around the heavenly state
He came on Harry chalking Party Slogans on the gate
Party Slogans on the gate, Party Slogans on the gate
He came on Harry chalking Party Slogans on the gate

They put him up for trial before the Holy Ghost
For spreading disaffection amongst the heavenly host
Amongst the heavenly host, amongst the heavenly host
For spreading disaffection amongst the heavenly host

The verdict it was guilty, and Harry said 'That's swell'
He tucked his nightie 'round his knees and he floated down to hell
He floated down to hell, He floated down to hell
He tucked his nightie 'round his knees and he floated down to hell

Now seven long years have past, and Harry's doing well
They've made him people's commissar for the whole of Soviet hell
For the whole of soviet hell, the whole for Soviet hell
They've made him people's commissar for the whole of Soviet hell

Now seven more years have past, still Harry's doing well
And all the little Devils have joined the YCL
Have joined the YCL, have joined the YCL,
And all the little Devils have joined the YCL

I'm sure there were other verses, but the memory fails

G.


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Oct 04 - 01:01 AM

We still haven't found the author or original version of this song. The Limeliters and the Harry Fox Agency say it was written by "Bruce," but who's Bruce, and when did Bruce write it?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 25 Oct 04 - 10:28 AM

The term premature anti-fascist is mentioned in a post above. That was the derisive name stuck onto the members of the Lincoln Brigade when they returned to the U.S. A. after taking part in the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. It was ostensibly the reason many of these people were hounded by the FBI to a greater or lesser degree for the rest of their lives. The term was used to trivialize all of their doings then.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: GUEST,Suffolk Miracle
Date: 15 Oct 08 - 12:44 PM

To clarify: at no point was Harry Pollitt thown out of the CPGB. He was it's General Secretary from the late 1920s till the early 1950s EXCEPT for a short period at the beginning of WW2. At the start of the war the position of the CPGB was that the war followed the pattern of the Spanish Civil War ie was a war against Fascism and to be supported. Then the USSR signed the Ribbentrop Pact with Germany. A meeting was held of the Third International to which all major Communist parties were affiliated and voted to change the line to the same which many on the Left had held of the First World War, namely that it was an Imperialist war with each side as bad as the other. Dave Springhall, the British representative on the International returned and told the CPGB of the vote taken. The majority of the Central Committee agreed to change the line to that of the International. Pollitt, along with the Communist MP Willie Gallagher and Johnny Campbell of the Daily Worker argued against. Pollitt and Gallagher voted againt the final resolution (although they persuaded Campbell not to) and Pollitt was voted out of the position as Secretary to be replaced by Rajani Palme Dutt. Pollitt since he was no longer a Party official went back to working as a boiler-maker, but he remained in the Party. In about a year Germany attacked the USSR, the line of the International changed back and Pollitt returned to being Secretary. In the early 50s he became ill and retired, being given the position of Chairman.
The song (in case you thought I had completely forgotten about it!) however has absolutely nothing to do with the events described, since they were written in 1935 by a woman communist (teacher I think) called Elin Williams. Thje last I heard she was still alive though into her 90s.


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: GUEST,AdatheCadre
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 01:25 PM

The Folk Tradition is a wonderful thing! The words of songs alter and the historical events they commemorate get lost. Communists, at least in Britain were not much like that steel spectacled bloke in Dr Zhivago and did laugh, havew a drink and sing comic, as opposed to revolutionary songs! Harry was a Bolshie started life as one of those songs. Just for the record, Harry Pollitt was a real historical figure and was the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Great Britain between 1929 and 1956,except for a short but important period between October 1939 and 1941, and its Chairman from 1956 until his death in 1960. The song was written in the early 1930s, that is 30 years before he died, by a woman Party member whose name I cannot remember. Does anyone out there know? Harry was a Lancashire man, he loved Music Hall, but though many comrades were active in the folk revival he did not really appreciate folk music. "Too old!" he is reported to have said about "The Cutty Wren" He did think Harry was a Bolshie was very funny and it became a favourite at informal Party gatherings and sing-songs, alongside other comic songs and pastiches. He did indeed give his permission for it to appear in the Common Muse, Chatto and Windus 1957. Ada the Cadre, from which I stole my mudcat name was another Communist comic song, to the tune of Gilbert, the filbert the Colonel of the nuts.
"I'm Ada, the Cadre, the comrades think I'm fine,
There's lots of competition to keep me onh the line,
With Mahon and with Pollitt I'm matey as can be.
I'm Ada, the cadre, the Belle of the DPC."


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:25 PM

The song was written in the early 1930s, that is 30 years before he died, by a woman Party member whose name I cannot remember. Does anyone out there know?...
                         ========

Cast your eyes up only an inch, Ada, & you will find your ? answered at end of previous [tho some years earlier] post. You seem to have missed this bit, so I copy it again here.
                      ======
The song (in case you thought I had completely forgotten about it!) however has absolutely nothing to do with the events described, since they were written in 1935 by a woman communist (teacher I think) called Elin Williams. Thje last I heard she was still alive though into her 90s.
                           =====
BTW, this song was part of my 1940s youth also!


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: Don Firth
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:51 PM

One of the first songs I learned from Walt Robertson back around 1952.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 02:57 PM

Ron from Shrewsbury (and the Castle B band) would sing this in the Theatre Bar sessions at Sidmouth. Unfortunately he's not been well enough to come to Sidmouth the last few years.
Kitty


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: Newport Boy
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 04:56 PM

Another variation - from Songs of Hope and Survival - A collection of Trade Union, CND, Traditional Labour and Progressive songs. This was published by Protest Publications in the early 60's. Protest was the monthly magazine of Hackney Youth Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and the booklet was 'Published by Hackney YCND & YS'. (YS = Young Socialists).

HARRY WAS BOLSHIE
Tune: Welsh Traditional
Words: Elin Williams

Harry was a Bolshie, One of Stalin's lads,
'Till he was foully murdered by counter-revolutionary cads. (Repeat)

"That's alright" said Harry, "I'm not afraid to die,
I'll carry on my party work in the land beyond the sky."

He went up to the pearly gates, saw Peter on his knees.
"Oh, can I speak to Comrade God, I'm Harry Pollit, please."

Said Peter unto Harry, "Are you humble and contrite?"
"I'm a friend of Lady Docker's." "Then OK, you'll be alright."

They put him in the choir, put a harp into his hands,
But he sang the Internationale in the Hallelluja band.

They put him with the angels, but the hymns he did not like,
So he organised the angels and brought them out on strike.

One day as God was walking in the grounds to meditate,
Who should he see but Harry, chalking slogans on the Gate.

They brought him up for trial before the Holy Ghost,
For spreading disaffection amongst the heavenly host.

The verdict it was guilty. Said Harry, "Very well."
And wrapped his nightie round his knees, and floated down to hell.

Now seven long years have passed and Harry's doing swell.
He's been made People's Commissar for the Soviet Socialist hell.

Now seven more years have passed, and John Gollan's there as well,
And all the little devils have joined the YCL.

The moral of this story, it isn't hard to tell -
If you want to be a Bolshie, then you've got to go to hell.


There's certainly been some updating of the words - John Gollan succeeded Harry Pollitt in 1956, and Lady Docker was also 1950's.

Phil


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Subject: RE: Req/Add: Harry Pollitt-political satire song
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Feb 10 - 05:01 PM

... & of course he was one of Lenin's, rather than Stalin's, lads in my day ~ note the alliteration of 'Lenin's lads' is lost in the later version.


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Subject: Lyr Add: Harry Pollitt alternative version 1950's
From: GUEST,Clive
Date: 13 Sep 13 - 06:21 AM

Harry Pollitt was a Bolshie, and one of Lenin's lads,
Till he was foully murdered by the anti-Bolshie cads.
Chorus
The anti-Bolshie cads, the anti-Bolshie cads,
Till he was foully murdered by the anti-Bolshie cads.

He floated up to heaven with the greatest ease,
then knocked upon the Golden Gates, I'm Harry Pollitt Please.
Chorus
I'm Harry Pollitt please, I'm Harry Pollitt please.
He knocked upon the Golden Gates, I'm Harry Pollitt please.

They gave him a nice white nightie and a harp upon a stand,
And he played the International with the Halleluja band.
Chorus
The Halleluja band, the Halleluja band,
He played the International with the Halleluja band.

One day when God was walking out to meditate
He caught our Harry Pollitt chalking slogans on the Gate.
Chorus
Chalking slogans on the Gate, chalking slogans on the Gate,
He caught our Harry Pollitt chalking slogans on the Gate.

They bought him up for trial before the Holy Ghost
For spreading disaffection among the heavenly host.
Chorus
Among the heavenly host, among the heavenly host.
For spreading disaffection among the heavenly host.

The verdict it was guilty, as far as we can tell,
So Harry tucked his nightie round his knees and floated down to Hell.
Chorus
He floated down to Hell, he floated down to Hell,
Harry tucked his nightie round his knees and floated down to Hell.

Seven long years have passed away, and Harry's doing well,
They've made him Peoples' Commissar for Communistic Hell!
Chorus
For Communistic Hell, for Communistic Hell
They've made him Peoples' Commissar for Communistic Hell.

The moral of this story, as plain as we can tell,
Is if you want to be a Bolshie, you've got to go to Hell.
Chorus
You've got to go to Hell, you've got to go to Hell,
If you want to be a Bolshie, you've got to GO TO HELL.


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