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Lyr Add: Banks of Marble + New Banks of Marble


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Banks of Marble 2008 (7)

Suffet 28 Jul 03 - 01:50 PM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 03 - 02:33 PM
Deckman 28 Jul 03 - 02:44 PM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 03 - 02:58 PM
Suffet 28 Jul 03 - 03:24 PM
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Subject: Banks of Marble
From: Suffet
Date: 28 Jul 03 - 01:50 PM


I just came back from a week at Pinewoods Camp near Plymouth, Massachusetts. While I was there, Peter Siegel organized an impromptu session for singing and swapping songs of the labor movement and other songs of struggle. At that event we sang, among other things, Les Rice's Banks of Marble from over half a century ago. My feeling was, "Damn good song. The fundamental struggle is the same, but the details need to be updated." This morning I attempted to do just that. The stanza about civil servants is written from my own recent personal experience. (Thank you, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg!)

Comments, criticisms, additions, and revisions are all welcome. And feel free to sing it, but please give credit to both Les Rice and myself.

--- Steve


Music: BANKS OF MARBLE by Les Rice ©1950 Stormking Music, Inc.
New words: Stephen L. Suffet ©2003

I have traveled 'round this country,
Just to see it once again,
While some things they might look different,
One big fact remains the same.

The coins once made of silver,
Are now silver colored brass,
Like the lies the bosses tell us,
Just to trick the working class.

And the banks are made of marble,
With a camera above each door,
To keep us from the wealth and power,
That we all have sweated for.

I recall the friendly bank guard,
I believe his name was Bob,
'Til they got a TV camera,
And they took away his job.

[Repeat chorus.]

I have seen the office worker,
Sitting upright in her chair,
And I've heard the bosses tell her,
"We don't allow no union here."

[Repeat chorus.]

I have seen the immigrant worker,
Early morning on the street,
Shaping up to do day labor,
Just to make enough to eat.

[Repeat chorus.]

I have seen the civil servants,
Who thought their jobs secure,
And I heard the mayor tell them,
"We don't need you anymore."

[Repeat chorus.]

I have dreamed that things were different,
I've kept my eyes upon the prize,
But it will be a dream forever,
Unless we organize!

Final chorus:
Then we'll own those banks of marble,
With a person at every door,
And we'll share the wealth and power,
That we all have sweated for.

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Subject: RE: Banks of Marble
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 03 - 02:33 PM

Gee, Steve, I had the same civil service experience, thanks to Bill Clinton and Al Gore. I thought "privatization" was part of the conservative agenda, but it was Clinton and Gore who stuck it to me. Of course, I've never thought of Clinton and Gore as very good Democrats. I think we need a new Political Opportunist party, to give honest accomodation to the likes of Clinton, Gore, Bush, and California's Gray Davis.

Nice song. Do you mind if I take it to our song circle next month?
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Banks of Marble
From: Deckman
Date: 28 Jul 03 - 02:44 PM

I have always enoyed this song. The pattern of the verses and the easy, yet stirring melody lends itself easily to rewriting. Years ago several of us used the basic theme and melody as a backdrop for a play. Quite effect. I like your update. CHEERS, Bob

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Subject: DTCorr: Banks of Marble
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 03 - 02:58 PM

I thought I'd post a correction version of the song. The main difference from the entry in the Digital Tradition is that the first verse is kind of an introduction, and doesn't have a chorus after it. Seems to make more sense to me.
-Joe Offer-

(Les Rice)

I've traveled 'round this country.
From shore to shining shore;
It really made me wonder
The things I heard and saw.

I saw the weary farmer,
Plowing sod and loam;
I saw the auction hammer
Just a-knocking down his home.

But the banks are made of marble,
With a guard at every door,
And the vaults are stuffed with silver
That the farmer (worker, etc.*) sweated for.

I saw the seaman standing
Idly by the shore,
I heard the bosses saying,
"Got no work for you no more."

I saw the weary miner
Scrubbing coal dust from his back,
And I heard his children crying,
"Got no coal to heat the shack."


I've seen my brothers (good people) working
Throughout this mighty land,
I prayed we'd get together
And together make a stand.

Final Chorus:
Then we'd own those banks of marble
With a guard at every door (or: With no guard at any door)
And we'd share those vaults of silver
That the workers sweated for!

*change to fit verse

**Additional verse by John Braxton:
    (I've seen my sisters working
    On the job they're underpaid
    While at home they work for nothing
    Half the night and all the day)

Copyright 1950 by Stormking Music Inc.

Source: Carry It On, songbook by Pete Seeger & Bob Reiser, 1985
and Collected Reprints from Sing Out!
@political @labor
filename[ BNKMRBLE

The Seeger book adds some updates to include genders and the like. Seeger's updates are in parentheses. The basic text I've posted is from Sing Out! - apparently published a year after Les Rice wrote the song in 1950.

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Subject: RE: Banks of Marble
From: Suffet
Date: 28 Jul 03 - 03:24 PM


Please go ahead and sing it. I would be delighted. I printed out a copy and mailed it via the US Postal Service to Pete earlier today. As far as I know, he doesn't have e-mail. I did e-mail the song to Faith Petric to see if she can run it in The Folk Process column in Sing Out! She has used quite a few of my songs, but right now she has more than a year's worth of material on hand.

By the way, George Ward led a songwriting workshop at Pinewoods Camp this past week, and he had us work on putting the 1919 Boston molasses disaster into song. That's a project I'm going to keep working on.

--- Steve

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