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Ballad of Ella Mae

Malvina Reynolds
Language: English


Related Songs

The Big Fat Boss and the Workers
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The Mill Mother's Lament
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Singin' Jesus
(Malvina Reynolds)


[1955]
Words and music by Malvina Reynolds

Canzone dedicata a Ella Mae Wiggins, sindacalista assassinata in Nord Carolina nel 1929 e autrice di alcune canzoni di lotta, fra le quali The Mill Mother's Lament.
I never could do for my children,
Not even keep them alive, it seems;
Though they came of this small body,
And they built me all of my dreams.

And if you want to know why I'm for the union,
And walking this picket line,
It's the one best thing that I ever could do
For those little babies of mine.

She never had had much schooling,
Because she went to the mills so young,
But the songs came like cool spring water
To Ella Mae's mountain tongue.

And if you want to know why I'm for the union,
And walking this picket line,
It's the one best thing that I ever could do
For those little babies of mine.

Four babies were sick of the fever,
They needed their mama so bad,
But Ella Mae stayed on at the mill
To earn them doctor and bread.

And if you want to know why I'm for the union,
And walking this picket line,
It's the one best thing that I ever could do
For those little babies of mine.

Oh please let me work on the day shift,
Oh change my run if you might,
My little ones sick of the fever,
They cry for me in the night.

And if you want to know why I'm for the union,
And walking this picket line,
It's the one best thing that I ever could do
For those little babies of mine.

But supers are stupid and cruel.
The Company's answer is No,
And Ella came home with the last pay check,
And four of her babes had to go.

And if you want to know why I'm for the union,
And walking this picket line,
It's the one best thing that I ever could do
For those little babies of mine.

The Company killed Ella's children,
And they feared the power of her song,
So they shot Ella Mae on Gastonia's streets
And they never have paid for their wrong.

And if you want to know why I'm for the union,
And walking this picket line,
It's the one best thing that I ever could do
For those little babies of mine.

Gastonia's unions are growing,
The workers are stronger each day,
And the voice that sounds clearest among them all
Is the singing of young Ella Mae.

And if you want to know why I'm for the union,
And walking this picket line,
It's the one best thing that I ever could do
For those little babies of mine.

Contributed by The Lone Ranger - 2010/5/20 - 10:46



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