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Ballad Of October 16th

Almanac Singers
Language: English

List of versions


Related Songs

Worried Man Blues
(Woody Guthrie)
The Almanac Singers: Dear Mr. President
(GLI EXTRA DELLE CCG / AWS EXTRAS / LES EXTRAS DES CCG)
The Strange Death of John Doe
(Almanac Singers)


[1941]
(Millard Lampell)

The Almanac Singers.
The Almanac Singers.


jdoeTHE SONGS FOR JOHN DOE
Questa canzone degli Almanac Singers di Pete Seeger, scritta in un momento in cui gli Stati Uniti erano ancora neutrali nella Seconda Guerra Mondiale, conteneva una critica feroce contro il presidente Roosevelt e la sua decisione di iniziare il riarmo del paese.
Con un tempismo estremamente sfortunato l'album venne pubblicato proprio poche settimane prima che Hitler invadesse l'Unione Sovietica.
A seguito dei fatti del maggio 1941, però, l'album fu ritirato in tutta fretta ed il gruppo pubblicò un nuovo disco di canzoni anti-hitleriane tra le quali spicca Dear Mr. President, un talking blues che si rivolge direttamene a Roosvelt dicendo "Lo so che non siamo sempre stati d'accordo in passato, ma la prima cosa da fare è battere Hitler. Il resto può aspettare"

The song dates from the period in which the United States was strictly neutral but had begun re-armament and the first peace-time US draft (Act passed Saturday, 9/14/40). On October 16, 1940 it was announced that 16,500,000 men had registered.

This song and its album, "SONGS FOR JOHN DOE" proved something of an embarrassment to the Almanacs. Just a few weeks after it was released in May 1941, Hitler ordered the invasion of the USSR. The album was shelved and they soon came out with anti-Hitler songs.
( Notes based on those of Guy Logsdon & Jeff Place from the Folkways album "That's Why We're Marching"
Copyright Abby Sale, 1997. Used by permission. All publication rights are retained by author, but limited broadcast license will probably be granted on request.)

Set to the tune of 'Jesse James,' 'The Ballad of October 16th' was one of Lampell's earliest works; the title of this vitriolic anti-Roosevelt song refers to the day in 1940 when Congress passed the peacetime draft law. "No other peace song of the pact era proved more popular in the Communist movement," Richard Reuss later wrote. Critics from both the right and the left would later use 'The Ballad of October 16th' to embarass the Almanacs after the left turned to a pro-Roosevelt stance.
( Ronald D. Cohen & Dave Samuelson, liner notes for "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996, p. 77.)

from This page

Dear Mr. President is direct antithesis of the songs of this album where Seeger says directly to Roosvelt: "We haven't always agreed in the past, I know / But that ain't at all important now / What is important is what we got to do / We got to lick Mr. Hitler, and until we do / Other things can wait."
It was on a Saturday night and the moon was shining bright
They passed the conscription bill
And the people they did say for many miles away
'Twas the President and his boys on Capitol Hill.

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt
We damn near believed what he said
He said, "I hate war, and so does Eleanor
But we won't be safe 'till everybody's dead."

When my poor old mother died I was sitting by her side
A-promising to war I'd never go.
But now I'm wearing khaki jeans and eating army beans
And I'm told that J. P. Morgan loves me so.

I have wandered over this land, a roaming working man
No clothes to wear and not much food to eat.
But now the government foots the bill
Gives me clothes and feeds me swill
Gets me shot and puts me underground six feet.

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt
We damn near believed what he said
He said, "I hate war, and so does Eleanor
But we won't be safe 'till everybody's dead."

Why nothing can be wrong if it makes our country strong
We got to get tough to save democracy.
And though it may mean war
We must defend Singapore
This don't hurt you half as much as it hurts me.

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt told the people how he felt
We damn near believed what he said
He said, "I hate war, and so does Eleanor
But we won't be safe 'till everybody's dead."

2005/8/22 - 23:22



Language: Italian

Versione italiana di Riccardo Venturi
27 giugno 2006
LA BALLATA DEL SEDICI OTTOBRE

Era un sabato sera e c’era una luna splendente,
Avevano approvato il decreto di coscrizione.
E la gente se lo diceva in giro per molte miglia,
C’erano il Presidente e i suoi ragazzi sulla Capitol Hill.

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt diceva alla gente come si sentiva
E, cazzo, quasi ci credevamo a quel che diceva.
Diceva, "Odio la guerra, e la odia anche Eleanor,
Ma non saremo al sicuro finché tutti quelli non saranno morti."

Quando morì la mia povera mamma io stavo al suo fianco
Promettendole che non sarei mai andato in guerra.
Ma ora porto i pantaloni kaki e mangio fagioli dell’esercito
E mi hanno detto che anche J.P. Morgan mi vuole bene.

Per lavorare ho vagato per questo paese
Senza niente addosso e con poco da mangiare.
Ma ora il governo paga il conto,
Mi dà da vestire e mi nutre a sazietà,
Mi fa morire ammazzato e mi mette due metri sottoterra.

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt diceva alla gente come si sentiva
E, cazzo, quasi ci credevamo a quel che diceva.
Diceva, "Odio la guerra, e la odia anche Eleanor,
Ma non saremo al sicuro finché tutti quelli non saranno morti."

Perché nulla può essere sbagliato se rende forte il nostro paese,
Dobbiamo essere dei duri per salvare la democrazia.
E anche se questo vuol dire guerra,
Dobbiamo difendere Singapore,
E questo non ti fa la metà del male che fa a me.

Oh, Franklin Roosevelt diceva alla gente come si sentiva
E, cazzo, quasi ci credevamo a quel che diceva.
Diceva, "Odio la guerra, e la odia anche Eleanor,
Ma non saremo al sicuro finché tutti quelli non saranno morti."

2006/6/27 - 22:31



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