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Ballads of Sacco & Vanzetti
Genres: Folk, Pop
Woody Guthrie was one of the twentieth century's greatest poets and songwriters, and his songs about Sacco and Vanzetti include some of his best songs. The murder trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was one of this century's most ... more »
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Woody Guthrie was one of the twentieth century's greatest poets and songwriters, and his songs about Sacco and Vanzetti include some of his best songs. The murder trial of Sacco and Vanzetti was one of this century's most controversial. Sacco and Vanzetti's story was dramatic; their front-page trial was filled with dubious procedures; and the years of appeals and their eventual execution led to protests around the world. These songs, written and recorded nearly twenty years later, have been carefully remastered from the original acetate discs and are presented with a previously unpublished letter by Guthrie to the judge in the case. Produced by Moses Asch. Reissue compiled by Anthony Seeger and Jeff Place.
Woody Guthrie sings his ballads of Sacco & Vanzetti
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 02/20/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"In 1945 producer Moses Asch commissioned Woody Guthrie to provide a document in song about the famous case of Sacco & Vanzetti, two Italian immigrants who were convicted and executed for a murder-robbery that happened in Braintree, Massachusetts in 1920. Sacco & Vanzetti were immigrants, anarchists and deeply involved in the growing labor union movement, all of which made them guilty in the eyes of the Boston political hierarchy. Their trial was, to say the least, a farce of epic proportions that became an international cause celebre. Executed in the electric chair in 1927, the pair were posthumously pardoned by Governor Michael Dukakis in 1977. These songs were composed and sung by Guthrie in 1946-47, who had trouble completing the commission. Guthrie was bothered by not only the obligation to do justice to the topic but the limitations of 78 rpm recordings because he felt he had more to say that what could be done in the 4 1/2 minutes. This is why Vanzetti's letter to his son was done in two parts, since it could not fit on one side of a record. The result is a passionate, raw example of the art of folk singing by the nation's greatest balladeer. "Two Good Men," one of the best known compositions in the set, tells of how Sacco & Vanzetti "Left me here to sing this song." Guthrie sings about the details of the crime, the prejudicial behavior of the judge, and the witnesses for and against the pair. This is important because there whatever Guthrie chooses to sing about is always intensely personal, which explains why he has been so inspirational to singers from Bob Dylan to Bruce Springsteen. The linear notes contain the song texts taken from one of Guthrie's songbooks. These do not always jive with what is on the recordings, but the point is that Guthrie sometimes changed the lyrics as he sang. The last track on this album, "Sacco's Letter to his Son," was set to music and sung by Pete Seeger, who wrote and recorded the song in 1951. As a postscript the booklet includes Guthrie's letter to Judge Thayer (circa 1947?). Thayer did in 1933, seven months after his home was bombed. The letter offers even more evidence of how great was Guthrie's emotional involvement in both this case and this cycle of songs. American History classes studying the Sacco & Vanzetti case would greatly benefit from listening to a couple of these songs. This is an important work of folk music that richly deserved to be preserved in this manner."
Wonderful Telling Of A Heartbreaking Story
Lawrance M. Bernabo | 09/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"No one could have told the story of two doomed men better then Woody Guthrie. This album Absolutely moved me from start to finish."