To commemorate May Day and International Workers Day we’re pleased to share with you the latest in our series of live sessions from Scottish guitarist, troubadour, balladeer and storyteller Ewan McLennan. For his latest, he recorded ‘Banks of Marble’, a song which is as relevant to the injustices of today as it was when it was written in 1949. It’s also our Song of the Day.
The song features on his album The Last Bird to Sing, he said the following about the song in the liner notes:
This song was written in 1949 by Les Rice, a farmer from New York State, USA. It deals with the perverse injustice, exploitation and inequality Rice saw all around him. Pete Seeger wrote about Les Rice and this song: “Like most small farmers, he was getting intolerably squeezed by the big companies which sold him all his fertilizer, insecticide and equipment, and the big companies that dictated to him the prices he would get for his produce. Out of that squeeze came this song.” I heard this first being sung by the incomparable Utah Phillips when I was a boy. I took it up recently on realising how starkly relevant it is to our times. Hope hides out in the final lines…
Although May Day has many traditional connections, it also marks International Workers Day (also known as Labour Day), a date which commemorates the Haymarket massacre which took place in Chicago on 4 May 1886. As you will see from the news, rallies are taking place across the globe for workers rights, justice and inequality including the UK, France, Germany, Asia, Russia and the US. Interestingly the bank holiday which falls on the first Monday of May was introduced in 1978 by the Labour Government, this seemed to upset the Tory opposition (and still does upset many) who associate it with Labour Day rallies. On their return to power in 1979 the Tories tried to scrap it in place of a more ‘patriotic’ holiday in October (Trafalgar Day)…they failed.
Try and catch Ewan on Tour, see dates below:
We will have more soon from Ewan, in the meantime keep up with all his latest news via: www.ewanmclennan.co.uk