The Struggle continues!

The Struggle continues!

June 18, 2016

[VID Song with Lyrics separate] Leon Rosselson - Song of the Old Communist




"It's a cliché to say that Rosselson's songs are better when other people sing them. People say the same thing, equally unfairly, about Dylan. It's perfectly true that Billy Bragg on the one hand and Martin Simpson on the other have taken his songs and turned them into their own, wonderful things. But it's in the lessor known story-songs that his real genius lies, and I don't think anyone else can do them better.  In a funny way (considering what an unassuming performer he is) the evening is carried by the force of his personality. A little man who can't always get his guitar to stay in tune and who sometimes stumbles over his own lyrics, speaking for little men who are having motorways built through their gardens."

source: Wo Sin Die Elefanten

He was one of those dogged old men
Who lived in the past
Telling stories you don't want to know
About how it was then, the hunger, the hardship
The hopes and the struggles of so long ago

And we must have looked bored,
For like sparks from the cinders,
His eyes glowed with anger, his words seemed to burn;
He said "I will be heard, for my life is not over;
I've something to say yet, you've something to learn."

He said, "You, who have nothing at all to believe in;
To you, whose motto is, 'money comes first';
Who are you, to tell us that our lives have been wasted?
That all that we've fought for has turned into dust?

"I was only a lad when we read that in Russia,
The workers, the Soviets, had taken all power,
And the man they called Lenin, who led them,
Was our inspiration; his triumph was our finest hour.

"And I'll always remember how fear shook the wealthy,
Like thieves who have just been caught out in their crime!
But we, who had known only war and the workhouse
Rejoiced, that a new world was born in that time!

"You can't know what it meant, or the pride that we felt
To know working people, people like us
Could shake off the shackles, could topple the palaces,
Remake the world without ruler or boss!

"It was this kept us going, this dream of a new world,
Through all those dark years of defeat and despair
When we, who were proud to proclaim ourselves Communists,
Fought for that world free from hunger and fear.

"It was, 'Down with the Means Test! No cuts in our wages!
We want three pounds a week and a seven-hour day!'
And there wasn't a thing that we got but we fought for it -
Don't you know bosses give nothing away?

"And the strikes and the marches, the battles to beat off
The bailiffs and coppers when hope was still young.
Hot heads and hot hearts, as we tested our power -
'The Workers Triumphant', that was our song."

For a time he was silent, and lost in his memories.
Then, but more softly, his words came again.
"P'raps we hoped for too much, p'raps the cost was too much -
There are things I know now that I couldn't know then.

"We believed revolution was just 'round the corner
And we were the vanguard to bring it about!
And the other Left parties, we classed as class traitors.
Bourgeois social fascists, of that we'd no doubt!

"And then the times changed, we campaigned for the Popular Front.
The old line might never have been.
But we led the workers in combatting Fascism,
Mosely in London and Franco in Spain.

"We believed we were History's chosen,
And Soviet Russia, our future, our heart and our soul.
And the Five Year Plan was a vision of plenty
To us who'd spent half of our lives on the dole.

"We knew of the trials and purges of course,
And were shocked when we heard those old comrades confess
But yes, we defended the first Workers' State
In the face of the slander and lies of the Press!

"And you, who have nothing at all to believe in;
To you, whose motto is, 'money comes first';
Who are you, to tell us that our lives have been wasted?
That all that we've fought for has turned into dust?

"You may think we were duped, well we paid for our dreams;
Broken lives, broken marriages, jobs lost and jail.
Some lost heart in the Left, some betrayed us for medals -
There are always some turncoats whose souls are for sale.

"But the best of us never surrendered our vision.
And we kept the faith through the bleakest defeat.
D'you think that was easy, surrounded by hatred?
The sneer of indifference, the hurt of deceit?

"And our lives were made rich by the cause that we fought for,
The friendship, the fellowship, sharing one pain.
To transform society, end exploitation,
And that day will come yet - but not in my time."

Again he was silent, and what could we tell him?
That the world now was different, that he'd had his day?
That an old man's dreams were not our concern?
But still, there was something he wanted to say.

"Now, when I look back, I see what we fought against.
Homelessness, hunger, injustice and war.
But what did fight for? What dream did we strive for?
I used to know once - now I'm o longer sure.

"But you, who have nothing at all to believe in;
To you, whose motto is, 'money comes first';
Who are you, to tell us that our lives have been wasted?
That all that we've fought for has turned into dust?"

He was one of those lonely old men
Who live in the past, telling stories you don't want to know.
About how it was then, the hunger, the hardship,
The hopes and the struggles of so long ago...

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